Seeing grave danger, the Heroes slow to a halt.
Before them, arranged in a loose semi-circle, are five unique individuals. Their only common thread is arm-bands, bearing the sigil of the ST. GEORGE’S ARMY. The St. George’s Army is a Guild out of Meridian, known for its attachment to manners of business and affairs decidedly in the realm of shady, underhanded, criminal, unsavory, and evil by many definitions. This Guild is not formally opposed to Drake’s Dragoons, though the two Guilds have seen a relationship vary between generally neutral to moderately opposed, throughout their history. The arm-bands indicate affiliation and not membership – these characters are contracted mercenaries, not standing members.
The presumed leader is a pale, robed human; a Necromancy Sorcerer and Mind Spy named HAROLD MATA. As the focused and composed member of the group, Mata’s role has been to intimidate and corral the others into maintaining a mutual civility for the sake of accomplishing their individual (and by proxy, group) goals. A rising dark power in southern Corinthia, Mata’s target is the Spymaster, Genive. The Necromancer intends to slay Genive, steal away her corpse and Animate it such that he may compel it to give over the secrets of the Spymaster’s entrenched network of agents and operations.
By no means pleased to be affiliated with the Necromancer, the second member of this dangerous troop is an Elf Barbarian and Occult Slayer, TORRESH. Dedicated to hunting and exterminating arcane spellcasters, Torresh was hired to intercept and terminate with extreme prejudice the acidophile wizard, Jaques. The Occult Slayer spots his target among the Heroes, and watches with lethal focus.
Standing well apart from the Occult Slayer, towering above the rest, is the Half-Giant Wizard, RETSEL. A student and devotee of the School of Evocation, whose forbidden school is Conjuration, Retsel’s unbridled hate for Halfling Lester, Conjuration Wizard whose forbidden school is Evocation, is readily apparent. His is a hatred fuelled by evil and provoked by the pride of opposed schools about to meet in direct mage combat. It took little bribery for the St. George’s Army agents to set Retsel on a path to this confrontation.
A frothing, gibbering, roaring, boasting tangle of raw nerves and energy and fury, the Half-Orc Fighter and Reaping Mauler, HURTFUL DARKNESS, is held back from instant violence but no discernable force or logic. The fourth member of this crew, the legendarily evil and horrifyingly strong wrestler need only to be told that there were worthy opponents he might engage and kill with his bare hands. Hurtful Darkness showed a modicum of restrain by not killing both of the St. George’s Army agents when one suggested he go for the Half-Orc fighter Kartug Igmutin first.
The last of the group stands at odds in almost all regards, from the gang described. Placid, well in control, not the least bit fearful of her miscreant associates, the human Fighter and Duelist GRACE McMASTER has only eyes for the Swashbuckler, Dread Pirate Wobberts. At first sight she beams broadly, a playful smirk at her lips, sizing up her intended target and disarming him with her eyes. She is a delicate but deadly creature, a trophy-hunter and thrillseeker disappointed only in her company and at the thought that so graceful and elegant as duel as she intends to win over the local-legend Wobberts, may come to suffer interference in the tangled melee of battle.
There was to have been a sixth, a Githzerai Samurai named KYUZO WIND, and unusual fighter meant to engage Arxius Cole had he been present with the Heroes in this encounter as expected. Certainly this confrontation would have settled the eternal power struggle that is Wind vs. Cole.
In his role as de-facto leader, Harold Mata holds up his hand in welcome to the Heroes. Pausing frequently in his speech to the newcomers, to restrain by veiled threat of force the desires within certain members of the band to immediately launch into attack, Mata seems to offer the possibility of compromise.
His interest is in the map, he says, that which the Heroes possess and which details the heart of Moonwatch Tower and all her secrets. If the Heroes will hand it over, Mata suggests that perhaps not all of the Heroes need die terribly. Except the Spymaster, who is of personal interest to him.
McMaster complains to Mata, reminding him that her interest “is in that delightful specimen over there” (meaning Wobberts) and that he should speak for himself and the others, as he does not do so for her. Torresh and Restel add their dissent. Hurtful Darkness fits and starts, wishing only to be released from hold. It is clear to the Heroes that this group is barely held together, and violence bursts from its seams at any instant.
Genive has an idea in mind, but as she steps forward to engage in parlay with the evil Necromancer, Jaques unwisely draws forth his Rod of Quickening. Immediately spotted as an aggressive action by Torresh and Half-Giant Restel, the thin threads of diplomacy are severed.
Initiative is called; the fight begins.