Introducing: Rhett, the bigger bad, and “Rinaldo”, “Son of” Brand
There is a young, friendly and enthusiastic version of Brand in the camp, using the name “Rinaldo”.
The last thing he remembers is walking the pattern, and calling Random because he did not recognise the face on the Trump.
Rinaldo needs blood to live, he had consumed a cup of Random’s blood. This is like the pattern ghosts Phil encountered in under-shadow.
Rinaldo is enough like Brand for Julian to punch him.
A change of tactics
The time has come for Amber to take a more aggressive stance and hunt down enemy camps. This gives a cover for other missions involving Chekhov’s swords.
Phil and Aron set out with the free company for skirmishing, while Random assembles a tank battalion for frontal assaults.
Caine pulled Random through to spy on Osric’s throne room, through a crawlspace in the ceiling.
Osric is not the king here, both Osric and Finndo defer to a greying man named Rhett, and call him “Brother”.
There is revealed a plan to draw out Benedict by putting Aron’s life in danger, and a decision to put plans into action immediately.
Random presumably defers to Caine’s judgement and doesn’t give any warnings.
Benedict and the Black Riders
Kalenwic is less of a wreck than we remembered it ((Benedict expected it to survive, so reality adjusted to match?))
There is a black flag hanging from the tower room in Kalenwic, and the black armour has been seen.
Aron organises some of the builders Phil retrieved from shadow to erect a scaffolding to reach the tower for negotiations – with the explicit understanding that the black riders can knock it down if they don’t want to talk.
A note, attached to a pebble read “message from yr father: you never call, nor do you write”
Benedict revealed himself privately and separately to Aron and Phil, the black riders are his personal bodyguard and he has his own stuff. But we should maintain the current plan.
Ozville rendez-vous, traps tripped
Phil’s hellride unexpectedly brings us into a noisy industrial city where the free company are decidedly archaic.
Everything goes suspiciously quiet (by the standards of a noisy industrial city), and Phil becomes worried.
Random is inbound, but Phil does not believe we’re in immediate danger, so Aron breaks Trump contact.
Just in time for Osric to make it rain bullets (literally – my shadow, my rules)
Ducking into a hotel lobby, we find ourselves face to face with Finndo. (who else?)
Phil is awe struck, while Aron is already running back outside.
Evading the bullets by smashing a plate glass window – falling glass cuts a mannequin in half and lacerates him.
In the aisle of a department store, shifting fails and Finndo runs Aron down.
“I’m taking you back to my palace”
Aron reached into shadow, and seized his father’s sword. The vorpal blade went snicker-snack, and Finndo’s lifeless arm dropped to the floor. There were serpents and unicorns dancing and singing “New York! New York!”.*
A huge explosion outside knocks everyone over, and Finndo got away.
Phil finally makes his way out of the hotel spa and gift shop, but the explosion left him cut and bleeding and black and white.
Exit stage right via Deirdre’s Trump
Deirdre is both pleased and perturbed by Finndo’s forearm.
Corwin is surprised but not impressed, he at least says “well done, lad”
A feverish Phil has visions of Oberon’s exile from the courts, but keeps these secret if he even believes them.
Random and Mireille
Osric asked Random nicely not to intervene.
“You know I can’t do that”
Osric asked Random not so nicely, “I know where your sister goes to school”
It is no longer possible to hellride towards Aron.
Tanks with air support vs Tank-busters and artillery and being in the enemy’s personal shadow.
This does not go well, but it is noisy enough to hold Osric’s attention, perhaps.
“Tank of my desire…” – Random tries to set a destiny on a tank full of explosives to drive itself into the artillery position.
It worked a bit, but not quite as intended.
An injured Benedict clad in black armour Trumps out to Random.
Benedict also knows where Mireille is and gives Random directions, to call him in for the last part.
A journey through a cave to an alpine valley. Benedict leads the way, swearing occasionally from his injuries.
The school is ablaze, a raging inferno – Osric followed through on his threats.
Fiona is pulled in, and extinguishes the blaze by emptying a lake onto it.
There are not enough bodies, and those who are there are unidentifiable.
*If you believed that, there’s a job in the propaganda corps. Apply to Random or Zurehn with an open mind. What probably happened is Benedict defeated Finndo in single combat, and the exploding tank gave Finndo a chance to escape being taken prisoner or killed outright.