Padding into the forest Sajeek carves out a clear trail in the snow and seeks out prey in the half-light.
It does not take him long to find a trail to follow. Shoed footfalls moved slowly through the bush, leaving fabric drag marks on the surface of the snow. There appeared to be no specific course of the footfalls, other than scouring the area for information.
Not far from the first set of tracks in another set of tracks, but these ones are strange. Though they are the size of a man this man must weigh only a fraction of the weight of one. He also had a heavy tail, for the furrow it carves is wide.
Stopping, Sajeek looks between the two trails, his ears flickering as he listens to the sounds of the forest. Wiggling his clawed toes in the snow, he tries to judge if one of the trails is following the other.
Sajeek continues to follow the trails wondering how long they run parallel. Perhaps the track with the heavy tail was stalking the light weighted, shoe prints. In this wild, untamed place, the Vah Shir felt most comfortable. Sniffing the shifting breeze, Sajeek drops to all fours.
Curiousity demanding to be sated, Sajeek continues to follow the trails. The Vah Shir moves as if he is hunting game, not wanting to alert his prey.
Sajeek gets to a point where one set of track diverges from the other one. The tailed-one had paused here, and looking back the beastlord realizes that this is where he had first seen the soft glow, perhaps a muted-lighting source to better see the tracks. That answer follows, since the tailed one had move through here hours after the shoed one had come through here.
The tracks continue on towards the next position where the light source had been seen.
Pushing off the ground, Sajeek rises to a crouch as he looks around. The tracks that had left the furrow behind it diffinitly appeared to be following the soft shoe prints. The shoe prints themselves looked to be hours older.
Head cocked to the side, Sajeek frowns as he looks at the shoe prints. The two elders had left for several hours, and the group of refugees wasn't really that far from the caster's campsite. The more the hunter thought about it, they more he began to think that these prints might be Alrik's.
Not wanting to go anywhere near the cranky old magic users campsite, Sajeek turns his attention to the tracks that had a deep furrow. If asked, Sajeek wouldn't deny that he was curious to see what made the tracks.
Thinking about the light he had seen, Sajeek drops back down to all fours and follows the furrowed trail.
Revery and Gwendalyn have a choice before them, to join Sajeek or not. Nogglegrop is following their lead either way.
Listen: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (17) + 3 = 20
Sajeek hears a noise from ahead of him, and understands that he has closed the distance between himself and his prey. The anticipation is overwhelming as his back finds the last tree that stands as a visual barrier.
Poking his head around the corner he sees the tailed-one, but immediately recognizes that he was heard as well, since its slitted eyes immediately orient to fix on his face.
Listen: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (14) + 5 = 19
It is the first iksar that the vah shir had ever seen. A race with the most foul reputation on the face of Norrath.
Peeking around the corner of the tree, Sajeek realizes that he had not been as quiet as he had thought. A strange sight greets the vah shir.
A strange, vaguely humaniod reptilian creature glared back at him. There was no doubt in his mind that this creature had seen the young Beastlord.
"Okay, I wasn't expecting that," Sajeek says, more to himself then to the reptile. "Uh, hi," the beastlord says with a small, friendly wave. "I'm Sajeek. Who are you?" The Vah Shir looks the reptile up and down. "I have never seen anybody with scales before, what are your people called?" the curious Sajeek asks. "My people are called Vah Shir." Sajeek offers in way of exchange.
Those back at the camp hear the sound of approaching voices, stained by advanced age, though the specifics of what is being said is lost to all save those with the keenest of hearing (please include a listen check in your next post if you remained at the camp). Alrik's voice is determined instantly, and though you have only heard a few words from Xiblin you recognize the voice.
You are being followed and their voices do not sound friendly.
Both of those back at camp open their ears, but neither draws in anything of use.
Syn: 1d20 - 2 ⇒ (10) - 2 = 8
...but when it comes to hiding Syn is a master, and surprisingly pulls the dwarf in along side of him under the boughs of a large tree.
Syn: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (15) + 9 = 24
There is lucidity in the bard's eyes as he gazes at the dwarf in the realm of infravision, both of them understanding that both the high elf and the gnome can see heat as well.
"I might investigate that glow a little. Unless it ends up being really far away that is. Just to make sure there isn't some giant monster sitting at a bonfire or the like," the Vah Shir chuckles.
Gwendalyn nods. "Just be careful. And if you aren't sneaky enough, and something attacks, run straight back here as fast as you can. Don't worry about leading it to our campsite, since that would be leading it to where we have strength in teamwork."
Heavy footfalls accompany the duo of robe wearers. The powerful earth elemental "pet" is present.
Spot (Xiblin): 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (6) + 5 = 11
Spot (Alrik): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (4) + 8 = 12
Gwendalyn remains behind, when Sajeek departs, affording her an opportunity to hear the approaching duo of unfriendly arcane wielders.
Breathy words drift to her ears in fragments, such as, "slaughter... impertinent bastards... Fironia... potion... incinerate..." There is so much unrestrained venom in the words that you understand that murder is on the high elf's mind.
Nogglegrop, following the shaman's lead, remains behind, but follows the dwarf's lead to make himself scarce under the branches of the closest evergreen.
Hide (Nogglegrop): 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (13) + 5 = 18
Time flits passed and the time to hide is now, lest those that remain out in the open be discovered by the wizard and magician.
Revery, back at the camp, considers following Sajeek, but then thinks better of it. He would probably get them killed if he did that.
When the others hide, he first wonders what they're hiding from, but soon he realizes, and joins them.
1d20 + 3 ⇒ (3) + 3 = 6
1d20 ⇒ 8
Gwendalyn finds her heart stirred to anger. How dare those old fools come here, after threatening us over nothing! She stands up from her meditation, vigorously incanting the mystical words of her Inner Fire spell. When the high elf and gnome come into view, the Halasite shaman looks down on them with hands on hips, eyes blazing over her scowl, voice echoing off the land from her indignation.
"In the name of the Tribunal, explain yourselves, interlopers! This is *our* camp. By what right do you *presume* to disturb its peace?!"
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (11) + 0 = 11
Revery, Syn, Nogglegrop and Khae's hiding position is revealed by Gwendalyn's decision to announce their presence, though truth be told the enchanter's backside was far from hidden from even their casual view.
"Stay your tongue cur, lest I end your incessant mewling." Now that pleasantries have been cast aside you understand the truth of the force that Alrik represented in his younger days.
Continuing to talk to each other, this time in hushed tones, the duo continue along their path completely ignoring the existence of the 4 in the trees and the indignant one dripping words of war against powerful strangers. Gwendalyn is positive that the last breath she ever will take will come a moment after ignoring the order to shut her flapping food hole.
It had taken hours for Alrik and Xiblin to regain their energies (full mana), but they continue their efforts to locate the iksar traitor and their course takes them in the general direction that Sajeek went.
The creature is dressed in the simple manner of a monk, it's bare body showing hundreds of scars speaking of a lifetime of conflict and hardship. Ebony scales tinged with verdant mottling run up the hardened ridges that perch atop its skull and jut out the back with large spikes.
Slitted reptilian eyes take Sajeek's measure in a fraction of a heartbeat.
A primordial fear tears through every fabric of the young vah shir's being, activating the most basic part of his animal brain and screaming for him to literally turn tail and run. Before him stands a creature trapped between the spirit realm and the land of the living. Though it leaves some semblance of a trail it is one of a creature that is but a fraction of its original weight.
The soft glow came from this partially translucent monster.
Moving at speeds that no mortal could ever match the creature crosses the expanse and throws a carving elbow at the beastlord. The accuracy is perfection itself, its form is impossible and the momentum of the strike is arrested at the last possible second.
Its eyes had fallen on the shackles of slavery and the image had stayed the killing blow.
Spiritual coldness invades Sajeek's tissues just for sharing such close proximity to a foul creature of undeath.
Its words mean nothing, for it speaks in a language you do not understand, but something within you stirs and you feel a powerful craving invade your very being. This creature needs bones dug up and destroyed so its torment can end.
It is just a matter of accepting the quest to learn more.
Danger lurks just around the corner and though aged, the duo move very quietly.
Xiblin: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (10) + 4 = 14
Sajeek is far too enthralled with his encounter to recognize the truth of the approaching danger.
Listen: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (8) + 3 = 11
Back at the impromptu camp Gwendalyn recognizes something that she did not expect (sense motive critical success). Alrik has been tormented with worry. There are frustrated tears in his eyes and even Xiblin gives him space.
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (20) + 4 = 24
Those that had hidden 'neath the boughs of the tree exit, and Nogglegrop leans on the barbarian's leg. Glancing up he smiles a charming smile and says, "You're crazy. I like that."
Gwendalyn smiles down ruefully and ruffles the wild hair of Fizzlethorp's faithful gnome. "Thank you, I think. At least I'm smart enough to let someone leave me alone, if that's what they're going to do." She bites her lip. "But Alrik was looking really frustrated and worried, which might explain his short fuse. Something's going on that they won't talk about -- and they're headed the same way as Sajeek. I've got a bad feeling about this..."
Gwendalyn was the only one able to make out words within the fragments of the elderly duo's conversation:
- The word "potion" was interesting, but it revealed little. The process of alchemy was a carefully hidden secret that only shaman knew.
- "Fironia" could only refer to one thing and that was the high elven princess Fironia Vie. Her golden locks fall about a face so beguiling that any elf, and if truth be told nearly every other race, would die to kiss. Such beauty makes one wonder if there is some siren blood in her line.
Back at the meeting of the tailed ones...
An epiphany pervades the vah shir's brain tissues. This is the humanoid shape that he had observed atop the mountain range that the group's cave dwelling was carved out of. It had been seen more than once there, so it is likely that if one was looking for it that would be the place to start.
There is more to this simple quest than is immediately apparent, for it is just the first in a long series. Within the eternity of the iksar's jaundiced eyes is a madness that could only come from a craving unfulfilled. This creature had sought a fabled weapon of unfathomable power and fallen short. This is the source of the craving that washes through the young beastlord. He understands that the power could be his, and that there is enough to go around for his companions as well, as long as he does what this shade demands.
It took everything Sajeek had in him to not turn tail and run when he realized what stood in front of the Vah Shir. Of course, when Sajeek figured that out, undead reptile "elbow" had stopped just before collapsing his throat.
Trapped between death and life the being stared at the manacles he had wrapped around his left arm. Sajeek had completely forgotten about them. He had only wrapped them around his arm so the others would stop bothering him to carry a weapon. It look like owed them thanks after all.
"Your bones? Yes, I will find them for you," Sajeek agrees. The Vah Shir couldn't imagine a more horrid existence. Trapped, unable to die, unable to enjoy the things that made life worth living, a shudder crawls up his spine. Sajeek didn't understand stand the hissing words that came from the shade, but he understood what it wanted.
With a wild eyed moment of shock, the young beastlord realizes that the reptile was the creature he had seen, back at the cave. Which would explain why it's tracks seemed vaguely familar.
Looking into the black, jaundiced eyes of the half-spirit creature, an almost mad craving washes over Sajeek. A bolt of understanding crackles through Sajeek's mind. The spirit had been on a quest and failed. It had been seeking some sort of powerful weapon. The young beastlord realizes that this "power" could be his, with more then enough to share with his raftmates.
'Perhaps this is why the spirits guided to me this island,' Sajeek thinks as he looks at the shade. He shudders as the cold from the half-ghost sinks into his bones.
"I can help you find your final rest," Sajeek says with a nod. "No one should be trapped between the worlds like you have been."
Gwen continues. "Could anyone else make out what they were saying? 'Slaughter' and 'incinerate' were in there, along with a reference that was probably to us -- unless there are other 'impertinent bastards' around -- but then they were also talking about a 'potion' and 'Fironia'. Any idea what that's all about?"
The Northwoman leans down and speaks quietly to Nogglegrop. "To be honest, the followers of Fizzlethorp have a bit of a reputation, and I thought maybe you'd, uh, been 'borrowing' something when they chased us off. So I took the moral high ground, to make them question their right to slaughter us. And besides, I'm not exactly built for hiding." She winks at the little gnome.
"Well, that's what I'm worried about. They seem to be going the same direction." Gwendalyn looks around at their motley crew and casts Inner Fire on Khae. "I know, I know, I've been wrong before. Frankly, I'd rather be wrong than right. Anyone else want some?"
Sajeek's instincts had screamed at him to flee, run away from this abomination. The Vah Shir had stood his ground, talking to the undead creature for one reason.
The look of suffering in the undead reptiles gaze had been more shocking then it's appearance. Sajeek couldn't even begin to understand the pain the creature was in. But, if he could release this trapped creature to it's final rest, he would.
And if the source of the undead creature's strange craving that Sajeek had felt/understood was true, if these strange weapon or weapons actually existed... Well, perhaps this dangerous land might just be a little safer for the raftmates.
Clawed fingers come in contact with the beastlord, grabbing his arm with flesh that could never quite touch mortal flesh, all that he can feel is cold, such bitter cold as his very soul gets frostbite. None save the party of the most trusted slaves could read the words, that much had to be sworn to for the quest to be given. Breaking that oath would eliminate any more assistance from the iksar master, and the quest would be lost to you. Glancing down Sajeek realizes that he has a page torn free from an ancient tome. Along the border there are messages penned in blood. It is all gibberish, for it is written in the tongue of the iksar. The party would need to learn the secret language of the lizardman to be able to continue. How one learns such a language was anyone's guess.
A column of flame erupts from the iksar master, causing all manner of rage and pain to play across his face. In a fraction of a heartbeat he assesses the risk, crosses the distance and destroys the earth elemental with a flying kick. Wizard, magician and monk engage in a most horrific exchange.
Sajeek collapses for his frozen muscles are too constricted by the touch of death to work properly for a full minute, and then the beastlord can move freely.
The battle is over in a handful of seconds and it is surprisingly Alrik that checks to ensure that the partially-paralyzed beastlord still draws breath. There is concern in his eyes, that is quickly replaced by a cold detachment that the party had come to expect. Sajeek is roughly propped up against a tree. Xiblin has been heavily injured, but his injuries are nothing compared to the damage that the horrific wizard had received; though Alrik does not even seem to notice. With shaking hands he scoops up some of the glowing essence that remains in the place where the iksar once stood.
Holding the soft glowing phial up for scrutiny he says, "Gather the others, it is time to leave." It takes a moment for Sajeek to realize that Alrik was talking to him both because the words were unexpected, and his attention was stolen by something else. Unseen by the elderly arcane duo, but easily found by the sharp-eyed beastlord, aided by knowing where to look, Sajeek catches a momentary glimpse of a very familiar glow atop the mountain in the distance.
Their conversation was interrupted, but there was no more to say. The paper explains all.
Sajeek watches the duo, his mind partially frozen. The touch to the ghostly reptile had been.., beyond painful. He lay in the snow, struggling to comprehend what had just taking place. Half buried in the snow where he had fallen, Sajeek watches the brutally short battle with one glassy eye.
When he is propped up against a tree, Sajeek is suprised to see it is Alrik that checks to see if the Vah Shir is still breathing. He would have more expected a dagger across throat.
Struggling to get his limbs to work properly, Sajeek eyes the distant mountain top. The soft glow had appeared and winked out as if to remind him or show him the way. Either way, Sajeek didn't think he would have a problem locating the mountain.
His arm burned, were the spirit had grabbed, chilling his very soul. In his unfeeling right hand he clutched a paged ripped from an old book. Shambling like a zombie, Sajeek makes his way back to the campsite.
Looking at the squiggles on the page, Sajeek frowns, unable to read it. Folding the paper up, the young beastlord holds onto it with his right still numb feeling hand. His left hand clutched the spot were the spirit had grabbed his right arm. The painful cold seemed to roll of the spot in waves.
Staggering back into the campsite, the stiff moving Sajeek look at his raftmates and nods.
"So, Alrick and Xiblin wanted me to gather you guys up. I guess we are leaving," Sajeek says, looking a bit confused, his ears flickering back and forth. "And I found out what that glow was. It wasn't a fire, I'll tell you guys about it later."
Releasing his arm, Sajeek looks down and a curse sounding more like an deep growl escapes his muzzle. The beastlord sees that something had happened to the fur where his arm had been grabbed. Mid-point around his right upper arm, Sajeek's dark grey fur, cut with red strips, had been turned snow white. The mark looked exactly like the reptile spirits clawed hand.
"Hmm, that's new," Sajeek says, sniffing at the clawed handprint present in the new patch whitened. Curiousity burns brightly in his green eyes.
Clinking from his left arm draws his attention to his chains, the markers of his slavery had just saved his life. He had the feeling that he would need again at some point.
"Alrik has been badly hurt, as has Xiblin. I think the elders could use some of the healing that only be provided by a few blessed," Sajeek smiles broadly. "And the spirits blessed us with quite a few healers."
A serious look steals over the Vah Shir's muzzled face.
"Leave me your chains. I need to bury them for later," the beastlord his left clawed hand to still questions before they are asked. "I promise I will explain later. Just follow my trail to the elders. You might want to hurry, they are in pretty bad shape." The Vah Shir's ears flatten against his skull. "I'll be along shortly."
"Perhaps healing them will smooth over my insult from eariler," Sajeek says quietly. He grins cheerfully at his raftmates.
After collecting the chains and making sure they were all on their way to Alrik and Xiblin, Sajeek searches for a good spot. He looks for something that would stand out in his memory. Lucky, he finds something a few hundres yards away from their impromptu campsite.
Spying the mishapen rock formation, Sajeek grins to himself, silently thanking the spirits. Looking at the rocks for several moments, he spots one that looks like he could shift a little without killing himself. With a few curses and snarls, Sajeek leans one of the "smaller" rocks and hides the chains and manacles. The young Beastlord is pleased to see he didn't completely disturb ivy as he pushes the stone back. Shifting the years of ivy growth back to cover the stone, Sajeek nods to himself. Brushing off his hands the Vah Shir turns to rejoin his raftmates.
Pulling the folded up page from where he had hid it along his waistline of his trousers, keeping his rope belt tight to keep it place. Looking over the alien text, Sajeek sighs, pondering the pages meaning. He sniffs at the dried blood before folding back up and hiding it once more.
The beastlord calmly pads back into the clearing, arriving well after the healing (and arguements, if any), looking as innocent as only a big hunting cat could.
Off to the side, as Sajeek returns back to the fold from a different perspective, he views several large, but mishappen rocks covered in decades of clinging ivy and caps of snow. The rocks are familiar, but hard to place. Sajeek, burdened by many pounds of raw steel, had gone off in search of a burial site and these rocks were as good a marker as any he could imagine.
Even without skills at tracking it is easy for the others to follow the voices from the makeshift camp to the location of the two arcane casters. Syn is even up for the journey, as long as it is undertaken slowly, and with maximum support.
Voices drift, as is the old elf's lot, and much is revealed, to those that choose to go, that Alrik did not mean to relay.
“...raitorous shade of Master Rinmark has been destroyed!” A sneer has found permanent residence atop Alrik’s nose. “Even among his fell race that one’s crimes are noteworthy.” None know what has loosened the high elf’s tongue and who knows who he is talking to, since his distant eyes are fixed at a point beyond sight. Speaking back to him had not worked last time, and a ride home is on the line this time, so it might be best to keep quiet.
“Poison was his method as he laid low the master of his order, all to steal the ancient Tome of the Immortals. His master had spent decades learning the meditational practices necessary to handle the awesome responsibility of becoming one of the Diablerie, but the foolish Rinmark attempted to pierce the veil without taking the proper precautions. Growing enamoured with his growing legend he simply starved to death on this gods forsaken rock.“
Alrik seems not to notice that he is bleeding, “I learned of the ‘monster in the mountains’, a lizard that slaughtered without remorse and with an ease that none could match. Though some reports spoke of it being a dragon I knew the truth that it was the traitor.” Patting his pocket, he ensures that he phial remains.
“With this I will see my fair niece free of those foul lizards’ clutches.” The last is said with the power of an oath. It is only then that he realizes that his musings had been overheard as Xiblin warns him of the presence of the others.
Khae remains behind when Nogglegrop rushes forward to magically soothe the horrific injuries that bedeck the two elderly casters. It only takes a moment before guilt spurs him into action and sheepishly he adds his magic to the cause. It is amazing how insignificant each heal is compared to the full scope of the damage, and the lion’s share of the wounds remain even after both clerics have expended their full complement of spells. Khae beckons for Gwendalyn to help staunch the flow of blood wrought by the monk’s carving elbows.
In for a penny, in for a pound he spits, “Fironia was taken. It is open warn between the iksar and the koada’dal.” You realize now that you are speaking to Felwithian royalty. “Though the others are expending their energies rebuilding the wood elf outpost, we will lay siege to Cabalis itself. With this ‘essence of an iksar traitor’ we will strike back!”
He glances about, "We leave immediately!" Standing he starts to cast a spell.
Sajeek hears a shifting in one of the mounds, as he slides the clinking chains home under the moderately-sized stone, which provides him with insight into two things:
1. The closest stone is an immense chess piece, a rook knocked off its base if his memory serves, and the other stones make up the two sides of a chess game. He stands atop a chessboard perhaps played by the gods, for even giants would be hard-pressed to lift these stones. It was no wonder that he could not place this very familiar game, for the scale is incredible, begging the question of what this chessboard is doing atop this island.
2. The shifting was from two approximately 25' tall ivy-bedecked skeletons, previously hidden 'neath the snow, and had perhaps been awoken by the presence of the beastlord atop the board, the smell of his blood, or the sounds he had made.
It matters not why the creatures had made their presence known, since they had given chase and Sajeek had to run for his life.
The trees slow the long-legged pursuit and that is all that saves Sajeek in the opening moments of the chase.
The others are close, and a teleportation sounds rather pleasant right now, as does screaming at the top of one's lungs.
Afar from the group's location is another group, but this is a much darker group. Their sea craft has been moored near the mountain, and though they had lost the ogre's meal they had persevered, for they had found a cave with a warm glow emanating from its tight mouth. The cave was doubly inviting since it appeared that someone had set out a barrel of whiskey to greet them.
"What? Leaving? How? What happened to your fur? They're hurt? How? Sure!" Gwendalyn is happy to give Sajeek her shackle and chain, and sets out to help the rude old men, offering an arm for Syn to hold onto if he wants to. She hears Alrik's unexpected monologue, and then follows Khae in healing the two aloof arcanists (but especially the heavily-injured high elf noble).
That's when things get weird. He's Fironia's uncle? She's been kidnapped? There's a war going on? What sort of metaphor is "essence of an iksar traitor", and how would it be useful in besieging a city? What's this about leaving immediately, and what spell is Alrik casting? The young Northwoman's head spins as each new revelation raises more questions than it answers.
Spellcraft (identify spell being cast): 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (15) + 1 = 16 Failure
"AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!" The scream rips forth from the muzzle of the Vah Shir. He had been able to weather the abomination that was the reptile spirit. The 25' tall skeleton was the the beastlord's breaking point.
The scream followed after Sajeek as he runs back to the clearing were the others had gathered.
"Big.... Walking.... Bones... Need to run! Run now!!!" Sajeek cries as he skids to a stop. Bouncing off Gwen, Sajeek stops his uncontrolled skid with the aid of a friendly tree.
Snow falls from the leaves of the tree as the impact works it's way up the tree.
So much for his plan of walking into the clearing nonchalantly.
Sajeek's approaching cries alert everyone to prepare for danger.
Cocking its fleshless head to the side the skeleton processes the sounds as they play their way through its ear holes, alerting the necromantic servant of the presence of others in close proximity. A blue-tinged hand releases from it from its sentry duty. The small undead monstrosity is sent to drink deep of heart warmth. Loki's almond eyes drift to sights unseen wondering how a frightened little girl had survived so long on the island.
The party hears the strangest little cackle reach out to their flesh-encased ear holes, coming from the direction of the goblin cave. Perhaps it is nothing more than a trick of the winds. Then again it might foretell of future bloodshed.
Xiblin brings an elemental into being, this time one of flame, and sets it to guard the edge of the battle zone. Luckily for the beastlord the magician notified its minion to permit him to pass.
Sajeek joins the others, after a frightful scare with the fire elemental pet, and works to regain his breath.
Alrik frowns at the distractions and though he does not lose his cool (successful channeling check) understanding that the portal line of spells might be too slow for the situation (3 rounds to cast).
Sajeek withers under the fleeting glare that the wizard throws him. Then his eyes flit up to the skeleton, towering above the highest of the trees and his assessment of the threat matches that of the vah shir.
The elemental is sent forth and holds off the skeleton for as long as it would take for someone to pop an hors d'oeuvre in their gaping maw and chew once.
Alrik abandons his spell and nods to Xiblin. The gnome starts to argue, recognizes the truth of the foes before them, and then casts a spell and simply disappears (gate). There were too many to teleport (maximum 6 others) and he was the only one that had the ability to magically transport himself.
The wizard shifts to a much riskier evacuation (1 full round to cast, casting defensively).
Revery: 1d20 ⇒ 10
Sajeek: 1d20 ⇒ 16
Syn: 1d20 ⇒ 11
Khae: 1d20 ⇒ 17
Nogglegrop: 1d20 ⇒ 6
A gash, for lack of a better word, appears in the space next to the wizard and yanks everyone inside.
Something had gone horribly wrong.
Alrik had intended to evacuate the group to the Greater Faydark, but had not expected the giant skeleton to move so quickly.
He had been left behind.
Without the wizard to fuel his own spell the destination was up to the whims of chance, which cast the group asea.
You each stand in a voluminous chamber well over 200 feet wide and twice that in height. The ceiling tapers to an open hole, which magically holds back the crush of the Timorous Deep. 12 firepots stand in clock positions around the edge of the chamber. In the middle of the room is a magical green flame which rises over 40' from the stone floor. Staring into the flames is the ragged form of a skeleton.
The eyes of the skeleton are bleak and dreary as though the essence which keeps it standing is not really there, a surreal look into the future for those who make their stay in the immediate room around you. The ominous figure does not make any sound but nods in your direction as if to tell you that he died here long ago by resting by the nearby fire for too long. In your mind you hear the eerie thoughts of this undead figure, alluding to the fact that it is unwise for you to remain here for too long, lest the mighty water dragon overtake you, as it overtook this cursed traveler.
It is strange to not hear the clatter of chains as the party moves about, especially in a place of echoes like this place, but your shackles are buried back near the fallen rook.
Each of the pots is completely different, and gives a hint as to the city they connect with:
North Center (6 sided grey): Ogguk
North Right (7 sided tall): Erudin
East Left (black multifaceted): Neriak
East Center (4 sided wood): Greater Faydark
East Right (6 sided rust): Felwithe
South Left (frost rimmed box): Halas
South Center (dark with yellow lines): Freeport
South Right (tall gold vase): Cabilis
West Left (white marble): Kaladim
West Center (a lamp with floating bits in it): Akannon
West Right (a poorly crafted torch stand): Rivervale
Though none of you have ever been here before you understand that simply touching one of these firepots will teleport you to the city beyond. This would be a perfect jump off place to launch an invasion, if not for the giant dragon that guards it. One wishes to maintain a safe distance from the evil city firepots for your deaths would be swift indeed if you suddenly land within their sphere of influence.
Syn's eyes linger on the 6-sided rusted firepot. His wounds are grievous and with many apologies he says his goodbyes and touches it. The bard simply disappears.
Khae walks to each person in turn, hugs them and then returns to his homeland after giving silent prayer to Brell and resting his forehead against the white marble.
You are now 4 of the 6 that were transported away from the chessboard island, and Nogglegrop barks out, his voice surprisingly loud in the large chamber, "Let us return to our homes and swear an oath to meet again in one year. The place matters not to me, but I swear to be there if breath still fills my lungs."
Holding his hands out he seeks to glean how deep the bond was, and wonders where they will meet.
All of Norrath lies at your fingertips, as does your choice of where to meet. Time presses, lest you linger too long and be destroyed by the dragon Faydedar.
Like Gwedalyn, Revery is overwhelmed by the turn of events. First a walk to the clearing where the noble wizard and his companion are. Then a loud noise as Sajeek comes crashing from somewhere in the forest, part of his fur bleached by who knows what.
His head spinning, he follows along with the others. Soon, he finds himself with the others in a massive magical chamber. He stands in awe as he takes in his surroundings; a place such as this contains magics far above his novice abilities.
Finally Nogglegrop makes an interesting suggestion: for each of them to go home, and then meet again in a year. Revery tilts his head to the side and looks at the others remaining. They had shared an amazing adventure, that was a certainty. But did he want to revive that experience? It could get him killed, if he were not careful. Look what had happened to Quinaweniel and Maruusk...
"I would like to see you all again, but I'm not sure I want to make a promise. What if my life is going well and I am then compelled to come to meet you? I take oaths very seriously.... As I'm sure you all do too. How about if we designate a place and I just say I will try to be there?"
After witnessing far too many wonders and horrors since being kidnapped in Freeport, Gwendalyn is still able to feel fear tinged with awe of the giant skeleton that chases Sajeek back to the clearing where Alrik is casting a spell, and then awe tinged with fear of the giant underwater cavern where they end up. She still has no idea what spell the wizard was casting at first, or what spell he switched to. "But where is Alrik? He must be very brave, to stay behind like that, and send us all away. He must be planning to Gate like Xiblin did."
The Halasite shaman looks around at the different firepots, knowledge of their destinations magically worming its way into her brain. "Hmm. These are all on Norrath. If you don't have anywhere else to go, Sajeek, you can come home with me; the Field Priests of the Tribunal train in the same kind of skills that you've shown. I'll put in a good word, tell them all about how you saved our lives with your knowledge of how to get by in the wild."
Gwen considers Nogglegrop's suggestion carefully. Her face breaks into a smile. "Yes. I would like that, to see you all again and see that you're doing well." She gently grasps one of the little gnome's hands in one of hers, careful of her strength. "I would suggest Freeport since it's more in the middle, but that's where I was kidnapped. Qeynos might be safer -- or maybe I could go back to that bar, watch for another kidnapping, and bring some justice into their lives..." Her smile gets a little nastier as she ponders the options.
Spellcraft to identify Evacuate North vs. DC 23: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (19) + 1 = 20 Failure
They were 4, but among those 4 were representatives of the major continents and moon of Norrath.
Gwendalyn hailed from the mainland of the known world: Antonica. It contains some fo the most well-known cities and boasts a diverse population of races that include barbarians, dark elves, half-elves, halflings, ogres, trolls and the ubiquitous humans.
The second most populated continent, after Antonica, was where Nogglegrop came from. Faydwer holds the home cities of several races among forest that stretch on for days. In the depths of the forested continent, orcs, gnolls, goblins and even more dangerous predators run loose, but far from free for this is the land of the high elf, wood elf and dwarf.
Luclin is the second of Norrath's moons, and it remains hidden from view by the mortal eye. Entrance to the ringed moon has only recently drifted back to those on the surface, and currently is a guarded secret known to few. Sajeek drew his first breath atop the moon, but is not confident that he knows how to return, or even whether he would be welcome.
The founders of Odus originally established it as an "enlightened" utopian society away from the old world of Antonica. The immigrants to the new land displaced the aboriginal feline humanoids out of their land when the war with the heretics came to an end. Revery calls this land his home.
Ignoring the land of the iksar, Kunark, and Velious, a place of eternal winter where giants roam free, the meeting place will be on one of the continents that the four currently resides.
Unless one wishes to forge into the heart of darkness and visit Velious or Kunark.
"Our friends and families undoubtedly are sick with worry. Let us hie from this place, lest we find eternal residence here." Nogglegrop tries not to look at the forlorn skeleton as he speaks.
The gnome smiles as Gwendalyn adds her hand to the pile, thankful for the support. Oaths were funny things, but they tended to form bonds that lasted the tests of time.
Chewing on his lower lip, the Vah Shir's ears flicker as he listens to the others. Sajeek's green eyes flicker between the various firepots.
Sajeek thought about returning to Luclin, a frown growing across his face. Was it really his home? It had certainly ceased to feel that way after his foster parents mysteriously vanished from the Moon's surface. Sajeek had never really felt that comfortable around his own people. Although they reviered nature, spirits and their own beastial nature, they looked at Sajeek as one would an animal you think might turn on you.
The knowledge that he was the last member of his tribe, the sole survivor, raised in the wilds by animals, had spread among his kind like a wildfire. The feral beastlord was considered to be an omen of bad luck among some of his peoples larger colonies.
Sajeek wasn't really sure if he could dispute that.
The search for his foster parents had lead him to places Sajeek had never imagined possible. He didn't want to give up on them. A cold chill grabs ahold his right arm, running down the length of Sajeek's limb.
Looking down at the white, clawed handprint wrapping around the midpoint of his upper arm, Sajeek runs the spot. A sigh escapes the vah shir as he thinks for a few more moments in silence.
"I came to Norrath searching for my foster parents. Returning to the Luclin surface isn't an option that open to me right now," Sajeek turns to look at his raftmates. "I think I will take you up on your offer Gwendayln, as I have no place to call home currently." While he grins broadly, Sajeek's tail lashes a few times as would an annoyed cat's tail.
Looking at the white mark in his fur, Sajeek looks up at his raftmates and nods, more to himself then the others.
"I made an oath to the source of the glow. It was a ghostly reptile looking creature," Sajeek continues after glancing around. "I agreed to find and crush his bones to free his spirit. In agreeing to do so, I was told of..., prize or reward, of sorts. I can't really say anything more unless without oaths agreeing to help me. Him. Uh, us." Sajeek chuckles somewhat neverously.
Placing his clawed hand on the others, Sajeek agrees to met them in a year's time.
"You made an oath? Why did .... " Revery pauses, wondering. "An oath made under duress is not considered binding by most peoples' standards. Did the glow, the reptile, coerce you in any way?"
Revery thinks of home and a part of him aches to be there right now, this instant. His family was not there any more, but his friends were, and the school. He may be able to get some spells. He still has his family home, though strangely he feels little attachment to it. Would he join these people in a year's time? It would likely take a month or more to get to wherever they would meet. Perhaps.
"Sajeek, are you planning on completing this before our reunion in a year, or after? And what kind of rewards were promised?"
None of you have ever been anywhere near Freeport. If truth be told your knowledge of the world around you is limited at best.
All the more reason to prepare for the journey ahead. You will visit the biggest harbour in the known world. The largest city, the richest trading post and the most powerful military stronghold on Antonica. A city split between two public factions, and a dozen hidden ones, it has been called the City of a Thousand Alleys, the great Market, the Free City of Humans and the Sinking Ship of Antonica, as well as at least a dozen less favourable epithets. Today it is known as Freeport, and it is the greatest city in the known world.
Nogglegrop nervously toes the ground, worried that each passing breath increases their chances of someone dying, and quickly adds, "The main gates of Freeport 1 year hence from this day. I swear to be there when the sun is at its highest point." Embracing everyone with a smile he steps to the Ak'Anon portal and reaches out. There is a momentary glimpse of the Streamfont mountains. The gnome is gone.
Some might test the fates and linger, while others will immediately set out for home, but soon enough only the cursed skeletal traveler remains behind as an eternal warning to those that tarry.
(please include your activities over the next year in your next post. Once all have been posted I will introduce the meeting at the Freeport gates)
Gwendalyn looks sharply at Sajeek when he makes his revelation. "We're going to have to talk about this later. For now, we need to get gone." Calling over her shoulder to Revery as she moves to the frost-rimmed box, Gwen echoes Nogglegrop. "The main gates of Freeport in a year." She touches the box and disappears.
A rift opens in downtown Halas near the bank and spits Gwendalyn out. She checks her account briefly and finds it positive, but that's about the best that can be said about it. When Sajeek arrives, she pulls him in a run to her parents' home, where a tearful reunion is quickly followed by a trip to the municipal baths for both of them, with fresh clothes at the end. He is invited to stay the night in Tudan's room, since Gwen's older brother is out and about; and then the next day, she introduces the Vah Shir to the Field Priests of the Tribunal, emphasizing that she'd take it as a personal favor if they took in the man who saved her life with his wilderness skills.
Over time, the young shaman tells the story of her harrowing ordeal to the elders in her order. There's a great deal of valuable info in it for them, from educational tales that they can use in lecturing other trainees, to news of current geopolitical events and the personalities shaping them. Then there's Gwen's vow, and the seriousness with which her Church takes such things. While she found her old spellbook and medicine bag still safe where she left them in her room, her adolescent arms and armor were lost in her kidnapping; and so her mentor and her parents make sure that she's properly equipped for the journey to Freeport, an honor that she proved worthy of by surviving with nothing.
Although she's delighted to see Tudan again when he shows up, Gwen is very focused on learning more about her magic, after her discouraging inability to learn a simple spell for enduring cold. In-between religious lessons and practical debriefings, when not stitching together wolf-fur garments for extra cash, she also makes time for Sajeek, to make sure that he's getting along okay in her chilly homeland...
Sajeek carries a lust for the weapon that was the source of shade's all-consuming obsession, but he knows that he needs help with the quest.
Translation of the monk's words could only be done by those he walked with at the time of the meeting, so each member of the group would need to learn the language of the iksar.
Gwendalyn is honored when her church rewards her for her valuable info, though truth be told, they see it as an investment. Most Northmen just come back from journeys into foreign lands with tales of exotic skulls smashed and exotic drinks drunk -- if they come back at all -- and so with her mentor's endorsement of her potential, they hope that Gwen will come back with more useful stories.
Flush with cash, the skilled survivor mostly chooses practical items for a long trip -- including even a tent, with her recent experiences of exposure to the elements fresh on her mind. However, when looking at weapons in the market, she notices one that reminds her of her erstwhile slave chains, but even nastier. The chain with a handle, spikes, and a hook is even more expensive than a powerful spell; but the vendor explains and demonstrates its unique flexibility, and she can't resist turning a chain from a symbol of her weakness to a symbol of her strength. So she gets it.
Settling in with Gwendalyn's people went a little better then Sajeek was expecting to. The young beastlord finds it rather easy to get along with the Field Priest, then he does with most. They, for the most part, left the Vah Shir alone to his own devices.
For a time, Sajeek stalks through the streets of Halas, exploring, getting to understand the life pulse of his new surroundings. Fortunately, his curiosity doesn't get him into too much trouble. A good thing, because the Vah Shir stands out a bit among the barbarian people. Gwen has her hands full for a few days at first, keeping the beastlord out of trouble.
Sajeek does enjoy a smattering off the buffet that civilization offers to the Vah Shir. Not that he really understands why everyone seeks to live so close to one another, or many other things about the city. Working, playing, carousing, the occasion sharing of beds with an adventurous barbarian. In retrospect, he rather enjoyed the bed sharing the most.
These were all distractions, an interesting way to fill dead time. When he wasn't out hunting or earning his keep, Sajeek was hunting through any bit of scroll or book he could get his clawed hands on. Displaying a level of patience he normally only had when hunting game, Sajeek looks for some key to the reptile's language. Iksar, as Alrik had called them.
When he was alone, Sajeek read the piece of paper over and over again. Not that he could read it, more of just burning the strange, alien symbols into his mind. The beastlord wanted to be able recognize them when, or if, he saw the letters someplace else.
Early on, during his time in Halas, Sajeek is approached by several members of the Field Priests. They ask to hear his tale as to how he came to have met Gwendalyn. The Vah Shir tells them of his time on the island. Sajeek leaves out any mention of the spirit itself or the oath that he made to the spirit. All he had to do was glance at the white claw mark on his right arm for a reminder.
After a few rounds of ale, they ask about his homeland, and Sajeek obliges them with another tale. He tells them a few bit of growing up wild in the forest on the border of the Light and the Dark. Sajeek has to explain to them that one side of the moon is always daylight, why the other side, it is always Night.
The beastlord speaks of strange plants and animals that only lived in a few places on Luclin. Being chased by creatures made of shadow and smoke, and running into daylight, to turn and watch the shadows burst into flames from the Light. After a little talk of what city life among his kind is like, they handed Sajeek a pouch of gems. Sajeek finds money to be an odd concept in general.
The thought of the weapon that he hunting, is never far from Sajeek's mind. Not quite an obsession, but something that is never far from the Vah Shir's thoughts.
It was a chilly reception both literally and socially that Sajeek received (dubious racial relations between OG vah shir people and N barbarians), but it warmed in time. The iksar tongue is found in several places, but contains nuances that do not lend themselves to a non-forked tongue. To learn more one will need to stand in the presence of an iksar, and Freeport is reputed to be a land where all creatures are welcome. Another option would be to dive deep into the dark continent, but that’s unlikely to end well.
Situated on the edge of the Desert of Ro and the edge of the Commonlands the lands that Freeport resides on are a barren expanse. Staring out west from the gates, onto the area called the Freeport Plain, is earth good for neither cattle or agriculture. The plain is extremely flat, with small rises of dust being the only terrain feature of note. Some scrub grass manages to survive here, but mostly the plain is filled with cacti and tumbleweeds. Strong winds are the norm, and rain is almost unheard of.
You had been told tales of open bazaars where all races gather peacefully to do business and gold-lined streets, but the reality is quite different. The streets are cobblestone at best, often little more than wagon ruts in muddy paths. Non-humans do own businesses in Freeport, and you catch the occasional glimpse of most races, but bigotry and prejudice is as common there as in any other civilized land.
The city is broken into sections with the least powerful population concentrated near the shore and docks, in the dilapidated buildings and dim back allies of Dockside. The areas near the main gates, called the Gates and Market District, level with the Freeport Plain that extends out from the gates, are home to the working classes and craftsfolk. This is the heart of the city, with a wide range of businesses, taverns, shops, open markets, public guilds, trade companies, warehouses, and homes. Further north and higher up are the lofty social reaches of the Hill, the elite shops and expensive homes that are both physically and socially elevated.
With a population of over 50,000 souls this is by far the largest city clinging to the surface of Norrath, and it is those 50,000 that assail your nostrils with the stench rising up from the open sewer channels that bedeck this part of the city.
Winter futilely bats its paws against your flesh, but the lateness of the season has retracted it’s claws. A few weeks carved free from the ages are all that remain before the first leaves will bloom anew. Pathetic is the bite of the chill as the sun clambers up to catch its breath at its highest point. Excitement obliterates any trace of your long journey’s fatigue as you approach Freeport’s western gate (#1 on the map) and find the others gathered.
You stand beside a massive structure, with a gatehouse a full 50’ wide and 30’ tall. There are two attached keeps able to support 40 soldiers each and a walled killing ground that stretches 100’ more before granting access to the city proper. Gate duty is generally considered a punishment among the militiamen, and as a result gate guards are often a surly, unhelpful lot.
(please include a description of your character in your next post)
Plumes of steam work their way free of the lowered visor of the battered full plate armour that lovingly enwraps Nogglegrop Fendlebar the IV. A patina reveals the ages that have drifted past since the armour was birthed from the blacksmith’s hammer. As the armour is an heirloom, so is the tiny mace slung at his waist and the steel shield strapped to his back ‘neath his backpack. Raising his visor releases a torrent of grey-white beard dancing about an infectious smile that drift up to his grey eyes. He cuts an impressive figure, all 3’4” of him.
Revery appeared in a strange place, alone, and for a second, panic seized his mind, telling him he had arrived at the wrong place. But very quickly the trappings of the place, the design of the doorway and the accouterments, the smell of the very air, tugged at his primal memories and told him he was home.
Soon he was back in front of his family home, which was closed up. He held a key, which he had got from his step-brother Jaan, and which would open the small but strong lock at the back. The home had seen better times, but in truth it had been left empty for only a few months, while he was off on his misadventures. Entering via the back door, Revery smelled the musty air, and then proceeded to open all the ground floor windows. Fresh air and light invaded quickly and in no time the place was bright and cheery.
But for Revery, it held so much more: memories. There were many happy memories, yes. Particularly of his childhood, before his teen years. But mixed in with these were a plethora of memories unhappy: His mother and father going their own ways, a new father joining the family, father dying, bullying by the other children in the neighborhood. The teen years were even harder, with his step-father leaving, and some hard studying to get into the Tower of the Craft Keepers. Then his sister leaving to study the darker arts, and finally his mother's death. It was these later memories that were forefront in Revery's mind, that haunted him daily, still. It was these memories that spoke to Revery, asking him why he should keep this house, when so many other good uses for its value existed.
He was in the place only a few days before he really, finally, decided. He would sell the house and use the money to further his education in his chosen profession. Not jewelry, but magic.
Free time was something he had seldom had in the past, but now, with his new money from the house and no work or studies, he had had some. Aside from searching out new spells, Revery spent some time in libraries looking for information on Alric the Elven noble.
And he practiced his other arts, sculpture and jewelry. He did these in the shop his former jewelry tutor's brother, whom he was still on good terms with. Revery found that this craft eased his mind, helped him forget the hard times, and indeed, focused his thoughts.
After five months back home, Revery was feeling good, like.things were moving in the right direction. That is, until he fell ill. At first Revery was unsure whether it was the "normal" food, the stagnant air in the city that nobody else seemed to notice, or a simple disease.
It was in the hospital that he met her. The first thing he noticed about her was that she was not an Erudite. She was half Elf, half Human. To say she was beautiful was to use words where words seemed like rocks in a forest of weeping willows. Despite his illness, he was instantly smitten with her. And she noticed him only enough to check his large forehead for fever and write things on a small scroll next to his bed. Ah, love, that most intense of diseases. They say hospitals are the best places to catch sickness, and for Revery it was love that he caught.
Luckily, his real illness took a while to heal, and this gave Revery a chance to woo the doctor. First he tried his intellect, but she seemed unfazed by his depth and breadth of knowledge of various subjects; her interest was in helping people get better. Next, he tried comedy - he remembered several jokes from his youth, but his delivery was flat, and simply not funny at all. After a few weeks of this, with his illness still having a hold on him, he gave up and decided to try doing some carving. He could not use heat for metalwork, but he could do some of his pewter carving. He decided to finish a piece he had started earlier, and which he had with him. It was a small pewter deer, the one he had (barely) helped to catch, kill and consume. As he worked on it he thought of his friends: Gwendalyn, Sajeek, poor Maruusk and Quinaweniel, Khae, Syn, and Nogglegrop.
It was this deer, a small carving of some beauty, that captured the attention of the good doctor. He was sleeping, and he woke from a nightmare, of his mother scolding him, to find her sitting next to his bed, holding the unfinished deer, a small tear in her eye. It reminded her of her elven home, she said. He told her of where he had seen the deer, and his adventures before and after it.
That was the start of it.
Over the course of the year, his illness healed completely, though it did take the rest of the year for that to happen. And he and this doctor, Arwen Mithranca, grew to love each other more and more. And his nightmares were thus clawed back. He told her more of his adventures, and she told him what she knew about Elves, and their nobility.
Also over the course of the year, he told himself there was no need to go and meet his adventurous friends. But that was funny. Because the more he told himself that, the more he thought about them, and their common adventure. He had told Arwen about this planned meeting, but had dismissed it as fancy. When it came closer to the end of the year, though, he told her he was considering the meeting, and what it meant.
The timing of it was not too bad, in all, for Arwen was set to begin a sabbatical from her work to expand her medical studies, and it would take all of her time and energy. It was an opportune time for Revery to travel, and leave her to her studies.
On the day he boarded the ship for Freeport, Revery took Arwen to the docks, and brought her up to the top of the watchtower. And there he produced a ring he had fashioned, in the shape of a sleeping deer, and offered it to her hand; and promised marriage upon his return.
There was a beam of sunlight that seemed dull compared to the beam on Revery's face, as he boarded the ship and waved goodbye.
Revery gleans a surprising amount of information about the unwelcoming arcane caster that helped them to escape their isolated island. Alrik Farsight is a high elf royalty trained in the arts of war wizardry. He was already in his latter years when his niece Fironia Vie was born, and doted on her like she was his own. Elves marry for life, and his mate had already passed, so his bond was understandable.
Each of you can see a tattered scroll offering a bounty on Deathfist Apprentice Scrolls. Tara Neklene seeks out a complete set of scrolls in the colours red, blue, green and black.
Nogglegrop claps his hands together, overcome by his excitement. "Whatisournextmove?"
Gwendalyn endures an emotional goodbye with her family; the hardest is Tudan, who thought that when he finally gave up on searching for her, that he was going home to report her disappeared and presumed dead. Of course he offers to come along (again), but he seems more over-protective than ever; so she gently (but firmly) explains that her unwanted experiences showed her that she has hidden strengths that she wants to develop, and she would just rely on him as usual if he were there, so she needs to do it without him (this time).
So the well-armed shaman leads Sajeek on a half-remembered trek, undertaken only once before, and blurred by whatever drug was slipped into her drink in Freeport. Traveling south to Rivervale, then skirting the edges of the dangerous Kithicor Woods, they arrive intact (if not entirely without incident). Gwen walks purposefully toward the west gate in all of her finery, half forged and half homemade.
The strong Northwoman now sports a steel breastplate with matching greaves and a horned helm. She also wears a holstered pick that's like a giant to the goblin's version, and yet small compared to her other visible weapons: a two-handed hammer and a spiked chain. Aside from her professional-looking clothes, holy symbol, and medicine pouch, Gwen also wears a handstiched backpack, spell component pouch, and waterskin; and there's a sturdy (but inelegant) bedroll, silk rope, and tent strapped to her backpack. She strides forth unselfconscious of her rustic appearance, and even proud of how much she did for herself.
The not-so-inexperienced young woman considers Nogglegrop's word carefully. "I think that Tara's rainbow of orc scrolls will hold. Most of us have been apart for a long time, and even I haven't managed to get much out of our field priest here about what he was saying in the teleport room." She claps Sajeek heavily on the shoulder. "I suggest we find a nice, private place to talk before we do anything else."
Rust robes with black trim and silver crescent moons sewn into the trim, high black waterproof boots, and a wide brown leather hat work together to make the Erudite Enchanter Revery almost unrecognizable to those who know him. But the dark skin suggests his race, and his friends will recognize his face soon enough, as it is not hidden by armor of any kind. He sports a new backpack, which seems a bit large for him, under which are a few javelins; and several small tools hang off his belt, along with a dagger and a very familiar piece of wood from Velious which just might have been used as a club.
Revery appears at the inside of the gates, well rested (he arrived yesterday) and presentable. His demeanor is different, somehow softened, and he smiles a warm smile when he sees his friends.
After hugs and some happy words of compliment, Revery responds to Gwendalyn's suggestion. "I have a room at an inn here. We can start there..."
(please determine your monthly "upkeep", located in the Campaign Info tab, and roll for what this month will cost you in your next post)
Khae had come from modest means, and even though he had a windfall of late he is true to his roots (Middle-Class: 20 + 2d10 ⇒ 20 + (1, 9) = 30).
As you pass the gates and melt into the crowd you are taken by a most spectacular sight (map #11) in the form of a giant ogre trading his wares. Anything an adventurer might conceive of might be found pickled and preserved in a small, or large, jar in his wagon. Boomba the Big is not terribly intelligent, but he is quite friendly in a gruff, overbearing sort of way, and he really seems to enjoy his work.
Other things jump out at you:
- The Militia House (map #2)
- Pot and Kiln (map #8)
And then you are elbow to elbow in the West Gate Market (map #6). Because a huge number of the merchants who do business in Freeport are traveling traders, a large number of open-air markets exist throughout the city. Several are famous for particular types of goods, and this market is indisputably the most famous place to shop in Freeport.
A particular wagon stands out among the numerous merchants who operate out of wagons to avoid property and building taxes. This lovely young elven woman is named Linadian (map #7) and she stands before a wagon full of cloth, silk armour, and pattern pieces from far off Faydwer. These fine elven goods are much sought after and her wagon is usually emptied within a week or two of her arrival.
The Hogcaller's Inn is a well-established and well-kept tavern and boarding house. Its half-timber construction is sturdy and sound. Very little of the city noise makes it into the great room, where good hot food is served each day. Upstairs the rooms are clean, large and simple, with woven cloth rugs on the floor of each one.
A room each awaits each of you within the Hogcaller's Inn.
Sajeek had been quite through out the journey to Freeport. The Vah Shir had been Gwen's shadow throughout their trek to the city port. Not knowing the way to Freeport, he was content to follow the barbarian. Otherwise, he would have ran to the city.
The growing obsession for the strange weapon that the iskar spirit had given him, was always at the back of his thoughts. The young Beastlord was barely able to contain his excitement as they got closer.
Trying to not speculate as to what the weapon was or how it would benefit his former raftmates as well, Sajeek has to reign his imagination in. He knew that he still had to learn the language of the reptiles before they would be able to make any real headway into freeing the spirit and finding the treasure.
Distracted by the sight of the city, Sajeek misses the sight of his raftmates at first. Of course, that last time he had seen them, they had all been clothed in bloody rags. That was thankfully not the case over the last year.
Muzzle split wide as a smile threatens to consume his furry face, Sajeek moves forward to embrace his raftmates. Being hugged by the purring beastlord wearing studded leather was a rather unforgetable experience.
The happy grin that refuses to leave his face leaves no doubt as to how happy Sajeek is to see his friends again. Leaning a bit on the spear he carries, his ears flicker, absorbing the city noise. Gwen claps him on the shoulder, he looks up and grins at her. Sajeek adjusts the quiver of javelins that peek out from behind his left shoulder.
"We should probably have that chat," Sajeek agrees with a grin and a wink. He almost stops as they pass the Ogre's wagon. His eyes catch sight of some of the jars and his claws begin to itch. Sajeek wanted to poke around and see what was in the jars. Tail twitching, the Vah Shir forces himself to keep walking before he ending up getting them into trouble. He was just really curious to see what was in the ones he couldn't see through. Maybe he would come back later, after all an Ogre he didn't have to run from was always worth investigation to the curious beastlord.
As the enter the open market, Sajeek stares, eyes wide, at the mad assortment of beings and wares that were in the open market. The Vah Shir managed to keep up with his friends, his attention constantly pulled by some new sight, sound or smell.
Finally, Sajeek ends up focusing on Gwen's helmet to keep track of his friends. If he didn't the beastlord might have wandered the market place for hours, just exploring. And more then likely end up getting in trouble, as seemed to happen when he went off on his own.
Looking at the Hogcaller's Inn that he had been lead to, Sajeek winces slightly. The Vah Shir shifts morningstar tied to his belt so that it doesn't bump into his leg. Gwen had spent hours over the last year reminding him to carry his weapons. He knew relying on only his claws and teeth would end up getting him killed.
"Well, let's get something to wash all of the dust from our travel out of my throat, get something to eat and retire to someplace quite, like one of our rooms," Sajeek agrees as they walk into the inn. Sniffing a few times at the scent of something being cooked, the young beastlord grins.
"I don't know about the rest of you, but, I'm starving," Sajeek grins as tugs on one of the straps of his backpack, hidden by his grey cloak. He gives Gwen a curious look.
"What was that about Tara's rainbow orc skulls?" Sajeek asks, looking a little confused. "I just remembered you saying something like that as we were walking through the marketplace. Did I miss something important?"
Your food and drink are not memorable, but the company is. A corner is found where the warmth of the fire draws the winter's chill from your bones. None are close enough to overhear your conversation.
Khae returned from his room sans armour, wearing only simple tradesman garb. He fiddles and fidgets with all manner of tinkered objects as he waits for his lunch.
When they walk through the gates, Gwendalyn is amazed to see a friendly ogre, which she thought to be a contradiction in terms. There's a nagging sense of familiarity, though she doesn't remember him at all; and yet she has a strong aversion to inspecting his wares too closely. She scowls at realizing just how thoroughly the drug in her drink had messed with her head.
The Northwoman with the horned helm follows Revery to the inn, marveling at the sights as she looks over all the short people, which is nearly everyone but Boomba. She nods at Sajeek's suggestion. "Food and beer -- I'm not too particular at the this point, as long as the one is hot and the other not. But first I want to put down this pack." She comes back from her room to find the others in a corner, and grins at the Vah Shir's question.
"Scrolls. Someone named Tara something-or-other had a bounty posted on different colors of Deathfist Apprentice Scrolls." Gwen leans back, her grin fades, and she continues quietly. "How do I know that they're orcs? I don't remember..." She looks off into the distance pensively, then looks back at the others.
"No matter. Sajeek, it's time for us to talk about what you said in that underwater cavern with the firepots. You made an oath to a reptilian ghost, to crush its bones for a reward? I've puzzled over that for a year, and I still don't get it. Do we really have to swear before you can explain it?"
Nogglegrop holds a tankard of ale as one would a bouquet of fragrant flowers, both arms entombing the middle while he tips its rim back with practiced control. A foam moustache takes up residence atop his beard, which frames a wide smile.
"I swear whatever you need sworn, for my fascination must be sated. Tell me all Sajeek!"
Gwendalyn looks with amusement at the gnome's enthusiasm, and exercises her church training. "Okay, okay, I swear to help -- but not necessarily right away! I reserve the right to wait until I think I can succeed at whatever it is that we're being asked to do."