Part III: The Prison Break
Last time, our heroes had had a rough night, being attacked by a huge black wolf, seemingly infused with Porte sorcery. Though it was a terrifying experience, they made it to the next day.
Traveling overland through the forests of the La Motte province, the dark and wild trees gave way to the orderly rows of an orchard. When the PCs saw the La Motte estate, they chose to give it a wide berth and avoided any potential confrontation. Traveling by night, and resting in an irrigation ditch during the day ensured they were not spotted by any laborers.
In a short time, the PCs had made it to the prison: a three story stone tower manned by over 20 guards. Across the (what passed for a) street, there was a tavern and stables. Closer to the tower was a barracks and smithy.
Then our heroes hatched a cunning plan to help Ramon to escape. I should point out here that there was no pre-decided “right way” for them to do it. I wanted to see what ideas they came up with on their own without having to pull them down a “path”.
At night, Luis snuck into the smithy and stole some hot coals. He took these and placed them adjacent to the tavern, where a good number of the guards spent their time off. In a short time, it was ablaze, and the guards on watch at the top of the tower began shouting “FIRE!” “FIRE AT THE TAVERN!”
At which point, the guards on the ground began shooting their muskets in the general direction of the tavern. With this distraction created, Diego climbed a rope grappled to the other side of the tower (in the chaos involved in the fire, the guards did not notice the grappler landing behind them). Upon reaching the roof, Diego’s player performed a Stunt that seemed to be an homage to the Three Stoogees, cracking all three heads together at once from behind.
The guards safely asleep, Diego began to open the trap door on the roof. From there, he spied something terrifying: the flames of the tavern turned into a giant snake made of flames and began slithering its way towards the tower, climbing the walls and going into the tiny hole that served as a window for one of the cells.
Quinn maintained a lookout from the treeline, ready to give covering fire should the other party members need it. Luis, meanwhile was half-way up the rope. He saw a Vaticine priest kneeling in prayer in one of the cells, then saw the fire snake burn its way through the heavy oak door and immolate the priest into a skeleton of black ash! The snake immediately turned around and left the room.
Making it to the roof, Diego and Luis began to make their way downward. They encountered no guards on the inside, and found 2 cells where the door had been burnt to ash; otherwise all the other prisoners remained untouched. One by one, Luis began picking the locks to the cells, freeing the prisoners.
Among them was Ramon, who informed them that the “Fire Mage” was in fact, his own cousin, who had gone mad. The priest who was killed was a member of the Inquisition, which the sorcerous cousin was determined to exterminate. Then, he burned his way out of the front gates to the prison. All the guards’ attempts to shoot him failed as their muskets mysteriously could not strike a spark. The gigantic fire snake encouraged even the bravest of the guards to flee for his life rather than try to return the sorcerer to his cell.
In addition to Ramon, the prisoners were mostly a mix of Castillian POWs and Montaigne political prisoners. The one exception was an Avalon privateer who had been captured by “The General”, an Eisen mercenary employed by L’Empeur to round up all pirates in Montaigne waters. The fact that he was alive at all and in this prison meant he must be some VIP in Avalon that the Montaigne did not want to upset by executing him.
Finally among the more interesting prisoners was a Montaigne Porte sorcerer sitting in between two mirrors. He cast no reflection on the mirrors, but instead there was a ghost “trapped” inside the mirror, pounding on the glass with non-existant hands (his wrists ended in bloody stumps, and bloody pits were all that remained of what should have been his eyes). Luis decided to free him, and after they got clear of the tower (very careful not to disturb the mirrors that imprisoned the ghost) he was able to use his Porte again. Before leaving, he gave the PCs his marker so that they could call on him for a favor some day in the future, and told them his name was Gilbert Rois et Reines du Rogné
Because they had an Avalon Privateer captain (I named him “Archibald Hornblower”) and a few other prisoners who were handy at sailing, Luis decided to forgo being smuggled across the river to Barcino, and instead walking to another port, where they could steal a ship to take them all back to Castille. He asked the Porte sorcerer to deliver a message to his contact in Buche, telling him not to wait for him.
Meanwhile, the Heroes determined to stop in Bastogne on the way to the port, as it was a region known for its exceedingly valuable horses (3-5,000 guilders apiece). Using the Prefect’s signet ring, and donning a Montaigne army uniform, Luis began preparing a writ to grant him two of the horses in the name of the Prefect of Barcino (and to be paid for by General DuToille, the Montaigne commander of the Castillian front).
The Road to Bastogne
On the way to Bastogne, the PCs were again traveling off the main road to avoid patrols of Montaigne troops, but they encountered a squad of Musketeers nevertheless. Because the PCs were dressed in Montaigne army uniforms, the Musketeers signaled them to approach.
The seargent in charge of the squad told the PCs that they were on the lookout for a group of bandits who had recently kidnapped a duchess, Therese Rois et Reines du Rogné (the mother of the noble Gilbert who they had freed from the prison the day before). Luis agreed to do all he could to find her (much to the annoyance of Diego) on their way to Bastogne, and was given a blooded coin that the Seargent could use to pass a message to him to update him on his progress the next day at noon.
Quinn was able to pick up their trail, leading to a shack in the hills. Catching the bandits in the shack by surprise, the PCs quickly dispatched them both, with Quinn making a nigh-impossible shot to hit one holding a gun on the duchess in the neck to sever his spinal cord, thus preventing him from pulling the trigger as he fell.
Duchess Therese, whose hands they unbound, was now able to use her Porte sorcery once again. The PCs made no mention of her son Gilbert (a good thing since she is the one who sent him to prison). At that moment, the Sergeant’s Porte coin activated and passed a message through asking about his progress in the search. The Duchess sent her own reply, confirming her rescue, and agreed to return the coin to the Sergent, which Luis happily passed to her (he did not like the idea of a Musketeer being able to track him).
With the Duchess rescued, she used her Porte to go home, while the PCs rode the rest of the way to Bastogne (she’d have offered them a lift if not for the horses).
Arriving in Bastogne, Luis’ plan to swindle the garrison commander out of some prized horses went off without a hitch, and the Prefect’s signet ring worked like a charm. They billed General DuToille for the 6,000 Guilders for the horses!
Trouble At the Dock of the Bay
Arriving in the small port of Entour, Luis tried the same trick on the harbormaster to commandeer a ship in order to “deliver a pair of prized horses to his excellency”. This time, it did not work, and the Harbormaster claimed that because the Prefect was dead that the order was void.
At this point, a subtle conversation steering towards bribery ensued. However, Diego had lost all patience with this type of thing, and proceeded to steal a ship with Captain Hornblower in broad daylight. With the harbormaster distracted, they began pulling away from the dock… without Luis, Quinn, or the valuable horses!
The Harbormaster rang the bell and troops ran onto the docks, firing in vain. Some dove into the longboats to go after them, and the boats promptly sank thanks to the holes Hornblower and Diego had drilled into them.
Then “The General” the Eisen Mercenary charged with capturing all pirates in Montaigne waters, the very same who had put Hornblower in prison in the first place, stormed out onto the dock. He effortlessly pulled one of the Montaigne soldiers out of the water with one hand, shouted “YOU IDIOT!” and punched him back into the water!
He turned to the harbormaster and said, “Open a portal onto that ship” as he began lighting a grenade. The harbormaster happened to be a Porte sorcerer, and had blooded the wheel of each ship under his care as a precautionary measure against just this sort of thing.
While Luis was now sweating bullets at the prospect of having to fight The General (and lose the horses) to stop him from blowing up his friends, Quinn interjected and used some Glamour to “turn off” the Harbormaster’s Porte hole, leaving them all standing on the dock with a live grenade sizzling at their feet!
As terrified characters began diving into the water, the General picked up the grenade and put out the fuse with his fingers. Furious that all nearby longboats had holes in them, he stormed towards the far end of the dock to take a boat out to his flagship to give chase, though by this point, it would be hopeless.
This left Luis in a difficult position in regards to selling the horses vs. getting onto the ship. There was no way the ship would have time to stop and pick him up, given the General was in pursuit. Quinn was able to get aboard using the “Mad Jack” knack of his Glamour Sorcery.
Essentially, the PCs were now forced to split up, with Luis going overland with the horses, calling upon Gilbert to use Porte to get him into Barcino, after selling him the horses. From there, everybody reconvened in Vaticine City, where they were debriefed by their superior.
At this point, people had quite a few Advancement Points to spend, and we decided to pick up the campaign taking place a few months in the future, after they’d had time to spend them (and their share of the loot from selling the horses).