"I think he'd be satisfied with what you gave him. I would be.
if you have anything left over I could--"
Zay seems to have no immediate desire to switch back to a person-shaped self, clinging to Tettia's shoulder with tiny black claws as they start to move, and occasionally shooting Narue dirty looks.
".....I don't know any spells like that. I don't know a lot about magic. Just animals really. The natural world. Sometimes nature.... helps me out. Gozreh, maybe. Tettia's idea sounds fine."
The squirrel fidgets and shifts shoulders, scampering around to Tettia's other side. "Or I could slip ahead and see if this Ramona is doing anything-- weird. Unless she might be suspicious. Of squirrels."
Oh, that's clever, Tettia.
"We are leaving then?" Aurelian asks. "Is it safe to look now? If not, Aurelian can make his way blindfolded -- he practices such things, as his mentors taught him, just in case -- but he does not have to."
He thinks for a moment.
"Aurelian will be there to protect you this time if Ramona is not really Ramona," he says quietly. "If we have no indication otherwise, we can take what she tells us and then try to come to the truth of it."
"Yeah, I think we'll have to trust Ramona for now. This whole thing is making me suspicious of everyone. I hate it," Sarine growls. "If you can learn a spell that reveals shapeshifters later, it might be worth having though."
. "If you can learn a spell that reveals shapeshifters later, it might be worth having though."
Primrose scratches her head and thinks. ”I brought a handful of scrolls with me, but I don’t think any of them are able to help with shapeshifters unfortunately.”
Sarine continues talking as they walk, "No, I don't want to test Ramona. It would be one thing if we had a spell that simply revealed these monsters for who they are. Your plan is clever, but it has loopholes that these creatures could exploit. If we start testing each other with magic now, the suspicions will never end and these faceless stalkers will defeat us without lifting a finger."
"Narue and I were scouting this morning by ourselves. Do we need to be tested? You and Prim slept in the same cabin last night. What if the one casting the spell is a monster? It will never end, and none of us have enough magic to hold our community bonds together with spellcraft."
"There might be a time for the tests you propose. Ramona might even ask for us to test her or to test each other. But sooner or later we'll have to just trust each other on faith alone. I don't think we have any other option."
"Besides, we might be giving these creatures too much credit. They haven't been subtle at all so far. One look at us and their faces split open and the claws come out. I was working this over with Narue this morning...I think they're scared of us, specifically. Not Talmandor's Bounty, but us. They could have killed everyone in town, but instead they played games trying to get them to leave the island. Then when we came back to town, they dropped everything to try to kill us."
"It doesn't feel like we're winning, but whoever sent those monsters did so because they're scared."
"Actually, I don't think you're giving them enough credit," Tettia counters, rising to the discussion. "Two of them ... spent quite some time ... with Aurelian without revealing themselves. There's a plan here that we don't see. An intelligence directing events. But I won't cast a spell on Ramona if you'd rather I didn't. It was asked if there was a magical means of determining whether she was one of those things and that's the method that came to mind." She shrugs. "You know her better than I."
Tettia glares at her pouch. "I was not 'arguing simply to argue'," she responds in annoyance. "I was ... clarifying my position."
"What do potatoes and tomatoes have to do with anything? Now you're not making any sense at all. Hush."
Primrose asks ”Is there any of these monsters I can take a loo at? I’ve spent a significant amount of time studying creatures and I may be able to gleam additional information that might help us in the future.”
"We burned them all," Aurelian says coldly.
"Aurelian does not know who is responsible for all this, or what they want, but they are not something we should take lightly. The first colony is gone ... for now," he adds, glancing over at Prim. "And many in the second group are also. If we weren't here, they would likely be all gone. Aurelian does not know if they stayed hidden at first to disappear a third wave or if they had some other purpose in mind, but he does not know for sure that we can trust people. We should set up some way of knowing that each of us is who we appear to be."
|GM Watery Grave|
With soot on her face and blood on her jacket, Ramona Avandth wearily nods a greeting when she opens the door to her house. “Sorry for contacting you the way that I did, the attacks have made me paranoid. Thank you for saving our colony and dealing with those... monsters. If it hadn’t been for your efforts and bravery, we would have lost many more of our people. But as you probably guessed, I didn’t ask you to meet me only because I wanted to thank you. We mustn’t give up hope that there may still be a way to find the people that those aberrant horrors had taken. I feel that they are still alive somewhere."
Appraising the group, Ramona frowns. "I only recognize three of you here," she says, putting her index finger up to her chin contemplatively. "And we're missing some. Mind filling me in? And, as it seems introductions are in order, I'm Ramona Avandth." She sticks her hand out in Prim's direction for a shake.
Primrose straightens up a little taller when Ramona mentions that the others are still alive somewhere. "Primrose Lethanna. It's a pleasure to meet you Ramona Avandth." she says, stepping forward to give the woman's hand a firm shaking. "I've only just arrived on the latest supply ship. I'm afraid I was led to believe the conditions would be slightly different than they are, but I'm here to help regardless. My brother Josef is one of the men that are missing and I can't wait until we are able to find him and bring him back safely."
After shaking hands and introducing herself, she asks "So, you are the mayor here, yes? You have some insight as to where the missing individuals are so that we may go return them?"
She holds up a finger remembering something "Oh!" she turns to SquirrelZay "That's Zay." she declares. "Zay, please introduce yourself."
There's a pause from the squirrel, as if considering how exactly one should introduce one's self when clearly the relevant bit has just been said.
"Yes. I'm Zay," Zay says, very informatively. What more is there to tell....?
"--oh. Yes. I came on the same ship as Miss Primrose."
"If you are truly Ramona," Aurelian says, hoping to verify her identity, "how did we pass the time on the Peregrine on our way to Talmandor's Bounty?"
There is little enough Zay can do to try and confirm the identity of a woman they don't know and have never met, so Zay gives a small throat clearing in Tettia's ear.
"--it just occurred to me you might not be okay with my being on your shoulder. I-- sort of panicked. Is this okay? If not I can get down."
"That's ok," Tettia whispers back. "I don't mind. Wallace likes being on my shoulder sometimes as well. I just hope you're better mannered than he is and you don't pee on me."
Tettia turns to look at the squirrel sitting on her shoulder.
"Would that really make a difference?" she asks with a mix of disgust and curiosity.
|GM Watery Grave|
|1 person marked this as a favorite.|
"A pleasure to meet you, Primrose. I'm afraid that I can't recall a Josef, myself, though my exhaustion-addled mind may be getting the best of me," Ramona replies. She turns to Zay and gently pats their head. "And you as well, Zay. If you're not, in fact, an intelligent squirrel and instead a shape-shifter of some kind please do any of that out of the view of the colonists." The last person she turns to is Aurelian, and she appears to think back for a moment before responding. In a tone both exhausted from the events of the days prior as well as tired of the newfound mistrust from everyone in the colony, she replies. "Unless I'm mistaken you spent your time on the Peregrine using sword-training as a cover for inundating our crew with innuendo," she says with a half-hearted grin. "I hope that should do to alleviate your suspicions of me. I think I've got nothing to do but trust that the lot of you are who you say you are."
"With that, I should get straight to business. During the last few weeks, you’ve shown your importance to the colony, and many of you have exhibited incredibly useful talents that can help us further. I would like for you look for clues about the missing colonists’ whereabouts. Studying the bodies and equipment of the shapeshifting creatures you defeated may reveal something useful. It’s also possible that people here in the colony might have seen something that may help you. Last, you might want to search the colony and the surrounding area for any suspicious-looking tracks, signs of struggle, or drag marks that might point us to the right direction, but it may be like trying to find a needle in a haystack unless you have an idea of where to start looking.
“I’m afraid I have to ask you to hurry, since we don’t know why these monsters were kidnapping our people. If they wanted food or destruction, they wouldn’t have taken the victims alive. As you can imagine, everyone tends to assume the worst, and every passing hour is painful to those whose friends and family are missing. Please bring me back good news as soon as possible, but at the latest in six days from now. I don’t believe I can keep the people calm much longer than that, and those taken might have died from hunger or thirst by then.
“I must return to my duties—I’ll try to do whatever I can to help the people recover from the attack. The recent events have caused morale to plummet in the colony, and some people just want to go home. But before I go, please tell me if there is something I can do to help you with the investigation.”
Aurelian looks confused for a moment at the reference to innuendo -- perhaps she is an imposter, because he has no recollection of anything of that sort -- but the mention of sword training sets his mind at ease. He relaxes as he listens to the rest of what he has to say.
"Yes," Aurelian agrees. "We will find out who is responsible for all of this."
He looks at the others.
"We should stay together at least somewhat, so we know that none of us has been replaced," he says firmly. "At least in pairs. Aurelian Fache will talk to other colonists to see what they know, so perhaps one of you who is also good at that should come with him. Maybe two of you should search around the colony for tracks before they are washed or worn away, and Zay can talk to other animals while you do that..."
I think having two groups, me and perhaps Prim in one as the more diplomatic of the bunch, and then Zay, Tettie and Sarine in the other?
Did you just put Prim in your group for ulterior motives or was that a coincidence?!
Primrose nods "I will defer to your lead, I'm still new around here and will offer assistance where I can."
She looks around and asks "Whom should I accompany?"
Tettia looks to Sarine and then to the squirrel on her shoulder.
"Even though you're a squirrel, you probably should stick with us," she says before looking back at Sarine. "Shall we head off and look for tracks or ... or stuff like that?" she asks the warrior.
Zay...... tolerates the petting, is the best that can be said for it.
"Yes. Charmed, I'm sure. What excellent suggestions; we'll follow them forthwith."
A motive sensing on Ramona, just because: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (1) + 4 = 5
"Yes, let's do that, thank you. Miss Primrose, it seems you're excellent at being..... at being.... you. You and Mr. Fache excel at that. Which is to say, people seem to like you. Maybe you're best gathering some human intelligence?"
Once they are out of view of Ramona's cottage, the squirrel bounds down off Tettia's shoulder, springing briefly to a tree, then around to its other side, momentarily out of view.
"I don't have to be a squirrel," is heard from the other side of the tree, the voice dropping an octave or so from a non-squirrel range into a humanoid-of-ambiguous-gender-range. "There are other animals that might be more useful. Including being two-legged, for a while."
Zay, in their human shape, steps out from behind the tree, running fingers through messy blond hair and straightening their oversized shirt. "And I do want to see if the birds know anything. If nothing else, they might help narrow down where to look for tracks."
Zay looks Sarine-- and the Demon Cat-- over now that Zay is no longer a tempting squirrel-sized snack, and crouches to offer fingers to the cat to sniff.
"I'd say a proper hello to you," Zay murmurs apologetically to Narue, "but I have to conserve myself just now. There's so much to be done. Do either of you see any birds about?"
Zay shades their eyes with one hand and studies the treeline that surrounds the fledgling settlement.
"There's been a variety of birds around," Tettia offers. "Ranging from House Sparrows to Gray Jays. I think I even saw a Merlin yesterday." Her eyes search the tree-tops for anything available currently.
"Did you have a preference?" she asks.
Primrose smiles in response to SquirrelZay's compliment. "Why thank you Zay, that is most kind of you. I do not try to be anyone other than me!"
Holding her elbow out so that Mr. Fache can hook his arm around it, she turns to face him and asks "Well then, shall we? It would appear you and I have a date to be gather some intelligence."
At Primrose: "I do envy you, having such a solid sense of who you are," Zay remarks wistfully to Prim as she links arms with Aurelian.
"Yes... those might do. The corvids are the best when they're around. They're the smartest, and fairly observant. Let's just see..."
Zay sets off ambling bare-footed into the treeline, perhaps assuming that Tettia and Sarine are following, perhaps just oblivious, head tipped back and looking for birds in the trees overhead.
Zay intends to cast commune with birds, but since it only has a 10 minute duration, they're seeing if they can find a few birds first before starting the timer, as it were; let me know if you want any sort of check to locate
the avian information agency some local tweeters
|GM Watery Grave|
@Zay: Go ahead and give me a survival check to scout out some birds, we'll see how many of them you find.
@Everyone else: If you would like to ask around and gather information from those that remain, go ahead and give me either a diplomacy or knowledge (local) check. If you want to look for tracks from the shapeshifters, give me a survival or knowledge (dungeoneering) check. If you want to do something else either in or around the colony, lemme know and we'll go from there!
"Indeed," Aurelian replies, taking the lady's arm as he heads to look for some of the other colonists. "Just follow Aurelian Fache's lead, and I'm sure the colonists will like you in no time."
No ulterior motive; just trying to find the most charming of us.
Diplomacy to gather information: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (9) + 10 = 19
Knowledge (dungeoneering): 1d20 + 16 ⇒ (11) + 16 = 27
Tettia follows behind Zay, but rather than her eyes up in the sky, they're down on the ground, looking for tell-tale tracks of the faceless creatures.
"Follow your lead, is it love? Alright, why don't you show me around a bit then, hmmm?"
Ten minutes later Prim has no less than a dozen people clinging to every word she's saying and has all of the people spilling every last detail they can possibly recall and then some. When she moves to the next grouping of people there is another large crowd that is clamoring to spill their life stories to her.
"She looks out from the crowd and calls Aurelian dear. This is going well. Would you mind fetching me some water? My mouth is absolutely parched from all of this talking I'm doing." With a smirk and a wink, she turns back to the crowd.
Diplomacy to show Aurelian who the real slim shady is: 1d20 + 18 ⇒ (16) + 18 = 34
"Yes, you should stay hydrated," Aurelian agrees, completely unconcerned with her seeming greater ability to get people to talk. "After all, they are curious about the new person here, so that is natural. Aurelian Fache likes trying new things as well."
Sarine attempts to help Zay's tracking efforts.
Survival: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (10) + 11 = 21
"Narue says it's nice to meet you too, Zay," Sarine says after the druid and her familiar interact.
"Did the birds tell you anything?"
|GM Watery Grave|
Aurelian and Primrose
Your efforts to speak to the folks around the colony feel largely fruitful as townsfolk fawn over the new arrival and her masterful orations. They give you two leads that you find of particular interest. The first is a fellow named Colson Werton who allegedly was romantically involved with one of the shapeshifters (by some accounts knowingly, though in Aurelian's experience that doesn't sound quite right). The other is a hunter by the name of Jacques Hughon who claims to have seen Carver Hastings somewhere peculiar the day before the attacks.
Sarine, Tettia and Zay
Your efforts prove to also be very fruitful. Sarine and Tettia are able to identify some tracks that diverge from normal foot traffic and that even in some spots you see distinctive claw marks that match the shapeshifters. Taking your findings in aggregate you determine that one shapeshifter in particular appears to have entered the colony from the west just a few days ago.
As for Zay, they use their skills with the local wildlife to gather a veritable mass of birds. Realizing that there are more birds here than they could have hoped to initially gather, it may be best to take this avian convergence to the edge of civilization.
Day 1, 1300 hours
"I didn't see this when I was searching last night," Sarine comments as they find the tracks. "If only we'd seen them sooner..."
She looks out along the western coastline. "The tide goblins or whatever were out in that direction. I don't remember seeing anything else when we went there before..."
If Zay can do more with the birds away from Talmandor's Bounty, Sarine is happy to accompany Zay and Tettia that way.
Birds! Birds! Birds!
Crumbling tiny pieces of ship's biscuit behind them, Zay manages to get the attention of an impromptu flock. Zay will do their best to lead the birds some distance from people likely to spook them, and then engage in a complex series of whistles and chirps, their eyes taking on a distant dreamy state. A few birds alight on their thin fingers in response to the whistling.
I'll cast commune with birds, then, and see if the local avians have noted any strange comings and goings, any locations nearby that people have been seen at other than at the colony itself/places that we SHOULD have people, I'll describe the dopplegangers in their melty face state, etc. If needed, here's a Wild Empathy roll as well to make the birds friendlier to my request:
Wild Empathy: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (18) + 7 = 25
Are we gathering back together to tell each other our findings? I think we should but not sure we planned that far ahead.
"We should find and tell the others that we were successful," Aurelian says. "Then I think we should all talk first with Carson, to see what he knows, and then find out what Jacques knows, as that may be somewhere for us to explore."
"It's Colson, love. Colson Werton. But yes, I agree. Let us find Mr. Werton and see what he might be able to share with us? Hmmmm?"
With a smile she unfolds her arm and hand in front of her, palm up. "After you."
Tettia pulls one of her many sketchbooks from her bag and begins capturing the likeness of some of the birds she hasn't seen before (not many), as well as the scene of Zay communing with the flock as a whole.
|1 person marked this as a favorite.|
"Yes, that is what Aurelian Fache said," he amiably agrees though he's completely unsure how he managed to get that name wrong when it was all of four posts earlier especially when he hates when he gets names wrong. "He has heard stories of this Colson, how he helped assemble many heroes and give them a purpose."
He again takes the lead, looking for Colson, who is very different than Carson.
Primrose nods, giving Aurelian a look "No, you most certainly said Carson, Aurelian. I'm quite certain. Regardless, when the others were talking about him, they mentioned some magnificent S.H.I.E.L.D. that he has. When we speak to him, we should definitely ask to see the shield."
Aurelian looks quizzically at Prim.
"Aurelian thought you would be more interested to see his sword, but he does not judge."
"Do we have to choose? Sometimes, a sword fight is the greatest entertainment."
Hush you, you're just jealous you aren't here!
Primrose smirks and asks the swashbuckler as she stops walking and leans against a tree, waiting. "Aurelian Fache, how are you going to have a swordfight all alone I wonder? Is that the entertainment? Go ahead then, enterain the entertainer."
"No, no, it is OK to practice alone, to build up stamina, but that is merely practice," the swordsman demurs. "To have true spectacle and entertainment, you need at least two people to participate. More, of course, adds excitement and danger."