The Vulture or the Raven, Chapter 2


The Vulture or the Raven, Chapter 2

After the battle with the Sand Devils, the party, consisting of Athicus the assassin, Irem the archer, the warriors Valerius and Beowulff, Benit the Guide, and Sakumbe the former slave, march north-east along the Asgalun river. Athicus ensured the party was not followed closely by the Sand Devils.

The next day, the party awoke to a downpour. The rains lasted all day. They arrived in the city of Kyros in the evening, purchased a ferry ride across the Asgalun, and paid the ferryman extra to stay on this side of the river.

While they were enjoying an evening in the traveler’s inn, carousing and wenching, Valerius noticed a desperate merchant attempting to buy the ferryman’s services. The ferryman deferred the inquiries to Valerius who rebuffed the merchant’s pitiful offers.

Sensing an opportunity, Athicus approached the merchant. The merchant agreed to pay Athicus 500 silver, payable on the next day, to eliminate Valerius as an obstacle, thus freeing the ferry for use. Athicus talked Valerius into releasing the ferry and the pair provided unarmed escort to the merchant, his guard, and his cargo, across the river. Athicus and Valerius manned the ferry themselves. Sakumbe and Benit posed as fellow travelers taking advantage of the ferry back to Kyros.

On the way, Athicus noted the sound of mewling babes in the merchant’s covered cart. He informed the others secretly. They decided to follow the merchant to his destination to learn the identity of his client.

While Benit, Sakumbe, and Valerius obtained a covered cart of their own from the night-time stables of Kyros, Athicus observed the merchant riding into the Temple of Cult of Set on the north side of town. No doubt about it, the merchant was to sell the infants to the cult. Infants born but a month ago, during the ultra-rare conjunction of the Seven Wanderers, would be especially useful for dark rituals. The merchant and his cart were taken inside while his 5 guard were left outside the gate.

Athicus stole over the wall surrounding the temple while Benit, Sakumbe, and Valerius approached the gate, pretending to be competing merchants with another delivery. The guards at the gate attempted to turn the cart away, leading to a stand-off. When Valerius, walking behind the cart, made his appearance known, challenging all the guards to stand down, all but the guard captain fled for their lives. About this time, Irem woke from a drunken stupor in the back of the cart, having passed out there hours before. The guard captain was soon dispatched. Meanwhile, Athicus silently climbed the tower at the center of the temple and descended through the opening at the top of the tower.

Just as the guard captain fell to the ground, the gate opened, revealing the exiting merchant, his servants and cart, and several temple acolytes. The party at the gate sprang into action to prevent the closure of the gate doors, gaining entry into the stables beyond the outer gate.

A bloody battle raged as the group pressed past the merchant’s cart and managed to block the inner gate doors with the bodies of fleeing acolytes and even that of the merchant, dropping his pay which was quickly scooped up by a fleeing acolyte.

Inside the inner gate doors, the party encountered stronger resistance in the form of temple guard. The intensity of the battle increased as more guard rushed to the aid of their brothers to repel the assault. Meanwhile, Athicus snuck up from behind and joined the fray.

Eventually, after the death of 6 guards the flight of 3 others, the party made their way up the stairs into the sanctum at the base of the tower, the tower that Athicus had descended moments earlier. The tower base consisted of a ledge surrounding a deep pit, over which was hung a great burning brazier suspended by chains, casting an evil red glow to the room. Another chain was affixed to an iron framework to which a human sacrifice could be tied and slowly burned alive above the brazier. The Hooded Cobra likeness of the god Set loomed over the raised altar on the south side of the room. The tower loomed 80 feet above, rain water fell through the opening in the top, steaming off the brazier below. The bottom of the pit was lost to darkness.

Standing before the altar was the High Priest of Set flanked by two burly Priests, who must have entered from the far entrance just after Athicus had left the room. The High Priest’s arms were raised, holding a screaming squirming infant. Two other infants sizzled in the brazier below, their tiny burning bodies filling the room with acrid porcine odor, and the lurid yellow steam of burning human fat.

To be continued!

More adventure can be seen at the Argosy of Blood website at
Nobody seems to be replying to these posts, so I will. ES, I check here once a day to see if you have posted an update on your game. These are a great read during lunch and certainly give me some outstanding ideas. Thanks for taking the time to share your game with us!
Hrothgar said:
Nobody seems to be replying to these posts, so I will. ES, I check here once a day to see if you have posted an update on your game. These are a great read during lunch and certainly give me some outstanding ideas. Thanks for taking the time to share your game with us!

Thanks Hrothgar. It's nice to hear someone enjoys the write-ups.

I primarily write these synopses for my players. I e-mail them to our group mailing list, and post them to the web-site. I figure, while I've got it on the clipboard, I might as well post it here too. My hope is to show other players and GMs what we're doing with the game.

After Argosy of Blood, one of the big comments I got as feedback from my players was less monsters and more human NPCs. Argosy of Blood had a lot of dinosaurs, and they felt too much like they were playing D&D. They wanted more historically-inspired stories, emulating Gladiator, Troy, 13th Warrior, and the Conan movies. So Vulture or the Raven is my response.

I've also ditched the "quest to save the world" story of Argosy, which was too linear and removed a lot of player control. If the players feel they have to save the world, they'll feel forced down a certain path. So Vulture or the Raven is more free-form, less destination-driven.

Also, the last two sessions were almost completely ad-libbed on the spot. I had some NPC stats written down, but that was about it. I created the story in response to the player characters' actions and the players' expectations. The merchant with the babies and the temple of set was all completely improvised from minute to minute!