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A gunshot rings out and snow unsettles from heavily laden branches.
Between the thick trunks of towering pines a low fog obscured the thick snow on the ground. Burdened branches hide the movement beyond them, but the sound of crunching snow carries through the silent woods undeterred. Tiny bone and feather fetishes are suddenly disturbed by the hurried passage of a dark clad figure bursting through the curtain of snow-laden pine branches they are hanging from. In the fog, droplets of red bleed into the snow, giving stark contrast of color in the wake of deep footprints.
Panting heavily and clutching one arm, a blonde-haired woman stumbles through the knee-deep snow, leaving that trail of blood in her wake. The black of her uniform and breastplate armor stand out against the white of the forest. Blue eyes flick around her surroundings, scanning the treeline as she steps into the clearing. Taking a moment to pause, there is no respite. Instead, she flicks her good arm to the side, snapping out the cylinder from her revolver to shake empty shell casings into the snow. An injured hand, caked in blood, shakily begins to press new bullets into the six chambers as feverishly paced breaths of steam escape her lips.
Trembling fingers fumble a bullet and it tumbles down into the snow. The woman looks down for a moment, only to hear the creak of wood when she does. Her gaze snaps back up, and where there was once only snow now stands a battered and old looking doll, precariously balancing on top of the snow. The doll's mis-matched white and blue eyes stare vacantly at the gunslinger in silence. Momentarily frozen in panic, the blonde woman shakily tries to reach down for the lost bullet while keeping her eyes on the doll. As she crouches, the doll slowly raises one wooden hand, then curls its tiny fingers into a fist, save for one that points over the blonde's shoulder.
Snapping the revolver's cylinder shut with only five rounds chambered, the gunslinger rolls onto her back and swings her firearm up to aim at whatever was behind her. As she crashes down into the snow, she can see an enormous, hulking figure moving swiftly towards her unhindered by the snow drifts. A tangle of moss, leaves, roots and snow-caked flesh, twice the size of a man, charges with a thick, knotty branch clutched in both hands like a club. She gasps, holds her breath, then exhales sharply as she sees the club swinging down at her.
A gunshot rings out.
Snow unsettles from heavily laden branches.
R U I N S O F P A T H F I N D E R
R E I G N O F W I N T E R
<<Almas, Capital of Andoran | Mid-Day | Snowing, Cold | Oathday, Erastus 5th, 4715 AR >>
"I will not have them in this chamber!" A voice rings out, angrily, down the corridor. Red-faced and one hand clutching the hilt of his sheathed saber, the fresh-faced Andoran lieutenant stares down his commanding officer in defiance while he walks at her side. In stride with the Lieutenant, a sleekly dressed woman of diluted elven lineage offers a an askance, cold, blue-eyed stare back at him.
Threading a lock of wavy blonde hair behind one tapered ear, she comes to a stop and turns to face the officer. "Lieutenant," is stated firmly, as if a reminder of his place. "Your objection is duly noted. However, I will not hear any more of this. The Winter Accord we signed in Absalom makes them our allies, until such a time as this situation is resolved. That is final." Even as the Lieutenant opens his mouth to speak, his commander begins walking again.
Chuffing out an abortive breath, he hustles to match her pace again. "Knight-Commander Reinn," he states in flustered tone, "I am not saying we should abandon the Winter Accord, but-- " he flails one hand behind himself towards a pair of closed doors at the end of the hall. "The men are restless! There are two dignitaries from Varis--"
"Shalast." Reinn cuts him off in mid-sentence, "they are from Shalast, and while they are our guests in the Aerie you will refer to it until such a time as the nation is formally liberated." Stopping one last time, Reinn turns and steps in close to the Lieutenant. "You will do your job and you will do it dutifully, Lieutenant. If I hear word one out of you about this again, I will have you court-marshaled and confined to a cell. Do you understand me?"
Seeing the fury in Reinn's eyes and feeling the force of her words, the Lieutenant backs down, though with reluctance. Simmering with anger and frustration, he relents and clenches his hands into fists. "I don't like this any more than you do," Reinn offers in a whisper, "But for the time being, we save more lives by cooperating than fighting." The appended do you understand me goes unsaid; it doesn't need to be.
"Now," Reinn states flatly, motioning to a nearby pair of double doors. "I have a briefing to attend to." She looks back to the Lieutenant. "Send that courier falcon."
"Yes," the Lieutenant mutters, "Sir."
* * * * *
The Golden Aerie is a pristine, alabaster tower that dominates the skyline of Andoran's coastal capital city, Almas. From this pristine tower, the elite Eagle Knights command their operations throughout Andoran and beyond. Typically home to the three branches of the Eagle Knights -- the Golden Legion, Steel Falcons and Twilight Talons -- it today serves as home to a conglomerate of foreign and local representatives of the nations that participated in the winter summit in Absalom one year ago.
Some participants of this meeting have been in Andoran for weeks preparing for the meeting, others have only just arrived. Of the recent arrivals, it was the appearance of a ship in Almas' port bearing the sihedron rune of Xin-Shalast that has caused tremendous uproar. Two representatives of the runelord Karzoug and his empire have been invited to attend this conference, and few within the nation known for its liberty appreciate their presence. Emissaries of Karzoug represent tyrrany, oppression and the enslavement of the peoples of Varisia.
To now stand side-by-side with them and call them allies for the greater good has strained the patience of many.
Just before noon, the conference room at the upper-most level of the Aerie is filled with representatives and emissaries of the disparate nations suffering from this winter. While not all of the nations that participated in the Winter Accord last year are present, many are -- as are many more who have joined the cause since then. Twenty-seven individuals in total, all filling the seats around an enormous circular table emblazoned with the seal of a golden eagle.
The gathering is a motley one, a mixture of many races and different training and traditions. Andoran, sensibly, makes up the majority of those at the table. Most of them are scholars and members of the intelligence offices of the Eagle Knights, here to record the meeting and bring to light pertinent pieces of information. Two Andoran military officers have been asked to join them, one a human and the other a visibly [i]in[i]human aquatic humanoid. Beyond this Andoran representation, the remaining 6 run the gamut from Cheliax to as far away as the Mordent Spire and peoples native to the crown of the world.
Most contentiously, however, are the two emissaries of the runelord Karzoug the Claimer. A human and a dwarf, both marked with the sihedron, sit together at the table and draw many steely glances from some of the Andoran representatives.
The reasons for these individuals, specifically, involves the Winter Summit held last year. The individuals in this room represent a hand-picked team of specialists from around the world put together by Knight-Commander Calisaria Reinn of the Twilight Talons. From what has been shared in correspondences and conversations, Knight-Commander Reinn appears to have new information regarding the worsening climate, and is planning to act on it. The men and women in this room are her choice of specialists for that action.
But until she arrives...
...what that action is, is anyone's guess.
Welcome to Reign of Winter! You are free to RP among each other in the round-table conference room from now until Monday when the meeting will begin. The conference room is round and 100' across, set in the center of the Aerie. There is one air of double doors leading in or out. The room is lit by everburning torches in sconces set into the walls. 19 Andoran scholars, sages and information brokers are here for the meeting as well. Food and drink has been supplied (though it is minimal, consisting mostly of breads, cheeses and water due to the food shortages.)
Rasso stands awkwardly scratching at his navy-blue dress uniform. The garment had needed special tailoring to accommodate his partially non-humanoid physiology. He is standing because he is the only delegate attending the meeting for whom using a chair is virtually impossible. Rasso's long shark-like tail and reticulated forelegs serve as a tripod to support his weight as he stands 'at ease'. His facial expression is one of passive unease. Gods damned monkey suit! This thing itches worse'n whore's c*%$ in spring. Buncha fancy schmansy bullsh*t... The insignia on his chest mark him as a naval Special Operations Petty Officer Second Class. The kind of officer that spend most of their time in the field, fighting next to sailors. Underneath the insignia hangs a Golden Eagle medal for valor. Not even the decency to give us any booze!
It had been a year since the strange merman had last been in the Aerie tower. A time too short for one who despised ostentation the way he did. The one silver lining to this meeting for Rasso was that they'd sat him next to Captain Styvanus Rozier, a good soldier with whom Rasso had much in common. Elbowing the Captain, Rasso leans over and whispers to him in Aquan, "ಅವರು ನಮಗೆ ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಸಿಲುಕಿಕೊಂಡಿದ್ದ ಹೊಂದಿರುವ ನೀನು ಎಷ್ಟು ತಿಳಿದಿರುವಿರಿ?"
Edit:Oh yeah, if Rasso's horrible potty mouth offends anyone, I can tone it down a bit. I'll try to censor the most offensive words as above.
Teleportation magic always left a queasy feeling in the pit of ones stomach, thought Teladon as he stood in the The Golden Aerie. It wasn't his first time traveling outside of The Mordant Spire. Five years earlier, barely an eye-blink to an Elf, he had accompanied the spire emissary Giseil Voslil, his brother Arylon and a hundred other of his people as they marched to war among the ruins of Celwynvian.
::Five years.. five years since the sky fell and a second darkness overtook the world. Five years since Kyonin was destroyed, Crying Leaf was overrun and the elven bastion of Hymbria was attacked by the very fey they were once allied with. Now only The Mordant Spire remained. For century's the other elven nations had scorned the Spire, claiming they were xenophobic and un-trusting and yet now who of the great elven peoples remained? Since the return The Mordant Spire had prepared. They had saved the relics of their past and locked away thousands of years of knowledge in the deep vaults that stretched to the oceans floor. All in preparation for another cataclysm like the one that destroyed great Azlant::
So much death. Thought Teladon surveying the room behind his steel wrought mask. The Darkness wrought by our fallen kin was bad enough. But the world as we know it won't be able to survive if these unnatural winter storms continue. Continuing to stand, the elven warrior kept his back to the wall examining each of the other emissaries in turn. Eyes narrowing as he spotted the dwarf and human bearing the brand of the sihedron he frowned, the expression hidden by his mask. Teladon had heard reports of the attack on Crying Leaf by the claimers army's. Even now, four years later the wood elfs continued to fight a war of guerilla tactics against the reborn runelord amid the burned husks of the Mierani Forest.
Continuing on his gaze he looked over the two score gathering of humans from various nations. Idly he wondered if the humans found any irony in their claim of liberty and freedom, when that was a tenant that his people had lived by since they first inhabited this world. Humans.. so quick to judge, to assume. They are like blind men seeing light from the mouth of a cave and thinking it the sun. Thinking back to his peoples stories of the Starfall and the destruction of Azlant, Teladon gave an internal sigh. All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again. Nations will rise and fall. Everything repeats itself. Mused the elf, as he ran his hand along the hilt of the scimitar he had been entrusted with by his Elders. Thinking of the runic symbol Acavna inlaid into the fuller of the blade the magus somberly nodded to himself. All things die.. even gods.
Wondrous place... So very different from home. For the moment, Talavuc paid more attention to the hall around her than the people gathered about. It certainly shows that survival is not the first concern for the people here. Her thoughts flashed briefly with images of the stilt-legged wooden houses of home. The spirit-lodges would seem like hovels to these people, she mused and a slight look of concern crossed her face briefly. Her gaze fell across the shining symbol of the eagle, and she smiled each time. They respect eagle here. This is a good thing. Almost instinctively, she reached up and brushed the eagle's feather pierced through her ear.
She pulled herself out of the reverie as someone bumped in her chair, a scholar by the look of him, and chided herself for her lack of awareness. She felt naked, defenseless, here. She only wore the usually outfit of her people, heavy by the standards of these southerners, but not armoring like the treated hides she so often put on. It made her feel closer to the spirits she served, clothed in the hides of their children. They were gifts given in the eternal competition of life, something that most would consider taken, but she thought better of it. Her spear was gone, only a thick walking stick sat next to her. A weapon, but not the one she would've chosen. The worst, by and far, was that Naasvit was not here. I bet he's sleeping in that stable they offered, curled up and enjoying the pampering. She grinned slightly at the thought, but it did little to dismiss the feeling. She felt vulnerable and it bothered her.
She steeled herself against the feeling and took stock of the room. A little twinge of discomfort struck her as she looked over the delegates, seeing those from the nation of "Shalast" and Cheliax. What are they doing here? Does the winter threaten their people just the same? She chided herself for not considering it. What am I, a child? It should be obvious. Of course it would threaten their people as it does us all. The thought of the terrible morozkos crossed her mind, the storms that she'd somehow survived on occasion... by hiding. As her gaze came across Rosso, it was not discomfort, but curiosity that she felt. I have never seem anything like him. I wonder where he is from? What is his story? She smiled to herself and remembered the time that she had related that feeling to Pavius. He had chided her for disregarding the tengu as a person and regarding him merely as a curiosity. He had also understood the feeling, though. She sighed and smiled sadly, looking in the strange man's direction, but obviously not seeing him. Pavius... I miss you...
A round table? Marcellano sat, trying to get comfortable by leaning back, arms crossed. The outfit he was wearing identified him as a Chelish Navy Marine - A light, loose fitting black and gold shirt under a similarly colored tabard bearing a red and black cross in a golden circle over two crossed sabers - the symbol of the Marines. On his head lies a black with gold-trim Tricorne hat, his favorite hat that he always wore. At his side is a gold-hilted cutlass with a polished blade.
What kind of mockery of a meeting place is this? No respectable leader would sit amongst servants and soldiers at a round table! A round table implies equality. A soldier is anything but equal to his superior. Bah. Apparently, it just goes to show how the 'officers' of Andoran think of themselves. Its a wonder they've lasted this long. Still, the room itself is impressive enough. I guess they've got one thing right.
Marcellano, unable to get comfortable sitting at a round table, looks around at the other attendants. A Dwarf.. an Orc.. An Elf.. numerous Humans.. and a... What in Asmodeous' name is that thing? Certainly not a Sahuagin.. I've killed enough of those to know that.. perhaps some kind of Sahuagin Mutant? I've heard of such things.. but never one to look quite like this. Not a Locathah either.. perhaps its some sort of extraplanar demon or daemon? No, while its certainly hideous enough to be as such, the people of Andoran at least are smart enough not to work with such filth. Bah, I never was one for learning about the Planes, and Uncle didn't have many books on the subject.
Marcellano continues to eye the Merfolk intently trying to figure out what it is. He has a scowl on his face due to the concentration, and barely notices the time as he tries to figure it out.
Well, worst comes to worse, I'm sure a bullet'll penetrate that thick carapace of it, at least.
Here is that Marcellano Kain looks like right now, minus the gun and axe: I'm also well aware of the fact that he's wearing a no-sleeve shirt, light pants, shoes (not shown), and no gloves despite the fact its snowing. :P
And Rasso, the potty mouth doesn't bother me in the slightest. I actually need to work more on my guy's speech to make him sound more naval sounding.. I'll work on it as I go.
When Ar'Zarrcal first arrived at the grand meeting hall, he had surveyed the spot granted to him and the other Ambassador from Shalast. The Andorran's had been wise with a round table, as it prevented a potential insult by way of seating position. Of course, it would be far wiser for them to merely dispense with this farce and submit to Karzoug and allow Shalast to take the lead in this, but he knew that they would cling to their traditions and freedom until the end. In time they would learn the error of such resistance. He had resisted once, until he was made to understand the true power of Thassilonia and Karzoug. They too would serve.
Not overly fond of exchanging pleasantries, the rune-scarred dwarf had attempted to sit at the spot granted to him and keep his silence. Yet the chair was not all that well sized for him and he found himself growing uncomfortable and agitated. Thoughts tangled within his mind as he looked over the other ambassadors and representatives, struggling with understanding their current role in his master's plan as well as the future place they would serve within the hierarchy of Shalast.
Abandoning his chair, Ar'Zarrcal revealed to those observing him that he was in fact quite tall for a Dwarf. At 4’6 he was a stark reminder that Thassilonia had been reborn in violence and sorcery. Dressed in fine fur trimmed clothes of black and white marked with the Sihedron for this diplomatic function. His coal black hair and beard were a greasy and tattered mess. His hairline all but receded to the crown of his skull, leaving what remains to hang long and limp. Around his neck hung an iron Sihedron of some holy purpose, which his stubby fingers often gripped at. Where his clothing did not obscure his flesh one could see the handiwork of his conversion. The skin itself was darkened by fire and sorcery and branded with an assortment of arcane Thassalonian Runes.
With deliberate steps he began to walk around the table, making it clear that as an emissary of the Rune Lord Karzoug he walked where he pleased. His gaze fell on the Orc and he stared. His pinched face, with his sharp nose and deep sunken eyes took on a look of genuine curiosity. All his former racial hatred for the Orc-kind had been purged from him during his reeducation. Who did he represent? The Orc's of Belkzen who still resisted or some other faction? This one was not of the Black Sun or Sihedron clan, but perhaps he could be turned?
Slowly he completed near the completion of his circuit around the large round table. His milk, frozen blue eyes fell on the tall masked figure. His hands left the iron Sihedron about his neck and pulled at his black, pointed beard. This one was a complete mystery to him. He would need to rectify that immediately.
"I am ambassador Ar'Zarrcal of the Empire of Shalast, faithful herald of Runelord Karzoug the Claimer... Who are you and what faction do you represent here?" The voice that escaped the tortured form was surprisingly firm and powerful, yet lacking harshness or rasp to its tone.
Seeing the Chelaxian marine frowning at him from across the table, Rasso gives him a big toothy grin and a wink. Sour pussed bastard must know how many of his buddies I've sent to watery graves.
Though difficult to tell from behind his mask, the elf cocks his head slightly. Through the slits you can see that the elf's eyes look past the runescarred dwarf as if speaking to someone, or something ten feet above him and to the right. مجھے پتہ ہے تم کون رونی نشان لگا دیا گیا ہے. The elf's dry voice whispers from behind the mask, in the rhyming cadence of ancient Azlanti.
I know who you are runic marked.
Pausing in mid-sentence, the elf gives a nod, as if listening to another voice and agreeing with was said. From the mask the dry voice wispers again. میں کون ہوں یہ اہم نہیں ہے.
Who I am is not important.
Remaining perfectly still, the elf continues to look past the dwarf, his eyes slowly following whatever it is that he is looking at. Then, as if a statue has come to life the elf crossing his arms, he shakes his head. میں بیان کرتا ہے.
What I represent is.
Giving one final nod of agreement with the unknown entity, the elf swivels his head down taking in the rune-scarred dwarf visage for the first time. Closing his eyes ever so slightly the elf seems to peer into the dwarf. Whereas before the elf seemed be having an entirely different conversation, he now focuses all of his attention on acknowledged the dwarf's presence. میں ہلاک رنگستاپک لپیٹ ہوں.
I am the emissary the Mordant Spire.
- HP 25/25
- AC 20( T: 12/ FF:16)
- Fort + 4|Ref + 2|Will + 2
- Init + 2
- Perception +1
Styvanus stood behind his chair, stance wide and confident, his chin was high and his eyes active. Even at this event, he wore what appeared to be a slightly heavier version of the parade armor of the parade armor of the Eagle Knights. A heavy blue coat over a chain-link covered torso hid his equally chain mailed arms which ended in threatening gauntlets with spiked feather motifs. An insignia on the shoulder of the coat marked his rank as Captain. White breeches cover more chain mail and he wears sturdy blue boots of leather. Oddly enough, there was a well made shield emblazoned with the image of a blue eagle strapped to his back.
He kept his hands crossed behind his back and surveyed the room, smiling slightly at the discomfort his merfolk friend had in his uniform, and also the discomfort his merfolk friend caused to the various delegates around the table. The man certainly stuck out like a sore-thumb wherever he went but it didn't change the fact that he was a helluva soldier and sailor, and someone that anyone would be lucky to have watching their back. Styvanus was happy to hold that honor, no matter what Rasso looked like.
He pondered his friends question, and took note of the exchange of glances between him and the Chelish marine across the table. " ಒಉರ್ ಗುಎಸ್ಸ್ ಇಸ್ ಅಸ್ ಗೂಡ್ ಅಸ್ ಮಿನೆ. ಈಟ್ ಸೀಮ್ಸ್ ಯೊಉ'ರೆ ತೆ ಸ್ಟರ್ ಅಟ್ಟ್ರcಟಿಒನ್ ಹೆರೆ. ಒಉ ಅನ್ಡ್ ತೆ ಮರಿನೆ ತೆರೆ ಒಲ್ಡ್ ೞ್ರಿಎನ್ಡ್ಸ್" He finishes with a smirk before turning his attention to the exchange between the masked elf and the rune-marked dwarf. "ಒಮೆ ರೆಅಲ್ ಚರcಟೆರ್ಸ್ ಹೆರೆ, ಈ cಒಉಲ್ಡ್ನ್'ಟ್ ಉನ್ಡೆರ್ಸ್ಟನ್ಡ್ ಅ ಲಿcಕ್ ಒೞ್ ವ್ಹಟ್ ತಟ್ ಎಲ್ೞ್ ವಸ್ ಸಯಿನ್ಗ್ ಬುಟ್ ಹೆ ಡಿಡ್ನ್'ಟ್ ಸೊಉನ್ಡ್ ಟೂ ಹಪ್ಪ್ಯ್."
"Your guess is as good as mine. It seems you're the star attraction here. You and the marine there old friends?"---
---"Some real characters here, I couldn't understand a lick of what that elf was saying but he didn't sound too happy."
"ನಂ ನಾನು ಮೊದಲು ಅವರನ್ನು ನೋಡಿಲ್ಲದಿದ್ದರೆ ಮಾಡಿದ. ಅವರು ಕೇವಲ ನನಗೆ ಗಂಟಿಕ್ಕಿ ನ," Rasso whispers back to the Captain. "ಆ ಪ್ರೀಕ್ಸ್ ಫಾರ್ ಎಂದು, ಯಾರು ಅವರು ಏನನ್ನು ತಿಳಿದಿದೆ?" he continues, giving the Ulfen man a wink when he says "freaks" and sticking out the tip of his tongue.
"As for those freaks, who knows what they're babblin'."
The movement of the strange andoran drew her out of her reverie and she followed his gaze across the table to the chelish marine he winked at. Already making friends... This is quite the powder keg. She sighed and continued to look about.
Her gaze feel on the masked elf and the dwarf, their conversation drawing a bit of curiosity from her. From this distance she couldn't hear them, but the mask of the elf definitely drew her attention. A mask? Here? I wonder what significance it has for him to wear it amongst strangers as such. Perhaps ritualistic? Images of the masks she'd worn in the various rites drift through her head, all of which were stylistic representations of animals.
She shifted uncomfortably in her chair and sighed deeply. This is so different from what I'm used to, even with the Pathfinders. Too... formal?
- HP 25/25
- AC 20( T: 12/ FF:16)
- Fort + 4|Ref + 2|Will + 2
- Init + 2
- Perception +1
" ಅಲ್ಕಿನ್ಗ್ ತೆ ಪ್ಲನ್ಕ್ ಅನ್'ಟ್ ಬೆ ಮುಚ್ ಒೞ್ ಅ ಪುನಿಶ್ಮೆನ್ಟ್ ೞೊರ್ ಯೊಉ ಅನ್ ಇಟ್ ಂಎರ್ಮನ್" He whispers with a wink. " ಆಹ್, ವೆ'ಲ್ಲ್ ಲಿಕೆಲ್ಯ್ ಬೆ ಅಲ್ಲಿಎಡ್ ವಿತ್ ತೆ ಲೊಟ್ ಒೞ್ ತೆಸೆ ೞ್ರೆಅಕ್ಸ್ ಒನ್ ಒಉರ್ ೞೊರ್ತ್ಒಮಿನ್ಗ್ ಅಲ್ಲ್ ಒೞ್ ಡುಟ್ಯ್. ಥೆಯ್'ಲ್ಲ್ ಬೆ ಟಿಮೆ ಎನೊಉಘ್ ಟೊ ಲೆಅರ್ನ್ ತೆಇರ್ ಸ್ಟೊರಿಎಸ್ ಅನ್ಡ್ ಸೆಟ್ಟ್ಲೆ ಅನ್ಯ್ ಉಅರ್ರೆಲ್ಸ್." He seems more serious now as he takes a deep breath, steeling his expression. "ಎಇನ್ನ್ ವಿಲ್ಲ್ ಸೂನ್ ರೆವೆಅಲ್ ತಿಸ್ ನೆವ್ ಇನ್ಟೆಲ್ ಅಬೊಉಟ್ ತಿಸ್ ಹೆಲ್ಲಿಶ್ ವಿನ್ಟೆರ್, ಅನ್ಡ್ ಹೆರ್ ಪ್ಲನ್ ಒೞ್ ಅಟಿಒನ್ ಒನ್ ಇಟ್. ಥೆ ಮೆನ್ ಅನ್ಡ್ ವೊಮೆನ್ ಇನ್ ತಿಸ್ ರೂಮ್ ಅರೆ ಹೆರ್ ಚೊಇಎ ಒೞ್ ಸ್ಪೆಇಅಲಿಸ್ಟ್ಸ್ ೞೊರ್ ತಟ್ ಅಟಿಒನ್. ಆಸ್ ಲೊನ್ಗ್ ಅಸ್ ತೆಯ್ ಡೊ ತೆಇರ್ ಜೊಬ್ ಅನ್ಡ್ ಅರೆ ಗೂಡ್ ಸೊಲ್ಡಿಎರ್ಸ್ ಇಟ್'ಲ್ಲ್ ಅಲ್ಲ್ ವೊರ್ಕ್ ಒಉಟ್. ಈಟ್'ಸ್ ಗೊಇನ್ಗ್ ಟೊ ಹವೆ ಟೊ ವೊರ್ಕ್ ಒಉಟ್."
--" Walking the plank can't be much of a punishment for you can it Merman?--
--" Ah, we'll likely be allied with the lot of these freaks on our forthcoming call of duty. They'll be time enough to learn their stories and settle any quarrels."--
--"Reinn will soon reveal this new intel about this hellish winter, and her plan of action on it. The men and women in this room are her choice of specialists for that action. As long as they do their job and are good soldiers it'll all work out. It's going to have to work out."--
Ar'Zarrcal took a wary step backwards. His fingers fell to the iron Sihedron around his neck and he clutched it almost fearfully. He recognized the language as ancient Azlanti due to it being one of roots to Thassilonian, but he could only make out the words 'I', 'Runic', and 'Mordent'. His pinched face scrunched up further and he curled his lips downward in a frown.
Though the eyes were visible through the strange mask the elf wore, they seemed to tell Ar'Zarrcal little of the emotions lingering in this emissary from the Mordent Spire.
A unsettling smile crossed the rune scarred dwarf's bearded face and he returned words to the masked elf. He however spoke the language of the reborn Kingdom of Shalast and the Thassilon Empire.
"Јас не го зборува јазикот на мртвите цивилизации, само оние кои се уште имаат иднина. Можете јасно зборува јазикот на нашите домаќини, зошто да не го користите тоа?" There was a smug smile on his face when he finished speaking, but it quickly vanished. In Taldan (common) he added "Is it not rude to speak in tongues not familiar to these Andorrans? Would it not be proper to use the language of our hosts?"
Members of the Eagle Knight's council sit awkwardly while the disparate groups talk amongst themselves and grow acclimated with one-another. As the conversations in half a dozen foreign tongues carry on, the hour of the day ticks by. Within the windowless conference room, it's hard to tell that the snow is driving hard and fast outside, that the skies are still shrouded with clouds, that all the talking in the world will solve nothing.
Without any fanfare or ritual, the double doors to the meeting hall open as a pair of armored Eagle Knight squires bring the massive doors apart. Between them, a tall and graceful woman strides into the room with a commanding presence. Dressed in the blue, gold and whites of an Eagle Knight's uniform, this blonde half-elven woman is also decorated with enough medals on her uniform that she could probably melt them down and build a life-sized gold statue of herself.
As she enters, the Andoran dignitaries rise from their seats and salute until she reaches her chair and gives a motion for everyone to be seated. Knight-Commander Calisaria Reinn does not sit, instead she stands beside her chair, one hand resting on the basket-hilted rapier sheathed at her side. Reinn's eyes scan over those gathered at the table for a few moments as conversations naturally die down at her presence. Once the room has grown silent, she motions for the doors to be closed, then begins to pace a circuit of the room around the table.
"I thank you all for attending this meeting today," the Knight-Commander begins in a firm, projected tone. "Those of you seated at this table today represent our world's best hopes to push back the tide of winter that has crashed on all our shores." Reinn's voice resonates through the room, carrying the force of presence suitable for a woman of her station.
"One year ago, the Winter Summit in Absalom represented a first for all our peoples. It represented nations' capability to put aside their differences to work in concert towards a unified goal. No part of our world is spared this wintry fate, though some have felt it less than others... there can be no denying that this change in our climate has come." Turning towards the table, Reinn stands behind the two Eagle-Knight officers, looking at each of them for a moment, before continuing her circuit.
"Since the signing of the Winter Accord, each participant nation has endeavored to find the source of this winter weather. With our combined efforts, we have made several leaps in discerning the nature of the weather, despite its seeming ability to circumvent divination magics." Finally back at her chair, Reinn motions for one of the sages. He rises from his seat with a scroll case and unstoppers it.
Paper ruffles and scrapes as it is shaken from the tube, and slowly the old scholar rolls out a map of Avistan across the table for all to see.
"We have uncovered reports from the nation of Rahadoum in Garund that that city of Manaket was destroyed by the appearance of a tornado made of ice and snow. This tornado flash-froze the citizens of Manaket and created a permanent arctic blot on the landscape." Reaching into her jacket, Reinn withdraws a thin metal rod, then pulls on its rounded tip to telescope out a baton-like pointer. She taps it on the map where Manaket is visible to the far south on the edge of the continent of Garund.
"Wizards from Rahadoum investigated this site and believed that it was a portal from whence the winter cold was escaping through. Unfortunately," Reinn closes her eyes slowly, "the wizards were too eager to quell the cold rather than study it, and they invoked a powerful disjoining magic that sealed the portal and ended the influx of cold to that region." Exhaling a strained sigh, Reinn looks around at the attendants in their seats.
"That was five months ago," Reinn clarifies, "and now we believe we have determined the location of another of these sites. After pouring through reports that came in over the last three years from Andoran cities, we have discovered that there was mention of snow appearing in the Darkmoon Vale as early as Desnus. This was in 4713, and we were so distracted by the tragedy in Kyonin and conflicts elsewhere," a brief look to the Thassilonian representatives is given, "that it went uninvestigated."
Pointing now to Andoran, Reinn's baton traces a circle on the town of Falcon's Hollow on the Andoran border of Isger. "Pursuant to this, it has come to my attention that the town of Falcon's Hollow, just south of the Darkmoon Wood, has gone silent. For the last two months it has failed to submit taxes and lumber deliveries from up the river have been non-existant."
Nodding to the scholars, Reinn waits as they roll out a mp of the Darkmoon Wood that looks recently drafted. That it has been drafted in wintry colors is a dire sense of artistic license, as if to say, it will always be like this.
Should this team fail, perhaps it will be.
REIGN OF WINTER
THE SNOWS OF SUMMER
Part I: Silence of the Hollow
"One week ago, I sent a reconnaissance team to Falcon's Hollow. The team consisted of five Eagle Knights of the Twilight Talon branch. Knight-Captain Talisa Gwynn led the unit, along with Lance-Corporal Braden Tavel, Lance-Corporal Girardin Shalewind, Lance-Corporal Tycora Sandein, and Lance-Corporal Cerasan Falentini. Accompanying them was a warrior-delegate from Lastwall, an orc-blooded soldier named Ordrud."
Tapping her baton on Falcon's Hollow again, Reinn furrows her brows and looks pensive for but a moment. "As of today, the team has not reported back with the sending scrolls they were given. We have reason to believe that their silence is related to the silence of Falcon's Hollow."
Collapsing her baton, Reinn places it back into her jacket and crosses her arms over her chest. "Those of you here, today, I ask for assistance. Golarion begs for your assistance." Looking down to the map, Reinn draws in a slow breath, then exhales it through her nose.
"Your mission is a straight-forward one. You will depart Almas by way of the ice-breaker ship the Red Wraith and sail north up the Andoshen River to Falcon's Hollow. The journey will take three days." Blue eyes lift from the map to look around the table. "You are to ascertain the status of Falcon's Hollow, find Knight-Captain Gwynn's team, and if possible find out if the reported weather in the Darkmoon Wood is related to the winter portal in Rahadoum."
Sternly, Knight-Commander Reinn nods her head once, and looks to each and every individual at the table.
Teladon: Knowledge Arcana: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (13) + 8 = 21
Ar'Zarrcal: Knowledge Arcana: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (8) + 8 = 16
Talavuc: Knowledge Nature: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (15) + 7 = 22
Fenyx: Knowledge Arcana: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (14) + 10 = 24
Fenyx: Knowledge Nature: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (7) + 8 = 15
Fenyx: Knowledge History: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (15) + 8 = 23
As for the location, Darkmoon Wood is an auspicious site. There are legends that a witch by the name of Ulizmila once dwelled there, and that she traces her lineage back to the witch queen Baba Yaga who created the arctic domain of Irrisen over a thousand years ago. Furthermore, Falcon's Hollow suffered greatly in 4709 when a virulent plague swept through the town, killing dozens and infecting many more. It is believed that a group of Pathfinders secured a cure from somewhere in the Darkmoon Woods that saved the town.
"Aye, I do," Marcellano makes a gesture with his hand showing he wishes to speak. He stands up to speak, and then takes a moment to glance around at the assembled people, before looking back at the Knight-Commander. "First, who will be in charge of this expedition? It is best to know who is in command from the get-go so we don't have any issue with multiple people trying to play leader along the way. The clearer the chain of command, the faster and easier things get done."
He pauses a moment, before continuing. "Second, if we do find the Knight-Captain's Team, are we to follow her orders, provided she is still alive, or will whoever be leading this expedition take command of the recon team as well?"
He pauses one more moment, before adding one last thing, with a small smirk. "And finally, when do we leave?"
Turning her attention to Marcellano, Reinn threads a lock of blonde hair behind one ear. "Given that this is an Andoran mission taking place on Andoran soil, and given his expertise in leadership and tactical assessment, I will be placing Captain Styvanus Rozier in charge of this mission. Should Knight-Captain Gwynn be alive, I will leave it up to Captain Rozier how he would prefer to proceed as both he and Gwynn are of the same rank, if differing in title. She will understand."
Shifting her weight to one foot and rubbing one hand over her chin in thought, Reinn looks across the table and considers her answer. "Should the situation change, I leave it to you all to be responsible enough to delegate command or re-assess command if need be. Each of you are specialists and highly skilled, I expect you each to contribute to the cause equally."
Then, specifically to Styvanus, "Captain, I expect you to handle this with fairness and an open mind. Take into account all points of view and intelligence offered from your team. Their lives, and our lives, are in your hands." No pressure.
"As for your departure, this team will leave in five hours from the harbor. That should give you enough time to finalize any preparations you need to make." Then, nodding towards one of the Andoran intelligence officers she adds. "Lance-Corporal Vedik will see that each of you is outfitted with a cache of good to help protect you in this climate. See him before you depart."
The gear Vedik is to supply to you is what was listed in the discussion thread, previously.
- HP 25/25
- AC 20( T: 12/ FF:16)
- Fort + 4|Ref + 2|Will + 2
- Init + 2
- Perception +1
Styvanus sets quietly, listening to the Chelish man's inquiries. Upon Reinn's attention turning to the young captain, Styvanus stood to his feet and nodded affirmatively to each of her points. He nod's to Lance Corporal Vedik when he is mentioned.
Beginning unassumingly, his voice carries well around the room." Knight-Commander; Lance-Corporal." He recognizes them both aloud, then turns his attention to the team gathered around the table.
" We're the hope of Golarion allies. Expect fairness and transparency here, We're the last, best hope. I encourage each of you to get to know me. My ears are always open. " His blue eyes meet the eyes of each of the party and he stops last on Rasso, his stern expression giving way slightly to a smirk. " Let's go do our job."
Marcellano nods at both the Knight-Commander's answers, and Styvanus's words, apparently satisfied, before sitting down to await any other information before heading out.
"Sounds all well and good, Sir," Rasso says, nodding to Knight-Commander Reinn. "But I'd know a little more about who'll be watchin' me tail."
He turns back to the others nominated for the mission. "Guess I might start with me own particulars. Name's Rasso. I'm a close combat specialist, with some magic to aid me. Mainly me spells enhance me own abilities, but I can do some minor healin' in a pinch," he says, snapping his claws together. "I've also got a decent ability to use wands, scrolls and the like."
He stares at Marcellano and the two Shalasti representatives for a long moment. "Normally I'd soon as kill them what hold slaves as truck with 'em. But I know this is probably the most important damn mission of my life. So I hope we can all play nice." It's hard to tell whether his toothy smile is genuine or forced.
Rasso voice reference. Mr. Krabs from Spongebob.
Talavuc marvels at the map of Avistan for a moment. Ahh... Always a sight to see. She smiles to herself and looks back to the commander, giving the woman her full attention.
She considers the second map unrolled for a moment when Rosso stands and gives his introduction, forcing her away from her thoughts. She watches as he speaks and decides to introduce herself. She stands and looks over the collected people for a moment, again taking in the assembled parties.
"I am Talavuc, spirit-talker of the Miusunnit of Aaminiut, and a friend of the Pathfinder Society." The words felt a bit clumsy in her mouth, so different from her native language. "The spirits bless me with magics for my devotion and I carry spear and sling." She pauses a moment. "Beyond fighting, I know the ways of the wild. The harsh cold is a common thing for my people and I. I've survived in it for all of my life. It tests each person to see their fitness for survival."
She looks over to Captain Rozier, "I will give my all for this. Just as with Avistan, so too do my people suffer. Many have died in the unnatural storms and the dead that walk them." A pained look crosses her face for a second.
"I know of the terrible things that those from Varisia and Cheliax are capable of. I've heard the tales and seen the darkness in some of those lands." Her eyes turn to the chelish marine. "But I also know that brighter things can come from such places. I will hope that you all are of such character."
She turns to Knight-command Reinn. "The map of this wood shows no paths, trails, or roads. There is no information as to the location of such things or shall we have to contact the locals, should they still live?" She pauses for a slight moment, not enough time to give a response, "Do the frozen dead walk here as well?" A look of deep concern crosses her face. She had not heard such stories, but it was better to be safe.
At Talavuc's question, Reinn offers a look to one of the scholars at the table whom rises from his seat with a nod to her. The scholar, a wiry looking human with dusty brown hair and a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles leans over to point at the map of Darkmoon Wood.
"Ah, the trails in this forest are likely changed from what they once were." There's a tone of disappointment in his voice. "Though, the logging consortium that works here has made some through-roads that cut through the thickest parts of the forest." Reaching into a pocket on his sleeve, the scholar pulls out a piece of charcoal.
"Here," he states, starting to scribble on the map. "These are the logging roads that the consortium used. They're likely still clear of trees, but-- ah, snow -- I imagine -- will be an issue." Furrowing his brow and pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose, the scholar then circles an area on the map.
"This here," the region of Cold Marrow is circled, "is where the undead have been encountered in the past. It's a blighted section of the forest where nothing will grow. The trees are dead and the land is parched. We're not sure what its present condition is."
Then, to the far west he circles a portion of the mountains. "Out here was an old monastery that the Pathfinder Society uncovered in 4709 when searching for a cure to the plague in Falcon's Hollow. There was a cult operating out of here, animated dead-- all very terrible business. They're long since dispatched, however."
Grimacing, the scholar tucks the piece of charcoal back into his sleeve. "That's ah, the most we know about that topic."
New map linked in text.
- HP 25/25
- AC 20( T: 12/ FF:16)
- Fort + 4|Ref + 2|Will + 2
- Init + 2
- Perception +1
Styvanus nods toward the female of the north, and watches intently as the scholar steps forward and marks the areas of interest on the map. " Thank you Scholar, I'm certain that every little thing helps."
He turns his full attention to the northern druid and offers a comforting smile. " Talavuc, thanks for your insight, and the words of wisdom. I'm sure both will prove invaluable in the days and weeks ahead."
"As for my own abilities," He begins." I'm a martial specialist. Nothing too fancy about that, but I shall represent the Andoran way in combat and negotiations. When it's appropriate, I'll defer to each of your specialties."
She furrowed her brow as the scholar pointed out locations on the second map he produced. Talavuc nodded to the scholar and looked up from the map, her thoughts drifted away a bit from the conversation, to the point that she almost missed Styvanus' words to her. She gave him a short nod of acknowledgement. This region is not prepared for the morozkos. It's a worrisome thing. She looked about the table, picking up Styvanus' appraisal of himself. I will have to see how ready each of my companions will be for this weather. A grim look crossed her face for a moment. The dead are here...
Through the entirety of the Andorran briefing the two representatives from Shalast remained silent. Once, the tall human leaned down and whispered something to his rune scarred dwarven companion. What was said however was spoken at a hush and in the language of Thassilon.
As each gave in turn gave an introduction of their names and abilities Ar'Zarrcal kept his thoughts to himself. He seemed to have no inclination to speak further on the matter. All that they needed to know was that he and Fenyx represented Shalast and Runelord Karzoug the Claimer on this mission. He had fully intended to remain silent until the Erutaki spoke. Her questions proved to shed much light on the situation and information was revealed that should have been earlier provided. He thought that perhaps the Andorran's should have put her in command instead of one of their obediant military officers.
Stepping forward, he studied the map provided once the scholar began to circle and outline the logging trails.
"Will our transport take us up this river?" The dwarf pointed to the river marked Darkmoon on the map. "I do not see this Falcon's hollow anywhere on this map. Does the captain know the way?"
He turned back to look long and hard at the woman from the Frozen lands to the North. He would seek to illuminate her to the truth of Shalast, but not now, it would not do to dispel the propaganda of the meddling Andorran's in their own council hall.
Only after his questions had been answered would he address the rest of the group gathered together on this mission. "I am ambassador Ar'Zarrcal of Shalast, faithful herald of Runelord Karzoug the Claimer. My counterpart is ambassador Feyronix Dagannauth, practicioner of the arcane arts of Thassilon." The frost-eyed dwarf gave no further details at this juncture.
Listening to the representative from Shalast, the scholar defers to Reinn on this question. "Falcon's Hollow is just a few miles south of Darkmoon Wood, it's on the map of Avistan and northern Garund," she instructs, motioning to the other, larger map. "Captain Brevin of the Red Wraith knows the way."
"The vessel you came here in is not fitted to break the ice of the Andoshan River which is at present frozen. We have commissioned an ice-breaking ship from the north to serve as conveyance for you to expedite the journey." Crossing her arms over her chest, Reinn scans the maps as an afterthought. "The vessel is an oar-powered ship of Skald design with iron plating on the bow. It is designed to cut through the thick ice, though there may be times when the ship and its crew need to stop to manually hack through the larger pieces by hand. None of you will be expected to assist with this."
It seemed then that they would not be taking the Darkmoon river, but rather another river that traced its way to the South, where Falcon's Hollow lay beyond the bottom edge of the map provided.
Falcon's hollow seemed to be the place to start and if no relevant information could be gained there, the logging consortium's main camp looked like the next best bet. He studied the map in more detail, trying to memorize the locations that seemed of particular importance and interest.
Marcellano sits, still unable to get comfortable, listening to the others' questions, comments, and introductions. After being mentioned indirectly multiple times, he waits until he has a chance to speak before standing up and addressing those assembled.
"I am Marcellano Kain, nephew of the deceased Commander Kyan Kain and former Marine aboard the Dominator. As representative to Cheliax, my superiors have commanded me to give the Knight-Commander my complete cooperation in this matter, and I aim to do just that." He pauses a moment, before continuing. "As a former Marine, I am trained in enduring and surviving harsh environments, performing emergency first aid in case magical healing is unavailable, and being an expert in both close-quarters combat and mid-ranged combat with firearms."
After another pause, he continues, "I plan on giving this mission my all. I hope, despite our current affiliations, ideological differences, and past prejudices," His gaze flickers towards Rasso for a split second, "We can work together to see this mission through, unless our respective nations continue to suffer under this outlandish weather. I plan to see this mission through the end. I hope all of you will do the same."
At the end of his introduction, Marcellano gives a nod and sits back down.
Bah, I had a better post written, but due to lag and me being a tard and not keeping a copy of it on say, notepad, I lost it and had to re-write it. I don't think the second one came out quite as good >.O
Having never sat down, the masked elf takes in the entirety of the room. When his gaze does pause, it's not on a particular individual, but rather on architectural details, stone busts or even an absence of space. It is as if the elf is looking at this world with eyes far older than many in this space. Stepping forward, the elf's eyes settle on a soaring stone bust of a rampant Andoran eagle. Though the mask a dry, lilting voice echoes outward. Haltingly the voice speaks, as if unaccustomed to the tongue and dredging the memory of it up from the recesses of his mind.
Who I am in unimportant. The elf states. Each word slowly ushering out the next. Who I represent is. Echoes the voice from behind the mask as he continues to let his gaze wander about the room, never stopping in one place for long. I am the emissary of the Mordant Spire. Eyes finally settling Knight-Commander Reinn, the elf gives the smallest of bows.
Not bothering to give a description of his ability, you get the feeling that the elf is a creature of few words. There is a flaw. The elf's graven voice states. Logic dictates that we cannot depend on locating the sending scrolls from your team. They may have be destroyed. If you wish to guarantee status updates then I will need more. And what of your scrying and divinations? What has that revealed? Have you been able to determine what exists at the center of the storm? Crossing his arms, the elf then looks past the Knight-Commander towards the blue painted map, before back up to the ceiling.
Knight-Commander Reinn arches one thin brow as Teladon speaks. Blue eyes sweep from him to the map, then back again. "I expect something more mundane to track the team down," she notes with a point of two fingers up towards her eyes. Shifting her weight to one foot, she re-crosses her arms and furrows her brows.
"The storm also has no center, per-se. This weather is spread out across every nation in Avistan and most of Garund. We have one, singular report from Falcon's Hollow dating back three years, and it doesn't specify where in the Darkmoon Wood that the snow started." There's a little bit of a sigh at that. "There's hundreds of square miles of forest out there, and we could try scrying that wood in twenty-foot increments for the next few hundred years and still come up with nothing." Then, tilting her head to the side she adds, "We'd all be frozen solid by then."
Starting to pace, Reinn offers a slow shake of her head. "Divinations have largely been inconclusive. Either we're asking the wrong questions or someone has protected the information we've tried to get by means of mind-blank or misdirection." Blue eyes flit back up to Teladon. "The parties of the Winter Accord determined that the snow is not natural, that a magical force is generating it, and that if left unopposed it will continue to spread until it has consumed the entirety of the world."
Furrowing her brows, Reinn considers the maps again. "That we assume there's a... core to the weather in the Darkmoon Wood like there was in that town in Rahadoum is sheer speculation. It's a hope, and one that I had counted on Gwynn's team to determine." With a shake of her head, she looks away from the maps and around the table.
"Every resource we can employ at a range has been employed. This information is the best we've been able to muster. If it were any easier, we probably could have solved the entire problem on our own by now. We need feet on the ground. Finding Gwynn's team is -- " Reinn hesitates, as if it does not please her to admit something. "Finding her team is secondary to finding out if there is a source of the weather in the Darkmoon Wood."
"If you do find and secure them... if the people of Falcon's Hollow are safe or can be saved, that's just a bonus for us."
Noted. The dry voice half-whispers from behind the mask, giving one slow nod of understanding. The rest of his body remaining ever still, the elf cocks his head to the right as if receiving some far off instructions or listening to the sounds of the wind rushing past the exterior of the Golden Aerie. Giving a nod, the elf turns his gaze back towards the Knight-Commander. Are there any other places besides the lumber camp and the monastery that your team might have sought shelter at if they had come under attack? Anything defensible?
"I wouldn't call the monastery defensible," Reinn notes with a look at the map. "The Pathfinders who discovered the cult there unintentionally razed the structure in their battle with the cultists. If there's anything left, it's little more than ruins."
After considering the remainder of the map, Reinn looks back up to Teladon. "There's a lodge, actually. Not far from where that logging trail cuts across the river on the western bank. It's owned by the Lumber Consortium now, but at one time it was a sentry outpost for the Steel Falcons. It was decommissioned over twenty years ago..."
Tilting her head to the side, Reinn takes a thoughtful pause. "I'm not sure what condition its in but it might be worth a look."
Will mark the lodge on the map when I get home from work.
"So, we have three places we know of to check - the Village itself, the Lumber Consortium's main camp, and a lodge that is owned by the Lumber Consortium, which we do not know if even still exists - am I correct?"
Marcellano stands up and points to each location on the map as he mentions them, the looks at everyone to see if they agree with him or not.
"If we can agree on this, I think we should get going - the sooner we get there, the sooner we can find the fate of the village and of the recon team, as well as find the solution to this problem, if there is one to be found." He then looks over at the Knight-Commander for her response.
Just to get this party rollin', hope I'm not rushing things :P
Offering a nod of agreement to Marcellano, Knight-Commander Reinn confirms Marcellano's assessment. "Correct. It sounds as though you have a direction to go in. The Red Wraith will be waiting for you in the harbor. It is the only vessel with red sails, it's impossible to miss, even in this snow."
Folding her hands behind her back and squaring her shoulders, Reinn tilts her chin up ever so slightly and regards the team. "The vessel disembarks in three hours, and Captain Brevin will know better the duration of the ship travel." Drawing in a slow breath, Reinn closes her eyes and exhales the held in breath through her nose.
"Andoran, your homelands, the entire world is counting on your actions." Blue eyes slowly open, and the Knight-Commander furrows her brows and offers one solemn nod to the table of disparate heroes, unlikely as some of them are.
<<Aboard the Red Wraith, Andoshan River, Andoran | Evening | Snowing, Cold | Oathday, Erastus 5th, 4715 AR >>
Finding the Red Wraith in the Almas harbor wasn't hard. The Ulfen-designed icebreaking ship is of unique design and relatively old looking, battle scars and replacement planks on the hull showing its age. Its rich honey-hued wood harvested from northern forests is supple and resistant to damage and the armored plating on its bow ensures that it can plough through the thick, frozen river ice. The fanned crimson sails give the vessel a distinctive silhouette and made for finding it among the other docked vessels a simple task.
On boarding the ship, the expedition team was greeted by Captain Brevin, a calloused and sea-worn Ulfen man with a scraggly beard, sunken eyes and a muscled frame. Bundled up against the cold the captain's frame seems even larger than it should, giving him a bear-like quality.
The captain is a harsh, gruff man with an iron-handed charisma that drives his crew by means of intimidation and fearsome prowess rather than by engendering true loyalty, an odd mix for an Andoran assignment. Desperate times make for desperate allies, as if the assembled team itself were not proof positive of that.
On boarding the ship, the expedition team members were shown to the common room below decks filled with long galley tables and bench seats and a handful of the ship's crew. It is there that they were informed that the journey to Falcon's Hollow will take just over three days as the distance to Falcon's Hollow is more than 200 miles. Typically a ship of this size moving through river ice would take more than a week to travel that distance, but the icebreaker's unique design means that the vessel will be dramatically impeded in its travel time.
With the knowledge that the team is going to be in transit for a few days, they have largely been left to their own devices. Cramped personal cabins below decks are offered to each, though they are little more than a closet with a small cot and not a window to spare.
With nothing but time on their hands, the expedition crew is left to acquaint themselves with one another and await their arrival at Falcon's Hollow.
Profession (sailor): 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (3) + 2 = 5
The captain seems like a rough, hard-edged scab of the sea and his ship seems particularly well-built.
Profession (sailor): 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (12) + 5 = 17
You've spent your time around a lot of different kinds of sailors. The captain gives you the impression of at worst an Ulfen pirate, or at best a privateer hired by Andoran. Neither option is particularly palatable. His ship, at least, is remarkably well built and could likely hold its own in a full-scale naval engagement. You... figure that's unlikely to happen on the river, though.
Though not as prone to sea-sickness as some of his race, it was clear that Ar'Zarrcal had no great fondness for the sea or even rivers for that matter. He seemed overly cautious upon the boat, each step being taken with care, every creek in the boards given a glare.
The strange dwarf found his cabin quickly after boarding and stayed within it for some great time. He changed out of the expensive garments of an ambassador and instead more a tailored outfit designed for travel, which mixed between white, grey and black with a midnight hued fur cloak. His armor and shield were left in the cabin as well, though he did carry his crossbow and warhammer with him on deck.
For the most part he stayed near the middle of the ship, with a hand always gripping something firm, his jaw line set and his chin outthrust in defiance of the discomfort that sought to grip his stomach.
When the opportunity presented itself and the captain was not busy, Ar'Zarrcal approached him and spoke in the language common to the Ulfen peoples.
"How long have you been in the employ of the Andorrans Captain?"Ar'Zarrcal was careful to avoid touchy topics as best he could.
If the captain is not a native speaker of Skald, Ar'Zarrcal will conduct the conversation in the common tongue of Avistan.
Diplomacy+2, Sense Motive+8
Presently watching the horizon from the forecastle, Captain Brevin turns towards Ar'Zarrcal when he is addressed in Skald. Arching one thick brow, the ship's captain manages a smile and steps down to the midship with an uneven gait. "Hun er en tøff tispe, minner meg om de fleste av kvinnene som jeg hadde hatt i mitt liv. Tykk hud og fett i ryggen." Cracking a somewhat larger smile, the captain seems to not be put ill at ease by conversing with an outwardly marked member of the Thassilonian empire resurgent.
"She's a tough b#!!*, reminds me of most of the women that I'd had in my life. Thick-skinned and fat in the back."
"Jeg skal ta noen stødig hånd om dette skipet trenger skader reparert, hva med terrenget vi er på vei til. De Andorans kan være løs med mynten, men dette fartøyet tar finstemt hender å reparere." Offering an askance look across the deck to one of his crew, Brevin grows momentarily silent and runs a hand through his curly, blonde beard.
"I'll take any steady hand if this ship needs damages repaired, what with the terrain we're heading to. The Andorans may be loose with the coin, but this vessel takes finely tuned hands to repair."
"Dette er en en-gang-tjeneste for dette skipet. Vi er ikke i bransjen for å selge oss ut til Andoran folk. Dette er en gratis båt og vi er frie menn. De Andorans hørt om oss på grunn av våre raids på Chelish skip nær Arch of Aroden og de visste at vi hadde et fartøy som kan skjære gjennom vinteren isen." Furrowing his brows, the Captain's expression shifts to something subtly darker.
"This is a one-time service for this ship. We're not in the business of selling ourselves out to the Andoran people. This is a free ship and we're free men. The Andorans heard of us because of our raids on Chelish ships near the Arch of Aroden and they knew we had a vessel capable of cutting through the winter ice."
"Dette er den andre turen nordover vi har tatt. Det første laget kom aldri tilbake, og jeg advarte dem så mye. Du kan ikke kontrollere vinter, du kan ikke temme den, og du er sikker som helvete er varme kan ikke stoppe det. Prøver å gjøre det inviterer en iskald død." Grimly, Brevin looks out to the snowy horizon. "Bare best å tilpasse seg og overleve. Sliter bare gjør døden vondt."
"This is the second trip north we've taken. The first team never returned, and I warned them as much. You can't control winter, you can't tame it, and you sure as the Hell are hot can't stop it. Trying to do so is inviting an icy death."
"Just best to adapt and survive. Struggling only makes death hurt."
Then, grimacing a little he adds, "Eller så har jeg blitt fortalt."
"Or so I've been told."
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (10) + 8 = 18
You have the impression that he may have ferried Captain Gwynn's team up the river to Falcon's Hollow before they disappeared. You also feel that the captain is a very superstitious individual and not prone to taking risks for others.
Hrm.. Ulfen or not, a ship is a ship. Its good to be back onboard, even for so short of a time. The captain.. I'll have to keep an eye on him, even if he is in the employ of Andoran.
After putting his supplies and gear in the luxurious personal space he was offered, Marcellano decided to walk around the ship and do a quick inspection about it, making a mental note of anything combat-worthy or that could be used in case of an attack. He also makes a note of where enemies could possibly board it, in case an attack happens in the night. He's had it happen far too often back in the Shackles, and experience tells him to always know the strengths and weaknesses of a ship he is on.
After doing such, he decides to get some exercise, and thus goes onto the foredeck, still in his sailor's uniform, and proceeds to do some pushups until sundown.
Need to keep preparing myself for this cold weather.. as well as show the crew that as a Cheliax Marine, I'm not to be trifled with. Damned Ulfen Pirates..
Since he is probably going to be doing pushups for at least an hour while being unprotected against the cold, I'll probably need to make one or more fortitude checks against the cold. Marcellano probably knows of what frostbite/hypothermea look like due to the Ulfen he learned from back a while ago, so if he begins to spot any bit of that he's going to immediately stop and warm himself up. That, or until nightfall.
My Fort bonus vs cold weather is +13 without cold weather gear/furs.
On his survey of the ship, Marcellano discovers the signs of previous battles board the ship. Most of them are scuff and scrape marks from errant weapon strikes, indicating that the ship was boarded at least once.
Overall, the vessel is in excellent condition. The only means of ingress is the above-deck area, as there are no port-holes on this vessel below decks, though there are six that look to lead into the captain's quarters (two on both the port and aft sides and two larger windows on the stern).
The crew gives Marcellano space on his inspection of the vessel, largely so as to not cause undue friction with their temporary clients. It's clear that their attitude is somewhat less than friendly to the outwardly Chelish marine, but they try not to make a point out of it for the time being.
An unprotected character in cold weather (below 40° F) must make a Fortitude save each hour (DC 15, +1 per previous check) or take 1d6 points of nonlethal damage. A character who has the Survival skill may receive a bonus on this saving throw and might be able to apply this bonus to other characters as well (see the skill description).
Given that he's only going to be doing it for an hour, he only has to make one check. The weather (here) isn't too bad, it's about 32 degrees Fahrenheit (admittedly 32 degrees in the summer...)
Fortitude Save (Marcellano): 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (16) + 13 = 29 (Manly man! Success)
Profession (sailor): 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (8) + 5 = 13
Knowledge (engineering): 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (2) + 5 = 7
Finding himself alone in the small windowless cabin, Teladon put down his pack, and sat on the edge of the cot crossing his knees and tucking his feet underneath him. Closing his eyes, the tall, lean elf forced himself to burn away all of the anxiety and frustration he was feeling as he took off his ceremonial mask. Clearly something had been lost in translation following the Winter Counsel, the elf thought to himself as he pictures a flickering torch and allowed his emotions to be consumed by the ever growing flame.
Casting his mind back back to the meeting at the Golden Aerie, Teladon remembered feeling surrounded. So many humans. Like rats they breed, seeming quicker each year. Then he heard the Knight-Commanders proclamation that a human would be left in charge. Shaking his head Teladon, though of the few humans he had met throughout his one hundred odd years. They are rash, impulsive and short sided The magus thought. The Elders warned me that I would have to deal with outsiders.. that they suspected witchcraft was somehow involved and that my training and focus would be a great asset. But humans? I can work with anyone, but I will not work for someone. No nation has ever told the Spire what to do. I will not allow myself to be the first. Snorting, Teladon withdrew his black rune engraved scimitar. Letting the blade and pommel rest on his knees He lightly ran his hands along the blade and felt the inset markings of Acavna, goddess of moons and battle beneath his fingers. The dwarf would not have been so bad. They are a long lived race. But that one has been.. turned. Whatever the Runelord did, it left an indelible mark.
Sighing, Teladon continued to feed his inner flame, seeking the peace that lay within logic. Finally after several more minutes of contemplation the elf felt at piece. Then, reaching down into his bag he withdrew an brown leather book embossed with elven runes. Resting the book on his lap, so that the spine rested against his blade he opened up his spellbook and began to review his incantations. For the next several hours Teladon engrossed himself in his magics, until feeling his stomach rumble, Teladon realized that he was hungry and needed to eat soon.
Sighing, the elf put away his book and with a whisper of a blessing, sheathed his blade he rose before finally affixing his ceremonial mask. Reaching for the door, Teladon frowned from behind his mask. Likely whatever is for dinner tonight will be either burned or bloody and soaked in alcohol. frowning once more Teladon opened the door to his cabin and began to search out the ships galley.
Three days aboard ship huh? Luckily I bought three bottles of rum and three hams before we left Almas.
Once aboard the ship Rasso gives it the same wandering inspection as Marcellano, though for now he keeps his distance from the Chelish marine. After satisfied that he knows as much as he can about the Red Wraith he seeks out the captain. "Pleasure to be aboard sir." He says, offering a bow of his head to the Ulfen man. "Name's Rasso. I'm plannin' on staying out of you and yer crew's hair, but iffin you need me for somethin' I'll be an able enough hand." Glancing around the impressive ice breaker, he nods. "Damn fine ship. I'll excuse myself now to acquaint meself with her nethers."
Rasso heads for his cabin, stopping to tell Styvanus "I'll be drinkin' below decks if you need me." Completing his short journey he deposits his gear in the room, and begins to drink his rum and eat his ham. He will remain so occupied unless otherwise disturbed.
Take 10 on perception and prof (sailor) on the ship.
Rasso's drinking but not to the point that he'd be taking penalties.
Ar'Zarrcal felt his left eye begin to twitch and flutter and a flash of old memories briefly flooded his mind. He saw himself sitting within an Ulfen meadhall, drinking heavily with dwarves and ulfen warriors, telling tales as the large fire in the hearth cast shadows along the notched table. Yet the image quickly faded, replaced by a spinning Sihedron and the Spires of Xin-Shalast.
Fingering the iron Sihedron that hung about his neck, he nodded to the captain. "Du kan ha rett. Vinteren kan være uunngåelig i disse landene, men det er andre som er i stand til flotte prestasjon av trolldom. Min herre har bygget bro over bukten århundrer i ett trinn, slik at også han vil temme den harde vinteren."
He then took his leave from the captain, watching as the Chelish Marine did pushups on the deck. He studied the marine, curious about his place amongst the Andorrans. Clearly he too was looked upon with suspicion. It could be that he would be a useful ally.
- HP 25/25
- AC 20( T: 12/ FF:16)
- Fort + 4|Ref + 2|Will + 2
- Init + 2
- Perception +1
Upon arrival on the ship, Styvanus sought out his cabin and claimed the one adjacent to Rasso, relieving himself of his considerably heavy pack. As a soldier, he was rather used to carrying large loads over distance, but this worsening winter made seemed to make his pack heavier. He took the time to remove his armor and changed into something more suiting of three days of travel up the icy river; a shirt of thick linen, pants of thicker wool, one glove(he kept the spiked gauntlet on his left hand), and a hooded cloak of the same material slung over his long blue coat, all over a layer of animal furs. Finally he strapped his shield across his back and left for the upper deck.
Once there he did his best to stay out of the way of the crew, understanding he was merely a passenger here. He sought out the Ulfen captain once he had the chance." The Nation of Andoran thanks you for your services, Sir; as do I." He begins in a humble tone, offering the man a firm handshake and going on to introduce himself." Captain Styvanus Rozier, It looks like you run a tight ship, and I respect that. I'm sure you have things under control but should something arise that requires our collective attention, there are a few capable sailors in our unit, and I'm sure the rest of us wouldn't mind pulling our weight. It goes without saying I'm sure, but don't hesitate to ask. Your ship, your command Captain." He finishes with a slight bow of his head, and waits formally for any response.
Once he feels adequately dismissed, he'll head back in the direction of his cabin. On the way there he encountered Rasso and nodded. " I have a bottle of Oldlaw in the cabin, Unless you'd rather drink alone." Barring Rasso's dismissal, Styvanus retrieved his bottle and joined the Merfolk in his cabin. He sipped on the single-malt smooth rye, offered a drink of the whiskey for a drink of the rum to Rasso, and proceeded to make conversation with his Andoran Ally, small talk, barroom tales, and what-have-you, Unless Rasso brings up something specific.
Similarly, Styvanus drinks, but not to the point of drunkenness.
While people come and go between their conversation, the talk between captain Brevin and Ar'Zarrcal continues in the moments between introductions, comings and goings. Though those that introduce themselves to the captain are regarded as cordially as the gruff Ulfen can commit to.
Rasso's appearance earns more than just an askance look and a nod of recognition. Though it doesn't wind up becoming words, the captain visibly recoils at the merfolk's presence, a flinch of unfriendly familiarity with the seaborne creature. The knee-jerk reaction is replaced by a thin veneer of a smile, followed by a scowl the moment the 'fishman' has his back to the pirate.
"Du kan ikke stole trolldom. Du kan ikke stole Cannibal hai-menn, heller." The captain remarks, tipping his head in Rasso's direction before looking back to the dwarf. "Antar du lure nok til å gjøre begge deler, skjønt."
"You can't trust sorcery. You can't trust cannibal shark-men, either."
"Guess you're fool enough to do both, though."
* * * * *
Down below decks in the galley, Teladon's fears and suspicions were largely turned on their ear by the unlikely cuisine served by the lone cook aboard the Red Wraith. It would turn out that Teladon was arriving as the Ulfen were preparing for náttmál, or "night meal" in the common tongue. Most of the crew of the vessel had gathered down here, a rowdy but good-spirited bunch of scraggly looking men with thick beards and fair complexions weathered by years at sea.
The aroma of their food, though, is particularly alien to most cultures outside of the lands of the Linnorm Kings. What is being served out on the wooden dishes looks like a discolored gray-brown slab of fat and thin layers of pungent meat atop which the rubbery skin is still attached beside which is served layers of seaweed and steamed mollusks. As best as he can ascertain from the conversations, they are being served a dish called hakikarl, a meal that consists of fermented shark meat, explaining the pungent aroma. The seaweed and mollusks look to be fresh and not preserved via fermenting.
At least part of Teladon's supposition of food was correct, however, in that there is a copious amount of mead being slung around in pewter tankards.
From where they share drinks in the cramped confines of a cabin, Rasso and Styvanius can hear the Skaldi sea chants beginning to bellow from the galley. Even above decks, Ar'Zarrcal and the others can hear the songs, deep and resonant, echoing through the cold evening as the horizon darkens and night approaches.
Still waiting on an establishing post from Talavuc on the boat letting me know where she'll be.
Gladly exchanging some of his rum for the whiskey Styvanus brought, Rasso enjoys their friendly banter. It wasn't often that they got to spend more than an evening together and he was looking forward to getting to know his new commanding officer better.
"How d' you reckon those Shalast types ended up that way? You think they're slaves of the mind as it were?" he asks the Andoran captain.
Talavuc stood on the ship, attempting to stay out of the way of the sailors. She had been on the waters before as a passenger, but never as a sailor. It's interesting how different life on vessels such as this is. She grinned slightly and looked out over the water as the plied the waters. The spray of the water was different, but strangely similar to the feeling of the precipitation of her homeland. Convenient then that snow also fell, leaving her to feel both out of place and quite comfortable.
She stared out over the waters for a time before she decided to see how Naasvit was doing. Poor Naasvit. He doesn't seem to be taking well to sea travel. She glanced for a second at the nearby shore. Well... river travel, anyway. Grinning slightly to herself, Talavuc headed to the below decks.
* * * * *
Talavuc opened the door to her cramped cabin to find Naasvit curled up in a ball on the floor. The normally excitable mink stirred just slightly to look up at her and utter a small grunt before he laid his head back down.
She approached Naasvit and reached down to stroke the top of his head. He made a short yipping noise as she approached. "Yes, yes, I know you don't like it. Only a few more days, alright?" The mink stayed silent. She smiled at him and laid down on the bed. She stared at the ceiling and slowly stroked the top of his head and back of his neck. What will we find there? Will it be nothing?
* * * * *
She awoke sometime later to the sounds of chanting and the pungent smells of the meal being served. As her senses returned to their fullest range, she smirked to herself. "It's dinner. Time to wake and quit being so lazy." She smirked to herself and carefully picked her way out of the meager bed, careful to not disturb the slightly cantankerous mink. Fortunate enough that he doesn't have the energy. She shook her head. Poor Naasvit. Sighing, she reached down and gave his head a reassuring stroke before heading out to the common room.
Some rolls. Details forthcoming in next post.
Perception check (Ar'Zarrcal): 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (20) + 4 = 24 DC: 17
Perception check (Marcellano): 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (7) + 1 = 8 DC: 17
Perception check (Rasso): 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (13) + 2 = 15 DC: 20
Perception check (Styvanus): 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (15) + 1 = 16 DC: 20
Perception check (Talavuc): 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (8) + 9 = 17 DC: 18
Perception check (Teladon): 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (15) + 4 = 19 DC: 18
Perception check (Fenyx; Asleep): 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (6) + 3 = 9 DC: 25
DC Base: 10
+2 (unfavorable conditions: wind; marcellano, ar'zarrcal)
+5 (through a wall; partial for climbing on wall; Rasso, Styvanius, Talavuc, Teladon)
+1 (10 feet of distance; Talavuc, Teladon)
+2 (unfavorable conditions: galley noise; talavuc, teladon)
+5 (distracted; marcellano, ar'zarrcal, rasso, styvanius)
+10 (making check asleep; Fenyx)
I lied, one more set of rolls
Perception (captain): 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (16) + 2 = 18 DC: 17
Perception (above-deck crewmate): 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (16) + 1 = 17 DC: 12
Perception (above-deck crewmate): 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (15) + 1 = 16 DC: 12
Perception (above-deck crewmate): 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (15) + 1 = 16 DC: 12
Perception (galley crew (16 men)): 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (9) + 1 = 10 DC: 23
Perception (sleeping crewman): 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (2) + 1 = 3 DC: 25
Perception (sleeping crewman): 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (14) + 1 = 15 DC: 25
Perception (sleeping crewman): 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (15) + 1 = 16 DC: 25
- HP 25/25
- AC 20( T: 12/ FF:16)
- Fort + 4|Ref + 2|Will + 2
- Init + 2
- Perception +1
He contemplates Rasso's question grimly, staring into the bottle of Oldlaw for a long while as if it had the answer. His ears perked at the Skaldi sea chants, but his attention turned back to Rasso." Perhaps some sort of mind control. But it might just be a matter of survival. I'm afraid I can't speak for what they've been through. Some folks are drawn to power. It could be any number of things I'm afraid."