Borders Drawn in Blood

How big is an African Hoard?

Well Congrande’s army is occupying the city of Vincenza. Taking over buildings and displacing citizens, the town is in chaos. The Sfortza’s still hold the Basilica but only because no effort has been made to remove them yet.
We track down Congrande at the Large villa he appropriated and make our report. He is with his nephew Mastino and another nobleman, whom is introduced as Enric Ghibbeline, heir to the house, as his great uncle and other relative were killed in the over through of Milan. Interestingly House Guelph has been placed in power, but nobody seems to know by who. As Congrande is now at war with house Guelph, Freidrich can no longer pose as Lord Guelph in Verona. Congrande says he will find us another name to use when it is necessary. I can see that Freidrich is disappointed, he liked being a nobleman. Personally I think it is overrated…
Congrande praises our work in Vincenza and mentioned that his army encountered some of my country men camped outside the city. A fight broke out between them and some of his soldiers when the soldiers assaulted a woman from the camp. The fight, while brief, left many dead soldiers as the Africans were both fast and deadly. Congrande is curious as to why them then executed the woman who was assaulted? I told him that she should have fought harder and that a despoiled woman is put to death according to Allah’s law.
Congrande then dismisses Mastino and Enric (which annoys them) so he can talk to us privately. He would like us to travel to southern Lombardy where the Ghibbeline forces are gathering and size up the army and make sure the alliance is valid and that he is not tying himself to a sinking ship in the Ghibbeline cause. We agree Helping take back Milan would get us one step closer to restoring Victoria to her family holdings in Como. Before we are done talking Dominic goes into a trance, when he comes out of it he gets up and says we need to get pitch and leaves the room. Congrande dismisses the rest of us at that point with a questioning look in Dominic’s direction, We just shrug.
Dominic finds a wagon and begin to collect Pitch from the gatehouses. After we collect a dozen I appropriate a mule from the army to pull the wagon. We end up with a total of 28 clay Pots of pitch before Dominic is satisfied. As that took us until mid afternoon, we are going to wait until tomorrow to get our horses from the farm and leave.
I suggest we take a look at the Hoard of the Hunter to see how large it is and if we only killed a follower not the leader.
At evening outside the City we see the camp in the distance. The non stealthy members of the party are not going to be able to approach unseen so we send Ettore and Friedrich forward to get a better look. I send Layil out to keep an eye on them.
After what seems like hours Layil comes back and says they were spotted. I sprint down the road for the camp, hoping I don’t have to rescue them. The shouting I hear dies down before I get close, this could be very bad. But before I am spotted by the perimeter guards, Friedrich calls to me and he and Ettore step out of the brush beside the road. We quickly retreat back up the road toward the rest of the party. Ettore tells us there are between 20 and 30 people in the camp. 4 wield dual scimitars, some wield 2 weapons like I do and still more use shield and spear. There are many robed woman as well, and if they all fight like the woman at the gate we will all be slaughtered. We hopefully we can leave without them following us.
We head back to our Inn to find it packed with displaced towns folk. but the ones in our room clear out with just a look. We set guard shifts, and after midnight are awakened by sounds of a fight. Fearing the worst we arm ourselves and head downstairs. It is just Norman Mercenaries fighting with Italian soldiers over wine. Lila shouts at them in French and the fight is made moot when 2 of the soldiers drop the cask and break it while they are trying to sneak it out of the room.
We greet another blessed sunrise, Allah has protected us through another night.
After breakfast, we buy the mule from the army and take our wagon full of pitch with us out to the farm where our horses are. As we get close to the Hoard encampment I hide under the wagon tarp and we clear the camp uneventfully.
It takes most of the day to get to the farm as the mule does not move very fast. Do we really need all this pitch?? Or has Dominic really lost his mind this time? We spend an undisturbed night at the farm and get an early start the next morning. The only issue we have is when Dominic tries to hitch Freidrich and my war horses up to the wagon so it will move faster. We compromise and hitch to of the other horses to the wagon, and have Gino and Lila ride on the wagon.
Two nights later I am kicked awake by Dominic, and see him hit by am arrow. I hear Ettore grunt as he too is struck by an arrow. We are under attack!!!
On opposite sides of the camp Dominic and Ettore rush the archers as the rest of us rise and arm ourselves. Out of the darkness charges 2 of the dual scimitar wielding men, followed by several of the spear and shield fighters. Ettore and Nico take down one of the Archers and Ettore disappears into the darkness after someone else again. One of these times he will rush into a trap! There could be dozens of men in the darkness if the entire hoard has descended on us. He needs to learn to stay closer to the group. Dominic Kills the other Archer he closed with and disappears in the darkness behind his wagon. Ghost, Gino and I close with the closest scimitar man, while Friedrich fills him with arrows. I unleash my hatred on the other scimitar man and he flinches from my gaze. Lila is singing in the background, staying 1/2 way between the fight and the darkness. The 1st scimitar wielder goes down as the Spear fighters join the fight. The second Scimitar man Starts carving his way through our group wounding everyone and ending his move near Freidrich. Nico and Ghost engage a Spearman, I fight 2 others splitting ones hand open, so he drops his spear and cutting the hand off the other killing him. Gino closes with the other Scimitar man and Friedrich shoots more arrows then collapses to the ground. Lila suggests the man go back to Africa and forget about Nizar. We hear fighting in the darkness so Ettore is still alive. Dominic chases another Archer back into the firelight. The Scimitar man carves another path through the group and ends standing next to a terrified Lila. She sings a different song and the man calls out in Arabic, “someone guide him, as he can not see”. Nico and Ghost finish the other fighter. The Sounds of fighting stop in the Darkness, hopefully Ettore won. The Rest of us ignore the last archer and the wounded man and surround the Blind man, landing some grievous blows. He fights on, very formidable even if blind. I thought I saw Him sever Dominic’s thumb but it was just a bad vision. Even though when he was finished Dominic was severely wounded. Nico Charges the blind man and strikes him down with a mighty hit from his great sword. We have won, thank Allah there were only 10 of them…
But where are the other???

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Hail the Conquering Heroes

As we pick through the remnants of our fallen foes, we hear a loud commotion originating from where we started this fight. Fearing another ambush, I see Ettore creeping up to the intersection to investigate. He yells back that it is a bunch of villagers celebrating. He quickly moves down the street, Nizar and Victoria following closely behind. Let them celebrate, I am more than happy collecting this coin as they do. As I begin to finish up, the yelling becomes louder and I can hear many footsteps coming this way. A large mass of people come moving down the street. I can make out only a few words through the clamor, when suddenly Victoria seems to meld out of the crowd and looks at me, “Come on Fredrich, we are taking the Basilica!”. …What? You can’t just send untrained men into combat, no matter how many of them there are or how much shoddy armor the just picked up. In my old army, we used them to move battering rams into place or arrow fodder-…. uh oh.

I quickly chase down the crowd, but the people are so bunched together that I can’t get through. The only person I recognize is Nizar, only because he sticks out like a soar thumb in this sea of Venetians, and he is far forward into the chaos of people. I hope he is near her. We reach the basilica and what I thought would happen, happened. The guards retreat into the walls and begin turning the front row of villagers into pin cushions. The rest of the crowd backs off to outside the basilica square where it becomes a mass of confusion with the ones in the back pushing forward and the ones in front pushing back. After a while the crowd slowly disperses, leaving only our party and the unfortunate ones left in the street. We quickly leave the basilica and head back to our inn, the inn-keeper both surprised and horrified to see us in our blood stained outfits. He begins drawing us a bath without even asking a question. We head up to our rooms as we wait, upon entering our room we find a cat statue sitting on a table. Nizar quickly picks it up, it breaks in his hand and sand begins pouring out. He goes white and tells us it is a threat from an insane assassin. What kind of assassin threatens with a cat? Who ever this guy is, he has got to be scary, I have never seen Nizar afraid like this before. We finish cleaning up and at the end of the day we head to bed, we make sure guard shifts are covered for tonight.

The next morning we scope out the gate house facing Verona, only to find it deserted. Apparently we killed most of the guard yesterday, this should make things easy. So, we grab a bunch of provisions, lock ourselves in the gate house, and proceed to wait it out here. Etorre seems to be getting bored and begins pacing the room but I don’t mind the break, I could use the rest and I spend my time making a “Cangrande flag” to let the army know that we succeeded in opening the gate. The night comes without incident, however, during the night we get a knock at the door. A man speaks in a language I can’t understand, I think its the one that Nizar speaks. They begin talking through the door while Ettore heads up top to check if there is anyone else with him. He says there isn’t and Nizar lets him in. The man who enters is lanky and dark skinned with two scimitars at his back. He moves past us and begins boiling water. Is this ‘the hunter’ that Nizar was worried about, if so I am not impressed. Once the water is boiled he begins drinking tea and talking with Nizar in the language I can’t understand. Why must they speak in some weird language, cant they just speak what we all speak? The only thing I can understand is Victoria’s comments, including “he is the most polite assassin ever”. I wont argue with her there. After a while the other man gets up and begins moving toward the door, they say a few more things, then suddenly Nizar draws his sword and advances toward him. The man quickly pulls out his swords and advances toward Victoria and I. He moves like no one I have ever seen, its like he is a whirling mass of blades gliding through the room. He quickly takes down Victoria and begins slashing at me, almost slicing my armor in half. I was wrong, color me impressed. The rest of us engage him, Nizar, Dominic, Nicco and Geno surround him and begin cutting him open. We manage to deal some damage to him before he tries to get away, however we do manage to take him down before he escapes. After we take him down, we hear more commotion coming up the stairs, Ettore is up there. Geno, Nicco, and I move up stairs to help him while Nizar and Dominic help Victoria. We move up stairs to see Ettore wrestling with an entirely cloaked figure. I run up to them, and help Ettore pull him into the building while Nicco and Geno come up behind me and begin hitting the cloaked assailant. The person, facing all of us as opposition, then drops his weapon and surrenders. After the battle Nizar begins talking to our prisoner and to my surprise, our prisoner is a woman. Nizar begins talking to her in that alien language again. After a while he finishes talking to her, executes her and then we drop her body out the window facing the outside to the city.

The next morning we see Cangrande’s army marching our direction. I signal the army using my flag and when Cangrande gets near I move down to brief him of what we did in the city. He is pleased at our work and moves onward to the keep, with the two hostages in tow. Soon afterwords Cangrande leaves the keep, without the prisoners, and says that he has claimed the city. He then gathers a lot of the citizens to the central square to address them. He tells them that he is now in charge of their city, and he is cutting the taxes to a fourth of what it was before, not sure how much that is but the people seem happy about it. He then throws a chest’s amount of silver into the crowd which almost starts a riot in the square. Well, I suppose this is what they wanted.

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Ettore's Battle Wound

Victoria approaches behind Dominic and me; her song is nothing like we’ve heard from her before. Usually it’s an encouraging melody but this one felt more dreadful.

Looks like all that remain are archers; this is going to be great (sarcastically speaking). I am successfully able to charge one and got him good! He fell with my first attack!
A group of archers farther up the street loose several arrows at Gino; luckily Dominic is not far behind to provide aid.

Nizar, Dominic, and I charge the group of archers up the street; plus a couple attempting to retreat. I am able to get an attack but it was not as successful as my first charge.
I feel a little disappointed in, and very frustrated with, the archers. They are not attacking me yet I am the one threatening them. Do I not pose as big a threat to them as Nizar and Dominic?

The ones that attempted to retreat were successful; we were unable to get to them in time. Although, when we do catch up to them something doesn’t sit right with me. I think for a second and shout to Nizar that I think it’s a trap! He doesn’t seem to mind; he kept on engaging the archers.

Turns out my instincts were right but they failed. Even though more enemies arrived and no other resistance fighters came to our aid, we left the streets of Vicenza bloody with Sforza patrolmen.
Not before Victoria’s melody returned to normal, ::sigh of relief:: Friedrich “found his inner Gatling gun,” [D.M.s reference to his skill with a bow n’ arrow] and I finally become a threat and was attacked. A severe wound to the groin however, was not what I had in mind. ::nervous chuckle:: I was hoping for battle wounds that made me a man in my Lady’s eyes not battle wounds that would potentially ruin my manhood …. I’ve learned my lesson.

This has nothing to do with this campaign but a previous one. I think I have found Celeste’s theme song; if she were to have one that is: ;]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yj6jBXKIow0

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Living la vita loca

While traveling we beat the plague like a cold , met a boy named Federico , snuck into the city of Vincenzo , joined a revolution and we killed some people and soon gonna kill a whole lot more people as we sack this city.We re on a mission from god and not even Judas could stop me baby. Gooooooooooo God!

Dominic Sinclair

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So Much to Learn

We dropped the prisoners off to Cangrande and when he asked about the interrogation he seemed rather disappointed in how much information we gave them. This is certainly not something I learned from mein Vater. Of course he was a shrewd business man and very diplomatic. He used those skills to get what he wanted from people so I suppose it is not all that different, if I really think about it. Many of the dealings my father had did not start out cordial. Most of time though he would know what leverage to use, or not use, and he knew when to be forceful or flexible. It seems my father was a very wise man and perhaps his methods will serve me as well. I still have so much to learn.

I also found out that Luca was in Verona and in Cangrande’s prison. shudder This is certainly not someplace I want to visit again even if I am on the outside of the bars this time. But I must go. I need to know if Luca had anything to do with my, our, capture. Cangrande granted me access and I asked Dominic to come with me after I learned they were accusing Luca of being a Satanist. I wanted to see him alone but I just couldn’t take any chances if he indeed meant me harm.

Oh he looks so bad. He is hurt. I greet my old friend with a tune and a smile. He knows who it is right away and I see his wonderful smile under all the caked dirt and blood. We exchange a few formal pleasantries and I soon know I have nothing to fear from him. I reach through the bars and touch his badly beaten face. He is burned and scarred. My heart is breaking. We talk of our time after being separated and I tell him I am sorry that he is in this situation. I tell him he is being branded a Satanist and there is little I can do for him. The thought if him being executed brings tears to my eyes but I do my best to hide them from him. I wish I had some way to help him but there were many that saw him using witchcraft in order to escape the Corvos. With all the recent events here in Verona I know, nothing I say, will matter. Before I leave I ask him if I might do anything for him. He has two simple requests. He would be most grateful for a cup of hot water and his lute.

I return with a cup of hot tea and a spare lute that I was carrying after getting Cangrande’s permission. I wish him well and hope that this will not be the last time I get to see him. Of course I am sure he will be executed by the time we return from Vicenza.

It seems we are to head back out again in the morning. As we leave I look around and wonder if I will be back here anytime soon. With the way things are going any of us could be killed at any moment. I am already worried that Dominic, Fredrich or Nizar may come down with the plague at any minute. I keep checking their ears and they are probably getting annoyed with me already but I don’t want any of them to die. I certainly don’t want them to die an agonizingly slow and painful death.

So it’s not long before we are attacked. It feels like we will never be able to travel without someone trying to kill us. This time it seems to be the Normans that are working for Mastino. They found out about the bounty on Nizar’s head and they mean to claim it. This was an awful and bloody battle. I made a suggestion to one of the men that they should not be attacking us and he ran at me screaming that we are all Satanists. Then IT happened! He struck my hand with his sword. The pain was blistering and I couldn’t see straight. I stumbled back trying to get away from him but he kept coming at me. I knew Fredrich was close, as was Ettore, but they were busy with their own attackers. I was helpless and desperately trying to get away. I managed to put some distance between us but I thought for sure he was going to keep coming. I was so focused on my hand that I didn’t even realize he was dead. My friends had killed him and the last one was running away. I yelled out that they think we are Satanists and if you can stop him you should.

Dominic continued after the last heathen as I sat slumped on the ground next to an unconscious Nicco. He was struck down during the battle but Fredrich said he was still alive. I couldn’t help but cry. I never thought I would play again. There are 2 things that keep me going. My music and the chance that someday I will get justice for my family. My friends have helped me and the only way I can pay them back is to get my lands and title back. At this rate though I may just get them all dead.

Thankfully, Dominic comes back into camp with the runaway. His arrival distracts me from my morbid and self pitying train of thought. The prisoner is tied up and I ask him why they attacked. He said to get the bounty on Nizar. I told him that this was his unlucky day because this is now between you and Nizar. He was given a quick death. I am sure far more than they would have given Nizar had we not prevailed.

Dominic came over to me to tend to my hand and after a few moments his touch made much of the pain go away. He is truly blessed. I do believe that God is on his side. He has tended it so well that I can move it will soon be able to play again. Fredrich comes over to see how I am doing and I have to say I reacted badly. I yanked my hand away from him and scooted back as I saw a pustule on the back of his ear. I pointed and probably stated louder than I meant to that there was puss behind his ear. My friend is going to die. sob

Fredrich looks quite a bit worse by morning and I am afraid he isn’t going to last much longer. This is all very distressing but we push on in the morning. By the next day I know Fredrich is not long for this life. He is so weak and looking just awful. We found a spot under a bridge where we stay waiting for the inevitable to happen. Dominic continues to tend to Fredrich and he does appear better but then get worse again by morning. I want to help but I don’t know what to do so I play for him. I play German songs for him so he can have some of home with him before…sob
On the 4th day Dominic calls for a blessing from God and I think I just witnessed a miracle. Fredrich seems better in the morning. Dominic did it!! He cured Fredrich of the plague. I run over and give Fredrich a huge hug and a kiss and the cheek and then I do the same to Dominic. I just look at Dominic with awe. I think God does talk to him.

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Something I Can't Fight

The morning after the battle, our 2 prisoners awake. Lila starts to question them as to why they are attacking us. The one in charge reveals he is the 3rd prince of the Sfrotza family and he was sent to prevent us from returning the evil book to Cardinal Durrante. We explain we were taking it to the Bishop in order to expose the cardinal. But he remains unconvinced, claiming Congrande is behind the evil and the plague in the area.
As he is noble ransoming him is a possiblity, but we can’t complete our mission and ransom him on our own. So I send Layil back with a brief note, asking for instructions.
During this time Lila tells the scout his fate is tied to the war dogs, and should it attack anyone his life will be forfit. That night the dog disappears. We move camp to different location as I think the dog might lead some soldiers back to us as we wait. After 2 days Layil returns with our answer. We are to return to Verona with the 2 prisoners.
After a days travel we make camp and the weather seems to indicate snow for tomorrow, great, this country is too cold…
That night the dog reappears bringing a rabbit to the edge of the fight light and leaving it for us. Ok so I was wrong about it going to get help…
It does start to snow again the next day, slowing our travel but not stopping it like the storm we had on the way out from Verona. I really miss my dry warm hills and desert…
That night a man shuffles toward the camp, as he enters the firelight, he mumbles help me and grab a hold of Freidrich. The man face is covered in boils!!! He has the plague!! Everyone is awakened as Freidrich screams, the man dugs his finger nails into Freidrichs arm. Friedrich collapses losing the contents of his stomach. Dominic, Etorre and Gino surround the man and chop him down, his death is a mercy. I have drawn my new bow and backed away so I can see the battle and the prisoners. Lila is playing her harp and Nico has pulled a bow as well. Two more plague victims stumble into the light from either side of camp. Freidrich is by the stream dryheaving. As Dominic, Ettore and Gino close with one of the walking corpses, Nico and I fill the other with arrows. But it keeps coming for me! His clawlike hand find my flesh, Allah help me, I do not want to die from the plague… Several arrows later he finally stops attacking me. The other one has fallen to Gino and Ettores blades, and Dominic is now wretching as well. That makes 3 of us wounded and possibly infected. I pray to Allah to spare us this horrid death, and vow to end my freinds life swiftly if they are infected. And I hope they have the courage to grant me the same mercy.
Dominic tends to Freidrich, then prays over my wound and his own as well. The wounds vanish but will that be enough, only time will tell.
We reach Verona the next day, with Lila periodically checking behind our ears for signs we are infected.
We reach the castle and turn the prisoners over the guards. We then go see Congrande. He is very please with us, and says the ransom will help fund his war. He wants us to continue our mission in Vincenza, as the population is even more unhappy with the Sfortza’s rule than they were a week ago.
We agree and leave to re-provision for the journey. We return to check on our house and staff, only to find that the new guards have been partying and making a mess of the house. Carine has said she has barred them from the house proper unless they are on guard duty. I tell her I will speak with them about proper respect.
I find the guard we left in charge and he starts to complaion that a servant is bossing him around and I need to talk to her. I give him the best dressing down of my life and leave him in tears, with a perfect understanding of who is in charge when we are not here. I probably should not have been so harsh with him, but my fear and frustration were unleased on him. Am I going to die soon of that horrible rotting? How long before the signs start to show? Maybe I will die in battle before then. I just wish I would been able to see Victoria restored to her family’s lands. Allah take me to your paradise soon, I hope you are waiting for me, Aaliyah my love.
We leave the next morning, traveling over the familiar ground again on our way to Vincenza. I am hoping to encounter soldiers and die honorably in battle….

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Hide and Seek

A few days of rest
Friedrich and Dominic’s armor/weapons are ready. I buy a new set of winter weather clothes and boots. I also pick up a wooden crucifix and rosary beads like my parents had in our house.
Rosa visits. She shares news from Florence: The church is saying that Cardinal Durante poisoned the drinking water as a way of explaining to the people their nightmares. Cardinal Durante is solely to blame for the burning of the Cathedral. The word around is that Luca is a Satanist. ::somehow I knew it:: He is currently a prisoner of Mastino’s forces and is being held in Cangrande’s castle. Mastino is the nephew Cangrande is expecting. Apparently, Luca killed several Corvo guards when he tried to leave; Rosa is not sure if he is working with the Corvos even though he fought and killed a few of their men. Along with Luca, Mastino has several Norman mercenaries with him; she warns Nizar to be careful and watchful. She turns to Nizar and informs him that The Dog has not looked into the Arab soldiers; however, there is a price on his head. Nizar clarifies his story to Rosa. She appreciates the disclosure but is not concerned about him; she states that if she were then her information would have already made it to Cangrande. Rosa then turns to Victoria, and informs her that she has yet to locate any of her family. Milan is thriving … I lose interest and think back to what Rosa said about Luca. ::deep sigh:: If we need to contact her, go to the bar nearest the castle and speak to her philosophers. She turns to Friedrich and informs him that without more detailed information she has reached a dead end; she found nothing for him.

An evening audience with The Dog
Cangrande grants us access to Luca but first we share news. His other nephew, Alberto, is in Rome looking after our interests. ::I’m assuming that’s with the Bishop and the book:: There is a new family that has come in to the light in Vicenza, The Sforza Family. Citizens there are unhappy with this new ruler. They have instituted martial law, raised taxes, and as a result the citizens have banded together to rise up against this family. The Dog believes that all of this taken in to consideration, his fight for the Veneto will begin easily. Once he takes Vicenza his plan is for Henri VII to knight him The Vicor of Vicenza. ::how does this relate back to our situation I wonder:: Cangrande believes that once all of this takes place we are free from threat in this area to travel and take a look at Lombardy. ::ah, I see:: He urges us to go into Vicenza before he arrives with his men; less death equals more people for him to rule. The Dog advises we infiltrate as soon as possible. We share with him what Rosa told us … his focus is still on taking Vicenza first.
Luca and Victoria visit. Dominic and Victoria start to leave and when I ask to come along I’m denied. ::we’ll see about that:: I follow them quietly, hide, and listen. This isn’t making any sense … they are talking strangely for being old friends. ::senses motive:: Speaking in code? Why? For fear of guard out front overhearing, she said she trusts her new party maybe she really doesn’t? I leave … shortly after they return to the group. Cangrande reminds us of our task and tells us we have about a week until he marches because he would like to evaluate Mastino’s men first.

Last minute preparations
Friedrich gets a masterwork buckler, Victoria is finally able to get her ornamental armor repaired and cleaned. Nicco and Gino ask to join us. They want to return good services to us since we have been so kind to them. Dominic raises a good point about them being able to assist with guard shifts. They’re coming along!
We travel toward Vicenza. We venture out after we pick up a few items at the local markets; aside from that the day and night are uneventful.
2nd Day. Layil lands on Nizar’s shoulder around mid afternoon and he puffs out his feathers. Nizar tells us we need to seek shelter because snow is coming. It begins to fall as we complete the camp. It doesn’t let up for five hours and totals about four inches. Other than that, the remaining day and night passes without incident.
3rd Day. Sun is out and it feels a little warmer than yesterday. Snow is melting and getting slushy.
An eventful night. I awaken to Nizar screaming out and our old pet mastiff comes running in to our camp. There is an arrow in Nizar’s upper chest near his shoulder and it looks like it tore up his armor too. I spot and hear another old friend, the archer-leader to my Northwest. I inform the party and then disappear in that direction. He looses an arrow at Nizar as he enters our camp and when I go to attack him, he is aware of me! ::that’s not supposed to happen; I’m shocked and impressed:: I notice the mastiff is dead. I gasp as I see Dominic’s warhorse severely wound an enemy soldier with a powerful charge. ::wow:: Nicco moves to assist me with the archer-leader. It looks as though the Scout is beside himself; he has stopped tumbling around Nizar. ::interesting:: The archer-leader tumbles out of flank and flees into the shadows of the forest. This is going to be a frustrating kill. I can’t spot him. Nicco is not following me into the forest; I wouldn’t either. I hope he helps out with killing the Scout! I pause in the shadows to recite a silent, quick prayer when I am hit with an arrow! I make him out due to his attack and apparently get him really good (critical hit). ::gasps. Have I ruined his bow!?:: Lets see if it works. He tumbles away and hid again in the shadows. I spot him tumble away but can’t see him in the shadows. ::come out, come out, where ever you are … :: I move slowly towards the direction he tumbled and this time I hide so that I hopefully don’t get pinged with another two arrows! ::I have to ask Nizar about this, what could I do differently? Daylight would be nice!:: Out of the corner of my eye I notice someone has lit a torch. ::recites another silent, quick prayer:: I notice the archer-leader was right there beside me as he tumbles further away and hides in the shadows. I follow the direction of the tumble and manage to get one hit on him before he tumbles and hides again. ::sighs. I’m not used to fighting like this:: I notice the newly lit torch is moving in our direction; I’m pretty sure it’s my party looking for me and this archer-leader. He tumbles away again and I loose him within the shadows. I try moving slowly again toward his tumble and I hide. ::he hasn’t loosed an arrow; maybe his bow is in fact broken:: I hear what I believe is the Scout loosing his life so I ready myself; if I heard it then so did the archer-leader. ::I knew it!:: I spot him tumble away; he was close beside me again! I cannot find him in the shadows. Fighting off in the distance stops. All is silent near me except distant voices … coming from the camp … party members then? Where’s the lit torch? I yell out my location and that I am having trouble maintaining sight on the archer-leader. I ready myself again. I hear Dominic’s warhorse; he arrives with a torch. We both fail at spotting him ::while I am frustrated I am still impressed by his skill:: Here comes Nizar; wow, his light is much, much, brighter! ::why are they headed South? I don’t think the archer-leader is headed for the road:: I calm and refocus, I sense the slightest shift in armor like he is drawing a weapon or an arrow. I ready myself again. Nizar moves due West from the road and Dominic due North on the warhorse ::I wonder if his horse has a name:: Several attempts from all three of us and we fail to spot him. Once my location is shrouded in both the torch and sun rod (I learn its name afterwards) am I finally able to spot the archer-leader! ::sigh of relief:: I notice that Nizar is flanking him ::I can finally sneak him!:: so I move in to attack when he throws up his arms in surrender. Nizar backs away from flank as a result and says he wants to question the archer-leader so I turn one of my daggers around and knock him out.
Clean up after the fight. As Dominic, Nizar, and I return to camp with the archer-leader; Victoria, Nicco, and Gino are looting the Scout, soldiers, and eventually our prisoner. We tied them up and healed the mastiff (Gino and Nicco think he can be retrained) before returning to sleep and guard shifts. Nizar says we will question him in the morning….

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Out of the Fire, and Into Hell

As the noise of battle dies down, I pull my face out of the dust and dirt. I hurt in places I didn’t even know I had, “This is why I am an archer,” I mumble to myself. As I catch my breath, Victoria is instructing Dominique and Nizar on how to sabotage the catapult. We should just burn it. After a short travel out of the area, we stay off the road and spend some time to rest. You wont hear me complain. During our second day of rest, Nizar hears a sound coming from a stand of bushes from which a dog clad in barding appears, growling menacingly. Several other men show up, including the two other knights who escaped from the last battle. Dominique, Nizar, and Ettore engage the two knights, one of the archers begins to shoot arrows at Nizar while the other shoots them at Victoria, that leaves me to face this snarling, drooling, sharp-toothed, fully armored, mangy hell hound of a dog. Why did I leave home again? The animal lunges at me, grabbing hold of my arm but its teeth doesn’t penetrate my armor. I wrestle it off and take a step back and shoot two arrows at it, one striking it, while the other clangs off its armor. Ettore goes toe to toe with one of the knights while Dominique and Nizar both go after the other, the scout begins filling Nizar with arrows while the last guy begins shooting at me since Victoria is now hiding behind the rock I am next to. The beast lunges at me again, again it just nicks my armor. I again move away from it this time when I hit it with an arrow I hit a vital spot, it yelps in pain in response. Apparently their leader does not feel that the battle is going well so he orders a retreat. Surprisingly all of the combatants do so with none of us pursuing them. All of the enemies make a hasty yet cautious retreat leaving us to our own devices.
We quickly break camp and move somewhere else, hopefully out of sight from anymore intruders. Fortunately after several more traveling days we make it back to Florence without incident I guess we showed them. We enter the city in pairs to hide from the description of our group. We meet up in a tavern eventually, Nizar being the last one to arrive through the alley-way, not sure if he really needed to come through there but at least it was surely effective. After some negotiating and bartering with the strangely helpful bartender, not that I am complaining, we manage to get in contact and set up a meeting with the bishop and Nizar has some new tea to boot, I wonder if I can bum some off of him. That night we meet up with the bishop’s exorcist, father Giovanni, he says that he has seen a total of two possessions in his entire career and he is skeptical on whether or not our skeletal hand adorned book is the real thing. He began praying in latin, after a short time, the furniture in the room began to shake, the air became thick as if the room itself became oppressive. The table then rose several inches off of the ground and began to levitate, the light in the room dimmed and the temperature dropped a good 10 degrees. The exorcist continued his chant as the table started to return to its proper place and the feeling in the room went back to normal. After he stopped he, turned to us and said “make this number three”. No, you think.
Despite the Giovanni’s protests, we insisted on escorting him to a church in the city to continue the ceremony and to meet with the bishop in person. When we get there, he takes the book and his entourage to a back room and continue with the exorcism, while we wait for the bishop to show up, the several voices speaking latin being the only thing to keep us company. After what felt like hours the bishop finally shows up with his body guards. After filling him in on recent events, we present him with the Corvo genealogy book. As he thumbs though it, his excitement can be seen on his face, almost in a sinister kind of way. Soon afterward he composes himself and thanks us for our deeds and says that the cardinal will be apprehended for crimes against the church. After he leaves we decided to to go back to our inn where we will spend the rest of the night and leave the next morning, despite Nizar’s protests.
That morning as we are preparing to leave, Victoria and I feel a slight tremor in the room. Confused I look at the window to see the sunrise in a strange shade of red. I feel a second tremor in the room, this time the rest of the group can feel it. We hurry out of room to the stables, getting to our horses as quickly as possible. With our horses we get the street preparing to mount and the hell out of town, hell seems to have other plans. A huge tremor rocks the city, we look toward the cathedral to see a giant wave of smoke and ash billowing through the street toward us. As the cloud envelops the other people in the street, they fall to the knees in fear and painful agony. We try to leave but the cloud of fear overtakes us too quickly, dried and dessicated hands break the cobbles of the road and reach toward us. Their crooked, yellow, nails grab at our legs, scratching as they pull us to the ground. The hands pull our limbs in all directions, all vying to get a piece of us for themselves. Pure terror envelops me as I fear this is the end. Then suddenly the hands and smoke disappears leaving us looking up into the empty blue sky. We pick ourselves up and quickly ride to the church wear we left father Giovanni and the demonic book only to find an awestruck father Giovanni. He tells us that the bishop’s men had tried to apprehend the cardinal which he then destroyed the entire cathedral and came to Giovanni’s church, killed his other priests, and took the book. Fortunately the bishop was not there or at the cathedral so he survived the attack.
After we part ways, we quickly make our way out of the city and back toward Verona, apparently we were not the only ones with that idea as thousands of people were fleeing the city with all of their belongings. We join a group of people headed north, they were happy to see a group of heavily armed people for protection. We reach Verona without incident to see that Cangrande is in his castle to greet us. He is eager to hear what had happened, to see if any of the stories coming out of Florence were true. He then informs us that his nephew is bringing an entire army down from the Empire to aid in his conquering of Venice.

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Are you there god, its me Dominic..
You test my faith my lord. You haunt me with visions and guide me to danger, with these fellow confused people. One week its Lelo, next lela..todays shes noble named victoria.And they look t me strange. Only me and the boy are actually from italy , its like we all met paths by fate. Father… i ve asked your opinion on Nazar …he should be an enemy..but he’s actually my friend..he gave me this great sword to replace my lost one , it even says “God’s choice”! I dont blame him for not telling us he is wanted, there’s no way he would kill a woman, hes a gentleman ..well until he chops off an arm. At this rate of confessions, i woulod expect Fredric to tell us he s really not an archer..which actually make sense… I am becoming less afraid my lord. I no longer run from battle ..i run into battle. I know u are guiding my hand, i ve never been a leader or a hero. You empower me and give me miricles. After we ran over the Coble family , we then take the house by storm. confiscating all of its value. the most excitment i ever saw was maybe a resitance in jail or a boob. I never imagined this. All the traveking. Ive never left northern itaily and now.. well now i m wanted in like 4 towns!! I wear your cross on my chest because u have my heart.Today on our journey you saved me.you showed me the structure after the horseman questioned us.. and then the bolder.then with my mighty stead you allowed me to run into danger. Nazar faith allows him to take on four horseman, 4 horseman!…(wait thats sounds familar , where have i heard that).. I just wish i didnt see my friends get hurt.. some need more faith, like fredric ..he needs a lot of faith.. like a lot. I saw him get hit by a boulder from the catapulte..wow! And as i passed by arrows and the thickness of danger..i realized.. i .. got off my horse way to early..i am so slow with full plate.. i was sure we we done for. looking at my comrades i saw doom. We were outnumbered and surely nazar was taken. And then your power came through me . Your divine grace. I was like a templar or even cangrande. Noting could stop us .Despite all odds we prevailed. i was sure fredric was dead… but then all of a sudden..he wasnt..if that gaurd wasnt weighed down surely id be burrying him. But you have a plan god. And that plan i see now is " save the cheerleader.. save the world"… wait no.. i mean " its to get lela.. i mean Victoria here nobility and land back.. burn the city.u have saidd it all along. Five strangers from differnet lands and faiths.. fighting for justice…. FIGHTING FOR JESUS!!!!! THANK U BABY JESUS
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Cavil, Corvo, Cangrande, Comaschi...Oh My!

After our discovery in the basement of the Cavil estate and the subsequent unveiling of proof to Rosa we were told we would be going to see Cangrande Della Scala to present our findings. This certainly scared me to death and it was at that point I knew I had to let the others know who I really am.

After sharing my thoughts about Lord Giulio Cavil (older) being a pawn in all of this I asked to speak to our group privately.

Will they hate me? Will they still want to help me and protect me? It doesn’t matter! I owe them all the truth.

With the guards and Carine out of earshot I explained that I was indeed Viktoria Comaschi and I apologized for my deception. I trust them all with so much more than my life; I owed them all the truth. Dominic didn’t seem surprised because, Abbot Morosini had asked him to protect me at all costs. He asked me about this when I said I was Viktoria’s friend but I didn’t have any answer for him, and he didn’t press me. He just knew that something was off. Ettore seemed excited but perhaps that is because I had confirmed his suspicions as well. Nizar confirmed what I already knew about this honorable, yet very angry, Arab by saying that he would have protected me had I been a simple serving wench. Fredrich was the only one I was not able to get a read on with any precision. He seemed surprised but perhaps resigned. I am still unsure but either way I do not feel he means me any harm. I imagine all the deception on my part is to blame, and I certainly understand him being upset with me.

Antonio brought a contingent of guards to escort us to Cangrande. We brought Carine, Nicco and Gino with us. As we make our way down the street I start to feel a bit uneasy. I can tell that Carine is frightened but who can blame her. She has been through a lot and still fears retribution. The closer we get to Cangrande’s the more nervous I become. As we enter the gates it takes everything in me to continue but I think about my family and of the possibility that I may someday regain my holdings and title. The one thought that drives me forward is that we should be able to get Cangrande’s help in ridding us of at least one Corvo.

As we enter the room there is much going on inside. Philosophers and minstrels are at or near a table with Rosa and Dante. Seeing her makes me feel much better. I have put a lot of trust in her and so far she has not let me down. As I take in the lively scene I hear Fredrich announce himself using our cover name of Lord Guelph. Just as he does this Cangrande states loudly and with a bit of a laugh “No you’re not!” At this point I start to panic on the inside but manage to hold fast as it seems Cangrande doesn’t really care. I still stay behind Nizar and Dominic as we move up to the front of the room. Cangrande asks for the books and then tells us to sit and enjoy the feast.

Whew what a relief. It appears all is well between our group and Cangrande. This allows me to finally relax and enjoy the occasion. I know all too soon we will have to speak about what we have found but for now we can eat and drink and I can play my harp with some extremely talented musicians.

Ahh my Harp. The only real thing I have left from my family. Mein Vater gave this to me so that I might play an instrument “befitting my station”. Thanks to my friends I was able to retrieve it even though I could have cost us all our lives. I realize now what a silly thing it was but my music and this Harp me everything to me. It is a symbol of my family. My father used to tease me and tell me tales of my harp. But it is an exquisite thing:

It was masterfully crafted from cherry polished to a mirrored finish. The anchors for each string are silver and gold eagles’ heads arranged so that the string stretches from its open beak. The Comaschi coat of arms was situated at the center of the polished wooden swirl at the harps highest point. It is inlaid with gold and ebony.

I had just joined the other musicians when Valentino burst through the doors spilling his quiver of arrows and yelling RUN! He was bloody from fighting then a moment later Lord Cavil, his daughter Lady Lana Cavil, a whole host of Cavil guards and what looks to be a contingent of Arabs came through the doors.

I cannot believe they are making a direct attack on Cangrande in his home. I suppose they know the ruse is over and now that the books have been found we have forced their hand.

Cangrande engages Lana Cavil and tells her she should sit and eat and drink with everyone before her inevitable end. Sadly she does not take Cangrande up on his offer but this has given the by standers time to flee the room. It would also seem to have given the Cavil’s Guard Captain time to somehow maneuver unseen, right up to Cangrande, and land a mighty blow. Cangrande in a split second before the hit came pulled his shield over his head and blocked the brunt of the strike. However the force of the blow split his shield and knocked him and his throne over. Cangrande was down!

At this point one of the Arabs said something odd “We only came for our man. We did not come here for this!” Hmm their man. The only Arab I know is Nizar. I wonder what they want with him. They certainly have come a long way to get him.

At that point all hell broke loose. The fighting was viscous and both sides were losing men left and right. I started singing hoping to inspire my allies with courage. They must have been afraid but none ever showed it. There was so much going on it was difficult to keep track of it all.

Dominic and Nizar rushed back to help the Keepers with the Captain that just took down Cangrande. Fredrich hopped up on a table and started firing arrows, Antonio pushed into the melee and began taking people down. I am not sure where Ettore went but he is difficult to keep track of when the battle breaks out. I hope he doesn’t end up like Valentino on the wrong side of the fighting. I do worry about that boy.

Dominic, Nizar and the two Keepers actually made quick work of the Cavil Captain. He didn’t fare so well with likes of them surrounding him. I made my way over to Cangrande and began to play a healing tune. Since I am not well versed in the healing arts I say a quick prayer and hope that it helps him. At least he is still breathing. With the Captain dead the four men take off to join Fredrich and Antonio in the main battle.

Lord Cavil went down when Antonio ran his blade through the Lord’s gut. It was a good sight but we still had Lana Cavil and one rather Nasty Arab to deal with. Lana had at some point finished off Valentino after he successfully attacked her. As men started to fall on both sides a fine pink mist started to swirl around Lana Cavil. I think, I think it’s, BLOOD! Dear Lord, protect me and my friends from the She devil!

The next thing I see is Antonio’s sword shattering in a thousand pieces just like Dominic’s did. Just when I thought she couldn’t get any scarier she suddenly disappeared and then reappeared right behind Antonio and touched his neck. Dominic is nearby so he and Antonio will have a shot at her now. Assuming Antonio survives whatever she did to him.

Cangrande came around and charged into battle with no armor and a badly damaged shield. I have to say he is an impressive man. I don’t think even Nizar or Dominic could have survived that blow. He charged in and pulled one of his own men out of the way so that he could get into the thick of things. He laid waste to everyone that stood before him.

Fredrich seems to have lost his bow. I was trying to determine how that happened when I spotted that Scary Arab that visited me in my room the other night. It seems he took Henri’s place, and from the look of things, is just as capable. Fredrich drew his blade and moved into the melee at that point. It seems Ettore has made an appearance and is quite far away from everyone. He seems to be holding his own and taking down several guards and Arabs.

It seems to be pretty close at this point and the battle could go either way. Dominic and Lana Cavil have been trading blows and Dominic seems to have gotten the worst of it and has to retreat a bit. Antonio has suddenly started attacking his own men. The witch has caused him to go mad.She really needs to die Some of the Cavil men appear to be fighting with each other. Perhaps some are trying to leave.

The Scary Arab seems to be cutting through men like butter. He has made his way across the room to get near Nizar. Nizar is fighting the Scary Arab that wants him for something. They certainly do not seem to like each other. Ettore is still taking out the men near the front door and doing a fine job of it. Dominic is attaining God’s blessing so that he may rejoin the battle. Cangrande and Fredrich appear to have Lady Cavil in a bad way. She suddenly drops her horrific mace and then tried to flee. Dark shadows start swirling about her almost lifting her away when Cangrande and Fredrich connect with her and fell the Witch! What a beautiful sight.

Dominic and Nizar must have been inspired by this because before I know it the Nasty Arab is down. Ettore has come up and started to finish off the last remaining Arabs. The only one left is the Cavil Captain and he is now surrounded by everyone. He is finished.

Seeing Lana Cavil, or rather Corvo, lying there dead filled me with rage. I took out my dagger and stabbed her in the chest with it. “Take That!” I shout. Cangrande apparently finds this amusing but I found it liberating. I know she was already dead but she helped take my family from me. Maybe not directly but that makes no difference. The Corvo’s are in league with Satan.

Cangrande tells everyone that is able to still fight to follow him. While they run off to finish up with the fighting outside I start poking around Lana Cavil’s body and find her disgusting weapons and some rather nice jewelry. Seeing how she won’t be in need of it anymore, I take it off her and put it on. She has 2 signet rings one for Cavil and another for the Corvo family. Her armor is also quite fine. They are always telling me to get armor and weapons so I think I’ll get all this icky blood off it and try it on.

Before I get the armor on, Rosa and the others come piling back in to find me drowning the armor in wine. Not long after that Cangrande and my friends return victorious. Cangrande says to take anything we can use and the rest will go to the armory. It seems everyone has found something they can use. I hold up the armor for my friends and ask them “So what do you think?” Cangrande looks at me and says “You need something to protect you Viktoria.” Well, I guess that answers one of my questions.

Nizar took a bunch of weapons but I think that makes him feel more comfortable. There were 2 blades that had Arabic writing on the blades. Nizar took the curved one with “Wind” written on the blade. Dominic took the straight sword to replace the one the Witch shattered. Fredrich knelt down beside the Witch and wiped his blade off on her clothing. Then as he stood he grabbed her mace, and held it up for a minute. He seemed to be deciding whether or not he wanted the menacing looking weapon. The mace head was in the shape of a human heart with the shaft of the weapon rising up and forming into a raven’s claw that is grasping the heart. Fredrich makes up his mind and hangs the mace at his side and sheaths a new dagger as well. Nicco took the battle axe along with the Arab armor. Geno also got some new armor and a greatsword. I realized that Lana’s armor would serve Ettore much better than I, and insisted he take it. He is always getting into the middle of things and usually alone, so he needs the protection more than I. After going back and forth about the Corvo dagger I decided I did in fact want it. I want the Corvo’s to know that this belonged to one of them, and that person is now dead. After searching through all the bodies Nizar says the armor the Nasty Arab was wearing looks to have a design on it. After seeing the potential of the disease ridden, foul armor, I decide that I must get it repaired and that the design should be restored. It may be quite beautiful after all.

At some point someone asked “So what do we do now?” Cangrande’s response was “We are going to war. Are we not?” I didn’t even hesitate with my response “We are!”

After all the sorting had been done Cangrande took me aside and said that I have a unique opportunity. Most rulers inherit but have no idea what it is like to fight their way to power. If I fail, which is likely, I am dead, but if successful I would be a renowned warlord. I do believe that blow to his head is impairing him I give him an odd look as he finishes that last sentence. But I tell him that I plan to get my lands and title back, and destroy all the Corvo’s in the process. He said that it is fortunate that our purposes align because he wants to run Venice. How fortunate indeed

So Viktoria Comaschi, daughter of The Lord, Eduardo Comaschi, and all of 12 years old, plans on taking back her land and title by exterminating the Corvo filth that took her family and her home from her. Jesus and Allah willing, with the help of her friends, some powerful allies, and a whole heap of luck maybe, just maybe, I’ll succeed.

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