Val remains quiet as the somewhat... dim half-orc begins his tour. It wouldn't do for a spy and priestess of some rank to be chatty with common cultists, even if he was doing her a favor. Overall, it seems that the cultists have established an efficient defense, one that they'll need to subvert as thoroughly as possible before they can move their armies into the city. "Izg shul bozg okhusha kishul ish bi glil krol ghigul gushushak izg."
She doesn't allow her frustration to show much as they're once against confronted. Though perhaps a visiting informant being frustrated with the constant questioning would be a perfectly reasonable behavior. "Thrishaghushak ra lushil ush bi búshdoghum'l rikhuluh hat pakuga di shush da bi krashum al ish bi thrarzoghurz, am rashul hâl thrushusha dutushazg birb krokhak ai kokhishoshi lushil ugh krum gushushul thrishoshug nu bum ashul." Should the assistant have the same troubles with Abyssal that the guard did, Val quickly translates into Common.
Bluff Aid (Circlet): 1d20 + 11 + 3 ⇒ (6) + 11 + 3 = 20
Diplomacy Aid (Circlet): 1d20 + 10 + 3 ⇒ (9) + 10 + 3 = 22
"Considering my report on the crusader's movements will likely be seen by the higher ups in the citadel, your mistress would certainly benefit from having a favorable report of her defenses compared to their armies."
"Yeah, I get that." Ary says, with a small nod. "Doesn't make my stomach unclench, though. I do believe we can win this... but I don't think we'll do it with few losses. And some of those will be because I screwed up. Not just made a bad call, but screwed up, like with the stone golem." she says with a small shrug. "And I don't really have any way to deal with that."
"Bam im Bushum Hosilla unk bi Gushor. Sna pobi im ishushdukhomb, sna diga arz burzi dushdig gu sna snashum," Isilme says, speaking before Valaria needs to reply. As she finishes she bows deferentially to Val before turning back to the halfling.
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Ehren nods knowingly. "It was easier back then. Even when there were people counting on us, even when there were lives at stake, we could get by just by taking care of ourselves. And when we couldn't... there was no loss but our own."
"You can't protect them, Ary. Not the way you want to. You can only lead them," he says, looking to Faith. "You have to accept that you can make mistakes, and take responsibility for them. But you can't let them tear you apart. Learn from them, honor the people that were lost, and aspire to do better. Do that, and no one will have died in vain."
Hildebrand K.Local: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (19) + 6 = 25
Hildebrand raises an eyebrow at the name - not recognizing it due to her relative lack of notoriety amongst the Deskarans - though the halfling made it his business to know as many names as he could within the fortification.
"...Very well." He opens the next door. "Padrona Arta. Visitatore tlhih ghaj. Sacerdotessa Hosilla dei Templari."
Comboing Italian with Klingon (lol) for Infernal since there are so many gaps in the Klingon dictionary.
"Luq. Ghah 'e yinisqo'," a female voice replies.
Hildebrand opens the door to a spartan office featuring little more than a plain wooden table, chairs, a writing set with a few pieces of parchment lit by a single candle. At the desk is Mistress Arta, who is currently occupied with some paperwork. She is a young woman wearing insectoid armor, complete with antennae-like appendages protruding from her helmet, and has pale grey eyes. Her eyes dart from Valaria to Isilme with disinterest.
"Bushul... Hosilla, il izg? Ank bozg bal ai kral-ank-rasha Nushom nu Thrarzoghurz Drezen?"
"Priestess... Hosilla, is it? And what brings a high-and-mighty Templar to Citadel Drezen?"
Valaria raises a single eyebrow when she sees the heavily stylized armor adorning the gate's commander. "Oshosha bozg i'g oshul: gugakhushak irbulkabhushi." She shrugs like it's nothing of particular note. "Bushi'l busha pashi oshi nu gu bush bushi ashi shu rota ushushakhul ghuk ush. I krokhush'zg krog bi snoshi nu shi Bushush dushishi. I bâl I ral noki ai pul ashânk ank ashashi uti ugh am bezg bagrishul dushishi I gugakhum ra lushil. Ank I bâl i ral ashururzi ai ghug lushil ugh am bushoshorzul nu am shúshushub bagi I'rb ashegha gugakhushak glul."
Bluff (Circlet): 1d20 + 11 + 3 ⇒ (16) + 11 + 3 = 30
Diplomacy (Circlet): 1d20 + 10 + 3 ⇒ (9) + 10 + 3 = 22
"There's very little else to do when there are so many offensives going on. I haven't had the chance to see Drezen before. I thought I might take a look around and admire one of our great victories before I deliver my report. And I thought you might appreciate a good report of your preparations to our superiors while I'm already delivering news."
Linguistics: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (6) + 12 = 18
When Hildrebrand and Arta converse, Isilme doesn't understand the language initially. The sound of it, however, grates upon her in the same way Abyssal does, leading her to suspect it is Infernal. When Valaria understands and responds in Abyssal, it confirms her suspicion.
Isilme looks disgusted at the sound of the infernal used by Arta. "Ishushorz..." she says, studying Arta at the table. She turns to Valaria, "Igh I pi pashul." Turning back to Arta, she speaks in the grating, mind-numbing language that they had heard before when dealing with the Wikkawaks. It was a bit of a gamble, but with the knowledge that the Shantak above was Arta's and that they spoke Aklo, it was likely that she would understand. "Fhothafm Ethu ha Fhtushuh Shongglar, wai stuthah ustar ha iphlargh nerlar... Hatha ah thrai shygen nai ethafm fhi fhothafm an bsnihn u gapaphluflha mnuflchtyara."
"If I may, mistress."
"Oshurulka bush Arastrax thrúshushug pa pashul orbum bi bal gishum ush hempak Bushush," she adds, hoping dropping the invidiak's name would pique her interest further and lend them credibility.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 26 - 3 ⇒ (5) + 26 - 3 = 28
Bluff(Aid): 1d20 + 20 + 4 - 3 ⇒ (1) + 20 + 4 - 3 = 22
"Mr. Ehren is right. There is only one way to move forward with such responsibilities, move forward to honor those who were lost. It is only by not letting yourself be brought down by your mistakes, by continuing, that those who fell will be able to rest." Hinagiku slowly and silently moves across the room to come to Ary's side and looks into her eyes before laying a calming hand on her shoulder.
"I know a way to get to relax. If you want, I will come by your tent tonight and teach you how to meditate."
Captain Arta raises an eyebrow, before replying, "Ah, ee sgn'wahl uh'e, orr'e f'ooboshu Hildebrand. Cvulgtlagln naflsll'ha n'ghft hrii r'luh."
"Ah, a talented assistant, like my Hildebrand. Not many speak the Star-Language."
She nods approvingly in Isilme's direction before turning to Valaria with a smile. "Am kroshughush il ai bol uti, Bushul, i bâl di bâg ugh krum."
She leans back in her chair before continuing. "I gu lúsh ai krasha thrishurzump kishi krushi azg bi Ashul Nishum, dúzg am gushushul ashi lelka búmb ai bil-ghol. Igh Bishop hashul nu bil bi thrarzoghurz, bi hat glug nu rikhi shubhi oshatul irbu bi thrarza... ank at skishashi lârzul ashi krekhaga ghushug. Ushi hi shi krum ashumpak, hi shasha lak bi ghik nu rishagashi am kishul ank lushink nu bum ashul. Bi skol thrilak irbu bi thrarza bi bi lakhushul krokhi ashu dush pug har bol - ank ushi hi shuzg al ai dishutul, bi hat shúshuga gi. Ashishak nu Eustoyriax'l ba, am kishul azg-glúbum burb nush nu uti. Izg hat di ai bushum."
She grins wickedly. "I bâl thrishaghum buk kim bi... kushakharzul."
"Your handmaiden is a smart one, Priestess, you should be proud of her"
"I do run a highly competent force here at the Eastern Tower, but our defenses are really just a stop-gap. If Bishop wishes to storm the citadel, she will need to move siege engines into the city... and all possible routes are heavily guarded. Once we see her approaching, we simply ring the gong to mobilize our forces and respond to their assault. The paths coming into the city via the riverbeds have also been laid with traps - and once we set up a bottleneck, they will surely die. According to Eustoyriax's spy, our forces out-number them ten to one. It will be a slaughter."
"You should consider staying for the... festivities."
Isilme nods subtly at Arta's compliment and allows herself to relax some to make it seem she was at ease now that the initial exchange had gone well. She allows Val to respond to Arta first, continuing her act as Val's servant, which had worked out well for them. When she has an opportunity, she speaks up, "Bi snigul azg bi snorzul krushi berzug la Ashul, krushi bi skizg? Ashoshol kog shishonk ugh uti ish Irushal al krut. Nu i kokhi nashul shishonk ugh bushdi al krut?"
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"Count the living, yeah?" Ary asks, before huffing. "But I keep getting caught up in the dead. And I can protect them. Most of them. Or... at least keep more of them alive than I have. I'm really worried about all of the people who are going to die here. And like... where do we bury them..? The worldwound? We can't just carry them back out, either. So someone's going to just have to walk up to families, fiances, mothers, children... and say 'They're not coming home.' And... that's part of the life, right? Bethil knew what she was getting into. Sir Yves knew what he was getting into. Even most of our enemies know that. But that's not going to make it any easier. Their sacrifices have made losing not an option. Not that it ever was an option... but I think that's what I mostly take from 'Honoring their Sacrifice'. Make it not in vain."
She pauses. "I... don't know that I have time for meditation right now. We don't really get downtime like this much. There are just too many preparations that need to be made... all the time. And I'm not like the rest of you. I'm still just that farm girl, who's bad with crowds, lacks the conviction required to be a paladin, always playing catch-up. I don't have Daisy's zen, Rocky's wisdom, or Xander's confidence, or Isilme's conviction, or Valaria's passion. I just have moving forward, day by day, and doing the best that I can. Always striving. I just... it feels like I'm trying to live up to everyone around me."
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"The Inheritor did not choose a paladin or priest, Ary," Ehren says softly, one hand idly running its fingers along the side of his crown. He could relate to her doubts and fears all too well. "She chose you. I think she recognized something in you, something that no one else possesses. But as wise as I may be, even I cannot tell you exactly what it is. That is for you to determine. Just remember that those things about yourself that you so lament are a part of it. Perhaps you'll have to change, but the only one you have to live up to is yourself. You are her Lion."
Val chuckles softly and nods. "Ul, I gu. Izg'l shu krol nu kank ash ashashomp bu il dir balkug ank purz. I p%&+ nu rurbush ai ghug lugorzushal har shiluti shu gem nu ri." She absently taps her chin like she's thinking about the commander's offer. "Al rúl kúsh al izg hâl di nu hol bi búshdoghub duk búshug abhul am gushushul, ra lushil glul nu di gugakhushug bisha. Al pik al I'rb glizg krul al azg bi kil, I't ba nu di dol ish nali nu shi bi bil bâl."
"As much fun as it would be to watch the crusaders being crushed against your defenses, my report needs to be delivered promptly. As long as I'm not held up at the fort, I'll try to be back in time to see the show though."
Arta shrugs and returns to her paperwork. "Busha hut. I hat glizg bul i, bush. Vhane il ash ishorzump rosh."
"Very well. I will not keep you, then. Vhane is an impatient man."
To Isilme, she says, "Glu, dúzg bi ghigul ashi kroshul otâl igh i gu glizg thrili ni bishdi bush bi ghorzi il bishdug. Ank okhush igh i gu, bi gu glizg lúsh ni kom birb bum skimb."
"No, but the golems are harmless enough if you do not come too close when the gate is closed. And even if you do, they do not run too far from their post. "
Isilme nods at Arta and bows when the conversation comes to a natural conclusion. It was hard not to feel satisfied with the outcome at this point. She heads to the door, ensuring it's open and waits there for Valaria to lead the way out.
She allows Mokug to lead them back to where they had first encountered him, and then beckons for him to come closer to herself and Val. "I kokhi niti krut Pikúl, pa pashul krat ghúzg ish ai snug kril dim i al krut. Igh i bi am shol hal i pal dank ashul bilirzug. Li bushoshug igh kri bashdazg abhush, bi nul skizg oshunk ash ushum bari," she says quietly.
Bluff: 1d20 + 20 + 4 ⇒ (16) + 20 + 4 = 40
"Heh heh heh. Mokug likes the sound of that," the half-orc replies loudly, seemingly unable to understand her discretion. He helps lead the two women back downstairs and out into the wall.
"Alrighty. Citadel is that a-way," He points to the Citadel Drezen, which, quite frankly, is impossible to miss. "Barrid Isen blew up the eastern bridge, so you gotta take the southern one to get over the river. Ghug di, Priestess Hosilla."
"Doshushut," she says, heading off in the direction Mokug had pointed out.
"We will need to circle around to get back out," she says to Val quietly once they are out of earshot. When they get out of line of sight, she tries to find a place to hide for the moment so they can begin working their way out. She scans the skies and surrounding area for any signs of anyone watching before they duck for a hiding place.
Perception: 1d20 + 24 - 3 ⇒ (17) + 24 - 3 = 38
Stealth: 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (14) + 15 = 29
Val nods and turns to leave. "Ank glizg ai rosh nu ashum. I krishi nu shi i abhush dushishi bi kushakharzul dubhash thrishoshum." She leaves with Isilme, slightly surprised but very happy that things have gone so well so far. She lets Isilme sow a little confusion in the dim-witted half-orc before they head out of the tower. "Indeed. I think we've learned exactly what we need to know. Let's get going. We have a report to deliver."
Stealth: 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (14) + 13 = 27
"Yeah, I guess you're right. Everyone keeps picking me for everything, so clearly someone sees something particularly special." Ary says, offering a wry smirk. "Thanks. I still don't feel like I should be leading anyone, though. Except by being in the front of them."
As they finally work their way back to the group, Isilme smiles at the others assembled. "Mission accomplished," she says. "Well the situation looks to be to our advantage. We should head back to camp and discuss strategy for tomorrow."
"Reluctant leaders are often the best kind," Ehren replies with a very slight smirk. "Or so I hear."
When Isilme and Valaria return, Ehren stands and dusts off his robes. "Sounds promising. Let's get going, then."
The demonic army has evidently put little effort into keeping too many scouts at the walls, so it is a relatively simple affair for the heroes to head back. By the time they reach their camp, night has fallen. Enormous red and black storm clouds look ominously overhead, crackling with green lightning.
Green lightning is a sign of an abyssal acid storm. Storms composed of pure elemental energy are common in the chaotic Abyss, and are not uncommon in the Worldwound as a result. Acidic storms typically manifest in "lightning" bolts of pure acidic energy, as well as acid rain. The degree of the corrosion of the acid rain could vary from mildly irritating to intense enough to melt through stone or wood. Acid rain capable of melting through metal is rare.
Finding suitable cover would be advisable. This stuff will melt through your cloth tents, and could be lethal to your unarmored civilians.
K(Planes): 1d20 + 17 ⇒ (14) + 17 = 31
"Glad to see you back." Ary says nodding. She frowns at the lightning overhead. "That's a sure sign that we need better shelter than simply being out in the open. Worldwound Acid Rain can melt through stone and sometimes even metal. Pure elemental energy also congeals into something like lightning." she says, chewing on her lip. "We need to either press forward tonight, or find some other form of shelter for us and all of our troops. And especially the civilians."
"I'll come tonight, everyone can do meditation... and it does not need to take hours, a few minutes will suffice and help with you " Hinagiku says right before Isilme and Valaria return.
Knowledge (nature): 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (19) + 12 = 31
Ehren looks to the sky, trying to make sense of the building storm. Given the conditions they experienced during their previous trips into the Worldwound, Ary's dire forecast hardly fazed him. Luckily, as unnatural as the weather was, the clouds were still at the mercy of air currents. Until they decide not to be, I suppose.
"Whatever we are going to do, we had best decide quickly. We have an hour before it hits us, two at most."
K. Planes: 10 + 18 = 28
K. Nature: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (18) + 11 = 29
Xanderghul shakes his head at Irabeth. "No, the storm will eat through our tents," he says. "We can't camp safely in the normal way. Commander, I recommend we enact our plan to disable the gatehouse and ferry our army into the city." he says. "If we time and do it correctly, we can remain safe from the acid rain while it disables the ability for anyone to respond immediately to our ingress."
"I agree. The gate house should be large enough for our forces to take shelter in to weather the storm. Knowing all their defenses, we should have no trouble crippling them in one go. If we move quickly we should be able to have everyone in shelter well before the storm arrives."
Ser Ilivan K. Planes: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (12) + 10 = 22
Ser Ilivan squints at the roiling clouds ahead. "Definitely an elemental storm... acid, you say? We need to move, immediately."
Irabeth nods. "Right. Let me know what you need us to do and I'll get the word out. What's the plan?"
Isilme and Xanderghul have a plan in discussion that involves bringing in a small squad (12~) people + the heroes to disable the watchtower. Does anyone else agree?
"Quickly - gather everyone in the army who can see in the dark. Bring Jorsal, too." orders Xanderghul. "And get the army ready to march."
"I'm all for taking the structure before it has a chance to get too nasty out here. I say we go for it. I do worry about my ability to be useful at all if we're not using some sort of lights, and lights will be visible from the towers, probably."
"I think that moving a squad inside should work so long as we're careful and make sure they don't send out an alert."
"Once it starts, the storm shouldn't last any longer than three hours," Ehren finally determines, finding it difficult to make sense of the unnatural weather. "If we move quickly, we should be able to take the tower before then."
"Lights will have to stay off until the attack proper begins, but we need to have disabled the gong and Arta before that point. If Val and I go in disguised first, we can bait out Mokug while Ehren disables the gong and seals Arta in. Then we can begin the assault and they will be leaderless and unable to warn anyone."
Irabeth nods. "Alright. I can do that. One moment."
Irabeth rushes back into the thick of the army, pulling together everyone they have with darkvision.
"Eveth is out scouting," Irabeth explains. "But hopefully this will do." She turns to Captain Alkalson. "Ethan, I leave the army to you while Ary and I are out on this raid."
Captain Alkalson nods and salutes her. "Of course. What is the signal to march?"
The group consists of:
- Ser Jorsal
- Chevalier Irabeth Tirablade
- Lead Hunter Wenduag
- The Underfolk (8 total)
- Lieutenant Mintreal Kost
- Captain Caelda Halse
- Chevalier Annabelle Kir
- 10 tiefling paladins
- 4 dwarf fighters (heavily armored)
- 2 dwarf fighters (lightly armored)
- 2 tiefling fighter (lightly armored)
- 1 ifrit cavalier
- 4 tiefling cavaliers
- 1 aasimar cavalier
Are you bringing ALL of these people? Please let me know.
You also have clerics with darkvision but I didn't list them. The rangers/slayers with darkvision are out on a scouting mission.
Also, I updated the Army Reference Document with precise demographics for your army in case this question ever comes up again. I also leveled up the Underfolk because they got experience from Icerift yay :)
"I believe we should bring Sosiel and Cassiel, Annabelle, Captain Halse, and eight paladins with darkvision. That will give us two groups of six with significant healing capabilities. If they focus on fighting defensively and covering each other, our group can focus on taking down any of the cultists that pose a threat or are capable of healing."
"We should set out immediately, time is of the essence."
Xanderghul concurs, not bothering to thank Irabeth for having fetched everyone. He gets his things ready, and lets the group they've chosen know that they should do so as well.
Could the army see a daylight or a dancing lights from where they are?
"At least the guy at the front isn't very bright. Otherwise they might question why we're back so quickly. If we have a few minutes, we could try to disguise our strike team, see if we can get inside without anyone noticing who we really are."
The heroes set out back to the watchtower. Because of the cloudy night sky, it is extremely dark, and it is difficult for those in the group without darkvision to see much at all. They can make the vague shape of the watchtower out against the sky, but details are completely lost to them.
They hide in the dead forest nearby and look in.
There is no one on the walls - the cultists here appear to have already taken shelter within the watchtower. The shantak is no longer circling around the top of the watch tower - it is nowhere to be found.
"I could run to the quartermaster to fetch the disguises our troops used when we attacked the tower near Icerift."
Hinagiku squints to see the tower and its occupant from her hiding position.
"Should we enter the city like be did before and wait for Mr. Ehren's signal to rush the guards on the walls?"
Disguises would take 1d3x10 min if we did them all in parallel. I don't think we have the time.
"I believe we should work our way around, yes. Attacking from the behind is the only way we will be able to get everyone into the fray fast enough. It is part of the reason we needed to keep the group small."
"From what it appears, our work may be cut out for us as well, it seems the cultists have withdrawn from the walls. Let us work our way around to the other side and begin."
"Alright... sneakysneakysneaky. I like it!" Annabelle flashes Isilme a grin. "Ooooh, this is gonna be fun. Just like old times, right, senpai?"
The heroes lead their squad north, up and over the rubble of a destroyed portion of wall, and around. The harpies that previously were seen flying around the outer reaches of the walls are no longer anywhere to be seen... it seems the denizens of Drezen know better than to test the might of a Worldwound storm. This makes it relatively simple for them to regroup in the same building as last time.
"What is our next step?" Sosiel asks, gripping Annabelle's hand since he cannot see.
"I will give Ehren invisibility and he will accompany Val and I. We will return with their second in command while Ehren disables their gong and leader. If something goes wrong, I will signal you with light to charge. I will flash it three times as a sign to attack."
When Ehren is ready, I will invis him as quietly as I can. I will attempt to time it with a flash of lightning, so the thunder covers it up as well.
Stealth: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (10) + 14 = 24
Ehren nods. "All right. Let's get going then."
In the blink of an eye, he shrinks down into a tiny little thrush and, with a few frantic flaps of his wings, perches on Isilme's shoulder.
Hinagiku's ears stand to attention when Annabelle mentions having fun.
"It has been a while... and, with you by my side, I know I won't have to be as concerned about my back." she answers, a gentle smile on her lips.
"Alright, should we use lights to light our way once we charge? I do not think that I can run as quickly in this darkness."
"Light should be fine then, we will return shortly if all goes well," Isilme says as she renders Ehren invisible.
"Shall we, Val, Ehren?" Taking a step towards the door, she reactivates the hat of disguise. She takes a moment to activate message on herself, Val and Ehren, thinking it unlikely that the magic will go far enough from the tower to reach the rest. "Give us a heads up when the gong is disabled. If you are discovered for some reason, do not hesitate to hide yourself inside the stone as an earth elemental if need be."
Disguise(No Crown,disguise self): 1d20 + 20 + 10 - 3 ⇒ (14) + 20 + 10 - 3 = 41
Heading out, she waits for Val and then begins heading towards the steps. If all went well, they would be able to bait out the half-orc, kill him and then charge in with their forces.