Mac trots up to Oona when she steps outside the room and licks her hand, whimpering quietly. He leans heavily into her pets; he's big enough now that he vibrates visibly from his shaking.
Freyja watches in barely contained horror as Grevayne offers himself to the ghost. Her bow falters slightly, then drops. "Ghost! If you harm our ally, we will close and seal this door so that you are doomed to do math for eternity. We will ensure that you will find no one to help you and you will suffer long after our mortal bodies have passed on and this keep has crumbled to dust. Mark my words."
Then she steps out of the room and gives Oona an incredulous look.
days: 1d4 + 1 ⇒ (1) + 1 = 2
Erno's face lights up with delight and surprise. "Truly?! I must say, I did not expect that any of you would agree. This is the best course of action!"
He listens to Freyja's words and then nods. "I understand. I need his body so that I can keep my place in my calculations. You have my word that I will not harm this man... well, perhaps his hand will cramp, but that is all!"
With that he floats the rest of the way through the desk to Grevayne. Grevayne cannot stop his flinch reflex as the ghost's body draws closer and closer. Finally it begins to merge with Grevayne's own body; he feels a flash of terror and a cold shudder overtakes his body. His hindbrain reacts with its instinctual fight-or-flight response; it takes every bit of will that Grevayne has to resist either of those actions and let this happen.
Then Grevayne feels another presence in his head and, to his horror, he feels his own self yield control to this presence. He watches as his body walks around the desk, sits down, and irritably tries to push a large acid-pocked stone off of the desk. He feels the other presence in his head grow frustrated that the stone is far too heavy to move; instead, his body moves the chair to the end of the desk so it has room to work.
It picks up the quill and begins writing.
Oona scowls. "Of course I'm not okay with it! But it's his choice. And I don't relish the idea of fighting smoke and fog, which is basically what he is. Besides, maybe this way the spirit will just leave peacefully." Yeah, right. Like that's ever been your luck. She sighs, sits cross-legged in the hall, and lays the bow across her lap. "I don't know. An hour? I'm not a mathematician. I don't know how long it's supposed to take. I guess we just wait and see."
Oona will look in after an hour to make sure it's going fine and Grevayne doesn't look sick or injured in any way, but she won't interrupt. She will check in after two hours, however.
Grevayne tries to keep his internal screaming to a minimum while the ghost has hold of his body. No need to distract him and make this take any longer, you know?
An hour passes. Oona peeks her head into the room. Greverno doesn't even look up, just continues writing furiously.
Another hour passes. No change.
Oona clears her throat. "It's been two hours. How long will this take?"
Greverno's head looks up impatiently at Oona's intrusion. When he (it?) speaks, it is in an odd and unsettling mashup of Grevayne and Erno's voices that makes Oona's skin crawl. "Do not rush me! It will take how long it takes! Every time you interrupt me, I have to spend extra time to recall where I was. I suggest you do not do it again." His eyes go back to the page.
"Remember we are aiding you, creature. We could have simply destroyed you, seeing as you meant to do this to us against our will. You have our friend hostage; he still needs sustenance to survive. If he's not free by next meal, I'll rip you apart with positive energy so fast your f*+#ing head will spin."
Her grip on her bow is white-knuckled.
Oona is about f$&@ing done with this guy.
Grevayne feels a small pang of something at Oona's anger he hasn't felt in a long time. Gratitude, perhaps? Yes, he thinks it is. It's not that he's an ungrateful man, it's just that he hasn't been around people in over a decade worth being grateful to; he has been traveling alone a long, long time.
He considers the inquisitor for a moment, then says into his mind, toward the entity in there, Let me speak to her for a moment. I know it is a setback, but I think I can convince her to leave us in peace for you to finish your work. Please.
Greverno's hand slams the quill down on the page, splattering ink across some of the calculations and the desk. Fine. Tell her I grow impatient. This will be the last interruption.
Grevayne feels the presence in his head loosen its grip on his mind ever so slightly. If he tests the limits of the relinquished control, he quickly finds that he still cannot move anything but his mouth. Not even his eyes are under his control.
The voice speaks in his head again. You have sixty seconds.
Grevayne clears his throat. "I know you can tell a lie, so please do so now, so you may know the words are my own."
He pauses to let Oona ready her ability before continuing. "We could of course expend resources and risk the dangers of fighting the spirit, but that would be a waste of time and abilities when we have the ability to lay him to rest without doing so, not to mention the reduction of risk. It is not altruism, simply pragmatism. Leave me here with him and make camp. Leave the premises of the fort if you need to, but remain in sight of where we entered. Come back and check on me in the morning, and I will rejoin you if we finish before then. I will be fine. Do not worry about me."
Spent another round of discern lies.
Oona's grip loosens on her bow as she studies Grevayne uncertainly. "You're sure?" At the dhampir's nod, she shakes her head. "Fine. But if that son of a b#%%* harms you in any way, I don't care if he's put to rest. I'll track his spirit down across the f%$&ing planes and annihilate him. No one harms my allies."
She glances at Freyja. "I'll be making camp just outside. Do as you will."
She snaps, "Come!" to Mac and storms out.
Handle Animal: 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (12) + 15 = 27
Mac hesitates, a small, low whine whispering out of him at the force of his companion's words, but follows all the same.
Grevayne feels the other in his head retake control. It speaks in his head again, and this time the voice is just a touch calmer. I ... know you don't have to do this for me. Thank you. I will endeavor to work as quickly as possible.
Greverno does not ackowledge Oona's threat and returns to his work.
Freyja leads you a short way into the woods north of the collapsed wall. You find a suitable site and set up camp.
Doing anything before bed?
Oona will work with Mac some more on his trick. Other than that, she'll just set up a watch as best she can with just Freyja and head to bed.
Oona's rest is fitful. Too many questions with no answers, compiled with the fact that a ghost is holding an ally hostage. She's no fan of Grevayne, but he is one of the people of Hearthstone and under her protection. So far as she's concerned, Grevayne's well-being is her job. She's failed twice already; she refuses to fail a third.
All this mashed together makes her sleep fitful and full of anxiety-spawned nightmares.
Mac snores pleasantly, happy to be away from the weirdness of the fortress. Weird gross-smelling beard-men and not-smelling smoke men and humans with bees in them. Yuck. This is much better.
Mac dreams of food.
Day 32: Lamashan 22, 4717
You wake up at dawn. It is sunny but quite cold this morning.
Once her morning ablutions are complete, Oona brews coffee and watches the entrance to the fort from afar, her breath exiting in solemn puffs as she searches the fort for movement.
The fort is quiet this morning. No sounds of revelry, and no visible guards on the perimeter (the rubble and overgrowth makes it near impossible to see anything inside the walls).
Oona sighs and makes herself comfortable. Why did it have to be ghosts? She absently strokes Mac's flank as she stares at the fort.
Oona will continue waiting until he returns. If a full day goes by with no sign of him, tomorrow morning she'll enter the fort and check on him. She won't interrupt, but she will make sure he's not in immediate danger.
Freyja decides to take advantage of the downtime to do some hunting and training with Trjega.
She won't hunt the whole day, so I'll just do a half portion.
hunt: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (15) + 14 = 29
9 PPs, or 4 halved. Not bad.
After lunch, she sits next to Oona. They sit in silence for a while, then Freyja speaks up. "I've been thinking a lot about what Grevayne is doing. I don't think I could do it. The very idea gives me the chills." She pulls up her sleeve to show the fair hairs on her arm standing straight up. "I wonder if his... taint? ... his condition ... makes it easier for him."
Oona considers it for a bit. "Maybe. I wonder if that's why he did it. Maybe he doesn't understand his... other half... any more than we do. Maybe he thought this would help him do so." She sighs. It's more frustrated than exasperated. "I've traversed the Fangwood for nigh on twenty years, and in that time, I hadn't seen half the weird s*&$ I've seen since Phaendar fell. I thought a flying woman throwing curses around with hardly a thought would be as weird as it got, but Grevayne is on another level entirely."
She considers the outline of the fortress and the denizens within. "I know we closed the door. And if the fey in the fort know of the ghost, they're probably going to steer clear of the room. But... I worry. It's probably stupid and arrogant of me, but I feel like it's my job to protect you and the rest of the people of Hearthstone. And Grevayne is one of those people. I failed with Denithil. I failed with Katia. I'm scared I'm about to fail again."
"It's not stupid or arrogant, but it is unnecessary. We have enough to worry about without you adding additional burden to yourself. Grevayne is a grown man and he made a choice. It is not on us to protect him from his own choices." She pauses, then chuckles. "That's not to say that I won't find a way to make that ghost suffer if it hurts him. But that is out of camaraderie, not some misguided idea that I am his protector." She shakes her head. "That's not exactly what I mean. I am not trying to be insulting, Oona. You are a good person. I am glad I know you and that you and Mac are fighting beside me. But we face a terrible enemy. Please don't put additional pressure on yourself."
She plucks absently at her thick wool-lined jacket, staring at nothing. "I don't mean to. I guess... I guess ever since I lost the Circle, I just... I don't want to see anyone else suffer their fate. So I take it all on myself. You're right, I'm not his protector. Or yours. But to know that logically and convince my fool brain of it, are two entirely different beasts."
She scowls and looks at the ground. "I hate this waiting. I hate feeling helpless."
Oona considers the forest, then nods. "Good idea. I'll be back later."
I get +2 on Survival checks now thanks to my flippin' sweet new prestige class!
Hunt: 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (16) + 15 = 31
HOT DOG. I'll spend time training Mac after that.
The second half of the day passes as quietly as the first. Occasionally you will hear the sound of revelry from the courtyard, but nothing more than that. The satyrs left, presumably without speaking to anyone, but has no one been in the dining room today? Is everyone in the keep so drunk that they don't want to seek out those that slayed the skinstitch? It is all very strange.
As the day stretches toward night, Freyja and Oona's discussions become less and less frequent, until you just sit together in silence, both dreading what it will mean if Grevayne doesn't return. Finally, Freyja offers to take first watch. It is earlier than she would normally turn in, but it is necessary since there are only two of you to watch.
Freyja wakes Oona up some time later, and Oona begins her watch. It continues uneventfully for hours, until, as the sky is just beginning to show the first signs of dawn, she hears the rustling of someone approaching. She stands and begins to draw her weapon, but then she sees Mac sniff the air. His raised hackles relax and his alert tail drops and begins to wag. He gives a tentative bark just as Grevayne stumbles into the campsite. He stinks.
"Well. That sucked," he whispers, just before he collapses to the ground.
This was so cool and unexpected. Grevayne totes gets a hero point. Don't worry, he's fine: just mechanically exhausted and he has quite a bit of NL damage from thirst and hunger.
A little peek behind the screen: if allowed to inhabit a body, Erno takes 1d4+1 days to complete the calculations, during which time he does not let the body eat, drink, or rest (or, you know, use the bathroom). Fortunately for Grevayne, I rolled a 1 on the d4, and then I gave you a bonus half day for kickass RP.
I'll let you resolve any RP (with yourself haha (but assume the commotion woke Freyja too)) that you'd like to do, and then I'll advance to day 33.
"Gods," she whispers fiercely, frantically pulling a strip of cold fire-cooked meat from the spit and pulling out her waterskin. She gives him a few sips, then hands him a hunk of meat. "Eat slowly," she says.
Grevayne doesn't have much appetite, funny enough, but he knows he needs to eat. "Th..." He starts to speak, but even after a few sips of water the pain of doing so is so horrid, he shuts up and chews mechanically on the cold venison. After a few painful swallows, he takes several more sips, and finally manages to croak out words.
"There was this guy... at the monastery. The one where I... hhh..." He takes another small gulp of water and flinches as he swallows. "Where they tried to train me. They found him in the forest, a couple of the younger monks. He looked like the walking dead. Sunken eyes. Ribs protruding under his sagging skin. Bloated belly. Did you know that happens? When..." He coughs. "When you starve a long time. Your belly bloats. Gases build up or something.
"Anyway. They wanted to help, so they gave him all the food he could eat. I thought he was amazing. Ate half a pheasant by himself, and two nectarines. Lots of bread." He stares up at the sky, not looking at either of them.
"It was probably the bread that killed him. As it happens, when you do not eat for long periods of time, your stomach shrinks. They killed him with kindness. Literally. They let him have all the food he wanted, and his stomach burst."
"The Master beat them both to an inch of their lives and made them dig up a plot for the man with their bare hands, as punishment. They wept and begged for mercy, that they were only trying to help. 'Your help is what killed him,' he said. Good lesson, right? Don't help people. It sucks."
He chews thoughtfully for a moment on a piece of venison. "Good deer though."
Oona stares at him incredulously. "You are a damned strange creature, Grevayne."
She doesn't try to move him. She just shoves a blanket under his head and throws another one over him, places another small piece of deer meat on his stomach, and leaves the waterskin in easy reach. "Get your rest. We're going to need you."
She pulls out one of his wands and taps him twice with it to heal up some of the damage wrought by his undernourishment.
2d8 + 2 ⇒ (1, 2) + 2 = 5
1d8 + 1 ⇒ (2) + 1 = 3
Okay you know what we're done here.
Oona whaps the wand on the ground a couple times to try and get it to unclog or whatever the Hells is wrong with it, but it doesn't seem to want to give up any real juice. She sighs and sticks it next to Grevayne. "Best I could do," she grumbles.
His thirst and hunger sated (for now), Grevayne falls asleep where he lays. Oona watches for another hour or two until Freyja awakens.
Day 33: Lamashan 23, 4717
Did you do the rolls for your followers on day 32?
Freyja looks down at Grevayne and wrinkles her nose. "You couldn't have made him bathe before passing out?" She laughs. "How long should we let him sleep? I feel like we should get back to the fort as soon as possible. We're supposed to meet Herge in two days."
"I know," Oona sighs. "But he'll need rest to regain his spells. We'll need him at one hundred percent in there. He gets eight hours. Then we go in. We lose half a day, yes. But we lose everything if we die in there because one of us was crippled by exhaustion and lack of magic."
I am just the worst at remembering these rolls.
Rolls for Day 31:
Derpherders: 1d20 + 4 + 2 ⇒ (18) + 4 + 2 = 24
Van Hunting Pair: 1d20 + 6 + 2 ⇒ (5) + 6 + 2 = 13
Peter Hunting Pair: 1d20 + 6 + 2 ⇒ (17) + 6 + 2 = 25
Caryna Hunting Pair: 1d20 + 6 + 2 ⇒ (2) + 6 + 2 = 10
Kerosene Crafting: 1d20 + 6 + 2 ⇒ (10) + 6 + 2 = 18
Rolls for Day 32:
Derpherders: 1d20 + 4 + 2 ⇒ (10) + 4 + 2 = 16
Van Hunting Pair: 1d20 + 6 + 2 ⇒ (7) + 6 + 2 = 15
Peter Hunting Pair: 1d20 + 6 + 2 ⇒ (16) + 6 + 2 = 24
Caryna Hunting Pair: 1d20 + 6 + 2 ⇒ (7) + 6 + 2 = 15
Kerosene Crafting: 1d20 + 6 + 2 ⇒ (17) + 6 + 2 = 25
Rolls for Day 33:
Derpherders: 1d20 + 4 + 2 ⇒ (15) + 4 + 2 = 21
Van Hunting Pair: 1d20 + 6 + 2 ⇒ (15) + 6 + 2 = 23
Peter Hunting Pair: 1d20 + 6 + 2 ⇒ (18) + 6 + 2 = 26
Caryna Hunting Pair: 1d20 + 6 + 2 ⇒ (4) + 6 + 2 = 12
Kerosene Crafting: 1d20 + 6 + 2 ⇒ (1) + 6 + 2 = 9
WHAT THREE GOATS GET TF OUTTA TOWN.
That is two pints of kerosene oil crafted, and one failure. I removed the extra 5 sp from the crafting materials for the ruined stuff.
That wasn't a lot of PP gained from hunting (only 34 over 3 days) though that doesn't include Aubrin's solo excursions. Taking out a week's worth of supplies for 5 people really dug into that surplus.
aubrin 31: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (9) + 9 = 18 (4 PP)
aubrin 32: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (10) + 9 = 19 (4 PP)
aubrin 33: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (20) + 9 = 29 (9 PP)
It is early afternoon when Grevayne awakens. He is ravenous but feeling much better overall. He heads to a nearby stream to take a very cold bath. While he is undressing, the weight of his purse reminds him of the last thing that Erno told him before the ghost faded into nothingness: the desk drawer contained the late merchant's traveling cash, 1060gp. Erno appreciated Grevayne's help and gifted it to him as a reward.
Once he has scrubbed off, Grevayne clothes himself and heads back to camp. He drops the coin purse in Freyja's lap before sitting down to prepare his spells. Over the last day, he's had a few ideas for spells that he absolutely needs to write down.
Preparing spells (3rd level spells aw yiss)!
Once he's done, he nods to the others and grabs a large chunk of cold venison to chew on while they walk toward the fort. "Ready."
Oona, having finished her morning ablutions at dawn, nods gratefully. "Let's do this."
You pack up camp and head toward the keep. You pass the treeline just to the north of the ruined wall. You see no guards outside the wall.
Everyone is back together on roll20, northeast corner of the map.
Oona climbs over the rubble and down to the other side, readying her scythe when she lands, and scans the courtyard. Where did the korreds go...?
Perception: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (5) + 11 = 16
Grevayne steps more nimbly over the rocks than his counterpart, sliding easily down the low rubble and landing in a partial crouch, senses alert for danger, magic at hand and ready to cast.
I think it's kind of cheap to ready an action to cast if there's trouble; seems like it's gaming the system. So I'm not going to do that anymore. The "magic at hand" statement is really just flavor.
#1: 1 yes, 2 no: 1d2 ⇒ 1
#2: 1 yes, 2 no: 1d2 ⇒ 2
#3: 1 yes, 2 no: 1d2 ⇒ 1
#4: 1 yes, 2 no: 1d2 ⇒ 1
#5: 1 yes, 2 no: 1d2 ⇒ 2
#6: 1 yes, 2 no: 1d2 ⇒ 1
init: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (3) + 1 = 4
As you emerge from the rubble into the courtyard, several of the korred look up at you. They are clearly drunk again (still?), but this time something is different. They're more... lucid? A korred by the stable points at the party and slurs out some words in Sylvan.
Two of them seem too far gone to fight, but the others draw their clubs and begin stumbling toward you.
Freyja init: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (1) + 6 = 7
Grevayne init: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (18) + 2 = 20
Oona init: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (8) + 5 = 13
Grevayne (69/69 hp)
Oona (68/68 hp)
Mac (57/57 hp)
Freyja (60/60 hp)
Trjega (52/52 hp)
Korred #1 (0 damage)
Korred #3 (0 damage)
Korred #4 (0 damage)
Korred #6 (0 damage)
Bold may act.
Oona sighs, concentrates on the image of a turtle, and strides forward, readying an action to strike the first korred to come near her.
Readied Attack, Power Attack: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (11) + 8 = 19
Damage: 2d4 + 12 ⇒ (3, 2) + 12 = 17
Grevayne strides out into the open and calls on his magic as 1d4 + 2 ⇒ (2) + 2 = 4 more Grevaynes crowd around him. All five of them settle into his Dragon Stance as arcane power courses over his hands.
Swift action to make his fists impact and casting mirror image.
McAnally follows Oona's pointing finger toward the bad-smell man. "Defend," she says. Okay fine if he has to. Mac pads up next to him and tries not to breathe in too deeply.
Readied action to attack any korreds that come into melee with Grevayne.
Mac Attack: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (8) + 7 = 15
Nom Nom: 1d6 + 4 ⇒ (2) + 4 = 6
Woopsie Daises: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (15) + 8 = 23