Thursday, May 26, 2022

The Laughing Tower (Stormbringer 1E) Play Report #4

 Session 4 22/5/22

In which the party makes a friend, and Malaiyah makes a mess; a city is quickly entered and abandoned; information is gleaned from fisherfolk; and some small vengeance is enacted upon Pan Tangians.

1. Night Encounter

Soo's coterie crept back to Cassandra along the coast, Gansaiyah scouting ahead with his keen wastlander's eyes. As evening fell, he saw the glint of armored soldiers on the road south of them.

"Best keep to the water." he opined, and they continued westward, their horses' hooves splashing in the surf.

As night fell, they saw the city lights no more than an hour away. They stopped at a shipwreck on the beach, doubtless an old merchant vessel run aground in a storm, when Gansaiyah remarked, "Someone's in there. They've a boat tied up." Indeed, a small boat was pulled up on the beach, its mast and sails folded and stored, a line tied from its prow to the timbers of the shipwreck.

"That's a Shazarian skiff" noted Billy Bones. No one questioned the seaman's opinion, for a good sailor could tell the provenance of a vessel simply by seeing its lines, or even the style of its rigging.

Lord Soo frowned. All he needed was another lawful type trying to foil his plans. "Go deal with them" he ordered Bones and Gansaiyah. Unnoticed, Malaiyah crept down to the surf and began picking up handfuls of mud.

The sailor and the barbarian crept up to the wreck, noticing a curl of smoke from within as they neared. There was the sound of subtle movement from inside the old ship, perhaps the hiss of a blade being drawn. The two men tensed and readied for battle.

"Who goes there?" called a voice softly from the beached vessel.

Gansaiyah untensed and gestured to Bones to stand down. "Just two travellers looking for shelter, like yourself." he called out. "There are five of us." Six, if you count that Pan Tang worm, he mused.

Out of the wreck strode a young woman holding a sword, her clothes definitely that of a Shazarian clanswoman, though neither Gansaiyah nor Bones could tell which one. Clan identity was a central pillar of Shazarian life.

"I am Ilfin. Who are you?"

Gansaiyah and Bones introduced themselves, then turned as the rest of their party strode over. "This is Soo, our employer."

Ilfin gaped at the Melnibonean before her. He had the inhuman, almond eyes and olive skin of his people, the byzantine headdress of a high priest of Chaos atop his crown, and Melnibonean armor etched all over with hellscapes. This was exactly the kind of encounter she had left her homeland to make.

"I am Ilfin, of Shazar. I seek adventure to prove the courage of my clan," she proclaimed proudly.

The Shefanhow demon looked her up and down. "We need another swordarm. Do you take coin, or do you follow only law?"

Ilfan was stunned for a second, then stammered, "I would take coin."

"Good." retorted the nobleman. He turned to someone behind him and ordered, "Pay her" before going to sit at the fire.

Ilfin's eyes widened further when a woman, her face smeared in mud and all other flesh covered in fantastic patterns, began counting coins from a large sack.

"What are you?" asked Ilfin.

"I am Malaiyah." the woman responded. "This is a disguise," she continued, pointing to her mud spattered face. "It is also good for the skin. I have been cruelly marked by chaos, and will be seized by soldiers if found. " The mudwoman strode past Ilfin to the fire.

"So this is adventure!" thought the young Shazarian clanswoman. "I hope I keep my sanity."

2. The Great Escape

The group sat around Ilfin's fire, sheltered from prying eyes and dusty Agrimiliar winds by the shipwreck's rotted timbers.

"Sea is always the best route" offered Vinket. The others rolled their eyes, as this was the sea priest's standard advice.

"We can take this one's skiff" suggested Bones. "There are too many of us for the open sea, but it should get us into the city from the seaside. They are looking for us by land."

"But we spent coin on that cart." insisted Maleia. "At least we should take the wheels."

"It's no good in that wee craft." replied Bones.

"But we could make an armored contrivance or vehicle of some sort."

The other sighed again. Although mortal brains might imagine machines of many kinds, the chaotic nature of the Young Kingdoms meant that these seldom worked, and technological advancement was at a standstill.

"Leave the horses and cart. We'll take the clanswoman's skiff." ordered Lord Soo, who had already forgotten Ilfin's name.

That was that. Gansaiyah hid the saddles in the shipwreck, then set their rides free.


Bones steered the small craft out to see a half league, then turned back towards the lights of Cassandra. From their position directly north of the city, they could see docks for goods-laden ships on the west and eastside of the metropolis. Between the docks were three wharfs, the two on the east for yachts and fine crafts, the one on the west for fishing boats and lesser sailing craft.

"There are guards and pyres on the docks, as well as wharves." said Gansaiyah. "Yet not as many as I expected."

"They aren't anticipating us from seaward," replied Soo. "Now, be silent. As for you," he indicated Malaiyah, "Stay under the tarp."

Bones expertly steered the small craft up to the fisherman's wharf. An old duffer hobbled up holding a lantern.

"Who be you, and where be you from?"

"I am from Shazar," replied Ilfin. "I am traveling with my comrades."

"Tis a big crew for a small ship. How many heads?"

"Five" she replied.

"One bronze per head, plus one for the ship."

Ilfin counted out 6 coins and passed it to the old man.

"Tie her up. Food and drink ahead, up the hill. Seamen's quarters to the west" he offered.

From the wharf, they could see the town ahead to the south, stone steps leading up to the aforementioned tavern and low line of barracks for sailors.

"Follow me," snapped Lord Soo, and trotted briskly off to the east, ignoring the town proper, and proceeding along the harbourside drive. The others followed, bewildered. As they walked west, the functional yet grimy road gave way to nicely cobbled street with sidewalks, and the two piers for fine craft were surrounded by sturdy iron gates to protect the rich craft that bobbed within.

"Yes, sire?" said a man from behind the gate as Soo's coterie approached.

"I have come for my ship" replied the inhuman lord.

"May I see your papers?"

The Melnibonean passed them through a slot in the bars. The guardsman turned to two soldiers who had been patrolling along the pier.

"Come along," snapped Soo. "I haven't got all day."

One soldier sidled over to the gate. "Just a question, milord."

"Make it quick."

"Have you been inland?"

”Foolishness. We had a boat tour."

The soldiers looked at the papers again, and conversed in low tones with the guardsman.

"Come now, I hope to catch the morning tide." averred Soo.

The guardsman pulled the latch on the gate and opened it.

"As you wish, milord."

Soo nodded and walked down the pier towards his ship, which glittered like a silver bird among the ornate yet mundane craft of Cassandra's elite. The half-Melnibonean slave crew whispered their surprise as their lord ascended the gangplank. 

"Come along you lot." he snapped to the others.

They quickly boarded the ship, and Bones took his place at the till.

"Take her out to sea, Mr Bones."

"What of Malaiyah? The mudwoman?" offered Bones.

"And my boat?" added Ilfin.

Lord Soo shrugged. "As you will." He disappeared into his cabin.

As Bones steered back over to the fisherman's wharf, Gansaiyah sidled up.

"That was a bit of fun." quipped the wastelander.

"Aye, but not much coin in it." lamented the sailor.

3. The Fisher Folk

Lord Soo's yacht moved into the waters of his homeland. The ship's owner felt the strange melange of Melnibonean emotions - pride in his lineage, disgust in its downfall, and yet confidence that things could be righted.

The southwesterliest island of the Melnibonean Archipelago, Nisadnimapor, slowly appeared at the horizon. For millennia it had been a fishing outpost for The Bright Empire, and its fish, seaweed, and crustaceans were a staple of Imrryran feasting boards. Its half Melnibonean slave inhabitants were some of the finest fishers and divers in all the islands.

Lo and behold, a group of said fisherfolk, currently deploying nets from their small craft, hove into view. Lord Soo addressed them from the rail of his ship.

"Ho, slaves. What news of Melnibone?"

The fisherfolk, trained from birth in servility to the Dragon Princes, dropped as a man to one knee and lowered their heads. It had been some time since a full blooded Melnibonean had visited them.

"O Dragon Prince, these are sad times. The Dreaming City has fallen."

"I know," snapped Soo. "I was there. What of yon village?" He indicated their settlement.

"O Lord, the vile Pan Tang Tha Gamoor and his 2 henchmen keep watch over us. They take the best fish, and our women. We would be rid of them."

"Then rid you shall be."

The high priest began to question the fisherfolk about the village, its best approach, and where the Pan Tang occupiers could be found. In his cunning mind, a plan began to form.

4. A Small Vengeance

Ilfin's light craft beached near a strand of trees to the east of the village. Lord Soo's yacht was anchored out to sea further east, so that no warning would reach the Pan Tangians. Although Bones, Gansaiyah, Malaiyah, and Ilfin sat in the boat with Lord Soo, Vinket had stayed aboard the yacht, stating, "I feel a bit at sea on the land."

Lord Soo was beginning to seriously regret taking the young sea priest as his protegee.

The party disbarked, Ilfin tied up her craft while Bones stowed the sails, and they walked through the woods towards the fisher settlement.

The village was a typical layout. To the south, fish flakes for drying catch were lined along the wharf, as well as sheds for storing boats and gear. Stony paths wound up the hill to the village proper, where the fisherfolk's small, boxy houses lay scattered. In the center, a town hall of cobbled stone and oak logs dominated the settlement.

"You and you," Soo indicated Gansaiyah and Ilfin, "Set up your bows down by the water." The two did as told, and took position in the shadow of a shed. As for Bones and Malaiyah, Lord Soo ordered them to take their position behind a house in sight of the town hall. They did so, and everything was in order. Soo retreated to the forest edge and watched his followers.

Down by the shore, Gansaiyah spotted one Pan Tangian strutting on the wharf, in turns calling out to the womenfolk as they went about their errands, or ordering about children.

"This one first." whispered the wastelander. Both archers readied arrows, aimed and fired.

THUNK THUNK! Two hits, but the Pan Tangian merely staggered in his half-plate armor. He began to yell and run for the town hall, doubtless where his remaining two comrades were located.

"We must stop him." seethed Gansaiyah, readying another arrow.

At that moment, Bones and Maliyah emerged from their hiding place and blocked the fleeing Pan Tangian's way to the stone hall. Malaiyah slashed him once with her short sword while Bones parried the Pan Tangian's blows. Suddenly, the warrior froze, then pitched forward at their feet. A weeping Waste arrow quivered from his back.

Before the group could congratulate themselves, Bones cried out in pain and shock, then tumbled forward, a Pan Tangian spear protruding from his back. The other occupiers had been alerted, and their figures could be seen in the windows of the town hall.

Malaiyah helped Bones get into cover behind the house where they had been positioned. Looking at his wound, she could see that he would live, and set about aiding the sailor.

Gansaiyah and Ilfin moved closer to the hall, then loosened a volley of arrows at the Pan Tangians in the window. There was a scream, then one was down. The final one stayed low in the window, not giving them a good shot.

"Come out, or we burn you out!" shouted Gansaiyah. "Throw out your weapons first."

There was a moment of silence, then a broadsword and Pan Tang spear clattered out from the window. The oak door opened, and a large Pan Tang warrior with an arrow in his shoulder sidled out.

"Who are you? Why are you here?" spat the defeated Pan Tag occupier.

"It is we who ask the questions here," retorted Lord Soo, joining his coterie as they surrounded their enemy.

Thus ends the Tale of the Laughing Tower


The Oracle questions & answers from last session, as well as Wishing well wishes, have all been addressed, but for privacy's sake will not be treated here.

Due to scheduling conflicts, the game will continue in a more episodic fashion. We are currently choosing the next adventure.

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