"Well done, Yrja! Your magics are ever more crucial to our success!"
With that, Dez swiftly moves to the corner of the temple, staying clear of the arrow slits, his rapier still wet with the winter wolf's blood. Once at the corner he quaffs his mutagen, heightening his reflexes by making his nerves and muscle tendons more responsive.
Will: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (4) + 1 = 5
Will: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (9) + 1 = 10
You can hear shouts of alarm as the glitterdust spell clearly affects some of the archers. Dez notes an arrow withdrawn from a slit abruptly.
Nadya, still wiping at her eyes, makes her way swiftly and silently through the drifts to begin a position on the other archer, ducking behind broken stone walls.
Ogon, trying his own luck at positioning, makes his way behind a tree so that he may charge directly into the church. He is not so quiet nor dexterous in his movements, and steam rises up from his snowshoes.
The archers don't make any further moves save to call in their falcons, who shift and line up on the church roof, perhaps for another attack (?).
"Cowards," grumbles Ogon. He's half-right. They are probably waiting out the effects of the spell.
Looking at the map, is the only enterance on the left side of the building, or is there an enterance on the bottom as well?
Chiquq's prayer completes, and an overly-large mosquito appears and drones its way towards the doors...!
Summoned a stirge, it appears where the S is on the map. It will try and fly into the building with a fly speed of 40; essentially this is just being an arrow magnet for readied attacks, as far as Chiquq's intentions go. If it CAN attack an archer it will but I'm guessing it will be shot out of the sky before that succeeds. AC 16, 5 HP, and I won't roll an attack unless you tell me to.
"Aitut! Come!" Chiquq calls over her shoulder and then sprints through snow as best she can towards the entrance. Single move up against the wall, then attempt to 'push' Aitut to follow her, DC 25:
Push a.c.: 1d20 + 5 + 4 ⇒ (1) + 5 + 4 = 10 Lol.
Aitut bellows in confusion.
Dez will follow the stirge and charge five feet inside and then continue in if he can reach an archer in a single move and execute an attack. Otherwise he will back up and take cover behind the door. Either way he will get a look inside so he can tell his comrades.
Assuming there is no archer within reach, I will place Dez right outside the door. But he will be inside if there's an archer he can attack. By the way, his current AC 23.
Orik moves up behind Dezso, wielding his greatsword and peering warily into the room.
"Remember, this place has been desecrated. So it's uh... bad news."
With no-one else to slay outside Ogon heads straight for the main doors and thrusts a flaming blade into the gap between them!
Burn through the doors if I have to!
Blade Damage: 2d6 + 5 ⇒ (1, 5) + 5 = 11
The adventurers climb up the broken stairs, viewing burnt, charred doors hanging off their hinges. The stirge buzzes into the temple, all wings and legs and proboscis.
Ogon thrusts at air through the crooked, diagonal doors.
You all suddenly feel a horrible sense of [i]wrongness[/i, and the hazy outlines of weeping, screaming children appear around you on the stairs and at the door. They plead to be let in to the temple, only to be thrown to the ground by unseen, rough hands, and phantom ice begins to pierce their bodies. Their screams of fear turn to sheer animal cries of agony. Some of them fall right through you. You can hear the archers inside echo their wailing.
A wave of horrible despair ripples out from them.
Please, everyone beat a DC 16 Will save.
And thank you for your patience with my awful work schedule. It's getting better. :)
Will: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (7) + 3 = 10
"Witchcraft!" Ogon yells, a note of fear in his deep voice.
Will save: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (4) + 5 = 9 +1 if the source is an evil arcane spellcaster.
The sight of the children's plight, phantoms or no phantoms, overwhelms the young witch.
Will save: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (17) + 3 = 20
Dezső's determination steels himself against what is clearly a trick.
What does he see in the temple? Or does the effect obscure sight? I'm trying to resolve his action, based on whether he could reach an archer to attack or if he just took in the room visually and ducked back. Did the stirge get fired upon?
Are we talking 3, 5, 7 archers? What's his best quick guess?
Perception: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (9) + 11 = 20
"Agh, a haunted church, cursed by the innocents hurt here. We must cleanse this place, if we can. But first -" He points his sword at the archers, -"you filth will receive justice!"
If Orik can act, he heads inside and enlarges, with his greatsword in hand, hoping to catch any enemies that attack with a ranged weapon with an AOO.
"There are three to five archers in there, plus falcons, and the archers seem terrified by the ghostly children. Let's go in and take care of them -- I don't think the poor lost souls can harm us. But maybe we should spare one archer for interrogation?"
GM Axolotl, should we post for the next round?
Dez charges in, feeling the power of the mutagen running through his veins, not unsympathetic to the distressed cries, but not unsettled, and he tries to run through the first archer he reaches:
Rapier: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (10) + 11 = 21
Damage: 1d6 + 7 ⇒ (4) + 7 = 11
Ogon remains just outside the doors, flaming fitfully but unwilling to actually go inside.
Yrja moves to hover at the entrance into the temple, taking cover from the falcons while trying to see what is happening with the archers. She could probably try some magic on them and make them easier to subdue, and she gives Dez a concerned look as he runs in and starts stabbing with his rapier. They had attacked her and her companions, true, but they were practically helpless now, and she feels more than a tinge of unease and guilt at the thought of outright killing them.
If the other members of the party hesitate and the archers make clear their surrender, Dez will hold back on skewering them.
Dez enters the temple at a good clip, his rapier at the ready. Every bit of finery has been stolen, even chipped away from the walls, of this once-lovely place, and any furniture or trappings that were here are long gone. There are splashes of something on the walls--blood, perhaps, and signs of scorch marks and frost heaves in the tiling.
The hunters cower in the corner, throwing down their bows. "Make them stop! Make them stop!" shrieks one. The ghostly children do not stop, however. They do, mercifully, not enter too deeply into the temple. As Dez watches, he can see one phantom after another dragged, wailing, from the transept of the temple out to the landing at the top of the stairs, immediately before the doors. This ghastly, ghostly scene appears to be looping.
Orik frowns at the scene, and says "Not much we can do about this, now. Put down your weapons and come out with me, they don't affect me. I'll keep you safe, idiots. They're just ghosts." Orik extends his hand to the villains, rolling his eyes at their pathetic fear.
He says to the children, "I'll come back for you when I can. Just give me a few weeks. Thanks for helping us with these folks, and for what it's worth, you didn't deserve this. Sorry for what you went through." He looks sympathetically at the screaming ghost scene.
He'll grab the bad guys' hands if they drop their weapons, and pull them out of the church.
Orik can see the children's past assailants more clearly now, although the haunt is clearest when focused on the children themselves. The wailing ghosts are continually plucked out of the temple by ice trolls and even one stooping, roaring frost giant who snarls at the trolls and children alike. The image of the larger humanoids wavers and dissipates when more than a few feet from their prey.
Muttering and moaning to themselves, the falconers allow themselves to be led out of the desecrated temple by the wrists. Nadya walks up to assist, still bleeding from a cut from a falcon. "I think the ghosts appeared because there was fighting here. I've never seen this haunt before," she says, spitting and making a ward against evil with her hands.
In no time, the falconers are kneeling in the snow, more grateful to be alive than really caring that they have surrendered. The falcons call uncertainly from the trees around them.
After helping Orik, Nadya stalks over to the dead winter wolf, light footed in her snowshoes as ever. She kneels down to look at the beast, then startles. Recovering, she stands up and shouts to the group.
"Hey! This old cur has one brown eye and one blue eye. We can make an Izmoroz-shkura. A 'rimepelt'. Let's talk to these ruffians and then I have some work to do." She pulls out a wicked looking knife. "I have a story to tell." Her smile is as piercing and bright as snow on ice.
Orik nods at Nadya, and turns to the archers.
Orik looms over the clods and folds his arms. ”So, who told you we’d be good to attack?” He gestures briefly at the wolf, ”If you were scared of that big wolf, then it’s dispatched. Answer well, and maybe we can see fit to let you go. Otherwise, I have to pray to my god to determine what the punishment for ‘banditry’ is out here in the wilds. I can’t have you ambushing other folks, you know.” He grimaces at them not-unsympathetically, and waits for a response.
Take 10 on Diplomacy for 13.
Someone help me make a mental note to consecrate this place when I hit higher level!
"D-don't kill us," stammers one falconer, who is still growing in his first red-blonde beard. "That wolf was Norgrimm. He was ordered by a White Witch to go to a Witchtower. It was near Walds...Waldsby. We're supposed to look for um...suspicious travelers headed to Whitethrone."
He gulps nervously. "Let us go and we won't say a word. We'll continue to Waldsby."
The others nod fearfully. You can see by their outfits that they are indeed, soldiers of the Winter Guard of Whitethrone. Why such a small contingent was sent is mystifying to you.
Dezső stands next to Orik, rapier in his hand but pointed down.
"You really need to tell us everything you know. You're saying you were traveling with Norgrimm to a Witchtower near Waldsby? You were coming from Whitethrone? But how is it that you were prepared to ambush us here, and why are there so few of you?"
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (13) + 8 = 21
Remind me where Whitethrone is in relation to Waldsby...
"We don't know, devil--er, sir," says another falconer, this one older and scarred, but similarly unnerved by the half-orc and tiefling. "We don't get told reasons or information we ain't needin'. Norgrimm said follow him and off we went. This is a common stop for trav'lers and we knew we could catch folks passing through."
Another falconer mutters quietly "...Nazhena wanted to keep her business quiet from the Queen, is my--ow!--" and is rapidly cuffed into silence by the older Guard.
Dezső points his rapier at the older guard and says, "I guess you didn't hear me when I said you all need to tell us everything you know if you want to live. I know you all engage in plenty of speculation about your missions and we want to hear it." He then turns to the falconer who started to speak: "So you were sent by Nazhena to keep a watch out for suspicious travelers? Why did she want to keep it quiet from the Queen?"
Silly me -- we are coming from the witchtower near Waldsby and heading to Whitethrone.
|Nadya Petska DMPC|
"I can answer that," says Nadya, careful not to say Dezső's name in front of the prisoners. "The jadwiga hierarchy is based on fear and intimidation, from the lowest levels to the top. Nazhena, that frosty spitepole, she hasn't told the Queen about how we've crippled the Pale Tower. That's right, you worms. Best you run, as you know how Nazhena rewards failure."
Orik sighs, and holds his holy symbol while hefting his greatsword over his shoulder with his other hand, and looks down at them. "Yeah, what he said. We're taking names - don't end up on our damned list." He then growls and spits in the snow nearby, glowering at the prisoners.
Ogon still doesn't feel entirely himself, but it doesn't take much effort to look horrifically intimidating in his ferociously carved armor as the soldiers scramble away.
Feeling more or less satisfied the group has gotten what we can from the archers, Dezső walks over to Yrja and speaks to her privately:
"Yrja, thank you for hesitating at the suggestion of slaying the archers. It created just the moment of pause I needed to come to my senses. When I consume my mutagen it brings out a more animal nature in me... It's very useful in combat, but I need to remember to maintain reason in control." It's true the mutagen lowers his WIS.
I'm taking some liberties given that Yrja did not really voice her concerns aloud, but I thought it was an interesting roleplaying opportunity.
Before they go, Orik takes everything of value that the archers have except for rations, a dagger, clothes, and their armor (if their armor is non-masterwork, I don’t mind letting them keep it :D
I back it, Dez. It's one of those 'cinematic looks' between characters.
Chiquq takes the time to shoo off the falcons and look to Aitut, who stamps near the corpse of the winter wolf.
Each falconer has the following:
2 potions--you're almost certain they are curative
studded leather armor
composite longbow (+2 Str) with 20
6 measly gold pieces
Please mark the Loot accordingly :)
Nadya does one better than Orik; she binds their legs together with rawhide and tosses a dagger twenty paces or so out of the temple. "Hobble for it, you curs. Maybe you'll reach it by nightfall."
During all this, the ghosts finally fade away and grow silent.
After that, Nadya strolls back toward Aitut and the dead Norgrimm. She takes a look at the wolf's eyes.
She motions everyone to gather round after they've finished stripping the guards of their goods.
"Now this is stroke of good luck," says the young ranger. "Norgrimm is a very special kind of winter wolf. Many years ago, priests of the Winter Wolves were chosen--or maybe they were sacrifices--to make a special quarter of Whitethrone. Wolves like Norgrimm. See the two eye colors? That magic is bound into the land in certain spots. If you wear his pelt, you can become a Winter Wolf, but only in that part of Whitethrone. Oh, and you can do it once outside of Whitethrone, but only once. Then, magic is lost. We should save it for Whitethrone. We can...impersonate a winter wolf."
There is a gleam in her eye. She pulls out a skinning knife and gets to work. Skinning an animal is not for the faint of heart--the coring around certain tender areas, the ripping of pelt and skin from red muscle and fascia beneath--but she is quick. In less than 15 minutes, she is done.
"Now...once it is dry...who wants it?" She waggles the pelt teasingly. It looks like a horrible Skinsending of a wolf, but also a bit like a giant children's toy.
Dez watches the skinning process with curiosity, mouth slightly agape. When Nadya holds up the pelt, he comments: "Perhaps one of the animals can carry it until we need it?"
Otherwise, he will search the ruined church and the general area while the loot is being packed up.
What time is it? Were we planning on staying here for the night?
Yrja is startled by Dez's thanks, but smiles warmly at him. "This is a cruel land, but not all the people in it are cruel." She glances meaningfully at Nadya, then turns back to the other tiefling. "We must strive to be better than those who would bring cold and darkness upon the world. I am glad that your heart was swayed to mercy."
As the archers are searched and, erm, relieved of their belongings, she suggests that they should be allowed to keep the cold-weather gear they carry. Else, sending them out into the harsh winter with only their armor and clothes is a sure death sentence. Besides, the party has enough furs and blankets, and no need for additional burdens on their already heavily-laden animals.
She watches Nadya skin the giant wolf, and once the process is done she removes a glove and reaches out a tentative hand to stroke the pelt.
Spellcraft rolls for potions: 8d20 + 12 ⇒ (2, 2, 2, 16, 3, 14, 11, 14) + 12 = 76
Yrja can feel the tingle of primal magic within the pelt.
The potions are all certainly CLW potions. :)
Feel free to tell the party if you get some sort of vision from the wolf pelt. Or not. ;) Examples: a memory from Norgrimm's life, running through the frosty woods, perhaps a moment of kindness during a winter wolf's cruel and domineering existence. Or something horrid!
Your growling bellies remind you that it's past noon.
Dez' keen eyes finds a loose stone under a toppled and broken butterfly-woman statue.
Beneath the stone is a coffer, well made of sturdy stone as well. It opens smoothly to reveal two scrolls wrapped together in a scroll case that is nicely engraved with symbols, a belt consisting of many bits of tanned leather joined together by thick metal studs (and radiating faint magic), a ring that also looks magical, and two glittering, dark fire opals.
The rest of Ulsgaard reveals nothing more than broken potsherds, dropped and ruined arrowheads or broken daggers and the like. The town was stripped bare and left for only the winds, and the children of the Desnan temple, to haunt.