The weather seems to be unusually cool as winter fights to hold on for just a few more weeks, but otherwise, everything is smooth and quiet for the duration of the preparations. The party is finally ready to go, and starts out from Tent City on the trade route going north to the Iron Valley. They leave the Barrier Mountains behind quickly and find themselves staring at the Wastelands when they look east. The first couple of days are chilly, but uneventful as the hamlets and farms seem to grow farther apart, even on the main road. At last, a spring storm breaks winter's hold, and the party is held up in a small roadside inn for several days before able to travel on. Now about 250 from the both Lookout Point and Frontier, the city on the northern border, the terrain has become mostly flat, and the vegetation varies little, with the occasional clump of trees, but mostly grasses and scrub brush. The party seems to have the road mostly to themselves, rarely seeing more than one or two other groups on any given day, and occasionally seeing none.
The party is routinely camping out in the open now, and after setting up camp one evening on a nice spot just off the road, they see a couple of mules with riders coming down the road. They seem to notice your campfire, and start to move toward it.
If you look on the map of Turvar, you are currently about halfway between Lookout Point and the city of Frontier.
Garrett rises to his feet at the sight of the oncoming riders and begins walking over to greet them. They hadn't been settled too long so he hadn't yet removed his plate mail but left his swords and shield next to his bag at the fire. The chakrams on his belt chimed against his armor with every step he took until they were muffled when he stopped to get a better sight of the approaching strangers.
The group seems to consist of a half a dozen mules, with a few pack mules, and a mixture of gnome and halfling riders, moderately well armed and armored, on the others. They seem to be approaching cautiously, but not particularly hostile. One of them calls out in response as they near the camp, "A fair question, but the same could be asked of you. Suffice it to say for now that the our business requires us to travel this road, and we find traveling in the dark rather unpleasant." The voice is calm, but careful as the group stops just outside the shadows being put off by the firelight.
"I can't say I blame you," the aasimar replies with an easy smile. "We were warned of the lurking dangers this area is said to shelter. We travel for the ATA and seek to secure safe trading routes where they do not already exist. If you'd like, I invite you to join us at our camp. My dear friend Evrail is a mastered hunter. He just came back with more than a few rabbits and I was just boiling some water for stew." He turns back to gauge the reaction of his fellows before continuing on.
"What do you say, a hot meal and company in return for the added safety of your numbers?" he asks smiling brightly, the full effect of his charisma behind each of his words.
The halfling who spoke before seems to ponder the response a bit, still not quite sure of how to respond when a female gnome speaks up for him. "We'd be happy to share a campsite with our fellow travelers. You must have faith in the Wanderer, Boris; he has blessed our journey, and would have us spread his word amongst any willing to listen." Boris seems to frown a bit, but relents, and the female gnome, with her entourage, enter the camp. "I am Aluhanna Graveltoes, the living voice of The Wanderer, and I have been called to spread his words to any who will listen. Boris and Thodak, my ever vigilant protectors, and Gurnda, my assistant and student, are on our way to the shrine of Tula in Tulas, her birthplace, to seek her aid in the return of our protector and guide in this world." Aluhanna, a more mature gnome, settles down by the fire, while Thodak and Gurnda, two younger gnomes, take more time with the mules than is absolutely necessary, with Gurnda looking distracted when they finally sit down, and Boris, a rather tough looking halfling, continues to eye the party carefully as he keeps near Aluhanna.
"I am Aluhanna Graveltoes, the living voice of The Wanderer..."
"A pleasure to meet you Aluhanna Graveltoes! My name is Garrett Snow and if you don't mind my asking, which wanderer do you mean?" Garrett asks looking over the crowd of diminutive guests. The paladin individually greets and introduces himself to each Boris, Thodak and Gurnda in turn; giving a handshake and a smile to each who accepts him.
"I certainly have ears to listen to whatever words you care to spread. this should give my companions a chance to rest from the stories I've been pestering them for over the past few nights."
"I will listen to good stories you might have of battle, hunting or glory" says Einar in response to Aluhanna "As Einar bring out the folding chairs and helps with the fire. [b]"I'm Einar and were are you traveling too?" as he sits sharpening his axe with a whetstone waiting for the stew to be ready.
"Why, The Wanderer of course. He is a gnome from olden times that spent his life traveling, learning, and exploring. He spent so much time wandering that Death eventually gave up trying to catch up and gave him a pass. After a time, the wars here made the roads scarce and unpleasant, so he went off to wander the other planes with his wolf by his side. Now, he seeks to return and see what has changed, as well as share what he knows of what came before, which is not inconsiderable, but not being a god himself, and having no desire to become one, he requires aid to pass back through the veil that has been put in place between this world and the rest of the multiverse. He could probably find a way on his own, but that would be very rude, and cause unnecessary headaches to those who put it up, as they had good reasons to see it put in place."
You would know of the the shrine to Tula in Tulas. Tulas is the capital city of the Confederacy, out on an island, and is where Tula arose from the fragments of energy that remained from the ancient battle between Zerit and Zerick. It was Tula that originally championed the idea of the havens, and she was key in getting all the parties to finally agree to the treaty that finally ended the long war.
Pleased at having so willing of an audience, Aluhanna smiles. "He has spoken to me; the barrier stops him from passing through physically, but he possesses the capability to speak to those on this side, and I apparently am a descendent of his, so he spoke with me first. I hope to assist him by appealing to Tula to intercede on his behalf with those who maintain the barrier, as he has asked them to let him in, and they have refused him."
"REFUSED!? HIM!? For all he's been through the very least you could expect is that those in control of the barrier would grant him access to our world," Garrett exclaims as he tosses half a bowl of stew into the fire in sheer outrage. "What would it take to convince these people of the importance of have The Wanderer returned to his proper realm? Whatever the cost, I will pledge towards your cause." The paladin looks to be completely decided with this course, his gaze unwavering as his head bobs rhythmically up and down.
Einar takes this traveler god with some suspicion If he is so good, why would they keep him away." In the end he doesn't give a lot of thought to that, just to the innocence of Garret play out.
"Garret, we have another cause we already pledged to, when we are done, we can think about this one don't you think?" Einar tries to look at him with a very cold stare to see if he understands his true meaning "Garret you fool... I'm the one who is supposed to be glory death seeking man not you! You innocent b%*&@#$."
The gnome smiles. "I am glad that others are willing to help, but if you already have a task to take care of, do not interrupt it on my or my patron's behalf. This is but a simple matter of protocol; the guardians of the veil are simply doing their job, and I am sure once they get the clearance to allow my patron in, they will willingly do so. My journey may seem a thankless one, but really it is an opportunity to spread the word of my patron ahead of his arrival so that he can be greeted properly when he arrives."
"O... Yes I suppose you're right, Einar," Garrett admits with an admonished frown. "I apologize, Aluhanna. It would seem I had forgotten our duty after being swept up in your tale." The simple aasimar lets out a lighthearted snort of laughter as he looks to his companions for some small sign of support. Seeing little more than chastising glares he returns his attention to the herald and her stories.
"It's quite refreshing to find someone with such a reverence for the Gods as you have. Most reactions I've faced range someplace between begrudged tolerance and outright hatred. A handful of folks in my hometown went as far to dub me "The Celestial Bastard" on account of my heritage. In case you could not tell, I am an aasimar," the silver haired, violet eyed boy radiating goodness and divine blessing explains as if pointing out something the travelers were otherwise unaware of.
For now, since you don't have a background yet, I'll keep this simple. For whatever reason, you happen to find yourself on this section of the trade route looking a place to stop for the night when you see a large camp just off the road with a wagon and several animals.
Einar chuckles with Garret "He is of good heart and we are fine with it. I know that would lead us to good stories to tell and glory to my name.""Well that damage control wasn't so bad... I have to put something in his mouth, even if it was somewhat obvius you don't damn go spitting your race around...""Oi! Garret how is the soup coming up, can ya try it for me or at least get a "bite" to calm your stomach"I know he probably didn't get it, but it's worth to try as Einar get's up for a moment and brings out some trail rations for him. "You missed some groups of people, those that only kiss the gods arse when it suits them and those that are grateful and thank them sincerely in their every day life. I do follow Erastil, but my people do not build great shrines like they do here in the south, we worship through deed and are grateful for what we get."
The beauty of this situation is you really only need to know why you are on the road for now. You can post in spoilers until you actually approach. Once the rest of the party has something to react to, post normally.
Atokos, you sneak up toward the camp, and manage to do a pretty good job of finding and staying behind brush as you do so.
In camp, Aluhanna seems to pause in her conversation for a brief second and smile before continuing on. Einar, as you drift out of the ongoing conversation between the gnome and Garrett, you catch sight of a man carefully approaching the camp, and doing a remarkably good job of not drawing attention to himself in the process.
Atokos, you can see one halfling seemingly on edge, and there are a couple of gnomes by the animals more interested in each other than anything else, and the others are gathered around the campfire, discussing something with great animation. A few of them seem to be very well armed and armored, but you can't make out anything more than that.
Atokos will stay where he is until he can get a better grasp on whether these people are trustworthy or not, although the halfling and gnomes do ease the tension a bit. They don't tend towards banditry, from what he assumes, which puts him at ease a bit.
"While it's not my best work, the stew is quite appetizing wouldn't you say?" Garrett replies and scans the crowd for assurance, missing Einar's hint to stop talking. "I appreciate your offer but I'd prefer to eat the fresh stew over the dried salty beef. We can save those for another time when Evrail finds it harder to hunt. Aluhanna, tell me of how you came to meet your traveling companions. You seem to have a rather distinguished group surrounding you. Are they supporters of you or your cause? Both?"
I'm not actively searching for anything but here's a Perception to see if I catch anything out of the corner of my eye.
Einar quietly face palms and smiles back at Garret You tried...You are right Garret, might as well save it for when it counts. as Einar grumbles a bit and takes it back were the rest of the supplies are. Should I keep an eye on our supplies just in case they decide we are sharing more things that we actually are? Einar stays with the supplies for a bit longer until called back to eat, pretending to make sure everything is covered and well kept
You notice the two younger gnomes off by themselves, in no hurry to rejoin the rest of the group. You also notice that Aluhanna's attention is not entirely on the discussion, but seems to be partially on things around camp. You notice that Einar is a bit annoyed, though you aren't really sure why. The tents, wagon, and animals keep you from really seeing much outside of camp from your current location.
As you wait for supper to cook, you notice both Aluhanna and Einar seem to quickly glance out of the camp, and following their lead, you notice a figure just outside camp watching it.
One of the bigger men in the camp moves toward the supplies, where he lingers a bit, but otherwise you see no significant movement.
The man comes to a stop, and seems to mostly be appraising the inhabitants of the camp for now.
Atokos stands, completely non-threatening, hands up. Well, I guess I wasn't as sneaky as I thought. I was jus' trying to figure out whether you were bandits or not. From the little ones, my guess is no, but you can never be too careful. He waits for a response from the two who have caught sight of him.
Aluhanna continues to talk, apparently unconcerned about actions on the edge of the camp, though Boris semms to take notice. "My companion's stories are best left to them to tell, as they can tell it far better than anyone else. How I am acquainted with them, however, is another matter. I have known Gurnda and Thodak since they were children, and Boris is a more recent friendship."
Well, you travel with those who certainly don't appear to be your kin. he says, motioning to the gnomes and halflings, so have you converted them, or they you? They certainly appear to have more freedom than raid victims would likely be allowed. Even as he asks his questions, he reaches for his weapon. It would appear this man uses a whip. He also backs up a bit.
Einar begins to laugh so hard "They certainly are not my kin. At least you are a funny one" as Einar tries to breath more steadily and speak more calmly "Yes raid "victims" I'll tell that to hags that steal and kill my people, or the pirates" as Einar chuckles "Very quick to judge, but it is normal of southern people the live less harsh of a life. There is only one like me here, but we are different." as he contemplates the stars for a second "I'm Einar and you are?"
Atokos replaces his whip on his belt. "It is good to hear my feeble attempt at humor was well-received. My name is Atokos, and it is a pleasure to meet you, Einar. It's also good to know that you are not of the demeanor of your kin. Even were I to beat you to the draw, I doubt that would help very much" he says, eying the large man's muscles.
"Well don't tempt my curiosity when bored Atokos" showing him a grin "There is no such thing as a draw for starters, that is only said when a defeated foe is given a chance to save face, or a clever foe that get's away with it." as he continues to watch the sky and guard for little while longer "What brings you here?"
I think you misunderstand me. I was, in fact, saying I could likely not beat you, were we to fight. And as for what brings me here, I'm on the road, looking for jobs to do. I lost track of time travelling today, and didn't set up camp before dark. When I saw yours from down the way there, I figured that, if your group were hospitable, as you appear to be, I might camp here for the night, and possibly travel with you, as we do appear to be going the same way.
Still unaware of the newest visitor to the camp, the paladin tries to press the conversation he assumes is growing stale from Aluhanna's perspective. "I'd say, from the looks of it Gurnda and Thodak are quite close," Garrett comments, eyeing the pair of secluded self-interested gnomes. "I'd ask them if they'd like to join us but I imagine they'd decline. Boris however may come to crack his shell and dine with us," he says with a smile.
"Boris!" he calls over the fire to the stoic halfling. "Please, do me the honor of supping in my company. I have a great deal of interest in the details around your circumstance."
"You are more than welcome to join, I do warn you of something, Garret stew is... " as he struggles for words to find for it "Well just try it and go find a place with the rest" as Einar waves him away and points him to the direction for fire, moving moments later after Atokos towards the camp fire again.