The Baseborn Usurpation
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The Baseborn Usurpation was an attempt by the Gallowglass mercenary company, under the command of The Bastard and Red Asha to seize control of the barony known commonly as The Vale. The initial attack on the population center of Scrimshore occurred on Blossom Night, the annual celebration of The Champion, during which most of the populace was intoxicated in the town’s streets. The surprise assault, lit by the burning blooms of ceremonial flowers, managed to scatter or outright slay the vast majority of Baron Farafsadel’s already meager forces, and resulted in the immediate surrender of the town to The Bastard. The Baron himself was captured that night, escorted away from his people while drunk and sobbing.
The Gallowglass mercenaries seemed to have taken the Vale as a collected due for unpaid salaries and recompense for fallen soldiers. They had fought in the Feral Risings, and those of their comrades who died were promised to have their family’s cared for by the Duchy of Trailfar. Since Gallowglass fought on the losing side, the Duke did not consider it necessary to pay the war-weary soldiers for their services. Furthermore, The Vale’s heir was not only a woman, but one of mixed heritage—her mother being a slavebred. The Bastard considered himself a more legitimate heir, and hoped that the Duke would stay out of the conflict until the Bastard legitimized his claim through force. Over time, it became clear to the people of the Vale that indeed the Duke was not interested in committing his own military forces to resolve the internecine conflict.
After the initial assault, the Gallowglass forces performed an atrocity now known as “The Lover’s Bridge Massacre.” The Bastard ordered couples of mixed race—a common occurrence in The Vale—to be bound together at that covered bridge. With the captured crowd and his troops watching, the Bastard performed a Circumfixion upon his own half-brother, Llewellyn, breaking his bones while reciting the names of men killed during the Feral Risings. But that sickening sight was not enough. He then had his men officers put their sabers through the bound together couples, and tossed them over the side of the bridge. Among those sentenced to what came to be known as a “Valish marraige” was the slavebred Nuva and her companion, Sven. The Bastard personally stuck his serrated saber through a few of the victims before throwing them over over the bloated waters to dangle by their necks. Nuva managed to survive the massacre, as when the mercenaries tossed the Llewellyn over the side to see him dangle on the wheel the banister snapped, dropping Nuva and Llewellyn into the water. Nuva swam to shore, dragging Llewellyn with her.
After the Lover’s Bridge Massacre, the Bastard and his army, enhanced by Aetun sellspells, quickly established control over The Vale by holding the troops at the choke points of the isolated valley region, controlling the roads and the river with spellfire and muskets. They began uprooting the local crops and having farmers plant a grain referred to as “pearls of autumn”, a strange white grain. The Bastard’s men also seized control of The Hermit’s Glossolalia, bringing the massive tome from its shrine to the baron’s keep. Red Asha would later send scholars to begin trying to translate the piece, also managing to send vast tracts of it to an unknown source using Aetherskrivers. Red Asha’s role in the whole affair seems to have deeper machinations than the raw anger of The Bastard.
Within weeks of the situation at The Vale, The Spires, the Seekers, and The Ascendant Church heard of it and decided to take immediate action to preserve the collected knowledge of Scrimshore’s vast library and, most importantly, The Hermit’s glossolalia. The Spires sent two of their Seekers to recover and protect the text, one a scheznyk named Sud Sov, the other flighty bard referred to as “Marzi”. The university hired alance of Free Legionnaires, including the giant Kor to escort the group, enter The Vale, and retrieve the text from the fires of war.
The mission, however, was nearly ended before the group even made it to the Vale. A detachment of Gallowglass soldiers, along with hired local bandits under the guidance of the swashbuckling half-elf Cur ambushed the group, slaying all but Kor, Marzi, and Sud. The three escaped through the woods on a rattling wagon till they met a fast flowing stream. Ansel, a mendicant of The Hermit and former Free Legionnaire, found them and guided them to the safety of an elfdale. There, the three outsiders met with the only two survivors of The Lover’s Bridge Massacre, Nuva and Llewellyn. Ansel revealed then that the glossolalia would not be easily stolen, and that to protect the holy text and free the people of the Vale, they would need help. Specifically, he outlined a plan to win over the elves of the Vale, to bring the bandits into the fold, and find and free the baroness.
Their first step was to steal the bandits’ payroll. The group infiltrated the southern camp, with Kor dispatching a couple of guards with a proffer of drink while Nuva and Sud Sov crept in. They made off the the quartermaster’s ledger, and discovered where to waylay the payroll to steal and use to break the Gallowglass relationship with the local outlaws.
To win over the elves, the remainder of the Lance and the slavebred local were directed to oust a problematic witch named Medb from a taboo place in the untouched hills, called a Geissmache. The elves, with the exception of the brash elf called “Sunshine,” feared an inquisition, and proffered their services as warriors in trade for Medb’s removal. The motley group took up the challenge, infiltrating the Geissmache despite its guardians, the murmets. They found themselves in a garden of war, surrounded by statues of amaranthine deodar that had started to sprout new trees. The Geissmache was once a holy place where novices were tested, and the group found access to the underground fortification by solving the riddles once posed to servants of The Lady of Blossoms.
Inside the party fought elven youth maddened by Medb’s use of arcane herbs and maleficarum. There they found that she had been using old magics to make the murmets and other beasts that fed on blood and sun. When the erstwhile adventurers confronted the witch, she offered the creatures of Maleficarum in trade for the head of the leader of the elfdale, her own brother. She promised to turn the tides of the coming battle over the Vale with her magic to far greater effect than a few dozen elves could. The adventurers, however, refused, though with some debate. They slew the witch and won the favor of the elves.
The party then set off for the deep woods to pay off the bandits. The group successfully negotiated a deal with Cur to provide his outlaws a a place to live in trade for his services. Unfortunately for the elves, that place was the elfdale.
After successfully stealing the bandit’s payroll in a well-planned ambush, dispatching the witch Medb, and winning over Cur’s bandits, the party went to find the Baroness. At Ansel’s suggestion, they sought information at a local inn run by one of the baron’s knights, a venerable swordsman named Azkari. They disguised themselves as pilgrims coming to see the hermit’s shrine to enter the rowdy bar, filled with the smell of smoke and brined eel. Meanwhile, Sud communicated with Azkari in a paltry approximation of subterfuge, finding out the baroness hid in her nursemaid’s basement in Scrimshore with her knights.
With the baroness’s location known, they made way to the town of Scrimshore, in disguise. They found the nursemaid, an apothecary now. They won over her trust, and she peeled away the boards to her secret cellar, revealing within atrophied knights and the baroness, writing in her journal by candlelight. While the rescuers planned an escape with the knights and baroness, Gallowglass soldiers. The apothecary denied any visitors, but the soldiers searched the shop, finding the secret entrance to the cellar. The baroness’s former nursemaid then threw herself to defend the noble lady, getting stabbed knocked to the ground and stabbedin the process, but giving the party and the knights enough time to prepare their vicious assault on the guards. They made their escape from the apothecary, setting a fire outside of the shop and escaping out the back. A few stole some horses that had been in line for shodding to get the knights mounted. They rest tore off toward the main gate, hoping to burst through by virtue of speed and chaos. They felled more than one mercenary on their exit, and gave the rest time enough to get a mount and break away from the occupied town.
With the bandits fighting for the Valish resistance, the baroness and the rest went out to recruit local farmers, gathering them all at the dale and fomenting the rebellion as best they could. Azkari tracked down some local hedge wizards and convinced them to provide medical aid in the coming battles The errant paladin Bau’Render spent his time training more mounted warriors. Kor constructed armor and explosives to aid them in the coming fight. Sud and the fur-trader known only as “Ferret” managed to scout the keep at Scrimshore and sabotage some of its powder, though not without difficulty.
When they were ready, the army of elves, bandits, farmers and a handful of broken knights went to the Lover’s Bridge to cut off Scrimshore from reinforcements. The party had decided to enact a strategy of rolling force rather than a pronged attack to reserve the lives of the Valish citizens, at the cost of risking Red Asha’s escape with the glossolalia.
…page in progress…