|Jess Door GM|
For several weeks, excitement has been building in Kenabres - Armasse is coming!
While the significance of the holiday has waned over much of the world since the death of Aroden, Iomedae’s followers still celebrate this festival, though it has become more about training the populace in weapons use, brave knights choosing new squires to train for the Crusade, and the ordination of priests than the gathering of clerics and scholars to ponder the lessons and meaning of history.
Kenabres’ citizenry are always ready for battle, but on this morning the armed and armored citizens roaming the streets have smiles on their faces and a certain bounce in their step, instead of the down cast eyes, strained expressions and heavy gait that is the more usual day to day sight. Weapons are sheathed nonchalantly, often festooned with bright ribbons on the hilt or haft representing some heraldry or another, and it is apparent from the glint of sunlight off many a knight or armsman’s polished armor that most everyone has made an effort to make the best impression they can for the day.
While the official opening ceremony isn’t scheduled to happen until noon, if this Armasse is like any other, Clydwell Plaza will be full at least half an hour earlier. The jousting matches and combat trials, as well as many performers providing more entertainments that Kenabres has seen in the previous year will begin once Lord Hulrun has officially blessed the festivities.
Street vendors can be heard calling attention to their wares before dawn fully breaks and every shopkeeper has his best ready for the crowds that are already beginning to fill the streets.
Take a moment to introduce your character, and talk about what you plan to do for the morning.
The festive atmosphere and cheery citizens do nothing to brighten the visage of the tall woman, dark of hair and eye, who limps into the plaza shortly after dawn. She fingers the figure of a battered shield hung from around her neck and glowers slightly. Too much celebration and not enough demon-killing. Still, this is Iomedae's town. It won't do to antagonize them. The occasional passer-by might think her face handsome until she turns to regard them, exposing the scarred half their view. The quick flick of eyes away from her deformity is nothing new and does not bother the woman, who makes no effort to hide or disguise the scars which show that half her face was nearly lost quite some time ago.
Nothing disguises the armor she bears, either, nor the great war axe and scythe strapped behind her. The citizens of Kenabres are accustomed to battle, so see nothing special about her well-worn equipment. The white and red ribbons draped from the armor's joints might even look like festive decor, though they are not. She sighs impatiently. May as well see if the vendors have anything useful, or if anyone else is ready to venture forth to battle. She begins a circuit of the plaza, still limping slightly and keeping her eyes open for any who seem as impatient as she. Though grim and unsmiling, she is unfailingly courteous to those she addresses.
Trezsia will wander the plaza looking at weapons, holy relics, and mounts. She plans to buy some lunch and take her place in the crowd as near as possible to the combat trials about an hour before the opening ceremony, to get a good spot.
|The Red Penitent|
"And the light was brought forth, and with the Dawn's Light came Truth!"
The strident, fiercely vehement voice carried over the bustle and hum of the morning's preparations, but only just so amidst the clamour of the Armasse.
"With Truth, came Honesty! All evil was made to acknowledge their wickedness in the light of the day, to face the the Dawnflower and hear her offer of forgiveness!"
The owner of the voice wandered amongst the crowded stalls and kiosks, his eyes nearly closed, face raised to the sky. Bare to the waist, he walks with his corded arms extended to each side, brushing lightly at the kiosks and passersby alike. A beatific smile creases the man's coarsely bearded face, his back and bare arms covered in in whirling traceries of tattoos, myriad holy symbols and lines of scripture.
Apart from a worn pair of well-traveled trousers, his only raiments appear to be a bright red sash tied around his waist and a strip of white fabric word around one wiry bicep.
"She offers redemption to those who see the Truth, who face their wicked ways and bathe in the honest discovery of redemption!"
The man appears completely oblivious to those around him, his long hair unruly yet appearing fairly clean.
"Those who seek her forgiveness will be redeemed," he calls out in a much lower voice while nodding to himself, "And those who refuse to cleanse their wickedness in the light of the Dawn will be brought low, they will be pulled open and shown how awful their countenance had become, how wicked their ways."
He suddenly stops, for the first time seeming to come into focus with the world around him. He begins to slowly look around, as if seeking out something in the crowds of people passing by.
"They are here," he murmurs, low and quiet. His smile is slowly replaced with a look of profound wonder, of awed rapture.
"They are here," he repeats, this time louder, turning this way and that, appearing to be excitedly searching the crowds with his gaze.
Suddenly, he takes off walking at a swift gait, still searching the crowds around him.
"Redemption comes, they gather and bring the Light with them! They near and bring Truth!"
He begins to laugh, a joyous sound, his smile returning brighter and wider than before.
I must find them and bathe in their radiance, I can feel them near!"
Seemingly obliviously to the people around him, the man wanders deeper amidst the clamour, his stride swift and purposeful.
The Red Penitent is wandering the crowd, seeking out signs of anything that would lead him to those he is looking for...
Armasse has always been a particularly demanding holiday. Cassander arose before dawn to begin preparations. His morning prayers were somewhat hurried and he would have skipped breakfast had the matronly temple caretaker not forced some food upon him. He had to accompany some of the elder priests in their preparations.
The steely and imposing aasimar is accustomed to standing watch at public events. This close to the Worldwound, security is always a concern. There are many enemies who would delight in disrupting a holiday celebrating the Inheritor.
As the crowd assembles, Cassander takes his place atop an overturned barrel, granting him a view of the proceedings and of the people in attendance. His glimmering golden eyes scan the crowd vigilantly. He knows well that he presents an impressive figure: white-blond hair swept back from his face; smooth skin the color of alabaster; white feathery wings spread slightly, ruffled by the morning breeze. With his armor polished to a shine and his sword at his side, the townspeople afford him a reasonable berth.
Cassander is assisting in some of the early morning preparations, but then stands watch over the festivities, as this is where his superiors find him to be the most useful.
|Xion Isadora Delonauth|
"Gods, where is everyone?"
The changeling shuffles between the crowds, finding lanes where she can, muttered "'scuse me", "pardon", "comin' through" filling the air as she passes, squeezing through the gaps in the crowd and dragging her much-larger half-orc companion by the wrist as she does. Her other hand is balled into a fist, which is the less-threatening option for her; the last thing she needs is an accidental lash on someone from her claws flailing about in the crowd. A thought, an echo of her father's voice, comes to mind: "Careful with that, you'll put someone's eye out." She dismisses the thought with a shake of her head and continues squirming through the crowd.
Xion is, for all intents and purposes, more relaxed in appearance today than usual. Though armed and armored as always when outside her tent, her long hair is down and her helmet off. Her mismatched eyes, silver and gold, glitter with a mirth not normally visible in her stern, studious expression. A fiery red-orange bow has been tied on her halberd's haft - that was Tasnim's doing - and its tassels drift vividly through the air in her wake; a leather sheath, peacebound with a strong cord, keeps the weapon from inflicting harm on passers-by. Despite the near-foot she lacks compared to her cousin, she drags the half-orc along with ease, tugging her through the crowd and preventing the pair from getting separated by the thronging masses.
The cousins come to an intersection where the gatherings have thinned a little, and Xion pauses to reorient her bearings. "This is the right square, isn't it? Father said he'd meet us when the others arrived." She plants her hands firmly on her hips, at last giving Tasnim's wrist a well-deserved rest, and taps her foot thoughtfully before grinning up at the taller woman. "Don't suppose you've got a better view from up there?" she suggests wistfully.
Xion and Tasnim are looking for the rest of their rather-large family, who are supposed to be having a gathering/reunion at this festival. Presumably this would include Vitalia and her immediate family, if Shiny's still with us.
"Hm?" Tasnim looks down at Xion. "Oh, sorry. Bit distracted."
She scans the area with a slight frown. "Don't see him, no. But I'd assume based on all the vendors that this is probably where we need to be."
Tasnim rubs at the back of her neck, sending her partly-braided mass of hair shaking. "Just be patient, Xi. Play you a round of cards if y'like."
Just waiting for family and keeping Xion out of trouble.
|Jess Door GM|
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Feel free to read them all. I'm just separating out the different points of view to save some space.
I'm making some guesses as to what you want for your characters to move things along quickly, but please let me know if I've overstepped your character's actions in any way, and we'll retcon it!
"Everyone knows that's an an old wives' tale!" the woman exclaimed with disdain.
"No, no, great lady, it is true! Legend is clear, virgin blood can turn any blade into a demon killing weapon of great power! Only fifty gold pieces! A bargain! A bargain and a life saver if ever you find yourself facing a demon horde!"
"I will report this to the authorities! I don't care if you can prove this blood was given willingly! It's a cheat and a fraud, and will kill good crusaders in their time of most desperate need!"
Others in the crowd threw out jeers or encouragement to either side of the arguement, and the crowd's motion pushed Trezsia further along. There were mounts aplenty in Kenabres for Armasse, but most have obviously been brought for the jousting contests, and prices are especially dear for anything with combat training.
As she stopped at a booth to pick up an early lunch before making her way to Clydwell Plaza, a strident voice carried over the crowd, calling out the wonders of the Dawnflower. He seemed to be making his way toward the plaza down a parallel street, and his voice echoed loud and soft as they both make their way down the streets. After a few minutes, his voice faded as Tezsia pushed her way more energetically toward the plaza, not wanting to be stuck too far from the action once the combat trials began.
The density of the crowd crushed to a critical mass, as well armored bodies were not able to fit in the narrowed opening leading to the plaza from the glutted streets. Trezsia made her way through, and stopped to blink for a moment at a tall, pale man gigantic feathered wings standing, incongrously, on an overturned barrel. As she examined him, she noticed he was vigilantly scanning the crowd, a determined look on his face. His golden eyes locked with hers for a moment, as he seemed to note her presence. Then he returned to watching the rest of the crowd.
Trezsia passed a large half orc woman speaking in reassuring tones to a small, strikingly colored woman with raven hair and almost snow white skin, and continued to move, trying to find a likely place to watch the festivities. After a few minutes making her way through the throng, she came upon a spot where she could clearly see the battle grounds. It appeared a large extended family had camped out here early and set aside some space. There was room for her along the edges, if they'd let her stay. Another large half orc, an older man in well used and well cared for gear, nodded respectfully in her direction, taking in both sides of her face in a direct look that was neither repulsed or curious, just respectful.
Weapons of all types are available at normal market prices. Holy symbols for good gods, alchemical items, potions and doubtlessly some useless items are also available for sale. Combat trained mounts are available, but the demand has pushed the price to 150% of normal prices for the time around Armasse.
As the Penitent continued his way down the crowded streets, the feeling of something important and imminent grew stronger, leading him toward the great plaza in the center of the city. The great Cathedral of St. Clydwell, just inside the innermost city wall that encircles Old Kenabres, was an imposing view before the crowd gathering in Clydwell Plaza, facing the grand stone-staired entry where Lord Hulrun woud soon open the festivities.
As he first entered the plaza, the Penitent noticed a man of angelic features and wings standing watch over the crowds. While he felt a little drawn to the golden-eyed aasimar, the Penitent moved a bit deeper into the crowd, pulled toward a large group gathered somewhat nearer the front stage. Most of the group seemed to be a large extended family, taking the opportunity offered at Armasse to conduct a sort of family reunion.
A tall, well armored woman with a heavily scarred face stood to one side of the family group, obviously apart from it, but seeming to take some form of shelter nearby. As the Penitent drew closer, another woman drew his eye - a large half orc woman that towered above much of the crowd she was still a part of, and she raised an arm toward the family, waving and calling out in a loud voice.
As the half orc woman emerged behind an old Tian woman that waved toward the welcoming family, the Penitent's eyes fell to a smaller woman with the half orc. She had almost impossibly pale skin and hair as dark as the deepest night, and her eyes were patently not merely human...one gold, one silver.
The Penitent could feel that others were still nearby, but he was struck by the sudden familiarity of the pale skinned woman being drawn into the happy fold of the family gathered in the plaza...
Used to the various types that gathered in Kenabres for faith, honor or fortune, Cassander wasn't surprised to see that some in the crowd made an unusal impression on him as they moved into the plaza. A young woman with skin paler than his, but incredibly dark hair stood chatting with a large half orc woman as they eagerly scanned the growing crowd. There was no family resemblance, but they seemed to be more like siblings than friends or lovers.
A well armored woman with a serious mein and a scarred face that bespoke a once horrible injury came into the plaza around the same time and met his gaze squarely rather than looking away or getting nervous as many other humans did. She then moved around the other two women he'd noted and waded further into the crowd, eventually disappearing into the mass of humanity.
After the odd couple had finally moved further into the throng, a truly unusal specimen wandered into the plaza from the next street over, and drifted in Cassander's direction in a manner that seemed more subconcious than purposeful. Most everyone in Kenabres was armed and armored to the hilt, even on holidays, but this man wandered the streets in nothing but pants and a few bits of cloth. He seemed to almost be a prophet of some sort. He gazed at Cassander for a moment, then he turned his head away and walked into the crowd, looking toward the stage.
As the time for the opening ceremony drew near, a hand reached out to touch his forearm gently. Eterrius Sunnestier, the de facto leader of the priests in the Cathedral of St. Clydwell, was looking up at him with a gentle smile. Nestrin Alodae was the leader of all the Inheritor's clergy in Kenabres, but his strength didn't lie so much on the martial side of the faith, though he was an excellent shepherd of the faithful. Sunnestier handled the more military clergy that tended to be at the Cathedral, while Alodae was usually at the Temple of Iomedae, across Old Kenabres from the cathedral on the western side. "I know you never forget your duty, but Armasse should be time of joy as well, Cassander. I would like to encourage you to enjoy the festivities. We are watching over the safety of the city and the Wardstone today so that others may regain their morale for the fighting in the year ahead. You will be taking on a heavier set of duties soon enough, I am sure. Now is a time to enjoy what freedom you may."
With those words, Sunnestier continued on a path along the fringes of the crowd, leaving Cassander to decide to join the throng on the ground, or not, as he saw fit.
Tasnim shrugged one shoulder slightly aside as another warrior woman was forced by the press of the crowd into their space. Her face was scarred, but in a city full of those who have been fighting the demon hordes for generations such a thing was not unheard of. The woman, though her armor had brightly colored red and white ribbons trailing from it, wasn't as polished and oiled as most of the celebrants', as if she wasn't really in the spirit of the celebration engulfing Kenabres. The woman followed the pull of the crowd further in the plaza, as the two cousins stood, a temporarily motionless small island in a sea of humanity.
"Are you girls lost? Looking for someone?" an old Tian woman in an elegant grey kimono had stopped next to Xion and looked at them both with kind eyes. Her snow white hair was pulled up in an elegant bun and held in place with silver pins. She suddenly leaned in close and squinted her eyes a bit, then a smile split her face into a friendly mass of wrinkles. "Why, you must be Graham Delonauth's girl! Ah, and that means you can only be Tasnim! Looking for you parents, are you? Why, I just passed them in the crowd. Hard to miss Zayn, it is!" She chuckled to herself and turned back toward crowd in the plaza. "Come on, then!"
That...was a lot of typing...
|Jess Door GM|
"Ah! Here are our two lost chicks!" Zayn said heartily as the old Tian woman led the two young cousins out of the crowd. His eyes widened for a moment. "And led by such a venerable sage! My lady - "
"Oh, don't call me that! You'll make me feel old, Attar!" the woman protested with a chuckle. She patted Tasnim on the elbow - nearly as high as she could reach - and gave Zayn a shrewd look. "Call me Teren. No 'lady' or 'venerable' or any such nonsense. I'm sure these young women would have found the clan eventually." With a quick little bow that was somehow both formal and supremely casual, Teren murmured "A blessed Armasse to you all," and moved forward through the crowd toward the front steps of the Cathedral of St. Clydwell.
As Zayn watched the old woman depart, Tasnim's mother Shona took over the conversation. "I wondered where you were, you two. Look! Cousin Vitalia has even made it! We've been teasing her that one of her proteges must be competing in the combat trials to get her to join one of our rowdy get togethers!"
Vitalia, great uncle Aurelio's granddaughter, stood in the midst of the family, and smiled as Shona pointed her out to Xion and Tasnim.
Everyone nearby can observe this exchange. I've tried to avoid imposing too much on character concepts, but I'll reiterate - feel free to modify anything that represents your character incorrectly, please!
Trézsia nods back at the older male orc and juggles her foodstuffs, remaining standing on the edges of the large family gathering. She watches the various reunions almost wistfully, then gives her head a shake and takes a determined bite of her meat pasty, attention half occupied by the goings-on of the clan and half on the platform from which she anticipates Lord Hulrun will open the festival.
|Xion Isadora Delonauth|
"Hey Uncle Zayn," Xion replies brightly, waving to the newly-arrived half-orc before being shuffled forward. She looks back over her shoulder to turn the wave toward the retreating Tian woman. "Thanks for the help, ma'am. Blessed Armasse!"
It took Xion a bit to catch up with who was who - some of these family members she hadn't seen in months or even years. She offers Vitalia a salute when her aunt points her out, and scans around the crowd as they're ushered toward the rest of the family. "We're going to take over the cathedral at this rate. Where's Father? Not like him to be late."
|Jess Door GM|
Xion's aunt Shona pointed off toward the north side of the plaza. "Your father was here, but while we were waiting his friend Titheru Cobelen - you know, Commander Cobelen's nephew - stopped by and asked Graham to help him look over a charger he was considering buying. They went off toward the jousting field to take a look." She shook her head. "I don't know what Titheru's thinking, trying to buy good horseflesh during Armasse. But I suppose, given his family's standing, he has a little more money to toss around than some people." Shona stood on her toes as if trying to see her brother over the heads of the crowds around them, then cast an ironic glance back at her towering orc-blooded husband and gave up the search as futile. "He left about an hour ago. He said he'd be back before the celebration started. I'm sure he'll be here any moment."
|Xion Isadora Delonauth|
Xion rolls her eyes and smirks. "I bet it's another just have to have it purchase, like when he bought that falcon from the Havelocks a few years ago. At least his sister gets use out of it, rather than keeping the poor bird cooped up all the time."
She pauses, considering Tasnim's offer, then shakes her head as she scurries to keep up with the orcbloods' longer strides. "No, thanks. As long as someone's seen him around I'm sure he'll make his way over eventually. Was just more curious what the delay was."
Cassander considers Sunnestier's words. Surely the priest would know that Cassander lives for duty. Still, it couldn't hurt to look over the wares and foods on offer before the opening ceremony. He looks over a nearby vendor's assortment of religious trinkets, never becoming too relaxed. He keeps a watchful eye on the events around him.
|The Red Penitent|
Smiling nearly ear to ear, the Penitent stands near the stage, munching in seeming contentment on a still-warm bun. He appears to be watching the gathering of what looks like a rather large extended family.
His gaze rarely leaves the pale skinned woman in the company of the much-larger half-orc. As he watches her, he closes one of his eyes in a prolonged wink. Opening it, he then closes his other eye, alternating back and forth between the two for a few moments.
He laughs softly, the sound carrying obvious joy.
Popping the last of the bun into his mouth, he murmurs to himself while chewing, his grin wide.
"Gold for the light of the Dawn, silver for the flash of her redemptive strike, my way is being shown."
He wipes crumbs from his face and watches the woman.
"Today will be a good day..."
As her cousins take their leave, Vitalia glances from face to face in the crowd, shifting her weight awkwardly, obviously uncomfortable with the number of people. She is one of the few not dressed for the occasion--a thin, hatchet-faced woman in well-worn armor, shield on her back and a sword at her hip.
If it weren't for family obligations, this wouldn't exactly be my first choice of entertainment. Still, everyone seems to be enjoying themselves, at least...
The strange, half-clothed (or half-unclothed) man catches Trézsia's attention and provokes some alarm as he seems to focus rather unwholesome attention on the small, strange-eyed woman. Then she looks to the woman's much larger companion and relaxes. After all, the small one was in the midst of family. There was very little chance that the odd man would be able to start any serious trouble here. She glances up to where the winged man stood previously, but the post is empty. The disappearance of the vigilant guardian puts her on edge again and she makes certain her weapons are close at hand.
|Jess Door GM|
The bells on the tall steeple of St. Clydwell's Cathedral began to ring the noon hour as Graham Delonauth, Xion's father, pushed his way through the crowd. He walked up to his daughter with a wry apologetic smile.
"You made it! I'm sorry I'm late. Titheru wanted this charger. It looked solid enough, but then the owner started insisting it's granddam was a unicorn. At that I pulled Titheru aside and let him know this horse shouldn't be purchased on a whim." Graham sighed and shook his head. "This holiday brings out some daring con men." He looked over at Xion and patted her shoulder. "But I talked some sense into him and made it back here in time!"
As Graham was relating his tale, the bells finished their tolling, and everyone could see the aged inquisitor Lord Hulrun himself on the steps of the grand cathedral. His armor was resplendent in the noon light, and he could be heard clearing his throat with his magically enhanced voice when a bright light began to shine from behind the crowd, to the west. It almost looked as if an angry sun was rising from the wrong side of the world as the light flashed reddish orange full into Lord Hulrun's face. His shadow fell huge and distorted across the cathedral's facade.
Everyone turned, stunned, to look behind them. Zayn let loose a muttered curse as he went for his weapon. In the west, almost against the Western Sellen River's bank, the fortress known as the Kite - the fortress built to hold and protect Kenabres' cracked wardstone - was gone. In it's place, a distant plume of red fire, lighting and smoke erupted into the heavens.
Graham's left hand - which had still been resting on Xion's shoulder - tightened painfully as his brows drew down in anger. "Xion!" he barked, "You and your cousins get yourselves and everyone else to safety!" He looked at his brother in law, who already held naked steel in his hand, and finished drawing his own weapon.
You have one round. What do each of you want to do?
"Gods! Is the wardstone's guard breached? Demons may be here soon!" Trézsia's musing did not stop her from drawing her scythe and coming to attention before shouting, "Civilians to shelter! Warriors to arms!" She tried to make her way through the crowd in the direction of the destroyed citadel, on the lookout for trouble.
Perception: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (7) + 0 = 7
Draw scythe as I attempt to move toward the explosion (or toward the source of any trouble I might spot with that roll. :/ Double-move with draw as part of the move.
|Xion Isadora Delonauth|
"... the hell...?"
Xion gaped as she stared at the smoking ruin where the fortress had stood moments ago. She might have been there still staring in disbelief when the smoke cleared if it hadn't been for her father's strong grip shaking her out of the reverie. She returned the cavalier's nod and pulled free of his hand and began ushering family members toward the safety - she hoped - of the cathedral, away from the crumbling fortress. "Get inside, get inside! Any who can fight, to the front; everyone else get inside! I think the wardstone's gone!"
Release peacebond and draw halberd, then spend rest of round helping people get to the cathedral.
|The Red Penitent|
The Penitent watched the plume of red fire in awe, his face lighting up in a beatific smile.
With what appears to be a great effort, he pulls his gaze from the destruction, cocking his head at the cries calling warriors to arms above the din of the rapidly panicking crowd.
He grins as he sees the woman with the dual-colored eyes ushering people toward the cathedral. In an instant, he is in motion, his movements lithe and rapid as he moves to join many of the soldiers and assorted crusaders rushing to battle positions.
The Penitent raises his hands, clenching them into fists, his arms outspread. He cries out, his voice ringing with happiness.
"This is the beginning of my end, the first hint of Dawn...I will pull them into redemption, I will stand tall once more!"
Moving through the retreating people to stand with the other martial-y types.
"Aw, son of a-" Tasnim's voice is quickly drowned out by the crowd. She takes one brief look at the scene and leaps to the front of the crowd. "We never get any family time."
She shakes her head and pushes through the throng of people to stand beside her cousin, drawing her longsword. "Luck be with us all."
Perception: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (18) + 6 = 24
Draws longsword, moves with Xi to the front of the crowd and helps civilians to safety
As Tasnim and Xion take their stand, Vitalia scans the horizon for any clues as to the nature of the situation. Then, all awkwardness gone from her expression, she readies her shield, taking her place alongside her great-aunt's granddaughters.
"This is no time for jokes. Keep your wits about you."
She takes a moment to kiss the amulet that hangs about her neck, then draws her sword, ready for whatever comes to face her.
Perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (9) + 5 = 14
Draws sword and shield, moves to the front of the crowd with Tasnim, Xion, and the Red Penitent.
Are we going with past tense or present tense for posts here? It's up to you--I really don't care which one, but it seems to be an even split, and it's bugging my OCD a little.
Cassander admonishes himself silently. I should have remained on watch. Iomedae help me. He draws his sword and extends a quick blessing upon it. He struggles to push his way through the fleeing crowd toward the front. He determines it will be easier to just go over their heads and does so, extending his wings and taking flight above the throngs.
Casting divine favor and moving toward the disturbance.
|Jess Door GM|
Given the natural inclination of most of the posters to go with present tense, I will try to comply. I may mix them a bit, though!
Over the war cries and commands being shouted out by Kenabres's multitudes of defenders and the screams of its less battle hardened citizenry, a strange shriek suddenly fills the air, causing many to clench their hands over their ears in pain. The high pitched cry, octaves higher than any mortal throat should be able to generate, begins to deepen. Over the heads of brave crusaders and grim warriors brandishing weapons, shields and battle cries, the odd sight of the white haired Tian woman who had brought Xion and Tasnim to their waiting family's arms growing taller than a building rises into sight. Her mouth is distended, and the strange shriek, falling in tenor to a bellow as she grows in stature, is coming from her. Her increasing size bowls those nearest her over, pushing them into the panicking crowd, and her form begins to shift, her skin growing metallic, strange spurs bursting forth from her back and her elegant kimono melding into her new form. In a stunning snap, the spurs whip open into huge silver and white wings, as the woman who asked to be called "Teren" reveals herself to be Kenabres's greatest guardian, the ancient silver dragon Terendelev. With a final ear shattering roar, Terendelev's outstretched wings catch the air as her powerful legs launch her off the ground.
Even as she takes off, a strange form appears in the air over the plaza - the misshapen form of something that is almost manlike, but three times larger than any man could be. His skin is dripping fire and sparking with lightning flashes, and he holds a flaming sword in one hand, and the other blurs into motion, snapping an enormous whip so loudly that many in the crowd stagger back a step or fall to the ground. Even the children in the crowd know who this must be: Khorramzadeh, the Storm King of the Worldwound, somehow come into the very center of Kenabres!
The ground shakes violently, and the combination of the aerial actions of the two titanic creatures above the plaza whip the air into a chaotic wind that blows hair and banners wildly about. Dark specks in the western sky, silhouetted by the angry orange red glow coming from what remains of the Kite, are growing larger and more numerous, as if vast flocks of birds were making their way toward the plaza. Panicking citizens begin to trample each other in their flight toward whatever safety they think they might find.
Shona tries desperately to pull the children and her parents toward the safety of the Cathedral of St. Clydwell, picking up one toddler as he trips over the treacherous ground.
Percpetion DC 15 (last round, or this round):
Movement is becoming difficult due to unsure footing. You may choose to treat the ground as difficult terrain, or you may move full speed, but must succeed on a DC 10 Acrobatics check to remain standing when you complete your movement in that case.
The wind is also chaotic due to the aerial battle taking place above. There is currently a severe wind in the plaza. This imposes a Fly penalty of -4, but otherwise doesn't prevent flying.
You have another round.
Not wishing to be on the ground when she engages whatever is coming, and encumbered by her armor and weapons, Trézsia plods doggedly toward the remains of the Kite, scythe at the ready for any demons which might make it through the crowd.
"Get to safety! Run!" she shouts to the civilians, probably unnecessarily and doubtless unheard over the din of the aerial battle. Glancing around for other militant types, she tries to fall in line with anyone similarly armed and armored and moving at the same speed, in order to form a coherent battle line.
Speed of 20', move at half-speed to avoid falling. Try to move adjacent to other 20' half-speed folks.
Perception: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (14) + 3 = 17
From his high vantage point, Cassander spots the commotion to the west and heads toward it over the crowd. He knows better than to engage the foes in the air - he is an encumbered and clumsy flyer. He intends to get near the fighting and then engage on foot.
|Jess Door GM|
|The Red Penitent|
Perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (13) + 7 = 20
The Penitent stares wide-eyed at the conflict in the sky between the two gargantuan creatures. With the sounds of the rending earth, his gaze snaps back to the area around him. He views the clamour to the west and smiles, moving rapidly in that direction as he cries out in a strong, strident voice.
"THEY COME TO BE BATHED IN THE LIGHT OF TRUTH! I HAVE SEEN THE DAWN AND THOUGH THEY MAY PROTEST, IT WILL BE SHOWN TO THEM AS WELL!"
Acrobatics: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (16) + 5 = 21
The expression on the Penitent's face is of pure rapturous joy as he makes his way with agile leaps and bounds over the inexorably shifting earth and stone.
He looks from side to side, laughing in delight as he sees others of like-mind moving with him toward the creatures pulling themselves from the rents in the ground. His dancing movements rapidly put him toward the front of the group of defenders near him.
Moving 30' toward the western disturbance, readying a standard action to attack anything that moves into one of my threatened squares.
|Xion Isadora Delonauth|
Perception 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (3) + 3 = 6
"Hwaaaaaaugh...!" Xion drives the stave of her halberd to the ground, struggling to maintain her balance, then waves back at the retreating crowds back toward the cathedral. "Go, go! We'll be fine! Get to safety!"
She then turns to her cousins and gazes over the building chaos of the impromptu battlefield that was once a fairground, the thrashing of the dragon and the balor, and the incoming swarm of something in the air. "Guess this is what years of training are supposed to have prepped us for, huh? Here goes nothing? Don't much think retreat's an option at this point - not for any of us who can fight anyway...."
Picking her way carefully across the ragged ground, she begins a slow advance, halberd in hand and keeping her eyes open, directing fleeing people toward the safety of the cathedral and hoping that anything attempting to pursue there will have to go through the three of them first.
"What in-"Tasnim barely manages to remain standing as the ground shakes. Once sure of her footing, she looks back.
"Keep running! She shoots her mother a hopeful look before closing her eyes and turning away. "Stay safe..." she whispers as she slowly makes her way back toward the chaos.
|Jess Door GM|
(GM PC) Vitalia stays with her cousins, shield and sword held ready for attack.
As the gigantic silver dragon charges the demon lord, her battle cry still making the ears of those below ring, the Storm King lashes out with his flaming sword, and opens a huge gash in Terendelev's body. Time slows, and the air feels silent and thick as the most powerful defender of Kenabres and its wardstone plummet toward the ground, trailing a terrible arc of blood and fire. A strange hush falls over the plaza as every eye follows the horrific sight, punctuated only by a woman in the distance sobbing, and an old priest falling to his knees under the shadow of Cassander, beginning a desperate prayer to Iomedae.
That terrible, eternal moment stretches on, then snaps and rebounds as Terendelev smashes into the facade of the Cathedral of St. Clydwell, throwing broken roof tiles, building stones, shards of glass and splintered lumber in all directions and shattering the preternatural silence. Screams, yells and the sounds of battle erupt again, seeming shrill and desperate in the reddening glow from the west. The Storm King begins a slow, cruel laugh as he plunges down to the earth after his fallen foe, snapping his whip indiscriminately at those nearest the now dubious safety of the cathedral.
Cassander, his head turning back and forth between the aerial battle to the east and the fighting on the western edge of the plaza, sees a huge piece of lumber, sharpened and splintered from the shattering of the cathedral, flying toward him as if it were a ballista bolt. He dodges out of the way only to see a humanoid form on a collision course with his new trajectory. He has only a second to try to brace his arms to meet the blow when the limp form of the old man crashes into him, knocking them both to the ground. His fall and that of the man that hit him are broken by the crowd of people below. Only the fact that the crusaders below are facing the battle on the western front of the plaza saves Cassander from possibly skewering hiimself on the weapons of allies.
Vitalia, Xion and Tasnim all advance together, carefully picking their way over the treacherous ground; a scarred and battle hardened woman keeps pace with them, shouting for people to get to safety. A shadow blocks the noon sun for a split second, and then all four of them are knocked off their feet as a winged man crashes into them from the air above. His raiment and holy symbol announce him as follower of Iomedae, and his white feathered wings made it extremely unlikely he is part of the demon horde. Another body flys past them, into the back of the half-dressed man the women had noted earlier. He seemed to dance over the shaking ground without a care for the treacherous footing, but the body that flys into him from behind without warning knocks him to the ground a few feet in front of them.
As the stunned crusaders try to pull themselves together a titanic demon erupts through the widening crack on the western edge the plaza, reducing the Red Stag Tavern and Relashiv's Alchemist Shop to ruins with gigantic blows of his fists. A bright green explosion rocks the nearby buildings and greasy purple smoke billows from the rubble that is all that remains of the shop. The earth screams and cracks as if it were the frozen surface of a lake rather than solid ground, and the earth opens beneath everyone's feet, angling away into pitch darkness.
Cassander tries to gain purchase in the air as the earth pulled him down, but he is still entangled with the warriors he'd crashed into. Trezsia grabs at the edge of some cobblestones nearby as the ground falls from under her, holding tight to her scythe with her other hand, but her fingers can't hold the dancing earth beneath them. The cousins reflexively reach for each other as the black well beneath them seeks to swallow them whole, and the Penitent is too encumbered by the man who had crashed into him from the sky to find an effective hold.
Even as they begin falling, Terendelev struggles to her feet in the shattered remains of the Cathedral of St. Clydwell. Her stance is resolute, one gore-soaked forepaw gripping the huge wound across her belly, though blood covers the broken building about her. As Khorramzadeh charges her from above, his horrible laughter bouncing off the buildings that remain standing around Clydwell Plaza, the dragon's gaze flickers toward the six failing in their struggle to stay in the plaza, to defend their world from the hordes of the Abyss. The Storm King draws back his sword for a mighty blow, and the silver dragon's voice rings out, loud and clear and resounding with arcane energy over the noise of battle. Suddenly bouyed on the air almost as if it were water, the six fall gently into the black beneath them. Their last sight of the world above is the Storm King's sword cleaving brave Terendelev's head from her body. Then the rift above them slams shut and they are plunged into absolute darkness.
Everyone hears crashes of falling rock and debris, screams that suddenly go silent and rumblings as they slowly float through the darkness. After a few seconds of this strange experience, they all touch down on uneven ground, treacherous with rubble and unseen obstructions. A faint sobbing comes from the left and a man's voice, tremulous and shaky, comes from the right with a quiet and questioning "Hello? Is...is anyone else alive down here?"
"Hells! I'm not sure I'm alive, but I'm here." Trézsia coughs to clear the dust from her lungs and slings her pack from her back, rummaging through it in the dark to try to find a torch and her fire-striking flint. "Light! We need light if we're to return to the battle!" she rasps into the darkness.
|The Red Penitent|
On his knees amidst the rubble, the Red Penitent tries to stare upward, letting out a forlorn moan as he sees only darkness.
"The Dawn...fell away...the Sun has gone down...this...what...this is not what..."
He hangs his head, his hands on his thighs.
"I...am here," he manages in response to the sounds of other voices, "but this is not a good day, after all."
He takes a deep breath, letting it out slowly. He then leaps to his feet from the kneeling crouch in one lithe movement, his face setting into a resolute grimace.
"Light...", he murmurs, "We will find the Light, yes..."
Groping blindly at the worn pouch on his hip, he starts to procure a small battered candle.
|Xion Isadora Delonauth|
Xion and Tasnim can see in the dark, and maybe the celestial man, but the humans can't, and Xion's quite aware of this fact. When the Penitent draws a candle, though, she can help with that. "Here, let m...," she groans, shoving a piece of rubble off her body, and scrabbles for purchase on the uneven ground before shakily rising and pointing a clawed finger at the wick. "Scintillae," she mutters, and the celestial word strikes a fresh flame on the waiting wax.
Cassander groans as he gets up from the ground and looks about, his superhuman vision piercing the darkness. "Is anybody hurt?" he asks. With a word and a slight gesture, his holy symbol bathes the area in light.
I also have darkvision, but to help out the others, I cast light. Save your candles.
"Thanks be for the light," Trézsia manages between coughs as she secures her pack and returns it to her back, "Can you see how to get out of here and back to the square?" Though her voice is steady, her knuckles are white on the haft of the scythe as she looks around at her companions, holding out a hand to assist any who are down back to their feet.
Perception - way out: 1d20 ⇒ 14
|Jess Door GM|
Cassander, Xion and Tasnim can see that they are on one side of a large cavern. The air is full of settling dust, and the visibility is poor. The wall nearest the group is a huge mound of rubble. The occasional sound of falling rock and faint rumbles testify that the earth is settling. As Xion climbs gingerly over some rocks to get to the Penitent’s candle, she sees the form of a man lying near him, also on top of the rubble. More horribly, as the light from the candle and Cassander’s spell both illuminate the area, everyone can see evidence of those buried in the rock, never to move again.
One third of the way up the mound of rock that makes the nearby wall, a slim woman in flexible leather armor sits. A bloody gash is open on her cheek, and tear tracks run through the heavy coating of dust on her face, but her expression is set and stoic as the light allows her to see again.
On the other side of the near wall, a man in expensive clothes stands and begins to dust himself off. He winces and frowns. “Ow! Oh! My arm! Look, its hurt! Can any of you heal it? This jacket, it’s my very best! Look at this! It will never be the same again! It’s ruined!”
“Ah,” the trembling voice emerges from the man next to the Penitent. It appears to be the man that flew through the air into Cassander in the plaza. His head lifted slightly off the ground, though his long white hair obscured his face. “I can hear, there are others. But enough talking about light…it’s pitch black in here! I would like to see who I trapped with, here below Kenabres.” His voice gains a little strength as he speaks, but it still sounds brittle, as if he fighting to hold back a reaction to great pain.
The cavern is large enough that even with the light the other end is lost in darkness. Just at the edge of the dim light, a large shape crouches silent and still on the ground.
|Xion Isadora Delonauth|
Xion gives the people she can see a quick look-over, attempting to determine who is most injured and whose wounds are mostly superficial (she has a feeling the wealthy complainer fits into the latter category), and who is beyond mortal aid. Her medical training is minimal, though, and there's not much she can do without expending magic - which she's loathe to use on someone who can survive without.
She climbs over the rocks toward the old man, and tries to get a count of how many are up and about. "There are... at least nine or ten of us alive. Maybe more, I can't tell. Do you think you can walk?"
Trézsia peers around impassively at the injured and dead, knowing that this is ever the price of the war against evil. She spots the winged man moving towards a dark figure at the edge of the light and the trumpet in her head sounds. If we are trapped here, why not the enemy?
Abandoning the thought of escape, she trots after the angelic being. "Hold! Let us approach together, lest it be a vile demon!"
|The Red Penitent|
The Penitent grins as the candle's wick springs to light.
"She has not abandoned me," he murmurs, nodding, "She is here with me in the darkness, ever forgiving."
At the spread of brighter light from the angelic man's holy symbol, the Penitent smiles, looking to the source of the wavering voice beside him. He cocks his head inquisitively to the side at the man's words.
"There is light, my brother, can you n-"
The Penitent pauses, peering intently through the pale hair obscuring the man's face in the dim light.
Perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (11) + 7 = 18
|Jess Door GM|
Cassander looks around carefully and notices the woman up on the rocks has a leg that she's not moving, and it looks crooked, as if it might be broken. The rich merchant is standing and moving rather easily, so any injuries he may have are probably minor. Xion moves toward the man lying on his stomach. He's barely moving, and as she approaches, she can see many cuts, and bruises are already darkening on his skin. Every time he moves even the tiniest bit he grunts in pain, though he's obviously trying to put on a brave front.
"I...don't think so. At the very least, not in this darkness. I don't have light memorized today. I believe I heard your voice as the one casting spark earlier. Do you not have a torch to light?"
As Cassander wanders nearer the large silent form at the edge of his sight, he detects a whiff of decay. His approach allows his darkvision to pick up that the form is a gigantic spider. He can't resolve color well, but there appears to be a vaguely hourglass shaped design on the immense vermin's back.
The Penitent leans over, holding the candle near the old man. His ears reveal him to be an elf. His face and forehead is a mass of burns, and the poor man's eyes are destroyed. One bloodied hand moves to touch his ravaged face, but after the lightest touch, he pulls it back with a gasp and a wince. "No," he responds, and irritation and a little fear enters his voice. "No, there is no light. Are you all bl..." He stops speaking for a moment, then groans. "...No, you're not, are you?" He lowers his head again, hiding his face, and he stops trying to get up.
The woman up on the mound of rocks still isn't moving, though she watches everyone else carefully. At Trezsia's voiced worries over demons trapped below with them, she scrabbles in the rocks and picks up a bow, reaching behind her for an arrow. Biting her lip, she nocks the arrow and aims it toward the darkness, her eyes scanning for danger.
Tasnim groans and slowly gets to her feet. Her eyes adjust so easily to the dark that she winces a little when Cassander's light shines forth. She follows Xion, staying close to the one concrete thing she has from Kenabres above, scanning the rubble and the horizon beyond, such as it was, for danger, sword once again in hand.
Perception - hostiles: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (8) + 6 = 14
|Jess Door GM|
Tasnim looks about the cavern. She also sees the vague shape of a form off in the darkness - the cavern is too large for her to detect the far end of it. There is the occasional clatter of settling rock, and muted rumbles that seem to come from the world above. As she examines the rubble, Tasnim sees blood pooling out from the mound of fallen rock and earth, and occassionally a hand or foot resolves itself, unmoving under the rock.
As she turns her head, she sees a glitter out of the corner of her eye. Something's shining between two larger rocks, glinting in the light from Cassander's holy symbol.
Is the spider moving?
Seeing the monstrous form, Cassander decides it is best not to stray too far from the group alone. He returns to where all of the injured individuals are. "Gather round," he says.
He raises his holy symbol and bathes the injured with holy light.
Channel energy to heal everyone around the rubble. 1d6 ⇒ 3
He leans in quietly to Trezsia and Tasnim and whispers, "There is some sort of arachnid creature, outside the sphere of light. Some of these people will not be able to defend themselves from an attack, but I suspect a few here can handle themselves if they are hostile."
|Jess Door GM|
The spider is not moving. It appears to be crouching, and it is not facing the mound of rubble - it is facing the far end of the cavern.
At Cassander's request for the injured to gather around, the man next to the Penitent doesn't move at all, though he is still breathing.
The merchant in his silk clothes moves toward the winged man quickly, holding his arm. "Good! Good! Yes, healing! Next, you should get me out of this place. So much destruction above...I must get back to my warehouse and make sure it is safe. Oh! And my house...all my lovely things, destroyed by demons! I can pay you all handomely for an escort!"
The woman rises slowly, using her bow stave to lever herself to her feet, but as she tries to step forward, she cries out in pain and falls again to the ground.
Cassander is able to stand where Iomedae's healing can still reach both the elf and the woman, but the womans leg is not repairing, and the elf is still in extremely bad shape. The middle aged man, however, seems quite pleased. He pokes at a tear in the sleeve of his fine jacket. "You wouldn't happen to have magic that is able to repair this, would you?"
"Where is the beast or demon in beast form?" Trézsia asks the winged man. At his gesture toward the darkness, she marks the spot and clambers to where the archer sits. Kneeling by her side, she speaks softly. "I know you are injured, but from your vantage, you can keep watch and shoot, covering those of us on the ground. The winged one has spotted a creature in the dark, there..." she points to the approximate place. "Please keep watch and call out if you see something enter the light."
Biting her lip, she looks at the woman's leg. "Forgive me, I have no healing skill. Vildeis blesses wounds and scars and pain done in honorable battle against evil." Touching the ruined side of her face, she continues, "Give your pain to her, for it is thus made glory." She clasps the woman's shoulder briefly, then returns to the relatively level ground, there to stand ready between the injured and the danger pointed out by Cassander.