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...And so our tale begins not in the biting ice and driving snow of Irrisen, but in the warm, sunny climes of Taldor. the old crone says, turning a page of the ancient book with her ancient hand. A place of fertile lands and welcoming folk, righteous knights and fair maidens - these are the tales of Taldor, not the cold and regal witch queens of the north, nor the giants and dragons of the mountains or the hard men and fickle fey of the planes of snow. It is a different land.... a different land indeed. She licks her dusty finger with a dry, black tongue and turns another page. And yet it is here, in the tiny hamlet of Heldren - the most unlikely place you can imagine - that our heroes gather...
It's bloody quiet. Menander says, spitting into a glass and wiping it clean before placing it back on the shelf above his head. Been gettin' quieter for days an' all. If this keeps up we're not going to last the year.
Oh, stop being so dramatic. Menander's wife, Kale, chides him. A few farmers complain about frost on their cabbages and you're all doom and gloom. Look, I'm cutting the price of ales in half tonight and I've got a stew on, that'll get them in. Besides, it isn't that cold, I can still see at least some of the boys wearing short sleeves. It's just a lot of nonsense.
Aye... so you say. Menander replies.
The Silver Stoat is the only inn in the tiny hamlet of Heldren and tonight the windows are bright and the place full for the first time in a month - Kale's plan has worked.
The patrons take to drinking the cut-price ale with chasers of strong, fiery liquor and a fire is roaring merrily in the hearth. Normally it would not be necessary to stoke a fire, as the summer months in Taldor are long and lazy. However, it has been colder than normal as of late and as the evening draws in it seems to be getting colder still.
Like in most peasant communities in southern Taldor, the People of Heldren mostly keep to themselves. Far from the politics of Oppara and ever-watchful for Qadiran aggression, Heldren goes on as it always has, as a relatively small and unimportant hamlet of farmers, herders, and woodcutters. But Heldren is home to a secret unsuspected by its normally complacent citizens: a mystical ley line connects their village with another far to the north. Could the recent appearance of unseasonable winter weather in the nearby Border Wood be a harbinger of worse things to come?
Corruption –1; Crime –1; Economy –1; Law –3; Lore +0; Society +4
Qualities broad-minded, rumormongering citizens
Population 171 (152 humans, 6 dwarves, 5 halflings, 4 gnomes, 3 elves, 1 half-elf )
Councilor Ionnia Teppen (middleaged female human commoner)
Elder Natharen Safander (male half-elf cleric of Erastil)
Soothsayer Old Mother Theodora (venerable female human adept)
Base Value 500 gp; Purchase Limit 2,500 gp;
Minor Items +1 cold iron sling bullets (10), potion of resist energy (cold), scroll of aid, scroll of sleep, wand of magic weapon (24 charges), wand of scorching ray (42 charges), masterwork banded mail;
Medium Items arrow magnetUE, ring of force shield;
Major Items —
Broad-Minded: The citizens of Heldren are open, friendly, and tolerant, and react positively toward visitors. (Lore +1; Society +1)
Below are details on several prominent locations in the village of Heldren. Because of the village’s proximity to the Border Wood, most of Heldren’s buildings are constructed of lumber. Several farms lie outside the village itself, providing food for its residents and for trade with nearby villages.
1. Armory: A dirt path winds its way up a low hill west of town to the single door of this square stone tower. The tower is 30 feet high, with battlements on its roof and arrow slits along its walls. It is completely open on the inside, with no interior floors—just a wooden staircase running along the walls to the roof. The tower serves as Heldren’s armory and a place of refuge for the villagers in case the village is ever attacked. In times of peace, the tower is usually unoccupied, but a selection of simple arms and armor—crossbows, bolts, spears, javelins, as well as a few suits of leather armor, padded armor, and light wooden shields—is stored inside for the militia.
2. Isker’s Smithy: Although he spends most of his time shoeing horses and repairing farm tools, Heldren’s blacksmith, Isker Euphram (middle-aged male human expert), is quite skilled in battle. A veteran of Taldor’s army, Isker served in Zimar and on the Qadiran border for years before retiring to Heldren. Isker has taken it upon himself to oversee the training of the village’s militia. He keeps a few weapons for sale in his shop, including 10 +1 cold iron sling bullets. He also has a suit of masterwork banded mail for sale (a relic of his army days), and could craft other suits of armor if needed. His daughter, Xanthippe (CG female human expert), works as his apprentice. When not at her father’s forge, Xanthippe’s likely to be found at the Silver Stoat, holding court with her numerous suitors. Although widely considered the village beauty, Xanthippe is as proficient with her fists as with her hammer, and those few of Heldren’s young men who have tried to woo her too aggressively walked away with black eyes for their troubles.
3. General Store: Heldren’s general store carries everything a villager needs, as well as most gear an adventurer requires. Heldren sits on the road to Zimar, so plenty of trade passes through the village. The store’s proprietor, Vivialla Steranus (female human commoner), takes advantage of this brisk trade to stock her shelves. In general, most of the mundane adventuring gear listed in the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook can be found here, including five cold-weather outfits, leftovers from a particularly harsh winter a couple of years back. In general, Vivialla does not carry much in the way of armor or weapons, though she does currently have two magic items in stock: an arrow magnetUE and a ring of force shield.
4. Town Hall: Rather grand for a village of this size, Heldren’s town hall boasts a clock tower overlooking the town square. Its clockworks were imported from Qadira some time ago, and are kept in working order by Orillus Davigen (old male human expert), who can usually be found up in the tower tinkering with the machinery. The clock tower’s bells ring every hour from 6 am to 6 pm (the villagers prefer to keep things quiet at night), and can be used to sound the alarm if there’s a fire or to muster the militia in case of attack. The town council meets in the hall every week on Starday, though there’s usually little to discuss beyond minor disagreements between neighbors. The hall is big enough to host almost the entire populace for monthly village assemblies and large social gatherings, such as the annual Longnight dance. On the wall outside the front door hangs a notice board, where flyers are posted with local news, job openings, and goods for sale.
5. Willowbark Apothecary: A well-tended garden sits in front of this equally neat house, the home of Tessaraea Willowbark (female elf alchemist), Heldren’s resident apothecary. Tessaraea is a relatively new transplant to Heldren, having arrived in the village only 25 years ago after a failed adventuring career up north in the River Kingdoms. She is quiet and somber, and most of the villagers believe she suffered some great tragedy in her past, such as the loss of her one true love. In fact, it was Tessaraea’s brother who died on an ill-fated adventure, slain by a group of trolls. Devastated by his death, she gave up adventuring and moved south, settling in Heldren and taking a human-sounding surname when she opened her apothecary shop. Tessaraea sells a variety of herbs and all of the special substances and items listed in the Core Rulebook, as well as a potion of resist energy (cold) and a surprisingly large stockpile of alchemist’s fire—since her brother’s death, Tessaraea has had an unreasoning fear of trolls, and almost obsessively crafts the stuff for the (in her mind) inevitable moment when she must face them again.
6. Barber: An artist with razors and scissors, Argus Goldtooth (male dwarf expert) offers shaves, haircuts, and dentistry, as well as “leechery and other surgical proceedings.” Argus is a fair healer, though he’s prone to prescribing leeches (which fill several jars on high shelves in his shop) for most maladies, from stomachaches to broken bones. Argus also offers gold teeth to replace extracted ones, and is his own best customer—his easy smile reveals more gold teeth in his mouth than original ones. Though he would never admit it to anyone, Argus has something of a crush on his neighbor, the apothecary Tessaraea Willowbark. Argus has never acted on these feelings, but the two have struck up an unlikely friendship, and it’s not uncommon to find Argus helping tend Tessaraea’s garden on Sundays or sharing a pint with her at the Silver Stoat in the evenings.
7. The Silver Stoat: Heldren’s only tavern, the Silver Stoat, stands right on the town square across from the town hall. A fixture of village life, the tavern fills up with patrons in the evening as they gather to share gossip, hear news, and reward themselves for a hard day’s work. Anything that’s worth knowing in Heldren gets talked about here, and if asked where he got a particularly juicy bit of gossip or information, a villager will likely say, “I heard it from the Stoat.” Husband and wife Menander (male human commoner) and Kale Garimos (female human expert) run the Silver Stoat as if it were their family kitchen— there’s always a seat at the table or a space by the hearth for a guest, or a warm bowl of Menander’s hearty stew for an empty belly. Menander works in the kitchen, cooking up his famous venison flank steak and numble pie. Kale tends bar, serving up the tavern’s signature brew, Three Devil Ale, which she brews in-house using imported Chelish hops. Heldren doesn’t get many visitors, so there is no true inn in the village, but travelers are welcome to a spot on the floor of the Stoat next to the fireplace for a night, as long as they’re up early and on their way. Those who linger risk a rude awakening from Menander’s wet mop in their faces.
8. Livery Stable: At the stable next door to the Silver Stoat, Sophia Imirras (female human commoner/expert) offers horses (and a single pony) for hire or sale, as well as stabling and grooming. Royal couriers on their way to or from Demgazi or Zimar often change horses here. None of Sophia’s horses are combat trained. Sophia also has two carts, a wagon, and a carriage for hire. A traveling noble gave her the carriage as a reward when she managed to calm the newly broken stallion he was riding before it could trample him. Both luxurious and ostentatious, the carriage sees most of its use at village weddings.
9. Town Square: The most notable feature of Heldren’s town square is the large statue of a beautiful woman right in the center of the town. Usually just called “the Lady,” the statue has been here for as long as anyone can remember, and no one knows who it actually represents. Some believe the Lady was the founder of Heldren or some ancient, forgotten Taldan noblewoman or even a mysterious fey forest goddess. Others have more sinister theories—an evil witch turned to stone for her wickedness or a magical statue through which the satrap of Qadira can spy on Taldor. On any given day, a few entrepreneurs selling goods or produce can be found on the square, and a market is held on the last Fireday of every month. Elder Natharen Safander also hosts the annual Harvest Feast in the town square, during which the people of Heldren erect a giant bonfire in the square and bedeck the Lady in garlands of flowers.
10. Ionnia Teppen’s House: The leader of Heldren’s village council, Ionnia Teppen, lives in this simple twostory house just off the town square. Ionnia’s family has had a place in Heldren’s politics for generations, and her membership on the town council was all but assured. She is by far the most influential member of the council, and most villagers consider her the defacto mayor of Heldren.
11. Temple of Erastil: Although Elder Natharen Safander is a cleric of Erastil, he tends to all of the village’s flock regardless of their faith. Though most of the villagers follow the teachings of Old Deadeye, the temple also contains shrines to Abadar, Gozreh, Pharasma, and even Sarenrae. Natharen doesn’t much care for the Taldan government’s intolerant stance on the faith of the Dawnflower, and believes that in a village like Heldren the sun goddess is as important as the god of agriculture. Natharen’s wife, Zaarida (female human commoner), is a Qadiran transplant and faithful worshiper of Sarenrae, and assists him during services and with the temple’s upkeep. The temple also has some minor divine magic items for sale, including a scroll of aid and a wand of magic weapon (24 charges).
12. Carpenter: Heldren’s foremost woodworker is Tengezil Frimbocket (male gnome expert), a gnome with a wild shock of electric blue hair. He decorates his creations with delicate and elaborate trim he calls “gingerbread,” a style that has proven quite popular among the well-to-do of Taldor’s southern cities. Tengezil claims to be from Wispil. Tengezil has a twin brother named Arbagazor, but the two were separated when they were young. Although Tengezil assumes his brother is dead his fate is still unknown.
13. Heldren Sawmill: Heldren’s sawmill stays busy day and night cutting timber harvested by the village’s woodcutters into planks for shipment to Zimar and other cities, and stacks of lumber are always heaped outside. Partners Alexius Demetri (male human commoner/expert) and Lycio Vallant (male human commoner) oversee the sawmill’s operation, which makes them two of Heldren’s wealthiest residents. Their large house on the north side of town is easily Heldren’s largest private home, nicknamed “Sawmill Manor” by the town.
14. The Butcher of Jalrune: The name of this butcher shop refers to the supposed nickname of its proprietor, Perkin Tarimm (male halfling expert/warrior), who claims to be a retired Zimar corsair. Customers are welcome to enjoy one of the pickled sows’ ears in the large jar on the counter while they wait for Perkin to prepare their cuts of meat.
15. Old Mother Theodora’s: Every village has its resident wise woman, and Heldren is no exception. No one in the village is sure just how ancient Old Mother Theodora (as everyone calls her) is, but she’s been around as long as anyone in town can remember. Old Mother Theodora is Heldren’s most skilled midwife, and she helped deliver just about everyone currently living in the village. She’s also a soothsayer and hedge witch, and villagers come to her to have their fortunes told or buy love potions or herbal remedies. Among the jars of dried herbs and strange ingredients in her hut, Old Mother Theodora also has a scroll of sleep and a wand of scorching ray (42 charges) that she might be willing to part with for the right price.
Above is a very detailed description of the village of Heldren and it's main locations and personalities, please take a few minutes to read it because it would be good for those of you have spent some time in the village to at least built up a passing relationship with some of these individuals. The Silver Stoat tavern seems to be the only place to be this evening so it would be helpful if you were either all there (for some reason) or making your way there. In your first post, please include a physical description as you start interacting with other PCs or NPCs and we'll go from there!
|Corum Mac Roth|
It is late afternoon in Heldren when two unusual figures appear around the bend in yhe road leading to town. At first they are difficult to make out in the distance but as they approach, walkig with measured strides their outlandish garb can be more clearly seen. They vertainly are not farm hands or villagers!
The one on the right is short and stocky, wearing travel stained clothing and hide armour. His hair is matted and sticks out at unusual angles. He carries a large, vicious looking, poleaxe across his back and scans his surroundings as he walks. He has the look of a hawk about him, a man used to hardship and danger and has a long ragged scar running from his left eye to his chin to testify to that. As they move down the street the heavy set man leans in to his colleague and whispers something like "Fine place." before snorting with disdain.
They stride towards the inn, the sound of their footfalls the only thing to be heard on yhe street. Villagers look on as they pass, some waiting until they are a safe distance away before commenting on the rough strangers and their rougher smell. They pause outside the inn and nonchalantly brush the travel dust off their clothing before they enter in silence. Approaching the bar he puts a coin on the rpugh hewn wooden surface and says gruffly. "ale."
leave my companion to make their description
"Cold. There is nothing worse than the cold. Unusual."
Beneath a weary hood, cold blue eyes glare off into the distance, unfocused. Distant. A young, slender man rubs his palms together with unease as his sight settles upon the Silver Stout. Promises of warmth beckon him, not unlike a sirens song.
He rose no taller than most men of his kin, nor shorter. Clad in leather from head to heel, some would perhaps find the man dashing where it not for the mud on his boots and dirt on his clothes.
The man sighed to himself, and let his eyes rest a moment. His neck felt sore, reminding him well of too many hours awake, and too few asleep, the last couple of days. He allowed himself a few seconds to gaze upon the evening sky, drifting away to another place. Another life.
His left hand reaches his face and for a moment he is startled. For a moment he forgets. A grey mask welcomes the touch of his fingertips, cold and hard. Behind it, he can feel the cold biting at his skin and he moans gently at the pain. Every beat of his heart echoes through the mask and onto his hand. Unbearable.
A few steps leads him closer to the warmth, and as he swings the doors open - the pain whimpers and shrinks away. The tavern is crowded this eve, more so than to his liking.
Beyond a few tables and cheerful commoners, the young elven man notices a couple he had not seen earlier this day.
"Mercenaries? Bandits perhaps?"
He picks up his stride, nodding politely to those that turn to face him, and ends his steps a few feet aside the two travellers. Lean fingers rest upon the hilt of his rapier, his eyes suspicious but soon focused upon the female barkeep rather, as to not draw unwanted attention.
"A coin for a rumour, barkeep? I am looking for work."
A tall elfen man steps into the tavern from outside this long black hair tied up and out of the way with a sharp features and with eye's always darting about making sure he saw everything and everyone. He dressed in a fading blue coat, that once would have been of high quality but now it's colors run and the stitching is coming loose.
The cold was cutting to his bones as he entered the tavern he was never used to any type of cold weather in Oppara it never seemed to get cold winter didn't seem to ever touch the city. But now miles from home, this town and tavern was his home for the time being.
He notices some of the locals even some of his customers as he makes his way to the bar but he quickly shies away from their looks. He was only looking for one person, Tessaraea the towns alchemist and one of the only people in town Greyson had any interest in speaking to at all, she was smart even educated compared to most of the towns folk.
Spotting a gruff man at the bar, Greyston makes sure to sit away from him he's seen his share of bar fights and he's learnt to stay away from some of the more intimidating lot. Looking up at the bar he speaks. "Tea for me please, I'll also take a bowl of stew anything to keep me warm. Is it normal to be so cold around here?" He then reaches in to his purse trying to find the change he needs producing coppers to pay.
"Right you are." says the barkeep, eyeing the broad man with a slightly furrowed brow.
He reaches for a glass and begins to fill it from a barrel beneath the bar. He takes the coin from the counter and deposits it into a strongbox the other side. "How's the hunting?" he asks conversationally, assuming the man's profession. "Folk are saying the cold weather is affecting crops and traps alike."
As he awaits a response he turns to the elf who had just arrived at the other end of the bar.
"Tea and stew is it, don't blame you with the chill in the air. I was just saying to this gent that we've been having some unseasonal cold weather, this is the height of summer! Pull up a stool at the bar, you'll be nice and close to the fire then." he adds with a genuine smile.
The tea is weak and largely flavourless but the stew is surprisingly tasty with a thick broth and generous chunks of vegetable.
Meanwhile, Kale busies herself clearing tables of glasses and bowls. As she rounds the bar and dumps them in a bowl of luke warm water, she is startled to turn around and be faced with a masked man in dark clothing.
She collects herself with a nervous laugh and replies to his question:
"Sorry, love. The err..." She makes a circular gesture with a finger to her own face, indicating the mask. "...made me jump is all. Work? Well we are pretty rushed off our feet here but I ain't got much in the way of paying work. I'll give you a free bowl of stew and a pint if you help me clear the rest of these tables?" The inns tables are almost all occupied and groups of men and women stand here and there gossiping in that small town, conspiratorial way.
"Other than that you might try the farmers around these parts. Most would be hauling in summer fruits by the punnet load normally but seems they've been touched by an early frost this year..."
"Aye, very early!" her husband calls from across the bar, catching a part of the conversation.
She waves his comment away with a dismissive gesture.
"Oh never mind him, everything's a crisis. Its worth a try, love."
Greyston takes the stew is eats it quick, burning his mouth but warming him up. "Thank you, this is some good stew." He says not mentioning the tea. He eats away that is until he hears the Kale get startled and turns to see the masked man. It's all going off in here tonight, better keep my head down he looks like trouble.
Entering new towns usually made the girl nervous. She pauses on the outskirts with her two friends, to the one she goes nose to nose with and tells him in a husky whisper. "Stay out here and stay out of trouble." She stands and turns toward Corum, "And we have to stay out of trouble once we enter." Corum merely laughs as he is wont to do at warnings. The girl shrugs and follows the broad fellow along the road, eventually she is walking by his side. This is better. she thinks to herself.
The town's inn is not hard to find, a raucous crowd inside and the warmth flowing from the half-opened doors is tell-tale enough. Corum enters first, Nasrin, checks the street to make sure nothing is following them.
Nasrin looks at the patrons, Not like them... She straightens out her leather armor, thankfully. This lot looks ripe for bandits. Corum orders ale and she echoes, "Two." She indicates what she means by holding up thumb and forefinger. When the barman serves the ale in rough clay mugs, Corum downs the first and Nasrin tells the bartender, "Three. She lays plain silver down and finds a table, near the door, close to a wall. She sets down her shield, but leaves her curved sword hanging from its baldric. She runs her hand across her brow, pushing back what can only be described as filthy hair; mud, moss and ash caked into the normally brown locks.
While Corum drinks his ale quickly, his friend sips hers. She also watches everyone coming and going. She stares some, but quickly moves on to a new subject.
Twilight settled around him as he trudged along the narrow cart track that led to the small village up ahead. Heldren, not much of a town by anyone's standards but to Ellross it seemed a veritable oasis and he sighed in relief as he finally spied it in the distance,
Leaning heavily on his staff he limped slightly as he walked, the unseasonably chill evenings bringing on the familiar dull ache in his left leg, if it got much colder he knew with the miles he was covering his knee would soon be a throbbing agony.
you are getting old Elleross, correction! You are old he thought to himself as he trudged along, his best years undoubtedly left behind him in that dank place he had set his back to only a few weeks ago.
The road had not been easy on him, though he revelled in the wide open space of the countryside the wild also frightened him in equal measure he was no ranger far from it . He could just about strike a camp fire, let alone hunt for food and survive for long on his own.
His intellect counted for next to nothing when it came to filling his belly or choosing the right path and it was a constant battle that was more than a little frustrating but he had learned patience during his incarceration and so with his rations running low the village up ahead was a godsend.
Travel stained and weary he adjusted his pack and pressed on, only one destination in town interested him this night and though he was wary of crowded places he could not pass up a hot meal and a drink.
Pushing open the door of the humble establishment he made his way inside, ignoring the glances of the locals, he knew what they saw, a tired solemn looking old Elf. He knew he looked even older than his two centuries and ten. his grey hair was shot through with white and hung long and lank, loose about his face he lacked even a rawhide to tie it back with. Tall like most of his kind he stood just over six feet, and the vitality of his race seemed drained from him. Ground out during his long years in prison.
Approaching the bar he took care to avoid touching any of the locals in the place, avoiding eye contact with almost everyone, he had long ago learned the pain a mistaken glance could bring.
As the lady behind the bar approached him he raised his faded cold blue eyes to meet hers and ventured a half smile.
good evening young lady, some red wine if you have it and whatever warm food you have ready he asked politely his voice surprisingly steady and carrying the ghost of his old authority and self assurance.
Taking his wine Elleross puts a few coins in her hand and finds a space to sit to the side of the bar. Pulling off his travel soiled canvas poncho he sits gratefully and reaches for his wine.
His thin pale arm juts out of his shirt sleeve revealing part of the numbers branded there in raised pearlescent scar tissue on the top of his forearm and he pulls the garment forward again before drinking deeply.
Reaching up he scratched absently at the close cropped beard he wore and reaching into his pack he pulls out his pale carved bone pipe and filing it with fresh tobacco he leans forward and puffs it alight from the candle on his table and draws deeply on the strong sweet smoke and looks carefully around the room.
A few individuals stand out from the locals and these he watches with disguised interest.
"Cleaning tables? Charming."
"Do pardon my.. appearance, some times I forget that it might seem a bit.. well, peculiar." A moment pauses, awkwardly, but not long enough to startle anyone. The young man leans forward across the counter, nimble fingers sliding across the bar. His voice lowers to a whisper, while blue eyes glance suspiciously from side to side, taking notice of the elderly elf entering the tavern.
"I humbly thank you for the offer, but I was perchance hoping to obtain, well.. rumours of late. My stay here has not been long and I hope to set out within a night or two, hopefully with more coins in my purse than I arrived with. The temperature seems to be dropping at a most strange time of year as well."
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (10) + 2 = 12
|Corum Mac Roth|
Corum ponders the Barkeep's question as he downs his first ale. Nasrin quickly pays for another and he smiles. That is one of the reasons he likes travelling with her - she is always willing to buy the ale! That and they are kindred spirits, both nomads and both children of the wilds, though in his case his wild spirit sometimes gets the better of him. These seem like recent folk, much like my village, though warmer! No trouble tonight. Just ale, food and bed
Can't say much for the hunting, though we saw plenty of game sign out there after we left the wagon train we were guarding. Damned gnome merchant decided he didn't want to pay what we agreed in Zimar. Hope he runs into a band or Orcs tonight, then he'd wish he had our blades with him! You have food and beds for the night?"
They purchase stew and lodging then sit at a table in the corner. Corum co to dually watches the room as Nasrin sets her shield aside and begins eating. "Busy here. And we are not the only strangers in town. Look at at one with the mask, the old fellow at the bar and that one trying to stay out of everyone's way."
He tears a hunk of bread and dipping it in his stew he begins eating, quickly devouring his meal he drains his bowl by lifting it and drinking the remaining stew. never know when the next meal is coming. the rich stew runs down his stubbly chin and he wipes it with the back of his sleeve. He drains his second pitcher of ale and belches loudly.
Turning to his companion of some weeks he again wonders at their chance meeting some time ago. Strange for fate to throw us two together. So long alone only to suddenly find someone similar to me. Good hunter though and really handy to have around in the wilds. I'm good in mountains and tundra, but in the forests around here, she is the expert.
”What next Nasrin? Don't look like much call for caravan guards around here."
Oh I see. Kale replies within earshot of Nasrin and Corum. Well everyone is saying the weather is unseasonably cold - it's even been snowing in the Border Wood apparently.
It's an ill wind that blows cold. That's what me pappy used t' say! an old, weather beaten woman with eyes drooping so low as to be slits above her nose who slurps at her stew with flappy, slobbering lips.
That's Mother. Kale says as if by way of explanation. She thinks these cold spells have been caused by Qadiran agents.
She's not the only one! a young man from a nearby table calls, joined by the raucous shouts of his fellows. They should keep their sandy noses out of Taldor business!
I don't know about any of that. Kale says. But I do know that farmers boy got ill and he reckons it was because he fell through the ice on Wishbone Creek. At this time of year! What did he say he saw, Menander?
A stag. her husband shouts back.
Aye, that's it a talking white stag. Tried to follow it apparently. Staggered back to Old Man Dansbys place who himself reckons half his crop has frozen over and the other half carried off!
|Corum Mac Roth|
"not heard that term before. Funny though!" He thinks for a while. "Don't know about the cold here. This is warm compared to where I come from. White stag though, that must be rare."
Sitting back into his chair Elleross finishes the stew and smiles. that was surprising good,then again anything would taste exquisite compared to the prisons limited offerings. he thinks as he wishes he could manage another bowl of the fine stew, but his appetite was small and the rich stew sat heavily in his stomach.
Stretching out his aching legs he sighs, for the first time in many days he feels content and safe.
The chatter around the bar washes over him and he listens carefully picking up bits and pieces of conversations, a lot of the townsfolk seem concerned by the cold weather.
it is strange for it to be this cold so far south, there shouldn't be any frost in the mornings not for many months he ponders idly it could make the rest of my trip more than a little difficult, I can just about manage in the wild without having to deal with snow as well and he shudders slightly rubbing at his left knee. Looking casually over at the large half elf and his companion he thinks those two look like they were born in the wild, I wonder where they are headed? I could do with finding some people to travel with
knowledge local : 1d8 + 8 ⇒ (2) + 8 = 10
Greyston listens on to the chatter in the bar, scribbling in his note book trying to figure out his next move his next payday. He then decides to try something new, a new approach to all this.
"It is rather cold for this time of year, but weather patterns change there has to be a reason. But this white.. talking stag you speak of that would fetch a good price wouldn't it? Alive or dead." He then points at the two rough wilderness types in the corner. "You two, You seem like the type that would be up for a hunt. What say you? up for a hunt and make a little money? There could be some fun in it."
Nature: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (1) + 8 = 9
"It would appear that we have eavesdroppers listening in to our conversation, barkeep."
Nodding as a gesture of politeness towards the barkeep, Blacksheaf makes a calm turn towards the three adventurers discussing his conversation with Kale. He leans his back towards the counter, one foot elevated and his arms resting on the bar.
"A talking white stag and frozen lakes..? Surely she must be somewhat touched."
"I could not help but overhear the three of you discussing my conversation with this fine barkeep of ours, strangers. It would appear that most curious things are brewing around this fine little town, perhaps coins can be made if, say, someone where to investigate? Should the stag not be able to tell us his story, I am most certain that it's skin would fill our purses all."
"Perhaps one of the brutes know better than I how to track a wild beast?"
The young man takes half a bow, resting his right arm on his abdomen and lowering his head just enough to still remain eye contact with the three.
"Arunor Blacksheaf, at your service."
The doors to the inn swing open a woman, dressed on a warm cloak sweeps in, bringing with her a blast of chill air.
It's definitely getting colder... She mutters, mostly to herself.
The male barkeep, Menander, looks up at the well dressed middle aged woman.
Councilwoman. he says by way of greeting. How's that mercenary?
Oh, he's come round at least. Terrible injuries though, I've never seen the like. Priest thinks he's going to lose the foot. A worrying tale to tell too. Says there are blizzards in the Border Wood and hos caravan was attacked by bandits.
She comes to stand near the fire, nodding to Greyson as she squeezes past to warm her hands above the flames.
|Corum Mac Roth|
At the mention of a caravan being attacked Corum nods to Nasrin with a knowing look. "That damned gnome may yet regret deciding he didn't need guards."
Turning to Greyston he gives him am appraising look. doesn't look like he could track a mammoth through fresh snow!
"Coins and fun. The only thing missing is danger!" he laughs then turns to the masked character at the bar. "There isn't much else to do here but I don't know you and in my book yhere are two kinds of stranger. Ones who are problems to Nasrin and I and those who aren't. Those who aren't a problem usually keep their teeth!" He pauses then laughs at his own joke.
"I am Corum. This is Nasrin."
Greyston turns to look at the masked man. What is that mask hiding. Offering him the same respect he gave him and bowing, his years of etiquette kicking in. "I'm sure we could all do with a bit of coin, and with bandits out there i'm sure we could use more men." He smiles. Someone else to stand in front of me atleast
He then looks to the big brute of a man, talking his brutish jokes. "I'd prefer to keep my teeth so i'll make sure there is no confusion i don't have a problem with you or your lady friend here. I'm sure we will make great friends." He bows to them. "It's nice to meet all of you, Arunor, Corum, Nasrin. I'm Greyston Fenris, Alchemist extraordinar." He raises his voice on that last part hoping some of the locals would pay attention. "You've got to big yourself up, it gets the locals more excited for what we're selling and thats a massive white talking stag."
While speaking with his new best friends Greyston picks up the mention of a Councilwoman, he listens on to what she has to say and when she looks at him he smiles. "Hello, it's a pleasure to meet you. I'm Greyston Fenris, and these three are with me." He motions to the others. "It sounds like you have a bit of trouble out there, we were going to hunt down this 'Talking White Stag' Maybe we could help you out for a reward? Please tell us what's happening." He says standing next to the woman warming up his hands too.
Ellreross leans forward slightly listening to the men introduce themselves and as Greyston speaks his name strikes him as familiar for some reason.
Greyston fenris, fenris? do I know that name?
He can't place it at the moment but he knows if he has come across the name before it will come to him soon, he listens to their conversation a little more intently puffing thoughtfully on his pipe he chews the end of it absently as part of his mind seeks any relevance of this elven mans name.
this talking stag nonsense is small town superstition, a wives tale blown out of proportion no doubt but this Greyston seems keen to exploit it and make some coin from this story
he thinks to himself and wonders if this opportunity could benefit him, he needed coin right enough but travelling companions would be more important
what can I offer this group that they need? I have no skills in tracking nor hunting why would they accept me? It seems Greyston has ingratiated himself with them already I must find common ground with him. That is my way in
he decides and ponders his next step.
This white stag, whatever it is, and whether it can talk or not is irrelevant. A stag is a stag is a stag. the councilwoman says with a wave of her hand.
Ionnia Teppen, councilwoman here in Heldren, so far as the village needs a council. she adds, shaking Greyston's hand. I'm far more concerned with these bandits and the fact they have apparently kidnapped the Lady Argentea Malassne, a noblewoman out of Oppara - according to this mercenary anyway.
She looks at the alchemist's faded coat and to the masked man at the bar, and the pair of filthy hunters.
Heldren barely has a militia worthy of the name. And if we were to call for help from Oppara or Zimar it could be too late for the woman if there is any truth to this man's claims. I am not above hiring adventurers to help the village in times of need, perhaps you can be persuaded to look into this for me?
"At least now I know they are neither mercs nor bandits. Intriguing."
Nimbly shoving himself off the bar, the masked man takes quick steps towards the councilwoman, as if triggered by her words.
"I am certain a hunt for bandits would be quite the more profitable than hunting a phantom stag, wouldn't you say?" Nodding his head to those present, as if for them to acknowledge his words.
"Would we perchance be in need to consult said mercenary, prior to our arrangement? Or would you be capable as mediator, information-wise? Do you know how many they are, or where they would be holding said woman of importance?"
His fingers dancing restlessly atop his rapiers hilt as he speaks.
|Corum Mac Roth|
Corum stands and says I think that was the caravan we were guarding. There was a lady there. Who is the mercenary? Do you know his name?"
Smiling as the council woman dismisses the talk of the stag elleross rises and makes his way across the bar to the group gathered around the council woman.
bandits and kidnappers . I am all too familiar with that type of common criminal. Probably poorly armed and hopefully not too smart or too brave either he thinks as he introduces himself.
good evening, Forgive me for listening but i have had dealings with bandits before. I may be of some use once we track them down . Elleross Oronar at your service. he says by way of introduction I am a student of the arcane amongst other things and though I am not good with weapons I have other means at my disposal should we need to subdue these bandits he says with a confidence he doesn't truly feel. He has had little opportunity to put into practice the arcane knowledge he has gathered but everyone starts somewhere he thinks.
Greyston eye's the old elf up and down. "He reminds me of my father, i only hope hes not as stubborn.[/i] Bowing again. [b]"Pleased to meet you Elleross, I'm Greyston although i'm sure you heard us all introduce ourselves." He smiles. "The more the merrier i'm no good with a sword myself but i have other means to deal with my problems. It seems we have quite a group here, i'm glad we could all come together for the betterment of the town." And a easy payday
Greyston then nods at the councilwoman. Finally something that pays good money, and with those two in front of me i might make it out of this with all my bodyparts "I'm sure we would all like to help this town." He looks to the others. "It looks like our first stop is with the mercenary, we have questions and he has the answers."
|Corum Mac Roth|
Corum holds up a hand. "there is one thing first. How much? What's the reward for rescuing this lady?" he asks the Council woman.
She pulls up a chair at Corums table.
Tge village has very little in the way of monetary value, I'm afraid. But I can ask the priest to avail you of his service without charge and I'm sure a wealthy woman like the Lady Argentea would be very grateful to her rescuers. There's also whatever the bandits have managed to steal and scavenge I suppose, there's no one left to claim it so it would fall under scavenger and salvage laws.
|Corum Mac Roth|
The barbarian ponders for a moment, though in reality that is more for show. His is a simple world view and confirmation of to the victor the spoils sounds fair. Though simple, he is not stupid though and decides to push for more. if you don't ask, you don't get he figures.
"Throw in an evening of free ale and you have my blade at your disposal. Nasrin, what do you say?"
Aye, Nasrin sees no issues with helping the council woman.
Nasrin only nods during the introductions, and avoids eye contact. However, at the council woman's offer of job and payment, she studies the woman's face intently. Another southern thief?
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (10) + 3 = 13
Still fidgeting with his rapier, Arunor gives the councilwoman a nod before he speaks.
"Aye, I will gladly partake in hunting bandits, for as long as the payment reflects the deed."
His eyes trail across the room, finding each of the other adventurers in turn.
"What say you, shall we leave at once and confront said mercenary? It would seem that this task requires our attention post haste, lest said Lady meets her end prior to our payment."
no guaranteed reward, only the potential gratitude of this noblewoman and that's provided we find her alive he thinks to himself and almost at the same time he chastises himself silently you are too used to looking after number one, you dont have to be like that anymore. he admonishes himself.
i agree this noblewoman needs help quickly. It matters not that there is no reward. I will do what I can to see her to safety. Ellrosse says to the council woman I will accompany you he says with decisiveness as he looks across at the strange masked man. I wonder what he is hiding? Is he a wanted man? Ellrosse asks himself He will bear watching after all how can you trust a man who's face you cannot see? We shall find out he thinks.
|Corum Mac Roth|
"I am Corum, this is Nasrin. She don't talk much. But she's a worthy sword sister and damned good in the wilds". He looks at the others, appraising each in turn. looks like most of the blood work will be for Nasrin and me to do. Not sure about these others but they must have some useful skills. We'll see...
"Who are you lot then?"
"That's very noble of you Elloross. I'm of course happy to help any damsel in distress if shes beautiful i may even ask for a simple reward of a kiss. But the money wouldn't hurt." This group came together easily, but those two brutes and that mask man. I need to keep an eye on those.
"I'm Greyston Fenris, I'm from Oppara but i haven't set foot in that city in over three years. I was trained in the arcane arts but it never stuck, i was more interested in the alchemical nature of the world." He takes out a powder from his satchel and places it in his water cup and instantly a flash of light and smoke rise up out of it. "An explosive reaction with water, controllable and with many uses." He smiles to himself. That should show them my worth. He eye's up the others.
A light rain begins to fall, spattering the windows with a soft cadence that accompanies the snap or the fire.
You look around the crowded bar and see smoke rising from half a dozen pipes, groups of men and women laughing and gossiping over ale and thick stew. For all the world this looks like a scene from mid-winter, where the village's small community huddles in the tavern for warmth and companionship.
And yet... it is high summer and only this morning on your travels to heldren the sun was beating down to the point you had to seek shade on several occasions.
Elleross turns to Greyston
nothing noble about it, it's the right thing to do. Been many years since I've had the chance to do the right thing .... It's refreshing to put the needs of others above my own for a change he says cryptically I'm also from that city Greyston though it's been over a century since I saw it last, I am familiar with alchemy but it did not offer the solutions I needed so I decided to learn the fundamentals of magic, all magic and so I began many years ago to teach my self and learn all I could he says to the young alchemist and the group as I said my name is Ellrosse Oronar though I may have a few years on you folk I am fit and well and hopefully I'll keep up with you youngsters. I am sure together we can find this lady and put a stop to these bandits
He sounds just like my father, i had better watch what i say around him. There's something hes not telling us.
"Alchemy can perform some amazing wonders - I've seen people healed and even brought back from the dead. As i said magic was a little too long winded for me, while i respect those who can master it. I'm sure we can learn a lot from each other." He smiles at the old elf.
|Corum Mac Roth|
The barbarian looks at the masked stranger. "I caught your name when you introduced yourself to the inkkeper. You are Arunor right?" Turning back to the Councilwoman he stands and stretches his back, his vertebrae cracking audibly. Ignoring the distasteful looks from some of the patrons of the inn he says. "Well, what are we waiting for? Let's go see this mercenary. See if he can tell us where to find these bandits."
Nasrin gives a guttural grunt as she stands next to Corum. Food'll wait, nae the first chow I've missed. To the council woman, "Where can we find this hired sword?" As the woman answers the feral girl picks up her shield and slings it across her back, ready to go.
"Good." the Councilwoman says. "He is in the temple. He came staggering into town with terrible wounds - it's a wonder he's still alive. When I said as much he told me he was a Kellid, as if that were explanation enough."
She stands from the table and pays for the remainder of the party's drinks.
"Thank you Kale. See you tomorrow, Menander." She waves. Then, turning back to the bar; "You see old Mother gets home aright and has a fire in the hearth Menander, you hear?It's getting cold out."
There is a surprising truth to her words. As you step out into the street you can feel the temperature has dropped noticeably, even in the last couple of hours. Several of you shudder involuntarily.
You are led across the village to a small temple. Ostensibly it appears to be dedicated to a nature god, possibly Erastil or Gozreh but a half dozen other charms hang above the doors that depict Gorum, Shelyn and even Aroden.
You do not enter via the main doors but rather a smaller side entrance to the vestibule. The heat inside is almost oppressive in stark contrast to the chilling rain outside.
A middle aged priest greets you and once your purpose is explained he looks palpably relieved.
"Thank Gozreh. From what Yule's been telling me something is terribly wrong in the Border Wood.."
"PRIEST!" a voice bellows from the other room. "Who's there?"
You are led through to a small bedroom where a large bearded man lies in a small bed. He as wounds bandaged across both arms, his head, torso and left leg but what immediately catches your attention are his extremities. Several of his fingers, his nose and his right foot are all blackened and sore, as if they had been burnt in a fire. Most of you have never seen wounds like this.
"It's frostbite." the man says, as if reading your minds. "Ice and snow can burn like flame, did you know that?" he adds gruffly.
His brow furrows as he sees Corum and Nasrin.
"I know you. You were with the caravan but that bloody gnome sent you packing. Just as well, if you had stayed you'd be lying here like me or worse, like those poor bastards back there!"
Nasrin and Corum remember the mercenary as well. He was a hired sword like themselves, from the North - Irrisen. He was like most of his kind, strong, brave and liked a drink. Unlike many of the others in the caravan, especially those from Taldor, you had liked him immediately.
-Posted with Wayfinder
|Corum Mac Roth|
Corum approaches the bed, he immediately recognises the mercenary as one of the more likeable guards on the wagon train. He feels a momentary pang of regret that he wasn't present to face the bandits but the feeling quickly passes. He approaches the bed and smiles grimly.He glances briefly at the frost bitten foot, already it is black and smells foul. He has seen such before, in his youth, and knows the foot is beyond healing.
"Well, you got yourself cut up pretty badly. What happened?"
" We thought they were just bandits at first - outlaws who hide like wolves in the forest. They were no match for us. But then came the cold fey of the north. They appeared among us and the battle turned quickly. My people speak of the winter-touched all the time, but I never expected to meet them this far south." he says grimly, with some anger. "I have never even seen it snow this far south. We were nor prepared for that. And it came from nothing. The other guards had been complaining that it was unseasonably cold. I laughed at them and told them until they had felt their breath form ice on their beards they didn't know the meaning of the word. But when the snow came it was like someone had drawn a curtain and Winter lay behind it."