Grisly Eye Games

Black Griffin 37 - The Near Miss

In the eighth instalment of Black Griffin the party find themselves attending a war council and a new enemy makes their presence felt...

This campaign diary taken from the in-character chat channel from session 37 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 VII: Night 2 Continued...

When we last left our band of baleful bounty hunters they had disturbed a group of cowled figures searching Ba'Raknul's tent. The figures attacked shouting Commonwealth rallying cries and the melee was joined!

From the shadows, two figures shot arrows whilst three drew swords and confronted the party directly. One was quickly dispatched and Biron wrestled t'other to the ground, but another clashed swords with Ba'Raknul while Orin dodged arrows.

The prone woman in Biron's clutches struggles to break free, attempting to wriggle out of his iron grip. Unfortunately for her, years spent hunting and wrestling prey in the North give Biron an edge over the weak Southern traitor.

Ba neatly ducks a swipe from a sword and a arrow bolt.

However, one of the archers spies Orin as she sneaks through the tents. With uncanny accuracy they shoot exactly where he predicts they might be, landing a bolt directly in Orin's side.

Orin

grunts as the arrow punches them in the side. Holding the shaft, they turn and look at their attacker with confusion before dropping like a sack of grain.

Ba'Raknul

looks with frustration as Orin drops to the ground, he scowls.

You're going down!

He swings with two hands on his spear, then spins with the momentum of the strike and kicks out.

Like many mercenaries, Ba’s opponent is well-matched against other armed men, but they do not expect a kick, which lands a satisfying blow on their thigh. Ba hears the sharp crack of bone breaking! They stumble and limp, mortally wounded but still up.

Ba'Raknul

uses the moment in the enemy’s view to spin around, putting them between himself and Biron.

Biron

raises his axe up, confident in his position over the woman, and screams in her face making a wide reckless swing against their prone figure.

Biron slams the prone spy with the flat of his axe, smashing into her face and sending teeth flying. She turns her bloodied face to look at you, eyes filled with rage and snarls.

Biron

You traitorous dog.

to the air DANGER DANGER!

The cloaked woman leaps up and swipes at Biron, but is still too dazed from the blow. Her blade swings wide, missing even the wide opening his reckless frenzy gave her.

Swords swing at Ba, and arrows fly at the him and Biron, one hitting Ba’s shoulder.

Ba'Raknul

catches the arrow and throws it back at the one that shot it.

There’s a cry from the shadows just beyond the torch blaze as Ba’s counter attack hits true, "By the Bastard." The shadows gasp, it’s a wound to the lung!

Ba'Raknul

hears the wheezed breath and it surges him to act fast, swinging his spear again in his opponent’s face.

Another strike, this time the figure's neck. He drops to the ground.

Ba'Raknul

uses his momentum again, rushing the foe he just put an arrow in. He leaps through the air to deliver a flying kick at the enemy’s head. You're running out of options. You should surrender… while you have the chance.

At the last moment the archer leans backwards, avoiding a fatal blow to the head. Instead you hit his shoulder, sending him spinning. He turns back to you, leaning to one side, clearly enfeebled by your blow, and draws his sword.

Orin

lies still in the darkness.

The others can hear Orin’s laboured breathing... still alive... yet...

Biron

screams again, blood dripping off him, splattering on the woman’s face, as he brings his axe down again.

Biron’s second blow puts the woman out cold. She lands face down in the mud, splattering him with a mix of blood and soil.

Biron

looks up, his face awash with rage. He lifts his axe, pointing it at the remaining archer.

You. Are. Mine.

He sprints at him, screaming.

The second archer draws his blade and lurches forward to impale the approaching barbarian, but Biron dodges at the last minute. Meanwhile, Ba's opponent feebly swipes at him with his one good arm. A blow Ba easily dodges.

Ba’Raknul

takes a look around and sees the tide flowing in the party’s favour. He smiles back at his foe.

You made a mistake.

He brings down his spear again, aiming for a non-lethal spot.

With the blunt end of his spear, Ba gives the limping opponent a sharp tap to the temple, sending him flying into a nearby tent. He lies still.

Ba'Raknul

turns and looks back to Orin.

to Biron Handle him I need to get Orin.

He rushes over to kneel next to them.

Orin

fights to breathe, blood trickling from the corner of their mouth.

Biron

barely hears Ba through the rage, but grunts in response before continuing his attack on the lone archer. Now he grins, chucking aside his shield and raising the axe two handed.

We have enough prisoners.

The axe fairly cleaves the assailant's head in twain, burying the blade to the neck. No one will nary uncover their identity now or ever again.

Ba’Raknul

tosses his weapon aside, seeing Orin’s blood pooling.

No No No.

He begins frantically working to stop the bleeding, barely able to see through it.

I got you.

Biron

shakes off his rage and begins shackling the three unconscious enemies.

He calls over and directs any of the griffin soldiers that turn up to help but never lets his prisoners out of his sight.

Someone bring a medic and Loth or Agata!

Ba manages to staunch the bleeding from the wound in Orin's side, which narrowly avoided puncturing their lung. However, the vicious arrow head will leave a nasty scar.

Orin

coughs up a few tablespoons of blood, spraying Ba in the face. Once the fit has passed, though, they seem to be breathing better.

Several fetches arrive at the grisly scene. Some stand and gawp, but a few take action and start carrying Orin to the infirmary.

Ba'Raknul

moves to his tent the minute Orin is in safe hands and begins checking what they were doing.

Clearly they were searching for something, the place is upturned. Ba’s mementos from your homeland are strewn about, but nothing obvious seems to be missing.

Loth

suddenly looms over Biron, as if appearing from nowhere.

raises an inquisitive eyebrow.

Ba’Raknul

looks for any evidence they left something suspicious, possibly to frame him for something.

Nothing obviously not belonging jumps out to Ba, and the bodies are dressed in the armour and arms of your typical Black Griffin mercenary. On closer inspection… that's exactly what they are: familiar faces you've seen around camp a thousand times.

Biron

looks up at Loth, covered in blood and breathing heavy.

These three are prisoners. Those two didn’t make it.

Loth

nods, and gestures to a couple of fetches who start rounding up the unconscious bodies.

Ba'Raknul

emerges from his tent and approaches Loth.. limping but otherwise just bruised.

They were searching my tent... I don’t know why.

The fetches start dragging the unconscious spies to the commandeered manor house at the centre of camp, Captain Larke's abode and the only building with walls strong enough to act as a prison.

Ba'Raknul

We will need someone to help with the rest of our watch.

He motions over his shoulder to the slumped form of Orin being dragged away.

Sergeant Agata. arrives, in hastily donned uniform, under-shirt sticking out of her chain mail shirt.

Agata

nods to Loth.

It appears a lady just cannot get a good night's sleep around here.

What happened?

Ba'Raknul

We were doing our rounds when we heard movement from my tent. As we moved to inspect, we were ambushed: five attackers in total, two with bows, three with swords. We subdued who we could, but outnumbered we were left little option.

And when Orin went down…

He pauses, clearly bothered by that statement.

…we had to finish it.

Agata

Orin is down?

Her brow furrows.

Ba'Raknul

I stabilised them, but they are in the infirmary now.

Me and Biron are ok, but still pretty banged up.

Agata

nods.

I think under the circumstances. You're relieved of duty for the rest of the night. Orin will get the best care, but the pair of you should rest too.

Ba'Raknul

nods.

Thank you, ser.

pausing One more thing, ser?

Agata

Yes, corporal?

Ba'Raknul

Our friend Helia... is looking for three individuals who were recently in Dismas. If were we to have evidence of say…

His eyes flick to the three captives.

…after interrogation, it could be a good way to give the royals something and get them out of our hair, ser.

Agata

looks at Ba appraisingly.

Indeed, corporal. Perhaps you're being wasted on fetch duty!

Yet... I feel these traitors are not the only ones. We need to root the rest of them out.

Ba'Raknul

Of course, ser.

He bows low.

Thank you again, ser.

Agata

I suggest you yourselves speak with the spies and learn what you can before we turn them over to the bailiffs.

Ba'Raknul

nods.

Orin would be the perfect choice for that… If they are not able we will do what we can. Biron can be persuasive.

Agata

Let's hope...

Before Agata can finish that sentence, Ba and Biron hear an almighty crash. In the distance, on the opposite side of the camp, a flaming arrow shoots into the sky!

Agata

By the Father!

Ba'Raknul

sighs.

Fuck.

He turns to the noise.

Biron

looks over to the noise immediately.

It is too far to see what is happening, but distant shouts can be heard.

Biron

looks and sees Ba emerging and begins sprinting.

DANGER! EAST WALL! BE READY!

Ba'Raknul

sees Biron take off and does the same, earth exploding from under foot as he sprints. He draws his bow and takes the most direct route, leaping over smaller tents when necessary.

Ba and Biron arrive on the far side of the camp to find an amazing sight! The barricade here has fallen, lying over the ditch beyond and leaving the camp open for a space of about twenty feet.

The infantry unit you command are on high alert, looking about, arrows drawn.

Biron

looks around for any sign of enemies.

BE READY MEN! HOLD FIRM!

The wall has been undermined, dug out and the foundations chopped away. A soldier turns to the two men.

Soldier

Sorry sers, we heard the noise and when we arrived... there was no one in sight!

Another private pipes up.

Private

I could've sworn I saw something running into the woods, ser!

Ba'Raknul

looks to the sky.

Everyone, bows at the ready. Something moves we give it one warning shot... It moves again we kill it. UNDERSTOOD?

He draws an arrow.

All stand there, bows ready, hearts pounding and... nothing. It seems whatever has come, has gone, their work done. The defences of the camp are yet again weakened!

Ba'Raknul

sighs as the tension and adrenaline releases. He realises how tired he is and drops to the ground in a sitting position.

Biron

growls, almost disappointed at the lost chance to kill.

Ba'Raknul

motions to the man who saw something enter the forest.

You. Soldier. Go report to Loth.

The soldier nods and runs off.

Meanwhile, various mercenaries, disturbed from their sleep, start to swarm about the broken wall. A couple of sleepy-eyed company engineers are already kicking about the logs of the fallen barricade, discussing how to put it all back together.

Beyond the silent woods stand silent, dark, watching.

Ba'Raknul

motions to Biron.

Come look at this a minute with me.

He walks over with Biron and begins inspecting the wall as closely to see if they can tell what was used to do this.

Ba can see a furrow under the wall where the foundations were dug out, weakening the wall, and where the foundational posts were hacked away. With what kind of weapon you could not say, although you have a suspicion the cuts seem similar to those that brought the tower down!

Ba'Raknul

is utterly confused and seeing a look on Biron’s face that seems more interested in the next meal, turns to an engineer.

How would someone do this?

Ba turns to a short, red-faced man with a bald pate and a scraggly, white beard. He peers at you over his glasses.

Engineer

It’s pretty straight forward, if you don’t mind me saying...

He points to the furrow.

They dug it out here so the only thing keeping the wall up was the deep posts. Then they cut through those.

Ba'Raknul

How are they getting close to the wall for long enough to dig out this much? And do you think there is a way to defend against it again?

Engineer

shrugs.

Not long if left undisturbed. We could put all the posts deeper... but that would mean rebuilding all the walls.

Ba'Raknul

What about spikes at the base, preventing them from getting close to the foundational posts?

Engineer

shrugs.

That, I could not say.

Ba'Raknul

Okay thanks.

He walks away just a little to talk with Biron.

Things are getting worse.

Biron

grunts.

And there’s still more spies.

Ba'Raknul

shakes his head in frustration.

Let’s just go check on Orin for now and get some rest.

He turns to the remaining men on patrol with them.

You will be continuing patrol without us.

He looks to see if there are any in the crowd that are already dressed and armed.

The soldier salutes, and continues off around the perimeter. Ba does see a couple of armoured privates gawping like fish.

Ba'Raknul

approaches them with purpose and speed, pointing at each of them.

You. You and You. Due to recent events we need extras on patrol tonight until the wall is fixed.

The privates reluctantly agree, and march off in the opposite direction.

Ba'Raknul

heads off to the infirmary, finally feeling moderately okay with the situation.

The infirmary is quiet, the patients either asleep, moaning quietly, or quietly dying.

Biron

begins following but half way changes his mind and heads for food and bed.

You see Orin, looking very pale and thin, lying in a cot asleep or unconscious.

Ba'Raknul

stealthily enters the tent and moves closer to them.

Up close, Ba can see they are breathing steadily and slowly, a clean bandage wrapped around their side. They seems cool to the touch, not warm or feverish.

Ba'Raknul

sighs with some relief. He takes off his prayer beads and wraps them around Orins hand. He closes his eyes in prayer.

You are not ready for the next journey.

He turns away, scanning the room for the boy.

Ba can see him not far away. He appears to be sleeping, even dreaming. He turns and rolls in he sleep, snorting and breathing heavily... perhaps troubled by a nightmare. For a moment Ba thinks he hears him squeal, quietly, but he’s not sure... perhaps just a snore.

Orin

rustles in their sleep, awaken by Ba's touch. They blink at him.

Ba? You've got blood...

Mid-sentence, they drift back to sleep.

Ba'Raknul

glances back at Orin as they chatter, before leaving the tent to find sleep.

Scene VIII: Night 3.

The party all take a well-earned rest. Their dreams are filled with figures that leap from shadows and things that squeal in the darkness. They awake late in the afternoon the next morning.

Orin wakes too, feeling bruised, searing pain on their side, but very much alive.

Orin

Burn it! Where's my drink?

The orderlies being Orin food and water which they greedily gulp down and Vicmas, seeing their appetite, discharges them.

Orin

grumbles.

Not the drink I was looking for...

The group hears the bell for the start of the evening mess.

Ba'Raknul

stretches and rolls out of bed beginning a martial arts drill, before heading out to the mess for food.

Orin

checks to make sure they still have the Sparrow's letter.

The damning letter is still very much on their person.

Biron

gets up and heads straight to the mess, scratching their scar that itches from time to time.

Orin

then heads to meet Ba and Biron at the mess, walking slower than usual.

The party are immediately hit with the atmosphere in tent. It is unusually quiet and subdued. Biron and Ba are relieved to see Orin up and about.

Orin

Oh good. I had a strange dream that Ba was crying tears of blood.

Ba'Raknul

looks up and smiles warmly at Orin.

Glad to see you did not take the next step.

Biron

barely looks up from his food.

You survived. Well done.

Orin

grunts in a classically Biron fashion, then grins at him.

As they gulp down the bland but solid fair, a young private, a lad of no more than fourteen summers, runs up with orders to report to Agata's tent. As soon as he's delivered his message, he runs off again, no doubt on some other errand to keep him from the battlefield before his time.

Biron

grunts and gets up heading off in silence eyes still darting back and forth looking for anyone acting suspicious.

Ba'Raknul

Gets up and follows.

We'd best get over there, we're probably under attack again.

He laughs as he walks away, worries seemingly gone.

Orin

gets up, wincing at the pain in their side.

As per usual, Loth’s joyless face greats them at Agata's tent. He gestures them in, and they find themselves in the smoke-filled interior. Agata stands over her desk, puffing furiously on her pipe.

Agata

Well, this is a mess.

Orin

I know, right? I'm going to have to buy a new shirt.

Agata

I'm rather more concerned about the infestation of spies and the fallen defences, to be quite honest, private. I want your thoughts.

Orin

scowls.

Aw, thanks.

Ba'Raknul

As to the wall, I think we need to have torches set outside the wall. To dig that out they need time and to be undisturbed. That means they’re probably watching our patrol routes then sneaking in and digging away.

Agata

nods.

Yet I can't help feeling that working the defences isn't dealing with the root of the problem.

Orin

They're using the forest for cover, perhaps it would be wise to cut it back.

Why these two things at once, though? Are they coordinated?

Ba'Raknul

nods

We could cut it back. We'd need to be careful though, they might react hostile towards that. But I don’t think the two things are related.

Agata

We don't have the manpower to spare to cut the woods back.

Orin

Well, nothing is really coincidence, is it?

Agata

Not until the rest of the men and women are back in camp. And that wont be for days.

Orin

tugs on their ear, deep in thought.

What do we know? The commonwealth is targeting the three of us.

Ba'Raknul

It’s true they were on opposite sides of the camp, but the guys in the tent didn’t expect us. I think whoever is cutting the walls watched us, saw us pass and then did their thing. All the commotion just made it easier.

Orin

The orcs are taking down the camp's defences.

Biron

looks surprised.

Unless they did. Maybe they were searching my tent not because they wanted something but because they knew i was on patrol. Perfect to draw us in. And these spies could be for anyone.

We need to talk to the captives. Before we hand them over. Me and orin can have a quick word.

Orin

Yes, I don't think we have enough information.

Agata

Very well, question them and find out what you can before we hand them over to the bailiffs.

Orin

nods.

Ba'Raknul

Ser, can I request an empty tent if such a thing exists? Just incase they were looking for me or something I have. Doesn’t need to be fancy just somewhere to sleep.

Agata

Very well. Loth, see to it!

Loth

rolls his eyes.

Ba'Raknul

We can suitably trap my tent should they try again.

He looks to Biron and Orin with a grin.

Agata

Anything else?

Orin

grins back.

Wouldn't want to be them.

Ba'Raknul

salutes.

Not from me, ser.

Orin

shrugs.

Biron

grins from ear to ear, barely able to hold back his excitement.

Lets go make some traitors squeal.

Orin

is the first to walk out of the tent.

Biron

follows closely behind.

Ba'Raknul

stands in the tent a moment and smiles.

The A team are on it.

He laughs, salutes again, and leaves.

On the way, he fills in Biron and Orin as they walk.

He looked as if he could wake any day now. we should check on him later.

The party makes their way to the captain's quarters, the abandoned manor house at the centre of camp where the prisoners are kept, with a grim determination to uncover the truth...

To be continued...