It’s been a long few months since we last saw the Dwyte brothers and Father Jeb , but we’re back round the table and taking them through the Territories! Unfortunately Joe pulled out at the last minute, but two players are better than none, so we carried on.
In Attendance: John Dwyte (Darryl), Magnus Dwyte (Trev).
Last time, the group travelled to Tributary Falls, heading towards aelfar land so that Jeb could call in a few favours from the Selai-Thua clan and get their help against the Quiet Brothers and the Red Brands. There, they found an aelfar warrior who had been captured by the Red Brands. They freed him and high-tailed it out of town, going deep into the aelfar forests…
The warrior, Smiling Cat, led them to the Selai-Thua village. Obviously the guys were met with suspicion and hostility at first, but Smiling Cat explained that they had saved him from certain death. The clan then noticed Jeb, and got a lot friendlier. Part of Joe’s character background is that he once helped the clan out in his younger days by banishing a demon that was tormenting them; because of this, “Spirit Eye” is an honorary member of the clan, and any friend of his is a friend of theirs.
The clan shaman/chief, Night Hawk, greets Jeb and the Dwytes warmly.
“We are grateful to you for saving Smiling Cat. But you must be weary. Come, sit and feast with us!”
Magnus is a little apprehensive at first, but John was on board the second that the peace pipe came out and the first flask of aelfar liquour was uncorked.
While Jeb and Night Hawk talk in private, the Dwytes enjoy a night of aelfar hospitality; good food and drink, music, dancing… for the first time in a long while, they’re relaxing with nice, friendly people, and they go to bed feeling safe and well-rested.
The next morning, the chief meets with them, but Jeb’s nowhere to be seen; Night Hawk tells them that he and Jeb were speaking long into the night, and the priest has gone to one of the clan’s “sacred sites” to do… something. I never like running a character in an adventure if the player isn’t present, so in that situation I usually say that the character is doing something “off-screen” (like here, when Darryl wasn’t around but his character had a legitimate excuse not to be around). As to what that may be exactly is something for me and the absent player to discuss outside of the game, and maybe work out an interesting new twist or hook for the ongoing story!
Night Hawk eats breakfast with the Dwytes, and they talk.
“Spirit Eye tells me that you have been making some powerful enemies. He says that they are in the service of evil spirits.”
“He’s not wrong.”
“Smiling Cat says that these Quiet Brothers asked him questions about things they found in the place of grey houses, the home of the duergar; it is the place you call the Ancient City.”
Background Break! The Ancient City is a ruined city far to the west, out in the wasteland. Apparently it’s an old duergar city, back from the height of their empire, but no-one’s ever been out there and come back to tell the tale. These days, it’s just an old legend and no-one really believes it exists.
“He said the items were made of thel-druchai; “nightmare metal” in your tongue, but he did not know how these humans had so much of it. He told them what all we of the People know; that such a cursed substance was the ruination of the duergar.”
Then he tells them, with a heavy heart, that he has a favour to ask. Another aelfar clan, the Fihanna-Fimh, have recently begun attacking them, killing their people. He explains that although there are some rivalries between the aelfar clans, it never escalates to killing; there is no greater sin for them than for one of the People to kill one of their own.
“They have become mad and bloodthirsty. We have tried to fight them, but they are in league with dark spirits and they are too mighty. Perhaps you, with your thunder-bows, could succeed where we have failed.”
The Dwytes talk about it and decide that they probably want to stay on the good side of their hosts, so they accept; they’ll help the Selai-Thua in their fight.
“Wonderful! Truly the ancestors have smiled on us this day! Spirit Eye has chosen his companions well.”
He says that all they need to do is kill the Fihanna-Fimh clan leader; without him to lead, says Night Hawk, the clan will fall into infighting and disorder, and will no longer pose such a great threat. Standard cut off the head and body dies philosophy.
To help them, Night Hawk orders two aelfar to go with them; Oak Root, one of the clan’s scouts, and Moon Chaser, the clan’s “spirit speaker”; basically Night Hawk’s apprentice. Oak Root will lead them through the forest, and Moon Chaser will serve as Night Hawk’s eyes and ears, via their telepathic spirit bond. The Dwytes set off to the cheers of the clan.
As they head through the forest, Moon Chaser asks them a lot of questions about Jeb; after all, he’s somewhat of a legend to the clan. She also tells them a lot of stories about him that they haven’t heard; like how he apparently went west to the Ancient City, found God, and then returned. The Dwytes are outwardly a bit dismissive of this, but it does raise a few suspicions about their mysterious preacher friend…
Oak Root is leading the way through the forest, when suddenly there’s a fearsome war cry and a thrown tomahawk takes him in the side of the head, dropping him. The Dwytes unholster their guns and Moon Chaser draws her flint dagger just as the first Fihanna-Fimh brave steps into view. He’s very different from the Selai-Thua warriors; scarred and mutilated, with fearsome tattoos and piercings… essentially a Firefly Reaver. He wrenches his tomahawk from Oak Root’s corpse and howls a war cry at the Dwytes.
John lets rip with both Songbird and one of his other revolvers at the aelfar, grievously wounding him. Magnus stays back, near Moon Chaser; a good thing too, as three more Fihanna-Fimh burst from the undergrowth! John finishes off the wounded brave, but gets a tomahawk to the ribs. Magnus gets a lucky crit with his knife on a bow-armed aelfar, but the other one hits him with an arrow, nearly dropping him. Moon Chaser finishes off the first archer, and John goes a killing spree; Darryl uses his Destiny point and Guts ability to unleash a hail of fire that wipes out the remaining Fihanna. As he levels his gun at the last one, Magnus tries to stop him so that they can question the aelfar, but John’s hurt and angry, and he’s thinking with his trigger finger.
While Moon Chaser mourns the dead Oak Root, John and Magnus examine the bodies of the Fihanna, or more specifically their weapons. The aelfar don’t use metal weapons for cultural reasons; they prefer the “purity” of natural stone and wood. The Fihanna-Fimh seem to have abandoned that taboo though, as their tomahawks, knives and arrow-heads are all made of metal, and not just any metal; the cursed thel-druchai, or “nightmare metal”! Moon Chaser is freaked out by this, and begs the Dwytes not to bring any of the weapons back to the village. She attempts to telepathically contact Night Hawk to tell them what they’ve found, but all the nearby metal is causing havoc with her supernatural powers. What’s more, they can hear war cries off in the distance; no doubt more Fihanna-Fimh who have heard the sounds of gunfire!
Pausing only to take Oak Root’s knife, the group flee, running back to the village. After a while, Moon Chaser stops and once again attempts to contact Night Hawk, dropping into a trance.
Magnus scrambles up a tree and fishes out his telescope. Up on a ridge, he sees a band of Fihanna warriors emerge from the treeline… escorted by a male human dressed – you guessed it – all in black, looks very sinister, yadda yadda. Yep, another Quiet Brother. Exactly how and why the Brothers have got their claws into the Fihanna is a question for another time.
Moon Chaser finishes her telepathic message, and they manage to lose the Fihanna as they run. Upon returning to the village, Night Hawk greets them at the head of a group of armed warriors. He’s happy they’re safe, but they mourn the loss of Oak Root. The Dwytes return the scout’s knife, and Night Hawk is incredibly grateful. As the Dwytes get their wounds tended to, he speaks with them and they tell him everything they’ve learned; that the Fihanna-Fimh are using weapons made from nightmare metal, and that the Quiet Brothers seem to be controlling them. Things appear dire.
Although Night Hawk assures them that they’re safe and that the Fihanna don’t know where their village is, John still applies his military training and knowledge, and with the chief’s approval he gets teams of aelfar to construct spiked trenches, barricades, and other fortifications.
Later that night, when the clan is feasting and paying tribute to Oak Root’s memory, a pair of scouts drag in a Fihanna-Fimh that they found near the village. The Fihanna is wounded and spitting curses at everyone, but he falls quiet when Night Hawk approaches him. They talk in rapid clan-speech, and although Magnus and John don’t understand the words, the body language is clear; the Fihanna is absolutely balls-out terrified of Night Hawk, gibbering and ranting and struggling as if he’s trying to escape, not fight.
Night Hawk then places his hand on the Fihanna-Fimh warrior’s head. There’s a flash of light, and the Fihanna is just gone from the chest up.
“I am sorry you had to see that, my friends. He was speaking vile words against the ancestors and the spirits, and I could not allow him to live any longer. He was a demon, no longer of the People, and so I called upon the fury of the spirits to destroy him.”
The chief leaves, claiming exhaustion, and some of his advisors – Moon Chaser included – go with him. The other aelfar whisper amongst themselves, clearly scared and worried. At that exact moment, Jeb strolls back into the village as if he’d only just popped out for a walk.
“And just where the hell have you been?”
“You boys wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
Well, I’m sure that’s nothing to worry about!
The Reaper’s Tally: 2 witches, 5 train robbers, 10 Red Brand gang members, 1 guard dog, Silas Thorn, Jenny the Razor, 4 Fihanna-Fimh warriors.
Maybe the Dwytes will find out what Jeb was up to next time…