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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    Default Re: [WFRP] The Bloody Crown X

    "I don't know if this is necessary, Adelbert," said Elsa. "You tagged along at the Lost Library without Sforza's permission and no one took issue."

    She shrugged. If Adelbert wanted to take the chance of facing the Captain, it was his decision, and Elsa would do her best to support him. She didn't stand much to lose either way. "In any case I'll go make my report to Sforza."
    Last edited by -Sentinel-; 2019-01-23 at 01:49 PM.
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    Oh wow. I will never again underestimate [our characters'] ability to turn friendly conversation into a possible life or death situation.
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    Ludo has a crowbar, if that helps.

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    Default Re: [WFRP] The Bloody Crown X

    Adelbert

    Adelbert smiled ruefully. 'Ah but here I am essentially the face and voice of the temple. I probably should be present... and anyway I'm sure Elsa will be explaining how vital I was and will be.

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    Default Re: [WFRP] The Bloody Crown X

    If there had been any rain, the ground around the Captain’s tent would have long ago been trodden to mud. As it was, it had only been trodden to dust, the hardy grasses of the Uplands worn away by the relentless passage of soldiers’ boots. The dust clung to the Iron Company banner that stood outside the pavilion, making its fine colours seem muted and drab.

    The soldiers on guard duty stood aside to let Elsa pass as she ducked through the flap of the tent. Men’s voices were speaking inside - she recognised the voice of the man talking to the Captain as Al-Makir.

    <..only saying our funds are not limitless, sire. The Falcons have a reputation, and their reputation is that they are not cheap.> The talking stopped as Elsa came into view, both men stopping to look.

    <Hildebrand,> said Sforza, acknowledging his wizard with a curt bob of his head. <Good to see you back. I trust you succeeded in heading off Rorik’s robbers?>

    His greeting trailed off as Adelbert emerged through the flap behind her. Narrowing his eyes, he pointed an imperious finger at the priest.

    You,” he said. “Shiba? Scriba. Scribo.” He snapped his fingers impatiently, trying briefly to remember the name before giving up. “Hildebrand, what in Ranald’s name is this bookworm doing with you?”

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  4. - Top - End - #34
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    Default Re: [WFRP] The Bloody Crown X

    Are they really planning to try to hire the Falcons? thought Elsa. After they've shown themselves willing to stab their employers in the back?

    She found she really did not care all that much. It was Sforza's money, and the war had lasted too long.

    <Hakon's dead and his men are scattered,> she reported. <No losses on our side, though it was a close thing. Had the Manann's Keep garrison been on their own, things would've gone quite differently.>

    To the question about Adelbert, she answered, switching to Reikspiel as the Captain had: "Herr Schreiber is... a representative of the Church of Verena, sir. And an ally in pushing back the Norscans." Which brought her to the more perilous part of her report. "In light of how vulnerable Manann's Keep turned out to be, I've elected to move the artifact to Savonne, where we can better protect it via means both mundane and mystical. For the latter, I've... taken the liberty of involving the churches. Though, of course, all armed guards are ours," she added quickly.
    Last edited by -Sentinel-; 2019-01-23 at 03:59 PM.
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    Oh wow. I will never again underestimate [our characters'] ability to turn friendly conversation into a possible life or death situation.
    Quote Originally Posted by LeSwordfish View Post
    Ludo has a crowbar, if that helps.

  5. - Top - End - #35
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    Default Re: [WFRP] The Bloody Crown X

    Adelbert

    <'She speaks truly Captain,'> Adelbert said in Tilean. He bowed. <'I believe I must congratulate you on your success in the field.'>

    He drew a deep breath, trying to fight back the urge to retch and plunged on, switching back to Reikspiel.'We have had our differences but the fact remains you are the victor and the churches want stability and peace. That hope rests in the success of a great prince... and I cannot deny that you are a great prince. It is everyone's interests that your reign go well. In such spirit Capitano..., I offer my services.'

    Adelbert gestured at Elsa. 'As Signora Hildebrand states I helped prevent the book falling into Norscan hands, though the heavy fighting was borne by your soldiers and the lady wizardess herself. I admit I lack Hildebrand's power, or her brilliance but I could feel the evil of the tome standing close to it.' He shivered just thinking about it and had to pause a moment to recollect his composure. 'To be honest I am not sure Mannslieb is far enough away to put that terrible thing but I and the others of the churches believe the temple in Savonne to be safer than anywhere in the Reaches.'

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    Default Re: [WFRP] The Bloody Crown X

    "Signora Sforza agreed to the placement of the book, though she held the priests to a strict set of terms." Ludo said. He resisted the urge to suggest they got Irene up here to negotiate with the Falcons.
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    Default Re: [WFRP] The Bloody Crown X

    “The Temple,” said Sforza, giving Adelbert a stony stare. “I should have known. Anything involving this damned book and up you pop, eh? Like a cat after the cream.” He raised a solitary eyebrow. “You must be happy that this time no-one has crucified you. Yet.”

    Finally breaking off his menacing look, he sighed and drew a hand over his face. “I have no patience for this. Irene set the terms?" That was as much acknowledgement as he gave of Ludo's presence. "I know my wife; she would not let any pack of priests get away with robbery. And you say our men are standing guard." He took a long breath. "Just tell me one thing, Hildebrand - is it safe?"
    Last edited by LCP; 2019-01-23 at 04:45 PM.
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    WFRP 2E - The Bloody Crown
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    Default Re: [WFRP] The Bloody Crown X

    Elsa was relieved to face no opposition to getting help from the churches.

    "Just tell me one thing, Hildebrand - is it safe?"

    She considered the question carefully. "Safe? Safe from theft, or safe for us? All I can say is that we made it as safe as we possibly could, in both respects. The Morrites are well known as sworn enemies of necromancers, so I'm fully confident that they're sparing no effort in keeping the Book right where it is."
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheSummoner View Post
    Oh wow. I will never again underestimate [our characters'] ability to turn friendly conversation into a possible life or death situation.
    Quote Originally Posted by LeSwordfish View Post
    Ludo has a crowbar, if that helps.

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    Default Re: [WFRP] The Bloody Crown X

    Adelbert

    Adelbert's expression darkened at the mention of crucifixion but he said nothing, merely nodding at Elsa's words.

  10. - Top - End - #40
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    Default Re: [WFRP] The Bloody Crown X

    Sforza spent a moment in silence, turning over Elsa’s words. “Alright,” he said, composing himself a little more. “Then that will have to be enough for now. We’ll deal with this when we get back to Savonne.”

    Turning to Adelbert, he forced a strained smile. “My apologies if I have been short with you, Signor... Schreiber. You will please convey to your brothers and sisters my gratitude for their assistance in this matter - and my promise that I will bring my full strength to bear against anyone who thinks to remove the book from our joint protection.” The veiled threat was not so veiled, but it was something at least to be treated as more than a worm. Clearly the name of the Temple carried some weight.

    “In the meantime, we have other matters to attend to. Hildebrand, we have a parley tomorrow to negotiate the surrender of this fortress. I would like you to be there - showing them that we have our sorcerer back may give us some leverage. Abdul, perhaps you can find a tent for Signor Schreiber.” The Captain’s voice was deadpan and flat. “I’m sure he doesn’t wish to be bored with matters of military strategy.”
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    Default Re: [WFRP] The Bloody Crown X

    To Adelbert…

    ”If Myrmidia allows me to see you again, it would be my honour to sit and discuss theology with you Brother Adelbert. Hopefully in times that are not as…trying as these.” the knight said, raising her gauntleted hands to flash the sign of the Eagle to the Verenan priest. ”Perhaps over a drink?”

    To Valdes…

    The grumblings that seemed to lay heavy upon the men of the Brotherhood in regards to the Lady Sforza earned a small smile from the Estalian, though she was careful not to make her own opinions known on the matter. The Brotherhood seemed forthright and honest, and their loyalty to the Capitano was appreciated by Astoria. Loyalty seemed a true commodity in these dark days. Sforza was fortunate to have such men at his command.

    ”Myrmidia watch over you and your men.” she said with a respectful salute to the commander. ”It was an honour to serve alongside you, and rest assured, when I inevitably return to Magritta I shall be telling tales of the bravery and skill of your Brotherhood. You are a credit to our home in these lands.”

    To Elsa…

    ”Of course, my Lady.” Astoria said with something of a cheeky grin. Regardless of what amusement was playing on her features, the knight secured the pickaxe and the torches to her travelling kit on Aminah. The horse had served her well so far she didn’t suspect that the pickaxe and torches would add

    Aubentag, 29th Sommerzeit

    Astoria followed her companions to Bunthafen, and she allowed a smile of her own to rise at the sight of Sieghard. The troubled expression on his own face was a bit disconcerting, and not for the first time since she had set out to return to the front lines did she wonder at what they had faced in her absence.

    ”Sieghard. It is good to see you again.” It hadn’t been all that long, but regardless, it felt like an age.

    Astoria listened intently to the commentary between her companions, expression darkening as she learned of Alvarr’s scorched earth tactics. It was sound tactically, to be sure. But one had to have a measure of compassion, and it seemed that the Duke cared more for his hatred for Sforza than for the people he was supposed to be governing.

    ”I do not truly know what greivances are between Adelbert and Sforza, but I do fear that Sforza’s pride may blind him to the greater good in this situation.” mused Astoria a bit dejectedly.

    Politics were so tiresome.

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    I am officially home from my stay as a patient at my own work, and settled into the comfort of familiar surroundings. Also means I can use my desktop instead of a little notebook to get posts up. Huzzah!



    With Sforza...

    Astoria accompanied her companions to meet with Sforza once she had found a place to set Aminah to rest for the time. She would come back later and tend to the horse - ensuring she was brushed down and given ample food and water.

    Listening to Sforza, he seemed somewhat more amenable than the Estalian had expected. Which was a pleasant surprise.

    "The Book is dangerous, regardless of where we are able to keep it. A single drop of blood was enough to give it the power to raise the Norscans we killed."

    When talk came of strategy, her interest piqued further, and she fell silent as she waited to hear what news there was.
    Last edited by Erulasto; 2019-01-24 at 01:19 PM.

  12. - Top - End - #42
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    Default Re: [WFRP] The Bloody Crown X

    Adelber

    Quote Originally Posted by Erulasto View Post
    To Adelbert…

    ”If Myrmidia allows me to see you again, it would be my honour to sit and discuss theology with you Brother Adelbert. Hopefully in times that are not as…trying as these.” the knight said, raising her gauntleted hands to flash the sign of the Eagle to the Verenan priest. ”Perhaps over a drink?”
    Adelbert smiled. 'Thank you caballera, it would be a privilege.'



    'Thank you Capitano,' Adelbert replied, dipping his head in a light bow before following Abdul out of the tent.

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    Default Re: [WFRP] The Bloody Crown X

    Abdul was swift and efficient in finding a spot for Adelbert, on the other side of the militia encampment and about as far as possible from the Captain’s tent. Handing Adelbert over to two of his men, he took his leave with a thin smile.

    “If you want for anything, please come find me. It’s best not to trouble the Captain in these times,” said Al-Makir. “He has many things weighing on his mind. You will understand for your own sake, Herr Schreiber, you might find it best not to be… underfoot.”

    ~

    Back in the tent, Sforza didn’t have much to tell them that they hadn’t already learned from Sieghard. Falkenwald had agreed to meet tomorrow, and he wanted Elsa there as a show of strength. “I will be doing the talking,” he said. “All you need to do is stand there and let them know who you are.”

    Sinking back into his folding chair, he gave a weary sigh. “We’ve already been delayed here far too long. We should have been pressing Alvarr every step of the way back to his city. Instead we’ve been stuck here for what, a month?” He shook his head. “I wish we’d had you with us, Hildebrand. Still, how is it you say? No use crying over the spilled milk.” He looked up to Elsa. “Dawn, tomorrow. Be ready.”




    Marktag, 30th Sommerzeit

    The next day dawned dry and windy, a strong smell of smoke blowing from the west. Standing beside his fluttering standard, the Captain waited with his officers for the defenders of Bunthafen to make their appearance. They appeared to be taking their time.

    “This is horse-****,” grumbled Dolokhov, watching the gates with a sour expression. “They take Edouard’s coin, they fight us here for weeks, and now they want to talk?” He snorted and muttered something insulting in Gospodar. “It’s a trick. We know they still have supplies. You should have that wizard of yours burn them out, like the rats they are.”

    “Falkenwald‘s playing both sides of the game,” said Abdul, in more measured tones. “He takes Alvarr’s money because it is money he does not have to share. He holds out on us because he knows the longer he holds, the more valuable his defection becomes to us. And now he seeks to deal while his position is still strong.”

    “M - Ranald’s balls, Abdul,” said Carraciolo, thinking better of a Myrmidian curse when he caught sight of Astoria, “you’ve got a mind like a corkscrew. Do you sit up at night thinking on these things for fun?”

    Abdul grinned. “Friend Giovanni, are you forgetting how we met?.”

    Sforza held up a hand for silence. The gates had inched open, just wide enough for a small party to emerge in single file. They were on horseback, and their horses looked well-fed - Dolokhov was clearly right that the defenders’ supplies still ran deep.

    Falkenwald’s men were clearly well-equipped too. Where the Storm Swords carried a mix of armour and weapons that looked as old and battered as the men themselves, the Falcons were all kitted out in sleek half-plate and burgonets, reminiscent of the young men of the pistolier companies that Elsa remembered from the taverns around the Emperor’s Palace back home. The armour was where the similarity ended - these were not boastful youths, but serious men with serious scars.

    Falkenwald was with them, but there was no sign of the woman Gunda. As the leader of the Falcons dismounted and shook the Captain’s hand, Sieghard scanned the battlements of the fortress, wondering if one of the grey silhouettes up there might be her.

    Falkenwald was as he remembered him - professional, well-spoken, and significantly taller than the Captain, which seemed to rankle with Sforza a little. “Captain Sforza,” he said, “your reputation precedes you. It’s good to finally speak face to face.” Folding his hands behind his back with the automatic motion of a soldier on parade, he looked around at the assembled company. “This is all very neat. Is there anything more pleasing than a well-ordered camp?”

    “I can think of a few things,” said Sforza, skipping the pleasantries. “The surrender of Bunthafen would be one.”

    “It’s a fine fortress, isn’t it?” said Falkenwald. “A place like this, fifty men could hold it against five thousand.” He paused, looking around. “I have to observe, you don’t have five thousand men. If you’re expecting us to quit, you must have some powerful reason in mind.”

    “I suppose I must,” muttered Sforza. He remained silent for a short while, scrutinising his fellow mercenary’s face - then, abruptly, he perked up and clapped his hands. “But where are my manners? Introductions are in order. Commander Falkenwald, this is Beatrix Hildebrand, my court wizard. Just returned from the south.” He held out a hand, presenting Elsa like a prize pony. “And this is Caballera D’Evangelisti, of the Order of the Blazing Sun. You may have heard of her actions at Arrow Heap? A firm friend of our company.”

    “Ladies,” said Falkenwald, bowing, “charmed.” A glimmer of recognition dawned as his eyes lingered on Elsa’s face. “Though I think we may have met before.”
    Last edited by LCP; 2019-01-24 at 07:14 PM.
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    Ill Met By Morrslieb

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    WFRP 2E - The Bloody Crown
    Threads: I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X

  14. - Top - End - #44
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    Adelbert

    'My dear Abdul,' Adelbert drawled, 'I wouldn't dream of bothering the prince, but I thank you for your advice. I'll remember it. I have an excellent memory.'

    Once the treasure had departed Adelbert took stock of his surroundings and set down his bedroll. He doubted he'd get much sleep but by Verena he was going to try.

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    Default Re: [WFRP] The Bloody Crown X

    The banter between Carraciolo and Abdul caught Elsa's attention. It occurred to her that she had never asked how an Arabyan had come to work for Captain Sforza. This would be an interesting topic for a later conversation.

    She stood stiffly by the Captain's side during the introductions, putting on her best expression of grim competence.


    "Though I think we may have met before."

    "We have," said Elsa in a curt tone that betrayed nothing. "In Putbad, in the company of Lady Groz."

    She thought it best not to say too much. She had a checkered history when it came to negotiations.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheSummoner View Post
    Oh wow. I will never again underestimate [our characters'] ability to turn friendly conversation into a possible life or death situation.
    Quote Originally Posted by LeSwordfish View Post
    Ludo has a crowbar, if that helps.

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    Default Re: [WFRP] The Bloody Crown X

    "Yes," said Falkenwald. He lowered his gaze. "A pity, what happened to her husband."

    "You'll be pleased to hear that she is well, and under my protection in Savonne," said Sforza. "As is her child. A son, I believe."

    "That is good to hear," said Falkenwald. "But we didn't come here to speak of the fortunes of the Groz family, Captain."

    "No," said Sforza, "we did not." He stepped aside and motioned with his arm towards the command tent. "This way."

    Leaving their various lieutenants inside, the two commanders headed inside and out of view.

    ~

    It was almost an hour later when Sforza and Falkenwald re-appeared. The Captain's face did not look as dark as Elsa would expect if he had got nothing from the exchange - she presumed they had a deal.

    "Four days, then," said Falkenwald, as he rejoined his men and mounted his horse. Sforza nodded. "Four days."

    Watching the Falcons ride back to the gates, Sforza shook his head. <That one has some gall,> he muttered to himself.

    After they had waited for a moment in patient silence, Abdul loudly cleared his throat. "Captain?" he asked. "What is the news?"

    "Alvarr only had the money to buy them for a month," said Sforza. "They will honour their contract, and hold the fortress until Sonnstill. Then Falkenwald has agreed to turn it over to us."

    That was cause for some happiness among the assembled listeners. "A bloodless victory, then!" said Carraciolo. "We could break camp tomorrow."

    Sforza shook his head. "I won't leave a knife at my back on trust that it won't be used. Falkenwald named a price; I intend to pay it. He'll march with us into the valley." That seemed to put a damper on the happiness of Dolokhov and Al-Makir, which Sforza immediately noticed. "We'll need every body we can get for the siege of Alvarran," he explained, "and his men are good soldiers. More than that, we keep them where we can see them."

    "Alvarran will be... difficult to besiege," said Abdul. "Alvarr has left nothing for us to forage. Our supply lines will be stretched thin."

    "Then we secure them. With Falkenwald we will have the manpower." Sforza seemed to have shifted from discontent to decisiveness - definitely a preferable mood. "We'll raise new levies in the Downlands and block the pass. For now, I want our path through the Karst scouted, and the whole army ready to move come Angestag." He grasped Carraciolo by the shoulder, giving him a comradely shake. "This is his last bolthole, Giovanni. Alvarran is where we end it."

    "You remember our deal?" demanded Dolokhov, still disgruntled. "Siege or no siege, Edouard is ours."

    "Of course," said the Captain. "Signor Dolokhov, I am nothing if not a man of my word."
    Last edited by LCP; 2019-01-24 at 10:26 PM.
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    WFRP 2E - The Bloody Crown
    Threads: I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X

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    Default Re: [WFRP] The Bloody Crown X

    More sieges, thought Elsa, her heart sinking. More waiting around, and more starvation. And now Sforza was talking of raising levies, which would only take farmers away from their crops.

    She cleared her throat for attention. "Sir. At this rate we'll be eating our horses by fall, and our boots by winter. I know it's early in the season, but we may already need to consider rationing. For soldiers and civilians and rich and poor alike."


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    Quote Originally Posted by LCP View Post
    "You remember our deal?" demanded Dolokhov, still disgruntled. "Siege or no siege, Edouard is ours."
    I don't remember this part, I must admit. But Elsa won't miss a chance of taking another shot at Alvarr if she thinks it'll end the war quicker.
    Last edited by -Sentinel-; 2019-01-24 at 11:38 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheSummoner View Post
    Oh wow. I will never again underestimate [our characters'] ability to turn friendly conversation into a possible life or death situation.
    Quote Originally Posted by LeSwordfish View Post
    Ludo has a crowbar, if that helps.

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    Default Re: [WFRP] The Bloody Crown X

    The Estalian gave the sign of the Eagle to Falkenwald upon the Sforza's introduction.

    "It is a pleasure, sir." she said succinctly.




    Sieges were, by their very nature, the best way to take a fortification. Astoria knew this, objectively, but she did share some of Elsa’s concern about food. Waiting for Alvarr’s troops to run low on food and, eventually, morale would take time.

    Time she wasn’t entirely sure they had.

    Especially if they were going to begin rationing. That would buy them a little extra time, but there was a chance it would further plunge the region into greater depths of need.

    Regardless, Astoria would be ready to ride when the army set out.
    "Even in these chains, you can't stop me!" - In This Moment, Big Bad Wolf

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    "Isn't there a plague in Alvarran?" Ludo asked. "That will make it easier."
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    "We control the Reaches from north to south," said Sforza. "We'll bring our reserves up from Last Water and the Vale. By river, by road, right to Alvarr's doorstep. We have the routes to the north, too - we'll buy supplies in from outside if we have to." Abdul winced at the mention of further costs. "Giovanni will tell you, Hildebrand - I do not let my soldiers starve."

    Abdul politely cleared his throat. "As I mentioned, Captain," he said, "those supply lines will be extremely extended. Many more men survived the battle at Arrow Heap than went with the Duke. Armed men who will jump at the chance of robbing our caravans if it turns a quick schilling."

    "Then we will put them down," said Sforza. He was clearly growing impatient with this line of questioning. "Post a force at Putbad, Savonne, wherever. I think our men can deal with a few bandits and deserters. Four days, gentlemen," he said, making it clear this was an end to the matter. "Make sure you are ready to march."
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    Four days.

    More than enough time.


    Elsa spoke up again: "Captain, if we're not expecting any fighting in the next few days, I'd like to do some digging around Harmugstahl. I've passed through before and can confirm that true to local lore, it was once inhabited by wizards. They might have left behind something valuable."
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    Ludo has a crowbar, if that helps.

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    Sforza grunted. "The last time you went looking for such things, what you found was more trouble than it was worth," he said. He paused. "How many men do you need?"
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    "Need I remind you that one of these expeditions also brought you a nice big chest of gold?" said Elsa. Although he did have a point; the Lost Library had cost a few ahosi lives and brought Sforza nothing that was especially useful. "Hmm. I came mostly to ask for permission rather than men. Although there are trolls roaming the area, so a few blades couldn't hurt. Or crossbows. I've worked well with Commander Sieghard in the past. A party of eight or ten should do."


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    Ludo has a crowbar, if that helps.

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    Sforza didn't seem pleased with Elsa's tone, but the mention of the gold from Kheneb-Ptra-Urush gave him pause. Clearly money was no longer no object.

    "You don't go charging off into the Karst without protection," he said. He hesitated a moment longer, still thinking. "Abdul wants men to guard our supply lines. You can go with them and make your 'expedition' along the way." He still seemed a little reluctant to send his wizard away, but the decision was made. "Use the bird to stay in touch with our main force. I'm not planning to storm the walls, but plans may change."

    ~

    Sieghard had just about got back to his men when he was accosted by an Iron Company runner. Already the discipline of the siege was beginning to break down as news of the Captain's deal spread - Carraciolo and the others were having to bark and shout to get their men to stick to their posts. The possibility still remained that Falkenwald's agreement was a trick.

    "Orders from the Captain," said the Tilean, pointing back towards the command tent. "He wants to see you."

    "Sieghard," said Sforza, when Sieghard arrived. "I'm rotating you and your men back from the front. You've been on the sharp end long enough." He poured a cup of wine for himself, then offered one to Sieghard. "Bunthafen needs a garrison - I want you to pick thirty of your men, and someone to lead them. Someone reliable, without ideas above his station. The rest of you are going back to Savonne. Secure our supply lines from Manann's Keep to Putbad, and set a patrol on the mouth of Pieter's Pass. Let it be known that anyone trying to run supplies to Alvarran will be treated without mercy."

    Taking a seat in his camp chair, he took a swig from his cup. "If that isn't enough for you, you can do some recruiting too. After Arrow Heap there ought to be plenty of fighting men looking for work. Let them know there's food and good pay on the winning side - as many of them as you can get. Irene and Esteban will have instructions to assist you. And finally, Hildebrand says she has an errand to run on the way. Shouldn't need more than ten of your men." He swirled the wine around his cup, some part of his mind clearly somewhere else. "You can leave as soon as you're ready."
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    Sieghard

    Sieghard nodded. "I think I know just the man for the job," he said, an idea beginning to come together in his head. "How urgent is Hildebrand's errand? I could have things arranged and set out tomorrow morning if need be. Or, if you prefer my men stay nearby in case Falkenwald means to play you false-" he continued, his tone making it clear that he thought Falkenwald was the sort who might, "I can wait until the fortress is in our hands and use the time to recruit."

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    Sforza shrugged. "Ask her," he said. "We have more than enough men to handle the Falcons."
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    Sieghard

    Sieghard returned to camp and found Ludo. "Walk with me for a bit," he said and began to recount his meeting with Sforza. "You've spent more time with her than me lately" he said once he had finished. "Do you have any idea what it is that Elsa's after?"
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    Ludo thought for a moment then shook his head. "She hasn't mentioned anything since Harmugstahl. There was one moment when the book opened when she and Adelbert went a bit funny, but she snapped out of it straight away? She's definitely not mentioned anything."

    "Although," he added, "you were there. It didn't look like the sort of place you'd find fabulous treasure in. She must have something in mind."
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    Sieghard

    "She really ought to tell us what she's got in mind before volunteering us to run off to who knows where," Sieghard grumbled. They were approaching where the halberdiers had set up their tents. "Soon as we're done with this I play on finding out,"

    "Oswald," he called out once he found the man, "Come here, I've got a job for you. Word's already spreading, so maybe you've heard... If the Falcons keep true to their word, in four days Bunthafen will be ours. Four days and the Captain plans on moving the Iron Company up to Alvarran to starve the Duke out, but he needs someone to hold the fortress for him. Do you think you're up to the task?"
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    Oswald looked a little suspicious at being called for, but puffed out his chest like a pigeon as soon as he heard why. "Hup to it? 'Course I'm up to it. Me and the boys was garrisoning the Keep for years before His Tilean Nibs came along." He paused, wondering if he had perhaps overstepped his bounds. "Meaning no offence to His Nibs, of course."
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