Earth Awakened

Chapter 5
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Chapter 4
Fuckorum.
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Chapter 3
Wanted: Half of the Party

Sunday, January 12, 1400

The imaginary clock moves past midnight as our brave heroes bravely run away from the Catilus manor, Denica in tow, fire raging in the background. Upon reaching the bottom of the manorial hill, our heroes decide that right now is the time to argue over where to go. About ten minutes later, it's decided: "We'll head back to town, then figure it out." Denica decides that now is the time to ask about all of the blood on Callidus’ armor. He cleverly deflects the question. “It’s nothing to worry about.”

Kottenberg is a ten to fifteen minute walk over from the bottom of the Catilus' hillside. As the group arrives, a town guard is fast asleep, blanket warmly sitting over his huddled form, empty wine bottle fallen over by his side. The group loudly clangs by, thousands of copper coins jingling, as the guard continues his deep slumber.

Our protagonists walk through the quiet nightscape of Kottenberg. All of its inhabitants are soundly asleep. Not a whisper could be heard, except for loud yelling about "where do we go now" and "how do we get there?" Milan (2-3 days walk away), Rome (a simple ferry from Genoa), Nice (2-3 days walk or a day’s sail), and Switzerland (2-3 days walk from Milan) are all brought up. After only a modicum of walking and arguing in the dead of night, a decision is reached: the group will find a log, ford down the river with it, and go back to Genoa.

In the northern part of the city, a small saw mill powered by water turbine sat idle across the backdrop of the star-filled sky. Using his herculean strength, Lucius drags a massive log from a platform and into the river, with him and everyone else barrelling into the river. The cool mountain water serves to obscure tracks, smell, and sound as the long hike south-southeast to Genoa begins.

Fording a river is tough work. Our emancipators and their emancipatee move at half-speed.

About two hours past midnight, right near where the “legitimate unemployed” were milling about, a strong smell of venison filled the air. Our party decides that it's not worth investigating now since it wasn't before.

Genoa is another two hours away at this pace. An hour and a half in, everyone hops out of the river, soaking wet. A guardpost is passed without issue before the group enters the town proper at a nice, relaxing 4am.

Jean, ever-paranoid, decides that a hotel is out of the question. Instead, a house abandoned from the black death on the outskirts of town is broken into. The house is a small duplex, with a main living area. Jean examines the abandoned, dusty home for traps but comes up short, save for a chair with a leg on the verge of breaking. An uncomfortable couch and a dusty rug are claimed for sleeping quarters instead of the ample bedroom space upstairs.

Six hours of sleep later, our heroes decide that a trip to Callidus' old contact, quest-giver, and smuggler, Hopi, is in order. The group, Denica included, move out into Genoa proper towards Hopi and the bathhouses. En route, careful observation notes far more police and guards milling about than before. Something has them on edge.

Our heroes arrive at the central bathhouse and discreetly enter through the back. Past a corner and down the hallway is Hopi’s office, near one of the boilers. As our conquerors arrive to the bathmaster's door, a police officer barges out, nods to our protagonists, and goes on his way.

Hopi's office is as barren as ever- a scant few papers on a few wooden boards he calls a desk. Hopi is seated at his desk, more tired than usual. “Ah, my friends,” he greets the party with all of the warmth and energy he can muster, “what can I do for you?”

“We need to leave,” says almost everyone in unison. Aspen disagrees- there's unfinished business at the Catilus Manor. The party by in large disregards any moral compunctions the black of bird of terror may have and asks for advice on getting the hell out of dodge. Additionally, Callidus wants forged freeman paperwork drawn up for Denica before their disappearance into parts unknown.

“Well,” Hopi began, “your slave’s paperwork won't be problem. As for leaving, here are the options for you that I see,”

  1. Leave by way of smuggler’s vessel. Hopi knows the captains of the Tryphus, the Augustus, and the Acasta, right on the far Western side of town (all members of the Simplicorum Shipping Societas).
  2. Run away from Genoan guards through the city's sewer system.
  3. Just walk out of the city and pray to Nyx that no one knows who the party is.

Once everyone has escaped, the options are to go to Milan (Roman), Nice (French), Rome (Roman) and Switzerland (Holy Roman). Each has benefits and maluses.

  1. Milan- closest major Roman city, 2-4 days away
  2. Nice- closest French city, coastal, and 2-4 days away. Only 1 day away by boat. French means they presumably won't be wanted.
  3. Switzerland- 2-5 days north of Milan. Holy Roman, so our protagonists would likely get a heroes’ welcome. Unfortunately, must pass through Alps and a warzone to get there.
  4. Rome. Surely the bizarre flag from the previous chapter could be identified in the largest city in the West.

Callidus points out that no one knows who any of them are since no one has really seen them, nor do they know of their crimes (murder, infanticide). Some vigorous discussion about the knowledge and nature of their crimes ensues in Hopi's office, tipping the bathmaster off that this mobilization of the police force is for our heroes.

Despite this man of ill-repute knowing their secret, the group offers Hopi ten gold for some paperwork falsifying Denica as a free woman and the bathmaster's eternal quiet and confidence. The healthy discussion (and healthy amount of coin) prompts Hopi to offer up a private room in the back of the bathhouse for the party to discuss further.

In the private bath with high walls of white Italian marble and clear, warm water showing the decorative tiling underneath, our heroic murderers reconvene to discuss further. A servant girl walks in to fill their goblets of wine (gratis with the room, of course) as Aspen and Callidus jump right into the steaming pool. Jean thanks the girl, beckons her out, and stands- with the usual amount of paranoia- at the door. 

Once the coast is clear (even though it always was), the discussion rages again. Jean believes the best course of action is one that gets the party away from Genoa. Lucius points out that  Aspen, who was unusually quiet, points out that there are still unwilling slaves at the Catilus Manor that must be rescued. This presents an interesting idea: everyone expects our chain-breakers to run away, not to head back to the scene of the crime.

Before such a decision is made, Jean and Lucius decide that examining the ship angle out to a foreign city is a worthwhile course of action. The pair leave the comfort and warmth of the genoan bath house and make their way to the westernmost docks, home to our three ships.

As they approach the Augustus, the first of three holks, they come across two familiar faces: the two lucky criminals from chapter one. “What are you doing out here,” Jean asks, noticing their fully functioning, entirely-attached hands.

“Just working the docks,” the pair of ne’er-do-wells reply, "the chief is trying to get us on the straight and narrow.” Jean never trusts someone who may have regrown his or her limbs, especially dockhands with extra hands. He moves onto the Acasta without asking the pair for their names yet again.

At the Acasta, the pair find a more reasonable captain. “How much for berth to Rome for four,” Jean asks. 

“30 gold,” the Captain responds, “and you are?”

“jyeeeaaaawwwwnn,” the mercenary responds in his haughtiest tone.

“Sounds french. Forty gold, then.”

“Fine, but we’ll pay when you set sail tomorrow.”

“Fine.”

Negotiations done well.

Meanwhile, after leaving Aspen in the baths to slowly turn into a slow-cooked bird, Callidus wanders the streets hoping to understand the increased police presence. An orcish couple, several young adults playing a popular card game (Dragoncards: the Dragoning), and 4 black leather clad bards with thick German accents claiming to be nihilists yield nothing except a waste of two hours. When the streets yield nothing, Callidus makes his way to the man- Genoa’s main police station- hoping his history and connections as an urban bounty hunter will yield fruit.

And what fruit they yielded! Callidus walked into the station headquarters, happening upon a very bored looking human woman at a desk of dark wood. “Can I help you?” With great investigative tact, Callidus uses his reptile wiles to ask why there are so many guards around. “I heard some big shot was killed over in a small town nearby,” she whispered.

“Really? I heard about that,” replies our most roguish rogue, “and the undead!”

The receptionist immediately grabs the detective assigned to the case. Callidus is whisked away to a small interrogation room whereupon he repeated his information. The detective nods and grabs the chief.

The chief, a tough-as-nails elvish veteran and citizen, steps in moments later, asks a few more questions. Callidus cleverly doesn’t reveal anything incriminating while prying information from the chief. He learns that:

  1. The Catilus estate had been under investigation for over a year, back when they still lived in Genoa, for mysterious disappearances of slaves (who, on paper, still have some basic rights not conferred to, say, cattle, under the Roman Empire)
  2. Aulus Lucretius Catilus was a patrician (a high-ranking nobleman).
  3. There are no laws against necromancy in the Eternal Roman Empire and the largest school of necromancy is in Rome itself, in the catacombs.
  4. The chief had met who she believes to be the assassins two days ago. “A pair of heretic mercenaries or assassins from the Holy ‘Roman’ Empire. Both humans, heavily armed, and heavily armored.”

The chief asks if Callidus would be interested in another bounty, this one coming right from the Imperator. “A thousand gold pieces per assassin- alive- less if dead. If you come back tomorrow, the sculptor will be finished with their busts. They’ll be remade across the empire.” Whoever this Catilus person, he must have been an important person to the Empire.

It was at this point that our rogue, with his clerical wisdom and wizardly intelligence, noted the information, thanked the chief, said he’d get right on that, and got the fuck back to the baths. After relaying the information above to our remaining protagonists, a new plan was formulated around 17:30: get back to Kottenberg, free the remaining slaves, and make way for the Holy Roman Empire with a symbol of their kill in tow to be treated to a great triumph. If they were going to be called assassins, they might as well act like it. Failing that, there was always Nice, a French fortress city on the border with the Romans.

Before departing, Callidus passes Hopi another 5 gold for his silence and assistance with and for the beloved Denica. The old chef will work for Hopi in an official capacity for a fair day’s wage. Furthermore, Hopi agrees to send a message to the police explaining that the protagonists booked passage on the Acasta to Rome for 40 gold. Finally, Callidus gives 10 gold to Denica for her well-being and reminds her never to trust Hopi. "I'd never trust an egyptian," she responds.

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Chapter 2
A Daring Rescue

Saturday, 11 January 1400

We rejoin our brave heroes- 

  • Callidus, Lizardfolk Rogue and escaped slave
  • Aspen, Kenku Monk, and escaped slave.
  • Jean, Human Fighter, and blade for hire.
  • Lucius, Human Paladin, and orphan.

The Preparation

Around noontime, Trebellia and our faithful heroes discuss plans and schematics for the expansive Catilus Manor. Our champions-to-be order their priorities as such:

  1. Assist in Denica's escape from the clutches of the Catilus' clutches.
  2. Get Trebellia's friend out.
  3. Heroically steal everything from the Tablinum of the Manor.
  4. Get revenge on the vile Decimus, son of Aulus, and heir to the Catilus fortune.

Trebellia explains that the manor is "about ten minutes from a town two to three hours away." She points out the direction towards Kottenberg, the semi-distant town. After much deliberation and discussion, the party begins their move out from Genoa by foot at around 13:00.

About an hour en route, our vanquishers of slavery by chance meet upon some heavily armed men. Jean walks up and asks them how their day has been going. "Oh, you know, fine," they awkwardly respond after taking a look at the even more heavily armed and armored mercenary approaching them. It turns out that these legitimate travelers are "unemployed" and drinking the day away by keeping a close focus on the road from Genoa and into Kottenberg. The party, using their keen sense of insight and perception, collectively decides that their unemployment is not worth investigating or solving and moves on towards the town.

In Kottenberg, most of our emancipators make a beeline for one of the two bars in town, the rather run-down but much more active Bloody Unfortunate Wand. The posh Silver Spoon does not attract our blue collar heroes. Jean buys a taste of home- a bavarian-style lager that had been locally brewed, while the others grab waters, from the large, male, orcish bartender, Rose. Then, they walk over to a pair of utterly trashed mousefolk. After some careful conversational navigation by the party, they learn that these little mice a celebrating a massive sale to some kind of "Cadillac Manor" just outside of town! Everyone strongly suspects that, despite the slurring of speech, it is the very same Catilus manor that our would-be heroes are searching for.

Our chain-breakers take this information in, internalize it, and decide that action happens now. Jean and Aspen begin walking up and down rivers for hours trying to find the Catilus manor. Lucius, at this point, decides that taking a back seat in this likely the best course of action and becomes much more passive for the rest of the night.

Callidus, meanwhile, decides that dinner is in order. The local fine-dining restaurant in town, the Shepard and Chariot, has opened for a good Saturday meal. A quick discussion with the restaurant hostess, and soon the head chef, reveals that the Shepard and Chariot are catering a massive feast for the Catilus manor tomorrow for the sale of a slave. Then, after directions and a job offer the next day (hauling foodstuffs up a mountainside for the equitable wage of 1 singular copper piece), Callidus eats at the restuarant. Pheasant, pesto, grapes, large quanities of liquid fermented grapes, and many other foods are served to Callidus by an attendant for the low, low price of 7 gold pieces. Truly a meal fit for a king. He promises the chef that he'll see him first thing in the morning for the day's work for the hour's wage.

Callidus, in a lightly drunken stupor, wanders to his familiar rivers and sits down in the cold, evening stream. He lays there for over half an hour- until around 20:00- until Jean and Aspen find the lizard. Callidus explains his newly found information- the exact location of the manor and the nature of the big party there tomorrow.

The Rescue

Since the phrase "discretion is the better part of valor" would not uttered for another 197 years, our champions ignored this new information and decided to stick with the original plan.

After gingerly walking on the correct path out of the small, italian town, Jean stealthily clanked up to the southern olive grove and, using his deft touch, oiled up the wood. Then, using a borrowed steel and flint, lit the grove on fire. Jean hauled ass out of there and cut around the southern hill.

The bright light of the fire eventually caused some of the inhabitants of the manor to wake up the other inhabitants. People, much like moths, are drawn to an open flame, especially one that threatens their home. The various slaves and able bodied men and women of the place rushed outside to put it out while those less capable of physical labor physically loitered.

As the fire began to rage, Aspen, Callidus, and Lucius sprang into action.

From the roof of the anterior, noble quarters, the old master, Aulus, began shuffling towards the fire to join the others, by far the slowest person. "What's this racket?" he half-yells. Callidus sees him and throws a dagger, right into the old master's neck. Aulus keeled over right into the water of the manor as Callidus follows suit. The old man was tied to a grate at the bottom of the water feature. Callidus takes Aulus' gold, too, a whole 93 gold.

Aspen, always a creature of innovation, follows along. Then, Aspen goes right into the Tablinum, eager to extract revenge on the slaver's finances. Instead, he finds a pair of 4 to 5 year old twins. They are terrified, so he attempts to grab the two while making the gurgling sounds of their dying grandfather. They are rightfully terrified. One collapses into the fetal position as the other starts crying.

Aspen is having exactly none of that shit, so he grabs them both, bird claws digging into their weak, child skin. The standing child is dragged out by hand, while the fetal position child is dragged out by foot. Aspen drags the pair right over the thick door frame towards the tablinum as the floor child's head repeatedly bangs against the tiled floor. There is little resistance left in him.

- Jean rejoins Aspen in Tablinum

- Aspen torments the children with their own screams and cries

- Ignore the stairs going further past the Tablinum

- Skeleton fight with Aspen and Jean

- First child runs out of Tablinum as Skeleton one-shots Aspen

- Callidus kills the kid as he runs away, then dumps his body in the water

- Callidus then sneakily sneaks up to Denica, standing near the fire, and whisks her away

- Aspen and Jean loot the chest, stealing a boatload of gold, a fancy sword, and the flag from the animated skeleton armor thing. No books from the bookshelves are taken.

- Bravely run away as fast as possible with the knocked-out kid in tow

- Drop the kid. Aspen scratches "be back" in latin on the child's forehead before running away, sans child.

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Chapter 1
Arriving in Genoa

Bardtholemew, historian, biographer, and discoverer of lore meets the group at a healthy level 20. Four people introduce themselves:

  • Callidus [Taylor]. Lizardfolk. Escaped slave. Escaped from Aullus Lucretius Caddilus. Wishes to free his friend, Lucretia the Chef from his former master's clutches.
  • Aspen [Jan]. Kenku. Makes sound of wind in quaking aspen. Traveled far away from oppressive master in Himalayas. Hates slavery, wants to eradicate it. Met in Genoa, traveled to France with Callidus.
  • Jean [Mike B.]. Human. Former soldier of the Holy Roman Empire. Grew tired of restrictiveness of religion. Joined some untoward ne'er-do-ers. Selling blade in France when hired by Callidus.
  • Lucius [Mike R.]. Human. Paladin of Holy Roman Empire. Abandoned by parents. Picked up by church people to do church bidding. On an unspecified hunt.

January 10th, 1400

After hearing that slaves have been disappearing from the Caddilus household, Callidus assembles a team of friends and mercenaries to free his former coworkers.

Our stalwart group arrives in Genoa, City of Spices and Slaves, by way of merchant ship from somewhere suitably yet nebulously far away. Just past the docks and the spice markets, they find a very wealthy inn in the administrative portion of the city called the Broken Thorn owned, or at least manned, by a tall, wiry thin female elf and her mousefolk servant. Our intrepid adventurers rent out 2 rooms for 1gp a piece, each with king-sized beds.

In a room, Callidus explains his backstory and the nature of his mission to his mercenaries/friends. Jean comes up with plan to fake purchasing slaves from Aulus Lucretius Catalus. Callidus' former master, at the estate.

After grabbing a bit to eat at The Broken Thorn, our inspiring heroes make their way to Aulus' estate in the Genoese foothills. Unfortunately for them, they discover the estate was sold with only the main manor still standing. A for-sale sign is on the door: "Nam sale? Batavius loqui," with an address to the bad part of town, near the fish markets. The remaining land was sold for duplexes which are well on their way. Aulus' new estates are about two hours on horseback through the foothills away from the city in the rural outskirts.

Here, the party splits up. Aspen and Callidus go the bathhouses to meet Callidus' old contact and mover of escaped slaves through the underground railroad, Hapi the Egyptian. Hapi explains (at bathhouse) that the Knifed Ear has Trebellia, Hapi's "friend." Trebellia is a female dwarf assassin by training, though not yet finished. She's there trying to escape.

Meanwhile, back at the estates, Jean and Lucius take their time waiting to see who walks by the estates when they come across three would-be thieves. Lucius (surely on purpose) fires a shot across the thieves' faces as Jean orders them to a hald. Thief 3, the lookout, bravely runs away while thief 1 is left speechless and thief 2 micturates on himself. J&L order the thieves to break into the building, then follow them in. The thieves canvass the manor while our mighty heroes nonchalantly stand at the door, waiting for them to steal anything of worth. As the thieves return, two guardsmen, Mulier and Ballio, arrive after a neighborhood watch report makes it their way. The thieves are apprehended, along with the two massive sacks of gold they found somewhere. Our protagonists save their hides by reporting these thieves and assisting in a citizens' arrest. The Empire of Rome thanks them for their service.

Afterwards, all 4 meet at bathhouse. Our goodly group discuss plans to get a reward at Precinct tomorrow for their apprehension of the ne'erdoers. First, however, they decide to grab the Runaway Trebellia that night.

They make their way to  a shoddy bar near the fish market known as the Knifed Ear, a run-down shithole with 3 wooden walls and one reclaimed stone wall. The bar is owned by a very excitable male dwarf. Two other dwarves sit passed out at a table, and a very bored looking orc stared at a wall. 

Our heroic protagonists try to heroically bribe the owner to no avail, but upon discovering the nature of the mission, the owner lets the group downstairs to the slave hideaway. After some initial tension, Trebellia leaves with the group, but not after Aspen gives her 24 gold, 9 silver, 9 copper for her lifetime of troubles. 

In addition to knowing the lay of the land, Trebellia asks to get her friend Messenio out. She can make a list of other slaves that would like to leave. Finally, she'll make a map for the party and assist in any way she can.

January 11, 1400

After a hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, salad, and freshly squeezed orange juice, our heroes get to work.

While Callidus and Aspen sat in the bathhouse (again), Lucius and Jean went to retrieve their reward from the police station. There, they were thanked by the head of police for the city, a savagely tough-looking elf woman. When Jean and Lucius attempted to lie multiple times about their intentions, the chief politely threatened to cut their hands off for theft. At this point, Lucius bravely broke down in tears and heroically told a half-truth. Moved by his paladin tears, the chief relented and gave the visitors a portion of their reward, a healthy 50g. The two brave interviewees told nothing of this encounter to their party members short of the reward, ostensibly to save face.

Our would-be rescuers of slaves met up at the bathhouse for yet another lengthy planning session at the Genoan bathhouses (interspersed by pitchers of wine, of course). Eventually, everyone got up off of their asses and got grappling hooks and assorted equipment, readying themselves for the mission ahead.

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