From the restart:
The Fire-Axe strikes an impressive figure these days. He is no longer clad in ill-fitting stolen knight’s armor. Instead, he wears a black suit of infernal armor, a gift for sacking the city from Thorn. He truly looks the part of a dread bugbear tyrant of the north. The city hall is crowded with bugbear lords, ogre chieftains, hill giant thugs, scampering goblins and even a frost giant jarl that stands uneasily besides the Fire-Axe. All of them stop and stare at the Forsaken as they enter the hall. The Fire-Axe rises.
“My lords, welcome to Mannasas! With your skill at throwing open gates, I had hoped to have your aid. But it seems this city could not wait to fall beneath my killers’ blades.”
That earns a clamorous yell from the assembled throng. The Forsaken have a moment to publicly address the Fire-Axe if they have any rejoinder. Even light-hearted jabs at the Fire-Axe only earn laughter. The victorious bugbear warlord is in far too good of a mood to have it spoiled.
Roleplay a little if you like. You guys are fucking Legend to these goons. Those that survived the invasion of the Vale have told the tale. They are pumped that you are here with them. Brandon is here of course.
“Come, we have matters to attend to.”
And with that the Forsaken and the Fire-Axe retreat to a private war room. The mayor’s chambers, where once the future well-being of Mannassas was plotted, has now become the Fire-Axe’s war room. The accommodations are much more spacious than the cramped Westkirk castle and much more civilized than the war camp north of the Watch Wall. The Fire-Axe bids his lieutenants and underlings to remain in the Ducal throne room so he can be alone with the Forsaken. With a shout the room will be flooded with his bodyguards, but Sakkarak desires time alone with the Forsaken. Fine wine taken from the larder of a duke is poured.
“Are you here on a mission?” He waits for your answer, and responds accordingly. Intended to be roleplayed out a little. Get back into the groove.
“I have one for you, if you’re interested. The Duke of Manassas has escaped me. It’s possible he’s just gone. He may have had some magical means of leaving the city, so it may be a fool’s errand. But I suspect not. Duke Martin famously hated wizards. I suspect he’s holed up in the city somewhere, but so far my killers have failed to find him. I would love to have him dragged before me in chains. It would be good for morale.
“Other than that, enjoy the city. I care not what you do to this place. I’ll be rid of it soon enough. There are pockets of resistance here and there, I’m told. You are welcome to deal with those however you see fit. Or you can simply loot the ruins. I’ll warn you though, my killers are thorough. If you want the best treasure, you’ll have to find places they can’t get. Ah, look at me. Lecturing you like you were
whelps. You know all of this.”
He takes a long deep drink of wine and suddenly turns more melancholy.
“Truth told, that isn’t what I wanted to talk to you about. This city was so easily taken because the Duke was an idiot and it was lightly defended. The baron of Westkirk revealed a secret entrance from the sea
caves to the palace. Anyone with any sense would have collapsed it as soon as my army drew near, but Duke Martin imagined he could escape through it if things got bad.
“I have captured a hollow city. Most of the army was missing. What wasn't destroyed between here and Everett went south to mass under the king’s banner. I know it. An army marches towards me led by Markadian himself. It is an army I cannot hope to defeat on the open field. Do you know anything of this?”
“What is Thorn’s plan to deal with the king’s forces? He must have one! Yet whenever I speak to the devil-harlot Tiadora all I get are sneers and japes. Do you know Thorn’s mind? What does he intend?”
Insight DC 15- While he is outwardly jubilant and confident, inwardly he is a mass of worry.
“I was supposed to be victorious against the armies of The Lake States. I was supposed to crush them! That was always the plan! I was only to lose to…” He pauses and looks off to the distance. Its very dramatic. Plot exposure time, yo.
“When Thorn found me, I was dying, poisoned and weak. I had been outcast from my tribe and branded across my chest with a giant slash from a shaman’s obsidian blade - the mark of the defeated and the banished. I was cast out into the wilds to die alone and unmourned.
“Thorn took me in, healed me. He drew the poison from my wound. And with his magic, the scar of the outcast was remade into the Rose of Karamaka. He marked my flesh and my soul – I was then and forever bound to the Cardinal and to the Queen of Hell.
“Do not think me a victim. Willingly I gave myself to his service. What did I have to lose? All that remained of my old life was death and disgrace.
“Thorn set me upon another path. The Cardinal said that if I would but serve him, he would give me all I wished for. He has been true to his word. He has made me mighty amongst my people. He has erased the dishonor of banishment and given me a new name.
“He has bestowed me with mighty gifts. I am most famous for my axe, true enough, but even more than that, he gave me this.”
He reaches up and removes an iron circlet that had blended into his black fur.
“This crown of iron – it makes me wise and wary. I am able to speak to my people with authority. It makes me truly worthy of being a king.”
He replaces it and it fades from view.
“But there was always a price. In time, I will face an army not of the men of the Lake States but of those under the banner of Karamaka. And when I face that army, I will lead my force to utter destruction and defeat.
“All those who chant my name and honor me now, I will betray. My killers have become like my children and upon the altar of war, I will sacrifice them for the glory of Karamaka the Most High.
“Then I will go to the Skull Throne far in the north. I will serve there for the rest of my life at the side of Thorn. My time of glory will be over. Then begins my time of service to pay for what I have been given.”
He takes another deep drink, emptying the wine bottle.
“I enjoy every day of my dominion. I savor every moment of my prize,”
He smashes the wine bottle against the far wall.
“But I know it will not last.”
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