Walthus starts to come around when Sam helps him, his wounds disappearing and mending due to the magical healing. He is confused when Lor-Sinn talks about cleaning up the house and *even* more confused when Asuka infers that these groups of people could be friends with the shapeshifter?
"Uhh..." he stammers as he tries to figure out what is going on.
When Ruka interjects and help guide the conversation in a more clear direction, he sits up and nods his head. "You have my thanks. All of you. You've saved my life. I was minding my own business when someone showed up at my door and asked for help. I let him in and suddenly he shifted into *me* and began attacking me! He would have gotten me too if it wasn't for Villy here." Walthus reaches under his cloak and pulls out a small viper snake, coiled around his arm. "She got him good enough to let go of me and I grabbed Villy and ran up here and locked myself in!"
Climbing to his feet now, he stretches and looks downstairs. "You all look famished? Are you hungry? I'm hungry. Why don't I make us all a celebratory meal and you can talk to me about why you've come all the way out here into the swamp to save my life."
He leads the group back downstairs again into the kitchen.
Lor-Sinn jumps at the sight of the small viper trying to simultaneously draw her bow and her sword and failing at both actions. When the serpent fails to eat anyone, she calms down a little. "Ehm, hi, Villy. Nice snake. Good snake. Please don't bite us."
She continues by way of explanation to Walthus. "There was another snake in the marsh, but much bigger. And a different color, too, I think. It almost ate Sam, but Asuka chopped it into itty-bitty-snakey bits. We met it on a bridge. It was the third bridge. Because we were looking for the goblins."
Ophidiophobia; noun: the fear of snakes. Much like Lor-Sinn, Sam jumped a bit at seeing the halfling's little viper. This surprised him a bit as he usually wasn't all that squeamish; a wizard could hardly allow themselves to be so when daily life had you experimenting with such reagents as newt eyes and bat feces. Perhaps that close encounter (far too close) with the constrictor had left an unfortunate impression with him, Sam wondered.
"I think they're referred to as faceless stalkers, sir," he added to Walthus's account. "And unless I'm much mistaken, this one wasn't even fully grown. Terrible as this has been for you, Mr Proudstump, one could almost consider you lucky. I take it these beings aren't common in the marsh?"
As for the lunch invitation, the youngster's mind immediately went to one person.
"That's very kind of you, sir. I'm going out to find Ms Cotton," he said to the group. "Maybe she wants a say in meal prepping. Either way, I don't like her being alone in the swamp."
Hopefully the gnome hadn't already been replaced by a ugothol.
Ruka nods as the others agree to the dinner. Personally she's not hungry, not with the worry still twisting her stomach into knots. (Not the mention the pain in her ribs whenever she takes a deep breath.) But a break would be appreciated.
"Yes, thank you. We appreciate your hospitality."
The halfling makes his way downstairs and begins to prepare a meal with all of the food he can find. Normally only serving one, preparing a feast for seven is a unique experience for him. While he cooks, he talks. He explains that the Licktoad Village is not far from here, but the best way to it would be to go back to the Lost Coast Road and head south for a quarter of a mile and look for the hidden path on the west side of the road by the cliffs. Follow that for a bit and you’ll get there just fine.
He also mentions a few other landmarks in the area, ”Old Megus the witch, I trade with her every half season or so. Also there is an old shipwreck and Old Soggy, the river monster.”
Asuka offers whatever help she can with dinner, even mundane tasks such as chopping or peeling vegetables. She immediately perks up at this mention of a river monster.
”A river monster! What manner of creature is it? A six-headed drake? A massive crab-lobster hybrid—a crabster, if you will? The amalgamated souls of every drowned maiden coalesced into a single vengeful revenant that lures the weak-willed to a watery grave with its song, and—its true name unknown or too unspeakable for mere mortal minds—it has been given the moniker ‘Old Soggy’ as an ironic touch of folksy bathos to its legacy of murder and tragedy?”
Poppy took her time with her walk, never strayed too far from the house, effectively walking in a big circle a few times. She lit her pipe and nursed it for a few minutes, watching unseen creatures scatter at her approach in the murky water nearby. She considered whether she regretted coming but quickly decided otherwise. What assured her most was having such efficient protectors. Two life threatening events in one day and both ended in seconds. She was sure that together they could handle most! any goblin.
The smell of burning firewood brought her mind back towards the home, where she saw Sam had walked outside. I've been gone too long. Hopefully they weren't all replaced by grotesque dopplegangers!
She approached the young man and offered him her pipe, happy to smell that second lunch was finally being dealt with. "Iz over? Ve staying for meal or two? If so, vill you help me bring zose in?" she motioned towards Art's saddlebags, whose reins were loosely tied near the front door. She paused for a moment and looked up at Sam sincerely, "Your concern iz appreciated. "
She paused briefly at the doorway seeing the halfling up and about but assumed this must have been the real one as everyone was so calm.
"Real Proudstump or not, there's food to make." the gnome thought with a small grin.
She And hopefully Sam! walked inside, arms full of cooking tools, a few ingredients, snake bits, some spices etc. Gliding towards the kitchen, she stepped over the corpse and motioned to add her supplies/skill to the meal with a hopeful nod to the Swamp Warden. "Gumbo, kebab, or stew? Either vay, I am Poppy. Iz pleasure to meet you-er-the REAL you.", she said in her usual flat affect.
Either aid or take the helm with his approval. Cooking: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (11) + 11 = 22
Clearing a space beside Asuka, she carefully cut on a piece of green bellpepper placed over her cutting board and looked up at Ruka, remembering she'd been knocked to the ground very roughly. "You are harmed? "
Kaji looks at Asuka, given her joy at the thought of a river monster. Though she is a deadly and highly skilled combatant, she is also quite young, and seemingly obsessed with glory and drama.
It was an uncomfortable thought. After all, wasn't glory the reason Kaji wanted to be an adventurer. He could tell himself it was different all he wanted, but was his motivation really all that different from hers?
Regardless, it was the shipwreck he was more interested in. [b]"A shipwreck, you say? How old is it? I find it curious it ended up here in the swamp. Where can we find it?
The halfling gladly lets Poppy help with the cooking. It only takes a few moments to realizes she's quite the experienced chef and he bows out, letting her run the show and work magic with what little he had to use. Even better, she brought her own ingredients! "Gumbo! Thank you for your assistance! I cannot wait to try this out, it looks fantastic. What do you call it?"
When Asoka asks about Old Soggy, Walthus shakes his head. "No, no, no. Nothing that grandiose I'm afraid. He's tall, like a pale human. Very human-like actually, but no hair. Oh, and he only has three fingers on his hand. The big thing though?"
He moves his hands to his face, palms together and keeps his wrists together as he opens up his hands and says "His mouth splits open like this and there are dozens of teeth and a huge tongue. Very scary looking. I stay away from him, you should too."
Walthus wants to watch Poppy prepare the food, his eyes having a hard time moving away as the smells start to attract his attention. "Hmmm? Shipwreck? Oh. Right. There are actually two of them, I can mark them on your map. They are quite old in fact, long before my time. I assume that they came in off Sog's Bay."
The halfling points west "It's right outside my place here, the bay. The swamp sits between the bay and the mainland on the other side of the Lost Coast Road."
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"Sure thing, Ms Cotton," Sam replied to the request, the words coming out of his mouth before he could even think. Oh no, he realized. Had his apprenticeship to Parooh conditioned him to obey any direction given him by a gnome? Eh, what did it matter? It wasn't like he minded lending Poppy a hand, and he owed her far more than that which was exactly what he said:
"I owe all of you my life. I could take your mule's place as pack animal for you and it still wouldn't repay that debt."
The comment was clearly meant in good humor, although the young man's smile faltered somewhat looking at the saddlebags. Not the most strapping of lads, Samton's daily routine didn't see him getting much exercise beyond carrying books. Hefty books to be sure, but still. Then again, this was exactly what his studies specialized in: the enhancement of the mortal form. Giving Poppy's donkey a few reassuring pats, the wizard closed his eyes and concentrated for just a moment. Then he grasped a bag - immediately the somewhat skinny form beneath the plain clothes bulked outwards, subtly but noticeably. It wasn't much, but Sam's musculature was now definitely more in line with what might be expected of a healthy young man.
Knowing that this wouldn't last long, however, he set to helping the gnome carry her tools in. Smelling meat, he realized he was hefting the remains of the constrictor who had nearly been his death and couldn't help but smirk. There was something weirdly empowering about the situation.
Can I roll a Knowledge check to see if Sam pins Walthus's description to any particular beast? He has every monster knowledge skill expect Religion.
Know (something or other?): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (12) + 8 = 20
"A swamp monster? Witch? I never knew these things existed around here. Why, practically a stone's throw from Sandpoint... "
Lor-Sinn spends a few long moments deep in thought, completely absorbed. Sandpoint had been her world for her entire life, and it was both scary and exciting to discover the world outside of it. Of course, the world had come knocking a few times in the past years, quite rudely and violently, and she is already starting to fret that something might happen in her absence and she won't be there to protect them and maybe they will blame it on her, she wasn't there when they needed her, or most likely they will think she caused it! "Devil spawn went into the marsh, started plotting with the Pale Man and the Soggy Witch and the giant snake people to attack Sandpoint and raze it to the ground, just like her sister!"
The knife she was using to chop the carrots embeds itself halfway into the wooden cutting board, and a piece of root vegetable flies at high speed to collide with the ceiling.
"You are harmed?"
Ruka freezes and almost guiltily tries to sit up straighter. A brief but vicious battle wars in her mind.
What will they think of you if you admit to getting hurt just from being knocked down?
No one thought any less of Sam for getting hurt!
Sam's here as a cartographer. He's not supposed to be fighting. You are. That's the only reason you're here, and you've done a terrible job of it so far.
Well, I'll do an even worse job if we get attacked and I can't breathe!
And if one of the others gets attacked again and Poppy can't heal them because she wasted her spells on you?!
The other half of her brain can't argue with that and gives up. But it's not like she can pretend to be completely fine, it's obvious she's favoring her ribs...
"Um, yes. A little." Her shoulders hunch and she stares at the floor as she admits it. "But it's not too bad. I mean, I don't know how many healing spells you can cast, but you might want to save them for if someone is really hurt."
Ruka is both stubborn and very messed up in certain ways. OOC though I would appreciate some healing if you have it, and Ruka won't object if Poppy insists.
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Poppy briefly looked up from dicing garlic bulbs and answered Proudstump's query. "Şarpe Ciorba Radauteana...eh iz basically Sour snake soup but vith rice. Then iz Gumbo. Usually uze cheekin but snake vill pair fine. Just need extra butter."
She moved quickly and confidently through the cooking process sliding in veggies the group had cut into the gumbo and simmered the snake in oil and herbs before placing it in the concoction as they didn't have six hours to wait for perfection by cooking it with the rest. It'll be fast and messy but still tasty. She was glad that the kitchen was suited for a halfling, so often she had worked with tools and counters meant for tallfolk when not in her cart so this was a nice reprieve. As was cooking together as group. Food tended to bring people together in unique ways and she was glad to see that they were no exception.
Waiting for the food to finish cooking, she tried to help Lor-Sinn pull out the jammed knife from the wooden block, but turned back to address the wounded Kaijitsu. "Iz no trouble. You took brunt of attack so ve didn't haf to. You've done your job, so let me do mine! Ve'll all just have to be careful until next I can rest." she quickly abandoned the stuck blade to those with actual muscles and placed a reassuring hand on Ruka's shoulder, releasing the last of her magics to aid in the warrior's repair with a few whispered words.
CLW: 1d8 + 1 ⇒ (6) + 1 = 7
Asuka scoffs at the advice to stay away. "Thunder-God Asuka never turns away from a challenge, especially from villains who terrorize the countryside with their many teeth, three-fingered hands, and large tongue." After a moment, Asuka breaks her heroic facade, falling into uncontrollable laughter, as a joke comes to her mind, one that she did not see fit to share in polite company.
Although Ruka still feels guilty for needing the spell in the first place, as the healing energy washes over her she can't deny how much better she feels. "Thank you, Poppy." She sits up straight in her chair, relishing the ability to do so without even a twinge of pain.
She's also now ravenously hungry, which is good considering the amount of food Poppy is cooking. I should probably help with that, shouldn't I. Not that she knows how to cook, but she can at least retrieve the errant knife and help dice some vegetables or something. She tugs on the knife, frowns, and tugs harder before it finally comes loose.
"Um, Lor-Sinn...are you okay?" Ruka is far from an expert on normal behavior, but surely Lor-Sinn didn't usually try to cleave cutting boards in half.
Sam goes back and forth with Walthus with some additional questions to try and narrow down what the creature could be. After a few minutes of Q&A, Samton arrives at the conclusion that the creature Walthus describes as "Old Soggy" is likely a sinspawn.
Sinspawn are corrupted products of magic used by spellcasters in a past era as shock troops for their armies. Literally the embodiment of a sin made flesh, they are sentient abominations of distilled ectoplasm imprinted with the soul-image of slain creatures that possessed an abundance of a particular sin.
"Um, Lor-Sinn...are you okay?" Ruka is far from an expert on normal behavior, but surely Lor-Sinn didn't usually try to cleave cutting boards in half.
"I'm not like her!" Lor-Sinn replies heatedly, her gaze unfocused. She then notices Ruka standing before her and blinks slowly. "Um, I mean, yes, I'm okay, I'm great, everything is fine, never better!" She looks around, as if searching for something, before finally locating the stray piece of vegetable, which she brandishes with a slightly manic grin. "Carrots, right? So silly."
Poppy, Romanian is my native language, so let me know if you want help with translations!
Samton couldn't have felt any more ashamed if he'd passed wind during one of Father Zantus's sermons. How could he not have noticed that Ruka had been injured? How could he not have thought to ask? For Poppy to have to drag such an admission out of her... He had been right there when she was attacked and hadn't suspected a thing. He had used his one curative spell on Walthus instead. Granted, the halfling had been in dire need of it, but...
Part of it had to be Ruka's sheer stoicism, he reasoned. The young woman came across as pretty guarded and apparently this extended into showing any weakness. Man, the wizard thought, she's so much more together than me. Mature, capable with a sword, business owner... and wasn't she a few months younger than Sam? While he didn't have it in him to feel envious of her, the younger Kaijitsu was making Samton feel more inadequate than usual.
I even prepped some protective spells specifically to keep people safe... Aw man.
Still, this couldn't be healthy, right? And not even in a figurative sense - the woman had literally hidden an injury. The cartographer had a certain sympathy for the stoic school of thought; it overlapped with his own facts-over-feeling approach. And it wasn't as if he wasn't intimately familiar with the idea of restraining some specific emotions for a specific someone... But that was him and this was someone else. And hypocrite that he was, Samton worried about Ruka.
[...] a piece of root vegetable flies at high speed to collide with the ceiling.
Reflex: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (15) + 2 = 17
The wizard was brought out of his reverie by a flying... beet? Tuber? Severely misshapen carrot? Whatever it was he managed to narrowly and awkwardly catch it as it fell.
"Uh... here," he stumbled as Lor-Sinn came looking for it.
Perhaps he was worrying about the wrong person? Perhaps he should be worrying about that rouge sinspawn out in the marsh, his rational side weighed in. Sigh. Nothing could ever be easy, huh?
Asuka glances about as everyone seems to turn attention to Lor-Sinn. Following Sam's eyes to the ceiling and then back down to Lor-Sinn and her cleft cutting board.
"Who is 'her?'
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Kaji barely suppresses a sigh. Since Lor-Sinn was a member of the guard, he had thought she would be fairly together with things. Instead, she seemed to have her own demons and a fair amount of obliviousness towards the world. Samton, the cartographer, was young and had some magical abilities, but he was clearly still awkward. Asuka, though a highly skilled and deadly combatant, was far too eager to rush into danger. Ruka had been unwilling to admit her injury, and appeared to take any failure on her part far too personally. Poppy was, admittedly, more useful than he’d thought she’d be with her healing magic, but he wondered what her limit was.
And, then, of course, there was himself - so desperate for adventure that he’d joined with them without even taking time to truly get to know any of them. A mistake that would need to be rectified - starting with Lor-Sinn.
”Thank you, Walthus. If you could mark the shipwrecks on our maps, we would appreciate it.”
He looked at Lor-Sinn and said, ”If you do not wish to answer, it is no trouble.”
"Yes, no trouble, no trouble at all, everything is great!" Lor-Sinn keeps up the obviously fake cheer for another moment before sighing deeply and chomping on the piece of carrot.
"It's jhusht..." She swallows. "I worry about Sandpoint. What if something happens while we are away? What if we cannot solve the problem with the goblins, and they grow in power and overrun the town and everyone will just blame me for it." She rolls the stub between her fingers, her tail lashing from side to side. "Because of... you know." She gestures at her tail, and her stubby horns. "And my step-sister. If someone with angel blood could turn bad and attack the town... I know what they say about me, I'm not deaf or stupid. But I'm not bad, I swear." She turns a pleading look on the others.
Ruka is caught off guard by Lor-Sinn's admission. That's what she's worried about? She didn't know much about the tiefling, but had assumed her acceptance into the town guard meant she was trusted.
"They could say the same about me, you know. Nualia wouldn't have been able to accomplish anything without Tsuto's help. I have more in common with him than you do with Nualia." Especially now that I'm wielding his sword... She shakes her head and refocuses on Lor-Sinn. "I don't believe you're a bad person."
And that's where she runs out of reassuring things to say. She couldn't honestly say Lor-Sinn's fears about Sandpoint were baseless. If there was one thing the last few years had taught them, it was that things very well could go horribly wrong with no warning.
Uh, what would Ameiko say?
"Don't worry, we'll definitely solve the goblin problem. They're not going to be any match for us!" She tries to grin, although it probably comes off more as a grimace. It's not an expression her face is used to making.
Note to self: practice how to smile confidently.
Poppy finishes with the meal and serves her 'Snake soup with rice iz Gumbo' to everyone, though everyone has to sit on the floor since there is only one chair on a small table where the food is located. Walthus is wide-eyed with wonderment and blurts out a compliment after each bite. "Amazing! Such flavor! Those spices! Delicious!" Afterwards he begs for the recipe and asks her to make another trip next month where he can cook up his delicious eel tar-tar.
After the meal concludes, the place is cleaned and the maps are drawn, the party is ready to head out. Walthus goes to his storage room and returns with a cloak, handing it over to you. "I would be dead if it were not for all of you, so I owe you my life. I do not have much to offer, but what I do is yours. Please take this cloak, it has helped save my life on more than one occasion and I hope that it will bring you some luck as well. Cloak of resistance +1
I vote we give the cloak to Poppy - because she's the only Small-sized one and because she's apparently our primary healer at the moment.
The cloak likely wouldn't fit him, but it was still a generous token by the halfling. "Thank you for your gift. We are pleased to find that you were unharmed."
I don't like to differentiate between small and medium gear in my games. Small and medium creatures can use gear interchangeably. Only Large/Tiny will require different sizes.
Walthus smiles when the gift is accepted. "Thank you. Please come visit anytime!"
"Yes, thank you Mr. Proudstump." Ruka bows to him as they prepare to leave. "You've helped us a lot."
Once the group reconvenes outside, she looks to Sam. "Now that you have a map, we should be able to easily find the Licktoad Village. Is that correct?" While the other landmarks may be interesting, she doesn't see the point in wandering around sightseeing. Their purpose is to stop the goblins from hurting anyone else. Shipwrecks and old witches are irrelevant.
Ruka would be fine with checking out the other sites afterward, but would prefer to start with the goblins. Also I'm fine with Poppy having the cloak. I think her and Sam have the worst saves.
"If someone with angel blood could turn bad and attack the town... I know what they say about me, I'm not deaf or stupid. But I'm not bad, I swear." She turns a pleading look on the others.
The cartographer-in-training scratched an ear, not really knowing where to look. Samton wasn't exactly accustomed to seeing anyone upset, much less offering comfort of any kind. That said, his analytical little head was adept at testing any scenario, at finding counterpoints. Dispelling the tiefling's bleak outlook - was that not what she needed to hear?
"Ms Imass..." he began, after letting Ruka say her piece, "For all the bad Nualia Tobyn did, I'd think she actually proved your point. If someone with her angelic ancestry could do something so awful, then that just proves that none of us are defined by our blood. Not even the fiend-blooded. Surely Sandpoint will remember that."
During his studies into the planar and contacting his own otherworldly patron, the wizard had learned that while being descended from the great beyond exerted some lesser or greater influence on the plane-touched, it was no guarantee on their character. Heck, on the subject of a person's disposition, surely Sam himself was a prime example of nurture-over-nature, he suddenly realized. Raised by a cartographer on one side and a wizard on the other, neither a blood-relation of his... and look at him now.
"And besides," he went on with a smirk. "Listen to yourself! Aren't you Ms Andosana's protege? You should know better than to doubt her. She's watching out for Sandpoint while we're here, and she's worth a hundred of us. Ms Kaijitsu too," he added, looking to Ruka. "Everything's going to be fine."
With this said, Samton partook of Poppy's meal and thoroughly enjoyed it too. The sensation earlier held true. There was something oddly satisfying, empowering even in an almost primal way, in eating the snake that had nearly been his death. Thanking the gnome for the meal and helping clear the table, the wizard was surprised at Walthus's departing gift.
"A-are you sure, Mr Proudstump? Gods know we may need it, but... the cost of enchanted cloth aside, you could perhaps use any additional safeguard yourself. Could be more shapeshifters out there."
Only after the swamp dweller had assured them that they should have it did the young man feel comfortable leaving the little hut. Sam made sure to shake the halfling's hand in leaving and wish him (and his viper) all the best.
"Now that you have a map, we should be able to easily find the Licktoad Village. Is that correct?"
"Mh," he nodded. "Mr Proudstump's directions were pretty detailed. They'll be very helpful with my map. Yeah, I think we should be able to find the Licktoads."
As per the rules, item sizes only affect armor and weapons anyway. Wondrous items just refit themselves like the One Ring. And yeah, I have no problem with Poppy taking the cloak.
Asuka finds herself even more lost than usual at all this talk of someone named Nualia. What’s more, she seems to be the one person with no idea as to what everyone is referring. The situation serves as a reminder that she is ultimately an outsider to this town and the people here, no matter how much she’s enjoyed her time here or how much they have made her feel welcomed. She raises her talon to begin taking notes, then stops. Whatever calamity struck this town in the past was clearly still raw, and she would not be a cheap sensationalist profiting off a community’s real pain and tragedy. It’s one thing to exaggerate her own adventures for fun, but the story the others are referring to, whatever it is, isn’t hers to tell. She closes her book and follows the others towards the goblins.
I’m also good with Poppy taking the cloak. Int cast saves are rough!
Tears in her eyes, Lor-Sinn moves to hug both Ruka and Samton, then laughs at her own display of emotion. "Heh, I guess I never thought of it this way, about not being defined by your blood and all that... and being connected with people who did bad things doesn't make you bad, unless you also do bad things in which case..." She trails off, and a grin blooms on her face. "You two are so smart! And you're right, Sam, as long as Shalelu-sensei is around, Sandpoint will be safe!"
Feeling a lot more at ease, the tiefling joins the others in savouring the snake soup, and in saying their farewells to the halfling. "Goodbye, Mr. Proudstump, take care!"
As they find themselves on the trail again, she muses. "Perhaps the town guard should start patrolling this place. It feels like, like... when you turn over a rock and there's all sorts of bugs crawling under it? Goblins, witches, ghosts, snakes, monsters, shipwrecks!" She shakes her head, a hand clenching at her side. "We need to clean this place up!"
Ruka freezes as Lor-Sinn grabs her. For some strange reason all she can see is blue as her mind shuts down. Gah, ugh, what? After she's released and Lor-Sinn moves to embracing Sam, she slowly manages to bring herself to the present.
...Did she just...hug me?
Ruka was not accustomed to being hugged. The last time was probably before Ameiko's (second) departure. Even after...well, after, Ameiko had kept her distance. Mostly because Ruka exuded an air that discouraged physical contact. And no one else in town would be so familiar with a Kaijitsu.
It was...actually kind of nice.
Focus Ruka. You have a job to do.
"Yes." Ruka clears her throat. "Maybe that's why Sheriff Hemlock asked us to draw a map. So the town guard could start patrolling."
Asuka is happy to see Lor-Sinn happy and back to her usual self. ”Yes! We shall clean this place up with our Blades of Justice.”
Asuka notices Ruka remains in her typical gloomy affect. As cool as the whole “strong silent type” thing was, something about the woman made Asuka want to cheer her up. Growing up in Kwanlai, life had never been easy for her and her parents, and Asuka had always taken it upon herself to be the one to cheer everyone up. Mom was easy; Asuka could make her descend into a laughing-crying fit by doing the right impressions or silly voices. Mother was hard; making up outlandish stories and re-enacting the most outrageous parts of plays she saw in town were the only ways to get Mother to laugh. Maybe that’s where all this crazy storytelling started.
Asuka moves up to Ruka, nervously tapping the tips of her talons together. ”Kaijitsu-san! What kind of things make you laugh?” She puffs up her chest, one talon at her breast and her other wing flared open in an exaggerated operatic gesture. ”A comedy of manners in which people make witty comments.” She holds her talon daintily underneath her beak in a classic Noblewoman’s Laugh. ”Ohohoho! How droll.”
”Or perhaps...” She attempts a handstand from a running start.
Acrobatics: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (2) + 6 = 8
She stumbles on a root and comes crashing down. ”...you prefer physical comedy.”
Asuka gets up and starts brushing herself off and checking for any tears. ”I’m asking for a friend.” Asuka takes a trickster’s glee at the knowledge she considers herself her own friend—as Mom says it’s important to have a healthy relationship with yourself—and thus she is not lying.
Poppy would've taken the satisfied faces of the party around her as thanks enough, but Proudstump's gratious ravings made her day. She of course offered the recipe as well as the remaining edible snake bits, and some spices/ingredients he might have trouble locating in the swamp. But none of that added up to anywhere near the cost of the halflings gift to the group. Poppy stared wide eyed at the cape as it was passed around, finally landing in her possession at the silent agreement of the group.
She had never possessed any items of such wonderous features before, but was glad the first was a piece of clothing. She'd recently sold most of her wardrobe to afford some new special food stocks and repair the cart. So a new piece of fashion was always welcome on it's own, let alone one of magical quality. Even if it was mustard colored, she would make it work! She tied the cloak on and felt a sense of security wash over her. "I'll vear it vith pride. Thank you all.", she declared with her usual deadpan but with all sincerity, accompanied by a small curtsey.
She finished the visit by mending what broken bits remained in the home and promising to return for a try of this delicious sounding dish or at least to send word to reschedule if she couldn't make it. She decided to let the others sooth Lor-Sinn, as she was less proficient with emotional healing, but was glad she seemed less in distress by the time the meal had finished. Poppy looked back at the house, happy to have left someone better after their intervention. This seemed like a milestone for her occupation as an adventurer. After packing, she climbed up onto Arti, and lit her pipe with a flourish.
"Goblins, ho!" she announced in a playfully dry tone.
You bid Walthus farewell and head back up the fishing trail that takes you to the Lost Coast Road again. Once back on the road, you turn south and continue moving away from Sandpoint in search of another entrance into the swamp. After a half mile you cross the Soggy River and keep an eye out for the trail that halfling said would be further down the road a bit.
You arrive at where Walthus said the trail would be, but there isn't one. After traversing back and forth for a few hundred feet in both directions, both Kajiwara and Samton find it. Hidden quite well off to the western side of the path is a trail that is likely used by smaller creatures, such as goblins. The path becomes difficult to see as it approaches the 40-foot high cliff bordering the swamp, a faint trail leads from the swamp up along the cliff.
Following up the steep cliff requires some climbing work, but you had been prepared for this back in town. Time to climb a 40-foot high wall! You can attempt to just walk up the trail, but it is very steep and unsteady and you will need to make a DC10 climb check.
Perception: Ruka: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (10) + 5 = 15
Perception: Kajiwari: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (11) + 7 = 18
Perception: Poppy: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (6) + 4 = 10
Perception: Asuka: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (1) + 1 = 2
Perception: Lor-Sinn: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (3) - 1 = 2
Perception: Samton: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (18) + 1 = 19
As seems to be usual around Asuka, Ruka is flabbergasted by the new topic of conversation. "What makes me laugh? Uh, I guess..."
Wait, when was the last time I laughed? She hasn't found much funny over the past few years. Come to think of it, it was probably about the same time as the last time I was hugged.
That's a rather depressing thought. But thinking of the circumstances behind her past laughter is less so, and her lips actually quirk into a slight smile as she remembers.
"Ameiko used to make the most terrible puns. Stuff like,'Why should everyone have boiled eggs for breakfast? Because they're hard to beat!'" She shakes her head as if in disgust, but she's still smiling. "They really were awful, and they made me giggle every time."
By the time they get to the cliff, Ruka is back to being all business. "Hold on, I think I have something..." She roots around in her pack for a moment, eventually producing a grappling hook and rope. Tying the rope to the hook, she eyes the cliff until she spots a good ledge. She carefully aims and throws the hook towards it.
Taking 10 on my ranged attack roll for a 12. I think that's enough to secure a grappling hook to a spot 40 ft away. If not, I can take 20 or hand it to someone with a higher Dex.
Rope secured, she tugs on it a few times to make sure it's stable. "I'll go up first. If anyone has any trouble, I should be able to pull you up easily enough." She starts to climb.
Climb, ACP: 1d20 + 4 - 4 ⇒ (12) + 4 - 4 = 12
Lor-Sinn walks to the base of the cliff, craning her head back to look at the top. The climb didn't look too difficult with the aid of the rope, so she grasps it in both hands and tries to imitate Ruka.
Climb, APC: 1d20 - 4 ⇒ (11) - 4 = 7
Ruka makes it up the hill, taking her time and going slowly. Once up top she looks around to make sure it's clear before turning to help the others. Lor-Sinn luckily has a rope to hold and assist her climb the cliff, otherwise she surely would have tumbled back down to the bottom again. DC is now 5 to climb if you use the rope.
"It might be faster with two ropes."
Kajiwara takes out his own grappling hook and rope, and tosses it up next to Ruka's.
Also taking 10 on a ranged touch attack for a total of 12 to anchor the grappling hook.
He then ascends the rope to the top with Lor-Sinn and Ruka.
Take 10 Climb for a total of 15.
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Once discovered, Samton made sure to add copious notes on how to find the hidden path, to ensure that future marsh explorers would not go awry. It was only halfway through jotting down estimated distances and sketching landmarks that he realized he was doing so with a certain... immersion? Engagement? Exhilaration even? No, that might be too strong a word, but it was undeniable that a peculiar sensation had taken hold of the cartographer in his work, a feeling foreign to him in drawing any map back home in the shop. He looked down the uncovered trail. Ah. Could that be it? The joy of the unknown.
Perhaps this was what Parooh the gnome had meant all these years, Sam suddenly understood, when he insisted that the two were kindred spirits. One was a romantic, the other a realist, but both were drawn to the unknown. Parooh sought mysteries for the adventures they promised, while his pragmatic apprentice merely wanted to solve them. Not for glory, mind you, but because knowledge was a virtue in and of itself. Either way, the unknown attracted them both. The path less traveled would always hold more allure to them.
How about that, Mr Parooh? I'm learning things about myself.
The wizard smiled to himself and then joined the others on the path. So it was true, huh? All the gnome's saccharine words on his sentimental maps leading one to self-discovery if not the discovery of any actual treasure... Heh. Samton couldn't a breathe a word of this to his master. The old coot's smugness would know no bounds if he did.
Reaching the cliff, Samton wanted to cheer on Ruka and Kajiwara as they deftly scaled the wall, but reminded himself that shouting so near a goblin nest was inadvisable. Instead he merely tried steeling his nerves and emulate the younger Kaijitsu's stoicism, as he took hold of a rope to begin his own ascent. Fortunately, surprisingly, it went quite well.
Climb: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (14) - 1 = 13
Asuka rubs her claws together. ”I wouldn’t have taken Kaijitsu-sensei dor a punslinger. Puns it is, then!”
Asuka follows after the others. ”Thanks for the ropes. I imagine this climb would have been rather rocky without them.”
Asuka takes ten on climb for 14
Poppy gazed up at the wall and swallowed in anxiousness. She had never been a fan of heights but the others made it look so easy. She was grateful they'd set up such a system for the rest but eyed her mule nervously, wondering if the incline was enough to get him up.
"I do not mean to cause trouble, but vhat about Arti?" ,she gestured towards the pack animal.
Poppy will take a 10 on climbing when it comes up, giving her a 14
Assuming this cliff is more or less vertical...
"Sling knots, Ms Cotton," the wizard called down to the gnome. "Make sling knots out of the ropes. Get his front legs through one loop and hind legs through the other. We'll lift him up."
Well, 'we' might be saying a bit much. Samton was the scrawniest one of the bunch by a fair margin. But no way could they leave the poor thing on its own in a marsh that had proven itself particularly hostile. So he'd do his best.
Just consider this a suggestion and ignore the post if it's dumb one. Should be doable though with proper weight distribution, no? Google tells me that the donkey isn't likely to weigh more than 500 lbs.
Ruka doesn't actually laugh at Asuka's pun, but she does smile. I do hope the others are okay with puns; I think we'll be hearing them for a while.
She isn't too worried about Arti. Pulling him up the cliff shouldn't be difficult, especially with them all working together. "Poppy, you might even want to ride up with him. The extra weight won't make much of a difference, and that way you can keep him calm and distracted." Once the ropes are in place, she helps heave Arti up the cliff.
With everyone, (including Arti), at the top, she looks around. "Where do we go from here?"
Amusingly, Ruka could pull Arti up single-handedly. She can lift up to 600 pounds.
In my head I had pictured Ruka as this small girl, but she is built like a tank with some ridiculous strength training program apparently!
Poppy returns to assist in calming the ascension of Arti up and over the cliff. With so many people helping it, it is executing flawlessly and the group moves past the obstacle with relative ease. After following the trail and crossing over another cliff, the sight of a raised living area can be seen in the distance ahead.
A filthy village-fort surrounded by a crude wooden palisade sits atop a low hummock of solid ground here. A wooden gate in the north wall of the palisade lies in shambles on the ground. Nearby, a large, algae-filled pool on the northeastern side breaks the palisade and allows a clearer view into the village’s interior, which consists of a collection of ramshackle huts connected by wooden walkways, all built on thick wooden stilts.
Standing outside of the crumbled gate that leads inside, you see no goblins in sight and this area is a complete disaster.
Kajiwara scans the visible area, arrow nocked to bowstring and ready to draw as he looks for any hidden goblins.
Perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (12) + 7 = 19
"This is far quieter than I would have expected a goblin village to be."
Outside the broken gate and wall, Kajiwara neither sees nor hears signs of goblin activity anywhere. There are numerous footprints heading into the village stuck in the mud that look relatively fresh. It would appear that these prints which are humanoid and that something heavy was drug out of the camp.
Yep. In my head she's built something like this. It's just not obvious because she doesn't normally show off her arms.
Standing outside the goblin village, Ruka frowns. She would have expected a guard, or some sign of life at least. Instead the place is eerily quiet. "Where are they?" She joins Kajiwara in looking for any sign of where the goblins might be, but sees nothing.
Perception: 1d20 + 5 - 2 ⇒ (5) + 5 - 2 = 8
She unsheathes her nodachi. "I guess we have to just go in and look for them." Once the group seems to be ready, she heads into the village.