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"If these villagers have been pocketing their taxes, doesn't seem like they've been using 'em for educational purposes..." Gronkh mutters to himself.
You catch up to the boy and his odd pet as he steps onto the Ravenmoor ferry. Two ramshackle huts flank the Lampblack river here, sheds to house a flat-bottom ferry. Tightly drawn ropes cross the river, part of a cranked pulley system that draws the barge across the black water.
The ferryman is crook-backed and thin-haired. The boy hides behind him. "Now, strangers, if you be wantin' t' cross it be 1 piece o' silver each, an' 1 piece o' gold t' carry each o' them horses. I advise agin' swimmin', on account o' th' wolf-in-the-water." The old man gestures at an unusual bleached skull nailed to the wall of one of the huts.
See Slide 3 for a Rogue's Gallery of Ravenmoor - I'll reveal portraits as you meet the various characters.
Gronkh forks over a gold piece and a silver piece to the ferryman, while muttering "... and now the tax collectors is payin' the tax... "
"I say, boy, if you'll allow me I think I can put right to that--to Applesauce's leg."
If he's amenable Byron will try to Use Magic Device to heal the Stirge with a wand of cure light wounds.
UMD: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (17) + 8 = 25
cure light wounds: 1d8 + 1 ⇒ (5) + 1 = 6
Jeskit prods Tetch to come out of his pouch and help. My apologies, boy. I acted rashly when Applesauce attached itself to my friend. You can understand that. I know I would if my little friend misbehaved. Please allow us to set things right.
Guidance at will from Tetch.
diplomacy: 1d20 + 5 + 1 ⇒ (14) + 5 + 1 = 20
Angela, having called everyone over to get towards the ferry, pulls out a silver piece. Before she can she realizes that the boy has still not forgiven the accident or given up on making their life difficult. With a small flick of her hand she tucks the coin away and turns to the boy.
She takes a second to get down to his level, bringing her eyes down about two inches, before staring him directly in the eyes. "Hey, look at me. We are sorry we hurt Applesauce. It was an accident, we didn't realize he was your pet or important to you. Take a look at him, a good, long, hard look at him. Now imagine you didn't know him. Instead you've only heard stories about creatures like him that jump out and suck your blood. One day you're walking along and BOO! out pops a creature that looks exactly like the ones you've heard about. What would you do? Probably swat at it in surprise, no? Now look at Jeskit. The nagaji has arms nearly the size of you and me. Even a small swat from him would hurt, bad. It was an accident okay. We didn't mean to hurt your friend, Applesauce, okay?"
Diplomacy w/ inspiration: 1d20 + 7 + 1d6 ⇒ (19) + 7 + (4) = 30
Dangnabit! Ninjad by the offended himself. If she can Angela will try using her talking to the boy to convince the ferry man that he's dealing with good people?
The boy is frightened of Jeskit and continues to avoid the nagaji; but Angela interposes herself and manages to talk to him in a way that he can understand. The boy looks at Applesauce, and back at Jeskit. With his lips trembling, and tearful eyes, he holds Applesauce out towards Byron's wand. The healing spell mends the stirge's injured wing, and the boy smiles a little, nodding at Angela.
"Sometimes them critters goes bad an' has to be put down, Ornigaard." the ferryman advises the boy.
'I'm a take Applesauce straight home an' put him in his cage, Mr Cardzi" Ornigaard replies.
With Ornigaard placated, you each pay the ferryman and board his raft.
As the crude craft reaches the other side you hear the strains of string music wafting towards you from the village... village map legend revealed on slide 2
Yagaji leans in close to Byron and whispers "Wait, so that thing was a monster? 'cuz I thought it had that kinda look, but the halfling seemed to think it wasn't... I'm a bit confused. Just let me know if you need me to back you up, for whatever..."
"They can be dangerous, in large numbers. This one seems quite tame, though. I can't imagine the villagers would allow the boy to keep the creature if it was a threat. We should be on our guard, though--the villagers may prove more dangerous than the fauna." Byron whispers back.
To the ferryman, Byron holds out three more silver as a tip.
"Now then, man, tell me. Where would one find overnight accommodations in your lovely village?"
"Aye, 'n where kin I git some fresh oats fer Horace here?" Gronkh says, while patting his horse on the neck. Horace is clearly not fond of ferries.
"Yes, cage the beast. That is the first sensible suggestion I have heard uttered in these parts." laments Golthwur as he walks into the ferry. Otherwise, the mage seems unusually quiet as he settles in for the ride. A series of loud, erratic snoring sounds soon emanate from the man who is clearly not used to so much physical activity, giving a likely explanation for his silence.
The ferryman takes the tip, and nods in thanks. “There ain’t no inn in town, but there’s a-plenty of land out there to pitch camp in. Other'n that, ask the Mayor. If'n yer wantin' oats there's a tradin' post on the square, middle o' town." Cardzi points to the north, where the bulk of the village buildings lie.
Young Ornigaard runs off up the road, Applesauce cradled in his arms.
Angela's eye twitches a little at the mention of there being no inn in town. She plasters on a smile, thanks the ferry man for the information, walks out of ear shot of him and asks, "Uhhhh, anyone have a tent? Given the 'wolves in the water' and the fact stirges are seen as common enough to try taming them, I'd rather not sleep in an open bedroll. I take up only half the room of anyone else here, so I'd be a pretty conscientious tent partner!"
She then heads the group as they move into town, curious what a place small enough to not have an inn would look like. If I see a place that might be able to put some of us up for a night or three, then I want to be one of the first to ask!
"Did the ferryman not say to ask the mayor to provide lodging?" Golthwur responds. "Surely, you would not expect I, Golthwur Strath, Maestro Among Mages and Diviner with Distinction, to simply lie upon some cloth in the dirt in an effort to obtain slumber!"
"Might be worth a shot. We'll need to speak to him anway, eventually. We'll need to be on the same page about why we are here, though. If asked, whats our story?"
Ravenmoor is clearly a small settlement - you'd estimate not more than 150 souls reside here. The buildings are mainly single story and of wooden construction. Two exceptions stand out: one is a ruin standing on the village square '4' on the map and the other is a large, two storey house to the northeast '5' on the map.
The locals take note of your arrival, but apart from nods of acknowledgement they make little conversation. Each goes about their business - and it's apparent that there's a lot of activity to the north of the town square, as many villagers seem to be headed in that direction carrying various supplies.
Yagaji will politely stop a nearby villager. "Hello, stranger. I am Yagajimoro Iomoda, servant of Iomedae. You may call me Yagaji." The Nagaji offers his brightest smile. "There seems to be much ado to the north of town. Would you know what is going on?"
Angela gives the hustle and bustle a calculating glance. Hrmm something is up... Seems people don't want to talk, but I haven't worked in the clerical offices of the Grand Lodge without learning how to ask someone buried in their work to answer something... She's too busy... That man wouldn't want to stop with that heavy load... Ah, there we go, him.
The small halfling puts on a smile she'd practiced, the one that said, 'Hi, I'm friendly but have not a clue what is going on here. Can you help me?' and moves up to the man. "Sorry to interrupt, sir, but we just got to town and were wondering what's going on here. You wouldn't be able to help us would you?"
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (17) + 7 = 24
AID Angela diplo: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (7) + 7 = 14
"Is you a lizard-man, Yagaji? I dun't never seen the likes a you around a'fore."
The villager notices Angela - "Oh, it be the Founders' Festival today! Folks is getting everything ready in the field yonder. There be games, an' raven fightin.' I reckon my cousin's bird Foolscap is gonna win. He be summat fierce! An' this evenin' it be the Founders' Feast!"
Barbaric, Byron thinks.
"Wonderful!" he says. "I expect you get a fair share of visitors here, what with the festivities and all."
Bluff: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (11) + 1 = 12
Jeskit leans over, Well now you've seen two, sir. Fighting of ravens? That's gotta be a sight. What do you think, Tetch. You want part of the action? The leathery bird on Jeskit's shoulder buries itself in his familiar's pouch. Not interested in violence.
Does the tax collector that we are looking for have red hair?
Gronkh and Horace amble along with the others, certain that this two-bit town will have little to interest them, but Gronkh's ears perk up when he hears about the festival. "Will there be races? Races with prizes?"
Angela gives a smile as the man mentions the Founder's Festival. "So who was your founder, if you don't mind me asking. And what typically goes on during the festival? Why do you..." She keeps asking a few questions about the festival gennuinely interested in how the town celebrates. But at the mention of the Red-haired fellow, she pauses for a second, before adding to Jeskit's questions, "Wasn't asking around about back taxes was he? Do you know what happened to him?"
A couple of villagers stop by, intrigued at such a colourful group of strangers. They try to answer your questions.
"Races? Not rightly, no. But there's pig wrasslin'! An' raven fightin'! An' a bunch o' other games. Pig wrasslin's my favourite tho'."
"Eliaz? Sounds about right, sir. Summat about taxes. 'E went to see the Mayor. Weren't here long."
"The Founder was Iola Kriegler. 'Er an' th' druids an' the Dream Tender saved Ravenmoor from famine! So we feast every month in their honour."
Angela listens to the explanation of the founder with a bit of an interest, recalling the information about the 'Dream Tender' easily. She gives the small butterfly tokens a knowing glance before subtly pointing them out to the others. "A feast every month? They must have done more than just save the town. Many palces would kill to be blessed enough to do so. I hope the Song of the Spheres keeps on blessing your town in the future as well."
Take 10 Knowledge Religion w/ free inspiration: 10 + 7 + 1d6 ⇒ 10 + 7 + (6) = 23
The halfling then gives the man a smile at the information on Elias. "Ah, It's good to hear the man we were sent to find made it this far at least. Thank-you for the information, we'll probably have to meet with the mayor to find out more. Have a great Founder's Festival and Feast! And if you see us around feel free to say hi!"
"If they insist upon dining upon their income from month-to-month, it is little wonder that they may not have enough left over to pay the required tax." notes Golthwur to no one in particular.
Angela gives the man a wide eyed look and cuffs him lightly on the leg. She hisses out, "Not in front of the nice man! Also we don't KNOW if they can't pay! Jeeze, I think the Minkians out it best, to paraphrase, 'Read the air'!"
Wow, not many players have openly ticked off Angela before. Nicely done. :D
Angela gives the man a wide eyed look and cuffs him lightly on the leg. She hisses out, "Not in front of the nice man! Also we don't KNOW if they can't pay! Jeeze, I think Minkians put it best, to paraphrase, 'Read the air'!"
Wow, not many players have openly ticked off Angela before. Nicely done. :D
Horace looks a bit disappointed that there are no races at the festival but Gronkh gives him an apple and it seems to satisfy him.
"Right then, off to find the mayor at the festival!"
"Oh, 'ang on a sec sir! Does the three-legged-race count? Shure it does!" a villager calls after Gronkh and Horace. "Tha's no a horse race tho', if'n tha's what ye wanted."
You make your way towards the centre of Ravenmoor, following the locals carrying bags, boxes, and the like towards a large field on the edge of the village.
You enter Ravenmoor's village square. Most noticeable is the ruined church on the southwest edge number 4 on the map slide. The ceiling of this abandoned building has mostly caved in, and while the church’s two-story steeple still stands, the bell that once hung within appears to be missing.
Opposite the church on the southern edge of the square are two small shops. The first number 1 on the map slide is a weaver's. This shop is filled with simple clothing, cloth, thread, and yarn; a large loom and spinning wheel take up most of the shop's back area, along with a large cage containing silkworms. An elderly woman sits stooped over the wheel. She smiles a gap-toothed smile as you wander by.
The second shop 2 on the map has a wide, overhanging roof that provides shade for a few benches and chairs out front. A couple of elderly men sit at one of the benches, playing a simple boardgame.
The largest establishment on the square is a smithy, that also passes for a general store. 3 on the map The lack of business and activity certainly sets expectations of a poorly stocked store at best. Most of the wares are agricultural equipment: plows, scythes, flour sacks, flails, and the like. A majority of the available space is otherwise taken up with tables and the building’s long counter, and the hearth hosts a large cauldron in which a thick, creamy stew of diced eel and river clams simmers. A muscular bearded man works repairing tools, whilst his wife tends the cauldron. Out front, a beautiful young woman sits mending a fine but threadbare dress.
Do you wish to proceed to the festival field, or take some time investigating any of the buildings on the square? Or something else? It is currently late morning.
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Yagaji is curious as to just how simple the board game might be (he enjoys tic-tac-toe, though he usually loses...sometimes he gets lucky and there's a draw). He walks up to the two elderly players and bows respectfully.
"Hello. I am Yagajimoro Iodoma, servant of Iomedae. You may call me Yagaji. May I watch?" He smiles his most winning smile.
diplomacy: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (10) + 7 = 17
Byron will enter the general store and begin perusing the shelves, looking (without much hope), for any useful alchemical items particularly sunrods or a red flame torch, which he forgot to purchase before travelling here.
"I say, miss, that stew smells simply divine. Might I purchase a bowl?"
Gronkh looks around the place dubiously and murmurs to Horace, "Well, this place barely deserves to be called a one horse town, 'n only cuz yer in it! The sooner we find this errant tax boy, the better, if ye ask me... which no one is."
While he waits for the others to be ready to head to the festival - perhaps at least there will be some entertainment there! - he chats with the old lady doing her weaving - perhaps she can make a new saddle cover for Horace... "Well now m'am, beggin' yer pardon, but that's some fine weavin' ye got goin'. Don' s'pose ye 'ave much in th' way o' horse finery?"
Diplomacy: 1d20 - 2 ⇒ (13) - 2 = 11
Figuring the "mundane" members of the party have little to offer him in the way of learned conversation or good taste, Golthwur decides to shadow the mage to the general store.
When the elf makes inquiry, the elderly wizard is hopeful that, at least, some decent tobacco may be had in what he has already concluded is otherwise a forsaken town. Alas, when he realizes the question was with regard only to stew, Golthwur is crestfallen.