Adventurers hiding in a mausoleum. Bodies removed from caskets and from graves. An unmarked wagon. An attack that left the wagon driver slain, horses scattered and a coachman prone.
So begins today’s adventure.
The stubborn coachman is reluctant to provide information until Romula applies pressure to his wounds. He reveals he has been hired to bring bodies to a plantation that provides crops to the town of Celebration. Seneca tortures him, removing a few fingers – the terrified coachman knows nothing about his employer or why the bodies are needed. He asks no questions and takes his coin, although he does remember hearing that the plantation has recently changed their produce.
With a knife to the coachman’s back, Moloch rides up front after Hector has helped retrieve the spooked horses. The rest of the party hides in the back of the wagon as it trundles off towards the plantation.
As dawn rises, they approach the gates. The plantation is surrounded by heavy thorns and bramble. A gate leads through a large field of crops towards a corral. A farmhouse is in front, with a barn to one side and a warehouse to the other.
The coachman is reluctant to approach, but his employer waits at the farmhouse – a sinister man in heavy robes, features obscured. They pull up alongside him and the coachman reacts nervously. With a nod from Moloch, the coachman moves to unload the ‘bodies’ from the carriage…
His employer peers in to the dark carriage, the majority of the party successfully hidden. But Hector steps forward and asks Moloch if he needs a hand. With cover blown, the party enters combat. The mysterious employer shouts to some farm workers, who emerge from the crops (the Guy Family). Pitchfork Guy is unsuccessful in skewering Hector, who swiftly slices the robed employer’s head from his shoulders. Trowel Guymakes a beeline for Romula, who quickly forms a hield wall against the wagon with Hector. Scythe Guy takes an unsuccessful swing at Moloch as Seneca climbs atop the wagon and begins to fire arrows.
The coachman panics and runs for the gate, all but forgotten by the combatants – for now.
Faqual charms Scythe Guy, who takes a swing at his brother Trowel Guy. Swinging his scythe, he spills Trowel’s guts, and –
A boy plays in a field with a dog. The dog runs in to the tall grass and is missing. The boy mourns his lost pet, his first encounter with mortality. His father teaches him to farm, his strong hands growing steadily weaker and older, until he passes the family trowel to his son and departs this plain. The tears brim in the boy’s eyes and he brings his hands to his face to catch them. The tears are warm. And red. He looks down at his hands and the tears are blood. And entrails. Before him, his brother readies his scythe. Only, it is no longer his brother. A hooded figure extends a cold, bony hand. They rise. From amidst the chaos, they rise and float away. Beyond his brother’s. Beyond the family farm. Trowel Guy smiles.
The door to the farmhouse opens and Running Guy (no relation) emerges and makes his way towards the closed barn door. A few well placed arrows slow his progress to a crawl.
And the coachman gets closer to freedom.
Unarmed Guy (formerly known as Pitchfork Guy) tries to get a few punches in on Hector before his sword separates him from this earthly ream –
A realm in which he once lived so happily and peacefully with his cousins. Now his favourite cousin – Trowel – lies slain at Scythe’s hands. Was it grief that forced the gleaming sword in to his body? Did he secretly long for release? How would he have looked Mother Guy in the eye and told her of the horrors that had befell her beautiful boys? He couldn’t live with himself. He didn’t have to. With a whimper, he ceased…
Moloch’s blade stabs Scythe Guy in the back. Wobbling, he takes one futile swing at Romula before Moloch finds his neck –
Scythe Guy was always his mother’s favourite. It was his smile, she said. He lit up any room. And when his father, Old Guy, died, he helped them carry on. He was strong for them all. He kept them going. His cousin’s adored him. His brother looked up to him. It was his smile. Always his smile. And now it widened and it lit up the room. Crimson.
Only Running Guy remains of the farmers, still staggering intently towards the barn. He lifts the latch…
The door bursts open, throwing him across the grass, crashing against the corner of the farmhouse. He slumps to the floor, dead –
Finally, the coachman reaches the gate and his bid for freedom. Suddenly, the vines and thorns in the surrounding bushes rumble and they shoot out towards him. He is skewered in the gateway and the thorns entwine together, sealing the entrance.
The door to the barn swings closed and settles slightly ajar. A startled whimper can be heard within, coming from multiple sources.
A shadow, having observed the battle from an attic window, retreats in to the darkness of the farmhouse.
Together, the adventurers make their way in to the farmhouse…
Lunchtime Lairs is a weekly RPG session at JustPlay Games in Liverpool, Wednesdays 12-2. We are currently playing The Black Hack.