You are in the small village of Braiun (pronounce Bray-un), in the land of Tulia. The forest of Tulia almost touches the outskirts of town. The nearest city, Blackwort, is about a day's journey away. You are all gathering in the local tavern, called the Silver Fish.
Alis, sitting in her usual spot, having her usual breakfast, looked out into the forest at the edge of town and wondered what was to come. Her dreams had been... strange... last night, almost always a sign of change.
Honestly, though she had enjoyed this extended period of peace in her life, she looked forward to something new and exciting... although, looking around the room, she added the mental caveat just as long as it doesn't hurt my friends.
There were people in this small hamlet that annoyed her, of course, but even those were just like having a brother or sister. Even in all of the dim memories of her past lives she couldn't remember a place that had felt more like home.
A lean, dark-skinned woman sits at a corner table, enjoying a fresh pastry and a mug of cider. She had come to the village for her weekly supply run and the fruits of her bartering were tucked in a hemp sack under the table. Spring was a lean season for Busara, as she made a point of not hunting during the mating season, so all she had had to trade were mushrooms, roots and herbs for the village healer and smoked venison from last winter. Oh, and she had cured Markel's sick cow, for which the farmer had paid her two dozen eggs. Way too many for her to eat by herself. She eyes the bag, trying to figure how many pastries she could get for a dozen eggs. Busara is all too aware of her one vice, but she can't help having a sweet tooth. Occasionally, a pedlar would come into Braiun with candied delicacies from the city, taffy and fudge, sweet jelly and chocolate. He wasn't here today, and Busara sighs in disappointment as she licks the pastry crumbs off her fingers.
Snapping out of her reverie at the sight of the druid, she calls out
Busara! Good to see you. If you're still in town later, come by my house for a late lunch. I'll make us a pie. Lemon meringue...? Or chocolate?
Her eyes sparkle with amusement, knowing that the Druid would be sorely tempted by the thought of pie.
A vivacious-looking red-haired halfling woman comes into the room, and looks around. Those who live in the town may have seen here around here and there over the course of the last couple of weeks, but know that she's not a local.
With her is an alert-looking raven... but of course he will describe himself.
Bethella looks around the tavern. I suppose I should be outgoing and get to know the locals, if I'm going to be spending a fair amount of time here.
She sees Alis sitting at a table by herself looking contemplative. The halfling approaches the table. "Mind if I join you?"
|Brennus the Raven|
The raven on Bethella's shoulder is a fairly large specimen for his species, with glossy black feathers that have a faint hint of emerald to them when the light hits them just right.
His head turns in swift jerks as he takes the room in, looking over the guests. The Samsaran looked interesting... and it seemed that Bethella agreed, so for now he remains silent, watching.
Alis nods to Bethella Please do. I've seen you around before, but I don't think I remember your name... was it ... Druzilla?
|Brennus the Raven|
A rather large digmaul pushes through the tavern door cautiously. Expecting the barkeeper to raise some sort of protest, Smaxx does the last thing the ale-slinger expects, he speaks, "Don't worry about me, sir. I will be on my best behavior!"
The barkeepers jaw drops to the floor just as the mug he was filling. Smaxx just smiles.
Smaxx looks around, and sniffs the air
Survival(scent): 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (9) + 3 = 12
I know you're here...you gotta be! He says to himself.
He cases the room until his view comes to a corner table where a few have already gathered. He sees her! "Busara!"
Busara perks up at the mention of pie. Hm. Difficult decision. I suppose... well, lemons are fruits, and fruits are good for your health." She grins, having successfully rationalized giving in to her weakness.
She scoots her chair over to Alis's table to further discuss culinary matters of the baked goods variety when a halfling walks up to join them. Busara doesn't remember seeing her, but halflings have a reputation as epicureans, so any of their kind is a potential friend to her.
And close on the halfling's heels... "SMAXX! Oh gods, I thought you were gone!" Without any hesitation, Busara launches herself from her chair, bounding across the room and throwing her arms around the digmaul, face buried in his fur.
Lemon meringue it is then.
Seeing the Druid's happy reunion, she looked around to see if Azeban had wandered in yet. ... Nope. Probably still asleep she thought affectionately, and turned her attention back to Bethonda... or whatever her name was. She was sure it was something like that.
Azeban's eyes open long after he awakes, and when they finally do it's with a content and lazed expression on his face. With a long stretch he gives a quick look around for Alis, before noticing the sun's position in the sky. 'My... We did sleep late today, didn't we' He thinks to himself, remembering the easy dreams of hunting small bugs. Stretching once more, he spreads his wings and flies towards the tavern, coming in through a window to see multiple people with Alis. "Making friends are we?" he asks, his voice entering her mind without his mouth moving. Without waiting for much of an answer, he pounces a mango from the air and sinks his teeth into it.
"Bethella," the halfling tells Alias pleasantly. And nodding towards the raven, she says, "and this is Brennus, but he'll probably tell you all about himself before long."
She raises one eyebrow and watches as the large digmaul comes into the room.
Looking to Brennus, she says, "It's old-home week at the zoo!"
Oh, that's it. Bethella. I knew it was something like that. Sorry. It takes me a few times meeting people to remember. I get... distracted.
The woman that was sitting with me, and who just flew across the room, is Busara. She doesn't live in town, but we see her every week when she comes in for supplies.
So, tell me. What brings you to town?
Mentally, she says to Azeban Indeed. Finally awake I see.
"Oh, this and that," Bethella says vaguely. "Brennus and I like to travel, see different parts of the world. We'd been living in another town and traveling out from there for some time, and decided it was a change of pace. So, here we are!"
Ah. Traveling is always interesting. How do you support your habit?
I am a tattoo artist, which is more in demand in larger towns than this, but I like someplace a little quieter. I'm also very good. I get people from Blackwort coming down here to find me fairly often, when they need something more ... specialized than a guild tattoo or a lover's name.
Smaxx snuggles a bit, "You never lost me...I just got borrowed for awhile!"
He motions to a pack deftly strapped to his right shoulder, "Traveled in with a caravan. Traded my escort for rations and such. Had some very skilled candy-makers that were quite grateful of the bumped up sense of security! I think I remembered your favorite..."
|Brennus the Raven|
Brennus caws a laugh. "It's not so expensive for me, it's her that has to worry about the money," he says, his voice raucous and rough.
He eyes Alis for a moment, then turns his head swiftly over to Busara and Smaxx. He looks them over for a moment, then turns back to Alis, leaning forward slightly. "Specialized? Like... magic?"
"Oh, this and that," Bethella says vaguely in response to the question about how she supports herself. "Everybody can use a little witchery now and then. And Brennus here can serve as a scarecrow tester if somebody needs it...."
A scarecrow tester, eh? That sounds like a valuable skill.
She then quits trying to get more detail, and excuses herself to go order some more hashbrowns and see how Azeban was doing on his mango.
|Brennus the Raven|
Brennus watches Alis as she walks away, then turns his head to Bethella. "Magic tattoos means she probably knows magic, too..." he whispers to her.
Busara laugh heartily at Smaxx's brief update and his mention of candies.
Ahhh, Smaxx, never change. I am so glad that you are back. Please don't get borrowed again, eh?"
With a last hug for the digmaul, she rises to her feet and approaches the others. "Good to meet you all, this is Smaxx, my dear companion. " She looks around at the eclectic gathering, a happy smile still on her face.
Having caught the last shreds of the conversation, she continues.
"If it is magic that interests you, I know a little. Plant and beast magic, mostly, useful for taking care of the forest and those who dwell in it."
Bethella nods. "Good to meet you. Plant and beast magic is useful stuff. I know some magic myself; mine tends more towards the... well, the distraction sort, you know...."
She remains a little vague.
|Brennus the Raven|
"When I'm not enough of a distraction myself, that is," Brennus jokes, eyes glittering slightly in the light as he considers Busara.
"So what exactly happened with you and Smaxx, if a curious raven can ask?"
Alis gets a plate filled with a double order of hashbrowns, sees that Azeban is happy with his mango, and returns to the table. She listens while eating.
The tavern keeper's wife (who is known as an excellent cook) comes over to make sure you have everything you need. She offers Smaxx some (raw) trimmings from that day's roast beef, and Brennus a plate of crispy bread crusts and bright red berries. She smiles nervously. "I'm not familiar enough with talking animals to know if you prefer human food or the food your wild kind likes, so I brought over some things that I believe your non-talking cousins like. Let me know if they are not to your liking."
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Smaxx puts his left paw to his breast and bows his head, "Thank you dear, the road brings a healthy appetite, I will savor this meal! You may, in the future, feel free to include me in a more prepared manner, as it gives me a sense of civilization, as you may call it. But make no mistake, lovely dame, this will hit the spot!"
Smaxx turns to Busara's companions, "First of all, let me say hello to all of you." Smaxx bows his head once more. Since his awakening, it is the one thing he has adopted to separate himself from his more "savage" counterparts, "Anyone Busara chooses to spend her time with is well met with me!" Looks at Busara, "You always were such a good judge of a beings mettle!
His eyes glass over as he regards the raven's query. He turns to Brennus and looks through him with a faraway stare. "Forces, those of which I do not fully understand. I like to think they are the same that connect Busara to her power. Not strong enough to rip me away from this woman...no...strong enough to convince me I wasn't complete enough to stand with her! So convincing, I dared not say goodbye, lest I stutter." He glances back to Busara with a guilty, apologetic look. "North, they pulled me, to a monastery those that reside there name Sin'Jhun'Da. There they taught me a more controlled style of combat, that and a mastery of the elements to power my strikes!" Smaxx clicks the nails of his right claw together in a use of elemental fist. He allows a spark of electricity to flow, just long enough, for a physical display of what he speaks. "Now, I pray I am as worthy as they felt I am to stand with this goddess!"
|Brennus the Raven|
Brennus looks Smaxx up and down as he speaks, noting the pent-up power of his muscles as well as the elemental energies he displays. He and Busara would be useful friends to make if they went into danger.
The raven bobs his head at the tavern keeper's wife. "Oh, I eat most anything, really. This will do quite nicely."
He samples a couple of berries, then looks back at Busara and Smaxx. "You seem to have a mighty calling, Smaxx. What do you plan to do now that you are reunited with your friend?"
Insert plot hook? :D
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Smaxx's countenance grows deathly serious. "My specific steps at this point, I do not know. Visions and the forces that coaxed me away from Busara have brought me here." He looks at Busara, "Visions of a darkness not of the natural world that has come to settle here. That which would consume the one I care for the most and those who keep her company."
He looks around, "The Painted Dreamer...The Flying Question Mark...The Witch-Child...The Mocking Bird...yes they are all here!"
"Whether it has always been here-laying dormant, or freshly arrived, I do not know. But for the last four months, every Moonday around dawn, a shot would splinter down my spine like a thousand Goblin teeth tearing at my flesh. The only clue as to the nature, I believe, has come in the form of a riddle. Every day I traveled with the caravan, a gypsy woman would waddle by saying,"It would be better you had been born with cold iron claws!" "Plans, my fine-feathered brother? To stand with Busara...to stand with you!"
Having just finished her hashbrowns, she gestures with her fork, which happens to have a tiny bit of potato stuck to the end.
Is he always like this? she asks Busara.
It's a little early for dire prophecies, and I don't see any demonic hordes coming down the lane.
<She checks outside just to be sure>
So, while we're waiting for them to arrive, why don't you all come over after lunch for pie... or come over for lunch which consists of pie. Whichever you prefer.
If you come though, you have to bring a story in trade. Doesn't have to be true, but it does help if it has detail. Smaxx I'm sure will bring us something very dramatic and loyal. Bethella's may be about a mysterious figure with unclear motivations. They can be scary or inspiring, but the idea is an evening of entertainment.
I need to go and pick up a few things so I have enough to make extra pies. I'll see you guys around 2, if you choose to come. You can't quite see my house from here, but it's the large gray two-story at the end of the next lane over. Busara knows the way.
I'll be at the market she thinks to Azeban. I'll also get you some mangoes.
Alis proceeds to the market to buy pie supplies and mangoes.
When Brennus says that he eats whatever, Bethella smiles. "You just wait and see how he likes eyeballs the first time we come across something dead whose best juicy parts haven't already been taken...."
To Alis, she says, "Untrue stories? I can do that! And I love pie! Especially dark, foreboding pie!"
Busara's cheeks darken as blood rushes to her face and she gives Smaxx a playful tap. You shameless flatterer! Goddess indeed." She snorts, but as the digmaul speaks of dreams and foreboding visions, she grows pensive. "I have felt it as well. Usually, in the spring, the forest is abuzz with new life, animals, insects and birds mating. This year it has been slightly less than usual, but I didn't know what to make of it."
The talk of pie banishes the somber thoughts however, and soon Busara is waxing enthusiastic about Alis's baking skills. ..."and the one with rhubarb and candied bits of orange that she made last solstice, oh! or the one with chillies! I mean, who puts chillies in a pie? But it turned out so good, I was quite surprised."
|Brennus the Raven|
"So dramatic!" Brennus comments after Smaxx's speech, though something in his gaze says he thinks more of it than that.
"You'll have to watch our for our stories, though. Bethella and I have competitions sometimes to see who can get people to believe the wildest tale!"
He caws a laugh.
Oh. How kind of you to think of us. Thanks! I'll give it a try. I also need some flour and sugar, and...
She lists all the things she is going to need to make about four pies, and sees if there are any other interesting ingredients that she might need.
Also, I hope you will allow me to be a good cook as a story/flavor thing. They might turn out awful if I have to roll a craft check. :) (yikes) If not though, I guess I could sneak around to the back of the Tavern and bribe the cook to make some for me (as I must always do in that case.) ;) GM call.
To those still in the inn: A young man some of you vaguely recognize from around town approaches you. He appears to be a farmer. "Forgive me for listening as you talked; I couldn't help it. I know something that you should maybe hear. I was in the barn late last night. I overheard a conversation where there shouldn't have been anyone, so I moved closer. I heard some sort of little flying creature telling a little goblin that they needed to be careful, because if the druid knew what they were up to, she would stop them. The goblin grinned and said that Bursa would not be a problem. Then they disappeared. I looked around and could find no sign of them or what they were doing in my barn. I don't know if any of this matters to you, but I thought you should know."
Alis: the grocer is able to provide you with all the ingredients you need. As he gets things, he chats about some of the goings-on in the village. He mentions the number of chickens that have gone missing on local farms, and a few children who told their parents tall tales about little green men trying to take them away. One of the children had a minor burn on one hand.
I'm glad the burn was only minor. That isn't good.
Little green men, eh? She acts like those were silly stories, but she wonders... perhaps she will need to recruit her friends coming for lunch into investigating.
Now for the pies.
Make Lemon Meringue Pie: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (8) + 2 = 10
Make Chocolate Pie: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (7) + 2 = 9
Make Cherry Pie: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (14) + 2 = 16
Make Apple Pie: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (9) + 2 = 11
If you let me retcon my skills and take one point out of Craft: Tattoo and put it into Craft: Pie those all get +6 and become edible (and that cherry one will be a knockout). (How was I to know that Busara was going to have a sweet tooth? Have mercy.)
On the other hand, if that doesn't work, here is my diplomacy roll to bribe the good cook at the Tavern into making them for me:
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (13) + 15 = 28
Which hopefully will work, but of course, there is also money involved. Double the cost of the pies, or triple if she asks it.
Just let me know which way the storyline weaves. :)
Why don't we just use a modification of background skills? For each class level, you guys can take one rank in any profession or craft skill you would like. It does not need to be the same at each level. Familiars/animal companions can have them, too, if they can tell a story that makes them make sense.
Sweet. I'm going to be an awesome cook. I'll modify my stats when I get off work (in a couple of hours). But needless to say, the pies are going to be delicious. :)
Smaxx talks to Busara in a "side bar." "I am assuming the shocks I have been feeling are you entering this village...supply runs? Have you noticed anything amiss...large strings of mishaps...sickness?"
|Brennus the Raven|
Brennus listens to the young man's story intently, then suddenly turns his head to Bethella.
"Sounds like an opportunity to make some allies, if not friends," he whispers to her.
Alis puts out the pies to cool (they all turned out well, but the cherry pie looks the most delicious), and cuts up some mangoes and the new pineapple for Azeban, in case he decides to come home. Some interesting new fruit for you at home she says to him mentally.
She then sits down to read for a while until her guests arrive, almost (but not quite) being able to escape the nagging thought that there might be goblins in the woods.