Torque thanks the priest again, and he and Tok leave the chapel and head back into the village towards the parked caravan. As they leave the chapel graveyard, Torque seems uncharacteristically angry
"Tok, I wish I had your talent for handing out a beating. I'd visit these idiot farmers who are idle enough to let their holdings become incapable of feeding their fellow villagers without divine favour propping them up."
"The condensate is just raw material. Applying it on plants might repair damage, but as far as increasing yield goes it would be about as useful as burying raw meat under firewood in order to cook it. It could be used as fuel to power some sort of wide-area modification to bio-cycles, but...I have no idea how that wuld be achieved. That's beyond enhancement magic, it's permenant changes to a plant's structure. Maybe noe day I'll be able to achieve such things, but I've got a lot of experimentation to do yet."
Ok that's it. These interactions have made up my mind. From now on, whenever possible, the current pairings wlll be how I'll split you guys. The back n forth has been awesome to follow, well done all!!
also, since a lot has happened while I was at work and I have a few other things to toss into the mix, I will be putting my post up once I'm home as it'll be rather long
As you enjoy your run through the countryside, you soon come across another farm. This one is clearly in bad shape, the grass around you is browning, dust kicks up as you run and you don't see any sign of livestock. Since the last one seemed to be in much better condition, and you're out to gather information, you decide to make you way over to the house.
The two of you wander over to the investigate what all might be going on, when all of a sudden you hear a loud whooshing sound and large boom, like a cannon. You round the corner just in time to see a cloud of purple smoke that quickly dissipates to reveal a Halfling wearing crazy, garish colors and a mask that would make Nine-Tails proud. He flips onto his hands, and begins to juggle with his feet.
Valen returns the smile and leans in, adopting a very open and attentive posture. "Well, I'm sure you certainly deserve it. You seem like a smart young woman, certainly beutiful, surely you know about some of the things going on here. I've heard tell that the local lord has disappeared and crops seem to be failing."
Mirri smiles and blushes slightly at your compliments "Crops are indeed failing and will only get worse. Nobody has been able to contact Seera, the cleric whose always made sure the land was fertile and ensured the weather was cooperative. Withour her this land will revert to the dusty, dead state that it was before Lord Grimtaur arrived" A tear escapes her eyes at the thought of such a reversal.
Valen nods. Hmmm, the local lord and prominent cleric both disappear. Not a coincidence. Placing a hand on Mirri's Valen gently squeezes it comfortingly. "Shed not a tear more, miss, my companions and I shall look into the matter. Tell me, have you seen or heard of anyone in the area who odd or new. Perhaps someone who seemed to take an interest or ask questions about Lord Grimtaur or Seera? Anyone at all?"
The young lady tries to answer you, but the tears just get worse. Through her sniffles she manages to excuse herself, then hurries off. A few moments later, Helena comes back over and sits down where Mirri was "Please fogive her, her father was one of the first to go and investigate what might happened to Grimtaur and hasn't been heard from since. While its only been a few months, their farm has been hit badly already, so she's been working extra long days here. Her younger brother does odd jobs around town, but its getting worse for all of us. As if all that was bad enough, there's rumors of the restless dead and angry spirits roaming the land at night." She surpresses a shudder at this.
Valen listens to the young woman growing concerned as she bursts into tears and leaves. Listening to Helena Valen nods. A missing lord and cleric, crops going bad, missing townsfolk, and undead? Things are much more serious than I thought."It's no problem. I can understand her concern. Helena, have you see anyone new in town? Potentially someone acting suspicious or asking a lot of questions regarding Lord Grimtaur or Mother Seera? Anyone at all?"
If I was a jerk GM, maybe. But since I'm not, Nine Tails is in "stealth mode" and thus his agrro gen is way down :-)
Helena laughs a bit at Valen's question "You mean besides you and your buddy?? No, not really. That's what makes this so strange, its like all of a sudden Grimtaur vansished and at the same time, we lost contact with Seera."
As you near the house, you see a woman hanging laundry out back. She sees you and picks up a broom, holding it in a clumsy attempt to look meanecing. "Stay back, I warn you. I've had enough of you bandits stealing my livestock!" She tries tries to sound threatening, but it comes out more pleading than anything else.
The little man continues his act, spinning several balls into the air faster and faster, until they become a blur, then he jumps and flips 360 and lands on his feet. He then throws all five balls up high and each one explodes into a small fireworks display. "Ladies and Gentlemen, I am proud to announce the return of the Circus of the Shadowed Sun. We have been gone for a year and I know you all have missed us, but we are now back for your entertainment and joy. Come one, come all to the greatest, craziest, most fun you'll ever have.....until next year of course" The crowd laughs and begin to drop some coins into the hat he holds out. You all quickly realize that it would be a very bad idea to grab the man, no matter what he may or may not know.
Male Human (Tian) Barbarian (Urban Barbarian, Spirit Totem) 3
Nine Tail holds his hands where the woman can see them and calls out, "I am looking for bandits myself. I am with a caravan that had a run in this morning. We wiped out that batch, but I was sent to find how bad the problem is and why the Lord Grimtaur is doing nothing about it?"
After the display is complete, Tok turns to Torque. "Torque, tell Acune and Gremm what we've learned about the situation. You can leave out your judgements of the ignorant and our fascinating discussion about your goo."
Tok focuses his attention on the halfling, trying to determine if anything is out of the ordinary with his behavior or the behavior of those around him.
Helena nods "Yea nothing for sure. Seera was pleasant, but didn't really talk about what brought her here, beyond being asked by Grimtaur. As for the undead, I would say about a month and a half ago we started hearing rumors about them. I'm not sure if anybody really saw them or if they were spooked by normal bandits or even animals, but whatever is being seen has been frequent enough that most of us won't leave the town after sunset, and if we do, we try to go out with as many friends as possible."
The woman keeps the broom pointed at you, but lowers it a bit. Then she sighs heavily "Its bad, our land is no longer cared for by our cleric and its dying, reverting back to how it used to be. My farm has been the first to fall, shortly after my husband attempted to find out what happened to our lord and went missing."
Nothing appears out of the ordinary, Tok. It seems that the people are geniunly entertained by the Halfling. As people give him a few coins, he jokes with them, doing a couple of simple magic tricks to amuse the children.
"This village was the pet project of a high-end retired mercenary called Grimatar. He and his band built a keep in this region after clearing a monster infestation for the local count. Grimatar was the only one who stayed in the keep. It's east of here, near the border with Lozeri and south of Lepidstadt, if we're going to check it out"
Torque pauses and watches the antics of the halfling for a moment, noting that the folk in this village could do with a distraction from their troubles.
"From what I can tell he was never officially made the lord of these parts, but he invested his own money into the village, particularly the tavern. He hired lesser mercenaries for security and visited at the start of every month. He stopped visiting four months ago, around the same time as the cleric stopped doing the farmer's jobs for them"
Torque drops a gold coin into the hat as it passes him
"You've got to admire people like this. There must be more profitable stops for them, but they choose to cheer people up in hard times. Good name too. A bit of shade is always welcome, after all."
Valen nods thinking for a moment and finishes his drink. He reaches into his belt pouch and 6 gold pieces. He passes two to Helena. "These are for your hospitality and the useful information," he says pleasantly. He holds up the remaining four gold pieces as his voice becomes more somber but serious. "This is for Miri and her family. Please let her know that my companions and I will do all we can to help your village and that I will personally find out what happened to her father. And that I shall do whatever I can to bring him back. Please tell her to take care and have hope. Never stop having hope." Standing Valen turns to Jax who has been oddly quiet. "Come Jax, I think it is time we met up with the rest of the squad." Turning to Helena he bows and kisses her hand lightly again. "Lady Helena, thank you for your time and hospitality. I know I have personally greatly appreciated it," Valen says with a roguish smile and a wink. Turning Valen makes his way out of the Golden Lion and into the street to the rondevouz point.
Male Human (Tian) Barbarian (Urban Barbarian, Spirit Totem) 3
Nine Tail pulls the mask off the top of his head in deference. "What was your husband's name? My squad was thinking of finding out why the Lord went so quiet. We could ask around about your husband as well."
Torque's features return to normal, though his hideous true form lingers in the memories of his comrades
"I think we know enough. We shall see if our employer thinks it's worth paying us to investigate this matter, maybe stabalize a region he travels through regularly. Though I say we should look into it regardless. These people need our help, and few bands like us will pass through here"
"His name is Tyth, and if you could find him my children and I would be so thankful. But please try and find out what happened to Seera. Before she came along, our land was barren and dead, the victim of a second, smaller sky falling like what hit Numeria. Thankfully the town was built along a main trade route and so we could sustain ourselves, though it was always a struggle. Then the cleric came and with her magic she was able to coax the land to be productive again. Now we seem to be reverting back to how it used to be with her missing"
"Pretty smoothly done Mage. I may not pin our ears to a table after all! So it seems we have some work to do here," ambling along slowly, Jax tightens the straps on his armor, before checking over his weaponry. "I do not know what the rest found but I will be requesting that we spend tonight and tomorrow in this village, to aid in whatever way we can. Hopefully the Corporal can see the necessity for this!"
Valen smiles and straightens himself. Hmm, maybe he isn't so bad after all."Thank you Jax. I've been know to be quite charming and capable of gathering information from time to time." Valen's expression turns from smiles and charm to a more serious and hardened expression. "But I completely agree. There is something plaguing this town and I personally think it is our duty to help solve the problem. If the Corporal can't see the obvious need of us here, then, I may just have to stay behind." The dire expression and tone are quickly replaced with his normal smile and charm. "Of course when we solve this little mystery I'm sure not only the town but some of the town's residents will be especially grateful and insist on repaying us personally."
"Look into it regardless? You are noble. But I'm not sure our employer would appreciate our abandoning our post. We have been hired to accompany the caravan. Shouldn't we complete that contract first?"
"Let's just see what the client says. Like I told the preacher, it's in a merchant's interests to make sure the roads he travels are secure. This place is only going to keep going downhill until hiring mercenary escorts is a requirement rather than a precaution."
Torque looks thoughtfully down the street at the caravan
Fury, Valen, how about we go and see if the merchant will listen to our professional oppinion. If he doesn't, Tok's right. If we don't follow our contract our entire company's rep will suffer for it"
Waiting on Nine Tails reply to wrap this up. Once you are all together I'll try to post a summary of the important info you each learned, though if somebody else offers, I would not mind. Note that you all got some info that nobody else did, so keep that in mind if you decide to help with the summary
The woman nods "Yes, it was around here or so we've been told. I don't really know much, beyond idle gossip. Our mayor however knows a good deal more, you should go visit him if you want to know more" You agree it might be a good idea, then trot off at a prisk pace towards the caravan where you meet up with the rest of the squad.
As th sun is low in the sky, the caravan master decides to make camp here and return to the road the next morning. You all gather around a campfire to share what you've learned.
will try to get a summary post up later tonight, unless somebody beats me to it. Also, please head to discussion thread, will have an important post there as well.
"Pity the Merchant isn't a woman. I'd hazard a guess that the Mage here could charm his way in and out of her skirts and still get us what we want on top of that!" laughing softly, Jax claps the man on his shoulder playfully.
"Your round at the Tavern next time Mage. Right. lets be to business!" Fiddling with the straps on his armor again, Jax strolls after Torque, hand resting lightly on the pommel of the shortsword at his waist.
'He didn't embarrass me, the Squad of old Two Bears. I may make a damn fine soldier out of him yet!'