Tityanna is present at any negotiations, although her eyes appear quite wild going from one speaker to the next, and during particularly heated conversations she appears quite flustered. She stares intently at the map provided, and dumbly, trying to make sense of the crude drawing. It is silly, she is no tactician. If her condition persists...
If her condition persists, she must find some way to communicate with the others. Communicate with Donal? Certainly there were benefits to being deaf around a forge, she would never be upset by the constant ringing associated with his trade, but then...
Tityanna looks up from the map and wipes damp from her eyes with her sleeve. For the moment she cannot help but agree to any plan of action the party comes to, hoping that whatever effect she was currently under will pass.
|NPC - Donal Egillson|
Seeing Tityanna enter the safety of the palisade, Donal breathes a heavy sigh of relief. Not wanting to interfere with those who have kept him and the rest of the settlers safe, he maintains his distance while she addresses the others. However he quickly he notices the odd rhythm and sound to her words, and then the attempt to hide her tears.
Ignoring his earlier hesitation, the big blacksmith rushes over and drapes his arm around her shoulders as he tries to see if she's injured in some way.
"Tityanna, love, what's wrong? Are you hurt? What's happened?"
Tityanna watches Donal's mouth move and tries to copy the movements with her own, to decipher what he's saying, but the effort proves untrustworthy. Without the hint of sound, it was just so much movement, even if she was skilled at reading intent from posture, which she was not. When he has stopped speaking, she places her hand over his mouth and leans close to whisper in his ear.
'I cannot hear.'
Tityanna removes her hand from his mouth and rests her forehead against his chest. She can feel his pulse beat against his ribs, and she closes her eyes and sighs.
|NPC - Donal Egillson|
Donal wraps his arms around Tityanna, holding her tightly. Stunned at her whispered words, he slowly shakes his head in confusion. Continuing to hold Tityanna in a firm embrace he looks to the others for answers to the questions racing through his mind.
"I don't understand? How did this happen?"
Looking to the two dwarves as they return from disposing of the body. A dark look enters the blacksmith's face as he remembers Porter running out with a couple of alchemical potions clutched in his hands. A grim tone enters Donal's voice.
"Was this caused by another of your explosives?! Did you cause this with more careless handling of your alchemical agents?!"
Tityanna can feel the deep, angry rumble in Donal's chest as he speaks to Porter. His heartbeat is a pounding thump, thump, thump, easy to feel beneath her hands and face. His face flushes and for just a second or two it's as if she can almost smell the mix of concern, anger, and confusion emanating from the man.
|NPC - Porter Deepsilver|
Seeing the man's confusion and obvious distress, Porter quickly throws up his arms and takes a couple of steps back.
"No. No. It wasn't any of my doing. I only brought holy water, blessed by a priest of Erastil, and a bit of burning agent. She poured the water over the corpse and that magic and stopped...whatever was happening out there."
Porter looks to the others his eyes pleading for support, "It wasn't anything I did. I swear it was just holy water."
|NPC - Ursula Leveton|
Ursula's eyes grow wide as Thad heals the bandit, removing all but a few bruises from the man's encounter with the dark forces unleashed during the execution. Her look of surprise quickly turns thoughtful but before she can say anything the paladin slips away rejoining the others as they decide how to proceed.
Only half listening to the conversation around the table, she doesn't recognize Tityanna's distress until she nearly collapses into Donal's arms. Seeing the big Ulfen's reaction to whatever the young sorceress whispered to him, she rushes over and steps between Donal and Porter.
"Don't be a thickheaded fool Donal Egilson!" She says sternly. "You know full well Master Porter would never cause harm to Tityanna or any of the rest of us."
"Now let me at least have a look at her before you make a bigger mess of all this."
She then holds out her hand to Tityanna hoping to guide her over to the makeshift infirmary set up at the back of her cart.
Tityanna cannot hear what Donal is saying, but she feels the tension in him rise. Fearing that she is the cause, her breath catches in her throat. When Mistress Leveton holds out her hand, she nods, but rises to give Donal a gentle kiss.
'Do not be afraid.'
She follows Mistress Leveton to her cart and sits down, her spine rigid.
'Last I heard was that thing screaming,' she says. 'I prayed to the good Lord and the spirits to protect us, and He did. Maybe this was His cost?'
Kams finishes with burying the remains, saying a prayer to Erastil to help consecrate the grounds and keep the spirit bound for the afterlife, and not clawing back into this world.
He then returns to the outpost, only belatedly realizing something is amiss with Tityanna.
As he passes, he offers a touch, his hand lightly brushing her shoulder and giving a tender pat, then he is out of the way of everyone else.
Erastil, you work wonders I know, and I am daily reminded of all that I do not know. This is much, even for me, but I serve as do we all, so I give hope that you will lead the lass to where she needs to be, with compassion and guidance.
Sense motive to get a hunch that something's wrong with Tityanna during the planning: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (3) + 5 = 8
Thad has a fair bit of experience in planning raids and is of a mind that the best way to deal with Kessle will be a hard day's ride, pushing as far as the group can on the first day then arriving in the evening to scout for traps and launch a night-time ambush on the bandit camp. He and Aliana share the gift of elven vision and should be able to sow confusion and slow the bandits' response while the others subdue the sleeping bandits. Thinking of past ambushes his mind wanders to all he'd done during his long life and he's again somewhat bemused at Old Deadeye's sense of humor in honoring his vows with the gift of healing. Thad still though of his hands as having a lot of blood on them- how the hell was he worthy of such a blessing?
At first he dismisses Tityanna's confusion and increasingly-evident distress as a sign that she is not comfortable with the idea of planning battles and preparing for violence- until Donal's outburst. After that, as she departs with Ursula, he gathers from the overheard argument that she was somehow injured while disposing of the talisman. His right hand clenches tight, the memory of his battle with the charm and its deathly chill still a sharp memory; if its unholy magics had harmed the sorceress as she fought to keep it from desecrating the convict's body and soul then that was yet another evil he would call the Stag Lord to account for.
After the basic plan is agreed upon he sets himself to work on the logistics, making sure that everyone has a reliable mount, suitable tack, and enough rations for a week long excursion.
Were any of the bandits' mounts captured during the river crossing encounter trained for combat?
|DM - Tareth|
|NPC - Ursula Leveton|
Ursula spends the next half-hour giving Tityanna a thorough examine. Using hand signals and gestures she tries her best to communicate as she does her work. Along with the usual poking and prodding, she has Tityanna hold several different crystals or stones for a few seconds. One of the stones, actually a bit of elk horn tingles a bit in Tityanna's hand and Ursula gives a slight nod as she closely scrutinizes the talisman after the sorceress hands it back. However, after all is said and done she shakes her head in frustration. Pulling out a scrap of parchment she writes out a few sentences and hands the paper over to the sorceress, a look of concern, puzzlement, and just a little wonder in her face.
The answer may already sit inside you own heart.
While Tityanna reads the note, Ursula slips over to the others and gives a brief report.
"She's in fine health." The herbalist begins, giving Donal an especially pointed look before continuing. "There doesn't appear to be any harm that I can find. I am able to detect some divine influence. Certainly not evil, likely Erastil, but not being a priest or a fully trained healer, I can't give you much more than that."
She looks at Warren packing extra writing materials and gives a nod of approval. "Finding ways to communicate easily will be important. Especially since you'll be riding into dangerous situations."
Donal starts to speak up, certainly thinking Tityanna shouldn't be going with the others under these circumstances. Ursula quickly raises her hand stopping the Ulfen with a shake of her head. "If the gods have taken her hearing Donal, it isn't without reason. Tityanna has a role to play, and we must trust their choice. She needs her confidence now more than ever and the best way is for her to be with her companions no matter the danger they face. I've seen similar situations in the field hospitals and those left behind inevitably end of spiraling into oblivion."
Turning back to the others she says, "As I said she's fit. Give her a few minutes and then you can all be on the road."
|NPC - Donal Egillson|
With Ursula's words, the wind seems to empty from Donal's sails. Knowing she's right, he nods his head and tries to gather his thoughts. A few moments later he walks over and offers his hand to Porter in apology. After a few quiet words from the smith, Porter accepts and gives the big man a warm smile in return.
Stepping over to Tityanna, Donal looks her in the eyes. It's clear he's worried and still doesn't quite understand all that has happened. Gently he presses his hand to his heart, and then does the same over Tityanna's. Seeing Ursula's quill and paper, he roughly writes out a note. Before handing it to Tityanna he gives her a warm hug and soft kiss on the forehead. Then he hands her the note with a weak smile.
|DM - Tareth|
It takes a bit of time but eventually the group is ready to ride out for the bandit camp around mid-afternoon. After some heartfelt goodbyes and well wishes from the settlers and others who now call Oleg's home, Thad, Tityanna, Kams, Warren and Alaina ride out.
It's turned into a warm spring day with a few clouds wandering across the sky as they are pushed along by a gentle breeze. The road south, which is really more of a rough trail, is easy to find and winds its ways across the rolling grasslands into the heart of the Stolen Lands.
After a few hours in the saddle, as the sun starts the sink toward the horizon, you finally reach the edge of the dense forest that covers most of the area known as the Narlmarches. The road skirts along the edge of the trees. Although a more direct route through the woods would be quicker, the bandits were clear that trying to cut through the forest would be much more dangerous.
As the sun begins to disappear behind the western hills, the group comes upon a frequently used camp site. A simple stone ring has been set up for a fire and several spots provide good level ground for tents or bedrolls to be set up. A small spring just east of the camp provides clean, clear water.
Apologies for delays on my part, very busy weekend.
Tityanna untrained Bluff 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (4) + 4 = 8
Tityanna nods and smiles, though she finds it difficult to make the expression clear the confusion and worry in her eyes.
'I will be thinking of you, too,' she says. 'Please take care of Puck.'
Tityanna untrained Survival 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (5) + 1 = 6
Tityanna, finding it odd that such a site would be left for others to find, walks about it searching for some manner of clue. Her aptitude for such is very poor, however, and she finds nothing.
Survival 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (15) + 9 = 24
Tuney perception 1d20 + 16 ⇒ (6) + 16 = 22
After quickly perusing the camp, Warren relates, "This camp hasn't been used for at least two days. We can camp here and I have sent Tuney out to look for threats. Kams and I can forage for food while you set up camp. Tomorrow we can push our way further, but I don't think we want to travel at night."
Survival to forage 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (1) + 9 = 10
Warren has absolutely no luck looking for food, his mind trying to figure out what can be so dangerous in the Narlmarches.
The pleasant weather is a blessing after the rain they faced on the way to Oleg's, and Thad spends most of the day getting accustomed to the flora and fauna living around his new home. He keeps his eyes peeled for game larger than a rabbit to fill the stewpot tonight, but other than that is fairly relaxed. He's not expecting any real trouble until tomorrow.
When they reach the camp site he eschews the flat spots on the ground in favor of a spot amongst the trees to hang his hammock from, and volunteers to pull a double watch since he has little need for rest.
A couple of questions expanding on what we learned from the interrogations:
• Was any mention made of why we should avoid the forest or what the nature of the danger is? Did people simply disappear?
• Was there a system of code words or signs/countersigns used by the sentries? Perhaps something to recognize legitimate messengers from the Stag Lord?
|DM - Tareth|
Thad: Reasons for avoiding the forest were many and varied. Most revolved around the disappearance of a couple of men a few weeks ago along with a variety of guesses about the creatures that inhabit the woods. Most seemed to be based on either local superstition or other unsubstantiated rumors.
Security isn't really that tight at the camp. But Kressle did make everyone use a password at night. It changes occasionally but only at Kressle's whim. When they left it was 'Empty Tankard.'
|DM - Tareth|
The afternoon turns into a pleasant evening as the season is still a little early for a majority of the regions most annoying insects to have hatched. The warm spring air turns chilly quickly once the sun finally dips below the horizon. As evening turns to night, the camp is filled with the pleasant sound of a pair of birds calling back and forth as the pot over the fire simmers slowly filling the air with the smell of stew.
The night is quiet and peaceful. The silence of the open country has an almost eerie quality after the noise of the children and settlers all encamped in the small confines of Oleg's.
Deep in the middle of the night, during the second watch, the silence is broken for a moment by a distant roaring call of some kind. It occurs a couple of more times, each instance growing fainter as the creature moves further from the camp. The way sound travels across the open grasslands, distance is hard to determine, but for certain it is several miles to the south.
Little else disturbs the camp for the remainder of the night. The sky begins to turn purple with the coming dawn and the stars slowly fade to reveal another morning with clear skies and the promise of a warm day of riding.
Before settling down for the evening and hooding his birds, Warren is happy to share a meal of stew in the woods. Although he misses having the settlers around, especially the inquisitive girl, Warren feels at home in the wide open spaces.
Warren rouses early and gets his birds ready to go.
"I may know what the roaring call was."
Know Nature 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (12) + 8 = 20
Warren is especially careful to right the events of the evening down for Tityanna, as he wants her to experience her lost sense of sound through his acute natural ear.
Tityanna attends her new mount, and is certain to have the party's attention before she bunks down for the night, close enough to the fire to be warm, and have as much light as possible.
'Shake me awake at light. I am not blind' she tells them, though she has no way of confirming if her words are even intelligible any more. She knows how they should sound...
By all rights, it should have been easier to sleep without the various noises of the party and its animals rustling about the camp, but it is the first night since she was wounded that Tityanna has gone to her bed without Donal being near. Her eyes remain open for several minutes as she considers how they are to progress now with her inability to hear, and whatever mission the gods have in mind for her.
Sleep is late in relieving Tityanna from her anxieties, and the peace thready with dreams. In one she watched a stag leading several does and fawns from the splintered stumps of their wood, and when she reached for them they bound through her, tearing at her flesh. She wakes with a start and grasps her stomach. When she sees that the fire has died down, she tosses another log on the embers and watches the flame struggle to consume the dense fuel until her eyes become heavy and she lays back down again.
|DM - Tareth|
The next morning, Kams will take point, hoping to try and spot any tracks from Kressle's group, something that will let everyone know they are on the right path.
|DM - Tareth|
The day fulfills its early morning promise as the skies clear and the sun shines brightly. Patches of green mark the landscape as new grass heralds the onset of spring. With the mating season getting into full swing, birds call back and forth and occasionally dive and swoop across the trail providing a bit of entertainment for the ride.
After another few hours of riding, the smell water drifts in the air and the rapids can be heard just ahead. The trail leads to a good sized stream and what looks like a frequently used ford as numerous tracks and prints dot the muddy shore on both sides. Although the water is still running a bit high and swift, it does look like the ford is passable with a little care.
|DM - Tareth|
On coming into sight of the ford, Thad goes on alert. A place like this made for a perfect ambush point, or a spot for a sentry to watch discreetly from far upriver. Thad would greatly prefer to cross elsewhere, preferably several hundred yards downstream and out of sight of the ford. This is almost certainly the easiest crossing, but there are probably others... he'd ask another experienced horseman or two to come with him and cross downstream so they can check for lookouts or ambushes on the other side of the stream then signal the rest of the group to begin investigating upstream until they are sure both sides are unobserved and the rest of the group can safely cross at the ford.
Or someone could tell him that he's being too paranoid and he'll just chuckle ruefully and blame old habits, then cross the ford.
|DM - Tareth|
Thad you and the others spend some time searching down stream for another crossing. You are successful after about a half hour of working your way through the brush covered terrain along the shore. There's no sign of any ambush.
Checking up stream is much more difficult as it quickly enters the more dense growth of the forest. After nearly half an hour of careful struggle through underbrush and thickets only a hundred yards or so have been searched with no ford found.
Warren could you give me a quick Swim Check(DC12) to get across. The stream is deep in the center and moving swiftly. You can take 10 if you choose.
Somewhat sheepishly Thad meets up with the others on the opposite side of the stream. "Erm... all's clear. No signs of any lookouts or ambushes, and this really is the best place to cross." He picks a few twigs out of his armor and brushes some of the rapidly-drying mud off of his boots as he waits for the rest of the party to cross and continue on their way.
Tityanna could only watch as Thad crossed the ford and then rode away, and in mute horror as Warren attempted to cross the channel rushing in front of her eyes. No strong swimmer, she lays down flat against her newly acquired horse's neck, clinging to it as she directs it to ford the river.
Tityanna untrained Ride 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (14) + 1 = 15
Clinging to the animal's back desperately, Tityanna crosses the river, meeting with Thad. She smiles and pats her horse's neck proudly, then slips down to pull whatever brambles or shoots might be stuck underneath the saddle and irritate its flank.
With no one to harass him, Warren easily wades the stream. His eagles soar overhead looking for trouble. He helps Tityanna bring her horse across, although we know horses do not typically like Warren.
Handle Animal 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (20) + 4 = 24
Taking the friendly reception from Tityanna's horse, Warren pushes to the front of the column and is anxious to find these bandits.
|DM - Tareth|
Kams will cross the flow slightly upstream of the others, to watch the flow as they proceed, allowing the current to move himself and Cracky back down towards the others.
Once everyone is safely across, he will examine the area more thoroughly and scout about fifteen minutes ahead of the others, asking the group to wait for his return. Let us allow the mounts a few moments to dry here in the open sky before taking tyhem again under the shade of these old oaks. We need them not catching a chill and coming up lame when we need them most.
|DM - Tareth|
Just as you are about to turn around and head back to the group, you spot a flash of movement further up the trail. Peering through the undergrowth you see a burly looking man, dressed in shabby leather armor and a ragged cloak. He appears to be gathering something from the forest floor, but you're unable to see what it is from your vantage point.
Perception: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (10) + 1 = 11
Kams will firstly try to attempt to hide amongst the brush, observing the human.
If necessary, he will slowly and quietly move back down the path. Once out of sight and sound, he will quickly rush back to the others and inform them of his discovery.
First move action 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (7) + 4 = 11 15' away
Second move action 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (10) + 4 = 14 30' away end of round
Third move action 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (16) + 4 = 20 45' away
Fourth move action 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (5) + 4 = 9 60' away end of second round
|DM - Tareth|
"Hey, Thom! You see or hear anythin'? I thought I heard somethin'."
A gruff voice answers from a little further up the trail.
"No. I ain't heard nothin' 'cept your hollerin'. Get back to work, I want to be back afore dark."
After the others response, the first man shrugs his shoulders and turns back to his gathering.
Tityanna waits until Thad moves his horse, and follows, knowing that she should not where Kams goes from previous encounters. As she moves, she thinks about asking Donal to procure some paint for chalkboards and paint the inside of her new tower shield so communication with the party might not be so cumbersome in the future.
I figure it would have been decided before we moved out that Tityanna would follow wherever Thad went, as he's been the most leader type in the group thus far.
|DM - Tareth|
[ooc]Bandit PER to Spot1d20 + 1 ⇒ (3) + 1 = 4
Kams slowly backs away from the scavenging bandits, but in the process again makes just enough noise to slightly rouse the man's curiosity. Freezing in place the ranger breathes slowly waiting for his enemy to turn away which he eventually does with a shrug of the shoulders.
Sliding further back along the trail, it only takes a few minutes before he is far enough away to move more quickly and rejoin the party.
|DM - Tareth|
With Warren leading, the rest of the party enter the forest following the trail Kams took a few minutes earlier. The thin trail winds its way through the trees running roughly the same direction as the river. The smell of fir and pine fill the air along with the slight odor of mold and mildew caused by decaying leaves. A dense undergrowth of vines, nettles, and smaller trees make visibility very difficult and movement off the trail slow and painful. After about ten minutes Warren and the others catch a glimpse of movement further up the trail. Within a few seconds, Kams appears moving quickly back toward the party.
While they dry off after fording the river, Thad takes the opportunity to write in the mud with a stick and work out some simple hand signs with Tityanna. Stop, approach, take cover, and flee are simple enough to work out... but woefully unsuitable to what he worries might be needed in the chaos of a real fight. He's heard stories of those who talk with their hands- sailors who can't make themselves heard over the howl of the winds, pampered noblemen whose generations of inbreeding have cost them their hearing, and even brave explorers of the depths who grew paranoid of making any unnecessary sound as even whispers could be heard from vast distances. He regretted he'd never in his long life had occasion to learn the technique himself...
Moving forward, he speaks with Kams. The trees looming over him make him feel almost confined; this is not a tamed wilderness dotted with hamlets and trade caravans, it's a wild place beyond the edges of civilization. He speaks quietly, "We'd started worry. Is there anything promising about this trail or should we continue along to the South?"
Upon meeting up with Kams and comparing notes, Warren is supportive,
"You once again showed why you are the best point man. You saw without being seen and used incredible judgement to keep surprise on our side. I should have Tuney always scouting ahead with you from now on--he is better served with your in front than with me in the pack."
"Well, Kams, do you think we pursue these bandits, or avoid them?"
The men seemed to be out gathering for a larger group. While I'd like to cut the head off this snake and be done with it, leaving foes behind us does not seem...wise. We could kill the snake and still be crushed in his coils.
Looking to the others, I don't know if these might be men from Kressle's camp, just a bandit patrol, or simple trappers plying their trade. Either way they know this area better than we do and I think bear investigating. If they are bandits, then we defeat allies Kressle and the Stag-head depend upon, if they are simple hunters, we introduce ourselves and make it known strength and aid have returned to the 'Belt. I leave it to you all to decide.
Warren passes Tuney to Kams.
"After them. We don't leave bandits in our lands."
Survival to track 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (20) + 7 = 27
Warren picks up their trail easily. He consults with Kams and confirms the signs are right and then follows Kams and Tuney at a distance.
Tuney Perception 1d20 + 16 ⇒ (9) + 16 = 25
|DM - Tareth|
Warren and Kams easily guide the others along the narrow, overgrown trail. After a few hundred feet the trees and undergrowth close in making it difficult to see more than a few yards in any direction. The occasional Gronk! of a raven, cackle of a jay, or irritated chitter of a squirrel echoes through the wood as the party moves along the trail.
After about a quarter of an hour the number of crows and ravens seems to double, triple, and then quadruple as they raise a terrible cacophony in the trees above and around where Warren's two birds circle. Occasionally, one of the black birds swoops and dives at one of the eagles causing the bigger bird to dodge out of the way. The uproar of the birds is nearly deafening as they try to drive the big predators away from their nests.
"How should I know? It's just a bunch o' birds. Besides, I'm finished here, let's jus' head back to camp." Responds a second voice.
Both voices sound as if they are still a few dozen yards further up trail.
Tityanna nodded at Thad's directions, and merely stared mutely when the gentlemen began speaking amongst themselves. Her eyes remained attentive, however, for subtle cues, and she gripped the reins of her horse tightly when they began moving again. When they stopped for the evening, she would ask one of the better horseman for lessons, afraid that the animal would simply kick out from beneath her if she brought it into combat.
Along the path, with her eyes ever searching for dangers, Tityanna recognized the unusual number of crows, and saw their beaks moving. The fine hairs on the back of her neck stand up, and she steers her mount closer to Thad, should Warren and Kams break forward again.
Per Hearing 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (15) + 7 = 22
Warren hears the bandits, direct his companions in the direction of the noise, and then moves to the bandits and summons a dog.
Full round action to summon, so it will appear at the beginning of Warren's next action.
Riding Dog CR 1
N Medium Animal
Init +2; Senses low-light vision, scent; Perception +8
AC 13, touch 12, flat-footed 11 (+2 Dex, +1 natural)
hp 17 (2d8+8)
Fort +7, Ref +5, Will +1
Speed 40 ft.
Melee bite +5 (1d6+5 plus trip)
Str 19, Dex 15, Con 19, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 6
Base Atk +1; CMB +5; CMD 15 (19 vs. trip)
Perception Check: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (2) + 2 = 4
Damn birds... can't hear a thing.
Thad follows Warren and Kams, still somewhat confused about what lies ahead. These were wild lands, but as Kams had said they could be trappers with a bout of very bad luck rather than bandits... and Warren was whistling up a beast to savage them.
Thad nocks an arrow and keeps his every sense at the ready, primed for any sign of malice or evil intent. I'm using detect evil.
We're approaching from the East, right?
Seeing that Thad has nocked an arrow, Tityanna embraces her magics and the trees seem to lean forward to lend her their spirit as she casts casts Mage Armor on herself prior to continuing behind him. The magic scent of the wood is momentarily staggering, and there is a faint quality of bark to the force shell Tityanna erects around herself before it fades into ether.