|Regariel of Greengold|
(looks at the 0's for Reg's diplo & intimidate scores) Welp, we can but try.
Diplomacy (we hope): 1d20 ⇒ 18
Regariel stands, displaying the holy ornament in his hand to whoever is looking. Which is not Krent at the moment, but hopefully that will change shortly.
"Your old friend wants only the return of his winged sword, Mr. Krent," he says, his tone calm and contained. "Please tell us how you acquired it, and help us determine how to put Talmore's poor shade to rest."
Under the combined stares of the group-- and Reg's even but measured tone-- Krent seems to crumple. He sags in Markon's grip and begins to sob, softly.
It takes several minutes to get the full tale out of him, but the gist is thus: Krent and Talmore had been companion soldiers in Lastwall, a country to the north of Isger (where you currently are)-- Lastwall, the bastion of the forces of good against the wicked, undead Whispering Tyrant. Lastwall is a land of crusaders and champions, of those who give their all to oaths to guard against the undead, the orc hordes, and the other threats of the northlands.
Krent's broken story is that of a man who could not keep his oaths. What had been supposed to be a simple reconnoisance mission had ended in an ambush of Sir Lawrence Krent and his brother-in-arms, Sir Talmore Madjen.
Krent's voice is cracked with shame and guilt as he confesses that as the two of them stood, back to back, ringed by the undead... his nerve broke, and he fled, abandoning his comrade for whatever thin chance of survival he might have. He expected to be cut down at any moment, but the sounds of mocking laughter alone had followed him, terrible and echoing laughter for his cowardice-- mingled with the screams of Talmore as the other man had fallen....
The undead had let him flee, to live with the knowledge of his cowardice. Hours later he had stumbled back through a cloying mist to find Talmore's butchered body, left to rot.
"I took his things... his pendant... blade... I meant-- I intended to take them to the citadel, to confess, to throw myself on Iomedae's justice.... but in the end... I was too much the coward even for that. I fled Lastwall entirely!" Krent gasps through thick, wrenching sobs. "Talmore! Brother! Forgive me, forgive my weakness, I beg of you! But leave me be, for all that is holy! Go on to Iomedae's grace as I never shall!"
The ghost of Talmore strides closer, staring down at Krent's kneeling form with eyes of frozen flame. Krent cringes away... then seems to reach some spot beyond his guilt and panic, falling silent save for raspy breathing. After a long, long moment, he takes a deep, shuddering breath, then another.
"If I must die to cleanse the wrong I did to you... then... then..... it can be no worse than this half-life I now lead. Brother. I throw myself on your judgment. I abandoned you. I broke trust and oath. Forgive me. I beg of you. If you cannot-- then I throw myself on what seems just to you. To Iomedae's judgment I commend myself."
It seems to take all his strength, but Krent stands up, weaving a little.
The ghost of Talmore gazes at Krent for a small eternity, and then slowly and ponderously, it nods once. The spectral figure sheathes its insubtantial sword, and reaches out a hand to Krent's shoulder-- a hand that causes Krent to flinch, but the ghost merely touches, once, as if in comfort.
"Bury my symbol, Lawrence. Return to Lastwall. Confess. Then I shall know peace. We both will. My brother."
The ghost flickers.... and then fades from view entirely.
Krent's eyes widen with fresh tears, and he nods wordlessly, clearly overcome with emotion.
"I-- yes. Yes, I will, Talmore, I swear it!"
|Regariel of Greengold|
As he watches this reconciliation between the quick and the dead, Regariel draws a deep breath and releases it slowly and softly. Relief that the danger is over and the satisfaction of a puzzle solved, certainly, but he feels a deeper relief and satisfaction that these two souls now have a chance to find the solace and grace they lost so brutally.
Reg leans toward Lilita. "Well done," he says quietly.
Whatever Lilita's internal thoughts on seeing how far a fellow brother in her own faith had slipped, she keeps them to herself. Regariel's quiet compliment is echoed by a solemn nod and slight smile from Sparrow.
Markon still looks less than thrilled with Krent, who is crying wordlessly.
"So now can I haul him to the trough and dump him in? He's got a long journey ahead of him, it sounds like. He should sober up and get on with it, huh?"
Sparrow turns on the warrior with a certain look. "I really don't think that's necessary," he says waspishly. "Leave the poor chap to sleep it off, I'm sure he can start on his quest for redemption once he's less-- drunk."
Markon sighs but gives Krent a light shove towards the bed, and leads the way back out into the daylight.
The group makes a somewhat battered way back to the inn-- battered emotionally perhaps, for somehow none of you were actually physically hurt in that fight. As Markon says, a strong drink wouldn't go amiss, at any rate.
On the way to the inn, Tamli's booming voice stops you all. "There you are-- I've been looking through things still and discovered a few odds and ends. One's an errand. T'other's.... well, let's discuss the errand first, eh?"
She gestures you to the back of the wagons and pulls out a burlap-wrapped parcel about three feet long though much narrower in both width and depth. "This was special delivery to someone here in town, just found it tucked under Bort's favorite seat in the wagons."
She unwraps it to reveal a pair of swords with blunted edges, and a note. Tamli nods with her chin to indicate the group should take the offered items.
For Pari Hemsoth - to be delivered DISCREETLY - don't let her mother know
"The writin's Bort's, alright. Hemsoth family lives a few doors down. I'd deliver it myself, but, uh..." The tall, broad-shouldered half-orc woman shrugs. "I'm not exactly known for bein' quiet or sly. You lot seem more like you could handle that?" she asks, hopefully.
"If you do-- well, Bort collects rings. Some of 'em are magic. With all you've done for us so far... Don't think he'd mind you borrowing them right now. Not like he's using them at the moment," Tamli says with a momentary grim look.
Neither Sparrow nor Markon make any objection.
"Good," Tamli says with a grunt, clapping her hands together brusquely. "In that case, then--"
She reaches one of her big hands into her pockets and pulls out two rings that she proffers over. "I dunno what they do," she says with a shrug. Sparrow perks up and takes them before anyone else can.
"Well now, let me just see here," he says with a bit of a hum, while Markon rolls his eyes. "Ah hells, now he has a new toy..."
"Hsstt," Sparrow mutters absently, examining the rings-- one a plain band of hammered red-hued copper, no decoration beyond the beaten texture, and the other silver with a tiny inset blue stone. He mutters arcane words over them, poking intently at the two rings in his palm, and is quiet for several moments before pronouncing:
"That one ought to bolster the wearer's skill at making a good first impression, I think," he says of the silver ring, "and this other gives just a bit of extra hardiness, of sorts."
Mechanically, the silver ring gives a +1 to Diplomacy checks, and the copper ring gives its wearer 1 extra hit point.
"Who do we think should have them?" the wizard asks, looking up from behind his spectacles at the others. Tamli interjects a bit quickly, "Uh, temporarily! They ARE Bort's."
Markon looks like he's restraining himself from saying yeah, if he lives.
Lilita reaches over and takes the silver ring.
"I seem to have been doing a lot of the talking, lately. I don't wish to be impolite. But it may help us all if I were to borrow this one?"
She tucks the package under her arm, takes off her glove and slides the ring on.
Sparrow nods. "Yes, you have more a gift for talking than any of us, I think. That makes sense. And Mister Regariel-- perhaps you should take the other? That evens things out well, then. Should we see to that delivery so Miss Yuzu isn't carrying it about all day?"
Markon grunts his assent, and with the copper ring handed off to Reg, you head out for where Tamri says the Hemsoth farmstead is...
Like most of the other farms, the Hemsoth place isn't all that much to look at. Turnips are growing here (le shock!), as well as a smaller garden with more varied produce near to the house. Tomato trellises, stacks of hay, and a small patch of wheat potentially provide enough cover to reach the farmhouse in a, shall we say, discreet manner...
Or you could simply try and talk your way past the mother-- that figure out in the front of the house hoeing the rows of turnips is likely her, as she looks to be too old to be the daughter in the relationship. Perhaps talking to her would allow someone quiet to slip round the back.
Mechanically, you can try and use Stealth to deliver the package (in which case, one PC makes two Stealth checks) or you can use a combo of Stealth + a distraction. That would mean one PC is using Stealth (but just one check), and another is using a social skill (Diplomacy, Deception, etc) to provide a distraction. Markon is Stealthy at a +6, and Deception at a +5. Sparrow is crap at both of those. We can debate on the Discord what you want to do if that simplifies life.
Markon looks over the distance to the farmhouse with a little frown and a grunt and a shrug, then looks back to Lilita and Regariel. "How you wanna do this? I'm okay at tiptoein' but not the best. I'm also okay at b!@%!~++."
Sparrow scrunches his nose but doesn't argue the point. He also doesn't volunteer to try and get involved.
|Regariel of Greengold|
Regariel slips the copper ring on, then touches the runestone of stealth attached to one pauldron of his armor.
"Lilita should undoubtedly be the one to speak with the mother, if we are to mount a distraction." He extends a hand for the package. "I am willing to take the swords to the daughter while she does so."
Hefting the burlap-wrapped blades, Reg moves behind a tree that still allows line-of-sight on the woman tending her garden, then waits for Lilita to fully engage her attention before attempting his covert approach.
Stealth: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (14) + 7 = 21
Lilita nods and hands Regariel the package. She brushes off her cloak and steps out of the cover of the crops to approach the woman.
"Madam? If I could ask for a moment of your time. I can help you weed as we talk. We're investigating the terrible attack on Bort the trader in the tavern the other night. I have a few questions we've been asking everyone."
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (12) + 8 = 20
Mrs. Hemsoth, if such she is, straightens up from her hoeing with a squint, one hand shading her eyes from the sun as she purses her lips at Lillit. Her disposition doesn't seem friendly-- and she looks warily indeed at the sword at Lillit's side-- but Lillit's calm, professional manner and easy grace as she speaks seems to forestall any immediate bad reaction.
"I thought you all found some secret tunnel or somethin' and wrapped all that up," she says with a bit of a grumble. "The better to be off with you lot...."
Still, she answers the questions Lillit thinks to ask... while Regariel calls on the grace that many of his kindred are known for to slip, silent as a shadow, behind bales of hay and a half-rusted plough. He reaches the shelter of the house without a problem, and flicks a pebble up against the shutters of a window. A sound of movement within is followed by the shutters thrown open, and the overly-freckled face of a teenage girl appears, breathless and wide-eyed, looking down.
"You HAVE them? Oh-- oh, good, I'll be right down!"
She disappears from the window but in less than half a minute emerges on to the back porch, throwing furtive glances around but unable to hide her glee as she takes the wrapped bundle from Regariel.
"When I heard Mr. Bort collapsed I figured there was no WAY I could get my swords now! Oh, thank you! Thank you so much-- now you had better git, before Mama finds you OR me. Thank you!"
Without even waiting for a response from the elf, the girl disappears back inside the house, and Regariel is able to slink away much as he arrived...
Lilita sees the elf rejoin Markon and Sparrow, where they are waiting a good, wise distance back down the road. With relief, she is able to conclude her careful questioning. The farmer-woman seems glad to see Lilita on her way, though you get the sense that is just general hostility rather than suspecting you of any trickery.
Sparrow looks pleased when the group reunites. "Well done, both of you," he says sincerely. "I wonder what our day holds next..."
"Hopefully, a cold drink back at the inn," Markon says, clearly somewhat over this short errand. He hikes his pack up a bit on his shoulders and starts tromping back the dirt road towards said inn.
On the way back to the inn, Lilita and Regariel can both overhear scraps of an argument between the warrior and the wizard.
"--mean, how long we gonna STAY in this podunk town-- I don't gotta remind you we got places we're supposed to BE..."
"Yes, yes, I haven't forgotten, but exactly how far do you think we are going to be traveling without the caravan itself, Markon? And it's not like they'll be moving on as long as their leader hovers on death's door..."
"So we just gotta wait? For how freakin' long? That dwarf could hang around for days. We ain't got that kind of time."
Sparrow sighs and shakes his head. "I... don't know. When we get back to the inn, perhaps Mr. Bargith's condition will have improved."
"Or worsened," Markon says with a kind of grim optimism. "Just saying, if he kicks it, we can get out of Turniptown and back to work..."
Sparrow gives Markon a glare but is silent the rest of the way back to the inn.
Whatever Markon's dour hopes, Bort is still in much the same state as when you last saw him-- Tamli is sitting with him, occasionally dabbing Bort's brow with a cool damp cloth. She explains that she insisted Cookie get some rest, and nods towards a corner, where the older elf is curled up in a corner, eyes shut. The half-orc motions with her head that they should talk out in the common room so as not to wake Cookie, at least.
Back in the common area she is relieved and pleased to hear that the swords were delivered. "That's good. Bort.... I mean, if he wakes up, he'll be pleased to hear it. And uh.... if he don't... well.... I mean, I think his, uh, his soul would rest easier if he didn't leave a package undelivered, you know?"
Tamli rubs the back of her brawny neck with a big, callused hand, looking awkward. "...no idea what we'll do if he doesn't come outta this. I was just a kid when I joined up. Twenty years now. I can manage the coin and the wagons well enough, but Bort... he was the one who had the, uh, the gift for talkin' to people, makin' deals. Without him..."
She trails off then clears her throat. She trades the lost look on her face for a fierce scowl. "Anyway-- you find out yet who tried to kill him? Cuz I'd like to beat 'em to a pulp. I know you said that Hallod guy was just the patsy. But who's the boss, huh?"
"Er, well..." Sparrow attempts to be placating to the big half-orc woman. "I'm afraid we really don't have any current ... open leads. We found some business transaction papers, yes, we know that the person responsible is probably some sort of alchemist based on all the reagents they purchased, and we know their name starts with a V. But nobody in town seems to fit that description. We might be at something of a dead end."
"Which means we might have to move on," Markon interjects, to a dirty look from Sparrow.
Tamli frowns. "Well. Can't stop you. The two of you still got a bunch of your merch in my carts. Guess you can unload it and walk off with it any time you feel like it, huh?"
Markon looks to say something more but Sparrow's arm on his hand stops him. The wizard sighs. "Yes, well, regardless, we certainly aren't doing that today. I think it's time we all had some dinner. It's been an eventful day, what with the ghost and everything. Excuse us, Tamli."
Markon and Sparrow go to sit for dinner, indicating there is space enough at the table if you care to join them. Tamli gazes a moment, then goes back to resume tending to Bort.
|Regariel of Greengold|
Regariel's keen ears have no trouble picking up the pertinent details of Sparrow and Markon's discussion. As he listens, he feels torn between frustration and sympathy. He certainly can't wish for Bort to take a turn for the worse, not after fighting so hard to save the dwarf's life, but he too has a pressing duty, delayed by their journey's interruption. A duty to his great uncle Iznarael, and hopefully, hopefully to his cousin Isandlara.
"You have spent too much time among the transient races, Regariel." He can hear his uncle's dry, crisp tones in memory. "Isa may need finding, but I doubt she needs rescuing. Take whatever time you need to attend to your task with a clear head."
Of course, unlike Sparrow and Markon, he can in theory fit all his belongings into his pack and strike out on his own for Almas, and from there to Absalom.
Bort's unchanged condition and Tamli's concern put any such ideas well on hold. At the dinner table, Reg drops into the chair opposite Sparrow's with a sigh of his own. For a 'podunk town,' Etran's Folly seems to have more than its share of odd goings-on.
"So," he says to his companions, "what shall we try next? We seem to have a dearth of threads leading back to 'V' and whatever vile plans they literally have brewing."
He rubs the bridge of his nose, trying to tweeze ideas out of a very tired brain. "Hallod dead, Bort incapacitated ... if we could somehow find out what reagents the brute purchased on V's behalf aside from the corpse blood, we might be able to work out what they plan to do with them. Aside from that, I'm open to suggestions."