Grisly Eye Games

Black Griffin 41 - The Court Martial

In the 12th instalment of Black Griffin in which the party is court martialled fora assaulting an officer...

This campaign diary taken from the in-character chat channel from session 41 of my ongoing playtest campaign, lightly polished and annotated.

Black Griffin is a play-by-chat game that runs every week on Roll20. The party are mercenaries in the employ of the infamous Company of the Black Griffin. Lowly even for sellswords, they have been placed on punishment duty as company fetches: bounty hunters charged with capture of deserters for trial.

Black Griffin Encampment Map Preview
Scene X: The Court Martial

Last we heard from our band of sellswords they had just been caught brawling by a senior officer, the hard- (and hawk-) nosed Lieutenant Vins. Second only to the Captain of the Black Griffins himself!

Now the party finds themselves chained in the same cellars beneath Larke's ruined manor where they were interrogating prisoners just moments ago, awaiting court marital.

Walter the Scribe appears in his ridiculous periwig. As always, mud spatters his fine clothes and he is attended upon by one of his thin and wiry clerks.

He turns to Ba first.

Walter
Name?
Ba'Raknul

fumbles with his chains.

Ba Raknul.

Walter

Rank?

confers with his clerk.

Ba'Raknul
Corporal.
Walter
You have been charged with assault of a senior officer. How will you be pleading?
Orin

goes from staring sullenly at the floor to suddenly glaring at Walter.

What senior officer?!

Ba'Raknul

looks confused.

Not guilty, I didnt touch anyone and I'm the most senior member here.

Walter's clerk whispers in his ear.

Walter
I believe there was an affray with a... Corporal Biron.
Quinn
clears his throat Beggin' ya pardon squire... but it was only old Quinn here that did any assaulting, so to speak. My friend Orin here shot an arrow at me, by way of warning and it have accidental like hit the other guy - but it was only me with intent like.
Ba'Raknul

Corporal Biron was doing the assaulting.

And even so I never touched anyone.

I was ready to stop it should it go further.

Walter

the Scribe raises his hand.

You'll have to take that all up with Lieutenant Vins. I don't decide these matters, just record them for the Company Charter.

Ba'Raknul
Not guilty then.
Orin

turns their glare to Quinn.

What are you burning talking about, Quinn?

Ba'Raknul

also glares at Quinn.

Don't add more things to their list.

Orin
Ridiculous things!
Ba'Raknul

They have no humour.

For these things.

Quinn
shuffles in his chains Oh, beggin' ya pardon squires - thought we were talking of other like. Forget old Quinn if you would. The cold northern air has got to me brain.
Walter

Yes, I'd listen to the Corporal here. Less said is better when it comes to Vins.

the Scribe turns to Biron.

Name? Rank?

Biron

stands tall, his chains shaking.

Corporal Biron.

Guilty.

plods back down with a thud in silence.

Walter

Ah yes, I remember you corporal. All that nasty business in Whiterock.

Turns to Orin.

Name? Rank?

Orin

goes back to staring at the floor.

Private Orin.

Walter
How will you be pleading?
Orin

sighs.

Not guilty.

Walter
murmurs something to his clerk, who is furiously making notes in the dim light.
Biron

nearly laughs.

Don't think to hard about the justice system... it only hurts.

Walter

Of course, we all recall that mercenaries are notorious for never lying.

rolls his eyes and turns to Quinn.

Name? Rank?

Quinn
goes to doff his non-existent cap before his hands stop him Quinn Wheatsteal, guvnor - private so I am.
Walter

the Scribe raises his eyebrow.

A sellsword with manners? Well I never.

Quinn

smiles and looks off into the distance.

Ah, me ma - the mother bless her soul. She always used to say to me 'Quinn, respect ya...

Walter

the Scribe coughs.

Yes, well, how do you plead, Private Wheatsteal?

Quinn

lets out a deep sigh.

I guess seeing as you ain't gonna be lied to none, I may as well take me lashes up front. Think old Quinn here is to blame for all this nonsense. Since I've arrived I've taken the pleasure of winding up my friend Biron here - probably a little too much. He don't mean nothing by it - he's a good man. But Quinn's got a big mouth, ya know? Guess I'll be pleading guilty on behalf of all of us, if ya take me meaning.

Orin
shifts uncomfortably in their chains, but says nothing.
Walter

Are you sure about that? Brawling is merely a fining offence. Assaulting a senior officer, or just being involved. That's a flogging.

And your... friend here... seems to want to take the blame.

Gestures to Biron.

Quinn
sighs again Well, I ain't never been good at lying none - and if I let him take my beats he'll make my life hell.
Biron

grunts angrily.

I failed. I should be punished.

Quinn
I mean you understand, I don't mean nuffin by it - just was having a bit of fun. Pushed me luck a bit too far some I reckon.
Walter

sniffs.

I'd let him take the fall.

whispers: He's just a Northener.

Quinn
mutters under his breath Tempting as that may be, old Quinn values his teeth. Don't suppose there be any lenience for an old fool who's new to the job like?
Biron
whether he hears the remark or not, goes back to staring at the wall.
Walter

stares blankly at Quinn.

No.

pinches the bridge of his nose.

Again, I'm not the one who needs convincing. You'll be called up soon, so I suggest you spend the time getting your strategy and story straight.

Now, I have other mercenaries to speak to about their court martials.

Good day!

He struts off, clerk scuttling after him.

Quinn
smiles Seemed like a reasonable enough man.
Ba'Raknul

kicks the floor as Walter leaves, once he's gone.

He's a coward... he can go burn.

Orin
is silent.
Ba'Raknul

turns to the rest of the room.

Okay I can stress this enough,... keep it quiet while we're out there... no quips, clever lines... unless you want extra punishment.

They don't care about whats fair.

They care what they think happened.

Play along, don't annoy anyone and we'll get by okay.

Other than that its on you... I warned you.

Quinn
bows in his chains Can only try sir - but I got this annoying face like...
Ba'Raknul

smirks at Quinn.

Just the mouth.

sits a sighs... no its quiet he more softly asks Orin.

You okay?

Quinn
looks over at Biron Well, I can't always help meself none - he's like a kitten. So much fun to play with...
Biron
sits quietly in the corner, staring at the wall like its a window.
Ba'Raknul
If you need to poke poke... but wont be helping once we're out there.. I don't want extra lashings.
Quinn
scratches at his crotch area Anyway, we all agreed then? I'll just take the blame as I was kinda baitin' him some over the last few hours. Way I remember it, he kinda lurched at me to give me the hidin' I was asking for, and poor Orin here found themselves in the way like.
Biron

speaks up again.

No.

You will not take my problem.

Take theirs if you want.

Biron
falls silent again.
Ba'Raknul

sighs.

Quinn it wasn't you... he didn't hear us pretend to let him free.

He thought we'd actually lost him.

Doesn't excuse it!

Ba'Raknul
shoots Biron a look.
Quinn
sniffs Not trying to be a martyr none. But there ain't gonna be no lyin' to these boys - they know their stuff and no mistake. No, I'm gonna 'ave to take the blame - it was me calling him and that gave him the 'ump.
Ba'Raknul

They only care about the fight.

They don't care what happened before.

You can attempt it but with Biron shooting you down they're probably not gonna believe you.

Quinn
''yeah but sir, that fight was my mouth's fault - don't wan you fine folk hatin' on me cos you've swallowed my medicine like''
Ba'Raknul

I intend to plead not guilty as I said.

We might end up taking it with more if you speak and Biron starts.

Like I said I wont order anyone to do anything.. I wont be adding or helping.

Ba'Raknul

sits in the corner again clearly a little bothered.

They don't actually care.. they need someone to punish.

Quinn

struggles to scratch at his nose, his wrist constrained by the chains.

Ya know, if you grow up in the gutters of Kastenburg, a target for every drunk and ne'er-do-well in the city, this 'ere prison room starts to look damn tidy like...

At that moment the party hear a rattling of chains: the grim veterans that guard Larke's mansion are collecting up the ne'er do wells of the camp for court-martialing.

They un-shackle the party from the walls and start leading them up through the winding passages and stairs.

Quinn
doffs his non-existent cap at the guard, smiling broadly.

You find yourselves in what was perhaps once a walled garden, now much overgrown. Vins sits under a tent, eating lunch from a spread of birds, fruits and porks before him, attended by a pair of squawking sycophants.

Quinn
eyes the food hungrily.

Behind him stands Walter, occasionally whispering into his ear.

Miserable looking mercenaries line up to have their cases heard. You have a whiles, but as you slowly trudge towards justice you hear a sharp whisper.

Agata
Fine mess, this time! By the Father, what did you do this time?
Ba'Raknul

bows his head a quietly whispers.

I couldn't control Biron... He went off the wall.

Quinn
mutters He didn't mean nuffin' by it.
Orin
shoots a look at Agata, but only for a second and then they're looking at the ground again.
Agata

turns to Ba.

That's your job! This is the second such mess in merely a week!

Ba'Raknul

I know. He nearly took my head off and then Orins.

whispers quieter so the others dont here.

Besides putting him down I'm out of options.

Agata

turns to Biron.

I should let them flog you.

Biron

stares straight ahead.

Yes ser.

Quinn
clears his throat Beggin' ya pardon ser, but he ain't deservin' of that. He's a fightin' man - why he's so useful round these parts. Couldn't want a better man at me back like. And fighin' men, well they like to fight like. No-one got hurt none.
Agata

turns to Quinn.

Last I checked, Griffin Company is all stocked up on blood-thirsty goons.

You're fetches, you're supposed to be, you know, subtle.

Give me one good reason why I should put in a good word for you?

Orin
says nothing.
Ba'Raknul
Personally ser... you shouldn't.
Quinn

sighs and looks off into the distance again, his eyes unfocused.

Old Quinn here never had much of a family. No father like to speak of. Not till I joined you fine folk like. Biron here has been like a father to me, putting me right when I step out of place, giving me a cuff when I...

He shuffles slightly at the elbow in his side.

Yeah, well you take me meaning sir.

Agata
No I do not take your meaning, Private Quinn. This is a mercenary company, not a family-run farm.

Orin, do you have anything to say about all of this?

Orin
shrugs.
Agata
Very well, come see me after this... if they don't hang you.
Ba'Raknul

nods.

Thank you, ser.

Agata
storms off.
Quinn
smiles to the others Seemed like a reasonable man woman.
Ba'Raknul
head forward and silent now.

It has been observed by great philosophers that time always seems to be at its slowest when certain doom approaches. You've all felt that terrible wait on the battlefield before the call to arms. It seems an age before you are standing before severe, hawk-nosed Lieutenant Vins.

He hits you with a dead-eyed stare, unblinking, as Walter reads out the charges against you.

Vins

Assaulting a senior officer is a serious offence. It's a flogging offence, and the same for anyone who might be involved.

I understand two of you plead guilty?

Biron

steps forward.

They're not senior but I attacked Orin.

Vins

You'll address me as ser!

Which of you is Orin?

Orin
grunts.
Biron

Yes ser.

steps back.

Vins

eyes harrow, his black eyes focussing like a hawk on Orin.

What was that, private?

Orin

doesn't look up from the floor.

Me, ser.

Vins
Is it true, did Corporal Biron attack you?
Orin
Yes, ser.
Vins
You have proof of this?
Orin

I don't know ser.

thinks a moment.

Well I think my arrow wound started bleeding again.

Biron
extends his hand bloodied from the wall.
Vins

eyes Orin and Biron's hand.

Show me this wound.

Orin
pulls up their shirt to reveal bloodied stitches on their side.
Vins

eyes pass over Orin's wound, blood seeping from the pulled stitches. He seems to see everything.

If this is the case, why is Private Quinn also pleading guilty?

Quinn

shuffles forward a little and smiles, bowing as he does so.

Well, see I think I got a little confused like sir. Cos I got a few pains too from the good commander here too. But I wouldn't say attack.

None. No, reprimand like... thats its. I'm sure both meself and my good friend Orin here are grateful for being kept on the straight and narrow like. No attacking, just a bit of discipline like.

Orin

glares at Quinn.

Speak for yourself.

Vins
Confused? You're no longer pleading guilty?
Quinn
smiles nervously Well, I'm guilty of needin' some of the good corporal's discipline, if ya take me meaning some. And fair play to him, sir. hes been kind enough to dish it out when its needed, and no mistake.
Ba'Raknul
keeps his eyes down through Quinns speech.
Vins

This all sounds like an unlikely blood story if you ask me. The law of the Company has it that officers should not be assaulted, and if we make exceptions we risk tipping the camp into anarchy. Officer, have these mercenaries flogged!

In addition, you will be fined ten gold pieces for...

At that moment, a handful of slates fall from the roof of the manor house, crashing noisily behind Vins.

Vins
...repairs to the damage you caused on Larke's property.
Orin
What?
Quinn
steps forward slightly Beggin' ya pardon sir, but am I right in thinking that it's only meself to be flogged. None of me friends here were so stupid to misunderstand the charge none, sir.
Vins

raises an eyebrow.

Did I stutter?

Ba'Raknul

turns and nudges Quinn, hissing quietly.

Shut Up! it will get worse.

Orin 's
face flashes with a world of emotions before settling on despair and turning to the ground once again. They say nothing.
Ba'Raknul
No ser!
Quinn
goes to speak but thinks better of it.

With that they are unceremoniously dragged off. As they depart, one of Vins sycophantic sergeants starts gossiping. I hear they're having a bumper harvest north of the border, while we eat scraps here... Rget do not hear the rest as they are dragged out of the garden and taken outside, to the flogging square.

We do not need to dwell on what happened there, except it happened for all in the camp to see.

Quinn
grits his teeth and talks through the pain Well, take 2 of me gold at least. Gotta pull me fair share some. Not exactly what I'd hoped from this mercenary lark...
Ba'Raknul

I told you to be quiet.

laughs wincing with his new scars.

Quinn
sighs Well me mouth just cost me 2 gold. Shouldn't be costing you more coin though.
Ba'Raknul

Come here and check my Scars... Did they ruin any?

turning to show his back a large snake curves from his chest to centre back.

Quinn
forces a smile Naah, still lookin' 'andsome sir.

The party find themselves back at the fetches' camp, standing around the camp fire near your tents. The mood is subdued, all are weary.

Ba'Raknul

stretches as he cleans the wounds up.

We need to go see Agata... get ready.

Orin
drinks freely from their wineskin.
Quinn

shrugging his shoulders and wincing, he nods to Ba, then tilts his head to one side.

An' everything's worked out with that other one? Helia?

Biron
grunts as he gets ready.
Orin
We'll have to ask Agata.
Ba'Raknul

No clue.

Exactly that.

Seen as we couldnt be the ones to hand them over.

Ba'Raknul

shoots another look at Biron.

We cant be certain.

Quinn
tries to put his fingers to his back and mutters By the mother, think they've wrecked this shirt. A mighty shame that. Was my favourite. Found it a few years back...
Orin

goes to their tent and shrugs their pack over the shoulder with fewer welts. They try to find a comfortable way of slinging their bow around, but elect to hold it in their hand instead.

goes back out to the campfire and drinks while waiting for the rest to be ready.

Ba'Raknul
stands and waits for the group to be ready, his entire chest and stomach area wrapped and bandaged now.
Biron
sits and waits in silence.
Quinn

approaches Orin with his scant belongings over one shoulder, occasionally trying to shift the weight and with a pained look on his face.

throws his pack down and sits on it Never did thank ya none for saving me life back there... I don't forget stuff like that friend.

Orin
doesn't respond, except to pass the wineskin to Quinn.
Quinn
winks and takes a gulp before handing it back.
Quinn
sighs Well, the lieutenant seemed like a reasonable enough fella.
Ba'Raknul
rolls his eyes.
Orin
looks around and sees everyone is there. Silently, they get up and walk to Agata's tent.
Quinn
stands, slings his pack over his shoulder and immediately regrets it and shuffles after Orin.
Ba'Raknul
heads off following Orin.
Biron
marches through the mud towards Agata's tent.
Quinn
lets out a whistle That's a pretty dandy bow ya got there. Elm right? A pretty dandy bow indeed.

You find your way to Agata's tent. Tall and fair Loth stands guard outside. He nods as you approach, and opens the tent for you to enter.

Within it is gloomy and smokey, lit by a couple of lanterns.

Quinn
smiles and nods Much obliged like.
Ba'Raknul
enters trying to walk with as little wince as possible nodding at Loth.

Agata is pouring over her letters and papers, as always.

Agata

looks up.

I heard about the flogging, an ugly business.

Quinn
stands to attention, opens his mouth to speak, looks at Ba, then shuts his mouth.
Orin
stares into the air between themself and Agata.
Ba'Raknul

notices the mouth movement from his left and just smiles.

It is what it is, ser.

Agata

Vins is a bit too liberal with the floggings, if you ask me.

But no one does on account of how I'm just a sergeant.

Lets keep our tempers in check, in future.

Agata
nods to Biron.
Biron

growls.. before nodding.

Yes, ser.

Agata
Very good. Now, tonight... what is the plan?
Ba'Raknul

First ser, I wanted to ask.

Did the handoff to Helia go well?

Agata

It did. Helia left chasing traitors, and she seemed happy with the job lot we gave her.

Hopefully, we've satisfied the king's bailiffs and their insatiable curiosity... for a while.

Ba'Raknul

sighs a little relieved.

Well thats one bit of good news.

Orin
eyes Biron for a reaction.
Biron
stoney face twitches but manages to remain relatively blank.
Agata

Indeed, well done on that.

Of course, they wouldn't have been here in the first place if not for that mess in Dismas.

But we're in the clear.

For now.

Ba'Raknul

As to tonight... We only managed to obtained one card.

The Five of Coins.

Which unfortunately means only one of us can be sat in the game.

My suggestion for that is Orin or Quinn.

Quinn
sighs Always liked a card game. Won these trews in one a couple of years back and they've served me well enough. But the stakes 'ere may be a little high for old Quinn. Little worried I may drop us all in it. Never been good at the pretending lark, if ya takes my meaning some.
Ba'Raknul
I'm too noticeable but you don't seem a talker... and Biron... well.
Agata
Indeed.
Ba'Raknul
If you're not feeling entirely on it Orin?
Orin
I can do it.
Quinn
scratches at his stubble I mean I don't mind none - but I'll 'ave to take instructions from ya good selves. And if we go off script some, we could be in the hot brown, if ya pardon me expression ma'am.
Ba'Raknul

And what if its not real.

We need someone there to confirm it before we go rounding people up.

Too easy to play it off as we have no evidence.

Once one of us has been given our order we can move.

The rest of us can hide nearby, either as drunkards or just in a tent hiding.

Quinn

grins Now, drunk, I can play.

But in all seriousness, if Orin don't fancy it none, Quinn'l do it. But Orin may be the smarter choice and no mistake.

Ba'Raknul
Orin? you've been awfully quiet.
Orin
I said I can do it.
Ba'Raknul

Sorry didn't hear you. Good. In which case.., how does Quinn and Biron nearby drinking the night away and me covering from stealth.

I might be able to even cover from a watch tower.

Orin
shrugs.
Ba'Raknul

looks to Orin.

I wouldn't mind a second pair of eye up in the tower?

Quinn

nods Aye, their bow has come in sure handy before now, and no mistake. Old Quinn's still got his skin for sure. Well, the bits that ain't flayed none at least.

looks to Ba I can join ya with my bow. I'm no shot like Orin here, but I can pull a string if ya take my meaning.

Orin
I don't care either way.
Ba'Raknul

I'd rather have Orin away from Biron for now.

eyes flick to them both.

No offence.

Orin
shrugs.
Quinn
frowns at Orin You alright there friend? If it's killing that guy, don't be sad none. Ya saved my life and one of us, me or him, was gonna die.
Agata

Very well, it sounds like you have a plan. I suggest you all rest-up before midnight.

You all look like shite!

Orin
ignores Quinn.
Quinn
pulls a mock offended look.
Agata
If there is nothing else?
Orin

starts to leave the tent before stopping and awkwardly turning to Agata.

No, ser.

Quinn
shuffles nervously Well, I don't s'pose ya got any wine - for pouring on the wounds like. Takes the sting out like...
Agata
raises an eyebrow.
Orin

turns and kicks Quinn in the shin.

Shut up.

Agata
Do I look like a tavern keeper, Private Quinn?
Quinn
smiles No, thought not ser.
Agata
Very good, dismissed!
Orin
leaves without another word.
Quinn

nods.

Much obliged.

walks quickly to catch up with Orin Hey, what's the problem friend. 'ave I offended you some?

Ba'Raknul

leaves and heads straight to rest.

Meet at the fetch camp fire an hour before.

leaves.

Orin
also leaves, but in the direction of the traders' stalls.
Quinn
nods and casts a worried look at Ba Aye ser.
Biron
stomps off in the direction of his tent.
Quinn
stands alone, deserted in all directions for a few moments. Then shrugs and whistling to himself heads towards his tent.

It is late when you head to your tents, and you all manage a few hours rest. You sleep fitfully on your sores, and awaken feeling less tired, but still very exhausted.

You start out on the night's grim business with a dark cloud hanging over your heads, despite the clear night sky that evening.

To be continued...

Corruption and Necrotic Injury

Stress Illustration

The Dance of Death, public domain image taken from the Nuremberg Chronicles.

Damage. It is at the heart of rules for Dungeons & Dragons. Hit points are God and I've been exploring how to make them more versatile.

This is an excerpt from my forthcoming monograph, The Harrowed that expands on the variant rules for corruption, sanity and lingering injuries in Chapter 9 of the Dungeon Master's Guide.

Variant: Corruption

In this low-fantasy variant arcane magic is not meant for mortals. Its use imperils the soul and corrupts the body.

Once per turn, the DM can have a a player roll a d20 immediately after their character casts a 1st-9th level sorcerer, warlock or wizard spell. This does not include cantrips.

On a roll of 1 their character takes necrotic damage. The damage taken is determined by the level of the spell slot used to cast the spell. See the table below. This may also result in a lingering necrotic injury (see below).

Spell Slot Level Necrotic Damage
1st 2d6
2nd 4d6
3rd 6d6
4th 7d6
5th 8d6
6th 11d6
7th 12d6
8th 13d6
9th 14d6

Variant: Lingering Necrotic Injuries

This variant gives an additional table for lingering injuries for necrotic damage. Continue to roll on the old Lingering Injuries table for non-necrotic damage.

Lingering Necrotic Injuries
d20 Necrotic Injury
1 Corrupted Essence. Necrotic energies corrupt your blood, turning your veins black, white or green. Every time you take a long rest you must make a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or you take 1d10 necrotic damage as the foul energies eat you from within. Magic such as a greater restoration spell can restore your blood.
2 Withered. The necrotic damage seeps into your body, either withering your flesh as though you were mummified or rotting. This permanently weakens you and your Strength and Constitution are reduced by 2 to a minimum of 1. Magical healing of 6th level or higher, such as heal and regenerate, restores your body.
3 Sunlight Sensitivity. Your become very pale and averse to sunlight. You have disadvantage on attack rolls and on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight when you, the target of your attack, or whatever you are trying to perceive is in direct sunlight. Magic such as the regenerate spell can remove your skin and this penalty.
4 Second Head. You grow a second head on your chest, back or shoulders that speaks with your voice, but despises you. It speaks aloud every secret thought you have and contradicts you at every turn. You automatically fail all Charisma (Deception or Persuasion) checks you make against anyone who can hear you and understand you. Magic such as the regenerate spell can remove your second head.
5-7 Third Eye. Necrotic energies warp your flesh, causing you to grow a monstrous third eye on your forehead, the palm of your hand or your chest. You can choose to open your third eye as a bonus action. Make a DC 13 Charisma saving throw. On a success you gain truesight out to a range of 60 feet. If you fail the saving throw you instead catch a glimpse of the things that linger beyond human ken and are frightened for 1 minute and cannot move. If you roll a 5 or less you also gain a lingering psychic injury from the Lingering Psychic Injuries table. Magic such as the regenerate spell can remove your third eye.
8-10 Withered arm or hand. An arm or hand withers so it is skeletal or blackens. You cannot wield heavy weapons and make all Strength ability checks with disadvantage when using your hands or arms. Magic such as the regenerate spell can restore the lost appendage.
11-13 Withered leg or foot. A leg or foot withers so it is skeletal or blackens. Your speed is reduced by 5 feet. You must make a DC 10 Dexterity saving throw after using the Dash action. If you fail the save, you fall prone. Magic such as the regenerate spell can restore the lost appendage.
14-16 Psychic Lash. The necrotic damage lashes past your defences, corrupting your mind. Roll on the Lingering Psychic Injuries table instead (see lingering psychic injuries).
17-20 Witch's Mark. The necrotic damage marks your body in some way that singles you out as corrupted and you may need to hide it. Roll on the Witch Marks table below. Magic such as a lesser restoration spell can remove the mark.
Witch Marks
d4 Mark
1 You grow a large, furry spot somewhere on your body.
2 Your eyes turn completely white, red or black.
3 Your nose smoothes flat and your nostrils become slits.
4 Your skin is as cold as ice to the touch.

Black Griffin 40 - The Hand Over

In the 11th instalment of Black Griffin in which the party partakes of a double-cross and buys themselves some time...

This campaign diary taken from the in-character chat channel from session 40 of my ongoing playtest campaign, lightly polished and annotated.

Black Griffin is a play-by-chat game that runs every week on Roll20. The party are mercenaries in the employ of the infamous Company of the Black Griffin. Lowly even for sellswords, they have been placed on punishment duty as company fetches: bounty hunters charged with capture of deserters for trial.

Black Griffin Encampment Map Preview
Scene IX: The Hand Over

When we last left our collection of curmudgeonly crooks, they had learned of a meeting of spies and turncoats: a mysterious game of cards played at midnight.

There was a high toll to learn this information, and we join Biron as he emerges from the foul cellars-turned-oubliette of Captain Larke's manor house.

After the gloom of the cellars, it seems incredible that it is daylight outside, and Biron blinks in the sunlight.

Biron

storms out, striding forward with his axe in hand.

roars loudly, picking up some old wooden barrel and hurling it as far as he could with a roar of ridiculous anger. He seems oblivious to anyone around him.

stays silent a moment and looks back at the house.

They should die!

Traitorous, honor-less slugs.

Helia
If anyone'll be burning traitors, it'll be I.
Biron
glances up at this comment. a little bit surprised but no less angry.

Biron is surprised by the sound Helia's voice, and turns around to see the stern northerner accompanied by her surly bailiffs and Ba'Raknul, here to collect her dues.

Meanwhile, Quinn and Orin emerge from the scullery door of Larke's manor house, dragging Eggard between them.

Eggard
Where are you taking me?
Orin
We don't break our promises, Eggard.
Quinn
scratches at a spot on his chin Takin' ya somwhere where ya can take ya self I be thinkin'. But that would be up to my friend here, o'course.
Orin
holds Eggard's pack tightly in their opposite hand.
Eggard

looks from Quinn to Orin, searching for the lie in their faces.

You're joking?

You're actually going to let me go?

Orin
looks for anyone dangerous to their plan in the area.
Quinn
''No, joke none. Folk of honour us. That's what ya was promised. In fact, we aint none to turn ya out without the means of survival...'
Eggard
Means of... survival?
Quinn

subtly winks to Orin then turns back to Eggard.

Here, take some coin - so ya can buy some food when you find an outpost or village.

Orin
reappraises Quinn after seeing this generousity.

Orin furiously scans the crowds of milling company men and women... so far seems all clear.

Orin
holds Eggard tight and moves for the nearest gate.
Eggard
eagerly takes the coins, tears forming in his eyes at the generosity.

He seems completely speechless.

Orin
Let's go.
Quinn
nods and pushes Eggard gently forward.
Orin

whispers:

Slowly.

We're being followed.

Quinn
stops and bends to adjust his boots, subtly looks behind him as he does so.

Quinn spots a man, head completely hairless, sporting several elaborate piercings, rings and chains about his ears, trying to appear nonchalant.

He is clearly following Quinn and Orin though.

Orin

still whispering:

Can we lose him in the tents?

Quinn

stands and continues to walk, whispering in reply.

Could try, or do you want me to block his path, delay him some while you take our friend here beyond the perimeter some?

Quinn and Orin find themselves at the row of tents housing traders, catamites, and purveyors of dubious foods, that leads to the South Gate exit to the camp.

Orin
Here. Let's duck into a trader's tend and slip under the back wall.
Quinn
nods Aye, if not, I may be able to cause a distraction like...
Orin
That could work.
Quinn
whisper Yeah... you go on some... I'll try to hold him up.
Orin

leads Eggard to the trader's tent.

Eggard. No funny business. We may have set you free, but that just makes you a traitor to them. You want to get home in one piece, don't you?

Eggard
nods mutely.
Orin
pretends to be looking at an item near the front of the tent.
Quinn
clears his throat, adjusts his trews slightly and heads with feigned confidence back the way they came towards the bald stranger.
Quinn

as he approaches he grins and nods slightly at the man 'Scuse me guv'ner - don't s'pose ya could change some coin could ya?

fumbles around in his purse.

Mercenary
licks his lips, pauses a moment, then goes for his sword.
Orin
seeing Quinn has engaged the stranger, they duck out of the tent and run into the tents on the way to the South Gate.

Quinn gets the draw on the pierced mercenary.

Mercenary
FOR THE FOLK!
Quinn
stops up short of the man, seeing him reach for his sword and quickly pulls his bow.
Quinn
mutters Ye ain't coming closer guv'nor.

Quinn's arrow strikes the pierced mercenary in the left shoulder, knocking him back slightly. Unfortunately, he seems un-fazed by the attack and proceeds to draw his sword and approach.

Quinn
backs off 30 foot.

Clearly the man is right-handed, unfortunately.

Orin

This way, Eggard. Use the tents for cover.

ducks into the tents out of the man's line of sight.

guides Eggard further toward the South Gate as swift as they can.

With Eggard in tow, Orin weaves between the camp follower tents and makes it to the end of the row. The gate is just 30 feet away.

Meanwhile, the pierced mercenary dives behind the wagon of the apple trader, pulls out a rather large and lethal looking crowsbow and aims it at Quinn.

Quinn
screams I didn't mean nuffin' by it!

A bolt shoots and lands at Quinn's feet, burying itself in the hard soil up to the feathers. Quinn pauses momentarily to wonder what it would've done if it had hit his body!

Quinn
curses and returns fire.

Quinn's longbow shoots true, but hits the wood of the cart the mercenary is hiding behind. He gets a face full of wood splinters, but is otherwise unharmed.

Quinn

moves back to crouch behind a wagon, peering round and readying himself for the mercaneries next move.

(back another 30ft if there's space - so around 65ft away or so)

Orin

stands up tall.

Act normal.

walks to the gate and out to the left behind the wall.

The pierced mercenary is too preoccupied to notice Orin as they causally saunter to the gate. They find themselves standing outside the camp, the blasted waste of the Front spread out before them.

Orin

This is it, Eggard.

I have to go help my friend.

Eggard

seems to pause a moment, looking back into the camp with what seems to be longing... almost as though he was being dragged back by... something.

turns to Orin.

Come with me! Fuck the Three Kings, and fuck this war!

Orin
Believe me, I'm thinking about it. But I'm not ready for that yet. I don't know how to live on the lamb. You've got that writ, but not me.
Eggard
nods, and then runs off.
Orin
Run!
Eggard
They'll win, you know!
Orin
shrugs.

And with that he's gone.

Orin
grins slyly before turning and running back to Quinn.

Meanwhile, camp followers are scattering and screaming as they notice the bolts and arrows flying about their heads.

Quinn
shouts Don't mind us, none!
Mercenary

moves closer, darting between running camp followers and ducks behind a pile of crates closer to Quinn's position.

From his hiding place he fires another bolt at Quinn's head.

Quinn is too well covered, and the bolt harmlessly shatters the wheel of the wagon he's hiding behind.

Quinn
draws and looses another hopeful arrow.

The arrow strikes the pierced traitor in the right shoulder this time, sending him spinning.

Mercenary
Shit, shit!

He's clearly very afeared of Quinn's fine aim.

Quinn
crouches back behind the wagon.
Orin

slides between tents, positioning themself so that the commonwealth spy is clear in their view.

jumps out, arrow knocked and shoots, shouting...

COMMONWEALTH TRAITOR!

Quinn's arrow strikes true, hitting the traitor in the side of his face, sending shattered pieces of gold chains and rings of his piercings flying, as well as his jaw.

He slumps to the ground, dead.

Orin

breathes heavily.

Thank the father.

Quinn help me drag him back to the manor.

Quinn

staggers to his feet and runs his hand under his running nose Aye aye, will do...

mutters.

Best pick up these jewels and stuff first though right? Don't want 'em getting lost none.

scrabbles about the floor picking up the chains and rings.

Orin

shrugs.

Why not. See if he's got anything problematic on him while you're looking.

Quinn

looks up as he does so Hates to say it, but I reckons it best this be split among the men - let em know some that theres wealth in loyalty - if ya takes my meaning some.

nods Aye, will do.

Orin
I don't give a damn about loyalty or gold. Do what you like.
Quinn
shrugs ... ain't like no-one will be squealing about this as we speak anyway I figure.

Quinn collects what looks like about two gold pieces worth of shattered gold rings and chain piercings.

Quinn
stuffs em in one grubby pocket and goes and takes the man's legs.
Orin
grabs the shoulders and leads them toward the manor.

It is not an unusual sight to see dead bodies being carried through the camp, so the pair of fetches barely get a second glance before they arrive at Larke's House just a second after Helia and Ba'Raknul show up.

Helia

turns to Quinn and Orin.

Corporal Ba'Raknul, what is this?

Ba'Raknul
looks at the two and to the man.
Quinn
mutters closing his eyes momentarilly Mother watch over you, let your spirit depart your sins with your flesh.
Ba'Raknul

These are the two who were escorting Corporal Eggard.

I dont know who he is.... Orin who is he?

Biron
growls in the background.
Orin
You mean chasing Corporal Eggard, Ba? Off the traitor's tip he'd be escaping?
Biron
glaring at Ba, Orin and Quinn.
Orin
This one got in our way and stopped us from catching him.
Helia

shrugs.

Eggard won't get far.

Ba'Raknul

looks in shock to play along.

He escaped? which way did he go.. and where did this one come from.

Quinn

opens his eyes, sees Biron and winks.

Don't fret ye none - we're fine.

Helia
nods to two of her large, adult bailiffs who run off towards the South Gate.
Biron
looks at Quinn like he is about ready to plant his axe deep into him.
Orin
Pardon us, Sergeant. We're all very shocked by catching these traitors. And four, now. Not just three!
Helia
looks between the four of you, warily, pushing her weight from one crutch to t'other.
Biron
growls.
Quinn
shakes one leg of the corpse This one stopped us giving chase, so he did - then drew his blade on me! Was only my friend Orin saving me skin or it would be old Quinn being carried about stiff like. If ye take me meaning some.
Orin

Those two downstairs, the puffy-eyed one confessed to your business in Dismas. Said the third was stealing away in the night.

Quinn and I... we almost caught him!

Helia

raises a hand to stay you.

I don't know what's really going on, and to be honest, I don't care. As long as I get some traitors.

Bring 'em out.

Orin
Of course. Biron, would you help me?
Ba'Raknul.
nods and gives a motion.
Biron
snarls and glares at Orin.
Ba'Raknul
already moving to the door.
Biron
pushes a passing mercenary out of the way and walks into the mansion.
Quinn
lowers the legs to the floor and stretches That was quite disturbing. I'm quite shook so I am.
Orin
follows quickly after.
Quinn
follows.
Biron

the moment they get into the house and is away from view and ear shot. Biron spins around and pushes Orin to the wall furiously.

"YOU. LET. HIM. GO"

Ba'Raknul

hears the commotion and goes back staying near.

That was the plan Biron.

Orin
I also set him up to get caught again immediately and burned a traitor, Biron.
Biron
snarls and lifts Orin up off the ground enraged at this.
Orin

Not everything has to happen on your time scale of instant gratification, you burning meat hammer!

spits in Biron's face with each syllable.

Ba'Raknul

prepares to tackle Biron.

If you start attacking your team mates you're as much a traitor as them.

Biron
shouts with rage.
Ba'Raknul
I'm done with this crap.
Quinn
tries to push between the two We got enough peeps trying to hurt us some, don't need to find enemies in allies like.
Biron
lifts his fist to punch orin with one of his dusters.

Quinn grabs Biron around the waist, stopping him in his tracks... although now Quinn has an armful of northern berserker to contend with.

Biron

growls at Quinn but throws a punch at Orin.

misses and slams his hand into the wall. growls in anger but just drops Orin to the floor.

stops his aggression. Though now glares at Quinn holding his waist. Stares eye to eye.

Orin

slips out from between Biron and the Wall and hesitates, eyeing Biron's vulnerable bits before moving off near Ba.

They stand, half looking away, heaving with their own sort of rage.

Vins
ATTENTION!
Ba' Raknul
stands and salutes.
Quinn
half draws his rather fine looking rapier.
Biron
stands up tall.

The party all turn as one to see the looming figure of Lieutenant Vins accompanied by a retinue of his most grizzled veterans. This tall man towers over them, his great, thick black beard hanging off his infamous even greater, hawk-like nose.

Vins
DROP YOUR WEAPONS!
Biron
drops his weapons and stays silent.
Quinn
lets his rapier fall back into its sheath, then runs his hand under his dripping nose again.
Ba'Raknul
stands awkwardly holding no weapon.
Orin
continues to stand in place, heaving, hands empty.
Vins

turns to his men.

Arrest them. Take them down to the cellar. We can court martial them after lunch.

Quinn
snaps to attention Yes sir!
Ba'Raknul

sighs and just mutters.

Who needs enemies when we've got a Biron.. tearing us apart from the inside.

To be continued...

Black Griffin 39 - The Double Cross

In the tenth instalment of Black Griffin the party interrogate their prisoners, learn little of the mysterious Commonwealth and acquire a new comrade-in-arms...

This campaign diary taken from the in-character chat channel from session 38 of my ongoing playtest campaign, lightly polished and annotated.

Black Griffin is a play-by-chat game that runs every week on Roll20. The party are mercenaries in the employ of the infamous Company of the Black Griffin. Lowly even for sellswords, they have been placed on punishment duty as company fetches: bounty hunters charged with capture of deserters for trial.

Black Griffin Encampment Map Preview
Scene VIII: The Interrogation Continued...

When we last left our foul-mouthed fetches they were busy furiously torturing agents of the Commonwealth. One captive, Eggard, agrees to confess on agreement he is given a writ a pass to return home. With all due haste, word was sent to Agata requesting such a writ. But Corporal Ba has perhaps bitten off more than he can chew; Sergeant Agata herself arrives with an entourage in tow.

With her is the lean, handsome, and solemn figure of Corporal Loth, and Walter the Scribe, company chronicler and bursar. The scribe is looking a little queasy. He is a thin, grey man in fine clothes, including a ruff and fancy shirt, most of which have seen better days. As per usual, he is splattered in mud.

The trio come up on the party waiting in the wide, bottle-lined corridor outside the makeshift cells.

Walter

looks in at the ghastly and bloody scene.

By the Mother!

Agata
to Ba A word if you please!
Ba'Raknul
Yes ser.
Biron
stands to attention, silent.
Quinn
mutters quietly Oh look, the la-di-da brigade have arrived...
Loth
gives Quinn a sharp look.
Biron
gives Quinn a filthy and disapproving look.
Quinn

doffs an imaginary cap and bows, smiling nervously.

Sorry, m'lord. I mean to say we are graced by ya presence. Didn't mean nuffin by it!

Biron
raises his top lip and lets out a quiet but low growl at Quinn.
Loth
looks away, as though he heard nothing.
Quinn
winks at Biron and smiles.
Agata
What's this I hear about a writ?
Ba'Raknul

leans in.

hushed Sorry ser, I wasn't demanding… we have one in there…

He motions to the other room.

…saying he'll spill if he sees a writ. We thought if a fake one showed these two also might spill.

Agata
And you propose we give him this writ?
Ba'Raknul
I propose we write it in here, in front of these two so these guys can badger some more and then show him a writ.
Orin
clears their throat from the corner.
Ba'Raknul
After he's told us everything we can absolve him of crimes here and hand him to the Royal Bailiffs for their crimes.
Agata
Let me get this clear, Corporal. You want me to lie?
Orin
raises an eyebrow at Agata.
Ba'Raknul
No ser, it wasn’t my intention for us to lie. I thought it wouldn’t make any difference at this point if we're giving them to the Royal Bailiffs. If I stand corrected, I apologise.
Orin
Can be entirely true, if you have a problem otherwise. Won't matter because he'll never see the light of day after Helia gets him.
Agata
rolls her pipe around her mouth, clearly uncomfortable.
Ba'Raknul
We need to know what they were after. This was their mission to get in with the Flock.
Quinn

scratches at his stubble.

Hmm... don't seem right to offer him his freedom then deny it none.

Orin
We're not denying him anything. He asked for the writ, not freedom.
Quinn

laughs without humour.

But ain't the writ to grant him absolution for his crimes? Ain't never bothered with reading here, so wouldn't know.

Orin

shrugs.

Doesn't matter what it's for. Griffins don't have power outside themselves anyway.

Agata
I might be a sell-sword. I might be a cold-blooded killer. I might be a right bastard. But I'm also a gods-fearing woman.
Ba'Raknul

My only other suggestion, ser, is talk to him yourself. See if you think the information is worth it.

He leans in toward Agata.

Could you at least pretend to in front of these two so we can pressure them some more?

Biron

coughs slightly in the dim hall, the smell of damp getting to the back of his throat.

We could just force them to talk.

Agata

turns towards the cell containing the unconscious form of Wren and puffs heavily on her pipe.

We won't get much information knocking heads until our sources fall unconscious, Corporal.

Biron
gives a nod and stays silent.
Orin
Look, ser. This was my idea. I came to it because you had already agreed we should send them off with Helia. How is handing him the writ first any worse?
Agata

Very well. Loth!

Clear a space for Walter to write!

Loth
sweeps a nearby table clean with one swift action.
Ba'Raknul
turns and gives a nod to Orin and Quinn to begin pressuring the other two privates.
Agata
Walter, take this dictation!
Walter
lays out a sizeable array of quills, inks, and parchment, produced from somewhere in his ragged brocade coat.
Biron
Shall I bring the one who talks?
Agata
Very good, Corporal Biron.
Biron
gives a single grunt and nods, then walks in to get Eggard.
Ba'Raknul

gets close to Quinn.

See if you can get Lucas in there to squeal before time runs out.

Orin

nods to Ba, then turns to Quinn.

Come along.

Quinn

leans in to look at the quills then turns back to Ba.

Yesser!

He follows Orin, muttering.

Must learn that fancy writing stuff at some point. Could come in handy.

Biron
walks into the other cell with a dark shadow across his face. Looking down upon Eggard on the floor.
Eggard
What's going on out there?
Biron
Up.
Biron
grabs the guy by the arm and pulls him up.
Eggard
gingerly gets on his feet.
Biron

places one hand firmly holding his arm and another on the back of his shoulder.

Move.

He marches him out of the cell to Agata.

As Biron reenters the corridor with Eggard, Agata is standing over Walter, dictating the writ.

Agata
Walter, write so: By the order of Sergeant Agata of the venerable Company of the Black Griffin, I do hearby grant Corporal Eggard leave to forfeit the rights and purchases of his office, so that he may return home, on this day of our Mother and Father, 19th Ancept, 467.
Walter

hastily scribbles out the writ in near perfect calligraphy.

With a flourish he signs it, and passes it to Agata, who in turns adds her own X to the paper.

He rolls up the parchment, carefully pours wax from his wicker lantern, and seals it with his ring so it bears the arms of Griffin Company.

Agata

turns to Ba and hands him the writ.

It is done, may the Mother help us all.

Biron

gives a strong squeeze to Eggard’s shoulder.

whispering coldly Now, you tell us everything. Or that writ means nothing.

Ba'Raknul

takes the writ and bows low.

Thank you Ser.

quietly to Agata When will the Sergeant-Baliff be here?

Agata
Do I look like her keeper, Corporal Ba? She'll be interrogating someone in the camp. Carry on, Corporal!

Agata marches out of the cellar, closely followed by Loth and Walter.

Eggard
Give me the writ!
Biron
pulls him hard and keeps him in place.
Ba'Raknul

gives Eggard a sharp look.

IF you tell us everything and IF it checks out. You get your writ.

He leaves for the other room.

Biron
growls behind Eggard.

While the writ is being written and signed, Quinn and Orin encourage the other captives to listen in from the other room…

Quinn

looks over to the two captives and smiles sadly.

Can't help thinkin' you've missed ya chance. Singing like a Kastenburg Canary that one. Always the problem with loyalty; it’s only worth something until someone breaks.

He walks over to watch the scene in the corridor.

looking back to Orin You reckon that scribbling actually means anything? All looks like it’s been done too fast to me eyes.

Ba'Raknul

enters and motions to Orin to a corner.

Orin can I have a moment please?

Orin

peers at Lucas.

Sure, Ba.

Quinn

crouches down in front of the two captives, pulls out a chunk of dried ration, and tears a mouthful with his teeth.

He turns to look towards Ba' and Orin, chewing and holding part of his rations. He slips it to Lucas when he thinks the others aren’t looking.

Ba'Raknul

subtly shows the writ.

We got it. there's two things I was thinking. I was thinking you would be best to talk to Eggard as he trusts you a bit already, but one of us needs to go get Helia as she's off somewhere in camp. I'm not sure how you wanna play the writ thing.

Quinn
stands and runs his greasy hands down his trews. With his back to the others, he motions sshhh to Lucas and winks at him.
Ba'Raknul
And we need to time it right as well.
Orin
Time it how?
Ba'Raknul
So that we get all the info, but the Corporal doesn’t have time to actually dash.
Orin
There's no reason we should give him the ability to dash. He doesn't get the writ until we get what we want. He should stay locked up until we're satisfied. He's not free until he gets the writ.
Ba'Raknul

nod and hands Orin the writ.

Hide that and go have a word with Eggard.

Quinn

approaches Orin and Ba.

So, what's the plan? It ain't handing them over to laughing boy is it?

Ba'Raknul

turns to Quinn.

Me and you keep watching these keep the pressure up.

loudly Orin is going to go have a chat with Eggard.

Quinn

salutes half-heartedly.

Yesser!

He turns to look sadly at the captives.

Don't fink this is gonna end well for ya, gotta say. Not too late to join your friend out there on the path to freedom though.

Lucas
says nothing, just looks at Quinn with hopeless eyes.
Orin

slips the writ into the secret pocket of their shirt, next to the note from The Sparrow.

quietly I think I know how to make the switch. I'll show him the writ's in my pocket. When we're done, I'll show him I'm putting it in his pack. Except it won’t be the writ, it'll be the note from Sparrow.

Ba'Raknul

lights up.

I love it. It’s horrible, but I love it.

Orin

Then all we have to do is tell Helia where to find him and to search his bag.

They start to leave, but think of something else.

We'll tell her these two said they were working with him and he's about to get away, yeah?

Ba'Raknul
nods in agreement.
Orin
nods and walks out.
Ba’Raknul

He leans in to Quinn and whispers.

I understand helping a man in chains. Don’t let Biron see you-- and only food.

He moves and stands close to the captives, eyes on them.

Quinn

shrugs.

I'm thinking they'll hang anyway.

He leans in to Ba and whispers.

Won't hurt for them to think they have a friend in here with them, if you know my thinking.

Orin
draws Eggard into the makeshift cell he was in earlier. They give Biron a strong look then look at the door and back at Biron again.
Biron
stares at Orin dully.
Orin

sighs.

Go on and lock him up if you must, but shut the door while we're talking.

Biron
grunts aggressively. He pushes Eggard to the wall and chains him back up.
Eggard

Wa... what's going on?

Where is my writ?

Biron

ignores him, stepping to Orin.

You better be able to do this.

Without another word, he leaves and closes the door.

Orin

pulls the writ from their shirt pocket, unfolds it, and puts it a few inches from Eggard's face.

It's right here.

Biron
stands outside both doors and stares through both bars.
Eggard
All well and good, but I'm not going to be doing much going home chained up like this.
Orin
refolds the writ and puts it back in their shirt.
Eggard
I won't speak a word 'til that writ is in my unfettered hands.
Orin
You haven't earned it just yet, Eggard.
Eggard
Neither have you earned my spilling of guts.
Orin

Ah, but see, we're the ones doing the buying.

We don't have to get anything from you at all. We're entirely within our rights to shoot you dead. So, you give us what we're paying for. Then we pay you.

Or we shoot you. Your choice.

Eggard
What's stopping you just shooting me, soon as I talk?
Orin

Eggard, I've been completely straight-forward here. I said I'd get you the writ and here it is. I say I'll let you go, and I will. All these people here...

They gesture around the room and to the door.

...they're keep me to my word.

Eggard

laughs.

I heard you nearly kill poor Wren. You word ain't worth shit. Unlock my chains, put that writ in my hands, and I'll talk.

Biron

barking If he doesn't wanna talk, leave him for me.

He pushes his face against the bars of the door. Pushing hard against it, staring at Eggard hungrily.

Orin

looks gravely at Eggard, then the floor, then sighs.

They go to the door.

Biron, where's the man's pack?

Eggard
looks fearfully at Biron.
Biron
looks around for Eggard’s pack.
Quinn
walks to the door of Wren and Lucas’ cell, and leans up against it, straining his ears to see if he can pick up any of the conversation with Eggard.

Biron spies a pack in a corner of the adjoining corridor.

Biron

grumbles and snarls as he paces like a caged lion before getting his meal. He picks up Eggard’s bag and starts to walk back with it. Here.

He stops and looks at the bag. He thinks for a moment and opens it to look at what’s inside.

Quinn

scratches at his chin and looks at Biron.

Looks like spoils of war that. Bout time we had a payday, if you take me meaning?

The contents of the bag are much as can be expected of a mercenary’s bag: dry rations, pots and pans, a flint for lighting fires, bandages, a set of cards and what looks like a corn doll. Perhaps some kind of memento?

There is also what looks like a fulsome purse! It jingles ever so seductively.

Biron
removes the doll and looks at it. He takes the doll and purse, then brings in the bag to Orin.
Quinn
licks his lips and eyes the purse.
Orin

I fear Eggard has a point, men. BUT... If he has the writ on him, it becomes illegal to kill him.

Do you agree, Eggard?

Eggard
That is the point, yes.
Biron

steps into the room, throws the bag at Orin, and looks at Eggard.

Is he mine yet?

Orin

And, perhaps with the exception of Biron, you don't think we'd be audacious enough to kill you then?

They give Biron a meaningful look.

Biron
growls.
Eggard
Enough talk! Unlock me and give me the writ, or you may as well let that dog kill me. I'm a dead man either way!
Biron
snarls and looks at Orin.
Orin
Okay, okay.
Biron
narrows his eyes and his stance widens.
Orin

pulls a folded parchment from their shirt pocket.

Your note.

They put the parchment deep into Eggard's pack.

Here. And now I’ll remove your restraints.

They pick open the locks on Eggard’s shackles.

Eggard

rubs his wrists and licks his lips.

That's... that's better.

Biron
snarls aggressively, and stands fully blocking the door.
Orin

holds out the pack for Eggard.

Now talk.

Eggard

starts a little at Biron, then turns to Orin.

Talk... yes... you'll be wanting to know who I took orders from.

Look inside my bag. There is a pack of cards?

Orin
takes the cards from the bag.
Eggard

We never saw who gave the orders. Until tonight, I didn't even know Lucas and Wren were involved.

When the moon is at its highest point in the sky, we'd meet by a campfire in the East Camp.

Biron
doesn't take his eyes off Eggard.
Eggard
Hooded so we couldn't recognise each other and play cards.
Quinn
nods and looks sadly at the captives.
Eggard

Each night. That's how we got orders.

Take them cards, and it’s gotta be them cards, and play tonight. One of 'em will be the one giving orders.

Orin
How many show up at these games?
Eggard
Dunno, was a score or so the last game... but maybe there's more than one game.

As far as Orin can tell, Eggard is too frightened and desperate to deceive you at this point. Biron is more suspicious, his wily wilding instincts tell him maybe Eggard is leaving something out.

Biron

steps to Eggard.

You're lying. Tell us, everything!

Quinn
is leaning up against the bars listening for snippets of the conversation. On seeing Willem he smiles I take it our bird is singing.
Biron
grabs him by the arms.
Orin
looks shocked.
Eggard

recoils in fear.

splutters Five of Coins! Everyone got dealt a card at first. You take it in turns to play yours. If you don't, they'll know. I was the the Five of Coins!

Biron

snarls.

splutters and shouts You. Lying, Traitorous....

Orin
goes dark with rage for the briefest of moments.
Biron

slams him into the wall and locks him back in his shackles.

We'll see if what you said is right.

Quinn

from the door to the other room Oh oh, sounds like laughing boy is going to kill the choir.

turning to Wren You sure you don't want to be the one making it to freedom?

Wren
merely groans, having temporarily lost the ability to speak.
Eggard
What 'bout our deal?
Biron

Orin, we're out.

He walks out the cell and stands by door.

Orin

You lied. We need a moment to decide how seriously you've broken our agreement.

They walk out.

Biron

snarling You lied. If this is true, then you will be freed.

He slams the door and locks it.

Eggard
Blast you! We had a deal!
Biron

goes to Ba in the room with Wren and Lucas.

He broke.

Orin

follows behind Biron. They hand Ba the cards and explains their purpose to him.

I think you should see how the other two respond to these.

Ba'Raknul

nods and smiles.

Good job you guys.

Biron
stands tall, leering over the two captives, Wren bloodied and hurt.
Orin
Not yet. We still need to know if the others corroborate.
Biron

We should speak in the corridor.

He turns and leaves the cell.

Quinn

sniffs.

One free.

looking at the captives Why don't you come clean and go free. I hear Faro is nice this time of year?

Wren
merely groans.
Private Lucas
Ain't sounds like he's happy out there, does it?
Ba'Raknul

waits for everyone to come out, then he closes and locks the cell. He leans in to the group.

We need to know their cards at the very least. So we can infiltrate this meeting.

Biron
looks at Orin and nods to them.
Orin
Our luck, yes. Agata will probably expect that.
Quinn
looks around the room any chance one of yous can explain what this is all about?
Biron

grunts at Quinn.

The traitors play a game here, in the East Camp fire. Everyone has a card. We need to get them to talk.

He shrugs his head to the other cell.

We need to know their cards.

Quinn
frowning Like a playing card?
Biron
They had a lot of traitors at these things.
Ba'Raknul

looks at Quinn.

Yes, like a code.

Biron
We will want to find them all.
Ba'Raknul
If we can find their cards before we leave that would be better. One crack at them? Maybe tell them we're tired of the lies and they have one shot. If not we go to Agata with what we got.
Quinn

Wait up, let me see those cards you found in the bag.

He chuckles.

Biron
glares and Quinn.
Ba'Raknul

shows the deck to Quinn.

You got an idea?

Quinn

smiles and nods.

Just wanna see if they been marked or summat. Been had enough times by crooks and cut throats playing cards.

He looks over the cards closely, trying to see if there are any markings.

They appear like any set of cards but with a distinctive back design a flock of birds!

Orin
I expect they don't know each others' cards, only the dealer does.
Quinn
compares one card back to the next.

All the cards are identical, but it's a design Quinn has never seen before.

Quinn

nods.

True that, but worth a check.

Orin
Perhaps one of them is more worn than the others, is it Eggard's card?
Ba'Raknul
looks around for the others’ items to see if they have an identical deck.

Ba does indeed find two similar packs in the other prisoners belongings.

Ba'Raknul
pockets the decks for now.
Quinn

sniffs.

Seems legit to me... but your eyesight is probably better than old Quinn’s.

He hands the cards to Orin.

Orin
takes the cards and uses their fingers as well as their eyes to compare the three of coins to the other cards in the deck.

Even to Orin’s eyes, trained as they are, they seem otherwise normal, except for that distinctive design on the back.

Orin

I can't tell a difference. We can only rely on their word.

They hand the deck to Ba.

Biron

growls angrily.

So many traitors.

Quinn

Feckin' marked decks - have people no honour eh? Good to see these ain't crooked at least.

He smiles.

Biron
So many disgusting bastards living within us here.
Quinn
snorts none taken, I'm sure.
Orin
I can't believe as many as twenty are traitors here, let alone multiples of that.
Biron
is getting visibly riled up and more angry. He starts to pace around the room snarling.
Ba'Raknul
looks through the cards to see if any are missing from the deck.
Quinn
cleans his ear with one filthy cracked nail on his little finger.
Ba'Raknul
Okay, Quinn and Orin. One more crack at the Privates to get their cards. If not, we go with what we got.
Biron
We should burn these bastards outside and high up. Let every bastard know they can’t hide.
Ba'Raknul
We're running out of options.
Quinn

sniffs.

Twenty traitors eh? That's rough.

Ba'Raknul
Work them over together.
Orin
At least.
Biron
looks up towards Ba angrily.
Quinn

nods.

Yesser - beggin' ya pardon though, what was his calling card?

He nods his head towards the door with Eggard in.

Orin
sighs and takes the cards before heading into the room with Wren and Lucas.
Quinn

follows Orin and sits down in front of Wren.

So, your pal is heading home. Can't remember his name none, but let’s just call him the five of coins. You absolutely sure you don't wanna join him?

Private Wren’s eyes roll and she groans. Clearly she is in no fit state to talk.

Quinn
looks to the other captive.
Private Lucas
glares back at Quinn, eyes full of hate and mistrust.
Orin
stands in front of Lucas, wielding the deck of cards. They make a show of pulling them out and fanning them so each number can be seen.
Private Lucas
spits at Orin's feet.
Orin

Ah, so you recognise them?

They grin at Quinn.

Quinn

sighs and shakes his head.

Ain't no need to be like that. We're trying to help you. That maniac you can probably hear outside, now he wants to hurt you and hurt you bad. I want to see you go free. As does my friend here. Why don't you answer their questions some?

Private Lucas
Oh aye? Got your word you'll set me free, huh?
Orin
What, you don't think we'll let you out of here?
Quinn

smiles sadly.

My word ain't worth goose droppins, ain't got no authority. But I'll give my word that I'll try to talk those with the power into letting you go free.

Private Lucas

Aye! I heard Eggard praising the reliability of your word, at the top o' his lungs.

Fuck off, royalist scum!

Orin
Eggard tried to lie to us. He's just spending a bit of time thinking about what he's done. Don't worry, he's still getting out.
Quinn
laughing I ain't no royalist - only crown I care for is the type you spend in taverns. I'm a mercenary, me. Got no real loyalties and try not to make enemies if it can be 'elped. I'd rather you leave here as a friend, than swing and I make an enemy of your kin.
Private Lucas

Aye? And I'm the King o' the West.

Fuck.

Off.

Royalist.

Scum.

Orin

Well, alright, then.

They walk back out.

Quinn

sighs.

to Lucas I hope it’s fast, for your sake. Nuffin' doing.

Orin
Judging by their reaction, they know what the deck means. But they're not talking and I don't blame them.
Ba'Raknul

sighs.

Well besides not getting those two's cards we did good guys. Do you think we should take their belongings to the Sergeant-Bailiff? Or just tell them they’re here.

Quinn

shrugs.

Spoils of war, innit.

Ba'Raknul
No we need them, Quinn.
Orin
We should give Eggard his bag and send him off. See if he'll tell us to where, first. But at the minimum we have him tailed for a bit.
Quinn

smiles nervously.

Want me to, erm... look over their coin, see if there’s anything like unusual about it, like?

Biron

roars angrily.

We should make them pay.

He slams his axe handle into the wall.

Ba'Raknul

looks at Biron.

That’s not happening. We need them for the Bailiff! Calm down.

Orin
We'll have a window to see if releasing Eggard persuades the other two before Helia comes. But Helia will still get him. Remember the plan? We send her after him.
Ba'Raknul
I'd like her to get him before he see's we've given him a bogus writ.
Orin
Gets her out of camp while she decides if they're the real thing, anyway.
Biron

squares up to Ba.

They're fucking traitorous scum.

Ba'Raknul

turns back and fully squares off with Biron.

I. Dont. Care. We need them. Don’t ruin this because you cant keep in check.

Biron
snarls loudly and pushes past Ba and leaves the jail in a furious mood, worse than anyone has seen so far.
Ba'Raknul

sighs heavily… deeply.

Relieved that didn’t come to blows.

Orin

rolls their eyes at Biron.

What does it matter if Eggard realises once he's gone? He's still gone and pegged as a traitor.

Quinn

looks at the leaving Biron.

Where's Giggles going?

Ba'Raknul
Yes, but an angry, pissed man could do some damage before Helia catches him.
Orin
One man?
Quinn
So, who's this Hella?
Ba'Raknul
I am one man. With how bad this camp’s defences are, I could do a lot.
Orin
to Quinn She’s the Royal Bailiff.
Ba'Raknul
I say we get Helia, tell her that we captured some spies and that she has free rein to them. Tell her their stuff was untouched and boom.
Orin
Problem is if they're all here together, they could convince her that we set them up.
Ba'Raknul

grabs Eggard’s bag. He pulls out the coin and tosses it to Quinn.

If you must.

He places the bag on the floor.

You saw her. She isn’t gonna believe them… I don’t know.

Quinn
opens up the bag and fishes out the coin purse.

It feels weighty in Quinn’s hand. He opens it to find fifteen golden pieces, so shiny and pleasant. They fair smile back at him.

Ba'Raknul
I won’t force either way, but I know if I got out and was angry enough I could do some damage before I got caught again.
Orin

looks at Quinn, then leans in to whisper to Ba.

She might be bull-headed, but she didn't bother us even though we're three and probably fit Rothaniel’s description.

Ba'Raknul
So she'll probably believe the 'evidence' over them. We caught them in our tent. They're clearly spies. And Agata has said she can put them in Dismas at the right time.
Quinn
looks over the coins to see if he can see where they were minted.

They bear a curious marking, a hammer-and-anvil. Quinn has not seen its like before.

Orin
Well I don't want to argue about it. But it feels like putting too much to chance.
Ba'Raknul
If we are letting him walk I want Helia notified before so he doesn’t have a head start on her. What if we all leave and get attacked, we might never get to tell her otherwise.
Orin

How about we set him loose and send one the numpty...

gestures at Quinn, rifling through the bags.

...all at once?

Quinn

holds one coin up.

Any of you recognise this marking? This a local coin?

Ba'Raknul
remembers he is saving for a rifle and looks in the third bag.
Orin
Thinking about it, Agata must know where he's from, so we can definitely give Helia a direction.
Ba'Raknul
We could do, we should set the twins off slightly first and then open his cell and say off you go.
Orin
nods.
Quinn
shrugs and reaches for his own coin purse, fishing out a handful of gold coins and placing them on the floor next to the coins from the captives purse.

The old coins all have the heads of the current kings. With the surfeit of kings south of the Commonwealth border, no two are alike. Seems odd that a coin wouldn't have some noble blood's inbred profile stamped on them.

Quinn
leans over and studies the difference.
Orin
peers at Quinn's coin.
Ba'Raknul

looks at the group and sighs.

I wanted to say I'll go get the twins but with Biron in this state I'm hesitant to leave. We need to make sure Birno isn’t alone with these guys at any point.

He looks at Orin and Quinn.

Ba'Raknul
Toss a coin?
Quinn
picks one of the captives’ coins up and tosses it to Ba.
Ba'Raknul

catches the coin and laughs.

Not what I meant.

He tosses it back.

You haven’t met Helia before.

Orin
Oh, well I meant send Quinn.
Quinn

pushes all the coins on the floor into the captive’s coin purse and puts it back in the pack.

He flinches as the coin bounces off his head.

Orin
I suppose, though I didn't figure her difficult to find, I can go find the twins and send them if you like.
Ba'Raknul
I will go to Helia directly. You and Quinn release our boy and watch Biron. Two of you might fair ok.
Orin
grimaces.
Quinn

looks up from the floor.

If it be dangerous, wouldn't it be best to take someone with?

Ba'Raknul

It’s dangerous for you, not me.

He laughs joyfully.

You'll have Biron.

Quinn
grumbles Join a mercenary group, they said. Get rich, they said. Earn a name for yourself...
Orin
can't laugh at this and looks injured at Ba.
Ba'Raknul

looks to Orin.

What? Look I don’t doubt your skills, but I doubt we all could take Biron on one of his bad days.

Orin
That's what I'm afraid of.

To be continued...

Black Griffin 38 - Quinn

In the ninth instalment of Black Griffin the party interrogate their prisoners, learn little of the mysterious Commonwealth and acquire a new comrade-in-arms...

This campaign diary taken from the in-character chat channel from session 38 of my ongoing playtest campaign, lightly polished and annotated.

Black Griffin is a play-by-chat game that runs every week on Roll20. The party are mercenaries in the employ of the infamous Company of the Black Griffin. Lowly even for sellswords, they have been placed on punishment duty as company fetches: bounty hunters charged with capture of deserters for trial.

Black Griffin Encampment Map Preview
Scene VIII: The Interrogation

When we last left our baleful bounty hunters they had just interrupted a cadre of Flock spies overturning Ba'Raknul's tent. Tense combat ensued and Orin was badly wounded, but the spies were subdued.

Then a mighty crash! While the party were waylaid by the spies, more of the camp defences were sabotaged. This time a wall falls, leaving the camp exposed to the dark trees of Friar's Wood.

After some rest, our fetches decided to interrogate the spies. They make their way to the wine cellar cum camp prison in the heavily-guarded, ruined manor house that Captain Larke has commandeered.

As the party make their way there, they see a nervous looking fetch waiting.

Quinn stands around 5'8” tall and is slight of build. He has a nose slightly too big for his face, thick overhanging eyebrows, and squinting brown eyes which are too close together.

A thin, almost lipless mouth sits above a weak, clean-shaven chin. Black, slightly greying hair protrudes from a dark hooded cloak that has seen better days. The cloak is little more than a bundle of leather offcuts held together by filth.

He shuffles nervously from one foot to the next.

Orin
looks behind themself to see what he’s looking at.
Ba'Raknul

approaches the fetch.

Yes?

Biron
glares at the fetch, standing beside Ba.
Quinn

turns to Ba'Raknul.

We been sent to look for Corporal Ba'Raknul, squire... If ya knows him or could direct, would be grateful some!

Biron
grumbles and takes a step forward...
Orin
snickers behind a sleeve.
Biron

You are?

rests his hand by his axe and stares down at him.

Quinn

doffs a non-existent cap and bows slightly.

The name’s Quinn sir. Quinn Wheatsteal. You be our Corporal?

Ba'Raknul

Looks Quinn over closely before pausing.

Keep up and we'll fill you in after we've talked to the prisoner. This is time sensitive.

He moves towards the prison.

Quinn

grins nervously.

Fill us in? What, like kill us?

Orin
Maybe.
Biron
grunts and moves along with Ba.
Ba'Raknul
Sorry for the brief intro, I am Corporal Ba’Raknul. Ba will suffice.
Quinn

grins at Ba.

A pleasure to be meetin' ya, squire.

Orin

tries on one of Biron's glares but can't keep a straight face.

They cover by turning to catch up with Ba.

Biron
whispering to Ba Don’t like ‘im.
Orin
You still don't like me.
Ba'Raknul
whispering back You don't like anyone.
Orin
See?
Biron
snorts and keeps moving.
Orin
starts to chuckle but ends up sucking their teeth and grabbing at their fresh wound.
Ba'Raknul

looks over his shoulder.

There is no need for formality with me. As long as you don't get us killed and do your job, you're good. Him on the other hand…

He flicks a thumb towards Biron.

…He'll take longer.

Orin
turns around and walks backward so they can look at the new fetch.
Quinn

looks over towards Biron.

Take longer to be good with, eh? Sure, I can win 'im over.

Biron
ignores the small pest.
Orin

rolls their eyes.

Sure.

They turn around and continue on toward the makeshift jail.

Quinn

looks towards Orin.

I ain't killed none, just up here trying to earn a crust. Man's gotta eat, good coin in war. Can earn a pretty crown or two.

Orin
sighs.
Quinn

shrugs.

What? You join for some noble cause or sommat? Can keep your causes in ya breeches. Can't eat high-minded ideals none!

Biron

rolls his eyes back to the group.

barks Get a move on, talk on your own time

Biron
growls.
Quinn
What's these prisoners done, then?
Orin
Ambushed Ba. He's sore.
Ba'Raknul

keeps the pace up.

They were in my tent. We need to know why.

The party, along with their new member, find themselves at Larke's digs. As they climb the steps, carefully treading over loose chunks of stone debris, to the grand entrance of the crumbling manor house, they find the way is blocked by two stern looking mercenaries. Judging from their scars and age, these are veteran members of Larke's elite guard.

The Soldier

sneers as he looks you up and down.

What do you bastards want?

Ba'Raknul

smiles.

Agata sent us to talk to the captives.

Quinn
scratches at his stubble with the filthy nails of his right hand.
The Soldier

laughs.

Ol' Aggie, huh? You must be fetches.

Biron
remains quiet and holds up straight, with his normal unamused expression.
The Soldier

turns to his comrade.

Ugly business, fetching. Not work for a true fighter!

Quinn
grumbles Man's gotta eat.
Ba'Raknul

smiles again.

And I suppose watching the rain is?

He chuckles as if laughing at his own joke, eyes on the soldier the whole time.

The soldier

growls.

Watch your mouth, fetch!

Quinn

grins.

Nah, they ain't just watching the rain none, Corporal. They be guarding against snow!

Biron

gives an angry sideways glance towards Quinn.

We're here to do a job. Can we get on with it.

Orin

You must be hungry, Quinn. You keep talking about it an awful lot. Here.

They reach into their pack and toss some ration crumbs his way.

They turn to the guard.

Whatever the job, it's all about how you end the day, isn't it?

They offer the guard their wineskin.

Quinn

scrabbles to catch the crumbs.

Be rude to turn down food some!

The soldiers each take swigs of the wineskin then begrudgingly raise their halberds and stand aside.

The Soldier
Straight the cellars, mind you! No exploring.
Orin
nods.
Biron
gives the guards and then Orin a single nod and walks in with Ba.
Ba'Raknul

nods and smiles again.

Thank you very much.

He heads on past toward the cellars.

Quinn

leans in to Orin, grinning.

Can't help finking those boys just called us thieves. Never been so offended.

He tries to keep up with Ba.

Orin
narrows their eyes at Quinn before turning away.

The atmosphere inside the manor house is very different to the camp. The constant din of mercenaries doing their favourite thing, grumbling and complaining, dies out here. Servants bustle past you. The walls are adorned with paintings and tapestries, only some of which have been vandalised.

Quinn

looks around him whilst absently scratching at his crotch.

Oh, very la-di-da. How the other 'alf live, eh? Reckon those paintings be worth a pretty crown.

Biron

snarls.

Touch them and lose your hands.

In one room you spy several lieutenants sitting at a large table, heavy with fruits and wine bottles. At its head sits Vins, telling some bawdy tale. They don't even notice you pass as you take the stone steps into the cellar.

Down in the cellar it is very cold, and very dark.

Quinn

snorts.

Just appreciatin' the art. Love a bit-o-paintin', me.

Shattered glass litters the floor, and grim men and women are chained to the low walls. The group are greeted by a grey-looking man, stooped and carrying an array of knives.

Biron
stops and picks up a handful of shattered glass and keeps it in his hand.
Ba'Raknul

stops before they go in and turns to Quinn.

Listen, this is serious. We need not to be giving things away or letting the captives think we're disorganised. Don't speak out of turn please, while we are here.

Quinn
nods at Ba and looks sternly at the knives.
Biron
turns and eyeballs the new one silently. He grunts and turns away to follow Ba.
Orin
chokes on the dungeon stench. They cover their mouth and peer closely at each person chained to the wall.
Ba'Raknul

moves to the grey man.

Okay.. You know who I am?

Grey Man
nods sullenly. What you want?
Ba'Raknul
We're here to talk to the captives.
Orin
Agata's orders.

The man nods and leads you through a passage to another wine cellar, this one quieter than the last. Lit by a single torch sit three mercenaries chained to the walls: a lean looking woman, a young man, and an older man with streaks of grey in his long black hair and black beard.

Grey Man
These are Privates Wren and Lucas, and Corporal Eggard.
Biron

grunts to Ba.

Let me have the woman.

With that, the grey man walks off, leaving you to your business with nary a word.

Orin

quickly steps in front of Biron.

We're just here to talk... for now.

Ba'Raknul

whispers at them.

I have a plan. Just threats.

Quinn

raises an eyebrow.

‘For now’?

Biron
stares at Orin and then just pushes them aside.
Orin
raises an eyebrow at Ba.
Wren

turns to her compatriots.

Say nothing! Leave the talking to me.

Biron
looks at Ba, irritated, but backs off.

Private Wren bears the muscular physique of a heavy swordsman.

Orin
Wren, eh? Not your real name, is it?
Wren
Whose name would it be?
Ba'Raknul

walks in and announces to the room.

Look, this goes one of two ways: either he talks to you…

He motions to the large Biron holding a handful of glass.

…or they do.

He motions to Orin holding their wine skin.

Orin
Not very smart, are you... Wren?
Quinn
leans in to Ba Fink it would be best to split 'em ser.
Ba'Raknul

nods.

I think this ‘private’ has too much influence in here.

Biron
whispers to Ba. I have a way to make them talk
Wren
I ain't stupid. And I don't believe for one second we're getting out of our chains alive.
Biron
gives Wren a cold look. There’s worse ways to die.
Orin

looks back at the others, then back to Wren.

Sorry, Wren... you know us fetches, we're hard to control.

Wren
Like I said, we ain't leaving these chains alive. And there is no way we're not going to get tortured either. You gonna double torture us to death, or summink?
Orin

Aw, don't think like that. I'm pretty sure you are getting out of here alive, you know that?

turns to Ba and Biron and winks.

Quinn

steps between Biron and the chained captives.

We ain't come all the way here to torture wretches chained to walls. I'm sure the good lady here can be convinced otherwise...

Ba'Raknul
Okay. Orin pop our lady’s chains. Biron have a chat, and I mean a chat, in the other room. Me and Orin will chat with these poor wretches.
Orin

gives Ba a dark look. They walk over to Ba.

whispering I don't think that's a wise idea? Certainly not as a first resort?

Ba'Raknul
If you could hold the door for us Quinn.
Quinn
nods and opens the door.
Ba'Raknul
walks over with Quinn and quietly talks.
Biron
follows.
Ba’Raknul
Listen. I am not okay with torture or even fear tactics and pressure. Understood?
Quinn

leans against the door frame.

Course, no need for everyone to be interrogated none. I'm sure the good lady here will be keen to sell out her underlings if that’s what they really are. Always our way innit? Shat on from above.

Biron

growls.

Traitors are traitors. They deserve nothing.

Quinn

sniffs and winks at Biron.

I'll go with you then, laughing boy, see if we can get some sense outta this one.

Biron

rolls his eyes.

growling Go get the keys

Quinn

suddenly lights up.

Couldn’t we just, erm... improvise keys?

Biron
From the guard, idiot.
Quinn

waves his hand dismissively at Biron.

I'm talkin' about future endeavours 'ain't I, chuckles?

Biron

tries to mask his irritation while in the cell, but it slightly comes through.

He growls louder.

Get. The. Keys.

Orin

sighs at Biron.

Here.

They walk to Private Wren and pick the locks on her shackles.

Biron
glances up at Orin as they do this.
Quinn

rubs at his jawline and whistles under his breath looking at Orin.

Me and you are gonna get on just fine.

The crude shackles aren't difficult to pick and as Wren stands everyone is amazed at the sheer size of her. Ba and Quinn lead the seemingly fearless woman into another room.

The two men left behind seem more frightened than the junior officer.

Biron
leads Wren to the next room. As they get in he pushes her to the ground.
Quinn

follows Biron. He reaches into the smelly tattered backpack at his shoulder.

Got some old rope 'ere somewhere...

Biron

nods.

Bind her legs.

Orin
looks uncomfortable at Biron walking away with Wren, but turns back and gives the two remaining men long, hard stares.
Ba'Raknul

laughs at the men who seem more scared.

Trust me, you'll have a much better time in here... providing you talk nicely with my friend here.

Orin

What I said to Wren is absolutely true. You will get out of here alive.

Do you believe me?

Eggard
Alive? Really? You expect us to believe that?
Orin

Here, have a drink. I bet you're thirsty.

They offer Eggard a drink from their waterskin.

Eggard

laughs and turns his head.

I'd be a fool to accept a drink from a fetch!

What is in that wineskin though?

Orin
Ha! Smart man. Some of Sly Ben's finest. A sip?
Eggard

looks to Private Lucas, who shakes his head vigorously.

Well, might as well. Could be my last...

He eagerly gulps down some wine.

Orin

helps Eggard with the skin then nods to the private.

Save some for this one.

They turn and offer Lucas a drink as well.

Lucas
says nothing, just shakes his head and glares.
Orin
But really. I mean it. We put ourselves on the line and made a deal to see you out of here safely.
Lucas
spits at Orin's feet.
Orin
sighs.
Eggard
Be honest, fetch. What are our chances of getting out of here alive?
Ba'Raknul

sighs and calls over from where he stands at the door.

Why keep fighting? Wren here is playing nice and I've seen tougher people than her break for Biron.

Lucas
laughs darkly at Ba's remark.
Orin

thinks for a second.

Your odds are all but guaranteed. There's just one thing we're a little confused about. If you help us clear it up, that'll be a definite.

Ba'Raknul
goes back to being quiet.
Eggard

snorts.

Guaranteed? We hang people for less than...

He trails off.

What do you want to know?

Orin

All we need to know is what your orders from the Flock were for last night.

They lean in and start checking all of Eggard's pockets and layers of clothing.

Orin finds a piece of flint, a few copper coins, and a filthy rag... nothing you wouldn't expect to find in the pocket of a mercenary.

Lucas
looks startled.
Eggard

Fl-flock?

Can we talk privately?

Orin

gives Eggard a knowing look.

Of course.

to Ba Can we put the Private in with Wren?

Ba'Raknul

nods and smiles.

Another for the bad room. Gotcha.

Orin
unlocks Lucas' shackles.
Ba'Raknul
grabs the man tightly and marches him through to the other room.

Meanwhile, in the other cell…

Quinn

grins widely as he starts tying the captives legs

Never been one fer takin' orders much… from me equals anyway.

Wren

looks defiantly back at you.

It doesn't have to be this way, you know? We don't have to work for the bastards. We could work for the good guys. You know, for a change!

We could be helping the common folk. Earning good coin for it as well.

Instead of pillaging the poor sods.

Biron
in a cold monotone voice Quiet.
Quinn

smiles sadly at Private Wren.

I don't want to see no-one hurt none. But he…

He flicks his head back towards towards Biron.

...he seems to like hurting folk.

Wren

turns to Biron.

You think when they're finished putting down the Commonwealth they'll stop there?

Biron
You have no honour.
Wren
They won't turn their heads North next?
Quinn

leans in to Wren.

And there's worse that can happen to a woman in a cell - I don't need to be saying it none, but...

Biron

gives Quinn a disgusted look.

He turns back and slaps Private Wren.

Wren
spits blood in his face and laughs.
Quinn

puts his hand up towards Biron.

Let’s not be doing none of this just yet, eh? We can all talk. Civilised like.

Wren
laughs.
Biron
growls deeply.
Wren
What does it matter? The Peasant King is coming. The Kings are losing. You'll all be dead by year’s end!
Quinn

leans in to Wren again.

Look, I don't think I can stop him hurtin' ya none. Not sure I'd try that hard if truth be told. Why don't ya tell him what he wants to know, save him biting ya...

Biron

looks at Wren.

You're a fighter?

Wren

peers at Biron.

...aye?

Biron
You a coward?
Wren
I'm a fighter. Being a coward’s neither here nor there.
Quinn

sniffs.

Seen him bite a man's face off once... while he lived. Don't wanna see that with you, ‘specially not if he’s gonna defile ya as well...

Biron

barks.

Shut it!

Wren

turns to Quinn.

Who’s to say I haven't bitten a few faces off meself?

Quinn

puts his hands up.

Don't mean nuffin by it, just saying, like.

He turns back to Wren.

Yeah, but I'd wager the one being eaten hurts more.

Biron
Death comes to all fighters, whether here or later, whether it’s from your peasant king or a beast.
Wren
Aye, but some deaths are coming much, much sooner.
Biron

Yes, they are. But how has not been determined.

takes a step forward to the woman on the floor.

growls. Wanna die on the floor. cowering.. Or die with a weapon in hand.

Wren
I think I already made me decision on that matter. I wanna die sticking it to those three fat bastards sitting on thrones!
Quinn

sighs.

No one needs to die none. Let the woman answer ya questions and let her live...

Biron
grabs the woman by the throat and lifts her to her feet.
Wren
struggles to break free of her bonds, but alas to no avail.
Biron
pushes her back against the wall hard.
Quinn
Look, I wouldn't give the Father's happy sack for this war, we're mercenaries just trying to earn a crust. Why don't ya tell him what he wants to know then you can go back to ya grand crusade or what not.
Biron

glares into her eyes.

Tell us then, who is this peasant king?

Wren
chokes, trying to speak but unable to.
Biron
releases his grip.
Wren
lands on her knees, coughing and spluttering.
Biron
Weak.
Quinn
tries to catch her and soften her fall.
Wren

snorts.

Untie me and tie yourself up, then we'll see how you fare being throttled.

Biron
Who is the peasant king, and how is he working? You tell me, I release your binds, give you a weapon. You don’t…
Wren
You... really don't know?
Biron
glares aggressively.
Wren
He's the man who started the revolution, the first to raise arms against the pretender’s men. He leads the Commonwealth.
Biron
Where is he?
Wren
Probably in the Capital. Or commanding his troops near the frontlines. He's a general, don't you know. Now, you mentioned something about a weapon?
Biron

spits.

How did you get into our camp?

Wren
Took the coin, like everyone else. East of here, five years ago. Well before the Commonwealth was even weaned. Now, that's two questions you got for free. Where. Is. My. Weapon?
Quinn
takes out a husk of dried jerky and slumps down beside Wren.
Biron

snarls and slams her into the wall again.

I didn’t say how many questions. You answer them, you get your weapon. Understand?

He glares at her, nose to nose, and pushes hard against her collar bone.

Quinn
holds the jerky between his teeth and stands up, trying to get between Biron and Wren.
Biron

snarls aggressively.

Stand down, private.

He pushes Quinn aside.

At that moment Ba enters the room with Private Lucas.

Ba'Raknul

looks around the scene and pauses. He decides to go with it.

See? This is what you're in for.

He throws the man in towards Quinn.

Biron
snarls.
Ba'Raknul
Tie him up. The other is cracking now.
Quinn

tries to catch the other captive before he falls on his face. Then he starts tying him up.

muttering Shoulda sung some, no need for anyone to get hurt...

Ba'Raknul
leaves the room.
Biron
looks again at the woman, eye to eye.

Back with Corporal Eggard…

Eggard
whispering to Orin I... I just want to go home...
Orin
Don't we all.
Eggard
Give me that and I'll tell you anything you want to know.
Orin
Where is home, Eggard?
Eggard
South. Barrow. I've had enough fighting. Get me a writ from Old Aggie. An exemption, leave. And I'll talk. In writing!
Orin
Well, I certainly can't tell you where to go from here when you leave. Hell if I'll stop you.
Eggard
You might not. Others might. But not with a writ!
Orin
I doubt an exemption is necessary. Agata wants nothing to do with you anymore.
Eggard

laughs.

You’re not listening. No writ. No talk.

Orin
I understand. I'll ask. But tell me one thing... how does a Corporal such as yourself end up taking orders from such an obvious plant as Wren? Your lesser, even.
Eggard

grinds his teeth a little.

She's not the one given the orders, fetch.

Orin

You use that word like it's an insult...

They shrug.

If she's not giving you orders, why did she think she could tell you to keep your mouth shut?

Eggard

shrugs.

We got a deal? You need to talk to your commander?

Orin
This is give and take, Eggard... I'm not going to hand you the prize without a little something first.
Eggard
Like wot?
Orin
How. Do you. Come to be. Taking Orders. From the Flock?
Eggard

shrugs.

How do you think? They offered to let me go home. No way I'm getting out of the fighting here without one of your lot coming after me. So I cut a deal with 'em.

Orin
How did they think they could deliver on their promise?
Eggard
They didn't. Like you, they wanted a little something first. And here we are.
Orin
I see. Well, let's see what we can do about it, then. Please excuse me.
Orin

walks into the hall and shuts the door behind them.

Ba? A minute?

Ba'Raknul

laughs.

Go ahead, Biron, their boss is talking privately with Or-- Oh, speak of the devil.

He turns to Orin.

Quinn

looks up towards Orin as they enter, then back towards the captives.

Shoulda sung some...

Orin

So apparently he's just a merc through and through. Made a deal to get out of the war in one piece, but had to pay for it first.

They turn to Quinn.

Shut that door, please?

Ba'Raknul

leans in close and whispers.

Why were they in my tent?

Orin
He won't give me that information unless we make the same deal with him.
Quinn

smiles and climbs back to his feet, looking towards Biron as he does.

There ya go, laughin' boy, that's how you ask. ‘Please’.

He strides over and shuts the door.

Orin
I don't see why we shouldn't. Giving him a writ of passage has no effect on whether Helia will take him or not and we can just burn it once we hand him over.
Ba'Raknul

thinks for a moment.

If you go back in tell him it’s on, then come through into the other room and play like we've got everything we need and there’s no reason to keep the other two.

Orin
He's been honest with me so far, and we've got nothing to lose in my eyes. It's just whether Agata will see it that way.
Ba'Raknul
Maybe they'll give us the rest. If not then we talk to Agata.
Orin

nods.

Send someone to talk to Agata just in case?

Ba'Raknul

nods. He turns and goes back into the room with the two privates.

Pack up your stuff, boys, we got what we needed.

Orin

walks back into the room with Eggard.

It's done. Just a matter of putting ink to paper.

They nod and walk away again, shutting the door behind them.

In the privates’ cell, Wren fights against her restraints…

Ba'Raknul

finds the cell guard and whispers.

Go tell one of the guards out front to fetch Agata. They should tell her we’ve broken the traitors only we’ll need Walter the scribe to finish the job.

The grey-looking man seems to want to argue, but he’s heard quite a lot of Biron’s growling and seen Wren lying unconscious. He rushes off up the stairs.

Wren
YOU TRAITOR, EGGARD!
Biron
smiles grimly.
Wren
YOU CAN'T TRUST PRETENDERS!
Biron
You could of fought your way free.
Ba'Raknul
Gag her. Unless she’s got useful info, I don’t wanna hear her.
Biron
slams the pummel of his axe across her face to shut her up.
Quinn
sighs and walks-- then seeing Biron, runs-- over to the woman.
Biron
picks her up again and smacks her back down.
Quinn

tries to push between the two.

She ain't no use to none, dead!

Orin

enters the room.

Well that was easy enough. I mean... you're all mercenaries after all.

Biron

snarls at Quinn aggressively.

You need to pack it in. These are traitors. Don't be so weak. They'd kill you in a blink.

Quinn

scowls.

We're in a warzone, ya fool. No shortage of folk to hit. She's tied up and probably facing the choppin' block.

Biron
snarls and squares up to Quinn.
Ba'Raknul
Biron, she's done. Unless they're gonna talk they're going in a different cell to be sent for execution.
Orin
Definitely facing the chopping block. Would've been different if she'd opened her mouth, though. Eggard's got himself a writ of release.
Quinn

puts his hands up and smiles.

Look, I don't mean nuffin by it. Not looking for trouble. But it’s beneath you, innit? No honour in smacking around a tied up woman is there?

Biron

through gritted teeth Talk to me out of turn again or get in my way…

He grabs Quinn by the scruff, pushing his face towards him.

…and you'll regret it.

He lets go of Quinn and pushes him away, then storms out of the room.

To be continued...