The Light that Never Warms (All for One: Regime Diabolique) – Campaign Report 5

Campaign: The Light that Never Warms

 Story Two: I Came for the Waters
Session 1 Turning Trouble’s Tables

This is the fifth installment of reports for my current face-to-face campaign using Triple Ace Games’ fantastic All for One: Regime Diabolique ~ a game of supernatural intrigue and swashbuckling action in a dark reflection of 17th Century France. This campaign emphasizes mystery, dark magics, and verbal sparring, but includes a dash of chasing and escaping mixed with a healthy portion of wine and revelry. This session had the characters being sent on a mission out of Paris and so beginning a new phase of their tenebrous war with the secretive Order known to them as the Crimson Dragon.

Cast:
Jean Archer, musketeer, PC
Xavier Pinchot, Physician (Alchemist), PC  (Avery’s supposed lackey)

Avery Sisko, musketeer, PC
Vincent, man of the world (Homomancer), PC (Jean’s supposed lackey)

Phillipe ‘Didier’ Auberjonois, musketeer, noble in thin disguise, NPC (now)
Patrick Picard, former Inquisitor (Medium), NPC (now) (Phillipe’s supposed lackey)
Robert Renault, former novice Inquisitor, NPC, Patrick’s actual lackey
Robert deToile, tailor to the elite, NPC, Patrick’s actual lackey

Yves LeMouton, seemingly unworthy musketeer, NPC
Claude LeMouton (no relation), seemingly unworthy musketeer, NPC

Pack Up Your Troubles
The Musketeers, Jean and Avery by name, and the others by extension – “Didier” now back from his father’s estate, and the two lesser lights still seeking to redeem themselves from needing rescue from the hated Cardinal’s Guardsman, Fontaine; Yves and Claude – accepted a mission to escort a revered bishop from Lourdes to Paris. Their Captain, M. De Treville, did not see fit to explain the request, he merely informed them that they were going. Renault, always a man to have his fingers on the pulse of things, gleaned from the kitchen staff that the Captain had been summoned to see His Christian Majesty, Louis XIII late last night. Patrick, fresh from his gossipy tailor, had the rest of the tale. His Red Eminence, Richelieu, had requested a personal favour of the King, asking for the great heroes who had saved him from the sinister plot on his life and soul, to escort an elderly bishop from a far away diocese to Paris to celebrate the consecration of his much beleaguered little chapel. Seeing no way to refuse, the men promptly and flamboyantly accepted.

A little saddened to have to break off their celebrations of their own achievements after only two weeks, the pair decided to include “Didier” now back from his father’s estate, and the two lesser lights still seeking to redeem themselves from having needed rescuing by the hated Cardinal’s Guardsman, Fontaine; Yves and Claude. Their loyal, if terribly serious lackeys, Vincent, Xavier, and that terribly useful if dour Renault (whom Avery decided on the spot to force to learn a cheerful musical instrument while travelling) were going whether they wanted to or not. As it turned out, Xavier wanted to make the trip in order to collect some rare herbs, mushrooms, and other, less savory, items. The others kept their opinions to themselves. The phrase, ‘…because it is a trap!’ became very popular; however, for reasons passing understanding by this humble chronicler….

Given a Writ of Passage issued by the King, the group decided that due to the time considerations, they would best be served by taking ship for the south of France rather than run the roads, exhaust themselves, and step into every ambush no doubt waiting for them in every village, hamlet, and barn from Paris to Lourdes. Smug, and loaded with Xavier’s best gunpowder, a lute, and the best spirits they could find on short notice, they took ship and settled in for a leisurely coastal cruise.

Patrick, Avery, Xavier, and from time to time Jean, soon discovered the romance of regular bouts of hurling the contents of their tortured stomachs over the side. A sailor, trying to make light of Jean’s green face found himself punched for his trouble, and the rest of the crew opted to learn from his experience.

Renault, a sailor in his youth, and Vincent enjoyed the trip. Renault actually deferred the cost of his passage (out of loyalty to the crown, and a hatred of idleness) by working as a seaman. While they rode out the trip in varied states of comfort, they talked of many things. The musketeers planned nocturnal conquests of certain ladies at court, and boasted about what they might do to the Order of the Crimson Dragon should they see them again. With all the witnesses (those who had been ensorcelled at the roadhouse in our last story to think themselves members of the cardinal’s guard out for musketeer blood) claiming to remember nothing, they felt the trail had grown cold. The occultists on the other hand, assumed the worst, and used the time to discuss things seriously in detail, and plan for contingencies. First order of business was to secure the ingredients for the alchemical potion of second sight. Second was to find a plausible and effective means of reviving the comatose and fading Crimson Dragon officer without arousing suspicion. After two weeks in a coma-like state, all hope of recovery had been surrendered, and no secret could be made to veil this. Already people have connected this near death with the poisoning of the woodcutter, and everyone knows there is precious little that can be done to counteract a good poison.

Ruined Wreck and Retching Wretches
Before sunset, midway through the sail south, a freak storm blew up around the vessel, to the great surprise and consternation of the captain and crew. The storm, obviously localized and of growing strength, seemed to follow them no matter how they attempted to evade or outrun it. Below decks, Patrick told the rest in no uncertain terms that there was nothing natural about the storm (Magical Sensitivity). Renault’s caution that the storm would be the death of all aboard spurred the occultists into action and the musketeers into more serious swilling of rum in between the retching. Xavier wracked his seasick brain for a way to lend aid, but knew he had neither the time, nor the physical stability to prepare anything. Vincent, however, began to exhort the spirits of the air and the riders of the ocean spray to heed him and shield the ship from scrying eyes seeking the musketeers. His spell cast with deliberate force and pacing (extra time, channel magical energy) succeeded in occluding the minds of the musketeers and his allies, blurring their auras and shifting the natural ebb and flow of their thoughts down different roads than they normally travel (Homomancy). After hours of chanting, and hours of hammering by wind and wave, the ship broke free of the storm, and began to leave it behind, searching for them in vain. Exhausted, the crew and the occultists dropped into sleep and knew no more til evening came. One crewman and the lute were the only casualties.

Vincent maintained the occluding effect for the rest of the trip, and no further incidents befell them on the sea. Landfall was a different story.

Death’s Welcome Wagon
Making port on the dawn tide, the docked without trouble, voided the tariffs with the Writ, and unloaded their gear and horses. Vincent, alert for trouble (Enhanced Perception, 12 hours) was quick to notice the gang of thieves loitering on the shore road among the fishermen and unloaded crates. An ambush was in place.

Warning the others, Vincent expected to formulate a plan, but Jean decided it was time to act, not plan, and called for a charge. He got his way. (Style) Their pier joined the shore road at right angles, and a narrow street lined with wares and warehouses lay directly ahead. A large wagon blocked the route partway down, and thieves could be seen closing in from both directions along the shore road.

Xavier, one of the more accomplished riders, beat everyone to the end of the pier to the shore road, and his mad dash spooked a cart horse into rearing and spilling a barrel of fish across the cobbles. Vincent and Avery, hot on his tail, could not goad their horses into pressing through the yelling crowd, and found their forward progress balked. Losing no time, they leapt from their saddles and tackled the two thieves waiting at the end of the pier as they stood stunned by Xavier’s wild passage. (Style)

Things devolved into chaos for a moment, but chaos controlled and shaped into decisive violence in favour of the musketeers. Jean’s horse came to a full and sudden halt behind Vincent and Avery’s, throwing him over its head. He rolled to his feet and prepared to meet the rush of three thieves coming around the conveniently placed wagon. Yves and Claude, unable to get past all the riderless horses, fired their muskets, taking down the thieves Vincent and Avery found themselves grappling. Screaming in pain, the fight left their bodies in spatters of blood from their minor wounds. In sync, Vincent and Avery kicked them off the edge of the shore road and into the foul waters of the harbour.

Xavier tried to draw his sword, while getting his horse turned around in the press of people, but was forced to forego that and charge his steed into an oncoming thief, stunning him, and escaping the closing noose of villains (Style)

Patrick wounded one thief with a pistol, while Renault floored another with his cudgel as they tried to keep up with the intimidating Jean who also took down one of the attackers, and evaded the combined attack of the other two at the cost of a sliced cloak.

“I hate sewing!”
-Jean Archer

A heartbeat later, Vincent dropped the Xavier’s stunned thief into the drink, and Jean and Avery downed the last two at the wagon. Unsurprisingly, the others still coming on through the crowds chose to flee rather than be maimed. Vincent, blessed by his enhanced stealth, gave chase.

Xavier considered following, but soon lost them in the crowds and returned to report what Vincent was up to and in which direction he’d gone. Jean, not one to wait around (flaw of ennui) began to beat one of the wounded men in order to scare him into talking. The man talked. He revealed they had been hired and given good sketches of Avery and Jean. They were to abduct them and take them to their lair to be killed. The sketches bore traces of a familiar draconic seal. This did not sit well.

Vincent tailed his quarry back to their dilapidated lair, and when returning for his companions, found them arriving on their own with a battered and whimpering guide. Patrick and Renault remained behind to deal with the wounded and the Watch.

Knock three times with my henchman if you want me
With his blood up, Jean pressed past Vincent and used the protesting thief as an impromptu battering ram (Style), shoving the man through the thin door of the poorly maintained former warehouse. Inside, his cowardly cohorts were grovelling for their lives.

At the sight of the furious musketeer, everyone scattered. However, Vincent had run ahead to round to the rear of the place, Yves and Claude rushed in behind Jean with muskets at the ready, and Xavier took one side’s window exits with his blunderbuss. Inside, Jean hammered two fleeing brigands into submission by hurling the semiconscious door opener into them, then tackling another, ultimately stopping three and losing one. Vincent caught the leader rushing out the back and although the man fought bravely, he was soon dragged into the warehouse again and forced into a chair to be held at sword point by Avery.

A shirt for a cloak
With Jean looming in the background, the man soon divulged he had been hired by letter to capture them and ensure they were delivered *alive* into the hands of ‘The Black Man.’ The discrepancy in orders was noted, but the villain claimed he had the packet of letters in his shirt. Jean tore it open with a muttered oath about his own sliced cloak, and took the orders. The man was telling the truth. After capture, he was to mark a post in a nearby market square and await further orders.

The Best Laid Traps
Vincent went to scout the area while the others compelled Yves and Claude to give up their uniforms in order to disguise two of the captives as Avery and Jean. The market square held some homes, some warehouses and stores, and a small church. Vincent surreptitiously marked the post and returned to the villain’s lair.

Working with great focus, Xavier produced 5 vials of his disorienting fumes during the late afternoon and evening. Yves and Claude set up a sniper’s nest in the upper reaches of the warehouse, while Jean and Avery prepared to lurk by the main doors. Vincent was tasked with sentry duty. Yves and Claude were very disappointed to discover that they still did not merit any of Xavier’s carefully refined gunpowder (+4 damage).

The night passed as did much of the following day. Late in the afternoon, Vincent reported three priests who looked as fit and alert as fighting men were pretending not to be headed for the lair. Everyone roused themselves and got into position.

Near the door, the oldest priest, a tanned and scarred man in his thirties, indicated in latin and gestures that the other two guard the approaches and stay outside. He then knocked politely on the door. Patrick dressed as the brigand leader let him in and revealed the two captive ‘musketeers’ tied to chairs and being guarded by a grim-looking Renault.

Outside, Vincent dosed the two guards with the disorienting fumes and then trussed them up. Inside Jean and Avery kicked the door shut and made themselves known as Yves and Claude popped up in their elevated firing position, backed up by Xavier with his blunderbus. Leaping to the attack, Jean found himself repelled by the cold chill of a spectral force the wind of which’s passage doused the flicker candles in the drafty room, leaving only the frantically fluttering flames of the few lanterns to light their descent into horror!

Next Session: June 16th  ~ Scales of the Dragon
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