There was something off with episode 1. I’m not sure if it was the harm moves, the harm ratings or something else. I swapped a couple things around for Visemar and will try a vanilla Fate Accelerated episode to get a better sense of the difference. I added one Aspect to bring him to the default five and swapped a Stunt (Devil's Sight to Hexblade’s Curse) for his minor milestone.
The exchanges can definitely last longer in FAE vs. harm clocks.
Visemar has the stern grey eyes of his lineage, their good humor slowly fading the longer he bears Storm Forged Raven Song. He wears his sienna hair cut short. As the eldest, he was meant to join the Paladin Order, but the Song ended that career before it began. Still, he maintains a military regimen and a strong build. Beneath his breastplate, he wears the Grey’s colors: black lined with burnt orange.
Indentured Hexblade of Winter and Ash
“I am bound by blood to my family, bound by honor to the Song.”
The Banishing Hand of Retribution
Storm Forged Raven Song, ancient blade of The Raven Queen
“Beneath the skin of a Warlock lies the training of a Paladin.”
Because I swore a Pact of the Blade, I get a +2 when I Flashily attack when I use an eldritch weapon.
Because I am a Hexblade of Winter and Ash, I get a +2 when I Flashily create an advantage when I curse an opponent with a conspiracy of ravens.
Because I am a Hexblade of Winter and Ash, once per session, I can Forcefully attack each opponent near my curse with a burst of cold.
REFRESH 3 / 3
STRESS O O O
The sun was beginning to set. It was almost a week since I heard about this Lady Rachis. A few days spent researching what little I could find brought me here. It was hilly, though the trees were bare due to the early autumn climate. Grass was browning and retreating in preparation for winter. A modest house leaned against one of the hills. An apothecary, from what I’d been told. Dovisch.
The sound of hooves alerted me to an approaching person. I pulled the reins of my grey destrier. A lightly armored rider came around the bend, also slowing as they neared the house. Dismounting, the two walked the rest of the way to one side of the yard.
“What business do you have here?” the rider asked. A female voice. Country.
Sky clopped closer as I replied. “I’ve questions for Dovisch. You?”
“Hunting for my uncle,” came the response with an off hand shrug. She patted a sack behind the saddle of her courser. Even from this short distance, it sounded with an audible, wet smack.
“Ah,” I said. It seemed rude to ask what she was hunting. So I did. “Deer?” I asked as I also dismounted. “Bear?”
A smirk crossed her features. Without her cap, I could make out short mousy hair. Bark colored eyes. My glance also noted a lack of a bow on her horse.
“Not quite. Uncle needed some things for his latest project.”
“I see,” I muttered, also noting the wet sack behind the saddle stained the brown of her courser almost black. “May I ask where I could find your uncle?” I tied Sky to a post near the courser. Careful. Watchful.
“Probably with his vials and potions downstairs,” she muttered, stepping toward the front door, bringing her closer to me. She was lean. No sword. Daggers. Leather. No tears or cuts. Her gloved hands looked cleaner than the rest of her dun trappings.
I nodded, backing away as if to let her by first. “Thank you. Mind if I come in? These questions shouldn't take much of his time.”
She stopped, shoulder level with my chest. Her head craned up as she looked steadily into my eyes. “That won't be possible. He'll be busy for some time. Perhaps next week?” her voice dropped the conversational tone, becoming a quiet steel. The last was less a question and more a statement. The question mark was a courtesy.
Our eyes locked. A multitude of possibilities raced through my head, as I'm sure did her's. We must have come to the same conclusion. Song ripped free of her scabbard; across from me, a pair of daggers seemed to materialize from thin air. She was quicker than I.
She rushed forward, one hand rising to parry while the other sliced at my waist. My leg came up and barely stopped the slash with my knee. My own slash sliced through the air, which she deftly avoided by ducking beneath my arm.
She spun and slashed at my arms while rising from her crouch. I responded by leaning back then unleashing a kick that knocked her to the ground. My training also kicked in, so I strode confidently forward and drove Song through her shoulder and pinned her to the ground. Even through gritted teeth, a long, pained groan erupted from her.
My courtly manner warred with the thrill of combat. I withdrew Song, feeling her rage as she was leashed from killing her prey. Not a Paladin by title, but it was still branded on my spirit. Perhaps we could turn this to our advantage.
“What's in the bag?” I asked.
She grimaced, either in pain or disgust, as her reply came in short gasps. “Components. Crystal. Hand.” Her eyes fixed on the targe on my horse, specifically the bright raven facing dexter riveted to the contrasting black field. “One of theirs.”
“One of…?” I glanced back at the shield then to the woman lying on the ground. “Whose?” but she was already unconscious. I bound her to the back of Sky. I couldn't kill her, not yet. I grabbed the macabre sack and targe before entering the house.
The room was sparse. One table, three chairs, and no wall between it and the kitchen. Presumably, the two doors led to bedrooms. I could hear movement and shuffling from downstairs. Dovisch hard at work, I guessed.
I hesitate to dump the contents of the sack on the table, but it had to be done. Bundles of ground herbs encased in wax. An oblong crystal about the length of my finger. Carnelian, perhaps. And a hand. Young slender fingers. A member of my family. My thoughts turn dark as it tries to find any other person it could belong to, but something deep inside knew it was my sister’s. Abigail.
Why Abby? I wondered.
The first door I opened must've belonged to Dovisch. The lone bed and nightstand were uninspiring, but the wall to my right had manuscripts tacked to it. The cobalt ink and illumination reminded me of the text from the cultists’s lair. I open the curtain to let more light in then studied the diagrams. My eyes glance from the drawings to the hand then back. This was about to get worse…
From what little I could decipher, the hand and other components would be used in a ritual after a corpse had been animated. It seemed the hand, tongue or eyes would work. Must have been easier to transport the hand. My hand clenched into a fist, leather creaking, as I tried to stoically review the information. Abby was likely dead, then, and there were two people I could ask.
My boots sound loud, ominous, on the wooden floor. My targe attached to my arm, Song in hand, I was ready to visit murder on the man downstairs. The air pulsed with anger, from me or Song or both.
In the workshop, a desk turned altar covered in red cloth held vials of various liquids. The man behind it was old. Grey hair and blue eyes, his peasant clothing immaculately shielded by a leather apron. His glance raked across me while he carefully set a beaker on the altar.
“What are you doing here?” he asked, as if I were in the wrong.
“What happened to my sister?” I seethed.
“I don't know what you're talking about. Lea-” he broke off after seeing my shield. “Look, I don't know what happened to your sister, only that I was to experiment on her hand.”
“Experiment?” a cold grin appeared on my face, my grip on Song grew tighter. “For?”
“Lady Rachis sent a message and told me to collect a package! I was just supposed to follow these manuscripts! To-”
I stepped closer. “To experiment with.”
Panicked, Dovisch grabbed a nearby test tube and threw it. It sailed over my shoulder. He was clearly not made for combat. I walked around the altar and threw a right hook into the side of his head. He crumpled instantly. I didn't feel any better.
Every instinct cried out. There was something very, very wrong. If Dovisch had nothing to do with Abigail outside of this contract, I half kicked his unconscious body for good measure, why did the evidence lead to him? I stormed up the stairs just as Sky reared. Company.
A priest was just finishing with binding the girl’s shoulder. A small gathering of slow moving warriors ambled between me and the other two. My outstretched arm pointed accusingly at the priest and a storm of ravens erupted from behind me, circling the priest in a cacophony of cries.
The girl drew her daggers; the priest pointed back and shouted, “Devour him!”
The six warriors turned as one, their faces in various states of decomposition. A couple had chipped blades, the others had teeth. All of them swarmed toward me. Six opponents acting as one was difficult, but the fury of knowing Abby was dead and the Song in my hand kept me from failing under their weight.
Surrounded, my arming sword cut right and left, cleaving into decrepit torsos. Another lost its head. The fourth was pierced through the chest and Song let out a metallic cry as it ripped against bone exiting through its skull. My shield rose and positioned the zombies between myself and the two in back.
The priest lifted a hand skyward then pointed at me. A bolt of lightning zipped passed the zombies. I desperately tried to deflect it with my shield, but it struck my shield arm. The searing energy burned through my clothes and left an angry burn.
The girl acrobatically moved around the zombies and darted in for a quick jab with a dagger. We had danced once before, so I was familiar with her strength. My blade swept her arm aside, and I knocked against her skull with my elbow to daze her.
The remaining two zombies leap toward me, arms stretched to grab at my shield and sword. I spin, brushing groping hands aside, and set myself up for a strike at the dazed woman. Song slashes out. The dazed woman tries to step in and parry along my arm. My foot snakes out and trips her. The echo of Song as it bites into her chest and heart. The blue runes flare to life again, coursing down the black blade.
The priest attempts to cast the spell at me again. This time, I'm prepared. The electricity dances along the iron targe. A zombie lazily throws a punch which I avoid by simply ducking. My sword comes up and cuts through the corpse.
Pulling out his flail, the priest calls to dark powers in a foreign tongue. It begins to glow a sickly mauve. As he steps forward, the remaining zombie lunges forward to tackle me. I step to the side and slap it to the ground with my shield. This zombie returns the slap, pushing Song aside as it tries to end its unlife.
The flail comes streaking toward my head. I lean back, the targe pushing the flail aside instead of trying to stop it. The zombie grabs my leg, hoping to grapple me into submission. I step over the corpse, placing it between the priest and I. My ravens flap their wings at the priest, beaks pecking at his eyes. I take the moment of distraction to thrust Song into his abdomen. I am greeted by a pain filled cry.
The priest swings at my head, but the pain and distraction made it easy to avoid. I duck my head beneath the strike. The zombie fails to grapple my leg. I step around to position the priest between myself and it. Song reaches out as I come around the priest and bites viciously into his back. I hear ribs splinter beneath my blade.
The zombie lurches up to its feet, too slow to be of service to his master. Winded and bleeding, the priest feebly swings at my chest. The targe bats it aside as I step in and punch him in the face, dazing him. I was over confident, thinking his wounds were much worse. I made to skewer him with Song, and his off hand struck me across the face.
The zombie seized the moment, charging in at my sword arm in an attempt to restrain it. It was sheer luck that I didn't lose my weapon. Emboldened, the flail cracked toward my face, which I managed to block against my shield. I swing my sword at the zombies neck, but it managed to take advantage of my being off balance and knocked me to the ground.
The zombie leapt at me to pin me to the ground. Another moment of good fortune struck, and I kicked at it, sending it soaring over me. The priest’s flail came out of nowhere; I barely moved aside to keep my head being bashed in, but it traced a gouge against my temple. My own strike almost had him. Almost. He jumped back as Song reached for his ankles.
Rebounding, he jumped at me with a swing, using both hands. I leapt forward and met his charge, shield at the ready. Both of us collided, his flail striking heavily against the shield. I drove me knee up toward him. He beat me in the face. This time, the zombie tackled my legs and brought me to my knees.
The flail rained down and struck me solidly against the head. That hurt. A lot. The zombie continued to crawl upward to pin me, but I managed to wrestle it aside. I had some breathing room. Song reached for the priest again, as I wearily got back on my feet. The priest stepped aside and avoided the blow.
We came together in another clash, once more evenly matched. Flail met shield. The zombie groaned and threw a haymaker. My shield bashed aside the undead fist. Flail met shield. I stepped forward and thrust with Song. I was taken aback. I had grown used to the dance with my opponent then… a missed step. The sword carved a slice into his side. The dance paused. The zombie collapsed. The priest collapsed. Then I collapsed…