This post serves to open up the actual in character thread for our Giantslayer Campaign.
The starting date is 16 Calistril 4715
The dawns earlier than yesterday, cloudy with a bit of wind and chill, but no snow again last night. Today is a day of excitement, for a special someone will be taking her Standing Vow tonight. Ruby, the youngest daughter of Chief Defender Halgra of the Blackened Blades is turning twelve and the whole of Trunau is anticipated to turn out for the ceremony and festivities. Residents, family, friends, and visitors are all welcome to attend, for though Trunau can be a grim outpost on a violent frontier, it's peoples have learned that every day is to be cherished and celebrated.
Welcome to Trunau and to the Giantslayer AP everyone.
Songan breathed out slowly, the chill in the air making his breath visible to him. He had been in Trunau for about six weeks now, having first arrived in the settlement in early Abadius during the height of the winter season. Many times on the journey from Firrine he had wondered what in the world possessed him to make this trip during the coldest time of the year, but somehow he knew that waiting for the spring would not be to his advantage. Maybe the thought that they would be more likely to accept an outsider who wasn't afraid to lend a hand during the barren months, maybe the cold didn't bother him quite so much as others because of his fur...regardless, he was thankful that the townsfolk had at the very least not tossed him out on his tail from the get-go.
Today was not just a special day for the locals...it was a special day for Songan, too. He had heard much of the Standing Vow ceremony celebrated by Trunauns but had never seen it for himself...this would be his first opportunity to do so. Donning his regular clothing and his thick winter cloak, he prepared to head to the festival grounds a little early to make sure he had a good seat. Not that he needed to be close, necessarily...it'd have been child's play to climb a tree or a pole or a building to get a bird's eye view, but that would've done little but make him stand out even more to residents of the town. No, today he wanted to just be...one of the crowd.
Leaving behind his small loft "bedroom", if it could be called that, Songan greeted the priests who were ever-present at the Sanctuary before heading out. He was certainly no follower of Iomedae or Crusader or whatever it was they were, but they had a stationary roof that wouldn't get yanked back during a rainstorm...something he quickly discovered upon trying to spend an early night there at the Killin' Grounds. Who the devil thought that was a good name for a tavern, anyway, locally-famous liquor or not?
He shook the thought from his mind, making his way toward the center of where the festival was to take place.
Delia woke shortly after the dawn from the knock at the simple, wooden door. "I'm up!" she called to her mother. The young woman sat up in her bed, the heavy fur blankets falling into a heap around her. She rubs the sleep from her eyes and walks over to the nearby window. A quick glance out to the snow-covered lands to the west of Trunau, as was her routine, showed no signs of orcish movement. She looks at the nearby mountains, soaking in their majesty as they soared up into the clouds.
She turns to the sound of Jace stretching and watches her companion for a moment before walking over and scratching behind his ear. The warcat looks at her with those golden eyes and rubs his face against her leg. "Yeah, big day today."
In short order, Delia was dressed and headed down to breakfast with her mother and younger brother, Aero. They shared a simple meal together, talking about the excitement that was to be had this evening. Delia smiled at Aero's impatience as he excitedly talked about how he was to be coming of age soon as well. "Soon enough, little brother, soon enough. For now, enjoy being a young boy. Before too long you might wish for the ignorance of youth." Aero rolls his eyes at her and continues.
Afterward Delia hooked Jace's harness around his chest and connected the leash to it. "I know, boy, I don't like it anymore than you do." She checked to ensure her own hopeknife was secure in the wrist-sheath on her right forearm before she begins to make her way down the hill towards the common areas with her brother dogging her steps the entire way...
Adir woke early, before sunrise, stretching his arms up as he stood, his hands brushing the ceiling. The coals in the fireplace still glowed faintly and Tuzak was laid out before it, the juvenile giant sloth absorbing the heat. One of the beast's ears flicked in annoyance at the early riser. Adir took off his shirt, several scars and tattoos revealed in the glow.
"Lazy." Adir grabbed a piece of wood and pushed it into the embers. Tuzak snuffled in approval. Then Adir grabbed a pot and poured some water into it, then setting the pot in the coals to warm. "You should be excited, Tuzak. It's a big day for little Ruby." Tuzak's head rose up slightly at the girl's name, but he quickly laid back down.
Adir laughed as he began his morning stretches and exercises. "I thought that might interest you. She loves you way more than you deserve, you big lug." Tuzak responded by flipping over and exposing his belly to the growing heat. The sloth knew from experience that Adir's morning ritual had a long way to go.
Adir finally wound down the exercises, sweat glowing in the light of the renewed fire. He put another log on and moved the pot of water to the edge of the hearth. Sitting on the ground with his back pressed to Tuzak's, he began to meditate just as the morning's first light came through the window.
An hour later, Adir used the hot water to wash up as Tuzak finally decided that waking and stretching was appropriate. Adir dressed and slipped the rope harness over Tuzak's chest, tying it to his belt with a slipknot so that Tuzak could easily be freed if necessary. Then the pair headed downstairs to grab some food before making their way to the Hopespring, wondering who might be awake in the Ivory Hall.
Morgrim began to stir as the morning light came beaming through his window.
east facing bedrooms are the worst... it's no wonder so many of us live underground...
Rubbing the sleep from his slowly opening eyes, he rolls out of his sturdy, low, bed and shambles into the warm kitchen. With winter's late sunrise his uncle has been gone to the forge for some time but left behind half a pitcher of ale and a few lukewarm sausages for breakfast. His head clears and life returns to his limbs as he eats. Before long he is tending to his weapons and armor and heading out for his short morning watch shift. He suspected that it should have been a longer watch but somehow it seemed that Jagrin always scheduled him off whenever there was a vowing.
"You're Jagrin's pet," a sour young half orc chides him atop a watch tower after lunch, "that's why you always get to go to every single one of these celebrations while some of us are up here keeping things safe!"
"Hold your tongue," a middle aged human barks back, "Jagrin don't show that kind'a favor'tism to anyone... he sends our dwarf friend here to every Standing Vow in'a hopes that he might be inspired to swear the oath himself..."
Morgrim and the half orc are both struck by these words and all goes quiet for a moment as they consider them. Eventually the half orc speaks again, "I never did get that... you haven't made the Vow, and you don't even have a hopeknife... what are you doing up here?"
Unconsciously rubbing the birthmark on his chest through his armor he replies, "the town and its people need protecting."
After his watch ends he heats water and bathes, puts a fine polish on his chainshirt and weapons, and dons them along with his nicest, freshly laundered, clothes. As evening approaches he and his uncle make their way to the commons along with nearly everyone else in town.
After arriving at the Commons, where the hopeknife ceremony will be taking place, the catfolk curiously watches as people bustle about trying to get everything prepared for the celebration to take place that evening. It was still fairly early in the day but there was already a fair amount of commotion. Songan had the hood of his cloak pulled back, making his unusual heritage clear for all to see. He wasn't particularly interested in rubbing it in peoples' faces...sometimes he thought the only reason he didn't get kicked out from the get-go was the intervention of Brantos Calderon.
Why Brantos had left Firrine to come to this settlement was something he didn't know he'd ever be able to understand...of course, he had ears and he was pretty good at using them despite his tendency to distraction, so he'd heard the rumors about Calderon and and Tyari, the matron of Sanctuary. If they were true, he was glad for them both. He knew from experience that going through life alone was unpleasant experience and though he did well enough should it happen he much preferred the company of others.
"Well...no time like the present." he says aloud to himself, his voice a medium baritone primarily distinguishable by the slight vibration that seems present when he speaks. Like Khajiit sound in Skyrim.
Moving from person to person, Songan offers to help with putting up any decorations, moving things, any way that he might put himself to use and convince the locals that he really isn't some planted threat meant to bring the town down from within.
The sun is starting to settle over Trunau, already long shadows blanket the lower reaches of town. Many people have gathered around the Commons to watch the impending Hopeknife Ceremony of Ruby, youngest daughter of Chief Defender Halgra of the Blackened Blades. Halgra and her family are walking a processional from Ivory Hall to the arena, a journey marking the end of little Ruby's childhood and her first steps into womanhood.
A crier calls out over the gathered throngs, There they are, approaching the Southern Gates. The sound of horns echo out, as guardsmen from the various towers signal salute when the procession passes by. The group making entry into the upper Trunau, capping Bloodmarch Hill and onwards to the Commons as a single, combined call marks the occasion to one and all that Trunau adds a new defender to her ranks.
In a few minutes the procession will reach the amphitheater, the honorees will take the stage, and the ceremony will begin...
He shook the thought from his mind, making his way toward the center of...
As Songan left Sanctuary, the ever present half-orc Katrezra, taking a morning sitting on a small bench against the building, resting for a moment. He appeared to have been suffering one of his fits again, and as usual he often needed air once they were over. The old man's rheumy eyes barely registered the quiet catfolk's passing, but as a last, before Songan was fully out of earshot, he spoke. By the red shall it start, by the black should it be ended.
Moving from person to person, Songan offers to help with putting up any decorations, moving things, any way that he might put himself to use and convince the locals that he really isn't some planted threat meant to bring the town down from within.
Maybe only a little surprisingly, Songan's help was accepted by a few of the townsfolk, setting up mats and benches around the Commons floor, hanging the streamers and filling the small lanterns to light the place once dusk settles. He is politely but firmly shooed away from the food tables. The townsfolk still did not understand that he didn't shed anymore than a human does.
A few of the children, freed for a bit from their own chores, again pop around Songan, probing and pestering him with questions about himself, his people, if he catches big mice, etc. Harmless trivialities but nothing more than what he has already experienced, and those from crueler sorts. Better to have fun with the little ones, prove yourself safe around them, you'll show your safe around the grown-ups.
That was all well and fun, until a big cat decided someone was marking up the wrong territory.
"I know, boy, I don't like it anymore than you do." She checked to ensure her own hopeknife was secure in the wrist-sheath on her right forearm before she begins to make her way down the hill towards the common areas with her brother dogging her steps the entire way...
Delia and her brother are half led/dragged to the commons by the warcat, eager to stretch it's legs, the smells of roasting fowls on the spits enticing his appetite.
As they arrive to the Commons, Jace stops, sensing a new scent. The cat crouches, sniffing the air, head turning before settling upon the intruder to his domain. In one corner, surrounded by a small group of children, a man-cat is talking and teasing back as he shimmies up a pole, an oil flask hanging from his arched tail. He seems to be helping set up decorations while keeping the little ones entertained. While not a warcat, the newcomer catfolk is someone neither Jace nor Delia has ever met, and to Jace, that makes him still predator or prey. Jace was about to find out which one this one was.
Delia and her brother follow along, trying their best not to. Jace, stop now or so help me no more treats for a month...
As evening approaches he and his uncle make their way to the commons along with nearly everyone else in town.
As the pair arrives at the Commons, Gundar excuses himself from Morgrim, making his way through the various visitors and staff to a pair of dwarves arguing with a taller man. Business matters now, fun later for the older dwarf.
Morgrim makes his way in a circuit around the arena, watching as the crowd grows, people eager for the sun to fall and the ceremony to begin. Glancing westerly, Morgrim knows it shouldn't be long now. They will again have another ceremony, another celebration, and for the next few days more talk of who next will swear the Standing Vow and become true citizens of Trunau.
Before the dwarf can sink further into his own thoughts, a commotion calls out for attention. A young woman, Delia he thinks, is pulling against a large cat that seems to have taken an interest in that catfolk stray which came around the Clamor a few weeks back, offering odd jobs for loose coin. That's not looking to be too good.
Morgrim slowly approaches as the cat reaches the highest point of the post, holding tight the lantern cap with one hand, the pole with the second, and a sloshing oil flask tied to his tail. Nope, not too good at all.
Then the pair headed downstairs to grab some food before making their way to the Hopespring, wondering who might be awake in the Ivory Hall.
Old mother Halgra had raised fifteen children, most only half-siblings like Adir and Ruby, with thirty four grandchildren, and nearly a score of great grand children already. The Ivory Hall was filled with numerous heirs to the Blackened Blades, so while the halls were not quiet, most of the residents were already up and about, tending to their places and businesses across Trunau. Little Ruby was to spend the day in seclusion, to prepare her for the festival tonight, studying for the ceremony and dreaming of the fun to be had after.
Leaving the hall, Adir and Tuzak pass a few vendors bringing in wares from the Barterstones, no doubt part of the festivities for Ruby's celebration. Mother was going all out on this one, this was the last of her children to receive a Hopeknife. It would be every bit the celebration of Ruby as it was for Halgra. From the looks of things, it was going to be an extravaganza.
Passing the Bartersones, Adir notices a few new tent vendors, shabby, poorly set structures unlike those wagon and awning affairs the Varisians like or the sturdy odd domes the Ulfen sometimes use. The tables before these new comers hold a variety of small vials and tools, but from a distance nothing seems amiss. The day is going much like any other these past winter months.
Silvermane is resting in much the same spot as when Adir last visited, turned maybe perhaps an inch to the east. Looking out, Adir realizes the move took a fir tree on the nearest peak out of the sun line, giving the ancient elf perhaps another two minutes of daylight. Hmmm, mute maybe, deaf unlikely, cagey, most certainly.
As Tuzak approaches, the elf opens his eyes, meeting the sloth's, and an unspoken challenge begins. Which one will blink first?
A few hours later, the contest ended, as usual, with Tuzak growing bored, sleepy, mesmerized, maybe all of the above. Silvermane always wins. Adir had finished his chores around the Hopespring, well not chores really, so much as tending the place, tidying up Silvermane's gear, and practicing a few prayers and powers Silvermane had not walked away from in the past.
The sun was beginning to set, so Adir said his farewell to the elf, woke up Tuzak, then the pair hurried, or as hurriedly as you can manage a lazy sloth, back to Trunau. Too late to clean up for the processional, Adir instead makes his way to the arena. He will have a better vantage point to watch Ruby from the rows rather than off to the side of the stage.
As the pair makes the top of the amphitheater, entertainment it seems has already started. A large cat had another cat, or rather a man-cat run up a post, with a group of children, an angry girl, and a head-shaking dwarf looking on. Yep, Ruby's ceremony is gonna be the talk of Trunau for weeks to come.
No sign of Erik, so face to face she starts looking. Before she spies him, a commotion to her left draws her attention. A small throng has gathered and catcalls and taunts begin to overcome the sounds of the other normal conversations scattered around the amphitheater.
Delia and Jace seem to be treeing a strange creature, some type of man-cat, up a lantern pole. Delia's brother has joined with a small throng of children taunting both sides, shouting and tossing pebbles up into the air, not really at anything or anyone, just noisy children being, well, noisy. Wait, is that Sarah there, tossing pebbles too?
Patrol Captain Grath had asked Groin to do the militia a favor, run a small team on a merry chase, hone their skills to follow and track as if they were on the trail of orcs. Sure, easy coin and a favor is always good to have in one's pocket. Rodrik isn't so bad, at least not as far as humans go. Not so sure about his writings and such, dwarves save words and runes for the important stuff, everything else say it and be done with it.
Groin rushes through the gates, nodding to people he recognizes, before stumbling into a group of men arguing over something. The taller human is, wait what was his name? Meriman. Pig farmer I think. He is having a discussion about the latest conspiracy to overthrow Trunau from the sounds of it. Gundar Ironbeard had just arrived and was defusing the situation. White swords and an attack by Lastwall, took my boy for conscription...
Groin lost interest as he spies another spectacle brewing nearby. A group of women and children have treed a man-cat up a lantern pole, using of all things a mewling warcat. Hmm, maybe I should have stayed in the field, help those recruits find their way back after all.
Leira approaches the children throng below the lantern pole. The blond girl is dressing her typical green jacked and work trousers. The only remarkable thing she is carrying is her own hopeknife belted on her waist.
As she approaches the children she clearly recognizes Sarah "Sarah!"
She looks up at the reason of the children excitement and observes the man-cat.
k. local (does she knows this creature): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (10) + 7 = 17
Wow! That shall be the catfolk mom was telling me about! What is he doing in Trunau!?
"Sarah!" as the little girl doesn't answer, the older daughter takes her by her shoulder "Sarah, sweetie! Do not injury the cat-man, he is not a daddies tales monster." she looks at Delia's brother and asks him "What is going on here?"
Once Delia takes sight of her, Leira answers waving her hand and smiling inviting the older girl to talk.
Sarah knows better than to jerk away, letting the pebbles fall from her hand. We were just tossing the pebbles, see how high they'd go. We weren't trying to hurt Songy, he's a funny cat-man. She tries her best to look innocent, one foot turning back and forth.
Delia's little brother, Zach, chimes in. Jace just wants to play with the big cat-man. Jace is like a big kittie, he likes to play. The boy tugs at Delia as she tries to restrain Jace, Let him play Delia, let 'em play.
Morgrim marches right up to the mob of children, unnoticed at first because of his height. "Hey, what're you lot on about?!?" he bellows, quickly gaining their attention. "Do we throw stones at kitties?"
When a few kids call back 'no', he continues, "No, we don't. We throw stones at... GIANTS!" and reaches his hands up over his head, makes a snarling face, and begins tromping heavily around pretending to chase different children and shouting, "RARRRR!!! Giants gobble little kiddies!"
Adir had heard mention of a catfolk a few weeks back before his latest patrol, but had not met him. He distractedly calls up to the catfolk, "You alright?" Say yes, don't let me miss Ruby's ceremony. I'll never live it down!
Jace manages to pull free of Delia as Adir and Tuzak arrive, jumping up at the post with his forepaws. The sudden heavy blow, combined with Songan being distracted at all the sudden attention, causes the catfolk to lose his grip and drop to the ground. The nimble character manages to avoid both the swarm of children running around, the dwarf and his antics, and everyone else combined, lightly bouncing back up on his footpads.
Songan starts to speak to the others when the warcat rears once more, heavy forelegs bumping the bard to the ground. All teeth and snarl, Jace leans in at the relatively new arrival to town, taking in a deep whiff of his scent. A low growl momentarily escapes the beasts' maw, not sure if it is aimed at Songan or Tuzok, when it suddenly stops, leans back, and then solidly head-thumps the catfolk's chest. less than 1hp subdual damage. The great cat then proceeds to give a long, single swipe of it's tongue up Songan's chest, neck, and chin, before turning and bounding away a few feet.
Smugly the warcat eyes the great sloth, yawns, and turns away from the spectacle. Satisfied he has made his point known, Jace proceeds to groom himself; the people, beasts and festivities around him becoming no longer his concern. Cats rule, sloths drool he seems to say...
Delia looks on embarrassed even as her brother, Sarah, and the other children try to run off to play for a few minutes more. As they do, the processional reaches the boundaries of the amphitheater and begin filtering in to take their appointed places at the stage. There are seats for the Council, Halgra, Ruby, and the Garth family upon the stage. Everyone else begins taking seats amongst the risers and benches ringing the Commons.
"I suppose that is an answer," Adir says gruffly, impatient to find a seat. Just in time, he notices Tuzak enthusiastically heading toward Jace. Apparently, the goofy beast doesn't realize that he has just been dismissed out of hand. "No, no, no," Adir protests as he pulls on the rope lead, looking apologetically at Delia.
Tuzak looks back at Adir. What?, his expression seems to say. "You can play later," Adir impatiently implores. "For now, we need to find an aisle seat so that you're almost out of the way." Adir looks for said aisle seat as Tuzak comes bounding back, throwing himself at Adir's legs in a familiar gesture.
For a moment Songan seems concerned about how the great cat is going to react to the presence of another felinoid...of course, he'd known about his existence there, but it was the first time he'd really encountered him. He releases a slow sigh of relief when the animal bumps his great head against Songan's chest, immediately realizing it as a sign of feline affection.
He nimbly takes his feet when Jace moves off, the movements of the pair reminiscent of each other; there is clearly more in common between the two than simply the designation "cat."
I am fine...there is no harm done. Truth be told, I rather enjoy it when the children wish to play. I am not one to turn down a chance for some merriment and seeing the children having a good time with me, even making a joke at my expense, can help others see that I am no threat to them or their litters. I am grateful to be seen as neither threat nor rival..." he trails off, watching as Jace meanders off to groom.
Leira laughs loudly as the dwarf tries to scare the children, she still remembers when the smith will come home to talk to Erik and do same to her when she was a child "Hello Morgrim! You are the hairmost giant I have ever seen." the girl cheerfully greets him "So, did you finally decided to come and help the little Ruby?"
Leira catches Sarah as she clutches to her leg trying to hide from the dwarf giant. She soothes her young half-sister in the head "Where is Erik sweetie? Please, don't go far away while playing. You should take a look at the ceremony, you will soon have to take it yourself."
As the cat-man lands to the floor, Leira gets impressed by his nimble movements. As Jace runs away and Sarah goes after him, the youngster approaches the cat-like and helps him to get on foot "Sorry for that, we are not used to the likes as you. My name is Leira." the girl offers her hand "I fear I don't know your name." she adds politely. Wow he is like a little kittie. the girl looks at the man's hair with a mixture of curiosity and amusement as Adir approaches the group.
As Ruby arrives Leira looks at the aisle and then invites the others "Perhaps we should take sit."
Leira will follow the group if they move to sit
"No offense was taken, Leira. I am called Songan. I am only happy that the people here have been willing to give my presence the benefit of the doubt." he replies, taking the offered hand with a distinctively cat-like smile. Though his hand's shape feels and looks like that of any other humanoid, the short layer of fur that covers his entire body is present there, too; it is soft to the touch.
Leira shivers at the touch of the soft and warm cat-like hand "Th-that is ok. Nice to meet you Songan." greets the girl with a head movement.
There is a small tense silence before she adds "Let me introduce you to some of my friends. The dwarf-giant is Morgrim." she points towards the smith, then looks towards the druid "And he is Adir. Do not be mislead by his height, he is around the same age as us."
Leira finally takes Delia by her hand "And this is Delia, she is a hunter and is already part of Trunau's guard. The cat that jumped over you is her companion. It's name is Jace." she takes the other girl hand with strength while pointing towards the cat-man.
The younger girl seems to become nervous and tense at this point.
"I will become a member of the militia at some point. I am training each week with Erik." after a small pause she tries to clarify "Erik is my father. Well, my stepfather, but he is like a father to me."
A bit troubled she adds "Oh, sorry, I am talking too much. Please, forgive me. What have taken you to Trunau, Songan?" the name sounds an estranger in her own lips while they walk towards some sits.
Morgrim ceases his roaring momentarily to smile and nod at the cat-man as Leira introduces him, then tromps and roars his way towards the stands carrying several captured children, a few other children still throwing stones at him. Upon reaching the seats he pretends the most recent stone to strike him was fatal and collapses with one final "Arrgh." As the children celebrate their victory, he rises and says, "You won this time, but you got lucky... you'll need a whole lot more practice before you'll be ready for the real thing. Now, run off and find your folks- its time to sit."
As the children scatter he scans the crowd for his uncle and climbs to take the seat next to him. The old dwarf and his friends have been strategic in selecting their seats, finding a row of young women to sit behind, and Morgrim is pleased to find that his view is not obstructed like it had been last oath-swearing when he got stuck sitting behind Halgra's unnecessarily tall son, Adir.
Delia grimaces at her futile attempts to restrain Jace as he "introduces" himself to Songan. Once he wanders off to groom, she walks over and whacks him lightly over the head with the leash of her training harness. "What was that?!" Jace purposefully looks away, but Delia takes his big head in both her hands and turns it back to look him in the eye for a few moments. The two share eye-contact for a few moments in the age old game of domination, before eventually Jace reluctantly draws his gaze away from Delia. "That's better." She scratches him beneath the chin, eliciting a low, rumbling purr from the great feline.
She looks over towards Leira as she talks with the catman, whom Delia has not yet had the opportunity to meet. 'No time like the present, I suppose. And to apologize for Jace's behavior...' She takes a firm grip on Jace's lead and starts over towards the small group as folks begin to take their seats. "Come, Jace."
Once she is close, Leira suddenly takes hold of her hand and introduces her and Jace. "Welcome to Trunau, Songan. I am terribly sorry about Jace's behavior. I have never seen him act in such a manner. Although we have never encountered a catfolk before..." She shrugs sheepishly and then offers her hand in greeting with a hearty grip.
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Adir shakes Songan's hand in greeting. "Howdy, nice to meet you and all that. Have to find seats." Adir is not trying to be rude, but is a little distracted. A headbutt from the sloth knocks Adir backward a step. "Sorry, Tuzak here...," Adir says as he gestures toward his companion, "...is happy to make your acquaintance."
Then Adir calls out to the departed dwarf, "Morgrim! You want to sit together like last time?.... Morgrim?" Did he not hear me?
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (14) + 5 = 19
Songan quirks his head to the side curiously, then smiles again. "I hope that my presence is not causing you nervousness, Leira. Please believe me when I tell you that I bear no malice toward anyone here. I am harmless as a kitten." he says, trying to reassure her.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (7) + 10 = 17
"And believe me, you do not talk too much at all. I am glad for any measure of conversation. While I have allowed into the community here, I do not believe I have yet been accepted as a part of it. For many here I am still an outsider, one who does not know the ways of this place...and for the most part, they are correct. Any chance I have to learn more of the people here is a welcome one."
When he is approached by Delia, he returns her handshake as well, his grip firmer with her than it was with Leira's, mirroring the sense of greater confidence she exudes.
"You have my thanks for the welcome, Delia. Do not lose any sleep over Jace's behavior...one cat to another, I believe he was only intending to show acceptance and some measure of affection toward me. I am grateful he has not chosen to see me as a threat to his territory here, else I'd have been given a great deal more than a firm headbutt." he answers.
"I think when I came here it was the first time many Trunauns had seen one of my race...I have encountered few others of my kind in my life. I am originally from Firrine...or..well, I suppose it would be more accurate to say I have no memory of being anywhere before Firrine. There would occasionally be another catfolk passing through on the way to Mendev or other parts, but no more than that." he answers.
A low sounding of a horn indicates the ceremony is about to start. A sense of jubilation fills the evening air in the normally staid town of Trunau, for this ceremony is special, the twelfth birthday of the Chief Defender’s youngest daughter, Ruby, and the townsfolk have been preparing all day for the ceremony and festivities to follow. The throng of spectators amassed at the town Commons quickly take their seats while the buzz of the crowd subsides. The weathered town leader, Halgra of the Blackened Blades, takes the stage and begins to speak.
“Thank you all for joining us this night. I take immense pride in my responsibility as Chief Defender, especially when it comes to the honor of the hopeknife ceremony. It is always a great privilege to bequeath Trunauan youths their hopeknives as they come of age.” Halgra stops speaking long enough to open an ornamental case and retrieve a slender, ornately decorated dagger hanging from a silver chain. “But tonight is a special occasion, for the recipient of this hopeknife is none other than my youngest daughter.” Once again, Halgra pauses, but this time she turns to talk to the child beside her. “Ruby, by the traditions of our town, you have come of age. This hopeknife represents your responsibilities as an adult and defender of Trunau. You must be willing to use it on yourself, your fellow Trunauans, and your family, even me, should it come to that. It will be a far quicker death than that which the orcs will offer, and providing it is your duty. Do you swear to guard Trunau from all comers, and to use your hopeknife only for its intended purpose?” Ruby, appearing dusky skinned, black haired, and painfully shy, nods her head in response to her mother’s question. “If the orcs come, and there is no other option, this is where you cut—here, here, and here.” Halgra demonstrates which arteries to sever while Ruby watches. When she is finished, Halgra sheathes the hopeknife and places the necklace around Ruby’s neck before turning back to address the crowd.
“Tonight, Ruby becomes a full member of our community! Let us welcome her, and celebrate her passage into adulthood! Trunau forever!” The crowd echoes Halgra’s last words in unison, then transitions into a sing-song telling of the Ballad of the Bloodmarch. Rodrik Grath wrote this poem after Trunauans held off the orcs of the Legbreaker tribe for 6 days before finally routing them. The epic piece is not as somber as its name might indicate, and it is practically synonymous with Trunauan pride and the iconic militaristic fervor of the townsfolk. While the poem does manage to capture much of the solemn reverence that accompanies the trials and horrors of warfare, those sobering themes are contrasted by emotionally powerful scenes of wartime heroism and examples of holding one’s own. It's telling signals the end of the ceremony and the start of the festivities.
The crowd begins to separate to allow for the floor of the Commons to be set up for hosting the evenings contests, mock exhibitions designed to show young Ruby how to take her place alongside the other adults of Trunau, working together to best all comers.
The first even will be a Tug-O-War, wherein two sides take hold of a thick scaling rope like those used to raise and lower food and supplies from the high cliffs during times of siege. Ruby and her team must raise the line by pulling a ribboned mark over her goal line, while the opposition tries to do the same for theirs. Failure means the loss of supplies or a retreating villager in real life, here, it means a round of boos and good natured catcalls.
Ruby takes the stand and holds before her three strips of red ribbon, looking out over the crowd. Seeing everyone assembled, she calls out Let Desna chose, then closes her eyes and spins around three times, releasing the ribbons to the air. They float over the crowd before settling on her defenders.
1-Adir, 2-Groin, 3-Leira, 4-Morgrim, 5-Songan, 6 or 7-Trunaun, 8-Tuzak
First Choice: 1d8 ⇒ 8
Second Choice: 1d8 ⇒ 5
Third Choice: 1d8 ⇒ 8
Desna has chosen Tuzak and Songan, with Adir snatching up the last ribbon before another townsperson does.
1-Delia, 2-Jace, 3-Kurst, 4 to 6-Militiaman, 7-Oman Furst, 8-Rodrik
First Choice: 1d8 ⇒ 3
Second Choice: 1d8 ⇒ 3
Third Choice: 1d8 ⇒ 4
Fourth Choice: 1d8 ⇒ 8
Desna has chosen Kurst, Rodrik, and two militiamen. Delia manages to keep Jace from snagging a ribbon which floats by and joining the villains squad.
It will be a few moments until the line is ready. Ruby rushes over to her defenders, tackling Tuzak with a great big hug. I hoped it was you, Tuzzie.
Conversations from the crowd...
Two men a few feet away from Delia are speaking in hushed whispers. She catches only a snippet of the conversation before the men begin to move away.
So, even though she’s a Chief’s daughter, she has to pledge to uphold the Standing Vow inna order to receive her hope blade, just like the rest. She agrees to help the town against all comers and never run away. That's the vow, right?
Following the ceremony, Delia offers her well-wishes to Ruby and comment on the amazing craftsmanship of her hopeknife. "Do not let it's beauty distract you from it's true purpose, Ruby." It was a cryptic reminder from the young warrior to a new defender of Trunau.
Delia settles down as the games prepare to begin; however, her attention is drawn to a strange conversation from the crowd. She turns to look at the two men in an attempt to get a better view of their faces before they move further into the crowd. She will then attempt to follow behind, hoping to hear more of their conversation. Something about them put her on edge. 'How odd.'
Perception: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (8) + 4 = 12
Stealth: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (10) + 7 = 17
First Speaker: 1d20 ⇒ 4
Second Speaker: 1d20 ⇒ 20
The men move together towards one of the tables piled with food and refreshments. The second man is again speaking in hushed tones as they look over the offerings. He then clasps the other man on the shoulder and takes his leave, heading out of the Commons back into town. The first man makes a few selections from the table, passes a few coins to the vendor, then heads over to an open seat. He settles down alone and picks at his choices, watching the Tug O War as it progresses.
Songan releases a held breath as the ribbon settles on him. Tug-of-war? He was no winner of any contest of strength as far as he was concerned...but maybe it would help endear him to the locals a bit better, win or lose. He would give it his all, either way.
When it comes his turn, he takes his place as the second in the line of those participating on Ruby's side, wrapping the thick rope around his wrist and taking a firm grip on it with both hands, careful not to let his climbing claws tear into the material. He waits, patiently, silently amongst the noise, for the signal to begin...and as soon as it is given, he shouts loudly,"PULL!!" and heaves with all his might!
Initiative Roll: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (12) + 3 = 15
Kurst's roll Initiative: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (3) + 2 = 5
Quick on the signal, Songan starts the team off right, all including Ruby leaning into the jerk on the thick rope.
Adir will make his opposed check at +8
Rodrik urges his team, tugging as much as they can against the sudden tension on the rope. Pull: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (11) + 7 = 18
Adir exaggerates rolling his eyes at Ruby. "You know you spoil him rotten, right? That's why he's so lazy. Aren't you, ya big lug?" He ruffles the hair on Tuzak's head and just stops himself from repeating the gesture on Ruby. "Guess I shouldn't since you're growing up. But can I at least get a hug half as good as the one Tuzak got? You know, for morale."
Strength: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (10) + 8 = 18
In their earnest, neither team is able to move the ribbon at the start. The crowd begins to shout encouragements to both teams, split it seems on whom to root for, little Ruby, or Trunau's militia.
Kurst calls on his team, hoping to renew their vigor. Initiative: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (8) + 2 = 10
Rodrik and crew put their backs hard into this tug, hoping to move the line. Pull: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (13) + 7 = 20
The ribbon moves suddenly ten feet towards the militiamen's line, and the crowd gasps for but a moment. They then start rallying back for young Ruby, the calls of encouragement and Toe the line, dig deep, you can do it start to fill the Commons.
Kurst calls on his team, hoping to maintain momentum, but does so with a smile and knowing wink to the men. Taking ten on the check for a score of 12.
Rodrik and crew continue pulling, looking to be straining their backs as they grunt, groan, and hold fast to the rope. Those on the other end though, feel a slacking of the tension, just a tad, Taking ten on the check for a score of 17.
Leira shouts trying to greet up Ruby's team "Go go go Adir!" she then comments to Delia "Look at Songan, he is brave to join forces with unknown people. I want the volunteers to win this time. I think Adir will end up enraged into a giant as always."
Adir regains his feet and yells, "Pull, Tuzak! For Ruby!"
Strength(Pull): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (14) + 8 = 22
Yeah! That's the way to do it!
Apparently, Tuzak really does love Ruby. =)
Ruby's team pulls the line back the 10' they lost as the crowd cheers in excitement. Ruby is all smiles as she looks over across the rope to Rodrik and his men. She giggles as he winks back at her before making a show of digging his heels into the sand covering the amphitheater floor.
Kurst calls out to the men, Are we gonna let a little girl and a silly bear stop us men, now pull. Taking ten on the initiative check for a score of 12.
Rodrik makes a show of releasing the rope and spitting upon his hands before taking it up again. He growls at Ruby, giving her is best impression of a furious orc while his crew continues pulling. Taking ten on the check for a score of 17.
Initiative Check: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (17) + 3 = 20
Energized by the success and still oblivious to the secret signals between the others, Songan seems all the more determined to win, shouting encouragement not just to Ruby but to Adir as well, it seems almost as if the longer this contest lasts the more determined to win Songan gets.
Adir gives Ruby an encouraging smile and says, "Are you going to let them call Tuzak a silly bear?!" And to Songan, "Well done, new friend. A little more..." Adir's corded muscles strain to win more ground for his favorite sibling.
Strength(Pull): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (15) + 8 = 23
Ruby's team drags Rodrik and his men over their line and nearly to the center point. Five more feet will result in Team Ruby winning their first encounter under her leadership. She is beaming as she let's out a challenge scream similar to those she has heard from her fearless mother.
Rodrik and crew were not quite ready for such a determined effort, and the loss of ground shows it.
Kurst attempts to rally the men, not so sure they want to let the games end this quickly. Initiative: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (6) + 2 = 8
Rodrik and the men take stronger grips upon the rope and heave with a genuine effort this time, wanting to make the new warrior squirm just a bit. Pull: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (11) + 7 = 18
Taking ten will tie the match, this is your chance to prove Ruby is ready for her life ahead.
Initiative: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (19) + 3 = 22
Geez, I can't believe it. Every single time I've rolled in this tug-of-war, I've rolled higher. The odds of a nat-20 next time around are doggone slim, so let's finish this now, Adir!
Songan heaves even harder on the rope, his dogged (no pun intended) tenacity surely a side of himself that none of the other Trunauns have yet seen. Apparently the normally-benevolent catfolk has something of a competitive streak.
"Almost...there! Just a bit more!! We can do it!"
Rodrik's team gains a little ground, pulling back from the brink. The crowd is stunned at the possible shift, and calls again ring out as everyone takes sides in the challenge. Come on, finish it... Big bear for the win... Go Ruby, Go... Rodrik, we love you...
Kurst calls out to his team, trying to be heard over the crowd, trying to sense any lag in Ruby's team. He finds himself unable to rise above the noise. Taking ten on the initiative check for a score of 12.
Rodrik ignores his twin's calls and, holding firm to the line, spits as he gets both sweat and sand on his face. Pull, Adir is but a volunteer, he can't beat a real militia man. He gives a look at the bigger man, half scowl, half smirk, but mostly full of jest. Pull: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (7) + 7 = 14
Taking ten will win back the 5' lost, while a 20 or better will win it for Ruby.
Songan, beginning to wind from the constant strain on the rope, decides not to push his luck on his already-fatiguing muscles. His fur already matted down with the sweat of his exertions, he focuses mainly on maintaining rather than trying to wear himself out.
If it's alright with you, I'll have Songan take 10 on this check. Kinda makes sense to me that after all the exertion he's gonna try and conserve some energy.
With a roar befitting a man of his size, and echoed by Tuzak's growl, Ruby's team surges one last time.
Strength(Pull): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (12) + 8 = 20