Prelude: Alexei

A well dressed man with the look of the military about him sat at a table in a Villa in Autun, casually dining on the local faire with a cup of wine, a staff leaning against his chair. Sitting with him at the table is a tall hard looking man wearing a stiffened leather hauberk covered in metal rings also picking at the selection of cheeses and game hen, an unstrung crossbow by his feet. His hat doesn't completely cover his mangled and scarred ear, little more than a crumpled lump of tissue.

The well dressed man strokes his trimmed beard, the only indication of what his age might be, perhaps late thirties? He reaches into a pouch and pulls out a folded piece of vellum and re-reads it.

"So is that where we're going?" asks the other man gruffly in German. He nods and puts the paper away once he's finished reading it. The other man merely grunts and tears into another piece of a chicken. The other man reaches for his wine as suddenly a young lad in his teens runs up to their table.

"Master Alexei!" he says excitedly in Latin. The bearded man he addressed looks up and smiles, reaching over to tossle the boy's hair. "I found a guide, he'll be willing to take us on the morrow! He said he knows all about the ruins and has been leading masons and strange folk there lately!" the boy seemed quite excited and pleased with himself.

"I take it the local dialect was not an issue?" Alexei says as he reaches back into his pouch and pulls forth a silver penny and hands it to the boy who takes it eagerly. He then looks at the boy rather seriously. "And Brione is on the road and out of sight?" the boy's smile fades.

"Yes Master Alexei, though he whined that ye did not enchant him today..." Alexei nodded at that.

"Very well, have some supper, we'll stay at the villa tonight and head out upon the morn." Alexei gestures to the array of food on the table and gestures for the woman that had been serving them to bring more.

Shortly after the sun sets, Alexei emerges from an alley, his recent protective measures re-applied with the setting sun. He took the road to the outskirts of town, keeping an eye out for a rather...unique looking man. Hunched under a cloak, a hulking fellow approaches Alexei, though he is misshapen he walks without a limp. Pulling back his hood reveals his nearly hairless skull, wipsy strands here and there, and a disfigured face with a cleft palate.

"Master Alexei..." he says with a slight lisp as he approaches.

"Brione. You have kept an eye on the approach? The ones we're looking for? You saw no one?" Alexei asked, keeping his staff in front of him.

"I have Master. I will watch all night also. will be easier...perhaps with your gift?" he asks as he wrings his hands. Alexei sighs and nods. The one named Brione seems overjoyed and takes a knee in front of Alexei. Alexei merely takes on a look of concentration and then taps the staff on the big man's shoulder. Brione nearly drools as he feels the rush of arcane energy and inhales deeply as a scent of his mother's laundry wafts from Alexei. When Brione looks up, the waning light reflects eerily off his shining eyes.

"Thank you Master! Thank you!" he says as he nearly stumbles forward so he can kiss Alexei's hand. Alexei has a very uncomfortable look on his face as this continues.

Back at the Villa the young man named Helmut brings a steaming bowl to a grizzled man that had arrived with the rest of the party, though he was being brought along in a simple cart. The reason was obvious; the man's legs were twisted and frail and would not hold his weight. "Thank ye boy." he mumbled as he took the bowl and wooden spoon. The big man that had sat with Alexei earlier was also in the room, enjoying some ale. "Now get to bed. Alexei will be mighty displeased if ye ain't asleep when he returns."

Upon the morning Akexei steps from his room when the sun has risen. He wears an elegantly crafted suit of fine chain which he carries upon his frame as if it wear merely a thick tunic, his tabard displays in fine stitching an hourglass in gold thread, mounted upon a spear as if it were a lantern. The big man named Michelle was wearing his armour as well and had donned a tabard with a similar though less prominent emblam upon the breast. The man with the crippled legs struggled to get upright using his crutch and he bows once he does so. The young lad Helmut exits his master's room after helping him don the armour he had conjured from the air, he as well wore the emblam upon his simple tunic.

"My lord." the innkeeper says, while his daughters who had been changing the rushes on the floor stand and curtsey. The lad Helmut hurries over the innkeeper and places coins in his hand.

"Forgive my master...he must go and...rescue pigs from their terrible enslavement; truly my lord's valor is boundless. He wishes to thank you as well for your overflowing bounty, and the privy was quite fresh." Alexei raised an eyebrow at that but it was obvious he only understood a word or two. The innkeeper and his daughters looked at Alexei in confusion while Michelle is struggling to contain his laughter and chuckles. Helmut bows again and heads to the side of the crippled man named Gunnar. He understood most of what was said, as was obvious by the cuff to the side of the lad's head he delievered once he was in reach.

Alexei raised an eyebrow but kept his composure as they stepped outside where the carts were ready, a large hulking man covered in a cloak had attended to the luggage upon waking. Near the cart was a smartly dressed young man wearing the local fashion and bearing a sword and well used boots.

"Magister Alexei? I come from Magister Apollodorus, and would like to welcome you to his home. My name is Henri, if you will just follow me." he says and then bows. Helmut leans close to Alexei.

"He is the man I spoke with yesterday...I didn't know he was part of his home though."

The Inn Alexei was staying at was on the Avenue of the Dragon, less than a 1/4 mile from the ruins of the ancient roman theater. Henri guides Alexei and his party out of town, as he passes it, he indicates Apollodorus' apartment, then remembers that Alexei has been to see Apollodorus before. Once over the stone bridge leading to the northwest out of Autun Henri points directly to the north, less than half a mile away Henri pauses to point out the ruins of the Temple of Janus. It is a clear brisk early spring day. It hasn't rained for a few days and the roads are pretty dry.

They then proceed upon a road travelling in the west, northwesterly direction, the land is turned over to some cropland, but for the most part, sheep seems to be the product of choice grown. Eventually, they turn off the road onto another one travelling southwest. This one is considerably less traveled, but is wide and there is evidence that it is used as a livestock highway. For about 8 miles the party travels, and then arrives into a heavily forrested area, the cropland and sheep paddocks having given way to the forest. Not long, less than a mile after coming into the forrested road the way is blocked by a huge, nearly 7' tall dark skinned man dressed in very warm clothing, appearing to be uncomfortable in the climate. At his side, with his hand on it is a huge scimitar, still sheathed. Shouts ring out from your companions and Alexei can now see that they are surrounded entirely.

"Alexei Von Kroitsau, allow me the pleasure of introducing myself, your captor, Mufarjj ibn Walid," he says in very passable German and provides a contemptuous bow to go along with it. He then pulls his scimitar from his scabbard, and your entire party all faint, no doubt succumbing to some magic. As if to confirm your thoughts, you feel a faint tug on your Parma that suggest something happened when he pulled his sword from the scabbard. As your eyes watch him you notice a quick look of suprise on his face, but it was a flash and it is quickly replaced by a wicked smile and he then says, "All the better, then," as he advances upon your position. You hear him shout out something in another language, and his men hold their ground. It appears he plans to fight you honorably, in single combat.

Round 1 has begun.

Thinking quickly Alexei reaches forward to pull the reins and secure them on the cart and then reaches to the lad Helmut and feels his neck, making sure that he and the others are alive still.

"You have me at a disadvantage mein herr." Alexei says quite calmly as he dismounts and reaches into a pouch to pull out a steel spearhead. He touches the staff's head to the spear tip and in a blur of motion the staff has become a longspear in his grasp.

Affix Spear Head (Touch the end of the staff to a normal spear head, the spear head becomes fixed to the staff as if properly mounted to it by a smith)

"A disadvantage in that you know who I am, but I do not know you. As you can probably see...that is truly the only disadvantage you have me at. Tell me, why am I your presumed prisoner?" Alexei says, bringing the spear up into a defensive posture.

[i]The only action he takes is to use the staff's enchantment to attach the spear head. It seemed like Initiative wasn't an issue yet as he is being rather cordial in his approach.

For what it's worth, Alexei would be wearing the Silvery Scales of the Knight to provide full chain, and it is further enhanced to add extra soak, and he would have also used a spell to lighten its Load, but he wouldn't have likely added anything else yet. Alexei's Soak should be 16 (Sta +2, +3 Toughness, +11 from enhanced Full Chain).[/i]

"So, mein Herr prefers a spear? Shall I fetch one, to fight you with? Have no doubt, whatever weapon you have, I am better at it than you are. My master has told me about you so I can effectively capture you."

Mufarjj's initiative is Qik -1 +Weap +2 + Die roll of 6=7.

[Go ahead and give initiative and action rolls for attack, defense, damage and soak (in that order), if you plan to attack, or describe another action and rolls as appropriate. I'll sort out the actions and results in my next post. If you don't plan to attack this round, still roll for initiative.]

Alexei waves off the stranger's offer of switching weapons. "By all means mein herr, use the weapon you are comfortable with, you shall need every advantage you posses. Believe me."

Alexei's eyes seem to unfocus briefly and then return to clarity as he follows the weapon of his enemy like a hawk and its prey and extends his left hand as if he intends to take the blow on the mailed palm of his hand! His attacker thinks for a moment that he smells the aroma of myrrh from his homeland...

Alexei's Fast Cast Initiative: 1d10+3 → [6,3] = (9)

Casting spell Wizard's Parry: Spell Level 5 (from Magi of Hermes page 50)
Casting total 29(-10 for Fast Cast) = 19

Spell casting roll 1d10+19 → [2,19] = (21)

Attack: Holding
Defense: Wizard's Parry
Soak: +16

Seeing your open hand and only one hand holding your spear, he advances on you Instead of coming within the reach of your spear, or your hand, he swings his scimitar directly at your spear in an attempt to destroy it or knock it out of your hand.

He attacks with an attack total of 22, however, instead of closing, it appeared he was going after your spear, in an attempt to disarm you. Your Wizard's Parry worked effectively, and blocked the attack, and he was unable to knock it out of your hand. Instead of appearing concerned or suprised, Mufarjj lets out a bellowing laugh and his grin widens into a deep menacing smile.

Note: you have initative because of your spear. Go ahead and give me round 2 actions and rolls whe possible Even if you plan to use Wizard's Parry, please give me a Defense Roll.

Alexei smiles at his opponent. "You are cagey mein herr, you are not easily surprised. That is good. You must know something about me, yes? Why are you after me?" Alexei asks, forgoing his magic and making a thrust with his spear.

[i]I can't access the dice roller at work. Here are the stats for his spear in combat, can you roll it for me?

Init: +3 Attack: +10 Defense: +8 Damage: +9

Upon the second action he will recover and make a second thrust, gauging his opponent's defenses, though he is not pulling the attack or damage if it hits.[/i]

Edit by SG:
Attack roll of 5+ 10=15
Defense Roll of 5+8=13

Mufarjj parries your attack easily (defense total of 18) and again attempts to disarm you but fails (attack total of 21 - your defense roll of 13 =8 ). Your spear slipped a bit in your hands as he attempted to knock it out, he was very close to disarming you, and he didn't seem to be particularly lucky.

"So, mein Herr, did you not feel the spear begin to slip from your grasp? I will have you in but a moment! As to what I know about you, it would fill the library of your former home. My master has taught me much so that I am better able to capture you."

Alexei has already seen the strategy of the assailant. Losing his spear would be a minor inconvenience, his magic was enhanced, but not dependent upon it. He again let his eyes lose focus as he called up his magic, he could likely end the fight right now with a touch, but he wanted to take the stranger's measure. It was not every day that he could fight someone as well prepared and skilled as this one.

(casting spell Object of Increased Size [casting total: +26]. Alexei will try to touch either Mufarjj's Scimitar or perhaps his armor and triple it in size, making it too unwieldy. For speed purposes he has a Quickness of 0 and Finesse 3, but he is not fast casting the spell. Since Mufarjj keeps trying to diarm him he'll deliver the touch with his spear if he can. He will defend himself as normal if that requires a Concentration roll his is 4 in combat)

SG Edit:
Defense roll of 0. Defense total is 8.
Check for botch on defense: no botch, die roll of 5.
Concentration roll of 0, won't be getting a spell off this round.
Check for botch on concentration no botch, die roll of 4.
Spellcasting roll is not needed, Alexei is too distracted to get a spell off. (OOPlay: sure you want me to keep rolling for you?)

OOP: you're not using your spear, your initiative would fall to 6, while Mufarjj would stay at 7, as he continue to use his sword. He'll act before your spell can go off. Also, can you color your text when speaking?

Mufarjj takes advantage in your pausing to attack and strikes a viscious blow at your spear: stress die re-roll, next die roll of 5 results in 2*5+15=25 less Alexei's defense total of 8 from above results in 13. Though Alexei realized what Mufarjj was attempting the force and skill of such a maneuver stuns him and fizzles the spell he'd been in the process of casting.

"You had best yield to me, I have no wish to harm you." Mufarjj seems genuine in his concern to not inflict harm. His skill with a weapons and magic at his disposal appears to have left Alexei at a disadvantage."Will you yield?" Mufarjj's question seems to be tinged with an element of deep concern, contemplating what happens in the event you don't yield. Alexei realizes that Mufarjj's master has spent a vast amount of time and effort into tracking Alexei and assessing his weaknesses. The dread in the back of his mind that something has been chasing him has suddenly become acute in his mind. His attempts to stay on the move, and one step ahead of whatever has been chasing him has been all for naught.
"Yield to me, and I promise no harm will come to your companions. My men will escort them safely to your destination. In Allah's name, I promise this to you."

Alexei frowns. The stranger's speed actually overcame his strategy, inwardly he cursed himself for not taking this more seriously. Keeping his hands raised and making no movements to his spear he addressed the man.

"And what pray tell is your intended destination? For I fear I have an important destination of my own, and do not mean to be late. You now have me at a genuine disadvantage, but the fight is only over if I choose mein herr. I have respect for your skill and cunning, but know that I have yet to use more than a portion of my own. Tell me where you wish me to go and why you have attacked me and we shall see if this fight will go on or not."

"I am compelled to do as my master commands. He has provided me with these." Mufarjj signals to one of his men, who throws out some shackles which land near you, but away from your spear. The shackes have a golden luster to them. When the shackles landed it seemed to sound as if it was a door in a dungeon closing and sealing your fate. "Put them on, and we will continue discussing, and I will answer all the questions, that I may."

Alexei's frown changes to a hard scowl when the manacles land near him. No doubt these were more than normal shackles and would be able to counter his magic. He looked back up at his opponent.

"No, you haven't earned me yet."

Alexei will fast cast Wizard's Leap, it allows him to teleport a short distance away, he intends to give himself about 30 paces of space behind Mufarjj, so as not to lead Mufarjj to his sleeping party. Fast cast speed is 3, and casting total after subtracting 10 is 16, the spell level is 15)

SG Edit:
Casting roll: results in 1, reroll, second roll is a 3 for a total 22, success.

As Alexei started speaking Mufarjj had begun to swing his sword. Due to the combination of Mufarjj's unwillingness to harm Alexei and the successful casting of Wizard's Leap Mufarjj stumbles as his sword swings through where Alexei used to be.

"Wizard, you are testing my patience. I just have to bring you back to my master alive. He never said unhurt."

Round 4 actions next. (OOPlay, I'm going to try and announce the rounds in situations where combat occurs.) You have this round free to act without any response, as it will likely take time for them to notice your location. You now count 10 men, including Mufarjj in the count.

Alexei reappeared some 30 paces back from Mufarjj, a smell of fresh cut pine wafting in the air as he did so. A smile had returned to his face, replacing the scowl.

"Testing your patience am I? You should relish that sensation, it is far better than death. I'm in a merciful mood though stranger. Tell me who your master is, and why he is not attempting my capture himself?"

With that Alexei's eyes unfocus again and the smell of fresh cut pine increases around him as he begins to grow taller and wider, first increasing his height, and then dwarfing Mujarff's own considerable size.

"I must warn you..." Alexei continues, his voice now a deep bellow "That my patience is far more limited than my power. I suggest you and your men rethink this course. I've killed far more than you lot for doing far less. You've caught me in a good mood, but my mood can change quickly!"

[i]Casting Assume the Stature of the Giants of Eld MuCo (An, He, Te) 10 casting total +22 (it'd be higher with my Talisman). This spell allows Alexei to grow up to +3 in Size. His Str and Sta don't change, but the requisites allow his clothes and gear to change. Its main benefit is that at Size +3 he suffers a Light wound on a 1-8 instead of 1-5. Very useful, and rather intimidating probably. He also wants to try and cower the men and maybe Mufarjj (doubt that will work). He has a Pre/Comm of +2 and Leadership of +2 (Specialty in grogs).

edit* the spell lasts for a Diameter

Spellcasting roll: 28

Leadership roll: 1d10+4 → [10,4] = (14) Oops! Would that be stress or simple? I'lll roll a boch just in case:
1d10 → [7] = (7) [/i]

Two of the men with Mufarjj run off, and he cries out after them in a language you think is Arabic. Three others look ready to bolt, but are hanging around. 4 are standing their ground firmly, securing your men.

Mufrajj began closing on you last round, and he slows down as you've grown. You have another round free to act. Due to the confusion you've caused in his ranks.

Round 5 actions. OOP, all rolls in combat are stress.

"You seem to be tiring stranger. Perhaps this clime is too different for you? And some of your men showed wisdom...if not bravery. Come then, come to me..." Alexei taunts the large man.

[i]Casting Wizard's Leap again, since I don't have to Fast Cast it should be easy. He'll teleport right back to where his Talisman is on the ground and pick it up with a laugh.

1d10+3 → [8,3] = (11) Should I add Perception or Int? Per is -1, Int is +2. Either way I figure he likely made it.[/i]

Spell roll: 1d10+26 → [3,26] = (29)

Mufarjj wordlesslly closes on you, undeterred by your size, and swings visciously at your talisman, again.
Attack total of 19