“Heptamegistos and I can fight. Don’t worry about us.”
At the circle of firelight’s edge, Jennet tends to Heptamegistos, brushing salt and trail dust from his coat. When she’s finally done, she gives him an apple from where his saddlebags lie on the ground, and presses her forhead to his velvet nose. There’s an air of ritual about the whole routine. Heptamegistos snorts approvingly, then trots off into the dark, upwind of the fire, to graze with the other horses.
Jennet hobbles to the fire and lowers herself carefully to sit beside it, accepting a mug of tea gratefully. She stares into the heart of the fire as she sips at the tea, lost in thought. Her filmy eyes reflect the orange flickers of the flame.
“Would you mind if we had a look at your saddle’s girth tomorrow, Terri? We think it’s pinching your horse’s barrel somewhere. I can probably adjust it to fit better.”
She smiles at Terri, then the smile drifts away as she fire dances in her eyes. Her lips twich; she moves her hands like she’s holding half a conversation. Then she shakes her her head, shuts her eyes, and speaks loudly to the group.
“The charter said ‘the punishment for unrepentant banditry.’ What do you make of that? Unrepentant.”
"Obviously the bandits who enjoyed what they did, as is the usual for their kind..." Valeria says sourly, before rolling over onto her back, resting her head on her hands as she stares at the night sky.
I hope that this is finally my chance to avenge you both. It's been far to long that justice has not been granted for your deaths.
Terri shifts uneasily at the mention of banditry, her eyes flick out to the sides almost like she's seeing things on the edge of her vision.
Seeing Torod had the mug to Jennet reminds of his offer and plasters an uneasy smile on her face.
"Um, no tea for me. Thank you for the offer, though."
She fiddles with loose end of her belt and feels that prickling sensation that everyone was watching her and waiting on her to do or say something.
"I, um, I'm a fair shot with my bow. I can sneak around, and, um, do... stuff... like... that."
Nothing besides her mouth and hand moved, but she managed to squirm under everyone's gaze like worm on a fishing hook.
"Yeah, thanks for helping Jennet. I've never really ridden horses before."
In fact she hadn't bought the horse until after being selected for the charter.
“You’ll be fine. You have good natural balance. You just need to show your horse she can trust you. She can feel when you hesitate, and she doesn’t like that. Most horses are followers. If they don’t think their riders are in control of a situation, they’ll bolt at the first sign of danger.”
Jennet turns from the fire a moment to squint at Terri.
“A lot of people are that way, too.”
She stares back into the flames.
Somehow, she again manages to squirm without moving a single muscle.
"I, uh guess I wouldn't know."
Let me know if I'm going too far. I won't have her bolt or anything, but I'd like for you guys to be able to trust her not to.
"Huh? Uh, just that people bolt if they feel like someone's not in control."
Terri waves her hands, and smiles, but her motions are too jerky and the smile too strained to be genuine.
Valeria sighs and stretches back onto her bedroll again, saying, "Terri, relax, we're probably just going to wander around the Greenbelt for a few days, detail out a map, and ship it back to the Swordlords, and get paid a nice fee for very little work."
Once comfortable again, she continues, "Besides, we are in good company. Hepty and Strawberry will keep us safe!"
Maybe it was imagined, but it looked like Terri's eyes rolled a little at the last statement. Her hand keeps rolling the old leather at the end of her belt over and between fingers. Her eyes keep nervously glancing out to the shadows.
Asta laughs softly. "'Unrepentant' bandits would be the ones who do not give it up, even if we tell them to, and need to be cut down." she says. "'Repentant' bandits would be the ones who can be drafted into the kingdom's service. If any bandits vow loyalty, they might actually be useful; they'd already know where all the good ambush points and hidden routes are."
Perception: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (18) + 3 = 21
Asta turns her blue eyes on Terri, and the look in them is both amused and knowing. "Your concerns are wise," she says. "So good of you to volunteer to hold the first watch, Terri. I applaud your devotion to our joint safety."
Asta's donkey, which had remained admirably silent until this point, suddenly brays. It is almost as if the little grey beast of burden is laughing at Terri...
Jennet smiles. "It's almost impossible to sneak up on a herd of horses. They only need to lie down for an hour or two a night, and they take turns doing it. On watch, keep an eye downwind--that will be the far side of the fire from the horses--and we should be secure."
She produces a whetstone and sets to sharpening her dagger, not looking at the blade. "Valeria would judge bandits by their intentions, sparing those forced into and trapped in that life. Asta would judge bandits by their utility, sparing those who could be of service to us. Have I understood you both?"
Once everyone is done with their tea, Torod cleans the teapot and cups. He then lays in his tent with the flap open, though he has to remember to open it, so that he can continue to be part of the conversation. "It's not hard, Jennet. If they fight, they die. If they run, they die. If they surrender, they might still die." He chuckles after saying that.
"Well, I was not planning to bear a Half-Elf in nine months' time, so I shall pass," Asta says in an airy tone of voice. She collects a bedroll from her donkey's saddlebags and spreads it out beside the fire.
"I don't get cold that easily," she explains if anyone gives her an odd look.
Terri takes Jennet's advice and keeps vigil over the side of the camp without horses, although she keeps looking at the way they came, almost like she was expecting something to come from that direction.
Perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (20) + 5 = 25
Valeria simply rolls over on her blanket as the conversation turns to joking about bandits.
They've probably never even SEEN a bandit, let alone had to deal with one...
After a few hours sleep, Valeria wakes up and quietly walks over to Terri and whispers, "Get some sleep, hun. I'll take it from here."
Perception: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (15) + 2 = 17
After days of travel into less and less civilized areas...
....at the southern border of Rostland you come to the walled off collection of buildings known as Oleg's Trading Post.
See campaign info tab for information...
The gates are closed though you arrive at midday.
DC 16 (nobility)
Jennet arches an eyebrow at Torog’s tent flap. “So he doesn’t care which one of us joins him? How flattering. Torog knows how to make a girl feel special.”
Finished with the dagger, she tests the point of her shortspear with her finger, finds it still sharp, and packs the whetstone away. She stretches her arms and neck, then climbs awkwardly to her feet.
“Since I can’t take a watch, I’ll pack up camp tomorrow so that those who do can sleep late.”
She drags her bedroll between Asta and the fire and wraps herself up in it, then plants her back against Asta’s.
“You might not get cold, but I sure do. ‘Til morrow.”
As the firelight on her face dims slowly to the red glow of coals, Jennet falls asleep. Almost immediately she is dreaming; her face and limbs twitch slightly in the stillness of the night.
Sorry, typed this up before our arrival at the trading post appeared in the thread.
Feel free to wrap up any previous on the road dialog that is needed.
It is impossible for me to know when to post an update to the thread, so assume you can always do a previously at type of post
Also watch the campaign info tab for updates, though it is ahead of the game thread,
That night while the others rest, Valeria sees Strawberry come up to the camp with a rabbit in her mouth. She deposits it in front of Valeria and pads over to Torod's tent. After sniffing a moment she enters. Torod and the cat seem to fight and argue for a moment before Strawberry comes back out and, as if all is right with the world, goes over to nestle against Jennet.
"You'd think that a place called a trading post would be more welcoming than this. Be on your guard, cat. Torod readies his sling in case there's trouble.
"Maybe they weren't expecting us."
Terri had gotten a little better at riding over the past few days, but she is still far from the rider that some of her companions are. She had also managed to calm down a bit, but the nervous backwards glances still came.
In this case, she was looking at the trading post with an expression of curiosity on her face.
Why does that look like a fort.
A middle age man
opens the gate....
"Hold yer horses, would yah I aint as spry as I used tah be..."
he trails off as he gets a look at you...
"Ladies, welcome to Oleg's trading post."
All around the area are signs of work and repair, a ladder against a wall of the guesthouse suggests the man was working on the roof as you approached.
Previously at camp...
"Ummm, thanks?" Valeria picks up the rabbit by one of it's legs and moves it over by the fire. I take it Strawberry wants to be friends?
As the man opens the gates, Valeria rides her horse on inside, nodding to the man as she passes, "Thank you sir."
Once inside, she dismounts and ties off her horse near what appear to be the stables.
Turning back to the man, she says, "My name is Valeria Windsong. Would you, by chance, be the owner of this outpost?"
Asta grunts sleepily when Jennet lies down next to her, but does not otherwise respond - and does not contest the new sleeping arrangement; it seems she is already halfway to dreamland, if not further.
At the trading post, Asta whistles sharply. The raven named Croft comes flying up and lands on her shoulder.
"Let's not leave any room open for misunderstandings while we're here," she suggests to the bird.
Possibly to the others' shock and surprise, Croft replies in a rough, deep and clearly masculine voice: "Understood, mistress."
When the gate opens, Asta guides her donkey inside and dismounts when Valeria does. She does not address Oleg, but rather looks around, Croft rustling his wings on his shoulder.
Perception check, looking around for anything interesting or out of place: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (19) + 3 = 22.
Asta notices that much is out of place, repairs are evident everywhere.
The carapults at the top of the towers are inoperable.
Holes in the walls have been patched and reinforced new boards abound, in walls, roofs, floors, and even steps.
Oleg: Picture up in campaign info tab...
"Welcome Valeria....Aye! I be Oleg an this be Oleg's Tradin post."
Valeria reaches out to shake the man's hand, and continues, "We're in the area to detail out the Greenbelt for the Swordlord's of Restov. Also going to be trying to deal with whatever trouble seems to be about down here. This is Asta, Terri, Jennet, and Torod," she says, introducing her companions, pointing them out as she goes along.
Terri had slowly calmed down. She still glanced behind the party as if expecting something to be following them, but she seemed to be more comfortable, even playing on a guitar she had the previous evening.
Croft speaking was a surprise, but she managed to recover and bowed her head when introduce.
"Thanks for letting us in Mr. Oleg. It's a pleasure to meet you."
Just realized I never put a description of Terri up. I'm gonna have to fix that.
Jennet stays on Heptamegistos’ back as he circles the courtyard.
“Where is everyone? I expected your trading post to be full of...well, traders, I suppose.”
Sense motive: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (16) + 1 = 17.
Asta gestures to the others to draw closer, and mutters for their ears only: "He isn't just happy to have reinforcements. It bothers him that he has reinforcements. Either he's afraid he'll lose his right to this freehold for being ineffective, or there is more going on here."
Sense Motive: 1d20 ⇒ 20
After watching Oleg and listening to Asta, Valeria walks over to the base of the ladder and calls out, "Sir, is there something bothering you? If so you can tell me, I'm here to help after all."
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (1) + 2 = 3, another + 1 if attracted.
Pppfffffffft. Both ends of the spectrum in one post!
Torod sees to Girty and the other horses before having a look around. After Asta admonishes Croft, Torod does the same to Strawberry. He then nods when he is introduced to Oleg and is surprised that Valeria seems to know him already.
Sense Motive 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (9) + 3 = 12 Torod is just not a people person.
Jennet slides out of Heptamegistos's saddle to the ground by Valeria's side. She stumbles slightly, then slips her arm through the warrior's.
"I hope you don't mind if I lean on you a little in here," she says. She then leans in and whispers in her ear, "Trust me, and trust yourself. This is your time."
Jennet has cast Guidance on Valeria. Valeria may choose to add a +1 competence bonus to any one attack, save, or skill roll in the next minute, before she makes the roll.
Jennet raps on the main door of the trading post, as loudly as is polite.
Valeria helps Jennet as much as necessary. When she whispers in her ear, Valeria stammers, "Um, okay. Thanks?" in response, unsure as to what she meant.
She then turns and waits for a response from inside with the others.
Valeria makes sure Jennet is sturdy enough on her own, then reaches out and hugs the woman. "It's okay dear. We are here from Restov to help. What has been the trouble?"
Let's try this again with Jennet's help. Diplomacy: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (14) + 3 = 17
"The gods send us all to help each other. We are all each others' miracles," says Jennet, reaching out to gently lift the woman's chin.
"If there is no immediate danger, let us sit so we may listen to your tale." She takes a halting step forward. "It is better if I rest my legs after so long a ride."
|Oleg & Svetlana Leveton|
The room is set with several tables. The smell of stew and fresh baked bread greet you. Svetlana pours each of you a glass of water from a pitcher in the center of the table.
"I don't even know where to start.....My husband is a proud man he wants a simple life, away from politics...he took a charter to come here six months ago.....just a few days ago we were told of two things, one that a group of adventurers was coming and also a group of men at arms to guard this area......we have had trouble with bandits and they are coming back tomorrow!"
She stops suddenly
Terri's stomach reminds her that she hadn't had much besides hardtack and tough meat for the past few days when the smells of the stew and the bread reach her nose. Finding a chair that's out of the way of the others int the group, she enjoys the warm hearty meal.
That is until bandits are mentioned and wide brown eyes snap up to the door and stay there for a few seconds, like she was expecting them to bust through right then.
"T-tomorrow you s-s-said?"
Terri's eyes shifted back to Svetlana and the others.
Suddenly she wasn't very hungry.
The mention of bandits doesn't seem to have any effect on Torod's appetite. He gobbles the food quickly, loudly, and sloppily. He barely looks up from his bowl until he's finished then he holds it out for more. Any meat that's in the stew (in his bowl) he tosses to Strawberry Deathstrike who catches it in her mouth. The two of them have obviously done this many many times.
"You keep feeding us and we'll take care of any bandits that come around."