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...