The Concord of Ashes
- The coterie debates the finer points of staying or leaving amongst themselves, and reach the conclusion that they must make a stand.
- It is eventually decided that Veceslav will challenge Bogdan to single combat. He has advantages, including his stronger generation and age, but it is thought to be a risk still. Unlike Bogdan, he is no warrior.
- The coterie spends the twenty days feverishly preparing for war. Maude crafts a ritual that will bolster Veceslav’s toughness. Jals and Bernhard do plenty of scouting. Veceslav throws himself into Koldunic study. Iulia and Sir Alaric rush to Bistritz, where they seek counsel with Radu while George scouts far and wide.
- Radu is wrathful over the Sophia-Manfred incident, and warns Iulia that he blames Maude and Bernhard. Ever the politician however, he offers plentiful advice both on De Nord Sange and their masters. Radu knows that he still has potential allies in certain among the coterie, and it is advantageous to he and Visya if Mircea Dzardescu is weakened.
- On the 20th day, Mildak’s flayed skin is found hanging in the stables- it sets out Voivode Dzardescu’s terms and demands. Jals frenzies when he is told, and when he regains his faculties he slips out into the wilderness to grieve on his own.
Simultaneously to Mildak’s murder, most of the oxen fall ill and a few die. Invesigation bears out that they have been magically poisoned.
- Also, the animals of the area stop speaking to Bernhard and Veceslav. The Northern Blood have effectively blinded the coterie with their greater proficiency with Animalism.
- Finally, Bogdan’s soldiers abduct a number of women from Naizuy, including Magh. Those men who resist the abduction are impaled in full view of the village as a lesson. The cowed men of Naizuy are pressed into service by De Nord Sange as ransom payment.
- Jals re-emerges from his solitude, and gives a rousing speech that he will lead his people to safety. The coterie encourages them to listen, and Jals takes them into the western mountains where he hides them in caves.
- Those members of the Herd and construction crew that are unwilling to stand or a liability in battle are sent south towards Bistritz.
Trial By Combat
- At the appointed hour, De Nord Sange, their troops, and the men of Naizuy march to the palisade.
- The coterie rides out, and De Nord Sange rides forward to meet them. Only Maude stays behind, to conduct her ritual.
- Veceslav issues his challenge, and Bogdan accepts with visible pleasure. It is clear that several of the enemy coterie are unhappy with Bogdan for this, given the clear numerical superiority of their side. The decision stands nonetheless.
Bogdan, brimming with confidence, says to Veceslav, “Thank you for this”. Veceslav responds by calling upon his earth sorcery to harden his skin. The visible effect of this stuns his opponent for a moment, and battle is joined.
- The trial by combat is a drawn out affair. Bogdan is clearly the superior warrior, and deals heavy damage to Veceslav time and again. Veceslav’s blood potency and sorcery, bolstered by Maude’s Mortis rituals, keeps him on his feet, but he fails to land more than a glancing blow on his brother. He performs with a combination of poor skill and bad luck.
- Bogdan displays an unerring ability to direct his blows at Veceslav’s head. His skill is supernally supplemented by Potence and Celerity, and his understanding of Fortitude is apparent from the manner with which he shrugs off Veceslav’s claws.
- Eventually, both Cainites begin to tire from loss of blood- Veceslav from healing his wounds, and Bogdan by fuelling his disciplines. Veceslav finally lands a terrible blow on Bogdan and the younger Cainite frenzies, drops his sword and lunges at his brother.
- The two of them wind up wrestling on the ground, tearing at each other with their fangs. Veceslav’s own Beast takes control as his fear mounts, and he too frenzies. He gets the upper hand, and throats Bogdan, but then uses the last of his willpower to throw himself off of his brother rather than finish him.
- The coterie intercedes and holds him down as Bogdan sinks into torpor. Several of De Nord Sange are duly impressed both with the ferocity of Veceslav and his control over his Beast. They are not at all impressed with Bogdan, who has cost them the southern Tihuta, but they grudgingly honour the terms. De Nord Sange take their fallen brother and depart with their armies, leaving the coterie in peace.
END OF SESSION
Attendance: Veceslav (Ben, 2xp), Maude (Dave, 3xp), Bernhard (Greg, 3xp)
Absent: Sir Alaric (Anthony, 0 xp)