Shadow of a Horned God

Shadow of a Horned God, Part III, Act II, Session XI

Violence and Bloodshed

Our coterie stands in front of Gnaeus Septimus Luca, the Ventrue Methuselah who awoke from the Sleep of Ages in the aftermath of the earthquake caused by Castor’s koldunic magic. In their company is also Lancius, and Octavius asks him about his opinion on Octavius’ future endeavor, and receives a favorable answer, although Lancius will be too preoccupied with other things to involve himself directly. He will, however, write a document which ascertains his approval of Octavius’ plans. When the meeting is over, Luca returns to his haven beneath the ground, after informing that any future contact may be handled by Lancius, and the coterie goes on with various tasks, but most only wait for the arrival of their entourage.

Hector makes contact with Rogar, one of his ghoul servants traveling with the wagons, asking for a status report. He receives information about a large amount of warriors who are following the wagons, probably coming from the city of Londinium. Due to linguistic issues, however, he hasn’t been able to ask details from Zavid Bratovich, the leader of the revenants following Castor. Hector speaks with him in turn, and is informed that the warriors are estimated to number between three and four hundred. Also, one of Zavid’s men and Ymwrayhl have rode ahead to inform their masters in Calleva about the situation.

Vivia speaks with Lancius alone, asking about his situation and various informal matters. He gives his condolences for the death of her sire, and once again approves of her helping Octavius. There is simply too few Cainites in Britannia with noble intentions and ambitions. He wishes her good luck in the future, and hopes to see her again, not too far in the future.

Octavius soon encounters Ymwrayhl and the rider, receiving the same status report. The unknown warriors are traveling about half a day behind their own, who will be arriving in Calleva about daybreak. He gives orders to assume defensive positions as soon as they reach the ruins. He speaks with Hector, who again uses his Auspex Discipline to find out more about the unknown warriors. He manages to catch a glimpse of the Cainites in their company, and with the help of Octavius and simple sense ascertain their identity as Sextius Flavius Trebia, the famous strategist working for Rowena, and the Invincible Warmaster, Eldric. Octavius then goes to speak with Lancius.

The Elder isn’t very surprised about learning that Eldric is marching towards Calleva. According to him, he’s probably returning to finish the business he started the last time. He also hands over the document which he promised earlier. He hopes that the situation could be resolved peacefully, although he has little faith in the diplomatic will of Eldric.

Hector speaks with Trebia through Farsight, asking about their intentions. Although the Artisan doesn’t answer outright he leaves an impression of not being comfortable in his current situation. He’s obviously not the one behind this move. When asked about Rowena, he responds that she has disappeared. The conversation ends without any real progress, save impressions.

The coterie goes to sleep before sunrise. When they wake up, their followers have arrived, and have prepared defensive positions during the day. They receive information that the army of Eldric are stationed half a days journey east, and haven’t started moving yet. Fherah prepares herself mentally in Calleva’s old burial ground, which proves time-consuming. Vivia goes to speak with Imwreigh again, who is surprised to see the Ventrue again so soon. She informs him about the situation, and the Leper decides it is time for him to return to the world again, and offers to find out more about this.

Gaius, Octavius and Hector prepares themselves by exhausting their blood slaves more than usual, waiting anxiously for more information. Hector speaks with Trebia again, and learns that another army is advancing from the south, and is probably going to join their own. He then contacts Luca directly, which isn’t well-received by the Methuselah, who already knows of these turns of events. After speaking with Lancius a little while later, he finds out that neither he nor Luca will confront Eldric, instead choosing to leave Calleva altogether. When learning this, the coterie have a discussion about their course of action. Hector and Vivia vote for leaving, as there is little to be gained in trying to defend withered ruins against an overwhelming force of enemies, while Octavius and Gaius vote for staying here, taking the chance to crush the mayhem Eldric here and now. After failing to reach a unified decision, Hector prepares to leave Calleva by himself (and Fherah).

Imwreigh soon returns, and speaks with Vivia. He informs her that the army from the south is led by Godwin, the ruler of Anderida and the childe of Eldric. There is also a massive force arriving from the west, with unknown Cainite leadership. From the north comes Hefaistios, the Prince of Verulamium with a small personal guard alongside his aide, Caratacos. They seem to be surrounded. Imwreigh says that this is due to a civil war in the kingdom of the West Saxons after the death of King Aethelberth in Dumnonia by Celtic hands. His sons are vying for leadership, with the east faction led by Eadbald, his eldest son, who wants the country to return to their pagan faith and cast out the Christian faith, while the west faction is led by his younger son, Aethelwald, a devout Christian wanting to preserve the faith. The battle between their armies will surely occur somewhere in the area south of Calleva.

When learning this, Hector reluctantly decides to stay, knowing that there is little chance to escape any of these forces. He contacts Hefaistios, who is surprised to hear from him, and informs them of their “choices”. He demands on behalf of him and his “allies” that their coterie leave the south and return to Deva, unless they want to face destruction at the hands of Eldric (who seems to be on favorable terms with the fellow Artisan). The coterie continue to improve their defenses and prepare for battle. A few hours before sunrise, Eldric appear some 650 yards from the ruins and prepare a defensive camp. He has parted from the main force with about a hundred soldiers, about which half are trained ghoul warriors, still a formidable force. They also find out that Hildegard, having been freed from her “duties” by Lancius, have joined with the enemy. Octavius and Gaius set out to meet him halfway, while Hector tries to contact him from afar, but the Elder refuses to speak unless face-to-face.

Eldric proves to be a straightforward person, already set on his course of action. He explains that he is looking for a good fight, and hopes that the residents of Calleva will give him one. No arguments seem to be able to convince him otherwise. He explains that if anyone remains in Calleva by the next nightfall, they will be attacked.

The coterie engage in another discussion when Hector suggests that they themselves attack first before sunrise to catch the Elder unawares. Further intelligence have informed them that Hefaistios and Godwin won’t be arriving until shortly before sunrise. Octavius refuses, saying that such an action would surely be considered a great dishonor, even if it could lead to a great advantage. Hector reluctantly agrees to wait for the next night. The Cainites of Calleva prepare themselves for the next night. Octavius chooses another two soldiers and turns them into ghouls, while Vivia completes her seduction of Raul.

Nightfall hides the sun away, and Fherah prepare herself again, kneeling in the cemetery for an hour after waking. Castor is feeling even more weak tonight, but still prepares his defenses and a nasty surprise for the enemy. Just as the enemies are preparing to attack, he reaches out into the land to call forth a mighty earthquake. It has the desired effect. As the ground shakes and trembles, flying rocks and sharp stone wound the majority of the enemy forces, with Eldric’s ghoul warriors as a notable exception. He doesn’t hesitate to order the attack immediately. Fherah whispers the names of Eldric and Hefaistios into the wind, upsetting their bodily humors. Hector locates Eldric among the rushing warriors and calls forth a weakening curse upon him, before joining the battle. Among the first lines of defense stands Gaius, ready to spread havoc around him, and Octavius, with his third eye shining brightly as he dons the Armor of Caine’s Fury.

The battle is as short as it is bloody. Hector joins the fighting cautiously, managing to get himself staked during the first minutes. He is quickly rescued by Fherah who drags him out and removes the stake before assaulting Hefaistios on the northern flank. After receiving a few blows from the Artisan, she manages to lock him in her grasp and deliver the Kiss of the Dark Mother, instantly sending the “traitorous” Prince to Final Death. His guards turns around in flight as they see their master slain. Gaius frenzies at first, wreaking havoc among the enemy and causing massive casualties before regaining sanity and assaulting the southern flank. He slaughters the remaining enemies before engaging Godwin. Although a formidable opponent, the massive onslaught of the mighty Zealot warrior proves to much for the Artisan, and he is struck down and staked by Gaius as the battle nears it’s end.

Octavius sends himself at Eldric, cutting through his ghoul warriors to reach him. The Elder proves to be a tough opponent even with all the curses cast upon him, and Octavius is nearly struck down by his swift battle-ax. He manages to hold his ground until Hector returns and joins the fight. He manages to immobilize their foe with Rigor Mortis for a second, which is enough for Octavius to deliver the decisive blow. Eldric falls to the ground and is subsequently staked by the victor. The remaining wounded soldiers following Eldric stop, aghast from the sight of their “invincible” master struck down, allowing the dust to settle…

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Juniper

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