Palace of the Vampire Queen – Chapter One, A Troubled Road
It is not difficult to obtain holy water, but it is not common. You would seek a Temple to the Dwarven gods, and ask one of the Curates to provide you with a few small vials of “Water Blessed to Perform the Planting Ceremony” – and they would give you a small sample(one flask, wooden, holding about 12 ounces) for 10 silver pieces. Your characters, even Azram, would probably not know that there is a more powerful agent agent undead. This is Holy Soil. It is a small, folded, heavy cloth tied and it contains a specially prepared soil treatment that has been cultivated and Blessed by a High Level Cleric of Denarri (who actually is a High Level Cleric of Ismaea, doing the work of the Emperor’s Official Church). Holy Soil is used to dedicate new buildings and fields that have never been cultivated before. It can be thrown at an undead, doing 4d8 splash damage, and halting the undead in place as a Hold Undead Spell cast by a level twelve caster (saves apply as normal). It can be used, sprinkled along a doorway, to keep undead out, and in this way its power last for twelve hours. It is normally only prepared under the orders of the highest officials of the temple, but there might be some in the capitol, if you ask for Holy Water, you are probably going to find out about Holy Soil. A single two pound bag will cost you fifty silver pieces, and will also cost you some kind of promise or pledge to return to the temple sometime with one of the key components, either the ground bones of a healthy stag, the water from an artesian spring (at least one pint, pure and clean), or the leaves from a climbing vine that is called Oporok Thread, that grows in the mountains, and the leaves must be harvested with a silver blade during a full moon.
The party will meet soon, to set out for the bridge, and the trail up the canyon. Any last things to take care of in the city?
At the end of the day Rownig would bring Azram with him to meet Helgen at the designated Inn. If Helgen was not there Rownig would order a pitchers of Stout and Mead with three tankards. He would sit back thinking about the task on hand, drawing on his pipe, blowing cherry and spice rings and enjoying a frothy stout. Small talk with Azram would take place, trying to learn a bit more about the new comanion.
Obviously, if Arzam won't know about Holy Soil we would not inquire about it. We simply wouldn't know to ask.
We would pay the prices for the Holy Water and thank him for his service. Even though this is not Rownig's church he is respectful. He would say a prayer and ask the Priest for a blessing for himself, and his party members.
He would give 10 SP to church as a tithe. Simply stating,"We be off on a dangerous mission and odds are we all wont' be coming back. Could use the extra help."
Helgen will ignore whoever is following him, go about his business and be at the inn around dinner time. He will enjoy the meal and drinks Rownig has laid out for him, and tell them about his difficulties in finding supplies throughout the day. Helgen will turn in early, saying "I'm exhausted friends. Don't want to stay that way tomorrow, I'll see you at sunrise." Before trundling off to bed. He will lock the door as securely as possible, and then dismiss his eidolon and go to sleep. Upon waking the first thing he does, is resummon his eidolon. Only then does he unlock the door, and make his way down to meet his friends.
Assuming all goes well, Rownig would get a hearty morning meal before meeting with the group. His mind focusing on the task at hand. Checking off each item he had to do and needs to do. After he broke his fast, he would get Azram -if he did not join him for the meal - and walk to the metting location with their gear.
The evening comes to an end, and there is no sign that the Knights have returned from the palace.
It is a bright sunny morning and the rising sun throws sparkles across the surf on the north shore.
As everyone gathers their belongings and heads toward the edge of the city, thoughts are filled with questions. Are we ready? Do we have everything we need? Is that Cinnamon Bread I smell?
The party assembles at the chosen spot and just as Mazrim is beginning to wonder where Atharessa could be, she arrives. She is moving as fast as she can, and to Mazrim’s surprise she is carrying a Ranseur, and not her spear. It looks like a quality weapon, but it is difficult to judge the points of the weapon as the three tips are covered with leather guards. Atharessa comes to a stop in front of Mazrim and says, “I got this for you.” She then holds the weapon out for him to take.
Meanwhile coming down the road, from the east, the party sees Moralane for the first time.
She is very attractive, as Dwarven women go. Her body is strong, and well proportioned. Her face is clear of blemishes, and very smooth. She has a round face, with large dazzling green eyes that stand out below her black bangs. Her hair almost resembles a helmet, and it is thick, and straight. She carries a short bow, and it looks as if it may even be one of those composite bows. She wears a chainmail shirt over a padded orange woolen tunic. The shirt is belted with a wide leather belt, and she wears a short skirt, with high, loose fitting leather boots. She wears leather gloves, dyed the same color as her tunic, and around her neck is a light cotton or silk scarf that matches. Her lips are slim, but shaped in a gentle curve from one corner of her mouth to the other. She has no cloak, or robe, and on her back is a small backpack, and next to this, slung over one shoulder is a large quiver with many arrows.
“You are Hallister,” Moralane says when she approaches him. “My father told me that I am to accompany you and your associates to Witch’s Valley and back. Well, if you aren’t already exhausted from getting out of bed, and we aren’t waiting for anymore, ahem, like you, we should go now before it gets any hotter.”
Her words are curt, and she speaks with a slight drawl. What she has in abundance of looks, she lacks, obviously, in diplomacy.
The road is made from large, rectangular, cut and fitted stones that are grey, brown, and black. The black stones have a rough surface, and are very different from the other two types of stone. It is a wide road, almost eleven feet from one side to the next, and there is a short wall on the right side of the road as you are leaving the city. For now the road parallels the beach, but it is high above the sand, more than ten feet above it. The beach is narrow here, and there are rocks in the surf, some as large as a cottage. Looking to the west you can see the coast line gently curves to the southwest, and the road is downhill. Of in the distance, perhaps a few miles, there are small columns of smoke rising, and these probably come from small cottages on the beach that cannot be made out at this distance.
It is just past sunrise, maybe half of an hour (6:30, but there are no clocks, this is just for me to keep track of time). The weather is pleasant, it is already warm, but not uncomfortable, and there is the ever present slight breeze coming in off of the coast, from the north. There are no clouds in the sky, but that can change quickly this time of year.
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Halister takes a moment to pack his pipe and shrugs.
"Miss,'ah'm goin' t' give ye a chance t' start over, but first ah'm gonna break down yer options fer ye, so ye really unnerstand th' situation yer in.
"First, ye c'n keep insultin' us an actin' like a spoiled rich girl who's in way over her head. That gits us not t' care about ye, so when things git ugly, which they will, you'll git a lot more dead and an' a lot less of a pain in our asses."
"Second, ye c'n bugger off an' send soldiers after us t' 'ave me hauled back in irons, which suits me fine 'cause it gits ye outta mah beard an' sends more axes in b'hind us."
"Third, ye c'n try t' haul me back t' yer daddy yerself which, at best, takes two out o' the company's seven an' basically puts a death sentence on everyone here who ain't ye, cause ah'll end up executed, which is a better fate than these boys're lookin' at wit' out us t' help 'em. More likely, it gits ye embarrassed an' hog-tied on th' side o' the road an' us long gone b'fore anyone comes along t' help ye."
"Fourth, ye c'n look us all in th' eye an' tell us that yer gonna do yer damndest t' help us out 'cause ye expect th' same from us an' want t' make it outta this alive jus' as much as we do."
"Yer daddy don't know a gods damned thing about what's going on out there. If he had any sense at all he'da sent a battalion o' his best axemen instead o' his only daughter."
"So look around ye. This is it. There ain't no more like me, or like you, or like anyone else, and ah wish t' th' gods there were, 'cause we're walkin' straight toward th' heart o' every horror story you've ever heard. So, ye c'n start out by pissin' us off an' hopin' that we still give a s+!$ if'n ye make it back 'ere alive, or ye c'n shut yer mouth, put boot t' dirt an' help us try t' save the f++#in' kingdom from bein' overrun by walkin' corpses an' nightmares."
"And if by some miracle both o' us make it back 'ere wit' our hearts still beatin', then ye c'n toss me in jail fer talkin' back t' ye."
Hallister took a puff of his pipe and eyed the young noblewoman calmly.
"What's it gonna be?"
Rownig chuckles as he packs his pipe full of cinnamin apple tobacco, his big bushy rusty eyebrows edge up as he waits for the spoiled girls response. His pipe lights with a single strike of the flint. After a quick draw on his pipe, "Option two sounds the best, to me ears. More axes can't 'urt, not the gittin' rid of you part 'allister, just gittin' more axes." Rowning has a quick witted smirk.
Helgen chuckles heartily. "My my Sir Silverspike, you certainly have a way with words. Come m'lady, the man lacks tact almost as much as you, but he's right. Lets move." He says, hoisting his great warhammer up onto one shoulder and starting off to the west. What a beautiful morning. He thinks, as he begins to whistle a simple repetitive tune while they walk.
While Atharessa waits patiently for Mazrim to acknowledge her efforts to find a weapon to his liking, the rest of the group has taken an interest in the exchange between Hallister and Moralane.
The yourn Dwarven woman does not interrupt Hallister, as he spells out her options, but it is clear she is not happy with his direct approach.
Her jaw seems to tighten, at first, and her eyes lock onto his with an intensity that matches Hallister’s own stare.
Then something unexpected happens. As Hallister comes to the point where he declares, “Yer daddy don't know a gods damned thing about what's going on out there,” Moralane’s demeanor changes dramatically. Her mouth drops, just slightly, and her eyes look away from Halister's, and then she looks down at the ground.
For just a moment she seems to deflate, but then, when she thinks she has not given away anything about her thoughts, she turns back to look at Hallister, straightens her shoulders, and says, “That is something we agree on. My father doesn’t know a damned thing, about anything.”
She looks as though she is trying to maintain a hard look, but in her eyes is something different, something that is hard to make out.
“I don’t like any of your options, Hallister. And why should I? You think I’m spoiled? You don’t know anything about me, but I know about you. You think my father would send me as his agent? Then you’re a fool, and your friends are bigger fools if they think the same. I am a second child of five. I am a burden to my father and his house. If anything is true he expects us both to die, it would not surprise me that he expects all of us to die. So here is my choice, Hallister of the followers, yes I know what you are. I choose to go with you, and these others, not because my father told me to, but because I can. You can count on me to do what I can, I will not run, I will not abandon you, but if you think you can treat me like some kind of petulant child , you, are, wrong, and I can make you see how wrong you are, if you try me again. You can tell me what you expect of me, and I can tell you what skills I have, but I don’t take orders from you, or anyone. If we are going to find something, it would help if I knew what we are looking for, where we are going, and how I can help. I apologize for insulting you. I am not always as diplomatic as a daughter should be, but I don’t care what you think, about me, or about where I come from. Introduce me to your associates, your friends, if that’s what they are, and let us be off. We can make a good distance from this city, if we keep a steady pace, and as long as the fat one can keep up.”
Moralane loses her drawl, and seems to speak more clearly, and intently. She pauses, often, looking, it appears, as if she is expecting Hallister, or someone else, to interrupt her. Toward the end of what she is saying she fights back a tear, and she cannot help but rub a hand across her eyes, but then she catches herself, seems to slip back into her earlier affection, and demeanor, and finishes with an insult as she jabs her thumb in Atharessa’s direction.
Atharessa, hearing what Moralane has said, doesn’t seem to mind the insult. She only smiles, and her smile is warm and confident, as she says, while she pats her own girth, “I’ve put on more pounds since I’ve had less distance to walk. My duties kept me in one place for better than a year, but I’ll do my best to keep up, and if it means I’ll be following one with a strength and conviction like you have, I’ll have no better place to be. Are we off then? Mazrim, are we ready to go? I would like to meet the rest of my traveling companions as well. I am called Atharessa,” she says as she moves the Ranseur from her right hand to her left, and warmly extends her hand toward Moralanne.
A strange look crosses Moralane’s face, but she takes Atharessa’s hand, and the two Dwarven women shake hands vigorously. When Atharessa finally releases Moralane’s hand, a smile is threatening to cross Moralane’s lips, and she shakes her head and says, “Well then, I suppose there isn’t much left to do but to meet the rest of you, and we can share introductions as we walk, eh?”
correction, I indicated in a spoiler to Hallister that Moralane had blue eyes, and I decided that she would have green eyes instead, no you can’t look at her sheet, and it is impossible to edit older posts, alright so she has green eyes! By the way, Moralane is, perhaps, one of the most attractive, physically, Dwarven women any of you have ever seen, but her charisma suffers from her lack of personality
Helgen stops whistling, turns around and listens to the rant. After the handshaking he says "Good morning ladies, my name is Helgen Inarossa. Pleased to meet your acquaintance." he says bowing from the waist. "Do not let me strange appearance throw you off, I am a skilled magician and fighter and I hope to earn all your trust during this journey. We will need to become true companions if we are to succeed.
Moralane, I am the fifth child of my father and a cripple to boot. I too am here of my own free will. My father is also a fool. Perhaps we have more in common than you might think. Our current plan is to head into witches valley and see if goblins have been having problems too. They might be able to lead us to the source of the plague."
Looking at the blubberfest, Rownig shakes his head Great just what I needed. I'm gonna need more Ale then what I brought.
"Me name is Rownig, I serve House Inarossa, and it dont' matter where my birthin' order is, just like it don't matter to me yer order." looking at the two girls and then to other companions. "We be tasked with a mission that most likely many of YOU will not survive," emphasizing the YOU "Frankly, what's out there don't care if ye be the 2nd or 5th hatchlin', dead is dead. The only thing that matters to me is ye ain't dead weight and ye be there without questionin', when needed." Looking sternly at all, "Ye flinch and that can be costly to the party and 'ccidents have been known to happen." A coy smirk on his face.
Pausing to draw on his pipe, "Now the nicities are 'ver, my skills are doors, lock and traps, ain't seen one that couldn't be figured out."
"Moralane, ye might 'ave noticed that ah tend t' treat people accordin' t' their actions. Ye started out wrong-headed, but ye've made up fer it real quick. Ye keep t' that an' ye'll never hear a complaint outta me 'bout havin' ye along. Ah'm glad ye know who ah am. Saves me a lot o' trouble convincin' ye that ah mean what ah say an' know what ah'm talkin' 'bout, and that ah dont gotta bother e'splainin' what exactly it is that ah bring t' this excursion."
Hallister takes a pull off a waterskin and wastes no more time standing around.
"Let's git a move on. We c'n talk while we walk."
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sorry bout not posting for bit... Family matters
Mazrim looks to Antharessa "Well now, I never thought you'd actually be running off to find one of those yesterday. I am in your debt." taking up the ranseur from her and checking its ply and weight. "This is a fine weapon!"
after the commotion between Hallister and Moralane, Mazrim keeps quiet while Rownig and Helgen introduce themselves then steps towards Moralane extending his free hand while balancing his new weapon on his opposite shoulder.
"Well met Lady Moralane, I am Mazrim Deacon a guard in the service of Sir Guisse."
Mazrim leans in slightly and adds at a whisper. "And anyone that can keep her head and her wits after being confronted by someone like him is more than welcome to share the road with me."
Atharesse beams when Mazrim speaks to her, and even blushes a bit.
Moralane nods at Helgen, and steps briskly forward, taking Rowning’s hand in hers and giving a firm shake. Rownig and Moralne begin moving forward while still shaking hands, and she nods to Mazrim as he introduces himself. Her head tips a bit sideways as she examines his equipment. “I hope you are proficient with that thing,” she talks while she continues walking, dropping her grip on Rownig’s hand as she goes, and following Hallister.
“Witch’s Valley, is that where we are headed?” Moralane says, “Well, I’ve been to Witch’s Valley. It’s a long march around to the west coast and then, a gentle hike up the valley from there. When I was young, er, when I was younger, that is, my family took a hunting trip to the valley. My father was after one of the prized big horn sheep, from high on the northern slopes of the southern mountains. Of course we followed the coast road from our own village, on the south coast, but I imagine it is about the same distance all the way around from here. So, Rownig, good to know you have a way with locks and devices. Tell me do you have any experience with Goblin Traps? I’ve hunted in the forests north of Three Willows. I can shot well, and can track wounded game, and I know a bit about what is safe to eat in the wild places.”
Moralane tries to walk as close behind Hallister as she can, but does not crowd him. Atharessa will walk to Mazrim’s left. Azram hangs back, and seems uncomfortable, or unsure of himself.
Glancing behind her, Atharessa notices Azram’s worried look, and leans close to Mazrim and whispers, “Is that fellow alright? He seems like he doesn’t really want to be here.”
Balancing the Ranseur in his hand, the first thing Mazrim notices is the weapon has a greater heft than he expected, but it is well balanced, and perhaps it is even of masterwork quality.
The Dwarfs walk, basically, in a two abreast pattern, with Hallister in the lead, followed by Helgen and Rownig, with Moralane close behind them. Mazrim an Atharessa are next, followed, in the rear, by Azram.
You can make a pace of two miles per hour, without effort. As you travel westward, the beach narrows and sandy shores give way to a rocky coast. The ocean waves crash noisily against the rocks, and often send a spray up into the air that wafts over your heads and cools the air, even at times making the hair of your beard damp. Atharessa delights in walking as close to the road wall as she can, and squeals with delight when the water surges over her.
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Hallister listens to the others talk but doesn't offer much of a response to anything. He simply keeps walking, flipping his dark good up when they reach the sea wall bit otherwise making no concession to the spray.
Since he walks at the front none of the others catch his slight smile at Atharessa's happiness.
Soak up that joy girl, an' give some t' the rest. It's likely gonna be the last ye see fer a while. Maybe ever.
And then his scowl returned.
Rownig talks just loud enough for Moralane to hear his response to her goblin trap question, "Goblins be crafty, tricky little 'astards but their traps beit mec'anical, magic or trap on trap can be discovered or bypassed. Most dangerous ones out there are the trap on traps, need to be real careful there." Glancing back to her, "'course I like to set 'em too...now that just a hoot 'n holl'r guud time." Rownig would walk up towards Hallister.
Low voice to Hallister
Helgen resumes his whistling as they walk, changing the tune every few minutes. Eventually he tires of it and walks in silence. He will slow his pace until he is in the rear, and has a good view of Atharessa's rear. Ah the rear-guard, my favorite position... If she catches him staring he will simply smile and look away.
Friendly lass Mazrim feigns a smile at Moralane's comment and will match his pace with everyone else but keep a good ten feet between himself and everyone else as he idly spins, twirls and flips his new weapon from hand to hand until he gets a good feel for the weight and balance of it or until someone complains. He also keeps an eye on Azram.I hope he doesn't run off first chance he gets we may need him.
It is a pleasant walk, and after only an hour, a sight appears in the distance.
Gradually the road turns, gently drifting away from the coast line, and begins a noticeable downgrade. The coast line turns to the northwest as gradually as the road turns to the southwest, and soon the sight that was barely visible in the distance comes into view. It is a very small fishing village, only three small cottages, and a long structure with no walls that looks as though it is meant to hang and dry fish that are caught here. The smoke, that was seen earlier, when you were just leaving the capital, is coming from chimneys on two of the cottages, and one open fire.
The road here is level with the coast, but there is no beach to speak of. The ground here is a mixture of rocks and dirt, growing with patches of green grass. The three cottages are approximately half way between the road, and the water, and the long structure, for hanging fish, is set away from the three cottages, and a bit closer to the water. From the road wall to the ocean it is not more than one hundred yards. When you are only a few hundred feet from the village, you notice a few poles are set in the ground around the open, “camp fire” that you saw smoke from. There appears to be something, perhaps laundry, or a blanket, hanging on a cord strung between the poles. Getting closer you now see that there are Dwarves moving about the cottages, a woman, three small children, and a very old Dwarven man.
The Dwarven woman, is cleaning fish on a board beside one of the cottages, as the children play around her. But the old Dwarven man does something rather odd as you walk past the village. You see him go to a bucket, a large bucket, and he takes two handfuls of dried kelp out of the bucket, and then, with his eyes looking your way, he walks slowly toward the camp fire, and drops the thick vegetation on the fire, which seems to douse the flame a bit, and produces an abundance of dark brown smoke.
You can continue past the village, or stop, if there is any reason you can think of for stopping.
From what you know, the bridge you are headed toward is about three to four miles ahead of you.
Might be worth checkin' in with th' locals along th' way an' askin' if they've noticed anythin' odd lately.
"Azram, ask 'ow things 'ave been lately. See if they mention anythin' strange, an catch up. We'll 'ave lunch waitin' fer ye when we stop."
Sorry to drop it on the DMPC, but I'm trying not to metagame. Hal figures common folk might be willing to talk to a priest. Either one of you can volunteer to join him, and can role-play the info gathering, or Terquem can just make the rolls and give us an info dump once Azram makes it back.
Or he'll disappear and we'll have to come back to investigate the priest's grisly death at the hands of the cult of vampire worshiping cannibals pretending to be peasants...
"sounds like a plan, unless our humble priest objects.". Mazrim looks to Azram for his response. "But maybe a friendly face may help. Would you be so kind Antharessa after all you do seem to get along with everyone."
Hal its zombie worshipers that are the cannibals, with vampire cultist he'd just get drunk. Lol
Rownig would stop and ask, "how's the fishin' has been." Basically, looking around the village and at the people their facesa and reaction of seeing armed dwarves marching.
Perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (9) + 7 = 16
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (8) + 6 = 14
DM do you want me to start to play Azram?
If so, then:
Azram would approach bow slightly, offer a prayer for good fishing, and start a conversation. Diplomacy: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (5) + 5 = 10
Helgen will remain on the road, waiting for the others to finish talking to the villagers. He will scrutinize the buildings and nearby area looking for signs of recent disturbance.
Perception 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (1) + 3 = 4
Those in the lead of the traveling companions slow their pace, as they pass the village, and turn their heads to examine the locals, but nothing seems out of the ordinary.
Just as Rownig strays close to the edge of the road, and when he is about to clamber over the short wall, there is the sound of feet striking the road hard, as if one of the companions, someone in the rear, has decided to pick up his feet, and run to catch up with the rest of you.
It is Azram, and as you all turn to see him coming up the few steps he needs to catch up, he is waving his hands down by his sides, and whispering to Atharessa as he passes her, “Keep quiet, and keep going.” He comes up to Rownig and puts a hand on Ronig's arm, gently pulling him away from his purpose.
Azram signals for Mazrim, Hallister, and Helgren to come in a bit closer as they walk, and when everyone is in earshot he says, “It’s a signal fire, I’ve seen fishermen down in the south do the same thing. They put dried seaweed on a fire. Different kinds of plants produce different colors of smoke. They use it to signal from the ships that are dragging nets, back to shore to tell what kind of haul has been made, to make those back at the shore ready. Did you see the blanket on the line near the fire, it was scorched and stained with smoke.”
only Rownig rolled high enough on his perception to notice something odd about the blanket, but not high enough to see the smoke and scorching
“I have a bad feeling about this,” Azram says, as he picks up his pace and moves to the front of the troop. He addresses Hallister, “I think the old man is signaling someone on the road ahead of us. Did anyone else hear that the roads are dangerous with bandits these days? We must have scared them off, travelling in the large groups that we were travelling in with the Knight’s and the rest of the retinue, there were more than thirty in our group. I don’t know about the rest of you. We should be on our guard as we approach the bridge.”
“Do you think they would try to trap us on the bridge?” Atharessa says from just behind Azram.
Moralane catches up to the rest of you, and asks, “What’s going on? Is there trouble? Should I string my bow?”
"I understand the need for caution, but if we can't handle some bandits what hope do we have of defeating an undead plague? I say we proceed with caution." Helgen says. He begins to twirl his hands through the air, and mutters some arcane words. When he is finished a ghostly green glow surrounds him for a second before fading away.
Cast Mage Armor
“I don’t like the idea of threatening people,” Moralane says, “But Hallister has a point.”
“Well, um,” Atharessa begins to say, as she reaches for the end of her braid and fingers it nervously, “We could always try to bargain with anyone we meet on the bridge. I hear, well, I’ve heard, that a lot of bandits aren’t that bad at all. Most of them, I’m just saying I’ve heard, are just soldiers who have been released from the service of a lord, because there’s no money to pay them, and it’s hard to start a farm without something. You have to pay the lease, and buy the seed. It’s really hard on a lot of people. Times are very rough.”
“Who told you that we might be able to trade with highwaymen?” Azram asks, Rownig.
“I can see the bridge in the distance,” Moralane says. She slows her pace just a bit, as she takes her bow out of the case it is in on her back, and she reaches into a pouch on her belt for the bow string. “But I don’t see anyone yet. If there is anyone waiting for us, we should see them soon.” She looks behind her to see if there is any signaling going on from the village.
Rownig looks over at the Azram and Moralane and comments, "Various traders and 'endors like to chat to me, must be the way I look or ask 'uestions, but I 'eard it from a chap in sold me some tools." looking around at 'allister, Mazrim and Helgen, "Time will come when we need force but I'll check it out first. Besides, I'm lookin' fer something, sort've a side job."
Looking at Mazrim, "Mazrim you come with me, I may need you."
Walking with Mazrim a bit ahead of the others,
Rownig scoffs, "Figures, he was not an honest dwarf ....course, ye don't know him. Not really yer type 'specially with the big bounty fer 'is death. Well, come 'long may need tht weapn ye be carrin'" smoking his pipe.
In a little less than an hour, after you have passed the small village on the coast, the Avantharea Bridge comes into view. It is still over half a mile away, but it shape, a gentle rising hump in the road, makes it easy to see. The bridge is made of stone and wood. It is forty feet from the east side to the west side, across a gorge that is approximately thirty feet deep. The road rises steadily toward the bridge, with the coast falling below the road on the right as you go, and the cliffs of the mountains to the south coming ever closer, on the left. There are short walls on either side of the bridge, shorter than the waist height of a dwarf, and from where you are now on the road, you see no one on the bridge or on the road, and, due to the way the road rises, it is impossible to see the road beyond the bridge.
The Avantharea, or “Rough water”, river flows down through a narrow canyon out of the mountains and passes below the bridge as it meets the sea. There is even a small water fall, just north of the bridge, where the river tumbles down the ten feet or so that it is above the beach, before it forms a small lagoon. The lagoon is inaccessible, by foot. The sides of the lagoon are steep rock that tapers down to more rocks where the surf meets the lagoon. As you approach the bridge, you are cautious, as you have been warned of a possible ambush, but the first thing that you notice is that the closer you get to the bridge, the louder is the sound of the water tumbling through the canyon, and spilling over the short falls.
"Well, it looks clear but we won't find out until we get closer."
Mazrim turns back to the rest of the group. "Why don't Rownig and I check it out and the rest of us wait a bit. That way if there is an ambush we won't all be totally surrounded and we can force an ambusher to further divide their numbers.. Any objections?"
Rownig would slow as Mazrim turns to speak with the group but he would not stop. He scans the area, sliding his pipe away inside his tunic. He slowly slides his short bow from his shouler while snatching an arrow from his quiver, instinctively, running his fingers over the fletch.
When he is within 60 feet of the brdge making a perception check:
Perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (11) + 7 = 18
"Wait a minute, we're not in a hurry. Lets stay within 20 paces of each other (60 feet). We can split into a couple groups though. We shouldn't all be on the bridge at the same time is all." Helgen says. He has his massive hammer held ready before him in both hands, and is constantly scanning the hilled southern side of the road/bridge.
Perception 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (3) + 4 = 7
Is there enough undergrowth to provide cover on the south side of the road?
As the group approaches the bridge, they begin to separate, allowing a gap to develop between the few in the lead and the rest in the back. When the bridge is sixty feet away, some of you notice things that the others do not
The only vegetation here is short grass, which grows in clumps, on the south side of the road, on the other side of the wall, between patches of sand and rocks. The north side of the road is a sheer cliff, with loose rocks, and occasional boulders that is set back from the road about ten feet. The cliff rises to a height of thirty feet above you. Above the cliff are benches, and then more gentle sloping hills as the mountains rise to the south. The cliff, on your left, does not end at the bridge, but turns abruptly to the south, just twenty feet from the bridge, on this side of the gorge, on the east side of the bridge, the gorge has a sheer wall of over sixty feet. Looking across the gorge, to the south of the bridge, the west side of the gorge is shorter, and not as sheer, with brakes and fissures in the surface.
Just before you are about to set foot on the bridge, Azram says quietly, to Hallister, “Didn’t the old blind man say something about not crossing the bridge, and following the gorge to the south?”
How big are the footprints? Were they wearing boots?
"Detour? Lead on.." Helgen says. He takes in Rownig's signal and the footprints on the ground.
Are we still in two 'groups'? If so who is in which group?