In the squalid prison beneath Akrium, on the island of Tammasos, hope abandons the condemned faster than a sailor spends money in a brothel. Light is scant, and what little there is, emanates from the grate twelve feet above the cell, which serves as the only way in and out. The air is hot and fetid, and the reek of human filth is overpowering. The only contact with the world above is when a new prisoner joins the condemned — or when a guard relieves himself through the grate.
The Journeyman sits chained to a wall, his arms drawn high above his head. Rusted metal chafes his wrists, but the Journeyman is silent, enduring the ordeal — and his fate — with stoic repose. He’s not alone; four others are likewise imprisoned. No-one speaks, each lost to their thoughts, and the light is too dim to make out much detail of the other prisoners.
Perception check with DC 18 Rolled 13 (+1 Wis bonus) Check failed
The monotony and fatalistic silence is broken when the grate opens, and the light of a torch floods casts a bright glow. At that moment, the Journeyman gets his first proper look at the other prisoners. Two are soldiers — palace guardsmen, half-stripped of their livery and beaten black and blue, their expressions utterly despondent. A woman sits opposite him, eying him through round eyes, her skin so dark it gleams almost gold in the torchlight. The remaining prisoner glowers at the Journeyman through cold blue eyes, his fair skin marking him as a Northerner from beyond the mountains of Messenia.
Insight check with DC 15 Rolled 3 (+1 Wis bonus) Check failed
The Journeyman wonders why he deserves such a look of hostility, but he can’t recall seeing the man before.
A ladder drops through from above. “Get your arse down there,” says a guard.
The ladder creaks as another prisoner climbs into the pit, the guard following moments later. The new prisoner looks out of place — well-dressed in the robes of a courtier. His nails are painted gold and his face is streaked with sweat and makeup. He looks to be in his late 20s and is quite talkative, his spirit not yet broken.
The guard roughly shoves him to a wall and chains him in place. The guard makes a rude comment, which the man quickly counters, drawing a snigger from above. The guard spits in the man’s face and departs up the ladder.
The guards depart, taking the torch with them. As the light fades, the new prisoner begins chatting with anyone who will answer, seemingly unfazed by his predicament and having no problems discerning the Journeyman and other prisoners in the dark.
In the awkward conversation we learn:
- The new prisoner is, or rather was, the court’s official poet, who shamelessly admits to sexual relations with both the king and queen — and a laundry list of other dignitaries.
- A palace coup has broken out, and the fall-out has led to their imprisonment.
An hour or so later, the grate opens again, only this time there’s no new prisoner, but instead the Inquisitor pays them a visit. He’s very tall, slender and thoroughly evil — though he does enjoy his work, and there’s something to be admired in a man who’s achieved a measure of job satisfaction. He addresses the Journeyman and we learn:
- The Journeyman was seemingly part of a foreign entourage caught up in the coup, however they denied knowledge of him
- The Inquisitor wants to know who he represents and why he was in the palace
- The foreign power is perhaps involved to the coup
- The Inquisitor reveals that ordinarily he would torture him for answers, but hasn’t the time, suggesting perhaps the coup’s leader is not yet in complete control
- The Inquisitor informs them they are all to die at dawn
The Inquisitor leaves, and the prisoners talk among themselves, and we learn:
- The sinister fellow and the dark-skinned woman are accomplices in a plot foiled unwittingly by the Journeyman.
- The Poet reveals he intends on escaping, but admits he needs help.
At first, it seems their differences and sense of fatalism is too great, and trust in the flamboyant Poet isn’t coming. The Journeyman attempts to read the Poet.
Insight check with DC 10 Rolled 7 (+1 Wis bonus) Failed check
The Poet is much too difficult to read, but the Journeyman realises they have little choice but to trust him. He convinces the others to at least hear out the plan. When the Poet says he only needs the Journeyman’s help, the Journeyman counters saying it must be all or nothing.
Reluctantly, the prisoners agree to set aside their differences, hear out the Poet’s plan and agree to attempt escape.
End of session 1
Join me next week to find out if the Journeyman and his motley associated escapes the Arsehole of Akrium, or I suffer a Total Party Kill and have to start over again!