The road continues off into the low hills ahead of Ragnar the Younger and Xulgag the Wanderer whose legs are growing sore from the long ride from Restov. Their horses plodding steps steadily bringing them to their destination while Xulgag's donkey trails behind, its lead tied to the pommel of Xulgag's saddle. The last farm settlements along the South Rostland Road having faded behind them as the pair moved further and further away from the city where they had received their charter. The area they tread was vast approaching the wilderness of the south. That place between Brevoy and The River Kingdoms. The frontier called The Stolen Lands filled with bandits, wild animals, monsters, and many secrets of things lost long ago.
"Be it so known that the bearer of this charter has been charged by the Swordlords of Restov, acting upon the greater good and authority vested within them by the office of the Regent of the Dragonscale Throne, has granted the right of exploration and travel within the wilderness region known as the Greenbelt. Exploration should be limited to an area no further than thirty-six miles east and west and sixty miles south of Oleg’s Trading Post. The carrier of this charter should also strive against banditry and other unlawful behavior to be encountered. The punishment for unrepentant banditry remains, as always, execution by sword or rope. So witnessed on this 24th day of Calistril, under watchful eye of the Lordship of Restov and authority granted by Lord Noleski Surtova, current Regent of the Dragonscale Throne."
The day is cool with the chill of winter only just fading now that the last month of spring has come to a close. The rain had finally stopped the day before, and the weak warmth of the sun was beginning to dry out the land. The sparse trees on the plains to either side of the road seem to have begun to sprout their leaf from tiny buds. The light green sprouts just beginning their push for the life giving rays of the sun high overhead. Tall grass with some sporadic blackberry bushes goes off into the horizon where Ragnar and Xulgag can make out the beginning of forest to the southwest. Behind and to the left the Shrike River faded into view as its path took it increasingly to the southwest while the road continues a much more steady western approach to that last stop of civilization, Oleg's Trading Post.
Both warriors, human and half-orc, are inured to the crisp chill of the late spring air. Winters are hard up north and both have blood with deep roots of survival in hard climates and dangerous terrain. Ragnar's eyes seem to glaze as the time and distance seemed to blur. Glancing at Xulgag, Ragnar the Younger can see his friend has a jug of some cheap wind to his lips, a single meaty orc finger though the loop on the neck. Both man and orc are silent as the doldrum of the early afternoon begins to set in.
Ragnar brings his eyes back to center and once again the line of the horizon and the steady up and down of the horses' movements begin to derail his attention and focus. His mind casts back to a day a couple of weeks ago...
Ragnar visits an oracle:
You had approached the oracle's stone circle late in the day as requested. Four stones barely three feet wide set at the points of NW, SE, SW & NW leaving the site of the cardinal directions visible when standing in the center. She stood on the far side of a fire pit from which a hazy purplish smoke exuded, the twilight sky seemingly surrounding her with a similar color like an aura. She is clothed in a light blue robe of a thin, gauzy material that seems to billow slowly despite the lack of wind. She doesn't appear to actually be standing on the ground, but rather held aloft by the billowing wisp of cloth surrounding her. You feel ill at ease. Despite the elven woman's evident beauty, her smile is too knowing and her eyes see more than just you. Knowing you can't allow your fathers (or Xulgag who has accompanied you) to see you show weakness or fear, you approach. Stepping into the circle of stones, you wait for her to speak.
She doesn't. Her smile is more subdued now as she looks you over. She nods and moves around the fire towards you. She gestures for you to come up to the fire, and as you do you notice the smoke has a very sweet and pungent scent, both pleasing and disturbing to the nose. You throw a glance at Xulgag who is frowning at the slender robed figure a wary look on his face. The elf gestures to her mouth and shakes her head. A mute then! The frightened man who answered your call across the tavern for an oracle could have mentioned that. You turn to the oracle your mood souring, the thick smoke making your head swim.
But just then, you hear a melodious voice in between your temples.
Welcome, Ragnar the Younger. And you, Xulgag the Wanderer. Here her gaze falls on the half-orc and she seems amused. What brings you to Ri'Alin's Circle?
Reeling slightly, you find yourself reaching for a weapon on reflex. Xulgag's face seems a mask now. You know this expression as one Xulgag adopts when he is seeking the control his monk training provides. You check your reaction before your hand reaches its destination.
Ri'Alin's face shows amusement and you hear her "voice" again. Did you think I would be unable to provide my insight? Do not worry. The powers that guide me have not left me unable to communicate. Have you brought the sacrifice?
You blink. Her words seem to come through slowly, your mind is clouding from the smoke. "Y-yes. It is here." You reach into your belt pouch and retrieve three small amethysts. They are a strong purple color showing they came from deep with the earth.
Ri'Alin nods approvingly. Good, throw them into the fire. Doing as bidden, the fire flares a brilliant violet color tinged by blue at the tips and a fuchsia at the center. You see the the fire pit contains hundreds of such gemstones, possibly thousands. A king's ransom lies at your feet, but...it's so hard to keep your thoughts. What was that about a purplish flame?
You feel the oracle next to you and feel as she lightly touches you, urging you to lean closer and breathe deeper. In your mind you hear a whisper, What knowledge do you seek, One Who Would Be a King?
Yes...that's why you're here, to find out how to achieve this dream. You see the purple and fuchsia smoke in front of you, filling your eyes, your nose, your mind...you hear the voice of Ri'Alin...
Three things will you learn, one for each sacrifice you have given, she whispers in your thoughts. One for what you should know, one for what you can know, and one for what you should have known...
You see an image of yourself. You stand alone in a dark and ruined room. You're dirty and battered. There is blood on you, but it may not be yours. You stand before an ancient stone plinth. A moldering cushion probably used to be velvet sits upon it. You see a dull dirty crown. It could be yours, and you want to reach out and take it. But something isn't right, and you see yourself hesitating...the image begins to fade, but you notice on the plinth is an inscription. It is in a language you do not understand, but it sears itself into your memory...
You see a young woman, barely old enough to wed. Behind her is a small child, a girl. The woman is protecting her, trying to stave off a darkness approaching, something terrible and ancient. You know you have a choice, to save them or not...a flurry of images assault you, you can't separate them because they go by too quickly, but you do know one thing, they are memories of the future, some with the two females and some without, but you know they are the same memories of the same moment but different depending on what you chose...one thing remains the same however...of all the images, one remains a man in fine clothes with a wide-brimmed hat pulled down so you can only see his lips as he whistles a happy sounding tune walking forward and each step closer he comes the darkness you felt before draws nearer.
You see a vision of a Ulfen longhall...it burns and screams abound...there's something familiar...if you could only see the posts...the banners, but they are burning, burning... smoke and death lays heavy in the air...twisted laughter rings through the cold Ulfen night, and you see a huge brute of an Ulfen man laughing as a Linnorm breathes a blizzard quenching the burning hall and freezing all inside into crystalline ice...even the flames...
Your mind tries to retreat as the cold future assails your mind. Then like a comforting hug, you feel Ri'Alin speak again. All these things are only as certain as the path you choose. If you choose a different road, only one of these truths will remain so. Your clouded mind feels the oracle's hands on either side of your face. Allow me to show you the good. You feel her warm mouth on yours, and the sensation causes your senses to explode.
You see a vision of yourself standing on a balcony overlooking a courtyard, people cheering your name. You know that they are safe and have food to eat. They cheer because their children are protected and their laws are just. They are happy because it is you who have done this. You are their king.
Suddenly your mind is clear and you feel the chill wind blowing across the hilltop of the Oracle's circle. Ri'Alin pulls away, her eyes still closed. The sweet taste of her elfin lips lingers on your tongue, lilac and honey. With a sigh like a beautiful clarinet playing a woeful sound, she opens her eyes and looks deep into yours. Only you can see these things come to pass. Only you and the company you choose to keep by your side. Unbidden you recall the faces of the young woman and the girl child.
Goodbye, Ragnar the younger, He Who Would Be a King. Our paths may cross again one day. A small smile plays across the oracle's lips like she knows something and it amuses her. Then gradually she seems to fade into the smoke, her gauzy robe mimicking it's wild curling movements. And then she is smoke, and you are no longer certain if she was there at all. Except for the taste of honey and lilac on your lips...
You glance around and see Xulgag looking troubled. You realize the dawn light is just beginning to creep over the horizon.
"Did you see...?" you start to say. Xulgag stiffens and strides away from the spent fire, the last remnants of a puttering fire in its depths. You know this mood. Xulgag does not wish to discuss whatever he is thinking. Not yet at least. You look around and as Xulgag leaves the circle of stones, you are alone. The oracle is nowhere to be seen. Glancing into the fire pit you see only ash, no trace of the gemstones. But wait...there. You reach down and pick it up. Is is an amulet with a brilliant blue gemstone. If Ragnar chooses to keep this, add it to your neck slot
You shake your head once. With your mind a whirl with what has transpired, you adjust your cloak and stride down the hill after Xulgag.
Xulgag accompanies Ragnar to the oracle:
You see that Ragnar is breathing deeply of the intoxicating smoke. The elven woman looks at you from across Ragnar's hunched shoulders. He is clearly in the throes of whatever hallucination it is giving him. Ri'Alin glides up to you, her feet unseen. She looks up as your great height makes you taller than her if only be half a foot. Elf b@~%#es are tall.
In your mind you hear, And you noble keeper of the tenets? Is there any answers that you seek?
If you would like to have the oracle give you a vision, Xulgag, just respond in your post with a spoiler of your RP with her, or just give me an OOC comment
The scream of a young child snaps both Ragnar and Xulgag from the reveries. It's coming from up ahead, and just at the edge of the horizon, they can see some sort of commotion down the road.
Your post will come later tonight probably. I will try to have it done for you so you can respond either just before or after you get home from work.
Ragnar picked up the blue jeweled amulet, unsure of what to do. It was worth a pretty copper, that was for sure and off went the elf without taking it? He couldn't tell if it was fate tempting him to leave his destiny, or perhaps to inspire a fault of greed that heroes of antiquity might fall too. He picked up the amulet and put it in his pocket. It now sat in his pack, tucked away inside the bedroll.
At the scream Ragnar straightens in the saddle, as if doing so will cajole life into his tired limbs. Gripping the reigns he looks to Xulag.
"I know you heard that, Xul. Let's see what the fuss is about!"
Ragnar leans forward and put his heels to his horse.
The endless miles have taken their toll. The weary horse beneath Corinne the Chroniker and Orphan Arielle has been pushed hard and seems now to only move forward because it had forgotten how to do anything else. Corinne wasn't sure they were safe now, but she hoped their pursuers would not have realized they left the city yet. She could feel Arielle pressed against her back, a dead weight as she was fast asleep. Corinne could understand that as she found herself drowsing as well.
Sandy Eyes the Sleep Pixie wrote:
You're not sure when she first entered your dreams, but upon waking, you're never able to forget her. A shy, sad face dirty with streaks possibly from tears, her brown hair styled with curls and pinned up by a very expensive looking jeweled barrette. Beautiful sacrificial robes drape her small form as the robes are made of that abominable 'silk' you have come to hate. You know it is not the silk of something natural.
"Corie..." the girl says in a trembling whisper. She clutches your hand hand and presses her small body against your leg. Her other hand clutches the ragged and dirty teddy bear she always has. She looks up into your eyes. Such big eyes, big opalescent eyes. You find yourself looking into them and falling, falling as if her eyes are giant white stars pulling you inside. You know you're afraid. Afraid for yourself, but much more afraid for her.
You are pressing both of you against a wall. A stone wall made of a very strange rock. It seems to bleed black blood, but none of it ever seems to stick to you or the girl. You hear yourself shush the girl very softly, placing your hand on her head to bring her closer. Scraping sounds are heard from somewhere, somewhere around a corner. The grunts and snuffling of those brutes the cultists keep as guards echo in the dark temple. You hold your breath and hug the girl tighter. A cheerful whistle seems to start from somewhere in the distance, and you can hear the sound of steady even steps, probably from the heel of a well-made boot. The song is the "Dance of Desna", and you are filled with terror.
All thought of caution vanishes. You scoop up the girl who whimpers in fear and begin to run. Shouts and the growl of an evil tongue fill the halls behind you. The temple walls turn and twist and you run, praying that you can find a way to escape. Sounds of pursuit are behind sometime receding and others growing closer. You crash through doors, jump ledges, and run, always run. The whistling never abates, like the rest of the noise. You can hear it, even above your own ragged breath and the girl's sobbing. Closer it seems, louder it becomes. Such a happy cheerful tune. You find yourself losing your wits in the need to escape the terror as the whistler approaches, his bootsteps steady as before. Not faster. Not slower. But always closer.
The girl screams. You feel his hand reaching for you. The world rushes back to the present and you wake up.
You bolt up, knocking your head on the low brick of the curve of your favorite bolt hole. Right under the conflux of three chimneys that curve into one another for support, the area is always comfortable and warm since the chimneys are always venting smoke during the winter months and the brick warms up nicely. Rubbing your head, you wonder why you keep seeing the same future. Every other slice of your future you have "borrowed" has always been replaced as the things changed and those possible futures vanished and splintered. This one just won't go away. And its persistency seemed to indicate it was of some importance to the timestream...and your own fate. Who was this girl? What was that horrid waxy silk she had been dressed in? It had just been unnatural and wrong. Something about the substance really jarred your senses.
You wipe the sleep from your eyes and do your morning check to make sure no one had discovered you. Half habit and half unconscious design, you reach out to touch the things you have stashed, and you find the cured hide you carefully stained to look like beaten brick untouched. With a slight moan and a rub to your new lump you proceed out into the day.
You are just about to take the roast chicken that the spitmaster doesn't know is about to fall off of the table since you just got back from the moment where it did, when something which hadn't been a part of the moment before was suddenly there. You see her...the girl from your dreams. You almost didn't recognize her. She's covered in dirt as if she had been digging her way out of a hole which you almost suspect she might have been considering there seems to be the ripple of loose dirt behind her. Clutched tightly to her chest is that ragged ear teddy bear missing one of the glass beads it had for eyes. You hear the roast chicken hit the ground with a splat and quite quickly the snarl of two small dogs who begin to nip at one another as they try to snap it up.
Yes, it is her. How could anyone forget eyes like that? Even squinting against the weak light of the winter sun, the girl's eyes glittered more brilliantly than some gemstones. You see her look around bewildered by all the activity in the marketplace. She was still between two stalls, so no one had noticed her yet. As you watch, her eyes seem to dull, the brilliance you had seen retreating until her eyes just seemed as if they were the milky white of one who was blind. Then astoundingly, the milkiness peels back revealing two large brown irises. You're amazed that at a distance of 20 ft you can even see this transition, but it was captivating.
So captivating that you didn't even see the spitmaster Jurg approach you until his shadow fell over you.
"Oy gurl! Ai tot ai werned ya not to be 'roun me stall agin?" He raises his hand threateningly.
Your street urchin instincts kick in, and some placating or contriteful words spring to your lips. But they are never spoken. Your thoughts are scattered when you hear it. A cheerful whistling, the "Dance of Desna". Your head whips around and you see him. Well dressed in colors dark like a deep bruise, a man walks through the marketplace. A wide brimmed hat pulled low over his eyes, so all you can make out is a thin-lipped mouth puckered for whistling. You r head turns to the girl. A look of utter terror has appeared on her face, and she looks around for some place to run. You feel yourself begin to move. An instinct to protect the younger street children had always lived in you, and now the rush is coming over you again.
The whistling man suddenly stops at the space between the two stalls, and the little girl falls backwards and seems to be scooting herself away from the man as much as he can. You go to draw your dagger and rush him when you suddenly feel something catch you arm. It's Jurg the spitmaster!
"Oy! I in'it done wit ya, gerl!" Horror fills you as you see the whistling man reach out and grab the girl. You struggle to free your arm, but it's too late. The whistling man folds himself into strange angles and he and the girl vanish. The last thing you see is her eyes meeting yours, brilliantly shinng once more, and a terrible sad acceptance fills them.
*Whack* You find yourself dazed and realize Jurg has struck your face. Oh no! How long has it been? Too long. You have never jumped back that long. Jurg seems to be squaring up for another hit. You reach in, into that place where time seems to be different. Where you find shavings of your future you don't need and you break them into bits. Motes you think of them. Before you always took what was there to use. this time, you go in searching for more. More! You feel a pounding in your temples and it isn't Jurg. A wave of nausea rolls over you, and the world goes white.
Your vision comes back into focus. You are laying on your back, and Jurg the spitmaster is looking at you from where he is cooking. He looks like he is about to say something, but then sees his roast chicken is about to spill off the table and with a grunt, rushes to save it, much to the chagrin of two small dogs who had been worrying at the table cloth to bring it down.
All at once your head clears and your gaze seeks out the space between the stalls. There she is! Looking around in bewilderment just like before. You move without hesitation. You know you can't let the whistling man see you. You jump to your feet and sprint to the girl. Her eyes lock onto you in suprise and you see the milky white peeling back right then.
"Ari....Arielle, where have you been?" You say the first name that comes to your head. Arielle had been a very young girl whom you had tried to tend to but she had gotten a coughing sickness when she was only five and had not survived the winter. The girl looks up at you, and without hesitation, you scoop "Arielle" up into your arms and exit the marketplace directly opposite where you had seen the whistling man previously. As you move, you hear it...the "Dance of Desna". Instinctively, you move to the side next to a stall that happens to sell scarves and hats for winter. That carefree tune filling your ears, you throw a silver or two at the merchant and grab a scarf and a knit hat. You begin to wrap it around "Arielle's" neck and shoulders and put the hat on her head. She watched you with those big brown eyes, apprehension filling them. She has heard the whistling as well.
You glance over your shoulder cautiously just as the whistling man reaches the space between the two stalls. The whistling falters, and he stops stunned. His head begins to turn this way and that. You don't wait to see if he notices you, but turn and carry Arielle out of the market.
Life had been interesting since then. You have always been looking over your shoulder. Always listening for the sound of the whistle. Using your motes to trick time in order to stay one step ahead of him. As kind and easy going as the clerics and priests of Desna are, you found your trust in them wane. You didn't yet no why the man whistled the song he did or if he had any relation to the Desnan church (which you found hard to swallow, but you couldn't be too careful). Arielle had grown to look up to you and trust you like a bigger sister, and seemed content if not also very wary of others. After a few months, you had chosen to leave New Stetsen for Restov which was a rather big change for you. For almost a year, you and Arielle had lived without any sign of the whistling man but the first time you had heard him in Restov, you had looked for yet another exit without hesitation. You stumbled across the concept of these charters and managed to trick a clerk into thinking you would let him have you for a night if he would get you one of those. Fortunately you simply hopped back a moment in time once obtaining it, and he had forgotten all about that promise since it had never happened. You simply showed him the charter and asked if he had entered in the books. Surprised to see his own handwriting, he had gone ahead and done so, thinking he had just forgotten. Your hope of course is to find someplace where the whistling man wouldn't know to look. And what better place than the wilderness?
Corinne wakes with a start as the horse whinnies in fear. A dirty man in very stained clothes and armed grabs Corinne and hauls her off the horse. Arielle screams, and Corinne can tell the sound is getting farther away. *Pow* Corinne's head is fuzzy and she keeps trying to reach that place where time flows...but it's just keeps slipping away. There is a weight on her chest making it difficult to breathe. She hears some sounds which don't seem to make any sense to her ringing head. Eventually she realizes they are words. It's Common.
"...need the girl, Refold! We don't have time for this. There's someone down the road. C'mon!"
Corinne hears a curse and a blaspheme against Pharasma then the weight on her chest lifts and she realizes someone was laying on top of her to hold her down. She reaches down and realizes that person had been trying to pull down her breeches.
Sitting up, Corinne sees the winded and frightened horse has run down the road, but not too far, its flanks heaving. The men have Arielle! Corinne can see them making for a copse of trees and a hill. Behind Corinne coming from the road to Restov, she can hear hooves and possibly the voices of men coming closer.
And so we begin, gentlemen! Here's to a good game!!!
It wasn't panic that motivated Corinne to shout for help. Certainly she felt it, but she was in control of her emotions. No, Corinne had seen this event unfold just moments ago and had watched how it all played out. Had she dreamed it, or had she been awake? Sometimes the time-space visions she was blessed with confused her. Either way, she knew the two figures racing down the road on horseback had heard the cries of Arielle. She knew that one was a sturdy man and the other was an enigmatic half-orc, and that neither of them meant Corinne or Arielle any harm. They were also armed to the teeth and would make formidable allies...
"Please, help!" Corinne shouts, playing the role of the helpless traveller for all it was worth, "Kidnappers! Bandits! They've stolen my sister!"
Of course, Arielle was not in fact Corinne's sister, at least not by blood anyhow. But the two had grown very close the past few months and no one could argue against the bond that had sprung up between the young girls.
Narrowing her eyes, Corinne unslings her light crossbow and takes aim at the closest of the two kidnappers. Corinne had already tried this too and she had missed. This time she falls to one knee to steady her shaking hands, takes a deep breath, opens her eyes and fires...
In the spirit of learning the rules, how would I go about this then? The two men are running off with Arielle and I'd like to take a shot at the kidnapper closest to me. What's the number I need to beat on a d20 to make that happen?
The tiny arrow whips from it's wooden housing, slicing through the air with an ominous whistle. Corinne's crossbow is not especially powerful, nor is she especially proficient with it, but ultimately time is on her side.
Taking ODV's suggestion and rolling for my shot. Since I don't know the kidnappers AC, I'll avoid expanding on the results of my action until our mighty GM can respond:
sorry for being so late didn't expect anything over the weekend
And you noble keeper of the tenets? Is there any answers that you seek? Xulgag hears the Oracle ask but never say. He ponders for a moment sifting through the limitless questions he could ask. Will they succeed? Will I find whatever it is I'm looking for? These would certainly destroy the element of surprise, and what if this Oracle's a fake? Then the question pops up: What am I doing in a meadow? Xulgag at the man to his left he doesn't speak but only trains. He begins to train along side the master mimicking his actions. They train for what seems like days until one moment the Master is gone.
"Where'd he go?" Xulgag asks Ragnar as he approaches. "He was just here, and then he wasn't" Ragnar gives him a puzzled look. The young Half-Orc begins to reflect, realizing the master had been a dream. Whether he was real or not, it was something Xulgag would always seek. A new master to study under. To learn all that he could spiritually and physically.
Xulgag just nods his response to Ragnar and also hurries to the screams. The donkey tied to his saddle prevents him from keeping pace with Ragnar for too long.
Seeing Xul lagging Ragnar draws his axe as he approaches. Had the monk been able to keep his pace he probably wouldn't have to have his weapon drawn just yet, but if he got there (where ever there is) he would want to have an edge.
The passing of time freezes as the tiny crossbow bolt hangs in the air, suspended in its agile flight, moving yes, but far too slowly for anyone but Corinne to notice.
A prism of realities suddenly explode around her, spiraling outwards in a kaleidoscope of what if scenarios:
* In one reality, the arrow lodges itself deep into the calf of the man known as Refold, sending him toppling to the ground. Corinne is on him then, brandishing a large stone she grabs from the moist foliage, caving his head in with it over and over...
* And in another timeline, the arrow missing entirely. It spins off into the trees and vanishes, the two men sprint into the cover of the woodlands, panting and wheezing as they bound away with their prize...
* Or is it that the arrow finds its mark after all? Howling with rage, the wounded kidnapper turns and brandishes a sword, charging Corinne with murderous intent...
All of these possible futures, and yet perhaps none of them, hung in the balance as Corinne's perception of time began to return to normal. She could see Ragnar then, the man she knew she'd meet, agile and fierce with his axe unslung, it's sharp edge glinting in the cool morning light. Behind him, the patient and dangerous half-orc monk plodded along, his meager pony cantering forward at an almost comical speed.
Despite all of Corinne's insight into the future, what was about to happen was a glowing mystery. The young time thief bites her lips in frustration, shouting again for help.
Nice, Corinne. That's the way to build up anticipation. +1 RC!
Corinne's crossbow makes a *thunk* sound and sends the bolt on its path. It flies forward and for the space of what seems an eternity of possibilities to Corinne...
...glances off the ruffian's hand as it was stretched out behind him! You see a small ribbon of blood begin to flow, and you hear the man's rough voice cry out. He doesn't slow down. It is then that Corinne sees two more figures inthe distance, and it is they who have the wailing Arielle. One has her slung over his shoulder while the other tries unsuccessfully to load a crossbow.
Forgive the inaccurate figures for your characters. I should have some more to use after payday on Tues and I will find something more appropriate for you.
You should be able to see the little white crosses. Those designate the corners of the squares. Unencumbered creatures can move 6 squares (30 ft). I assume everyone's gear is stowed on their horse, so only Ragnar has any penalty due to Med Armor unless he does not currently have any on.
The various graphics of stones, mud, logs, and such cost a single square of movement, except the embankment immediately to Xulgag's right. That costs 2. Remember you can move diagonally as well.
Remember this is a preview battle, so I imagine we may have to re-position people a couple of times. If you want to ask about a particular move or attack option, feel free to do so in the discussion board, and I will do my best to explain.
Xulgag, having caught up with Ragnar, dismounts as well. "Do I really need to tell you that she doesn't want to go with those men?" Xulgag asks Ragnar. He takes one last swig from his wine skin and begins pursuit of the kidnappers.
"No Xul, you don't say? Robbers, raiders AND rapists on the road? What ever shall we do!"
His hand brushes against a warmth in his pack as he takes down his shield. The necklace! He remembers the Oracle and shoots a look to Corinne. Is she one of them? The girls in his prophecy? Ragnar doesn't have time to speak, those men were getting away fast.
For the purposes of your description, Corinne, we'll go ahead and consider that a part of the surprise round which due to your Time Thief abilities and high initiative, will still allow you to act first in this combat round.
Refold cries out as Corinne's sharp steel blade penetrates his bony side. The irony is not lost on Corinne, and she grimly wishes she could take the time to twist the knife deeper, but running and stabbing someone didn't allow for such personal touches...yet. Arielle was the thing she needed to focus on now.
Angrily, Refold checks his movement and turns toward Corinne snarling preparing to give back to this short haired b#!*! worse than he had planned for her before. Or so he hopes to do. Reaching for his kukri knife, Refold has a brief fantasy where he penetrates Corinne with both his blades.
He prepares to draw his weapon...only then seeing the fierce face of an unarmored half-orc bearing down on him followed swiftly by a determined looking Ulfen fighter! Refold's fantasy quickly becomes one where he is still alive at the end of this exchange.
Refold looks in horror as the thinly clothed orc charges at him. He's heard of orc brutality, but this monster attacks unarmored and kills with his bare hands? The thought only is what nightmares are made of. He readies his trembling weapon as Xulgag approaches.
Xulgag feeling the fear in Refold, thinks quick and slides beneath his feet. This coward is not worth his time when the kidnappers are getting away. Using his momentum to push him upwards, Xulgag continues his charge for the kidnappers.
Using acrobatics skill to pass through Refolds square without an AoO. My acrobitics vs his CMD + 5 if I understand right. Then he can attack. I used my Wisdom of Fate on Acrobatics instead of my goofy idea of disable device BTW
As Refold widens his stance and braces himself for the impact of the half-orc hitting him, he involuntarily closes his eyes. Seconds past and he feels a whish! go past his tenders. He opens his eyes and sees only any angry Corinne and the oncoming charge of a proud Ulfen warrior.
His head whips around, and Refold sees the half-orc monk immediately behind him. He spits at the monk's back, and turns back to Corinne. As long as he can deal with this warrior, this little she-wolf was going to regret not letting Refold get his poke.
Girl Snatcher (with Arielle) advances four squares to the right, moving diagonally up one square to fit between the rocks and the tree. Fat Boy is now on the square immediately behind them. They seem to be hampered by one little girl who does not like the situation she is in.
Trees = 2 additional squares to pass through their squares (each one you pass through) OR you may use only 1 additional square and roll 1d100 for 50% chance to stun yourself by hitting a low hanging branch.
Ragnar closes the distance to Refold, charging forward behind his shield-feigning a bash. Just before impact he jerks his shield arm back and brings his axe down in a wicked arc, hoping to catch the ruffian uprepared.
As the young warrior charges in, time slows for Refold. He prepares to roll off the shield and attempt to sink his kukri into Ragnar's armpit if he is able. When the much more battle savvy fighter suddenly reveals the move to be a front for a powerful swing, Refold is left off balance. He watches the axe swing towards him and over the shoulder of its wielder he sees them. The reapers of Pharasma the goddess who Refold had profaned only a few short minutes ago. They watch this last moment of Refold's life with unforgiving stares; they are ready to bring his soul to judgement.
Refold has enough time to let a out a strangled cry of denial before the weighted head of the sharp battle axe bites into his neck. The spray of blood shoots warmly over Ragnar's arm and the side of his head. Even Corinne is splashed slightly and feels the heat of it as Refold's callous heart shoots the last of his life several feet into the wilderness. His souls screams for mercy unheard by mortals and much too little too late as it is whisked away from the Material Plane.
Hearing the death rattle of Refold, the ugly ruffian close by turns and sees his pal drop to the ground. You can see the warts and pox marks that mar his features. Definitely not a ladies' man.
"No! Refold!" He looks venom at the Ragnar the Younger. Yer gonna pay for this!"
Drawing his battered short sword, the hideously visaged man lets out a wordless yell and charges (not the maneuver) up to Ragnar with the intent of disemboweling the fighter.
Ugly One's attack:1d20 + 2 ⇒ (10) + 2 = 12
Brushing the untrained man's attack aside with his shield, Ragnar can see the man's anger has clouded his judgement. The man would surely have realized the folly in attacking one whose fighting prowess surpasses his own otherwise.
Leaping backwards and to the side, Corinne avoids the toppling body of Refold as he lands on the cool wet grass, his hands outstretched like dirty claws. His half severed head rolls to the side, dead eyes open, his final glance a look at Corinne's smiling face as she smirks in satisfaction.
But things are moving fast and time is short. Seeing the other child napper moving against her would be rescuer, Corinne is quick to act. With a steady aim and a quick crack of her wrist, she sends her weighted dagger flying end over end towards the angry ruffian.
Thrown Dagger Attack:1d20 + 4 ⇒ (16) + 4 = 20
Dagger Damage:1d4 ⇒ 1
I'm rolling really well, except when it comes to damage! Still, I suppose I can't expect much for a 1d4 light weapon, hah. Also, I know you can move/attack in a round, but not sure if you can attack then move. But if you can, Corinne would like to throw the dagger and then give pursuit on the kidnapper who has Arielle, moving as many squares as possible. I'll let you handle the actual positioning.
The heavy dagger flies from Corinne's hand slashes through the meaty portion of the ugly ruffian's thigh. It doesn't stick however and falls into the grass approximately 5 feet past the man. Corinne hears the man suck air through his teeth as the sting of the pain sets in.
Corine dodges nimbly around some rock and charges across the grass towards the copse of trees.
Xulgag continues his sprint, drinking from his wine skin as he goes. Instead of following the kidnappers, he runs through growth and vegetation hoping to cut them off. Something in himself tells him that he MUST save. He jumps into the clearing and lets out a belch.
I figure that'll put him 9 squares right and 2 squares up (using diagonals)
"Oy! Ya brat, quit your squirming!" Girl Snatcher shouts at the wriggling child who has gotten over being stunned at what has happened and is now actively kicking and hitting and pinching Girl Snatcher with her free hand. Girl Snatcher attempts to reposition the girl to curb her movements.
CMB for grapple v. Arielle's CMD of 11:1d20 + 2 ⇒ (13) + 2 = 15
Girl Snatcher manages to clamp down that loose arm, so Arielle is no longer abusing him as badly. Doing so, brings his awareness to the half-orc in a monk's loose fitting clothing which has now appeared to his right in the trees. He pauses and shouts at the fat man behind him.
"Yo, Norry! Deal with this idiot. I gotta get this girl to the door."
Girl Snatcher is now Delaying the move action portion of his turn.
Having one arm pinned while being bounced around on the hard leather pauldron of this brute of a man was not a very comfortable situation. Arielle didn't know if she would ever get used to it despite all the times she had been forcibly carried in this manner. But one thing about little girls, arms pinned or not, they can still wiggle. And wiggle Arielle does.
Arielle's CMB v. Girl Snatcher's CMD 13 to break the grapple:1d20 - 2 ⇒ (14) - 2 = 12
Unable to find the leverage to break the man's strong grip, Arielle begins to hit Girl Snatcher with her teddy bear repeatedly.
Wekel a.k.a. "Girl Snatcher" sees Norry has the situation well in hand and proceeds with his move. He moves straight pushing through the lower branches of a tree in his way. Arielle ends up with quite a few branches poking her on the the way through. After skirting the reach of the wounded monk, Wekel steps back into a space clear of trees in order to make his way up the hill ahead.
Make a Perception check, Xulgag, and look at the spoiler appropriate.
You are definitely feeling the pain of that crossbow bolt, and it is making it hard for you to concentrate. You prepare yourself to fight to the death with the pudgy man grinning at you. You hope Ragnar arrives quickly to help turn the tide.
Perception DC 15:
To your right through the trees, you can make out a figure standing at the top of the narrow section leading to the top. He might be holding something but you aren't able to see him clearly through the trees.
Perception DC 20:
You use your training to allow the pain in your side to heighten your senses to a degree most mortals can't acquire. Not only do you notice the man at the top of the hill. You see him beginning to draw back on a longbow. And you are his target!
Xulgag feels the arrow pierce his arm. Disappointment, he thinks to himself. He let his impulses get the best of him instead of being patient. He figured the trees were dense enough to slow even him, they would surely stop an arrow. He begins to sway preparing himself for the challenge before him.
Perception:1d20 + 8 ⇒ (5) + 8 = 13
Xulgag winces in pain from the bolt stuck in his arm and stumbles to a knee. "I'd puth down the girl, shhhcum!" Xulgag says waving a finger at the kidnapper. "Everyone knowshh two men can't stand groundsth with a half-orc!"
Rolling his shield arm, turning himself to face the oncoming opponent, Ragnar is in glee. Battle! He had been in minor fights before, maybe he had killed a man once, he wasn't sure, he never saw the aftermath. The nearly severed head of this bandit squirting the last flow of its life from the stump. That was his. Ragnar ended that mans life in combat, and he couldn't say he didn't enjoy it. It was right, the flow of battle, the storm of sword and shield. All was simple in combat.
He turns his eyes to the next one. His arm down on his left, he brings the axe sweeping upwards to his right.
"Well, aren't you the prettiest girl in the ball!"
The battleaxe catches the man right under the leather armor he wears and slashes Ugly One's torso grievously. The extremely pretty man cries out in terror as his intestines begin to spill all over the ground. Dropping his weapon, his instinctual reaction was to begin trying to gather that lost part of his body back into himself.
So many spongy ropes of guts! He just couldn't pik them all up. How had all of this fit inside of him? Ugly One was in shock and would bleed out soon, a dead man even though his body didn't realize it yet. So consumed with collecting himself, he never even saw the reapers waiting over his shoulder, waiting, waiting, waitng...
Nice one, Ragnar! +1 RC for the great description of battle fervor.
@Xulgag: And you sir, my also have an RC as well. I apreciate you keeping your post in character to the description I laid out despite disagreeing wih it.
Wekel breaks from the tree branches, scratches from the dense foliage on his face and exposed hands. Arielle sneezes and then begins to furiously strike the man with her teddy bear Bubbles once again.
"Oy! Lay off, girl!" Wekel growls. He sees Norry is still engaged with the half-orc, and watches the drunken stumble as Xulgag almost falls into the space between himself and Norry after a wild swing. He snorts derisively. That moment Arielle starts wiggling and squirming again.
CMB for grapple v. Arielle's CMD of 11:1d20 + 2 ⇒ (12) + 2 = 14
Trying to ignore the teddy bear assault, Wekel growls, "Errr...I'm gonna tan your hide before we give ya over, girl. I swear it!" To emphasize this, he swats Arielle's backside hard and uses it to push her weight more onto his shoulder. "Finish off this drunken sod, Norry. Now at least I understand why he chose to get involved. To in his cups to know better."
Wekel begins to stride down the narrow path through the skinny branch laden trees.
Xulgag will now get an attack of opportunity on Wekel who does not consider Xulgag's drunken appearance to be threatening. Xulgag may choose not to do so, of course.
If the AoO hits:
Wekel will become alerted to your presence as a real threat and will begin calling for assistance.
Arielle yelped and the cruel smack on her rump. She began to squirm furiously and kick her feet in an attempt to escape the rough handling of the wilderness-dirty man.
Arielle's CMB v. Girl Snatcher's CMD 13 to break the grapple:1d20 - 2 ⇒ (4) - 2 = 2Yikes! Almost a fumble!
Her small stature playing against her in her struggle, Arielle resorts to that which has aided her many times over the last year and a half and let's out a scream at decibels only obtainable by children of a certain age.
Ragnar puts his boot on ugly's shoulder, pushing him over to the ground, the man's innards spilling out of his hands.
Ragnar wipes a bead of sweat from his brow, seeing his drunken comrade bolt along with the gir. He runs ahead, bloodlust taking him.
Ragnar will run his full movement of 12(if needed) to get to Norry. Hoping to occupy the square giving Xul a flank.
Sighting down his arrow, Thelan saw Wekel coming towards him through the path between the trees. He wondered again why he resisted the temptation to loose and put in arrow through Wekel's left eye socket. Gods know it would be an improvement to the man's looks aside from being a benefit to the Material Plane. Wait! What did the man have there?
Thelan saw a hulking orc like shape burst through the trees, and Norry approach with his sickle drawn. Wekel was partially in the way and seem to be getting beat on by...was that a girl? Could it be? The girl they had been told to watch for by that sinister looking man? Thelan realized now that the orc must be the girl's companion or protector or something. The well-dressed man had said she had to have someone with her. He had gotten quite a feral look in his eye at that statement. This was something that bothered the man greatly.
Thelan looked behind him where the two skinny army deserters were tending to some camp duties like cooking lunch over a mostly smokeless fire.
"Wedge. Biggs. It's knock time. Wekel and Norry have the girl!"
Turning back to the action, Thelan managed to catch the last of Xulgag's stumble and Wekel turning to walk to the hill's slope. Again he warred with whether to loose his arrow before or after Wekel was clear. Bah! He couldn't risk hitting the girl. The man had been very clear about that. She was to be taken alive. Thelan determined he would wait for tonight. Yes, tonight. Wekel didn't know Thelan knew Wekel had been sleeping with Thelan's bird back in Restov. But Thelan resolved to make sure he knew by a knife to the kidney. Yes, tonight.
Thelan drew back on the arrow, trying to get a good bead on the weaving orc. What is he drunk? No matter. Thelan was sure such a big fellow wouldn't be that hard to hit. Thelan pictured Wekel bleeding out into the wilderness, no one around to watch him die but Thelan, the earth and the gods. Thelan smiled evilly.
Thelan joins the line-up with an initiative of:1d20 + 2 ⇒ (14) + 2 = 16
Corinne runs into the small stand of trees and sees the blond warrior approaching the fat man's back. Her toe bumps into something that moves and she looks down to see an unloaded crossbow laying on the grass.
She realizes she's weaponless and she can't move forward with the warriors blocking her path, so she stops to pick up the weapon and begins to load it using one of her own bolts.
Xulgag throws what felt like the perfect "Chimera's Paw." Unfortunately the sickle flashing in his peripheral distracted him too much to actually connect the punch. Turning to the fat man with the sickle he smiled.
Flurry of Blows:1d20 + 1 ⇒ (4) + 1 = 5 Flurry of Blows 2:1d20 + 1 ⇒ (4) + 1 = 5
Xulgag feels something he hasn't felt in a long time. It's blood lust, something he thought he'd learned to control during training. Training never ended in death, however. He threw lightning fast kicks, sacrificing his accuracy and ultimately missing his opponent.
Oblivious to the Chimera's Paw which almost poisoned his chi, Wekel approached the base of the hill. He could see Thelan at the top an arrow nocked, obviously watching the exchange of fighting between Norry and the drunk monk. Wait...drunken monk...? Wekel seemed to think he had heard that phrase...something tried to claw its way up out of the stupidity that clouded his brain. A kick to his chest from a small boot sent the thought whimpering back into the depths of brute idiocy.
"Bloody Urgathoa, child!"
CMB for grapple v. Arielle's CMD of 11:1d20 + 2 + 5 ⇒ (20) + 2 + 5 = 27
Wekel wants this brat to know he means business, so he gives her arm a little twist. Arielle squeals in pain. It had barely been a couple of minutes, and Wekel couldn't wait to get rid of this little urchin.
Wekel absently wondered if Thelan knew his favorite doxy had an urchin of her own growing in her belly and that it was probably Wekel's given how much she had lifted her skirt for him. When the stuffed bear hit his head yet again, Wekel determined he would definitely encourage Thelan to think it was his git regardless. Gritting his teeth, he began to ascend the hill.
The cruel twisting of her arm angered Arielle. The fear of this dirty, stinky man was rapidly disappearing as he proved to be no different than her other captors so long ago. He had her left arm pinned fairly securely under his right arm. and she couldn't reach the little knife Corie had given her. She continued to let Bubbles attack the stupid man's head, since she knew Bubbles would bite him good eventually.
Arielle's eyes widened slightly as she saw the grayish half-orc take a very formulated swing at Wekel's back. Was he trying to help me? Maybe Corie had sent him. Arielle tried to push herself forward to squeeze herself from the man's grasp.
Arielle's CMB v. Wekel's CMD 13 to break the grapple:1d20 - 2 ⇒ (1) - 2 = -1
Instead of wresting herself from his grasp, she seemed to wiggle herself into a spot where was able to grip her more securely! Her other arm still somewhat loose, Bubbles was able to continue his attack on Wekel unabated.
Due to Wekel's Natural 20 and Arielle's Natural 1, Arielle will no longer get a chance to break free from the grapple and Wekel will no longer have to take a standard action to check for a hold. It will now be considered automatic, but still count as a standard action during both of their turns.
The half-orc with the glossy eyes first seemed to try and swing at Wekel's back, but if he was he missed completely and Wekel didn't even notice. Next, he turned and did a variety of moves Morry had seen a couple initiates of some monastery do during an exhibition in Restov one time. Of course, none of these seemed to have any chance of hitting Norry, and his need to take a step here or there to dodge being hit barely seemed to be necessary.
The fat man guffawed loudly and said, "O, rally? I's iz stattin' to think youse mussa stole dat gettup. Monk my arse."
Norry Sickle Slice:1d20 + 2 ⇒ (5) + 2 = 7
Not exactly a master of melee himself the fat man swings the sickle wildly. Realizing he's not going to hit his target, Norry tries to make his clumsy swing look like he was mocking Xulgag.
Perception DC 1:
No one is fooled.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Seez dat? I can swang crazy-like, too." He pants. This is clearly more exercise than the man has seen in a while.
Since Thelan has a higher Dex mod, he'll go before Ragnar at I16.
Watching the wild display of attacks between the large orc looking fellow and Norry, Thelan finds himself bemused and chooses to hold his shot until he sees more of who might be coming out on top. It would do that fat braggart to get a couple teeth knocked loose. Thelan didn't wish him dead, but Norry was certainly no favorite of his.
With a sudden and terrible pain blossoming in his left shoulder, Norry discovers he has more than one adversary this day. His head turns to see a ragged stump fountaining blood in the trees. As shock washes over him in a cold wave, Norry looks down to see his own arm and sickle still rolling through the grass. He lets out a sickening scream, and then as if his skinny legs finally realized the mass they had been trying to hold up all this time was physically impossible, they buckle and he falls to the ground. Norry faints and, due to blood loss, will never wake up.