25 July 2000. Ruins of Częstochowa, Poland.
After emerging from the Catacombs before dawn, the away party (Maks, William and Áron), picked several of the newly-acquired items to haul back on foot to the bivouac spot. The Black Madonna was carefully tarped, and Maks hauled the icon himself.
On the trek back to where the other three made camp inside the ruined shell of a building with the vehicles, the away party walked through streets filled with mud and rubble. Częstochowa was fought over by NATO and the Pact back in ’97, and not a building was left untouched in the air strikes, artillery, and the ground fighting.
They noticed each other at the same time. Perhaps a dozen ragged individuals were picking through a wrecked building… while 4 leather-clad ruffians watched over their flock.
Slavers. Three motorcycles were up on kickstands, and a guy smoked in the cab of a shabby pickup. Both the away team and the slavers jumped for cover, and the leader – a woman – shouted a challenge in Polish. Maks shouted back his own warning.
William and Áron, hearing Col. Maks and the slaver yelling at each other in Polish, shrugged, picked targets, and fired.
William already had his scope on one of the slavers and dropped him with a head shot. Áron fired at another with his G3, hitting once: A lucky shot (for Áron), and the slaver grunted, falling backwards.
Maks, seeing the fight developing without him, fired a couple shots, missing, and getting a jam on the second shot.
It was over quickly, though William took a round from the boss lady’s Vz-24 spray. In the end, she was the only slaver still alive, though gutshot. They tended to her wound as best they could.
The trio started talking with the confused but grateful former slaves, and got some much-needed, albeit limited information about the area. They learned some tidbits of the Margravate of Silesia to the south, and that Americans(?!) apparently composed the defense force of a small city (Dobrodzien) to the southwest of the ruins of Częstochowa.
The Black Madonna is not just the “adventure with the relic”. It is also a sourcebook for Silesia, west of Krakow. It is very likely a Krakow-bound party will travel through this region.
1985 … Frank Frey … 40 pages … GDW 505
South into Silesia
Maks resolved, first, it was time to leave Częstochowa, And second, they’d take all 15 former slaves with them. They’d overload the old pickup and take the motorcycles with them as well. He didn’t know how they’d feed them all, but he’d sort that out later.
They made their way back to the bivouac, where the other three were speechless at the crowd Maks brought back. They decided to make a sprint for Dobrodzien. They already knew the town would not welcome refugees, but hopefully they’d be amenable to trade.
Just northeast of Lubliniec, their small convoy met up with over a dozen horsed soldiers, with pack horses and remounts. These weren’t the communist Polish cavalry they’d seen back in Szczercow. No. These had modern armor highlighted in red. Assault rifles. And lances. Two actually had curved frames extending up from behind their armor, festooned with white feathers, just like the Winged Hussars of old.
The two hussars broke away from the rest and cantered up about to the halfway spot between the riders and the party’s convoy. Maks and Woj went out to meet them.
One introduced himself as Capt. Lisowski, of the Lansja Slaskie of the Barony of Pyskowice. The party had heard rumors that the Markgraf of Silesia was a bit of a throwback, and here was all the confirmation they needed. The freed slaves however had spoken well of the Markgraf, trying to rebuild and unite Silesia under the old traditions.
They warily exchanged information. It became clear that this was a long range patrol, and the Baron’s primary concern in the north was the threat of bandits. Maks invited the hussars to come with him to the truck. Capt. Lisowski questioned the former slaves, who spoke glowingly and passionately on Maks’ behalf.
Lisowski said the refugees would be well-treated in Pyskowice, but would have to work for their keep and rebuild their lives. The party also accepted his invitation to trade and restock there as well. So they diverted from their original course, and accompanied the riders south.