A deeply tanned young man with light brown hair and dark green eyes paces the room, waiting for news of the impending charter to explore and perhaps settle the Stolen Lands. About 5'9" and a frame packed with muscle, he has a forgettable face and would not stand out in a crowd, but alone in the room a heavy sense of brooding hangs about him. His road stained clothes and equipment clearly indicate that he has made some haste to be here and the look on his face shows that he is anxious to be about his business.
An elf opens the door to the room and walks in. At first he looks tall, but a second glance finds he is barely 6'; the sense of height being magnified by his thin, almost gaunt frame. A finely coifed head of blue-black hair adorns a face touched by a moon-like silver, while intelligent light-blue eyes assess the other occupant of the room.
In smooth common-Greetings sir, I am called Tirnel. I assume you are also here in response to the present opportunity available in the Stolen Lands?
Clearly overwhelmed by what seems a river of words Milo can only mutter a simple Ummm....yeah.... as he tries not to stare at the first elf he has ever seen.
Wonderful. If this is to be the quality of dialogue I can expect during the times to come I hope the others that join us are more loquacious of tongue. I suppose now I must wait with this country bumpkin until the authorities arrive and give us our charge.
The slender elf moves quietly to the far side of the room and his eyes glaze over as his mind travels elsewhere.
Some time passes. The glazed look fades from Tirnel's eyes and he once again assesses the other occupant of the room, his keen eyes alighting upon the man's bow.
I'm sorry sir, but would you mind over much if I inspected the craftmanship of your longbow? It seems to be different than what I am used to and I'm wondering if I know the maker.
Milo is startled by the elf's words and stops pacing for a moment to process them. Uh...sure. Here. He walks over to the corner of the room Tirnel occupies and hands over his longbow, still clearly a little uncomfortable being in the presence of an elf.
If this guy says he knows the maker, I'll eat my boots.... Although who knows what an elf might know? They say that the magic of the land flows through their bones and they know many things that are hidden from mortal eyes.
Tirnel takes the offered bow gently, almost reverently, into his hands. His pale blue eyes taking on an intense gaze as they flow over the craftmanship of the weapon assessing it critically.
appraise: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (2) + 9 = 11
craft/bow: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (1) + 9 = 10
How strange...In all my years of training I have not encountered a bow with such 'unorthodox' construction. The materials are coarse and the handling seems unwieldy. I wonder if it can even fire a shot or if it is just the heirloom of a country yokel.
After a few moments Tirnel hands the bow back to the man and tuts in disdain, Not to be rude, but it almost seems as if the person that built this had no basic concept of how to actually make a functioning bow. And the materials seem like they could have been pulled from the ruins of barn. Certainly not top quality.
Milo's tanned face flushes even darker with a mix of outrage and embarrassment, shoulder muscles knotting up as his hands clench hard around the received bow, any sense of awe that he had in meeting an elf evaporates as he blurts out harshly-I'd watch my mouth if I were you sir elf. This bow was given to me by Yegalash Longstride and crafted by his hands. I could shoot a diving hawk out of the sky from a 100' or more and I could certainly pierce the tongue of a rude stranger from a much closer distance.
Did I say something wrong? By the Weave! I will never understand the human mind....
The name is Tirnel, Tirnel Stargazer and if I somehow offended you I apologize for my words. I did say 'not to be rude', did I not? Customarily that is meant to deflect any offense that might be taken from the words that follow. Maybe I said it wrong... In any case it is good to hear that you may have more skill at conversation than I first assumed. You have shown me your bow in good faith, please allow me to return the favor. Maybe upon inspection of the quality of my recurve you will understand my position.
Tirnel smoothly offers over his supremely crafted bow to the flustered human.
Milo again is a bit taken aback by the flow of words that emanate from the Elf's mouth. Deadeye's felt! This guy has used more words in a breath than I'd say in a week.
Whatever response Milo was going to give is stifled as he sets eyes on Tirnel's offered longbow. He gently takes the bow in hand and lightly pulls on the string. After a few moments he hands it back to Tirnel, his momentary anger dispelled by his admiration of the craftsmanship of the weapon.
My name is Milo, and your words about my bow ring hard in my ears because it was crafted by my mentor who has recently gone missing. That's why I'm here. However, having seen the workmanship of your bow I can understand your words a little more. Who made your recurve? It almost seems like it was grown, not constructed.
Tirnel smiles at Milo's praise of his weapon.
You have a keen eye for bows Milo and I appreciate your kind words. My bow was in fact grown, and the maker is none other than myself. I spent the better part of 20 years nurturing the tree that this bow came from. Seed to sapling to oak I saw it grow. The tree that gave me this gift is doing quite well last I checked in the Gronzi forest. If we become companions, then perhaps I will be able to craft you something similar. Although, given your apparent strength I would need to also add bone and sinew to the recurve to allow you to gain the full benefit of it. I have heard that some Dwarven master craftsmen have been tinkering with bows made of metal and gears that can accommodate the great pulls of mighty warriors. I'd be fascinated to see one but to be honest I'm not sure I would want to use one regularly. Seems quite unnatural to my mind.
Tirnel pauses for a moment, his mind finally looking past his own contemplation and recognizing the first part of Milo's statement.
You said your mentor has gone missing, I am sorry for your loss. I assume you mean to find him in the Stolen Lands and thus you are hear in response to the Charter invitation?
Getting somewhat used to the barrage of Tirnel's words-Yes. Yegalsh went on a deep patrol and did not return. I aim to find him or at least what has become of him.
Milo seems uncomfortable sharing more than that and returns to his pacing about the room, awaiting whatever authorities are to issue the Charter and any other souls that will accompany him into the Stolen Lands.
Tirnel looks at Milo with some new respect, They do say that still waters run deep. I would never have thought much of him from first impressions, but he would seem to be a good companion to have in the wilds of the Stolen Lands.
The elf's eyes glaze over once again as he contemplates what the crafting of a bow for his potential new companion might entail.
The young man continues to walk about the room, anxious and perhaps a bit nervous. It's almost as if he is marching the steps to the Stolen Lands in his mind's eye. Clearly he's not used to nor especially fond of being indoors and is quite anxious to be about his business.
Milo's constant movement might be a distraction to some, but Tirnel's mind takes the idle time to disengage from the current world and drift over the many possibilities that will face him in joining a band of adventurers and travelling into the Stolen Lands. His family had moved to Brevoy before he was born and he had never left the Kingdom in all the years since.
His studies had indicated that the River Kingdoms bordering Brevoy were closely aligned to the First World and the realms of the true Fey. It in these areas of 'thin' borders that magic could be used to traverse to and fro. Tirnel hoped to do just that (once he was strong enough of course) and explore the lands of the Eldest from which the Elves had sprung in the first of days before coming to the Material Plane.
I wonder what other companions of use will join this venture? Milo seems stout enough, but it will certainly take more than the two of us to best the dangers of the Stolen Lands.
The door opens, in walks a stout dwarf, 4'2" 180 lbs.
He looks around at the patrons and his eyes alight on Milo and Tirnel. With a smile creasing his face, he makes his way over to the duo.
"Hail, I'm Kentaur Kreffe. A priest of Abadar. You two match the description given to me by my superiors. What an exciting time! Starting a new civilization in the wilds. Taming the wilderness, developing trade and growth, and of course a new church. I am really excited, let me tell you!"
Kentaur pauses, a little out of breath.
"Hey, I thought there was going to be one or two more of us. Have you seen them?"
Well, the plot thickens...a dwarf and a priest of Abadar no less! At least there will a civil tongue to converse with during our venture.
Greetings Kentaur, my name is Tirnel Stargazer, a wizard of no small skill, and a priest of The First Vault is welcome indeed. I for one, am a great fan of wealth and the luxuries of civilization and although my reason for being here is to discover and explore ancient ruins, that certainly does not mean that I wish to inhabit them!
Tirnel smiles broadly at the newly arrived dwarf, his eyes looking over his equipment to asses the quality of the craftmanship.
In walks a tall, strapping young lad, with black hair and piercing dark gray eyes. He's clad in scale mail and has a falchion strapped to his back.
After spying you three, he approaches and raises his hands in greeting, "Erastil's blessings, you look like the ones I seek. I am Ibram Gauntt, warrior of Erastil. I am ready to bring peace and protection to the Stolen Lands."
Shortly after Ibram has been greeted by the other three, a human walks in with a handful of official looking paper scrolls. He is tall and muscular, with the look of a professional soldier, his dark hair is flecked with the first touches of gray at the temples, mail is apparent under his cloak and a long sword is at his side. He quickly surveys the room and heads towards the group of four.
"Ibram, Kentaur, Milo and Tirnel, I presume? I am Kesten, a captain of the guard, here are your charters signed by the regent himself. Best you leave right away for the Trading Post, Oleg has sent word of bandits, and the city has few men to spare, though I hope to make it to the Trading Post myself in a week or so." He hands you each a scrolled piece of parchment.
After looking you all over carefully, Kesten gives an extra scroll to Ibram. "In case you can recruit another."
Seeing a fourth person enter the room, Milo starts to get a little nervous There are a lot of people in this room. Maybe they can open a window or something. Feels almost like we are going to run out of air....
Hearing Ibram's introduction, Milo for the first time smiles and he walks quickly to greet the new member of the group. Speaking with noticeable excitement in his voice.
Welcome Ibram. My name is Milo and I also follow the ways of Old Deadeye. It will be good to travel the Stolen Lands with another follower of the Huntlord.
Now-Milo listens attentively to Kesten's words. The rangers of his patrol had always reported their activities to some authority in the city, although he did not know whom. Taking the paper in his hands he looks over the words, making them work in his mind but with difficulty. 'Unrepentant'? Guess that means really bad... Well at least I know we get to kill bandits one way or the other. I don't plan on wasting any good rope on those bastards though.
Otherwise he sits quietly, hoping the others can come up with something good to ask. He's just anxious to be out of the city and back on the road, with hopes of finding his mentor.
Tirnel looks Ibram over quickly and is surprised to see Milo speak so warmly to him. Should have figured him for a follower of Erastil given his country ways. Looks like our group is rounding out quite nicely. With these strong arms at my side, I'm thinking my safety will be quite a bit more secured.
Now-Tirnel absorbs Kesten's message and quickly digests the message on the paper. I wonder how this Kesten earned this duty and if he's happy with it. Seems like quite a serious fellow.
sense motive untrained: 1d20 ⇒ 13
He looks at his new companions and not seeing any with an immediate question voices a few of his own. What resupply and reward can we expect as we clear the area around this 'Oleg's'? Also, is Oleg chartered as well; what is his official position in this venture? Finally, outside of general banditry are there any specific dangers we should prepare for?
He waits patiently for an answer; delighted that the adventure appears to be about to start at last.
Kesten turns his gaze towards Tirnel making him feel a bit nervous as he listens to the answer to his questions.
"As to your first question, the Swordlords will pay 400 gold for 8 bandit heads, just show proof to Oleg and he will send word and you will get your reward, whatever treasures the bandits possess are also yours to keep or sell, I am sure Oleg will buy many of the goods that you have no use for. As to Oleg, his Trading Post is the first and currently the only settlement in the Stolen Lands so he is your sole connection to Restov and the Swordlords. As for dangers, its wilderness, so you should expect anything and everything."
Tirnel analyzes the information Kesten provides. That makes sense I suppose. Payment for problem resolution; one base of support; it is truly the wild frontier. I wonder why Oleg decided to set up camp out there? He must be braver than most. It will be good not to have to come back to the city to sell our spoils.
Thank you Kesten.
Tirnel waits to see if any of the others have questions.
Sitting at a table by himself a half-elf listens intently to the exchange between a group of males.Are these the four I was suppose to find? They seem to be an interesting odd assortment of adventurer. I shall introduce myself when the Captain of the Guard leaves. I wonder if they would like some company in their travels.
Tirnel prepares his few belongings, More than ready, but do any of you have a clue on how to get where we are going and how long it takes to get there? Knowing one's destination is of huge benefit in actually arriving there at all, much less in one piece.
Milo looks at the rest of the party a little sheepishly, I've been to Oleg's, or near enough anyways. On patrol the furthest South they would let me range was a few hours from there. On a clear day you can see it from some of the hills if you looked hard enough. I'll lead the way unless someone else wants to. Clearly he wants to help, but is unsure of what he should do and seems to have no interest of being in charge.
A 6' 1" half elf quietly walks up to the party. He has an air of smoothness to his actions. He seems able to take in the room and his surroundings with ease. He is wearing studded leather and carries with him a long bow and rapier. It appears he knows how to use them. Greetings, my name is Quinray and I believe I am to be the last member of your party. I have heard The Stolen Lands are very dangerous, and believe the more adventurers to go together will meet with success.
Milo coughs in astonishment at Ibram handing over the paper, Wait just a moment; that's IT? Some strange half-elf comes up AFTER we have received our commissions from the authorities and you simply hand him a charter? How do we know he isn't a bandit infiltrator or some other undesireable? He blushes after this rush of words, clearly uncomfortable talking that much and maybe feeling a bit embarrassed at his wild accusations. He moderates his approach somewhat, No offense Quinray, but I've spent the last few years patrolling against bandits and this is just the type of tactic they would use.
Well he's clearly at least part elf and that means he must be at least part good. Welcome cousin! Tirnel is clearly ready to accept the newest member of the newly formed group.
From Restov the party heads west on the South Rostland Road towards Oleg's Trading Post, a journey that takes the better part of five days.
Late in the afternoon on the fifth day, the party reaches the trading post. It is located just south of the road and is surrounded by a rectangular wooden palisade that encloses an area of about 90'x120' and stands 10 feet high. At each corner of the palisade are 20-footsquare watchtowers. There’s one entrance through the palisade, a 30-foot-wide wooden gate, which is open.
Through the open gate you can see a middle aged balding man working on the roof of what appears to be a stable. On the other side of the compound you can see a middle aged woman with black hair moving about a firepit preparing a meal. Whatever she is preparing smells delicious.
Tirnel frowns in thought-Well the place looks stout enough. Can't imagine how they have trouble with bandits; just close the gates! I suppose there's more to it than that. Good thing we are here to put their troubles to rest. I wonder what that smell is. Yuelra's weave but I'm hungry!
Addressing the party-Well I suppose this is Oleg's. I don't suppose they will be getting a lot of bed and breakfast business from Restov's upper class, but maybe we could barter for a taste of whatever it is that smells so delicious. Ibram, you have an honest face; mayhap you can make with the introductions?
Ibram enters through the gate and approaches the man..."Hail sir, Erastil's blessing on you. By chance, are you Oleg? And if not can you direct me to him."
Ibram smiles and gestures to his companions, "My friends and I come from the Swordlords and have business with him."
The man on the roof finishes nailing a shingle and then looks toward Ibram as he climbs down from the stable roof.
"I'm Oleg, took your sweet time gettin here didn'cha? Your business better be guarding this outpost and taking care of bandits. They are robbing me blind and should be back late morning tomorrow if they keep to their schedule."
"They've come once a week for the past 3 weeks, took money each time sayin' it was for protection. Bastards took my wife's wedding ring the last time they were here. Heard'em talkin about some bandit leader called the stag lord, though I never saw that fella. The first time 10 of 'em came but after that it were only 6, each time they came in the late morning."
Tirnel looks questioningly at Milo, Um....yes,....quite. While I don't share Milo's...'enthusiasm'...certainly with the element of surprise, and some fair strategy, we should be able to handle six ruffians with minimal fuss. Maybe we'll get lucky and there will be eight so we can collect the bounty Kesten mentioned back in Restov.
I assume they all come into the stockade and refresh themselves, yes? That being the case we should be able to position our more melee oriented members he motions to Ibram and Kentaur on either side of the back of the gate. Out of sight as it were and ready to close the gate and stop our 'visitors' from leaving without permission; which given Milo's apparent distress, is not likely to be forthcoming.
Quinray has proved quite handy with that longbow of his and we can place him in an elevated position atop one of the towers (preferably catwalk along the wall of the gate if available). This will give him a field of fire both within and without the palisade.
Not sure where you usually are Oleg, but I would suggest you be on the roof like today. That way you can address them and lure them in, but be kept out of reach when the inevitable hostilities arise. If we have Milo stand down below and make it look like he is assisting you, he can also use his bow or blade as the case may call for.
We'll keep Mrs. Oleg indoors and completely safe from harm, provided the food I smell tastes as good as I think it does. I would stand between her and a host of dragons for a good hot meal at this point.
Finally, I will join Quinray at his position (if on the gate catwalk) as my spells require me to be closer to the foe than I would like and I'm handy with a bow as well.
If we can keep young Milo from slaking his bloodlust on all of the villains we should try and capture at least one for 'questioning' as to the whereabouts of the rest of their ilk.
Tirnel looks at the rest of the party, Any other thoughts? With Desna's luck we catch them neat and clean. If things go sideways we get to see if you lot are really handy with your blades. With Quinray and my supervision of course.... With the last he smiles beamingly at Quinray.
Pic/diagram of the trading post is here:
You are currently standing and talking at A1. Oleg shows you the guest house A2 where you can sleep and put your belongings. He introduces you to his wife Svetlana who serves you the best meal in recent memory at the tables around the firepit. A4 is a storage shed where bulk goods can be stored, it has a roof but no walls. A5 is some composting pits. A6+ is where Oleg and Svetlana live and where you suspect the more valuable trade goods are kept. There is a catwalk along most of the wall as you can see in the picture. The wall is about 10' high and the catwalk is about 6' above the ground.
Svetlana smiles and is as friendly as Oleg is grumpy.
Svetlana to Ibram: "Did you get enough to eat? You look a bit thin, a good wife is what you need. I have a couple of nieces, either of which would do very nicely for you."
Any other questions for Oleg or Svetlana before heading to your room? Any watch?
Oleg closes and bars the gate when the sun goes down and tells you he will open it back up at sunrise.