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In the Shadows There Is Light

Game Master James Martin

A Midnight-lite Pathfinder game, set in the small town of Red Grove.

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The morning started like any other: a light fog drifting in from the hills, pooling in the streets on a cool spring morning. Voices echoed throughout the town, a steady hammerbeat from the smithy and the ever-present patrols of orcs in the road.

Until the bell rang.

The assembly-bell was hung in the top of the steeple to the Temple of Izrador. Worship was twice weekly, mandatory and mercifully brief most days. But today was not a worship day. Today was something else.

You make your way to the temple where the doors have been thrown open wide to allow the air to flow. At the front of the temple, the zordrafin corith, the Black Mirror of the Shadow sits, surrounded by a pool of black foul liquid. The Mirror is a slab of darkest obsidian, which seems to pull light from the air around itself. It is cold and it is evil and it thirsts for blood. Five times a month an unfortunate soul, usually a lawbreaker of some degree, is dragged in front of it and murdered, their blood and body cast into the black pool as the Mirror itself is fed.

Today is one of those days.

A haughty elf, his face beaten and his bare chest slashed, is tied to a ring set into the stone of the temple floor. He stands, defiant yet in obvious pain, as the new Legate, Carcus Verdoff, steps forward to address the crowd.

"Friends. Fellow children of our Lord, Izrador. Once more we gather to give our sacrifice to our God and Master. This... elf..." he spits the word as if a vile curse, "is accused and found guilty of treason against our God. But he will be redeemed with his sacrifice. In his death, he will find the loving embrace of Izrador all too ready to welcome him back into the fold. Let us pray:"

"Oh might Izrador, may this humble traitor's blood be brought back into the fold, and may his vile race perish from the earth, never to trouble the peace of Izrador again. May his soul be redeemed and may Izrador's light shine upon us, who are unworthy of His love."

With this final word, he turns to the elf, and almost lovingly bends down and kisses the elf's head. The elf spits at the Legate and shouts in a clear voice: "Your god is a lie! You live under the Shadow of evil! Throw off your shackles and take up arms..." His words are interupted as the Legate stabs him swiftly in the heart with a long black dagger. For a moment the elf stands, looking at the dagger in his chest. Then he falls, his body toppling into the black pool, while, for just a second, you think you see his afterimage still standing, before it is sucked into the Black Mirror. There is a single discordant note that echoes through the temple, then the Legate speaks.

"His soul is redeemed. May we know the peace of Izrador."

With this, the Legate waves his hands above the crowd, as the orc guards stationed around the perimeter of the crowd begin to roughly shove you out of the temple, and back to your lives.

Back to your lives under the Shadow.

Numb, would be the word for his heart Kers thought to himself. Another one dead for who knows what crime. If the Legate could read Kers thoughts he would end up with his own turn to feed that thing. Maybe now was a time for action, maybe... But no, with 3 little brothers to look after who was he fooling. Kers was no hero, just a farmer with grand ideas. Still, if only there was something he could do... He heard his dead fathers words in his head, Farming is helping too. The people do not eat air, and things could be much worse. People make things much worse. Sometimes it is better to accept what is than to fight and end up making things worse.

Draping his arm around his youngest brothers shoulder he gets ready for his days labors.

hp:17/17; AC 14 (T 13, FF 11); fort 1, ref 6, will 1; bab 1, melee 2, ranged 4; CMB 2, CMD 15; init +3; perc +6; F human ninja/2

Fleur watches quietly with an almost half-disinterested air about her. Inside she seethes and thinks, Poor elf should have kept his mouth shut and his ears covered. She flips her copper locks absently, an almost coquettish affectation as the crowd is summarily dismissed.

Walking out, she slips away from the reach of an orcish guard, making sure he doesn't actually touch her. Her hand reaches automatically for a weapon she isn't wearing at present - at least not wearing in its usual location. When she pulls her hand back, her fingers twitch, empty, and she smiles at the orc with the vacuous aire of the elite, as if to say all her actions were simple serendipity.

As she leaves the temple, Fleur wonders Will that be the fate of us all in time? What did the elf mean, take up arms? Against a god and a strongarm church? Suicide... but what if...? Her thoughts break off as she is jostled by the crowd and she sighs and moves on, heading home.

There is work to be done... there always is.

Female Half-Elf Rogue 2

Xochtli watches with pain, thinking about the death of her own father. She shook her head, wishing she had been brave enough, strong enough, just enough of something to stop it. Bravado gets you killed though, had she known they even had them she may have tried to help them escape quietly before hand.

I wonder what he even did to anger them.

Xochtli sighs as she returns to her mothers business, she would take her mind off it by tending to her plants.

As you leave the temple, you see a class of children gathering outside. Hester Smith, the older matronly teacher you remember from your own childhoods, quickly sits them down, calms them and begins to teach.

"Alright, children. What do we remember from yesterday? In the beginning was Izrador in His holiness. He created the world, and all its peoples and loved them with all His heart. But the wicked elves and dwarves rose up against him and rebelled. They wielded wicked magic and sought to turn our worship to dark, forbidden demons and devils. So Izrador tore the fabric of the world, casting the demons and devils away and saving us from their influence. And he gave us the orcs to protect us and the Legates to guide us with their words and their holy magic. And why did that elf have to be redeemed today? Because those who are vile must be redeemed in the holy embrace of Izrador, our God." The teacher licks her lips, which seem to have gone quite dry and looks quickly at the orcs who stand at the back of the class, watching and listening.

One of the children, a young girl of 8, raises a hand. "But teacher, what did the elf do? Why is he so vile?"

The teacher swallows hard, but before she can speak, one of the orcs, clearly a leader, speaks in a loud clear voice. "Elves are vile, children, because they steal our babies and drink their blood. They feast upon your souls and drain the marrow from your bones. Dwarves are even worse. Their beards will choke you until you wish for death, but death will not come. They sneak underground, running through the stone like rats. And you'll never see's...too...LATE!" With a sudden roar he leaps into the air, startling the children and causing several of them to scream and begin to cry. He laughs a harsh laugh and says "But don't worry, children. We're here to keep you safe. Alright lads, patrol now. Get on with you." The orcs disperse, while the teacher is left to calm the now terrified children.

hp:17/17; AC 14 (T 13, FF 11); fort 1, ref 6, will 1; bab 1, melee 2, ranged 4; CMB 2, CMD 15; init +3; perc +6; F human ninja/2

Fleur struggles to keep the scowl off her face as Hester speaks to the children, even going so far as to rub the spot between her brows where the furrows are deepening. The child's question is a good one, and deserving of an answer, but not the one the teacher would give here in the shadow of the temple for sure.

When the orc steps in to answer, she sneers slightly, and pulls out a cake of lip rouge, applying it carefully to cover the expression on her face. She attempts to look adequately vacuous and simply vain. Elves and dwarves are not the ones to fear, little children, she thinks. Best fear those who walk silently in the shadows, you have far more to fear from your fellow humans, than any elf or dwarf.

Of course, she doesn't voice her seditionist thoughts. They wouldn't go over very well, and she has no intention of putting herself in the same position as that elf. He at least was brave to the end and spoke up for a revolution... Could it be that there was some organized rebellion against Izrador? She hadn't heard of anything of the sort... oh yes, pockets here and there of insurgents, but no leaders had come forth and nothing truly organized. Too bad, really... they might be able to use me... for the usual price of course, she thought, cynically.

Still, she couldn't help but feel sorry for Hester, the teacher. The poor woman looked nearly terrified as she taught the children those lies in the shadow of the temple. Fleur walked over to her and put a compassionate hand on her shoulder and squeezed slightly. She whispers to her softly, "Shhh, you do what you have to to survive. As do we all." She walks on as if nothing had happened and no words were exchanged.

Israfel slowly trods from from the shadows of Izrador's temple, I understand now, he was guilty of no crime save that of failing to worship our Dark Lord. How many souls has our god fed upon? Are there truly others who would raise arms and shout ENOUGH!

Drawing her hood close and leaning heavily upon her staff, she slowly walks past Ms. Smith and Fleur, a faint smile playing upon the corner of lips. They rule us through fear. But even still, we comfort out own. Perhaps there yet remains some hope.

hp:17/17; AC 14 (T 13, FF 11); fort 1, ref 6, will 1; bab 1, melee 2, ranged 4; CMB 2, CMD 15; init +3; perc +6; F human ninja/2

Fleur considers heading home... scans the crowd one last time before making a decision. It would be hours yet before dark. She smiled at the thought. The legates may spread the fear of elves and dwarves, but there were far worse things to fear in the night, she thought, and I am one of them. She almost chuckled to herself, then shook her head...

She moved on, blending into the crowd easily, as she was trained to do. You are never one of them, but can seem so to the undiscerning eye. Use that to your advantage. She repeated the mantra in her mind as she slipped into the throng and moved among them, a shark amid minnows.

In the town, life returns to normal with a disturbing speed. The people have become so inured to the horror of life under Izrador that a brutal murder is commonplace. However, as you move through the crowds heading back to their lives, something catches your eyes...

The baker, an older man named Jarvis Granger, is still in his shop, either having left the temple first or never having gone to the sacrifice in the first place. Even though you are blending into the crowd, he catches your eye and nods quickly toward his shop before moving back inside.

Your younger brother shudders as you leave the temple. "I hate them. I hate them all so much, Kers. And that new Legate is the worst. At least the old one didn't take so much damnable glee in it. This one is terrible. I hope he chokes on his damn speeches!" His voice gets higher and louder and you catch a few people around you staring in shock before suddenly moving away from you quickly.

You get back to your shop only to find a freshly baked loaf of bread waiting on your doorstep. Underneath the loaf, tied to it with string is a small scrap of paper. It reads: "Things may be getting dangerous for you here. I can help." It is unsigned, but the bread is clearly from the baker, Jarvis Granger, whose shop is only a few houses down from your shop.

Your mental visitor lies uneasy after the display of the sacrifice. 'The elf's soul feeds the mirror, which feeds Izrador. It grows more powerful with each death. It was not always thus.' His mental voice grumbles with worry and distaste. However, as you start to head out of town to return to your flock, the voice stops you. 'There. That symbol. I know that symbol. It is an ancient symbol for friend.' The symbol he draws your eye toward is a few simple scratches in the wood above the baker's shop door, which anyone could dismiss as a flaw in the wood itself. You see you're not the only one with an interest in the shop, though, as a woman moving like a shadow slips out of the crowd to stare at the door.

hp:17/17; AC 14 (T 13, FF 11); fort 1, ref 6, will 1; bab 1, melee 2, ranged 4; CMB 2, CMD 15; init +3; perc +6; F human ninja/2

She pauses a moment as she considers the baker. Fleur had never paid him much heed before, he was just another face in the crowd, neither employer or target of her services. Yet here was what seemed to be an obvious invite from him to enter his shop.

She slips out from the traffic in the street and heads toward the shop next door to the baker's, looking in through the window before casually walking to the baker's shop doing the same there. After a brief moment of hesitation, she pulls the door open and enters the shop.

"Hello, Mr. Granger," she greets him casually. While seeming to look over the baked goods, she is actually studying the baker.

Jarvis Granger has the look of a man who was fit in his youth, but has gone a bit soft in his older years. His shirt is a little tight about the midsection, and his apron is covered in flour, which sprinkles the edges of his mustache as well. His head is bald, but his eyes are sharp. "So, Miss Fleur, I thought you might have a hankerin' for some sweet rolls. Got a couple coming out of the oven in a moment, thought you might want one. Yes sir, I think I might know exactly the sort of thing you'd be interested in."

Female Half-Elf Rogue 2

The note made Xochtli worry, she was already half-elf which made things difficult enough for her. She picks up the loaf of bread, quickly pocketing the note with a sigh. Taking one quick glance at her mothers shop, she brings the loaf in, setting it on the counter. "...I am going to see if I can't replenish the shops herb supply Mother...." She mumbles softly before walking back out and heading to the bakers, she did not wish for her mother to worry about her.

Dice roll for the bluff?

1d20 + 7 ⇒ (13) + 7 = 20

No need, Xochtli.

You make your way to the bakery, where a human woman is talking to the baker, Jarvis Granger. Jarvis Granger has the look of a man who was fit in his youth, but has gone a bit soft in his older years. His shirt is a little tight about the midsection, and his apron is covered in flour, which sprinkles the edges of his mustache as well. His head is bald, but his eyes are sharp.

"Ah! That should be both of you. Come in, young lady. The sweet rolls are almost done. You can have a glass of lemonade while I pull the frosting on."

hp:17/17; AC 14 (T 13, FF 11); fort 1, ref 6, will 1; bab 1, melee 2, ranged 4; CMB 2, CMD 15; init +3; perc +6; F human ninja/2

Fleur lofts one brow at the enigmatic baker... to presume to know what I'd like indeed... but perhaps theres' something more to this than he's stating...

sense motive, if necessary 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (13) + 5 = 18

She nods absently and shrugs. "Sweet rolls you say? A girl has to watch her figure, you know... but perhaps one. I'll wait then." She gives him a twitch of a smile as she speaks.

What does he really want, I wonder. He's far too old for me and he doesn't seem the type to want that. And he's far too old to have made it back to his shop so quickly, which means he probably didn't attend the 'service'. How does he get away with it? I wonder if I could as well, I'd just as soon not witness another 'sacrifice.' She ponders to herself while she waits, her mind skipping from one thing to another.

Fleur continues to watch the baker as he works, studying him with an unwavering and unabashed gaze. If he catches her watching him, she does so openly and doesn't avert her eyes in the slightest... at least until another patron enters the shop. She glances over at Xochtli and gives her a little half smile, then turns back to the baker.

She whispers to Xochtli without glancing her way again, "It seems we are here for the same confection."

Female Half-Elf Rogue 2

"...I thought I would come thank you for the bread in person Mister Granger...."

Xochtli says softly, eyeing the other woman with a bit of mistrust, a human, she had always been wary around them save for her mother. Growing up part elf always made for a hassle with the teachings, the only thing that saved her so far was the appearance of following all of the temples services and summonings. She does however take the offer of lemonade, she has known the baker quite awhile, in fact many times has she come and purchased or offered trades in services when he has needed things from her mother, he probably could be trusted.

Kers looks at his brother with surprise, You want to be next to land in the mirror you git? Watch what you say and who hears you! he hisses. Looking at the 2 middle brothers and back at the youngest as they walk, he says under his breath, It is no good to anyone if you loose your top and get killed. No one expects you to like things as they are, least of all me, but don't be stupid and get yourself or us killed!

Kers looks to the crowd again before returning his gaze to his brothers. His heart is just not in his chores today.

Jarvis nods at the two of you exchanging words, and walks over to the door behind you. He starts to slip a sign that depicts a baker holding a steaming tray of cookies to one showing a sleeping baker when he notices someone else outside. He pauses and looks at the tall pale black haired woman. "Miss? Is there something I can help you with?"

Your brother looks chastened and the other two keep their heads down as you walk, suddenly alone in the crowd of people. As you start to leave town, your youngest brother stops. "Kers! We ran out of bread, 'member? You said you'd get it after the worship." You're not far from the bakery, where you can see the baker, Jarvis Granger speaking to a tall pale raven haired woman. Jarvis has been a pillar of the community for as long as you can remember. When your father died, he was one of the townsfolk who brought food for you.

Friend, Israfel stands staring for several minutes, watching two other women enter the bakers shop before reaching a decision. Reaching out her hand, she slowly traces the symbol with the tip of her finger. This world could use a few friends

Startled by Jarvis's sudden appearance at the door, Israfel pulls her hand back with a gasp. ”Sorry about that friend, is it too late, or do you have time for one last customer?”

hp:17/17; AC 14 (T 13, FF 11); fort 1, ref 6, will 1; bab 1, melee 2, ranged 4; CMB 2, CMD 15; init +3; perc +6; F human ninja/2

Still playing the role of bored dilettante, Fleur taps her fingernails lightly on the counter as she waits... watching the baker about to close up the shop and then pausing to speak to someone outside. Her other hand flutters over her breast as if she is about to faint.

Her eyes narrow slightly as she observes the events around her and her body tenses with anticipation. What is going on here? Am I in danger? She is on the verge of fight or flight while waiting for the baker and the stranger at the door.

Fleur looks about for other exits, just in case the need arises.

Kers knows Timas is right, and turns on heel toward the bakery. Hopefully the baker has some of the bread with the pungent cheese in it. That is always a treat he thinks.

Kers proceeds directly to the bakery and inside.

The baker smiles at Israfel, nodding his head. "Always room for one more, miss. The sweet rolls are almost done, come in!" He ushers the woman inside, then stops as Kers, a local lad, strides forward. Jarvis Granger smiles at the lad, then seems to tilt his head, staring off into space. He mutters in a low voice, 'Yes, yes. The stars align. Still one missing. No matter.' He flips the sign to closed and steps inside, closing the door behind him.

Once in, he steps over to the oven and opens it, reaching inside with a practiced hand covered in a thick towel to draw out a pan of sticky sweet rolls. He closes the oven door and sets the pan on a cooling rack. "Please, eat, eat! Some discussions are better had on a full stomach." Once you start eating he smiles at each of you.

"I was young like you once. Full of smoke and fire and ready to change the world. But I'm old now, and what was told to me must be told to a new generation. I'm the old man I once laughed at, with his silly stories and old legends. Alas, it is always thus." He sighs and wipes his hands on his apron.

"I asked each of you here because I've been watching you. You, too, Kers, though how I thought I'd get you away from your brothers I did not know. I know each of you is young, but each of you knows in your heart that the way we live is not the way we should be living. Am I correct? If I'm not, I beg your pardon and let us part as friends. If I'm right, I have an old story to tell you, one that I was told and laughed at when I was near your age." He looks at each of you, expectantly.

hp:17/17; AC 14 (T 13, FF 11); fort 1, ref 6, will 1; bab 1, melee 2, ranged 4; CMB 2, CMD 15; init +3; perc +6; F human ninja/2

"Speak on, Mr. Granger. What you've said so far contains a kernel of truth and I would hear more," she says, encouraging him without outright commitment to anything. He could, after all, be an agent of the legates, so be cautious foolish girl, she tells herself.

She looks to each of the others to gauge their reactions if she can read them at all.

Fleur reaches tentatively for a sweet roll... hesitant for a moment, as if by accepting the roll, she accepts all he says. In the end though she takes the roll and bites into it with the enthusiasm of youth. "Mmmm... good. Please, go on."

Female Half-Elf Rogue 2

Xochtli quietly eats the roll, listening as the man speaks. She shakes her head a bit, "I only know how I am treated being the halfbreed that I am Sir... but I love stories if you wish to tell one, I do have time to listen."

Kers immediately suspects a trap as the door is shut in the face of his younger brothers... But only for a minute. He could bust down the door and the baker if he needed to, though these others, well his brothers were just on the other side of the door anyway.

So he listens. And he forgets about bread in a bakery.

Seeing your interest, Jarvis smiles, but it's a sad smile, as if he wishes it's a story he didn't have to tell...

"Life was not always as it is now. The Legates would have you believe that Izrador created the world, but it's all lies. Once we lived free, worshiping many gods and making our own choices. Then came the Shadow. On a single day, the sky rained blood and the crops withered and winter came in mid-summer. Ashes fell from the sky. That day, the gods stopped answering our prayers. The only god left was the Shadow. Still, life went on. We were born, lived and died, except now, our dead did not lie. The Fell came, souls trapped in undead bodies, hungry for the flesh of the living. It's why we burn our dead, children. It's why we fear the night." He pauses, sighs and wipes his brow.

"Twice the Shadow gathered his armies. He brought orcs and wicked men to wage war, but together the men and elves and dwarves through them back. The third time he changed his tactics. He sowed discord among the men, making them fear the elves and dwarves. When he came the third time, 100 years ago, there was no resistance. The gnomes were enslaved, the halflings made to ship the Shadow's goods down the waterways and the orcs came to act as our 'protectors'. It's death for a dwarf or an elf to be found by the Shadow, but they still resist. The elves from their forests and the dwarves from their stone. The Legates were brought to brainwash our children and sacrifice anyone they willed to those... mirrors. They're feeding tubes for the Dark God, for no one truly worships Izrador. They just fear him. He is weakened, but he is still a god. The Mirrors give him strength."

He mops his brow again and speaks faster, as if eager to get past this part. "When I was your age, a group of us journeyed to Westmarch to infiltrate the Black Tower there. We hoped to destroy the Grand Mirror there, to weaken the Shadow. I was the only one who escaped. The others...were slaughtered. When I came back, the old Keeper, Ivor, gave me the job of acting as Keeper. And this is the secret I keep."

He walks over to the oven, bends down and presses a stone on the side. Silently the oven slides to the side to reveal a narrow opening and stone steps going down. He gestures toward the opening as if by invitation. Will you go?

Something clicks in Kers. This makes some sort of sense. There has to be more, or at least something different.

I hope he knows those others he told the tale to he thinks. It would be a shame if they were agents of the Legates looking for sedition.

A sigh, and then Kers leads the way down the stairs.

Female Half-Elf Rogue 2

Xochtli hesitantly approaches the steps, she recalls when her own father was found and killed. Being caught with his magic, being a full elf didn't help. Biting her lower lip she gains more resolve, if she could do anything about it she would! She enters the opening, going down the stairs.

hp:17/17; AC 14 (T 13, FF 11); fort 1, ref 6, will 1; bab 1, melee 2, ranged 4; CMB 2, CMD 15; init +3; perc +6; F human ninja/2

Fleur hesitates for a moment, considering, but what Jarvis says rings true to her... I always knew there was something more to this and that elves and dwarves were nothing to fear, she thinks.

Without waiting any longer than that brief moment of decision, she slips silently down the stairs after Kers and Xochtli.

Assuming Israfel comes too...

Jarvis allows you to climb downward before following. You hear the oven slide as he goes. The stairs are dark and narrow and turn to the right as you go downward. Jarvis pulls out a small lantern from an unseen alcove and lights it, revealing old stonework carved with images of fantastic beasts. After a minute or so of walking down the stairs, you arrive in a small stone room, around 20 feet by 20 feet, with two stone benches lining two of the walls and a large stone table lining the third.

"This is the sanctum. It was built many, many years ago to house the relics of the church that was above this site. Where Red Grove stands once stood a great cathedral, dedicated to an unknown god. But this remains.." He steps forward and removes a cloth covering the stone table, revealing a small metal box carved with images of winged men. He releases a hidden latch and the box opens to reveal old velvet lining the inside and what appears to be a fingerbone.

"It's not much to look at, but what it holds..." Jarvis whispers a word and light erupts from his hand, filling the small room with silvery light.

"This is the relic of a true god. And with it, I can perform miracles."

hp:17/17; AC 14 (T 13, FF 11); fort 1, ref 6, will 1; bab 1, melee 2, ranged 4; CMB 2, CMD 15; init +3; perc +6; F human ninja/2

Fleur looks from the bone to Jarvis with renewed respect and a bit of awe. "Light to combat the Shadow. What else can you do? And what can we do? We are but a few against so many." She bites her lip lightly and looks to Jarvis for an answer.

Kers is spellbound. Never has he seen such a thing. Fleur's question hangs in the air and he wonders what the answer could be.

Israfel nods, as comprehension dawns upon her. This is how you fell then? During the great battle against Izrador? We must take up this fight.

Throwing back her hood, Israfel shakes loose her tightly cropped black hair and strides forward. ”We will gladly take up this burden Jarvis. To long has Izrador held sway over this land. But where to start? There are too many for a mere handful to openly confront.”

Female Half-Elf Rogue 2

Without hesitation Xochtli pips in her agreement, "I'll do it... but as she said... where will we start?"

Looking at each of them, Jarvis smiles. "I cannot do much, some healing, some minor miracles. But it's proof that there's another way. And it's why, the last Keeper believed, the Shadow chose to place His mirror here. If that's the case, then there might be more relics out there, near where the Shadow has placed His mirrors. If we can gather enough of them, or even some, it might mean that the resistance has a chance to do what we could not before: resist the Shadow."

He falters. "I do not claim it will be easy. Many have died in such service. But if we do not keep fighting, the Shadow will never be defeated. We will live and die at His mercy. And as you may have noticed, the growing season shrinks each year and winter grows longer and harder. I fear that the very land itself is withering under the Shadow's rule. I do what I can; I tried to protect your father, Xochtli, but I failed. I am part of a group of linked resistance cells that smuggles elves and dwarves in and out of populated areas."

"As I said, there is much to do. I will have tasks for you from time to time: some large and some small. But each one is a blow against the Shadow's reign and each one is important. The first task I must give you is this," he gestures at the relic, "It must be moved from this place. The old Legate was a simple fool, and when he came too close to finding our secret we arranged for his medicine to become poisoned. When he died, we bought time. But the new Legate, Verdoff, is clever and ambitious. He believes that if he finds what the Shadow seeks here he will be elevated. And he wishes that beyond all things. I have arranged for the relic to be taken to a man who can protect it, a man deep in the Fellhallow Woods to the west. I have no timetable for this; that detail I will leave to you. But it must be done soon. If the Legate finds this, we will lose a powerful weapon against the Shadow."

Kers has said nary a word for all this, but now he speaks. Could the relic be hidden in a loaf of bread? he asks Mr Granger?

And then with more concern, his brow wrinkling, he adds, Mr Granger, suppose I try and I fall, will you finish the task of looking after my brothers to manhood? And maybe teaching them this path if they show an inclination?

hp:17/17; AC 14 (T 13, FF 11); fort 1, ref 6, will 1; bab 1, melee 2, ranged 4; CMB 2, CMD 15; init +3; perc +6; F human ninja/2

"I have nothing to keep me here, at present... I can be ready to leave within the hour if need be. I will need to change out of my street clothes and get my gear, of course." Fleur gestures to her dress as she speaks and shrugs. "Do you have more detailed directions other than 'to the west'? Is there a map? Are there roads? Are they patrolled?" She takes a deep breath, there are more questions but these will do for now.

Female Half-Elf Rogue 2

'My mother will worry... she's already lost my father after all... you will watch out for her for me? I have some things I can bring with me and likely some skill at keeping the item out of sight until we get it where it belongs as well... it... it wouldn't be the first time I smuggled something through this town." She admits softly.

Jarvis smiles at each of you. "Kers, of course I will see to your brothers. Your father was a good man, and he raised good sons. Fleur, I have always believed you were more than you let on. Xochtli, who do you think gave me the poison for the old Legate? Your mother is more capable than you know. We all have to be in dark times."

"As for transporting this, Kers your idea is sound. I have taken the liberty of starting several doughs. I will bake the reliquary into one of the loaves and send the rest as cover. I have a load of grain as well, to go to Fellhallow town. The orcs won't bother you, seeing as I'm old and travel is for the young. Once into Fellhallow Wood, you'll see a standing stone on the right of the road, just a few feet off the road. There will be further instructions there. If there's not, camp there and someone will find you. That's as much advice as I can provide, though I have a cart and a horse for you. If you need to leave the cart and horse, do not worry; Old Snapper's good at guarding that cart. She'll be fine for a few days, long as you leave her within grazing distance of some grass. She's a tough old mare. I'll have the bread ready in the morning. Come back here at dawn."

Do we know each other? Kers is a farm boy that spent his life in the town, quiet, and a man of action well muscled and not bad looking. He is the oldest orphaned son of farmers and the oldest brother of 4.

Kers nods in assent. The morning. He wondered wether he would be able to sleep that night.

hp:17/17; AC 14 (T 13, FF 11); fort 1, ref 6, will 1; bab 1, melee 2, ranged 4; CMB 2, CMD 15; init +3; perc +6; F human ninja/2

Fleur also nods, tho more loquacious than Kers, she speaks as well. "As you wish, Mr. Granger. Until the morning then." She nods to each of the others there as well. She takes note of each one, as if analyzing them each with a glance. I'm sure I will be meeting new and changed folk in the morning, as each one of us is, I'm sure, more than we appear.

Israfel nods, ”At dawn, until then I must make arrangements for the care of my flock”

Drawing her hood forward once again, Israfel grips her staff tightly and begins walking upstairs. ”With luck we can begin our journey before Legate Verdoff notices anything is amiss”

Letting her thoughts drift as she begins the long hike back through the hills outside town, Israfel allows her thoughts to drift We knew your awakening was no accident. Izrador is growing in strength even as the land dies. We must stop him now, before he grows too strong to oppose.

It would be difficult for us not to at least recognize each other. This is a small town

Female Half-Elf Rogue 2

I am pretty sure you all would know Xochtli if you ever needed mundane healing, part of her back story after all :) and who would overlook a half elf in this sort of world lol

Xochtli will return to her mothers shop, and help tend things for the last day before she sets her gear together for travel.

hp:17/17; AC 14 (T 13, FF 11); fort 1, ref 6, will 1; bab 1, melee 2, ranged 4; CMB 2, CMD 15; init +3; perc +6; F human ninja/2

Fleur returns home to prepare for the travel. This will be the first time I will be leaving Red Grove. Exciting, the moreso because of what we are about to set out to do. I hope we are all up to the task. The others are sure to be more than what they appear, but so am I. We HAVE to succeed!

She packs her few belongings that matter, and lays out her clothes for tomorrow. Unwilling to give up her persona as the empty-headed dilettante, she chooses traveling clothes appropriately, but with places for hidden weapons. In her pack, she places her work clothes which she can begin wearing once beyond the confines of Red Grove. At last to be out from under the watchful eyes of the orcs and the legate... what freedom awaits!

She sleeps fitfully that night, her dreams plagued with doubts and fears she dare not openly think.

In the morning, she bathes and dresses, heading for the bakery just before dawn, as planned.

The night passes. In the distance you can hear the howling of wolves, lone mournful voices in the night that seem to herald something. In the morning, a low fog covers the warm morning. You gather your things and make your way to the bakery.

Jarvis has, as promised, loaded a small cart with bags of flour as well as a sack full of loaves of round bread. He has also included a sack of food: apples, cheese, smaller loaves of bread and some dried meats. There should be enough food for two days.

The orcs are already on patrol and give you hard looks as he hands the reigns of the cart over to you. The horse, an old grey mare with a bad habit of snapping at you if you get too close, is hitched up. "Keep to the directions I gave you. The road between here and Fellhallow Town is patrolled, but it might still be dangerous. Be safe. I'll see you when you return." He nods to each of you and smiles.

Under the eyes of the orcs, you urge the horse to a walk and head out of the village. So far, so good.

As you get away from town you see a few farmers in their fields. They nod and wave to you as you pass, but you can tell they have wary looks and all carry a cudgel or sickle at their belts. The road rises as you go, heading steadily upward toward the forest in the distance.

After a few hours of travel you reach the edge of the woods. Fellhallow Wood is an old forest, dark and closely set together. Crows caw as you approach and you can sense a sort of life to the trees.

Perception checks, please.

Female Half-Elf Rogue 2

1d20 + 6 ⇒ (6) + 6 = 12

Xochtli would likely be watching the trees anyway but whether or not she noticed anything I guess would depend on how distracted she is by the plant-life at the time.

EDIT: She would also have likely spent the morning before departure sharpening her daggers with her whetstone....

Perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (2) + 5 = 7

Kers is stoic. He walks beside the cart keeping his eyes peeled for trouble.

OMB, what time of year is this? What are the daytime highs and nightime lows?

It's spring. Lows of 40-60 Fahrenheit, highs of 60-80.

Israfel sits at the front of the wagon, reins gripped loosely in her hands. As the wagon approaches Fellhollow wood, she slows the wagon and scans the treeline. ”Looks like we've made it without any trouble

Perception = 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (4) + 2 = 6

hp:17/17; AC 14 (T 13, FF 11); fort 1, ref 6, will 1; bab 1, melee 2, ranged 4; CMB 2, CMD 15; init +3; perc +6; F human ninja/2

Fleur scans the treeline as she walks along beside the wagon. Without turning to look at Israfel, she nods and says, "so far, at least.

perception 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (2) + 5 = 7

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