Lucky Ben Willhuff

Merl Guthwite's page

14 posts. Alias of stormraven.


Marcus Braun wrote:

The lumberjack counts on his fingers, as though he has rehearsed the information in his head and doesn't want to miss anything.

First--Zarzanna saved our lives. She didn't travel with us, mind you, but she gave us some healing tonics that kept us going. I count her as a friend to me, my family, and the Drear itself. If you want my advice, if she comes callin', and I don't think she's the type to do so, but if she does, I'd welcome her in. She can help these folk.

Merl nods. "A'right, young Braun. I'll make sure o'that. It's not like we can be choosy in our friends now."

Marcus Braun wrote:

Marcus gently draws Beula and extends the handle to Merl, smiling.

Beula did you proud, Hetmon. We cut through all those bastards and she was no small help.

Merl rests the axe across his lap. "Glad to hear it. I'd a been disappointed if she didn't live up to her namesake." He chuckles and coughs, clearly delighted. "Named her for my first wife... nearly kilt me more'n a few times." His grin says it all... but it doesn't last long after he hears what else Marcus has to say.

Marcus Braun wrote:

the big man hesistates, then: There was one, used to be a gnoll before it's life was snuffed out. He broke Ezekiel's neck, dropped him stone dead. I saw it with my own eyes. But there was a fountain, the others said some kind of holy water in it, and when we put him in, his neck fixed itself. He stood up and was whole again. I wanted to thank you for letting me use her, but I don't think I need Beula anymore. You see, when I put my own wood-cutting axe in the fountain, it changed too.

At this admission, Marcus draws his axe and shows off the new "craftsmanship" to Merl.

The old man runs a practiced thumb across the axe, frowning at Marcus' words. "She looks every bit as good as Beula. Fine blade. But I've got a worry about the dead coming back to life. Doc seeming like hisself?"

Marcus Braun wrote:
It's supposed to be the weapon I use to fight these things, or so the prophecy says. And it hasn't been wrong yet. I saw the power in that water, and if it can bring life to a man, it should bring death to the undead, right? So I'm gonna stick to this. Anyway, I think that's everything. I'm off to see my family.

Merl nods and chews his pipe, deep in thought. "A'right. Get some rest and see your family. They're one of the few that've gone back to their homestead."

Marcus arrives at the Guthwite home and spies Merl sitting on a sway-backed chair on the porch, smoking a pipe. He nods at the ranger, "See yur back in one piece, young Braun. Good."

Marcus finds the new, old Hetmon in the morning, after the service, sweeping pyre ashes off his front porch. The fires still burn and will throughout the day. "'Morning, Marcus. I'm glad you come. Folla me." The Ranger trails the old man through the house, noting the disarray in the home - over-turned chairs and blankets stuffed into window gaps. They stop at a pantry.

"You youngsters are fixing to do somethin' brave and dangerous... This might help." He pulls a waxed canvas bag from a slot in the pantry wall and slides out a hickory handled battleaxe made of fine steel with a razor's edge. Marcus smells the oil on it. "This is Beula. She was my grandfather's and he passed her to me. I'm gonna lend her to ya, on the following terms: Bring her back in one piece along with yourself and those other folks. A'right?"

He places the axe firmly in the Ranger's hands and pushes him towards the door. "We pulled together some gear for you folks. Maybe it'll help. It's in the Assembly Hall kitchen. Now, get going and good luck."

Beula is a Masterwork Battleaxe - 1d8 (20/3x)

In the kitchen are items gathered from the townsfolk. You gents are free to take what you want:

  • (5) backpacks
  • (6) large sacks
  • (12) torches
  • (1) Hooded Lantern
  • (1) Bullseye Lantern
  • (8) pints of lantern oil
  • 50' rope
  • (15) days of rations
  • (3) compound short bows
  • (90) arrows in 3 quivers
  • (1) Light Crossbow
  • (1) Heavy Crossbow
  • (60) bolts in 2 quivers
  • (1) suit of Leather Armor pieces

Our heroes finally give in to exhaustion and fall into fitful sleep among the cots brought into the Assembly Hall. While they sleep, the most stalwart of the town's survivors begin the process of sorting and hauling the dead to their ersatz pyres. The animals and undead are shoved into the ruined remains of the Stuyvesant place, a family that died out years ago. The town dips into its meager supply of oil to liberally douse the bodies and building - ensuring a hot and hopefully smokeless blaze to cleanse the foulness from the village.

At the Finiose place, warned of the carnage inside, Merl sees to it that only he and Eluon carry bodies further than the porch. In the small house, they stack the dead like cord-wood with slats between the layers. It offends both men but there is no other choice. They again draw from the precious oil supply to ensure a roaring funeral pyre. Outside, the townsfolk pile rocks and soak the nearby barn and Rallo household, in case the fire spreads. Full buckets are kept ready.

The eastern horizon shows a smudge of leaden grey as Elsbeth, Marisol, Allegra, and Rowan move among the folk still asleep in the Assembly Hall and gently wake one and all. The survivors of the Black Mist of 1066 walk the Low Bridge and gather in the open space before the Finiose house. Grief hangs heavy in the air like a tapestry woven of communal pain.

Around the Drear women and children, the town's men gather with blazing torches, chasing away the darkness and forming a protective perimeter. Merl wears his church-goin' best... a rumpled black coat. He looks more uncomfortable than anyone can remember. He looks over the townfolk and says quietly, "If Harmon were awake, I'm sure he'd have somethin' el-ay-gant and upliftin' to say. Me? I ain't got the words... 'cept to say that I hope the Gods smote the fiends that did this to our friends and family. And if the Gods don't... well, then WE'RE gonna do it ourselfs. We're from the Drear. We guard what's ours and when can't do that - we avenge'em." He casts a glance at the men with the torches, "Do it."

Merl checks the skyline, looking for any trace of dawn. "Doc may have another opinion and we'll do what he suggests... but I was thinkin' to throw that filth on the pyre with our poor animals. It'll be outside of town and the biggest blaze we can make. That's the best we can do, I reck'n... Go get some sleep, son. You look worn."

Merl doesn't blink, "Me and my boys put'em down. You all were busy with that goat-headed thing so we dealt with'em as best we could."

He seems to be giving you the straight truth.

Bluff: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (8) + 0 = 8 purposeful fail

Marcus Braun wrote:

The words strike hard for Marcus as he knows the value of good lumber, but the importance of burning the deceased lest the evil mist return. He approaches Guthwite and leans in close, whispering.

"The Finiose house was...a nightmare. I can't see how anyone could live there now, not after what happened. They're welcome to stay with me and mine until we get more lumber and rebuild. We could use the house to build a pyre for all the poor souls lost, use the animals we have left to haul some rocks to surround the house, have some folk smarter'n me to say some kind words, and make sure our friends don't come back to see us some night. Just a thought."

Merl nods, "A'right. We'll do that then. We can drag the dead animals to the Stuyvesant place. It's fallin' down a'ready. We'll burn them there - can't have'em mixing with the ashes of our kin. We'll light them both at sun-up. It's closest we can come to the full rites." The old man pats the ranger on the shoulder, "You've a good head, son. Before you go traipsin' off tomorrow - you come see me. Hear?"

Merl nods, agreeing with everything the Trader said, "As you young folks have rightly mentioned, we gotta keep everyone safe and feelin' secure - even if they really ain't. Since we got'em all here in the Hall, and it's the strongest building we got, an' a church no less... this should be our bolt hole. We fogeys can handle that."

"Sweeping the town clean... also a good idea. I seen you been doin' it already so don't let me stand in your way. After that, an' I hate to mention it, we got a grim task. Can't leave the bodies out - neither man nor beast. And we ain't got the hands or wood to do a proper pyre for each one with all the rites."

Arable land is at a premium in the mountains so the accepted burial practice is cremation which both saves on arable land and cuts down on potential undead or, among certain groups (not the Drear), Sky Burial.

Just to be clear, the Mist originated SW of the village moved out in a circular wave spreading in all directions - a stone dropped in a pond is the only analogy that comes to mind. In any direction you go, you will find corpses and corrupted vegetation. There isn't an obvious single trail of devastation to follow. It's more like you are following in the wake of a nuclear blast.

Aerik wrote:
"I had planned to follow the trail of dead vegetation and animals. Shouldn't be hard to track something like that. I can't claim to know the mind of a living mist. But if an animal snatches prey, it usually means to take it back to its lair and eat."

Merl nods, "True enough. So maybe you should look to where it come from not to where it's goin'? Maybe that's its lair."

??? 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (20) + 9 = 29

A's Perception: 1d20 + 7 - 1 ⇒ (4) + 7 - 1 = 10 range
E's Perception: 1d20 + 6 - 1 ⇒ (16) + 6 - 1 = 21
J's Perception: 1d20 + 5 - 1 ⇒ (9) + 5 - 1 = 13
L's Perception: 1d20 + 3 - 1 ⇒ (15) + 3 - 1 = 17
M's Perception: 1d20 + 8 - 1 ⇒ (1) + 8 - 1 = 8

Merl's Perception: 1d20 + 4 - 1 ⇒ (5) + 4 - 1 = 8
Others' Perception 1d20 + 1 - 1 ⇒ (17) + 1 - 1 = 17

Lyrica Strom wrote:
"Yes, Master Guthwite," Lyrica replies politely. "I will do my best, but sometimes a fire burns within me and I cannot help myself."

Merl grunts, "I know. I was young once, too. Jes keep your wits about you. We have lost enough Drear folks a'ready."

Lyrica Strom wrote:
"Master Guthwite, I would ask my father if he was awake to answer, but since he is still unconscious, I will ask you instead. Is this mist alive? I mean is it like an undead monster that can come and actually take people? Has anybody in the village seen this sort of thing before?"

"Nobody has seen nothin' like of this before... Maybe it is alive. Maybe it chose to take some, slaughter others, and leave still others alone. I just don't know. But finding the answer to that question might tell us what happened to our vanished people - for good or ill."

Aerik Wynn wrote:

"Likewise. I saw the mist. Got attacked by a Black Root. A corrupted tree. Would that I had had Marcus with me to chop it down. It's still out in the forest."

"I will help Zeke tend the wounded. But I mean to leave soon. I'm going after that accursed mist, and I'll be bringing back those that were taken. Don't wanna give it too much of a head start."

Merl wipes his face with his hand, looking tired, "Three of mine got vanished by that damnable fog. I was holding my grandson when he disappeared. I got more reason than any man alive to chase it down. But that fog rolled faster'n a horse can gallop. Unless you got wings, young Wynn, how you gonna catch it? And what do you plan to do with it if you do pin it down?"

Lyrica Strom wrote:

Lyrica, dressed in the family's old suit of thirty pound scale mail armor with her scimitar held in its scabbard strapped to to her waist belt, walks into the back room feeling rather young, inexperienced and not just a little out of place in the armor. Finally, she builds up enough courage to speak up.

"I know this may seem strange to many of you, but this evening I was out in the field behind our house when I had a vision. It was a woman with long flaming hair who gave off a brilliant light. When my eyes adjusted, she told me that 'Few will rise, many will fall. Prove yourself worthy.' I am convinced that this was the Dawnflower who spoke to me. Knowing that difficult times lay ahead, I think she was both warning me and calling me to action."

"It was not long afterwards that the deadly fog appeared and I came face to face with a great skeleton. It tried to kill me but I fought it off with my father's blade. I ran home afterwards only to find my mother slain and my father unconscious. Shortly after that, I was out in front of the Wynn's house and a goat that was transformed into a hideous creature attacked. Together, Ezekiel Druiminn, Aerik Wynn, Marcus Braun, Jak Howell and I fought off the creature only to just survive."

Merl regards Lyrica quietly for a time. "Haven't seen that armor since your Da last wore it - before you were born. Looks like he took it in some to fit ya... Leastwise, it seems to sit you better than it did him." Merl lets the strange aside stand before he emphasizes his point. "I saw you folks battlin' that goat-headed beastie. No one here coulda done better." He makes a point of turning to Lyrica. "You handled that sword good. After that, nobody is gonna call into question whether you got a right be in this room. This is the Drear; We don't go leaving useful tools on the shelf... even if they don't appear to be naught but skinny girls in hand-me-down armor."

Lyrica Strom wrote:
"I would be willing to go forth in search of answers. My mother died and my father has not yet recovered, but I know they would have supported me in this decision to go forth and prove myself worthy. I ask that you would all support me and give me that chance as well!"

Merl nods, "You'll get your chance... not much we can do to stop you, at any rate. But best you temper that headstrongness with some wisdom, girl. This ain't about proving your worthiness - at least not by my reckoning. This is about saving our thorp and our people. You wanna prove yourself to Sarenrae? Save our town."

Merl's squinty blue eyes don't miss much, even at his advanced age. He watches everyone like a hawk as they enter - looking for signs of fatigue, irrationality, or 'queerness' as he liked to call it. He's a lean-muscled old man who has made it a life-long policy not to take guff from anyone or anything. He was a boy when Dies Drear was founded, leant his hammer to every hut and house built, survived the blood feuds, survived the wolves of 1037 and 1038, survived Swamp Fever, and lived through every hard winter and plagued summer that ever befell the thorp. While his fighting years were well behind him, everyone over the age of 40 in the village spoke of Merl Guthwite as the hardest man alive and a proper danger with a blade, axe, shovel, or willow switch. He buried two wives and a dozen children or grandchildren in 78 years... and tonight he was mourning six more. And none of that showed on his face. He was granite.

He leans against the counter and watches you all file in. After an awkward silence for some, he says "Don't stand to ceremony. Ya got somethin' to say - say it."

And so, another hour later, when the sky returns to full black after escaping the bloody moon and a few hours before dawn, the over-wrought and overwhelmed survivors of Dies Drear share the Assembly Hall and listen to the Counting. Instead of Hetmon Elias Marthuoun's strong voice reading the scroll, since he is among the fallen, the townsfolk listen to the reedy and gruff delivery of old Merl Guthwite - the previous Hetmon and oldest resident of Dies Drear.

"Here's what's them that 'a died this night... Gods keep'em all:
We lost the Balatin girls - Umbril and Cassi. Aerhart, Pru, and Gav Finiose. Lost us my kin - Beax, Anka, and Lil' Jode. Poor Marthuons we'll never see again are Elias, Lena, Connie, and Onivaar... leaving only just young Dru. Don't be afeared, Dru, we're all family here and Tobar Zirk there is gonna take good care of you. He knows what you are feelin', he's lost too many this night - Mara, Lohegrin, Nala, Tindel, and Kindel."

Listening to the count and looking over at the boy curled next to the older man, our heroes see the heavy price some families have paid. Dru, just a boy of 12, has lost his entire family. And Tobar is the father of a vanished dynasty. Merl turns back to his scroll, his eyes watering.

His voice remains firm, "Our friends the Odenbrands have lost Milla and Selwyn. Thom Rallo is gone this night. Many thanks to his wife Elsbeth for saving the rest of her family and organizing us here despite her loss. Finally, we mourn Delanor Strom even as we pray for Harmon to recover quick."

He puts down the scroll and picks up another. "That's bad enough. But we've got folks missing too. Can't say as they are living or otherwise. They was taken by this queer fog right in front of others' eyes. I saw it meself and weren't nothing to be done about it. With a heavy heart, I tell you that Jode, Trev, and little Hanna of my family are gone. Likewise, Annika Wynn is also vanished."

He drops the scroll on the table. "Folks, it's been a bad night... worst I ever seen and I been here since the very beginning. Ain't nobody here hasn't suffered grievous losses tonight. But we gotta stay together, gotta help each other, gotta stick together to make sure we all pull through. We are all we got. Everyone who wants to bed down here for the days to come, you are welcome. We'll be serving food and what comfort we can. Until we're sorted out and ready for a new Hetmon, I'll hold the post. I may be an old codger but I done it before. Now, make yourselves comfortable. Everyone on the council and anyone who has seen something this night we oughta know about, got any explanations, or got some skill to help us out of this fix - drag your asses back here. Time to hash some things out."

Without waiting for a response, ole' Merl heads through the back door into the communal kitchen.