Jubilation fills the evening air in the normally staid town of Trunau, for it is 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. A throng of spectators has amassed at the town Commons; the buzz of the crowd subsides as 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—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, signaling the end of the ceremony.
Fluffy dot so that it shows up in my campaigns.
From as far back as possible in the crowd, Brolga watches the ceremony with mixed feelings. Happy for Ruby, and for the excitement of the town on her behalf. Wistful, that he never got a hope ceremony, spending his twelfth birthday in the wilderness having freshly escaped his tormentors. Fearful, that anyone here should ever find themselves subject to the brutal, mindless impulses of Orc invaders, like he had.
"Tr-Tr-Tr-Trunau F-Forever!" Brolga casts glances to those around him, hoping his stutter didn't draw attention to himself.
Renliat, as a new member of Trunau and not fully accepted to the point of having his own hopeknife yet, sits off to the side to watch the ceremony. It was the first ceremony he has had a chance to witness so he came with much curiosity, taking notes on it despite the occasional odd glances he got from the other nearby citizens. He is halfway through a sketch of an anatomical picture showing the cuts that Halgra is talking about when the ceremony concludes. He sets down his notes and claps politely, much less enthusiastically than the rest of the crowd but with a quiet happiness nonetheless. Pragmatic, bonded people. Hardships truly bring out the best in them. Perhaps the pessimistic Pharasman's have the right idea.
Sitko, in her human form, yawns. She never found ceremonies very eventful. She spotted some valubles, but decided that it was better not to stick out like a flaming sore thumb.
When everyone began to cheer, Sitko claped calmly and turned to look around. When she didn't see anyone of real interest, she began moving towards the side of the crowd, where there were some younger folk she could blend with.
This wasn't the first ceremony that Lialda had been at, she had participated in her own when she came of age. It was always good to see another take the oath and retrieve their blade. As the ceremony completed she joined in the call, "Trunau forever!" From down around her feet came a "YiyiyI!" A small white fox had joined into the cheering as well. The attractive half-elf made her way up to where miss Ruby was receiving congratulations and waited her turn before saying, "Congratulation Ruby, it's always a joyous day when someone comes of age." Hvita let out a chirp and rubbed up against Ruby's leg before grabbing Lialda's robe and pulling on it in the direction of the food, "Looks like somebodies hungry."
Kreagor heartily joins in with is own shout, quite pleased with himself for managing to remember to be here today instead of out wandering the country side.
There is little more important here in Trunau than our Hope Knife ceremony Kreagor thinks to himself.
Not wanting to make the crowd around poor, shy Ruby any larger, Kreagor stays where he is at the side of the crowd, content to watch and congratulate Ruby later.
Getting caught in a large group stopping to watch the ceremony a strange sight this far north took place. Clad in red robes of the far south while carrying around a greatsword with one side teethed the Gnoll watched on in curiosity as the event unfolded, the fur distinct coloration on Sarada's forehead giving the impression of three eyes watching the mother and daughter talk.
Sarada didn't, as an outsider it would be rude, at least for right now.
Once Halgra finishes her speech, and the cheers die down, the people of Trunau waste no time heading for the ale barrels and tables of food. This marks the beginning of the more lighthearted festivities. A chant of "Rope, rope, rope..." started pealing through the air, and a pair of the militia came forward to the center of the Commons, carrying a long rope. The older looking one called loudly, "The militia of Trunau challenge Ruby Halgram to a test of strength to determine her worth at standing at the side of the other adults of Trunau. She may pick up to 7 champions to stand with her."
The tug-of-war is a typical hopeknife ceremony game, and everyone really gets into it. Ruby doesn't hesitate in her first choice. "I want Rodrik!"
"Oh no, you don't, young lass! I'm militia. I'm honor bound to fight with the militia, not against." The man known as Rodrick Grath grinned. He called his brother Kursk over, and motioned to a half dozen other milita men to join their side.
"Fine, then I choose big BROLGA!" A groan arose from the crowd as the strong half-orc was chosen. It was no surprise, really, feats of lifting tremendously heavy crates and barrels were known by all of the town's children.
"Next, I choose Kreagor, Garri and the new elf wizard. Magic's allowed, you know. You can't stop us now!"
Rodrik's smile and chuckles, nodding her on. "You have brute strength and magic, where is your luck and finesse factor? Hmmm?"
Ruby shouts, "I want Lialda! She'll make you all fall down I bet! Andandand that lady over there who's walking away." She pointed at Sitko. "She tells such good stories, she should be in mine."
"And finally...umm...I'll let the gods decide!" The crowd roared in appreciation as she began twirling in a circle, finger outstretched. Faster and faster she spun, until she staggered from the dizziness and stopped, finger pointing straight at the gnoll Sarada. "The fluffy one!"
Rodrik scrathed a deep line in the sand, then stretched out the rope to either side. The contestants took their places on the rope, with Ruby's team on one side, and the militia on the other. Halgra counted down from five and the contest was on!
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Lialda smiled and stepped up along with Hvita and said, "Thank you for this honor Ruby, I won't let you down." She takes a place on the rope whith Hvita jumping up and grabbing the rope with her teeth and hanging from it to "help" too.
"Bur?" the Gnoll exclaims while blinking, the movements almost seeming to make his third "eye" blink in tandem as well.
After whether into the shock of getting forcibly invited into the game by some god's whimsy Sarada moves over to the rope with the rest of Ruby's champions. "Thank you for... the honor, miss Ruby." he mimics the attractive lady who can make others fall down. Head over heels most likely.
Renliat is so absorbed in his notes that he doesn't even notice he was chosen until one of the townspeople elbows him. Then he looks up at all the people staring at him and stutters for a moment. "Uhh, very well Ruby." He closes his journal and stands up, going over to her and Rodrik. He furrows his brows and leans over to whisper in Ruby's ear. "Sorry to disappoint, but unless you want the competition dead or unconscious I won't be any help. They will recover from going unconscious though..."
Ruby gives Lialda a big hug and with a smile adds, "I know you won't!" She reaches down and gives Hvita a quick rub before turning to her next teammate.
She claps her hands excitedly as Sarada moves in and in response to Renliat she ads, "Whatever! I've heard that you can shoot rainbows from your fingerips that have blinded no less than six dozen orcs at a time!"
Sarada's arches a brow at the esteemed spellslinger, again causing the third eye to seem to imitate the action.
Upon hearing his name called, Kreagor begins to walk over to the others, quite happy to have been chosen.
Upon arriving at the others, Kreagor addresses Ruby,
"Thank you for this honour Ruby, and congratulations on receiving your Hope Knife. I can only hope to do well by you in this challenge"
At being called first, a massive lopsided grin breaks across Brolga's face but it quickly drops as his forehead crinkles in worry. It's so nice to be included! But everyone will be watching. What if hurt someone... Or what if we lose? Will they drive me out of town? Oh, Ruby...
Hunching forward to try and make him look smaller than his 6'1 frame would really allow, Brolga shuffles up to the others. " Th-Thank you Ruby. Cong-g-g-g-g-... Well done." The half Orc pics up the end of the rope and ties it loosely around his waist to serve as the anchor.
Ruby responds to Garri, "Pull their big muscle faces onto the ground!"
Sitko moves into line and joins the rest of the team on the rope. Once everyone has a hold of it Rodrik shouts, "Ready!" and Ruby returns an eager, "Ready to kick the miltia's butt!" to which the crowd roars in laughter.
Halgra shouts, "5 - 4 - 3 - 2 -- 1!"
The rope snaps taught as the militia digs in. Maybe they are just starting slow or trying not very hard, but it doesn't seem like they are putting their backs into it. Nevertheless, Ruby's team seems to falter as they militia pulls them closer to the line, now only ten feet away.
Militia Strength: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (4) + 7 = 11
Party Strength: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (2) + 5 = 7
I'll do the rolling for the checks for tug of war, just wanted to give you guys a chance to pop a RP post or so in. If you want to do something other than just pull with strength feel free to work it in.
Despite the weak efforts of the militia, even after that small burst Renliat is panting for breath as his arms shake. I think I'm actually making it worse... He thinks to himself as he tries to grip the rope again and dig in. Beads of sweat cover his forehead and he takes another pull.
Even though it seemed so simple Sarada was still caught off guard once the game began. That and the unevenness of this team's physical prowess against a trained militia in sync was readily apparent.
Resisting the urge to bark at them the Gnopl gripped harder and tugged. Sarada didn't know a lot of things, least of all what was playing out right now, but he was damned if he was going to let something bad happen on the young girl's birthday because he was being lazy.
Brolga had been trying hard, but the disadvantage of his team against the militia was readily apparent. They're all bigger and stronger than Ruby and her other friends... It's not fair. They'll beat her then they'll never let her hear the end of it. It's not her fault she's little. Repressed memories of punishment dished out by his three "brothers" start flashing through Brolga's mind, and he starts to pull back at the rope wildly.
Brolga starts raging until they win the tug'o'war, he runs out of rage, or he sees Ruby is having an obvious good time, whichever occurs first.
Lialda was trying her best but she knew she was over matched, what could she say strength wasn't her strong suit, never had been, her mind and magic were her assets. She sent a series of feelings to Hvita the gist of which were Play with those guys. The little fox yipped and let go of the rope, dropping to the ground and dashed over to start tugging on the pants legs of the militia team to distract them while being careful not to get stepped on.
Disappointed with his first effort, Kreagor decides to dig a little deeper. Noticing that Brolga seems to be preparing for a bigger effort he shouts at the militia
It looks like Brolga barely tried the first time, hope you can hold your ground this time around!
Kreagor then begins encouraging his team mates to greater effort, chanting out encouragement to them.
I am trying to intimidate the militia to throw them off their game if possible. 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (12) + 3 = 15
It would seem that Ruby's team of ragtag rope pullers suddenly got their act together in a hurry! Hvita dashes away and pulls at one of the militia's pants, shaking and pulling under their feet. After a few seconds of frustraiton, one of the men lets go of the rope and shoo's Hvita away, "Be gone! Go! Stop it!"
Kreagor hurls his words around as Brolga and the others dig in and pull. With the other team down a man, the party yanks so hard that the opposition is pulled forward all the way to the line! As the militia stumble forward they begin to grumble and mutter under their breath as the crowd begins to laugh and shout words of encouragement to your team.
Ruby laughs gleefully and yells to her team, "Again! Again!" as the crowd begins to chat, "RU-BY RU-BY RU-BY".
Militia: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (1) + 3 = 4
Party: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (18) + 7 = 25
When she realized the militia team would go tumbling across the line, in large part due to her effort, Hvita tipped at them as she streaked of back to Lialda's side. as the little fox did so she flipped her tail up at the militia team and ran behind Lialda's legs. For Lialda this was as much fun as when she had gone through the ritual herself, it'd been a while since she cut loose and enjoyed herself, since her own coming of age in fact. The loss of her mother and her newly found status as a which left her little time to enjoy herself and she was beginning to think that maybe she'd been trying to hard.
Getting caught up in the game Sarada couldn't help but smile, able to forget things, even for the briefest of moments.
And so he laughed. A hyena's laugh. Something no one would ever forget once they had heard it before.
Noticing Ruby's exuberant joy, Brolga snaps back to reality. Oh, we won. Huh, good for the youngling. Oh, feeling a bit dizzy though...
"Well d-d-done Ruby! You're as strong and b-brave as the whole militia already!"
Rage ends, fatigued for 2 rounds
I think they're just at the line, not over it. Could be wrong though.
*scratches head* Maybe, the "to the line" part is what confused me, sorry.
I meant it to be that they were brought right to the line, not over. Sorry for the confusion, let me tidy it up.
With one final heave, Brolga and the others pulled. The militia team was pulled across the line and a huge cheer went out from the crowd. After Brolga's hug, Kreagor lifted Ruby up high in the air to let her revel in her victory before placing he back on her feet and shrinking back to normal size.
Rodrik and Kurst walk over to clap Ruby on the shoulders and congratulate her. "And your team was amazing too."
Looking to Lialda he smirks, "Nice distraction with your friend there." He gestures to strangers in the party. "I am Rodrik, and this is my brother Kurst. I am glad you could witness the hopeknife ceremony, as it is one of the most important things in a Trunau native's life."
Kurst broke in. "My brother only says that because he really thinks he is the most important thing in Trunau." His brother elbowed him, with a grin on his face. "In fact, the only reason Ruby won so easily was because Rodrik here had writers cramp from penning his poems."
Rodrik laughed a hearty laugh and asked his brother, "Have you met Brolga? He would be a worthy addition to the militia, and Ruby desperately wanted him on her team. I shouldn't let her have that big of an advantage, though. Here, let's have a drink to celebrate your win."
Kurst nods and adds, "Some of your faces I recognize, but there are a few ones I do not know."
As he steered you over towards where the ale and wine casks are stacked, Ruby ran off to participate in some of the other games going on.
Militia: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (7) + 7 = 14
Party: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (13) + 5 = 18
Renliat leans on his cane, panting heavily from the efforts. I was not made to do this... As he recovers he gives a small smile at the bickering between brothers. So cheery in such a dark place. "I certainly wouldn't mind some wine after all that. Magic she says, like it's a fix-all. I would certainly say that knocking out your whole team would have been considered poor sportsmanship." He quips.
Am I one of the faces that Kurst already recognizes? I have been in town for at least a little while, so I figured that at least some people would know me. Especially since, as far as I can tell from the player's guide, the village is kind of lacking in arcane magic.
Watching Ruby run off, happy that he had helped win the game for her, Kreagor listens to Kurst and Rodrik, and is happily steered towards the ale.
Kreagor responds to Renliat's quip,
"It probably would have been, otherwise I would've been sorely tempted to slick their end of the rope with some grease and watch them all fall on their asses!"
Kreagor picks up his pace slightly, eager for a drink and used to Kurst's and Rodrik's bickering, kind of wishing he had greased the other teams rope for the laughs but glad he didn't for Ruby's sake.
Sarada warily tiptoes over towards the ale, cautious, as he wasn't for sure if they would let him have some or not. It did smell good however.
If you've been here for a few weeks at least, Rodrik and Kurst would know you. They are both patrol captains and make it their habit to know all of the folk coming and going from town.
Rodrik chuckles loudly. He puts a gentle hand on the wizard's shoulder, "Renliat, right? I never forget a face." He leans and whispers, but loud enough for all to hear. "Thanks for not showing us up with your magical prowess in our faces, eh?" as he alludes to Ruby's earlier proclamation. "We had no intention of letting her lose. This is her night to be the hero. Your group did catch us by surprise however, nice work."
Kreagor, Garri and Sarada move off and make their way towards the alcoholic beverages, leaving Lialda, Renliat, Sitko and Brolga with the brothers. Mugs of ale are quickly shoved into each of their hands as several people from the crowd slap them on the back, high-five or pass along some other form of congratulatory message in their win over the militia.
If anyone is interesting in digging up some intel, you can mingle with the locals to pick up some tidbits. Drop me a diplomacy or K:local check if you wish.
"Pickles?" Sarada says inquisitively before taking a bite out of the offered item from the small green man with the big head before taking one of the offered roaches as well. He had never tried one before.
Lialda nodded at the compliment on Hvita's "trick" and the little fox, knowing she was being talked about, strutted out from behind Lialda in her most march like pasture before scampering off to likely get into mischief. "Thank you, Hvita's very intelligent about such things. Sadly you've now inflated her ego and she's likely to get into and cause trouble now." As the two brothers bantered back and forth Lialda caught the mention of poetry and asked, "Really Rodrik, a poet? I'd be interested in hearing some of your work someday."
As Renliat commented in what seemed like disdain at using magic for such things she couldn't help but say, "I can't say I disagree with you, people do think it's a cure all for any problem." Her expression turned a bit cold as she continued softly, "It'd be nice if it were." She shook her head gently and the cold expression lifted, "Well, I should go mingle for a while or Hvita will scold me for it later on." She started to move off into the crowd then and began chatting with various people listening for any scuttlebutt on new rumors on information.
diplomacy: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (10) + 2 = 12
Accepting the offered pickled cockroach from Garri, Kreagor takes a bite and washes it down with his ale. It actually tastes half decent he finds
"Why thank you Garri, Sarenrae surely smiled upon us when she guided you to our village."
Kreagor then goes about socializing, trying to include Garri and Sarada in the conversation as much as they want to be.
Any tidbits about rumored giant sightings, newly found caverns/ruins, other oddities etc would be of particular interest to Kreagor, and he would ask about them in passing during conversations. A mite bit obsessed he is
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (8) + 7 = 15
"Um, yes. Sarenrae is a nice goddess." the Gnoll awkwardly states as he gets dragged into a conversation.
As the conversation flows freely between the group, Brolga stands awkward to the side. A few times he starts to muster up something to say, but before he can the conversation will have already moved on. As Lialda leaves to follow Hvita, the young half-orc takes the opportunity and finally manages to blurt something out.
”Rodrik, h-how long have you two been in the militia? You seemed to work well together until we beat you.”
Instantly, Brolga realizes what he said might not have come across as the compliment he intended, and again his shoulders scrunch up as he tries to look smaller than he really is.
Diplomacy: 1d20 - 3 ⇒ (16) - 3 = 13
This town truly doesn't understand arcane magic. Six dozen orcs at once...I feel like I'm overestimated constantly. He gives a small smile as the half-elf comments on what he happened to be thinking. I wonder if I knew her elven parent. I imagine that must be terribly rude to ask about though. Still, I have always wondered why my kind has been so interested in human partners.
Renliat winces at the pat. "Yes, well we all have our strengths, and yours is strength. Just how I wouldn't expect you to try to handle researching the Siegstone you shouldn't expect me to tamper with a contest of strength." He hears the man admit their intent to lose either way and raises his brows in surprise. Their culture still surprises me. I wonder why that is... He's halfway to asking when the man turns away and he decides to bite his tongue. Watch and observe for now.
Renliat tries to find a place at the table where he can sit and not be slapped on the back, but is happy to shake hands and exchange words with anybody interested.
The goblin he had been largely attempting to ignore starts offering pickles and asking about a temple of Sarenrae can no longer be ignored. He keeps a strait face; if the townspeople tolerated him then there must be a good reason. "No thank you, I prefer my vegetables fresh. And this town has a temple of Iomadae, but none of Sarenrae." As far as I can gleam from the player's guide anyways.
And then there's a gnoll and a hobgoblin as well. This town's wonders never ceased to amaze him. He politely doesn't say anything, waiting and observing. He reflects back on what the town has to clear his mind of them.
Knowledge (local): 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (16) + 9 = 25
hen he asks the townsfolk if there is a shrine to Sarenrae anywhere in town.
The answer to Garri's question seems fairly universally answered when everyone he receives numerous responnses that Iomedae has a church here, but not Sarenrae. One or two go on to mention that when Trunau’s old church of Iomedae— now known as the Plague House — was burned by marauding orcs, Iomedaean missionaries built this new temple inside the town’s walls.
Just how I wouldn't expect you to try to handle researching the Siegstone you shouldn't expect me to tamper with a contest of strength."
Rodrik and Kurst exchange silent looks and then Rodrik exchanges a slow nod to the man. "Exactly. My place is on patrol, not tinkering with the sludge of stew that the Siegestone produces! I have no qualms leaving that up to you fancy magic types."
”Rodrik, h-how long have you two been in the militia? You seemed to work well together until we beat you.”
Rodrik takes the half-orc's comment for what it was and slaps him hard on the back with a hearty laugh. "Good one! My brother and I, we've been in the guard since we were wee lads. Or father has been patrol captian for as long as I can remember, it's in our blood you see."
"Really Rodrik, a poet? I'd be interested in hearing some of your work someday."
Rodrik and Kurst talk to various party members about life in the Trunau militia, and Rodrik's poetry. There was little of interest about militia life, other than the curious rule that before you could join, you had to have served in the defense of Trunau in some form or fashion.
Kurst took great joy in talking about Rodrik's poems, as the watch Captain's son writing poetry seemed amusing to him. The Ballad of Bloodmarch was the best known of his works, Kurst said. "It details our defense of Trunau versus the Legbreaker orcs some six years ago. Lots of gore and battle chants, but also a poignant sense of the inevitable being turned aside as well. Great stuff. Much better than that drivel he put out recently."
Rodrik made as if to splash his mug into his brother's face, but held off. "No sense wasting good ale. A toast then, to us! Long live the defenders of Trunau!" His toast was echoed by many others in the area, and a round of Huzzahs went out.
He also he overhears, “Have you read Rodrik Grath’s latest work, ‘The Other Side of Contempt’? He’s our own home-grown writer. It’s a controversial poem, but that’s what makes Rodrik’s writing so strong—he’s not afraid to push limits.”
You may also reveal all others spoilers as well, overhearing all of that in various forms.
Apparently I spend too much time outside the walls, when did this graffiti non-sense start??
Kreagor conveys what he has learned to his companions and then continues,
"Have any of you seen much of this graffiti people are talking about? I would like to examine it since it seems to staying on better than normal paint would"
Renliat conveys what he knows about Rodrik.
On the matter of Rodrik Grath potentially replacing his father Kreagor keeps silent, though he does have some thoughts on it
Rumors and speculation about a man's character and ability is unseemly, though unavoidable for the towns folk I guess. Maybe it should be looked into to ensure the most suitable leader is chosen though. Renliat is good at noticing things, maybe he could help
"I would like to read that poem one day."
"As would I. Any man ready to create is an author I am prepared to read. One such as I can always find something to learn in a work of art"
Kurst overhears some talk about his brothers poetry and speaks up. "What's that? His poetry? If you ask me Battle of Bloodmarch was his best work. Rodrik wrote his hit poem “Ballad of the Bloodmarch” 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. Why, even Chief Defender Halgra declared Ballad of the Bloodmarch to be Trunau’s official anthem!"
Rodrik smiles and lifts his mug in salute to his brother's comments.
As the hopeknife ceremony wound down, Rodrik and Kurst invited you to the Ramblehouse for a night of card playing and drinking. Rodrik didn't drink much, but Kurst drank enough for both of them, and lost horribly at the card game. During the evening, those that were there got a sense that the two brothers were very close, and that Kurst looked up to his older brother a lot. Rodrik was the more personable of the two, and made up ditties about the people in the room that had Storn snorting beer through his nose.
Rodrik turned in early, barely an hour after full dark, claiming he had an early watch duty. Kurst left not too long after that, staggering towards his father's home. As the evening waned, you each drifted off to wherever you are staying for the night.
There are plenty of rooms in the Ramblehouse, if anyone wants to spend the night there that normally sleeps elsewhere.