Thank you for joining this Halloween 1 shot.
After rumored pleas for help from a remote township, and the prospect of fame that comes with solving great mysteries and situations, you are riding together in a coach along a quiet countryside road.
It was past noon that the coach set out, and light starts fading as you are riding onto woodland roads.
Your packs are tied to the sides, yet each has a weapon of choice on you.
[Insert an opening for pre-story RP.]
A stoic dwarf in dull but well maintained full plate armor rides quietly. He wears the armor like a second skin, his movements unhampered by its bulk. His large steel shield is adorned with the holy symbol of Torag in the center and the entire dwarven pantheon around the edges. It is pristine, like it has never been used to block a blow. He holds it like it is precious to him and sometimes rests his bearded chin on its rim. Strangely no weapon can be seen on the dwarf. A closer look only reveals that one of his gauntlets is adorned with silvered spikes.
An iron holy symbol of Torag hangs on his chest and a similar token is etched in blue ink on the side of his neck. It can only be seen when he turns his head a certain way to look out the window. If not happy, he seems content to ride in the relative comfort of the coach. He finally breaks the silence. Why have yea come? he asks each rider. What are the people of this remote town to ya that yea would help them?
Belegar fidgets in the close quarters, his greatsword glitters faintly with magical light.
"I wander because I must. I aid those in need because I can. That is enough."
The handsome half-elf's voice rings with confidence.
Sitting quietly in his seat sharpening his shortsword with a whetstone, Vaunu looks up and smiles an ugly smile at the dwarf. "The shaman of my tribe in Kaer Maga told me I would not find my doorway into the shadow there in the undercity. So I wander. That is what brought me here, the shadow."
Looking from the Dwarf to the half-elf, "I am known as Vaunu, I search for the shadows in secrets, I search for traps and hidden passageways. I was told it is there in which I will find my doorway into the shadow."
A beautiful young woman dressed in black robes, with fair skin and shoulder length black hair sits in the coach with a medium sized black panther at her feet.
"I'm here because I ran away from my family. They said I should stop running wild with Shadow and be a dutiful daughter. Then they tried to do is to force me to wed dirty old men twice my age. I wouldn't have it! Now I'm traveling around the world with Shadow, like I always wanted to do. Away from THEM."Alluriel answers defiantly.
Vaunu looks cross at the beautiful young lady, "Shadow? your named you pet kitty Shadow? How disrespectful! someday, if you are lucky, you will meet the Shadow, and it is certainly not some four-legged furry cream drinker." with a huff he returns to sharpening his blade, with a vigor that one would think it had been used to cut rocks.
"What was I supposed to name him? Blackie? That isn't any any kind of name to give such a noble companion."She retorts as reaches down and fondly scratches the back of the panther's ears.
|Animal companion - Shadow|
Belegar smiles warmly, ”Come now, let us be friends: the lady meant well, she knows not of your ways. Perhaps you could teach us all? What is this Shadow of which you speak?”
Belegar leans forward, an eager student.
The dwarf responds first all and then to each traveler he is riding with. I be Agnar Ironbeard, blessed of Torag. I travel because people are in need o' help. Perhaps I can help them and make the world a better place.
To Belegar he nods and smile kindly. Aye, it is indeed enough. I'd have your name friend.
Ye complain too much Vaunu. The dwarf says with a scowl. Ye ain't got no claim on the word, and Shadow is a fine name for such a beast as that one. I been to that City o' Strangers, and I'll not go back. Bugger the lot of them there. Its a evil place what tolerates goblinkind and trolls to walk the streets and even hold public office. And ya mean ta tell me all ya do is wander around looking under rocks and behind barrels and such hopin ta fine a shadow what'll take ya to the Shadow realm? Lad, just hire ya a caster ta open up a portal ifin ya need to go home.
And to Alluriel he says I like the cat. Seems a fine beast and a good companion for a lass like yerself out in the world alone. An I get ya reasons for leavin that family o' yours but now why ya are in this here coach riding ta some backwatter what's in trouble.
”Apologies,” Belegar inclines his head in a gesture of regret, ”Belegar, I am: in my father’s tongue it means ‘fierce warrior’ but it sounds close to my Elven mother’s word for ‘harmony’. I chose the name myself, when I took the pin.” He gestures toward a cloak pin in the shape of a twisting lyre.
I sense irony looming in the future.
Don't tell me we are going to Kaer Maga? lol
Vaunu looks from the dwarf to the half-elf, then spits on his whetstone and continues sharpening the coldiron short sword. "The philosophy of "The Dissolution" is not easy to explain."
He then looks to Alluriel. "It is true that I should not have expected a child of the light to understand."
He shrugs his shoulders flippantly, "and your kitty is a fine beast, I'm sure. Sad that we don't have a saddle so I could ride him into combat."
He then looks back at Agnar,"But to me, naming a kitty 'shadow' would be the same as naming a hermit crab 'Torag' to you. So I apologize for my reaction and I will try to confine my outbursts."
He then lowers his eyes back to the blade. "Unfortunately a caster cannot assist me. One must let the time and place of entering into Shadow find him. I just know that I would not find it in the 'City of Strangers."
Shadow plane here we come?
The dwarf wrinkles his brow, trying to understand, but seems to not get it. He presses Still ya know we are going to help these people. I hope by ya presence here that ya truly mean ta help um. Do ya agree ta that?
Vaunu stops sharpening his sword and thinks for a moment, "I heard that great mystery was to be found, that is why I am here."
He then looks around the coach. "But I understand the importance of community and friendship. So until we have resolved the issues here I will help this people as best we can."
Then looking pointedly at Agnar, smiling. "What's more, since you have been to my City and you have met those there; I will assist you where I may and I promise to bring no dishonor to a follower of Torag." He then winks and places the coldiron sword in it's scabbard, drawing the mitheral blade and begins to sharpen it.
Finally satisfied, Agnar says Then I will call you friend and my shield will guard you when we fight. He offers the small man his hand.
After he turns to Alluriel, his expression seems to say "well?".
The coach hits a small bump, and you are lifted an inch before sitting down again on the soft cushioned interior.
The small lantern hanging at the coach' ceiling swings briefly.
"Not to worry, comes from the driver outside. "That was just one. The road isn't like this all the way."
Alluriel hesitates for a moment.'What if they are attracted by the reward my family is posting and turn me over to them?'
"My name is Alluriel."She answers reluctantly. "Please promise me that you will not turn me over to anyone who rewards a bounty on my capture." She pleads with the rest in the coach.
"Yes, we are all different. But if you don't explain why you see things differently, how would the rest of the world know?"
"Shadow isn't a beast, he's a steadfast friend and companion."Alluriel defends her furry friend. "No, you are not allowed to ride him. Especially after you took offense at his name."
I have no idea what exclusive trick would do to a rider other then me, and I don't really care to find out.
As the carriage bumps
"Sorry, good sir - could you tell us where we are headed to?" Alluriel calls out to the driver of the coach.
And why do you ride with us Alluriel? That is my question. Will you stand with us if we must fight? Will you aid the people of the town that are in distress? If so will you do so only for some reward, or is there something more to you? The dwarf's gaze is penetrating.
"I am here because this carriage takes me far away, away from my family."Alluriel admits slightly shamefaced. "There has to be another answer rather then resorting to violence."
"I really don't like fighting, but will defend myself if I must."
The final occupant of the carriage fills the carriage with a loud ZZZzzZZZZZzz....
"What? What? Where are. WAIT!" His coal black eyes grow big and he eyes each of you with same look a disappointed child would look at a plateful of greens. He knocks on the carriage window that connects the coach to the driver "Who are these people? I clearly requested a single coach! I will be demanding my refund back once we arrive at our destination!"
The dwarf is large, rotund and loud. He puts his dark shaded spectacles on. His attire – an earthy yellow robe with dark brown and black trim – are perfectly fitted and his beard is immaculately groomed.
"Well speak why don't you! Are you all my porters? Driver if these are my porters then you have my thanks!"
From outside, the driver modestly replies.
"Sorry, sir dwarf, i am but a coach driver, the coach service owner whom you've ordered your transportation with, must have taken your words too literally.
May i suggest the description 'private coach', for future reservations."
At the second one, the driver modestly laughs.
"If you can convince them to be, then sure. Otherwise, these people are your companions on this ride."
Yet a few minutes after that, the coach seems to be speeding up, and seems less stable on the steering.
Driver Handle animal: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (18) + 10 = 28
"Easy girls, easy!"
The horses listen to their handler, and the coach remains mostly steady, but it is not slowing down.
The horses seem to be getting restless.
Something has upset them.
"Driver you might concern yourself with your horses they seem to be acting up." He turns and looks at Alluriel. "Is your cat spooking the horses? I expected a quiet ride and now I am holding on for dear life! Porter go check on the driver. If you can control that over sized house cat horses should be nothing for you."
Jurgan ninja'd my post, gonna leave it anyway.
Looking up from his whetstone, Vaunu sneers, "Yes, you must me right! The best porters are all Three foot tall, wearing Mitheral armor covered with black cloth and shortswords strapped to their thighs."
Looking from the fussy waking dwarf to Agnar, he frowns, pointing with his blade. "Your fortunate you obtained my oath to help all here before that one awoke."
He then smiles a little, "If he doesn't promise to be helpful can we throw him ..." Just before Vaunu can finish the question the small bump tosses him lightly in the air and landing, he gives another scowl and puts his blade and whetstone away, mumbling. "Too bumpy anyway."
I forgot a description of Vaunu, he is Wayang so: 3 ft tall, very thin with dark grey skin and an overly large hawk nose. On all visible skin are tattoos of small to medium sized spirals formed by white dots the size of a match head. He wears armor covered by black cloth and a black cloak. He has a short sword strapped to each thigh and a hand crossbow tucked in his belt.
Handle animal: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (20) + 10 = 30
"No Sir, I am most certainly not your porter." Alluriel answers firmly. "Please mind your manners - like it or not - you're stuck with us for this entire trip - once you get to the destination, then you may seek your refund. And go separate ways if you so choose."
As she senses the coach speeding up, and the horses's unease,"Besides, we may have more pressing issues - something has frightened the horses."
She stares piercingly at the party, "Believe me, I know. I have a way with animals."
"It is most definitely NOT Shadow. Shadow has been sitting here calmly at my feet and the horses have not shown any reaction since we were both up."
Alluriel yells to the driver, "Driver, what has spooked the horses?"
Alluriel also looks outside if its possible to get to the driver's side from where she is now without too much scrambling.Aka Acro checks
Basically can I co-drive with him?
He's got the only reigns. But aiding handle animal will help, sure.
Getting to him will take a climb check, DC 14, from the coach moving.
Missing by 4 or less, no problem, miss by 5 or more, reflex 13 to grab proper hold or lose your footing, after which you can try climbing back in.
The driver replies quickly.
"I do not know, miss. Everything's been fine before just now."
"As I suspected the horses are spooked. Well if you aren't to be my porter then at least get out there and help the driver. Where did the rest of you hire this brazen woman from? I'll need to speak to your employer. What still here? Come now calm thode horses down or Ill see to it your pay is amptly deducted."
The war priest accidentally sets his shield down hard on Jurgen's foot. When he has the other dwarf's attention he says flatly Porter my back side. Ain't no one here gonna carry nuthin for you. Maybe if ya carry your own gear for a change ya wouldn't be so fat. He punctuates that last word by leaning harder on the shield, pressing more firmly on Jurgan's foot. Agnar seems to be unaware of his shield's location. He calls out to the drive. Best to slow the beasts if your are able driver. Keep um under control. If there is a threat that is keepin up with us best ta stop an deal with it.
"I don't know. If it spooked the horses we might not want to see it." Alluriel answers uncertainly. "It might be better if we can outrun the pursuit."
Before she leaves,she calls out to Jurgan, "I'm doing this because it concerns our safety, NOT because I'm your driver or care for any pay packet.
"And any more condescending assumptions about me and I'll get Shadow to sit on you."She threatens Jurgan.
Alluriel then clambers over next to the driver's seat casually, as if she has been doing this her entire life.
climb: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (20) + 1 = 21
"Gallop."She says to the horses calmly.
I autopass my handle animal check to aid, having a full +10
Now I'm out of the carriage
Alluriel scans the surroundings to see what might have spooked the horses, and also if she recognizes where they currently are, and where they are headed to.
perception: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (15) + 9 = 24
knowledge geography: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (12) + 5 = 17
|Animal companion - Shadow|
As conversations about porters goes on, the driver tries his best to keep the horses steady.
New check, handle animal, aided: 1d20 + 10 + 2 ⇒ (7) + 10 + 2 = 19
It goes less smooth than last time, but with Alluriel's soft voice, it's just enough to keep the horses going.
She doesn't see what could have spooked the horses. She spots some signs of a potential clearing in the distance to the side.
What is the terrain ahead, besides clearing?
"Don't see what spooked the horses."Alluriel calls back. "There's a clearing where we could make a stand if things go south though."
"Get ready for a rough ride, it's all trees and unpaved dirt roads ahead!" Alluriel calls to the rest of the coach.
No dirt roads lead to the clearing?
Not from the current road. May your curiosity start brewing, like soup in a cauldron.
Despite being dirt roads, the road turns out to be generally flat enough for a pleasant ride, if horses wouldn't be spooked into frantic speeding.
Remaining driver checks:
Handle animal, aided: 1d20 + 10 + 2 ⇒ (18) + 10 + 2 = 30
Handle animal, aided: 1d20 + 10 + 2 ⇒ (20) + 10 + 2 = 32
The horses get sufficiently calmed by the driver and Alluriel, and the speeding reduces to the normal pace.
In the distance, small lights can be seen.
"We're almost there, lady and gentlemen."
"Almost at our destination. The township of Serenity Hollow."
Serenity Hollow is a remote town built in the woodlands.
It was founded by a small group of former adventurers, looking to retire somewhere to their own liking.
It was founded about 2 decades ago, and it's remained mostly self sufficient due to fertile soil and conveniently nearby bodies of water.
The 6 adventurers are still alive, but by report of a traveling bard, are said to have went off exploring nearby lands.
I haven't placed it anywhere particular, geographically wise.
Knowledge local: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (13) + 5 = 18
Alluriel thinks about what she has heard about the name before."We're approaching Serenity Hollow - a remote town in the woodlands, founded 2 decades ago by 6 adventurers. It's mostly an agrarian economy down here." Alluriel announces to everyone in the coach.
"Who was it who sent you to fetch us?" She asks the driver.
Ninja'd by Mary, going to change my post
knowledge: local: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (20) + 9 = 29
Serenity Hollow, what did my 'informant' tell me? Ah yes.' He nods toward the drivers seat, "The woman is right, I have also heard that the founders are alive but off exploring."
Hearing the coachman's answer, he nods contemplatively, "A town council that doesn't include the founders of the 'town' how odd." turning to Agnar, "Agnar, you seem to me the most concerned about community, Have you heard of such a thing before?"
Belegar smiles, ”The kind of people who drive off monsters, clear land and inspire others to take a shot are rarely the same people who enjoy tilling the soil, settling petty disputes and chairing dull meetings.”
As the coach rolls ever closer to the township, the driver nods in agreement.
"Indeed. 'Retirement' seems to take breaks, if the itch for adventure strikes those who wanted to settle down.
And perhaps they become influential people, whose voice carries weight, otherwise taking to their own business."
They are humans here lad. No tellin what crazy accommodations they have made and called it a government. the dwarf says quietly to the wayang.
Jurgan remained quiet keeping to himself for the rest of the trip.
'Next time I must find better help. These ruffians they are lucky I am not easily offended. Sometimes a dwarf must be considerate of those who were ignorant of their station.'
knowledge local: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (17) + 11 = 28
He listened to the others share their information about the town. 'At least a few of them arent as limited as I first believed. Then again they could be just lucky fools.'
He eyed the large cat wondering how much he could get if he taxidermied the cat. Then he looked at the priest. Typical pious and pompous. What had he gotten himself into as he looked down and rubbed his sore foot.
"Could you tell us more about the 6 founders of the town, and which area were they last seen headed to? Also anything about the town council, and how it functions. Do they have meetings everyday? How do they usually decide on town matters? Is it a democracy? Or does each council member have his own area of expertise which he will have jurisdiction over?" Alluriel asks the driver.
|Animal companion - Shadow|
The driver smiles faintly.
"Can't say i know every detail, but i'll try answering as best i can"
"There were two human melee combatants. One was a barbarian with a temper only matched by his ability to drink, the other a knightly woman that rivaled his temper with fairness and grace.
There was an elven tomb-raider, a peculiar profession for one of his kind. A dwarven bard, seemingly got along best with the barbaric guy, especially at any watering hole."
(Coach hits a small bump)
"There was this little gnome lass, i think she was their magician, and a half-orc priest...i don't recall what god he followed, but that's not important. They apparantly rose to some fame after clearing potential- and current, trade routes from various threats."
"As to what area, you'd have to ask the town's council, it has been quite some time since i was last there. As to how the town seems to function..."
Composed of 5 individuals, the council makes but general decisions, akin to a council of elders, save their ages vary.
Unlike a typical city's ruling body, they convene once every week, during which any rising problems can be presented to them, and are then discussed and taken action upon.
Though when it comes to it, (though nobody would openly admit it), they are the only ones with enough decisiveness when serious problems arise. Which is probably why they are the 5 who make decisions, when the 6 are away, whose voices otherwise have some weight as well.
Those people are:
Albert Whescer, the town's alchemist.
Eileen, priestess of Erastil.
Old man Stobbs, a late middle aged monk of Erastil, now a teacher at its school.
Sir Geoffry, captain of the town's watch.
Lillianne 'The Red', a ranger.
The last one is a varied factor, as she often travels in the vicinity's woods.