The New World

Session 72

Session 72 – “The Devil’s in the Detail.”

Synopsis – The group hammers out a trade agreement with the local governor to allow Montaigne to trade certain goods and items within Cathay. As such agreements are required to be ratified by the Emperor’s chosen representative, the group moves closer to it’s goal of entering the Forbidden city and acquiring the desired piece of the crystal skull.

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Session 71

Session 71“No, really, show me the money !”Tuesday 14th August 2012 – by Frithhill

Elapsed time – 782 days real time, 576 days game-time (5th March 1604 ?)

Synopsis- The group makes good their escape with the captive. Thomas exercises his mercantile spirit by negotiating a deal with the forces of the Tong. Temporary rest and recuperation for all.

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Session 70

Session 70“It’s all fun and games until someone lose an … Oh, forget it!” – by Frithhill

Elapsed time-

Synopsis – The group decides to enter a hard negotiation with “The Gardener” despite being only lightly armed. The resulting melee leaves many injured, Pierre Le Schtroumpf half blind, and the “Gardener” badly burnt and at the mercy of the PCs.

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Session 69

Session 69“Interesting Times”Tuesday 31st July 2012 – by Frithhill

Elapsed time -

Synopsis- The party is offered a deal by a mysterious individual known as “The Gardener” who claims to represent the Lord of a Thousand Deaths. As such they are forced to wrestle with the ethical decision of becoming opium smugglers or standing against one of the most feared Tongs in Cathay.

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Session 68

Session 68Thursday 19th July 2012“Show me the money !” – by Frithhill

Elapsed time – 756 days real time, days game time (1st March 1604 ?)
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With his arm cut off by a Nihonji pirate, Vittorio sought solace in his cups. During that fateful voyage from Mao Kei to the Cathay mainland naught his friends could do would relieve his melancholia and he refused to see any, save a matronly Cathayan serving girl (herself rescued by Vitorio from the clutches of the same pirates) who brought him nourishment in this time of trial. Why many a time the howling and the banging echoing from his cabin drove the sailors above deck to peruse peace and sanity. It was during such an interlude that I caught my first site of Cathay. The island of Mao Kei was as nothing compared to this wondrous land, as everything we had found strange there, had it’s home here. Dho patiently answered many of the questions that I asked him about such wonders [ many pages of descriptions of Cathayan buildings, roof ornaments, street vendors etc. cut for space and time] “

The Truthfule and Factual Accounte of the Epically Heroic Voyages of Vittorio Tornatore
(as scribed by Melchoir Augustus Browne)

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“ Many scholars of the esoteric and occult propose a substitution code hidden in the rather long winded and poorly spelt account of the ‘Voyages of Vittorio Tornatore’ relying on much alchemic law, astrology, tarot symbology, Latin and ancient Greek. The so called Melchioric or Browne code. For example the long passages describing roofing tiles, dragon shaped water spouts, silken clothing and peasant straw hats that takes up 5 pages of the book when the expedition first reaches the Cathay mainland is most often translated as this:
Brothers and fellow initiates with eyes to see, when first coming to Cathay I did hear the clarion music of the spheres with a clarity that made me weep. The harmony of the voices reflected by such a sound filled my very senses as the quintessence of the land flowed through my veins, and my arts did increase twice fold. Upon research, in such halls of knowledge held by the Cathay, the like of which our Old World has not known since the ancient temple crumbled I did find it’s cause. As the crystal spheres demonstrate the harmony and unchangeable order of the cosmos, so to is the Cathayan world ordered, and if one where to pierce the circles of it of it’s people, warriors and bureaucrats , there at it’s centre in the Forbidden city sits the emperor. And upon his head, brought as treasure from the new world, sits a fragment of the crystal skull, singing the harmony of the cosmos.
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Crystal Spheres, Crystal Skull
Beigant, Leigh and Lincon, 1982

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Session 67

Session 67“Please Sir, can I have some more …?”Friday 15th June 2012 – by ShaunFreney and Frithhill

Elapsed time – 722 days real time, 570 days game-time (28th February 1604 ?)

Location – on the verge of departure from Mao Kei, sixpence none the richer.

Objective – to negotiate a safe passage through southern Cathay, on roads unknown, since the maps that are needed are in the same place where permission to travel by those ways may or may not be forthcoming. Ah, adventure, you smell of cold sweat.

And there is only seven months left on the Doomsday clock, too.

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Session 66

Session 66“Bring me wine !”Friday 8th June 2012 – by Frithhill and ShaunFreney

Elapsed time – 715 days real time, 563 days game time (21st February 1604 ?)

Location – some ashore in Mao Kei (Melchior, Guy, Pierre) , enjoying the care and hospitality of the Pertuese governor, some having returned to le Dauphin (Thomas, Vittorio), in the harbour of Mao Kei.

Objectives – waiting on an indisposed pay-master, who is also benefitting from the tender mercies of the Pertuese colonial establishment. Waiting to see if the cage door will be locked. Trusting to the benevolence of those who have already seized the ship in an act of piracy (or war), thrown several of us into a foetid hole, and made a claim on booty derived from the actions of the ship, contending (apparently) a share in any prize taken; as though it was their vessel that was used.

Oh, and then there is the evidence of their repentance for previous peccadilloes, in the form of giving one of the Wokou prisoners a couple of swords, and posting another inadequate guard force in the face of the attempted break-out which followed immediately thereafter. If they should try to leverage a claim of loss (because of the deceased prisoners, who could have been sold into slavery, had they not died) into a suit for additional concessions, possibly a coup de regime.

.

.

From the incoherent ramblings of Pierre, currently bleeding and unconscious:

“Zo, we fight great duel to capture Shinzo Kamakura after we go to trouble of doing it once already. Vittorio lose arm, I lose all feeling in stomach and lot of blood. Vittorio worse off, am sure, but maybe not by much.

“Oh, then Thomas turn up. Is about time. He heard gunfire and decide to lead eighty Montaigne soldiers to rescue. Reader will note Pierre not using exclamation marks for effect like usual, with good reason. Thomas not speak Montaise. Pierre say again: Thomas not speak Montaise. Soldiers have no idea what he say, and it night-time. Gestures are no good, even if men close enough to see. So now we have four-score confused men with guns in foreign place and important people wandering around or bleeding out. You see problem, no?

“We discuss problem, or everyone but Pierre does, because Pierre still trying not to cough up chopped liver. Some of us in ship having returned, some still here. Qi still down and out. Do we have solution? Beats me.”

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Session 65

Session 65“It’s all fun and games until someone loses an arm”Tuesday 29th May 2012 – by ShaunFreney and Frithhill

Elapsed time – 708 days real time, 563 days game-time (21st February 1604?)

Location – In pursuit of a fugitive who de-camped over the curtain wall of the Pertuese governor’s residence in Mao Kei.

Purpose – To avoid complications resulting from a fraught relationship with the Pertuese colonial authorities. To obtain the rewards of mercenary employment (a future in which being paid rather than giving it away for is a new leaf which holds a tantalizing prospect). To venture into the unknown interior.

“Zo, is account of great dinner and politic goings-on what might concern us, and brouhaha that happen for dessert. Pierre prefer pudding to conflict, but occasionally menu not accommodating. Shinzo Kamakura is on board after pirate destructions, is in chains and not cooking up delightful souflee for later (to continue to use food metaphor) but storing up bile. Is very unhealthy, can lead to many sicknesses according to barber-surgeon general.

“We arrive home (well, Mao Kei) after much sailing and learning on board of duties and things. Melchior, l’homme occulte, speak in mind to Prosperino the Wise and assure all is according to plan (or at least we not dead yet) while Guy decides to get to know sailors a little better and eat and drink. Thomas attempts to get Pierre into padded dogsuit to train attack hound again but Pierre is mysteriously not to be found, although Pierre find enough time to study with Li Kao to learn a little more about pretty arty words. Is hard enough to spell words with twenty-something letters plus diacritics and digraphs, let alone language with forty paintingwords for rice. Not even rice is word for rice. Is complicated, but Li Kao patient teacher and make Pierre wonder somewhat why he put up with it.

“Speaking of odd behaviour, Vittorio decide to talk to captive Cathay lady on behalf of Melchior (who bewitched her earlier and made her not friendly at all to him). He invite her to new quarters on ship, and they disappear for hour or two. Vittorio appear later ill-dressed and with smile on face, so is perhaps not difficult to work out what happen. Is always easy to tell when man get end away, like lighthouse of the pants it is, happyface visible out to sea for miles. Shinzo Kamakura who we captured is led off and kept in craphole where some others who shall remain nameless (not Pierre or Thomas, oh no!) but also he is pantaloonsless along with other pirates for just reward (har har!).

“So we arrive at Mao Kei with riches and booty (although some of us get more booty than rest of us, eh Vittorio) and quartermaster start dividing up riches between sailors and officers (we messieurs de la route, or gentlemen of road, have more simple mathematical cut of loot) minus cost of shiprunnings and wear and tear. We are invited to dinner at Pertuese Governor House (naminge?) which is mostly for General Qi but also us brave warriors riding on special event coattails. We attend in nicest clothes which is mostly silk Cathay robes which Pierre much like, although others take weapons which Pierre consider rude and not at all in keeping with local customs. When in the Eschatican, do as the Eschaticans do, as they say. But do not drink water or touch the women.

“So we all do to fancy-schmancy dinner bedecked in silks which Pierre notice good for sleeves, nice and long and excellent combat cloak stand-in. Guy stuffs pants full of pistols and everyone else wear fancy swords and whatnot for Europaean fancy-danciness. No-one can take offense because is barbarian cultural norm, although Pierre take handy knife in boot in case of tough meat or toe-fu (is some kind of bland fighting art, probably) to be polite. Pierre not take big sword or guns. Pierre is so smart.

“So dinner go well, we are seated at top of middle of table in Portuese dining hall down from top generals and governors but above middle paperpushers and non-peoples. Pierre hand off most spicy foreign dishes to Guy who devours like is no tomorrow, while Melchior and Vittorio keep an eye on proceedings where arguments going on at top of table. Pierre try to keep tabs on details but difficult in spray of rice from the fountain that is la Monstre Cookie de Guy. General Qi hold polite talks with Grand Secretary Xiao Gubai, a chubby man in good clothes who is chief of all south-east provinces and other assorted peoples. Apparently Portuese admiral/governor/pencilmasher is upset, is not our fault, is Prosperinoiac magickal force which get us here but he and underlings wonder how our ship get here with fresh food still good and water with no bugs in. Apparently means we have secret base close by, but if he cannot put two and two together Pierre not going to help simpleton with obvious riddle. Anyhoo, it cause problem so Li Kao come help himself to our food and fill us in on disgruntlements. We are kept abreast of issues and begin to formulate plans…

“Then great big bell go off, same big bell we saw earlier but discounted because was obviously no threat or problem. We so smart. Lots of noise and shootings which mean shit hit fan, because is thrown by escaping prisoners and spread smelly confusion everywhere. General Qi lead us out to prisoner yard where Shinzo is standing outside shitpit gaol and wielding swords with company. Qi is miffed and leads charge, and we dutifully follow.

(Which is to say, Pierre follow, everyone else go for other prisoners. Musketmen on walls taking sweet time reloading and not helpful anytime soon. Thomas is on ship. Pierre very put out.)

“General Qi, mighty warrior, go to toe with Shinzo and begin a great battle. Vittorio and Guy beat up pirate followers, Monsieur Melchior did too or something, hard to tell because the General fall to sneaky stab to chest right in front of us. Pierre feel funny, possibly because he friends with General, but usual kneewobbles and pantstrouble not kick in. Pierre annoyed and leap forward to defend gallant leader who only politician not wanting our blood right now. Pierre snap long sleeve of gown around foot and trip Shinzo to fall to ground for coup de grace, or is plan anyway. Dastardly bastard lift foot, step forward and bury damn Nihonese woku zashi shortsword in Pierre’s gut up to hilt. Pierre out for count, needless to say.

“Then (as told by comrades, later, though sadly they prone to exaggeration) Vittorio and Qi (on feet again, possibly with medical help from Melchior) lead charge and force Shinzo to battlements. Epic battle follows! Slash, stab, slash again, Qi helpful but Vittorio pulling every trick out of book, hat and occasionally arse. Sneaky feint, disarm attempts, whole ball of wax! Swish, swipe, flash of blades and Qi goes down! Is left to Vittorio!

“Melchior approach with musket from other side, Guy move up behind Vittorio with halberd, attempt to stab and hack too. Vittorio so brave, ducking and fighting and trying for opening. Then Shinzo whirl and slash down on Vittorio, and awful thing happen. After shock, Vittorio’s arm is lying on ground, with good sword no less.

“But what do Vittorio Tornadore, master swordsman do? He throw in towel? No monsieur! He shocked and battleweary but not beaten! Vittorio let out bloodcurdling scream and attack with main-gauche in left hand, he not put up with such bullshit from pirate scum! He press attack, and in face of overwhelming greatness Shinzo the Coward run leap from battlement to ground and run off into town. He leave big trail of blood, so he not lasting very long. Vittorio slump down tired, but we have won! Bon victoire! He not juggling anytime soon, but no doubt we can fix with modern medical science.”

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Session 64

Session 64General V. and General Qi go to warTuesday 22nd May 2012 – by ShaunFreney and Frithhill

Elapsed time – 701 days real time, 549 days game time (7th February 1604?)

Location – Towing hulls back to southern Cathay from Formosa

Objective – To slip the bonds of General Qi’s surly gravity and fly free among, um… what now ?

From the diary and/or bragging of Pierre le Schtroumph:

“So, Pierre is covered in blood. Pierre feels dizzy. It best time to tell story now, before is too late.
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“Before battle, Pierre help Capt. Truffaut to steer ship in days after leaving land village, offering helpful advice and useful anecdotes about sea-boats. He concentrate mostly on ship business and listen not to Pierre, is obviously difficult for captain, perhaps he not confident in own ability. Lucky we have Vittorio to help in supervisory manner, and Melchior for headsmarts. Thomas and Guy also useful in certain capacity Pierre not sure of at the moment, but will come to him soon no doubt.
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“We head north as per poor lady’s telling when Melchior talks to her through Li Kao (spellinge?) talking in Cathese, what with her being under stress after husband and kiddiewinks not want to talk to her after she do horizontal dancing with pirate man from Cipangu. Still following? Bon. Thomas was injured saving her or something from man, makes change for once. He does bleed blood, which is surprise to all. Pierre assume some kind of ice or quicksilver in veins, lose five groats to Bad Pete in wager. Is cutting to bone, it is. So we go north as per info Melchior get with possibly occult persuasion, she not like it. Pirates are hiding in some place where natives are savage and not very cultured, we go northwards, we spy out pirate island. We do very well with reconnaisance, and sneak up like finest quiet rat in loud tavern. Everyone must be looking other way, or perhaps Pierre’s advice prove useful. Either way, he have sneaky advantage.
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“General Qi boarded our ship, is ship of line and bloody massive to boot with Europaean cannon which rarely explode. He command our fleet in combination with Vittorio by signals from central position, and our ship approach on central line through front gate. Pirate island an atoll type affair, from what ship’s geologist tell me is burnt-out volcano island a little bit sunk and water harbour middle in hollow middle like letter C. Is not easy, but with
strength of numbers we could prevail!
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“So we do have sneaky advantage, and Pierre go to fighting top to use cyclic rifle that Vittorio leave in Pierre’s trusty hands. Pierre take out many scouts and spymen, do very well but very safe. Vittorio and Thomas sneak ahead to get rid of seagate chain, they do to destroy and we can sail in nicely. Guy take a group on land, wander off somewhere. Pierre not sure where, Guy will turn up eventually.
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“So battle go well for first couple of hours, we do very well. We sail in, bombard fortified positions, go much better than expected. Pierre have good idea, actual real Pierre idea even if other ones aren’t quite so believable. Also not stolen from Horatio Nelson Hornblatter stories, that character Albish anyway and fighting Montaigne ships and not at all applicable to current situation. “Pierre say, ’”These hills, they are very high around the C shape. We take cannon from ship and put on land, and push up slope to attain high position. We arrange to fire from place of safety from above and unable to be hit from below. Is very handy and we cause many casualties."’ We do this, and Pierre is correct. And how!
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“So we charge through seagate and blow island to kingdom come where we have range. We put pirate to sword and fire shot into forts while ships attacked from behind and above by artillery and all hell break loose for wokoo. Is not good time to be pirate. General Qi press attack and blast hell to leather, and further shit hit windmill. Pierre decide valour is better part of valour today, not discretion as is usual and decide to help directly. Pierre feel very odd, and feel oddly patriotic to… well, is hard to say. Is not Pierre’s country, can’t read the writing or eat all the food without feeling funny, but we are here to find crystal jaw for occult skull and we have job to do. Pierre climbs down from crow’s nest, loads pistols and decides to seeks greater glory. He attaches himself to handy soldier unit, is gloriously useful, find many useful purses and combat advantages. The corporal, he cut down in first volley, men are trapped in building and unable to escape. Pierre feel very odd, not sure why but feeling super-helpful and a little… er, what is word? Heoric? Heroick? Is difficult to explain. However, Pierre end up charging from top of building with pistols drawn and shouting epithets. Pierre told he emerge later cover in blood up to waist. Sounds disgusting, but Pierre not remember.
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“Later Pierre out with men and try to save embattled musketeers in difficult position from warkos. We charge in, is bad situation. We lose some men, but not many really in grand scheme of things. Pierre carve swathe through front line with mace and pistols, is very new experience. Eventually slip on man’s brains on floor and take head whack, we do badly in combat but win the war apparently. Eventually we report back, everyone confused to find Pierre combat-stained and looking funny and not hiding in barrel or under ehavy furniture. Apparently Pierre not frightened of fight-time anymore, but Pierre brave warrior in any case and not liking slander of this type! Still, Pierre feeling confused and very new, feeling rather contemplative and not unwilling to risk head being separated from shoulders. Pierre should investgate this phenomena in case of unfortunate side-effects such as wounding and death symptoms in future.
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“Pierre end up a little richer and a little wiser. Also, feels slightly less need to wear brown-coloured britched in case of sudden shocks. Pierre feeling like he grow up as a person. Had to happen someday. Anyway, we now defeated pirate base, so hurrah! Also, lots of cash.

“Oh, Pierre not dead, by the way. Just found cellar of plum wine, feeling rather odd amd a little ill. Best have a pie to settle stomach.”

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Session 63

Session 63“Big Brother”Tuesday 24th April 2012 – by Frithhill

Elapsed time – 673 days real time, 513 days game-time (2nd January 1604?)

Location – On a cruise up the coast of Cathay

Objective – To suppress the activity of a Nihonjin clan (headed by Shinzo Kamakura) engaged in depredations and outrages against Cathayan shipping.

(In this session the picaroons enjoyed relative leisure, applying themselves to whatever interested them. At intervals throughout a month, le Dauphin (of 76 guns) was required to blast away at craft which attempted to run from the flotilla of two larger (each of 30 guns) and six smaller (each of 20 guns) Cathayan craft under the overall command of General Qi.

On the second day of 1604, the ship, temporarily operating on it’s own sighted another craft, adrift and mastless, with smoke drifting from it’s sterncastle. It was a smaller but nevertheless substantial mercantile vessel. Closing, it appeared to be battle-damaged and abandoned. Drawing alongside, and attaching lines, a search party, consisting of Vittorio Tornatore, currently le Dauphins commander, his idle friends and a couple of Cathayan soldiers was dispatched. Shortly after they had all mounted down onto the deck, a splash was heard, and rushing to the rail, the captain saw a swimmer in the water, headed for the distant shore. A scramble to evacuate the junk, and cast off from it ensued, six men all trying to climb the same rope ladder at the same time. All except Thomas Rede who was at the bow, and hung off it, to put as much of the structure of the ship between him and an explosion as possible and Vittorio (commanding) who dived in after the swimmer and engaged in a knife-fight (in the sea). When he was stabbed in the chest, while the boarders were still climbing back onto le Dauphin, who’s crew were fending off from the junk, Thomas dropped into the sea and recovered him.

After some argument about what to do with a (valuable) ship, and a cargo consisting entirely of stockpiled gun-powder, it was decided that it should, for the sake of verisimilitude, be detonated. Standing well off, a boat was put out. The fuse (extinguished by Melchior Browne along with the brazier full of woodchips and some of the Dauphins below-decks lamps) was re-lit and craft and it’s cargo scuttled.

Attention turned shorewards, and where the most expendable man in the pirate crew (while still being thought capable of holding his nerve until the trap was investigated, and capable of lighting a slow-match) might have gone. And thus le Dauphin came to Ning Bo. No sign of where the Wokou came ashore was found and the head-man spoke on behalf of the remaining population, asserting that no such thing had been seen. (Of course in his defense people were busy putting their houses out, after they had been shelled liberally, judiciously put to the torch when a small horde of wokou landed, took everything and everyone they wanted, and killed some people who tried to stop them, or just got in the way. Some boats were sunk at their mooring, holed or set alight too). Also he was able to tell the strangers that the raid had co-incedentally occurred exactly when the tax-collector had been passing through Ning Bo.

With evening drawing in early (it is after all winter and a bare week after the solstice), the liberty of the town was extended to those ashore (the principals, ten marines and two of General Qi’s Dragons who Guy likes having around him).

In a teahouse fortunately undamaged by shot and fire, tea and rice wine were served. Being an unsociable creature, Thomas escaped out into the darkness for a quiet pipe. The sounds of hushed conversation impinged on his consciousness. Now, if Thomas had a penny for every time that he had been trapped or bottlenecked in an inn (against his better judgement on most recent occasions, though the second time in the same damn inn in Londinium is all on him) he’d have about eight more pennies than he currently has. More valuable by far is the wisdom that inns are naturally a good place for incidents to thrust themselves on you suddenly. This knowledge is priceless, so in his mind people whispering outside the back of an inn amounts to a conspiracy.

Standing by the corner of an adjacent building he was eventually able to discern two speakers, one of them a woman, who passed into the teahouse through a rear door when they parted, leaving a man propped up against the wall of the woodshed behind the teahouse. Thomas fetched the least drunk comrade from inside (Vittorio on this occasion), leaving the rest to wonder whether they had been drugged or poisoned. As it turned out they were just drunk.

As the two original torch-bearers were preparing to trap the bandaged man, who Thomas had watched Vittorio have an aquatic knife-fight with that morning, they heard the alarms placed by Guy at Melchior’s suggestion on the readily thievable boats, and broke into a run. They arrived in time to see the wokou and his local accomplice finishing the “Take me with you !” conversation, which the pirate ended by saying “I’m a free-spirit, baby, don’t try to change me” (or words to that effect in Nihonji) and ran his love-struck collaboratrix through with a katana even as she clung to him.

In the second essentially insane fight for the session, Thomas’ attempt to neatly incapacitate the sapper with a pommel-blow went wrong (a dodge was made, even with a minus two penalty baulking what was up until that moment a well constructed offence) and he was obliged to use the entire small fishing sampan as a weapon. Having succeeded he stroked carefully back to the unexpectedly crowded end of a pier, heaved his borrowed sword up onto its decking, hauled himself up after it and rolled onto his back to lie bleeding).

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