One of the two men bows deeply toward Shayne, the other glances at the man that just bowed. Master Toe'n nods toward all involved. The man who bowed speaks, "We will of course honor your request. My brother here has taken a vow of silence, but I speak for him. He will meet your challenge as only he can." The man smiles broadly.
Master Toe'n walks toward the center of the hall, speaking briefly - smiling the entire time. "You have heard our guest. Tonight, in the founders' cave, we will hear his tale, the Legend of Trrow and Karkthew, the little-known ancestors of the Drow. Those of you who can should stay. Those who's duty it is to keep the cave may depart to make preparations." With that Master Toe'n returns to where he was sitting and a few monks stand, heading off to make preparations. All the others stay.
The monk who spoke, looks toward Granita and Caylen. "Do you and you wish to partake?" The monk waits patiently for a response from each. As he waits, the other man walks quickly to the rear door on the right, he returns with a small basin - full of hot water. Several towels are draped over his shoulder.
I am not sure how much time everyone in interested in spending role-playing in the monastery. Here is Shayne's story, so no one is waiting for me before proceeding to the next morning or subsequent weeks.
The tale is obviously aimed at Silx, whom Shayne can see is as ready to bolt as stay. Is Silx interested in an excuse to see something new and more noble in his Drow identity? I am happy to role-play this out as Silx desires, soon after the tale or as the two characters continue traveling together.
There is no legendary story, of course. Shayne made it up while lost in thought earlier on that day's hike. To a Varisian Bard, the "truth" of this story will be what Silx and Voz make of it, not its historical accuracy.
I am not going to put it all in bold text and quotation marks, since that would be harder on the eyes. You will have to imagine yourselves how Shayne performs his dramatic retelling.
Long ago the Shovelnosed Gnomes of Farnaway were ruled by the esteemed King Ishvan the Teal. One day his youngest daughter, the beautiful Princess Melline, became deathly ill and slept as if entranced. King Ishvan offered a reward of gold and his daughter's hand in marriage to whomever could cure her. Many of his Gnomes tried. They traveled far through the Deep Realms to consult oracles, beseech good dragons, and search for a cure. But traveling through the Deep Realms is extremely dangerous. Few of those Gnomes returned. None brought a cure.
There are many types of Trolls. In those days an especially vile breed were the White-Haired Trolls of Smolder. The ancestors of these Trolls had dug too deep and encountered a nest of horrendous Aberrations. In desperation, knowing no other rescue from being eaten by hideous monstrosities, the White-Haired Trolls had contacted foul Demons and promised too much. The White-Haired Trolls became a race of slavers, themselves slaves to demonic hands.
Thus the guards of King Ishvan's castle-cavern were most surprised when a White-Haired Troll humming a wistful tune sought entrance to their kingdom, a white flag of peaceful intent tied to his walking stick. "I have come in response to your king's plea," said the Troll. "I will try to cure Princess Melline." The confused guards sent word to the king, who in his desperation agreed to allow the Troll an audience.
"My name is Trrow," said the Troll to the Gnome king. [Shayne rolls the rr, and pronounces 'ow' halfway between the sounds of hoe and how.] "I am an outcast from my people. I wanted to meet you. You are respected by all your subjects. My people are all servants who feel only fear towards their superiors, never respect. I have always wanted to meet someone worthy of my respect."
King Ishvan was grim. The White-Haired Trolls had enslaved and killed many of his people. "Do what you can for my daughter," was his only reply.
Trrow, humming again, was escorted to the princess's chamber. The Troll flexed his huge nose (huge even to Gnome standards!) and leaned forward to smell the princess. The guards with him were startled, and menaced him with their spears, but he ignored them and inhaled the princess's breath.
"She ate a bite from a mushroom," Trrow said. It was true. The princess's nurse confirmed it.
"Let me examine the mushroom," demanded Trrow. It was brought to him. Trrow thumped his walking stick on the stone floor and it changed into a spear with a heavy tip of bronze. The guards shouted and lowered their spears once more, but Trrow again ignored them and gently touched the spear's tip to the mushroom. The bronze hissed and gleamed darkly. "This is bad," said Trrow.
"Who gave her that mushroom? Know that it is an evil mushroom of a kind used by my people to contact their demonic masters. Ingesting it has trapped the princess's soul somewhere far away. Had you burned it, it would have summoned a Demon Lord that would have devoured her trapped soul and laid waste to your entire kingdom. I expect you have a traitor in your castle, and whomever brought it to her intended this result as well--although I have not been among my own people for decades and do not keep track of court intrigues."
King Ishvan slowly asked, "Can Princess Melline be cured?"
Trrow breathed an amused snort. "There are two ways. Someone could travel to the Angelic realms to acquire a food of opposing nature. But the radiance of that place would overwhelm my eyes or yours, good king. And the purity of that realm would overwhelm my heart, or yours."
King Ishvan frowned but did not disagree.
Trrow continued, "Or I could spend half an hour in your kitchen a brew a potion whose fumes would cure her."
"What?" protested the king. "So small a thing? Half an hour for the cure, when my kingdom's heroes have tried for months with no success?"
Trrow chuckled. "If you prefer, give me an hour in your kitchen. Besides the potion I will cook for you an amazing skillet pancake."
King Ishvan stomped his foot and thrust a finger at the Troll. "You mock me!" he thundered. But his old advisor rested a hand on his shoulder.
"He laughs, but not at you," said the advisor. "Look at his eyes. He has seen...too much. He hums too much and talks too much so that he can avoid thinking and remembering. He laughs too much because otherwise he will cry. Do not act harshly. It could not compare to his past pains. This is one who has traveled the Deep Realms widely, experienced its wonders and horrors, and been changed by surviving."
Trrow frowned but did not disagree.
So begins our tale. The princess was cured and her hand in marriage given to Trrow. Then pair was exiled from Ishvan's kingdom. Melline was the youngest of many siblings and her inheritance was smaller than what gold Trrow was given for curing her.
The two became nomads in the Deep Realms. Trrow was a formidable warrior and alchemist. Melline learned potent sorcery. How many years they spent together is not recorded; perhaps centuries, for the Gnomes and Trolls of Farnaway are long-lived races.
Eventually they had two children (thanks to the Alter Shape spell), both sons. The older was named Karkthew. He took after his father in might and martial prowess, and had a glad heart despite his life's difficulties. The younger was named Abtwaw. He became a sorcerer like his mother, but much more darkly.
When Karkthew was well grown he declared, "Father and mother, we have traveled the width and depth of the Deep Realms. I appreciate all you have taught me and shown me. But I yearn for the kind of serenity and wisdom that only can be found in the Surface Lands. I wish to seek my fortune there and test my blade against the foul creatures found there. I wish to find people other than my parents worthy of my respect, and learn to hum their tunes."
Trrow frowned. "This was foretold when you were an infant," he said. "Go with my blessing. But know this choice will lead to great suffering and pain."
Melline smiled and kissed Karkthew. "Go with my blessing too. And know that your choice will also lead to great beauty and strength."
So Karkthew adventured in the Surface Lands. He slew the Ettin Tyrant of Yandor and from that Giant's throne room claimed the enchanted, unbreakable polearm Twillig, whose long blade was always indescribably sharp. Descending under the mountains of Yandor he found and slew the Colossal Underwyrm, greatest of the subterranean Dragons, and from its brow took the radiant Lost Crown Pearlous, most treasured of all the lost Elven relics of lore, whose jewels glowed with inner light.
The Elves of Yandor were a brash and fierce people, ancient and very civilized, but much preferring hunting and razing Orc villages to poetry or dancing under the stars. The Lost Crown Pearlous was once theirs. They lived in the Forest Deestawnt, which no longer exists because the forests have moved since the era of this story. Their king was venerable, but his only daughter, Pitohui, was wild and barbaric.
Karkthew sealed up the mile-wide cavern of the Underwyrm to keep its location and treasure a secret. Then he returned to the Surface Land, wishing to return the Crown Pearlous to the Elves and perhaps sample their serenity, wisdom, and songs.
At the edge of forest, at sunset, he met Pitohui and her two pet Dire Bears.
She stared at him. He was a bit taller than an Elf, and strongly muscled. Like his father Trrow, his skin was a very dark gray and his hair was white. He wore only trousers and a haversack, and held an immense polearm. "Declare yourself!" she ordered. "What are you? By what token may I trust you? Or should I send my bears at you?"
Karkthew knew of her by reputation. He laughed, a deep and merry laugh that echoed off the trees. "Rude princess, when offering a guest dinner it is polite to cook it first. But if you insist on eating bear tonight I will gather some firewood." Then with one mighty swing of keen Twillig he cut down the nearest wide, stout tree. He set one foot upon it, crossed his forearms upon that knee, and raised an eyebrow at her.
"Have mercy on me!" Pitohui cried.
Karkthew laughed again. "I cannot!" he proclaimed. "I cannot stay my hand while intending you harm, for I wish you no hurt. (Although it could be quite enjoyable to be a bit rough together.) And I cannot be generous to you in your weakness for you are strong and noble." Then he reached into his haversack and withdrew the Crown Pearlous, which he set upon his brow at a rakish angle while flashing a cocky grin. "Is it too soon for you to take me to meet your father?"
Pitohui gasped and shielded her eyes from the crown's inner radiance. "Where did you get that? Stay here! I have no authority to allow strangers into our sacred forest. But I will bring our king to receive his crown."
"Not so fast," interrupted Karkthew, returning the crown to his haversack. "You offered me dinner. Feel free to change your mind about what is on the menu. But you will give me something to eat before you leave."
Pitohui glared at him maliciously, behind her eyes the churning heat of a volcano's molten rock. But Karkthew was no stranger to the ways of volcanoes and traveled far along the underground rivers of lava in the Deep Realms. He caught her gaze within his large eyes that had embraced all the cool, dark depths of the Deep Realms and all the chilly, starry sky of the Surface Land. He smiled with those eyes, and his smile swallowed up and extinguished her fire. She broke eye contact first, looked down, and looked back up at him. So was Pitohui, the most wild of elves, finally tamed.
That night the hospitality she showed Karkthew included much more than dinner. When she awake in the morning he was gone. He had left the Crown Pearlous at her feet. He had taken her bears.
Pitohui never saw Karkthew again.
Pitohui was several days from her home. When she arrived at her father's throne room with the crown, her father's Clerics immediately noticed what she had not yet realized: she was carrying Karkthew's child. Her father was lenient and allowed her to remain with the Elves until the child was born. Then they both were exiled.
Pitohui sought Karkthew using the only clue she had: he had found the Crown Pearlous, rumored to have been part of the horde of the Colossal Underwyrm. She could not find that dragon's lair, but searching the Deep Realms she met Abtwaw, who had also heard that his brother had left unguarded a mile-wide cavern full of riches. Abtwaw saw Pitohui's fierce strength and enchanted her so she would travel with him.
A month later they did discover the cavern--and during that month wild Pitohui and dark Abtwaw became enamoured of one another, and Abtwaw realized he treasured his tiny nephew and would take pleasure in supplanting Karkthew as its father. They invited Melline and Trrow to join them in building a city in that cavern. Trrow officiated over the marriage of Pitohui and Abtwaw. During the decades following the City Colossal grew large and vigorous, establishing trade with the races above and below, and attracting immigrants from all peoples.
Pitohui and Abtwaw had many children. These became the Drow, a family twice exiled. In size and shape they looked elven like their mother, and they inherited her wildness and ferocity. In color of dark gray skin and white hair they looked like their father (although in later generations their skin darkened even more and a few showed different hair colors), and they inherited his guile and sorcery. All inherited Melline's beauty and Trrow's majesty.
Unfortunately, the Drow learned from the merchants of the White-Haired Trolls of Smolder about bargaining with Demons for power, and the evils of demonic contracts and slavery seeped into the City Colossal. Many people still trade with and live in the Drow cities of today, but nearly always as slaves.
In every generation there are a few Drow who do not feel comfortable among their people and leave their cities, by choice or fate. And I, your storyteller, believe these few are the descendants of Karkthew, who inherit that ancestor's wanderlust, boldness, martial prowess, and yearning for serenity and wisdom. In their hearts they know they do not belong among Abtwaw's numerous children. Like Karkthew they travel through both the Deep Realms and the Surface Lands, performing deeds of valor while searching for new tunes to hum and people worthy of their respect.
Later after dinner and whatever attempts the two men make to meet Shayne's challenge. Sometime during Granita's foot washing Sam returns from checking on the horse. He stands nearby making no attempt to hide his amusement at what is transpiring.
Mal'c chuckles freely, "That was quite a show. I'm looking forward to what tale our friend bard will share tonight. As he continues his preparations, let me show the rest of you around the monastery." With that, Mal'c stands. Other monks clear the table as Mal'c leads the group across the hall to a circular stairway much like the one they came down earlier.
Timeteo will offer Shayne this same tour, whether its on the way to the founders' cave to tell his tale, later in the evening, or the following morning. As they walk up the circular stairs Mal'c explains, "the masters chambers also serve as a training area for the monks."
As Mal'c leads the group through the monastery they see several areas:
- An expansive library.
- Stores of food.
- Small rooms for the monks to sleep (both in the small buildings where garden supplies are also kept and within the main monastery building).
- The reliquary (a set of large guarded doors, which Mal'c points out).
- A variety of training areas.
Once the tour is complete, Mal'c takes the group to the base of the monastery. Here they can see over a balcony the merchant wagon, its sides charred with flame. Sam chimes in, saying that he saw the horses in the stables. Mal'c offers everyone a chance to pay their respects. After paying his respects, Mal'c leads the group to the founders' cave.
I've got a general layout in mind for the monastery, but figured I wouldn't take to much time working up an actual map unless the group decided to stay.
After the tour of the grounds, in the founders' cave.
At the base of the monastery, past the large wooden doors, and the chamber were the scarred wagon holds the covered remains of the dead guard there is a central corridor. This corridor leads down a long hallway. This hallway opens to the founders' cave.
A cave in the simplest sense, this portion of the monastery has been left completely untouched by craftsman's hands. Though not a large space, the cave is quite long - going deep into the mountain. The monks have set short stools on the cave floor, leaving a narrow gap in the center for people to walk. It is here that Shayne tells his tale. A column of wood has been set at the far end of the cave, it stands about a foot tall. Lanterns line the cave walls.
Toward the end of each of the individual meetings you have with Master Toe'n.
"Take this day to rest and familiarize yourself with the grounds of the monastery. Come tomorrow you will be expected to assist in the daily upkeep of those grounds. I would suggest helping in the gardens as we finish harvesting before it gets too cold. Brother Mal'c will know of other ways you can help while you stay here."
So much to catch up on, and Shayne is mostly to "blame"! So fantastic, all of it! Here goes my best to catch up!
That's what Shayne said, and after pillows were thrown and fingers pointed, Caylen found herself not only singled out, but without a real avenue of escape to take without looking rude or foolish -- or both. Not wanting to risk that, she -- as red faced as possible -- watches with a wide-eyed mixture of embarrassment and amusement at the halfling's antics.
Shayne's loquacious capering and verbal prancing has time and again won the young woman's appreciation. Now, especially so, Shayne's theatrical capabilities are appreciated.
Watching the two members of the monastery speak to both her and Granita, Caylen flusters some and bashfully hides her face behind a curtain of dark hair, smiling awkwardly. After a moment she glances up across the table, over to Master Toe'n, then Shayne, then back to the monks. Politely, she shakes her head though bares a fond smile.
"I needn't wait for dinner," Caylen says softly to the monk awaiting her response, "I.... already know whom I will follow." With an earnest furrowing of her brows and an apologetic smile, she then casts a nod of her head to Granita.
"However," Caylen's expression turns a bit more impish, "I think she has earned enough favor for the both of us. I believe it will take more than one to fill her water skins to capacity." Grinning at Granita after she says this, Caylen sheepishly ducks her head down and wrings her hands together, then looks up and over to Shayne, nodding once in affirmation.
She was foolish to let something as simple as an unfamiliar custom make her uncomfortable around him, and the wordless apology in her expression makes that all the more evident.
As dinner winds down and Sam makes his appearance, Caylen rises from her spot at the table to meet him. She approaches quietly, though apologetically for not having said much to him since they'd arrived.
"We made the right choice," Caylen says softly, in respect for the dead. "Coming here, I mean." Shifting her weight awkwardly from one foot to the next, she lays a hand on Sam's shoulder and smiles faintly.
"I think your future here is going to be as bright as you'd hoped all this time. Thank you for being a friend to me on the road, when I had no other." Then, looking down to collect her thoughts, Caylen's smile shifts to one less tinged with mourning. "And... thank you for supporting me when the horse was injured. I couldn't have saved its life without you."
"I've never even seen so many books!" Caylen exclaims in a tone of voice too loud for a place of study. Clasping her bandaged hands together, the young woman spins in a full circle, looking all around her at the impressive collection of scrolls and tomes that the monastery claims.
"I-- I wonder how long it would take to read them all?" She wonders aloud, a wide spile spread ear-to-ear. Blinded by her fascination, she backs up square into Mal'c, then wheels about and stares wide-eyed at the monk before awkwardly taking a step back and grimacing.
Later, during Shayne's tale...
Initially, Caylen's fascination seems more directed to the cave itself. Given the history that was told of this place, Caylen wonders if this is the location that the founders originally sought shelter in long ago. Fascination turns from the cave to Shayne as the bard begins to tell his story, and the cave's acoustics do much to make such a small man's voice seem as large as his shadow cast on the wall.
During the story, Caylen settles in beside Aak on one of the stools. As the story goes on, she curls up her knees and rests her heels on the stool's seat, her hands curled below her chin and focus square on the bard. While Shayne speaks, Caylen leans in to Aak and inquisitively asks of the half-orc, "Did you already know this story?" An innocent question, given that Caylen presumes it isn't an obscure tale, but one of many things she never learned in her tiny village.
Ultimately, the story -- regardless of its historical value -- helps Caylen see Silx in a different light. It's this thematic insight that she lacked, and an understanding -- admittedly skewed by creative license -- that she had been lacking.
At the end of the story, Caylen slips down off of her stool and approaches Shayne, her arms folded within her wide sleeves. Her smile is a warm, welcoming one, tinged with a hint of embarrassment at how awkwardly she'd treated Shayne earlier.
The young woman says nothing, it isn't so much a time for words as it is for actions in her mind. She leans in to press a chaste kiss to the halfling's cheek, then pulls away with that smile unmoved. Nothing is said following, either, just a tip of her head into a subtle nod before the young oracle takes two steps back and moves to depart on that note.
A happy note.
Whew, think I'm caught up now!
Following Caylen's response.
The man awaiting Caylen's response smiles, "I wonder what happens if the challenge results in a draw." Without another word the man nods toward the man who is watching Granita's feet and then heads toward the kitchen doors. When he returns he has a small bowl full of rose pedals. He takes this bowl and stands behind Granitia, making a point not to touch her. After letting a few pedals float from his hands onto Granita he speaks while gently rubbing the fragrant pedals into bits. These fall into Granitia's hair.
"It is said that only the strongest roses bloom upon the mountainside. Each pedal, fighting for life, breaks upon the cold rock of these mountains. As the pedals awake to the sent of the unexpected, they recall a lost life. You see, the rock that you passed on your way here isn't just simple stone. Likewise, the level stone upon the road isn't dead. It lives yet. And long ago it lived like you and I. The lives they recall with the life of these pedals is one of regret. A life spent digging deep into the earth, searching for riches that would never be fulfilling. With each memory they feel the pick upon the flesh of their brothers. They remember the sparkle of precious stones, knowing now that the warmth of greed would leave them cold. Cold without the care of friends or family."
As he drops the last of the pedals upon Granita's face, he finishes his tale.
"So know this. It is better to live out your days rich with the warmth of friends and family than to be burdened with the illusion of riches still from the ground."
This will be later in the day after everyone's meeting with Toe'n and their daily work.
In the evening, when everyone has just begun to gather together to enjoy a warm meal after a day's worth of settling in at the monastery, Caylen appears to be largely absent. While having made an appearance at the gardens earlier in the day with Aak, her time at the monastery's library and meeting with Master Toe'n seemed to consume her.
It is only after meals are being brought out that Caylen emerges into the hall a changed woman. Gone is the old silken robe that she wore when having met the group for the first time, instead replaced by a masterfully crafted suit of much heavier cloth armor. A double-breasted quilted vest beneath which long silken sleeves flow is embroidered with cloud shaped patterns that taper into more fiery forms down by the wide cuffs. A wide belt of deep red fabric is worn around her waist, clasped on the front by a polished bronze disc. Her legs are hidden by a lower covering of voluminous quilted fabric the same off-white color as the vest. Each layer is embroidered with masterfully tailored patterns of stick-bare branches wreathed in flames instead of leaves. Caylen's hair is no longer a disheveled mess, but is neatly tied up behind her head and held in place by a copper medallion and a single wood stick, a fan of dark hair spread out like a fan behind her. All that remains of what she once wore is the plain wooden box tucked into her belt, and the linen bandages wrapped around her hands.
Finally cleaned up and making her entrance, Caylen moves not to take a seat, but to get the attention of her companions. She does so by moving to the front of the room and gradually making eye contact with whomever she can. Her voice -- less meek and small than it once was -- speaks her intentions clearly.
"I wanted to tell you all how much I appreciate what you've done for me," Caylen begins, folding her arms within her sleeves. "You... took in strangers, sheltered us from harm, and risked your lives to defend mine and Sam's. Coming here has..." she furrows her brows and considers her words. "It has raised as many questions as it has answered, and I feel I'm in no capacity to repay my debt to you all in any way. But-- I know that there will be more opportunity to."
Looking around at those gathered in the room, Caylen makes a circuit of the tables slowly. "It's become apparent to me that you didn't happen on to that caravan on accident, that the fire that burned my body and threw me from my life was not a tragedy. I was meant to find this place, and I was meant to find you all." Looking down at her feet, Caylen pauses in her walking, then looks back up.
"I am with you all, as long as you will have me. This place is a step on my journey, but the road I travel is the one you choose. I am to be with you all, and I give myself and all that I can accomplish to you if you will have me." Clearing her throat, Caylen takes in a deep breath and looks back to her companions.
"With that said, there is someone here at this monastery who has requested our help. A scholar who has traveler from distant lands is seeking aid in her own, personal journey. With the monks needing to tend to winter preparations, she has no one to turn to but us, and has asked that we hear her plight and consider assisting her." Smiling anxiously, struggling to maintain her conversational confidence, Caylen takes a moment to find the remaining words needed.
"I know I have just promised myself to aid you in whatever deeds you would seek to accomplish, and that I now ask you to consider something on my recommendation." Wringing her hands gently, Caylen dips her head down into a small but slow bow. "I would be honored for her to have your consideration."
With that, she rises from her bow and looks around at the others, anxiously toying at her bottom lip with her teeth.
Finally getting to get some mileage out of that high charisma!
Earlier as the Granita is being showered with rose pedals and being told the legend of stone.
Upon hearing the words 'family and friends' tears begin to stream freely down Granita's cheeks. She slowly removes her feet from the wash basin, the silent man quickly dries them.
In a quiet sad voice, "Thank you. Taking her shoes, Granita walks slowly from the hall - crying silently the entire time. Mal'c watches from a distance as she heads up the stairs the group came down earlier. Silently he signals Timeteo to follow her.
Aak will eat and rejoice in the tale told by Shaune. Lareg does not know much about much given his lack of ranks in Knowledge skills so he will take Shayne's tale at face value. Aak will then retire after all the festivities and rest for the long day ahead of him.
The next day
Aak will rise and speak briefly with his "guest". Aak will have a brief breakfast. He will only eat enough to fuel him before lunch break, not taking more to seem greedy. He will then travel to the Gardens and ask for instruction from the fellow monks on how to properly tend to Garden to seek maximum crop yield to feed everyone for the winter.
After tending to the GARDEN and given some free time, Aak will seek out the dinner guest
[ooc is it possible to go to the library at some point to get a +1 bump to Wisdom and still get a +2 bump to Con or is it simply a +2 TOTAL between all stat bumps, was knida confused slightly by the wording[/ooc]
After Caylen's speech
I for one would be honored to have your accompaniment on the journey ahead. I cannot speak for everyone, but you are welcome to stay for as long as you see fit and thank you for putting your trust in myself and the others. Aak replies with a comforting smile.
I'm a bit confused now. Please help me sort this out acceptably.
I pictured Shayne leaving the dinner table immediately after his "bardic fit". Mostly because after a performance the actor must leave the stage. But also because he just insulted the entire monastery's hospitality: if Master Toe'n wanted to expel Shayne, or a headstrong monk wanted to box Shayne's ears, best for that to happen in the kitchen where Shayne's allies would not know. Civil disobedience is only effective when one is willing to suffer the consequences!
I then pictured Shayne eating in the kitchen for ten or fifteen minutes. He wanted to ask the monks in the kitchen about Voz, to perhaps weave appropriate themes into his story later that night. He wanted to give the two monks he challenged time to get settled in their endeavor. And he wanted to test Master Toe'n by checking if Aak, Silx, and Sam would also get "true hospitality" in some manner even though Shayne only explicitly mentioned the two women.
But Caylen has written as if Shayne did not leave quickly, or returned very quickly. And now it is further unclear if during dinner Caylen was willing to participate in the contest, and after dinner whether Caylen follows Granita or a monk who is going to the library.
I do not really need to know if anyone wins Shayne's contest, but I am curious, and it might affect how Shayne continues in his attempts to maintain the morale of his allies.
Hmm. I read Caylen's actions as if she followed Shayne right away, into the kitchen. As for the challenge I'll post later this morning.
For stat bumps you can visit any area, but the total increase stops at +2 total (so +1 WIS & +1 CON would be fine, but not +1 WIS & +2 CON).
Caylen didn't even see it as disrespectful, she just presumed Shayne was just putting on a show for everyone. As for the dinner, Caylen absolutely and totally misinterpreted what he meant by "join me", etc. She passed off the monks on to Granita, then sat and finished her dinner obtusely before joining Shayne at the cave later for his story.
She thought that going to the cave following the meal, rather than hanging out with the monks after the dinner, was the challenge. The significance that Shayne disappeared to another room after she gave him that nod of recognition was completely lost on her.
After that she takes the tour with everyone else (snapshot of the library included) and then winds up at the cave to listen to the story. I'm pretty sure that was the chronology of events!
She passed off the monks on to Granita, then sat and finished her dinner obtusely before joining Shayne at the cave later for his story.
She thought that going to the cave following the meal, rather than hanging out with the monks after the dinner, was the challenge. The significance that Shayne disappeared to another room after she gave him that nod of recognition was completely lost on her.
After that she takes the tour with everyone else (snapshot of the library included) and then winds up at the cave to listen to the story. I'm pretty sure that was the chronology of events!
Yes, that was the timeline I was trying to get at. @ Shayne, what sort of questions were you asking about Voz?
The second day at the monastery.
Whether you hear the knocking at your door or those in the hallway it quickly becomes clear that this morning Mal'c won't be letting anyone sleep in. Though he doesn't rouse anyone to roughly, his knocking is insistent. Once everyone is gathered in the hallway he smiles, "It's time for breakfast. I'll explain the rest as we eat."
The walk to the hall is as before. As you peer over the circular stairway you can seem most of the people that call the monastery home are about finished with their morning meal. Mal'c walks everyone toward the front of the room, behind the central wood post were Master Toe'n spoke from the night before. Near the kitchen doors are small wood tables, one with wooden bowls and spoons. Behind the other is a young person serving hot porridge. There is also a bowl of fruit. Most of the tables are empty by the time everyone sits, but the tea pot in the center still steams. Small clean cups circle the pot.
After eating a few bites, Mal'c smiles and addresses the group, "And now it's time for you all to earn your keep. Over the coming days harvesting in the garden will continue. And of course there is plenty of cleaning to do. There is no need for you to work all day, but please do what you can while you are here. I must confer with Master Toe'n concerning other work that might better fit each of your talents. Until then, I think Caylen may have made a friend that would like to meet all of you." Mal'c looks toward the rear of the hall, were a young woman in orange robe is walking. She is looking around and as she notices Mal'c she smiles and offers a wave in Caylen's direction.
Perception rolls for all.
As the young woman approaches, Mal'c stands and bows. He walks up toward the kitchen, leaving the group to converse among themselves.
After returning a bow toward Mal'c, the young woman sits, "Is it alright if I join you? I had hoped to ask for your help, as I believe Caylen has mentioned. She smiles at Caylen and waits for anyone else to respond.
Looking toward Caylen for some hint for what to expect, Rema continues. “Word of your deeds protecting a stranger have been on the tongues of many of the brothers and sisters here. Hearing the tale renewed what little hope I have left. Glancing around the table, and several times toward Caylen - the young woman continues.
"You see, I am not from this land. I sailed here many months ago searching. My people live many lives, though we are no more immortal than you or the others of this land. Instead, we carry the memories of those past lives with us. These memories haunt me.
I have traveled here hoping to complete ancient manuscripts and holy relics, lost for centuries. My search has led me here. It was only days ago that I found another clue that could help me. The problem is that winter approaches quickly. Preparations must be made by everyone here. They cannot be distracted by my quest. Might the four of you be willing to help me?"
Rema smiles broadly, but tries to stay calm. "Thank you. With so few travelers these last few weeks I was beginning to think I would be stuck until Spring. Let me tell you a bit more about my quest so you know what you're getting into."
"I recently found some historical records in the monastery's library; these records mention a temple, honoring a long forgotten god. This temple, it is said was home to many ancient tomes, rescued from destruction by the heros of the long forgotten faith. These heros, it is rumored are the ancient predecessors of The Order of the Valiant, the soldiers who share guardianship with those who serve the monastery. I am sure you passed their head quarters, the low stone building on the side of road here.
Among The Order’s records was a tale, become legend. A legend that spoke of a paladin of this long forgotten faith, who made it to this very area before he died. On his deathbed he spoke of a temple, lost. Lost to a betrayer. He couldn’t have traveled far. The temple must be somewhere in these mountains. I’ve spoken with villagers that have visited the monastery for assistance these past months. Some of them spoke of a band of orc, living somewhere in the mountains to the southwest between here and Minmish, where there is another monastery. Of the few Orc villagers have killed, some had with them ruined parchment - upon which were ancient religious writings.
The Order of the Valiant has offered a reward for any relics recovered from the temple, if I can find it. You and your fellows would of course receive such rewards, only the ancient tomes interest me. From my own savings I can offer a reward of 10 gp for each orc captured or killed. Would such an endeavor interest you?" Rema pauses, looking around the table.
Finding a bit of folded parchment, Rema clears a spot on the table. Though the map is fairly large, she does her best to point out the area that is most important.
"You see, this is map shows the northwester part of this land. Here to the west of Mewzhano Bay is the mountain range where the monastery is. I've marked it here.
She points to the northern most black dot. "To the east at the northeast base of the Imomena Hills is where Mal'c says you all traveled from; everyone here calls the small town "Hillside." She points to the black dot to the east.
Finally, to the south in where the mountain range breaks to another valley is Minmish, that is the city were the southern monastery is. She points to the southern most black dot.
Somewhere on the paths between here and Minmish is where I believe the lost temple can be found." She traces a rough curve between the northern most and the southern most black dots.
I'm working up a campaign book of sorts because I'm a big dork and love that sort of thing. If you'd like the full version of the map I'd be happy to email it. Just didn't want to clog up web viewing with a large image.
So it sounds like the dinner ended without any challenge winner. Caylen declined to participate. Granita left crying, instead of with either the two monks or Shayne. Not really a "draw", since neither woman followed any contestant.
Shayne returned to the dinner table (either before or after Granite departed, it does not matter) and clarified the contest to Caylen, who was still not participating. Since no one was following Shayne or the two monks, Mal'c covered for the lack of post-dinner plans by proposing the tour.
Then the tour and Shayne's pre-story preparations happened.
Then the dramatic retelling of the Drow story. What would Shayne have asked about Voz in the kitchens during dinner? The normal innocent questions: why the Drow is here, what is he like, what does he do? Any obvious themes could be woven into the tale. For example, if Voz spends his weekends in the mountains hunting monsters than Shayne could embellish the part of the story in which Karkthew slays Surface Land creatures such as the Ettin. If Voz is gifted at helping mediate arguments then Shayne could include such an episode in the story.
Shayne's first full day at the monastery beings with a visit to Master Toe'n. Shayne will at that meeting ask about what was said the previous day--"Evil works along side evil"--what are these two evils? Shayne is also curious about the name: is it a title? Is "Tolin" the same as "Toe'n" except for the monkly habit of using apostrophes?
Shayne's two main goals that day are to rest and talk to Silx. How is the Drow doing? How did he receive the previous night's story? But he will spend a bit of time in the library to follow up with Master Toe'n's answer. (Besides Knowledge(Local), what other Knowledge is most relevant to these two foes? Once I have time to move that +2 boost to INT I will put one rank into a second Knowledge skill.)
If Shayne sees Timeteo again (which he should, to get that raincheck tour) he will encourage the young monk to care for Granita.
Caylen didn't even see it as disrespectful, she just presumed Shayne was just putting on a show for everyone.
Heh. Not at all! Shayne was desperate enough to insult his hosts. For the past two days he had spent way too much time holding Granita's hand as they walked in a line, and he was needing to touch Caylen too often to keep her going strong. Both women were increasingly bonding to the gnome. He cannot be the group's Bard if two group female members are fighting over him--which they soon would be doing.
For all Shayne knew, that evening either Granita or Caylen would have proposed something inappropriate and he would need to very carefully reject them. That was why he picked his room so quickly: so judge what Granita and Caylen were thinking in part by how they responded.
Consider this thought experiment... What would Granita and Caylen have done if, instead of his actual dinner outburst, Shayne had simply stood up and said, "Granita and Caylen, you deserve better than this. Let's gather our stuff and go." Would they have followed Shayne out of the monastery, leaving behind food and shelter and warmth just to stay near the person that had been filling their three metaphorical water skins?
I certainly cannot say for sure, but had the sense that Granita would have followed Shayne at once, and Caylen would have been unable to sleep and later than night left to follow him. (Caylen would have recruited Silx and Aak to help, but those two would be going to rescue Shayne, whereas Caylen would talk about rescuing the gnome but primarily be wanting to be near him again.) As Shayne taught, people will indeed do crazy things to stay near those who make them feel content and whole.
So, moving on to when Shayne and the others meet Rema...
Perception 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (10) - 1 = 9
Shayne smiles at Rema, but says nothing yet. He walks to one of the empty tables and with a different (but much older) set of cards than he used back at the inn deals out a fortune-telling spread.
Listening to Rema's explanation, Caylen leans in to inspect the map alongside the samsaran girl. Following the movement of her finger on the map, Caylen occasionally flashes thoughtful looks up to the others, then back down to the map.
"Does this monastery have any contact with the southern monastery?" Caylen wonders aloud, teeth toying with her bottom lip after she asks the question.
Making a Knowledge (geography) check to see if Caylen picks up on any interesting or hazardous sites along the way between here and where Rema believes they need to go, based on what she's seen in the library.
Knowledge (geography) 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (2) + 7 = 9
Hearing Caylen's wondering, Rema pauses. "Why yes, I believe that all of you have met Voz. He is an emissary from the southern monastery. Though the two don't share much in the way of martial styles, they trade quite often. These days the southern monastery even assists in patrolling the mountain paths. I'm afraid Voz is planning to leave shortly. Otherwise I'd suggest that we all leave with him."
Ok I am finally caught up, very large posts that I only had time to skim over. Very well done on the story Shayne! I'm gonna retcon a bit
As Shaynes story begins Silx sits nearby, sipping a drink and listening while occasionally looking around. When it's apparent how intricate the story is Silx begins giving Shayne his undivided attention, and soon as it developes there's a quick change of emotions that cross Silx's face: happiness, regret, anger, loss, shame, and finally relief. When he ends Silx stares at him for a moment, and when others give their thanks he says "That was a beautiful story" softly. After the others have departed and he has a minute alone he approaches Shayne, feeling as if someone has peeled off the darkness he hid himself in "...thank you, that meant a lot to me" he puts a hand on Shaynes shoulder, then departs.
In reviewing Rema's maps, Caylen looks for a brief time lost in thought. She pulls towards herself the large map, turning it around and inspecting it from a more familiar angle.
"I think..." Caylen murmurs, tilting her head to the side as she inspects the map. "I think this," her finger traces a line across the parchment," is where the road runs through the mountains. It doesn't look like the highest elevation... but if what we already went through is any indication, it'll likely still be quite cold and treacherous." Her brow furrows, and her expression darkens some. "With winter approaching, probably more so."
Then, noticing something when she turned the map, Caylen reaches out to slide a smaller map out from the pile of papers. "What's this?" She asks of Rema inquisitively.
Acrobatics1d20 + 3 ⇒ (15) + 3 = 181d20 + 3 ⇒ (12) + 3 = 151d20 + 3 ⇒ (18) + 3 = 21
Smiling at his general success, Silx moves on to the next room.
In the trap room, Silx looks around but doesn't try anything "Another trick I would love to pick up, but right now I think I'm so undereducated I'd just end up hurting myself messing with them"
Silx looks warily at the attacking statue but tries it out
Silx, statue, Silx Att1d20 ⇒ 21d20 ⇒ 171d20 ⇒ 20
Going up Silx is caught completely off guard as he makes a feeble jab and gets hit in the side of the head for it. However, he quickly sees how the machine works and has no trouble deactivating it on his next try
Rubbing the side of his head "I suppose some of these will just take practice, but as for the traps I'll have to spend a lot of time in there looking at how they work" offering a slight bow as to not upset his spinning head "Thank you"
Rema smiles, "You have sharp eyes."
"The larger map is based on a copy of several maps from the monastery's collection. I made it over a week of research and recreation. That is a smaller map that The Order of the Valiant had in their collection. They generously let me copy it"
"It shows the mountain road that runs through from the north to the south. This middle dot near Nezhormish is where we are. Nezhormish used to be a bustling mountain settlement, but it has long been in ruins. To the southwest you can see Minmish, the city were the southern monastery is. I think the road continues further south, but I was unable to find maps that confirmed my suspicions."
Pointing to the dark line Rema continues, "This marks a cavern that runs from one of the garden terraces near the monastery. Though I doubt it is safe, it would offer shelter from the weather."
Pausing to consider her words, Rema frowns as she continues. "I'm afraid the routes I have to offer are either the dangers of the mountain road as winter approaches or dark caverns."
She looks at those around the table and then glances toward Shayne, finally addressing Caylen after taking a deep breath.
"Do you think he'll come with us?
Considering the information Rema has outlined, Caylen affords the samsaran and fond smile. To the earlier points about the dangerous routes, it takes some consideration for Caylen to truly decide on what she personally feels is best.
"I do not fear the dark," is Caylen's assertive answer. "Not with Silx's eyes, Shayne's songs, Aak's fury and a fire to guide me." At that, she smiles again, then nods in Shayne's direction.
"He'll come," she opines with a wry smile. "He's very adept at filling waterskins, after all." The joke, however, is likely lost on Rema.
1d20 + 7 ⇒ (5) + 7 = 12
Aak will look at the log, think to himself how best to overcome his obstacle, them remembers his training with Toe'n. Aak will take a moment to focus his thoughts and mind to gain the basic +2 bonus to his ability to climb. already factored in above.
Aak will listen to Rema and Caylen talk back and forth. He has never been one to be good at geography or nature. When there's a break in the conversation, Aak will address Rema.
Rema, if I were to choose our means of travel I would also vote for the caves. At least there hopefully won't be the bone-jarring winter air in the caves. Even it it may be more dangerous. I have full confidence in all of us to get through the caves.
Rema looks confused at Caylen's mention of waterskins and looks curiously at her bag and the empty waterskin tied to the side. She nods at Caylen and Aak's assertions, "It is wisdom you both speak. I would rather face the danger of darkness, which is at least predictable, than the weather."
I'm going to reply to some messages from Lareg here instead by private message, in case anyone wants their character to happen to be there and join that branch of the story.
#1 After his meeting with Master Toe'n and later in the Library...
Shayne spends a lot of time in the Library, searching for answers about the "two evils" mentioned by Master Toe'n.
Using Knowledge (local) to see what he knows, remembers, or researches about possible conflicts that could have resulted in the attack that killed Hanja and the others. 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (6) + 8 = 14
Using Knowledge (local) to see what he can research about Tolin and the "mysterious evil to the east". 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (12) + 8 = 20
#2 When he encounters Granita helping in the stables with moving manure...
"Dear, we both know this is not helping. And we both know you do not care. Some day, when you do care... well, if you decide you want to learn how to be more pure I am sure these monks can help. But if you decide you want to be more human then you'll need a Bard."
#3 When he encounters Silx away from any monks...
"I have learned a bit about Voz, if you are curious. He is visiting as an emissary from the monastery in the south in the city of Minmish. He makes this visit at least once every three months, monthly if weather permits. Sometimes he brings others with him, often for trade among the two monasteries. As of late the conflict in the valley and roaming ogres have made these trips more difficult, and trade is slowing down as the responsibility of keeping the north part of this mountain range safe is increasingly consuming the monastery's resources."
#4 At the meeting with Rema...
Shayne motions for anyone interested in joining him at the table. He explains what the cards say to anyone who comes over:
"There are three paths. Two lead with a strange woman. The other leads into the reach of an enemy. All paths are dangerous, but only one leads to a fight whose time has not yet come. In times of darkness, sometimes it is best to follow a dark path. With a chicken."
"Actually, I just faked that bit about the chicken. But the rest is quite clear. Sorry, I was not paying any attention to the rest of you. Does this fit our plans?"