The trip had been interminably long, but as Par-ab-hor - his patron - commanded, so Niu followed. Through the desert expanse, across hated Qadira and Taldor, he finally arrived in northern Andoran and Falcon's Hollow.
Without the sustaining powers of the magical ring Par-ab-hor had led him to, he surely would have succumbed long ago. As it was, he barely felt alive, but that was no different from most days.
Approaching the only inn, he shuffled inside, getting some odd looks from the patrons. His tattered desert gear had bones and various fetishes tied to it randomly and sand fell from the hem, even though it had been weeks since he last saw the desert.
His reddened, leathery skin and brittle bleached hair caused second and third looks. That level of sunburn rarely being seen north of the Inner Sea.
Looking around, he noticed the dwarf at the bar, standing out as the most dangerous looking man in the establishment. "Is he the one, Neb-en-toti?" he asked in a raspy wheeze through his dry, cracked lips.
A large beetle crawled out of the folds of his shirt to look around, then disappeared again. Nodding to himself, as if the beetle had answered him, Niu approached the bar and took the stool next to the dwarf.
Placing a few coins on the bar, he ordered tea and a plate of fruit. Waiting quietly, he feigns disinterest.
|Jim the barkeep|
Jim palms the coins as he serves the strange looking newcomer tea and large piece of bread. "Apologies, sir. We have no fruit as this is primarily a drinking establishment. I can send a boy to Jak'a'Napes for you. They are the best place for food in town. Their breakfast is superb. I recommend the cinnamon-crusted flapjacks."
Waving off the barkeep's concern, Niu responds in his raspy voice and strange accent. "Don't bother yourself. I asked more for a bit of sweetness than for hunger. Your northern fruits are tasty. Even Neb-en-toti has grown fond of them."
As Niu breaks off a piece of the bread, the scarab crawls out from his sleeve and starts nibbling. Niu sips his tea with his other hand, enjoying the warmth.
Approaching the small logging town, Ranok turns to his feline friend. "It is time for you to hunt, my friend. They are not ready for you.
Or would you like me to bring you back a steak?" Ranok asks the big cat with a Harrison Ford grin. The feline stares at the half orc for a moment, shakes it's massive head in a negative, then lopes off into the forest. Chuckling to himself, Ranok enters town and quickly finds the solitary inn. "That is an ominous name for a place of rest considering that I come here looking for trouble."
Stomping his boots as he enters, Ranok stubs his toe and stutters for a step. Keeping his eyes to the ground, he ambles up to the barkeep. "I'll take a plate and something stiff to drink." With his head still tilted down, he looks up at the barkeep to see if he is going to be served or not.
|Lady Ziera Wyvernrose|
Lady Ziera rode into town, Behind her most trusted and loyal of her attendant,[also her only attendent] Festia who rode in her Soldiers' outfit, Tabard to house Wyvernspur and clutching the banner. Zeira smiled and sang to herself as she rode astride Argentique her Lamellar clad light calvary mount of a blue roan hue. It was all so exhilarating to be adventuring again, especially after that nasty business with Bartrum.
The woman dressed in her travel clothes,armor, and tabard which showed the silver and purple colors of Wyvern spur with a Blooming rose in the center of a curled Wyvern tail almost glowing inside the pinkish hued silver that clung to the edge of it all. The red haired noble stopped when she her the ebony haired olive skinned beauty before her, The Very loyal and well paid Festia Tappo spoke.
"Mistress, we have come to one of the local ale houses, shall we peak inside and inquire further about possible evils we can fell?" She says somewhat dryly.
"Why Festia, I think you almost hate the thought of heading into the wilds to tame it with the passionate message of love and beauty that the Eternal Rose has commanded!" She watches as Festia rolls her eyes and Zeira giggles.
"I know Festia, you would have preferred to stay in Ridonport and flirt with all those strapping Sailors, but trust me this 'Falcons' Hallow' shall prove another fine chapter to the Story, Our story!" Ziera says as she gestures for Festia to dismount. This was done mostly by edging Argentique forward to grab the reigns of the mule named Sid. Festia dismounted and holstered the banner in her saddle as she headed into the tavern.
Festia walks up to the owner and smiles."hello gentle sir, I am Festia Tappo, servant to Lady Zeira Wyvernspur, she requests a table near the hearth, a pot of hot fresh tea followed by two melomels if you have them, if not some regular meads will do. Also is there stabling, as we will require stabling for both our mounts"
"'Nother one car keep." Rhen says while leaning on the bar from his stool. "They all just up an left, Bulgard that stutterin' fool found him a wife. I keep wonderin' how he be doin' that." Rhen as taking a swig.
As people pile in to the bar, Rhen looks around at them. "Weapons and they all be lookin' capable, maybe I can get em to finish this task with me, save this foolish town" Rhen stands up and moves to sit with the large half orc.
"Ye be lookin' like a large strong fella, I be needin' some muscle for a mission that Lady Cirthana."
|Jim the barkeep|
As Rhen start talking, the beetle in Niu's hand turns and looks at him. It then looks at Niu before scrambling back up his sleeve and fining its way to its satchel.
Niu continues sipping his tea as he listens to the conversation to learn more.
|Lady Ziera Wyvernrose|
Ziera sits next to her maid Festia and nods to the woman."Thank you kindly, It smells wonderful, tell me do you know of any adventures to be had or mayhaps a place to bed down for the night?"She asks as she grips the tea and was about to drink it when Festia places a hand on her mistresses wrist.
"Right" She says blowing on it before she takes the sip."You are always looking out for the little things Festia, I honestly don't know what I would do without you!"
Festia rolls her eyes and then feigns a giggle" its what you pay me for mistress".
Festia takes her cup and blows on it after which she then sips on the tea. Ziera smiles back and places her hand on her maids should and watches as Festia blushes and then gestures to the room."Tonight after a well-earned bath, we shall write down our escapades of today so on the morrow brings us a roaring adventure for the ages, and in it, we shall spread the message of love to all!" Zeira proclaimed mightly as if she herself was one of the great warrior bards of Taldors past. For her, this was all to glorify the message of Shelyn to the world as well as get out of stuffy Taldor for the vast world beyond! One which she would record as a masterpiece, especially when she had a dutiful servant recording everything for her notes to later she can write a masterpiece.
"The only Inn we have is Jak'a'Napes. It is on your right as you head south on the main road. They serve the best food in town as well. As far as adventures, I am aware of none. You should speak with the dwarf at the bar. His names is Rhen Vemsa. He is quite the adventurer and is renowned in these parts for his great deeds."
Ranok lifts his head a little higher as the ale slides over to him and the half grin briefly reappears on his face. "I suppose I can go get my own food after a drink or two. I haven't but a couple gold to pinch with no more in immediate sight. Thanks for the ale."
Looking over at Rhen suspiciously as he sidles up next to him, Ranok never-the-less listens attentively. "I don't know a Lady Cirthana, but if this mission has anything to do with the evil goings on I've heard about in this area, I'm in. Khonsu and I haven't had anything to clean up in a couple of moons now.
At the boisterous outbreak from the table behind him, Ranok turns in his stool to see what the commotion is about. Seeing Lady Ziera obviously enjoying life fills him with energy and he offers her a cock-eyed grin as well before turning back to Rhen.
"My name is Ranok. I've mentioned my friend Khonsu. He is my traveling tiger companion" Ranok lifts a finger and raises his eyebrows, "Now, when I say friend, that's just what I mean. He is not a pet. Keep that in mind. Lowering his finger, he then scratches at what is either an old tribal scar or an abandoned piercing on his nose.
With that said, he relaxes again. Now, what's this mission? And who is Lady Cinthana, and who might you be?"
|Khonsu "The Cat"|
Meanwhile, in the Darkwood Forest, Khonsu rises from his kill. Having gorged on deer, he stalks a few feet away, out of sight, and lays down for a well deserved nap.
Feel bad for Ranok. No get good meat in village.
Twisting around to gaze at the boisterous noblewoman, Niu smiles knowingly. He says quietly, "And so, it falls into place. Bes chooses defenders for this small village and brings them together. Perhaps just in time? We shall see.
The bigger question remains, how does this benefit my path? What knowledge or power is there to be gained?
Time shall tell, as always."
The words are not directed toward anyone, and if overheard, Niu appears to be talking to himself. Continuing to sip his tea, he stays half turned to better observe the dwarf and to keep half an eye on the door, expectantly.
Seldlron notices the attractive and apparently wealthy female across the tavern. "Well I'll be a ..." He leaves the loggers and approaches her table. "It is delightful to make your acquaintance and welcome to Falcon's Hollow. I am Seldlron, Mayor of this town. Please forgive my attire, I do like to get my hands dirty with the common folk from time to time. May I buy you a drink? Pray tell me, what brings such a magnificent creature to these parts? He takes a seat at the table.
A bard sets up a stool and stand for his stringed instrument by the hearth. He tosses his hat to the ground in front of him. It lands upside down.
"I am Tharfynn and I will be your entertainment tonight. I do take requests. I only work for tips, so your generosity is appreciated. I would like to dedicate this first tune to Rhen Vemsa, our local hero." He points at Rhen.
|Lady Ziera Wyvernrose|
Ziera eyes the man and instantly sits up far more ladylike."Well Mayor SeldIorn, I am Lady Zeira Wyvernspur of house Wyvernspur, Lady of Wyvern Manor, Keeper of Ridonport Ship repair, Mistress of the Spurned Lover Frigate, Slayer of the Dagner the Black Bard and his Black Bandits."
"I have come here on my ever expanding journey to spread the word of the Eternal Rose and offer love and peace to all who hear it. I slay the vile creatures of blasphemy who left the warm embrace of love and beauty long ago. I dear mayor am a Holy Knight!"She said with verve and passion. Such a speech she gave her maid Festia gave an earnest clap before her mistress turned and slid a gold piece to her.
"Festia, be a dear and have the Bard play something light and airy, as an offering to Shelyn" She smiles warmly to her handmaiden who nods and takes the gold over to the Bard. Festia relays the message and then curtsies as she returned to the table.
Pleased to see the musician begin playing, Niu listens for a moment, then stands to walk over, trailing sand as he goes.
"Very fine, thank you. I request to hear more tales of Rhen's exploits." Smiling and nodding, he turns to walk away, then stops and turns back.
"Oh, yes, tips. Never get involved in a land war in Tian Xia." He also drops an Osirian-marked silver piece into the bard's tip jar.
Interested in the conversation between the mayor and the self-proclaimed Holy Knight, Niu takes a seat at the end of the table, toasting his teacup toward the Lady, then focusing his eyes on the bard.
"And, thank you, sir. Tales of Rhen's expeditions and heroics, you say. Well there are so many I purchased from him lately. Let's see.....we should start at the beginning, I suppose.
Rhen traveled from Five Kings Mountains through tunnels and over land to end up passing through Falcon's Hollow. He needed some gold to complete his journey home and the sheriff had just posted reward notices all over town.
A malady had struck several dozen residents. Our herbalist had the recipe to concoct a remedy, but lacked the rare ingredients. Rhen and his party sought out these ingredients.
They encountered and overcame many a foe during their quest. A werewolf posing as a child. That is a tale all of its own and a wonderful one that displays just how heroic he and those adventurers are. They also fought off a huge dragon like creature,a pair of darkmantles, and many other atrocities.
Their greatest foe was an unnaturally large worg named Graypelt. He lied to them and when he decided he had to have the pony Rehn had borrowed from the sheriff's daughter, Rhen would take no more. A great battle ensued between this worg, his consort, and Rhen's party. Rhen began by killing the consort before slaughtering the huge, evil beast.
The party returned with the necessary ingredients and a werewolf that appeared as a young girl."
Seldlron gets an eye and ear full as the lady states herself and her mission.
"A Holy Knight... well we have something in common. I am a fighter by trade. Recently helped Rhen's crew take out a bunch of zombies and undead wolves. They carried a pretty bad infection with them. Most of us got it pretty bad. During the fight they let me do most of the work while they stayed back at a safe distance." He taps his greataxe.
"You don't look much like the fighting type, I must say. I was about to offer you protection during your stay here. Oh, and you must try the local darkwood ale. You will find it no other place. This tavern is known for it. May I buy you one?"
Ranok glances over at the table accompanied by the Lady Zeira, her attendant, and the mayor, curious where this will lead and how it will be handled while waiting for Rhen to illuminate him and his proposal.
|Lady Ziera Wyvernrose|
"Yes I fight with the grace of a dancer and the strength of a sculpture. My moves are intricate and smooth. I use the ladies blade the Glaive, Oh don't get me wrong I love a good sword as much as any gal, but something about the beautiful elegant curve of the glaive is something special!" She says smiling a soft smile as she drinks a bit more tea.
[b]"Also Lord Mayor, I must say you are not the first man to offer me a drink for my company, but you are the first here. I shall take you up on it my dear, SeldIorn"She says running her finger along the edge of the teacup.
"Oh Festia, go secure a room and stabling at this Jak'n'Apes. I am sure we shall have a quaint time there later, for now, I shall be entertained by Lord Mayor SheldIorn here" She says with a wink.
Seldron turns to the logger's table. "Jalene, two darkwoods over here." He returns his attention to the attractive female across the table from him. "Interesting you should describe it that way. When in battle, I am on a dance floor. Executing practiced maneuvers perfectly, looking for the next partner as I alleviate the current one. Oh, I am certain I am not the first to seek your company with an ale. Perhaps I may be the last to do so without consequence. One never knows." He leans in and whispers.
While trying not to eavesdrop on the couple at the table behind him, Ranok cannot help but lean a little closer as Seldron leans in to whisper. He's not sure if it's because he believes that this man is a slimy snake and possibly dangerous to this naive lass, or if it some sort of jealousy.
Perception: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (1) + 14 = 15
No need to get involved. I'm sure she knows what she's doing
Ranok's blood pressure begins to skyrocket.
but if he tries to get her to leave with him...
Perception: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (13) + 8 = 21
Niu giggles, but keeps his eyes on the musician.
Bluff: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (17) - 1 = 16 To make it seem as if he didn't hear anything
|Lady Ziera Wyvernrose|
She giggles "My my SeldIorn,I am beginning to think you might fancy me" She says eyeing Jalene and giving her a wink and half smile.
'Tell me SeldIorn I am sure your blade wor is admirable, I do not doubt it, but tell me since you have bought me a drink, what do you seek with this conversation? Friendship perhaps?" She asks sipping on her tea a bit more as she looks on.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (9) + 11 = 20
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (6) + 11 = 17
Jalene sets two mugs of darkwood ale on the table in front of Seldlron. "Not the first time I ordered two for myself." He stands and walks behind the lady and serves her one from her left hand side. While doing so, he notices Ranok glaring at him. Seldlron sits at the head of the table. "I merely seek conversation. Should more arise from that, so be it. While unique, this ale is quite strong. Do be careful with it." He turns his mug up and downs about a fourth of the contents.
|Lady Ziera Wyvernrose|
Lady Zeira smiles and takes up one of the ales and takes a sip, as she does she focuses her innate ability and sees if he is evil.Detect Evil
"Well I will not lie, you are handsome" She says as she smiles letting a bit of the ale to dribble down her chin. She wipes it away and then lets out a satisfying breath.
"Tell me Mayor, if it does come to more what is it you seek, Fleeting Love, Lust, or something far more long term? Maybe friends perhaps or something deeper. The Eternal Rose wouldn't mind any of those expressions save pure lust."She says as she leans in and lets her hand brush his.
"If not then I can stay friends if you like. The love of friendship is still love" She chuckles as she takes another drink. This was proving entertaining, and he was handsome however it wasn't just love for herself or her servant, but was here to spread love and defeat evil who shall not seek the beauty and inner love.
"All flatteries and flirtations aside, SeldIron do you know of any persons seeking the aid of an Adventurer? Mayhaps a beautiful one with red hair?" she smiles almost catlike as she then sets her cup on the table and honestly hoping she would get a decent room for her and Festia.
While waiting for the dwarf to properly introduce himself and his intent, Ranok asks his query again, a bit louder this time, "Good dwarf, I have traveled fast for this falcons hollow as I have heard that there is evil afoot. I hear you have been battling it for dinner time now and could use a few good hands. Perhaps you could tell us if this evil, and how lady Cirthana plays into it. Hmm?"
|Igar The Terrible|
You detect no evil.
The darkwood ale is bitter yet balances with malts. Its flavor is unique, the closest description would be a bitter mix of walnut and hickory. You feel its power within moments.
The Sitting Duck is a tavern in the town of Falcon's Hollow in Andoran. The tavern is popular among adventurers, explorers, and everyone looking for excitement. It is famous for a potent brew of fermented darkwood leaf that could floor an ogre in a few tankards, and the raucous games that rage late at night.
"You seem to be at odds with your words, my lady. Understandable as I do tend have that effect on the womenfolk from time to time. It is rare to see one available in these parts, and of beauty nonetheless even more a blessing. I am not aware of any adventures at this moment. Just stay here a while. We seem to have more than our fair share of those. We have kept that dwarf and his companions busy since they first arrived. If it is adventure you seek, you have come to the right place. Tell me more about his fleeting love."
|Lady Ziera Wyvernrose|
"Fleeting love is usually one that burns hot, it lasts a short time before the pair find that the love they had was not as deep or as passionate as one originally thought. They part ways preferably amicably. Though not always. I have known more of these then I had liked but most were not bittersweet as one would think"She says looking at him her one hand resting on the table propping up her chin.
She takes that movement to gaze over to the dwarf and nod."So he is something of a local hero, The one the Bard was singing about?" She leans in and with her free hand lets her hand touch the Mayor's leg and smiles.
"I would love to pick this up later, but I think I am going to see a Dwarf about an Adventure. But please feel free to contact me again I shall definitely wish to talk more, and with far more suitable clothes. Just leave a message at the Tavern, for I assure you Festia will have secured us a room, Until then SeldIron, I wish you Love and Beauty shine upon, until we meet again"She says standing up and heading over to the Dwarf.
"Greetings Rhen, I am Lady Zeira Wyvernspur, I hear you are an Adventurer and was wondering if you had room for a Holy Knight, in your band of stalwart rogues!"She says with an ale in her hand.
"I be Rhen, like that singer ovr' there be tellin' Came ta this town because me own kind weren't suitin' me ta much. Now I be helping out around here get me hands dirty and keepin' them small folk and less inclined ta the dirty work safe." Rhen says taking a swig of his mug. "I be needin' a crew as I cannot be doin' all this me self. THe lady leads the church here, Iomadae be her god, Not much o' a church goer meself." Rhen says, noticing the lady coming over to him Rhen looks at her then at Seldlron, "Aye I be needin' people ta help with the Kobolds who be up ta no good once again. We had made a deal with em before but I guess they be breakin' it."
Ranok's face lightens up a bit at hearing that they had made a deal with the kobolds rather than wiping them out as many adventurers would have done.
This truly is the place of second chances.
"Kobolds? You had made a deal with them to maintain a peace and they have not held to it? Pity. Is it that bad or can reparations be made? While I believe that everyone may deserve a second chance, very few deserve a third."
That's important for me to remember as well...
As the Holy Knight rises from her seat, and heads over to Rhen, Niu comments.
"That battle was not the one I expected when I first sat down, though the swordplay was no less thrilling to watch. You even left your opponent capable of fighting another day.
I am not entirely sure the mayor even knows that he has been defeated. Subtle, as well as confident. You are impressive, My Lady."
Standing, and coming over to the dwarf, he continues. "...and you, Mister Vemsa, the Mayor and the Bard have told thrilling stories about your prowess and legerdemain. You are an intriguing fellow.
I shall follow you to see these kobold of which you speak."
"I just be knowin' that somethin' be wrong not sure what exactlty." Rhen says, Rhen looks up at the woman as she approaches. "Aye I just be doin' what needs doin' lass, I be fightin' how I need ta to survive." Rhen says offering the woman a chair "Ye are welcome ta come, it will be dangerous."
"I think that a couple of drinks should be long enough for you to tell us what you know if the kobolds before we all turn in for the night.". Ranok says with a grin as he looks at Rhen, Niu, and Ziera in turn. His smile falters when his gaze falls in Ziera for an uncomfortable moment. "Ahem, excuse me. You remind me of someone I used to know is all."
Glanced over at the loggers, expecting his group to be the target of this laughter.
Perception: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (20) + 14 = 34
|Lady Ziera Wyvernrose|
As she got to the group and hears Nius' recounting the small chess game she had just maneuvered through."Who says it is over? I may walk over and ask for a private tour, but I dare not make that maneuver just yet." she says eyeing the Mayor before nodding at the dwarf.
"Tis the truth of most I am afraid. Many have fallen to just the harsh realities that we face that some are forever scarred by it. I doubt you are one Master Vemsa, was it? Or do you prefer Rhen?" She waits for the response and nods.
"Danger I have faced many a time. Though I seek first peace, I will fight if they seek it." She says honestly not hiding one of the fundamental tenets of her faith and order.
After the half-orc looks her over she smiles and holds out her hand very lady like."Do I? Tell me who was she and did this lady fair charm your savage heart? Did she seduce you, did you seduce her? Details my dear tower of emerald muscle!" She paused at the end of a giggle before she retracts her hand and tips her head.
"Master Rhen I shall aid you in this mission to seek out these Kobolds and question why they spurned this accord. Lady Zeira Wyvernspur, Knight of the Eternal Rose, shall lend her glaive and divine blessings upon you and those who accompany you" She states regally with a sense of majesty and theatrics cheap dockside theatre troops use and call acting.
Niu jumps a little when he is acknowledged and his eyes dart around as he takes a step back.
Taking a breath, he calms himself. Lowering his eyes and nervously rubbing his hands together, he replies, "My apologies. Sometimes I lose track of the distinction between internal monologue and external dialog.
I suppose it is a side effect of living so long with no one except Neb-en-thor to speak with."
As the conversation moves away from him, Niu calms further and begins tapping his fingertips together as he smiles, quietly listening to the conversation.