Interesting game last night, we had a proactive make-up session since we'll be missing one or two in the future. We now have nearly all the major NPCs out on the table for the Changeling game and it is a pretty hefty crew. We ended with a fight scene, and I decided to write up a little of the aftermath rather than wait until next week to handle it. That helps break up the narrative and doesn't drag too much baggage to the next session. Since that's going to be a singular social event, I want to keep the focus there rather than having too many different events going on in one session. I think that's an important aspect of plotting sessions-- striking while the memory is fresh and also not overloading one session with too many strong and contradictory scenes. The risk, if you do that, is to diminish the power of the later scene. So what follows is bad game fiction.
Blood everywhere, the singed outline of Evan in the wall, tears across the floor from Pisca's now-bladed foot, and the smell of burning of all kinds. Coils remained comatose even as Sarah drew on her grue coat and set to work. Valzshan didn't register Evan's parting comment, instead backing away after the wounded Draconic has been placed on the bed for treatment, the white sheets running slick crimson from his blood loss.
And notably, utter silence from downstairs-- no one coming running, no one checking on what has happened. It took only a few moments for Sarah to stitch the Fairest closed, but then she had to wait to see how he settled out before she could do more. Valzshan, having moved to the back headed downstairs and the group followed.
The Motley could immediately sense the tension among the Compound members, still seated in the long room. Tenpenny sitting bolt upright where she'd been before, Roil staring at the floor, and Precious looking out the window at the far end of the room. Ashwine, on the other hand, had been pacing. When he saw Valzshan, and then the blood, he blanched and took a step back.
“What the hell happened?” The Elemental looked at Evan, clearly picturing something.
“Coils...Coils attacked Ash.” Valzshan's words came out a little strained.
“Wha...?” Clearly not the answer Ashwine was expecting. “Like started a slap fight?”
“No. No godammit.” Valzshan finally looked the former Wolf in the eye. “He called his claws and then he invoked his Contracts...”
Everyone in the room looks up at that. Shock on most faces, with the exception of Precious who looked hopeful for a moment and then tamped that down.
“How...and why aren't all of you dead?” Ashwine's presence, his aura darkening, burning with fear.
“Because he didn't have his sanity, nor his arms, nor his tokens, and there were five of them...” Valzshan trailed off. “Otherwise...he was still drifty but driven by rage...”
“Is he returned?” This voice from Tenpenny Down finally. Deeper than expected, and angry. “Or did you finish him?”
“He lives...will live...” Valzshan turned to Sarah for confirmation, accepting her nod.
“Oh, Christ...oh, Christ...” Roil began to shake. Tears and panic sweat flew off in black droplets, burning tiny holes in the floor and nearby table. “You remember what he did to Windom and Palladino? And to Dawn?”
“I remember what he did to Doe.” Hard and awful edged the response from Tenpenny.
“You know, I think that's my cue to leave.” Ashwine straightened himself up, trying to cover his shakes. “Thanks for the hospitality, but I am the f*** out of here...” He took a moment to assess the group close by the front door and headed towards the back of the house.
Valzshan took a moment to assess this, but let him go. Ignoring the comments from his Compound brethren, he turned to the Motley. “I didn't know Coils would do that. I didn't know he could do that. He's been broken for so long. Sometimes he's lucid and repentant, other times he's buried in his delirium, mostly the latter. He hasn't been able to invoke Contracts...”
“Perhaps someone without an agenda for misusing and misrepresenting Coils as a figurehead for what's wrong with the Courts should speak to this.” Tenpenny stood and stared at Valzshan. He'd finally rid himself of the fear from the scene upstairs, and Tenpenny's words riled him, but he backed off, moving over to one of the free chairs. The Darkling turned her veiled face towards Precious. “You may stay or go as you wish. But do not go up to your lord, the Physiker will see to his safety.”
“You're going to tell lies...” The Ogre tried to project his squeaky voice, a mixture of desperation and anger in it. But he doesn't continue, and instead followed Ashwine's path out the back door.
Tenpenny turned back to the group. “I assume something of this has been told to you. But allow me to give you the details. I, at least, can assure you that if I'd thought Coils dangerous I would have spoken up against bringing you to meet him. He hasn't been able to do anything in six years.”
“You know something, I'm guessing of the Freehold in years past. That Burn ruled by himself, with advisors and with his children as sometimes knights. More often not, since he didn't wish to give them too much authority for fear of upsetting people, nor to swell their heads, nor to put them at too much risk. At least those are some of the stories of it.”
“Then his wife died in a tragic fire, and there were recriminations and anger and an awful blackness at the heart of things for a time. Burn suffered and became an inconstant ruler. He went out and sought into the Hedge, into other places for answers. He kept to himself, and often took time away, placing adjuncts temporarily in his stead. Favor finally spread among his three children and a few others. He was still calculating in his grief and did not allow any one to assume that the mantle would be fully theirs. Or rather he encouraged all of them to assume that.”
“Coils was among us then. Had been for some time, and had quietly gathered some allies to himself, talking about the broken authority of the Court. How he'd submit to now authority but his own, and making promises to those dissatisfied with their lot. He had an art to his stirring of old coals of resentment. And he gathered an arsenal of tools and aid to himself, including some outsiders from other Freeholds.”
“He waited until Burn was gone, and would be gone for a full season. Futures held the reins at that time. Coils killed the Wolf quietly, an Elemental called Stungface, and then stuck against the Courts intending to seize power. There were fights battles that seemed at first to some to be a glorious revolution. But it wasn't long before it became clear he had a darker voice working in his mind and he lost some allies to that. But he and his companions had already killed or crippled many. He killed the Freehold's Counselor, broke all of the limbs of some knights who sallied against him, humiliated others.”
She stopped. “He did other terrible things, those which cost him more allies.”
“But he was potent and had bidden his time. Futures went against him, along with others and managed to hold him at bay-- but had to fall back into retreat and desperation. And then Edward, who fought in this at beginning and had then vanished, returned. Coils nearly killed Sybold, had killed others, in a fight on the grounds of what used to be the Freehold's gathering place.”
“Edward had brought back with him a weapon, a Dragon-slaying blade. Even that was almost not enough. It took another Changeling pitching himself in the middle of this to distract Coils and allow Edward to make his strike...to commit the strike of shattering that broke Coil's mind and Wyrd.”
“And Coils begged for mercy with the last of his lucidity...which of course, was the catch for Edward. He had to grant clemency for Coils and those few who remained and were members of the Freehold.” She paused. “And so, Coils was placed here. The Compound already existed, arising from a compromise some years earlier. And he has been here, broken as he is since then.”
Valzshan finally spoke. “There are versions of the story, but I won't contradict now.” Tenpenny stared hard at him, daring him to continue in that vein. Instead he shifted and paused before continuing, “So, as I said. I did not think he would or could do what he just did.”