Prologue: Lion, Gear and Chain   Leave a comment

Prior to embarking on the pilgrimage to Nowhere, each of our three heroes underwent a small test of their personal character. All emerged intact, though some skirted the edge of disaster in doing so.

[PCs are BOLD AND CAPITALIZED; NPCs we’re likely to meet again are bold and lower case]

CAPTAIN HALFORD MANX was called on the carpet for a court of inquiry by the Muster. Notes of complaint and disciplinary notices had been flooding Aragon for almost a year, but Manx had not been responding. All his attention had been focused on finding his missing son, Halford Jr. (commonly “Hal”). Manx could no longer avoid responsibility, however, and was summoned to the Muster Enclave in Leagueheim.

At the court of inquiry, Manx was disheartened to find that Major Lexa Cassardi, a rival of his for the post on Aragon, was in attendance. As the Colonel read out the list of faults held against Manx, Major Cassardi added several pointed questions. She grilled him on using Muster resources to find his son, last seen on Vera Cruz.

Major Lexa Cassardi, Muster Guild

Manx’s long years of service earned him an honorable discharge from the Muster, rather than a dishonorable boot to the rear. Further, Major Cassardi let slip a valuable piece of intel. “Can we trust Manx in a position of authority?” she asked. “Vera Cruz was bad enough. What if he sends a team off to Ukar next time? It …” She shut up, realizing she’d said too much. But the hope that his son had been seen on Ukar lit up Manx’s eyes.

[We really played up the corporate aspects of this drumming out: Manx was summoned from Aragon to “re-evaluated his priorities”; he was grilled over “misallocation of assets”; etc. I foresee some gentle middle management satire in the future.]

APPRENTICE FARRAGUS HAWTHORNE was studying an ancient think terminal when he was called to a meeting of his own. Engineer Hazuki Long had heard of Hawthorne’s correspondence with senior members of the Order on A.I., particularly on the lost programming language Suprema. Engineer Long let Hawthorne in on a secret: the pilgrimage to Nowhere was being revived, and he had “good information” that a low-ranking Engineer might be allowed to go. Hawthorne was charged with applying for the pilgrimage. He was then given … a depressingly picayune question about a long-dead Second Republic researcher.

Engineer Hazuki Long

Realizing the import of his assignment, Hawthorne negotiated to be put in charge of any research team that sprung from his findings. Long agreed, with reluctance, provided that Hawthorne bring a senior member of the Order with him as a guardian (read: babysitter). Hawthorne made the case for his fellow Apprentice Ferizio, fudging the truth a little to get Long’s approval.

“I didn’t realize Ferizio was considering Brother Battle orders before joining the Engineers.”

“Oh, yes. Very tenacious. Saved us several times, er, yes.”

Finally, VICTOR HYPERIUS SWINDON, a distant cousin of the Hawkwood lineage, was confronted by his mother after showing up late to a dinner party on their Ravenna estate. Swindon, a sarcastic scholar, preferred to while away his hours in theological debates with Fr. Flavian, an Eskatonic monk studying at Castillo Theological University. His mother, Baroness Beatrice Swindon, had bigger things in mind for him: a marriage to Lady Maryam Windsor, another distant cousin of the Hawkwood lineage.

“She’s clever,” his mother said, “and absolutely gorgeous. Think of it: a line of children with the Swindon nose and the Windsor jaw. They’ll be the toast of the galaxy.”

“So long as they don’t get the Windsor nose and the Swindon jaw,” young Victor replied.

“That was uncalled for.”

Baroness Beatrice Swindon, of the Ravenna Swindons

Swindon consented to the marriage, but only on the grounds that his younger brother take over the duties of house stewardship. “Fine; you’ve been neglecting them anyway.” He also skirted out from under his mother’s request that he stay put on Ravenna for the foreseeable future, using a bit of his nascent telepathic talents to do so. This would allow him to research the theory that had embarrassed the Swindons so much: that Emperor Alexius was not legitimately descended from the Hawkwood line.

[I used the name “Windsor” on the spot, remembering that I’d read about them under the minor houses. Only after the fact did I page through the book and realize that the Windsors are an extinct minor house. Retroactive continuity! The Windsors are now a small but surviving minor house, clinging to power by having married into the Hawkwoods. The Swindons were made up by Victor’s player and are in much the same boat.]

Chapter One.

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Posted August 23, 2011 by John Perich in Uncategorized

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