This adventure begins in the sleepy Taldan village of Heldren.
The sleepy village of Heldren has rarely seen so much excitement or concern. Hunters from the nearby Border Wood speak of unnaturally cold weather at the height of summer that descended on the forest just days ago. Heavy snow followed, and those who returned spoke of an uneasy presence in the woods, as well as new, dangerous predators. No one knows what this event means, but the town’s soothsayer, Old Mother Theodora, claims dark times lie ahead.
As if in proof of that dire prophecy, a badly wounded mercenary arrived in town yesterday, claiming to be a bodyguard of Lady Argentea Malassene. He told the village council that the noblewoman’s escort came under attack by bandits and strange, wintry creatures near the edge of the Border Wood. He alone escaped, and Lady Argentea was dragged away into the forest. Now the townsfolk cast fearful eyes toward the snowy forest, worried what else might emerge to threaten their peaceful village.
But this was many weeks later. Perhaps we should begin at the beginning. Fate has deigned that a group of six adventurers - unlikely companions all - should all find themselves in Heldren on this fateful day. Their paths may have crossed before, others may have been strangers before today, but what follows are their tales. These are the where, how and why they are here - on today of all days.
Okay! That should be ample preamble for you back stories! Have some fun with it, meet up if you like. Feel free to tear off chunks of the world and make them your own. Most importantly, take your time with all this. There is absolutely no rush. You don't even need to finalize your characters... just post along and massage those stats right up until the time we begin!
Looks like those shelves aren't getting up anytime soon
|Ishbaad the Chosen|
|Lufien "Silvertongue" Loamin|
|Ice Melts Quietly in Sunlight|
"Me here now! Me be bomber and healer!"
The crazed looking goblin pauses a moment, and then drinks a little black liquid. He starts looking even more crazed, and pulls his tunic up over his head.
"I AM CORNHULIO! DO YOU HAVE T.P. FOR MY BUNGHOLE? I NEED T.P. FOR MY BUNGHOLE!"
|Ishbaad the Chosen|
"Aoife, we're here."
A gigantic man, wrapped in clothing that appears as though he can't make up his mind between wearing summer clothes or winter furs, stops on the side of a road near a sign post, dropping his heavy pack next to him on the ground. A small village appears in the not-so-very-far distance, the intended destination of the man and his diminutive traveling companion.
"Keep up. Yes, that is the 5th flower you have picked. In the last 100 yards. We can't keep stopping every 2 minutes to look at a pretty stone you have found. Yes, my skin looks like a pretty stone too. I am hungry too. Yes, I just said we are here. Well, not quite here, we still have a little ways to walk. Ok, you are right... Not there yet. Close. The faster we walk, the sooner we can have supper. Yes, you look adorable with the flowers in your hair. Thats my girl. Lets go."
The stony faced man cracks a smile at the little girl he is traveling with, and the two move on towards the town, a warm soft bed, and a hot meal.
The young girl glances up to the towering figure for the briefest of moments before resuming her scan of the wilderness and surrounding country. Ahead, she can see their destination has now become visible and their long journey is at last coming to an end. Yet despite Ishy's continual, but always warm, calls of encouragement and prodding, the words serve only to degrade her pace further, causing her to slacken and nearly stop. Her trotting feet slow their steps, eventually to the slowest of cautious walks and the young girl reaches down to pick another flower.
After gently plucking the stem from its nestled place in the ground, the young girl lifts the colored petals before her eyes. Already Aoife knows she does not truly care to look at the flower and is not inspecting it in any great detail, instead she is lost in thought about other matters... about her father. Each time the thoughts and hopes storm in her brain, everything else she trying to do loses focus and all but stops existing to her. Picking the flowers and weaving their stems into her hair, only to have the decorative petals fall to the ground a moment later, is little more than automated muscle-memory while she is lost in other, deeper thoughts.
Maybe he is here, she allows herself to hope, unable to keep a restrained smirk from curling on her lips. Maybe they were mistaken and father is waiting just ahead... The little girl turns and jogs the short distance to catch up to the towering Ishbaad.
When at last she reaches the man, her pace slows a little. "Coming, Ishy," she says dryly, her thought already beginning to race at the prospect of who might be awaiting her ahead. Another smile spreads across her face as her steps slow once more and as Aoife looks off, again lost in the thought.
She hears her name called, it echoing through the air and the little girl looks up to see the towering man is again a hundred paces ahead. Hanging her head, she sighs and prepares to try and catch up.
A medium size man walks in, he quickly covers his pointy ears with long strands of blonde hair, trying to hide his lineage. He sits near the others, and orders, "Anything that will make my mind go blank faster than the swing of a mace, and preferably less painful." he says in a melodious voice.
Those near him perk up at hearing his simple request, wondering how one can talk this way. Taking a hearty sip, grimacing in pain as the spirits make their way down his throat, he turns towards the door often looking for it to open and usher in who he is waiting for.
|Ice Melts Quietly in Sunlight|
The little goblin was out finding herbs that would be of use for his alchemical concoctions, he spies a young girl stopping to pick flowers. He hears an older... man? speak harshly to her, reminding him of the Boss. She seems to be a little annoyed at her older mentor, and he thinks, 'The longshanks are always in a hurry. They miss out on all the really good things, in their rushing. Goblins always take the time to find everything of value... who knows if that mushroom might be good... what? Mushroom!' He stoops to pick a mushroom he had found, sniffs it, considers taking a taste, but ends up putting it in his pouch. He then moves around, trying to keep an eye on the girl and her boss. Not sure about them, he tries to keep under cover. He's learned that not all of the longshanks understand that he is a "good goblin".
stealth: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (4) + 7 = 11
The older man idly strolls down the path, distracted brown eyes wandering lazily about. "Coramus, old boy, it's the end of the trail. No, not THAT end. Money's getting low, gonna have to set down some roots and stock back up. Maybe find a home here. I hope that goblin isn't getting into any sort of mischief." The wizard leaves out the word 'again' purposefully, starting to explain to himself the alchemical properties of the various flora around him. It never hurt to stay in practice.
|Ishbaad the Chosen|
For as worried as she seemed when we left, she sure seems to be fine now. Iomedae can have credit for that one too.
Ishbaad continues his steady, slow plod in his armor. Slowing down just a bit in an effort to let Aoife catch up, he quickly notices that the slower he goes, the more she slows down as well. He breaths a heavy sigh, yet still smiles. This wasn't the first time they had gone on long walks. Apparently this is just what little girls do.
Perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (16) + 7 = 23
As he stands still again, giving her time to make up some ground, Ishbaad spots a goblin holding a mushroom, pulling a large leaf down in front of his face as if that might help him blend into the foliage.
The giant man sticks a couple of fingers in his mouth and lets out a sharp, shrill whistle that would be ear piercing if someone was standing too close. He hooks his hands in his belt, puffing out his chest and coming to full height while standing still, keeping his hand near the haft of his spear. No sense in startling the sneaky creature into attacking, maybe it would leave them alone. Besides, Aoife knows the whistle means business, and he could see she was already running to catch up.
In the distance the stone-man sees what appears to be an old man looking at the flowers, including some of the ones Aoife has de-petaled, making his way down the road in the same direction he was traveling.
Maybe we will stay close, that old man looks like an easier target for goblins, He will need to be warned. Perhaps by me staying around, this goblin won't be bold enough to ambush. Their could be a lot more though...
The colorful petals held inches from her face serves to blot out much of the surrounding vista from the child. As the gently fluttering petals bend and sway before her eyes, the child briefly refocuses her vision on the patch of tress a short distance away...
perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (5) + 5 = 10
The child looks forward, watching the swaying of the great tree branches as a sudden, shrill whistle cuts through the silence and causes small squadron of little brown birds to burst from the nearest treetop in an explosion of chaotic, whirring flight. Turning quick, the girl sees the mighty Ishy standing at his full height and looking in her direction, but not at her... he seems to be looking further, beyond her. His stance is menacing and direct, and she begins to feel a pang of fear and a fluttering sensation in her chest, as if she cannot catch her breath. Why she has allowed herself to get so far from Ishbaad is a mystery even to her.
After a few quick strides the child is running toward the towering figure of living stone and with each step closer she feels waves of safety and relief wash over her. Her breath returns as she pants the last bit of exhaustion from her lungs, allowing the child's unbridled curiosity to once again take hold of her. Even as she catches her breath, she can see the old man walking down the trail, and she can see that Ishy is watching him too.
Without meaning to, the child waves one arm slowly to welcome the old man, but stops a moment later, dropping her arm lifeless at her side while looking up toward Ishbaad.
|Ice Melts Quietly in Sunlight|
Seeing the young girl waving at the Boss, Ice Melts Quietly in Sunlight smiles, and decides that she is friendly. He wasn't sure about the man with the whistle, because sometimes constables have whistles.
Youthful exuberance overcomes his fear (as it always does), and the goblin jumps up and waves at the girl with a big grin on his face!
"Hello! Me Ice Melts Quietly in Sunlight! You like play in flowers? Me too!" He holds up the mushroom cap he has been thinking of nibbling, forgetting it wasn't a flower.
Coramus sighs as he hears the whistle. "Well Coramus, looks like your roots didn't even get a chance to take hold here. Come on, old man, let's go get that goblin out of whatever trouble he's gotten himself into." The wizard walks in an unhurried manner towards the others, holding up a hand in greeting to the girl, although not smiling.
When he arrives, he looks at the goblin, asking patiently, "Weren't we supposed to be avoiding other travelers?"
|Ice Melts Quietly in Sunlight|
Ice Melts Quietly in Sunlight looks to Coramus, back to the child, and then back again to his mentor. "Boss say me no talk to longshanks when Boss no around. But girl no longshanks! She small like Ice Melts Quietly in Sunlight! That be safe, no? Me good goblin!"
The little goblin keeps looking back to the girl... hoping to get the chance to see what wonders she had harvested... and what she knew about flowers. A small person like that could make a great friend for him, he thought. His mind was spinning... always running they were. Why did the longshanks hate him so much? He is a good goblin... never do anyone any harm, and make wonderful cures for them. But they don't accept him.
Mind spinning, he keeps looking, and waves once more at the girl, who runs to her mentor. Maybe the stone-like man with the whistle was her mentor.
"Boss, maybe whistle-man like you, protect little girl. We talk to them? Yes?" He has already forgotten what happens every time he gets to being sociable. People just don't understand him.
The little girl looks onward in amazement as the old man and goblin converse with one another. She had (of course) been taken aback when the goblin first made his presence known and spoke to her, though Ishbaad had already knew of the creature's arrival long before this. Looking on at the little green creature with pointed ears jabbering shrilly at the old man, Aoife cannot help but smile at the two.
"Is he... friendly?" she asks aloud, unsure which adult she is speaking to. The creature did not seem hostile or dangerous at the moment, but the little girl knew this fact seemed to go against everything she had been taught about goblins. In fact, she had never seen a goblin in the flesh before, at least, not a living one.
"We have important things to do in Heldren," she states the fact aloud, and like her last comment, Aoife is unsure who the intended recipient is. Now, turning her gaze specifically to the green skinned creature, she smiles awkwardly through her bewilderment and intrigue. "I like the flowers that have lots of colors and the ones that smell sweet too," she says, confirming that she doesn't know anything of substance about the plants.
A moment later, when her composer has once more taken hold, she turns slowly, looking upward toward the towering figure of Ishbaad. Deep down, she is afraid he will be disappointed in her.
|Ice Melts Quietly in Sunlight|
Even though he is not the one being addressed, the goblin responds, "Me friendly! Me VERY friendly!"
With that, he starts moving towards the girl, without even a glance towards his "Boss", oblivious to the fact that this might be seen as hostile.
"Me like pretty flowers, too! That taste GOOD!"
As he draws nearer, he hears the human girl-child phrase a question at him. Was it at him? He wasn't sure...but it seemed the sort of question that might go a long way towards the other duo not alerting the authorities to their presence.
"Hmmmm? Oh him? Oh yes, he's harmless as a child. Hmmm...possibly a bad choice of words. Harmless as a bee, yes! They pollinate the flowers that you and Ice Melts Quietly in Sunlight seem to adore. What? Oh, the stingers? Well...yes, I suppose that's also not an adequate description, either." The older man stops a moment, looking down in thought, stroking his grey beard. Therefore, he doesn't see the goblin moving closer.
|Ishbaad the Chosen|
Oof! missed some good opportunities there... sorry! :)
The goblin comes out of the trees, and just as quickly Ishbaad draws his spear, though continues to stand his ground. While most people might jump in front of the little girl to play the ultimate protector, Ishbaad has still only seen one goblin, and this one apparently speaks common.
So long as there is only one, perhaps it would be worth seeing how well Aoife might defend herself. If she can wrestle an alligator, this goblin just might have a surprise in store for him, and this certainly wouldn't be the last hostile creature they would face in their travels.
Coramus: "Weren't we supposed to be avoiding other travelers?"
Ice Melts Quietly in Sunlight: "...Me good goblin!"
What is this? A goblin who isn't hell-bent on destroying everything in sight, and apparently works with another human?
Ishbaad, thanks to his stoney demeanor, keeps his shock from showing on his face. He relaxes the grip on his spear, resting the butt on the ground, like a tall walking stick, and moves forward a few paces.
Aoife: "I like the flowers that have lots of colors and the ones that smell sweet too,"
Ice Melts Quietly in Sunlight: "Me friendly! Me VERY friendly! Me like pretty flowers, too! That taste GOOD!"
Coramus: "Hmmmm? Oh him? Oh yes, he's harmless as a child..."
Well I suppose talking to the goblin is one way to handle it... He thinks as Aoife speaks.
"You there. Is this your pet? Do you have more? I'll have you know I have slain many a goblinoid in the defence of my hometown, and I'll not hesitate to do it again if there is some deception about."
He's learned that not all of the longshanks understand that he is a "good goblin".
Aoife still has much to learn about this wild world. I loath the day when she finally understands that not all men are "good humans."
Ishbaad's face remains passive, and his posture as unthreatening as a gargantuan, stony humanoids posture can be.
"Friendly you say? As a child? or bee... Well I've never met a friendly goblin. I have met many that lie though. We are, however, not here looking for a fight. Just a warm bed and a hot meal. Perhaps it would be best if you..."
move along? no. That would not be wise, better to know where they are. I do not care if they are here to cause trouble, but I do care if they end up causing trouble for us. Yes, better to know they are at arm's length, rather than wonder what shadows they may be lurking in...
"... Traveled the rest of the short way with us. I assume you are not from the area, like us?"
|Ice Melts Quietly in Sunlight|
Ice Melts Quietly in Sunlight stops as the large stony manliness his spear at him, threatening. His hand goes for his alchemy pouch, reaching for the vials he has placed there. The stone man the speaks, and though it is hard for the goblin, he waits to see what is said.
He doesn't let Coramus get the chance to reply, though, impulsive as he is. "Me good goblin! Very friendly! See, me no through bomb at you when you point long pigsticker at Ice Melts Quietly in Sunlight! Me gooder than most!". The goblin's hand doesn't leave the bomb pouch, though.
Coramus nods sagely at Ishbaad, still stroking his chin thoughtfully. "Yes, yes, many goblins lie. You have the truth of it, yes you do." He doesn't add anything onto that statement, proceeding forward, shaking his head at Ice Melts Quietly in Sunlight.
"Young man. Ermm...young goblin. Blowing up our fellow travelers will not get across the point that you are a good goblin. Hmmmm...although if you blew them up no one would really know the difference...hmmmmm...." The old man again strokes his chin, then shakes his head. "Still, it's better to just be friendly. You have been friendly, yes I know. Remain friendly, is what I mean. There's a good fellow."
He turns back to Ishbaad. "We'd be happy to share the road with you, sir. And Ice Melts Quietly in Sunlight I'm sure would be delighted to come along, as well. He really is rather well-behaved."
Somewhere in the distance, from the direction of Heldren, chill breeze blows. With the sun out, so far from Winter, it is in ill-omened wind to be sure. Ice Melts Quietly in Sunlight cannot help but be reminded of the dreadful cold of his homeland. He tries hard to tell himself that it was far colder back there and that this breeze is nothing compared to that.
As suddenly as it came, the wind shifts and the cold is no more.
Loving the roleplay guys, just wanted to interrupt with a dab of my own color. Not much I can do but disturb the flow! Keep it coming. ;-)
The young child shivers and hugs herself as the icy wind seems to stab to the bone with a dull, thudding pain. As quickly as the cutting breeze swept over her, the child feels the gust continue to pass by, leaving entirely and retreating into the woods at her back. Aoife is still left holding her arms around herself, briefly rubbing her skinny, sinewy limbs.
When the chills has left her, the child jostles her pack and after a moment of concentrated effort, her tongue left waggling sideways from her mouth while she works, and produces an shiny red apple. Holding it up to the little green creature, she smile, though she still seems confused and perhaps a little on guard. Her messy brown hair rustles gently in the now warming breeze, and obscures her blazing green eyes while it flutters. The green tunic and cloak draped about her match her eyes, though appear duller by comparison.
"Are you hungry?" she asks. "What is your name?" The little girl is intrigued by the goblin, and is surprised that she finds him so adorable by contrast to all the scary warnings and stories she had been told about their race. But this one seems different and funny, like a weirdly, odd children's toy that is so goofy it is therefore cute.
For the life of her she cannot figure out why the little green creature and the old man keep stating, and restating, the fact about snow melting in the sun. Why not introduce the goblin? she thinks to herself while still holding the brightly colored apple out in her tiny, fragile hand. Maybe he doesn't have name...
Now a feeling a guilt washes over her, if she has just made the creature feel bad for not having a name.
|Ice Melts Quietly in Sunlight|
FYI - after a little research, I've changed his skin tone to light blue... not bother, though.
The goblin sees the little girl holding out an apple. "Me Ice Melts Quietly in Sunlight. Me have good name." Looking back at his mentor, he holds himself back from snatching the apple from the girl's hands, at considerable effort of will, but his eyes never leave the apple. An audible grumble can be heard from the always hungry goblin.
"Me always hungry!"
Remembering his manners, he takes a moment to throw down his pack, and start digging through it. He is sure that it still is in there... and the he finds it! A small coil of twisted wire, scavenged off of some refuse pile or another, intertwined with tiny stones that he has been polishing in the months since he found it. "Pretty bracelet for pretty girl?"
|Ishbaad the Chosen|
His curiosity is peaked, however his suspicions have not been abated at all.
He suppresses a smile as Aoife and the goblin speak with each other, and nearly chuckles when the goblin offers her a bracelet.
This is either a really good act, or the most curious goblin ever. And curious old man. Certainly worth seeing how this plays out. Iomedae watch us.
With the quick prayer, Ishbaad puts his spear back in the sheath on his back.
"Ice Melts Quietly in Sunlight? Oddly melodic name, particularly for a goblin." Ishbaad muses to the old man.
"I don't believe I caught your name. Ishbaad is mine, and this is Aoife. Don't let her appearance fool you, she is a feisty one."
"Yes, yes it is. It came from his mother. Quite a philosophical mind, for a goblin. Very forward thinking." The old man nods, coming to a halt a few paces behind his goblin companion.
"That is because we did not offer it." The wizard nods, matter-of-factly, his tone mellow and mild. "Oh, were you curious to know? Coramus Thallon, master alchemist. My friend here is quite the prodigy, as well."
Coramus looks at Aoife doubtfully. "Mmmmm, yes, I see. A veritable ball of energy."
|Ishbaad the Chosen|
Ishbaad smiles his disarming smile at the old man.
He doubts Aoife the same way I doubt his little blue goblin pet. Perhaps we shall both be proven wrong. Iomedae, your ways remain a mystery to me, but I shall submit to your direction.
"If we are lucky, we shan't find anything to prove either of our points on what remains of this road to this sleepy little village. Shall we?"
Ishbaad casts another glance at the little girl and goblin, the two of them conversing like, well, children. He looks up to the blue sky, pulls his hide cloak over his shoulder, just in case there is another chill wind, and begins slowly walking towards town again.
"Keep up Aoife. Look, I see the shop sign ahead that your correspondence mentioned. Perhaps this will be a quick trip after all, lets go see if we can find your pops."
That should keep her excited enough to force me to struggle to keep up with her pace. At least then I can keep my eyes on her without having to walk backwards. I wouldn't ever be able to explain to her father how I let an old man and a goblin steal her right out from under my nose...
A lazy trail of smoke crawls out of some obscure chimney in the meager skyline of buildings as the motley crew of travelers makes their way into town, eventually reaching a stout building that Ishbaad sees as the inn.
"In here first Aoife. Lets get a room squared away, then I promise we will go right to the shop."
Fully laden with road gear, armor and weapons, Ishbaad quickly gains the attention of the person running the establishment.
"Rooms. One big one, with two beds. Two nights at least, perhaps more." He holds a golden coin in his hands, indicating he is capable of paying for an extended stay, if necessary. Out of the corner of his eye he sees an averaged size man who is already several shots in to either a good buzz, or a bad hangover. Ishbaad looks him up and down, making mental calculations, assessing potential threats. Long blonde hair hides his features, preventing a good look at who the person might be.
A man who drinks that much must be afraid of something. Perhaps Iomedae has lead me here for other reasons than just to help Aoife. But first things first...
|Ice Melts Quietly in Sunlight|
Ice Melts Quietly in Sunlight looks up to Coramus, "What we do, boss? We go sell medicine in town?" he asks though a mouthful of apple. "We go with Effie and stone man? Mebbe they need some medicines? He look a little stony to me. They go now! Hurry!!!" The little goblin is jumping up and down, eager to get this older mentor moving.
Coramus merely nods to Ishbaad, plodding along as only the older of us can, not fazed in the slightest by the hopping and jumping of the goblin before him. "Nothing's going anywhere, no need to hurry. We'll get there in a moment. Yes, I know they're going to get there first, but it isn't a race."
A slight smile curls the old man's lips, "Yes, maybe a cure or two to de-stone the man. Now wouldn't that be a project, hmmmm? I'll have to get a tissue sample though...that might prove difficult." His gaze glazes over as he starts pondering possibilities.
Shifting impatiently behind the towering form of Ishbaad, the child rocks back and forth on her heels and pulls her gaze from her guardian to the door. Her breath is steady but Aoife's mind races at the thought of running to see what awaits her within the pathfinder lodge.
There is a package waiting for her, she knows this for sure, but she cannot help but hope that her father is also there. Even while deep down she knows this cannot be true, she can't keep herself from wishing it so.
Why do we have to wait? Aoife thinks to herself, turning her attention back to Ishbaad. We've come so far and now we have to wait longer?
Aoife can feel the frustration brewing within her as she steps closer to Ishy and prepares to plead with him to instead travel to the pathfinder lodge. Moments before she speaks another thought occurs to the child and she turns once more to look at the door.
stealth(slip away from Ishbaad): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (9) + 7 = 16
The usually warm Taldan summer is tempered in the Town of Heldren by cool easterly breezes. The townsfolk mostly keep to themselves, but cannot help but talk to the travellers to ask them if they know anything more about the winter that has overtaken the Border Wood. Most seem worried about ill omens more than any concerns over crops at the nearby farms that provide the town its man food supply. The wintry effect seems very much restricted to the wood.
All of the houses in Heldren are made from lumber, and indeed wood is Heldren's primary export. Zimar is expanding and needs ever more building materials.
After asking around a bit, the adventurers find that the only place to slake their thirsts is the Silver Stoat, Heldren's only tavern. Every night, it seems the whole town gathers their to swap stories and enjoy the well above average food and drink on offer. The Stoat (for so it is usually referred to) is run by the husband and wife duo of Menander and Kale Garimos.
No-one can leave their first night at the tavern without trying the tavern's delicious home brew: Three Devil Ale. Kale uses hops from Cheliax - she says they're the most bitter (always deliberately leaving it open as to whether she's talking about the hops or the Chelaxians).
|Ishbaad the Chosen|
Ishbaad, apparently lost in thought about the dangers of excessive drinking while scanning the room for potential threats, doesn't see Aoife slip out of the room.
Perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (8) + 7 = 15
Though she is alone and frightened, the child turns the knob to the pathfinder lodge and steps inside. In her hands, Aoife is holding the remains of a crumbling letter, nearly on the verge of disintegrating after the hundredth time she unfolded it, attempted to read it by herself, and then folded it back again for safe keeping. With a deep breath the child pushes this prized letter into a pocket after a moment spent folding it as best she can, though to an adult the page still resembles an ungraceful, crumpled wad.
Ahead a man awaits her, and while his eyes look the child over, trying to process why a young girl has entered alone, his face betrays and broadcasts his inner confusion. Luckily for Aoife, it only takes a moment for her to confirm this is the very pathfinder mentioned in her letter. This is the ranger, Galledren.
To the child, it seems to take an eternity to explain to Galledren why she has come. In her mind the words she says makes sense, but she can tell Galledren, through no fault of his own, has a little difficulty understanding and accepting what she is saying.
Yes, she is Aoife. Yes, she is the daughter of Tighearnán. Yes, he is a pathfinder. Yes, he hasn't returned in a long while (this thought stings mightily to the child, but she manages to bite her lip and act cold like an adult, as if it doesn't bother her). And finally, the child reproduces her prized letter, received from the pathfinder office in Oppara, though the letter's intent was never to set a young girl on a journey, south-east across the open country of Taldor in order to find her father.
The pathfinder obviously didn't know Aoife.
Satisfied by her answers, Galledren presents Aoife with a wooden box and can confirm, with crushing finality, that her father is not waiting for her in Heldren. Still doing her best to keep her composure in front of the adult, the child drops the wooden box to the floor at her feet and crouches to peal back the lid.
Inside the box a gigantic pair of the gloves sits nestled in a bed of straw. The supple brown leather looks new and exceedingly soft to the touch, as if they had never been worn for even a day, though Aoife knows these had been in her father's possession since before she was born and had even been found in the wilderness following her father's disappearance. Along each hem, intricate and interwoven gold stitching creates a beautiful elegant cuff. On each of the palms, the brilliant stitching seems to swirl into vague shapes, the stitch itself coalescing to form the odd glyphs of some long forgotten language. On the back of each glove, the exquisite stitch-work encircles what appears to be a large red gem which shimmers and glows independently of what light there is within the pathfinder lodge.
Because her father is as big as Ishy, Aoife had never noticed how truly colossal the gauntlets were on Tighearnán. Now, seeing gauntlets rest within the box before her, the gloves each looked to be the size of an owlbear's paw... as if a giant could easily slip a hand inside and still be unable to reach the tips of the glove's fingers.
Behind her, Aoife can hear another man laugh to himself, a man she didn't even know was in the room. Still laughing, now at Aoife specifically, the newcomer questions aloud what a child could hope to do with the gauntlets. Looking up from her place on the floor and shifting her eyes from her father's gauntlets to meet the ranger's gaze, Galledren passes on to her a look that seems to show genuine concern and caring.
|Ishbaad the Chosen|
If that old man and goblin had anything to do with this...
Ishbaad frantically searches around the inn and taproom for the child. He turns back to the keep behind the counter that he just gave his money to. "Small child that was just with me?"
When the keeper indicates the front door, Ishbaad rushes through and into the street, brightly lit by the mid-day sun. He doesn't even bother looking around, he knows exactly where the girl has run off to.
I said we would go in just a minute. Why must children be so impatient? Oh who am I kidding, if it was my Pops I was looking for, I would do the same thing...
The sight of Ishbaad running is not unlike a boulder being pushed uphill. Slow, and methodical. Yet run he does, straight to the pathfinder lodge. He arrives outside the building just in time to hear a crashing coming from inside.
The foundations of the pathfinder lodge shudder from an unseen force while its timber-frame groans and creaks, as if the entire building is ready to topple in on itself. The very next moment the front door of the lodge explodes outward, torn from its hinges in a maelstrom of splinters and debris. The figure of a man topples end over end, following the door through the air, careening to dirt in a heap while his momentum carries him into further graceless tumbles.
As the storm of splinters settles beyond the building, the small, delicate frame of a child steps through the gaping maw of jagged, broken boards which had once been lodge's entryway. Enormous leather gloves cover the child's hands and forearms, all the way up to the crooks of her elbows. At first glance it is baffling how the gloves are kept from simply falling off of the child and into the dirt. Her skinny, sinewy arms disappear within the gaping cuffs of the gloves, which hang open like the yawning sleeve of a wizard's robe, while her hands seem to only occupy a tenth of the total volume contained within each gauntlet. And yet, as Aoife lifts her arms, the colossal gauntlet-clad hands flex and form fists.
Still breathing deeply, the child shifts her gaze from the repetitive opening and closing of her gauntlet-clad fists to look at the man laying motionless in the street as the ranger, Galledren, steps out of the pathfinder lodge behind her. It is now that the look on the child's face softens from rage to confusion, finally ending with pure panic.
Aoife turns to see Ishy lumbering toward her, looking at him from beneath her messy brown hair as pools can be seen welling in her eyes.
"I didn't meant to hurt him..." she stammers to Ishbaad as he approaches. "I... didn't... mean to..."
|Ishbaad the Chosen|
This is an interesting development...
"Sir, are you hurt?" Ishbaad as the man on the ground, yet still paying him almost no mind. Stepping to standing ranger, Ishbaad continues talking to Galledren, "My apologies for the damage to your lodge. Allow me to take care of the expense."
Ishbaad passes the man a few gold coins to cover the cost of the damage to the building, and helps him up off the ground.
The giant man looks at the little girl, and can't help but smile.
"He isn't here is he? Well, we both expected that. It seems our search is just beginning child. Perhaps you should head to your room for now. No, you didn't do anything wrong. It would be best to keep those out of sight for now though. Yes, you may keep them. They are your father's, and in his absence, they are yours. We can begin asking questions later. For now, let us eat and regain our strength."
Ishbaad smiles, letting the irony of that statement hang in the air.
Aoife returns as quickly as she can to the inn, but along the way turns to Ishy once more.
"Please tell Ice Melts Quickly in Sunlight thank you, from me," Aoife says, still on the verge of tears. "For the bracelet."
A moment later, the child has disappeared within the inn.
The wizard finally ambles up to the Tavern, apparently the only tavern in this little backwater, after what seems an eternity. At least, that's probably how it felt to Ice Melts Quietly in Sunlight. Coramus thought he was keeping a brisk pace. The old man looks about the town with dismay, noting to the goblin, "A small place like this, we'll be lucky to scrounge up enough coins to keep us on the road for a week. Ummm, not that we'll be leaving anytime soon, of course. No sirree, this is the one, old boy. We'll be staying here a while, I can feel it."
|Ishbaad the Chosen|
Poor child. At least I knew my pops was going. He was old, had his time. Doesn't mean I still don't miss... ah. Stop it. Think on that too much and someone might notice.
Ishbaad steps deliberately back into the tavern, and takes a seat next to the blonde haired man at the bar. He raises a finger to the keep to bring another round.
"What's this I hear about some 6 devil ale or something?"
I can already see Jewel's disapproving frown... No worries dear. Its just an ale. No demons or devils here. Just ghosts...
"I can see the irony, asking Iomedae to bless an ale such as this. But bless she will. She is benevolent. You will see."
Ishbaad lifts his mug to the old medicine salesman as he ambles in. He looks around for the goblin, in order to pass on the young child's measure of gratitude.
|Ice Melts Quietly in Sunlight|
"We stay? Me go find treasure piles?" the young goblin looks up at Coramus expectantly, practically hopping, waiting to go. "I bet these longshanks have good treasure pile, people in south always so wasteful. Me find good tools, mebbe an old dagger? You say Taldane steel best, me want best!"
|Ishbaad the Chosen|
"She will be back down in a while, uh... Ice Melts Quietly in Sunlight.." Ishbaad stumbles over the mouthful of a name, indicating the child running up to her room.
"She said thanks for the bracelet. Oh, and I think I saw the trash heap behind some of the buildings on the way into town."
Back to the present...
t has been a few days since the hunters found the forest shrouded in frost, but conversations in town still inevitably drift towards discussing this unnatural occurrence. Everyone is also talking about the mercenary who wandered into town severely wounded after his caravan was attacked. He's not sure what happened to his charge, Lady Argentea Malassene other than she was dragged into the woods, but his comrades were slain to a man.
See my first post for the pro-forma introduction.
Make me some knowledge (local) and diplomacy checks if you like, and we can roleplay them out! Also, make sure you meet each other in game. Let me know if you need a location.
|Ishbaad the Chosen|
Diplomacy: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (18) - 1 = 17
While trying his best to keep Aoife's new acquisition low key, and keep the child from running off without him, Ishbaad keeps his ear to the ground, on the lookout for clues , or any indication where to go next in his search. Normally people are generally pre-disposed to avoiding the giant man, but Ishbaad is a perceptive person, and he picks up a few conversations he might not have been meant to hear.
In the days they have been in town, Ishbaad has been able to guide Aoife, helping her to understand how to pick up on the cues and clues around her as they search for any hint of her father's whereabouts.
This peculiar weather and the kidnapped woman... I wouldn't think it would have anything to do with Teirn.... But it's better than any information we have gotten so far about him... I wonder if looking into this might open a door ....
-Posted with Wayfinder
Knowledge Local: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (14) + 8 = 22
When Coramus heard of the abduction of the noblewoman, he asked around quietly, wanting to make sure none of the blame was being directed towards the newly-arrived eccentric old man and his goblin cohort. What he heard relieved him of that notion, but disturbed him all the same. What could be causing the unnatural weather in the forest? Coramus thinks back over the past few decades, and wonders if trouble has finally found him.
Ah, meeting in tavern... Let's put the cliches in...
The tavern door open, and in steps a man, accompanied by a cold breeze. The man, white-haired, and white-bearded, is obviously not a local. His pale skin would suggest a northern heritage, but the clothes... Well, the man is wearing light robes that might be very comfortable in summer's heat. The cut and and pattern of the clothing resembles something that might have passed as fashionable in Taldor some decades ago.
"Good evening to the house!" the man wishes, with heavily accented Taldan, closing the door behind him. "I... I think I am a bit lost. Can you help me and tell me where I am? I am trying to come to Taldor of the southlands."
Knowledge (local): 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (3) + 9 = 12
A little over a week ago...
The cold winds of Irrisen blow a little less cold here for some reason. The stilyagi and his half-elf companion stand in front of strange phenomenon. Within a ring of icicle-monoliths they see a whirling vortex of snow and ice shards. This strange thing seems to suck the cold from the air, however, and the breeze nearby is almost temperate. This must be the portal that Sergei spoke of.
The sound of voices and movement can be heard behind them, and the time for trepidation is over. The pair leap through the portal. In a flash, their entire world changes. The uncanny warmth is replaced by blasting cold - of the type these two are much more accustomed to. Enormous trees are everywhere. Under a blanket of white snow, they have leaves! Of all things, trees with leaves... and acorns! Not to mention a bush with actual berries on it - ripe ones! This is clearly not Irrisen. No winteryews here, only... is that a Taldan oak? In front of the stilyagi, an enormous, beautiful tree stands tall over them all. Spherical bulbs with little window-like holes in them dot the lower branches, marking the presence of little insects that were previously hatching inside. Signs of life.
Behind them, the portal begins to shimmer and they are reminded of the voices. Without further thought, the pair rush off. About a mile away from the portal, the valley they must have been in rises and the snow, amazingly abates. Shortly at the edge of the wintery region, the two are assaulted by heat. It is a relatively mild heat by any Taldan standards, but the pair are sweating and out of breath at the slightest exertion for the first few hours in this heat. Eventually, their bodies acclimatize and they manage to make good progress towards the southern eastern edge of the wood.
In the week or so that follows, Jorvik and Kuragin travel around, trying to get a feel for both where they are and what might be going on. Eventually, their travels take them back to forest, and a town on its northern border. Skirting around the tree line, they both notice, distressingly, that the wintery pocket that once was inside the wood now has reached its northern edge.
"Looking for Taldor?" cries the cheery, plump, brown-haird woman behind the bar of the Silver Stoat, "Ha! That's a good one. Hey Menander, we've got ourselves a joker here! My name's Kale, Kale Garimos. You'll be looking for the other out-of-towners, no doubt. That table over there. Here, take the next round o' Three Devil Ale, and one for yourself!" Kale indicates a large table that seems to be gradually attracting a crowd. Much talk of the wintery phenomenon in the Border Wood seems to be happening.
Upon approaching the table, Kuragin hears a loud voice from one of the women gathered around, "Well I heard that Ranbor - y'know, the sheep farmer owns the land south o' Saydie's hut - well, Ranbor's son went lookin' fer fun in the snow. Y'know how curious boys get. Well, didn't ye know, the boy says he sees a stag - pure white, and it is talkin' to him! Well, y'know, he follows it, all quiet like. He says it disappears and he realizes he's standin' on ice. Then the ice breaks, didn't y'know? Poor boy nearly died o' the cold. Lucky his pa was out lookin' for him, y'know. Good man that Ranbor."
Ishbaad notices the strange man with white hair and the drinks tray approaching, but is loathe to give up his current conversation. A middle-aged man bearing many scars, by the name of Isker Euphram (who runs the local smithy) is talking about the local defenses in the border wood, "Well, the odd thing about it is that the High Sentinels hereabouts usually keep an eye on things. It's a sad day indeed for Heldren - and for the Sentinels - if a well-armed caravan like Lady Argentea's can be overrun just like that. Should be no way there are bandits who're that capable left anywhere near here. Somethin' else is goin' on. Mark my words!"
Coramus, also, is too engaged in conversation to provide Kuragin with an immediate greeting. Coramus is chatting to a black-haired, golden-eyed Qadiran beauty by the name of Zaarida. Her thickly accented Taldan is currently delighting the wizard's ears, "Well at Narathen's service - erm, Narathen is being my husband," damn it! "Well, one of Erastil's faithful, being a hunter calling his self Dryden Kepp, well he was to be saying that he was seeing of a white weasel - of all things - and it was heading into the forests. No-one was to be believing hunter Dryden Kepp, so he was saying that he was to be trapping weasel and provings of wrongs."
Sorry, for reasons I can't disclose, I couldn't have you coming out of the portal too recently. Better to say you've been wandering for a while before returning to a town on the edge of the wood (Heldren).
Keep those posts coming! I've got more to reveal, but I'd like for a few more of you to be present first.
Flanking the white-haired stilyagi, an overly tall youth stands with drink at the ready. Seeing the diverse collections of outlanders he is hesitant to move forward. He glances at Kuragin as if to say I think this unwise, we should go this alone. Accustomed to rejection, he fears entering this new group.
Do they see my ears? If they let a goblin join them how could they refuse a seat to me? All will be well, just be calm. Be confident. You are the son of royalty.
"Well met fellows." the youth begins in a voice that halts conversations. Used to how his words sway others, Jorvik continues.
"Strange tidings are abroad, and we would join you in conversation, if you will allow. As you can see we do not come empty handed, but come bearing gifts of gold, guaranteed to make you mighty men, and women, of valor."
Is that goblin a male or female? Well I am not going to stare. Don't stare. Are they smiling?
From amidst the shifting background of the tavern's patrons, the young girl walks toward the gathered group. At first glance, Aoife could easily pass for an adult halfling, but with a little more inspection, her childish mannerism and speech quickly reveal her true age. Walking up close the others, she eyes the newcomers suspiciously, before beginning to speak, leaning closer toward Ishbaad and Ice Melts Quickly in Sunlight.
"Can we go look for the missing lady?" Aoife asks, looking up to Ishbaad. The child is also attempting to ask if Ice Melts Quickly in Sunlight will go with her, but is too shy to outright pose the question to the goblin directly.
If dad went missing before... and his gloves were found nearby... she thinks, looking at the colossal gauntlets covering her own hands. To the others, the child should not be able to manipulate the gloves in the slightest due to their size, dwarfing her own hands, yet the massive gauntlets flex and clench with surprising dexterity as Aoife moves them.
Maybe if we find the missing lady, that will also bring me to dad... this time, I can rescue him...
"Do you want to come too?" the child asks the white-haired stilyagi, hoping to have the others make a decision and thus making it harder for Ishbaad to possibly say no.