AND NOW, THE CONCLUSION
Characters Present: All.
The whole of our party headed into the town with Richard to negotiate with James and Arthur. The three brothers spoke in private for a short while; it did not appear to be going well. The conversation drew to a close, and James asked Arthur if he “accepted his offer”. Arthur’s answer was to attack his brothers – James flew into a nearby building with a sharp crack to the head, and while Richard managed to block Arthur’s first blow, he was still thrown back and knocked out.
The only thing standing between Arthur and his brothers now was us, so we jumped into the fray. Arthur wore incredible artefact-like armour, which had the power to redirect incoming thunder and lightning attacks and make his storm magic more powerful. The fight was short but intense, and Arthur proved to be a powerful and dangerous opponent. When we managed to bloody him, he became charged with lightning, which forked out at those close to him. When he finally dropped, Beak shocked everyone by killing Arthur outright.
James saw that Arthur was dead, and then turned to Richard and asked if he agreed to “his terms”. We still did not know what they were. Richard said, “No”, and a fight erupted once again. Once of the first moves James made was to pin down Enna, and swing his scythe into her gut. Using his powers of balance and redirection, Horacio attempted to shift the damage away and save her life, but James pulled his scythe out, and ran her through once again. Despite our best efforts to save her, James still died by James’ hands. We pummeled James, and he eventually surrendered.
Once James yielded, we finally found out what his proposition was: he told us that if we stormed the capital head-on (with its dozen or so brigadiers), we’d surely be slaughtered. Though he was in Duncan’s service, James felt that Duncan had gone too far with his magical genocide. Like Richard, he wanted to take the mad king down, but wished to go about it in a very different way: James wanted to lead a small strike team into the palace to kill Duncan.
It turns out that all three of the brothers wanted Duncan dead. Arthur wanted to destroy the entire capital, James wanted to kill Duncan with his strike team, and Richard (no doubt due to his honor as a Paladin) wanted to face him honorably on the battlefield.
Erik could not contain his rage towards James, and began yelling and shouting for him to answer for his crimes. Surprisingly enough, James was moved to apologize for what happened to Erik in past. He said, too, that if we went along with his plan he would let the Ravenshore army retreat, but he would have to wipe out the Barbarian army to make the illusion complete. We would be taken in as prisoners, and could then sneak our way out of prison and into Duncan’s chambers.
The resulting debate was difficult for everyone involved. Richard did not like this plan at all – its deceptive and backhanded approach at Duncan clashed with his Paladin honor. We learned much about the state of the Aulonian army, and where its sensibilites had shifted over time: Richard and James revealed that most of the high-ranking military officers who used to have brigadier-level authority were demoted so that Duncan could assert more direct control. These old loyalists could be called in to maintain order if marshall law gripped the kingdom following the king’s death. One of the main hesitations we had with following James’ scheme was that once the king was dead, James – being the highest ranking officer in the military – would be able to assert an unsettling level of control over the kingdom of Aulonia.
After much debate, we finally agreed to go with James into the capital. Corrin, however, refused to be taken in as a prisoner, and therefore did not surrender himself to James. He went instead to make his own attempt at breaking into the capital. Richard reluctantly agreed to give us a chance to take out Duncan before he led the military to the capital. Before leaving, Jim left his father’s sword in the care of Richard, and had him promise on his honour that he would keep it until we returned. We were taken into the custody of the military by James and his men, and were led off to the capital as prisoners while the army obliterated the remainder of the barbarian horde.
As we head towards Cordell, the mood is tense: Whatever happens, we simply cannot fail in our attempt to take down Duncan. If we fail, Richard will follow in our wake, and surely lead our rag-tag force of magicians and rebels to their end.