Secrets of Mystara

Post 39 - A Conspiracy at the Highest Levels
A Conspiracy at the Highest Levels


Ninmonth 18 (first full day since the expulsion of the dwarves)


The party is awakened early by the pre-dawn entrance of Dahlia to the inn. Some of the men sleeping in the common room groan and roll over for another chance at slumber. The Rhoonan woman lights a candle in the kitchen and sets to work making the dough for breakfast rolls. After it has risen she puts it in the oven, and the scent of the baking bread brings a yawning FluffyKitten down from the upstairs bedroom. She has been wakened from a dream in which she, as a brave halfling, was defending the rest of the party against a super scary monster.

Fluffy’s dream. The captions read: “Super Super Scary Monster,” “FluffyKitten the brave halfling,” “The rest of the party,” “Convenient Hiding Rock,” and “Morgan the ‘few too many sips.’”

Standing beside Dahlia, Fluffy asks when the bread will be ready, at which the woman starts and looks about her, for the halfling has forgotten that she is still invisible from the day before. “War ar yu, barn?” she calls nervously, eliciting more groans from the common room as the men are awoken, again.

Fluffy backs up a few steps, then answers, “Don’t look – not dressed yet!” and Dahlia laughs.

“If yu can keep quiet until it is ready, I’ll put honning on yours,” she says, and the prospect of honey rolls enables FluffyKitten to let Dahlia finish without asking every five minutes whether it is done yet.

Once the clatter of pans and plates begins, those downstairs give up any pretense of sleeping and begin to ready themselves for the day. Morgan told them, the night before, not to discuss anything important in front of Dahlia, so they just make small talk through breakfast and washing up. Finally she empties their chamber pots and announces that she will be going to the market to get things for their lunch and dinner. Morgan pays her for the previous night and she leaves, seemingly quite content with her lodgers.

With Dahlia gone, they begin to plan the day’s true activities. Morgan and Thrud will cross the street to the barracks of the Ducal Guard, to make good their pledge to join the defenders of the city. Ember, Odleif, Bhelgarn, and Fluffy will head for the palace, and attempt to gain entry and see what they can suss out. Poncherius and Wolfbane will remain at the inn. Before they part ways, though, Morgan casts an invisibility spell on Ember, and Wolfbane does the same on Odlief, so that all four members of the palace team will be unseen. Morgan also returns the wand of paralysis to Wolfbane, on the off chance that she needs to use it.

Morgan and Thrud are immediately recognized when they stride into the Ducal Barracks, and promptly surrounded by a squad of guards. One of the guards looks vaguely familiar to them, except for his huge black eye. The sergeant of the squad informs them that they are under arrest.

“What for?” demands Morgan, and she is told sedition, and assault on lawful representatives of the Duke.

Morgan laughs, trying to hide her nervousness. “Oh, you mean last night? That wasn’t anything. We told you we were joining the Guard. We just wanted to see what the Guard was like, was all, who we would be signing on with. It was a friendly scrap, no blood spilled.”

The sergeant looks doubtful, but has his men march Morgan and Thrud into the compound. They have their hands open and in the air, but have not relinquished their weapons. When he tells them that he is going to take their arms and put them in a cell, Morgan shakes her head. “No, you don’t want to do that, lad. How can we help you fight the dwarves if we’re locked up in a cell? You do understand that there is dwarven army coming, don’t you? Why, Mistress Ember made an appointment for us with your captain a day ago, lad! You best be getting him, now.” Both Morgan and Thrud now lower their hands to their weapons, but don’t draw them.

Given the choice between disarming what are obviously two seasoned adventurers with just his squad, and getting his captain, the sergeant doesn’t take long to send for his superior. When the captain arrives, Morgan repeats her story about how the events of the last night were just a friendly test to make sure the Guard was worth throwing in their lot with. Perhaps the captain is less confident about their chances in the upcoming war, for Morgan’s point about not being able to help them fight from inside a cell seems to convince him. “They may keep their weapons,” he tells the sergeant. “And set them up an ‘interview’ with Weapon-master Vidar.”

The sergeant withdraws with his squad, and the captain takes Morgan and Thrud up a rickety wooden staircase on the outside of the main barracks and into a door on the second floor, which leads to a bare entry chamber (12). There are three other doors out of the room, one on each wall, as well as an open trapdoor to the floor below. The room may also double as a foul weather cloakroom, for there are dozens of pegs along the walls, but they are currently empty.


They pass through the western door in to an officers’ mess (13). This room has four tables and several dozen benches in it. An open doorway at the far end leads to what is apparently a cooking area. Each of the tables is covered with a white cloth. The captain mentions that the first floor of the barracks is for the common soldiers, while the second is restricted to officers and support staff. While he doesn’t know yet what their particular talents are, he is wagering that as adventurers, Morgan and Thrud will likely be commissioned as officers. A few other men are in the room, and the captain introduces them as they sit.

The men are careful not to discuss any military matters, even when Morgan asks oblique questions. Some time later a huge bull of a man strides into the room. He is clad in plate and bears a shield; a longsword is at his side. “Vidar!” says the captain enthusiastically, but his salutation is met with nothing more than a curt nod. “Take these two to the practice room and put them through their paces. I want to know if they will have any value to the Guard.” Another nod, and the man turns and strides away. “You’d best be off,” the captain tells Morgan and Thrud, as the weapon-master disappears behind the door of the mess.

By the time Morgan and Thrud are in the entryway (12), the man is gone, but the door to the north is still swinging closed, and they manage to catch up with him in the hallway beyond, and enter the training room (29) with him.


The room is mostly empty, save for a few open-topped barrels. The wooden walls are covered with nicks and gouges on all sides. The man gestures at Morgan and Thrud to move to the center of the room, while he stands with his back to the door. “So, is this individual duels, or both of us at once?” says Morgan nonchalantly, as she stretches and loosens her muscles.

“Duels?” scoffs the man incredulously, the first word he’s spoken. “Don’t waste me time, ootlander.” He draws his sword in a single, fluid motion.

“You take his left, I’ll go to his right,” whispers Morgan to Thrud, and the two begin advancing cautiously.

[Note: The combat runs with subdual rules, since the participants are trying not to kill one another. One quarter of damage is real, three-quarters is temporary, and will go away after a short rest. A character brought to exactly to zero hp is forced to yield, at less than zero s/he is unconscious but automatically stable).]

The huge man stands unmoving, but in a slight crouch, taught and poised, as Morgan and Thrud approach. When they are within striking distance, Morgan yells “Now!” and thrusts with her sword at the same instant that Thrud is cleaving with his axe. With breathtaking speed and coordination, the man simultaneously parries Morgan’s blow with his own sword while raising his shield to block Thrud’s axe. He then immediately spins, giving Morgan his back, but is already steps away before she can strike. He rains blows down mercilessly on Thrud, forcing him to retreat quickly and thereby keeping ahead of Morgan. When a wicked blow of his sword knocks Thrud to one knee he is forced to pause, allowing Morgan to catch him with a strike across his back.

He pivots, putting his back to the wall and his sword to Morgan so that she is forced to pause as well. Thrud staggers to his feet, then bellows as he charges the man, raising his axe completely over his head with both hands. Just as Thrud is about to land his blow, Morgan lunges as well. As if he anticipated her move, Vidar backsteps at the last second, so that Morgan has to pull short on her attack to avoid Thrud’s axe, which sinks deep into the floor. Then, before Thrud can pull his axe out, the weapons-master rushes him with a shield-bash that knocks the barbarian to the ground. This time, Thrud does not get up.

[Thrud started the combat at 26/26 and ended at -5/26. Total of 31 points of subdual damage, 8 points real damage, Thrud will awake at 18/26]

Vidar now advances on Morgan and she changes to a defensive posture. The two of them trade dozens of blows, nearly all of them parried. Every so often one of them manages to land a telling hit, and it is Morgan as often as Vidar.

[Note: This is the first time Morgan has used her “deflect” ability that comes with Skilled longsword use. Vidar is deflecting as well, but his longsword use is ranked higher than Skilled.]

Although the fight is even, Morgan can quickly tell that she will exhaust her stamina before this man does – he is not even breathing heavily! If she is going to win, she will have to do it soon. She launches a series of rapid, risky attacks, and one of them gets through his defenses, driving his shoulder back with a thrust that does not penetrate his armor but which will certainly leave a bruise. Even he looks surprised as he yields back then sweeps forward with a blow that starts low but ends high before she can raise her shield. He clouts her on the side of her head with the flat of his sword and the room goes black.

[Morgan started the combat at 22/22 and ended at -11/22, with his last blow hitting for 15 damage when she was at 4hp. Total of 33 points of subdual damage, 8 points real damage, Morgan will awake at 14/22]

In the blackness, Morgan hears a great splash of water and then Thrud sputtering. She forces her eyes open and sees Vidar approaching her, a large jug of water in his hand, just drawn from one of the barrels. “I’m good, I’m good” she protests weakly, and rolls from her back to her belly, manages to kneel.

By the time Morgan and Thrud are on their feet, the man has his breastplate off and is carefully appraising the dents in it. Seeing them up, he turns wordlessly and leaves the room and they are forced to follow against the complaints of their bodies. All the way down the hall Morgan is reflecting. She has had no respect for the guard so far and she thought this job would be as simple as confronting Draco. But if this weapon-master, beholden even to a captain, could best the two of them so handedly, will they be able to take Draco in a fair fight? How strong is he? Vidar has stopped outside a room, knocked on the door, and is waiting for permission to enter. Only that allows them to catch up to him and as they do Morgan notes with satisfaction the sweat marks on his chest and under his arms.

“Enter!” calls a muffled but familiar voice, and Vidar opens the door to an office (25), gesturing them inside. This room contains a desk and chair, a bed with several blankets on it, and a large chest. The captain is seated at the desk, but quickly rises to his feet as the door ope