The Betrayers

S2E5: Bridge of Sighs

"Ok, lets go through it again and see if we can squeeze a few more days out of it. Perhaps if we drop the horses to 1 bag of feed a day, and non-military personnel to quarter rations…"

"It's not going to work, Henrik," sighed Commander Matz. "I know your staff are doing the best they can, but three days is just not long enough to prepare for a seige! We have little chance of relief for at least a couple of months, and we don't have the stores to hold that long. The Northmen have caught us with our damned trousers down and, unless we find some way to slow them down, we won't be able to hold out for more than a couple of weeks…"

"I'm at my wits end here Henrik. This was just supposed to be a nice little showground job – wear the medals, glad-hand at the parties, watch the parades. The Northmen were suppressed and the pass well guarded, the people loved the Baron, and the Baron's little spymaster would know before anyone even thought of attacking us. What could possibly go wrong? And now the Baron's sleeping off his latest medicine, the Merchants are revolting at our grain seizures, the troop is strill trickling back in from winter leave, and the Northmen are at our throats. To top it all off, that bloody Deadeye is engrossed in something his little playthings found in that Other worshipers temple. Something apparently 'far more important' than the lives of everyone in this city! So it's all down to me, and I just don't think I'm up to it…"

The Commander's voice trailed off as he stared unseeing at the masses of maps, requisitions, orders, unit strength reports, and intelligence reports that were heaped in piles all around the hastily prepared war room.

Quartermaster Henrik Witold let the oppressive silence drag out, even the orderlies around the room barely daring to breath as they carefully ignored their commander's outburst. Then, resting his hand on his old friend's shoulder, he quietly and dispassionately continued as if nothing had happened, "...with non-military personnel on quarter rations we can probably stretch out to three weeks, maybe a month. Every extra day you can get me to bring in stores gives us an extra week. Depending of course on how many outsiders and mercenaries we have to feed, and how many casualties we take."

Commander Matz looked up sharply. "Mercenaries? Of course, why didn't I think of that already," said Matz excitedly! "I'd been going purely on our troops, and we can't afford to risk any of them away before the seige. But…"

The Commander ran round to the other side of the map table and stabbed his finger down on the map.

"Yes! Henrik, I think I might be able to get you a week! By Lofwyr, we might get out of this yet! Orderly, get a runner…"

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S2E4: A Dark Moon Rising

"Bloody woman!" muttered Damen under his breath. "Me? Selfish? Yeah, standing watch in this weather all night so the little civvies can sleep safe and warm in their beds is right bloody selfish… stupid cow!" Sargeant Damen was in a foul mood after yet another argument with his wife, and as per usual it was his job at the heart of it.

"Give up soldiering indeed! There's one thing I'm good at and that's soldiering, and there's no sense her getting fancy ideas about us moving down to stay with her brothers in Hanlith."

It was bad enough when they were stuck there all those years ago: newly-weds and him with no proper job to support her. All her brothers were sooo friendly and encouraging despite his piss-poor attempts at breaking-in a colt, or roping a bull or any of that other crap, but all the time he knew they were laughing behind his back.

Even he had known all he was really good for was shoveling shit or holding a sword, and he sure as hell wasn't going to shovel shit his whole life. He couldn't get away quick enough when Baron Bradstane's men came through town, looking for new recruits to replace those lost in the fighting against the Northmen.

"Gah, maybe I should just move us down there and be done with it," he thought to himself, but in his heart of hearts he knew that he wouldn't. Worse, he knew that one of these days she was going to live up to her threats and take the kids and go on her own. "A right old Corporal Jackson I'll be then, won't I?" He sighed, and stared back out into the falling snow, welcoming the cold seeping into his bones as a perfect match for his mood.

He was so lost in his own thoughts, that he didn't even see the movement at first, obscured as it was by the snow flurries twisting in the wind. The darker splotches slowly resolved into a line of horses charging through the night towards the city gates. The poor things looked done for, great gouts of mist rising with every breath, and their gait all awkard as they tried to keep up with the urging of their riders. And the riders themselves were a motley bunch – they looked well enough armed to hold off a small army, yet they were riding their horses like The Other's hounds were after them.

"What the hell are they thinking, driving their horses like that in this weather," muttered Damen, squinting against the snow and the dark. "Lofwyr's balls," he growled, peering out even more intently, "it looks like they've even got a woman and child with them!"

"Only thing worse than a mercenary is a damn fool mercenary, and it looks like we've got a whole troop of them coming in." He sighed and stomped down the steps to waken the rest of his watch…

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S2E3: Deeper and Darker

My Dearest Antje,

I don't know if you will ever read this letter, but I wanted to write some words in case the worst happens.

We've been locked up down here for what I guess must be about two days now: ever since that snake Torsten brought those foreigners here. I always suspected he was involved in mithril smuggling, but bringing Northmen here!? That's beyond the pale! I don't know what they are looking for, they just locked us up in here and grabbed Ingolf to show them down to one of the old seams that we tapped out last year. We gave up that seam when we broke through into a bottomless void so I've no idea what they could possibly want with it.

Whatever they want, we haven't seen Ingolf since and his little lad Bastian has been inconsolable. I feel bad for him, what with losing his Ma when he was a babe, and now probably his Da too, especially with him not even into his 7th year. I haven't the heart to tell him that he'll more than likely get to meet his Da again soon on the Infinite Plain.

I've been telling everyone that they'll let us go soon, but I don't think that's going to happen. We're already out of water, and the air is getting worse with us all packed in here. But no matter how much we pound on the door they just ignore us. So whether they come back and kill us all, or just keep us locked up, I doubt we'll see tomorrow, never mind seeing the sun again.

I've been praying to Lofwyr as hard as I know how, that somehow we'll get out of this, but with every hour that passes hope fades a little. If you do get to read this letter then please know that I loved you and little Ellie more than you can know, and I'm sorry I can't be there to be with you both. You'll do a brilliant job with her, and I'm sure she'll grow to be a match for the wonderful, beautiful woman that is her mother.

Please do one last thing for me – take Ellie and go stay with your sister in Longcliffe. There's trouble brewing here and I want both of you as far away as you can get. I'm sure she'll be happy with another pair of hands to mend the nets, and Ellie will be happy with all those kids of hers to play with. Live long for all of us my dear, and keep me safe in your heart.

All my love always,
Hakon

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S2E2: Into the dark...
What is that noise?

As the moon rises and the calendar ticks over from Nights Dawn to Earth Slumber, our heroes trudge through the dark towards the mine. The cold wind flowing down off the mountains is thick with the promise of snow, and cuts into fingers and toes.

As they near their destination, the wind carries the sound of a bell tolling in the nearby mining village. Drawing closer they can see a crowd has gathered arround the mine head, their worried faces illuminated by the torches and lanterns scattered among them.

There seems to be some kind of argument going on at the mine entrance where a cluster of men are gesticulating wildly at each other. Further back, the women and children are huddled in little groups; talking quietly to each other, offering and receiving comfort from friends and relatives.

It would appear that something is most definitely up…

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Medieval Demographics
Accurate world-building ahoy...

Excellent post on late Medieval demographics by S. John Ross can be found at Medieval Demographics Made Easy.

It gives accurate values for population density, population required to support different trades, castles per country etc. Excellent stuff, and all based on accurate historical information from late Medieval France, Germany, and England.

 Now I just need to check how well Skyrholm matches up!

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Over-reaching Newbie
Reach for the stars...

... and you might reach the moon. Or end up looking like an idiot, standing on a ladder in the middle field ranting about NASA turning down your innovative moon mission plans. One of the two.

Anyway…

When you and your friends decide that you'd like to give roleplaying a go again after 10 years or so away from it, and you've never DM-ed seriously before, and you've never even played D&D before, it's probably not the right time to also design your own campaign setting.

But where's the fun in that?

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