Situation continues where the heroes are watching the bridge where they are supposed to give the ransom for Zira, the barmaid. Kylis's player was late, Tereis and Würful moved to the other side of the river (poorer part of the town) while Doris waited on their own side of the bridge for the midnight. Würful spent some time in tavern but made both his smart and vigor check to be at the scene in time and in a good condition. Godzul's and Sonam's players weren't present. Some of the group wondered if not-so-bright -looking Gor could really have devised Zira's kidnapping.
When bells ringed for the midnight, a group of five thugs appeared from the slums, lead by Gor. The group's plan was to allow the thugs only to get the chest of money they had brought after they had received the girl, and the chest had also loose bottom that would break if it would be lifted from the handles only - and there was only some of the money as well as a note with a threat if the criminals wouldn't leave the inn alone. But the goons had different idea of how to do this, and things started to go wrong, and Tereis and apparently drunk Würful appeared from the alleys. The girl was not visible, but from the jademan -thug's short whistles a faint muffled screams were heard from up the river; The man that clearly wasn't a basic thug asked how many fingers they wanted to have their barmaid back with, and told that if anyone did a wrong move, goon's friends would move from fingers to throat. After this, Tereis decided to move to attack the jademan, but was intercepted by Gor, the big guy. (GM's note: I could have handled the initiative a bit differently - everyone was probably on hold and this could have done with agility checks. In surprise situations I could move to Cortex model where someone starts the initial action, after which the action starts.)
A fight with two tough wild cards and 3 extras was quite a lot easier than I expected; Jademan threw some kind of powder on Würful and Tereis and got the barbarian quite confused with a smarts trick, but the following punch just got Würful enraged.
After a while Würful that had dropped out of berserk jumped to water to finish the floating jademan corpse (and lost his maul on the way), and Kylis (who's player just appeared) picked up another floating body they had spotted from the river; Zira wasn't breathing, but with others' assistance Würful was able to rescuitate her but just barely. She had several broken fingers and in severe shock. The group returned to the inn, and were able to rest enough to allow healing checks for Tereis and Würful (that started the adventure being beaten up).
In the morning, the group was alarmed by someone hitting at the door with a fist. It was the young savannah boy they had rescued from being executed, he told he and his friends had found and recovered Godzul, but he was badly beaten up and he needed help to get him in unnoticed. He then run back out, after which a sound of someone being hit by a blade came from the outside. Everyone rushed out, where a group of about twenty soldiers awaited them, some pointing at them with burning arrows. Lord Banjai who they had seen before was behind the soldiers; The heroes surrendered and their weapons were put into a large basket, a kind which is often used for delivering exotic fruits, jewelry and other gifts to those in high position.
The group was escorted to the royal palace, lord Banjai muttering this being a gift to the Autarch that would raise him to the favor... but before the group was able to enter before the ruler, they were intercepted by lord Gulan, who managed Autarch's visitors and told Banjai that he should know that he couldn't see Autarch without making an appointment - but he took the prisoners and the gift basket and with a serious face told that he'll deliver the gifts and give lord Banjai's greetings to the Autarch. Kylis noticed that the Lord didn't seem as disappointed as Kylis thought he would be.
Meet the Autarch
Lord Gulan presented the gift he had brought to the ruler, who sat on his throne behind a bridge over a gap - heroes couldn't see yet what was under the bridge; the Autarch had a large man with his face covered in black cloth standing behind him and four concubines near him. Four other guards standed near the prisoners. Gulan he told the soldiers to put the gift basket in front of the prisoners, apparently unknowingly it containign weapons of the them - and the group started to test the ropes their hands had been tied with; It wouldn't be too difficult to get rid of them, although doing it with strengths wasn't very stealthy.
Würful ripped his ropes off while others were trying to squirm out of them; Getting hands on weapons basket helped the last captives free and Würful got himself a spear from a guard after breaking his arm.When the heroes reached the weapons basket, they saw that there was water and crocodiles in the gap. Tereis did a cool maneuver after winning Str check against push with several raises (by spending a benny), and threw the unfortunate soldier to the pool of crocodiles which almost proved to be her undoing. While I thought it would have been odd to give a benny for spending a benny to bend rules, I think Tereis starts with an extra benny next session :)
As Tereis threw the poor soldier down and moved closer to the gap, Autarch's bodyguard moved next to her and pushed her down. It became apparent that she couldn't swim, and fighting was also quite difficult as the skill capped to swimming skill. As she sheathed her weapons in order to swim better, she lost parry bonuses for daggers and became unarmed combatant, which dropped her parry to more human-like levels and a lucky bite from a croc caused her two wounds. Fatigued for being drowned, she was sinking while trying to get up rolling d4-5...
Like Tereis and two of the guards (and soon the bodyguard, and then again the bodyguard after attempting to climb up and getting hit), Doris was also thrust down - but only after running along the bridge to put a sword to the stomach of the surprised Autarch. A lucky bite from one of the reptiles threw her unconscious and bleeding out, and she made her first bleeding out check by spending her last benny. Before she had to make another, Würful (who was really shining as a healer this session!) stabilized her after jumping down on a crocodile and snapping it's neck. Tereis got lucky and was able to surface before gaining more fatigue.
As everyone was trying to recover from the fight, they started hearing "Assassins!" shouts from the direction of the entrance. Seeing no exit, they asked help from the concubines, who revealed an exit behind a curtain and asked to be taken along the heroes.
The heroes were able to sneak out of the city and reached a town at the borders of Kyros, independent cities and Syranthia. Luckily for the heroes, the concubines of the late Autarch had grabbed some valuables when they got out and sponsored some wild time for the group. After a week, Tereis lost his dagger, Doris lost her reputation, Kylis gained some reputation and Würful lost almost all of his possessions - I allowed him to keep his loincloth as an extra item as his player was trying to choose from it and newly regained maul!
Tereis' player chose to pick Tereis a new flaw, Thalassophobia (fear of bodies of water) - which is likely to give her a number of bennies, especially as the group is heading towads the great harbor of Askerios with a plan to continue with a ship.