Still considering Garidan's question, Niuyt asks Verthag, "How does one choose? Why is the pool red? Is not the blood of our people black as pitch?"
@Malthazir: Not to mention the minor little issue of there not really being any such thing as noon, high or otherwise, on this side of the world any more :D.
Please, I am a
god wizard, I can create high noon.
Well in about 10 levels or so, but still :P
Verthag looks down at the small swashbuckler. "These are not from the Living Ancestors," he says holding the ampoule in his palm and pointing to the orcish tusks. "They are the lasting remains of the most revered of my people. In life, they wielded great power, and in death, they offer that power to those of us still breathing the air of the First Lands."
A proud, toothy grin creeps across the orc's face. "This is the well-spring. It is here that we commune with our ancestors that sleep in the Dreaming. Your hand will be guided by their spirits to find that ancestor who will aid you. Their blood will be collected in the ampoule and it will fill you with a touch of the power they wielded."
@Niyut - Yes, everyone can choose one ampoule at random. I probably should have used the work "tusks" rather than "fangs" in my last post. I think I caused some confusion. I hope this clears it up.
@Malthazir - no magic coming from the hanging ampoules but a kaleidoscope of auras coming from the pool. The ampoule around Verthag's neck is giving off transmutation. no good auras detected b/t the ampoules, pool or cavern. Spellcraft would suggest that what Verthag said is true. The ampoule Verthag possesses has collected some form of essence you've never seen before.
Another point of clarification - the party was drinking wine, a very primitive but very palatable wine. Maybe Mathazir with disagree with his "refined" palate. Gzenkathu was drinking blood, as vampires do. I'm sure the characters were wierded out, but wanted to make sure I was clear to you as players. :)
While the clarification helps, I think Garidan's original reaction was still appropriate, since there's not a lot of immediate difference between fangs and tusks, and ol' Gzenkathu is still foremost on his mind right now :).
And I knew, and Garidan did as well, that the wine was just wine. But the way that Gzenkathu associated it with what he obviously liked by way of drink pretty much ruined Garidan's interest in the stuff.
The explanation settles Garidan somewhat, but he's still not quite all the way to 'calm', not yet. Still, he does manage to remember his manners, and responds to Verthag accordingly. "Ah, well, that's good to know then. My thanks to you, and your ancestors as well, I suppose, for the help." Even as he speaks, his mind is on the vial now hanging around his neck. "I wonder what kind of power this thing will make available. And how do I actually go about using it? I mean, not being a member of the Nightblood obviously won't be an issue, but surely there's more to it than just wearing it?"
Garidan then performs the clumsy and not-quite-effective self-check that he's learned since being exposed to an increasing number of essences, looking within himself for stray bits of new knowledge or some hint of physical change.
Malz dismisses the vials but gives a curious look at the pool. As he ponders one of the vials magically detaches itself and floats down to the pool, fills itself with liquid, and places itself around his neck.
Using Torenz to look fancy :)
Fangs and tusks are definitely different. Hahaha. I was worried about thousands and thousands of vampires.
This is not what Niyut expected. She had always been told that the Nightblood cared nothing for their dead. That the only ones they revered were those that violated the Compact.
Clearly, there is more to her father's clan than she had been taught.
Though she was convinced that that pool was not ancestral blood. Her own blood was much darker than a full human, theirs would be the color of pitch and tar.
Taking a deep breath, she closes her eyes and invokes these ancestral spirits. I am daughter of your blood sundered from our people. Guide my hand. Help me choose well.
She reaches out, without look, to claim the fetish the ancestors guide her towards.
Then she kneels at the pool to fill it.
Gruskorb: 1d8 ⇒ 4
Garidan: 1d8 ⇒ 4
Malthazir: 1d8 ⇒ 7
Niyut: 2d8 ⇒ (4, 1) = 5
Raektov: 1d8 ⇒ 3
Truk'tosh: 1d8 ⇒ 5
@Truk - I'm assuming you take one as well. we can retcon if you choose not to.
Gruskorb, followed by Raektov, venture into the grotto. They each take a vial, in turn, and retrieve a bit of the liquid into it. Placing the cord around his neck, Raektov takes a sniff. "It smells sweet... like anise," he says looking at Malthazir.
After everyone has finished, Verthag leads you back to the upper cavern where Gzenkathu still sits. The orc comes and kneels in front of the living ancestor. Gzenkathu reaches out and lifts the ampoule around Verthag's neck with a single finger on the braided necklace. "Ah! Dear Batûl... I recall his spirit," the vampire says with a laugh. "The pounding of his war drums were a call that none of the Nightblood could resist. It shall serve you well." Verthag rises to his feet and walks to the far side of the cavern, near the exit.
"Mhmm, a good spell component. For use in rudimentary transmutation magic that tweaks time. Very useful." He arcs a brow at Raektov. "Useful for our craft. Summon a host of creatures, then haste them. Another spell that allows you to abuse illusion magic."
Though she wanted to be quite of these dark caverns and especially Gzenkathu, Niyut knows that she must not display weakness or fear.
She stand respectfully before the living ancestor holding out this new fetish. "Thank you for your hospitality. May you ever lead those of the blood to victory."
Truk'tosh gratefully accepts the sanguine bauble alongside his twin.
Sorry guys. A little overwhelmed lately and I didn't have much to add.
W: 1d100 ⇒ 17
As the group departs the village, they see many watchful eyes and hear hushed whispers. Verthag takes no heed of them other than a curt nod on occasion. The air is cool and crisp. A low fog has enveloped the Forest of Night giving the dark woods a mystical ambiance.
With Niyut indicating the general pull of Asulad's staff, the orc warrior leads the group deeper into the Night. Following a single, short stop for a quick bite of rations, the group enters a clearing with a several large (12-15' diameter) stone rings set into the ground. "We'll rest here," Verthag orders. He sets a fire in a small pit one of the rings and then sits upon the low ring of stones warming himself.
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Niyut examines the stone rings and tries to determine their significance. Kn:whatever: 1d20 ⇒ 15 Apply relavent bonus Also some detect magic.
If there is no magic here which would disrupt or twist a ritual, she chooses a ring far from Verthag. She takes her boline and carves a figure-eight into the earth. Then she carves a second larger figure-eight around it. Scoring the earth between the two figure-eights, she divides each lobe into four sections. In each of the sections, she inscribes a single different rune. Then she repeats this process, creating two new figure-eights set at a 180 degree angle to the first set. These lobes too are divided into four sections, but the order of the runes is the inverse of the previous sequence. The adamantine blade cuts through the earth life soft butter.
She then reaches into her sleeve and pulls out the Enchantment essence she claimed from the giant her brother slew in the city. It shines with a golden light. She places it in the mithril bowl. Returning to her sleeve she pulls out a small pot filled with small amber balls.
She takes one of these balls and heats it with her hand, rolling it with her palms. This is gum arabic -- made from the sap of the acacia tree. The same kind of tree from which her mother's staff is carved. She had acquired this pot from Garidan when he split the reagents with her.*
Once it becomes more maleable she plucks an eyelash and presses it into the substance. She balls the gum arabic around her eyelash and drops it in the bowl with the essence.
These preparations take around ten minutes. Then she begins to chant in her soft voice. She makes motions of opening and beckoning.
"Aperi modo. Ut patet per viam de potentia. Et facti speciem augurium. Aperi modo. Ut patet per viam de potentia. Et facti speciem augurium. Aperi modo. Ut patet per viam de potentia. Et facti speciem augurium. .."
Knowledge: Planes (DC 28): 1d20 + 19 + 2 ⇒ (9) + 19 + 2 = 30
Like a great eye slowly blinking open, the runes and lines of each pair of figure-eights slowly begin to flicker and flare. The set aligned north to south blazes with a golden radiance while its rune sequence thrums a pearly light. The set aligned east to west is the mirror image of the other set.
She kneels before the bowls frozen rigid and straight. Opalescent and golden fires dance about her form.
"Et viam Dei virtus est aperta. Hic locus mutare potest omnia. Essentia et essentia sunt mala fascinare fit praestigiae. Et viam Dei virtus est aperta. Hic locus mutare potest omnia. Essentia et essentia sunt mala fascinare fit praestigiae. Et viam Dei virtus est aperta. Hic locus mutare potest omnia. Essentia et essentia sunt mala fascinare fit praestigiae. . ."
While she chants she begins to make an arcane series of movements and gestures with her arms and fingers. This series begins rigidly with almost mathematical precision. As they continue they blur and flow together leaving after images blazing opalescent and gold. It appears that she has thousands of arms weaving a complicated spell.
The runes blaze in sympathetic response and begin to move. One rune in the sequence begins to move and shift. When it reaches a new rune in the sequence that rune shifts until it mirrors the original moving rune.
Eventually all runes are its copy and no rune blazes with golden light.
Knowledge: Arcana (DC 28): 1d20 + 24 + 2 ⇒ (20) + 24 + 2 = 46**
She is in confident control of this portion of the ritual. The reagents in the mithril bowl begin to de-cohere into pearly radiance.
"Haec est enim leporum meam. Ecce quod est et quo est. Semita ab percurri diximus virtutem. Haec est enim leporum meam. Ecce quod est et quo est. Semita ab percurri diximus virtutem. Haec est enim leporum meam. Ecce quod est et quo est. Semita ab percurri diximus virtutem. . . ."
Where everything before was movement and power, this section of the ritual is characterized by stillness. The light and fire that had limned Niyut bleed away just as the after images of her gestures do. This power is gathered in the bowl.
The essence that once blazed golden is now a vibrant pearl.
Spell Craft (DC 28): 1d20 + 24 + 2 ⇒ (12) + 24 + 2 = 38
Niyut gives a wide smile when she doesn't flub the incantation like she did previously. But she is not one to rest on her laurels or to take unnecessary risks.
"Quae hic sit transgressor huius sacri. Ut fiat id continebat. Sit modo id quod molestum est et nobis nihil ultra. Quae hic sit transgressor huius sacri. Ut fiat id continebat. Sit modo id quod molestum est et nobis nihil ultra. Quae hic sit transgressor huius sacri. Ut fiat id continebat. Sit modo id quod molestum est et nobis nihil ultra. . ."
She doesn't want any power to escape or any malice to linger.
Knowledge: Arcana (DC 28): 1d20 + 24 + 2 ⇒ (10) + 24 + 2 = 36
At this point she is feeling quite confident in her skills and begins the penultimate incantation.
"Omnes semitae finem. Omnes portas aperuerunt occlusae. Nec animus neque vires neque ambulant transverso limite portae. Omnes semitae finem. Omnes portas aperuerunt occlusae. Nec animus neque vires neque ambulant transverso limite portae. Omnes semitae finem. Omnes portas aperuerunt occlusae. Nec animus neque vires neque ambulant transverso limite portae. Omnes semitae finem. Omnes portas aperuerunt occlusae. Nec animus neque vires neque ambulant transverso limite portae. . ."
The pearly lines of both sets of figure-eights now throb with pearly rather than golden radiance.
Spell Craft (DC 28): 1d20 + 24 + 2 ⇒ (18) + 24 + 2 = 44
Images of strange spirits fade into view around the yurt. None have transgressed the yurt's aperture. Each is inexorably drawn back to the figure-eights and blink out of existence.
"Clauderent viam. Porta clausa est. Per vim phantasiae nunc est augurium aetheris. Clauderent viam. Porta clausa est. Per vim phantasiae nunc est augurium aetheris. Clauderent viam. Porta clausa est. Per vim phantasiae nunc est augurium aetheris. . ."
Knowledge: Planes (DC 28): 1d20 + 19 + 2 ⇒ (1) + 19 + 2 = 22***
5/6 of the checks succeed, which is definitely more than half the checks, so the ritual succeeds.
Her confidence comes too soon. Try as she might, Niyut cannot close the path of power or the gate of change. It is like the great eye that blinked open can see her. Many eyes of many shades wink open around her. Though they are of different colors something about them shares a similarity. In desperation, she grabs and absorbs the new illusion essence. Come what may she would not lose the work of her craft.
Niyut feels something calling to her, and then she knows no more. Her body goes rigid. She convulses as if struck by lightning and then she is still.
Oseja mews softly and licks her mistress' face. She is unresponsive for many long minutes and then she awakes with a shuddering gasp.
She buries her face in the cat's soft fur. Her memory of her spiritual journey is incomplete.
She knows she was somewhere else. She sees flashes of images. A crimson sky. A great storm. A river so clear and so wide it dwarfs her comprehension. A osseous, rune-graven tor.
She concentrates and tries to remember. She sees a man, a most beautiful man. Not even Sir Lüendolf’s smile so easily quickened her breath. The man’s dark, shaggy curls wreath his head like a halo and accentuate his amber eyes. The planes of his face are most pleasing, strong and noble. His broad shoulders taper down to a tight and muscular torso. His only provision to modesty is a linen wrap around his waist.
Something about this man is both familiar and wrong. A flash of a dark ape with ruby eyes and smile.
She remembers his voice: “You resent me, little sister. In this, you are like a leper who refuses to a see that she is falling apart, resenting the physician who heals her. You were becoming even before I found you. . .”
Niyut knows he said something more, but she cannot remember. After that all she remembers is pain. Pierced hands. Blood splashing against runes engraved in bones. A talon thrust into her forehead. She feels knowledge, dark and secret knowledge, fill her thoughts.
But not all her disjointed memories are dark. She remembers a tree. A tree deeply rooted tree whose boughs pierce the heavens and is crown by the sun. Or is that tree a woman, heavy with child?
All she knows is that the light within her has also grown along with the dark.
She also sees two round scars on the palm of her hands that she did not have before.
*How much GP would a small pot of the substance be? And how many balls would it contain?
**What additional effect does scoring a natural 20 have here?
***What additional effect does scoring a natural 1 have here?
While his twin works her craft, Truk’tosh labors to prepare the Forest of Night’s stone circle for the party’s moment of respite. As he sets up the camp Truk watches Verthag from a distance. For his sharp axe alone, he was glad to have the mighty Nightblood at their side but in the presence of a warrior that dwarfed him, Truk’tosh found himself dwelling on his own inadequacies, the most recent of which suddenly occupy his thoughts. I could not keep the Horselord’s city from falling to the giants. Niyut was nearly been killed in front of me by the beasts of the First Lands.
”How can I become stronger?” he asks Nethuns as he collects bits of tinder for the fire. The serpentine water elemental chirps in reply but offers no advice.
When Niyut begins to chant, Truk'tosh retrieves a length of sturdy cordage and a square of canvas. Between two of the menhirs, he stretches the canvas as a break to shield his sister from the chill winds that regularly blow through the Forest of Night. His twin had a mind like iron but when he could Truk'tosh took every opportunity to protect her distractions.
With his sister absorbed by the next phase of her ritual, Truk'tosh is left to his tasks again. By chance, his hand brushes the ampoule hanging from his neck and his thoughts go to the blood of the nightblood within. It was the same blood that coursed through mighty Verthag. It was the same blood that ran through his fathers' veins.
Oseja chirps in concern and Niyut struggles to sit upright. She glances around to see if anyone had seen either her mistake, its eldritch aftermath, or her fit.
As far as she can tell, no. No one was paying attention. What luck!
It is then she notices the canvas which her brother had strung up to keep the wind off of her. He is so thoughtful and kind. So wise. So strong. Since we ascended to the plains of Haemil, I have not seen a warrior his equal. If my palace of bone is usurped he will do his duty to our people.
She invokes her grandmother's healing lore to wash away her fatigue and exhaustion, though it takes two incantations to accomplish this result. Lesser Restorationx2
She picks up her lion-bone handled boline. Flames lick the blade. While I have a bit of privacy, I should feed the book since my magic has grown in strength.
She opens the book and pierces the palm of her left hand and lets her blood splatter the pages. The hungry tome begins to grow new pages. The spell she sees that takes form there is both potent and disturbing. It is also an incantation that plays to her magical strengths. This could lay a giant low, no matter how mighty. She mutters a healing charm, but frowns to see that the small circular scar she noticed on her palms remains despite the healing magic. Yet, she cannot remember how she acquired them only the pain of the wounds themselves.
She looks down at her grimoire, the winds blows the pages, and an incantation catches her eye. She had read this passage on essences several times, but never before had she realized that the passage forms an acrostic that is itself a spell. Something clicks into place in terms of her understanding of essences and she realizes that she can chisel power from even more potent items.
Niyut reaches into her sleeve and pulls out the horn. Looking art it again, she sees how she can unravel its mystic bindings. She begins an incantation similar to Extract Essence but far more complex.
Spell Craft (Disenchant the Horn) (DC 25): 1d20 + 24 ⇒ (2) + 24 = 26 The working is slightly more complex than she expected but she succeeds. She will then detect magic to determine if there is another lingering essence. If so she repeats her spell: Spell Craft (Disenchant the Horn) (DC 25): 1d20 + 24 ⇒ (16) + 24 = 40
Niyut then eagerly scans the text for other new pages that might reveal how to unbind an imbued magic from its guardian spirit.* Those bows and that ax are a resource that her and her companions could put to use.
The Ax! There is another way to learn its mysteries.
Standing, she sheds dirt and twigs that find no purchase on her robe of shadows. She picks up Oseja, making sure to support her and goes to look for her brother.
"Thank you for the wind break. You are far better to me than I deserve. May I see the ice ax? I think I might be able to learn more of its secrets."
*She learned the Primal conversion at 5, the Arcane conversion at 7, will the pattern hold? Does she learn the ritual to unbind a relic from its spirit at 9? If not can you help me manage my expectations and give me a rough figure at what level I will be able to strip these bows? :-)
After undoing the clasp fastening it to his harness, Truk'tosh reaches over a shoulder to retrieve the gnoll warlord's axe from his back. He presents the weapon to his twin cautiously, more for fear that she may underestimate its weight and be toppled by it than cut herself on its edge. "You've spent many nights studying to learn the ritual to unbind power from its host. If the force that attacked our mother was powerful enough to overcome her and do the same to her staff, do you believe we are strong enough to defeat it?"
There's a good bit to respond to here, so I'm going to break things up a bit.
Garidan is visibly pleased to be away from the Nightblood's den, and is only restrained from hurrying the others along in leaving the area by the fact that he doesn't know where they're going; otherwise he'd quite happily be in lead and setting a very brisk pace indeed.
When they pause briefly to fill their bellies, Garidan begrudingly offers their current guide a helping of the rations that's he stored away for the party's use. He doesn't particularly want to, but reluctantly admits that if Verthag is going to be risking his life with them, then he should at the very least be treated with a measure of proper courtesy. He also passes a package of the travel food to their other guest member--or is the young mage more Malthazir's apprentice now, he wonders--and then bolts down his own helping of the bland but sustaining rations.
Marked off rations for Raektov, Verthag, Gruskorb, Truk'tosh, Malthazir, and Garidan.
Once the party has settled in for a longer break before the next stage of their current endeavor picks up, Garidan tends to various things while the others relax. Foremost is his current alchemy project, and he sets up his assorted tools with a happy expression and returns his current production to its active state. "It's a very good thing that most of this stuff travels well," the young man thinks to himself as he looks everything over while making adjustments as needed. "Otherwise it would be damned near impossible to actually get anything done, what with the way we're living these days."
Craft (alchemy) Check: 1d20 + 18 ⇒ (9) + 18 = 27
Nifty, a tripled result!
Craft Progress: Wild-Blood
DC 15 (normal, 2 gp/day progress); 100 gp
Checks Made: 5 (2 doubled, 3 tripled); Progress Made (in gp): 26/100.
Of course, there are lengthy periods during this when Garidan has little to do but periodically check various beakers and flasks to insure that their contents remain stable, and so he is able to witness another of Niyut's rituals. Her working is only vaguely comprehensible to him, and only then because of his eclectic education, but whatever she's doing looks like it succeeded. Well, barring that bit at the very end, when she quickly reacts and snatches up the essence that she's doing something with, an expression of panic marring her features. Unfortunately, at that very moment, his own project requires a bit more in the way of active involvement from him--keeping a flask from boiling over with very dangerous results for anyone downwind of the resulting fumes--and so Garidan is unable to offer her any assistance when she briefly collapses.
Still, the half-orc doesn't appear particularly distressed when Garidan can once again spare some attention for her, and Truk'tosh doesn't look to be very worried either, so he says nothing about the collapse. Instead, he approaches the fire and--borrowing some cookware from his compatriots--sets up a pot of water to boil for tea. "We're probably going to want to make the most of every moment we've got for the foreseeable future, but we can't skimp on our rest either. This should help us with that, providing us a good sleep in less than the usual amount of time," he remarks quietly as he adds a carefully-measured helping of powdered leaves to the heated water.
Using a dose of his dreamer's star tea to make six servings for himself, Niyut, Truk'tosh, Malthazir, Gruskorb, and Raektov. A serving will allow the benefits of 8 hours of rest in only 6 hours.
With the tea served up--save for Verthag, who doesn't really seem the type, and even if he is, Garidan isn't quite willing to share that much of their assets with the stranger--Garidan sits with the others and watches as Niyut bends her magic to the task of extracting the precious essences from one of their recently-acquired trophies. While she retrieves the massive axe from her brother afterward, the swashbuckler frowns in thought. Before the oracle can do anything with the heavy weapon, the young man speaks up, a feather held out to her in his right hand and an ivory scroll container in the left. The former is a souvenir of their long-ago encounter with the hungry griffon, while the latter a prize won from the Tower of Necromancy.
"Pardon the interruption, Niyut, but do you think that you and Malthazir could put your heads together and perhaps figure out if either of these hold any secrets we need to know about?" Indicating the feather with a nod, he continues. "I know it seems odd, but I can't help but feel that this is no ordinary bit of discarded bird fluff. Never mind the incredible circumstances under which it was obtained, it hasn't shown the slightly hint of damage since then, and it's been treated pretty roughly." He eyes shifting to the tube in his other hand, the swashbuckler shrugs slightly. "And I'm just asking about this because we have a moment, and I remembered it. I don't even know why I'm still carrying this thing, I should have tried to pass it off back in Haemil for something we could use."
It's ham-fisted, incredibly so, but I really can't think of a good way to otherwise get these two curios inspected. And Garidan doesn't know that anyone in the party can scribe scrolls either, since it hasn't really come up that I can recall.
Truk is wise to keep a hold of the ax as he hands it to his sister. It quickly becomes apparent that she cannot life it herself without his help.
She opens her mouth to reply, but is cut off by Garidan's question. "Let me see what Garidan is about, but I do have some ideas about your question."
She takes the feather from Garidan, holds it in her hand and begins to whisper an incantation to it.
Identify (Griffon Feather): 1d20 + 24 + 2 + 10 ⇒ (16) + 24 + 2 + 10 = 52
She considers the feather for a long moment and then tells Garidan what she can discern. She then turns her attention to the scroll case.
Identify (Scroll Case): 1d20 + 24 + 2 + 10 ⇒ (11) + 24 + 2 + 10 = 47
Neither item can conceal its secrets from her and she shares with the swordsman all that she knows.
Turning back to her brother, "While the Soul-Bleed's craft is likely greater than my own, I do not think she knows the secret I long to master. I think she must have snapped mother's staff and ate its power like marrow from the bone. Remember how there was power left behind when the gnoll priest at the north gates broke his mighty staff? She is no doubt a mighty foe, but we have faced daughters of Zamaz before and emerged victorious. She ambushed Mother, but together we will claim the victory."
Say what you will about her, Niyut does not lack for confidence.
She runs a finger a long the edge of Dyarendi. The blood wafts off the blade like incense as she chants. Blood Money into Legend Lore
She takes Damage: 1d6 ⇒ 4. Legend Lore Casting time: 1d4 ⇒ 1 It only takes 10 minutes for Niyut to learn: legends about the ax. "These may be legends that are still current, legends that have been forgotten, or even information that has never been generally known." Legend Lore is really a gift to the GM for us to appreciate his creative writing. ;-)
Malz gets a tent set up for himself and his apprentice, using his summoned and called creatures to do the work while he supervises. Once done he ushers Raektov inside and quickly sets him on some proper lesser plans. Dense reading, deciphering old texts, writing new spell patterns...demanding but rewarding work. "Once you are done with this first cluster of lessons, tell me. If you have any questions tell Torenz. I am not to be disturbed unless there is an emergency." With that he sweeps into the back of the tent, throwing up a wall for privacy.
When Garidan has tea for the others and asks for help deciphering magic, Raektov practically stumbles out from his tent. He looks exhausted and rubs his eyes, gratefully accepting the tea. He informs Garidan that Malz is busy with some sort of important project and does not want to be disturbed, and also informs him that both himself and Malz are capable of crafting scrolls.
Niyut nods her thanks and drinks the offered tea as new thoughts -- new stories -- begin to gather in her mind.
@Niyut - The stone rings are just camp sites. Places to sit and build a lean-to or rain covers over. Nothing magical or cryptic. It's just showing that this is a common spot for the orcs to camp. Verthag was leading you to this specific spot.
@Niyut - We'll say the 1 and 20 cancel each other out. However, going forward I may put the following on some more advanced rituals: "A natural 20 on a skill check automatically succeeds the other check of the same skill. A natural 1 on any skill check automatically fails the ritual. A natural 20 does not otherwise affect or offset a natural 1. The natural 1 on the skill check will always cause the ritual to fail regardless of the results of any other skill check."
@Niyut - Let's say that he as able to forage you enough for 3 balls of gum arabic sufficient for the ritual.
@Niyut - Yes, I'll give you the next ritual. You can find it here: Rites of Aetherium Furantur.
@All - Great job on all the RP posts. Loved reading all of it. I'm really enjoying watching all the characters interact!
@Niyut - Where is Legend Lore coming from? I see it as a 6 level spell except bard/skald and not on the oracle spell list.
All of those times that I bemoaned not having just a point or two more of panache to spend :p... Does the feather, or the scroll case, have to be bonded to make use of its gifts?
Garidan takes the feather and case back from Niyut with raised eyebrows. Truly, the griffon's gift was remarkable and the swashbuckler practically glows as he recalls how it was earned. And the scroll was nothing to scorn either, it's revealed power offering the party--which was brimming over with those capable of bending magic to their will--incredible utility. Really, the only sour notes about these newely-revealed boons is how long it took to, well, reveal them. Both items could have made a measurable impact on the party's various encounters since being claimed, and Garidan can only sigh as he recalls that, as the one holding them, it was on him to see that his allies knew to investigate them.
Those thoughts, however, don't linger long in his mind as the swashbuckler carefully tucks the feather away in his belt pouch before considering his various allies, his left hand's fingers idly tapping against the scroll's protective case. Finally, his eyes slide over to Raektov--the only spellcaster among their number not currently involved with something--and the swashbuckler extends the case toward the young man with a request. "If you can do so before we're required to move on from here, I'd very much appreciate your putting a spell to this page."
Neither of them say bonded only, Garidan. Which is the notation used to signify such.
@Niyut: Never hurts to be sure though, it's always when you assume that a thing is so that it bites your butt :D.
1d100 ⇒ 64
RE1: 1d12 ⇒ 8
RE2: 1d12 ⇒ 8
Other than a late night visit by a pair of foxes that Garidan runs off quickly, the night passes uneventfully. The air is cooler and the winds pickup as the group rises and prepares for the day. With his usual panache for words, Verthag starts the day's march, "We move now. Still going east?" He asks Niyut.
Niyut points in the direction in which the staff is pulling her.
I had a couple of odds and ends I wanted to finish up about last night. I didn't want to put the cart too far beyond the horse. But, I'll put those in spoilers. Like telling the ax's story.
I think we all had a few more things to take care of :p. For myself, dealing with new gear, asking about these ampoules we all have, seeing what Raektov does about the request for a spell, and getting details on she whose name must not be spoken idly in the woods.
. . . Niyut tells stories. Unlike her previous stories, which prominently feature the myths and legends of the First Lands, she tells stories about Dyarendi. As she speaks, she slowly and methodically works the skull of a gnoll that she pulls out of no where.
She binds its jaw to its skull with copper wire to form a hinge. She compresses and polishes the bone before engraving three runes on the top of the skull and inside the skull on its crown. Then she waxes and polishes the skull again once she is done engraving.
She is taking 20 for a result of 31.
All the while while spinning tales of the axe and those who carried it.
Before she turns in for the evening, she shapes smoke from the fire and the darkness of night into a dragon with midnight scales and a crimson frill running from its head down to its neck.
Standard Action: Shadow Conjuration (Draconic Ally). She is making a Nightmare dragon similiar to how Malthazir has his Forest Dragon.
I think we all had a few more things to take care of :p. For myself, dealing with new gear, asking about these ampoules we all have, seeing what Raektov does about the request for a spell, and getting details on she whose name must not be spoken idly in the woods.
Indeed, and we can do that in spoilers as we head towards our next encounter. If the GM want us to move, I'm eager to move. It's not like we have to stop the RP posts.
Astahane has really outdone herself with the feast which she prepared for Niyut. Fresh vegetables. Spiced meat fried in savory oils. Corn cakes drizzled in honey. Wine as clear as spring water, light and sweet. The two women eat together and watch the half-elf as she stalks the circle of the fire.
“I do not trust this woman, daughter of my daughter.”
“Neither do I, grandmother; yet, I will not lose access to her knowledge.”
“Are you done, child?” Eszira asks interrupting as has come to be her way.
“About that . . .” Niyut interjects. “I am tired of you interrupting when my grandmother and I speak. I tire of your pet names. Treat me with respect. You are bound to my will. I am not bound to yours.”
Eszira smiles enigmatically. “Excellent. You have fire and spine to you. I would not like to teach a woman who will not defend her place or her dignity. May I proceed in teaching you your next lesson?” The Hazard asks suddenly far more professionally.
Niyut gestures for the Hazard to continue.
Eszira takes up a stick and with remarkable precision carves a circle from the earth. “Last night I taught you the runes to carve into the gnoll priest’s skull. Tonight, I will teach you the magical circle that will contain and channel your working. First, is the circle. In this ritual, it represents soul, force of will, and ego. The circle reinforces the staff, or wand, like rune you carved onto the skull.”
Within the circle, she carves a diamond. Each of the four corners are flush with the circle. “This diamond represents wisdom and foresight. It reinforces the crown rune.”
Not pausing for a breath, the Hazard carves two triangles whose peaks meet at the exact center of the circle. “The left triangle is cunning. The right triangle is intellect. Together, they reinforce the key rune.”
She looks up and nods approvingly of Niyut’s rapt attention. “Right now they these figures are nestled together. They intersect each other. However, more is needed to weave and bind them together.”
Eszira carves two curves into the interior of the circle. They intersect at the nadir of their arcs.
Niyut can somehow tell that they complete and bring together the meaning of the entire circle. She looks up as Eszira begins to speak again. “These two intersecting curves are the rune of binding. A very important rune in many magical workings. Observe how they and the two triangles create four segments. In the northern and southern segments, you must carve the rune for a learned worker of the ether. In the western, the left, segment, you must carve the rune for blood. In the eastern, the right, segment, you must carve the rune for bone. Fix the figures in your mind. Tell me when you have it.”
When Niyut nods, Eszira flicks her hand and the earth smooths at her bidding. “Now you do it. We will keep at this until you can inscribe the entire circle and its runes three times perfectly.”
That is exactly what Niyut does . . .
She is taking 20 for a result of 31.
Help me out here... what skill/action are you doing to make the skull?
Also, need an Int check for last night's Dream Tutor of the new ritual. Did you do one for the first night?
@RE: Dreaming Tutor:
"If an occult ritual is taught or its secrets are explained directly, it takes at least 1 day per ritual level to learn the method of its casting. Learning a ritual from hidden clues or from scratch takes a week or a month per ritual level (GM’s discretion)At the end of this period of study and contemplation, the person attempting to learn the ritual must succeed at an Intelligence check (DC = 15 + the ritual level if learning from clues or a coerced teacher, or DC = 10 + the ritual level if learning from an instructor eager to teach)." -- From the Ritual Magic Rules
"It takes 8 hours of rest per level of the Ritual to learn a new Ritual. (This rest does not need to be taken all at once, but the character may not learn another Ritual in this manner until the current Ritual has been mastered.) The character may substitute her Charisma modifier for Intelligence when making an Intelligence check to determine if the character has mastered the Ritual. The Liber Sanguinem always counts as an eager instructor for the purposes of such checks (DC = 10 + the ritual level)." -- From Dream Tutor
From my reading of the two above sections, I would need a Cha check when the last of the ritual is learned, and if it failed, she would have to spend another 48 hours asleep to learn it. Is my reading incorrect?
Regarding Dream Tutor, I only looked at the Dream Tutor description and interpreted it to mean 1 check per session. The rule is clear from the Ritual Magic Rules. SO, no need for a check now. TY
The oracle eyes widen as she speaks of Sa'crÿff, the Champion and his legendary axe, Dyarendi. Orignally forged by the mortal children of Dasyra for her son, the Godling of Loyalty, the blade is made of the star metal, adamantine. During its final forging, it burned hot, retaining the heat form the star in which it was forged. It was so intense that no mortal could approach the weapon to cool and temper the axe head. Finally, Aêyss, the Godling of Ice, came to the gnomes as a silver dragon. Her skin gleamed with brightness of all the stars in the sky. She came to the axe and exhaled upon it. Her frozen breath hardened the axe, and she kissed the edge imbuing her essence. Seeing the Godling in all of her radiance, Sa'crÿff became her champion and wielded Dyarendi as the champion of Aêyss until his last breath under the earth.
Malthazir, since you're apparently botting Raektov right now, I've requested that he scribe a scroll for Garidan while we're still at camp. And I don't have any particular request for the spell, so go ahead and--via your proxy--put whatever you'd really like to be able to cast just one time more than you can right now.
Oh, and the total value of the scribed spell should be 250gp or less. That'll let it be scribed in only two hours.
With his request for a spell from Raektov made, Garidan turns his attention to other elements of his kit. The swashbuckler suspects that they'll be facing stiff opposition in their quest to unravel the truth behind the disappearance of Asulad and whatever is trying to apparently foment strife between the Firebird and Nightblood. He briefly considers querying Niyut about what she can discern of this mysterious blood-based power that their gifted ampoules will supposedly bestow, but the oracle is clearly busy with whatever she needs that skull for, so he elects to wait.
Instead, he decides to look over his equipment and see what, if anything, can be done to improve it. And that leads, naturally, to the small handful of essences he's been holding on to. After some careful thought, Garidan takes up the essence won from the horse-like tikbalang and adds it to his armor. Prior experience--what little he has, that is--has shown that an essence from a creature gifted in magic will grant his armor a small portion of that power. And the tikbalang certainly had magic to spare, so its essence should almost certainly add a new spell formula to the two already inscribed across the breastplate's surface. And so it proves, with the lines of a spell etching into the metal as the essence is absorbed.
Almost immediately afterward, before Garidan can get a good look at the spell formula, the breastplate's appearance wavers and distorts momentarily before changing into the clothing he wore not so long ago before he managed to find his current outfit. Careful exploration with his fingers reveals, however, that the armor's altered appearance is merely visual; it still feels like should, covers only what it previously covered of his body--with the heavy winter clothing underneath it as well--and it most certainly weighs the same as well. After a moment, the magic fades and his armor takes its true appearance once again. "Huh, that's odd," he remarks, mostly to himself. "Surely it does more than just that, though." And so, he begins to examine the spell formula, tracing it carefully as he tries to tease out its workings without activating it fully.
After a few minutes, Garidan notices that, for a moment, he feels incredibly light on his feet, as though he's just a moment from drifting up into the air, and the feeling grows in strength as he comes close to triggering the inscribed spell. In fact, the sensation is very like what he's felt the few times that he's had that flight spell cast upon him, and he smiles as he begins to suspect what boon this essence has granted him. "Oh, if this does what I think it does, I'm going to absolutely love using this the first chance that I get." It takes considerable effort on his part, but Garidan is eventually able to master the urge to activate the formula; best to spend it when it's needed, as it will most likely be limited in how many times the magic can be drawn out.
To distract his itching fingers and wandering thoughts, the young man decides to inspect the remainder of his essences, and is startled to find that the number hasn't changed, though one of them is certainly not one that he's ever seen before. Almost as though she can read his confused thoughts, his sister enlightens him. "While you were busy playing with your armor, Gari, Niyut drew a pair of essences out a horn. No idea where she got that, but I haven't seen it before so she couldn't have had it for very long. Anyway, one of the essences she kept for herself and the other just drifted over settle in with the ones you had out."
Nodding in understanding as the mystery is resolved, Garidan smiles faintly. "Thanks for telling me, and thanks for making sure that my distraction doesn't get the better of me too." The new essence, along with the one claimed from the small idol that Niyut had drained back in Haemil, are returned to the swashbuckler's belt pouch. The other two, however, find a new home in the stout wooden buckler that he's been relying on for protection alongside his armor. Every since he carved it into shape from the wood of that incredible tree, Garidan has felt that this shield had the capacity to become something more, and this seems like the perfect time to find out. As the essences flow and blend into the wood, he focuses on the shield and tries to discover what he's done.
And just need to find out what the buckler actually does now :D.
Is Raektov not an NPC anymore? I'll miss his breathless enthusiasms.
As they walk, Niyut draws closer to her brother. "Is it just me or is the forest to quiet? I have never heard of someone going days without a hint of danger."
Truk'tosh nods in agreement with his twin's caution. "It is unusual. We may have our host to thank for the safe travel. The beasts of the Forest of Night recognize the Nightblood that live among them. They fear Verthag's terrible strength."
Niyut cocks her eyebrow at her brother.
"Pish. I doubt his strength is all that terrible. You have thrown down mightier than he. What's bothering you?"
"I never could hide my heart from you", Truk'tosh admits after a long pause. "Since the sky split and stole us far from the First Lands, our days have been one escape or battle after another. When we returned, I finally time to gather my thoughts and consider my role in this quest. I ask myself, is there is another warrior stronger and better suited to protecting you and assembling the lowland Hazards. When I look upon our kin among the Nightblood, such as Verthag, I see the champion our world needs."
Truk'tosh pauses, shamed by his weakness.
"How did Garhluth and Járnviðjathe know they were the ones who would bind the Bone Mother?"
Niyut is gobsmacked. She lets out a laugh of disbelief.
"Verthag? I'm sure Verthag has his qualities, but Verthag?" Verthag is a fool and a thrall. "Even were he the mightiest warrior these lands have ever seen, which we do not know since we have never seen him fight, he is not the champion the world needs. He is not, he cannot be, simply because I do not trust him. Would you trust him with everything we seen or learned, knowing that it would be reported back to the living ancestors colored by his perspective?"
"I think you do yourself a grave disservice. It was you, not Verthag, who wrestled a Shadow Cloaker and took its hide. It was you, not Verthag, who threw down a hill giant and slew it. It was you, not Verthag, who smote the gnoll warleader at High Mark keep and claimed the ax of a godling. It was you, not Verthag, who slew the cliff giant who would have torn down the walls of Haemil, who no one else could stand against."
She lays a hand on his shoulder, "Bane of Giants, you do your own mighty muscles a disservice. Those are but a few of your deeds that will burn in lore and song. Even the great spirit of war knows of your glory.'
She touches his forehead lovingly, "You do your head a disservice as well. If I go rotten, or if my palace of bone is usurped, only your mind has the strength to resist. Not only is your will strong, you live the truth that all thinking beings are worthy of respect far better than I. You lead us with wisdom. You are crowned with wisdom."
She moves her hand to his chest, coming to rest above his heart. "Worse, you do your heart a disservice. The champion our world needs has more than mighty muscles, more than wisdom and lore. Our world needs a champion whose heart beats brave and true. Who holds compassion for our enemies even as he protects that what he loves. Eldest Sister chose you. She did not chose Verthag. Eldest Sister chose you because she looked into your heart. It is your heart, Truk, that makes you a worthy leader. The leader our people need. I know one day I will lose your daily presence to the duty we owe our people. If you told me you were going to Eldest Sister for the chieftan's cloak, to guide and protect our people during this dark time, I would be sad. But, I would be terribly proud. Long have I known that it is the calling of a man, a great man, to protect and lead our people. My heart whispers that one day that man will be you."
Niyut grows silent for a long moment. She does not like to think of the story of Garhluth because in it she hears ominous tidings of her own future.
"In those days, there was war between the Firebird and the Nightblood. These were not raids or the stealing of goats, but a war unto annihilation. Why was there this war? I have heard many answers. I'm sure the Nightblood have their own. It began before when our village was still nomadic. Who could know the truth of reasons and causes? I do know that our people were losing this war despite our fire, despite our strength of arms. It is not for nothing that the Nightblood have a reputation for being mighty in battle. If the Living Ancestors can be cruel, then they are also cunning and powerful."
"In to this war Ygrna and Garhluth were born. There were no great omens to accompany their birth. During their youth, Ygrna had a minor talent for magic and Garluth was of the Hülya. One night during that terrible war, the Nightblood fell upon their caravan and by morning only Ygrna and Garhluth were left alive.
As I said, Ygrna had only a minor mystical talent. Her spirit did not burning in the Dreaming. Her path to becoming the Bone Mother was a path of choice and a sign of her determination. It was not fate.
She made bargains to increase her magic as is common among the craft. She added to her power bit by bit. She added to it until she could seek power where power should not be sought. In the fullness of her power, she could bring life to the dead. Not how some wise in the magic of nature can grant a new life to the dead. No. She could do what none but Simur could do in these lands. She could awaken the dead to pick up their old lives.
She restored the life to the dead. All who they had lost: daughters, sons, lovers, and mothers. The Firebird rejoiced. They named her mother of bones for from the bones a people were reborn. Yet, lore tells us that Garhluth was troubled in his heart. Though it was sweet to be reunited with family, this power was the rival of Simur. Simur was not known for wisdom in use of their power.
Replenished the Firebird continued the war. When one fell, Ygrna would restore them to life. This did not please the living ancestors. Seven living ancestors gathered and they came and slew Ygrna. Yet the power which burned within her could not be quenched. It burned her back to life. The Bone Mother reached forth and unraveled one of the seven, destroying her utterly. She then enslaved the other six, three men and three women. She sent them back to the Nightblood.
There was a great slaughter. Never before or since have the Nightblood felt the full weight of the living ancestors thirst. When the living ancestors would gather to strike back, the Bone Mother would enslave those she could and destroyed those she could not. She was the Mother of Bones. Life and death were hers to command.
Garhluth saw that where once the Nightblood were his enemy, they could also be his brothers. They did not deserve annihilation. If the Firebird continued to follow the Bone Mother, what would they become? Would she ever let any of the die? Though it grieved his heart, Garhluth knew that his sister, whom he loved, was a poison to their people.
He sought Járnviðja, one of the few living ancestors who remained free. She never challenged the Bone Mother and evaded her. Free, she continued to lead her people. Her pride bowed to her wisdom and not the other way around.
Garhluth found Járnviðja and convinced her of his vision of peace and brotherhood. You know his wisdom: there is more that unites us than there is that divides us. With his blood and her magic they worked a binding on the Bone Mother. But it was not enough. With the strength of his arms and the courage of his heart, he met his sister in battle and pinned her beneath a dolmen. Then he held her there until Járnviðja came and finished the binding. It is said that he wept.
How did they know that they were the ones? I doubt they foreknew. I think they chose to be. There were no great omens associated with these twins. There were trying circumstances and they overcame them by choice. By will. By heart. By mind. By hand. I believe that we take what we have been given and forge what we will of it."