The address given by general Tarvin is well on the south side of Fol Thron. It is after dark as the party navigates the increasingly narrow and filthy streets, making their way to the appointed meeting place. They pass a number a barracks that house the portions of the Queen’s army that are currently in town and asleep. At length they come to a series of walled-in areas. Some seem to be drilling grounds (judging by the deep ruts of perfectly aligned footprints) while others are storage areas. There are very few lights in this part of town, and the darkness hampers there search for the right place.
They find general Tarvin and a force of six soldiers inside one of these walled areas. The soldiers stand in a crisp formation line behind him, facing forward, unmoving. The general and his men are in more or less the center of the field of packed dirt (in the center) and trampled grass (at the edges). Unlike other adjacent areas, this one is empty. There are no crates of war material, no archery targets, no shanty buildings, and no siege machines. The walls encompass an area of fifty meters. If the general suddenly decides to play some sort of sporting event, they will have plenty of room. They note that the surrounding stone wall is only five feet high, which is climbable to all but the short and encumbered Thordek (who could be pulled over by taller folks in a pinch). So they won’t be trapped, although scaling the wall in a fight might be tricky. They lament one more time that Eomer could not come with them.
Thu’fir rolls open the heavy black-iron gate and they enter. On the way here they have been talking about what an odd and unlikely meeting place this is. Perhaps the general believes the city to be so infested with spies that they must meet in this remote part of the city. Perhaps he is hiding is business from the queen. Perhaps he just wants a quiet place to dispatch them.
They cross the field and greet him. Tarvis smiles thinly in the dim moonlight. He welcomes them, and then begins reciting what sounds like a practiced speech, “Gentlemen, I know you are strangers in our land, and that this business is far beyond you. I apologize for the poor treatment given to you by our city today. I would like to make things right. I would also like to see the orb in safer hands. There is no need for you to face the armies of Mordan, and we are eager to see the orb in a more secure location. All you need to do is give me the orb, and you can go on your way”, he holds out his hand to receive the orb as he says this.
The party is a bit shocked at this. They have been looking for a way to unload the orb, but now that they are faced with someone who wants it, they are suspicious.
“Come now, give it here”, Tarvis says when they fail to respond.
The party gathers together and begins whispering among themselves. They obviously don’t trust this guy. They don’t know what his angle is, but they don’t want to go along with him, for no other reason than this whole setup feels fishy. Skeeve at last stammers, “I understand that you feel that this orb is not safe with me, but I assure you that Mordan will not find us for the time being. I have…”
Tarvis cuts him off, “What do you care what happens to the orb? This island is not your concern. Just surrender the orb and I will give you safe passage south where you can leave this island, and you need never worry about this again.”
Thu’fir jumps in, “Why do you wish to have the orb? Wouldn’t you rather we gave it directly to the Queen?”
Skeeve can see this last question has angered Tarvis, so he tries to smooth it out, “It’s not that we don’t trust you, it’s that we don’t know you. And it seems it would be wiser that we should…”
Tarvis extends his arm further and speaks menacingly, “Give. Me. The. Orb.”
The party can see where this is going. He’s not going to let them leave without the orb and they have decided not to let him have it. This saves them a lot of agonizing. This is going to turn into a fight sooner or later, so instead of puzzling over the general and his motives, they simply prepare (being as subtle as possible) for the inevitable. A smile comes over Thu’fir’s face. As a blade lord, he is eager to mix it up with a wizard. Thordek whispers to Skeeve, “I don’t wanna give it up. I got yer back.”
There is a long pause. At last Tarvis makes a gesture towards someone or something behind them, and they hear the heavy iron gate roll shut. His voice lowers, “I tire of debating with you. You are placing my entire island at risk with this nonsense. This will be the last time that I ask.”
Skeeve argues, “By giving you the orb we would be placing the island at even greater risk. You are not of…”
Tarvis is unable to hide his rage. His businesslike demeanor has been eroding as they spoke, and he is now openly threatening, “You are weak! Give me the orb!”
Thu’fir is sick of debate. He sees that battle is coming and doesn’t want to give the general the chance to strike first. He blows his horn at the general and his men. They are all knocked back a step and slightly stunned. The others surround the general and unleash their weapons on him. Thordek, seeing that the general is surrounded, leaps over to the the row of soldiers and attacks the one in the middle. He lets out a battle-cry and swings his mighty hammer. Perhaps his palms are sweaty, or perhaps the weight of the new hammer is unfamiliar to him. At any rate, he loses his balance and his grip on the handle, and manages to fling his weapon away, over the heads of the enemy.
This annoys Skeeve to no end. He was preparing to unload a fireball on the tight group of men, and now Thordek is in the middle of that group, unarmed, and on his ass. Skeeve lobs the fireball over their heads and at a point behind them. The moonlit arena is suddenly bathed in a brilliant orange glow and a few of the soldiers are set alight.
The battle is short. Their quick actions at the start of the fight ensured that the enemy never had the chance to mount a serious offensive. The general is cut down and most of the men die in flames. The smell of burning clothes and flesh fills the battlefield.
They find few clues and little else of use on their fallen foes. The general does have one telling item: A golden ring that is used to conceal one’s evil nature. So Tarvis served evil, whatever his intentions were. While removing his ring, they discover a tattoo on the back of his arm:
They step back and look around. The sounds of Thu’fir’s horn call and the ensuing battle were most likely audible for quite some distance. They are now standing over the slain body of a general and the smoking remains of six soldiers. Black smoke rises from the battlefield, hanging over their heads for all to see. The town watch would have to be blind, deaf, and unable to smell burning flesh in order for this to go unnoticed.
As they expected, a number of city watchmen are heading their way as they emerge from the gate. The guards look a little nervous. They demand the party stand forward and explain themselves. They try to sound menacing, but its clear they are ready to piss themselves. These simple men are not used to all-out combat within the city walls and can see they are outclassed.
The party makes a good show of “surrendering” to the guards, without actually giving up their weapons. The guards seem to be quite relieved when they see they are not going to be roasted on the spot. The party explains what has happened. They are brought (still armed) back to the local guardhouse and make a statement under Zone of Truth.
The watchmen listen to their tale and ponder it for a bit. It does seem strange to find General Tarvis (they are easily able to identify his body) holding a meeting with outsiders at night in this part of town. With the general unable to give his side of the story, the guards are more than happy to let them return to the inn while the city watch launches an investigation.
Dear Hollywood: Do a Mash Reboot
Since we're rebooting everything, MASH will probably come up eventually. Here are some casting suggestions.
Silent Hill 2 Plot Analysis
A long-form analysis on one of the greatest horror games ever made.
Was it a Hack?
A big chunk of the internet went down in October of 2016. What happened? Was it a hack?
The Best of 2015
My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2015.
DM of the Rings
Both a celebration and an evisceration of tabletop roleplaying games, by twisting the Lord of the Rings films into a D&D game.