With food in their stomachs and a small rest done with, not to mention the revelations brought to them by the Zodiac of the Orbis, our PCs set into various preparations for the plan ahead.
Niel goes to talk with Scorpio, whom he had been calling “Aunt Scorp” during the meetings with the Zodiac. Wolfgang likely goes to his room to prepare with copious drinking and perhaps some writing, and Hector practices his swordplay with Chef. I’m not sure what happened to Yung and Eumenes at this point.
Hector and Chef, with Chef’s nimble dodging and use of thrown knives and Hector’s increased use of bludgeoning strikes, manage to absolutely destroy the workout equipment and the room surrounding it. They realize this only after stopping their practice, and both leave before anyone comes by without cleaning up after themselves. Hector goes to bathe, then eat, the efforts of the training making him sweaty and hungry.
Eumenes and Yung also decide more food is better at this point, and both head over to the cafeteria. Yung goes and talks with Chef, learning more about what foods the Zodiac and their retinues eat. Then the gregarious young lady goes to speak with a dour man with an eyepatch brooding in the corner, who turns out to be Corbis?. This is only discovered after Eumenes makes the opportunity to sit down next to Yung and also wheedle the man for information. The conversation between them goes well.
Hector, having decided that Yung and Eumenes had their new friend talking, and therefore not hostile, decides to finish what’s left of his sandwich with Antonio. They speak idly about how important staying nourished before a mission was, and how such skills were lacking in the Knight’s Academy curriculum. Hector leaves once finished to write a letter, of which he does not send.
Niel, once his conversation with Scorpio is finished, also goes to the cafeteria. After spending some time there, he heads to the gym, of which previously noted, had been trashed by earlier use. Niel forgoes using the damaged equipment and uses a hot water pipe running through the room for exercise, scorching his calves in the process. Proceeding this, he practices his kicks, causing more strain to his already tortured limbs. Niel then is satisfied, and goes to talk with Libra about makeup for their disguises.
Eumenes delves deep into the libraries of the Orbis’ fortress, looking for a (relatively) up-to-date schematic of the Imperial Citadel, and Yung helps after he finds one such. They make copies of the map for Niel, Hector, and Wolfgang (or Dunsten), figuring that they would make use of them most efficiently since Eumenes was to be with Taurus and Antonio. They deliver the first of such to Hector, while he’s writing his letter.
Eumenes largely delivers the map with an explanation of what it is before moving on; Yung, however, decides to ask Hector if he sees similarities in how the PCs act, and how the Zodiac of the Orbis seems to act. The man thinks for a minute before trying to say that he saw parallels, but not so much division within the PCs that they would act completely independently. Yung thinks it over herself and asks if Hector needed her help for anything currently, before he declines politely and gets back to his letter.
Yung catches up to Eumenes as they go next to Niel, who is quite conveniently with the Doctor and Libra. The three realize that no one has told the Doctor what they’re about to do yet, so Niel broaches the subject. The Doctor takes this with his usual moxie, having heard about Taurus’ plan to use Galahad before and basically just accepting that the PCs are going with it. There is mutual assent, and Niel remembers that he needs makeup from Libra while Eumenes talks to the Doctor about securing an escape vehicle and Yung brings a couple theories she crafted to the Doctor’s attention.
After this, the PCs settle in again for sleep. In the morning, they discuss the details of how they’re to cross Northern Blackenvein while trying to keep Galahad relatively concealed, waiting in the ramp bay of the
flying totally mountain-crossing fortress. Eumenes also treats Niel’s burns during this time. It’s eventually settled that the bulk of the travel would be done at night, when Galahad would be less conspicuous to move, and that he would be concealed as a small hill during the day by Niel. The group also decides to make last-minute stops along the towns in the area for essentials they couldn’t obtain or hadn’t thought about, and then they set out, Hector setting a neat path through the countryside. Taurus is also set to look out for any pursuit they might have caught along the way, but doesn’t notice anything.
The trip planned as thus actually goes as thus. The group splits once they reach the major shipping river between them and Bythitor; Galahad, Dunsten, and Wolfgang all cross at once, while the rest cross as incognito as they can over the nearest bridge. They pass by an army supply truck going the other way, but remain undetected.
Once they approach the outer walls of the citadel city itself, Yung (and Lord Marshmellow Fluffykins III) break off to find a place to lay low before making the light-explosion/distraction. Those remaining enter into a sewage outflow, and most everyone gags, barely able to hold their stomachs, as they go right into the stink to avoid too many questions. Everyone holds onto what they’ve eaten, however, and between Eumenes’ (only somewhat outdated) map of the place and odd mechanical ferret, with Niel’s pathfinding and intuitive sense of direction, they make it to the sewer grate just outside the Imperial Prison without incident. Though for some reason, Dunsten kept on saying how much he was fine and unbothered by the smell, to Hector’s irritation.
They stop for a time while Niel observes the patrols made above and finds their patterns, while also checking if any had keys or other important items with his manifestation. The professional spy also attempts to learn about the interior of the citadel, but none of the guards he manages to possess go inside much, if at all, and certainly none into the prison proper. This information gathering relents once Niel has a solid enough grasp of the patrols around them to sneak himself, Eumenes, Hector, and Taurus onto the street above and into the city to grab bodies to swap. The Tektallian Knights shed their armor and most of their weapons — Hector brings along his flanged mace.
There’s a slight hiccup here. While they had maps of the citadel and the sewers, no one had brought a map of the city around or above those things, respectively. At first, Hector thinks to ask directions politely, but then realizes that this would be a poor choice in the Arcadisian capitol.
Eumenes steps up to lie smoothly about having business with a crematorium, and gets directed to a funeral home. Taurus and Hector play off of Eumenes’ assumed persona of a self-centered arrogant person of self-authority, and begin acting like big, dumb, Tektallian bodyguards. Niel takes to something more his own skillset, trailing the three and disassociating with them.
At the funeral home, Eumenes opens nearly immediately on the receptionist with a sucker-punch lie of utter conviction, “I’ve come here for the bodies I’m promised.” The receptionist takes a moment to be in utter shock, and Eumenes demands again. The receptionist stammers something about getting her manager and offering honeyed water. Both come along, and Eumenes similarly disarms the manager with his forceful persona.
The manager blabbers something about never having dealt with an Islander and that the bodies shouldn’t be used for “those” purposes. Eumenes fumes at this perceived slight and threatens the man, and Hector, seeing a nice spot to show some initiative, steps forward intimidatingly. The manager is cowed by both Eumenes and Hector, though Eumenes snaps at Hector to step back before turning his attention back to the Arcadisian. Niel, trying to stay unimportant, struggles to hold back his laughter.
The group is redirected to a nearby pauper’s funeral service and morgue after this. Once sufficiently away from the funeral home, Eumenes apologizes to Hector for his rudeness, and Hector comments on how good Eumenes’ improvisation was. To this, Eumenes states that it wasn’t improvisation, but that he was emulating one of the men he grew up under. Hector deflates a tad at this, and the group resumes its facade as it heads to the cheap, sufficiently shady pauper’s morgue.
Eumenes tries securing a male and female body, but as fate would have it, there were apparently no female deaths routed to the pauper’s morgue in the past week. Taurus makes a comment about a particularly effeminate body, to everyone’s amusement, and the group walks out with two body bags back to the sewer grate. Niel makes a stop over at a florist, picking up some nice-smelling flowers.
Niel rubs petals on everyone’s upper lips, cutting the edge off the sewer smell. Antonio, having been left behind, almost ominously stated that he’d almost gotten used to the stench of the sewer. Hector sets a watch while Niel collects more information, and the day passes.
Yung, a small ways out of the capitol city as the plan dictated and having checked her distance, prepares to spring the distraction with Lord Marshmellow Fluffykins III. Just before executing it, though, Yung asks the rat if he could bend the light to seem as if it was going towards the city rather than at the sky. Fluffykins can’t quite manage it, but the explosion itself goes off and does exactly what it needs to.
Hector is the first to see the new daylight through the grate, and wakes Niel, whom had gone to sleep in the intervening time. Everyone prepares for their entrance, and the inevitable combat to come. After hearing smashing buildings, seeing the light of flames grow more prominent, and feeling the rumble around them as Galahad makes his way to the prison’s wall, Niel uncovers the sewer grate as their senses are bombarded by the huge SG making their entry point. Hector is the first through.
There is an immediate patrol that is utterly focused on Galahad, and, the Knight notices as he approaches the prison, a shellshocked crossbowman on the wall. Hector points the man out to the others, and Eumenes takes a shot while Neil scrambles up the shorn stone. The man winces in pain at the shot from the blunt, heavy arrow, before Niel reaches him and strikes him down with an uppercut. There wasn’t even a bolt in the crossbow.
Another guard, on the ground, notices the group going through the wall and surges forward to stop them while letting up a warning cry. Hector charges the man, and swings high with his mace, causing the man to duck out of the way. Eumenes takes a shot into the man’s guts while Niel flies from the wall to land a kick on his chin, and he’s out like a light.
They rush into the central area, and there the group splits once more. Niel and Hector head towards Porthos in one direction, while Eumenes, Taurus, and Antonio go for Marielle in the opposite direction. Both groups encounter a group of guards.
Niel and Hector mutually agree to a strategy of divide and conquer, Niel heading left with two guards coming at him while Hector went right with two guards at him, with the last doing hand gestures and concentrating. Niel lashes out at his nearest opponent’s weak armor points, severely hampering the man. Hector similarly lashes out at his first opponent, winding him and nearly knocking him unconscious in a pair of blows.
Eumenes fares better, taking a shot on one of his foes while two guards are felled by the Silver Knights in front of him, Antonio wielding a deactivated chainsaw and Taurus actually using his manifestation — and no small amount of his armor — to toss metal or shape gauntlets.
The guards’ reaction is swift, fitting their station. Though no headway is made against the Silver Knights, the combat manifester against Eumenes rouses one of his fellows with healing. Niel is attacked by both of the men near him, and dodges one blow, but doesn’t manage to turn aside the other. Hector fares well against the attacks, one guard swiping far too soon and missing outright while the other is parried by the Knight’s buckler. As it would turn out, the man doing gestures was another combat manifester, and at this point fires three salvos of three energy blasts at what he perceives is the biggest threat. Hector takes two searing blasts, grunting with the pain of them.
Niel couter-strikes against his opponents decisively. He downs one guard to simply force the other to back towards his allies, getting less room to work with. Then he does a final strike to down the man, and rushes for the manifester. Eumenes strikes at the healer with his bow, dealing a moderate blow to the man’s body. The guards actually have a moment on the Silver Knights, and give them some flesh wounds while only suffering an additional casualty. Hector gives the man he parried a hard knock to the helmet, causing the man to not fall unconscious, but to without a doubt be out of the fight.
Niel moves towards the manifester, but he’s not quite fast enough. The man raises his hand to shoot his energy bolts, and Niel steps into the man’s grip to avoid them. This actually works well, and Niel is only hit once to any detrimental degree. Niel then cuts the legs out from under the manifester, before using the gravity of the fall and another swift strike to the chin to defeat another enemy.
Eumenes is having some difficulties, as one of the guards rushed forward to attack him in earnest. Not wanting to get gutted, he hides behind one of the now-animated corpses. The body takes a hideous slash across most of its midsection, and Eumenes makes a shot from behind the body, for now in relative safety. Taurus and Antonio regain their momentum, and take down their opponents.
Hector quite simply gives the guard in front of him a firm blow, and the man falls. The Knight then steps over to his other opponent and makes him go to sleep with another hard knock to the noggin. Niel looks over to Eumenes, still struggling with his last enemy, and calls over if Eumenes needs any help. The Stravosi declines, and slips around his zombie once more to loose again at his assailant. With that, the fight is over, as there are (conveniently) no more guards in the immediate area.
Niel searches for keys on the unconscious guards nearest himself and Hector, finds a a set, and starts trying them swiftly but surely in the locks to the double doors separating him from his path. On the other side of the cell block, Taurus demonstrates his disregard for architecture and doors as he simply manifests the doors out of his way.
Eumenes and his group delve into their near-deserted cell block, knowing that Marielle is to be kept in the most secure areas. Niel and Hector also immediately advance towards their deeper cells, knowing that Sir Porthos wouldn’t be held by simpler means, though their path is more occupied.
As it turns out, Princess Marielle of Tektallium, Empress of Arcadis, had been treated very poorly. She was malnourished, and emicated. Muscle atrophy from being caged in such a small space for so long had withered her, not to mention whatever she had been fed obviously not providing for her. Antonio and Taurus tear into her cell, and she and her Knights share a heartfelt reunion.
On the opposite coin, Sir Porthos Platt, Queen’s Blade to Cordelia Cahal, Silver Knight of Tektallium and ringleader of the Western Rebellion, had merely been treated roughly. He had been beaten, and was chained such that he could only self-propel himself to the edges of his cell, though he seemed healthy enough for a prisoner of around a month. When Niel and Hector approached, he even thought it was the usual guard come around for a bet, until he wasn’t met with the usual response. Then he floated himself from his restive position at the top of his cell to inspect the newcomers, when Hector banged out his receive signal on the metal edge of his buckler. The two had a small back an forth before Hector set to watch while Niel worked on the lock.
Luckily, both parties had opened up their cells and sent in their zombie before Eumenes had ceased his manifestation causing them to fall into dust. Then both groups set their flash paper and marked each cell with Heather’s stylized M, before packing in their charges and heading back for the entrance.
::: Time allotment for extraction of prisoners: 5 minutes.
Time allotment for exfiltration after extraction: 5 minutes.
Time in operation: ~4 minutes.
Alterations of plan: Guards saw the bodies Eumenes had.
Major incidents: None.
Possible resistance to extraction: Moderate; Imperial Guards, city watch. Severe: The Bladeborn returning too soon, possible spies following us. :::
However, not all is well with Yung. After she set off the explosion, she had an encounter unbeknownst to everyone else, before she had gotten all the way to the escape truck.