"This thing, whatever it may be, has attempted communication. To refuse reply would only court disaster. How shall we answer?"
"'Bite me on my lily-white arse' would be my suggestion," she murmured in reply before putting away her sword and drawing her bow. With a practiced hand she readied an arrow, aiming at the abomination that the beast was speaking through, but held her shot; she was waiting for a cue from the others.
Dr. Catila Eyesquint wrote:
"I do not think the mayor is dead Daisy, at least not yet..."
Daisy appreciated Catila's words but didn't share her optimism. In her imagination she saw the mayor being dragged into the suffocating darkness of the hole and the picture made her shudder. She'd been called on before to venture below ground but she never was comfortable doing so. She was always acutely aware of the weight of the rock and soil pressing down above her and, no matter how large the cavern, she felt trapped. Give me the forest anytime. I don't know how the Dwarves do it. The prospect of being dragged into a tunnel of collapsing earth made her feel queasy again.
The others were discussing what might have happened when Castila suggested scouting the area. Yes, that's what she needed to get out and do something instead of standing about dwelling on what had happened.
Mevakh came in looking weary and discourged and when he spoke she could hear the pain in voice. She took his hand and just held it.
Dr. Catila Eyesquint wrote:
"So it seems that Orin, Daisy, Songan and myself will scout for clues while you others remian behind to protect the colonists."
Without looking up, she murmured, "Well then, duty calls."
She was slipping on her pack when she heard cries of fright from outside. Drawing her sword, she rushed outside and stared at the fearsome being.
Daisy stared at the hole in the floor. Ya' stupid squawk. Useless t**&. So busy lookin' at the walls somethin' snatched a man right from within'. The mayor's dead an' it's my fault. She wracked her brains on what might have done this. Ankheg? Landshark? On an island great smack in the middle of a bloody ocean? She'd have to talk with Oakhammer about it later. She crouched down and examined the scene looking for scratches, fluids, blood, anything that might tell her what happened.
Perception Roll: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (5) + 8 = 13
She'd heard the whole story by now. The bolt from the sky, the exploding lamp oil. They'd been bringing up the dead and injured from the docks, more of the former than the latter. Mevakh, they said, was still down at the water trying to pull people out and some of the others were talking about salvage. But Daisy was holding back welling despair. They'd been attacked by an enemy the hadn't seen. The ship was gone and with it any communication with Absalom. It'd be months before the church suspected anything was amiss. Weeks after that before another ship could be ready to search for them. That is if the Archcanon didn't write off the whole expedition as a wash.
Orin was pulling Grimfang away from the hole where the wolf had been digging. Daisy gave him a pat, "There's a good fellow." Dr. Krupt was taking charge of the treatment of the victims. That was good.
"Right. I want you all to spread the word. From now on, nae o' you is to be alone and without a sword within reach. That ways at least one of ya might live and let us know what ate the other."
Daisy paused at the gate, uncertain whether to follow Lena or if should stay at the settlement. When a group made to follow the Inquisitor the question settled itself for her.
"Oi! You lot. Where d'ya think your gettin' to? If your goin' out there at least arm yourselves."
We ain't had time to organize a proper militia and these folk will get themselves killed if I let them alone.
"You, the big 'un," she pointed to largest man in the group, "You're in charge. Get to the armory and get yourselves some gear. Then get some blankets." She looked through the gate to where the flames and smoke rose over the treetops, "You'll be needin' to bring back the hurt folk."
"You," she grabbed another man by the arm, "Robert, ain't it?"
"Yours is the gate, Bob. Don' let now one in what you don' recognize. I'm gonna find the healers. They need to be ready."
Daisy was eager to get off the ship that first day, though after six weeks shipboard, solid ground made her feel dizzy and nauseous. Chaldira's cunny, is me stomach ever gonna be right again?
The wagon path hadn't seen travel for a long time, it didn't take much effort to see that. And the colony was as reported, deserted with no sign as to why. While the others poked around the buildings, Orin jerked his thumb at the town walls, "Let's see what's out there."
The walked the perimeter of the colony in silence, each casting their eyes about looking for something that might tell them what was going on.
'Perception and survival': 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (17) + 8 = 251d20 + 6 ⇒ (20) + 6 = 26
The next day found Daisy sitting on the town walls. Her stomach still had been a bit unsettled that morning but she had finally gotten used to being on firm ground again. There wasn't much for her to do as the colonists were settling in. She'd easily found a place in the barracks to claim as her own and stowed her few possessions there. Now she looked out at the jungle and thought, If I was to sneak up on this place, how's I'd go about it?
Before she could answer her own question, there was a boom and a ball of fire rose up in the sky from the docks. She leapt to her feet and prepared to race down there to see what had happened, but she brought herself to a halt. All around her the colonists were doing the same thing. She stood her ground and shouted at one group, "You there! Arm yourselves and get to the walls. Keep a sharp eye out! We don't know what's going on."
She raced to the gate to make sure it was secured. How to make everyone leave the town in a hurry: give 'em something to go out and investigate. She wasn't certain that's what happened to the previous colonists, but wasn't going to rule it out either.
Okay. I'll write the search into my next post and post my rolls there. Also, do you mind that Daisy tried to befriend Grimfang? And does a 24 on handle animal give me the right to say, "Come 'ere, Grimfang! That's a good wolf. Who's mommy's little puppy? You are! Yes you are! Here's a tummy rub."
On the second day out Daisy finally overcame her wariness of Dr. Krupt and accepted the ginger tea he offered. Seasickness had hit her hard from the moment the Coinlord's Pride made open sea. The tea got her on her feet again and, more importantly, brought back her appetite so that within a day she was back to her old self.
Feeling better she fell into the ship's routine. They up at dawn (the sun rising and setting over the ocean was something she decided she'd never tire of). The captain would gather as many as he could for prayer. Piety had never been Daisy's strong suit, but she'd bow her head respectfully. They usually breakfasted on tea and porridge. Every few days they'd give out oranges or some other fruit and insist everyone eat it, not that Daisy needed encouragement there.
Afterwards Daisy would make her way forward for her morning pipe. Sailors finishing their night's watch would gather there for a smoke as well and their company was easy to keep. They'd all watch the clouds and discuss what weather they promised. The sailors would point out the seabirds to Daisy, who was amazed to see them so many days from any land.
When that group would drift off to get their sleep, Daisy return to her fellow passengers. She'd practice her Elvish on Lena (Daisy only knew a few words and phrases, but she desperately wanted to learn to speak it properly). That and Lena would try and teach her "sword forms". Until the voyage Daisy's melee fighting technique had been simple: you swing your sword until you hit something.
As she suspected, she had much in common with Orin Oakhammer. They'd swap bits of woodland lore they knew, and she watched him teaching tricks to Grimfang. She tried to befriend the wolf herself.
handle animal to make friends with Grimfang": 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (18) + 6 = 24
Sometimes she and Mevakh would spar on deck. He with his battleaxe, she with her scimitar. It was clear he was holding back on his efforts and even then he'd keep her at bay more than she'd liked. Occasionally she'd get under his guard and deliver a swat to his posterior which he'd take in good humor. With Songan she'd swap songs. Daisy sang badly but with enthusiasm and she had a large repitiore of risque songs in her head. In the evenings she'd listen to his performances raptly. She still hadn't found out if he liked being scratched behind the ears, though she was dying to ask.
Leralt was silent and withdrawn but Daisy noticed if someone got him talking about arcane matters, he'd open up. So early on in the voyage she asked about the dwarf's god, Botan. The was an awkward moment of silence before the spellcaster explained that a Botanist was someone who studied plants. Daisy would have reckoned that would be a farmer, and said so. Leralt excused himself to go finish his work. They hadn't spoken much since, but she gave herself a point for at least having gotten the man to laugh.
If Leralt was difficult to draw out, Dr. Eyesquint was the opposite. From the moment the gnome woke in the morning until she went to sleep, she was non-stop conversation. And half the things she spoke about were lost on Daisy. Daisy accompanied her around the ship as she poked about. Though, while Daisy was just satisfying her curiousity about the vessel, Eyesquint was determined to "ferret out nefarious doings". Daisy wasn't sure what "nefarious" was but it evidently didn't mean catching two crew members in flagrante in the hold. Daisy stammered out an apology while the doctor went on seeking secret compartments.
She watched Dr. Krupt poke and prod Songan, and ask him all sorts of questions. He, the doctor, was definately an odd one even for a human and there was something unnerving about his total dedication to knowledge, but Daisy had to admit he knew his medicines. She was waking up naseous, but his ginger tea soon had her right as rain. Still, she only talked to him as much as was necessary to be polite.
And so her days went. In the evening, after Songan's performances, she'd clamber into the rigging and make her way to the crow's nest. The sailor on watch always a appreciated a second pair of eyes, though hers were mostly turned skyward. She'd point out the constellations she knew and the sailor would show her the ones he was familiar with. Then it was down to the deck where she'd smoke her last pipe of the day and turn in. Krupt had suggested her smoking wasn't helping her health but on that score, she decided he was an ass.
Daisy stood at the bottom of the gangplank and watched the dwarf trying to entice the wolf onto the ship. "I think yon beastie has got more sense than any of us." She swallowed her own anxiety and went aboard. The deck hummed with activity and, after taking in the captain's greeting went to the far rail to look out over the mouth of the harbor to the ocean beyond.
Girl, what have you gotten yourself into? That's bigger than any lake you been on.
A crewman, Must be Mr. Twitch, was guiding the others below. When he returned to the deck she tugged at his shirtsleeve. "Mr. Twitch, I hate to trouble you but I think I'm best out of everyone's way so if you can point me to me doss, I'll thank you kindly."
Daisy politely declined Oakhammer's invitation, "Thanks kindly, but I gots kin in town and goodbyes, it seems, to bid them." It was a lie, but she didn't want to admit that she a handful of coppers in her pocket and no more. The meal the dwarf proposed sounded beyond her means. A pity, too, for she had no doubt from the presence of the wolf that the dwarf also knew his way around the forest and there'd be much for them to talk about.
"There was a lass and a bonnie lass,
In city quarter where the homes were built small, neat, and hugging the ground, she'd found a pub with a round door little higher than her head. Her coins were enough for a plate of bread and cheese and a 'wee pint'. She'd stood on the table and belted out a song. Another pint came her way and soon she was at the center of a jolly company. When there came a break while her new-found friends refilled their tankards, one of them aked her if she'd dine with him.
He was a presentable halfling with clean hands.
"I've had me supper, but buy me another round and we's can talk breakfast."
She was awake the hour before dawn. Bada (she troubled herself to learn his name) was still asleep and looked like she wouldn't be getting that breakfast after all. Daisy slipped out of the small bed and gathered her clothes. A few copper coins had fallen out of his pockets. She gathered these too. Bada was a clerk in wine merchant's. His room was at the back of the store and his master and family lived in the floors above so she took great care to let herself out quietly.
Daisy didn't know the way to the docks, but reckoned that any water had to be downhill from where she stood. She followed the winding street until she came across a baker just putting his wares in the window. A copper got her a goodly-sized roll, and the other copper got her a long drink from the bucket of a milkmaid on her way back from the barn. The milkmaid pointed her in the right direction for the docks and wished Daisy well.
Asthe sun was coming up, she stood on the dock in front of the ship that was to take her to a new world and a new life. She had, she felt, said sufficient good-bye to the old one.
Mevakh Ahrask wrote:
"Miss Greenways, you said earlier that you know the forests. It will fall to you to lead the expedition through the forest to the fort. If there are dangers lurking in the woods, I will defend you."
Daisy hadn't noticed before but Mevakh had such warm eyes. She blushed furiously at his words and couldn't find any of her own to reply before he turned to the items that the Archcanon had offered. She stood up next to him as he took the muleback cords and put her hand out to claim the campfire bead.
"I was wonderin' about the-"
Before she could finish a voice in the hall interrupted her question.
Dr. Catila Eyesquint wrote:
"So sorry if I'm late Prelate!"
If Daisy's goal was to be as quiet and unnoticed as she could, Dr. Eyesquint's aim seemed to the exact opposite. But she'd never known a gnome that was more than passing acquainted with reticence, and this one seemed more determined than most to fill the room with her presence.
The unfamiliar effects of the coffee combined with the wine was making Daisy feel vivid. Me face is tingling. She found herself watching Songan with wide eyes and following his conversation with Dr. Krupt.
Gellius Krupt wrote:
"... I won't even ask for a blood sample, though if you wish to volunteer one in the name of scientific progress, I'll gladly take it."
Can we find out if he purrs? I bet he purrs. She clapped her hand over her mouth to suppress a giggle.
Be serious girl. She turned her attention to the Archcanon and tried to compose her face into a mask of seriousness.
"How's the land lay? Didja surveys make a map?" It would be good to know what kind of terrain they were headed into.
"I'll hold on to the 'fire bead," Daisy spoke around a mouthful of sweet roll. She'd been the first to take one. She almost took two but remembered a concept called 'manners' and restrained herself. As she continued to munch away the servant offered her a cup of... what was it?...coffee?
It was like nothing she'd had before. A hot black liquid that smelled too bitter to be good, but there was also a hint of smoke in the aroma that was enticing. She took a tentative sip. There was a strong flavor to it that, when it hit the sweet aftertaste of the roll produced something... heavenly. She eagerly took another bite and swallowed some more coffee. Let the others talk their religion, she'd just found god.
Daisy nodded as Leralt explained the glove and the raven. Dead useful the bird. She wasn't so sure about the glove. Mappin' a cave? You have to be daft to go into them. Full o' nasty wicking things, most of 'em slimy. Leaves it to the dwarves.
She blushed slightly at Lena's gentle remonstrance. I warn't sayin' - but she knew the Half-elf was right; how many times had she been looked down on as the daughter of a drunk and a wastrel despite toiling for years to honor his debt?
Daisy had taken a seat behind the dwarf in green armor hoping his bulk would hide her. She'd never been in a room with so many big folk before, never been in a city with so many people before. She'd have gladly missed the whole thing but the invitation had been insistent and it wouldn't have been wise to refuse someone to whom she was so much in debt.
Her chair was meant for someone much larger than her. While the Archcanon spoke she swung her dangling legs nervously until a glare from the woman seated next to her made her stop. She forgot her nervousness entirely when he explained his offer. One year! A friend who was good with sums once told her it would take 12 years before she'd paid off her family debt at the rate she was going. Now she could discharge it in one. The details of how hardly bothered her, how could it be any different from the life she led now? In one year she could be a baroness with 10,000 acres. An' nought ta do but sit 'round with me arse gettin' fatter by the year.
When the room was emptied of all but the seven chosen her anxiety returned. The only thing worse than being in a room full of big people was standing out in a room with only a few big people. She moved closer behind the dwarf so as to be less conspicuous. His wolf sniffed her but turned away. She was hardly more than a mouthful.
She accepted the offered wine gladly and gulped a few mouthfuls until she noticed the others were drinking at a slower pace. Aye girl, ya got the manners of an orc. 'Cept that one there seems to have better manners than me. She studied Mevakh's features carefully before deciding he had to have human blood in him.
The Archcanon spoke again, this time about what was known of the colony's disappearance. Daisy paid closer attention, trying to work out what it might mean. When he showed them the items he was supplying them, she went so far as to crane her neck out around the dwarf to see better. She nodded with agreement as each one was brought out. They were useful and well-thought gear.
Then the introductions. A "wizard of meager abilities" was first. She covered her eyes to hide her expression. Daisy had little use for casters. They blundered about the woods, heads half-lost in their magics, and seldom had the right spell ready when it was needed.
The orc was next. She blushed in embarassment for him when he said he was a slave though he seemed untroubled by the admission.
She had trouble placing the accent of the Doctor Krupt. Not from 'round here, that's for certain. And she wasn't sure of the 'doctor' part either. In her experience physicians were all about leeches, stinking poultices, and amputating limbs.
Daisy was uncertain what an 'Inquisitor' might be, but she was more taken with how self-concsious Lena made feel. She could only hope to carry herself with as much confidence as the half-elf. And from the look of her weapons, she wouldn't be a woman who shrank back from a fight.
Botanist? When the dwarf finally introduced himself Daisy searched her memory for a god named Botan. Never heard of him. But if the Archcanon has no problem with his follower I reckon' he's okay. And he was a cook. Daisy never gave short shrift to the value of a well-made meal. Aye, he's one worth keepin' safe.
The catman in was the next. Daisy had been trying not to stare at him the whole time. Something about him made her want to... scratch him behind his ears! There, she'd admitted it to herself. At the same time she recognized something else about him made it unlikely he'd appreciate it.
There was an awkward moment of silence when he finished before Daisy realized only she was left to speak. She stood up and realized immediately that was a mistake. She was shorter standing than she had been sitting in the chair. She knew the others were looking at a woman wearing clothes and gear that had seen hard use. She was glad that she'd arrived in the city the night before. The bathhouses of Absalom were justifiably famous and had left her cleaner than she had been in years (and she was smelling faintly of lilac-scented soap). She wore a woodsman's green cloak over armor made up of hard wood sewn into a padded tunic. A black-bladed scimitar hung on one hip, a knobby-ended club from the other. Hanging on the outside of the pack at her feet were a small wooden shield and a bow.
"I'm Daisy Greenways. I'm a hunter an' I reckon that's why I'm here. I can bring down a deer at a hundred paces and have it dressed before ya can say 'Jack Robinson'. I know me way round the woods better'n most folks. I'm pleased to meet you all."
She sat down quickly and wished she had more of that wine.
Daisy hasn't had any personal experience with Cheliax but she's heard some pretty nasty rumours: demon-worshipers, imperialistic, and bad tippers.
That said, I made some changes to my character sheet. Didn't realize craft(bows) covered arrows as well, so put that point into survival, added mundane gear, and gave up the cloak of resistance to help cover the handy haversack.
I've 65 gp left if it'll help towards the Wand of Cure Light wounds.