Knowledge nature: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (16) + 12 = 28
Yrja hesitates as the group approaches the elk.
"Um, I think this is its home. It probably sees as invaders, or threats. We should be very careful. If it attacks us, I don't want to have to kill it, it's so beautiful."
”Nor do I, just...” Orik looks a bit ambivalent.
wisdom check, is this a good idea?: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (20) + 4 = 24
does erastil do this stuff much? (Religion!): 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (15) + 5 = 20
handle animal: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (18) + 5 = 23
”If we can avoid scaring it off, and give it a bit of food, it.. can protect this space from other predators. Give it a chance to thrive. Anything that throws a wrench in the witch’s plots. No offense Yrja.” He grins at her. ”Tell me if I’m being crazy. Don’t want anyone to get hurt.”
Heh, augury to the GM? You think that an elk can be approached carefully, yes. As for if this is a sign of Erastil's intercession, probably not. This is a creature of the Mammoth Lords, although, of course, Erastil blesses all ways of the simpler life and would certainly approve.
"It's probably nothing, if you'd like - we can just leave it some extra food. It might not be a good idea to spook it, unless of course, you think that you can approach carefully. I'm not sure of much - I might have been seeing a pattern in the tea leaves that wasn't actually there." He looks at the beast from afar for a few moments, obviously disappointed to have reconsidered his original judgement.
Dez follows the others into the pocket, fascinated by the magical temporary blossoming of life, and intrigued to see the elk up closer. "I do remember reading about an encounter with one of these elk. Good thing I perfectly remember almost everything I've read. Anyhow, Yrja's right that it's being territorial. This lovely spot is its domain now. This is going to sound odd, but the passage I read described a local guide who said it helps in this situation to bugle like an elk -- if anyone knows how to do that -- it might make him back down a little. But don't bugle when we get close. Also, squeaky sounds and waving branches will anger him. I'm not planning on doing the approaching, but I hope that's useful information if any of you want to. I imagine you're tempted, Chiquq."
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Chiquq is silent at first, simply taking in the sight of the majestic beast. Her thoughts slowly drift from survival and hunting-- the hard reality of struggle against the elements, the land itself, and the spirits as well that has seemed to dominate their lives since the ambush in the village-- and drift back to simpler, more carefree times. Before the Black Rider, before Baba Yaga was anything more than the ruler of another land with nothing to do with her life, and when the greatest trouble to haunt her and Ila was a petulant southerner complaining about how they hadn't thought it would be so cold, up here.
Ila. Chiquq's breath hitches, though in the warmth of this pocket of summer, it doesn't steam in the air in a tell-tale way. The Kellid woman peels off her gloves and crouches to touch the brave, soft shoots of grass that speak to something other than endless winter.
Her heart has felt so cold since watching Ila fall to the weasel-thing.
But the children playing: there had been a touch of thaw there, yes. Seeing the beast ahead-- lord of its land, living in harmony with the earth and its cycles as it is supposed to-- brings another fresh breath like a soft southern breeze upon the ice.
"....I would like to go closer to him, yes," Chiquq says softly. "I do not know if he comes from the god Erastil, who my people call Mikuluk. But I think maybe he comes from the spirits of the earth itself, to remind us that winter is not forever. Or to remind me, anyway."
Chiquq takes a breath, and looks around. "I will go forward showing I respect the earth and its creatures and its spirits."
She scans the snow-free soil, hunting out something with her nose as much as her eyes-- any dung-heaps of the great elk. To the city-born in the group it might seem strange, but it is the simplest way she has just now of burying her own strange human scent under one familiar to the beast ahead, to show she comes forth in friendship.
Handle animal, maybe?: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (15) + 5 = 20
Thank you for your continued patience--another heck of a week at work.
Chiquq finds elk dung easily and smears it upon her person, in greyish-green streaks. Fortunately, elk dung is not the most disgusting thing in the world.
She is able to walk the distance between her and the elk in a few turns of the glass, while in the distance, the dogsleds are indicated by puffs of snow dust and a slight heat shimmer from Ogon.
The elk sniffs the air, shies slightly, but remains standing where it has been feeding and surveying. From this distance, Chiquq, you can see that it is a young, proud buck, at perhaps its full height of 6 feet, with seven points on its enormous, fanning antlers. Unlike the common elk of Avistan, its antlers look like a broad plate with points, much like a moose.
Chiquq, you and Orik both feel some sort of tug at the part of your souls that anchor you to your faiths. The elk makes no move--it is waiting for you to take further action, Chiquq.
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Chiquq falls to her knees some feet away from the elk, her hands raised up to the sky above with its shining sun and crisp clean blue expanse.
"Mikuluk Ah-kane! Ado ekkuk mo diyuk! Kaqena hou, takka em mo ekituq baha mo-in..."
"Ancestors, aunties and uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers: your daughter sees what you have sent towards her and her heart is small with this gift! May I be worthy of this good thing, may the spirit of this great beast find me worth walking with!"
Her hands drop from the heavens towards the grass, plucking forth tender green shoots and swiftly braiding them into a loose cord, one end of which she coils around her own wrist.
"Ho-a, great walker," she whispers softly, her eyes fixed on the elk. "Look, I tie myself first. I do not come to you thinking I am your master. I tie myself to you. I will serve you with food, with warmth, with prayers, with the blood of my heart to be wounded when you are wounded. Walk with me and I will do these things."
Handle animal: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (10) + 5 = 15
The elk pauses and snorts--Chiquq, you can smell the rich, moist smell of freshly masticated arctic grasses and clovers on its breath. It is earthy and not unpleasant.
For a moment, time appears to hang suspended, the summer sun transfixed by its own sunbeam.
Then, the great beast lowers its head and nuzzles at Chiquq's hand, licking at the green shoots curiously.
Chiquq, you can feel a spark in a place that, since Ila's death, has only been dark ashes.
Orik--you step back on one leg and find something beneath your foot. It is two arrows bundled with a simple wind of twine.
Orik looks down at the arrows, gingerly stepping off. He reaches down and picks them up, examining them quietly. Holding them tightly in his left hand, tears form at the corner of his eyes as he watches the interaction. He mouths a silent prayer as he wipes them away, and stands quietly, scratching his musk ox behind the ears with his other hand.
Chiquq exhales as the warm breath of the elk tickles her skin. Slowly, she touches the velvety-textured short fur of the great beast, and then, just as slowly, with great care, rises from her kneeling position.
Calling to the others Chiquq says, "This one will walk with me. But I must thank the spirit of this beast for what he is giving up-- this peace and this green place, for danger and the witches. It will take some time." She hesitates. "The way of my people is to spend one day and one night making the path one path. I understand that witches will not be idle during that time. But I think that we should take the time. This beast: he is a good sign. A sign that the spirits and my ancestors are with us. Or Orik's god, maybe. Maybe all of them. It is not good to turn away from gifts such as this.
"But I have blood debt to all of you. If you think we need to hurry instead, then I will not put this gift above the will of the pack."
"Oooh, he is beautiful! Can I pet him? I don't mind spending some time in this place, perhaps strengthen it against the, er, other witches." Yrja is bouncy with excitement at the sight of Chiquq bonding with the great elk.
”Take as much time as you need. I’m sure the black rider wouldn’t begrudge us this.”
Orik watches for a bit, then realizes that the arrow is a bit odd, so casts detect magic.
spellcraft: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (14) + 5 = 19
Orik realizes that the arrows didn't make any of the usual tiny clicking and clacking noises when he picked them up. In fact they are utterly, completely silent.
These are two Hushing Arrows. Orik, you sense in your faith that this is a boon from Erastil for your patience and deference to Chiquq, the elk, and her patroness, Skode.
|Nadya Petska DMPC|
|Nadya Petska DMPC|
Orik grunts approvingly, and then silently places the arrows into his quiver. He follows Nadya, letting Chiquq and her new friend in peace along the way, making his way towards the camp.
Ogon stays with the dogs - he has no appreciation of animals except for their meat and little for summer!
Sorry, not trying to be a grump - Ogon is brought up in the north, all this 'summer' stuff stinks of WITCHCRAFT! to him. :)
Dezső watches in breathless silence while Chiquq interacts with the beast, and his face brightens in a wide toothy grin at seeing her and the elk connect. Even the stoic tiefling can't help but be moved.
He slowly steps back to allow the elk and Chiquq space. "I have no problem taking a day here in these lovely surroundings, if that will help your bond form. If this creature is anything like Ila, the assistance it will offer will be well worth the delay."
He walks with Orik toward the camp and when he notices the arrows: "What is it you have there? Where did those come from?"
Orik shrugs, ”just some arrows that I found, looks like they’re more quiet than other ones. And to think - I almost broke em with my fat feet!” Orik guffaws, ”Nice place, eh? If only I were a bit stronger - we could anchor the space with a bit of nature magic and make it longer lasting. But I think the witches would eventually find out... But... if they don’t - I have some seeds though - wanna help me plant a few around in case? They’re pretty cold resistant, not like, Irrisian cold but... if it stays just a bit temperate it could be a nice food source in a few months for the erm, natives.” Orik looks like he’s a bit embarrassed and is obviously trying to change the subject, and is not hiding his intentions very well.
”Squash, cucumbers, and Ustalav’s favorite - goblin pumpkins! They taste great but are so gross looking!” Orik smiles at his friend.
sense motive: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (19) + 9 = 28
Dezső easily sees through Orik's deception, but he also can tell Orik is hiding the truth for some personal reason rather than some nefarious one, so Dezső lets it slide. He does, however, tuck away the information for future consideration and silently decides to continue to observe the half orc to see if he can figure out the source of discomfort.
Knowing that Orik doesn't really need Dezső's help with the seeds, he responds, "I would be happy to help with the seeds, but I've been looking for some time to spend crafting more alchemist's fire, so I probably shouldn't miss this opportunity. I'm sure Nadya's boys would love to help."
"I can help you with the seeds!" interjects Yrja, happy to have something to do. "And perhaps if we work together we can find a way to strengthen this place. It would be a shame if it were destroyed."
Knowledge Arcana?: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (11) + 12 = 23
Thanks to your tutelage with Mahb, you know that the unnatural winter of Irrisen will, eventually, overwhelm this place, and the type of spells used to create the pockets are cast by mighty druids indeed. Your guess is that this would require a "circle" of druids--perhaps ten or more. Of course, taking the Ogon-style approach--the more winter witches you kill, the better--is always an option.
Chiquq's ritual stretches through the long, Northern day, her voice rising and falling with chanting. The stag is rapt with attention as she continues to gesture and speak to it.
Orik and Yrja plant their seeds in the warm, wet, fertile earth, so different from the usual hard tundra and permafrost.
Dez, you can begin to work up an alchemist's fire. You'll need to spend 6 gp and 6 sp in raw materials. The Craft DC is 20.
Let me know what else you are doing in camp, or we can skip to night and watches.
Orik nods at Yrja's and Dez's suggestions. "Well, sure. Like I said, these may not last long, but if it lasts long enough to sprout, the squash are hardy - they can survive for a while. I'm reconsidering the cukes, though... soil doesn't seem right. Anyway, Yrja, here's what we do..."
He pulls out some seeds he carries with him, spreading them in his dirty, green hand, and showing the different types. He points out how deep to put each one, and the best type of soil. He also offers to show the kids, but they lose interest relatively quickly, as the task becomes thankless hard work after a while.
"Who knows, maybe we flatten some of these witches, no offense, some regular seasons - or at least a sembl-er, approximation of seasons, at least would come back." He smiles at Yrja hopefully.
Yrja can decide how much she wants to help. Orik will work on tending to the plants and planting things for hours, if given the chance.
With her traveling companions' agreement, Chiquq returns to the stage, and to the long prayer of her people that bonds their fates together. At times she cries, during the ritual-- remembering doing this with Ila, remembering Ila's blood white on the snow. But it is a cleansing cry, a mourning that lets go of something she had held onto until now just as Baba Yaga's winter holds onto the land. The warm, grass-sweet breath of the stag washes over her face as the minutes turn into hours, and still Chiquq remains seated before the elk, chanting, even when her voice falls hoarse.
Even when the others bed in for the night the low drone of Chiquq's half-song, half-speech continues to permeate the springtime air of the pocket.
Something might happen before ritual's completion, but if not, this can be appended as the result:
By the time the ritual is finished Chiquq is near asleep on her feet with weariness, but she fights her yawns as she coaxes her new... and somewhat diminished?... companion along with handfuls of tender grass.
"I hope you will not be mad at me when you realize there is much less of this out in the rest of the world," she mumbles sleepily to the elk.
On reaching the others, she says, "I thank you for your patience. The walker will go with us. He has told me his name in my tongue is to be Aitut. It means 'gift'," she says, forgetting that several of the group speak Hallit in their own right. "I am very tired. But we have spent a great deal of time already. I will travel when we are ready."
Partly to fight off the desire to lie down and sleep, Chiquq begins to wrench up handfuls of sweet grass and tie them off in little bundles-- Chiquq knows quite well that food will be scarce for the stag outside of this pocket. Herbivores cannot feed easily on ice or snow.
Orik nods at Chiquq as he brushes his hands off, ”ahh, well, I can remedy that for you, if you’d like.” He raises his hands in the air, and they glow with green, more verdant than you remember last time. It is a nourishing and warm color, and seems to radiate comfort.
Community domain power to remove fatigue for Chiquq! Also, remember that I can include Aitut in my Varisian Pilgrim growth domain group and he can be big a few times per day - you may want to make a statblock for enlarge when you ask for it.
...that works! Woot domain power. And yes. Yes, I think we'll be doing that at some point. *steeples fingers*
Chiquq blinks at Orik's touch, and straightens, feeling the bone-deep weariness suddenly gone. "...thank you. --yes, thank you. Then we are definitely ready to travel."
There is a smile on her face that has been gone for ages.
wolfys: 1d3 ⇒ 3
Several hours earlier, before dawn
During the night, the ever-watchful Ogon spots the dots of eye-glint reflected off of Chiquq's fire. Chiquq's chanting has grown somewhat hoarse but remains steady.
Ogon, you are about a good minute or two away from Chiquq if you run full speed. Chiquq cannot break off her ritual, nor can the stag engage, in whatever is out there.
Ogon surges forward, ploughing forward with the remorseless power of a juggernaut.
This won't be stealthy in the slightest, but he won't call out unless it looks like he isn't going to get there.
Dez leaps up on hearing the commotion. With his hooves, he should be able to arrive a good bit quicker. Fiendish Sprinter 10-ft speed bonus when using charge, run or withdraw.
Dez arrives first on the scene, Ogon trailing behind him.
Two worgs crouch on the edge of Chiquq's firelight.
Dez perc: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (10) + 11 = 21
Dez, two things are apparent to you: the worgs aren't here in numbers--they will not attack, only harrass, such a large, unwounded, guarded animal. However--it's also clear that the scent of the worgs is going to upset the stag and cause it to flee, breaking the ritual. You'll have to drive them away in a way that doesn't upset the stag further.
Also, Ogon is barreling down behind you like a ton of burning bricks.
As soon as he understands the situation, Dez will dash back a bit to prevent Ogon from crashing upon the scene: "Ogon, there are two worgs, but we need to draw them away and not fight them so close to Chiquq and the stag! Go over there (Dez gestures to a spot about 100 feet from the edge of the campfire) and I will try to get them to follow me towards you!"
Assuming that works, Dez quietly approaches the worgs from behind. That is, Ogon is behind Dez, and Chiquq and the stag are behind the worgs.
stealth with inspiration: 1d20 + 8 + 1d6 ⇒ (11) + 8 + (1) = 20
He stops about 20 feet away, crouches to make himself appear smaller, then uses his rapier to cut his arm so as to release blood without doing serious harm. He makes wimpering sounds to feign injury and waves his bloody arm in the air. He is ready to run back in the direction of Ogon if the worgs charge, and ready to slowly move backwards if they slowly approach.
Ogon slows down and defers to Dezso's greater knowledge of such things, waiting patiently in the snow for his prey to close...
Bluff + inspiration: 1d20 + 8 + 1d6 ⇒ (15) + 8 + (3) = 26
Dezső, acting like wounded prey dragging itself away, slowly starts to back up in the direction of Ogon, drawing the wolves away from Chiquq and the stag.
What does Dez know about worgs?
knowledge nature or arcana with free inspiration: 1d20 + 8 + 1d6 ⇒ (11) + 8 + (3) = 22
I'm guessing that's enough to know they are intelligent and capable of understanding speech?
Dezső will start to adjust his trajectory, so rather than leading the worgs directly to Ogon he will go on a diagonal, equally away from the fire but not directly to Ogon (which might spook the worgs). He attempts to match the pace of the worgs, so they don't get closer or farther than 20 feet. He will also find a moment to consume his shield extract so he has better defenses in the event of an attack.
Apologies for not posting recently, on top of my extended workshop I am dealing with the passing of a dear friend and colleague, so my workload has quadrupled and I'm having emotional difficulties.
Is Yrja still asleep? Do Ogon or Dez wake her up?
Does she wake up on her own?: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (8) + 6 = 14
I'm gonna say Yrja sleeps the sleep of the tired. I'm so sorry about your emotional stress and workload! I had some work related exhaustion a few weeks ago. No fun. Please rest!
Yes, Dez knows they understand speech.
Dez, you also know that these worgs are evil (as worgs usually are), and probably a mated pair. You can probably simply intimidate them away--they are looking for an easy meal, not a fight.
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Ok. Then he'll save his shield extract and when he gets the worgs about 60 feet away from the edge of the fire he'll stand his full height and call to Ogon: "Ogon: I think these worgs want to taste your fiery fury!"
He will then immediately run a wide half circle, drawing his rapier, to put himself behind the worgs so when Ogon (presumably) charges the worgs will not retreat in the direction of Chiquq and the elk.
Ogon, surprisingly, shows a little subtlety. Instead of charging straight in he stalks forward, his armour glowing a fierce, dull red and sizzling as he strides through the snow. His flaming blade forms in his hand, bathing his face in angular shadows and making him look like a devil out of hell itself.
Intim: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (18) + 6 = 24
The worgs may be more intelligent than wolves, and in concordance or opposition of this fact, they are rightfully afeared of the burning apparition that moves inexorably towards them. They snarl and growl, ears flattened, their supposedly weak tiefling prize forgotten, and wheel off to lope away into the darkness. They do not howl as they retreat---a clear sign that they are not in control of the situation.