"Explore more, yes. I would like your group to try further up river...perhaps a few days' travel, again, taking care to avoid contact with any Skraeling settlements, and determine if it's navigable beyond that lake you discovered. Of course, we'll take tomorrow as a day of rest and mourning for our lost compatriots."
Rommin Hawkridge wrote:
I think it is a down the road kind of plan. Have we accounted for all the missing colonists? It seems like there were more... If so, we need to continue on looking for answers.
If there are more, than I've forgotten about them. Everybody who went on this team has been accounted for.
It's a long, sad journey back to the colonial campsite, and well past dark by the time you arrive back. Shouts go up as your torchlight is spotted, and Lord Brycen, Sir Kheiron, Falcon Gray, Harrolayne, and Imogene are on hand to greet you. Hopeful faces on the men are dashed as you return alone and empty-handed. The women's faces are expressionless.
"I am truly sorry for your loss. For the loss of the whole colony," Lord Brycen says, his face filled with sincere pain and sympathy.
Lord Brycen nods. "Do not misunderstand me. You are most welcome in our camp. We are new to these lands, and any help that you can offer us to survive will be most appreciated."
He bows slightly, then turns to Sir Kheiron. "If you all will excuse me, I believe I shall retire to my tent. Sir Kheiron, let me know if the apparition returns."
With the ease of a seasoned swordsman, Lord Brycen doesn't even wait for Sir Kheiron's nod before sheathing his sword and heading for his tent. He stops in shock as his sword misses its mark in the leather and crashes to the ground, bouncing several times before landing 10 feet away.
"What the--?" he mutters as he moves over to retrieve the weapon. He sheathes it more carefully, succeeding in securing his weapon, shrugs, and heads off. "Damn, I'm tired."
"It would seem that that was not the answer she was looking for, Mr. Noche'Wa," Lord Brycen observes dryly, never losing his composure, though his knuckles upon the hilt of his sword are as white as ghosts themselves. "I would ask that, in future diplomatic endeavours with restless spirits, you not make decisions on behalf of all of us without consultation. Perhaps your people don't feel this way, but back home, we take the undead very seriously."
Landis Thatch wrote:
Lord Brycen slowly exhales a tired sigh. "I appreciate the offer, but if they have run into trouble, it's not likely that a few men would be able to do reach them in time to do anything but recover their bodies. No, we will give them until morning, and then form a search and rescue party, on which I promise you will be."
Lord Brycen looks up from the greatsword he has been oiling to see you approach. First, he smiles with what looks like relief, then he must notice Noche'Wa because his hands instantly tighten on the sword's hilt for a moment before relaxing, then weariness sweeps over his face.
Finally, he speaks (in Taldane). "I assume that you did not seek out this contact, and were simply unable to avoid it. I suppose it had to happen at some point." There's no challenge or sarcasm in his voice, just tiredness.
He stands and holds his arm out, hand open.
"Greetings to you. I am Weroance (means chief) Brycen of this village. Have no fear - no one will harm you within our camp."
Diplomacy roll:1d20 + 2 ⇒ (1) + 2 = 3 Wow. He's really tired! Brycen comes across as seemingly uninterested in this meeting, apparently distracted by other worries and concerns.
Once you've all gathered at the quick meeting, Lord Brycen starts off with smiles and an excited, intense energy. His first priority is to hear from the group the things they've learned and discovered. With that done, and reports that no natives other than the two bodies, he turns towards exploration.
"While we have an infinite number of directions to explore, three come to mind as important: along the shore in both directions, and up river. The guards and soldiers we need to protect the village, so that leaves you folks. And yes," he adds at a throat-clearing from Harrolayne, "our recently-liberated prisoners as well. Imogene and her crew will head north along the coast, Mr. Grainbreaker and Vero will take Niesen, Maenir, and a pair of soldiers south along the coast, while Rommin will take the rest of you west along the river. Each group will go half a day's travel, avoiding direct contact with any natives if possible, and return with news on what they find. Questions?"
Actually, it's message, not sending, and I see now that it doesn't have to be sent to only one person, but one per level, which means everybody could hear these missives and respond to Lord Brycen.
A third casting of it comes back. Understood. We will take the ships out of range of the field and return in 24 hours. Good luck."
Once back at the beach, Rommin hears a whispered message from Lord Brycen, "Please report on progress. Our livestock near death from dehydration. If necessary, we will have to take the ships out of range of this field."
Rommin has 25 words with which to respond, or they could row over and report in person.
Catching Alexis' look...
"Now, I think we've covered everything. Sir Kheiron, Harrolayne and I shall be spending this night on the beach with the colonists. Please have whatever preparations you feel necessary ready within the hour." Harrolayne gives a start; she clearly had no idea that she was sleeping on the beach and is not pleased by the prospect. Sir Kheiron nods and heads off to see to arrangements. "Let's put up a united front, folks, for the good of the colony."
"All right then. We have two parties, each trying to antagonize each other with words and intimidation, and things have gotten out of hand. I think the yoke of being prisoners has worn thin enough for Imogene and the others, so let's get them off the ship so that they may start contributing, as per their sentence. Imogene, your crimes are not absolved, and you will not be given the option to return with the ships when they depart in a month, but it was never intended that you and your friends were to remain under lock and key for the entire expedition. Behave yourselves, contribute to this new society in a positive way, and one day you may finds yourselves free in the true sense of the word."
He then turns to Ravarath. "These 'charges', I'm dismissing out of hand, but I am imposing a peace bond on the Pathfinder contingent. You will keep your distance from the prisoners - former prisoners, and they you. Any more trouble from either party will be met with the lash. That may not be fair, but I will keep the peace. You," he points his finger at Alexis, "are supposed to be a leader in this colony, and as such need to set an example of decorum for the rest of the colonists. I will brook no more childish tantrums in full public view. You will keep your romantic issues under wraps. The last thing I need is for the common citizenry looking to their leaders for example and deciding that it's okay to haul some person they have a beef with into the open for a public humiliation. If you can't abide by that, you can be voted off the ruling council as easily as you were voted on it."
He turns to Falcon. "I assume you have no complaint about your dropped charges?"
Falcon shakes his head. "None, my Lord, but his insubordination still stands, both as a colonist, and as a Pathfinder."
Brycen shrugs. "I think there was a good deal of backroom goings-on that will be best forgiven and forgotten by all sides. As for your Pathfinder issue, that is your own affair, I cannot interfere there. You are free to discipline your subordinates in whatever reasonable manner you see fit, although from my understanding of the Pathfinder Society and its hierarchy, you are all a fairly loose-knit lot in the best of times with little hierarchy to speak of. You aren't Venture-Captain of anything yet, and as such, have no real authority at all. In any event, you well know that this whole jail threat of yours was just a desperate attempt on your part to salvage whatever dignity you had remaining." Falcon goes beet red and Harrolayne snickers. Brycen barks a laugh. "What I don't understand is that with all you've told me, was 'unlawful confinement' really the best you could come up with?"
"I'd rather not say, my Lord."
"I'm sure you wouldn't, Mr. Gray, but you will anyway."
Falcon exhales through gritted teeth. "It was the least charge I could think of. Technically, he assaulted her, but that crime has a much stiffer penalty associated with it. I was...I was trying to get him back in line without hampering the Pathfinder contingent." Harrolayne laughs outright.
"If that was your goal, then wouldn't it be best to forgive and forget everything and not expel him from the Society?"
"No, my Lord. I may not have actual authority at the moment, but I have implied authority over these Pathfinders, and if they are unwilling to act as I direct them, then they are useless to me, and to the Society. Perhaps, if he apologized and demonstrated a willingness to work within the hierarchy we have, both colonial and Societal, then a reinstatement would be possible. Both he and Alexis here seem to think that her bloodlines somehow advance them beyond the position they have. I tried to warn you of that when you put her on the council, but..." Brycen waves him off.
[b]"Fine, perhaps things could have been clearer. The colonial command structure is as follows: me, Harrolayne, Camder, Gray, Kheiron, Alexis, then Acaman Beeron among the colonists should we all befall some grievous ill. Is that clear enough to suit you, Falcon?"
"Imogene, list all of the magical effects, spells and other abilities, that you have or have had recently at your disposal," Lord Brycen demands.
"Ummm, yes, my Lord. I can grow dragon-like claws on my hands, fire spells I cast are a little more potent than other people's, I can cast disrupt undead, ray of frost, detect magic, message, shield, and ray of flame."
"That's it?" Brycen asks, a little incredulously.
Imogene scowls, and replies hotly, "Not all of us wizards have had the luxury of private tutors at our beck and call. Some of us have had to figure magic out on our own."
"And you have or have had no magic items, potions, elixirs, wands, etc.?" Brycen asks.
Imogene laughs. "I've practically been subjected to full body cavity searches every morning and every night since we left Cassomir. Where exactly do you think I would get my hands on a wand?"
"Just answer the question, direct and plain," Falcon growls.
Imogene tosses her head defiantly. "Fine!" She adopts a patronizing and mocking tone. "No, I do not have and have not ever had any sort of magic item in my possession since we left Cassomir. In fact, I don't think I've ever even held a magical item ever in my whole entire life. Besides, if I wanted to bewitch you, old man, all I'd have to do is wave these around and you'd follow me anywhere." She jiggles her t&%! at him and giggles.
"So were you trying to goad Ravarath during the journey?" Brycen asks.
Imogene's giggles die away. "Yes. Sort of," she mutters.
"To what end?"
She shrugs. "He was so mean to me the last time, giving me orders, not even letting me say anything or contribute the first time we went out, kept telling me I was being rude, I just thought that this time, I'd be as polite as I could be. Put him off balance a little. I didn't realize he was so imbalanced already!"
Once you arrive, you are quickly led into the aft cabins. There you find a visibly annoyed Lord Brycen, along with Falcon, Harrolayne, Imogene, and Sir Kheiron somehow squeezed inside. Imogene, her wrists still raw from the ropes, is sitting against a wall. She visibly flinches as Rath enters the room.
"My Lord," Imogene starts. Brycen cuts her off with a raised hands, "Shut it!!" he snaps.
"Alexis..." Falcon starts.
"I said, 'SHUT IT'!" Brycen responds.
If Alexis or Rath decide to say anything, they too are cut off with equal politeness, then he says, "I said, nobody says a word until Camder gets here. Where is that damned priest!?"
"You bellowed, my Lord?" Camder calls from the doorway.
"Finally. Before any of you decide to say anything, ANYTHING, Camder will be putting up a zone of truth spell. You will all, ALL OF YOU, allow yourselves to succumb to its effects. Camder will then be taking copious notes about what everybody says. If I find out that any of you resisted the spell to lie about what happened today, I will cut...off...their...head. Understood?" He waits for everybody's nod, and then waits for Camder to cast his spell. The DC is 16 if either of you want to resist it.
"Falcon Gray has already given me his report, but now I'll get him to repeat it under the zone of truth. Falcon."
"Very nice, indeed. I am hesitant, however, to lump all of our prisoners into one scouting party unto themselves without supervision, though I agree they should be used. There are eight in the Pathfinder group, plus Hildandi makes nine, and there are 6 prisoners for a total of 15, and five directions to scout. Seems to me we could make 5 groups of three, spreading the prisoners out as best as we are able to be supervised by Pathfinders. And not a day's march, though, let's start with a half-day's march, and if anything of interest is detected, the Pathfinders can make a more thorough assessment the next day."
"I would be very much interested in trading for both of those spells, my Lady, as soon as a moment presents itself. As for smiths, we have several blacksmiths on the roster, but only one weaponsmith, in addition to your bodyguard, Sir Elorin. Alas, a forge will not be the first priority, as we need to build walls, guard towers, and shelters, but when it does come time, your input will certainly be appreciated." He pauses in thought for a moment.
"You know, since you want to establish a rapport with the smiths, I do have one suggestion for you. There has been some resistance from the smiths in accepting the afore mentioned weaponsmith into their little club, as it were, mostly because Chase...I think you know him as 'Goon', is one of the condemned prisoners. My understanding is that his skill level far exceeds any of the others, who are mostly glorified apprentices. Perhaps if you could find a way to smooth things over there, get them to accept Chase as one of their own, it would go a long way to ensuring that you have ready access for repairing your weapons."
So is the plan to send all 4 ships back? Does the fleet have enough crew (minus the Pathfinders, etc.) to man all four? Or could we keep the Rose for exploration - whether immediate or later on?
"I believe that we shall retain the Rose of Cassomir for exploration along the coast, although I doubt we shall make much use of it for the first several months while we are getting settled. Our primary concern is starvation, disease, and unfriendly natives attacking from land."
It takes a few seconds of concentrating on the detect poison for the aura to fade. Brycen is unconscious and doesn't stir. The three of you are able to coax the comatose lordling to swallow his medicine.
It's a good twenty minutes or so before Brycen regains consciousness. He gazes up at Alexis, takes in a few weak breaths, and says, "I never believed in angels before, but now I've seen them - two of them!"
Okay, I couldn't resist, Brycen actually says..."Pathfinders. I am...alive. How?"
Brycen looks at Alexis and sighs a big long sigh. He casts a message spell of his own, points at Alexis, then proceeds to talk in a voice everybody can hear, "Most of Ravarath's vision has to do with Ravarath himself. There is no way to know if danger could be avoided by moving on, staying still, or maybe moving backwards - none of the images he told us about say anything about direction. The danger with relying on visions and prophecies is that they convince you to change a course of action from a perfectly safe one into a dangerous one. I am waiting here, because without those two ships with their personnel and supplies, our survival in Arcadia is highly unlikely. I need to know if we have to turn back, find port along the western shores of Rahadoum, and purchase more ships and supplies. We will keep a sharp lookout for enemy ships, and prepare for what looks like a nasty storm, just like we would do without Ravarath's prophecy. If you want to know how your contingent can help...ask the Captain. I'm sure he'll have plenty of things for you folks to do to help keep the ship afloat."
"Watch your tone, Captain," Brycen snaps with a dangerous tone in his voice. Theodric knuckles his forehead and bows his way out of the discussion.
Brycen turns on Rath. "You, I'll keep close to me for the time being. I may need your embrace at a crucial moment." He barks a laugh. "Maybe you vision means that we're going to become lovers! My wife would love that!!"
Lord Brycen spends several LOOOOOOOOOONNNNG heartbeats studying the monk in front of him, considering. Rath feels his skin being peeled back (figuratively) and his insides examined (also, figuratively).
Brycen whips his hand out suddenly and the man's coat flies across the small cabin and slides onto the man's back. The books on his table snap shut, and the sword hanging on the wall flies into his grasp. "Hell," he states simply and makes for the door (which opens for him).
He storms out on deck, scanning. Spotting Theodric on the aft deck, he shouts up a call for "Battle stations!". Theodric doesn't hesitate in relaying the order, and Brycen clambers up the ladder to the aft deck to join him. Seeing Pathfinders begin to straggle up on deck, he points a finger and calls out, "You. Up here. Now."
When all are assembled, he turns to Rath, and commands simply, "Talk."
It's not too hard to find Brycen. He's locked away in his cabin. Lord Brycen never seems to be too worried about his personal security on board ship; you never see him with bodyguards. Knocking on his cabin door grants Ravarath a curt, "Come!"
Inside his cabin, Lord Brycen is sitting at a small writing table in his shirt sleeves, his fine coat tossed carelessly on his tiny bunk. Large tomes with arcane writing lay open on the table. He looks up as you enter and says, "Oh. What do you want?"
Rommin Hawkridge wrote:
Everybody seems to be ill at ease on board the Lady Iona, although many give half-smiles to see you all arriving. Even your presence seems to give comfort to them.
You are escorted by Sir Kheiron to Brycen's cabin. There, you see his Lordship laid out in bed, his brow covered with sweat and three shades too pale. A mostly-eaten tray of food sits on his little writing table.
"Good...good, you've come," Brycen whispers hoarsely. "I suppose it's too much to hope that any of you have magic powerful enough to neutralize poisons? Yeah, I thought not."
He gestures to his food tray. "We'd gotten so far away from the Chels that I stopped bothering to cast detect poison before each meal. Stupid, stupid, arrogant. Someone on board slipped black tortoise tears into my food. Falcon Gray's too. He's in even worse shape than I, practically reduced to bear's endurance spells to keep himself alive. I'm not quite there yet either, but soon. If you don't know black tortoise tears, it's a nasty poison, very expensive, but very deadly. It's slow to work, can take hours to die, but difficult to fight off, even with standard anti-toxin. There is a specific antidote though; if you can find out who did this in the next couple hours, they might have the antidote on them. It's really our only shot. Banker Camder didn't prepare anti-posion spells today."
Those of you searching the ship for magical auras find none, save on the persons of Gray, Brycen, Theodric, and Sir Kheiron, and auras coming from behind a locked and guarded door that soldiers tell you is the armoury (one of the forward compartments in the Upper Hold). If there is a spy on board, he's not giving himself away by carrying magical loot (at least, not loot that doesn't have an undetectable aura spell placed on it).
It's early early on the 10th of Gozran when you finish your cargo transfer, and you set sail just as you collapse in your hammocks. The ship sails for 5 days along the Inner Sea, heading inexorably towards your rendezvous with the Chelish privateers who infest the Arch of Aroden, the bottleneck between the Inner Sea and the Arcadian Ocean.
Early on the 15th of Gozran, the remainder of Brycen's plan for getting through the Arch is revealed. All ships drop anchor out in the middle of nowhere; no land or ships within view at all. Again, soldiers come to roust you from you hammocks and you get brought up on deck.
Lord Brycen stands at the edge of the aft deck to address the crowd below him. "Friends, we are a little over 1 day from the Arch. Even though we've tried to convince the Chels that we're now a fleet of only one, there's no guarantee that it worked, and as soon as we show up with a Taldane, a Rahadoumi, and an Andoran ship, they'll know it's us. Our sister ships are joining a Rahadoumi merchant marine caravan, while we are disguising ourselves as a Chelaxian vessel. We need to switch our colours and flags, repaint our hull markings to rename the ship, and we need a team to replace the bowsprit with a slightly more unsavoury one that is curently being rowed over from the Desert Rose. After our re-decorating, we'll spend the rest of the day drilling. Any colonists willing to come to the defense of the ship during our run at the Arch, should report to Sir Kheiron and Lieutenant Andrells. If it comes to it, Mr. Gray and I will use magic to propel the sails with magical wind. This creates very sudden bursts of speed, pushing the ship about 50 feet each time. We'll have to practice holding on, so I need all cargo secured below. We'll take a few practice bursts to get used to it; I don't want anybody going over the side because they forgot to hold on. Let's get this done, folks." With that, he takes of his jacket and prepares to get to work.
Those interested in melee should go see Kheiron, whereas anybody planning on fighting with their bow should see Andrells.
Alexis Kirmoon wrote:
Brycen smiles at her. As she's leaving, she hears him say, "Perhaps you'd like to come try the bottle of even nicer brandy I have in my cabin?"
"You may have. We'll have to decide that when we get back," Brycen says in response to Elorin's question.
When you arrive back at the ship, you see way too many people crowding the deck and sailors moving busily about. Sailors are already casting off lines as you clamber up the ramp. Brycen has his soldiers send the colonists on their way and leads all of you up to the aft deck, where you can talk more privately. He grins at Theodric. "I see things are in order. Any problems while we were gone?"
Theodric laughs. "Well, other than Pathfinder Kirmoon here taking it upon herself to prevent a prison break, none at all. You?"
"Possibly. This one," he jerks his thumb at Elorin, "kept sneaking out of the pub every 15 minutes or so. My soldiers tell me he was getting light signals from on board ship. Do you know anything about that?"
"Aye, my Lord. Like I said, Lady Kirmoon took it upon herself to prevent a prison break. She says she was using light to signal her man that all was well aboard ship."
"Do you believe her?" Brycen asks.
Theodric nods. "Aye, my Lord, I do. I got her fairly well drunk and she never changed her story. Either she's a master spy, or just what she seems, a loyal and concerned colonist. She's not the traitor, nor any of the other Pathfinders who stayed behind."
Brycen motions for the soldiers to "release" Elorin. "My sincerest apologies, Master Elorin, but we had to be certain. As a security expert yourself, I'm sure you understand." He turns back to Theodric and Kheiron who finally makes his way carefully up the ladder to join you. "None of the men I took are the traitor either. They spent the whole time trying to get me drunk or laid, not running off to report."
The ship lurches as it pushes off from the docks and makes its way out to sea.
At some point, Lord Brycen hears the bell from the harbour clock (just as Rath has been doing), but as Rath is heading for the door, Brycen announces that it's time to get back to the ship. He yanks Pete away from a very grateful prostitute who won't be having to subject herself to this odourous client after all. As you head back to the ship, you see some of the soldiers who didn't come with you but left the ship emerge from the shadows around the tavern. One comes to chat with Lord Brycen and the converse in whispers for a few moments.
Perception DC 20 for whispers:
You can't make it all out, but something about Elorin and suspicious.
Sense Motive DC 15 (-5 penalty if you've been drinking):
Four of the soldiers have nonchalantly made a box around Elorin and have their hands on their sword hilts.
Brycen takes no guards with him. He is also quite willing to fund any expenses needed to buy nice clothes. He gives Alexis a note, authorizing merchants to charge any expenses to his wife.
Brycen dresses up nicely as well. As you leave the Lady Iona, be informs Sir Kheiron that when the Desert Rose and Cloud Climber arrive in port, he would like a message delivered to Harrolayne to meet with him first thing in the morning.
Brycen clearly knows some nice places and his wife ends up spending several hundred gold pieces on a lovely dinner for himself, Alexis, and Elorin. Then, he takes you to a hilarious comedy production, and finally out for drinks. Throughout the whole evening, Brycen talks her up about her likes and dislikes, mentioning very little about the upcoming voyage. Neither does he engage in any inappropriate conversations or behaviour. He is equally charming to both Alexis and Elorin, inquiring about his past as well. For a good while, he and Elorin swap old campaigning stories, leaving Alexis feeling slightly left out. Eventually, Brycen realizes that he's been ignoring his date and changes the topic back to fashions and other topics of interest to a lady of nobility.
At some point in the evening, he comes to the realization that Alexis is a fully-fledged wizard. He is quite excited by that revelation and offers her the opportunity to swap a few spells, if she is interested.
The exact nature of Brycen's reaction is difficult to discern, though he definitely does have a reaction.
"I suspect that there will be opportunities for us all in the New World, though we will have to prove to Oppara and the Prince that this colony is viable, financially as well as strategically."
Feel free to continue NPC interactions; I'm not trying to hurry things along at the moment, but I'll talk about the next few days.
The ship takes just over two days to reach Absalom, arriving just after dawn on the 7th of Gozran. Upon waking up on the 6th, you need to make a Fortitude save to avoid being nauseated and unable to do anything other than lie in your hammock and throw up. DC 10 to avoid nauseated, DC 15 to avoid sickened. A healing check of DC 15 will give somebody a +2 bonus (Gregor's herbs). Once you make two DC 15 saves in a row, you have your sea-legs, but since the ship stops first thing on the 7th, you won't be able to get that streak going until after departing Absalom. During the 6th, if anybody is feeling poorly, they learn from sailors of special herbs that can be bought in Absalom that help a lot (+5 bonus, 1 GP per dose), and really powerful herbs that can make saves unnecessary (automatic sea legs, 10GP per dose).
Alexis' Diplomacy roll is good to learn about the prisoners. I'll make a post about that stuff (or I might just post it on the website if I can access it from work).