Since I am NPCing Anga for the time being and he's not with the rest of you, I can do a mean thing...
Some stuff happens. You guys are up.
The sun rises on the raptor village. The Champion of Scales and his companions are brought before the village leader for a benediction in a language they cannot understand.
Then, the three are ushered to the edge of village and sent off with shouts of luch and hope in the direction of the Tiger Lords.
The Man of Long Life continues through the forest on horseback, silent for quite some time. Over his many, many years, the court wizard was accustomed to watching his lessers (and betters, for that matter) proceed to their deaths. Jathus was such a man. As was his bodyguard, not the last or first victim of a lordling's foolishness. The quiet archer... what was his name?
The mage remembers the note he found the morning of the spymaster's departure. The Halfblood is too smart to sacrifice himself. Regardless, be it him or this swordmaster, it is a shame that Ferenweni blood must be spilled. Thaegrin glances at the two Thelkonlanders. When they are well away from the village of the Raptor Lords, he breaks his silence. "The bookkeeper had to leave on urgent business before dawn. Tholan, I was able to scry on the Tiger Lord champion last night. It is best that you enter this match prepared. He carries a rapier with a bloodletting enchantment, along with a ring made deflect blows and a cloak woven to resist poison and magic. Evidently he feels a mental deficiency, for he also wears a circlet to bolster his ability to read and reason," he adds dryly.
"Be on your guard. The ancient, primal magic of these woods is not to be taken lightly, and we are two or three days from the Lake. I will aid where I can, but I must rely on your instincts, warbringer, to keep us from getting lost and finding a suitable place to camp."
Perception 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (8) + 9 = 17, aid to Survival 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (4) + 4 = 8, kn: geo 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (13) + 11 = 24
|Tholan the Drolleye|
Tholan, as usual, harrumphs into his beard and nods. "Aye, I'll keep my eyes open. As for that fool of a Tiger Lord, I'll gut him stem to stern and feed him to his pets. Or die. That could happen too." With a chuckle and a grunt, he lapses back into silence, his clouded eyes open and wary.
Perception 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (11) + 10 = 21
Survival 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (18) + 10 = 28
The man of shadows draws his short sword quickly and quietly while keeping it out of sight, with hands well accustomed to their trade.
slight of hand: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (7) + 11 = 18
Taking a defensive stance, he speaks into the grass diplomacy: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (14) + 7 = 21 bluff: 1d20 + 17 ⇒ (12) + 17 = 29 "I am here to apprentice under the Feraweni swordmaster. I have no ill intent towards you."
Ready to attack of need be, Anga awaits a response with eyes open and alert.
perception: 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (4) + 13 = 17
Basically, attack readied from a defensive fighting stance. Hoping to draw the poisoned short sword so that the tiger/tiger-man doesn't see and perceive me as a threat.
Suddenly, a massive, orange head pushes through the long grass almost level in heigh to Anga's.
Presently the countenance blurs as the creature assumes the semblance of a human man, broad of shoulder with pronounced canines.
"Apprentice is it? Surely you mean challenge." He leans in dangerously close to whisper in the spymaster's ear.
"You stink of lizard..."
The large man steps back and regards Anga, waiting for a reply.
|Ezkal the Ordo Hereticus|
The big Druid regards Anga dubiously.
1d20 + 12 ⇒ (5) + 12 = 17
Finally seeming to decide on something, he speaks. "By your smell, you have killed many raptors. This is good. Come, meet with the champion, your fate may lie with him."
A sudden shift and the large cat stands beside Anga once more. With a toss of its huge head it indicate which way to go.
After an hour, Anga and the Tiger-Druid emerge from the long grasses some 100 yards from a lakeside beach. Sitting in a folding chair, feet in the water, is a Farenweni verily riddled in scars. Long apricot hair falls down his naked back.
The tiger stops at the grass' edge and waits for Anga to continue.
With carefully measured steps the man of secrets slowly approaches the Feraweni champion. Keeping uncovered blade hidden at his side he stops a dozen paces away from the man dropping into a defensive stance, though doing so as casually as possible so as to not appear aggressive.
"My name is Dalton Reese, and you are a difficult man to find."
Bluff 1d20 + 17 ⇒ (18) + 17 = 35
Total defense going forward if possible.
Also he's speaking in Erenese.
1d20 + 11 ⇒ (5) + 11 = 16
1d20 + 16 ⇒ (15) + 16 = 31
"You are carrying a blade covered in some toxin or other, your weight is back and rooted to the soil. Tell me, is it me you fear so much or the creature that brought you here?"
The man stands, a full head taller than Anga, and the spymaster notes the exquisite rapier at his side.
The champion turns to regard "Dalton."
The wizard waits patiently to enter the cave until after the Thelkon brothers find it safe and ideal to rest overnight.
Once inside, Thaegrin finds a dry place to set down his pack. Sitting cross-legged, he pulls parchment, ink, and quill from his belongings, and as he does this, asks the Ordo Hereticus, “Do you plan to use your magic to alert us to intruders as before? With the same password?”
He leaves the finer details of camp security to the brothers as he turns to inscribe a spell’s incantations while it was still fresh in his mind from that morning. He flattens a space to work, and dips the quill tip into the inkwell. “I need to concentrate, if you do not mind keeping it down.”
Spellcraft 1d20 + 17 ⇒ (10) + 17 = 27, can’t remember the DC but its lower than my skill mod. Writing a scroll of Unseen Servant (CL 8) and deducting the creation cost of 100gp.
Dropping all pretense of concealment Anga allows the short-sword to rest in a loose grip, but he does not change his stance. "I'm good, but only a fool would seek to learn from his equal. You are a hard man to find, and information regarding a full-blooded Son of the Feraweni is scarce." he let's a small smirk take his face. "I couldn't be sure you would hear my words, and living favors the prepared." The spy casts a side-long glance at the creature nearby. "As for your, companion, I've had few dealings with magic-wielders, less with Drew-ids, and ones that take the form of great-cats? None at all." He shrugs as if to say what do you want from me?
Shifting his weight, Facion maintains a defensive posture, but makes a show of sheathing his blade and holding his hands away from his body.
What are the Thelkon brothers up to? I haven't heard from Jon in a bit.
1d20 + 14 ⇒ (12) + 14 = 26
1d20 + 6 ⇒ (17) + 6 = 23
As Anga slides his blade into its sheath, hand still on the pommel, the Farenweni champion crosses the distance between them with almost a lazy grace and his sword seems to simply appear in his hand.
Even in his readied state, it is all Anga can do to try to keep up with the languid speed of this man.
Suddenly, Anga feels the blade's edge against the flesh of his neck and the man's face is mere inches away.
"I am Thranesh. You are slow half-blood."
Thranesh backs away a pace, removing his blade. "You will need to reassess your definition of good. I am mediocre. You are laughable. This is where we begin. Agreed?"
He is quick. Anga thinks to himself with the detached coldness of one accustomed to death. His face tells a different story though. Rubbing at his neck his eyes don't leave the blade of the sword-master. With an affected pause in his voice he says; "Agreed."
"Fearful" eyes watch the man Thranesh as a calculating mind begins to asses the Feraweni.
Perception 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (9) + 13 = 22
Looking for any new details regarding Thranesh now that Anga has had a chance to see him up close. Notable gear/markings, does part of the man move slower than the rest or does he favour one side over the other. Can Anga determine if he's right or left handed?
Sense Motive 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (2) + 11 = 13
It sounds like Thranesh is willing to train Anga, but is that what is really going on? What does Anga think about the quick blades-man.
|Ezkal the Ordo Hereticus|
Of course. ‘Warbringer’, not ‘Master of Subtlety’... Thaegrin keeps a neutral expression, undecided between disdain and mockery. He looks up from the half-completed scroll. “The Halfblood traveled ahead. When we next meet him, act as though you do not know him. Tholan’s victory depends on it, but that is all I will say on the matter. I intend to observe his progress tonight.”
He looks back down at his scroll and continues writing. "I expect that we shall enter the lands of the Tiger Lords by midday tomorrow. Make whatever preparations necessary."
Thaegrin plans to go a-scrying before bed, keeping the silver mirror-makers in business.
|Tholan the Drolleye|
Go ahead and spoiler your preparations and scryings.
Ezkal and Tholan venture further into the cave and after 80 or so feet, they notice a small fissure in the wall. Without armor, it might allow the big Thlkonese to squeeze through, but a child could likely shimmy through to the other side.
Thaegrin concentrates as he traces arcane sigils over the expensive silver mirror. His ring pulses with green energy before the shimmering surface begins to ripple. The wizard turns his eyes down towards their wobbling reflection, waiting for the spell to complete.
Thaegrin would wait until normal sleeping hours to begin scrying, as to catch Anga while he sleeps, hopefully away from sharp ears. Anga must fail a Will save DC 21 for the spell to succeed. If scry gets through, Thaegrin is going to look around (1d20 + 9 ⇒ (12) + 9 = 21) for anyone close by. If he finds none, or if they are asleep, he will try to cast Message through the magical sensor, at a 40% chance of success. 1d100 ⇒ 38, whew! If Anga is asleep, he takes a -10 to hear a whisper in his ear, and anyone sleeping nearby has to beat a DC 25 to eavesdrop (on top of a -10 penalty). Assuming all that works out favorably, this will be what he first hears...
In Feraweni: “Halfblood… ”
Thaegrin has 80 minutes to talk. Let’s not gab about the Kardashians.
Anga Will Save 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (3) + 3 = 6
Anga Perception 1d20 + 13 - 10 ⇒ (12) + 13 - 10 = 15
Other Perception 1d20 + 16 - 10 ⇒ (1) + 16 - 10 = 7
Anga, sleeping on a cot in the quarters of the champion, hears a familiar voice in his ear. It seems that the champion, sleeping only a few feet away, did not hear the noise.
Gray eyes snap open as the spy instantly wakes. Quickly determining that the sound didn't come from the quarters themselves he rolls and rises to his feet. Silent and swift as shadows he moves to the exit and enters into the cool night air. Affecting a stride of one out for a stroll he nonetheless keeps to the darkest parts of night as a matter of habit.
Keeping his eyes peeled, he searches for the source of the seemingly known voice.
Sense Motive 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (3) + 11 = 14
Perception 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (3) + 13 = 16
Stealth 1d20 + 25 ⇒ (17) + 25 = 42
Almost at once comprehension dawns on the man of shadows. Magic he thinks as he continues his walk. With casual grace Anga begins moving in the sword forms learned in years past, body bending and moulding itself to the mottled shadows of the night. Giving no outward indication that he heard the wizards voice he begins reciting what sounds to be a poem under his breath.
"Dark days and darker nights,
Fierce foes and fiercest fights,
Deadly deeds when time is tight,
But know ye when the moment's right?"
Bluff (Secret Message) 1d20 + 17 ⇒ (19) + 17 = 36
The master of shadows continues for sometime speaking in his improvised verse: to all eyes, speaking to the night, but secretly planning with the far seeing Farenweni wizard.
Their plans made as well as possible, Anga and Thaegrin return to their beds far apart and await the coming day.
"Let's see what you can really do." Thranesh says, his tone not expecting much of a show.
He draws his sword and drops into a fencer's crouch, coiled agains Anga's looming strike.
Anga attacks and Thranesh easily parries the attacks. "Are you sure you know how to use that thing?" He taunts.
Clenching his jaw, Anga lashes out again, this time drawing a bright, red, line fully across the swordmaster's chest.
Smiling now, Thranesh counters. "Okay. Here I come now."
As easily as butchering a chicken, Thranesh flies past Anga's guard and opens several wounds in the half-blood. As the last strike draws away, Thranesh's off-hand explodes in electric energy and the swordmaster's eyes flash dangerously.
Knowing himself out classed, Anga surrenders and asks for a more theoretical approach.
Shrugging, Thranesh expounds for some time on turning speed into power.
Before too long, several tigers, druids sembled all, lead a tall Farenweni in flowing robes into the clearing beside the shore. Two large, broad Thelkonese accompany the wizard.
Following them, a sea of the scaly clan presses forwar, not willing to miss the prophecy's fulfillment.
Tholan and Thranesh enter a ring of burning torches and announce themselves to the tribes.
Swords are drawn and the two men circle. Tholan calls upon Gorum to double his size and attacks, but Thranesh dances in and out of Tholan's guard, taunting and wounding the bearded bohemoth.
When no true challenge was forthcoming, Thranesh calls for a second champion to enter the ring.
Not willing to shame himself, Tholan sets his jaw and presses the hopeless atack, but the swordmaster dances away and taunts again for a second sword to face him.
Up steps Ezkal the Ordo Hereticus, Warbringer and Inquisitor of Gorum. "You will rue the day you faced Gorum's twin steel. Tholan and I will show you the art of war."
A brilliant energy rises around Ezkal as he invokes Gorums judgments. He moves to flank Thranesh and together, he and Tholan easily dispatch to Tiger Clan's Chosen one.
A tense breath catches in the collective mass as they await Tholan's word: will there be unity or war?
Tholan speaks, his voice booming in the hush. "We may seek war, but it will not be between claw and scale! Too long have the men of the forest stood apart from the rest of the world. It is time to join the fray and show how strong we are!"
His words are met with thunderous acclaim and much rejoicing follows.
Before long though, the voice of dissent rises from the masses. Amotekain, son and heir of the Tiger Chieftan calls out. "We will have war! The tiger is supreme and the world must see us bathe in the blood of lizards!"
Old hatreds flare and a small skirmish ensures, Tholan and his allies bring down the haughty young sire, and declare peace once more,
This reaffirming of unified purpose brings a thunderous roar of acclaim from the throng and the celebration lasts long into the night.
Before the sun was fully up the next day. Thaegrin is seen gathering his allies, including a new aquaintence: Iskandarr, second son of mighty Amotekan, Chieftan of the Tiger Clan.
The old wizard gathers his comrades and together they make for the strange disturbance in the northern wood.
To be continued...
After a time of walking, the five travelers come open an open clearing dominated by a crude stone structure. Black, viscous smoke ambles cloyingly in the gaping mouth of the cave-like structure.
As the group approaches, a deep, booming voice whispers from the dwelling. Thaegrin recognizes the language: the dead language, Draconic.
"Wo kodaav dii ofanaat? Nid grit daar yun aar lost meyz wah genuniik zey ko yuvon naal obenaal vuuk nust brud? "
"Who comes bearing my tribute? No doubt these new slaves have come to shower me in riches judging by the costly items they carry?"
Thaegrin speaks in an expressionless tone. "Fos los nii hi laan nol mii? Ahrk fos fen un ofanaat bir? "
"What is it you want from us? And what will our tribute buy?"
A great gout of fire tears forth from the darkened opening, burning the gathered five.
"Fools!" It shouts in common. "Do you not know tha..."
But the wise companions begin their flight before the creature could finish.
They run, tearing through underbrush, around trees, and in and out of gullies: Iskandarr shouting warnings and leading the best paths.
When they are sure they are not pursued, the companions stop to catch their breath and deliberate.
Giterdone. Game on.
Blind gods, I am a fool, to so hastily drop a wealth in arcane scrolls at the dragon’s feet, and all for naught… The wizard breathes heavily for quite some time, well aware that he lacks the youthful vitality of the Thelkonlanders, the Halfblood, and Iskandarr. Now that his mind is significantly calmer, winces at every movement. Saying nothing, he removes potent curatives from his pack, and gulps down the bitter brew of herbs and nutrients. Potion of CSW, 3d8 + 5 ⇒ (5, 1, 4) + 5 = 15
The burns abate somewhat, but not completely. Thaegrin drinks another. Potion of CSW, 3d8 + 5 ⇒ (2, 7, 2) + 5 = 16 The red, raw skin quickly recovers to its normal hue as the remaining pain dissipates. He adjusts his newly finished hat, expressing a moment of annoyance that one side of it was blackened by the flames, though after inspection finds the damage to be superficial, and the wide brimmed, pointed hat fully functional. He sets it neatly atop his head.
His insatiable desire for knowledge demands a return to the beast, but he doubts that his companions would be willing to follow him. Especially the Halfblood. We share a distaste for courage, but the knowledge he seeks is not that of the magical realm... When he is no longer heaving for breath, he addresses the group. “A dragon -evidently not as extinct as the wide world presumes. A most fascinating find, and an incredible wealth of knowledge beneath those hard scales. I would very much like to return, but when I am better prepared.”
He quiets, waiting for others to acquiesce or disagree, while weighing their body language against the words they speak. Sense Motive 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (19) + 11 = 30
Iskandarr's mind weighs the thought of return. Return could mean death in a hellish gout of fire and teeth. The pursuit of knowledge is understandable, but this rarely involves an interview with death. Yet, it could be an interesting conversation... "Within those hard scales also lies a hungry stomach at best and a personality that makes my brother look like the avatar of humility. Yet, if you are confident that your preparations can subdue the dragon, then I will do what I can to help."
|Ezkal the Ordo Hereticus|
"Well. This isn't just a champion of a tribe. That's slightly bigger than what we fought brother! Let's take it as a mount!" Ezkal joked as he regained his breath. Knowledge arcana +6 and then +12 to identify weakness and abilities 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (12) + 6 = 18 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (7) + 12 = 19
Closing the magic-infused pouch on the incessantly whispering mask Anga turns back to the group, his cool demeanor restored to it's usual placid indifference. Feeling the unfamiliar hilt of his recently acquired rapier, Facion says "If we are quite finished with this exercise in futility. We have much and more that needs to be attended to back amongst the civil."
He waits with eyebrows raised in mildly-perturbed question.
I am posting under the assumption that we are still in the forest and not in the city, and you’ll see why…
“Subdue?” the wizard scoffs at the idea, “You are still very young, Iskandarr. I do not think a ham-fisted approach is necessary to such an intelligent and ancient creature. When I return, I merely intend to reason with this beast, and hopefully find a mutually beneficial agreement. Our divinations tell us of its waning power, and I fear this dragon from the underworld may be one of the last, if not the last, of its kind.” He turns an irked glance to the warbringer and his brother, “And attempting to wrangle it as a riding creature would be most unwise. Should you accompany me on my return, can you make a better effort to not provoke the dragon?”
Thaegrin continues without waiting for an answer, “At present, we are ill-equipped to negotiate with such a power. Especially since the price of its appeasement ranged into the thousands in gold, I fear it will be much more costly to reach terms of negotiation…”
The court wizard blinks, but maintains a neutral expression that turns more calculating as the spymaster speaks. Noting the Halfblood’s distaste in the dragon, or perhaps more specifically, dying from a dragon, the scholar nods in agreement with the rest of the silent one’s words. “Indeed. Many tasks lie before us. And speaking of the civil, I believe there was a barbaric encroachment on the Rudianos slaving business not too long ago. If we do not need to visit Lehrehn,” he turns his questioning look from the Halfblood to the others, “then we ought to make for the site of the disruption.”
I wonder if the Halfblood’s shadowed cloak could allow for all of us to travel with him…
Don't consider this meta-gaming as it's what Anga would have done anyway.
"Agreed, Variel." Anga says as he dons the heavy cloak, black as night. Pulling the dark book gifted from the old wizard out of his satchel, he turns it to an ear-marked and oft-frequented page. Scanning down the rows of gnomic text he finds the passage he was searching for. The spymaster closes the tome with a snap and returns it to it's place in the bag before looking up to the group, noting the plus one with no small amount of mistrust.
"If we're all ready? I've had enough of these woods, I see no reason our return to civilization must take as long as our trek here."
Anga is ready to go, he knows the cloak will allow all of us to travel together. He would try to get us as close to the nearest city by the slave auction isle as possible.
Iskandarr shrugs, "Subdue, persuade, so long as we don't have dragon induced deaths, I'm happy. " he says in an accepting tone.
He looks at Anga. "I'm ready."
Having only read of the Shadow Plane in books, the wizard quietly nods that he is ready, unsure if any creatures of darkness will accost them on their short jaunt.
Knowledge Local 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (12) + 11 = 23, Knowledge Nobility 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (2) + 11 = 13, Knowledge History1d20 + 11 ⇒ (10) + 11 = 21, to recall places where great wealth is stored, from banks or affluent merchants, to noble vaults, to hidden treasures lost to the sands of time.
...and how to appease a dragon's greed? We are running out of time...
Thaegrin's mind turns as a distracted look covers his face.
Anga produces a short strip of cloth and hands it to the woodland Druid. "The methods of our travel are not well suited to one of your discipline. If you would." The spymaster pantomimes blindfolding oneself, by the thin line of his mouth and hardening around the eyes you can tell it's no request.
Anga doesn't trust the new guy from the tribe he infiltrated. :D
Turning to the rest of the group he continues. "In fact, you may all wish to do the same. It is unwise to stare too long into the void, lest the void begin to stare back." He holds out a hand. "In any case, we will all need to maintain physical contact during the duration of our travel. Wouldn't want any of you to get lost." The barest hint of a smirk starts to take his face at the dry, and rather dark, joke.
Iskandarr tilts his head and shrugs. I'm surprised there are no nose plugs. He accepts the cloth and puts it on. He turns his head. "As I said before, I'm ready."