"The Wild Spray? Yes I know of it." Bronwen nods.
When Tatalia mentions the next town she frowns, "I suppose you mean Augustana? We should easily be able to find a ship there, I would think. Traveling to Cheliax is no laughing matter however. Being your....kind, may make things difficult." the elf says delicately. 'Are you prepared for that?"
Tatalia considers the question carefully. "No," she answers honestly, "but it has to be done. If Thargim and Mestra are there, we'll find them."
Again, Tatalia considers the question quietly. "I can't do that. I would be shirking my duty as a paladin and breaking my oath to Connac. This is my burden to bear - but it is one I can share.
"We'll find a way to get into that hellish country and get out safely. We have to. And maybe," she finishes with a balled fist and a determined tone, "we can do a little good while we're there, Sarenrae willing."
Bronwen's eyebrow raises at the last remark and Tatalia can't tell if it is in respect or disbelief. Either way soon the shadowy hood is lifted and the elf says, 'I will meet you at dawn." She vanishes down the passage.
Later Tatalia finds her tavern room the same as she left it, simple but comfortable. The talk in the common room is full of stories about Connac although few here recognize her. The stories steer toward the crude and dwell on imagined sexual exploits. Idly the halfling wonders how true they are.
The next morning she is awoken by a knock on her door. There is the tiniest glimmer of gray light in the east, not quite dawn. Another tentative knock.
"A moment," Tatalia mumbles aloud, stumbling out of bed. She grabs her traveling clothes and tugs them on rather quickly, grabs her sheathed sword, and stumbles over to the door with a wild-looking case of bed head. Finally, she opens it.
Disheveled, Tatalia opens the door. On the other side is a mans he doesn't recognize right away. He is small and dark, wearing the simple homespun of the locals. His hair and skin are encrusted with salt and his stance betrays that of a seaman. Strong, callused hands knead a simple hat in anxiety and nervousness.
"Lady..Tatalia?" he says tentatively, obviously afraid to offend, "My name is Luek. You probably don't recall me, but I used to do a few jobs for old Master Connac."
The halflfign then recalls seeing the old seaman around, not often, but truly him.
"I...I hear you might need a vessel?"
"That I do," begins Tatalia. Seeing his nervous look, she gestures on inside. "Um, please sit down," she says, gesturing at a stool by the desk in the room. "And it's just Tatalia, Luek. I don't think I've earned any fancy titles.
"I'm looking for a ship to take me to... to Cheliax, actually. I'm on a mission, and I need to go to Westcrown to complete it." The young halfling rubs the back of her head and sits on down on her bed. She runs her hand through her messy hair and grumbles, "I am not looking forward to this trip."
The man doesn't sit, obviously too nervous. When the talk changes to that of the sea he relaxes a bit, "No one looks forward to going to Cheliax...ma'am. This trip, does it have to do with Master Connac's murder? Are you going to make the folks who did it pay?" He nods to the paladin's sword in the corner.
"If a ship you want, a ship I have. I've sailed all throughout the Inner Sea and I can get you to Westcrown."
"I'm... Well, Connac told me to do something as he died. I plan to carry out his wishes." Tatalia thinks intently. "I'm not sure how much I should say, but I CAN say that I hope to find out who killed him and why on the way.
"If you're willing to sail me there, I'll gather up the coin necessary to pay you. I don't have much right now, and I'd like to make sure you're given appropriate compensation. How much would you ask for?"
If you want, you can use this as an opportunity to throw another minor adventure at me before we get sailing - not sure if you'd like that or not.
The sailor kneads his hat some more and shakes his head, 'Ma'am, if it is for Connaca, I'll take you for free to the Eye of Abendego itself. He was a great man, just like in the stories he told. I was lucky to know him." He quiets, obviously not given to such outbursts.
"Will it just be you or are there others helping you?"
"There is one person coming with me - an elvish woman called Bronwen. I'm supposed to meet with her today, so I'll inform her of the change of plans.
"When shall we set sail, sir?"
Oh, not sir.." The man says, "Just Crowel. Not itles, ma'am. We can set sail on the tide, in a few hours. The ships is the Slippery Elm, down at the docks, ma'am. You'll find it, I should have the crew awake and sober in a jiffy." With that he vanishes down the hallway, moving with that odd seaman's gait.
Later, downstairs, she finds Brownen standing in a shadowy corner, as if posed for the most dramatic effect.
"Greetings, paladin. I hear you have procured us a vessel?" The elf smiles at some inner joke.
"If I were a betting woman," muses the halfling with a quirked eyebrow, "I'd wager it's you we have to thank for Mr. Crowel's visit. But I've never been very good at the whole 'gambling' thing."
Tatalia shakes her head and shoulders her backpack. "I still need to fetch little Mina from the stable, and to fetch the saddlebags and the equipment she'll be carrying for us. I hope she likes boats..." Pausing, the halfling looks up at the elf and asks, "Do you know if we'll have to pay any extortionist docking fees or the like once we reach Westcrown? I'm not exactly the wealthiest of paladins."
Ready to advance the scene again if you are - just figured I'd mention her donkey so it's not forgotten.
The elf raises an eyebrow (Tatalina seems to make Bronwen do this often).
'You go to Cheliax and are concerned with income fees? You are a bold one." A pause as the paladin wonders if this is a compliment or an insult. The elf goes on, "Regardless I don't think our captain is the type to worry about import dues of any type, if you understand?"
A pause and the elf comes out of the corner to the halfing side, standing a few feet over her. "Smuggler, or so town rumor has it. Does that bother you, paladin?" the question is asked honestly, not harshly.
It takes Tatalia a moment to answer the question. "Yes, that will bother me," she begins slowly, "but that does not mean I will judge him for it. I am... I am against thievery and illicit deeds, but I haven't worn his shoes, have I?" For some reason, the halfling's nose twitches at the mention of shoes. "If he helps us on more occasions, I would try to dissuade him from his path - but you can't force a change like that. At least, you shouldn't. It has to be made willingly.
"And besides, one of the heroes of yore we're trying to recruit is a master thief!" Tatalia breaks into a grin. "I can't be bothered too much if we're trying to get one of those on our side, now, can I?"
I'm updating Tatalia's HP, daily abilities, and inventory. May I assume she used Lay on Hands before resting? Also, Connac's Lute weighs 3 lbs like other musical instruments, right? (Cor, I'd better invest in a handy haversack.)
That is a fine assumption. The lute seems very light...1 lb. The Gm smiles on you!
Brownwen nods, "I agree, but I have worked with some paladins who were less then sanguine about such things. Connac rarely dealt with paladins, he usually found them stuffy, at least when he was young. You'll note the Band lacks any."
Together the elf and halfling (withMina following bei walk to the small docks of the town. Int he bright sunlight of the dawning day, Tatalia notes shadows seem to cling to the elf, like a second cloak. It is more then a trick of the eye, there is obviously some type of magic at work here.
They find the Slippery Elm without much trouble. The ship is pitch-black, a small, tidy sloop. Tatalina notes it is clean and well-kept but obviously old, some scars too old to hide with paint and polish.
At the gangway, Luek meets them, looking more comfortable. "All is well?"
I'll need to ask her about that later, Tatalia thinks to herself as the pair approach the small ship. She
"Well enough," says Tatalia, stepping forward with her donkey. "We're ready to go when you are, Mr. Crowel. Mina here will be coming with us.
"Is there anything you'd like me to do while aboard? I've never been on an actual sailing ship before."
The old sailor laughs, a deep-throated rumble. 'Then you'll do nothing! A ship has many parts and you'll just get in the way. Sorry tot ell you, ma'am, but on a voyage, folks like you are just dead weight, something to be worked around."
Apparently Luek's nervousness was proportional to his distance from the sea. With obvious delight he strode up the gangplank. With a bow he shows them the dark and smelly hold for Mina and a small cramped cabin for both Bronwen and Tatalia.
The elf sniffs as this and says, 'The deck will due for me, Captain. I have sailed before, I can stay out of your way." She turns to Tatalia, robes flowing, "You may have it to yourself."
Luek shrugs, 'Any objections to heading off, ma'am? Didn't forget anything/"
Tatalia shakes her head and starts leading her suddenly wary donkey into the spooked hold. "I've brought everything I have. I'll need to buy more feed for Mina, but I'm sure we can do that at wherever you stop next."
Though I'll probably have to sell something to feed her, thinks the halfling with a passing frown. She replaces it with a smile. "I'll find my way to the cabin after I've helped Mina settle in, sir."
As she helps Mina calm down and adjust to her new conditions, Tatalia can't help but peer about curiously...
Perception check for the hold - anything noteworthy? Hidden compartments? While she's feeding and grooming her donkey I'll have her look around a few times, and so roll multiple times, if that's okay (as Perception can be retried). In case it's not okay, ignore the last two Perception checks.
Perception Check 1: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (15) + 8 = 23
Perception Check 2: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (16) + 8 = 24
Perception Check 3: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (18) + 8 = 26
This would be purely glancing/looking at this point, note. No wandering around the hold; just looking around to see if there's anything she should know of.
Tatalia knows little about ships. She knows they have sails, a rudder, keel, various holds, vaguely understands below there are 'bilges'. As she pets and speaks softly to the donkey, she looks around the dark hold, interested.
The dark beams sway slightly, and only the tiniest flickers of light come in from above. The smell of tar, old water and rotten food is strong here, along with the strong smell of salt. She sees little of interest, there is no other cargo save normal supplies.
Then she spots a small...door? Like a small latch, but built into the curving wood on the side of the ship. Designed to not be seen...
Tatalia makes a mental note of the door. She has no intention of lurking about to find out what lies there so quickly after becoming a guest aboard the ship, but thinks the information could be useful. Perhaps Bronwen could investigate it later, but for the time being Tatalia merely keeps note of the secret location.
After giving the donkey a little feed, the halfling leaves the hold and goes to find her cabin to organize her things, setting some up inside the cabin for easier reach. When she finds a plain, blank book with a small 'T' embroidered on the front, Tatalia stops.
"It's for you," said Ulric, passing the book gently into Tatalia's arms. The old half-orc smiled down at her, his wrinkled, leathery hands shaking. "It's a good place to record all your adventures. I know you'll have some great ones."
"You didn't have to do all this," she had answered then. "I'll be back to tell you everything personally. And it's hardly an adventure. I'm just going to be delivering a letter, Father, just after I pay one last visit to Connac."
"Yet it is an adventure," Ulric replied with a rasp, leaning on back and relaxing his back against his chair. "It's the start of your life beyond these walls. You're a woman now, Tatalia, and a paladin ordained by the Dawnflower. You may spend many long hours on the road, alone with your thoughts.
"So, record them." Old Ulric gestured at the book. "Record them when you find the time. It will help you keep your mind in order, and it will give you something to share when you're done wandering."
Tatalia pulls her ink well and quill from her backpack and sets up a station at which to work. When she's content with the setup and has provided herself with sufficient light, she begins to write.
What's the month, day, and year in game? I'm going to start working on Tatalia's journal. I might make it its own Alias.
Tatalia jots a few more lines into her journal before shutting it. She rises from her seat and steps out from her cabin door to get a good look at the sea.
Really like the journal! Not only is it an excellent way to get in character, but it lets me know what you are thinking. Good all around.
The next two days pass without much incident. Tatalina gets to know the strange ways of life aboard ship, the ringing of the bells, the movement of the sails, the constant activity. The halfing soon learns some of the crew, names, faces, personalities. Luek, the captain, is respectful but guarded. He seems to be a fair captain however, and the grousing of the crew is a friendly, familiar sort.
Bronwen is distant, spending nearly all her time on deck, silently contemplating the sea. Her dark eyes fixed on a distant horizon, the wind, spray and rocking of the boat don't seem to bother her at all. Even a brief rain-squall that passes over is endured without remark.
Finally, on the third day of the journey, as they leave Andoran behind, she stumbles across Luek having a heated conversation. The other man is a young, fresh faced half-elf, with a large brithmark across his face. Jaerl, Tatalina recalls, who acts as a sort of quartermaser for the ship, and excellent head for numbers.
"Well, count it again!" Luek says sharply, pacing the deck.
"I did, Captain." Jaerl says, "Three times."
Luek stops, facing the younger man, his sea worn face dark, "Then we loaded it wrong. How could we possibly use that much bacon already! We've only been at sea three days."
The half-elf spreads his hands helplessly.
The Captain opens his mouth, but spots Tatalina. He smiles and says, 'Something I can help you with, ma'am?"
"Not until now - we're low on supplies?" The halfling stands there in her armor with a deep frown. "And we definitely didn't lose them at sea somehow? Will we need to be making port soon?
"If there's any way I might be able to help, please, let me know. I'm not doing anything useful aboard the ship - perhaps I could keep watch of our supplies?"
Yeah, I think I'll enjoy using the journal for the reasons you mentioned. Also, your typo makes me kind of wish I DID name Tatalia Tatalina.
I'm happy you didn't I am GMing a game with the PC named' Shalina'. Confusion!
Luek shakes his head, 'Plenty of supplies, ma'am. Just..being used at a rate we didn't order. Something strange going on with them."
At her first question Jaerl says, "Oh, at least another week of sailing, if the winds hold, until we get to Westcrown. And as we enter Cheliax waters...."
He trails off and the Captain takes over, "We'll be dodging Chelish patrols."
"You know what's best, captain," Tatalia says with a slow nod, folding her arms behind her back. "I trust your judgment. I'm not sure I'd like to confront with any Chelish naval officers myself.
"Anyway I'll gladly keep watch these next few nights and do a little snooping today. Maybe I can find out what's happening. Could be a stowaway, someone taking extra rations, or even some sort of magic. I'll ask around the ship before doing some investigating of my own." Tatalia raises her eyebrows. "If I have your permission, Mr. Crowel?"
Oh - Paladins only respect legitimate authority, and I'm thinking Cheliax is very much NOT legitimate authority in the eyes of a paladin (especially one from Andoran). Does that assumption jive well with you?
"I'll do that," the halfling answers with a nod. Mentally, she makes a note that she may need to counsel the captain to act with mercy and forgiveness, but decides it's not the right time to discuss the matter.
Afterward, she begins to speak with different members of the crew as their work allows, asking about what they may have seen or heard near the hold, or if they'd noticed anything unusual at night. She tries to be as thorough as possible.
Diplomacy (Gather Information): 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (4) + 12 = 16
Tatalia talks with the sailors, usually while they worked, doing the endless tasks a ship at sea needed. Most have no clues and are curious what she is trying to investigate.
Do you mention the lost food in your inquires?
One, an younger sailor named Trilla says he thinks the hold is haunted and has heard footsteps at night. The other sailors laugh at him and say it is just his imagination.
Yeah, mentioning the food... Yeah. She'll mention it as the last question: "And do you know anything about this?" I'll wait for your response before continuing.
None one knows about it but she notes everyone becomes very serious and intent when she mentions it. As Luek said, thievery is a crime above all others at sea, where only teamwork and cooperative effort can allow men to survive here. A dark set of mutterings enter the ship's atmosphere and men start to suspect each other.
Trust has been strained.
Tatalia tries to keep the mood on the ship calm, explaining that there's no knowing exactly what happened as she goes along.
Diplomacy (calming the mood): 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (5) + 12 = 17
But the paladin doesn't spend the whole day discussing the matter, and eventually goes to find Bronwen. When she finds her, she requests that she be alert at night if she finds time, to watch the deck and the entrance to the hold.
Once that's been done, Tatalia finally decides to investigate the hold itself. She conducts as thorough a search as she can, looking for any signs of theft, especially paying attention to the food supplies. She
Taking 20 on perception check - 28 total. She knows where the hidden compartment is, but won't go in there without the captain's permission. If she doesn't find anything, she'll go and seek him out to ask for permission. I'll happily roleplay that scene out, or you can roll my Diplomacy for me if you'd prefer to skip past it. (If diplomacy is necessary.)
Also, Tatalia brought 20 pounds of feed. I'm not precisely sure how much Mina would eat in a day, but the game assumes 20 pounds = 1 day for all draft animals. Should I assume the donkey is eating less than average?
Bronwen agrees, seeming amused at the minor mystery and Tatalia's interest in it.
In the hold the halfling paladin does a painstaking search, moving every crate, peering behind every barrel, searching through the piles of hay and grain. She even cracks open a barrel of smelly pickles, leaving no stone unturned.
The paladin does leave the secret room unopened.
Finally behind a bale of rags, she finds a small, dirty child sleeping peacefully, a wad of bacon clutched in his arm. He has the look and dress of a lower class Andoran person.
I don't think we need to dig into the details of how much Mina eats. Just assume you have enough unless I say otherwise.
The halfling lets out a sigh of relief at first, glad there's no threat, just a child. But only a moment later she realizes there's a small child on board a ship to Cheliax!
Gripping the side of her head, Tatalia crouches on down beside the child and tries to wake him. "Hey," she says at first, speaking in a gentle tone. "Wake up. It's alright. I just need to talk to you."
"I said it's alright," the halfling chides, standing on up. "And I mean that. I just want to talk. Here, my name's Tatalia - what's yours? And why did you stow aboard this ship?"
Tatalia's voice doesn't have any anger in it, but it does have a tone of concern. Of course, perhaps a child would construe things differently.
The child is about the same height as Tatalia, and his dark eyes stare right into hers.
'I..My name is Farnell. I'm.." he suddenly looks shy, embarrassed, "I'm here for the adventure. I heard you were going on a grand adventure, like Master Connac used to tell at my parent's tavern...I didn't want to miss it!'
"That isn't..." Tatalia closes her eyes for a moment and takes a deep breath, thinking. "Farnell, this isn't a good idea," she begins slowly. "Trust me - I tried to be a hero when I was around your age. There were some ruffians robbing someone, and I tried to save him. And if it weren't for Connac, I'd have died.
"You're not old enough to go on an adventure yet. I know that's not what you want to hear..." The halfling twists her fingers about her holy symbol as she regards the youth. "But I'm saying this because we're going to Cheliax. It's not safe there. You should be at home."
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (5) + 12 = 17
I seem to have a knack for rolling 5's on diplomacy checks.
The boy's eye grow wide, 'Cheliax!" Tatalia sees fear cross his face. Even young children in Andoran know the evil and foulness that lurks int he land of demons.
Then he face changes and becomes bright and hopeful again, 'Are you going to free the slaves there? Is that what this adventure is?" After pause heads, in a rush, 'Take me with you! I can help."
He proudly pulls out a tiny silver knife at his wist, A common enough present for a child his age in Andoran society.
"No!" exclaims the paladin rather immediately, gesturing for him to put the knife down. "It's not a game, Farnell; you could be killed or made a slave or worse! I can't let that happen."
Tatalia grabs for the child's wrist. "First, we're going to talk to Captain Crowel. He's going to be upset that you've been eating his supplies. Then we're going to take you back home."
The boy looks chastised, as if Tatalia was a harsh tutor. He follows her up to the deck, defeated again. Together they find Luek at the rail, looking hard at the distant, dim coastline. The wiry captain turns and spots Farnell and instantly puts it together.
"Stowaway." he grunt then shrugs. Raising his voice he calls tot he mate. 'Oy, Hanes, I got a new hand for you."
Hanes, the mate, is a big burly man with a red nose and a mop of red-hair. While not an overly cruel man, he is the face of discipline on the ship and is the only man (besides Luek) to go armed.
The big man nods and says, "The bilge needs scraping."
"Excuse me, captain," the halfling begins, approaching the man and looking on up at him. "After you've taken me to our destination, how soon do you plan on returning to Cyremium? I don't know who his family is - or if he has one - but I don't think I can rest easy without knowing if he can be back home soon.
"And I'll find a way to compensate you for the supplies he ate," she adds after a pause. "He, err, he apparently followed me aboard. I'm... not sure how he didn't get caught earlier."
The captain shrugs at Tatalia, "Not sure, depends on how trade goes, ma'am. Could be months before I return back home to port, depending on trade an the weather." Then he laughs, "I can't turn around for one stowaway child, ma'am. We are three days out, tide and wind against us."
He does shake his head and says about payment, "The boy didn't eat too much, better then some of my crew. Anyway, he'll earn back what he owes me, eh Hanes?" The big man nods and laughs.
"I'll talk to the boy again tonight," the halfling decides aloud. She nods to herself, then looks up at the captain again. "Mr. Crowel, I'll let you return to your work, as you're probably busy, but I worry for the boy, sir.
"Please, let me know if I can help with anything," she adds. "I'll return to my cabin for the time being." With that, Tatalia returns to her cabin to think.
Sitting at the desk, Tatalia adds another entry to her journal. It takes her a good thirty minutes, and when she's done she closes it with a sigh. She is troubled, indeed.
She spends the next thirty minutes cleaning her gear, then another twenty taking care of her own self as best she could: she brushes her hair, cleans her hands and face with a damp cloth and a bit of alcohol (as little as she can manage to use; water and alcohol are commodities aboard a vessel, she realizes), then quietly realizes she only has one set of clothes. She reminds herself not to fall overboard if she can avoid it.
When all that's done, Tatalia makes an afternoon prayer to Sarenrae, wishing for her guidance, then leaves the cabin and has supper with the crew. Afterwards, when most of the activity aboard the ship's deck has slackened, she practices her swordplay beneath a setting sun. The swaying of the ship beneath her feet makes the old battle dance feel a little sloppy at first, but she starts to feel she has the hang of it again.
Finally, as night begins to settle in, Tatalia goes to find the boy, Farnell.
As she is practicing her swordplay, she sees Bronwen come close. The elf stays silent but watches intently, her eyes glinting under her shadowed cloak. Dusk slowly settles, seeming to form first around the elf, as if radiating from her, not merely an absence of light.
When Tatalia finishes the woman speaks, voice clear over the sound of the waves, 'The shadows...they do not like you." The words are cryptic but not unkind. Indeed, the halfing thought they might even have been a compliment.
She goes on, "I hear a boy has followed us." there is a twinge of guilt in her voice.
"Yes," the halfling answers, staring at the air around Bronwen for a moment. "Yes," she repeats, focusing on the elf herself. "His name is Farnell. He... heard that I was embarking on an adventure, and so he chose to sneak aboard the vessel that was taking me away from town.
"I know you made sure word would reach the captain," the halfling adds quietly, sheathing her sword as she speaks. "I assume you spread rumor of my quest and need for passage so he would approach. Well... Don't blame yourself." The young paladin shakes her head and turns away, looking off toward the setting sun. "You certainly couldn't have known the boy would come aboard.
"Nevertheless, I don't think he should be on the high seas, nor aboard this vessel." Still speaking quietly, the halfling doesn't outright call the ship a smuggler's ship, but there is a tone of worry as she says 'this vessel.' Sighing, she looks back toward the elf again. "I'd like to make certain he reaches his home again, but lives may depend on reaching our destination quickly. What is your advice, Bronwen?"
Bronwen seems to relax, ever so slightly at Tatalina's words. Had she finally reached the reclusive elf? In any case the moment passes and as the sunlight fades, the elf becomes more of a feeling then a visual image. For her part, the shadows like her.
"As for the boy..." She shrugs, "We have our mission, our quest before us. We cannot dwell on other things,be they good or ill, young paladin. Would you jeopardize that for the sake of this child?"