Aelerie's brows furrow when Albus all but asks Javell to join them in finding the missing children. Though she is certain the man possess skills useful to getting along in the Vale, what she's heard of his disposition makes her leery about having him accompany them. I'm sure those poor kids will be frightened enough as it is... In the midst of her fretting, she almost misses Albus' question, but the expectant look he gives is enough to bring her out of her thoughts. "Sorry? ...Oh, right." Aelerie goes on to detail where each of the kids she's watched over live.
"I guess I'll go see what the other kids have to say," she says, collecting her supplies and following Albus out the door.
Aelerie will spend the next hours trying to persuade any children she comes across into sharing anything they might know about the missing children. She asks them if they've noticed any of their friends missing that morning, if anyone tried to get them to sneak out of town, and if there are any secret places the kids like to visit outside of Falcon's Hollow.
Time Spent: 1d4 ⇒ 2 Hours
Back at the store...
Virdel is somewhat skeptical about another woodsman joining their crew, bt he has learned to trust Albus' judgment in such things. "Welcome my friend. I hope that your talents will serve our cause well."
He proceeds to search out more information about the missing children along with Aelerie.
diplomacy vs Hollow (gather info): 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (13) + 13 = 26
Albus goes to each of the children's homes to see if he can identify what the children's tracks look like. If anyone's there that he hasn't talked to he'll ask when and where the child was last seen and who with.
Survial tracking: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (13) + 9 = 22 Mikra
Survial tracking: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (6) + 9 = 15 Kimi
Survial tracking: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (5) + 9 = 14 Hollin
This is to know what each child's unique tracks look like. If it actually leads somewhere so much the better.
Aelrie's newfound status as a master of mysterious fey powers delving deep into the dangerous woods to bring back esoteric ingredients to cure plagues seems to have awed the children that she used to look after into silence but having Virdel and Laro along punctures the wonder. As the charming Virdel especially smiles and makes jokes to liven the mood Aelere is able to get the story out of the children of the town.
Apparently Kimi (Idris and Kitani's daughter) had gotten into an escalating argument with some of the slightly older kids about whether the burnt out remains of Elara's Halfway House is haunted or not. Kimi insisted that it wasn't and so one of the older kids dared her to spend a night there and she accepted.
Hollin (Ralla's Brother) couldn't let Kimi go off by herself and Mikra (the butcher's son) got it in his head that everyone would be going. Jurin (Boss Kreed's son) decided to go to keep Mikra safe and Savra, the grave digger/keeper's daughter went with them because the four are her friends and she finds whatever excuse she can to not have to spend time at the graveyard.
Albus has the most success trailing Mikra's large feet and slow shuffling stride. He follows them to the northwest trail leading out of the town. There he finds Javell who circled the town and found the most promising tracks at the same exit. Working together they discern five sets of child sized footprints, including Mikra's, meandering north west into the Vale.
Some of the most upstanding citizens of the town are actually former wards of Elara's and they are nothing if not admiring and loving of her.
About four months ago, a few weeks before the plague hit the town the orphanage burnt to the ground. When the flames were seen from the town the citizens rushed there but by the time they got there all that was left was a burnt out husk and no survivors. Every child was dead and Elara herself burnt to cinders.
The word about town is that Elara was a selfless woman who spent the greater part of her life caring for those no one else wanted. The fire was considered a horrible tragedy. But people still wonder how a blaze that fierce could have started and a few question Elara's wisdom in building her orphanage far away from town and so deep in the haunted vale. Others defend her decision as the only way she could keep her wards away from the corrupting influence of the lumber town during their growing years.
Those who grew up in Elara's orphange are enraged by these rumours and won't tolerate such terrible invective in their presence.
"Halfway house? Halfway to what?" Virdel chuckles as he is unfamiliar with the place. "It sounds like that is where we must continue our investigation." As the group approaches, following the tracks, he keeps his eyes peeled.
perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (7) + 7 = 14
Albus waves as he approaches Javell. "Fancy meeting again here, you'd think we were on the same trail. So we are." Albus looks to the town, saying, "Best we get the others, not sure what we will find, anyway Aelerie and Virdel can calm the kids if nothing really bad happened. Unless you want to do some kid wrangling?" Albus says the last completely oblivious to his own youthfulness. Off to get the others and tell'em what they know.
"Agreed. It would seem we're on the right track. Shouldn't be too hard to find the others."
Javell heads off to meet up with Aelrie, Virdel, and Laro as they leave their discussion with the children.
"I found their tracks headed out of town, going into the Vale. Five children, yes? We know for sure that Mikra is among the group of children- and they were children, for sure- the other four we're less certain about. Anything interesting on your end?"
How old are the tracks?
Survival: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (6) + 10 = 16
"It was an orphanage," Aelerie tells Virdel, her tone gentle, but conveying that the matter was a solemn one. "It burned down just before the Blackscour Taint struck our town. Neither Ellara nor any of the children survived..." Not wishing to end things on that sad note, Aelerie switches topics, giving a small half-smile to Virdel and Laro. "Thank you both for coming with me. I guess I didn't realize how little time I've spent with the kids since Master Hildrensocks started tutoring me. I don't think I would have gotten the story of them if not for you two."
When the three meet again with Albus and Javell, Aelerie listens to what the woodsmen have to say before she shares their findings. "Uh, yes... Apparently, some of the older kids taunted Kimi Eavewalker into spending the night in the ruins of Ellara's Halfway House. Hollin, Mikra, Savra and Jurin all volunteered to go with her." Turning to Albus, she asks, "How long do you think it will take to get there and back?"
Albus talks in on the last of Aelerie's conversation, her thanking the others for their help. At her question, he says, "Well it's getting on the day, but not as far as the LC camp. If we hurry we might make it a bit after dark, not so bad because the forest start after." Albus nods saying, "Everyone get ready, and do the necessary. Fill water-skins, we eat on the go, no breaks till we get to the ruins of the house. Of course that risks losing the trail of the tracks if they went elsewhere, but time is of the essence, again. Too much danger out there, even given the sell-swords' efforts." Albus finishes on a sour note.
Note Albus's plan is bold and risky, having benefits and some real dangers.
Aelerie nods along at Albus' proposition, briefly interjecting with a "Gods forbid!" when he mentions that the kids might have wandered elsewhere after visiting the burnt down orphanage. "Let's hope one foolish choice was enough for them, and that we'll cross paths with them on their way back by nightfall," she adds in her unfailingly optimistic way.
Albus nods at Aelerie's interjection, "Yes, keeping to the road, will be important. Also of course we have to inform the Sheriff of what we are doing as well, us disappearing without a word would add to his weight of problems."
After everyone else has their say, and if informing the Sheriff is agrees to, Albus will go to him and explain what they are doing, he also asks that the Sheriff keep 166 gold coins Albus has safe. Then meet up and off we go.
"Ah, I should probably let my mother know I'll be gone for a day or two," Aelerie mentions with a sheepish smile, heading toward the road that would take her home. "I'll meet you all in a little while, right outside The Sitting Duck as last time," she calls back, before turning and jogging home.
After telling her mother about the missing kids and promising to be back within a few days, Aelerie meets with the others at the pre-arranged location. Despite her previous hopefulness about finding the children before nightfall, the young woman is clearly prepared for quite the journey. In addition to the scroll case resting against her hip, a waterproof bag hangs from one shoulder, the bulky shape of her spellbook outlined clearly therein, while the masterfully crafted crossbow they discovered in Graypelt's den is strapped securely to her satchel.
"Let's go find these kids."
Javell is waiting for the others at their meeting location, lightly dozing off, leaning against the building. As soon as the others begin arriving, however, he comes to attention, "Well, the sooner we're off the better. Anyone know where the others are? We're burning daylight."
He's not the most polite of folks...
I certainly don't mind a little inner-party tension every now and again.
"Virdel knows firsthand how dangerous the Vale is. I know he wouldn't hold off on going after the children for one moment longer than he had to. And I'm sure the same goes for Laro," Aelerie says, quick to come to the defense of her friends. Though she typically wasn't one to put much stock in what the townsfolk had to say about people - having been a victim of the rumor mill herself - Aelerie still finds it difficult to give Javell the benefit of the doubt.
We can continue the farwell RPs in parallel in spoilers while we get ready to set out according to Albus' plan. I think we've got three people ready to go. Virdel and Laro to go.
So if he agrees, Albus leaves the coin and if not takes it with, but he's off, times a wasting. Either way Albus leaves saying, "May The Inheritor watch over you, Sheriff."
Assuming that the Sheriff has independent sources of funds, otherwise the LC would find a way to cut him off.
Albus shows up prepped and ready. "Hello, we seem to need another moment for Virdel and Laro, I'm sure they'll show up very soon. Hmm, we need to determine buddies, usually two that specifically watch out for each other, it was easy last time but now with five... maybe ... we need someone for when Aelerie needs to be apart and guard, and it should be someone wilderness trained but... Albus stops clearly wrestling with propriety, in regards to a young unmarried woman. I shouldn't but I can't leave her with a Starsong follower, I heard they're a bit overfriendly. He turns to Aelerie clearly inviting her thoughts.
Albus isn't concealing anything, clearly he doesn't want to leave her alone with a guard that might attempt a seduction but isn't sure how his community might view him as well. Note that the italicized text are thoughts.
"Oh..." Mortified by the topic Albus is alluding to, Aelerie blushes when the woodsman looks to her for her thoughts on the matter. She avoids eye contact with both men on the pretense of tightening the straps on her satchel and making sure her supplies are secure. Albus seems the obvious choice, but with Javell rounding out their numbers, Aelerie thinks that she would much rather have Albus sticking close to the other man. She trusted Virdel equally, but she isn't sure Albus would consider him given the halfling's handicap, and that he wasn't particularly wilderness trained. "I don't suppose I could pick Whisper, could I?" Aelerie asks with a wry twist to her lips. "Or one of my... animal friends?"
Albus is clearly a bit embarrassed himself at the topic of Aelerie's honor but goes ahead. "I don't doubt your ability to defend yourself, but an attack at a moment of vulnerability is not easy to handle. Maybe Virdel as chaperone and I together, with Javell and Laro as the other group would work. No one should ever be alone if it can be avoided, I would have been in great trouble without you, when that - what you called it? - a Stirge? attacked. Hopefully we will be together throughout the trip and if we never enter full forest it won't matter as much." Albus seems eager to end this increasingly uncomfortable topic as his eyes search for the missing party members.
Virdel parts from Albus at the apothecary's and arrives back at the Goose & Gander promptly. When everyone has gathered back together, he shares all the information he found out about the missing children. "I was told about all 5 children: Kimi, Hollin, Mikra, Jurin, and Savra. So obviously I believe they do all exist." He grins. "Which did you not know about before?"
Laro taps his foot a bit and then starts walking down the road, "It's this way right? No reason we can't start walking and talk about who's with who. I can team up with anyone, even you Aelerie if you want. I'm not worried about who's watching my back."
Aelerie sighs when it seems Albus isn't okay with the idea of her relying on her summons to protect her despite not having had much hope he would be when she asked. The solution he proposes feels twice as embarrassing initially, but after he explains his rationale, she finds herself hesitantly nodding along. Clearing her throat, Aelerie agrees with Albus, saying, "Yes, you're right, of course. It's a delicate situation, but there's no reason we can't be... adults about it. And I trust you both, so..." Aelerie breaks off with a chagrined look, hoping that it's the last they have to discuss that topic.
"Oh Virdel, Laro. You've arrived. Good," Aelerie says with a forced cheeriness, eager to be on the way for more reasons than finding the children now. She quickly turns and begins walking toward the edge of town, but then falls into step behind the two woodsmen at the trail leading out of the Hollow so as not to accidentally obscure the children's tracks.
Javell, once everyone has arrived, sets off, leading his group along the tracks. He doesn't say anything, clearly not used to being in a group of people, instead intent on his tracking.
Survival: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (11) + 10 = 21
Albus welcomes the arrival of the last party members as relief from a most uncomfortable conversation. Laro and Javell are very eager to leave taking off at once. As the group exits town Albus whistles and Whisper pokes out and begins to follow the party.
Albus takes a moment as they trudge along to pray. "Iomedae, Light of the Sword, guard our path from danger. Erastil, Ol' Deadeye, guide us to our lost children. Javell, warrior and priest of Desna, the Starsong, will you invoke the blessing of The Great Dreamer?"
Albus will track as well but does not slow from full pace.
Survival (Track): 1d20 + 9 - 5 ⇒ (17) + 9 - 5 = 21 Find and see where the tracks go of the lost children with the -5 penalty for full speed tracking.
Passive perception of 21 for spotting anything that should be spotted, like threats or the unusual.
And, as always, what's the weather like?
As they leave the town behind Whisper pokes his head out of his pouch in Albus' shirt and leaps out, glad to be out in the wild again. His tongue lolls out as he dances at Aelerie and Virdel; once again almost bowling the Harg over. He gives Javell and Laro polite sniffs before hanging back with his former adventure mates.
Javell and Laro take the lead with the Desnan managing to follow the tracks the five wayward children made. Just as they expected the tracks follow the trail that leads to the former orphanage and they make good time.
This area of the Vale, being close to the River, was some of the earliest clear cut for the precious darkwood that is so valued elsewhere. As such it's a bit tamer than other parts of the Vale. The ground is more solid and less swamp like, the sad stumps of long felled trees are less visible as grass and moss grows over. Still it is just as dangerous.
S: 1d20 + 16 ⇒ (10) + 16 = 26
S: 1d20 + 16 ⇒ (19) + 16 = 35
S: 1d20 + 16 ⇒ (5) + 16 = 21
S: 1d20 + 16 ⇒ (6) + 16 = 22
S: 1d20 + 16 ⇒ (1) + 16 = 17
S: 1d20 + 16 ⇒ (18) + 16 = 34
S: 1d20 + 16 ⇒ (20) + 16 = 36
S: 1d20 + 16 ⇒ (17) + 16 = 33
Perception Aelerie: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (15) + 1 = 16
Perception Albus: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (18) + 11 = 29
Perception Javell: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (20) + 5 = 25
Perception Laro: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (20) + 7 = 27
Perception Virdel: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (8) + 7 = 15
Perception Whisper: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (11) + 8 = 19
Init: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (20) + 4 = 24
Init: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (5) + 4 = 9
Init: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (17) + 4 = 21
Init: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (2) + 4 = 6
Init: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (11) + 4 = 15
Init: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (16) + 4 = 20
Init: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (18) + 4 = 22
Aelerie Init: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (10) + 1 = 11
Albus Init: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (17) + 2 = 19
Javell Init: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (7) + 4 = 11
Laro Init: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (9) + 8 = 17
Virdel Init: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (14) + 1 = 15
Whisper Init: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (18) + 1 = 19
As evening approaches and the setting sun throws a deepening gloom across the land Albus in the back group hears a sickeningly familiar buzzing sound just as Whisper yelps and jumps to cover underneath the ranger. Stirges! Cat sized magical beasts that subsist on the blood of sentients! And this time there are more than two approaching the group of rescuers. Albus can make out at least four swooping in.
In the front both Javell and Laro hear them as well. And just as that happens they are under attack!
Javell, Laro, and Albus, and Whisper get a surprise round action. You guys lost initiative so the Stirges get a surprise round to close in
In the encroaching twilight it's hard to make out exactly how many of them there are. But there's more than the four Albus saw coming. The sudden storm of menacing flying bodies is ugly and chaotic.
8d6 ⇒ (2, 4, 2, 3, 1, 2, 2, 2) = 18
Perhaps driven by an ancestral memory of sweet bloody sustenance five of the buzzing monsters converge on Albus, surrounding him while a laggard settles on menacing Aelerie. From the other side a stirge moves in to Javell and one moves onto Laro.
Whisper seeing his erstwhile protector targeted by the blood sucking pests yelps and dashes out from under the ranger to hide behind Virdel instead.
Set up. The front group is about thirty feet ahead of the back group. Javell and Laro have one stirge on them each while Albus is swamped by 5, and Aelerie has one. Total of 8 of the monsters!
Laro, Javell, and Albus please take a surprise round, all three of you have targets at melee range. Albus has a choice of 5!
Albus snaps around as he hears an awful and too familiar sound, "By the gods! Stirges again, many." Albus seems to be especially delicious as he gets the lion's share. Grimly he grasps his axe and prepares to swing.
I'd say you'd have some weapon at the ready anyway while in the wilderness Albus, but if readying the weapon makes more sense to you then that's good too. Rules backup (thank you based google). From the CRB. If you have a base attack bonus of +1 or higher, you may draw a weapon as a free action combined with a regular move.
Just can't see carrying a weapon in hand for hours when traveling. Yes, Albus could move but giving 5 AOOs even with plus to defense seems a bad idea, he cannot attack though, the free action is only with move not attack actions. Anyway Albus expects to see stuff well before it can attack, these stirges are turning into a real nemesis for him.
I just realized I can't have a shield and use Startoss Style. Oops. There goes 2 points of AC. I'll have to sell it/buy a buckler next time we're in town.
When Whisper jumps out of Albus' pouch, Javell looks over at the little creature, "Well, hello there. What might you be?"
As soon as he hears the buzzing, Javell instantly changes the grip on his starknife to a more deadly position. When the giant bugs come into view, his eyes narrow, "Gods, I hate stirges." As one attaches itself to him, he slashes his starknife's back blade directly at the oversized vermin.
Swift action to enter Startoss Style, Standard action to hit the stirge on him
Attack: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (14) + 4 = 18
Damage: 1d6 + 4 ⇒ (2) + 4 = 6
Albus brandishes his axe at the stirges surrounding him while Laro and Javell fight back. Laro's sword whiffs by the stirge on him while Javell's knife slashes his in two.
Stirge: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (18) + 7 = 25
?: 1d100 ⇒ 19
Stirge: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (8) + 7 = 15
Stirge: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (11) + 7 = 18
?: 1d100 ⇒ 63
Stirge: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (1) + 7 = 8
?: 1d100 ⇒ 83
Stirge: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (15) + 7 = 22
Stirge: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (9) + 7 = 16
Stirge: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (20) + 7 = 27
?: 1d100 ⇒ 32
The strige harassing Laro takes advantage of the halfling's swing to clamp down on his arm and start feeding.
Of the five buzzing around Albus only two manage to find purchase on the parts of the ranger not protected by armor. They start sucking blood as well.
The last one, threatening Aelrie, takes full advantage of the young woman's lack of martial training and sinks its pincer deep in her neck.
Albus takes 2 con damage, Laro and Aelrie take one each. The four attached stirges are immobile and easier to hit while they feed and moderately hard to shake off. There are three stirges hovering around Albus still. Party is up.
Virdel cries out as he senses everyone's life being sucked away. "Strike true, friends! You must remove their stingers!"
Are there any more coming that he can see?
Perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (1) + 5 = 6
Not with that roll...
"Oh no you don't!"
Javell brandishes his holy symbol, and a wash of divine light covers him. With a deft movement, he throws his starknife spinning directly towards the stirges attached to Albus. It's an incredibly lucky throw, it would seem, as it somehow manages to bounce off the first, directly at the other. No sooner is the blade thrown that a new dagger is in his hand, held at the ready.
Attack: 1d20 + 5 + 2 + 1 ⇒ (12) + 5 + 2 + 1 = 20
Damage: 1d6 + 4 + 2 ⇒ (1) + 4 + 2 = 7
Attack: 1d20 + 5 + 2 + 1 ⇒ (7) + 5 + 2 + 1 = 15
Damage: 1d6 + 4 + 2 ⇒ (6) + 4 + 2 = 12
Swift action to use Fervor to cast Divine Favor, standard action to use Startoss Comet, move action to draw a new dagger.
Albus once again is weakened by the unnatural beasts. Though awkwardly close to his throat he pivots his axe as a swing to one of the attached monstrosities. Only an gurgle comes from his throat since two beasts are burrowed into him.
Greataxe attack: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (9) + 5 = 14 To hit target. Critical on a 20.
Great axe damage: 1d12 + 4 ⇒ (7) + 4 = 11 Damage
Great axe Critical confirm: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (2) + 5 = 7 To confirm a critical if rolled.
Great axe Critical damage: 2d12 + 8 ⇒ (7, 10) + 8 = 25 Damage from critical.
Aelerie cries out at the sharp pain that lances through her neck, though the sensation is soon replaced by a thoroughly unpleasant feeling of lightheadedness. Instinctively, she calls out for help from the heavens, summoning a celestial eagle to tear the winged pests from the sky. She holds very still, fearing what the eagle's talons could do so close to her neck, moving only to draw the wand Hildrensocks gifted her for her first journey.
Spending 1 point from arcane reservoir to cast summon monster i as a standard action, drawing a wand as a move action.
Sure Javell. Precise Shot is bread and butter for a ranged character. Hopefully you'll get to play with Startoss Comet soon!
Eagle bite: 1d20 + 3 + 1 ⇒ (8) + 3 + 1 = 12
Damage: 1d4 + 2 ⇒ (2) + 2 = 4
Eagle claw: 1d20 + 3 + 1 ⇒ (12) + 3 + 1 = 16
Damage: 1d4 + 2 ⇒ (2) + 2 = 4
Eagle claw: 1d20 + 3 + 1 ⇒ (11) + 3 + 1 = 15
Damage: 1d4 + 2 ⇒ (4) + 2 = 6
Virdel calls on the divine powers to aid his friends and, while Laro misses, Javell and Albus are, with dagger and axe, able to rip the two striges that are attached to the young ranger apart.
Aelerie's eagle manifests in a display of brilliant white light that momentarily lightens the gloom of the Vale. It tears into the stirge attacking its summoner with tooth and claw leaving the creature as nothing but bloody shreds on the ground.
Um. I made a big mistake, you guys should have won initiative. It's way too much to retcon so as partial recompense, you guys get to go again before the Striges do. Basically take your second round actions now please.
Eagle bite: 1d20 + 3 + 1 ⇒ (3) + 3 + 1 = 7
Damage: 1d4 + 2 ⇒ (1) + 2 = 3
Aelrie's eagle whirls and attacks the stirge closest to it, which is one of the ones surrounding Albus. Unfortunately it is unable to hit the whirring mobile stirge.
Situation. Laro has a Stirge attached to him, Albus has three surrounding him, the eagle is next to one of them providing Albus with a flank
Javell smoothly spins his dagger at the stirge on Laro, the silver blade flashing in the rays of sunlight that manage to creep through the forest canopy as the dagger flies directly at the halfling.
Attack: 1d20 + 5 + 2 + 1 ⇒ (3) + 5 + 2 + 1 = 11
Damage: 1d6 + 3 + 2 ⇒ (5) + 3 + 2 = 10
Before he even sees the result of the attack, another dagger has materialized in Javell's hand, primed to throw.
Standard action throw, move action to draw.
Albus wastes no time with curses as his clumsy axe proves useless. He drops the axe to draw the close combat weapon of a dagger and attacks the beasts, the eagle tried to attack.
Dagger attack: 1d20 + 5 + 2 ⇒ (4) + 5 + 2 = 11 To hit target. Critical on a 19-20. Target flanked.
Dagger damage: 1d4 + 4 ⇒ (2) + 4 = 6 Damage
Dagger Critical confirm: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (5) + 5 = 10 To confirm a critical if rolled.
Dagger Critical damage: 1d4 + 4 ⇒ (4) + 4 = 8 Damage from successful critical.
Albus's luck with stirges continues ...
Aelerie breathes a little easier with the blood-sucking parasite torn from her neck. With a flourish and a few words in the ancient language of the Fey, a bolt of crackling violet energy erupts from the tip of the wand, streaking towards one of the stirges attacking Albus.
Magic Missile: 1d4 + 1 ⇒ (3) + 1 = 4
3/4 charges left.