It is only two pages worth of reading. This won't be the norm!
"Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears." -Elmer Davis
The double doorway of the audience room of the Serpent's Ward tavern flew open with a startling sound, quieting the hundred within. The heavy slam against the walls followed as loudly, the flames of the fireplace flickering in a blaze that set the standard of silence ensuing. Leading an entourage of four with soldiers of the Red Tower Protectorate behind them, a tall woman with bound white hair entered the room. Several marks on her face, scars and lines of age, matched her expression of anger. Though she wore elaborate black and purple leather armor, it was the vicious shortsword held in her right hand commanded attention. Razor-sharp, its thin blade held a faint but unmistakable purple aura, and it was bloodied. The way people moved away from her identified her to those who hadn't seen her before as the Loremistress, Michoda Swanne. If anyone in Salzbach were more dangerous, they'd be a dragon-- or worse. For her, entering the Serpent's Ward was a bold move. It is the independent noble House Mervanta, the only part of Salzbach not under control of the guilds. That is why you are here this night.
Five days ago, the shadow gate had been cut off from use. It has been two days since the first refugees arrived from the surrounding region. The guilds had two meetings, both ending in failure as to what to do about the abominations. The Red Tower Protectorate refused to assemble against the gathering foes for unknown reasons, and Lord Guildmaster Borin has faltered in directing military action. And so the activists have called for a meeting of a hundred, cramming into the small audience hall of the Serpent's Ward to decide how to act where the guilds have not. Rumor has it that the roads out have been cut off. As the city streets have become crowded with refugees, it is a concern to many how long Salzbach could hold out against a siege, if it came to that. So far, the meeting has been promising, and a volunteer has stepped up to be the Militia General of Salzbach, Sir Rayler Stanilad, a proud fighter. Subsequently, numerous offers to make stores of supplies available have come in, including from refugee nobles from the surrounding region. The heads of the Brewers, Goldworkers, and Mercers have contributed as well. By choice, orders, or curiosity, each of you have found yourselves at this meeting. Most of you have not come alone- but with one or two others of your choosing.
The Loremistress was not meant to be here. Her words carry through the packed room with a powerful, feminine voice. "There will be no levy today! The army of Salzbach will handle the threat once Reywald mages and Hirschberg swords arrive to reinforce us!"
Anvil Priest Hydrig Vallesulm of the Goldworkers, a dwarf faithful of Volund, speaks alone against her. "It'll take 'em a week AT LEAST! Just like wha' happened 150 years ago! This aren't a levying, it's entirely militia work! Get yer'self on out of this, lest you're gonna help!"
She finds him midst the crowd with her angry gaze. "The Red Tower Protectorate IS the militia, Anvil Priest! All who volunteer go to their guild house!"
The dwarf steps forward, challenging her. "Like hell! I'll make a personal army then! And I'll give 'em authority to defend Salzbach in my honor!"
She scoffs. "More slaves for the Goldworkers?"
Vallesulm starts to retaliate with shouting and an aggressive move toward her, but ultimately backs down as his attendants pull him away. Most know well the rumors about slaves working for the Goldworkers, and it is a black mark to him. There is nothing else he could say. Michoda continues. "Who called this meeting!? You will be arrested for rebellion against the Lord Guildmaster!"
An eruption of protest ensues. Several point to Lord Merv, the proprietor of Serpent's Ward who remains silent, presuming he would be immune to such an arrest. Others claim the rights to arms. Quelling the noise, the fighter Rayler Stanilad draws his longsword, striking it into the wooden floor and letting it stand unassisted. The crowd pulls away from him, so that Michoda and he can meet eyes. As tall as the Loremistress, Rayler bears an intimidating presence with black hair, watery brown skin and the worn, hardened face of a knight. "It was me! I am the Militia General, Sir Rayler Stanilad! I sought to raise an army to defend those who have yet to find safety in Salzbach!"
Her expression shifts to a pleased smile. As she orders his seizure, the guards surround and restrain him. There is no way to escape the room except through the guards or to make a new door in the wall. With mumbles throughout the room, the man is bound by rope, and a priestess of Lada speaks quietly with the Loremistress. Rayler looks around himself at the crowd, and locks gaze with Ariso among them for a long moment. A little recognition flickers in his eyes, and he turns abruptly back to the Loremistress. ”I submit myself to serve in The Red Tower Protectorate and nominate Sir Chivala for the Rite of Mustering for command of the army of Salzbach!”
The guards stop their binding, stunned by the declaration as much as many in the crowd. Michoda blinks at the man, but then shrugs dismissively. ”Very well! You would avoid arrest by joining the Protectorate, then! Who is this Sir Chivala?!”
He smirks. ”He is not here right now! Like most nobles, he chooses to live outside its walls.”
She steps toward him, using a cloth to wipe the blood from her blade as she comes close. ”Nobles cannot be the head of a guild, Mister Stanilad.”
”But they can be the commander of an army, Loremistress. I demand Sir Chivala be tested for command, as it is my right to conduct Mustering as a noble.”
Michoda chuckles. ”Very well! I will see that this Sir Chivala will be brought to Salzbach for your little Mustering!”
”Loremistress, it would be unfitting if anyone other than my herald summoned him for the Mustering. Let me choose from those gathered here to be my herald in this.”
She agrees on the condition that they are not important to the business of Salzbach, and the crowd mutters ceaselessly. Rayler, released from bonds, starts moving among the crowd. The priestess accompanies him, helping him select Khita and Hadrian. Some move to avoid him, some come forward to volunteer. He denies those, and soon, the six of you have been plucked from the crowd. Once gathered, he assesses each of you again, looking long to Ariso. Keeping you out of sight of the Loremistress for now, he speaks at low volume to all six of you.
”I know not what lives you live or where your loyalties are, and for that I am sorry to impose this upon you. Chivala, though your family is no longer noble, the Loremistress doesn’t know, and if she tries to find lineage, she’ll only believe that you are still a noble family. I have an eye for talent. I can offer you great reward for doing three things. First, I need you to find someone to win this Mustering in the name of the Chivalas. Anyone who will challenge the Red Tower Protectorate’s champion and is willing to defend Salzbach. Second, equip our champion in the finest equipment you can find--I have a supply at my estate that can be used. Third, find out why the Red Tower Protectorate won’t act on their own. Do these things for me and to each of you will come a thousand gold and a favor. And to you, noble elf, a greater boon for anything within my power to grant. Will you help me, and save Salzbach?”
Kelvanthus steps forward, his steel grey eyes meeting the gaze each of each of you, studying you intently, before focusing on Rayler. His eyes have a passion, a fire in them that those of you who know him have not seen since you met. His voice is melodic, like wind over the plains, yet harsh at the same time, tinged with an accent none of you recognize.
"Sirrah Rayler, I stand at the ready to do what I can for this city. My name is Kelvanthus Darshantion, as some of you may already know. You have my blade for as long as this city needs it. I do have some questions, though. This champion...must he or she be of noble blood?"
Since Khita arrived in Salzbach she has noticed the tension, and long left-behind remembrances of besieged towns and war have left her cold. Nevertheless, she finds herself here amongst this hundred. These northerners are passing strange, but no stranger than the Ischadi she abandoned.
She has no idea why this imposing fighting man has chosen her, nor what the internecine quarrel is about, but one thing stands clear. Blood, and privelege. Again.
Khita sighs inwardly, content to let the conversation take its course without her. She has little to offer and cares only for one thing. To honor Isis-Astarte-Hathor. A thousand gold would be a welcome aid in that regard. She watches carefully.
Ariso, who has attended the meeting with his brother, bows smoothly to Sir Stanilad, the hint of a smirk on his face. "Of course, I would be happy to help Salzbach in her time of need my lord. But I would ask - what part do you want the Chivalas to play in this drama? Is our name merely a smokescreen for the political manoeuvrings we must make to defend our city? I care much for my mother and brother, and would not see them dragged down if things should go awry." Ariso's tone is deferential but steady.
Opportunity knocks. But what does this Sir plan? I'm happy to ride the currents of chaos, but I'd rather they originated from me!
Rayler shakes his head to Kelvanthus. "He or she need not be noble, and it may be better so. The Loremistress won't accept anyone too important. She expects that some noble's champion she hasn't heard of won't be able to match the Protectorate's champion."
With a stern gaze upon Ariso, he nods slightly, setting his fists on his hips. He checks behind him quickly to see that the Loremistress does not approach before continuing. "A noble commander would only be half-useful in setting the soldiers in motion, as the guild master could assign an excessive portion of the soldiers to frivolous duties rather than be part of a working army, if he is intent on not letting the soldiers act. The Chivala name is useful because it is both of noble blood and not currently considered noble. This is enough to be put in command of the army and then assume full control the guild as a merchant, given that our champion passes muster. I will see to the protection of your family while these maneuvers take place-- it would be dangerous for them, but so am I to those who would threaten them."
Relaxing his arms at his sides, one hand goes for the pommel of his sword, only to find it absent and instead resting on the empty scabbard. "This needs done within two or three days at the most. We don't know when the abominations will start sacking villages."
Tessara had done her best to stay in the shadows of the tavern, usually easy to do among a hundred people. What seemed unfortunate at the time, the crowd parted to step away from Rayler, and Tessara looked up to catch the man's eye. He picked her by hand upon seeing her heritage - her magic was not strong enough to mask it for the length of a meeting.
I just had to follow the elfmarked one, didn't I. The gates being closed for this long does not bode well for me, and may cut off some of my power. Maybe this is for the best that I take a hand in restoring them, it would make Her happy.
She listens intently to Rayler, smiling and dipping into a shallow curtsy as he addresses her personally. "You do me great honour by choosing me, sir. I will do my part in finding and equipping this champion-to-be. If you have any specific qualities you are looking for in a man, just say the word. Elves knows how to be quite persuasive."
She looks over to Kelvanthus, catching his eye and giving him a small smile - Tessara looks very familiar to him. Maybe this was quite lucky for me after all...
As Kelvanthus speaks, Ariso considers him, eyes narrowed. The poor fool. He's going to nominate himself to be champion. Oh well, his soul has been yearning for just such a chance since he turned up at the Stoney Ale. Good luck, friend. Not me, I'm staying well out of the limelight.
Ariso nods at Rayler's declaration of protection for his family. "Thank you Sir. Are you familiar with my brother, Tindalon? He is an upright merchant and a true son of my esteemed lady grandmother. He has an excellent head for business, and the manners to deal with the elite. I am far more useful for... irregular activities, such as the ones you have set us upon, but he may well be helpful to you in these matters also, and he will not shirk in his duty to Salzbach." He bows again.
Again Kelvanthus.considers those around him, pausing for a moment upon Tessara.
She looks so familiar...and this champion. To whom must this burden fall?
]Then we must move quickly, and meet with Ariso's brother to decide who best shall become his champion. He may already have someone in mind, or perhaps one of you has someone in mind?
Ellismus had been watching the conclave as various people discussed the defense of Salzbach but finding it quite uninteresting. At least until the Loremistress stormed in. Now what is she doing here? Why send me here if she was going to appear? I could be out with D'endrrah... he sulked shaking his head before bringing his attention to the heated conversation between her and the seemingly self-styled Militia General. He lost the man in the crowd as he began his search for his heralds, so kept his eyes on the Loremistress. He jerked away when he felt a hand on his shoulder, turning with a glare. He blinked back his ire when he realized it was Sir Stanilad, choosing him, of all people, as one of his heralds.
Ah... I was wondering why a 'journeyman' would be sent on a journey of about a hundred steps. Perhaps this is what they were hoping for. Still, the man's heart seems to be in the right place, looking for a more visible defence of Salzbach... And he does seem to have an eye for loopholes in the laws.
Now he stands among the other 'chosen', listening to Raynald's request and conversation with the others. He glances over at the Loremistress while the others seem engrossed in the chatter. His eyes snap back to them when he realizes the machinations going on with the pseudo-noble Chivala. Wonderful... politics...
"I certainly hope there is some kind of plan here. Or are we supposed to wander around asking random individuals if they want to be our 'Champion' in a fight against that of the Red Tower Protectorate."
"I'm sure we can come up with a better solution than that." the armored man in the back said in a deep baritone.
He was dressed in varying shades of simple grey and everything he carried had a rounded, well worn and simplistic look to it. He bore no sigils or colors. Only the helm under his arm was of any note. It was flat across the faceplate, with eye slits but nothing else. When he wore it, he would look like he had no face at all.
Sir Rayler Stanilad waits for such questions before continuing. "I do not know your brother, nor you, Chivala, but you did remind me of your father. I see three likely sources for our champion. A sect of druids of Yarila and Porevit has taken residence near the north gate by the old mill, so I believe. They brought word of the abominations first and warned that all who stayed outside the walls of Salzbach would suffer. They might not be actively interested in our defense, but they might be convinced to help our cause. Their leader is a strong woman."
Nobody has Knowledge (Religion), but this is a well known deity. Suffice to say that Yarila and Porevit is a deity of sowing and harvest, commonly known as the Green Gods.
Crossing his arms, Rayler shrugs his shoulders and closes his eyes a long moment. "Another is in the refugees-- someone with magic weapons or armor already surely has potential. You'd find them at the taverns. With any luck, there will be at least a couple to choose from. If one of them is suited, offer them the equipment you can find and a thousand gold." He frowns, clearly disfavoring the final option. "Our surest bet otherwise is in seeking help from the League of Adventurers, though they will surely ask a price beyond my means. You might be able to convince them to aid, though surely it would involve some form of service-- likely to be illegal. Failing all else, one of y..."
The Loremistress approaches to give Rayler cause to silence. Sword now sheathed, she puts one hand on her hip in impatience. "Surely giving directions to your heralds need not be a briefing. If they are being troublesome, why not rely on my men?"
"No," Rayler responds confidently, still facing the party. "...there is no trouble. You, heralds, might find the task difficult, should you run into trouble. Since no one else could help, that is. Lada's priestess, Relaan Cairnborn, please give them what aid you can. It seems I must go now."
Relaan is a bright-eyed comely woman of short height and long hair. She watches Rayler as he offers his hand in a bow to the Loremistress as a gesture that he is ready to go. When she turns, he starts to leave behind her. She glances behind herself toward the ground, but Rayler stops between her and you. "I'm coming," he assures her, and she squints at him briefly before continuing silently. Behind his back, Rayler points down, that only your group and Relaan can see.
1d20 + 8 ⇒ (11) + 8 = 19=PERCEPTION
As they turn to leave, Kelvanthus notices the key falling to the ground and swiftly pockets it before they turn back. He turns, facing the rest of the group and the priestess.
"Perhaps we should take our leave as well, and go somewhere a little more private to discuss matters, and get to know each other as well seeing as how we will be working together. I have a room at the Stoney Ale and no fear of anyone listening in, or can on of you provide a safer locale?
His normal expression of longing and melancholy replaced by an eager visage and a determined gaze, Kelvanthus stands at the ready to begin.
Eloria, Sky Warden, Creator and Mother of All, guide me onwards, place the sky ever at my horizon, and embrace me at journeys end. Even though you cannot hear me, and I know not of your fate, as always I place my soul in your hands. May we meet again at journeys end.
"Your lodgings perhaps, master Darshantion? At any rate, I must return to Lada's temple to retrieve my blade before we start - once we have decided our course of action I would feel more comfortable with 4 feet of steel between me and any abominations or abominable people we might encounter..."
Khita motions to leave the hall, eager to distance herself from the tension, and the Loremistress.
Hmmm. More secretive things. I guess Ryler dropped something for us to pick up. Subtle. D'endrrah probably wouldn't have missed it. Ah well, I guess I'll find out when we're off somewhere 'private'.
"If you think we'll all be able to squeeze into your bedroom in a tavern without drawing attention, then lead on."
With Rayler and the Loremistress gone, a one of her entourage and some of the Protectorate guards remain to vacate the gathering, crowding the exit. Only your group, Tindalon Chivala the merchant, Draygor the Stony Ale proprietor, Relaan Cairnborn the priestess, and Lord Merv the Serpent's Ward proprietor remain before the guards leave after a couple minutes. The Loremistriss' lone entourage lingers a moment longer as he looks to your group before leaving. Tindalon speaks briefly with Ariso privately before departing, and Lord Merv begins to tend to the mild mess left behind, and pays you little attention.
Draygor nods to Kelvanthus and looks to the group. "Won't be a trouble to find more room for you to squeeze in. Not be the usual comfort, but at least its warm. Least I can do for ya."
Relaan speaks to Khita, concern in her gentle voice. "I will accompany you to the temple, and see you to the Stony Ale. Let me give you this much aid."
Those who need to get their things may do so before going to the tavern. The rest of you go to the Stony Ale with Draygor. You may speak with anyone present before going if you wish. The night is dark, with only a crescent moon, though the main streets in the center of the city in the vicinity of the Serpent's Ward is lit by scattered magic and firelight. There are no incidents, and nobody is seen following anyone. An hour or two later, at the Stony Ale.
Situated around a 10-person long table with mugs, your party is gathered in the stuffy backroom of the Stony Ale, reserved for private meetings such as this. There are two heavy doors to the room; one to the bar, one to the dining area. Relaan stands at one end of the table.
"I can show you to Rayler's estate when you're ready to go there. Its not too far on the east road out of the city. I might be able to help with a few other things, if you need blessing at the temple or my word, for what its worth. If you've questions about the druids, I might be able to answer them, but I should return to the temple soon."
"Pray let us not keep you Priestess - please relate what you can regarding our questions on the druids - we can then make a more informed choice of our direction or directions after that.
Khita's hair whips around her with hidden winds as she thinks for a moment, her eyes betraying her inner concentration. Her large greatsword sits behind her, sharp counterpoint to her soft countenance, the eldritch plated gauntlet covering her right arm from fist to shoulder uncommonly displayed, it's elegant traceries likewise shifting as if made of wind and metal.
"Rayler mentioned the druids took residence in an old mill by the north gate - are they then not usually associated with the city, or are they recent arrivals? Are they come from tainted lands nearby?" Khita looks around the table before continuing, trying not to impose on her foreign superior's good grace.
"Do you know their leader to speak of personally, if not, do YOU trust the druids?"
Kelvanthus sits quietly in the shadows, gazing intently at each of you in turn as Khita speaks. He toys with a silver amulet around his neck, obviously deep in thought. Taking a deep drink from a mug of strong dwarven ale, he looks over at the Priestess, interested in what she may have to say.
If I may, as well...are the druids involved or associated with any of the would be powers in this city, or do they keep to themselves? And of their leader, what manner of person may we find ourselves dealing with? I would hear more of our potential allies, if it is not too much trouble.
Eloria guide me, but I never thought I would be interacting with Druids again...Velana...how I wish you could be here.
After speaking, Kelvanthus leans further back in the shadows, attempting to hide his grief stricken expression as the talk of druids reminds him of his past. He tooks another long drink and listens.
Tessara takes a moment to glimpse up into the sky as she runs to grab her personal things, noting the crescent moon. There will be some time again before She can watch down directly over us. Let's see who can be converted to Her worship before then.
Once in the private room, she listens respectfully to Khita and Kelvanthus. "We waste our time with the druids. We've already been told that the League of Adventurers would be able to provide the strongest aid." Tessara turns briefly to Relaan. "Priestess, I trust in your discretion for the sake of the city's protection." Standing up, Tessara begins to pace slowly around the table, stopping directly behind Kelvanthus. "There are those here at the table willing to go to extraordinary measures to reach their goals... Whether in accordance with the law or not. A small price to pay, wouldn't you all agree?" She smiles as she brushes her hand against the elfmarked and takes her seat once more.
Priestess Relaan answers Khita's first questions swiftly. "They are locals, but normally do not visit the city at all. They usually stick to the farming villages to aid in the harvest and sowing. They must find the city stifling, to stay in the old mill outside the walls. The druids of Yarila and Porevit are welcome to us, as they do good by us. Nobody has problems with them unless they err in their weather predictions."
She gives more careful thought to Kelvanthus' questions. "They disassociate themselves from the guilds, I think." She pauses a long while then, looking to Tessara when she speaks. She nods with regard to the law.
"Guildmaster Borin is making things dangerous for honest folk with this inaction. I have only heard about the druid leader, that she can do amazing things with her magic, and commanding bears to do her fighting. I'd expect she would do something if she felt she could make a difference, but I don't know her personally. The League of Adventurers is sure to have a strong combatant, if you're willing to pay. A swift resolution would be good."
Khita notes Tessara's proprietary body language near Kelvanthus, but pays more attention to the elfin's words. She assents by nodding her head when talk of time and swift action is called for.
"With respect Lady Sheoloss, there is a third way, at least - the refugees. Perhaps not a sure or simple way, but a chance nonetheless. Speaking personally, as a foreigner with no ties to this city I am, though chosen, less than willing to pay mercenaries unless we have to. Perhaps one of the refugees has not only cause but resources to provide aid - it may be they need only be asked where courage or circumstances may have failed previously. Mistress Relaan - where have the refugees been settled?"
Again, she responds swiftly to Khita. "All over the city. The temples and taverns are filled up, the open space taken up by tents. Now people are setting themselves up wherever they can. The skilled fighters among them should have enough coin to rub together to catch a room at an inn. Gods willing, you'll find at least one refugee with a magic weapon or armor and the skill to use it within a few hours during the day."
Note: There are not that many people with magic weapons/armor- we're looking at 1 in 200, at most.
Ariso, seated beside Ellismus, likewise notices the elf's familiar touch on his occasional drinking partner's face. He sends a somewhat boyish smirk at Kelvanthus, mostly trying to hide his puzzlement at the obvious connection. What has the fellow gotten himself into? I guess it would explain his moods if he were lovestruck over an elf...When nothing else occurs immediately between them, he leans forward to address the group.
"To me, it seems the quickest way would be to approach the League of Adventurers. Sure and swift, with a bond of gold to ensure loyalty. Also, it tickles my fancy to use members of any guild for our cause." What better way to introduce more discord to the guilds than to start recruiting their members and converting them to our... my... cause.
Ariso would have left with his brother, appraising him of the situation - I assume Tindalon is willing to play his part? Ariso gathers all of his gear, and returns swiftly to the Tavern. Also, my appearance is up on my profile.
"Gold ensures nothing but avarice, Master Chivala" responds Khita smoothly. Looking to her fellow "chosen" she throws her arms wide, smiling a feral grin, eyes sharp and wind-tossed tresses swaying.
"Sadly I am floundering in this mire of intrigue and inopportune maneuvering - what exactly do we need this particular hero for? To win a challenge of some kind? Fine. Let us hire a blade to do this. The venture lacks grace or chivalry and needs be done quickly." It is apparent that Khita is as blunt as a rock, and cares little either way, merely exploring options rather than championing them.
"Gold ensures nothing but avarice, Master Chivala" responds Khita smoothly. Looking to her fellow "chosen" she throws her arms wide, smiling a feral grin, eyes sharp and wind-tossed tresses swaying.
Ariso gives a weary yet amused half-grin at the alarming-looking woman. "And what, pray tell, is wrong with avarice, my Lady? It is the foundation stone of the guilds." He sips on his wine, affecting nonchalance. Bluff: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (15) + 7 = 22
If anyone is interested enough to bother trying to discern Ariso's state of mind...
While attempting to appear at ease, Ariso's eyes are constantly darting around the room to regard his companions. His pupils are somewhat dilated, and his breathing seems rather fast. He is either anxious, excited, or both - certainly not relaxed.
With a wry smile, Tessara looks over to Khita. "If the task requires no grace or chivalry then we may have already found our champion, Khita Viscenar." She makes sure to emphasize the lack of title. "But she is right - there are two ways we can do this smoothly. It was mentioned the League of Adventurers may be willing to trade favours. We could also find one of those honourable types, and appeal to their sense of good and justice. They would likely champion our cause just for the valour of it all!"
Kelvanthus seems surprised at Tessara's touch, and glances briefly at her as she steps behind him, an curious expression on his face. He composes himself after a drink, and turns back to the group.
My issue with the league is motivation. If coin is all that they care for, how can we ensure they continue to aid us? Aftet all, this will not end with the mustering I am sure.
And unless im mistaken, none of us are drowning in gold. Where will the gold to hire them come from? And how do we stop the Loremistress from simply paying them more not to aid us?
We need someone who will fight for this city, not becausr they need to or are being paid to...no we need someone who wants to and is willing to put their life on the line. We need a hero, not a paid mercenary.
Realizing he is half standing with fervour, Kelvanthus quickly settlrs down, but remains leaning forward out of the shadows.
Ellismus sighs before speaking. "Setting aside, motivation and other such concerns... Although the League was mentioned by Rayler as a possibility, he seemed rather firm that it should be a last resort rather than our first pick. As this is his little game, and we're just his pawns, I'm willing to give him his preference and place them at the bottom of the list." He spreads his hands, "So that leaves us to at least try the druids and the refugees before bringing the League back on the table."
"What do we know of the champion of the Red Tower Protectorate? What do we know of the nature of the challenge? Knowledge of these may help in the decision regarding 'our' champion."
"The very first thing mentioned to us was the apathy the druid sect would likely have towards the defence of Salzbach. Throwing our lot in with the League would at least guarantee us they would have somewhat aligned goals with ours. The only option nobody seems opposed to is finding a refugee or do-gooder to champion our cause." Tessara leans back, letting her hands rest upon the table. She has not touched her drink. "Before we go wandering about, is anybody here interested in championing the defence of the city?"
She turns to Ellismus and nods. "Wise words from someone of your station." A clear reference to his human heritage. "If it is knowledge we need, that is easy enough to gather. The issue is our lack of time. That may require us to split up in our endeavours. Is that something we want to do? Spread our efforts too thin and none may be strong enough. But put all our efforts in to one cause, and we are at risk should our efforts in that cause prove lacking. Something to consider."
If Khita understands Tessara's slight she makes no sign. She thinks on the elfin's words a moment.
"I am willing to act as Champion, if needs be, as is Kelvanthus, though it is possible a greater Champion is to be found either through coin or fervour. I for one am prepared to go among the refugees to seek a champion greater than myself." Khita pauses a moment before continuing.
"It is also as Master Ellismus asks - we know little of the opposing Champion, nor for that matter the rules of the contest." Khita turns to the Priestess.
"Mistress Relaan - can you tell us of prior contests? Is use of magic spells allowed?"
Sense Motive on Ariso: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (16) + 3 = 19
Looking momentarily uncertain how best to answer, Relaan composes herself quickly. "The mustering fights are brutal affairs- whatever best shows a combatant's prowess. I don't think there aren't any rules on what the challenge can be, usually they're held between the youth coming of age. The Golden Goddess frowns greatly on the mustering, and so I do not know much about it. In this case, Lada should give her blessing to our champion, because there is more at stake than senseless warmongering."
She ponders a moment, gaining a little insight. "I'm sure magic plays a part. Perun's battle clerics mandatorily participate in the Mustering. The god of war does not irk any sort of wounds from fighting, and expects his followers to follow the Edicts of Just War. I'm not familiar with his edicts, but the Red Tower Protectorate would do themselves a disfavor to annoy Perun."
"I'll do it." The quiet man in the armor said after listening for a while. "I was Knighted by Sir Cassius Grey. I'm not a noble, but I do have a recognized title. I think I even have a small piece of Sir Grey's family estate somewhere, though I've never seen the place. As long as a signet ring and a sword is all that it takes to be named as a Champion, I should be allowed."
"Perhaps we should, for now, concentrate on action," Ariso suggests brightly. "I, for one, am keen to find out what I can about this Champion the Red Tower Protectorate will place before us. It should only take a matter of hours. I would suggest that some should also go with the esteemed priestess here to Sir Rayler's estate and inspect the good Knight's cache of enchanted weapons and armour. Perhaps I, and whoever wishes to come with me, could meet the rest of you there? Once there, we could discuss further what our future options may be."
Anyone with a decent Diplomacy for gathering info would be useful in my endeavour.
"Ariso - you seem to have contacts within the city - perhaps you could also gather information on the Red Protectorate's Champion.
I have no skill with lords, or ladies" here nodding to Tessara "so I will treat with the refugees - perhaps the thought of an outsider attempting to save Salzbach might incite zeal in an unlooked-for hero, or uncover material aid."
Khita slings her overlarge sword around her shoulder and advises those who would accompany her to meet outside in a moment.
Before she leaves she nears Tessara and whispers in the elfin's ear:
"My lady does herself a disservice to ill-treat an ally, however distasteful the alliance. If I have insulted you through some action alert me and I will remedy the behaviour. If through no action, then the fault cannot be mine to remedy. I find you have rather exposed your gracelessness by alluding to mine. Perhaps another hundred years of living might teach you some humility, or at the very least manners.
Forgive me, I do not wish for unpleasantness nor look for discord - let us be friends and allies as the light and shadow are nothing without the other."
Khita holds Tessara's eye and nods deferentially before taking her leave.
Khita, if you do not mind I will accompany you. I too am eager to see whag the refugees are able to field. Give me a moment to gather my things upstairs.
Kelvanthus stands,nodding to each of you in turn, before moving to leave. He bows his head for a moment and utters a silent prayer while grasping his strange amulet.
It is getting late, so perhaps we should rest first before questioning our would be champions in the middle of the night? I could meet Khita at the temple in the morning to investigate the refugees, Sirrah Knight and Ariso the estate and to gather information. Perhaps Tessara and yourself,"looking at Elismus," could join whichever group you prefer, or even inquire about the League so we have most of our options? We could meet back here around midday to discuss our findings?
Kelvanthus looks around at everyone before continuing, meeting everyones eyes with an intense stare.
Some of us have not been formally introduced, so let me begin. My name is Kelvanthus Darshantion. I am a tracker and scout, a ranger of the wilds. What of yourselves? If we shall be working together we should know one another.
"I am sure the champion is someone with a touch more experience than us, so choosing amongst ourselves may not be the best option. That being said, my... ally, D'endrrah, could hold her own in a one-on-one battle for a time, if prepared sufficiently. Still, I would prefer we find a more suitable individual."
With the party talking about splitting up, "So one group to find information on the opposing champion, another goes to the refugees. Will this second group also visit the druids, or should that be the task of a third group? You did mention having most options. Considering your earlier vehemence, I'm surprised you mentioned the League and not the druids."
Excuse me, I should have been clear. I will visit the druids tomorrow, as we share a bond with nature. Though I would appreciate any company as well. I was focusing on those two groups due to the druids apathy towards the city, but their hatred of the abominations may give me leverage. Someone more skilled with words than myself would be helpful.
Kelvanthus runs a hand along the scars on his face.
I find im not as graceful and diplomatic as I once was.[
"I will meet with Khita and Kelvanthus in the morning at the temple. I will be able to detect if they have any magical equipment on them to quickly weed out those unqualified." She nods and smiles at Khita when she stops to whisper in Tessara's ear. "The druids are likely a waste of time - what use could they be in the middle of a city anyways?"
"I am also skilled in making friends, so my presence will be an asset in this journey. I will see you all in the morning, I have other matters to attend to before the night is over."
Ready to proceed!
Ariso nods. "Well Sir Hadrian, if you would be so kind as to meet me at the statue of Perun on Sword Street at ten o'clock, we'll see what we can find out about this champion. I trust you're not averse to visiting the seedier side of town, or witnessing the various activities that may go on there?" His mouth crooks in a slightly sardonic fashion. "Perhaps we can all meet at Sir Rayler's estate after lunch..?"
After hearing the responses of the others, Ariso turns to leave. As he exits the room, he waves. "See you at ten, good sir. Don't be early - I won't!"
He will keep Tindalon apprised of the situation, and enquire as to how his brother feels about this unexpected turn of events. He will help himself to Tindalo's wine, as he often does, and will happily talk and drink in the kitchen with Tindalo till twoish. If left alone, he will sit up drinking and smoking his pipe alone until a similar time.
"Perhaps I shall also learn about the champion in my own way and we can reconvene afterwards."
"Perhaps I shall join you in the visit to the druids, Kelvanthus. The protection of the city from the abberations ultimately equates to the protection of the nearby lands. I don't see why the druids would not be interested."