Skyfall

Introduction

Session Introduction

It is the fourteenth day of Bloom, the last month of summer. Across Nova Primus the fields are green with ripening crops and flowers bloom to their full. Under an intensely blue sky the summer heat has begun to fade, and afternoon thunderstorms have begun to give way to gentler showers. But all is not well beneath the Emperor’s sun.

For the seventh time in fourteen years, the greenskin orks mass in the jungles south of Skullbreaker. Each of the aliens’ six prior invasions have been turned back by the lords and knights of House Darry, led by the mighty Greenslayer, Lord Hugh Darry. But Lord Hugh is no longer a young man, and his eldest son has never before commanded an army. Now House Darry rides south, there to discover if Sir Hubert Darry can fill his father’s shoes.

With him ride Connor and Philippa Darry, struggling to repair their marriage after the death of their newborn son. Among the camp followers and the baggage train, Dimitri Ralston peddles his wares, following his livelihood even as it inches closer to mortal peril. In the Umbran Jungle, the wandering confessor Valon Sarqhardt travels from farm to farm tending the spiritual needs of the poor—all unaware of the monsters from his past that will soon boil forth from the Green Cape. And in Fairbanks Town, on the River Thread, young Olive Mollin dares the wrath of the law for love of her only remaining family—even as marriage and a new pregnancy threaten to tear that family away from her.

At the end of summer, in the Age of Steel, heartache and danger walk the south. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Nova. Look to your faith and the ones you hold dear—and pray that Emperor protects.

Session Notes

NPCs met:

  • Andrew Marsden, 15-year old House Darry messenger, currently taking Valon Sarqhardt back to Lord Darry.
  • Miriam, a woman of Fairbanks.
  • Davan, her cousin, who claims he saw an ork outside of Fairbanks.
  • Carol, an older woman of Fairbanks.
  • Matthew, a 17-year old soldier in love with a washer woman.
  • Bennet Mollin, Olive’s older brother.
  • Reyna Mollin, his wife.

Session Locations

Session Events

Olive Mollin overheard Miriam telling a group of women at the Fairbanks ovens that her cousin, Davan, had seen an ork in the jungles outside of town. The women were mutely hostile to Olive. That night, she met her smuggling contacts Cyrian Dylan and Denisot Carter to smuggle the first of the season’s cotton through the sewer. Though she went to the sewer armed and wary, no orks appeared. Reyna Mollin discovered Olive returning from her smuggling and offered to help her find a man.

Dimitri Ralston, traveling with the House Darry column, sold a hummingbird figurine to young Matthew, a soldier traveling with the army. The same day he encountered a twelve-year old squire looking to buy a gift for a girl beneath his social station. Dimitri recommended that the squire find out what would be significant to the girl, and he returned during Interlude to purchase a lozenge-shaped brooch faced with mica.

Valon Sarqhardt was traveling to Fairbanks when Andrew Marsden happened upon him. Upon learning that Valon was the famous confessor who had “saved” Jonbri, Andrew reversed course to bring Valon to Lord Hugh. That night, Andrew confessed to Valon his fear of the coming campaign. Valon revealed that the stories about him were exaggerated, and offered Andrew some somber words of wisdom.

Philippa Darry took Cameron Traver and Kirin Masters riding, having confined Valerica Daroline to a litter as punishment for being impertinent towards Philippa’s maid, Vhetin Cooper. Kirin rode far afield before Philippa could stop her, and during their return trip, something spooked all three of their horses. Cammy’s horse reared and threw her, causing no lasting injury but breaking Cammy’s brooch. That night, Connor Darry returned to his pavilion after a long night working, tired and frustrated that his brother Sir Hubert would not listen to his advice. Connor told Philippa that Valerica had been abusing the servants from her litter and, in light of the horses’ strange behavior, asked Philippa to ride with him the next day.

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Second Session

The fourteenth day of Bloom was a day that seemed to promise greater things. It was the day that Olive first heard rumors of orks abroad, though she smuggled the first of the season’s cotton bales through the sewers without seeing a greenskin. It was the day that Dimitri met an earnest young squire, the day that Philippa’s horses spooked at nothing, and the day that Valon revealed to a frightened young man some of the truth behind his legend. And now, as Interlude draws to a close, it is the fifteenth day of Bloom, and time to see what the future may hold.

Session Notes

Valon Sarqhardt made it to the Darry column, where he was received with much pomp and circumstance. Among the knights and nobles he was formally introduced to were Connor Darry and Philippa Darry. Dimitri Ralston was also present, among the crowd of camp followers who gathered to enjoy the spectacle.

Olive Mollin had breakfast with eggs, specially cooked by Reyna Mollin. Bennet Mollin confirmed that the family business was in dire financial straits, and went to the market to attempt to drum up business. Olive attempted to further Reyna’s apothecarial education, and the two had an uncomfortable conversation regarding the family’s future.

A flaming comet appeared in the sky, trailing a nearly vertical tail of fire, heralded by a great peal of thunder. While obviously very high in the heavens, its movement is discernible to the naked eye.

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Third Session

The comet was visible throughout most of Nova Primus, but caused a different reaction wherever it was seen. As far north as Greenport it appeared, before disappearing behind the Spire. At Westport the apparition coincided with a young boy’s recovery from a serious illness, and was declared the very finger of the Emperor, reaching down from Terra to touch His faithful. At Penitence, it inspired a rash of pilgrimages, and at the Pearl of the Vale, it caused the entire city to seek the safety of their holdfast for a day and a night. At Darry it sent the women of the city to the cathedral, begging the Emperor to forestall His judgment. At the Darry column southwest of the Umbran Jungle, it nearly caused a panic, until declared an auspicious omen by the visiting confessor Valon Sarqhardt. At Fairbanks, it caused as much wonder as fear.

But nowhere did it inspire the reaction it inspired aboard the comet itself, which was to bellow, “All ’ands, brace fer impact! ’Ere we go, ’ere we go, ’ere we go!”

Session Notes

Valon Sarqhardt was introduced to the last of the knights and nobles traveling with Hugh Darry and retired with the family for a lavish dinner. He invited Lord Hugh to visit the ruins of Jonbri. During dinner he was pressed again for advice on fighting orks, which was used as a pretext for Connor Darry and Hubert Darry to argue over the army’s tactics in the presumed coming battle. Sir Hubert, the army‘s commander, favored distributing its knights to lead their levies on foot, in hopes of stiffening the men’s resolve long enough for their numbers to tell. Sir Connor disagreed, favoring the use of the army’s knights as cavalry to maximize their threat to the enemy. The argument was derailed by Sir Hubert’s wife Danielle, before it could be resolved, by asking Valon to describe Fairbanks cathedral. Valon told the story of Saint Veronica Invicta. He also saved a banana torte to give to the Bennets.

Olive Mollin and Bennet Mollin discussed plans to sell potions to the approaching column. The comet was low in the southern sky by the time night fell. While attempting to view it one last time from the walls, Olive encountered a rag-covered beggar woman who spoke of coming fire in her head, and asked if Olive wished her sister-in-law’s unborn child dead. Unnerved that the woman would know of that, Olive hastily departed.

Vhetin Cooper conspired with Jaing Smithers to pull Connor from a late night meeting and discover Philippa Darry bathing in their pavilion. The two made love before falling asleep.

Olive once more met Cyrian Dylan and Denisot Carter to smuggle another bale of cotton into town. Olive and Carter speculated as to whether the old woman might be a witch.

Philippa awoke with a start to find an angry-looking Connor having sex with her. Repulsed and upset, she pushed him away. Contrite and hurt, he complied, and began to tell her about a disturbing dream. In which he was riding away from danger, only to arrive home at Green Rivers to be killed while passing through the gatehouse fortifications. Their conversation was interrupted by a solid wave of sound that swept Fairbanks and the camp both for long seconds before rolling away to the northwest.

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Fourth Session

On the fourteenth of Bloom, Valon Sarqhardt met Philippa Darry, and shared dinner with the high nobility of House Darry. On the fourteenth of Bloom, Olive Mollin met a woman in rags who knew too much about her familial strife.

On the fifteenth of Bloom, Hugh Darry’s army would arrive in Fairbanks. But judging by the pressure front that swept through Fairbanks and the camp a few seconds ago, something else has arrived as well.

Session Notes

Philippa Darry and Connor Darry‘s heated conversation about Connor taking sexual advantage of Philippa was interrupted by the shockwave, which turned the camp out to see what was wrong. Finding nothing amiss in the shockwave’s aftermath, the camp warily returned to bed. Valon Sarqhardt departed to reassure the camp followers while Philippa and Connor resumed their earlier argument. Connor promised never to do what he had done again, and convinced Philippa to return to their bed.

In Fairbanks, Olive Mollin found Reyna Mollin frightened and upset by the shockwave. At Reyna’s request, Olive visited East Market to make sure that Bennet Mollin was okay. She found him well, but also noticed the Woman in Rags watching her from the edge of the market. Olive took her leave of Bennet and circled around to confront the woman, who insisted that she was not following Olive, but rather Olive was seeking her out. During the conversation Olive caught a glimpse of the woman’s hand for the first time, and was surprised to find it the smooth appendage of a young woman. Olive was subjected to a violent bout of vomiting shortly after the woman’s departure, and further found the door to her house barred to her upon her return. She was forced to climb in through her window, where she found a frightened Reyna huddling in Olive’s bed. An annoyed Olive permitted Reyna to sleep with her for the rest of the night.

The following morning, the fifteenth of Bloom, Olive and Reyna took the family cart to East Market to begin erecting their stall. Bennet embraced Reyna, and the three set about the morning’s business.

While the nobles dressed and Philippa relayed a portion of the night’s sexual encounters to Vhetin Cooper, Valon wandered amongst the camp again. He broke up a mob of men who were attacking Mary, accusing her of witchcraft after the stew she had sold several of the men gave them chills and vomiting. Valon pronounced their illness as likely due to old meat Mary had put in her stew as witchcraft, and dispersed the mob after giving them a sermon on the need for the Emperor’s faithful to stand together in perilous times.

The column arrived at Fairbanks late the morning of the fifteenth, with the Mollins’ market stall erected and stocked.

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Fifth Session

The 15th of Bloom would be remembered as a momentous day. It was the day that Lord Darry arrived at Fairbanks, in the aftermath of the mysterious shockwave that had swept the area the prior evening and the disappearance of the fiery comet. Even that would soon be overshadowed by yet more memorable occurrences. What would not be noticed – but what would have a far larger impact on subsequent events – was the meeting of four strangers on that late summer’s day.

Session Notes

Hugh Darry‘s column arrived at Fairbanks to find the East Market crowded with townsfolk. Pontifex Xanders Darren greeted Lord Darry for the town, apologizing that they had not received word of their coming, and then produced a woman he accused of witchcraft: the Woman in Rags. Pontifex Darren suggested that Valon Sarqhardt conduct the woman’s trial, which he proposed to do at the town gates so as to remove the situation from the crowded market and an increasingly volatile crowd. Miriam then stepped forward to accuse Olive Mollin of being a witch, on the grounds that she had seen the two of them speaking last night, and sneezed blood after following Olive to her house.

Valon vouched for Olive’s integrity to the crowd, and Pontifex Darren ordered his deacons to move the Woman in Rags, but she slapped the first to touch her, and he fell back shrieking that his arm was on fire. The Woman in Rags began to shriek in agony, a sound that seemed to reverberate inside the skulls of all who heard. Valon rode forward to restrain her, and also felt his hands burning away. As Connor Darry and Hubert Darry rode forward at Philippa Darry‘s suggestion, Olive attempted to knock the woman out with a rock. This failed, and the woman twisted out of Valon’s grip and began to point a finger at Olive. Valon tried to throw himself onto the woman from his horse, but tangled his foot in the stirrup and only fell hard to the ground. Before the woman could do anything, Olive then snatched up Valon’s dropped ceremonial mace and struck the woman squarely in the side of the head, smashing her skull and denting her neck.

The two knights arrived just as she fell, followed quickly by Philippa, who took Olive onto the back of her palfrey. Flanked by Connor and Hubert, Philippa, Olive, and Valon then made their way to Fairbanks Cathedral as Pontifex Darren led the shocked crowd in prayer.

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Sixth Session

Fifteenth of Bloom

Session Notes

Olive Mollin took sanctuary in Fairbanks Cathedral, while Valon Sarqhardt and Philippa Darry discussed the consequences of her killing the Woman in Rags earlier in the day. Philippa’s and Connor Darry‘s staff arrived with Hubert Darry. Philippa’s ladies in waiting took a particular interest in Olive’s mutation, to her intense embarrassment. Valerica Daroline was arrogant towards both Olive and Valon, to Philippa’s annoyance.

Jaing Smithers brought word that, back at the East Market, Lord Hugh Darry had dispatched fast messengers to Sir Optimus Darhel and Lord Crispus Darhel, and announced a tournament to be held in Fairbanks. Much annoyed at news of the tournament, Hubert took Connor into the cathedral courtyard to discuss. On the pretext of assisting Valon with cleansing his mace, Olive confessed to Valon her earlier encounters with the Woman in Rags, as well as her fears that she had been witched – whereupon he confided his belief that he too had been touched by witchfire.

Justicar John Turomot arrived at the cathedral and got into an argument with the brothers Darry, only dimly heard by those inside. The justicar was at last admitted, and demanded that Olive come with him to the public gaol to be held for her own safety until her murder trial. Valon vehemently opposed Olive leaving the sanctuary, but as none of the nobles were willing to support him, Olive was led away. Valon sought out Pontifex Xanders Darren, who advised him not to oppose Sir Optimus’ justice, and then Bennet Mollin and Reyna Mollin. These two found business almost nonexistent after the affair with Olive that morning, but expressed their inability to help her – and when Valon admonished Bennett that Olive was all he had left, a mortally offended Reyna sent him on his way.

Meanwhile, Olive discovered to her surprise that Valentin Wrightman had hired a guard to keep her safe, while he himself promised to find a way to see her free.

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Seventh Session

As the fifteenth of Bloom draws to a close, you pause to take stock of the events of this turbulent day.

Olive, you are locked in the town gaol. After being accused of witchcraft by Miriam and murder by Justicar Turomot, you were removed from the sanctuary of Fairbanks Cathedral. Though your smuggler friends have promised to see you freed, your brother has not come to see you, and you await trial at the hands of Sir Optimus, your overlord.

Valon, you are looking for a way to clear Olive from the charges laid against her. In the aftermath of the fiery comet and shockwave, you fear that she will fall prey to the fears of the mob either before or during her trial. Alas, your attempts to rally support from Sir Connor at the cathedral were coldly rebuffed, and in your concern for Olive you grievously insulted her sister-in-law, Goodwife Mollin. Your old friend Pontifex Darren has advised you to trust in Justicar Turomot’s justice, but you are far from certain you trust the sort of justice a mutant can expect. Unfamiliar with the intricacies of House Darhel law, what can you do but pray for deliverance?

Philippa, you are stymied in a campaign that seems it will never begin, let alone end. After a month on the road, your lord father-in-law has declared a tournament to be held in Fairbanks. On every side are unresolved conflicts: Connor and Sir Hubert‘s disagreement about how to use the army’s cavalry in battle, the quietly deteriorating state of your marriage, the sharply disturbing episode with Connor last night, Val’s continued insolence, and now all the obligations that organizing a tournament will lay upon a highborn woman. Will it ever end?

Session Notes

Valon went to sleep in the woods where he had been praying. He was woken some time before Interlude by the sound of a large person or animal stumbling through the woods towards him, and a shift in the wind brought the distinctive musk of an ork. Valon ran to the Darry camp in a blind panic and raised the alarm. Lord Darren was among the first to respond, ordering his men-at-arms to Fairbanks to muster their levies. Hubert Darry countermanded his order, ordering Lord Darren to place his men-at-arms in line of battle immediately – an order that Lord Darren refused. The two men argued until Hugh Darry arrived and settled the argument in favor of his son’s command. Valon took refuge in Fairbanks, eventually holing himself up with Olive Mollin in the gaol. When no orks materialized after hours, Philippa Darry took Kirin Masters on a circuit of the camp, and found a single wounded ork to the east. The ork demanded that Philippa identify herself, but was uninterested in her replies. Philippa sent Kirin to bring help from the army, arrayed north of the camp, while she engaged the greenskin alone. Unprepared for the ferocity of its assault, Philippa fled, leaving the ork to rampage through the camp. It was eventually killed by men-at-arms summoned to the scene by Kirin, but not before it had slain six servants of House Selerius, in addition to killing one man-at-arms and one warhorse, and wounding two more men-at-arms.

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Eighth Session

Sixteenth of Bloom

Session Notes

A concussed Philippa Darry stumbled back to her pavilion, where she was attended by her husband, maid, and ladies-in-waiting. Philippa avoided a scene at the site of the ork’s rampage, though her poll axe was seen at the site. Connor assured her that she did the right thing by fleeing, rather than attempting to kill the ork single-handed. No political fallout from her failure to stop the ork has yet occurred.

On the sixteenth of Bloom, Optimus Darhel arrived with his customary energy, and declared that Olive Mollin’s trial would be held that afternoon. He then bustled to Fairbanks Cathedral, where he inquired of Valon Sarqhardt as to whether the Woman in Rags had been declared a witch or not. Upon hearing that she had not, and that her body had thus not yet been burned, he gave the body a cursory examination and then strode out of the cathedral.

Philippa received an invitation to lunch by Lady Darren. Xanders Darren received another invitation from Lord Darren. The pontifex prevailed upon Valon Sarqhardt to accompany him to lunch, advising him that this was a good opportunity to acquire support for Olive’s trial.

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Ninth Session

Sixteenth of Bloom

Session Notes

Philippa Darry and Valon Sarqhardt joined Lord and Lady Darren for lunch. The Darrens hosted them at the town house of Lucan Variatus, a successful merchant traveling with the column. After the night’s altercation with Hubert Darry, tensions were running high. At lunch, Lord Darren expressed his doubts that Sir Hubert was up to the task of leading the army, a topic about which there was much verbal sparring.

At the Fairbanks gaol, Olive Mollin was visited by Denisot Carter, who filled her in on the night’s events. He also informed her that they had not been able to find an advocate willing to speak for her at her trial.

At lunch, the subject turned to Olive’s impending trial. Connor Darry led Valon through a discussion of Darhel and Ecclesiarchical law that led Valon to realize that, if the Woman in Rags were legally a witch, Olive would not have committed murder – as a witch, as an unsanctioned mutant, is not a human being. Shortly thereafter, Lady Darren dismissed everybody but Philippa from the room to have a private conversation.

Armed with Connor’s legal insight, Valon is keen to have the Woman in Rags formally condemned and burned as a witch.

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Tenth Session

Sixteenth of Bloom

Session Notes

Philippa Darry had a private chat with Carolina Darren in which Lady Darren revealed her knowledge of – and concern over – Connor and Philippa’s lack of sex life. What followed was an intimate chat in which Philippa confessed her fears that Connor may have changed towards her, fueled by his unusual behavior on the evening of the fourteenth of Bloom. Carolina encouraged Philippa not to let one encounter dominate her opinion of her brother, nor to let their sex life wane simply because their relationship was less spontaneous after the death of their child. On the way back to their camp, Philippa spoke frankly with Connor, and the two had a torrid, furtive sexual encounter in (and on the road to) the Lees.

Meanwhile, Olive Mollin‘s trial proceeded as planned. Valon Sarqhardt worked with Xanders Darren to have the Woman in Rags officially condemned and burned as a witch with all haste as he rushed to the trial. Judge John Turomot conducted the trial with staid formality. Connor’s herald Content Not Found: william-thacher conducted Pontifex Darren of the cathedral to the Hall of Justice just in time to deliver the official word that the Woman in Rags had been officially condemned and burned – and thus, as the deceased was not a human being, no murder could have taken place. Judge Turomot found for Olive, acquitting her of all charges, without revealing his reasons why.

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