You awaken from the strangest dream. A ... tavern? Of sorts? Where every doorway led somewhere else? That wasn't even the strangest part of it. In the dream you were... somebody else. There was a ship? No, that's not right. There were all these little windows made of glass and light, on which people showed magical paintings, and text from books... no, no, surely not it... there was a city, a city where every building stood taller than any tower you've ever seen, and...
...the odd dream seems laughable, by dawn's light, as the intensity of it ebbs and you remember who you are and get your bearings. You're not on a sailing ship, nor in a city of steel towers, nor surrounded by little magic windows you could hold in your hand.
Where you are is on the last leg of travel to the village called Etran's Folly. The caravan should arrive today. Birds are chirping, the morning's campfire is crackling, and others of the caravan are already awake, packing up items just like they do every morning. There's the scent of frybread and bacon being cooked, and the sound of others yawning, grunting, and stretching themselves awake.
The ground was its usual lumpy self, but just think-- tonight you'll sleep in a bed. In an inn.
The dream is already forgotten by the time you kick out of your bedroll and get to your feet.
Welcome to Fall of Plaguestone! Feel free to describe your character's early morning thoughts, routine, and otherwise introduce them. You're part of a traveling caravan, and you'll meet the other people in that caravan shortly.
The ground does Sparrow's body no favors whatsoever. He groans himself awake, face scrunched in a grimace against the discomfort of each morning's waking. He's not as young as he once was, and there's the matter of his bad back...
He lies there a few moments longer, debating the odds he might be able to convince Cooky, or Bort, to let him ride on one of the wagons of the caravan today rather than walking. Usually they let him do so by mid-day anyway, as his pace is overtly flagging by that point, but it would be nice to be able to start the day that way.
What a strange dream that had been, Sparrow thinks, yawning, huddling in the warmth of his blankets yet. A vast city, and an all-seeing eye of some sorts, and...
"You getting up today? I'm not carryin' you."
...and Markon, of course. Sparrow sighs, cracking his eyes open to look up at the lean man who is-- naturally-- already up and at the proverbial them, and buckling on bits of armor, and chewing a strip of bacon concurrently. He wouldn't say his dislikes the man, exactly-- they have a cordial enough working relationship, now-- but he also wouldn't say that he won't be glad when they reach their journey's end and he and Markon can go back to being mutual satellites of Celias, as it were, rather than being stuck with each other.
"Yes, yes, I'm getting up," he mutters a bit waspishly.
"Good, cuz otherwise the breakfast'll all be gone." Markon falls silent, continuing to chew bacon, but stands nearby as Sparrow grumpily peels himself out of his bedroll and wincingly gets to his feet.
"....'dyou have a weird dream, last night?" Markon says in his slums-of-Elidir accent that he's never managed to shake. Sparrow pauses, then shoots a sidelong glance at the other man.
"Why? Did you?"
The scarred warrior shrugs, his fingers hooked into his belt loops, but not quite meeting his eyes. "Kinda. Yeah. Strange. A city. You were there, but different. And the boss."
Sparrow frowns. "I... did dream of a city. How odd, that we'd share such a dream. I wonder if it means anything."
Other characters are free to overhear this discussion!
Lilita lays for a minute, listening to the sounds of the camp around her, trying to recall the rapidly fading dream. She rubs her face before opening her eyes.
Austerity and discipline were core principals of her recent education. She gets out of bed and, after a few morning stretches, begins to pack her things, wash her face, straighten her hair and prepare for another day of traveling. She eyes the men nearby listening to their conversation as she pulls on the long jacket that she wears - part of the gear given to her when she set out from the temple. Red and white with a stylized sun, though the dust from the road has not have an optimal impact on the white details.
She looks away from the men and down. She is not used to being in proximity with strangers after the last few years and the manners or her youth seem to be returning slowly.
A few wrinkles to smooth, buttons to button and hairpins to put in place are duly dealt with. Soon Lita looks neat and tidy despite the dust. Hardly like a woman who spent her night sleeping on the ground. Her gear is, likewise, is soon very carefully packed.
Soon she is on her feet, and moving towards the smell of the bacon, but she pauses long enough to tilt her head at the older man, whose movement she has taken note of on their journey. It is probably a failing of hers, she muses, the fact that she cannot seem to mind her own business. But it would be silly not to show kindness simply because you should not have been nosy enough to notice a problem.
"I am going to get breakfast, I can bring you a plate, if you like. To save you the trouble?"
Sparrow jerks a bit when one of the other travelers in the caravan addresses him, and turns stiffly before offering a rusty smile.
"That's kind, thank you. Lilita, wasn't it?" He's fairly sure that's her name, but he's often spent each night around the fire trying to read his books, not socializing with the others.
"Hey, you remembered," Markon smirks; Sparrow ignores the crack, and looks Lilita over briefly.
"I've no idea how you manage to keep yourself in such good order on the road like this," he sighs, and looks down at his own trousers and tunic-- of decent quality, originally, but rumpled from the days of travel and definitely with their own dust and smudges at this point. "I'm hoping Etran's Folly has a launderer's, I admit..."
Sparrow digs out a pair of spectacles from the carved wooden case that protects the delicate lenses at night, and slides them on his face, blinking once at the newly-in-focus Lilita before lapsing into an awkward silence. That's all the small talk he seems capable of managing.
(Behind him, Markon wordlessly starts rolling up the older man's bedroll, and lashing it together with his own things.)
"I don't mind." the young woman insists with a smile. She's been quiet herself in the evenings, being the sort who seems to prefer listening to talking in many circumstances. "That's right. Lilita Yuzu. It's nice to meet you Mr...?"
"I daresay it's only because my jacket is of a thicker material. she says, in the manner of brushing off the compliment. She excuses herself and has soon returned with a plate for Mr. Sparrow.
"Here we are. Be sure to savor it. You might not find such gourmet foodstuffs when we have reached our destination. . A wink shows this is a joke.
Lita nods to Markon and glances back to where she was alone a few moments before, intent on heading on that direction if not invited to join them.
"Sparrow," the middle-aged man says after only a second's hesitation. He takes the tin camp plate with a nod of thanks and plucks a piece of frycake from the dish, nibbling on it pensively, with a thin snort and smile at the idea that the town ahead might not have such simple fare as this.
"--oh, I should be gathering my things," he says with a blink, halfway through his food, but when he turns to do so, Markon is there with a long-suffering look and a pack already held out.
"-oh. Thank you. Did you get my--"
"Precious book? Yeah, yeah, it's in there," Markon says, with a little bit of a headshake, and a look at Lilita that says wordlessly He'd forget his own head if I didn't remember, huh?
"Markon," he adds on aloud, with an amiable chin lift at Lilita and a brief once-over with his eyes. The man is a bit on the short side, and wiry rather than broad-shouldered, but judging by the blade at his side and the armor he's donned, he considers himself capable of holding his own in a fight. A scar runs down one cheek. His gaze lingers briefly on the sword at Lilita's side, then back up to her face.
"C'mon, walk with us. Got a lot of distance to cover before we hit this town today, and I could use someone other than Sparrow here for talkin' points."
Sparrow sniffs, but devotes his attention to the rest of his breakfast, eating hurriedly since the caravan is nearly ready to go.
|Regariel of Greengold|
Regariel wakes early, when dawn is just a tinge in the eastern sky. Wrapped in his blanket, he gazes up at Desna's stars for a time, trying to impose order on the fragmented memories of an outlandish dream. A strange city, a stranger tavern, and people there he called ... family? Curious, curious indeed.
But stars yield to sun soon enough, and the first stirrings of his fellow travelers draw the elf back to the here and now. He rises with his usual fluidity and soon has his face, hair and clothing in shape for one more day of travel. As he packs up his belongings, he takes especial care to make sure his healer's kit is still intact and properly stowed. While his rather un-elflike self-consciousness often slows him when it comes to making friends, his ability to treat the handful of minor injuries that have cropped up on their journey seems to have made the other members of caravan reasonably well-disposed to him.
Pack strapped up and ready for the road, Regariel scans the camp with his investigator's curious and keen eye (another thing that doesn't always make him popular). Noting Mr. Sparrow's stiff movements, he wonders if he could use another dose of his willow bark decoction. But humans can get rather testy when their physical issues are pointed out ... and he should probably at least wait until the man has a chance to finish the breakfast young Miss Lilita has brought him.
Reminded of his own appetite, he goes to collect a share of frybread. As he passes the trio on his way to retrieve his nearby pack, he gives them a smile and a head-bob. "Good morrow to you all," he murmurs.
"Heya," Markon responds to the elf with the same sort of chin-lift he'd given to Lilita. Regariel, at least, might be able to peg Markon's accent as distinctly urban and lower-class, the sort of slang one finds in certain city slums. Sparrow's seems much more educated. "How's it goin', Ears?"
"Markon," Sparrow hisses, and flashes a strained smile of apology at the elf. "I'm sorry, don't mind him--"
Before much more can be said, however, the caravan master has jumped onto a stump-- a helpful assist, given he's a dwarf and otherwise can't be seen easily-- and is calling out a booming Good morning to all...
Bort Bargith is a dwarf you've all become acquainted with over the several days of travel thus far-- indeed, it's hard to be anywhere among the caravan's six wagons without hearing the dwarven merchant's cheerful voice, which carries considerably. Bort doesn't really have an 'inside' voice. What he does have is a trove of tall tales starring himself, frequently improbable-- such as a yarn about how he got the lady of death herself, Pharasma, to grant him a second chance at existence by selling her a comb of pearl and silver-- or the one about how he escaped certain death in a giant's stewpot by convincing the giant to use a frost-flower in the soup that wound up freezing the giant's mouth shut.... so forth and so forth.
His penchant for exaggerated stories aside, Bort is a good caravan leader. He treats his works and his animals well, and offered you a very good rate on passage with the caravan-- if, of course, you agreed to pitch in to the common defense of the caravan if bandits attacked.
As he gives everyone a pep talk for this leg of the journey, other members of the caravan watch and listen...
There's the elf called Cooky, though surely that isn't his actual name. Visibly aged, which means that for an elf he must be old indeed, Cooky's primary passions in life seem to be the food of the wagon, and bickering with Bort as if they've known each other for hundreds of years... which is in fact possible, given their respective species. Cooky's a good source of gossip, even if it tends to be sarcastic and catty, but an even better source of surprisingly good food, given the limitations of roadside cooking. The cook-wagon has a convoluted contraption attached to the back consisting of a cast iron brazier pan, allowing Cooky to keep a stew simmering all through the day as you go, which gets supplemented with anything from spring onions Regariel has happened to spot growing off the roadside to a freshly-caught hare brought down by...
Ulf or is it Olf? The two strapping, red-headed men from the northern Ulfen lands are identical twins-- and derive no small amusement from trying to exploit their resemblance for endless pranks and jokes. While they find it amusing to confuse the temporary passengers, such as yourself, as to their identities, they find it much more rewarding to successfully manage to confuse the caravan's permanent residents, who know them better. Thus, our heroes have suffered only mimimal prankage from the two good-spirited would-be tricksters... but cries of "Dammit, Ulf!" followed by a "That was Olf!" are frequently heard.
Tamri Grent has little patience for this horseplay, and the twins always run a fine line between amusing the caravan at large and going too far into actually annoying the tall, broad-shouldered half-orc woman who seems to do much of the actual nuts and bolts of operating the caravan. While Bort gladhands and shmoozes, it's Tamri who scrupulously counts and inventories every bit of cargo that the wagons take on or unload. She's a bit dour, constantly muttering that Bort's soft heart is going to be the financial ruin of the caravan someday, but not speaking too much with the passengers... though she at least has spoken to you, unlike...
Glunda Grapeleaf is a gnome woman who is either hideously shy, actively anti-social, or both. She does speak, primarily to Bort or Tamri, but otherwise spends as much time as she can among the caravan's four-legged residents rather than the two-legged ones. She is unofficially in charge of the draft animals that pull the caravan along, and Tamri and Bort both defer to her when it comes to any question of the beasts' health or fitness. The gnome has the coloring of a tree in autumn. She has barely spoken a single word to any of you since you joined the group.
"....by nightfall, and maybe a bit sooner if we make good time, we'll be in Etran's Folly!" Bort announces enthusiastically. "Home of the finest turnip porridge in all the land! If you all don't enjoy it as much as I do, well, I'll eat my beard, but only if I can dip it in the porridge first. I tell you, I look forward each year to our stop in Etran's, and that first bowl of turnipta! That's what they call it, locally, and you won't regret it, having it served hot to you on a cold night--"
"It will BE cold if we don't get on the road, Bort," Tamri growls, interrupting Bort, and the twins and Cooky all snicker.
"Ahhh, well, you've heard her! Hitch, and let's hoof it!" Bort calls, clapping his hands together and jumping down from the stump. "MOVE OUT! HO!"
Glunda makes a clicking noise in her throat, and the mules that pull the wagons all start their slow, plodding walk for one more day.
The mules walk slowly, at a pace even Sparrow can manage, with his limp, though he hasn't the stamina to do it for more than an hour or so. Usually, Cooky suggests he sit on the tail of the cookwagon when it becomes evident the man's struggling.
Today, at least, he seems willing to start off with walking, and shoots Lilita a thoughtful look. "That symbol-- the red sun? Saranrae? Or a different deity?"
Markon strides easily next to the older man, whistling a little, off-key.
Roleplay amongst yourselves.
Lita nods to Regarial and returns a polite, "Good morning." She covers her mouth to hide a smile at the less orthodox greeting offered by Markon, a surprisingly dainty gesture.
She listens to Bort and begins walking with the men, accepting Markon's invitation without further comment.
The usually confident Lita dims slightly at Sparrow's question. "Iomedae." she answers with a shyer smile. She adds, attempting cheer, "It's hard to see the sword behind the sun with all this dust. White on white was maybe not the best choice for patch. I'm afraid it was my own needlework and I didn't think it through."
The question brings back matters Lilita has been doing her best not to think on.
In her former life, Lilita never felt nervous about what people thought of her but recent events have caused her some unease. How does her behavior reflect on Iomedae, particularly a certain rebellious streak she knows she has? Why did mother superior send her away? When all is said and done will she have proven herself?
She thinks about that dream, with the ships. Was that about proving herself too?
"Where are you headed?" she asks "You'll forgive me for saying that you, neither of you, look like turnip porridge aficionados on a pilgrimage." she glances back, including Regarial in her statement "Nor you, Mr...do you prefer Regarial?"
"You'll forgive me for saying that you, neither of you, look like turnip porridge aficionados on a pilgrimage." she glances back, including Regarial in her statement "Nor you, Mr...do you prefer Regarial?"
Markon snickers at the wisecrack. "We're headed to Andoran. Caravan ends in Falcon's Hollow, just over the border in Andoran, and from there we're goin' downriver to Almas."
"By boat, thank all the gods," Sparrow says with some feeling. He adds, "It's a business trip. We're from Elidir," the capital of Isger, the country you're currently in "and we're part of a burgeoning merchant consortium. We'd like to be able to ship things out of Almas into the Inner Sea, if we can strike a good deal with any shipping distributors there. The taxes are rather less steep than going through Cheliax, and," a thin, edged smile hovers briefly on Sparrow's mouth, then gone again, "the penalties for trying to avoid the taxes are rather less dire, too, aren't they?"
"You're borin' her," Markon says out of the side of his mouth.
"She asked," Sparrow protests. "Anyway, Iomedae-- how honorable! I'm sure you must have your own views on Cheliax then, but perhaps it isn't wise for us to discuss them overmuch on the road, hmn."
"Better on the road than in a town," Markon says with a shrug. Though he's carrying easily twice the gear of the older man (some of it belonging to Sparrow, at that), his stride is easy and unbothered. He eyes Lita's sword again.
"Iomedae train you on usin' that toothpick, then?" he says with a grin.
"Markon," Sparrow hisses again.
|Regariel of Greengold|
Perception check on Cooky's reactions to Reg:
Time to be Mister Perceptive Investigator: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (8) + 6 = 14
Bort interrupts before Regariel can reply to either man (and an oddly assorted pair they do seem). He's been called much stranger, not to mention ruder, things by members of the other races he's traveled among. Unlike many other elves, he's not easy to offend.
Unlike many other elves ... As the dwarf goes on, he finds his glance flicking over to Cooky, while his relentless brain once again ticks over possible reasons why such an ancient member of his own race should be traveling as cookmaster in a trade caravan. Is he exile, eccentric, too Forlorn to spend his remaining years in Kyonin?
Reg has tried to find out more, but Cooky started the trip visibly cool towards him, apparently because he's a fellow elf, odd as that seems. And despite all his efforts since to strike up conversations and forage for fresh additions to the camp's foodstuffs, Cooky has only thawed partway. Perhaps he's not concealing his curiosity as well as he normally does, likely enough given that an elf might well find it easier to read him ... ah well. His specialty is Forensics, not Interrogation.
Sparrow's question draws his attention back to the conversation. He listens, automatically adding tidbits of information and unspoken reactions to what he already knows about the trio. Lilita's question triggers a blink and another small smile.
"Regariel is fine," he replies, "or even Reg will do, if you happen to be in a hurry and need to cut it down to one syllable." His smile widens slightly.
More information, business trip, Elidir, Almas, Iomedae. Another little dig from Markon, that seems more genial jest than irritating jab. He has found himself rather liking the fellow's call it as he sees it attitude. "I am sure that The Inheritor's chosen will not have neglected the education of Her servant," he says, with a slight bow in Lilita's direction.
"Iomedae train you on usin' that toothpick, then?" he says with a grin.
"Not personally." Lita says, returning the grin. "Much to the dismay of everyone I never was much of a longswords-woman, the the things that I tried to become one did help me to become decent with this little beauty." She pats the sheathed blade affectionately.
"I am sure that The Inheritor's chosen will not have neglected the education of her servant," he says, with a slight bow in Lilita's direction.
Lita returns the bow with a flourish of a salute. "So polite!" she says. "It is true that, however much I may have wished it as a young acolyte, my education was never neglected."
She notes that Reg has not answered the question, but she does not ask again. After all, she is not sure of her own answer.
"Best of luck in your business endeavors" she comments to Sparrow. She does not ask, on finding out where he is from, if he has met Emys Yuzu , though he seems like the sort who might have. She suspects she would rather not know. "Traveling by boat does sound more pleasant, but at least the weather is holding.
Markon chuckles. "Well maybe sometime we oughtta spar, huh? See how that skinny sword stands up to a proper blade. Maybe I'll learn I oughtta respect your goddess. Or at least her servants."
Sparrow snorts to himself but doesn't comment, at least on that. He nods at Lilita's comment. "Yes, knock on wood as far as the weather goes. I'm buying a pony for the journey back, I think. This is just too much walking."
"Better hope we make a good deal in Almas, then, so you can afford one," Markon drawls, and plucks a long piece of grass from the side of the road, to idly chew as he walks.
The morning passes, uneventfully; Lilita is right that the weather is fair. Late spring boast warm sunshine, but intermittent puffy clouds break up the heat, and a gentle breeze blows along the road.
Lunch is served from the back of Cooky's wagon as the mules are unhitched and allowed to chew on meadow grass next to a burbling stream. Slices of hard cheese, smoked kippers, dried apples and cherries, and walnuts from Cooky's well-stocked larder have been supplemented with some miner's lettuce, morel mushrooms, and fresh violet flowers and leaves that Reg has perhaps been helping to bring in in his attempts to get into Cooky's good graces.
Sparrow makes no bones about being glad to stop walking, sitting on a rock by the stream and peeling off his boots to soak his feet in the cool water while they break for their meal.
Markon seems less likely to relax, taking his meal in hand and idly walking the outskirts of their group, keeping an eye on the woods and the road even as he eats.
In the light lunchtime chatter of the others, it becomes clear enough that Bort is more excited about reaching Etran's Folly than anyone else is. Olf and Ulf crack jokes about how the famed turnipta 'will make you sick, if Plaguestone itself don't.'
If anyone asks them what they mean, they'll elaborate, but some might already have heard the name before...
"Plaguestone?" Lilita asks
Society check: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (12) + 4 = 16
She listens to the twins explanation. She smiles and nods, then goes to sit down and finish her food, pensive. She sits near Sparrow but keeps her shoes on and her feet dry. She watches Markon at the edge of the group but does not comment to Sparrow that his companion seems on edge. She seems content to eat in silence.
|Regariel of Greengold|
Regariel's face goes still and impassive for a few seconds as he listens to the twins' explanation. Plaguestone ... the name brings another mostly-forgotten dream rushing back to his memory. The dream visited him the night before he left Greengold to begin his travels, for reasons he has revealed to no one in the caravan.
Where the monument to malady lies, there you will find your answer...
Or had that last word been fate?
A prickle runs down his spine even as his ever-rational mind dismisses the-- he refuses to call it portentious --dream-whisper. Taking a seat a couple of yards away from Lilita and Sparrow, he chews slowly on a slice of dried apple, deep in thought.
Each traveler takes their lunch on their own, occupied with their own inward thoughts for the space of the mid-day rest.
Soon enough, though, it's time to resume the steady pace of the caravan's slow but ground-eating progress towards Etran's Folly. This time, Sparrow hangs hopefully about the back end of the cook-wagon until Cooky snorts and unlatches the back slats, hinging them down to make a basic bench of sorts. It's still not exactly comfortable travel, given how the wagon jounces, but Sparrow gratefully sinks onto the bench, and accepts the duty of stirring the cookpot as they go.
Markon hums a few snatches of what some might recognize as a rather bawdy tavern song, keeping pace with the cookwagon and never going too far from it. The four temporary passengers of the caravan wind up towards the tail end of the six-wagon string, not by purpose, but simply the nature of steps lagging as the afternoon stretches on... and on...
In the mornings, small talk flows more easily, with the day fresh and young. By afternoons, even Bort tends to quiet down, and to hope for the cessation of the day's travel sooner rather than later.
"Ah, here's the split oak," the dwarf calls at perhaps three or four in the afternoon, standing up in the lead wagon to gesture at a tree that does indeed look as though lightning split it, once upon a time. "A good sign, friends! After this it's but a half-hour to the town. We've made good time!"
There are some murmured noises of cheer-- but then a different noise. The caravaneers gaze around, blinking, as the sound reverberates, at once mournful and chilling, from the thick trees that line the road on either side.
It's Glunda of all people who speaks, her voice high and piping and tense: "Wolves."
Barely has the word hit the air when low, grey shapes streak forth from the trees into the daylight of the road. Everyone jerks to full alertness, and the mules bray in shrill alarm.
Wolves: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (3) + 5 = 8
Reg: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (9) + 6 = 15
Lilita: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (12) + 6 = 18
Sparrow: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (19) + 6 = 25
Markon: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (16) + 5 = 21
The party goes first!
Sparrow scrambles to stand freely from the wagon, his eyes wide behind the glasses. "Oh no," he blurts. He quickly raises his hands, his fingers twined in a crooked pattern, and calls out a few words in a harsh, cracking tongue. A piece of dead wood lying on the ground rises up in answer, and slams towards the head of one of the wolves.
Spell attack vs Red wolf: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (2) + 7 = 9 (miss)
But the wolf nimbly dodges, and the branch cracks uselessly against the soil where the beast had been a second ago. Sparrow looks crestfallen.
"I got this, relax," Markon growls, and draws both his sword and shield with a practiced gesture. He stands there, staring down the wolf, and positions his shield to intercept the animal's likely attack.
Lilita and Reg, you're up! The map is linked just above this post, right under my name, where it says Plaguestone combat map. Other wolves are attacking the rest of the caravan, but right now, there are only three that you can immediately engage with. The caravan NPCs are fighting off their own wolves.
Seeing that the nearest wolves are still too far for swordplay, Lilita hurriedly arms herself and loads her hand-crossbow. She lets a bolt fly are the furthest wolf.
hand crossbow: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (20) + 7 = 27
damage: 1d6 ⇒ 6
The tiny bolt disappears into the thick gray fur of the wolf
Lilita's bolt may have been hurriedly nocked and fired, but it's deadly accurate. The bolt sings through the air and finds its quarry, right in the chest!
Nice critical hit!!! That double your damage, to 12, which is enough to drop the wolf! Lillit gets a Hero Point!
The wolf's body momentum carries it a few more feet before it topples to the packed dirt of the earth and moves no more...
Reg next, and then my wolves get to go.
|Regariel of Greengold|
Reg also swiftly unships his crossbow, loads a bolt, and fires at a wolf just emerging from the trees...
crossbow: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (1) + 5 = 6
...and hisses in frustration as his bolt flies wide. Given the wolf's speed, he'll go to his sword next, if he has time.
Another wolf appears, a bit larger than the others, padding out of the trees next to where Lillit's shot felled the first wolf. It looks... wrong. It's drooling uncontrollably, and where its drool hits the ground, little spots of smoke arise from the earth. Its eyes flicker with a sickly green light.
Mysterious GM roll (not an attack): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (12) + 8 = 20
The two remaining, smaller wolves snarl and leap forward to their prey....
They look unhealthy, for wolves. Patches of their fur are missing and Reg has a brief glimpse of visible sores before there's a mouthful of teeth much too close for comfort.
Attack vs Reg: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (10) + 6 = 16 (miss)
Attack 2 vs Reg: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (3) + 1 = 4 (miss)
The wolf snaps at him but Reg yanks his hand back in the nick of time, and the beast's follow-up attack is wild and easily dodged.
Attack 1 vs Markon: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (3) + 6 = 9 (miss)
Attack 2 vs Markon: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (6) + 1 = 7 (miss)
Markon's shield catches the brunt of his wolf's attacks without any risk to the warrior.
(End round 1, start round 2)
Sparrow looks tensely between the attacking wolves, and Markon. The warrior waves him away. "Go help the others, I got this."
"Fine," Sparrow says tersely, and takes a few steps towards Reg. Again he raises his hands, and intones the syllables from earlier. A package flies off the nearest cart and tries to assail the wolf.
Spell attack vs Blue: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (11) + 7 = 18
Damage: 1d6 + 4 ⇒ (4) + 4 = 8
This time, his aim appears better-- something heavy must be in the package, because it connects with the wolf's skull with a solid-sounding THUMP, and the beast whines and slumps to the ground.
"Thattaboy," Markon says drily, and swings his sword down hard on his own assailing wolf.
Power Attack vs red: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (8) + 8 = 16
Power attack damage: 2d8 + 3 ⇒ (6, 4) + 3 = 13
The blow is efficient, and ruthless-- the warrior's sword chops heavily into the spine of the beast, and Markon barely wrenches it free before turning to stride in the direction of the others.
(All the smaller wolves are now dead!)
The big wolf bares its teeth, the strange green eyes narrowed a moment as it regards these two-legged creatures. Then it lopes forward, big paw eating up the ground effortlessly, until it's right in Lilita's face. The drooling jaws open-- but rather than a bite, the thing spews a foul vomit forth, hitting both Lilita and even Reg!
I need Reg and Lilita to both make a Reflex save.
Damage: 3d6 ⇒ (3, 2, 4) = 9
If you get a natural 20, or 26 or higher on your save, you take no damage.
If you get a 16 or higher, you take 4 damage.
If you get lower than 16, you take 9 damage.
If you roll a natural 1, or don't get higher than a 6 total, you take 18 damage.
After resolving your save, you can take the rest of your turns as normal, since you're both up!
|Regariel of Greengold|
Reflex Save: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (17) + 7 = 24
Regariel twists to one side, managing to dodge most of the ugly spew, but not all of it; the disgusting vomit hits his left upper arm and part of his shoulder. Teeth clenched in pain, he nevertheless reloads his crossbow and takes aim once more. His eyes narrow as he assesses the gangrenous beast, its gait and probable moves.
Devise a Stratagem: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (11) + 7 = 18
His finger twitches, and the bolt flies.
Damage: 1d8 + 1d6 ⇒ (5) + (5) = 10
Lilita dances back from the puddle of vomit spewing forth from the wolf.
Reflex save: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (17) + 9 = 26
She lets out a groan of irritation as the sludge hits her boots and splashes over a white spot on the sleeve of her vestment, staining the hand embroidered patch that she had only this morning been talking to Sparrow about. Still, she has escaped the worst of it.
She mutters something less than saintly, throws down her hand crossbow and draws her sword. She feigns to the left and then attempts to slash the beast from the right.
swashy Feign: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (11) + 5 = 16
Attack!: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (13) + 7 = 20
Damage with Panache: 1d6 + 2 ⇒ (4) + 2 = 6
The mules neigh in terror and struggle in their harnesses, but seem not to know where to try and flee, with wolves all around...
Lillit dodges the spewing foulness with incredible grace and speed, and Reg manages to avoid the worst of it, at least. Lillit lets her crossbow drop to the ground as she snatches her rapier forth-- tricks the beast with a false attack-- then whips the sword the other direction, drawing first blood!
Regariel takes a moment consider his plan of attack, sighting down the stock of his crossbow as he slots in another bolt. Twang The bolt flies, and hits, truly, burying itself in the creature's matted flank. The wolf yips in pain...
End round 2, start round 3
"Lemme give you a hand there," Markon says to Lilita as he strides confidently behind the big wolf and takes up a position opposite Lilita. He slashes with his sword at the wolf's backside.
Markon power attacks the wolf!: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (16) + 8 = 24
Damage: 2d8 + 3 ⇒ (6, 2) + 3 = 11
The wolf looks to be grievously injured from the combined assault. Sparrow hurries up behind Regariel, and for a third time sends an inanimate object hurtling up from the ground to try and hit the attacking beasts.
Telekinetic projectile!: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (4) + 7 = 11
This time, it's Lilita's discarded crossbow-- but it makes an unwieldy missile, and skids in the dirt without coming close to the monstrous wolf. Sparrow makes a wordless noise of frustration.
"Try another spell, maybe!" Markon shouts, just before then the wolf wheels on him.
Attack Markon, bite: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (8) + 11 = 19 (hit)
Damage: 1d6 + 2 + 1d4 ⇒ (5) + 2 + (3) = 10
"Try raising your shield!" Sparrow retorts, as Markon is savagely bitten by the beast's drooling jaws-- and then dragged to the ground by the creature's bite. "Are you alright!?"
"Nngh!! Yeah, just get this thing offa me--"
The wolf bites at Markon again, now that it has him on the ground....
Wolf: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (11) + 6 = 17
Damage: 1d6 + 2 + 1d4 ⇒ (2) + 2 + (2) = 6
"Markon!!" Sparrow shouts in alarm, as the beast savages the downed warrior. "Hang on!"
".....'m hangin'..." groans the man.
Markon damage taken: 16, Wolf damage: 27
Lillit and Reg, you're up!
|Regariel of Greengold|
Reg's teeth clench again, this time in deep worry for Markon and the wounds the plague-wolf inflicts on him. He reloads his crossbow once more, then once again plans his strike, aiming for where it should do the most damage with the least risk to Markon.
Another Strategem: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (9) + 7 = 16
Ignoring the burning on his left arm, Reg fires.
Damage if the dice behave: 1d8 + 1d6 ⇒ (1) + (4) = 5
Unfortunately, his shot sails just past the wolf's shoulder....
It's all up to Lillit!
Lilita attempts another feign, aiming for the beasts tail, but her concern for the man on the ground makes her clumsy.
Feign: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (3) + 6 = 9
So she feigns again, striking for the paw this time.
Feign: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (17) + 6 = 23
She twists with a flourish and attempts to drive her blade instead into the creature's back.
Confident Finisher: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (4) + 7 = 11
Confident Finisher - Hero Point!: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (12) + 7 = 19
damage: 2d6 ⇒ (6, 5) = 11
Bringing all her powers of trickery to bear, Lillit fakes the beast out. For a moment, doubts and fears rise up in her, and she is sure she won't be good enough to save the life of the man on the ground, but...
...no. She is good enough, skilled enough, and she has practiced long hours with this blade. She spins on her heel-- and thrusts the rapier deep into the wolf's spine. It howls once more, and then slumps heavily atop Markon, who groans.
"Owwwgghh-- get offa me, you mangy...."
Sparrow hurries forward, his face drawn in worry. "Markon! Markon! --Oh thank the gods, you're alive-- Celias would never forgive me if I came back with you dead..."
"Yeah, man, I love you too," groans the man on the ground. "You still got all those bandages and poultices and stuff? cuz I'm gonna use all of 'em...."
As you look around, it looks like this wolf must have been the leader of the pack. The other wolves who were attacking the caravan are either dead, or are fleeing back into the woods. Bort runs up to you, out of breath. "Is everyone alright down her--- oh no, man hurt!"
Lilita pulls her blade free, then rolls the wolf off of Markon.
”Thanks for the help." she mumbles, knowing it would have gone far less well for her, and possibly Reg, without Markon and Sparrow stepping in.
She gathers her hand crossbow and backs off to give the two men - and anyone with medical abilities - the space to tend the man’s wounds, watching Reg in particular.
|Regariel of Greengold|
One useful thing about a mind trained to concentrate on the important and set aside the extraneous: it allows Regariel to focus past his own pain enough to tend Markon's far more severe wounds. With only a tightening of his lips, he kneels beside the stricken man, assessing his injuries while retrieving his healer's kit. As he lays out the tools and materials he needs, he tells Bort, "Please let Cooky know we'll need all the hot water he can provide. Cloths boiled clean as well. And honey, if there's any to be had."
He looks up at Sparrow. "We'll need all the first aid supplies you have ... that everyone has, for that matter.
With that, Reg starts to clean the wounds, not doubting that this particular wolf's bites are filthier than most...
Medicine Check:: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (19) + 4 = 23
Bort listens, nods, and turns to yell at Cooky for the hot water and the other supplies.
"I'll be back once I've seen if anyone else is injured," the dwarf says with a clap of his hands to Regariel's shoulder, and then he strides off.
Cooky comes over a few moments later with a brow arch and his hands full. "Oh, now, you did get a bit ravaged, didn't you! Well, I'm sure you're no stranger to scars," he says to Markon, who has gingerly sat up at this point while Regariel works on the deep bites to his arm. "The ladies like such things, I'm told...."
Sparrow had been halfway into reaching into his own pack for gear when Regariel had knelt by the other man. He blinks once, but stays out of Reg's way, watching wordlessly. When Cooky offers the items to Regariel, Sparrow takes them, since Reg's hands are rather busy assessing the damage. "Here, I'll assist you, I've treated a cut or two in my time as well."
Over the next ten minutes, Reg cleans the wound thoroughly and dresses it, packing some honey and some herbs of his own mix into the wound to prevent infection. By the end of his treatment, Markon's looking much better, though his own blood still stains his clothes and his armor.
Hit points restored to Markon: 2d8 ⇒ (8, 5) = 13 (He's still down -3, but much better than he was!)
"Think I'll be able to play the fiddle when this heals?" he jokes, flexing his fingers of the injured arm and then nodding to himself as it seems his grip isn't affected.
"Do you want me to look at your own injuries?" Sparrow asks Regariel, eyes sweeping over the acid burns on Reg's shoulder, somewhere in that period. "It can be difficult to treat yourself, especially on your arm like that. If you'd rather handle it yourself don't let me interfere, of course."
As for Lilita's thanks-- Markon throws his head back and laughs. "You're thankin' ME? If you hadn't put that toothpick of yours into that ugly critter's spine when you did, I might be hikin' to see the Grey Lady right now. I owe ya one, kiddo. I'll buy your dinner and drinks when we get to this supposed town, huh?"
"I'll be buying everyone's dinner and drinks," Bort says, rejoining your little group at the end of the caravan. "As thanks for your daring heroics! That could have been much worse. Ulf tells me he saw you fell that brutish beast! What a strike, Lilita! I'll have to give it a mention in my stories."
(You don't doubt that it might undergo some changes, and that Bort might be the person dealing the fatal blow, in his take on the tale.)
"Truly, I thank you all for your willingness to jump to our defense like that. Of course, it WAS part of your contract-- but still. I'm glad to see the gentleman looking better. Imagine, wolves in broad daylight like this! And such a large pack! Fortunately, nobody else was anything more than scratched-- I fear you four drew the brunt of it all."
|Regariel of Greengold|
Reg ties off the last binding on Markon's arm. "I'll check it again when we get to town, to make sure it's still clean." He tries for a reassuring smile. "And if you do wind up needing sutures, better I stitch you there than here on the open road."
Since Sparrow assisted him so deftly with Markon's wounds, Reg doesn't hesitate to accept the man's help with his own. "Yes, please. It mainly needs a thorough washing, I think." He tilts his head to look over as much of his injury as he can see from the awkward angle. "I have some burn salve in my kit that should ease it."
His smile turns warmer, if also a little rueful. "And I am most grateful for your timely help with the wolf attacking me." He looks around at the assorted lupine corpses. "I too wonder what provoked them. Granted they all look ill, but--" He looks at where the fetid vomit of the leader stains the ground, and grimaces.
Sparrow nods, and reaches for a fresh clean cloth and the teapot of warm water that Cooky brought. He unrolls a supply of materials from his own pack.
Medicine: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (11) + 6 = 17
HP restored to Reg: 2d8 ⇒ (4, 1) = 5
Sparrow has no compunctions about using Reg's own suggested salve-- he washes away the foul-smelling vomitous slime with a wrinkled nose but meticulous care. "I wonder what this is, I've never heard of a wolf doing something like-- this..."
With the gunk cleaned away, he takes Reg's salve with a nod, and thoroughly covers the spots where it got to Regariel's bare skin. Gauze is wrapped professionally over the affected skin as well, and Sparrow ties it off with a brush of his hands. "Best we can do right here. And no need for thanks-- if you hadn't been there, the wolf might have gone for me. We all helped each other, there, against a common enemy."
Bort claps his hands. "Speaking of that! We've another common foe impeding our progress forward. When those blasted wolves sprang out of the woods, the lead mule balked like the devil-- hard to blame the poor thing. Pulled the wagon right off the road-- then it tipped over. Don't suppose a few of you could lend your backs to helping us get it upright again?"
Markon has wiped his sword clean and sheathed it again. "My back, yeah. My arm's all banged up," he kvetches. "But yeah, let's see how bad she's stuck..."
He walks off towards the front of the wagon train as though he hadn't just his arm ripped open by sharp fangs. Sparrow shakes his head slightly.
"I doubt I'll be much use there-- brute force is not my forte. I might take a look at those wolves, though," he muses, half to himself, perhaps.
Lilita smiles at the encouragement, but mostly tries to sit back, out of the way. She does remove her outer garment and try to wash the wolf vomit from it as she waits.
She shakes her head at Markon's response to her thanks with a smile smile, but does not point out that had that animal pinned her she would have been a goner too.
"I think we all will feel glad of a good rest when we reach town." she says.
At the mention of the wagon she gets to her feet, tapping her boots to shake loose what she can of the dirt from the battle as she makes her way over. "Coming." she says.
Lillit and Markon follow Bort back to the head of the wagon trail, where, surely enough, the lead wagon has toppled over and is firmly lodged on its side. Ulf and Olf are struggling to move it, without much luck.
"We'll have to unload it all, Bort," one of the twins exclaims unhappily.
"We'll let's see about that-- I'd as soon not lose the time if we can find another way. These two might be able to help us, without us wasting an hour in moving stuff around," Bort says with optimism.
Markon looks over the wagon, shrugs, and moves to try and get his uninjured shoulder into position.
Athletics to do it the simple way, or Engineering Lore to rig something a bit more clever...
Markon's Athletics: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (16) + 6 = 22
Markon works on his side of the cart... how does Lillit fare with hers?
Sparrow pokes at the biggest of the dead wolves with the toe of his shoe, a frown on his face. He picks up a stick and pokes around the jaws, his shirt sleeve held over his mouth to help shield him from the stench.
Examining the wolves is Nature or Medicine. I'll hold off on rolling Sparrow's check until Reg decides which group he's assisting.
|Regariel of Greengold|
Regariel hesitates a moment between the dead wolves and the toppled wagon. While his curiosity itches to learn more about their attackers, his common sense knows they do not want to risk finding themselves still on the road at nightfall, not with the rest of the uncanny pack still about.
He scans the wagon's surroundings, looking for ... ah. Above the wagon hangs a sturdy main branch of a hoary, powerful old oak. Yes, that might do.
Engineering: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (14) + 7 = 21
Regariel's knowledge of physics and force suggest an alternative method than mere force-- a rope slung over a sturdy branch that could be used to force-multiply the carvan's hands...
Though Lillit has trouble keeping her footing, Markon and Regariel loop some rope around the wagon's structural points and then the twins, Bort, and Markon all haul together on said rope. The rope strains-- but holds, and the wagon is righted in a fraction of the time it might otherwise have taken. The twins let up a raucous cheer, with one of them clapping Regariel heartily on the back. "Cleverclogs!" he shouts.
"Handily managed, you lot," Bort says to both Markon and Reg. "Wonderful! We'll manage our last leg by daylight, which is all to the good."
Meanwhile, Sparrow frowns as he looks over the large wolf, and then the smaller. He collects a tiny sample of the caustic froth that still drips from the big wolf's jaws, and pokes at the sores of the lesser wolves, before jumping back hurriedly and brushing off the front of his shirts.
Medicine: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (17) + 6 = 23
Shaking his head, he walks to rejoin the others. "Those wolves are all crawling with fleas," he says with a scrunch of his nose. "I do hope we can take a bath, in Etran's folly?"
"Should be able to!" Bort says with undiminished good cheer, despite the misfortune of the attack on the caravan. "Glunda, the mules ready to go again?"
The gnome only nods the once, her expression troubled. Bort says, "Good enough! Caravan! Move out! Come on, lads and lasses-- last leg to go!"
The mules settle into a plodding progress once again...
|Regariel of Greengold|
Reg smiles modestly at the the enthusiastic compliment, grateful that Ulf-or-Olf stayed away from his burned shoulder. Then Sparrow's flea diagnosis pulls his attention back to the lead wolf. As the caravan starts forward again, he maneuvers to keep apparent spellcaster Sparrow and the rest of the caravan out of his range and attempts to detect magic on the leader and the smaller wolf that Sparrow dropped.
His lips twist. The absence of magic now doesn't prove that the wolves weren't under some spell while still alive. He wishes he could have tried this before the beasts were killed, but they'd all had higher priorities. With a sigh, Reg uses his long legs to catch up to the others.
"Well, here's hoping for baths and laundry both," Sparrow says to Lilita with feeling, and hopefully trails Cooky's wagon until Cooky nods at him to sit on the tailgate again.
Markon walks a bit gingerly, gazing down at his injured hand every so often and keeping his hands near to his swordhilt.... and his eyes on the trees.
"Did you determine anything?" Sparrow asks curiously when Reg catches back up with the caravan.
I'll narrate the arrival into town tomorrow. Feel free to roleplay until then.
|Regariel of Greengold|
"All I detected,", Reg sighs as he reaches Cooky's wagon and the others, "was a total lack of magic influence on the lead wolf and one other. Which doesn't prove that no magic was involved earlier, unfortunately."
Lilita's question to Markon instantly draws Reg's healer attention to the man and his hand. Brow slightly furrowed, he waits for his patient's reply.
"Yes, I didn't detect any magical signatures either," Sparrow sighs. "But those weren't any sort of natural wolves, surely. Wolves don't-- well, wolves don't belch acid, for one. And the alpha of the pack-- I could swear its eyes were glowing.
"The others seemed normal enough, but quite sickly. Sores, matted fur, the insects-- half-starved, too. They might have just been hungry and desperate, to attack a large group by daylight. But that leader..." Sparrow trails off, and shakes his head.
Markon shakes his head in a light no at the question.
"Just keepin' an eye out," he says. "Doin' my job."
"Markon's basically here as my bodyguard," Sparrow adds, a bit wry.
The mules plod on... and the afternoon's shadows slowly lengthen.
"Oh." Lilita says. She shakes her head "Well. You're hurt. Some of us were luckier. If anything comes up you can count on our help for the rest of the day, anyway."
She glances back at the discussion of the wolves, but says nothing, lapsing into silence again as they plod towards this town of the hopeful baths.
Markon smiles crookedly. "Not the first time I've been hurt," he says with a shrug. "Won't be the last, I'm sure. But thanks."
The mules tread onward...
But another half-hour, and you see-- buildings! Smoke from chimneys, rising against the spring sky! At last-- Etran's Folly. The mules pick up their pace in anticipation of a rest, and so do most of the two-legged travelers as well.
What looks like a charming village from your first hilltop view of it becomes a little less charming as you approach. Many of the outlying buildings and homes you pass are clearly abandoned, and nature has started to reclaim the wood and the stones. A few rats scurry away from the passage of your carts, ducking into the decaying structures, their beady eyes watching from the shadows. A crow's unlovely call sounds from a chimney that looks fit to crumble at any second, where it appears to have made its nest. Figures seem much scarcer in the town than you would have first suspected given the view of it from a distance-- but a lone farmer waves a hoe in a half-greeting from his turnip field.
"Now please do remember," Bort calls over his shoulder to everyone else, "let's not be calling the town 'Plaguestone' to the folk who live here, aye? It's a bit rude, brings up bad memories too, no doubt."
The twins sigh but nod, and Bort nods once, goading the mules along with a light twitch of the reins. Soon enough you're in what passes for the center of the quiet village-- here, at least, most of the buildings seem to be in good repair, and inhabited. The source of the controversial name is plain to see-- a low, flat stone hunkers in the center of the village square, perhaps two feet high and a three feet wide. A hole in the center is perhaps a foot across and six inches deep, currently filled with rainwater.
Bort guides the caravan past the stone and to a good-sized, two-story building that serves as an inn, and bears a swinging sign proclaiming it to be The Feedmill. A halfling woman scurries out from the stables area, waving to Bort as if he is an old friend and starting to take the reins of the mules.
"Edra! How are you? How's the family?" Bort says with cheer, and climbs down from the wagons.
Welcome to Etran's Folly!
There is the typical bustle required to accommodate twelve animals, six wagons, and ten-plus people. Some things are unloaded, and some are left on the wagons for the moment. Bort hurries between the wagons, consulting a handwritten list and grabbing this or that wrapped parcel out of the assorted cargo.
"Right, Tamri-- see to things in the inn, will you, my green dove? I'm going to go run these things out to the fine folk waiting for them, because as Torag's my witness, once I've had turnip soup in me I won't be wanting to move the rest of the evening, and then everyone would just have to wait another day! Cooky, my dear, hold the fort for me!"
The half-orc rolls her eyes at being called 'a green dove', but shoulders her own pack of belongings and strides inside the inn. Cooky gives Bort an off-hand shooing gesture, much too busy stowing cooking gear to immediately reply.
And here you are! It's perhaps four in the afternoon, to judge by the sun. The inn stands before you, or you could explore the town. Dinner probably won't be served in the inn for a few hours yet. What would you like to do?
Lilita eyes the town around them, on their way in, but once they have reached the inn she wants nothing more than to change her clothes and have the current ones sent to the laundry. Maybe a bath! Oh. A bath.
"I suppose it's time to find out about the amenities." she says to Sparrow with a wink.
Still, she wonders what the other strangers in town plan to do. Perhaps it would be laziness to turn in so soon. Perhaps, she thinks, she can split the difference between laziness and curiosity and see if any locals are drinking here.
"What are you planning on doing?" She asks Reg. "I was thinking of turning in, but I am not sure it is a good idea for any of us to go off alone here." Sparrow and Markon have each other, of course, but Reg seems to be alone like her. If you feel an itch to explore I could come with you, once I have cleaned off my boots."
"On the other hand, I seem to recall someone owing me a drink."
With that she heads inside to attempt to see to getting a room and the hygiene situation.
|Regariel of Greengold|
Regariel smiles at Lilita's question. "I was thinking about looking around a little while it's still light out." Really, the sooner he finds evidence proving or disproving (preferably disproving) any connection between Pla--Etran's Folly and his odd dream, the better.
On the other hand, though... "But I suppose I should get a room and stow my pack first. And change my shirt." His shoulder gets a wry glance. "After that, my ambitions for the evening may shrink to a meal and a rest. We'll see."
So when Lilita enters the inn, Reg follows.
|Regariel of Greengold|
Having obtained a room, Regariel trades off for a new tunic in a deep blue, then redons his armor; if he does decide to go out, he won't be foolhardy about it. He regards the bed with some satisfaction. Whatever the state of the outlying buildings of the town, the inn is in good repair, and the bed looks both comfortable and vermin-free. He should sleep well tonight.
Having washed the road dirt off his face and hands, Reg returns to the common room, looking about for Lilita and Markon.