Rue and Ruin: A Simple Job (Inactive)

Game Master Aebliss

A simple escort job; bring a merchant from point A to point B with his person and cargo intact.... in spite of having to travel through the badlands of the ancient, moonless and dying world of Rue, which revolves around its red and flickering sun.

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Male DM DM 10

On a continent far across the Sovereign Sea, a butterfly flaps its wings. In ages gone by, such an inauspicious event could have been the start of hurricanes .... but those days are done.

In the beginning, there was the Age of Stone, when sentient beings huddled in their caves and great beasts ruled the world. It ended when mortals discovered fire and the working of stone and wood into weapons.
After the Age of Stone, there came the Age of Glorious Barbarism, when heroism and nobility lay cheek-by-jowl with brutality and cruelty; when the strength of one's arm and the keenness of one's blade were the determinators of merit. It ended with the death of a god and the birth of new gods.
After the Age of Stone, there came the Verdant Age, as mortals learned the ways of farming instead of foraging, of trade instead of raiding, of civilization. Land and mortal thrived together, then. It ended as great conquerors arose, who united the world.
Following the Verdant Age, there came the time of the Sunrise Empire when magic reigned supreme and the Fey races dominated the world. In the name of their aesthetic, they created magical cities that sang and shone, and ground all other life into the dirt under their heel. It ended in bloodshed and fire.
Next, there came the Empirical Empires, also known as the Secular Empires, when faith and magic waned and science reigned. Races that had been held back in the magic-rich times of the Sunset Empires thrived then, reaching for the stars in the sky and digging into the depths of their world, always eager to discover more. They died when something was discovered which should forever have remained a secret, and madness had consumed much of the world before it was made a secret again.
Sixth, there came the Evil Empire. Vice became virtue, cruelty was nobility, and a dark serenity gripped the world like a gauntlet, intent on choking light and hope out of the world in the name of order. In the end, it ended as the Sunrise Empire had because it had compressed chaos into too small a space, and it erupted.
The gods appeared to the people with a message of hope after the fall of the Evil Empires. They promised a Celestial Age and a renewal of the mortal world, but their promise became dust as the first Celestial Gathering was turned into a bloodbath through treachery, and some say hope died that day.

And now, it is the Age of Rue.
Let a thousand butterflies flap their wings, there will come no more hurricanes. No moonlight graces the nights, for the moons are gone, and no mortal seems to remember why this is so. There is no tide to stir the oceans. In some places, the waters bubble as the carcasses of great beasts rot in the depths, releasing noxious gases. In other places, the sea can be as smooth as glass for days.

But not today, for the butterfly has flapped its wings. A breeze has picked up, and it sweeps across the Sovereign Sea, rippling its surface. It sweeps into the harbour city of Theviss, one crumbling port among many, though not as many as in ages gone by. Ships still sail out from Theviss every day; little fishing boats, mostly, but there are also biremes and triremes, criss-crossing the waters under the power of indentured prisoners' muscles instead of wind and tide as was done in ages gone by.
The breeze finds its way through the narrow streets, blending the faint stench of ancient rot it picked up along the way with the fresher stenches of a city; raw sewage in the clogged sewers, garbage tipped into the Streets by uncaring home owners, the dung of camels .... all these things 'perfume' the air.

Standing in the Great Square, in front of the city gates, you are found by the breeze. A mixture of clean salt and foulness curls around your ankles and stings your nose as you wait by the statue of a headless equine while your employer, the white-feathered Tengu merchant Dageau, haggles for some last-minute supplies at the little stands that surround the square. He ordered you to wait here and watch his small cart and his two camels, not to mention the single box of mystery merchandise sitting in the cart.
Your little group is getting rather a lot of attention from the locals; not many people willingly travel anywhere these days, not without a sizeable caravan or a trireme around them. Small bands like yours, well .... More than one merchant from the little stands has made disturbing offers to literally buy the clothes off your back. "Go on, sell now!" one enthusiastic young man said. "What good is it to leave such fine clothes rotting in a ditch or a monster's nest somewhere? Sell it to me now!"
He left disappointed, of course, but people are still looking at you and muttering behind their hands. In addition, priests have gathered at Theviss' city gates, eyeing you with varying degrees of severity; a Cleric of Kebal in slate grey; a Cleric of Athelgarde in jet black; and a Cleric of Laelae in muted violet, his eyes vague and his smile benevolent.

Dageau is still doing a bit of dickering, though it seems he is wrapping up his affairs, so this seems like a golden opportunity for you to introduce yourselves to each other. After all, this is the first day you met, as you have gathered in response to Dageau's flyers and posters offering one hundred units of credit (gp) for those willing to protect him and his belongings on the week-long voyage from Theviss to an inland city called Ulak.

Male Griffon Skald 1 | HP 6/9 | AC: 14 T: 11 Fl: 14 | CMB: +3 CMD: 14 | F +3 R +1 W +2 | Init +1 | Perc: +4
Daily Abilities:
1st-level spells 2/2 | Raging Song 6/6

Grimdell stands far from the cart, knowing his presence would make the camels uneasy. He stands about as tall as your average halfling, though if you counted his length rather than his height he would make for a very tall man. His plummage, ruffled slightly by wind and restlessness, has the browns and whites of a red-tailed hawk, while his hindquarters' dark brown fur resembles that of a mountain lion. Yet for all his fierce appearance, the armor he wears--tough leather set with precious steel rivets over his vital organs--and the pack on his back suggest he is more than just a beast.

He shifts restlessly as he waits, his fierce gaze passing over the merchants and priests with an intensity that seems to judge them and find them lacking. He looks again over to Dageau, regarding him for a long moment, before turning to his new companions. His gaze on them seems curious rather than dismissive, as if by agreeing to come on this journey they have proven themselves worthy of further examination

He opens his beak, and speaks with a rough, oddly-accented voice. "How many of you have been without your walls?"

Male Old Tiefling Wizard 1

The most noticeable thing one would point out about Menra, would be the two massive horns originating from his forehead and looping down past this shoulders. A brown bat hangs from his right horn, observing the surroundings around herself and her master with caution. The Tiefling himself has been standing close to the cart, writing notes within the margins of his spellbook.

When his attention is drawn away from his task to the griffin, he adjusts his reading glasses to get a better look at the beastly being. The skald certainly looked quite strong indeed, no doubt he'd prove a very valuable ally on this journey to come.

Turning his eyes away from him so he could properly store his book, he spoke in a soft but direct tone of voice. "I'd be remiss if I were to not admit my lack of personal experience with the greater world. There was a great wealth of information I've absorbed of my years of what to expect out beyond from perusing the selection at my library, but I'm well aware that there's a difference between knowing and experiencing first hand."

Female Fetchling Medium/1

Quite a difference indeed, old timer, teases the fetchling in your midst. She stands about average height for a human, though her charcoal grey skin, lanky frame, and faintly glowing yellow eyes mark her clearly as something other than human. Her leather armor, festooned with ceramic studs that betray the presence of larger plates beneath, creaks lightly as she pulls out a ribbon and ties back her white hair with it.

As for me, I'm actually a recent transplant to the walls. I've done some exploring before, but it was on the Shadow Plane, so I'm afraid what I know about the wilderness there won't help as much here, she responds to the griffon while cleaning dirt from under her fingernails with the afformentioned dagger. And uh... full disclosure, I uh... talk to spirits. So don't be alarmed by me talking to myself sometimes.

AC: 17/12/15; CMD: 16; Init: +4; F/R/W: +3/+2/+0 (+2 vs enchantments); Perc: +2, SM +0; low-light vision; Max HP: 13, Current HP: 13

Standing silently to the side is a handsome half-elven warrior. Though his clothes are ordinary, he possesses an air of wealth, authority, and arrogance. His hands rest on the pummel of his exotic curved sword resting in its scabbard.

He silently scans the crowd, as well as each of his companions, and emotions frolic across his face: sometimes angry, sometimes disgusted, but mostly just sad.

As the breeze stirs up a particularly potent collection of smells, his nose wrinkles and his hand moves to grab something hanging from his neck...except there is nothing there, and the sadness returns in full force to his features.

Male half-Umbral Dragon Human Wizard(Exploiter/Pact)/Alchemist(Mindchemist/Internal) 4 HP: 59[+12 temp]/59 Saves: 12/10/8 AC: 24/16/20 CMD: 24 Initiative: +10 Perception: +9 AR: 5/7

The breeze sends ripples through Serill's cloak as he waits, bored. Refusing the annoying offers to buy his clothes. If they knew... they would not say such. He cares very little about the people of Theviss right now, but rather the group the merchant had gathered to defend him. "My walls collapsed in upon me. Perhaps I will rebuild it one day." He didn't seem too hopeful or actually interested in his own words. Like an empty idea to fill in a conversation. He regarded the arrogant elf, "That is an impressive weapon my lord. Indeed I have seen its match only once. How do you come by such exquisite craftsmanship?"

AC: 17/12/15; CMD: 16; Init: +4; F/R/W: +3/+2/+0 (+2 vs enchantments); Perc: +2, SM +0; low-light vision; Max HP: 13, Current HP: 13

The half-elf self-consciously tightens his grip protectively. "It was presented to us as a gift from our father on our 21st name day. A ceremonial trinket at the time, though it amused us at the time to learn its use. Now I believe we shall be grateful for the skill in the times ahead."

The elf's accent is completely unknown. He continues, relaxing only slightly. "We are called Lord Brycen of Thrushberry, Prince of Aerisael, second in line to the throne of our royal father, King Rathiel the Fourth. As our royal brother is most likely dead, it falls upon us to claim the throne, though first we must locate our realm, or what has become of it, and restore our kingdom to its former glory."

He pauses, then adds with a sigh, "No doubt you would consider us either full of lies or completely matters not, most people do, but we will not hide who we are, or rather, who we were. There is always a chance some soul we meet in this gods-forsaken land would know of Aerisael. Doth your library contain any mentions of our realm?" he concludes, directing his question to Menra.

Male Old Tiefling Wizard 1

The elder watched the group as they conversed, merely happy to see a group of strange souls come together for this journey. The Fetchling girl was curious for one. He'd had dealings with planes creatures before during his study, but he'd yet to meet a shadowed native.

There was a full blooded elf who seemed to have an distinct air about him, and there was certainly a whiff of magic in his aura. An older and more expereibced mage, perhaps? Observing how he worked the craft would be a very valuable insight indeed.

And then there was the elf eared human, a half bred being. One of royal pedigree he claimed, in fact. His brow furrowed as he listened to his tale, and gave serious consideration towards the man's question. As he brought a hand to his beared his thoughts raced through his internally catalleloged selection, there were a great many books after all, so surely there was some linkling of this nation...

History: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (11) + 9 = 20

Male Griffon Skald 1 | HP 6/9 | AC: 14 T: 11 Fl: 14 | CMB: +3 CMD: 14 | F +3 R +1 W +2 | Init +1 | Perc: +4
Daily Abilities:
1st-level spells 2/2 | Raging Song 6/6

"Griffons care not for men's kings or lands," Grimdell declares, "Much less their names."

He seemed to measure each of his companions in turn. Most were not warriors, he thought, but the haughty one at least bore a sword and claimed to know how to use it. The odd dark one was a spirit-speaker... interesting.

"I live without walls," he states, holding his head up proudly. "It is dangerous. Not even griffons fly alone."

N Male Elf Druid 1 | HP 4/9 | AC 15 (12 Touch, 13 Flat-footed) | CMB +1, CMD 13 | Fort. +4, Ref. +2, Will +4 | Init. +2 | Perc. +5 | Speed 30ft | Spells: 1st 2+1/2+1, | Active conditions: +2 Atk/Dmg

A disheveled, unkempt, and clearly unwell elf stumbles through the markets towards the group, a latecomer to the procedings.

Merchants wrote:
"Go on, sell now!" one enthusiastic young man said. "What good is it to leave such fine clothes rotting in a ditch or a monster's nest somewhere? Sell it to me now!"

"PISS OFF! Damn it, at least Vultures have the common courtesy to wait until you're dead!"

Some claim that elves are closely tied to the spirit of the world. This individual certainly seems to embody that, looking as sickly as the planet. His perhaps once gleaming white hair is now a dull light grey with grease and grime, and his once thin, angular nose has gotten red and swollen with too much drink. He squints as he makes his way towards the group. As he gets closer, the scar on the side of his face is quite visible. It is healed over, but still distinct, running down from the left side of his forehead to under his ear.

He is equipped for combat, looking like a drunk mercenary soldier, with a longsword, shield, and shortbow. His leather armour is stained, grimy, and not quite put on right.

"Let's see here, I was looking for that bird-guy Dag, dag-uh something. Ah, there he is. So this must be the group." He gives a cursory glance to the assembled crew through still squinting eyes, presumably due to a hangover that hasn't quite finished with him.

Grimdell the Griffon wrote:
"How many of you have been without your walls?"

"Without your walls? What the hell are you...? Oh. You mean who has left the city? Grew up out there. Even more miserable than it looks. Everything is either dead, bitter, or wants to eat you. Sometimes multiples.

Keskel the Shadowtouched wrote:
"And uh... full disclosure, I uh... talk to spirits. So don't be alarmed by me talking to myself sometimes."

"Yeesh, you'd think spirits would have better places to hang around than this craphole."

The elf shuts his eyes for a moment, wincing in pain. He procures a (badly) hand carved item, something in between a bowl and a ladel, and begins to wave his fingers over the bowl.

In his still hung over state, it takes a few tries for him to get the words and gestures right, but once he does, he shows he is (slightly) more than a mercenary soldier, as the bowl fills with water. He immediately splashes this into his face, and repeates the process a few times.

"Anyways, are we ready to go off and die yet?"

AC: 17/12/15; CMD: 16; Init: +4; F/R/W: +3/+2/+0 (+2 vs enchantments); Perc: +2, SM +0; low-light vision; Max HP: 13, Current HP: 13

As the new elf arrives, Brycen reaches for something hanging from his neck, but again it isn't there. He grimaces slightly at the smells coming from the man.

Male DM DM 10

Dageau finishes his final bit of trading and comes over to you, pausing a little distance away to look you all up and down.
You cannot help but return the scrutiny; Dageau cuts an interesting figure. White feathers alone would distinguish the Tengu from his raw-voices brethren, but his .... singular style of dress also sets him apart. You are fairly certain you have never seen a Tengu wear a red jacket with a lining of green-died wool before. You have just plain never seen anyone wear a black hat that looks like a short stovepipe.

"Well," the merchant finally says, his voice half caw, "you lot are not much to look at, but I suppose I'm getting what I'm paying for. On that subject, your payment isn't due until I've been delivered safely to Ulak, and that's where my money is, waiting in the catacombs under the local temple of Kebal.

If any of you are entertaining thoughts of bumping me off and selling my trade goods for yourselves, prepare to be disappointed; it's taken me ten-odd years to find a customer for what's in that box, and he'll only buy from me. I only have a little bit of coin left on me, certainly not more than what you'll get for doing your jobs properly, so you have no good reason for abandoning or murdering me, other than pure spite.

Oh, you might protest I'm being unfair to you, but I prefer to get these things out in the open, and I've little interest in becoming your friend. I've been doing business for many years now, and frank honesty has served me best. If it turns out you're good servants, I'll provide you with a bonus that'll wipe all your resentments away in one swoop: I'll treat you all to an evening of glories and delights at Le Bassin Heureux, Ulak's foremost pleasure-garden!

Well, that's that. The wagon is packed, the camels have been fed and watered.... Let's be on our way. I want you all to move in a protective formation around my cart. If we're attacked, your first duty is to be a buffer between my belongings and whatever danger we meet. You, the griffon. Fly above us once we're out of bowshot from the city walls and keep an eye out for danger. Don't fly off before we're out of bowshot! The city guards tend to frown on flying critters too close to the city."

With these warm and encouraging words, Dageau clambers up onto the driver's seat of his cart, takes up the reins and snaps them smartly against the camels' rumps. The two beasts of burden issue the coarse sounds of their kind as they rise to their feet with surprising elegance. Dageau snaps the reins again, he orders you all to get moving .... and so you do.

As you approach the city gates, you get a good look at the mechanism used to open and close them; two large treadwheels, each connected to one of the gates by ropes and pulleys. Indentured prisoners, some bipedal, others quadrupedal, wait inside for the order to walk one way or the other. Armoured overseers with whips keep a constant eye on both the gates and the mechanism.
It is never easy, looking at Indentured; the leather 'sheath' that covers them completely, save for an airhole, is tight enough to give disquieting hints of all the 'unnecessary items' which are 'pruned' as a result of the indenture. The faint whiff of excrement and corrupted wounds you catch is also disquieting. Whenever you see an Indentured, you are put in mind of the terrible consequences of breaking the wrong law if you cannot afford to pay the associated fines.

Having a Cleric of Athelgarde, the One Queen, approach on your way to the gates is another reminder of those consequences. Athelgarde's black-robed priests and priestesses all too often volunteer to make the sentences handed down by Theviss' courts a blood-soaked, screaming reality, and you can see them lurking on many a corner, keeping an eye on the rowdier parts of town and dragging off those they consider to be guilty of disturbing civil order.

Raw-boned and severe, the priestess raises an aspergillium at you and shakes it, spraying you all with unholy water straight from the temple of her goddess. Her voice is a raw screech, angry and commanding:
"Carry the grace of Athelgarde with you into the wilderness! Into the savage lands, bring the memory of Athelgarde's benevolence! Remember civilization and praise her name! PRAISE HER NAME!"

As if that weren't bad enough, more unholy water comes flying from the opposite direction. His face easily as grey as his robes, the Cleric of Kebal, deity of fate and the Doom, rings out like a great, cracked bell:
"DOOM awaits you without as well as within! Abandon hope, you will not escape the DOOM by leaving this city! DOOM will not find you, DOOM has found you already! Die outside under the fangs of beasts or fall on your swords here, it matters nothing! DOOM will have you! Kebal has already triumphed! Sing his praises as you pass into oblivion!"

The sound of whips cracking and pained, wordless squals from the treadwheels comes as a bit of a relief after the screaming and shouting from the two priests, to be honest. You watch the gates inch open, trying bravely to ignore the intermittent rain of unholy water and the horrible things being shouted at you. As the gates are finally open sufficiently to let you out, you hardly need Dageau's signal to move forward.
Standing close to the open gate is the final priest, the representative of Laelae, goddess of death. Smiling, he gestures to the tray of little flasks he is carrying.
"The Lady does not wish you harm," he says, his voice soft and dreamy. "Finest blue whinnis for only sixty units of credit. Coat a blade against the last extremis, and pass into her arms in peaceful slumber, instead of pain."

And after this last encouraging message from the three main religious groups of Theviss, you pass through the gates. Before you lies the wilderness, for Theviss draws all of its nutrition from the sea and leaves the land outside of its walls barren.
The red sun shines down on a landscape of gentle curves, most of them hidden under the hand-sized caps of black mushrooms. On the horizon, you see a thin, dark line; according to travellers, that is where a parasol forest grows, the stunted, man-high trees spreading their leaves wide to catch every bit of light the failing sun can provide. The faint breeze that found you in the city square curls around your ankles - and worse, your nostrils - once more .... and then the gates slam shut behind you. You cannot help but notice that closing the gates took significantly less time than opening them did.

You can interact with Dageau and/or the Clerics before we move to the next lap of your journey.

AC: 17/12/15; CMD: 16; Init: +4; F/R/W: +3/+2/+0 (+2 vs enchantments); Perc: +2, SM +0; low-light vision; Max HP: 13, Current HP: 13

Lord Brycen says nothing during the merchant's tirade, though the pleasure garden do hold some appeal. He flinched from the unholy water, but again stays silent. As the gates close, he comments mostly to himself, "I never thought I would miss the stuck up clerics of Sibilan preaching honour and virtue above all else."

Male Old Tiefling Wizard 1

Menra takes it all in stride, being the lone native of Theviss within the party he had long since grown used to it's machinations and pleasantries. He didn't like it much at all, of course, but he knew there was little he could do at this juncture. Perhaps once he returns an archmage, he can help the people of this city from out of their rut with a sprinkle of magic.

"I'm afraid I know not of the tale you spoke of, Lord Brycen of Thrushberry. But you speak with the confidence and clarity un-befit of a mind stricken by delusion, so I'll resign to trust in your word for the time being. My library was but a small one after all, nothing at all like the grandiose labyrinthine selves told of in ancient tales. Perhaps we shall uncover such a mystery together, hm? But for now, we have our task."

He rustles his cloak, grabbing a handful of components to place inside his front pockets. His allies from beyond the veil would make for excellent traveling companions on the journey ahead.

"Nelly- Fly alongside our winged friend once we're at a safe distance would you please? Four eyes in the sky are much better then but two after all."

His bat shifts her wings, and transmits a feeling of acceptance toward her master. Satisfied that his request will be dutifully handled, Menra takes up position right of their charge.

AC: 17/12/15; CMD: 16; Init: +4; F/R/W: +3/+2/+0 (+2 vs enchantments); Perc: +2, SM +0; low-light vision; Max HP: 13, Current HP: 13

Brycen seems mollified slightly at Menra's supportive words of belief.

Once clear of the city, Lord Brycen takes point, keeping a look out all around as the walk, with his hand resting on his sword hilt. Sometimes he draws a few inches as he starts at a noise, and it's blade glints weakly like metal, not the expected ceramic.

Female Fetchling Medium/1

Reminds me of home, Keska muses with a slight sigh of nostalgia as the party goes through the ritual to depart from the city. She politely declines the poison on the grounds that she doesn't have the credit for it, and takes her position somewhere near the front of the caravan.

As the wandering through the wilderness goes on, she sends more and more concerned looks at the would-be king and his... jumpy behavior. She mumbles, seemingly to herself, about that concern, but doesn't voice it to the rest of the party just yet.

Male Old Tiefling Wizard 1

"Your home... The shadow plane, am I correct?" Menra asked Keska as they moved along, trying to make some conversation. "I've studied much regarding the planes surrounding our material, the elemental ones in particular. Yet my knowledge regarding our closest neighbor has always been lacking in substance."

N Male Elf Druid 1 | HP 4/9 | AC 15 (12 Touch, 13 Flat-footed) | CMB +1, CMD 13 | Fort. +4, Ref. +2, Will +4 | Init. +2 | Perc. +5 | Speed 30ft | Spells: 1st 2+1/2+1, | Active conditions: +2 Atk/Dmg
DM Quoth wrote:
"If it turns out you're good servants, I'll provide you with a bonus that'll wipe all your resentments away in one swoop: I'll treat you all to an evening of glories and delights at Le Bassin Heureux, Ulak's foremost pleasure-garden!"

Virro's eyes open, and a bit of a smirk hits his lips. He's vaguely heard of Le Bassin Heureux, mostly as the place to be. This job will pay even better than he thought!

Virro shudders a little and avoids looking at the Indentured. Silently, he thanks his luck that he's always been a quiet drunk, not prone to the wild acts of abandon that others do when inebriated, which seems to often lead to arrests, and possibly that.

He is able to bite his tongue as the assorted god-peddlers, though their yelling is doing nothing good for his hangover. He simply squints his eyes and does his best to look inoffensively disinterested.

Finally, the group leaves the town. Virro takes a position on the side of the cart, pulls out his bow, and squints into the distance.

Male half-Umbral Dragon Human Wizard(Exploiter/Pact)/Alchemist(Mindchemist/Internal) 4 HP: 59[+12 temp]/59 Saves: 12/10/8 AC: 24/16/20 CMD: 24 Initiative: +10 Perception: +9 AR: 5/7

What is in that box I wonder...

Once they were out of sight of the repugnant priests Serill uses the edge of his cloak to dry his face of the unholy water. He didn't feel very blessed. "Doom. Perhaps they should just get it over with already." Serill takes up a position next to the cart on the driver's side, closest to the merchant.

Male Griffon Skald 1 | HP 6/9 | AC: 14 T: 11 Fl: 14 | CMB: +3 CMD: 14 | F +3 R +1 W +2 | Init +1 | Perc: +4
Daily Abilities:
1st-level spells 2/2 | Raging Song 6/6

Grimdell gives all three priests a disdainful glare as they leave the city. If humans are listening to such despairing counsel, no wonder so many of them have too little spirit to venture outside of their walls. But he knows enough of human ways not to scream defiance at them. Let them say their foolish words. He will fight to his last breath and glory in it.

He does not mention to the odd-feathered merchant that he cares little for his rewards, but rather for the journey. Coin was useful, after all, even if he cared little for it.

"I know of the guard's bows," he replies to Dageau. "I am not the first of my pride to come and go here."

He trots in the front of the group until they are out of bowshot of the walls, then takes off with a fierce cry, glad to be off the ground and out of the human's stupid walls. He circles upwards a couple turns, then matches pace with the little group, flying advancing circles above them, his keen eyes sweeping over their surroundings with each turn.

Female Fetchling Medium/1

Keska brightens (as much as a being of shadow can) at the wizard asking about her home. Well your knowledge about it matches the plan itself, she replies with a chuckle at her own joke, it's a very dark and shadowy place, as one might expect, being the shadow that this plane casts on the multiverse. Was there anything specific you wanted to know?

Male DM DM 10

DM Screen:

g.p 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (18) + 4 = 22
n.p 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (17) + 6 = 23
d.d 1d100 ⇒ 59
d.d 1d12 ⇒ 7

With the flyers circling overhead, your little party sets off!
You march, the camels plodding along with at least a semblance of contentment - or perhaps hauteur is a better description of their mindset. One of the cart's wheels creaks. Squeak. Squeak. Squeak. It seems Dageau is too much of a skinflint to pay for some axle grease....
As you move, you repeatedly step on those black-capped mushrooms, which burst with sickening squelching noises and release thin clouds of spores. Without wind, the spores just drift down to the ground.
Overhead, the red sun hangs high in the sky, a bloated giant that fails to bring great warmth. Those who dare look at it can see the dark fluxes signalling its decay pass over its surface from time to time.

Apart from the unpleasant noises underfoot and the persistent squeaking of the wheel, the journey is monotonous. After five hours, when the hour is noon-ish, Dageau halts the journey so you can all take a money to relax, eat and drink if you want. The Tengu merchant himself eats a sober meal of rice wafers with a swig of water, then smokes a foul-smelling pipe.
"Good against pests," he claims if any of you dare complain about the rank odour that surrounds the cart for the next half hour. The camels certainly complain, their honks and grunts echoing across the land.
Another two hours pass, and you are coming up on the edge of the parasol forest. Theviss is a stain on the horizon behind you, and you get a good look at the parasol trees. They are everything you had heard they were; about man-high, with thick trunks full of unsightly knots and blisters, their branches sticking out almost horizontally from the top, the leaves spread wide to catch every bit of light the red giant above you is willing to give.
"You'll have to cut us a path until we come up on the Old Road," Dageau says. "It runs through this forest, and nothing grows on it. More's the pity, plenty grows beside it. Get chopping."

Flying high overhead, you can see a road that runs through the forest, its stonework impossibly clean and pale. The forest looms close to its edges, but does not overrun it.

Male Old Tiefling Wizard 1

Agreed with Pyhtos offsite to summarize their conversation

Menra had a good time chatting with one of the material plane's newest residents, learning much more about the shadow plane then he knew hours before. This of course was actually quite little in comparison, as it was mostly about Keska's day to day life and the general depressing atmosphere within that plane as of now. He can't say he was pleased to hear that they weren't fairing any better, but he appreciated learning more and getting to know one of his companions for this journey.

Nelly over the journey's course mainly transmitted feelings of elation and delight for the freedom to fly without risk or worry that she'd be shot down. The information she could give her master was indeed limited, but any distress she felt would certainly be a good indicator that something was wrong.

Once they've stopped at the Forrest's edge, the tiefling could only raise a bushy brow at the tengu's demand. They'd only agreed to protect the man on this journey, not carve a new path for him to follow. It wasn't as if they'd brought along axes after all.

Creating an ax out of magic was a possibility, but he knew he lacked the strength to swing one well and it would crumble to dust in the hands of another. Perhaps simple magic may do the trick?

"If you so wish, I suppose I can at least make the effort to try."

Wiggling his fingers, he acid present in the air gathered around his hand as he shaped and manipulated it. Then he flicked it against the trunk of a tree, melting a gash against it's trunk. This would take a while.

Acid splash to slowly chip away at the trees.

AC: 17/12/15; CMD: 16; Init: +4; F/R/W: +3/+2/+0 (+2 vs enchantments); Perc: +2, SM +0; low-light vision; Max HP: 13, Current HP: 13

Brycen pulls out his heavy flail, a massive rock held by ropes to a thick wooden handle not unlike the trunks of these trees. The flail is full of course, but Brycen gets enough oomph behind his swings to smash the wood to flinders.

Male DM DM 10

The first trees die .... easily.
While their trunks look thick enough, the wood turns out to be pulpy once you crack the bark. Globs of acid sizzle large holes in them, and the leaves just curl up and wither, not unlike the hand of a dying man.
As you cut down more trees, you can see the parasols surrounding them furl up, the leaves curling inward and the trunks starting to sink into the ground.

Knowledge (nature) DC 15:
This kind of behaviour is not unlike that of underwater polyps, which also grow in large clusters .... and may be extrusions of large colony organisms. Make of that what you will.

Male Griffon Skald 1 | HP 6/9 | AC: 14 T: 11 Fl: 14 | CMB: +3 CMD: 14 | F +3 R +1 W +2 | Init +1 | Perc: +4
Daily Abilities:
1st-level spells 2/2 | Raging Song 6/6

Grimdell simply takes to the air again. Even if he were willing to do such [i]laborp/i], his talons and beak were not suited to such work, at least if he wanted to be able to fight anytime soon.

Know (nature): 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (19) + 6 = 25

He narrows his eyes as he realizes the 'trees' may not be trees at all... and he starts watching all the more carefully, suspecting that defenders of some sort may soon respond to this attack.

Female Fetchling Medium/1

Keska takes out a pair of sickles that rested on her hips, using them as effectively as she can to cut through the thinner "trees." She grimaces a little as the pulpy innards spill over her with her shorter reach and wishing she had something to clean off with afterward. I certainly hope the road is close...

N Male Elf Druid 1 | HP 4/9 | AC 15 (12 Touch, 13 Flat-footed) | CMB +1, CMD 13 | Fort. +4, Ref. +2, Will +4 | Init. +2 | Perc. +5 | Speed 30ft | Spells: 1st 2+1/2+1, | Active conditions: +2 Atk/Dmg

Virro grunts in annoyance. This wasn't part of the job. But what else was he going to do? Quit?

Knowledge (Nature): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (18) + 8 = 26

Virro pulls out his pitted but serviceable longsword and begins hacking away. It isn't an idea tool, but it's still good hard metal.

"Bleah, hate these canopy trees. Something just ain't right about 'em. The way they curl like that and seem to die instantly. It's like they're just part of something bigger."

GM: Any other knowledge Virro would have of any present dangers in this region of the world? Want another Kn. Nature check? Kn. Geography?

Male half-Umbral Dragon Human Wizard(Exploiter/Pact)/Alchemist(Mindchemist/Internal) 4 HP: 59[+12 temp]/59 Saves: 12/10/8 AC: 24/16/20 CMD: 24 Initiative: +10 Perception: +9 AR: 5/7

knowledge(nature): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (18) + 8 = 26

He has no tool suitable for the task and seeing 2 or 3 of them already at it, decides to keep his eyes out for danger instead. He will put his staff on the side of the cart and pull his crossbow out from behind his back. "All this sudden activity may startle something that lives in here."

Male DM DM 10

DM Zone:
1d19 ⇒ 9

Note that the following spoilered info is available to those who already passed the DC.

Knowledge (nature) DC 20:
Parasol 'trees' are, indeed, an organism that has a lot in common with deep sea-polyps. The protrusions you see above ground are all connected to a large mass underground.
Like a giant fungus.

Knowledge (nature) DC 25:
Parasol trees are perfectly harmless. You can do anything you want to them and all they'll do is retreat underground. Cut enough, and a path will open....
By day.
Staying in a parasol forest after sundown is NOT safe. If the forest detects warm bodies in its reach after the sun has gone down, it starts putting up 'roots' to burrow into flesh and suck out all of the yummy goodness.

You advance, the trees retreating into the earth or succumbing to blade and spell, depending on how fast you are prepared to move. The cart follows behind you, Dageau grumbling sourly about how slow the going is, how he can't wait to get to the road.... The usual stuff. You know how Merchants are.
You might almost get bored - but then Menra feels a sudden stab of alarm. One that does not come from within, but from without; his familiar is communicating a warning to him of approaching danger!


Circling overhead, you can see that there is an area ahead where the trees are already retreating into the earth. Sleek, low-slung but fast-moving bodies are approaching the group at a fast pace. It'll be roughly two rounds before they're upon them!

Male Griffon Skald 1 | HP 6/9 | AC: 14 T: 11 Fl: 14 | CMB: +3 CMD: 14 | F +3 R +1 W +2 | Init +1 | Perc: +4
Daily Abilities:
1st-level spells 2/2 | Raging Song 6/6

"'Ware you! Foes approach from ahead!" Grimdell shrieks down to the others. "They will be upon us soon!"

He sounds excited about the prospect.

He circles downward to be within about 20' of the party.

AC: 17/12/15; CMD: 16; Init: +4; F/R/W: +3/+2/+0 (+2 vs enchantments); Perc: +2, SM +0; low-light vision; Max HP: 13, Current HP: 13

Brycen hooks his flail back onto his pack at Grimdell's warning and smoothly draws his curve blade, the pristine metal gleaming in the weak light of the red sun.

Male Old Tiefling Wizard 1

Menra was already dropping his spell and reaching for something in his front pockets upon feeling the sudden alarm from Nelly, a warning at his lips. But Grimdell was swift indeed, having already swept down to give them the details. He could see that his bat was just behind the griffon. She perched herself ontop of the wizard's head, wings outstretched as if to protect her master.

Words of power laced his voice as he carved a connection from this plane to another, prepared to drag creatures from those realms to help defend the group.

Starting Summon Monster 1, readying to let it loose upon spying our foes.

Male half-Umbral Dragon Human Wizard(Exploiter/Pact)/Alchemist(Mindchemist/Internal) 4 HP: 59[+12 temp]/59 Saves: 12/10/8 AC: 24/16/20 CMD: 24 Initiative: +10 Perception: +9 AR: 5/7

Serill reacts swiftly to Grimdell's warning. While holding his crossbow loosely in one hand, the other hand touches several spots on his head and torso, starting from right hip to each shoulder, down to his left hip, across his chest to right shoulder, head then left shoulder and back down diagonally across his chest to his right hip and finally left hip before thumping his chest to complete the odd gesture. The whole movement is completed in only a few seconds and done automatically as if second nature. At the same time as he thumps his chest he speaks a phrase in sylvan...


"ancestors protect me."

He casts mage armour. AC is [17].
After this he loads a bolt into his crossbow and prepares to defend the cart. readied action to shoot the first thing that he can see that moves towards the cart.

Male DM DM 10

Just waiting for Keska and Virro. ^_^
Then you get to meet the predators of the future....

N Male Elf Druid 1 | HP 4/9 | AC 15 (12 Touch, 13 Flat-footed) | CMB +1, CMD 13 | Fort. +4, Ref. +2, Will +4 | Init. +2 | Perc. +5 | Speed 30ft | Spells: 1st 2+1/2+1, | Active conditions: +2 Atk/Dmg

"Wear me? Huh?"

Though confused by Grimdell's choice of words, the meaning is quite clear. Virro steps back a bit. He holds his sword at the ready, but also raises his other hand towards the supposed threats.

"You said ahead of us, right? Nobody get any ideas about charging ahead like a dumbass! This'll slow 'em down, let us pick 'em off!"

With confirmation of the direction of the threats, Virro begins to mumble, pointing at the region in the rough direction of where Grimdell gestured.

The scant plant life between the canopy trees, and even small shoots and stubby branches, begin to writhe and wave, some seeming to burst from the ground, creating a barrier of grabbing plant life.

Virro will cast Entangle at the ground a good ways ahead of the group, though still within visual range. It covers a 40 ft. radius spread, so quite a region. Difficult terrain, and DC 13 Reflex save to avoid being entangled

Male half-Umbral Dragon Human Wizard(Exploiter/Pact)/Alchemist(Mindchemist/Internal) 4 HP: 59[+12 temp]/59 Saves: 12/10/8 AC: 24/16/20 CMD: 24 Initiative: +10 Perception: +9 AR: 5/7

"I think he means, take heed." Serill says offhandedly to Virro. He watches these new companions prepare for a fight in their different ways. It's the elf's blade that draws his eye the most, reminding him of the one wrapped and hidden in his own pack. Even facing this danger, Serill was primarily interested in seeing how skilled this so-called elven lord was with it. Perhaps he would prove himself without words to some extent.

AC: 17/12/15; CMD: 16; Init: +4; F/R/W: +3/+2/+0 (+2 vs enchantments); Perc: +2, SM +0; low-light vision; Max HP: 13, Current HP: 13

He stands motionless with the hilt held in two hands, wound like a spring. A sharp eye sees that he is delicately balanced on the balls of his feet, able to move in any direction. No proof that he knows what he's doing, but his fighting stance appears to be very deliberate and formal, not the "desperate hack through flesh" approach of modern swordsmen.

Female Fetchling Medium/1

Keska kneels in the dirt monetarily, grabbing and rubbing some between her hands in an attempt to remove some of the pulp from the plants before grabbing her tools again. She sets herself in a ready stance with one sickle held next to her face and the other held close. Like this? she mumbles, pausing briefly before taking the close sickle and holding it almost completely outstretched and nodding grimly.

Male Griffon Skald 1 | HP 6/9 | AC: 14 T: 11 Fl: 14 | CMB: +3 CMD: 14 | F +3 R +1 W +2 | Init +1 | Perc: +4
Daily Abilities:
1st-level spells 2/2 | Raging Song 6/6

Once the creatures are about one round away, Grimdell suddenly breaks into a screechy, harsh song. Just imagine what a hawk cry turned into song would sound like.

"With talons stretched and heads held high,
Ka-ra! Ka-ra!"

Somehow, the harsh notes of the song stir the heart, urging those who listen on to battle.

He's starting his Raging Song. You can choose whether or not to benefit from it every round. The current effect is: affected allies gain a +2 morale bonus to Strength and Constitution and a +1 morale bonus on Will saving throws, but also take a –1 penalty to AC. While under the effects of inspired rage, allies other than the skald cannot use any Charisma-, Dexterity-, or Intelligence-based skills (except Acrobatics, Fly, Intimidate, and Ride) or any ability that requires patience or concentration.

Male DM DM 10

DM Zone:
1d20 + 4 ⇒ (6) + 4 = 10 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (8) + 4 = 12 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (8) + 4 = 12 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (8) + 4 = 12 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (6) + 4 = 10 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (10) + 4 = 14 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (1) + 2 = 3 1d6 + 3 ⇒ (5) + 3 = 8 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (16) + 3 = 19

In the Age of Stone, there were predators the size of trees, mighty of fang and claw. Then, they were tiny things that squeaked and cowered in the woods.
In the Age of Glorious Barbarism, there were lions and tigers and wolves and bears, oh my. Then, they were still tiny things that squeaked and cowered in the woods.
Then, things started to change. Large-two-legged creatures started building places, started gathering food. Out of the forest they came, to find ways of getting at the food. Vermin, they were called, but they thrived.
In all the Ages after, they thrived in adversity. Scavenging food from the stores of larger creatures, swimming in their rivers of filth and spreading plague among them, dying of poison, of jaws of iron and steel, but surviving, forever surviving.
And then came the great upheaval. Many hunters fell away. Wolves died. Lions died. Their seats of power were wide open .... and they were there. Waiting for the next great opportunity to thrive.
The next great opportunity to feed.

They burst forward, the parasol trees retreating into the earth to avoid their gnashing teeth, the claws tearing at the earth.
Rattus rattus, the common rat, still exists in the cities and villages into which sentient creatures have withdrawn. But in the wilderness outside the last hearths of civilization, there are new niches to grow into - literally.
Short fur ripples and bristles over bunching muscles. Spade teeth and curved incisors gnash at the air. Naked tails lash it. Easily the size of dogs or the wolves of old fables, the Falanx charge forward -- and fall afoul of the area of entanglement. All but one of the six rat-beasts find themselves snared. Screeching with obvious fury, the five halt and focus on getting loose.

The one rat-beast that remains free, its ribcage clearly showing, darts around the area of verdant entanglement and hurls itself at Keska....! The beast's teeth catch on the Fetchling's armour instead of her flesh, but it shakes and worries at her!

Party is up!

AC: 17/12/15; CMD: 16; Init: +4; F/R/W: +3/+2/+0 (+2 vs enchantments); Perc: +2, SM +0; low-light vision; Max HP: 13, Current HP: 13

Brycen, seeing the other five currently entangled, takes the time to step away from in front of the wagons to aid Keska.

Attack: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (13) + 5 = 18
Damage: 1d10 + 9 ⇒ (3) + 9 = 12

"Virro, cover the front," Brycen calls out.

Male Old Tiefling Wizard 1

"By the will of power cosmic, I plead that you heed my call! Lend me aid from the Ancient World and bring fourth a beast this world has nearly forgotten!" Menra's voice echoes in conjunction with the griffon's call to battle. Spacetime rips next to one of the enlarged rats caught in entanglement as a shrill cry announces the presence of another.

A golden eagle proudly displays it's wings which shimmer with a residual dust lending hints to it's planar origin. It's emboldened by the battlefield chant wafting across the battlefield, and readies itself to tear into the upstart rodent. On this day it'll re-assert what was once the world's natural order when birds hunted rats.


Claw 1: 1d20 + 3 + 1 ⇒ (8) + 3 + 1 = 12
Damage: 1d4 + 1 ⇒ (1) + 1 = 2

Claw 2: 1d20 + 3 + 1 ⇒ (20) + 3 + 1 = 24
Damage: 1d4 + 1 ⇒ (4) + 1 = 5

Claw confirm?: 1d20 + 3 + 1 ⇒ (8) + 3 + 1 = 12
Damage: 1d4 + 1 ⇒ (1) + 1 = 2

Bite: 1d20 + 3 + 1 ⇒ (6) + 3 + 1 = 10
Damage: 1d4 + 1 ⇒ (1) + 1 = 2

The wizard meanwhilst simply gathers more acid from the air, and tries to hit another of the entangled rats.

Acid Splash: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (7) + 1 = 8
Damage: 1d3 ⇒ 2

Male half-Umbral Dragon Human Wizard(Exploiter/Pact)/Alchemist(Mindchemist/Internal) 4 HP: 59[+12 temp]/59 Saves: 12/10/8 AC: 24/16/20 CMD: 24 Initiative: +10 Perception: +9 AR: 5/7

readied action: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (7) + 3 = 10damage: 1d8 ⇒ 6
round 1 attack: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (2) + 3 = 5damage: 1d8 ⇒ 1

Serill pulls the trigger at the first sign of the beasts. He rewinds the crank as quickly as he can and loads another bolt in, firing it again at them.

N Male Elf Druid 1 | HP 4/9 | AC 15 (12 Touch, 13 Flat-footed) | CMB +1, CMD 13 | Fort. +4, Ref. +2, Will +4 | Init. +2 | Perc. +5 | Speed 30ft | Spells: 1st 2+1/2+1, | Active conditions: +2 Atk/Dmg

"Oh, great. Big rats. Smelly beasts, they are."

Lord Brycen wrote:
"Virro, cover the front," Brycen calls out.

Virro rolls his eyes and grumbles a bit under his breath.

"Sure, he'll take the one, I'll handle the five others."

He does follow the instructions, though, advancing to interpose himself between the entangled rats and the wagon, while unhooking and strapping his shield on.

Virro winces at the Griffon's shrill cry, more annoyed than anything. He feels the welling of rage, but shakes it for now, preferring to keep a cool head.

Male Griffon Skald 1 | HP 6/9 | AC: 14 T: 11 Fl: 14 | CMB: +3 CMD: 14 | F +3 R +1 W +2 | Init +1 | Perc: +4
Daily Abilities:
1st-level spells 2/2 | Raging Song 6/6

"We fly to join the battle nigh!
Ka-ra! Ka-ra!"

Grimdell's cries were somewhere between onomatopoeia and an actual eagle-like cry. Seeing the rats entangled below, he dives down at one of them, snapping at it with his beak, though he is careful not to land.

He'll end the round adjacent to one of the rats though still in the air. He is at -1 AC from his raging song.

Bite: 1d20 + 5 + 1 ⇒ (2) + 5 + 1 = 8
Damage: 1d6 + 4 ⇒ (2) + 4 = 6

Female Fetchling Medium/1

Keska moves to get into a flanking position behind the rat, slashing at the beast when the opportunity presents itself while she lets the fury of the song wash over her, spurring on her as well as the spirit within her... but perhaps she let herself get too enthralled with the song and strikes too eagerly, before the time is right.

Attack: 1d20 + 4 + 1 + 1 + 2 ⇒ (2) + 4 + 1 + 1 + 2 = 10
Damage: 1d6 + 1 + 3 + 1 ⇒ (1) + 1 + 3 + 1 = 6

Male DM DM 10

1d5 ⇒ 5 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (20) + 2 = 22 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (15) + 2 = 17 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (13) + 2 = 15 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (2) + 2 = 4 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (11) + 2 = 13

Brycen swings his gleaming, metal blade at the Falanx trying its damndest to rip Keska's armour to shreds.
Keska backs him up, sandwiching the ravenous rat-beast between them.
The Falanx dies squealing, its blood black under the light of the red sun.

Menra conjures a glorious, golden bird, the like of which only Brycen has ever seen in person before. The eagle lashes out at one of the entangled Falanx, and its beak and claws are painted with blood. Unfortunately, Menra's magical backup goes wide, his acid splash hissing uselessly against one of the entangling plants.

Equally unfortunately, Serill's bolts go wide, be it due to nervousness or because of the way the furious rat-beasts twist and squirm as they struggle to break free.

Virro stands ready in case the Falanx break free and attack from the front, his shield in position to meet gnashing teeth and scrabbling claws.

Grimdell swoops, raking at one of the entangled Falanx without making the mistake of setting claw on the ground. At the last instant, his target twists aside, avoiding the Griffin's attack!

* * * * * *

Round two
Three of the Falanx manage to pull free of the effects of Virro's spell, and trot out of the grasping plants' reach. The predators look from their still-entangled pack mates to the two-legged prey they had come to assault. You are not sure exactly how smart Falanx are, but there appears to be at least a little thought going on behind their beady eyes.
Hissing, the threesome start to stalk widdershins around the zone of entanglement, approaching you more slowly.

The Falanx are going round the outside of Virro's spell area, and currently about 40 ft. away from the cart.

Falanx 1: #DEAD#
Falanx 2:
Falanx 3:
Falanx 4:
Falanx 5: #ENTANGLED#; -7
Falanx 6: #ENTANGLED#

AC: 17/12/15; CMD: 16; Init: +4; F/R/W: +3/+2/+0 (+2 vs enchantments); Perc: +2, SM +0; low-light vision; Max HP: 13, Current HP: 13

Brycen moves back to stand adjacent to Virro, readying an attack on a falanx that moves into range.

Attack: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (12) + 5 = 17
Damage: 1d10 + 9 ⇒ (6) + 9 = 15 +1 if Virro isn't also threatening the creature.

Male Old Tiefling Wizard 1

The taste of the creature's tainted, vile blood causes the golden eagle to momentarily reel back in surprise. But within secconds Grimdell's song of valor pulls it back into a furious stupor as it now seeks to rid the world of this impurity. These vermin have been left to fester within this realm for far too long!

Claw 1: 1d20 + 3 + 1 ⇒ (3) + 3 + 1 = 7
damage: 1d4 + 1 ⇒ (2) + 1 = 3

Claw 2: 1d20 + 3 + 1 ⇒ (16) + 3 + 1 = 20
damage: 1d4 + 1 ⇒ (4) + 1 = 5

Bite: 1d20 + 3 + 1 ⇒ (14) + 3 + 1 = 18
damage: 1d4 + 1 ⇒ (1) + 1 = 2

The elder tiefling fumbles his words as he tries to target one of the enroacing rats, a trickle of fear starting to break his concentration. His familiar screeches a warning at the beasts as well, already prepared to fight them with what little she had if they got too close.

Acid Splash: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (3) + 1 = 4
Damage: 1d3 ⇒ 2

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