Appario smiles and follows.
"Derek, I wonder if these fine folk are going to be our first new market for your brews. 'RedCap Ale, unleash the fey!' or maybe 'HagsBrew, you can taste the flies!'" Appario says to his new business partner.
"Yeah, the pitches almost write themselves."
Appario walks, thinking about how coin can be made here.
Leave it to Derek to be drinking while in a bouncing carriage
Pursing her lips in thought, Yahirma responds, "Yes, I am discovering her powers to be stronger by the day. If we are expected, then she may already have a price in mind, in which case it will be difficult to negotiate."
She follows Dog Tongue. "I am certain that an alcoholic beverage could be named for satyrs, or would that be too easy? Perhaps the real challenge would be to name a drink for a nymph or a dryad."
"Expected, yes! The Mother sent me here many days ago to wait for a small group who would come at night, and take them to the Maggot Tree."
Dog's Tongue looks back at those following, licking his lips once more.
"A large group passed through almost as soon as I arrived, but they came during the day. So I hid from them and waited."
Moving further into the forest proper, the group passes by plants and trees giving the impression that their growth isn't entirely natural. Even the more ordinary species of trees grow to immense sizes, rivaling the redwoods, and the unnaturally large plants are often stricken with strange, tumorlike growths.
Yahirma and Vahnwynne both continue to see signs of a large group, including both boot-clad humanoids and dogs, passing along the same route. Eventually these tracks are joined by several that must be made by larger, bare-feeted humanoids.
As the group draws nearer to their destination (or at least to the destination Dog's Tongue leads them to), they start noticing plumes of smoke rising from deeper in the forest, indicating the presence of fires.
The Redcap stops as sightings of these fires become more frequent, licking his lips before he speaks.
"Those fires. They come from near the Maggot Tree."
Drinking is a way of life for Derek, it's not just for christmas.
This land is littered with failed drinkers, well, not this one! Yeah! He's a stayer!
Finding that his mood is significantly better now that a topic he is familiar with has comes up, Derek smiles and shakes his head.
"No no, there IS a beer that bears the likeness of a redcap, if not the name. As for a Nymph or Dryad, I take it that you are not familiar with Neissa's houney mead?"
Derek's voice changes subtly as he enters pontification mode.
"Neissa was the queen of a breed of water nymphs known as Nyads, and is brewed by a small brewery at the outskirts of Varasia.
Reputedly they mix in a few drops of her tears and blood in each barrel, and that is why it is so hard to stop drinking it after the first sip."
"Are there normally fires near your Maggot Tree?", Maddok asks, unsure of the meaning of the fey's warning.
"Tell me more about this group that came before us. What were they bearing? Did you see their numbers?"
Maddok frowns at the information, "The mother is powerful, but could these men and their dogs be a danger to her?"
The big man shakes his head, "Either way we should hurry. This feels wrong."
During the trip out, Semenya enjoins with the banter. "We'd best not give her Derek - he's likely as not to strive for rave reviews, and we'd never get him back. Perhaps Appario could meet her in her boudoir?"
At Yahirma's question, Semenya pauses for a moment. "Let me get to a higher vantage point..." She casts the Message cantrip to include the entire party.
Semenya darts up the tallest tree and cranes forward, taking a long look.
1d20 + 11 ⇒ (18) + 11 = 29 Perception
1d20 + 17 ⇒ (13) + 17 = 30 Stealth
From her higher vantage point, Semenya can still not quite see the destination since there are so many large and tall trees in this forest. However, she does see something that appears to be some sort of scouting party or patrol group advancing through the nearby forest, headed more or less in the direction of the party's current position. She estimates they would arrive within three to five minutes.
This group consists of two giants, each standing 10 ft tall, as well as about half a dozen humans, several of which hold the leash of dogs.
"Giants?", Maddok asks in disbelief. "Those aren't simple visitors, that sounds like a war party."
"The rest of you should hide. I will wait in plain sight and try to learn their intentions. If they mean us or the Mother harm, you can ambush them."
Derek marvels at the way Appario seems to not so much BLEND into the shadows as...BECOMMING the shadows.
One moment he is there, and then he disappears so fast and so silently that you almost do not realize he is gone until you take a second look.
"Are you sure Big brother? We could just avoid them altogether and move on out of sight.
IF they are a war party, the time we spend fighting them here would slow us down before we can help the..."mother"."
Derek still prepares to hide in case Maddok is set on his course of action.
"I doubt we can evade the hounds and it's better we fight them on our terms than have them catch us from behind", Maddok growls.
"If they are but a minute or two away, then keeping to the shadows may be the best tactic. Any who would strike at a man like Maddok greeting them openly may not hold our best interests close to heart. I shall be nearby to aid you."
Yahirma hides within a few large strides of Appario, taking care to share a word with Dog Tongue on the way. "If you must got the Mother to check on her, I understand. You may inform her that allies are on the way. If you prefer, you may hide by my side and learn what news these marauders bring. We shall stand together in sight of the Maggot Tree soon enough."
Stealth 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (1) + 6 = 7
Her cloak still trailing out from one of the nearby bushes and onto the trail, Yahirma settles in to wait for the approaching interlopers.
Vahnwynne looks worried as Maddok prepares to stand alone and meet the approaching group, but she follows his suggestion and hides (Stealth: 1d20 + 21 ⇒ (10) + 21 = 31), virtually vanishing in the bushes nearby.
Dog's Tongue keeps to Yahirma's side, and although he stumbles slightly as he gets into position, he still manages a better job of hiding than she did (Stealth: 1d20 + 19 ⇒ (1) + 19 = 20).
The redcap whispers to the oracle beside him. "My task is to bring you to the Mother. I will stay."
From her perch, Semenya sees the approaching group halt once the dogs catch wind of the Shoanti standing in their path. Two of the humans split off from the others, circling outwards to left and right (both eventually ending up about 60 ft from Maddok), while the remaining four humans, each holding the leash of a dog, and two giants continue their approach after a few heartbeats.
The lumbering giants, each wielding great clubs, wade through the brush near Maddok. They come to a halt at a signal from one of the humans, each standing a few feet behind the giants but letting the dogs run almost up to the Shoanti before pulling back on their leashes. The dogs stand, growling menacingly, five feet from Maddok's position.
Human #1: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (17) + 8 = 25
Human #2: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (10) + 8 = 18
Human #3: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (3) + 8 = 11
Human #4: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (9) + 8 = 17
Dog #1: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (7) + 8 = 15
Dog #2: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (16) + 8 = 24
Dog #3: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (6) + 8 = 14
Dog #4: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (13) + 8 = 21
Ogre #1: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (13) + 2 = 15
Ogre #2: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (17) + 2 = 19
The same human who gave the signal to halt addresses Maddok.
"This is no place for you, or the one hiding over there!" He points at the piece of cloak betraying Yahirma's position. "Return to where you came from!"
These giants are Ogres, a race well known for their brutality and savagery. Yet the stories that are told of them often pale compared to the truth; nothing is taboo in ogre society. Their great strength and lack of intelligence and creativity make them excellent workers for those who are able to bring a tribe to their knees in servitude.
Ogres are strong and tough, and their reach is twice that of humans.
Maddok takes a step back from the hounds and holds his hands up in a non-threatening gesture, "We have no quarrel with you but your lot has no place here anymore than we do. What's your business in the Hagwood?"
"No", Maddok growls as his hand drifts towards his hammer.
After having lunch to think about it I'm not quite satisfied with my last post. It definitely wasn't dramatic enough.
"I could ask you the same. Take your men and leave the Hagwood. Now", Maddok growls as his hand drifts towards his hammer.
Intimidate - 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (18) + 15 = 33
Yahirma has the sense to not tug the betraying corner of a cloak out of sight, as that would only further give her away. Instead, she waits until the interlopers' attention is on Maddok and his words before unpinning the garment from the clinging twigs.
"They are rather vague about their heavy-handed business," she whispers to Dog Tongue. "Any thoughts on who these are or what they want?"
Knowledge (Local) - max 10 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (7) + 2 = 9
Bringing ogres into marshy woodlands? Someone is desperate for hired muscle.
Dog's Tongue shakes his head, licks his lips, and whispers back.
"I don't know. We could visit my kin in the Bloody Tarn? Perhaps they know what has happened here during the days I was waiting for you."
The man takes several steps backwards at Maddok's intimidating growl, but the other humans take Maddok's demeanor as a signal to draw their rapiers. One pushes the ogres forward, and the two giants seem to relish the forthcoming combat, their witless faces splitting into wide grins.
Stealth (Derek): 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (10) + 9 = 19
Appario: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (16) + 5 = 21
Derek: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (10) + 2 = 12
Maddok: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (5) + 2 = 7
Semenya: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (6) + 8 = 14
Yahirma: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (9) + 1 = 10
Vahnwynne: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (6) + 9 = 15
Dog's Tongue: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (19) + 8 = 27
Ogres: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (20) - 1 = 19
Humans: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (2) + 8 = 10
Dogs: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (14) + 2 = 16
Current Initiative order:
27 - Dog's Tongue
21 - Appario
19 - Ogres
16 - Dogs
15 - Vahnwynne
14 - Semenya
12 - Derek
10 - Yahirma and the Humans
7 - Maddok
Reacting quickly as combat appears inevitable, Vahnwynne fluidly moves out of cover to stand beside Maddok, drawing two of her stakes as she moves.
Appario and Semenya can also take actions in the surprise round if they wish, since they weren't noticed by any of the enemies.
Map in the next post. The undergrowth causes the entire forest to count as difficult terrain.
Semenya will cast Fly in the surprise round. When the opportunity presents in future actions, she will fly to a point where she can get both Ogres in a line - preferably with a few of the men in line as well - and let loose with a Lightning Bolt.
Dog's Tongue leaps out of cover and sprints through the undergrowth towards the nearest ogre, giggling with bloodthirsty glee as he attempts to skewer the giant's leg with his scythe.
Scythe attack: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (12) + 10 = 22
Scythe damage: 2d4 + 10 ⇒ (3, 3) + 10 = 16
The giant cries out in pain as blood begins flowing from the huge gash in its left leg.
Up next: Appario's regular action.
Heh. They want to fight, eh?
Appario will dance out from his cover with Extortion poised for a strike (moving to G8). He will attack Dog#1:
1d20 + 12 ⇒ (4) + 12 = 16 to hit;
1d10 + 1d6 + 5 ⇒ (10) + (2) + 5 = 17 damage;
...and continue his movement to finish at Maddok's side (I8).
"Are you *sure* you don't want to go another way, friends? I'd hate to see more of you hurt."
Appario takes out the dog with a single unexpected strike. The injured ogre takes a swing at Dog's Tongue, while the other ogre, still with a dim-witted grin plastered to its face, moves forward and takes a swing at Appario.
Greatclub attack #1 (vs Appario): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (11) + 7 = 18
Greatclub attack #2 (vs Dog's Tongue): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (19) + 7 = 26
Greatclub damage #1: 2d8 + 7 ⇒ (7, 3) + 7 = 17
Greatclub damage #2: 2d8 + 7 ⇒ (3, 5) + 7 = 15
Dog's Tongue takes a crashing blow from the greatclub, but the little fey simply laughs in the face of the giant before it, seemingly not particularly injured by the wooden weapon.
The ogre going after Appario misses.
The remaining dogs all begin barking loudly as they witness the death of their packmate, two lunging towards Appario and the last for Maddok.
Bite attack #1 (vs Appario): 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (6) + 3 = 9
Bite attack #2 (vs Appario): 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (7) + 3 = 10
Bite attack #3 (vs Maddok): 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (6) + 3 = 9
Bite damage #1: 1d6 + 3 ⇒ (6) + 3 = 9
Bite damage #2: 1d6 + 3 ⇒ (2) + 3 = 5
Bite damage #3: 1d6 + 3 ⇒ (5) + 3 = 8
All of the dogs miss.
Vahnwynne moves beside Appario to engage the ogre, leaving herself open to attack from its long limbs as she does.
Greatclub AoO: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (17) + 7 = 24
AoO damage: 2d8 + 7 ⇒ (2, 3) + 7 = 12
Wooden stake attack: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (9) + 11 = 20
Wooden stake damage: 1d4 + 4 ⇒ (4) + 4 = 8
The ogre connects with a blow to Vahnwynne's side as she closes on it, followed by Vahnwynne sinking the stake into the ogre's belly.
>>>Current Map<<< (remember that all squares are difficult terrain, meaning each square requires 10 ft of movement)
Up next: Semenya, Derek, and Yahirma.
Amazed by Dog Tongue's speed, Yahirma tries to compensate for his impetuous bloodthirstiness by stunning the human assailants. She snaps her fingers and points right behind one ogre, where the air erupts in a thunderclap (Sound Burst at the intersection of F-G and 14-15, catching Humans 1, 2, and 3 and Ogre 2)
Sonic Damage (Fort DC 17 to avoid the stun) 1d8 ⇒ 6
Fortitude (Human #1): 1d20 + 3 - 2 ⇒ (7) + 3 - 2 = 8 (-2: shaken)
Fortitude (Human #2): 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (2) + 3 = 5
Fortitude (Human #3): 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (3) + 3 = 6
Fortitude (Ogre #2): 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (13) + 6 = 19
The thunderous burst of sound causes all three of the affected humans to stand as if frozen, while the ogre, by now looking severely injured, still moves normally.
Map as above.
Up next: Semenya and Derek.
I'm not much for fighting in terrain I cannot move well in...
Derek sings out a short note, and as the music dies away, his feet seems to rest that much easier on the ground, and as he begins to move, he does not seem at all hindered by the undergrowth any longer.
Standard action: Casting Feather step
After the note dies away, Derek is quick to follow it up with a song, a hymn to battle and death. A tragic song he once heard about two warriors swearing to die together and one of them dying too young in sickbed.
In despair and desperation the other then begins a quest to cast her lot to fate and seeking death in every battle.
Morbid, but it does the work eh?
Move action: Inspire courage +2, 1/19 Rounds used:
5' step to G6
Flying down from her perch, Semenya finds the perfect spot to send a lightning bolt at both ogres and the unstunned human.
Reflex (Ogre #1): 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (11) + 0 = 11
Reflex (Ogre #2): 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (10) + 0 = 10
Reflex (Human #4): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (10) + 8 = 18
Electricity damage: 7d6 ⇒ (5, 1, 3, 3, 5, 2, 1) = 20
One ogre drops dead to the ground, while the other appears to be on the verge of death after the electricity rages through it. The human, despite being directly in the bolt's path as it was fired, somehow escapes unscathed. The man then begins moving through the undergrowth towards the north.
Perception: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (2) + 11 = 13
>>>Current Map<<< (Semenya is flying, the red-ringed humans are stunned)
Up next: Maddok.
"You had your chance", Maddok growls.
The big man surges past the hounds blocking him and begins stomping his feet and chanting. Move to J11 Provoking
Summon Monster III - 1/5
Another powerfully built bull aurochs appears from 'elsewhere' and, following a nod from Maddok, goes into a rage trampling and goring the stunned humans.
Summon Bull at H13-14 and send it trampling. End trample on the far side of the human trying to escape.
2d6 + 9 ⇒ (2, 1) + 9 = 12 damage. Each victim can attempt a reflex save [DC:17] to take half damage or take an AoO with a -4 penalty.
The two nearest dogs snap after Maddok as he moves past them.
Bite AoO #1: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (14) + 3 = 17
Bite AoO #2: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (18) + 3 = 21
AoO damage #1: 1d6 + 3 ⇒ (4) + 3 = 7
AoO damage #2: 1d6 + 3 ⇒ (4) + 3 = 7
Both dogs miss, although the jaws of one come very close to Maddok's flesh.
Reflex (Human #4): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (16) + 8 = 24
The stunned humans have no way to escape the aurochs' hooves, and all fall prone where they were. The last human manages to evade the trampling beast, yet his escape route has now been cut off.
Dog's Tongue kneels beside the fallen ogre, giggling as he dips his cap in the blood flowing from its wounds.
>>>Current Map<<< (Semenya is flying, the red-ringed humans are stunned and prone)
Up next: Appario.
Appario dances from his current space to F8 (possibly provoking verses the dogs, AC 29 while moving), striking at the Ogre while he moves to get between the Ogre and Derek.
1d20 + 12 ⇒ (14) + 12 = 26 to hit;
1d10 + 5 ⇒ (9) + 5 = 14 damage.
Spring Attack, no AoO from Ogre.
AC: 25 (+7 armor, +2 shield, +2 deflect, +3 dex, +1 dodge)
Smitten: 0 of 2
Lay on Hands used (2d6): 0/4
Spells available: Heroe's Defiance, Word of Resolve
Bite AoO: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (16) + 3 = 19
AoO damage: 1d6 + 3 ⇒ (4) + 3 = 7
The dog nearest the ogre attempts to sink its jaws into Appario as he dances past it, but misses.
Appario's fine swing cuts down the ogre, leaving it bleeding on the ground.
The three dogs converge on their nearest target, Vahnwynne, attempting to utilize pack tactics to take her down.
Bite attack #1: 1d20 + 3 + 2 ⇒ (1) + 3 + 2 = 6 (+2: flanking)
Bite attack #2: 1d20 + 3 + 2 ⇒ (7) + 3 + 2 = 12 (+2: flanking)
Bite attack #3: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (14) + 3 = 17
Bite damage #1: 1d6 + 3 ⇒ (3) + 3 = 6
Bite damage #2: 1d6 + 3 ⇒ (6) + 3 = 9
Bite damage #3: 1d6 + 3 ⇒ (4) + 3 = 7
All three dogs miss, and Vahnwynne uses the opportunity to engage in a flurry of offense with her twin stakes.
Stake attack #1 (vs Dog #2): 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (12) + 9 = 21
Stake attack #2 (vs Dog #2): 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (16) + 9 = 25
Stake attack #3 (vs Dog #2): 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (6) + 4 = 10
Stake attack #4 (vs Dog #2): 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (18) + 4 = 22
Stake damage #1: 1d4 + 4 ⇒ (1) + 4 = 5
Stake damage #2: 1d4 + 4 ⇒ (4) + 4 = 8
Stake damage #3: 1d4 + 4 ⇒ (3) + 4 = 7
Stake damage #4: 1d4 + 4 ⇒ (2) + 4 = 6
She drops one dog with three successful strikes, then shifts seemingly effortlessly through the undergrowth away from the remaining two canines.
>>>Current Map<<< (Semenya is flying, the red-ringed humans are prone and stunned)
Up next: Semenya, Derek, and Yahirma. The prone humans will lose the stunned condition just before Yahirma's turn.
Derek smiles at Appario, he also knew that dance of battle.
Feeling his body vibrating with inspiration provided by his own song, Derek dances past the dog next to him, drawing and striking with punchline in one single fluid motion.
Spring attack Using combat expertise: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (2) + 8 = 10
Damage: 1d6 + 4 ⇒ (5) + 4 = 9
Inspire courage +2, 2/19 Rounds used.
I completely missed the post where Yahirma moved to J7 earlier; I suppose that's just as well now that the dogs are there :)
>>>Current Map<<< (includes a suggested location for Derek; Semenya is flying, the blue-ringed humans are prone)
Up next: Semenya. Given the deadline situation, I'll make a post in the morning with her action if she doesn't post herself before then.
Perception: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (4) + 11 = 15
Semenya remains where she is, skirting the top of the bushes as she concentrates on adding flames to force, then fires four firey missiles, targeting two of the prone humans with two missiles each.
Fire Missile damage (vs Human #1): 2d4 + 10 ⇒ (1, 4) + 10 = 15
Fire Missile damage (vs Human #2): 2d4 + 10 ⇒ (3, 2) + 10 = 15
Both humans die.
She whispers through the message link:
"There were two more humans earlier, keeping their distance. I can't see them any more."
The last prone human rises to a kneeling position and puts his hands into the air.
The one who attempted to get away sees the futility of that action. Stepping away from the aurochs, he too kneels, drops his weapon, and lifts his hands into the air.
Dog's Tongue finishes dipping his cap in the ogre's blood and plants the now-dripping garment back onto his head. Blood trickles down the sides and front of his head, and he licks some of it away with his tongue as he continues grinning.
Up next: Maddok and Appario.
Maddok nods up at Semenya and mutters in Shoanti calling off the bull.
"Talk. Now. Who are you and why were trying to get us out of the area?"
Intimidate - 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (11) + 15 = 26