View Full Version : The Scarlet Shadow IC
10-22-2007, 05:51 AM
The journey is finally at its end. The village of Bottomless Pool (what a strange name!) is visible in the distance, no more than half an hour worth of horseback travel. It doesn't look anything special - just a normal backwater farming community, but it isn't burned down yet, as the peasant boy who is leading you here was afraid.
It all started a few days ago. It was a peaceful day at the Dawning Sun mercenary company. What a great name! It provides a hint that all the mercenaries are Solars as clear as if the organisation was titled "the Anathemas". Yet, Iskira insisted on the name and pushed everyone on it in her usual polite, but stubborn fashion. And hey, she's the one who paid for most of the company's expenses, including the building in which the Dawning Sun is located in.
At any rate, the day was peaceful, so as not to say - boring. No one expected a new job to come in at least a week, when it happened. A scruffy-looking peasant boy, no more than 13 years old, rushed through the door. Bowing, apologising and pleading all at the same time, he handed over a well-calligraphied letter. The message explained that a nearby village was to be attacked soon by a band of raiders, and that even though they should not be a problem for experienced mercenaries like the Dawning Sun company, they would surely slaughter the commoners if they were to defend themselves only. Because of that, the village's elder is offering a prize of great value, which one would not expect normally to find in a normal hamlet. The letter had no details, but pointed out that the boy who delivered it knows the way, to follow him, and to hurry.
And so you did. The boy traveled on a horse - even more tired than him, it was a wonder that the animal didn't die of exhaustion on the way to you, and even more so when you were traveling to the kid's village. During the way, which you all took on horse to save time, he was leading you loyally, but tried to avoid any personal contact, clearly terrified of armed and dangerous people who may or may not become his saviours.
Nevertheless, the path was unadventurous and there weren't any surprises on the way. And now you stand ready to enter the settlement, the raiders obviously not here yet. You have a short moment to talk with each other and discuss the situation - just like during these few days of travel, only this time you know you arrived on time.
Sparrow Iskira looks at the village with obvious signs of relief in her eyes - she doesn't seem to hide any emotions this time. She doesn't say anything, her servant Oak riding next to her side in similar quiet contemplation.
10-22-2007, 10:52 AM
"Why'd they decide to keep the pay a mystery? I don't like it, makes me think they might be looking for us to risk our lives for nothing." Insar wipes sweat from his brow after the long, hot ride. "Iskira, if you take another sympathy job, I don't know what I'll do. The last one almost got us all killed." Insar sits his mount uneasily, more comfortable with his feet on the ground than astride a mount, but manages credibly.
10-22-2007, 12:18 PM
"Hey, no need to be so negative - after all, we are still alive! How hard can it be to get rid of a bunch of bandits?" The figure sitting on the wobbling mule (that'd make a snail look like a Terrestial's most prized racing horse) can only be Kadree. Even though she is in a good mood, the cat on her shoulder is not, peering meanly at everyone who passes nearby, hissing and spitting when someone has any delusions about how friendly the animal is. "Such jobs are exciting at the very least! And I am sure there will manage to gather enough valuables in the whole village to pay for seven people."
"Though...", she adds after a pause, in a less cheerful way. "I wonder how do they know those raiders are attacking."
10-22-2007, 04:28 PM
The company's resident smith, Wieland Illmarinen, was sitting on top of his horse, looking forward. He was almost annoyingly nonchalant about the lenght or the heat of the ride. He looked to weight almost as much as the horse on which he sat, though his bulk was made entirely of muscle. He speaks, and his voice is a low rumble, often compared to distant thunder. "I doubt they're lieing about the bandits. There's no reason for 'em to, far as I can tell."
10-22-2007, 05:58 PM
The boy who was has lead you here is advancing forward, leaving you behind. Whether he wanted you all to talk more privately, or was he just homesick and can't wait to see his home again - you have no idea.
I... know why you feel concerned, but do not worry. I seriously doubt that this will be much of a challenge to us. Iskira replies and turns on her saddle to face Insar. Doing so, she wobbles slightly on the horse and has to grab the pommel for security. And, even if the reward will not a large one, who are we to say no to the needy? We are the chosen of the Unconquered Sun! She says these words with a smile, while Oak grunts under his nose and tries to look in a different way.
10-22-2007, 06:06 PM
"Don't mention that. The fewer people that know, the less trouble we'll have." Insar's face hardens momentarily, remembering his own Exaltation, before returning to normal. "Besides, even we need to eat, and food costs money. We help more people alive and in good shape than dead or starving. I hope we can get this over with quickly."
10-22-2007, 07:03 PM
Emerald Star looks quite merry and peaceful considering the tone of the conversation. Anyone who didn't know better would think she just wasn't paying attention, since she's humming a soft melody. However, she interjects and proves otherwise.
"Hey, come on, guys, don't be so negative! They're just bandits. We can probably scare them off by turning on our forehead lamps and saying 'boo', and the village will cheer, and we'll be worshipped as saviors and gods. I've taken trips to marketplaces that were more daunting than this. Besides, it's not like we don't have any spare money. Quit being so down." She goes back to humming, right where she left off. She even sways a bit at the waist on her horse. But even after a short time in the mercenary company, it's pretty clear to everyone else that she's going over plans in her head for the worst sort of emergency, as usual.
10-23-2007, 12:08 AM
The thin, black-leather gloves on Mariko's hands hide her white knuckles, but her unease is apparent to those who know her well, in the tense lines of her arms and legs. She doesn't like riding, as it forces her to rely on another creature for her mobility, rather than her own body. However, her voice is as quiet and even as always, as she responds to Insar. "Of course they didn't want to describe our fee in their message. They've got trouble with bandits. If the letter was intercepted, or the messenger caught, the raiders would know not only that they had hidden valuables, but exactly what to look for." She shrugs. "I'd just as soon not make any assumptions either way--about our payment or anything else--until we've had a chance to look around, get the lay of the land, so to speak."
10-23-2007, 04:58 AM
By the way, because I forgot to mention that: It is afternoon. Later afternoon, evening almost.
You enter the village. There is a gateway conveniently placed at the road you have been traveling - but since it neither has actual gates nor walls to surround the rest of the hamlet, it's probably just a decoration. Under its arch, you see the boy who've led you here. He arrived a few minutes before you, and is currently talking with another person - a man, who just noticed you.
"You did great. But go home now." He says to the kid, who runs away with a cheeky grin on his face.
The man in question seems to be young, about 25 in age. His darkly tanned skin is typical for a Scavenger Lands denizen, but his green, shoulder long hair definitely isn't. He does not look like a peasant, wearing close-fitted, dark clothing and a metal glove on his right hand. He turns to you and bows deep enough to be considered respectful, but not grovelingly so.
"Welcome, great Ladies, great Sirs! We are all here very glad to see you arrive. My name is Nanilt, and I'll be your guide from now on. Which means I'll show you the way to the Elder, hard to miss anyway."
He points to the center of the village, where a building's dark silhouette stands out. It isn't very big, but much larger than the typical peasants' huts.
"Hope you weren't too hard on Fox. Young he may be, but he's our best rider! But not used to attending such wonderful company am afraid."
Nanilt smiles with a wink towards Iskira, who blinks with a somewhat-surprised expression on her face. He's getting less and less official every second.
"Please follow me, Ladies and Sirs! Am afraid we don't have as much time as we'd like to." That being said, he turns around and, not waiting for any of you reacting, moves forward! He's fast, but not too fast to keep up with (especially on horse), and this village isn't the one to get lost easily in anyway.
If you follow him, you soon notice the details of the Elder's place. It is a two-story building, its first story made from solid stone but the second wooden. Only the second one has any windows, and the entrance is surprisingly wide - about 10 feet, and secured with thick wooden gates, currently open. Quite unusual for a village so close to civilisation, but then even the commonfolk cottages aren't usual - most of them are patched up with metal elements here and there!
What's more special though is a small crowd before the Elder's house. About twenty-something people, mostly men but also some women, wielding axes, hammers, shoddy spears, even shoddier bows and knives. Mostly knives. They give you all a collective stare, as if judging your intentions... and start cheering! "Our saviors! We're with you! Ready to die for my village!" Nanilt stands among them, smile on his face and arms crossed.
"Thank you for coming. Let's go see the Elder. Hey, folks! Take care of our guests' horses, alright?"
Some of the peasants leave the crowd to do as he said - stable and feed your mounts, if you let them that is. When they come closer, you can see a glimmer of hope in their eyes, and that even though they were acting tough and ready to fight just a second ago, they are really quite terrified.
In the meantime, Nanilt disappears inside the building. The interior is visible - there are no windows, but it is lit with torches.
10-23-2007, 10:07 AM
"Look, the village's nearby! I suggest we make a good, professional impression when we arrive - after all, those people's lives depend on us!" Kadree looks into Iskira's direction. "And let's make sure none of us use words like the Unconquered Sun when people are around, alright?" She grins widely and a bit nervously.
Inside the village she looks around curiously. "Looks almost like home... except all this metal and lack of any real fortifications... think we have enough time to fix that?"
She surely did not expect someone like Nanilt to be their guide. A bit unsure how to respond to his behaviour, Kadree decides to act like a professional, seasoned soldier:
"Hi! I'm Kadree, nice to meet'cha!", she says, grinning widely and scratching the back of her head. Norbo decides to hiss on him instead.
After that, she follows him and later lets the peasants take care of her mule. "Do not worry folks, we will do everything to ensure your safety!", she proudly exclaims to the peasants. After that, she whispers silently, so just her Exalted friends who are close would manage to hear: "They don't really look like there'd be any help... and their weapons are crappy. Guess we'll have to do most of the job alone... not that it's a bad thing. There's something fishy about Nanilt though..."
10-23-2007, 10:35 AM
Through their guide's incessant talking and the cheering of the crowd of make-shift fighters, Insar is impassive. Inside, he thinks to himself: If this village is so worried that they'd scrouge up their own warriors, this job isn't going to be easy. I just hope we get paid.
10-23-2007, 12:07 PM
Star poses heroically as the crowd cheers, and walks in a manner between proud strutting and grafecul gliding toward the elder's house.
"Am I the only one who wants to meet the elder, or are the rest of you gonna get over here already?"
She looks as cheerful as ever, save for an imperceptible glint in her eye as she looks over the other villagers. She's probably agreeing with Kadree in her mind, but is just avoiding saying it as she waves to the crowd.
10-23-2007, 02:08 PM
Mariko shifts a little uneasily in her saddle, uncomfortable with so much attention directed at her. She scans the crowd, taking in any details that might appear out-of-place.
Perception+Awareness, 8 dice... crap, I'm not sure how to do White Wolf style rolls with the forum die roller. Help?
She readily follows Star toward the entrance to the elder's dwelling, as eager to be out of the open as to get down to business. Already she's running scenarios in her mind as to how to ferret out the bandits' headquarters and lay an ambush for them. With luck, the plan wouldn't involve any civilians at all. Though, from the looks in their eyes, I can't help wondering if we're up against more than just bandits. What else didn't their elder feel safe putting in that letter?
10-23-2007, 02:54 PM
use rollv to view all your dice results, i.e. 8d10
Insar ignores Star's strutting and follows, one hand fingering the hilt of his sword.
10-23-2007, 03:02 PM
The aforementioned Perception+Awareness roll: [roll0]
10-23-2007, 04:43 PM
Mariko almost casually counts up all the people in the crowd (26, by the way - 17 men and 9 women), remembering each one's appearance. But nevertheless, they look like... normal, work-hardened peasants.
Oh wait, there's something! Metal items that some of them wield do not look like normal village tools - they are exceptionally well-made, or rather used to be many, many years ago, as they are also quite ancient. Not First Age ancient, but quite old - several hundred years.
The peasants themselves are quite obviously trying to appear braver than they are - they are really scared, and it seems some of their anxiety is even directed towards you, but it's also mixed with awe.
You enter the building, Iskira trying to lead the group in a confident stride (which looks almost comically when added up to her short stature). As mentioned before, it is lit inside by torches, and the interior is well-kept (for a peasant village) but rather spartan. Following a short corridor, you enter... a rather large room! It seems to take up most of the first story. At the other side of this hall, you notice a simple indoor shrine - whether it is dedicated to the Elemental Dragons, the ancestors or some local deity, it is unknown. At the shrine, you see several figures - Nanilt is among them, standing at the side in a relaxed position.
The other people (I assume you get closer, which would be a logical thing to do) include two large, young men standing at the sides of the shrine with crossed arms. They are quite similar to each other, probably being brothers, and appear to be some kind of bodyguards to the Elder who sits next to the shrine. The Elder herself is an older, slightly overweight matronly woman with long black hair and a farmer's tanned, rough skin. Her eyes betray a glint of intelligence as she talks to you, still holding a stick of incense in her hand.
"Ah, you have received my letter and arrived, and that is good. I am the Elder of Bottomless Pool, my name is not important for anyone but myself, and that should be enough for everyone to know. We face a trouble too big for our small selves. This is a long story - if you are to let me finish without interrupting, that would be good."
She takes a deep breath and gestures for the two big men to leave, which they do without immediately and without question, though it takes them some time to exit the hall as it is indeed quite large. Nanilt stays in the room - and not only that, but he walks closer to the Elder, like if to take the bodyguards' place.
"Life was uneventful and simple, and it was good. This is not so anymore, I am sure you realise as then I would not ask to summon you. There is a cursed place, a forest, several days of travel east from here. Weird animals, plants appear there, and this is why the place is cursed. It has no treasure caches or dangers, but that changed. Changed five years ago... that was when the Empress supposedly disappeared, was it not? So rumours say, but wise women and men heed no rumours."
Who would expect a leader of a backwater hamlet to know of worldly affairs?
"It was discovered that a band settled there. A band of no men, but beast-men. They killed every young man who went there in search of thrill, and that is unfortunate. Every but one, who stands before you now." The Elder nods towards Nanilt, who responds with a very slight smile. "They left us to our own, so they were no problem for us. We leave them alone, they leave us alone. It was so until they gathered up and went on war against us. It was Nanilt again who discovered it. His senses are keen and he can walk the land fast like a squirrel in a forest, and that is a real blessing. These beast-men were in no hurry, but they advance tirelessly as we speak. We believe they will be here in two days at best, and that is not good. We are very short on time, and the folk of Bottomless Pool know it. The people know who are we facing, and some want to abandon the village - but we cannot, and they know that too."
She takes another breath and gestures towards Nanilt, who hands her over a small cup, from which she takes a long sip, coughs and continues.
"I know you fight for rewards. I promised one, and a reward you will receive. Our prayers will be always with you, and you will be always welcomed as heroes that you are if you help us survive this struggle. But this is not all, and I think you want to hear this.
Our village stands guard to a sacred relic. This relic has been here for as long as we know, and only the Elder has the knowledge on where it is hidden and how to unlock its bindings."
That being said, she stands. Her long skirt was previously obscuring her feet, but doesn't do so anymore, and you can see that her right feet's biggest toe is missing!
"Each Elder to come has to take great punishment from the hands of the previous one, to show how strong their spirits are. That is so that no matter what, they would never betray our relic, and that is how it is. And so I will not tell you what this relic is nor give it to you, until the threat of beast-men is over, and that is fair. Know only this, this is the reason we are not to leave the village, as we are sworn to protect the godly relic. You ask yourselves, if we are not to give the relic to anyone, why I want to bestow it upon you.
As long as Bottomless Pool and the relic are here, so is a prophecy. When dangers come, we were to wait for a prophetic dream, and it came. The dream instructed me to give you our most treasured relic if you save us, and it, from destruction, and so shall it be.
The beast-men will arrive in two days. Until that time, you can rest in this house. If you want to know more about our enemy or how we can help you, ask Nanilt. He is like a son to me."
10-23-2007, 09:11 PM
"Before we agree to anything, We need some more information. How many 'beast-men' are we talking about? Twenty? A hundred? How well armed? And what do these creatures look like?"
10-23-2007, 11:36 PM
As Insar speaks with the Elder, Mariko quietly approaches the man attending her. "It seems that you are the only man of the village to survive an encounter with these beast-men," she says to Nanilt. "That is no small accomplishment, and I am curious to learn how you achieved it not once, but twice. It's one thing to be swift of foot, but if you can outrun creatures that are more than human, I should be quite impressed." She smiles slightly, to emphasize the lightness of her tone, and continues. "Anything you can tell us about these beast-men would be of great help to us; particularly, do you think they know of the relic your village guards, or have they other motivations for making war on you?"
10-24-2007, 05:45 AM
As Insar asks the Elder a few questions, she points her hand at Nanilt, showing to direct your inquiries to him. Well, he answers before you have a chance to rephrase the questions anyway.
"There's thirty-fourty of them. I didn't got a chance to get close enough to count 'em all up. I know how they look like though - boars! Boars walking like humans, or if you prefer, humans with boar heads. They're armed with crude stuff, spears, clubs, axes. Massive weapons though, but no surprise since they're pretty big anyway. Also heard something even bigger moving around their place, but couldn't approach it." He looks slightly down as he says the last sentence, then faces over to Mariko.
"My dear Lady, thank you for the compliment! Yeah... I'm very skilled in woodland travel, I can be very sneaky in times of need and can climb any tree. These beastmen ain't smartest of folk, don't think they ever saw they're being watched. Other people from the village, who went to that forest - poor souls, don't think they expected to find monsters like that. No one was stupidly brave to visit that place after I told everyone what's there anyway." He rubs his chin in thought for a few seconds. "Why do they attack? If I had to guess... they're damn bloodthirsty, no need for other reason! Course that's no explanation why they didn't do so sooner. Maybe they got a new leader to listen to now? Looked like a squabbling rabble first time I saw them, less squabbles now but still rabble. And no, don't think they know about the relic. Least I hope they don't."
10-24-2007, 10:34 AM
Kadree listens intently to the long monologue. After it's done, she clasps her hands together and rubs them in enthusiasm. "Alright, as the chosen heroes we must do everything we can do destroy those boar-men! I suggest we work on village's defense and fortifications tonight, since it's getting a bit dark, and tomorrow we could look around the area, check where could they come from, and set up traps! Hee, I can already feel the excitement! I am sure the battle's going to be ours - though it won't hurt to check what exactly is that huge thing they have with them! My bets at the moment are either ogre, or some overgrown chieftain."
10-24-2007, 01:13 PM
With a nod of thanks to Nanilt, Mariko moves across the room to stand by Kadree's side. She says quietly, "The more we know about these creatures' leader--and the notion that they've recently acquired a new one seems fairly likely--the better off we'll be. With directions from Nanilt, I can scout ahead for us, and see what there is to be seen."
10-24-2007, 09:37 PM
"Thirty-four of these beast-men? Should be possible, unless you expect everyone to come out of this alive. Its only the seven of us." Insar pauses briefly for an answer, and, unless he gets a negative answer, continues. "Sounds like a decent plan, Mariko. While you're gone the rest of us can see how this village is laid out and figure out where to set up defenses."
10-25-2007, 06:46 AM
"Thirty-forty, not thirty four. Though you have a small chance that there actually will be 34 of them!"
Kadree nods to Mariko. "Just be careful - at least as sneaky as Nanilt! - and quick, so you come back a lot of time before them. If you want, Norbo can come with you." She takes the wildcat from her shoulder and tries to give him to Mariko. The familiar hangs from her hands with a face of a martyr who's in pain and has to endure, but is very unhappy about that.
10-25-2007, 07:17 AM
Right... wait here please, dear Ladies and Sirs! Nanilt runs away from the hall before you have a chance to react. It seems to be a habit of his. He doesn't run outside, but heads to an unremarkable door to the side.
While he's gone, Iskira, who was politely listening to the rather one-sided conversation before, faces you all with a serious expression.
I believe we can save them ourselves. There is no need to endanger the poor, innocent village folk. There is fourty of these... beastmen at their worst, so that would make...
She moves her lips soundlessly, working with numbers in her head.
Six-seven of them for one of us! That is not a number our skills cannot handle. She shakes her head. But using traps and terrain for our advantage would be very beneficial, do you not agree? She smiles encouragingly, then almost jumps in surprise when a loud voice calls out just behind her!
So sorry to keep you waiting! It's Nanilt, who is wielding a wooden board above his head! Believe you will find this useful.
He takes a step back and puts the board on the floor. You can see small squares and other symbols roughly put on it in coal - it's a map of the village and its nearest surroundings. It isn't pretty, but it's accurate. I know, I made it myself. Nanilt grins widely, pointing his hands at his sketched masterpiece. But the smile soon disappears from his face.
You noticed, the places between houses here are very wide. Hard to put junk there to barricade them, and we ain't got a wall to defend us either. Indeed, it's as he says - the village is more or less of a circular design, with the Elder's house in the center. Most of folk'll hide in this building, least that was the original plan. Walls are solid and the gates're tough. Many of us are ready to help you fight - you saw some of them, more'll be ready when they hear of your arrival. Most of our fields're to the west and south, east has woods mostly. No lakes or rivers around, gotta use a well for water. He points at corresponding places at the map as he describes the situation.
Won't be easy, but you Ladies and Sirs look so experienced and powerful, am sure you can do it! Do you have any more questions?
Ahem! An immediate response from Iskira. I would really appreciate if you would cease the habit of sneaking on people. It is not polite and some would assume it as eavesdropping.
A small pause of absolute silence, with Nanilt looking down on her - not as a sign of superiority, but rather height difference. Finally, he smiles and bows.
Of course! Apologies, I'll try to do better. Can't ignore the words of such a kind and beautiful dame.
Yeah... another moment of absolute silence. Neither of them try to break it, as Nanilt is still leaning in a bow, and Iskira's face has a completely neutral, emotionless expression.
10-25-2007, 10:54 AM
After being corrected, Insar looks a little annoyed. "The man should speak up better next time, then. Forty still shouldn't be too bad. I still don't think we could hold them all in one place for any length of time."
After Nanlit returns with the map, Insar studies it over. "Just ignore Iskira. She never likes surprises and takes herself too seriously half the time. We may as well start planning how to defend this place. First, What's to the north of here? Second, How close are the woods to the village?"
10-25-2007, 11:59 AM
Star looks over the map silently. She seems to be glancing at specific points in very rapid succession, instead of merely moving here eyes around.
"We need to let them get inside the village first. Once they're out of open terrain, even an ambush from mortal archers with crooked bows will get a number of them before they even know what's going on. Assuming the beasts are too fearless to panic, even if they fight back, they will be surrounded. Most of us should go out there, and one or two should stay behind in case one of the boarmen gets any ideas to destroy the helpless instead of the agressors. They might be after the artifact too. The leader is the one we most need to look out for most, though."
Finished voicing her idea, Star resumes smily-happy mode.
"So! Who else has an idea?"
10-25-2007, 12:24 PM
A slight smile crosses Mariko's face when Kadree offers her the use of her familiar. "Thank you," she says, "I'd be glad to have him along--if he doesn't mind."
When Nanilt returns, she silently watches his exchange with Iskira, waiting until they appear to have reached a conclusion (or at least an impasse) before interrupting. She approaches him quietly. "Pardon me," she says, mostly to Iskira, before directing her attention to the villager. "As I understand it, your adventures have taken you close to where the beast-men make their lair, have they not? I was hoping that you could direct me there."
10-25-2007, 02:35 PM
Hey! It's not that..." Iskira tries to protest, surprisingly even with a light blush on her face.
"I don't mind. In fact, this is quite charming company here. An interruption from Nanilt, who is still bowing. After saying this, he finally straightens to a normal position. "North? Nothing special, the land ain't very good so no good farming there. Few meadows for animal grazing, that's all. Forests start quickly to the east, but that place's a patchwork - first a wood, then hills, then woody hills, and so on. But more to the east means more forests and less everything else." He nods, apparently that's all he has to say on the subject.
After hearing Mariko's words, Nanilt beams once again. "Course I can show you the way, dear Lady... just beware, we can't get too close to them monsters! I can show you the view already, place is hilly so you can't see far, but far enough to get a spot on few things." Saying that, he walks to the outside, leaving the board and the rest of you in the hall.
"Are you certain about letting the attacking party reach the village? They might want to burn houses down as they follow, and if ambushers were to hide in any of them..." Iskira ponders Star's words. "Nevertheless, I am more than willing to stay and defend this building. I will let no beastmen enter and slaughter innocents, I swear!" She looks sincere and determined. Is that the same girl who was so abashed just a short while ago? "I will let Oak... where is Oak?"
She looks around. Aside from you all, the Elder is sitting at the shrine in silent prayer or contemplation, far enough to allow you comfortable discussion, but Oak is indeed not here! He must have left some time ago, but he was so quiet that you have no idea when.
10-25-2007, 03:38 PM
Annoyed that Nanlit failed to answer his question then left, Insar turns to the Elder. "I need to know how close the edge of the eastern wood is to the village. The beast-men are likely to first be spotted at the edge of the woods, so I need to know how much of a warning we would get before the creatures can be amoung the buildings. Also, how many capable archers are there in the village?"
(OOC: I'm assuming that the map doesn't have the information I'm asking about on it)
10-25-2007, 03:40 PM
"The other option we have is to attack them as they're coming, which they will be fully expecting and defended against, and will also give them time to find their assailants in the dark, since there's only a limited direction to look. What we'll do if they do decide to torch buildings, which I find highly unlikely...I have an idea."
Star leaves the group around the map and kneels near the elder.
"Wise Elder, as the well of your village is so important to you, surely you offer it many prayers. If you do, the god may be dispositioned to help us, if we can garner even more of its favor." She pauses a little. "One of the many masters I have learned from taught me a ritual that will allow one to converse with a god, and also possibly garner its favor. If the rest of the village were to gather offerings, I think I may be able to convince it to lend an important aid in the coming battle. What would be the most appropriate offering to bring this god, and how would we go about getting it in such short time?"
10-25-2007, 04:12 PM
Mariko follows Nanilt outside, her impassive expression belying the unease the man inspires in her. It's not his friendly condescension; she rather prefers it when strangers underestimate her. Rather, there's something about his overly-ingratiating manner that sets her a bit on edge, like he's trying too hard. It's probably just paranoia, she tells herself, but doesn't relax her guard.
"I'd like to get as close as is practical," she tells Nanilt, "to see if I can identify their leader. You don't have to come the entire way with me, if you don't wish to; I imagine that after evading these creatures twice before, you're not eager to try your luck a third time."
10-25-2007, 08:19 PM
Inside the building:
The village elder interrupts her meditations and turns her gaze on Insar.
"A man has to walk for half a day to reach the nearest wood to the east, and that's a long distance. But it's short with the way things are now - let us hope that is enough for your plans."
"As for archers, we are not hunters but farmers. Many in this village fired a bow a few times in their life, but only few do so often, and that is unfortunate. I will tell the best bowmen to offer you their services, but do not expect more than a dozen."
When listening to Star's speech, the Elder nods several times at the start, but her eyes visibly narrow near the end.
"We are loyal followers of the Immaculate Dragons, and that is the truth. We do not seek to interrupt the divine servants' businesses with petty calls." At this moment, her eyes glint mischievously. "But the situation we are in is nothing but petty, and that is the truth as well. We know well the likes and tastes of the well's god and you can leave this to us - we will gather many offerings, as many as possible. If you require anything else to perform your ritual, let it be no secret - tell me or Nanilt when he returns." It seems that she has finished, yet after a moment she adds. "I did not expect to summon a woman so talented as one of our defenders. If you manage to persuade the spirit of the well, the beast-men are to learn a harsh lesson."
At the same time, Iskira lowers slightly her head to the Elder as a sign of respect, then leaves the great room. She does not run, but it's obvious she is in a hurry. Probably looking for her manservant, wherever he went.
"Please wait here, dear Lady." Says Nanilt and... starts to climb the wall of the building you just left! He is obviously familiar with all the cracks and elements of the structure, as it doesn't take long for him to reach the roof. Having reached the top, he throws down a rope ladder for you to climb.
Assuming you follow him to the roof (not an easy task while carrying a discontent wildcat) - it is not very high, but it's the tallest point in the village. Nanilt sits at the side of the roof casually, listening to the evening sounds. "My ancestors didn't come from here... would explain why I'm so good at climbing and woodland travel." He sighs. "But that's not why we climbed up here, right?" Standing up, Nanilt points to the east. The land you can see is pretty hilly, and the terrain makes noticing anything in the distance difficult. It is getting dark, so visibility is decreasing too, but you are able to memorise the geographical layout of the nearby area - and that is bound to be useful when traveling it.
"Nearest forests are rather far away and you can't see them from here. The beasts should be there now, at the woods, but it'll take a while before they come out. Are you sure you want to go there? We won't see them 'til morning probably, we'd still need time to go back here too. And if they see us... couldn't forgive myself if one who I'm to be the guide for gets hurt. Especially if the one's a charming young lady."
Despite his obvious flattery, he doesn't smile, facing the east with a keen gaze and thoughtful expression.
EDIT: I forgot to add, one of the hills you spotted has a very good location - it is both very tall (for a hill!) and is close enough to the village to be a great lookout point, with a field of view many times greater than the one from the top of the Elder's house.
10-25-2007, 08:34 PM
Star avoids letting her face betray her surprise and worry when the elder announces the faith of the village. She flashes a grin.
"It's no great thing. The real difficulty is going to be persuading the well god, and any other little gods that may be summoned. Perhaps if we offer them extra prayer, they will defend houses, raise inconvenient cobblestones, and strengthen bows for the night of battle. The only thing I require for my ritual is offerings for the gods when they get there. The ritual itself is inexpensive."
Star bows and gets up, and before she leaves, reminds the elder, "I will be examining the village. Please let me know when everything has been gathered." She then walks out, and goes to look around the village as she said.
10-25-2007, 09:26 PM
"Hmm. The distance to the wood is both too far and too near for all of what I planned." Insar ponders a moment, then speaks respctfuly to the Elder. "May I ask, where do you get all of the metal that is part of the villages buildings?"
10-26-2007, 12:45 AM
Giving the rope ladder a quick tug to test its strength, Mariko climbs up with more grace and ease than one might expect of a woman carrying a discontented wildcat. She listens to Nanilt's description as her gaze sweeps the landscape, taking in every detail.
Spending 5 motes of Personal Essence on Sensory Acuity Prana.
When he asks if she really wants to go out there, she looks at him abruptly. "I'm willing to go either now or in the morning, whenever they are likely to be less active, but I need to see more than can be seen from this roof. My friends and I are here to protect your village; we don't need to be treated like the Scarlet Empress on holiday. If we couldn't handle ourselves in the face of danger, we'd be in a very different line of work. And I'm fairly good at not being seen." This last she says casually, not wanting to brag about her skills. She shrugs, changing the subject. "If you don't want to take me into the forest tonight, what about that hill there?" She points out the particularly tall hill she'd noticed. "That seems a more effective vantage point, and it's close enough to the village that it should be fairly safe."
10-26-2007, 02:08 AM
(So... so many posts since my last one...)
Kadree coughs loudly when Star mentions the mortal archers - and Norbo, understanding his mistress' intentions, starts to meow in protest. He decides to follow Mariko later, though.
"I think that, for obvious reasons, we better fight the majority of those beastmen outside the village - but there's nothing wrong in dividing the attacking force, and letting us take most of them outside, and the archers, with the spirit's help, those that get to the village..." Kadree thinks loudly. "They do not seem to be very bright, I'm sure they will fall for traps that are less than obvious easily..."
10-26-2007, 07:23 AM
Your senses sharpen dramatically. Seeing far into the distance is much easier now, and darkness is not a hindrance - but the hills in the distance are, still making it difficult to see as far as you want to.
"True that, but facing a whole band of monsters when there's just two of us is different business than when there's seven. Will gladly take you to the hill though - we call it the Hunchback, largest thing close to a mountain we got here."
Nanilt waves his hand at the rope ladder, pointing for you to come down. If/when you do so, he pulls the ladder up and then scales down without using it.
"Prefer climbing on my own, I do." He nods and sets his gaze on the distant, tall hill. "Let's go then! Shouldn't be dangerous, and we'll be there not in a long time."
And so you two begin your walk. Nanilt stays strangely silent during the trip, while Norbo looks like if he was so bored that it just killed him. The terrain is, as I mentioned already, hilly - the vegetation exists but is rather sparse, mostly grasses but there are bushes and even an occasional tree here and there. After an uneventful hour or so (that's assuming Exalted hours are as long as RL ones - I cannot say I remember that part...), you reach the top of the hill.
And the view is spectacular. Even though the charm's effect has faded away already, you can see everything in a long distance. The terrain is indeed hilly, but a wall of trees starts in about six-seven hours worth of travel from your current location - the first of many woods of the east. The forest is quite large and you can't see where exactly it ends.
"Quite a sight, isn't it?" Nanilt focuses his eyes on the distant wood as well, like if he was trying to penetrate it with his gaze to notice the raiding beast-men. "Dear Lady, watch around all you like, and when you want us to go back, say so."
Insar (also Wieland and Kadree, who are at the Elder's place):
"What you must know is that a great battle took place, many hundreds of years ago." Says the Elder. "Warriors of the Realm battled monsters of the changing, cursed places - the Fair Folk. Many fell, but their spirits and bodies were able and that was good. They triumphed, but left behind many an arm. What our ancestors managed to retrieve is used for the good of this village to this day, not for battle but as pieces of our housing and tools. We wish not to insult the spirits of these items of old, and there is nothing disgraceful for them to serve a more simple folk in simple tasks. Indeed, they didn't turn on us, and that's a sign of their contentment."
As you look around the village, you hear familiar voices coming from inside one of the stables... or should I say, shacks that the villagers use for stabling their animals. If you take a peek inside, you can clearly see Iskira arguing with an older, eyepatched man with short black hair and a neatly trimmed beard. In other words, Oak - who is wielding a jug in his hand!
"Have you gotten yourself in trouble, young lady Iskira?" He says, his voice slightly wavering.
"Oak, you are the one who is causing trouble! We did not arrive to this settlement long ago and you are drinking already? Why are you doing this - if you overuse alcohol, tomorrow you will feel bad and we are in need of your assistance!" Iskira seems to be somewhat upset...
"I'm just not insulting our hosts by ignoring their hospitality. Please, don't worry... I used to be a soldier, did you forget? I don't think there is enough drink in this village to make me feel bad tomorrow." Although it's rare for Oak to display emotions, he smiles warmly at Iskira. What's even more unusual, she returns the smile and leaves him alone, exiting the shack. Apparently this is where your mounts are stabled - you can see them inside, and they look fed and taken care for. Iskira herself is carrying a pack with her personal belongings, which was carried by Oak's horse during your travel.
When she leaves the stable, she notices you.
"Oh, good evening, Emerald Star! I did not notice you there... I am going to rest - the day tomorrow will be very busy, so we need all the energy we can muster." She sounds polite, but a little surprised to find you nearby.
Does anyone of you do anything else of importance during the evening?
10-26-2007, 12:40 PM
Mariko consents to use the rope ladder, oddly reluctant to demonstrate the extent of her skills in front of her guide. She remains silent on the walk out to the hill, keeping alert for the unexpected.
Once they reach the hill, she will activate Sensory Acuity Prana again, once more using Personal Essence; she'll gain it back quickly enough when we sleep, after all.
As her eyes take in the distant forest, she says to Nanilt, "You never did tell me whether the beast-men were more active by day or by night. If they are inclined to be nocturnal, then perhaps we could go for a closer look in the morning."
10-26-2007, 12:45 PM
Insar brightens a little at the Elder's response. "Is there anything more that could be salvaged from this old battlefield, and if so, how far away does it lie?"
10-26-2007, 04:51 PM
"I am sure that the denizens will help us with construction of traps and similar things? But now I think we need to discuss some tactics in our own closed company! If you forgive us..." Kadree moves out of the building and beckons to everyone else from the group to follow her. She whispers to them (at least those who are coming with her), making sure nobody else is watching or seeing beforehand.
"I think we should choose some place outside the village as the battleground, or let all the villagers hide behind this building's walls - being able to use our powers at full potential will give us a bigger advantage than a dozen of peasants who'll probably be too terrified to shoot more than an arrow or two in the whole battle. Because I'm sure if they learn of our true identities, they will stop being so hospitable very, very quickly."
10-26-2007, 05:18 PM
The charm helps you notice more details of the surroundings and look more far into the distance. Unfortunately, you discover nothing more interesting than what you already saw without it, and the creatures remain hidden from your sight as well. At least the motes will regenerate quickly - remember, you have a Hearthstone with you.
Nanilt answers your question: Tricky to say, really. They rest when and where they want, day or night, no difference. Don't tire easily either, wouldn't be surprised if they didn't sleep today at all. Or tomorrow for that matter.
"Should there be more precious items from times of old, we would have taken them long ago. The spring of gifts from the past ran dry long ago, and that is unfortunate for you. But all you can find in the village itself is for you to use." Says the Elder, before Kadree excuses herself to leave.
Kadree herself almost runs into Iskira when outside, so she has at least her to listen to the plan.
"I agree that this is a good plan that you have devised, because it keeps the villagers safer against the beast-men." She comments, silent enough not to be heard by anyone but the closest people but still noticeably louder than a whisper. "But I am not afraid of them discovering who we are chosen by. Actually, this would be an excellent opportunity to show what we really are - saviours of the human kind, and not the monsters many picture us as." Uh oh, let's hope she is not going to get excited and start lecturing.
10-26-2007, 05:38 PM
Mariko looks at Nanilt levelly. "Then there seems little reason for me to delay further; the rest of my team is depending on my reconaissance. I would value your expertise as a guide, but if you would rather not venture into that forest again, I would understand. I can make do with directions to the place where the beast-men lair."
10-26-2007, 05:40 PM
Star does her best to interfere with the Iskiran Speeching of Doom.
"Right, glory and honor and all that. Anyway, from a tactical standpoint, my proposed plan will give us the element of surprise. Plus, if I can get any of the gods in the town to agree to help out, they would be fighting here. With all that, we can severely reduce their numerical advantage and the force of their charge before they can even switch tactics. If we do have to resort to our powers, which I hope we don't, we're really not running a horrible risk. I know you like to fight unrestrained, but strategy is more powerful than the fighting abilities of even the best warrior among us. We can hold the front lines and prevent the beastmen from attacking the archers." A smirk crosses Star's face, "Or do you not think you can handle that?"
10-26-2007, 06:06 PM
Bowing respectfully, Insar thanks the Elder before excusing himself to meet with the others outside. Once he hears Kadree's idea, he is quick to point out a few flaws with her plan in hushed tones. "If we use our powers to their fullest, it will be difficult to keep them from noticing our animas. I do think it best if we can minimize the chances of being discovered as Solars."
10-26-2007, 08:13 PM
"Your arguments are sound, I am forced to agree here. But watch your backs in that upcoming battle! If there is a real danger to anyone from the village, or to any of you, then you can be sure I won't risk your lives just to maintain the masquerade! I will not hold back with my power, and anima showing will not stop me! So... just please be careful, and do your best in planning beforehand." Iskira would clench her fists, if her hands weren't busy holding her pack. "I will ask the Elder about our accommodation now. After all, we have to sleep, and resting under a roof was not a luxury we had recently. Try not to get into, umm, trouble until I come back, please." That being said, she walks to the central building, burdened by her belongings. It seems that you walk in and out of that structure very often.
Nanilt smiles bravely. "I see there's no convincing you to go back. Alright then! Can't abandon you here either, so let's try to be fast." He quickly moves down, placing his feet steadily as he navigates around the terrain, not running so as not to tire prematurely but not quite walking leisurely either. He is surprisingly quiet for the rate at which he moves, but not so much to look supernatural... probably.
Even reaching the forest will take many hours, so I will put the rest of what happened in a future post.
10-27-2007, 04:51 AM
Kadree does not seem to be persuaded. "That's why I suggested fighting outside the village... we could wait some time after the battle to let our banners fade, without being bugged by the villagers... and it's not only about anima. This battle probably won't be easy, and you know that - against superior numbers or that huge thing, whatever it is, we probably will have to use our orichalcum weapons and more flashy charms... and those will be a dead giveaway - even if they don't see us as Solars right away, they will get suspicious." She sighs. "Let's hope their gratefulness will be bigger than the desire to get rid of the anathema at that point."
10-27-2007, 11:34 AM
"Your idea has merit. If we engage the beast men in the woods, we can keep them from bringing their full numbers into play against us, and use our full powers against them, without fear of discovery. I've been itching to bring Legacy out again for more than renewing its power every evening." Insar smiles slightly at the thought. "Why not? I think we have a good plan. Its a half day's walk to the edge of the woods, so tommorow I say we do our best to instruct the village's militia in some tactical positioning, lets Star negotiate with the well spirit, and then head out to the woods. The sooner we meet the beast men in combat, the slower they will be in reaching the village. We can use the well spirit as a back-up plan, if the beast men prove too much and we have to retreat, and the distance between the woods and the village should give our animas time to fade. Lets just hope that Mariko either gets back before we leave or that she can meet up with us somehow."
10-27-2007, 11:42 AM
Star sighs. "The entire point of enlisting the well god is because he can help us fight in the village? The woods will give them a terrain advantage, too, and they will bring their full numbers to bear against us, without giving us the advantage of advance warning. We'd basically be putting ourselves in the same disadvantageous situation I suggested putting the beastmen in. What's your problem with using your full power in the village anyway?"
10-27-2007, 11:52 AM
"Have you faced the Wyld Hunt? I have, and the only reason that I escaped was a twist of fate. I don't ever want to have to face that again. Besides, I'm willing to wager we can move much faster than these beast men. As I said, we can retreat to the village and make a stand with the well spirit, and regain a little Essence on the way back."
10-27-2007, 12:04 PM
"Not that I doubt your fighting abilities, but I am dubious of your chances of outrunning tireless boarmen over half a day's walk. And you certainly won't regain any Essence while doing it, unless you are attuned to a Manse, and even then very little. Besides, I doubt this place is connected enough to alert the Wyld hunt."
((Yes, it's spelled with a 'y'. Look it up.))
10-27-2007, 05:51 PM
"Hmm... you know, that might really make sense. Those peasants really do not seem to be such ingrates to shower us with rocks when they find our that we're not that ordinary... but if we are to reveal ourselves, I suggest we act normally instead of showing ourselves as the messiahs of the land and all that stuff..." She grins. "Not that it is not true, but I'm sure it will make a much bigger effect on the villagers if they figure out on their own what are we. And maybe safer for us."
10-27-2007, 06:35 PM
(OOC: Thanks for reminding me.)
"I suppose that is true. Very well then. We shall fight in the village. I suggest we still try to use our powers as little as possible. The least chance we are found out, the better." Insar looks around slyly for a moment, checking that Iskira is out of earshot before speaking further. "Let's just keep Iskira as far from the villagers as we can. She's the one I'm most worried about getting carried away." He finishes in a good natured, joking tone.
10-27-2007, 07:56 PM
Iskira was indeed out of earshot when you were talking, but there she goes again!
"We can rest in the Elder's house!" She exclaims like if it was some new, shocking information, rather than something which the elder explicitly told you before. "However, there is only one room... I hope this is not an issue? It is not for me at least." Her smile looks sincere enough, so even if she does consider sleeping with the male portion of the team in one room as inappropriate, she hides it very well. "I will ask Oak to prepare bedding now. Let's do our best tomorrow!"
When/If your characters want to just go rest and call it a day, let me know. Of course, if they want to do something important during the night, it's a fully different story...
Speaking of which:
Mariko and Nanilt are moving in a fast pace. The hills took about four hours to cross, and you are travelling through the woods for some time already. It is way after midnight (for you I mean, the other characters' actions take time earlier, it's still evening for them), but there is no sign of the creatures. The forest is quiet, like if the animals anticipated the danger and fled to safer places. Nanilt himself does not say anything too, keenly observing the surroundings as he quickly advances forward.
Finally, he stands in place! "Shh..." You hear sounds in the distance too, like if something was moving through the forest's foliage! Something at least man sized.
"They're coming. Hide, hurry! No need for perfect hideouts, their eyes ain't keen." Nanilt hastily climbs a nearby, tall tree, and disappears amongst its leafy branches. What do you do?
10-28-2007, 03:06 AM
Mariko will likewise take to the trees, concealing herself in such a manner that she can see without being seen.
If there aren't enough low-hanging branches to guarantee a swift and easy climb, Mariko will use Spider-Foot Style, spending Peripheral Essence but using her Night Caste ability to spend twice as much (in this case, a total of 4 motes) to prevent anima flare. She will also use her hands as much as possible on her ascent, trying to make it appear to Nanilt that she isn't actually doing anything overtly supernatural.
Dexterity+Athletics (if necessary): [roll0]
10-28-2007, 03:09 AM
Sorry for the double-post; I fail at dice tags. Probably because it's after 4am. Anyway...
10-28-2007, 05:39 AM
Unless something important will show up or someone will want to talk with her, Kadree will spend several hours sitting on the village's tallest building's roof, waiting for the scouts to come back. If they do not come back in that time, she'll go to sleep.
10-28-2007, 01:30 PM
Other than finding a moment in which to recall Legacy from Elsewhere and renew his Essence commitment with the blade before sending it back, Insar has nothing else important to do tonight.
10-28-2007, 04:40 PM
Star's going to spend some time rehearsing the fan dance so that she gets it right tomorrow. Other than that, we're good here.
10-28-2007, 06:26 PM
You can climb the tree easily enough, no need to activate a charm. You find a comfortable and well-hidden position, and can observe everything.
It isn't long until the sound's source appears! You see a muscular figure, hulking above a normal man at a height of 7 feet. Its head is that of a wild boar, including a snout and bristly mane, but the eyes look slightly more intelligent than those of a beast - it's not saying much. The rest of the body, clad in various dirty hides, is covered by fur, somewhat finer than that on the head. This creature has a large stone axe strapped to its back, and looks pretty angry, snorting and squealing under its breath. He does not look up, instead focusing on things in front of him as he walks steadily forward.
At the same time, you hear sounds of a larger group's movement! That group does not seem to follow the exact path of the beastman you just saw, but they are going in the same direction and at seemingly the same pace. Among the steps, you hear louder thumps, like if something massive was traveling with the horde. Cracking sounds, similar to those a falling tree would make, are to be heard from time to time too.
You two can't descend the tree, as then you'd be surely discovered. Nanilt stays silent and peers at the sounds' direction, only changing his gaze to you from time to time, like if to make sure you are alright. When the stepping sounds come closer, you can see more hog-people shapes flickering among the trees in the distance. Leading them is a larger figure - a beast-man like all of them, but twice the size! His battle scars are visible even from your position, intermixed with unintelligible signs painted on his black fur in vibrant reds and blues. Wielding an oversized, two handed sword, the figure strides forward in an unstoppable manner, casually cutting or topping down obstacles that stand in his path. Fortunately, this titan does not seem to have noticed you - it might be related with the fact that the group keeps its distance from the tree you are hiding on.
If you take a look at Nanilt, you can see him frowning in a very unpleasant sneer. He obviously noticed the big one too - it's hard to miss.
Nothing special happened during the night and you slept well. The morning brings a discovery of Oak, waiting at the entrance to the room you all slept in, carrying a bucket of water. "This is in case any of wanting to wash your face, or similar ablutions. Also, the Elder wanted me to tell you that she is waiting with the morning meal." He explains. And he's right - after you all are clothed and prepared to face the day, the Elder's bodyguards suddenly appear like if from nowhere to politely (though wordlessly) escort you to another room, where your breakfast awaits - and a rich one to that, including rice and wheat products, cheese, several kinds of drink (including an alcohol one - weak but refreshing) and even chicken meat. You are sure this isn't what the peasants usually eat for breakfast. During the meal, the Elder stays as silent as her two helpers do.
Having finished the eating, leaving the building is the logical thing to do. A small surprise awaits you outside - a real crowd has gathered! It seems that all the people from the village are waiting for you, surrounding the Elder's house gate but maintaining a respectful distance. There seems to be about one and a half of a hundred of them - men and women, all ages including small children and the elderly. As soon as you leave the building, a loud hum and murmur erupt among them, and you feel the inquisitive multitude of gazes upon you.
Some of the villagefolk start to whisper among themselves, but only one is brave enough to step forward - a stocky man moves towards you. He seems to be in his early 40s, with a bushy beard and ruddy skin. He wears a hat, which he doffs at you (revealing a balding spot on his head) when taking a low, welcoming bow.
"Welcome, welcome to Bottomless Pool! I heard you arrived the evening before and, who would've guessed, everyone came to see our spark of hope! I am Fox. Old Fox they call me, to not mix up with Young Fox, my son. He led you to our village, I hope he wasn't a nuisance." The man looks at each of you searchingly, a wide smile not leaving his lips. "The Elder here, she's our leader! All matters spiritual and important decisions are up to her. But when it gets to down-to-earth business, I am your man. No wonder that everyone in the village listens to what I have to say - so if you want us folk to help you with something, I'll help organise a good working force or whatever else you need. At your service!"
The crowd gets slightly closer, and so does Fox - he steps close enough for whispering, which he does.
"And there's this small thing... It's not me, I just say what I heard, but some people here aren't quite sure about you being able to save us all. You see, there's not a lot of you, and we're simple farmers here, not used to seeing armed warriors. Especially when these warriors're womenfolk... no offense, no offense!" He bows again. "Please excuse these peoples' ignorance. What I mean is that if someone of you came forward and did here, now, something great and heroic-like, it'd melt down all the ice. Just a show to keep everyone's spirits high - and that's what matters, no?"
EDIT: And just so you know - the crowd doesn't look hostile, only very curious. Even if some of the villagers are suspicious, apparently they aren't idiots.
10-28-2007, 07:23 PM
Star smiles and acknowledges the man's request. She walks past him and steps up in front of the crowd. She waits until all eyes are on her before she begins speaking, with a voice projected above the whispering crowd.
"People of Bottomless Pool! My name is Emerald Star. I was born and raised in a village much like the one you call home, so believe me when I say I know the fear of an attack by such strange and powerful forces as the hordes that advance on you now. I also know of the heart one must take when defending his home. Each of you with a weapon in hand is prepared to die so that families may live. But none of you shall die in this battle! The Dawning Sun mercenary company has arrived, armed and ready to defend your village! With your support, we can prove such a force that, did those foul creatures know what they stood against, they would tremble and cower in fear and dismay! So take heart, good people! None shall harm you so long as we are your mighty shield!"
As she finishes, she throws her war fans into the air, and catches them in a battle pose, her eyes closed as she listens for the cheers to follow.
10-28-2007, 07:34 PM
Rolling Charisma+Performance, 1 stunt die. Technical difficulties (or me being tired at 2AM), please standby!
10-28-2007, 07:38 PM
I'd normally just edit it in, but rolls can't be edited in.
Aaand, that's 4 successes. I'll take it.))
10-28-2007, 07:57 PM
You hear many gasps when you throw the fans in the air - and when you catch them, everyone in the crowd starts cheering! People raise their arms euphorically, some of the more enthusiastic ones even jump or dance around, several (mostly women and the elderly) cry tears of joy, and those of them who wear hats of any kind throw them in the air. It's a good thing that they didn't bring torches and pitchforks - if they started to throw these, there would be casualties for sure.
Definitely a good first impression. The only reason why the peasants didn't rush forward to carry you on their arms across the village is probably because they are too awed of you.
Iskira faces Star with a smile: "I... could not say it better myself! They all know now that we really are the saviours they were waiting for. And this is just a start, because when the raiding beast-men arrive, we will show them the real power and glory of the..." She bites her tongue. "Dawning Sun."
Fox, who already was grinning widely, now is beaming so much that it looks like if he was going to explode from overloaded joy.
"That's what I meant! From what heavens did you descend to bless us with your presence? You people are big damn heroes, and I bet everyone in the village will do everything they can to help you in defense! You want us to do anything, just say a word!"
10-28-2007, 09:44 PM
"It would be helpful if we could find some way to slow down the beast men from closing to this structure. Trenches, barricades, overturned carts, whatever we can find. The longer it takes the beast men to get here, the easier we can cut them down. We don't need to keep them away completely, just slow their advance."
10-28-2007, 10:24 PM
Star gracefully takes her leave of the crowd and returns to conference with Old Fox and the other mercs.
"I'm afraid the barricades and placements will have to be left to those with experience in such things. I only had a general idea. Now, I need to find the Elder. She should have the offerings I'll need to offer to the well god. Where is she?"
10-29-2007, 01:53 AM
Barely breathing, Mariko looks down through the leaves at the creatures as they pass, focusing primarily on their leader, though trying not to miss a single detail about the group. She will note the direction of their progress, and glance across to Nanilt, as much to observe his reaction as to check that he remains safely unobserved. Then her gaze returns to the leader and she concentrates, trying to absorb every detail about him to report to her team in the morning. Unless she or Nanilt is discovered or her guide moves, she will not so much as twitch a muscle until the entire group is out of earshot.
Spending five motes of Personal Essence once again on Sensory Acuity Prana; this is basically the moment she's been waiting for to use it.
Perception+Awareness (with Charm bonus): [roll0]
10-29-2007, 07:27 AM
Kadree pats Star on the shoulder with a wide smile. "Hey, great job! Much more impressive than me or Insar lifting a cart over the head."
She raises her voice, talking to Fox now. "We will need a lot of people willing to dig, and a lot of wooden poles! One of those posts should be thick, long and stable, the other ones need to be strong enough to pierce a beastman's skin when sharpened." She grins. "If this succeeds, we will not have to fight a lot."
10-29-2007, 05:38 PM
Judging from all of your senses (not only sight), the group has about 40 beast-men in it. Their weapons are either stone or rusted, and crude to a single one, excluding the big one's sword. They are armed with axes and spears, some have swords - and several of them carry spares, probably for throwing. The greatest beast-man seems to do something interesting - when not busy chopping down trees and bushes, he grasps one of his hands around a necklace you can barely see from your position - or you could, if it wasn't for the charm. It seems to be made from a yellowed, very large fang.
Other beast-men are more or less the same - savage, angry-looking, for some reason all seem to be male... one is a little different. He seems to hang around the titanic one, but keeping out of his reach and eyesight. He is only slightly smaller, if ever, than the typical boar-man from this party, but his moves have a certain sneaky slickness... and he seems to be one-eyed.
Every minute seems like an eternity, but finally the beastmen are nowhere to be seen or heard. Nanilt takes a breath and sighs deeply, obviously relieved.
"So, we got your adventure dear Lady. I hope you are happy - was hard to even notice that large chief of them, guess we were lucky this time. Let's go back, we'll take a different route so not to run into them." He starts to climb down the tree, offering you a helpful hand on the way down. If you accept the offer, you can feel that the inside of his hand is very sweaty, he was very stressed during the observation.
"Poles, digging, barricades... alright! I'll organise the people now, you just stay here! As for the offerings, the Elder told us about them, and we're done with it! We dropped them by the well!" Fox points in a direction, but you can't see much in that way because of the euphoric crowd. Then, he bows down again and starts to yell at the people, issuing commands. Some of the village folk quickly run away, probably to do what he told them to, and others follow in a slower pace. Soon enough the area is empty enough (but that's not saying much, there are still dozens of villagers watching you in admiration) to actually see the well Old Fox was pointing at - and there seems to be a pile of some small items stocked near it, as well as several human figures waiting. It's too far to make any details from this distance.
10-29-2007, 07:09 PM
Star positions herself a bit away from the well and offerings, so that she has a clear space around her. She opens the fans and takes a strange stance. Suddenly she erupts into some sort of dance. It is not a short dance, and appears to invoke a tale, one of lovers and spirits, ecstasy and pain, and concepts beyond what words can convey. The rapid movement of the fans creates a light breeze around her as the dance gets quicker. She finally finishes in a position on one knee, but this time she does not look up to any crowd that may have gathered, but to the well in front of her.
This is the Heavenly Thunder Leaves ability. I'm spending a Willpower for 1 automatic success, and my dice pool is 7 (Dex+Perf+1) before any stunts, thanks to the modifier from said fans. Difficulty 3.
It should be noted that any extra successes add dice to my next social roll with the spirits involved.
Also invoking Spirit Detecting Glance for 3m of Personal Essence, so I can see my new audience.
10-29-2007, 07:33 PM
As you close in, it seems that the items at the well are simple clay pots. They are covered in cloth and so it isn't possible to see what is inside of them.
One stunt roll: [roll0]
Small spirits are visible as they curiously watch the performance. It is really true that you can find gods everywhere, but none of them look like the well's spirit.
It isn't until a whole minute passes that it shows itself. Ascending from the well's water surface, its god looks like a tall, blue-skinned humanoid of an indeterminate gender, its hair and clothing alike formed from endlessly flowing water. However, the spirit's face is surprisingly humanlike, its amber eyes not turning away from you, watching intently. It does not say anything, and you are not sure if the god knows you can see its presence or not.
10-30-2007, 01:18 AM
"It was not 'adventure' I was looking for, but information," Mariko replies simply, "and yes, I'm satisfied with the results." She hesitates a little before taking his hand; she can dismiss the indirect insult to her skills easily enough, but close contact with strangers makes her a bit uneasy. She does, however, accept his offer of aid, and once on the ground she turns to face him. "I do appreciate your agreeing to lead me here. I know that coming out here wasn't pleasant for you."
She will follow him back out of the forest, still remaining alert for unexpected threats. While she doesn't lower her guard completely, Mariko finds that her guide's nervousness during their scouting has allayed a few of her concerns about him. Before, he seemed... too sure of himself. As if he were hiding something. Which he may still be; there's more to him than he's letting on. But the way he reacted to those things made it seem like his intentions might not be negative. Perhaps. It remains to be seen.
10-30-2007, 05:33 PM
What Kadree intends to do:
Find a place where the ground is loose enough, so digging won't take ages. Make the villages dig a huge hole. Put sharpened poles at the bottom. Put the solid, blunt pole at the middle, its top at the ground's level. Conceal the whole trap with dirt-covered mats or something similar.
Currently, though, she is watching Star's ritual, fighting herself not to show how amazed she is - after all, she has never seen spirit communication before!
10-30-2007, 05:48 PM
Insar will do his best to arrange whatever fortifications the villagers can find or make so that they enclose the central building as much as possible, then lends his aid where ever needed to speed the job along, including grabbing a shovel and helping with the digging of trenches. He makes sure the villagers know to pile the dirt on the side of trenches towards the central building in a berm.
10-31-2007, 09:14 PM
"Couldn't let you go alone, dear Lady - even if you went here and back safely, we'd all be worried sick! Sides... best I can do to help. It's up to you people to do the fighting now. Nanilt doesn't say anything other than these words. You two navigate the forest, careful not to run into the beastmen band but still maintaining a good speed.
You are starting to feel a bit tired, having traveled for a long time with little rest. Still, you should be at the village a long way before the beast-men arrive there.
The travel is fast and uneventful. At about noon, you arrive at the village. And yes, the raiders are visible from the Hunchback (largest hill) now, even if barely.
Your plans work well, as the villagers are very eager to help you. Unfortunately I can't advance the plot further until I get a post from Brickwall *nudge nudge*.
10-31-2007, 09:34 PM
Currently, though, she is watching Star's ritual, fighting herself not to show how amazed she is - after all, she has never seen spirit communication before!
((And she can't now, spirits being invisible things unless they decide to manifest.))
Star retains her bowing position in front of the well god. She begins addressing it, and all the other assembled gods, in Old Realm.
"God of the well of Bottomless Pool," (insert a few other Old Realm formalities here)"I come here to ask for your aid. In a short time, boarmen from the east will descend ujpon this village, intent on its destruction. Though we make many efforts to gain the advantage over them, we are only so many, and we are only so strong. We need your help, and the help of all the gods of this town. Without it, our destruction, and perhaps the destruction of the very objects that you rule, is too great a possibility. I ask that you, god of the well, aid us in our struggle, and put out any fires should the beastmen put the homes of these people to the torch. In return, we shall give you these offerings. And all you other gods, we ask for your blessings, however you can give them, and in return you shall have many prayers of thanks for the span of these people's lives. Will you aid us?"
((What do I roll on this?))
11-01-2007, 06:22 AM
((I thought the spirits have manifested, and that's why they're visible...))
In such a case, unless Star starts something more interesting than dancing and talking with air in a strange language, Kadree helps set up the traps. When she notices Mariko and Nanilt approaching, she wipes the sweat from her brows and waves to them in one fluid motion. "Hey! You're back - the boarmen haven't eaten you! What have you seen, huh? Got a glance of that huge thing that's with them? I hope Norbo was useful!"
Shower of questions, alright.
11-01-2007, 06:55 AM
((I thought the spirits have manifested, and that's why they're visible...))
((No...I'm using spirit sight here. I said so. It's what lets me see and hear spirits. Unless you have it, you probably can't see any of them.))
11-01-2007, 07:36 AM
((Yeah, just found it in your post. My "I'm not the ST, don't have to read spoilers carefully" approach is giving me feedbacks.))
11-01-2007, 02:35 PM
Presence+Charisma roll, including 1 extra die for excess success earlier:
"What times are these that mortals call upon gods, interrupting their duties!" The spirit answers in Old Realm as well, its voice melodious but irritated. It closes forward to you in graceful steps, then suddenly twitches visibly. "But I see your point. I have no other choice, do I? I will do as you ask... for a price." It stretches its hand forward, its fingers reaching toward your forehead. You do not feel their touch, but instead only a sensation of moisture of where they would touch the skin if the spirit manifested.
"Your offerings please me, but it's not enough. That's from the village, but I want something from you as well. I expect a small gift of yourself, a souvenir to remind me of who called upon me. A nail clipping, lock of hair or drop of blood... that will do. An eyeball is fine, too." The spirit laughs, showing that the last part was just a joke. In the same time, the pots with the offerings inside burst into bluish flames, quickly consuming whatever was inside them to the surprise and shock of watching villagers!
11-01-2007, 03:18 PM
Mariko glances mildly over at Emerald Star as the blue flames surge up near her, though she isn't particularly surprised; Star was speaking in that language she uses when she talks to spirits, so something odd was bound to happen. Her eyes sweep the crowd, trying to catch the gaze of as many of the other Exalts as she can before returning to Kadree. She nods.
"The scouting was a complete success," she says softly, not wanting to be overheard by the surrounding villagers just yet. "I have a great deal to report, if we can find somewhere a bit more quiet. Obviously Star is busy, but perhaps the others can spare a few minutes." Her voice drops even more, so that she has to lean forward a little for Kadree to hear her. "They've started their march, but at the pace I saw, it will be some hours before they arrive here."
11-01-2007, 09:43 PM
Star ((is wishing she had taken those Essence-lending charms now))
Why do I get the feeling that I'm glad I didn't look in those jars...
Swiftly, and without warning, Star's right fan spins around, crossing to strike her own left hand. She holds up her left index finger- a straight cut has been drawn across the tip, and blood starts oozing out of it.
"I do not spill my blood lightly, and it is no mean feat to spill it. Understand that this is a grave offering, one made of great necessity. You will understand its true value as you receive it."
Obviously the scene looks very odd, but Star looks completely serious and composed. She's done this before.
11-02-2007, 05:55 PM
(Sorry for the slower pacing recently - I was busier than normal during the last few days.)
The god nods, obviously content at Star's sacrifice. Good, good! You will receive what you ask for, our deal is set and finalised."
Backflipping from the current position, the spirit launches itself into the well where it lands with a loud splash. Why is it that people in this village never wait for you to finish conversations?
Other gods scuttle closer - their presence was obviously kept at bay by the presence of the well's god. They do that only to nod in acknowledgement, and then to leave in an unhasty fashion. "Fair deal, fair deal..." You hear whispers in Old Realm. It seems they accept your offer too.
And that would be it for supernatural barter, at least for now. The pots are left charred and broken into pieces - what was inside of them anyway? It is time to help Bottomless Pool in more mundane ways, and (as some noticed already) Mariko and Nanilt returned already, receiving much attention from the villagers. "We need someone fast to watch the beastmen moving and tell us when they're too close." Says the green-haired man, after satiating the peasants' curiosity by saying that in fact they saw the raiding group.
"That's not all." He says before anyone volunteers themselves. "We know what the big thing is. Looks like their leader, massive too. No wonder why they moved out - if such a beast tells them to jump, they jump."
Everyone around gasps in shock. Nanilt's expression is a bit uneasy too, probably because the bad news he brought were revealed in such a casual manner. But then, the villagers look at themselves and each other, and them stare at you with a brave and hopeful look.
"You can do it! We count on you! Big trouble for the big one!" Some of the more enthusiastic ones start to cry out.
"Indeed! Trust your hopes in us, as we will not fail them! The monstrous attackers shall not pass beyond us, no matter how hard they try to beat us down!" You hear from behind the crowd, which steps to sides to reveal the speaker (like if you didn't recognise her by the voice already). It's, of course, Iskira, standing in a heroic pose, her daiklave (unsheathed!) held high above her head, reflections glinting over its golden surface, her body clad in battle-ready armour and her plaited hair dramatically trashing in the wind. She moves past the dumbfounded peasants towards you, a decisive expression of a general ready to lead the first cavalry charge on her face.
However, as soon as she's in whisper range, her expression dramatically changes. She looks embarassed and somewhat sickened - definately not heroic, more like... comical even. Good that the villagers can only see her back.
"Umm... I don't feel very good. Stupid horse travel..."
11-02-2007, 08:00 PM
Mariko tries not to glare at Nanilt; his subdued manner on the journey back to the village had allowed her to forget what a big mouth he had. She'd been hoping to brief her friends first, so they could control the dissemination of information to the villagers and not risk them panicking. She sighed. Well, done is done. I still need to round up the others and--
Her train of thought is cut off when she sees Iskara looking unwell. "Come on," she tells the other woman softly, leaning in close gesturing vaguely in a direction away from the crowds, "let's find a place to sit and discuss what I saw."
Perception+Medicine, perhaps? Trying to figure out what's the matter with Iskira. [roll0]
11-02-2007, 10:08 PM
"Alright, everyone, lets get to work. We've only got until tommorow at the most to get ready, so lets make the most of it. If we get the fortifications done, we'll show those pig-headed fools why they should have stayed where they came from." Insar does his best to seem at ease with the prospect of battle, doing his best to project reasurance to the crowd of villagers. "I'll be back to help with the work once I hear all of what Mariko has to say." He says before joining Mariko and Iskira. As soon as their group is alone enough not to be heard, he speaks softly to Iskira, obviously annoyed. "I thought we agreed to do our best to keep the villagers from knowing we are Exalted. All that heroic poseing is going to do is blow our cover. Save the poses for after we have their gratitude."
Trying to reassure the crowd, so I think this would be it:
11-02-2007, 10:57 PM
The crowd disperses, each villager going to find work. They are reluctant (not because they believe this is useless, but rather because they'd rather see what interesting things are going on with you all), but eventually you are left alone with no other human near. Even Nanilt disappeared somewhere.
In the meantime, Mariko finds a bench - well, a wooden log cut in half and polished enough to sit on without splinters. Taking a look at Iskira's condition is not as precise as more detailed physical examination, but you are rather sure she is alright. Her stomach is upset for some reason (she gets slightly greener on the face while sitting, as if to add weight to your theory), but this is all - aren't Solars supposed to be immune to normal ailements like this? And aren't the Zenith supposed to be the most resistant of them all? Or maybe it would be something more deadly for a normal human, but for a Solar it is but a digestion illness - somehow, you doubt this theory.
The most obvious explanation - she got sick because it's Iskira. It must be karmic fate for all the prolonged speeches she gives.
"This is embarassing..." She says, trying to sit as comfortably as she can on the crude wooden furniture. "I cannot say I expected to feel bad for seemingly no reason... but it does not mean I will not help with preparation and defense! The lives of many people depend on it. Also, can you say what did you discover during your scouting, Mariko?" She asks the question with a politely curious expression on her face. It seems no sickness will make her any less long-winded than usual.
After Insar's comment, here she opens her mouth again. Surprisingly, her tone of voice is apologetic.
"I just wanted to improve the morale of the locals... they did look distressed by the news! I do not think any of them recognise what our weapons are really made of, so we are not going to be discovered prematurely. At least I hope we aren't - but if you think it is an issue, I will keep that in mind and try to act with greater discretion." Any further confessions are interrupted twofold - Iskira grabs her stomach with a very annoyed look on her face, grunting something under her breath, and a man closes in.
It is nobody else but Oak, who is for some reason carrying two buckets, each full of water. He is closing in from the well's direction, and his walk is slightly unsteadier than usual - he keeps spilling a few drops of water every step.
"Ah! What a coincidence to find you here. Some company is looking for you all. I think they want to help you in defending the village, something about archery if I recall correctly." Funny how he never calls anyone of you Sir or Lady. "I saw them recently, that way." He points his arm in a direction, spilling a lot of water from one of the buckets as a result. He does not seem to mind that though.
11-02-2007, 11:15 PM
"I'll go see to the archers. You stay here with Iskira." Insar says to Mariko, before heading in the direction that Oak pointed. As he walks off, he can't help but wonder what the man was doing with those buckets.
11-02-2007, 11:23 PM
Mariko looks at Iskira, slightly concerned, but as the Zenith does not appear to be in serious danger at the moment, she sets her worries aside for later.
She is about to begin relating her experiences when Oak interrupts. With waning patience, she waits as he conveys the message about the archers. She's been awake all night, and would like to get a bit of a catnap in before she's needed to fight. When Insar speaks, she responds with a grateful nod. "That sounds good. Someone will make sure you're filled in on the relevant points."
Mariko sits with her chin resting on her clasped hands, elbows propped on her knees, as she concentrates on the details of what she saw. "There are roughly forty of the rank-and-file beast-men. They are burly creatures, all male, perhaps seven feet tall. They did not seem terribly clever or observant, and might be easily deceived. Their weapons are large, but crude--stone and rusted metal axes, spears, and swords. The leader is much larger, perhaps twice the size of one of his subordinates, and savage, able to fell small trees and bushes without apparent effort. He wields a large two-handed sword and wears a necklace made from a large fang of some sort. I got the impression that the latter was particularly significant to him. He was painted with signs and symbols, which I can sketch if anyone things them important. One of his subordinates struck me as particularly notable, in that he seemed somewhat smarter, or at least more canny, than his fellows. He was a bit smaller than the others, and lingered around the leader--just out of his reach and sight. He was missing an eye.
"The group was on the march when I saw them, but they were not moving particularly quickly. We should have a number of hours at least, before they arrive."
11-03-2007, 01:05 AM
Kadree, being the only one in the company who knows anything about archery, goes to meet "some company". "Well, if our great leader decided to show off her blade, guess it won't hurt if I'll actually use Vanguard in the battle...", she mutters to herself. Norbo sits on a rooftop near Mariko and Iskira, listening to them.
11-03-2007, 02:40 PM
"I think we can defeat such a number of them. Even if they are superior to normal humans in ability, and I think they will be - with good tactics no one of us should even receive a larger wound. I trust my skills, and yours as well." Iskira nods solemnly. "But I wonder about the leader you mentioned. Your description sounds like trouble - and maybe the necklace he has is some sort of an enchanted amulet? Perhaps a gift from a spirit?"
At the same time, Insar and Kadree go off to meet the village folk. At the edge of the settlement, you find eleven peasants - all of them carry self bows and arrows, as well-maintainted as it is possible for such a backwater village but still looking of a rather poor quality. The villagers themselves - eight men and three women, greet you with appreciative hails.
"Our bows are yours to command. We used to shoot hunting animals and straw targets, but now it's time for bigger prey!" Exclaims one of them, a plain-looking man in his late 20s. "We gathered here as the Elder told us. Our best shot's coming, he'll be here soon! Ah, there he is!" He points at something behind your back. If you turn, you see... no one else but Nanilt himself, carrying a bow as well!
"Hello! Dear Lady and Sir, although we farm the land mostly, we're men of many talents here, and I'm no exception. What's the plan? Where do you want us during the attack?"
He rests over a nearby hut's wall casually, but not before bowing lightly. His bows are slighter and slighter each time it seems - he is getting more and more casual in each meeting.
11-03-2007, 03:28 PM
"It might well be," Mariko says in response to Iskira's speculations about the necklace. "It may be in our interest to make it a priority to destroy it, or otherwise deprive him of it. Perhaps Emerald Star, with her knowledge of things of the spirits, might have some insight?"
11-04-2007, 11:56 AM
Kadree stands resolutely, "Alright then, listen! You should all hide on the rooftops of the village's tallest buildings, with two things in mind - the first one is to have a broad field of view, so you can fire to as many beastmen as possible. The second one is much more important! Your spots should not be easily accessible from land - the attackers must not reach you! I doubt will they have any ranged weapons, so you should be safe that way and their biggest advantage will be ruined! Also, keep hiding and do not shoot until there is a signal from one of us."
11-04-2007, 12:58 PM
Turning to Kadree, the big man expresses his concern. "I think it best we keep the archers all together, where they can be more easily guarded. I suggest that they gather on the roof of the main building. It is the highest spot in this village and would give them the best field of fire, while keeping them as safe as possible. I do agree that they must wait for our signal, however, lest they waste their arrows."
11-04-2007, 05:22 PM
Kadree nods. "Well, it's the tallest building, is it not? Just make sure you are not seen by the incoming forces! And do not leave any ladders or similar items nearby, that could be used by the enemies to climb."
11-04-2007, 08:48 PM
The archers nod, showing that they understand.
"Sounds like a plan! Let's go practicing, gotta warm up before the real thing!" Says Nanilt, and (unless interrupted), the whole group walks a little away from the village to practice on... trees probably, or whatever else they found or prepared beforehand.
I am going to speed this a little up, unless you want to do anything more specific. The traps and fortifications are being laid out - the villagers work hard and do their best, but it may not be sufficient. Any help you offer to them is of great use and appreciated. Several fastest peasants have organised a watchout from the Hunchback - they switch themselves every few hours, reporting the progress of the beast-men. They are moving in an unhasty but steady manner, and the watchers assume they should arrive either very late in the night or in the morning tomorrow. And yes, they can see the big leader, and it unnerves them as they report. Iskira didn't started to feel better on her own, but after a discrete talk with the Elder, she received some kind of a herbal drink which helped her feel better. Surprisingly, she didn't talk so much after receiving it.
The peasants themselves, after consultations with old Fox, all intend to hide in the Elder's house, as it is the biggest and the best barricaded one. It includes the armed ones (excluding bowmen), who will guard the insides of the gates, but will not defend the outsides. They also stockpiled on buckets of water in case of torching - they apparently do not know about the deal with the well god (nor does anyone of you who does not understand Old Realm, unless Emerald Star shared her discovery with you), and that's what Oak seemed to be helping with.
Aside from praises from the villagers, you received warm and rich (for a small village) meals. Oak drank with more moderation, keenly observed by Iskira.
Evening passes and the sun hides behind the horizon's line. The last watchers leave the Hunchback - both because the visibility is bad at night and because the raiders were pretty close already. Good news is that, according to the reports, they did not seem to wield torches or other light sources. While it makes them harder to notice, it probably means they will not try to burn the village down. All the peasants, who started gathering themselves and their most prized possessions inside or near the central building (it's pretty large so stuffing everyone in is no problem), are very worried and look at you with hopeful gazes.
All you can do now is discuss the last bit of tactics and wait, watching. That's assuming you didn't do anything important before that you didn't mention already - if you did, just say.
11-05-2007, 01:36 AM
During the intervening hours, Mariko will find some time to catnap, and scrounge some soot or grease with which to blacken the blade of her daiklaive. Knowing the properties of orichalcum, the disguise won't last terribly long, but it should help make it a bit more difficult for the villagers to identify her (and thereby the rest of the group) as Solars, as well as make her less noticeable in the predawn or early morning light.
11-06-2007, 01:40 PM
Kadree, when nobody is watching, will summon her daiklave and then pull some blanket or other sheet around it carefully, so it won't look like a weapon, or at least not an orichalcum one. She will then rest for several hours.
Later in the evening, when the beastmen are getting close, she will hide it, and the rest of her weapons, on one of the rooftops near the pit trap - and she'll leave Norbo to guard it. Then, when they are really close, she will use 3 points of personal essence to enter Graceful Crane Stance, and stand on the pole in the middle of the trap. She will also try to make it look as normal as possible, as if she was balancing there by sheer outstanding dexterity alone.
"All good traps need a lure, right? Don't worry, I'm going to be alright!"
11-06-2007, 02:00 PM
Insar will do his best to help with the fortifications, then see about getting anyone who may be participating in the fighting tonight/tommorow to get some rest early, so as to be better prepared for the boarmen.
11-07-2007, 02:12 PM
Big post coming soon. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
11-07-2007, 02:34 PM
When the beast-men get closer to the village, perhaps twenty or thirty minutes before the battle is joined, Mariko will find a rooftop on which to perch--not too close to the elder's house where the peasant archers are, or to the place Kadree hid her weapons, but somewhere that will provide a good view of the incoming attackers. She will crouch low, behind a chimney column if there is one, and wait.
11-07-2007, 03:24 PM
Once awakened with word of the beastmen's advance, Insar will ready his weapons and armor, then make sure everyone is aware and heading to their places. If nessacery, he will make sure than the ranks of militia that will be guarding the Elder's house have the spearmen in a 2nd rank behind the others.
11-07-2007, 05:22 PM
As I mentioned before, all the villagers who are not archers are going to hide inside, but those of them who are armed will form a defensive force just at the gates, so that enemies who enter are for a bad surprise. Insar's instructions help them stand in a more tactical way, which will probably help if the house gets broken into... which will probably mean you are dead or too wounded to fight already, but oh well...
It is very late at night, the dawn is nearing AND the raiding party is visible now even from Bottomless Pool itself - the attackers have crossed the Hunchback and will be here in a very short time! The peasants erratically enter the Elder's building (those of them who didn't already, at least), and the gates are quickly closed and, judging by the sounds, barricaded from the inside. At the same time, bowmen climb up the building, one by one using the ladder, to hide themselves at the roof. Nanilt is last, and he pauses before going up.
"This is it, huh? Wish I was able to help you in more active way now, fighting down here... guess I'd just get killed though. Well, give us a signal and we'll pincushion them beastmen!" He says, then starts to climb up. He is using the rope ladder, which gets swiftly taken up as soon as he's at the top.
It's all up to you now - there is no one at the ground level but the Solars... and Oak. "Oak and me will guard these gates with our lives! This is the last stand through which no raider or villain shall pass! That is... unless you need me elsewhere, then yell." Iskira is battle-ready just as you all, and Oak nods as he unsheathes his straight sword. These two stand in front of the entrance to the Elder's house, like elite guardsmen attending a king's palace.
You all get into positions, and wait... the minutes stretch painfully, and it seems like eternity before the enemy horde is visible. But finally, it is! The roving band is closing in, the hulking leader clearly distinguishable among his underlings, and Kadree with her trap is the closest to them.
Just as the raiders almost reach the border of the village, something unexpected happens. The largest one waves his huge arms, and a group of boar-men separates from the party! There is less than twenty of them, and they hastily advance forward, glancing around and making a very bad impression of being cautious and aware of any potential traps.
Before they are able to reach any of the bigger fortifications that the peasants (with some of your work) have made, they spot Kadree. And their reaction is almost immediate - hesitating for no more than a second, they move forward, their weapons at rest, wielded in a laidback manner, and squealing and grunting loudly.
What they intended to do will forever remain a mystery, because as soon as the first one gets close enough, he takes a very bad step and falls down into the disguised trip. Others were confused or careless enough, and a total of five get trapped! One of them is killed on the spot, unless these beastmen can survive being impaled right through the skull. Others are heavily wounded but alive, and it will take them some time to leave the pit, if they will be ever able to do that.
The beastmen who did not get trapped (twelve, if you have time to count) quickly stop at the edge of the pit. Some of them look down in surprise, others glance around, but most glare at Kadree. It's better to do something really fast, as some of them loudly squeal in anger and ready their spears, obviously for throwing!
The bigger group that stayed behind isn't charging forward, so it isn't likely that they caught more than a glimpse of what is going on. And what is going on is that the battle for Bottomless Pool has just started.
11-07-2007, 06:20 PM
From her position of concealment, Mariko scans the action below, her gaze searching specifically for the largest beast-man and his one-eyed companion. She fingers the falcon-headed throwing dagger in its sheath at her wrist, waiting for her opening. Mariko keeps a fraction of her attention on Kadree, though; if it seems that the other woman is in trouble, her plans may have to change.
Spending 5 personal Essence on Sensory Acuity Prana, to heighten her battlefield awareness.
11-07-2007, 08:33 PM
Insar mentaly readies himself, awaiting the beastmen's charge from behind Kadree's trap. As the beastmen come into view, he channels some of his personal Essence to enhance his strength for the comming battle.
6 motes of personal essence spent on Increasing Strength Exercise, raising my Strength by 2 dots to a total of 6 dots.
11-07-2007, 09:51 PM
Kadree does not wait for the beastmen to react - she knows better than just to stand there! The moment the trap is activated, she backflips onto the rooftop where she has hidden her weapons - quite an impressive jump! - and kneels down to grab her Daiklave, still covered in sheets, and buckler. She stands up high, trying to occupy the creatures' attention, and prepares to dodge the spears they are inevitably going to throw at her.
"Come on, I didn't expect you to be so dim to actually fall for that trap! Or maybe I actually did? Archers, shoot!!"
1 essence to activate Monkey Leap Technique. Action for this turn - full dodge.
11-08-2007, 06:31 PM
Three javelins fly at Kadree's direction, but she avoids them in a graceful (and superhumanly high) leap! Then, before the beast-men have a chance to realise what really is going on, one of them falls dead with an arrow in his eye! Immediately after that, broadheads rain down on them - unfortunately, most of them miss, but they leave yet another boar creature dead (ten left now), and some others slightly wounded and infuriated.
Suddenly, each of you feels a slightly wet touch-like sensation on your skin, and your movements become a little more fluid! There is no way that this is not supernatural in source - probably the local spirits offer you their help.
((+1 to Dodge rolls. And no, I'm not going to say how long it lasts))
The beastmen grow even more infuriated and break their group, charging at Kadree's direction. Some of them are faster than others, and two were impetous enough that they were able to take large leaps and land on the same roof as her! They glare at Kadree vengefully, murder in their eyes.
((As I stated in the OOC thread, all of you except Kadree, who moved already, are too far away to close in to melee range in this round and perform any other actions. BUT you can close in into melee or near-melee range, or get into shooting or spellcasting distance and still perform an action.))
EDIT: The current "grouping" of the beast-men is as follows: two are on the roof with Kadree, three are at the pit, four are in the pit, and five are somewhere between the pit and the house. Just for reference.
11-08-2007, 08:47 PM
I can probably keep better track of things if I can co-ordinate my movements with the spirits.
Though it's impossible to see from her hiding place, a circular area on her forehead glints a little at certain angles.
3 periph on Spirit Sight, or whatever that Charm's name is
11-08-2007, 09:05 PM
Emerald Star notices no one else but the god of the well, smiling under its nose as it (What sex is it anyway? The robes, although water-like, are quite concealing, and other features look rather androgynous. Is it rude to ask? And does it even matter?) holds its arm out, the hand apparently having touched you just a short while ago.
"The enemy walks on this village's grounds now, this is an additional gift to help you repel them. Go now! I do not wish to lose my domain!"
11-08-2007, 09:15 PM
Insar runs towards the edge of the pit, drawing his sword as he does. As the last moment he leaps, sailing across the pit with ease. The edge of the straight blade glints in the light of the rising sun as he lands, sword ready to block any attack made against him.
11-08-2007, 11:09 PM
Star gives the god(dess) a brief nod and takes a look at the battlefield.
"Looks like this first group is going to be gone soon. Mariko should tell us if anything happens with the other beastmen. So far things are going smoothly. I'd better save my energy for the rest of the enemies, though. They're the ones I'm most worried about."
Without expression, she unfolds one of her fans in a direct motion, but makes no other move for the time.
11-09-2007, 04:08 PM
((Next round is up - declare your actions! Don't forget about parries or dodges, and feel free to roll for initiative on your own. And yes, you'll probably beat the enemies on this roll, so assume you're going first. Ah, the joy of adds... Did I say that out loud? Ignore that please.))
The beast-men look surprised that another opponent has appeared, but they waste no time - they ready their melee weapons and look eager to spill some blood!
At the same time, Mariko notices from her high position that the largest boar-man noticed what is going on from his current location, as he is intently watching at the current events. He does not do anything yet, though.
11-09-2007, 07:45 PM
Insar sets his feet in a solid stance and swings a powerful blow, attempting to behead one of the boarmen. He lets the momentum carry the weapon back around and down over his head for a downward chop before bringing the blade back up into a guard position, ready for a counter attack.
Attack 1: [roll1]
Attack 2: [roll2]
Parry 1: [roll3]
11-10-2007, 05:46 AM
Kadree does not hesitate a second - seeing the creatures appear, she quickly removes the material from her Vanguard, its massive golden form, only a foot shorter than her height, glinting in the sun! She holds it in front of her, stabbing with force at one of the jumping beastmen, partially hitting him and partially letting him impale himself on it, then, with a broad swipe, throws his bode to the side and cleaves into the other one in one fluid motion! Then she leaps down, rallying a wordless battlecry, ready to assist Insar, slashing at the most nearby opponent with an overhead blow of her daiklave, tumbling at the ground to the next one, and chopping upwards at him!
Vanguard looks roughly like that (http://www.wowwiki.com/Image:King%27s_Defender.jpg), only, y'know, orichalcum. And proportionally bigger. Feel free to hate me for using WoW in Exalted.
Attack 1: [roll1]
Attack 2: [roll2]
Attack 3: [roll3]
Attack 4: [roll4]
If any of those attacks does not manage to kill/incapacitate the opponent, the next one is also aimed at him (and I'll have to change the description accordingly).
11-11-2007, 09:20 AM
OOC part of the post.
You guys misrolled initiative. You just roll one dice, add Wits, Dexterity and the weapon's bonus.
Your enemies are surprised by the sudden attack, but not surprised enough not to try to parry your blows.
You also get 1 stunt die.
Attack 1: [roll2]
Attack 2: [roll3]
Attack 1: [roll5]
Attack 2: [roll6]
Attack 3: [roll7]
Attack 4: [roll8]
Insar: both of the beast-men you are trying to kill wield short spears, and:
Kadree: one of the roof-jumping boar men wields a stone axe, the other - a rusty sword. The ones on the ground: a club-man and another axeman. Well, axe-boar.
I'll give you motes later today - after I re-read how many you get for stunts.:smalleek:
A casual observer would not notice anything more than two figures moving at frightening speeds, delivering wide, powerful slashes - and just a fraction of a second later, bloody red mist and flying pieces of broken weapons and beast-men bodyparts (mostly bodyparts) flying everywhere. Needless to say, all the opponents you faced died quickly and efficiently. There is not many of them left - four still in the pit (their reactions aren't known by you), and four on the ground level. They look extremely suprised by what you have done, horrified even. But they are either too desperate or too stupid to try to run away - instead, they charge at you blindly, letting loud warcries that resemble boarish grunts as much as their bodies resemble boars themselves.
The first three attack the nearest target - Insar. They miss horribly, you are able to avoid their attacks without breaking a sweat. The most accurate one (a spear-boar) finds his attack deflected casually by your oversized weapon.
The fourth one, however, strikes at Kadree with his spear in a manner strangely calm and precise for such a demihuman barbarian - and scores 3 successes! -1 for the buckler leaves him with 2 - do you want to use a charm to avoid that attack, or do you prefer the blow to hit?
11-11-2007, 05:22 PM
I forgot to add, if anyone of you wants to use reflexive charms (like Solar Counterattack), post that too. Also feel free to post what you do in the next round.
11-12-2007, 09:32 AM
Kadree quickly spins Vanguard in her hand, holding it in a reverse way, and covers herself with the sword's bulk.
Dipping Swallow Defense - 2 motes of Essence.
11-12-2007, 09:33 AM
11-12-2007, 12:14 PM
"I was worried these creatures might actualy pose a challenge, but the reality is almost disapointing." Insar smiles cockily as he brings his blade around in a flurry of slashes, pressing the attack against the three beast men facing him. The blood on his sword shines a brilliant crimson in the morning sun as the blade tears through his enemy's flesh. With his free hand, Insar draws his knife from its sheath on his belt, readying the weapon to deflect the thrusts of the boarmen's spears.
I'm assuming your rolling damage for us, so tell me if I need to start rolling it for myself.
I'm also declaring a parry attempt with my knife, but I'll wait to roll it until I see the successes on the boarmen's attacks so I can decide if I need to use a charm or not.
(Remember, I'm using an ordinary straight sword right now, not my Foecutter, so it isn't oversized in any way.)
11-12-2007, 02:22 PM
"Guess we're just too good for them! Don't worry, the huge one is going to come in any moment now!" Kadree chops the beastman she's facing twice, still holding her sword upside-down - the second cut is mostly for a good measure, unless one of the creatures Insar is facing is still alive and conscious, in which case she quickly spins on one foot and directs it at that one instead. Then she springs into a defensive position, facing sideways , buckler in front of her and Vanguard held high behind and over her head - just in case.
Attack 1: [roll0]
Attack 2: [roll1]
11-13-2007, 05:48 PM
Sorry for the delay!
Kadree easily blocks the beastman's hit, infuriating him even more!
The enemies are enraged, but they aren't stupid... okay, they're not completely stupid. In other words, they try to parry with whatever they have at hand.
11-13-2007, 05:52 PM
+1 stunt die
Insar overcomes his first opponent, who is armed with a club, apparently carved from a small tree stump. He tries to parry, but Insar cuts the weapon in half before cleaving the beast-man's skull!
The other two are more successful, and are able to defend themselves against Insar's attacks - maybe he grew too confident and his attacks were more laidback? However, soon after Kadree strikes and the enemies' pieces are flying all over the air again.
Needless to say, there were no survivors. That's unless you count the four beast-men inside the pit - they are trying to (quite unsuccessfully) climb up. What do you do with them?
There is another problem - as Mariko noticed already (and those from you who have the height advantage and pay attention to the distance), the boar-man chieftain realised that his first wave of attackers have been slaughtered! Not only that, but he is throwing something at the village's direction!
It is not however a weapon, nor even a giant rock to crush you under. What he throws is... one of his subordinates, the one-eyed one as Mariko quickly notices. He is not armed, and after flying about ten-twelve yards in the air, he lands with a bump and quickly (and somewhat panicky) runs towards Bottomless Pool. What is your surprise to discover that, as soon as he is within earshot, the beast-man is shouting "No fight, no fight! I in peace! Peace!" at the top of his lungs! It sounds pretty boarish but it's definitely Riverspeak, although very crude and limited in vocabulary...
Is this a trick, or does the chief send one of his as an envoy? What do you intend to do with this turn of events?
11-13-2007, 11:09 PM
Insar smirks at Kadree as he remarks "Looks like they're surrendering already. Smart of them." Insar turns his back on the pit and sheathes his sword and knife, walking out to speak with One-Eye. "What do you want, pig-head?"
11-14-2007, 01:43 AM
The muscles around Mariko's eyes tense slightly. I don't trust this at all. She shifts slightly in her hiding place on the rooftop, so that she can watch One-Eye while keeping the chieftain in the periphery of her vision. Silently, she slides her throwing knife clear of her wrist sheath, but makes no move to strike; her years of surviving by stealth and observation have taught her the value of patience. Still, her hand itches to let loose the blade and remove the potential threat One-Eye represents.
11-14-2007, 06:21 AM
Kadree tries to pay attention both to the so-called emissary, and the beastmen trapped in the pit, making sure that if they come out, they will be on her or the archers' mercy. "Seems very fishy...", she mutters to herself.
Sitting on the building's roof, Norbo lazily watches the group of creatures in the distance, including their huge leader.
11-14-2007, 04:17 PM
The beast-man approaches you, and doesn't seem eager to attack barehanded or do anything fishy. The only unusual thing he does (so far) is to grunt disdainfully at the trapped boar-men, who grunt back at him in an angry manner, but stop trying to climb up from the pit, instead focusing on avoiding the wooden spikes inside.
As soon as he gets close enough to you, the beastman opens his mouth... er, snout.
"I bring an offer. You defeated the forward scouts well. Clawbreaker is impressed, he wants no more deaths of us. Clawbreaker is our leader, he proposes a duel."
Funny, you could swear his language was far more limited just a second ago.
"One of you fight. You win, we go away. You lose, you go away and village ours for taking."
He looks greedily around for a split second, before composing himself. "Ours will watch, but no weapons. Only Clawbreaker and you fight with weapons. Is it deal?"
11-14-2007, 05:09 PM
Mariko's free hand clenches into a fist. Now I know they're up to something. This "Clawbreaker" has some trick up his sleeve--maybe that fang pendant--that he thinks is going to win him this fight. She looks down at Kadree and Insar below, shaking her head slightly as if in warning, though she knows they are unlikely to betray her position by glancing up at her. He wouldn't be proposing this if it weren't of greater advantage to him than a straight fight. The villagers aren't in immediate danger, and we have the superior position. We have no reason to accept this challenge. Mariko watches in mute frustration, forcing herself to remain in position and trust the situation to her friends. She turns her head, looking out across the open land to observe the chieftain's reaction, while keeping part of her attention on the scene below.
11-14-2007, 06:22 PM
"Your offer is tempting, but I have a better proposal. Your best five fighters against our best five. Winner take all. Sound good to you, or is your kind as cowardly as they are ugly?"
While talking, Insar will use another 6 motes of personal Essence to enhance his Strength by another 2 dots. This scene looks like it could go awhile, and I think I could use the boost for this fight.
11-14-2007, 09:17 PM
"I'll remember this insult when village at our mercy! But I can't decide. Want to know if five on five is alright? I go to Clawbreaker, and ask. He can decide."
The one-eyed boarman turns around for a short while, to point at the direction he came from. He does not do so for any longer than it is requires, facing you again abruptly with a suspicious expression of his snout, like if he was afraid you'd stick a piece of metal in his back. However, for now he awaits your response.
((And you can't spend any motes more on your charm - it can increase Strength only for as many points as you have Essence, that is 2))
11-14-2007, 10:27 PM
"Well then, go ask him. I'd like to see if he's more man than pig anyway."
Forgot about that. Oh well, I was going to enjoy being super humanly super human.
11-15-2007, 02:24 AM
Does Wieland exist, or was he retconned out?
11-15-2007, 10:24 AM
"We don't insult you! We have moral high ground now!" One-eye grunts that out, then turns away from you, apparently to ask his chieftain about your proposition. If no one of you interrupts him, he quickly disappears into the distance.
((Wieland isn't here. If ilovefire comes back, then Wieland was in the party but stayed behind for some reason. If he doesn't... well, then Wieland didn't exist to begin with.))
11-15-2007, 01:17 PM
Star creeps out from her hiding spot.
"Insar, was it really necessary to be rude? For a beast, he was quite polite. I don't have high hopes that they'll accept your proposal, though. As they have only one champion, they know that they would be at a disadvantage. Still, if their pride gets the better of them, know that we will not be allowed the help of the spirits."
11-15-2007, 01:22 PM
"Polite he may have been, but I wanted them mad enough that they might accept without thinking. I didn't dare risk the village on my own strength versus that of their leader, but our five versus their five would be better than our six versus their whole tribe, don't you agree?"
11-15-2007, 02:39 PM
"You too easily discount the advantages of archery and spiritual aid, but what's done is done. Don't prepare yourself for him to accept a plan even less in favor of him than his was in favor of us, though."
11-15-2007, 02:45 PM
"I fully expect them to refuse, but then their leader doesn't look to smart. Either way, we're in for a fight."
11-15-2007, 03:44 PM
(Argh, the plot goes so fast when I cannot post! Or forget to post...)
Kadree scratches her head. "I'm not sure do we really want to do a 5 vs 5 battle... this will require Iskira to stop guarding the villagers! I don't think do they really want to attack them while we're busy dueling, but it's better to be extra cautious... 'sides, I am sure me or Insar would alone be strong enough to defeat their chieftain - after all, bulk is not everything! Well, let's hope they have no dirty trick prepared and this is going to be an honest duel, but if not then they are probably not smart enough to think of something that could really beat us. Still, I think you should've treated that one in more polite way Insar - you've shown us to be more barbaric than them." She pokes him in the shoulder, and then proceeds to watch what are the boarmen actually doing in the distance.
(The group fight idea is good in my book though, it's much better than making one of us fight and the rest watch.)
11-15-2007, 06:40 PM
"Believe I can help with this problem!" A figure jumps down from a building some distance behind you, just within earshot. It is no one else but Nanilt, still carrying a quiver with arrows but without a bow.
(And yes, Mariko noticed him, but only when he was so close that he revealed himself faster than she could have warned the rest.)
"The small lady guards the gates with such determination, I'd break my heart if she'd came here and abandoned her post. I saw you people fight, and these beast-men are shreds now, good as dead. Am sure you won't mind if I join instead of her."
He steps closer as he speaks, and as soon as he's quite close, his face changes from a satisfied smile to a more serious expression. "Sides... I always told myself, if danger comes to my place, I'd defend it. And now, all I could do was firing arrows. Not only that, my best shot missed completely." He sighs. "Think that fighting like that, I could make some kind of a difference. I gotta ask you, let me stay and fight! I'm not a wonder with sword like you are, but I'll show 'em boarheads not to mess with people from Bottomless Pool!"
He raises his right hand in front of his face, and clenches it into a fist. As before, he wears a metal gauntlet on it - but this time, leather strips are wrapped around it, studded with iron spikes. Apparently Nanilt wants to use it in battle, as he doesn't have any other weapon by his side.
You have to make a decision quickly! Thumping sounds are heard in the distance, and you can not only hear but soon see the chief beastman! He's coming your way, and he is not alone - an entourage of several others surrounds him.
11-15-2007, 06:47 PM
"Stay out of our way and don't get yourself killed. I hope you know how to use that."
11-15-2007, 10:30 PM
"Nanilt, I'll stay on the defensive. You should keep me between yourself and the opponents, if you can."
Star opens both her fans, ready for battle.
I hope I don't have to use any spells...
11-16-2007, 11:56 AM
Keeping the bulk of the chimney between herself and the beast-man horde, Mariko creeps along the rooftop to the edge, dropping down carefully. From there, she makes her way quietly over to the other Exalts.
"Why are we fighting them openly, like this were some sort of gladiatoral challenge?" she hisses. "What about our fortifications--the archers? They wouldn't have proposed a challenge if it weren't to their benefit to fight on open ground, rather than dealing with our defenses." Her gaze flits from her friends, to the distant beast-man forces, and back again; Mariko isn't comfortable with standing around exposed in front of an enemy, much less with toe-to-toe combat.
11-16-2007, 12:47 PM
"Our defenses, if you notice, are some hastily thrown up mounds of dirt, some trenches, and some archers who are mostly only good for a distraction. We could face another thirty of them with those fortifications, or we can fight five without them. Which would you prefer?"
11-16-2007, 01:13 PM
"I'd prefer the option that doesn't tie our own hands, forcing us to adhere to the rules of 'honorable combat,' while allowing this Clawbreaker to employ whatever secret advantage he has, which impelled him to make the suggestion in the first place. If it were in his interests simply to press the attack and try to overwhelm our defenses, he'd have done so." Mariko inclines her head, indicating the beast-men in the pit. "He sent an advance force ahead to test our strength and defenses. Either he, or One-Eye, isn't nearly as much of a dumb brute as we had hoped."
Unconsciously, she draws closer to the shadow of the nearest building, her stance betraying a hint of nervousness. Again she looks out toward the gathered beast-men. "Still, I suppose what's done is done," she sighs.
11-16-2007, 03:09 PM
"Don't worry Mariko! Even if their chieftain happens to be extremely strong, I doubt will his fighters be more powerful than any of us - by fighting a group battle instead of a one-on-one duel, we increased our advantage! And a duel was already better than a normal battle, like Insar said - sooner or later we'd have to face Clawbreaker anyway, and also now the locals are in less of a danger!" Kadree seems to be eager to fight the battle. Maybe because the boarmen turned out to be easy opponents until now...
Kadree also lets out a short series of whistles - though rather silent for the human ear, apparently it's not the case for cats, since Norbo arrives shortly! Kadree kneels down near him. "Watch what those boars are doing, alright Norbo? Tell me if you find anything suspicious! And don't let them see you, but that's obvious.", she whispers to her familiar, stroking his fur lightly.
11-16-2007, 03:43 PM
"Who said anything about 'honorable combat'?" Insar rests his hand on the hilt of his sword as the boarmen draw closer.
11-16-2007, 04:06 PM
Mariko smiles slightly at Insar's words. "Ah. Well, in that case..." She resheathes her throwing knife, to conceal it from the view of the approaching boar-men. She turns to watch the approach of the beast-men, paying particular attention to the chieftain.
11-16-2007, 07:07 PM
"Yeah... I'm not insane, no heroic stupidity here." Nanilt acknowledges and takes a step behind, as if to show that he will stay on the defense. Norbo gives Kadree an uncaring, "yeah whatever" look, but quickly jumps to climb a nearby building, and disappears on the rooftops. Apparently he wants to start scouting by taking a higher ground.
At the same time, the beast-men approach. You can see that the rest of the group follows the first party at some distance, however they do not seem armed or willing to fight. They also stay far enough not to be considered a second wave of the raid.
The first group is, however, armed. What you see are two beast-men armed with long spears, two with swords and crude shields covered in animal hides, and of course the chieftain with his huge greatsword. As he approaches, you can clearly see that he is not in the best of his moods - he looks angered, but not yet furious. As for the others - aside from their weaponry, they do not look that different from normal boar-men, but looks can be deceiving...
Oh, and the one-eyed beastman follows the group too, wielding a significantly shorter spear, one suitable for throwing. The barbaric group stops when they reach a distance of about 20 yards from your current position, and start breathing and glaring angrily at your direction while the one-eye plays the envoy again. Putting aside his spear, he quickly scuttles in your direction.
"Clawbreaker agrees! It is him and four best warriors. You use low tricks, pit, arrows from sky. But we not! I offer poison, Clawbreaker says no." He produces a rusted knife, which apparently was hung to what these creatures were as a sad excuse of clothing - slowly enough, so that it may not be mistaken as an attempt at ambush, and uncorks a gourd which he was carrying on a string around his neck. An acidic odour can be smelt even from where you are standing. He dips the knife into the gourd, and you can see its edge is yellowed from the poison inside. Showing off the weapon for you all to see, he shrugs and throws it away to the side. "You see, our weapons not poisoned. You lucky! No cure for it, only Clawbreaker's magic charm. Not matters! You soon beaten. I see you ready, I let Clawbreaker know." He turns his back on you and runs away as quickly as he arrived, heading towards your opponents. Having reached them, he nods his head to the chief, a movement almost unnoticeable from the distance, then stands aside. The largest beast-man suddenly roars loudly, and all five of the barbarians ready their weapons and start, slowly but steadily, to head towards your way!
After the roar, the only sound you can hear apart from the loud thumps of Clawbreaker's steps is an audible gulp from Nanilt.
((You can assume that a fight has started. The enemies are close enough to reach and attack in the same round.))
11-17-2007, 09:57 AM
"How valiant... I almost forgot they are here to murder everyone in the village.", Kadree comments after the one-eyed creature goes away.
"Alright, here they come! Watch out for yourselves, and I think we should get rid of the lesser warriors first!" Kadree stands in a battle-ready position, turned her side to the opponents, her buckler raised and her sword helg high behind her - she is at the front of the group, but keeps her ground, letting the enemies move... at least till they are very close, at which point she charges at one of the spear-boars, leaping at the creature as she gets close, stabbing from above, and using Vanguard as a pole vault to jump behind his back, at what point she quickly removes the blade and performs two quick cross-slashes! All the time, she is prepared to parry any incoming blows, holding her buckler behind her back as she has only this one opponent in front of her.
Attack, 2* prepared parries, and 2*attacks again. If the opponent is downed and there are any attacks left, direct them at the nearest one instead.
Attack 1: [roll1]
Parry 1: [roll2]
Parry 2: [roll3]
Attack 2: [roll4]
Attack 3: [roll5]
11-17-2007, 09:58 AM
Attack 3: [roll0]
11-17-2007, 03:49 PM
As One-eye finishes speaking and heads back to the barbarian group, Insar again draws his sword. Holding the weapon in a tight, two handed grip, He readies himself to charge one of Clawbreaker's minions. As Kadree charges, Insar is not far behind, and heads towards one of the boarmen wielding sword and shield. His feet pound down the packed dirt path between the village's buildings, the rapid pace mirroring the pace of his heart. With the super-human strength of one of the Exalted, Insar slams into the boarman, battering aside its shield and following up with a reverse slash across the things chest.
11-17-2007, 06:31 PM
Which weapon do you use Kyeudo? Your Grand Daiklaive or the normal sword?
Rolls are messed up a bit, you used roll and not rollv. Here:
And by the way, I can't make a real post until I know what everyone is doing this round. *nudge*
11-18-2007, 03:21 AM
As the beast-men advance, Mariko slips her throwing knife clear of its sheath, keeping it concealed behind her forearm. Her eyes narrow as she focuses her supernaturally-enhanced sight on the fang-pendant around the chieftain's neck. Raising her hand to her face, she presses a kiss for luck onto the flat of the blade. Then, a blindingly quick snap of her wrist sends the knife spinning across the battlefield; the early morning sunlight glitters off the blade as it soars toward its target.
Mariko doesn't wait to see if her blow finds its mark; the moment the knife is released, she turns and runs toward a nearby building (preferably one unoccupied by cat familiars or mortal archers) and, pushing off against whatever crates or barrels might be lining the wall, leaps up to catch the edge of the roof, from which position she will flip up to the rooftop. When (if) she lands, she glares down at the creatures defiantly, forcing the beast-men to render themselves vulnerable to her friends' attacks if they want to get at her.
Attack; spending a Willpower to add her Temperance to the roll (that strikes me as the appropriate Virtue for careful aim; if not, let me know): [roll1]
11-18-2007, 04:49 PM
OOC: I'm using the normal sword. Until I use my Summoning the Loyal Steel charm, I can't use my foecutter, as it is Elsewhere right now. The foecutter would scream Exalted louder than I'm currently willing to.
11-18-2007, 05:52 PM
((So that combat won't last forever, I will put a special radical rule in place: if during combat a player fails to make a post in 48 hours, then I will take control over that player's character as long as the player does not post. The character will fight in a reasonable way, don't worry. This is simply a measure to prevent the game from bogging down.))
11-18-2007, 06:54 PM
OOC: Who are we still waiting on?
11-18-2007, 07:05 PM
((No one actually. I missed that Star is on the defensive. Ahem.:smallredface:
Post coming soon.))
The enemies form a rough defensive formation, with the chieftain at the centre and the other ones set up in a half-circle around him. Kadree is the first to break into the group, her golden sword slashing. The opponents try to parry with their weapons, and you can see from the way they grip and operate them that they are more skilled than the beast-men you've slain before. Nevertheless, blood bursts from the first enemy as he receives two criss-crossing slashes, falling to the ground with a thud. The second one, armed with a sword and shield, leaves an opening in his defense which ends in a nasty-looking wound (4 damage). He looks more infuriated than panicked though.
Insar is next, and even though his strikes are precise and his muscles are powerful at superhuman levels, the sword he wields is but normal metal. The first hit at his opponent (a different sword-and-board boar) leaves a light wound - 2 damage, and the other is parried completely, though it leaves a hole in the shoddy shield.
Mariko's dagger flies towards the chief like a glittering shard of crystal. He is too slow to react and before you know it, the weapon is sticking right out from his chest! You also managed to hit the necklace, which falls to the ground, cut off from the string that held it at the beastman's neck. The chieftain himself grunts loudly in fury, grabs the dagger and throws it away (revealing a surprisingly shallow wound which almost doesn't bleed - 1 damage, his skin must've been very tough), then takes a large, overhead swing towards Insar, towering both above him and his normal-sized opponent!
A loud cling of steel is heard, and the Solar raises his sword in a perfect defense, two steels grinding against each other with occasional sparks flying away. Yet, Insar's grip is strong and he refuses to lose this small duel of swordfight - the hit is fully parried.
At the same time, Mariko successfully launches herself at a nearby building (the cat is nowhere in sight, and the archers are somewhat distanced from where you are now), while Emerald Star stands in a defensive position, as yet unharassed by the raiders, Nanilt behind her with a surprised expression on his face.
((1 stunt die for Kadree and Insar, 2 for Mariko. Jannex - tell me if you want Willpower back instead of motes. Also, declare actions for the next round! *gong*))
11-18-2007, 08:49 PM
After turning aside Clawbreaker's strike, Insar dances away, putting the smaller boarman between himself and the cheiftain. Seeing the skill which the boarman parries his more frienzied attacks, Insar changes tactics. Channeling Essence, he focuses upon his blows, working to slide past his opponent's guard for a fatal thrust.
3 motes spent on Excellent Strike
11-18-2007, 10:37 PM
Watching the battlefield below, Mariko takes a moment to recover herself. She frowns slightly as she sees the chieftain turn and go after Insar, her attack having failed to distract him. She can feel her pulse hammering in her throat, and not just from the exertion of her jump. I hate open battles, she thinks, her eyes sweeping across the enemy formation, looking for signs of weakness. I'm going to have to go back in there.
She schools her expression into a mask of impassive resolve as she draws her soot-blackened daiklaive, noticing the tiny sparkle of gold already beginning to show through near the hilt. Mariko drops down from the single-story roof on the other side of the building. She circles around, using the debris left over from the villagers' efforts at fortification and the chaos of the battle to conceal her movements, and comes up behind the beast-man facing Kadree. The image of a stooping falcon, wings folded back against its body, lethal talons extended for the kill, flashes across her mind as her weapon arcs down toward the creature's back.
I'll take the Essence, I think; my Personal pool is down a bit from the sensory charm, and if I want to keep things from getting too flashy, that'll get expensive if I have to dip into Peripheral.
Attack (I found the power combat stats for my daiklaive): [roll1]
I haven't used a Charm this round, so if Mariko is the target of an attack, she'll be activating Shadow Over Water to dodge.
11-19-2007, 08:12 AM
Kadree continues to slash at the opponents in a blade flurry - seemingly concentrating on offense only this time, though she continues to maintain a narrow-profiled stance as she moves around the enemies.
Yeah, I'm not feeling very creative at the moment.
5 ordinary attacks. Attack order is from the most to the least wounded opponent, except that the chief is last on the list, no matter his injuries.
Attack 1: [roll1]
Attack 2: [roll2]
Attack 3: [roll3]
Attack 4: [roll4]
Attack 5: [roll5]
Parry all enemy attacks with Dipping Swallow Defense.
11-19-2007, 09:20 AM
1 stunt die:
1 stunt die:
Kadree - no stunt dice this round. Sorry!
The boar-man with a big stick... spear is first. He tries to take a stab at Insar from the flank, and hits! Or rather would, if Insar was not keen enough to parry the attack with his blade.
Kadree is next, her first attack seriously wounding her opponent, opening a bleeding wound across his chest, while her second one beheads him! Another hit was enough to put another, sword-wielding opponent to the ground, squealing in pain and unable to do anything but grasp his bleeding abdomen. Her two final strikes quarter the last normal beastman standing into neat pieces, flying in all directions in a gory but disturbingly fluid manner.
All that is left is the giant chieftain, on whom Mariko manages to successfully sneak, swinging her daiklaive at his unsuspecting back! Blood gushes forth and the opponent roars in surprise, but also in pain. (5 damage. I took liberty to change the target - I hope it's okay, since no one else is left anyway)
Clawbreaker, enraged by another opponent appearing as if from nowhere, takes a wide swing at Kadree and Insar! He would almost hit the girl, if she did not parry in a swift, almost unnoticeable move (Dipping Swallow Defense), and the defense throws him off rhythm, making avoiding the swing a piece of cake for Insar.
Finally, Insar jabs his weapon up in a precise, concentrated manner, right into the creature's gut! More blood spills forth, and he looks significantly weakened (4 damage).
The chieftain slumps to his knees, lowering his head and dropping his weapon. What's that? Does he surrender so easily?
11-19-2007, 01:19 PM
Mariko looks a bit startled by her own success. Quickly, though, her focus returns to the situation at hand. With her daiklaive still at the ready, she takes a step to one side, keeping Clawbreaker in her field of vision while scanning the field behind them. While she is alert for all dangers, she is specifically focused on three things: what is One-Eye doing, where did that poisoned blade land when One-Eye cast it aside, and where did Clawbreaker's fang-charm fall?
The change of target was perfectly fine; it's actually kind of neat that she got to take a chunk out of the big guy.
If I need a Perception+Awareness roll, [roll0]
11-19-2007, 05:37 PM
Kadree puts Vanguard on her shoulder, grinning - confidence and the feeling of triumph practically flow from her posture. She stands in some distance from Clawbreaker though, just to make sure he won't pull out something in the last moment. "Alright, we're victorious! Take your dead and wounded and leave the village, and never come here again! Speaking of which, before you do, tell us why did you come here in the first place!", she exclaims in a proud tone, though it quickly disappears as she looks around. "Where's One-Eye... he will have to translate this for them..."
11-19-2007, 05:57 PM
Mariko notices the following: the poisoned blade is far from any beast-man that would want to use it, in fact it's Emerald Star who is closest to it. Also, two of the elite fighters (the ones that aren't cut into pieces) are still alive, but they are quite heavily wounded and don't look like getting up on their own. The fang amulet is basically at the feet of Clawbreaker, who does not seem to want to pick it up. Rather, what he seems to want to pick up are his wounded companions, albeit he moves in a hesitant way, like if he was afraid of your superiority.
The beast-men at the distance look very disheartened and seem to have lost any spirit. Some of them are leaving, or have left already - Mariko can see them further in the distance. As for One-eye...
It is almost like if time slowed here. The beast-man stands by the spear he discarded earlier. He yells loudly, in a furious and animalistic voice: "No, weak! Slay them, burn village down!" He grabs the spear, standing too far for anyone to close to him fast enough. He throws the spear - it is short, well-weighted and Mariko can easily see that its tip is covered in the same filthy poison as the one he used during the demonstration. Both One-eye and Clawbreaker scream in a squeal like manner - the first one in anger and with a tone of superiority, the other in disgust and surprise.
The spear hits Nanilt, who was looking ready to congratulate you on a job well done, straight in the chest. He falls down without uttering a single sound.
11-19-2007, 06:20 PM
Mariko lunges forward, taking advantage of Clawbreaker's distraction, and snatches the fang amulet up from the ground at his feet. Remembering One-Eye's words about the amulet's curative powers, she hurries to the fallen Nanilt and tries to help him, taking care to avoid the poison herself.
Let me know if I have to roll to grab the amulet.
Wits+Medicine, spending a Willpower for one automatic success: [roll0]
11-19-2007, 08:38 PM
On seeing One-Eye's attack on Nanlit, Insar immediately rushes towards the cowardly boarman, murder in his eyes. In an eye blink, Insar has crossed the interveening space between the faster than any human could ever hope to match. Sparks fly from the edge of his blade as Insar sweeps the blade low along the ground and up across the boarman's chest, sending a spray of rock chips flying.
One mote of personal Essence spent on Lightning Speed
Attack: [roll0] + I'm spending a point of Willpower for an automatic success. I want this coward to go down hard.
BTW, I rolled Inititive earlier, just before you asked which sword I was using. I believe I got a 17, not the 12 you rolled.
11-20-2007, 07:27 AM
Kadree's eyes widen as she watches the spear fly by and hit Nanilt. "No... not again... that's not supposed to happen, we promised that all the villagers will be safe..." She quickly notices that Mariko is going to help him, and slowly turns her face towards One-Eye, still looking shocked and terrified...
"Aaargh!" She suddenly snaps, screaming in rage, and leaps far into the traitor's direction, in an inhumanly long jump! She lands on his shoulders and, wielding Vanguard with two hands and its blade turned down, and stabs him repeatedly in the head, still yelling! Cooling down is not an option...
1 more of personal essence spent on Monkey Leap Technique.
Attack 1: [roll1]
Attack 2: [roll2]
Attack 3: [roll3]
Attack 4: [roll4]
Attack 5: [roll5]
By the way, I want to do it immediately after Insar's attack, if he has lower initiative.
11-20-2007, 08:55 AM
Let's take care of dice rolls first, shall we?
1 stunt die for Insar, 1 stunt die for Kadree
Insar's strike slashes across One-eye's chest in a vertical fashion, meeting next to no resistance. A red line is visible on the beastman's body, and a second after the sword leaves the flesh, his body above the wound slides down to the floor in a gruesome way. The hit was powerful enough to cleave him into two pieces (9 damage).
That of course leaves Kadree without a target. She jumps to the already-dead body, but what she does then - no idea.
As soon as she grabs the fang, Mariko notices that its upper part can be removed, like a jar's cover! A quick examination of Nanilt shows that, fortunately, his lungs have not been punctured and his ribs are only lightly damaged, but he obviously took all the poison there was on the spear. It doesn't look good and he is not conscious.
If you open the fang (I assume that you do), you find something very interesting and unusual inside... wrapped in a piece of paper is a tiny, glass vial with a greenish salve inside. A second paper is attached to the vial's cork via a piece of string - there is something calligraphied on it, but you do not recognise the language. It looks roughly like a prayer strip, but you have no time to examine it, because it bursts into flames at almost the exact moment you set your gaze on it! What's going on here?
To make it weirder, the wrapping paper has something written on it too. The language here is unknown, but at the bottom of a message you see a simple drawing of a smiling man in a conical hat.
11-20-2007, 01:54 PM
Mariko stares down at the vial and paper in her hands for a moment, trying to puzzle out their purpose and use.
I'm not sure what roll would be most applicable here--Lore, Medicine, Linguistics... I have one dot in all of them, though, so I can just roll Wits+1 and you can take from that whatever makes sense.
Her attention shifts momentarily to Emerald Star, who is (presumably) still standing nearby. "Can you help me?" she asks, urgency coloring her voice.
If Star is otherwise occupied, and if she hasn't been able to figure out anything useful, Mariko takes a deep breath and glances up in the direction of the morning sun, closing her eyes before the light dazzles them. She offers a silent prayer to the Unconquered Sun. Please, let me be doing this right... And she uncorks the vial and administers the salve in whatever manner seems most logical.
11-20-2007, 02:40 PM
Kadree raises her head, not really satisfied by the fact that the traitorous creature died before she could administer some painful punishment. She looks angrily in the direction of the beastmen away, just in case some of them want to follow in One-Eyes steps and attack themselves.
If they don't, however, then she turns towards Nanilt and Mariko quickly, her face suddenly shifting to show a lot of concern. "Is he going to be alright?"
11-20-2007, 03:28 PM
"The wound itself wasn't severe; the spearhead missed his heart and lungs," Mariko reports without looking up from Nanilt's still form. Her hands are steady as she works over him, but her voice is tightly controlled, as though she's forcing down all emotions. "But the spear was poisoned. He's unconscious. I don't... I'm doing the best I can."
11-20-2007, 05:56 PM
Since he's not very good with medicine, Insar will instead check to see what Clawbreaker and the rest of the beastmen are up too. If it doesn't seem like anything dangerous, Insar will wipe his sword off on the boarman's fur and sheathe it.
11-20-2007, 08:03 PM
Mariko recognises only one thing, and that would be the paper being written in Old Realm. There is nothing else possible to do apart from applying the salve to the wound - and as soon as you do that, Nanilt groans in pain (still unconscious) and some kind of smoke starts emitting from that place! However, as soon as the smoke clears, the wound seems somewhat... cleaner. Will it help, only time will tell.
Clawbreaker looks at Insar gloomily, grabbing each of his wounded subordinates in one arm. "Sorry. To every... one." He says in a grating, but understandable way. It seems One-eye wasn't the only one to grasp basics of Riverspeak. At the same time, the four trapped beastmen crawl up from the pit, but they don't look like if they wanted a fight. In fact, they start to gather up dead bodies of other beastmen in one pile, away from the village.
You hear quick steps, and it is not before long that you can see Iskira and Oak running towards you! "I heard from the archers above that you were victorious, and the raiders are retreating! This is great news indeed! Who... what's this!" She notices Nanilt and stares at him in shock. "Oh no! No... how could this happen?" She sounds genuinely worried.
Skipping a few hours ahead (if you want to do something important in the meantime, of course feel free to interrupt). The beast-men have left peacefully, having gathered all their dead in a pile which then they burned - apparently one of them had flint and tinder. Nanilt is still unconscious, but he does not look like dying, and the wound is surprisingly pure and poison-free. Is it because of the antidote, or maybe some other supernatural things are at work - it is a mystery. The villagers are euphoric and awed that you managed to defend them, and even though seeing Nanilt seriously hurt was as much a shock for them as it was for you, they still gaze at you all like if you were deities descended into mortal realm, and they hastily throw a great celebration, full of food, drink and dances, all outside, under the sun. At about noon, you receive a notice from one of the peasants, that the Elder would wish to personally talk to you. Aside from the saviours, she wishes no one else to come.
When you assemble (I assume it's a question of "when" and not "if") and enter the dark, torch-lit house, you once again see the great hall. Even though it has traces of many people who used to be here just a few hours before, cowering at the threat of raiding beast-men, it is mostly empty and surprisingly quiet, creating an almost chilling contrast to the wild party outside. The Elder stands near her shrine, but there is something new - objects are laid down in front of her.
"You arrive, and that is good. Our deal is completed now - these are the treasures that this settlement has guarded for many lives. What happened to Nanilt, who is like a son to me, feels me with sorrow, but we are finally safe and free of burden, and that is good too. Yes, I said burden. You must know that these are of great importance to the future of Creation. So it was told, and this vision was passed from Elder to Elder along others." She turns her back to you, but not before bowing deeply in a most respectable manner, and looks up to the ceiling. "The final vision showed that the saviors of Bottomless Pool would be more than mere humans, and in bad odds with the Perfected Hierarchy. Fear not, this is a secret that I will keep no less willingly than all the ones before. You must however not let anyone of the Dynasty get ahold of our sacred relics, and that is very important. The Elders of the past count on you, and so do I, just as we counted on your defense of Bottomless Pool."
She says nothing else. The sacred relics are as follows:
-An extremely thick scroll. It is written in Old Realm, and it's a manual describing casting of several Terrestrial Circle sorcery spells, known quite widely as the Black Treatise - it is even titled that way. It is quite common knowledge (no throws required) that it's a basic book on magic, but also quite valuable.
-A chest, finely crafted from rich mahogany and with white jade decorations. It is quite small, but large enough to fit any book or scroll. It comes with a thin scroll, written in Old Realm as well, which apparently explains its function - apparently you ARE supposed to put written texts inside, and magical things happen then (More description on the OOC thread).
-Another scroll, not as thick as the Black Treatise but it is not small instruction pamphlet either. No one of you are familiar with the language used here, and it somewhat resembles stylised pictograms. Weird.
What do you intend to do now? Set foot home, wait for Nanilt to get well? Well, it's all up to you. At any rate, this adventure is more or less over.
4 experience points for each participant!
11-20-2007, 09:15 PM
Once Insar finishes examining the texts the Elder has given us, he will take the small chest up to the room they are using, and place the undiscipherable text inside the chest. He will then perform the ritual so that he can examine this unusual text. Insar will invite Emerald Star to join him as well, as she is the other person in the Circle with a good education.
In case you are wondering, Insar can speak and read High Realm.
11-20-2007, 09:48 PM
At the celebration, Mariko doesn't seem very involved in the festivities, lingering at the edge of the group. This isn't unusual for her; she's never been terribly comfortable with large groups or noisy gatherings, unless she's on a job that requires her to fade into the background. Still, she seems a bit preoccupied. It's almost a relief when the messenger comes to summon her and her companions to the Elder.
She listens politely and attentively as the old woman speaks. The objects themselves do not much interest Mariko; magic scrolls and the like are more Star's specialty. She does, however, seem to acknowledge the importance and gravity of what the Elder is saying, and guardianship is something Mariko understands.
Usually, after a job, Mariko is all about clearing up loose ends, getting paid, and getting out as quickly as is reasonable. This time, though, she feels oddly reluctant to leave Bottomless Pool until she knows that Nanilt has recovered. She will only volunteer this opinion if asked, however, and even then will qualify it with the claim that she's being foolish.
11-21-2007, 10:12 AM
Kadree unsummons Vanguard back to Elsewhere when the battle is over - quickly, before any non-Exalted can see it. She also does whatever she can in helping transporting Nanilt to a safe location and making sure his state won't worsen - which apparently does not mean much.
At the celebration, she pretty much acts like a big gorramn hero, constantly switching between boasting about the group's victory over the beastmen and stating that it was just their duty to help those in need. Seems that such dualism is just in her nature. She takes advantage of the food and drink being plentiful, too. Despite all this, from time to time she goes away to check on Nanilt.
Kadree does not say anything apart from a greeting at the meeting with the Elder, up until the point when the old woman mentions the prophecies and them being not ordinary, when she does not manage to hide her surprise. "Now that is very unusual... but we appreciate your understanding of our position, and the trust you put in us. Fear not, these artifacts will be safe, and doubly such if those prophecies you mention are true!" She examines the items carefully.
Kadree does not tell anyone else what would she prefer to do now until everyone states their opinion, though from her behaviour it's pretty obvious she'd rather stay, at least till Nanilt feels a bit better.
11-21-2007, 07:44 PM
(Kyeudo, I believe you meant Old Realm as the language your character's proficient in. Slip of tongue... er, finger.)
At any rate, Insar's efforts to translate the text using your newly acquired box have... failed. The symbols are no less puzzling than before, it is almost like if some kind of magic prevented you from using the magical chest. However, as soon as the ritual was concluded you had a very brief impression that the scroll is, in fact, written in Old Realm - the problem is, it doesn't look like that at all.
If Insar, Emerald Star or anyone else capable of reading Old Realm is given the paper from Mariko, here's what it says:
Hello! My congratulations, you just started the first step of a long journey! Here is a small reward. Too bad it works only once.
Iskira is strangely melancholic during the celebrations, not even trying to preach the goodness of the Sun and finding the first possible excuse to leave the crowd and disappear - as you soon discover, to watch for Nanilt. She is not followed by Oak, who is too busy indulging himself in primitive worldly desires - that is, feasting like if there was no tomorrow, his reservation and taciturn demeanor forming a strange contrast to huge amounts of food and drink disappearing in his mouth.
Time passes, and the villagers get less crazily cheerful, but their joy and awe of you still remain. The big change comes at late afternoon, when you discover that Nanilt not only looks much healthier (only a wound remains, as shallow as it'd be if the spear was not poisoned), he wakes up!
"Guess I was no help after all... but the village still stands, so got no right to complain here!" He grins from his resting place, mostly at Iskira's direction who turns around at that sight. It seems he figured out who was waiting at his bedside all that time.
Needless to say, seeing Nanilt alive and well (he finds himself in good strength, able to walk and move like if nothing happened) only re-sparked the enthusiasm of Bottomless Pool's population! Old Fox, acting in the name of all the villagers, asked you all to stay for the celebrations, as it was getting late. Late or not, the ruckus made getting some sleep was still next to impossible until very late at night...
Fast-forwarding to the morning: there is nothing left to do in the village and Nanilt is healthy again (well, reasonably: the wound is healing and uninfected but it's still there), so it is time to return. Food for the journey was even prepared for you, neatly packed and rationed. Your newly-acquired holy relics are safely packed and ready to travel, so are your mounts, the villagers having taken excellent care of them. Iskira is almost beaming, apparently feeling more than just satisfaction of a job well-done, and Oak is desperately doing his best to hide his hangover. As you leave, a crowd of people follows - it seems that everyone or almost everyone is in it, including the Elder, who smiles knowingly under her nose, and widely-grinning Nanilt. It even seems that some of the villagefolk carry sketches and other pictures of people strangely similar to you, and some other (in this case, mostly younger women) try to emulate you in dress and hairstyle, to some extent. It wouldn't surprise you if a shrine dedicated to you would be built in the village in a few weeks...
A long way, many days of travel, awaits you...
(I hope I was not too hasty in sending you away from the village, but I had an impression that you all would like to leave as soon as Nanilt gets better. If you'd rather stay... well! Ignore the last paragraph in that case!)
11-21-2007, 08:18 PM
While she seems greatly relieved to see Nanilt on the mend, Mariko becomes even quieter than usual after he regains consciousness. She spends much of her time in the quarters provided to the group by the Elder, tending to her weapons and securing her supplies in preparation for departure. She will only attend the last night's celebrations if dragged there by one of her Circle, counting on her tendency to go unnoticed to keep from offending her hosts. Come morning, her previous reluctance to leave has vanished.
11-21-2007, 08:36 PM
Once out of earshot of the village, Insar remarks "I'm glad to be leaving that place. The people were a little too friendly for my tastes. Well, at least we got paid in the end. Anyway, what shall we do next?"
High Realm or Old Realm, its the same difference if we both understood what I meant.
11-21-2007, 11:53 PM
"Much the same as we always do, I expect; find another job," Mariko replied. She nodded in the direction of whomever was carrying the relics given the group by Bottomless Pool's Elder. "The only difference is that now, we have to babysit the box, too."
11-22-2007, 12:17 AM
((Holy maloney! I thought the game was paused! Uh...I'll spend some time mentally catching up, hopefully to be ready by tomorrow sometime. Sorry I've been gone.))
11-23-2007, 05:58 PM
No matter what do you do during the travel, it went succesfully and without any problems during the way. Well, it's close to the civilisation of Nexus, so there is not much trouble around... except for beastmen attacking hapless villages, apparently.
Anyway, you are back at the town your mercenary company is situated - Carakoor, a walled city with a reasonably large population (it's no Nexus though, nor Lookshy or any other place of relevance you can find a name for) and several ancient buildings. You pass through the gates unbothered, but the crowds are somewhat of an obstruction when you try to move inside the city. No surprise here, movement is at its highest during afternoon. Eventually you are forced to dismount and lead the horses on foot if you are to reach anywhere. On a bright note, no one seems to want to pickpocket you, perhaps the thieves have enough brains not to try their arts on heavily armed and armoured mercenaries.
You approach your headquarters - a large townhouse, funded thanks to Iskira's apparently bottomless pockets of money. It was the situation when she turned out to be most useful, as opposed to most of the time. This mansion stands just as you left it, unburned and undamaged, large enough to host not only you but many people more, and with a stable for all your horses. You have a feeling of nostalgia and returning home - especially since the inside is free of any prying eyes, with no servants hired especially so that no one would peek over your obvious Exalted attributes or behaviour. Oak takes care of the inside of the house, temporarily hiring cleaning women or stablehands to help with more time-consuming efforts.
Should anyone of you be paranoid enough, a close inspection is enough to reveal that no burglary took place on neither the door nor windows, and every household item left is, in fact, still there. Locks and similar security are really good, to make up for the lack of guards when you are not around. At any rate, although thieves did not visit, it does not mean you had no visitors at all! As soon as you enter the house, you can't simply miss a folded message lying on the floor. It was obviously slipped under the door when you weren't here. It is written in that crude parody of language known as Riverspeak, and reads as follows:
"Tales of Dawning Sun Mercenary Company and its heroic performances are common knowledge around the land. I am just one of the many of thousands who heard about you, but I am also the one with a mission for you to execute. I am sure you can imagine my disappointment when I did not find anyone of your fine company present at this building. My matter is of an urgent matter, so I will check daily to make sure you have arrived back home. Expect my visit during the morning. The task is not a difficult one, but due to its significant importance, the reward will be very generous. I assure you."
No signature, on which Iskira immediately comments. "How rude! I would prefer to know who is the person trying to contract us. However, at least we have another opportunity for a job in our sight, and another chance to mend the evildoing of this world and spread the name of the Unconquered Sun!"
Oh yes, being inside a townhouse with no one to eavesdrop surely has its advantages. Especially with her around.
((The travel took several days, so it's enough time to regenerate all your Willpower back. If you want to do anything during the voyage, just post - like always.))
11-23-2007, 07:14 PM
Mariko is definitely paranoid enough to perform a security sweep of the building, though possibly not until after the note is found. On hearing Iskira's complaint, she patiently replies, "Iskira, any individual with both the resources and the need to hire a mercenary company is going to be cautious enough not to leave his name lying about in writing for anyone to find. We won't learn his identity until we meet with him--or his representative--in person. That's just the way these things are done." Still, Mariko can't help but be curious, and she looks at the missive more closely.
She's looking for any telltales, either in the word choice, handwriting, or quality of the ink or paper, that might yield a clue as to the message's source. Presumably this would be Perception + either Larceny or Linguistics? Her dice pool is the same for both.
11-23-2007, 09:46 PM
(5 successes, can't argue against that. It's Linguistics, by the way. Larceny would be for checking if it's a forgery or something along these lines.)
Here's what Mariko's flawless gaze finds out - the letter is not written by anyone using Riverspeak as their everyday writing, so you are pretty sure that's not a native. In fact, certain ways of calligraphy betray the writer as one whose best-trained writing language is DEFINATELY High Realm. And his (or her) writing style is neat and high-class, even if they did try to hide that.
Mysterious letter. Upper class snob from the Realm. Maybe even Dragon-Blooded. Your danger sense is tingling.
11-24-2007, 12:20 AM
Mariko's brows draw together as she studies the letter. "Then again," she continues, "there are some things I can tell you about him right now. He's used to writing notes a lot more high-class than this; I can see a few places where he's had to stop himself from using the flourishes you see a lot of the time in the fancier style usually used for High Realm. It's clear that he's had the calligraphy training of a noble, though he's trying to mask that here. He's pretty obviously not the sort who corresponds in Riverspeak on a regular basis."
She raises her eyes from the paper and looks at the others. "Obviously I can't be sure, just from this, but he might even be a Dragon-Blooded. I'm not saying we shouldn't meet with him, but we definitely need to go into this with our eyes open." She focuses her attention on Iskira, catching her gaze. "And circumspectly."
11-26-2007, 06:13 AM
Kadree leaves the stables and enters the headquarters. Somehow she managed to produce an apple in the meantime. Norbo is hanging from her shoulder as usual. "Huh, we have a message?" Not waiting for a response, she reads it above Mariko's (or whomever is holding it at the moment) arm, trying to pay attention to her explanation too. "Hmm, it indeed is very suspicious, and especially if what you say is true! Never trust an easy job with a big payment, there's always some hook involved! Especially one that comes from the higher classes..." She looks at Iskira and pales slightly. "Um, no offense of course! Many of them are decent people, but you know very well it might come from a dragonblooded, and the overall tone is suspicious like no other!", she explains while holding her hands in front of her, protectively. Norbo does not seem to care.
11-26-2007, 10:30 AM
Star, who has had her nose buried in the Black Treatise longer than any of the sorcerless would consider healthy, barely looks up long enough to tell Mariko, "Nice spot on that one. What are we going to do about it?"
Whatever the response, it's a safe bet she only half-hears it unless violently taken from her studies.
11-26-2007, 11:03 AM
Mariko sighs. "We may have little choice, at this point, but to meet with him. Undoubtedly he knows by now that we've returned to town." She hands the letter off to anyone else who wants to see it, or otherwise sets it down on a nearby table. "If this isn't a trap, it may be to our advantage to go and find out who he is, and what his motives are, anyway. We just need to be prepared for the possibility that it is some sort of trap."
11-26-2007, 11:45 AM
"Well, we may as well find out what job they want us to do. It may turn out to be more of a challenge than our last job. In the meantime, I'll be in the training room, if anyone wishes to join me." With that, Insar will head to the training room, where he will summon Legacy and practice his form with the foecutter to maintain his familarity with the large blade since he hasn't need to use it lately. He will spar with anyone willing to do so, should they join him.
11-26-2007, 05:51 PM
((First, on training times - I ignore them. Exalted are so superior, they just get better as they go along. Simple reasoning - I don't like downtimes.
The exception would be when characters want to learn something new, or something epic - such as raising essence above 3. But then expect a potential plot hook when your characters find a teacher or do heroic feats to upgrade their essence. But as a general rule, upgrade your stats first and ask later))
"I believe it would be wise to advise caution then. It is definitely very suspicious." Iskira decided to be reasonable for a change. Hearing Kadree's comment, she smiles slightly. "I do not feel offended. I am aware that many of the higher classes of Blessed Island are untrustworthy and immoral. In fact, I knew some of such people personally." Her smile turns into a very small frown. A bad memory, perhaps?
"Think we should have weapons prepared." Oak interrupts. "Holding swords in hand while talking won't make a good first impression, but your arms should be hidden nearby. I'll take care of them, they'll be in the meeting room."
Of course, you have a meeting room. A well-furnished room where you usually discuss things with whomever hires you. It is quite large too - for a room.
Time passes. Oak moves your newly-acquired treasures to the reading room (they are scrolls after all), unless ordered not to. He does not hide your weapons around the meeting room, as there is still time and some of you might need them for some purpose - like sparring, which Insar does. Iskira joins him fairly quickly, wielding her artifact weapon as well. It is good to have a daiklaive in your hand once again - and the fight is even, none of you having a definite advantage over the other. After the sparring, she bows politely. "Thank you for an exciting duel. I hope that polishing our skills will serve for the glory of the Sun and against this world's injustice!" Before she has a chance to ramble on, there is eating time (food bought and prepared by Oak).
The day itself was quite uneventful, and so was the night. At the next morning (about 8 AM), you hear a loud and decisive knock on the door - it seems you have guests...
(Feel free to say what you did during the day, any preparations et all. As for the townhouse's architecture and rooms - it has everything you need, it's your house after all! Just remember that it isn't a huge palace, use common sense and wealth guidelines.)
11-26-2007, 06:39 PM
When Insar and Iskira head off to spar, Mariko will do a thorough inspection of the building and grounds, to make sure nothing is out of place or otherwise unusual; this letter from a mysterious noble has her somewhat more paranoid than before, and paranoia gives her a lot of nervous energy. Once she is satisfied that nothing else is out of the ordinary, she will tend to her weapons and gear, and come down to eat with the others when Oak brings out the food. Before bed, Mariko will affix her daiklaive to the underside of the meeting table, with the hilt readily accessible from her accustomed seat. Her daggers will be carefully concealed on her person, as is her usual habit, when it is time to meet the client.
She has eight dice for Perception+Awareness, if there's anything she needs to roll to notice when inspecting the house and grounds.
About training times: nifty. I'll probably mention in the OOC thread whatever XP expenditures I make anyway, when I've got enough to spend on something I want.
11-26-2007, 07:47 PM
Jannex hexed her dice. No other explanation. I rolled them on my computer dice-roller... 7 successes. SEVEN!
Mariko notices one upsetting thing - no one tried to break into the house, but someone was snooping around the door and the windows, and even climbed the roof! They were very good and it was difficult to find any signs. Whomever it was, he also tested the locks - not to open them, but to check how well-made they are.
It happened two-three days ago from your observations.
11-26-2007, 07:50 PM
Star spends the whole day reading up on sorcery. It seems to have consumed her for the time.
The next morning, she wakes up somewhat earlier than 8, around 7. She brews some tea, more than 10 cups worth. By the time 8 rolls around, though, she's already back to her book. She still looks like she just got out of bed, though since she had the wisdom to bathe last night, it looks more cute than unsightly. She is still in her pajamas, though only the astute would notice them much different from what she usually wears, save for the lack of shoes. She does have her fans casually attached to her waist, though.
When the knocking comes, she shifts her book under the table (she has already chosen a seat optimal for allowing light in such a circumstance) and calls out, "Somebody get that, please," in her usual friendly-but-calm tone of voice.
((The tactically aware may also note that the chairs have already been arranged so that the "guest" seat is in a position of "honor", but also one of tactical inferiority. Tea does take a while to boil, after all.
Any rolls I need to make to create this table setting of superior battle planning? A friend of mine recommended Wits or Int + Melee, because that's the combat ability we'd most likely be preparing for, but whatever you suggest, if a roll is even needed, is fine.))
11-26-2007, 07:55 PM
Insar's preperations for the meeting and possible trouble are fairly simple: He banishes Legacy back to Elsewhere, staps his belt knife to his belt, and sits down to wait for tea.
11-26-2007, 11:41 PM
Mariko will share the results of her inspection with the rest of the Circle that night over dinner, with the added caution that, while it's impossible to be certain, it does not seem unlikely that our prospective client was behind the testing of the perimeter.
She sleeps lightly that night and, like Star, wakes early, going through her morning routine with quiet and crisp efficiency. She arrives in the meeting room a few minutes before eight, familiarizing herself with the new layout of the room and checking that her daiklaive is both secure and easily accessible from her seat. When she hears the knocking, she smiles at Star. "I'll be right back."
Mariko pads silently down the corridor in her thin-soled boots. Unless Oak is already moving to do so, she will answer the door; she hopes that her modest clothing and natural tendency to go unnoticed will encourage the client (or his representative) to mistakenly assume that she is a servant, and perhaps let his guard down enough that she might observe something of use. Her armor is, as usual, hidden beneath her tunic, and her daggers are carefully concealed.
11-27-2007, 04:38 AM
Kadree spends the day trying to kill some time doing mostly unimportant things - well, she might also spar a bit with Insar or Iskira or see if there are some prominent and recent rumours in the town. She goes to bed early in order to wake up early - though at the meeting she is feeling slightly groggy anyway, suppressing yawning at times (at least until the guest comes). She seats in her chair, completely without weapons (though she has her breastplate under her tunic and her daiklave Elsewhere), Norbo lying ot the table in front of her.
11-27-2007, 09:04 AM
((Brickwall - a roll isn't necessary, but that's still a very good idea.))
Hearing the knocks, Oak moves towards the door, but then he notices Mariko going towards it and nods knowingly - apparently he figured out that you're going to pretend being just a servant. Instead, he stands on the side of the table, ready to help with tea or whatever else. Iskira has already taken a seat, her sword secured in a hidden place. She is not wearing her armor, just normal clothing.
Mariko opens the door, to find herself standing face-to-chest with a powerful figure. Before you stands a tall woman, clad in dark body plate, decorated in intimidating but elaborate designs of dragons, including spiked dragon-stylised shoulderpads that chip off some structure from the doorway as she walks inward, giving you barely enough time to move aside. She has shoulder-long, light brown hair, and her face (which grimaces in a very ugly expression that would be called a smile if it wasn't so full of disdain and superiority) has extremely sharp features, like if chiseled. Oh, and she has a very large sword strapped to her back, too large for any mortal to carry. It's obviously a great daiklaive, and a black jade one to that.
Following her are other figures. A man of moderate height, in his early thirties and with a tanned skin that contrasts with his blonde hair and beard, both kept short and well-styled. This one wears elegant, blue and dark green clothing, in a military fashion (even including a polished breastplate) but obviously meant more for parade than battle. He does not seem to have any weapons, and has a broad, welcoming smile on his sincere, charismatic face.
The third person to enter smiles as well, but this expression is very unsettling, as the grin is too wide and looks menacing and gives an impression of insanity. The rest of this man plays along, as he is lanky and extremely skinny, with an unhealthy yellowish skin and a mane of unkempt, fiery red hair that falls both on his back and in front of his eyes. Folds of high quality, shimmering cloth that this person is wrapped in, are sheer and with some effort you could look through them to notice the naked body underneath, though you have a feeling that it would be a bad idea. Excluding a shark-like grin, he is unarmed as well.
Following this weirdo is a young man in simple, light brown robes. His hairless head and simple dress mark him as an Immaculate monk, and he is the only one to bow as he enters. His face looks the most plain of them all, and his smile is very light and thoughtful. Carrying a staff as simple as the rest of his possessions, he immediately rests it by the wall as soon as he enters. The only unnatural thing about him is his skin tone - it's not only too pale to be normal, but also somewhat bluish...
The last person to enter is a short woman - or maybe even a girl, as she looks at very late 20s at oldest, and probably late teens. She is pale of skin and with black hair, pinned on her head in sophisticated coils and knots. A long, dark green cloak covers her body completely, but glimpses of rich silk clothes can be caught underneath as she moves. She is the only one not to smile, and in fact her classically beautiful face does not betray any emotions at all.
It's pretty obvious that Dragon-Blooded are paying a visit to this household...
The group stays quiet, although the bearded man nods towards Mariko should she show them the way to the tables. They all take sits, the man taking the central place while the heavily-armoured woman stands at his side, commenting the situation with a loud "Hmph!". The man takes a sip of tea before starting to speak.
"It's good to finally meet the famous Dawning Sun company in person! And it seems that you prepared quite a greeting, I am very impressed." He nods, with a smile under his lips. "Allow me to present. I am Sesus Haskel, loyal servant of the Realm. And these are my company..." He is interrupted by a loud hissing sound. It is Norbo, who for some reason is very distressed at the lanky, red-haired man's skeletal fingers as they grasp his cup of tea, like if strangling some neck. The man grins even more demonically and the wildcat hisses once again before jumping off the table.
"This is Sesus Natakar, a great scholar. Sesus Tanime, swordswoman like no other." He politely points his hand at the red-haired manace first, then the armoured woman. Hearing her name, she comments (in High Realm):
"Give me a damn break, Haskel. Quit the annoying smalltalk with these commoners!"
He gives her a severe look, on which she sighs and stares around you with an expression of supremacy, her gaze falling longer on Iskira, who is seemingly unphased by it.
"Mnemon Berroc, holy brother of the Immaculate Order and our spiritual advisor." The monk nods with a smile as his name is mentioned, taking frequent sips of his tea. "Sesus Arsa, assistant of Natakar." Arsa does not move from her chair (or even on the chair), neither grabbing her tea nor tilting her head or even blinking. It is like if someone made a statue of a young woman sitting.
"I'm sure you realise whom we are, and you wonder what do five Dragon-Blooded nobles do so far away from the Blessed Island. Let me be straightforward." He puts his cup of tea aside. "We have been entrusted with a mission to acquire an extremely valuable object. Through the use of divination magic, we have pinpointed its location - and you are the current owners! It is an ancient, cryptic book, written on a scroll. I am sure we can make a deal - this item is important not only for the Dynasty, but possibly for all Creation! Of course, I am exaggerating here." He smirks under his nose. "But nevertheless, we will pay a lot. I am talking about talents here. Talents of jade. Or silver, if you prefer. What do you say? I am sure if you order one of your servants to bring it here, it won't be long before you become impossibly rich people."
11-27-2007, 10:58 AM
"That doesn't look good...", thinks Kadree. She widgets in her place barely noticably, trying her best not to look nervous. "It is an honor for all of us that such noble figures have decided to make a deal with our company in person, rather then letting such a matter to servants! But unfortunately, we're not sure if we possess what you seek... Could you perhaps give a bit more details, about the scroll or what is its purpose? Do you perhaps know why is it so important, for the Dynasty and the whole world?" She tries to ask those questions in a polite tone.
11-27-2007, 01:44 PM
Insar studies the Dragon-Blooded intently, trying to ascertain which of them would be the most able in a fight, especialy the armored woman. He mentaly prepares himself for the possibility of combat, and channels some personal essence to bolster his Strength. He may need it.
Perception + Melee [roll0]
6 motes of personal essence spent on Increasing Strength Exercise.
11-27-2007, 02:02 PM
As the visitors brush past her in the entry hall, Mariko's head is bowed slightly in an attitude of apparent respect; in truth, the gesture serves to conceal her penetrating gaze as she studies each of the group in turn, evaluating their relative combat prowess as well as trying to discern anything exceptional or unusual about them--or anything hidden.
With a subservient nod to the male who seems to be in charge, she leads the group to the meeting room. She consciously dispenses with her usual habit of walking with near-complete silence, carrying on the role of the unobtrusive but unexceptional servant. As the visitors enter the room and claim their seats, she bows slightly to them and takes up a position of attendance behind her own chair. She'd prefer to be closer to the wall, but this is where she concealed her weapon.
Though her expression doesn't change, Mariko curses to herself when the woman speaks in High Realm. I knew I should have found the time to learn the language of the Empire. It comes in useful all too often. I'll have to remedy that oversight soon. Neither does her expression shift when Sesus Haskel says he's after the scroll, though her hands, held demurely behind her back, clench reflexively. There's going to be trouble... She wishes, fleetingly, for the ability to summon her daiklaive with a thought, as some of the others can do.
11-27-2007, 02:06 PM
Sorry for the double post; I forgot to put in my die rolls before I hit "Post," and you can't go back and edit those in. I lose.
If I need any other rolls, let me know.
11-27-2007, 02:16 PM
Star briefly glances up at the setting. All perfectly laid out. They wouldn't have a hope of making a successful first assault, not with all the hidden weapons.
They know we have it, and hiding it is just going to shorten their tempers. Also, it's quite obvious they don't intend to pay. Even the Realm would consider that kind of money a loss. Multiple talents could buy them a small fleet of warships and equipment for a crew. Even if the scroll were more powerful than that, there's no way they'd let anyone who knew about it, and who could possibly find a way to keep them from using it, live. I bet they've already destroyed Bottomless Pool. I'll let this play out, but I suspect the worst.
Despite her agitation, Star keeps quite still. She might need to find an excuse so she can hide the scroll later, but for now, things don't look ready to erupt. She's got time unless somebody makes a huge blunder.
11-27-2007, 04:57 PM
Insar and Mariko notice that Tanime looks the most experienced in terms of combat, but Haskel and Berroc look very skilled as well. Judging by the way they move, their skill level could be equal to yours... or maybe even greater. Natakar does not give a positive impression as a warrior, and Arsa moves in such a minimalistic fashion that you wouldn't be surprised if she was an animated statue.
Mariko easily catches several details - Arsa looks weak and frail beneath the cloak, but does not seem to be caring any weapons or other items of interest hidden there. A signet on Haskel's hand looks like an official seal, and he probably uses it to seal documents. He also has several pieces of paper tucked behind his breastplate, though they are placed so that you only see edges of them, and none of their contents (if there are any).
"Yes, let's make sure there is no mistake. Arsa, please describe the book in greatest detail." Says Haskel, using Riverspeak. Not minding the "low" and "not noble" language used, Arsa starts to speak in an accentless tone, speaking fast but putting seemingly no emotion in her monotone words.
"The object takes a form of a parchment scroll. Its color is yellow and the ink used is black. The size is moderate. The scroll is tightly wrapped around two wooden rollers. The side free of text is dyed white but devoid of decoration. The language used is Old Realm. The language has been coded in symbols so that it is impossible to read if you do not possess the code. The code is unknown to us."
It fits the description, but the last sentences sound very interesting. Arsa closes her eyes after letting that out of her system, not moving aside from that. Haskel frowns in thought like if he was trying to remember something, then starts to talk again. "That's how it looks like. It is unique, so now I am sure you know what I am talking about. As for its importance - it is very important to my House, and I am afraid that it has to remain the House's secret. I do not distrust you, but even a small chance that this would spill out to hostile ears is inexcusable. Of course when I said that it's important for the whole Creation, I was exaggerating. It was a joke, to spice up the situation." He smiles encouragingly, but is interrupted.
"Jokes shouldn't be explained, it ruins them." Natakar is not shouting that, but his voice is definitely loud and confident, strangely stable for such an... unusual appearance. "More tea, this is empty." He still grabs the cup in his right hand, and you can see that it is indeed empty. He clenches his left hand and a noise of knuckles cracking can be heard. At the same time the monk, Berroc, pushes his cup forward on the table with a serene expression, pointing that he drank his tea as well.
"There shouldn't be any mistakes now, so I would like to see that scroll after I finish my tea. My apologies if I sound hasty, but I promised to be straightforward. Or would you rather discuss payment first? We are open to negotiating the price." Haskel grabs his tea and starts sipping from it slowly, looking at each one of you with a questioning expression.
11-27-2007, 05:46 PM
Kadree pretends to listen in concentration to Arsa's words, and nods as she finishes, lightening up. "I see! Yes, this item is in our possession.", she says after all the "guests" have finished speaking. "But unfortunately, it was given to the company for safekeeping by a customer, and therefore is not available for trade." She shakes her head and sighs deeply. "It saddens us deeply because we'd really like to exchange it for all those riches! But our reputation as a company is built on never breaking or failing a deal, and therefore we, regretfully, have to reject your offer."
11-27-2007, 10:07 PM
Haskel looks surprised, hearing Kadree's words. Whatever he wants to say probably won't be nice, as his facial features begin to harden...
(This is mostly a chance to let everyone else react to Kadree's words. In other words, a shameless bump.)
11-27-2007, 10:46 PM
At Kadree's statement, Insar grimaces, internaly wondering who is worse, Iskira or Kadree. Insar is actualy quite surprised that Iskira hasn't made some sort of outburst about their current visitors yet.
11-27-2007, 10:48 PM
It is a conscious effort on Mariko's part not to wince, as she hears Kadree flatly refuse the Terrestrials. Well, it was going to happen one way or another. I suppose it may as well be now. She carefully gauges her position relative to the table, planning her first move for the moment if (when) violence breaks out. With luck, she'll be able to use their guests' assumptions about her to her advantage.
11-27-2007, 10:52 PM
Crapcrapmotherofcrap, come on, think fast.
"Kadree!" Star yells sharply. Everyone in the mercenary company would know by now that Star never, ever, EVER yells at anything she doesn't mean to kill under normal circumstances. Thankfully, the Dragon-Blooded don't know her. "You don't speak for all of us. With the payment they've discussed, we could retire, and our company's integrity wouldn't matter at all. We're mercenaries, and don't you forget it. Allow the group to decide."
Star gets up and bows slightly and hastily to the guests.
"I'll fetch the scroll myself. However, I would expect to see the same measure of good faith from you. As far as I know, there is no cart outside filled to the brim with talents of jade and silver. If our only interest in this is money, we should know we're getting it.
With that, Star turns to go up the stairs.
That will buy us time. Hopefully Kadree picked up on the fact that I was stalling for her, not being serious about that. And if there actually is money out there, one of them might leave to get it, which would make our situation easier for a time. I only hope things don't break out as I'm gone.
When Star does get upstairs to the scroll, she processes for a second.
Okay, do I risk having this damaged by being on my person? Whatever I do with it, I can't let it be found should one of them sneak up to get it in the midst of fighting. Think, think...got it!
Star gets to work quickly. She wholly unrolls the scroll, and places a new piece of parchment the same width as the original on top of it. She then rolls it up just a bit to anchor it slightly, and hastily begins scrawling a letter in Rivertongue, an errand list of sorts. She rolls the scroll and places it amongst the ones she keeps there, though at an end, so it won't be lost. She selects a scroll with similar bindings and returns downstairs with it.
((This probably takes her a minute, so stuff will happen in the meantime. I'll be watching for a good time to come back.
Layers upon layers of precaution. I can't see them being successful even if they are able to drive us out and ransack the place.))
11-27-2007, 11:10 PM
(Expect a big post here very soon. For now, I want to say that because there is so many NPCs, I will give each one of them a different color for talking.
Color-coded for your convenience. I hope the rainbow isn't too much of a hurt to the eyes. Okay, writing the real post now.)
Reminder: since your characters know either Old or Low Realm, you understand enough of High Realm to get the basic meaning (that is, to read the spoiler tags). Subtleties and technical jargon may be lost.
Haskel's face is visibly tense and he does not smile anymore, but he does not frown nor sneer either. "You obviously realise that a House is far more important than your client. There is no loss in reputation in doing fulfilling the wishes of Sesus. Good that one of you is more reasonable. Straight priorities, I like that." The atmosphere gets very uneasy after Star leaves, although mostly because of Haskel and Tanime. Berroc sighs, Natakar focuses on his tea (reluctantly refilled by Oak), and Arsa... she is just there, doing nothing.
"Mouthy lowlives... the Realm would teach them to speak to nobles with appropriate respect! And why is that one's hair blue? Is she a Dragon-blood? I doubt it. Mongrels.
Tanime exclaims several sentences in High Realm, obviously annoyed.
"If I were in your position, I would be more considerate on whom to besmirch in front of. There are individuals who might not lose your courtesy."
Iskira answers in a polite tone, in High Realm as well - to the surprise of the Dragon-Blooded. All of them turn their gazes on her (except Arsa, whose eyes are still closed), and Tanime visibly reddens in anger, despite her obstructing armor.
"Watch your tongue, little girl!! Don't you..." She spits out, but gets interrupted. "Hu hu hu, mind your manners. Things are getting interesting." Natakar stands from his seat, still clutching the cup of tea in his right hand. He moves to the wall just next to the doorway that leads to the room, emitting a silent "hu hu hu" under his breath. Apparently that's supposed to be a laugh. Haskel turns on his chair to see what he is doing, and so does Tanime (not on her chair though, as she's standing). Berroc sighs again, and Arsa does not seem to care.
As soon as Emerald Star enters the room, she notices Natakar, as he wasn't trying to hide, only to stay there. Nevertheless, his gaze falls upon the scroll, and quickly grabs it from her hands. He is surprisingly strong for such a skeletal build.
"No. It's not this. I can tell without looking inside." He gives Emerald Star a maniacally wide grin, then faces Haskel without changing that expression.
This is when things went quick.
"Don't f*beep* with us!" Boy, Tanime sure is angry now... that is, angrier than just a second ago. She draws her daiklaive in one fluid move and chops it forward one-handed. The move is too short and imprecise to reach anyone of you, maybe to hit the table, yet...
A loud CLING! can be heard as the sword gets parried. The armored woman's face shows nothing but absolute surprise now, as the blow of her powerful weapon has been blocked by a... letter opener, held in Iskira's hand as she stands in a valiant, defensive position. Although truth to be told, that small knife is deeply damaged by impact now and it's a wonder how it's still in one piece.
"Enough!" Haskel yells before you or anyone else has enough time to draw weapons or probably even notice the minute details of what just took place.
"I realise that this is not an easy decision. It takes time." He is much calmer now. "So we will give you time to think, and come back later when you have agreed on what to do. Don't try fooling us, some of my friends are hasty as you see. And..." He stands up. "I hope your decision is positive. That will be better for House Sesus, for the Realm, and for you."
He quickly gestures for the rest to leave and... surprisingly, that's what they do. Making sure that Tanime is the first on lead, the group exits the household. Berroc is the last, giving you a sad smile as he walks to the outside. Also, Natakar does not release his skeletal grip on the cup of tea - maybe he takes it home as a souvenir?
Only after all five Dragon-Blooded leave does Iskira sits down, exhausted, and starts to sweat nervously. "Sesus Haskel... I know that name." She gulps, and Oak (who looks as distressed as her) nods grievously.
That's assuming you do not start the fight on your own. If you do... pretend the last two paragraphs were never written, and let the dice roll!::smallwink:
11-28-2007, 12:18 AM
As the Dragon-Blooded leave, Mariko listens closely to their footsteps, to ensure that they do not deviate from their path toward the front door and out. Once they have gone, she follows in their wake, glancing surreptitiously up and down the street before closing and locking the front door after them.
Then she returns to the meeting room. "I would be glad to hear anything you might know of that man and his entourage, Iskira," she says softly, as she checks the two windows of the meeting room for anyone who might be listening from without.
Sensory Acuity Prana, 5 motes Personal Essence.
11-28-2007, 12:35 AM
Star looks noticeably disturbed. She didn't want to be right in the fact that the Dragon Blooded had no intention of letting them live after the scroll was handed over. But she was.
"Tell us what you can. Meanwhile, they're making a plan of attack. They know we'll do the same, and wouldn't give us the chance if they could avoid it. But they want a surrender, so they don't have to look for the scroll themselves. But they'll be planning for a fight, they're no fools. We're dealing with something smarter than savages."
Star sits down quickly. Things are not going well at all.
"We need a brilliant idea if we want to beat these guys without loss of life and limb."
11-28-2007, 01:05 AM
Mariko sinks down into the chair nearest to her concealed daiklaive, sitting for the first time this morning. "First, we'll have to find someplace secure for the scroll; I think we can assume that they have a near-constant watch on this building, so if we want it to leave here, we'll have to create some sort of adequate distraction, or give them multiple targets to follow at once. Making decoys could be problematic, as it seemed that one of them--I'm assuming he was a sorceror?--could tell a fake with merely a touch. But it's still a useful strategy if we end up having to make them play 'find the pea.' As for confrontation..." She sighs. "I've never liked open combat. Regardless, we'll want to try, if at all possible, to make it happen in a battlefield of our choosing, and that will give us the advantage. In the meantime, though, we should try to learn as much about these people as we can." With that, she looks apologetically at Iskira, conscious of having asked her a question and then gone off on another point.
11-28-2007, 01:06 AM
Not only does Mariko clearly see that no one is eavesdropping on you, she is able to hear the Dragonblooded footsteps as they go away! It seems they split, a heavy step (undoubtedly Tanime) going along angry, energetic steps of Haskel, while the other three go the other way. Charm or not, the sounds disappear after a while, muffled by other steps.
"Yes, I am as well quite confident that they are planning an attack now. I... did not see this man in the past, but I heard his name. It came from my older brother, who serves as an officer in the Imperial Legions. Sesus Haskel was his commander, a commander of a whole dragon, that would be 500 soldiers. He was transferred eventually - that is, Sesus and not my brother, but he made a reputation beforehand. And... it was very infamous. He is a brilliant tactician on the battlefield, but he values his men as little more than tools to achieve his goals... and he never gives up on his goals, too. Despite his friendly appearance, I think he is best described as cruel and ruthless. Iskira has a very troubled expression as she says these words, putting the now-useless letter knife on the table. "I am afraid that I have no idea what to do now, but the situation is even more dangerous than it was before this meeting..."
"You know, Young Miss Iskira." Oak grunts. "I've been a soldier too. I don't mean that I'm a cold-hearted bastard like him, but that I know some tactics. And I think we should break them down to smaller groups and attack pre-emptively. It's not honorable, but... it works. Surely you can take on one or two Nobles if you got the upper hand." He shrugs. You never heard Oak say so much at one time. Perhaps the whole legion talk innervated some of his old memories...
EDIT: Yoink, simuposts! Fortunately they do not grind into each other much.
11-28-2007, 01:09 AM
Mariko looks up at Oak as he says this. "They separated after they left here," she replies immediately. "The warrior-woman and Haskel going one way, and the other three in a different direction. I could probably find either group easily enough, if I took the rooftops."
She thinks on this for a moment. "We would, of course, have to be wary of being observed, as well as any spies or reinforcements they may have lying in wait. And we would have to make sure that the other group did not double back and break in here for the scroll while we were gone. But... it's possible."
11-28-2007, 03:25 AM
Kadree wipes the sweat from her brow."Oof, it's such a pain to talk in a polite, diplomatic manner! How do some people manage to talk like that all the time? If they just attacked us things would get much easier and more straightforward... by the way, I think the attempt to fool them angered them much more than my refusal." She looks at Emerald Star in a completely neutral way. A bit too neutral. And then shrugs and grins for a second.
"Anyway... they said they know the location by scrying, right? Do we have any ways of preventing that? There's no use trying to hide the scrolls if they can just find where it is by magic!" She rubs her chin. "And attacking them in the morning, in a crowded city, will not be such a good idea either... we could either spy on them and see where do they live around, and prepare an attack, or get ready for their attack - I am sure that they're going to try to steal the scroll, by the way! - or move away from the city."
She catches Norbo and strokes his fur a bit. "Creepy man scared you? Don't worry, he's gone now! But could you go outside and look around if there are no people who are observing our home?"
11-28-2007, 10:55 AM
Norbo meows quietly and runs away from the room. He either goes scouting or ignored your request to attend his own business, whatever business a wildcat might have in a city...
"If you want to go for a look out on them, do be most careful!" Iskira says to Mariko. "We had experienced ourselves how dangerous they are. Should you be discovered, I am sure they would try to hurt you... and it would not end up good in any way, I am sure." Her worried expression looks genuine. After a short while of silence, she adds:
"I would come with you, however I am afraid that I am not good at not being seen. On the contrary, I believe I do not fade into the crowd easily."
11-28-2007, 12:00 PM
"My hearthstone can shield me from magical divinations, so if I carried the scroll it may shield the scroll from their attempts to find it. However, my hearthstone will probably only work as long as I carry my foecutter, and Legacy is not a weapon easily overlooked."
11-28-2007, 12:19 PM
Mariko smiles faintly at Iskira. "Don't worry too much about me. I'm good at blending in with the scenery." She turns slightly, directing her next words to the whole group. "I should go out now, if I'm to find them before they get too far away. Which group would you have me follow? My instinct is to go after the sorceror and the Monk, as it strikes me that Haskel is likely to be the more predictable."
11-28-2007, 12:51 PM
Kadree nods. "Yes, follow them. Not only are they a bigger group, but they seem to be... less eager to resort to immediate violence when they notice you. But be extra cautious, I wouldn't be surprised if that monk or that strange girl turn out to be very perceptive! Remember, they're Exalted - maybe weaker ones than us, but still."
"Or even better! I'm coming with you. I'm not as good at stealthing so instead of following them I will just follow you, as backup in case there is trouble. What do you think?"
11-28-2007, 03:32 PM
Mariko nods. "All right. But keep back; I can be fairly sure they won't notice me as long as I don't draw attention to myself, but they might notice you if you aren't careful." She pauses for a moment, and smiles at Kadree. "I'm glad to have you along, though. I've heard what some of those Immaculate Monks are capable of in combat. Let's hurry."
She retrieves her daiklaive from under the table and secures it across her back, settling her cloak on her shoulders to conceal it. She heads out of the building, presumably with Kadree following, and heads off in the direction she saw the trio moving. She searches for any sight or sign of their passage, looking for the telltale eddies within the population that the movement of such important personages would leave. If necessary, she will take to the rooftops until she catches a glimpse of them, and then descend to the streets to remain inconspicuous.
She activates Easily Overlooked Presence Method, spending three motes of Personal Essence.
If necessary when she's on the rooftops, Dexterity+Stealth: [roll1]
11-28-2007, 05:06 PM
"Just give me a short while!" Kadree quickly runs to her room (each one of us has a separate room here, right?), to grab her weaponry, as well as a hooded cloak that'll at least partially disguise her identity. Then she rushes back to the main room, and outside, following Mariko. "I'll be right behind you - don't worry about anything, I'll see if there's trouble! But if you want me to come in anyway, give a sign of some sort - I'll know you mean me!"
Kadree prefers to take the rooftops as a route, to make sure as few people as possible see her - jumping between them is not a hard task for her. She keeps a fair distance from Mariko, but ensures that she never disappears from sight.
What's used for jumping, strength or dexterity?
11-28-2007, 05:54 PM
((I think it's a flat Strength+Athletics in yards if you are running, x2 if it's horizontal.))
Star doesn't seem to take much notice of the conversation. After the two leave, though, she does speak up.
"The situation's too unpredictable. We should really wait until we have some more information, providing those two are able to get it."
11-28-2007, 06:36 PM
Jumping is dependent on Strength+Athletics, and it doesn't require a test.
The houses are placed relatively near to each other and have more or less the same floors, so roof hopping is easy for you. So it is to spot the three Exalts - they stand out from the crowd, and normal people are reluctant to get close to them so they get some personal space which makes them even easier to spot.
They do not seem to have noticed you, being busy on going on their way. After about fifteen minutes, they stop at an inn. You know this one - it is high-quality but otherwise unremarkable. The owner set up some tables outside due to good weather, and they sit at one of them. Well, the monk does not sit, instead standing and looking around with a (noticeable thanks to Mariko's charm) half-dreamy expression on his face. Let's hope he won't find you. Not much time passes before Natakar, who still has your tea cup held hostage in his right hand, and Arsa start conversing. Hearing the words is no problem for Mariko, but understanding them is a more difficult matter, as it is High Realm. (Perception+Linguistics roll - 4 successes, typical Jannex hex dice. You understand everything they say, no spoiler box required.)
"So, what do you think about our hosts? An unusual group, is it not?" Natakar's grin never seems to leave his face.
"They tried to deceive us." In a monotone voice.
"The scroll, hmm? Hu hu..." The red-haired man starts to examine his souvenir from all sides, and looks a bit disappointed that it didn't fill magically with drink in the meantime.
"It is possible that it was a mistake. One of the mercenaries posed as a servant. Her disguise and manners were good, but I saw through them. I also find her attractive. Should we not be in antagonistic position, I would try to establish a romantic interest with her."
"You mean that ordinary everygirl, Arsa? Ordinary seems to be your type, hu hu hu... why don't you tell her that the next time you meet her then?"
On that, the short but rather disturbing conversation ends. Something else appears instead - from the inn and towards the table walk four men, each dressed in colorful but ordinary clothes. They all look rather well-built, but aside from that each one is different - two look about 25, one with light skin and short dark hair typical for denizens of the Realm, the other with tanned skin, red shoulder-long hair and thin moustache. The third is older, around 40, and has gray hair in a short, tight braid. The fourth is middle-aged and bald, with a creamy skin. As soon as they approach the Exalts, Natakar grins at them and issues a short sentence in Low Realm.
"Gather everyone. Four PM, two at first location. Two at second. Got it?" (Okay, he didn't say 4 PM, but rather an IC equivalent of that)
The men nod their heads seriously and start to walk away, each in different direction. They are stopped as Berroc raises his hand.
"I think I saw someone." He says in Low Realm. "On a roof. The figure didn't look familiar, maybe it's just an urchin. But be careful."
Great. First time you hear him say anything and it seems he discovered you. Nevertheless, the men scatter in all directions, while the Dragon-Blooded walk away from the inn like if nothing ever happened. This time the monk and the girl glance around (Natakar is busy with his cup, knocking a finger against it and examining its inside), so following them just became even more risky...
11-28-2007, 07:40 PM
Under her hood, Mariko frowns when she hears the girl, Arsa, say that she saw through her disguise as a servant. Her expression shifts to blank incomprehension at her next statement. Did I hear her properly? She plays the High Realm phrase over in her mind again, still listening to the conversation. No, I did understand her. Maybe she knows I'm here, and is trying to goad me into making a mistake and revealing myself. Her mouth tightens slightly, and she continues observing as the four men approach.
When she hears Berroc speak, Mariko curses silently. She ducks behind a corner, out of the Terrestrials' line of sight, and signals to Kadree, letting her know that she's been sighted and should drop back. Mariko continues to follow the group, though she gives them a bit more distance, trusting in their obtrusiveness to guide her. As she follows, she makes a conscious effort to blend into the flow of the crowds, no longer entirely secure in her Charm's ability to cloak her from the Dragon-Bloodeds' now alerted attention.
I just remembered that the Innocuous Merit gives her +1 die on rolls of this nature (and adds 1 to the difficulty of rolls to notice or track her).
Spending a Willpower point for an automatic success.
11-28-2007, 08:11 PM
Kadree moves several buildings back, using the same route she used to arrive. "Gah, if only I knew what were they talking about... must ask Mariko about that when we're done spying.", she mutters to herself. She still continues to follow her, but at a much longer range now - so long that she is not able to see the dragonblooded anymore, just Mariko. And she makes sure to keep the distance as long as possible, and not get into the targets' sight anymore.
11-28-2007, 08:40 PM
Mariko follows the group of Dragon-Blooded, and it seems they didn't notice her...
That is, until Arsa takes an incredibly high leap, to the surprise of everyone in the crowd, and lands next to you!
"Do you prefer women or men as romantic partners?" She asks in perfect, accentless Riverspeak.
You are standing in a quickly-widening circle of no people present. It seems the locals know best not to mess into such matters - some of them are quickly departing, but others stand and observe curiously after reaching a respectable distance.
"What have we here, hu hu hu... it's the servant girl!" Says Natakar, as he quickly approaches you, followed by Berroc.
"Was it her?" He asks the monk in High Realm, but his question is obvious because of the context. The Mnemon noble gives you a thoughtful look and... it may be surprising, but shakes his head.
"Why were you following us, hmm?" Natakar leans above you, flashing you a grin worthy of a demon. "More tea perhaps? Unfortunately, I'm no longer thirsty, hu hu..." He crushes his cup between his fingers in a sharp, effortless move, like if crumpling a piece of paper.
Both Dragon-Blooded - Natakar and Arsa, are standing really close to you, while Berroc is a few steps away. This doesn't look good, at all.
11-28-2007, 09:05 PM
Silently, Mariko curses her own carelessness with the sort of florid obscenity that only an orphan growing up on the streets of Nexus would have occasion to learn. Outwardly, however, she gives little sign of surprise or distress. She directs her attention first to Nakatar, and replies, "Because my associates believe in fairness in all business dealings. Our residence was monitored closely during the time of our recent absence; every detail, including the quality of our locks, was scrupulously noted. We felt it was only appropriate to pay our prospective business partners the same sort of solicitous attention. If, however, you and your colleagues were not responsible for the observation of our home in recent days, you have my humblest and most sincere apologies." She bows respectfully to him.
She then turns her attention to Arsa, and smiles faintly. "It is individuals, more so than genders, which inspire my interest. But this is not a sort of conversation I am accustomed to having so publicly."
11-28-2007, 09:30 PM
Natakar throws pieces of whatever is left from the cup in the air.
"Well, it wasn't us! Such accusations are disrespectful! But I forgive you for now... because Arsa took an interest in you."
That mad grin never seems to leave his face, only grow smaller or bigger. Neither Arsa nor Berroc reacts.
"We're going now. Don't follow us, servant. Or should I say, mercenary." Did I mention the grin getting bigger? Because that's what just happened.
Not waiting for your reaction, the Dragon-Blooded leave. Berroc tries to avoid eye contact, but Natakar watches over his should every few seconds, to make sure you are not following their steps. Local people move out of their way, so his job isn't that difficult.
Also, you have a feeling that he was lying. It was one of them, or maybe some of their lackeys, who watched your house.
(I performed rolls: Wits+Performance: 4 successes, but I'm beyond being surprised at this point. And Perception+Larceny, 4 successes as well.)
EDIT: I forgot to mention. Arsa neither says anything nor even nods to make sure she got your answer. Her only reaction is an absolute lack of reaction.
11-28-2007, 09:58 PM
Mariko makes no move to follow them, but instead leans against the wall of the nearest building, folding her arms across her chest and watching them walk away. She makes careful mental note of their direction, in the hope that she can later extrapolate their possible destination. When the Terrestrials have passed out of sight, Mariko will backtrack to rendezvouz with Kadree. On her way, she keeps a sharp eye out for any observers.
"I can't believe I let them see me," she half-growls once she's joined the other girl in the relative safety and privacy of a rooftop. Her tone is a mix of frustration, anger, and embarrassment; she obviously feels that she slipped up critically. "I was able to learn a few things, but I don't know how much of that intelligence is still valid, now that they know I was watching them."
If Kadree expresses an interest, Mariko will repeat, verbatim and without inflection, everything she overheard, and the exchange that passed between her and the trio when they confronted her. She will also supply a description of the four men who met with them.
11-28-2007, 10:02 PM
Dangit... Sorry for the double-post again; I always forget die rolls when my browser is slow. :smallredface:
11-28-2007, 10:59 PM
You are pretty sure neither of you is being observed.
(Small post, but not much more to add at the time being)
11-29-2007, 12:40 AM
Well, in the meantime...
"I hope they will be alright. Should there be trouble... I wouldn't be able to forgive myself." Iskira weighs her daiklaive in one hand. "I think we should prepare ourselves for battle... it could break out at any moment, and it is the best we could do. At least until Mariko and Kadree return." She looks at Insar and Star with a determined expression, then leaves the room to put her armour on.
11-29-2007, 12:49 AM
"Sad to say, but Iskira is right. We must prepare. Kadree and Mariko could return at any moment with those Dynasty pigs at their heals." Insar will also buckle on his armor and sword, praying that the Sun will watch over its chosen this day.
11-29-2007, 04:37 AM
Kadree sheathes the sword she already had her hand on and was about to draw slowly. "Oof, I was worried! And going to jump in any moment now... good that they weren't seeking a fight, just as I said!" She pats Mariko's shoulder. "And don't worry, I'm sure they've seen you only because they grew suspicious and made use of some charm! It's not possible to detect you otherwise. Anyway, what did you learn?"
She listens carefully to Mariko's explanation, and then smirks a bit in amusement. "Hey, so that's why they didn't attack? You know, we might get more information from them if you decide to meet with that girl privately... alright, alright, I was just teasing! Don't make faces." Kadree says that regardless of the other girl's reaction. Her face becomes more serious. "Let's return to the others - I'm sure they're worried too, and they have to know that these folks are plotting something. Probably not an all-in attack, but it makes sense to think that two of those men you mentioned are to provide distraction - set a fire, maybe? - while the other two will sneak in and try to steal the scroll." She makes that theory already on the way home. If anyone there asks her about what happened, she will describe both encounters - trying not to omit any details, though in her own words. Unless something happens on the way, of course.
11-29-2007, 04:56 AM
Mariko nods at Kadree's reassurance, but still seems a bit disgusted with herself. "You're right, we should get back to the others and tell them what we were able to find out, anyway."
11-29-2007, 10:38 AM
You two return home, unbothered and (as far as Mariko's keen senses can say) unfollowed. The first one to see you is Iskira, with a target shield prepared to use and reinforced breastplate armor on her body. She looks quite ready to do battle, but seeing you she can only express relief.
"I am so glad to see you alive and well! What happened? Did you follow the Dragon-Bloods successfully?"
After the explanation (which I assume everyone else hears too), she waits respectfully a short while before commenting. "I was hoping that they would not try anything sneaky of that nature, but unfortunately it seems I was incorrect... what should we do? Whatever is going to happen, it is best to assume it will start at that time - but we should be careful even before."
Also, Kadree notices Norbo lazily lying down on a piece of furniture inside of the house. He is sleeping, as lazy as only cats can do. However, you have a feeling (animal empathy or maybe just intuition) that he didn't find any spies looking at the household.
What preparations do you take before 4 PM? It isn't noon yet so you have plenty of time.
11-29-2007, 12:45 PM
"I feel strange saying this, but I think we should take the scroll and leave town. That way, our base of operations won't be endangered by the possibility of an Exalted battle wrecking the place, and once out of sight of prying eyes I can call Legacy and use my Hearthstone to shield us from whatever divinations they may try. In the event they follow us, Mariko will surely spot them before they can sneak up on us, and the forest will keep others from learning of our true nature as Solars when a battle breaks out."
11-29-2007, 01:04 PM
Kadree nods. "That's true... there will be no bystanders who could discover our identity or get accidentally hurt in the middle of the battle. That'd be the best course of action... though I want to know what exactly are they planning to do in those several hours, too! Decisions decisions..."
11-29-2007, 01:23 PM
"That may be the wisest course," Mariko agrees. "Though I don't much savor the prospect of coming back to town later and discovering that they've burnt the building down in a fit of pique, after failing to find us here. Still, it's a matter of priorities. And I'll do my best to keep them from getting the drop on us." She still sounds a bit shaken up by her discovery by the Dragon-Blooded.
"In the meantime, if you want, I can try and find those men. They might be less likely to notice me than their employers were.
11-29-2007, 01:36 PM
"Perhaps if we were to leave them a letter... that way they would focus their attention on reaching the forest, and not on destroying our property. After all, it is our priority to lead them to the forest, should we want to act this plan out." Iskira puts her hand on her mouth, thinking.
"I would not want anyone to be caught alone in this house as they approach it... they could meet a horrible fate! I believe Oak should come with us. Mariko - please do make sure you are with us before that fateful hour! I am in no position to stop you from trying to find the men you described, but should you be away from us when whatever they have planned happens..." She doesn't finish, but it's obvious that she's worrying again. Apparently it's her job to worry about the well-being of the rest of you.
As a side note, Oak is not here in the room as you discuss stuff, but he is in the house. And indeed, there is a sparse wood located very close to the town - it should be perfect.
11-29-2007, 01:37 PM
"We do have some time, if you wish to try, but they could be anywhere in town right now and a second confrontation with the Dragon-Blooded is unlikely to end well."
11-29-2007, 02:56 PM
She nods. "You're right. And I'm really not looking forward to another confrontation with any of them again. Especially when one of them can pick me out of a crowd so easily..."
11-29-2007, 03:33 PM
"Right... so we all leave town now and hide ourselves in that nearby forest, with the scroll, up to late afternoon?" Asks Oak once anyone (probably Iskira, if no one from you is quick enough) finds him and explains the situation. "That's a good plan you have there. It should lure the enemy out, one way or another. Should I prepare mounts?"
If you want to find a good spot in the wood, it's best to leave now. Do you do that, or do you intend to try something else in the meantime? I assume you take weapons and armor with yourselves, but who is going to carry the scroll? And what preparations do you make when you reach the forest itself?
11-29-2007, 03:58 PM
Insar intends be be gone for more than a day, possibly as long as a week, so he will pack food and the rest of his travel gear. Insar will be carrying the scroll on his person, so that it can benefit from the shielding abilities of his Hearthstone. He will also find the harness used to carry sheathe Legacy, and pack that for later use.
What roll is it to determine if and where there are any First Age ruins withing a week's travel of here?
11-29-2007, 05:51 PM
Perception+Lore, I think. Here goes for you:
There aren't many First Age ruins in the surrounding area - the largest ones have been incorporated into the town you're living in. There are some ruins in the nearby forest, but you aren't sure if they are First Age or not. They are old, one way or another.
11-29-2007, 06:07 PM
OOC: I'd say those ruins sound like a great place to hold an epic showdown with the miniboss squad, plus give us something to explore and loot of treasure while we wait for the Dragon-Blooded to catch up.
11-29-2007, 06:14 PM
Kadree puts as many of her possessions as she can on the mule without encumbering it too much, apart from those that would be too clunky or not useful in the wilderness - which basically means the same things she had when she arrived in the town for the first time, before meeting everyone else. Food for at least a week, too. She takes the weapons too, and Norbo of course.
OOC: Agreed. I vote for giving them a try too. How long will it take to travel to those ruins?
11-29-2007, 07:15 PM
The ruins are less than half a day's worth of travel. They were probably a part of the same settlement that the town's First Age remnants, if the ruins come from the First Age too, that is.
11-29-2007, 11:28 PM
Allow me to fast-forward a bit, assuming that all your characters agree on the course of action - that is, hiding in the forest. You are all packed up and not only ready to go - you went there already, leaving the household locked safely, behind. Iskira was very disappointed in the fact that (as per Oak's persuasion) leaving the letter behind was a bad idea. You left the town without (hopefully) being noticed by any Dragon-Blooded or their servants, taking your route southeast, towards the forest. The wood, as mentioned before, is quite sparse - it's easy to travel, even with mounts. As a side effect of plants not growing one on another, the trees tend to be rather large and majestic. Yeah... it's pretty obvious that it's the eastern part of the world, with the Elemental Pole of Wood closest from them all.
Thanks to the large scale of vegetation, the terrain is easy to move on, although somewhat hilly, with a rare cliff here and there - they are no more than a few meters high though, and obstruct the view more than your travels, though it's a wonder how such formations appeared in a forest. You know the way towards the ruins, and your journey is a steady one.
About two hours pass without any events (one hour's worth of travel in the forest and an hour between it and the walled town), when something interrupts the silence. You can hear voices coming, almost exactly straight from in front of you, from behind a small hill. You recognise the voice as well, and the language - High Realm.
"We have enough of time and men to succeed without trouble, but remember that maybe we are not dealing with normal humans here! The soldiers take over the gates, and then we send them our blackmail!"
That loud, commanding tone can belong only to Sesus Haskel! Before you have a time to react, he shows himself atop the hill, accompanied by three other Dragon-Blooded whom you know. Strangely, the warrior-woman Tanime is not among them.
They are no more than fifteen meters from you (and on a position three meters higher), and you can clearly see their expressions. Haskel and Berroc look at you with eyes wide in surprise, but Natakar's gaze is obscured by his mane of hair, and his grin seems to be permanent. As for Arsa, her face is expressionless as always, reminding of a porcelain doll.
It only takes a fraction of a second for Haskel to retain his mental balance.
"Ha! What a surprise!" He says in Riverspeak. "We were just going to pay you a visit, and here we meet. Dare I say, fate? Anyway, I hope you brought the scroll with you? If not, we can go back with you and take it back from that mansion you occupy." You notice that, instead of a shining breastplate, he now has a black one, with additional armour as shoulderpads, and leg- and forearm protectors. A large sword, black as well, rests at his side. Occasional glinting off the surfaces of all this armament betray it as jade. A smile disappears from his face.
"I am afraid that we cannot wait further. I request the scroll now. Don't worry! You will still get paid. In fact..." He puts his hand beneath his breastplate and pulls two pieces of paper from there. "It is here, signed up and official! Just ready for withdrawal at the nearest Guild bank." He raises his eyebrow as another voice can be heard! This one, voice of a middle-aged man speaking Low Realm, is unknown to you - but it's very loud and clearly resonates from Haskel's person!
"Sir, the teams are ready! We await for your order at any time!"
"Change of plans!" He speaks just as loudly (and in Low Realm as well). "Forget the gates, move all fangs to the forest south from your current position. Make haste, on the double!" At the same time, Natakar leans down from the hill, looking down on you with a hellish grin. He has an elaborate, red and yellow leather quiver on his back, and and an ornate, beautifully carved longbow in his hands, crafted from finest wood and a red material you instantly recognise as jade.
Haskel beats his breastplate lightly with a free fist, then starts to talk again, as soon as his shouting of orders has finished.
"Tanime!" This time he's in High Realm.
"Our mercenaries are here, so come if you will. I'm leaving this open so you can hear what's going on, but hurry!"
"By the way, one hundred finest imperial legionnaires will be here soon. I just thought you'd like to know. So..."
A swooshing sound can be heard, like if a giant boulder was thrown from a catapult. Suddenly, something very large crashes down into the forest, about twenty meters away from you to the left, resulting in an explosion of dirt, mud, and wood splinters. As soon as the dust settles, you can see what caused the impact (and a small crater as well)...
A giant, six meters tall piece of armor! It rises slowly, sun reflexes glinting on its pure, white surface. It looks massive and bulky even for its size, with huge spaulders sticking to the sides and two ram-like horns sprouting from the helm's oversized forehead part, making the visor part hardly visible. A symbol of House Sesus is visible on its chestpiece, and for some reason it is clad in a huge, billowing cape of crimson. Instead of a weapon, it wields a small tree (roughly as tall as the giant armor), mostly stripped of side branches and leaves, which it currently rests on the shoulders, holding with one hand.
"Either you cooperate now." Haskel draws his blade, clearly unimpressed by the behemoth that just appeared. "Or we will solve this matter in a more... direct way. In other words, we will take the scroll by force, and you won't get paid."
"And we will crush you like the little bugs you are!" The voice (clearly recognisable as Tanime) comes from Haskel's person as well, but to make it obvious who is inside the newly-arrived hulk, the armor points its right hand at you as Tanime speaks, in a defiant pose. How does she control that thing anyway?
"I probably bored you to death with my talk, so... time to decide."
"Do as we say and no one will get hurt. You will even get paid. Please, you do not really have a choice." Adds Berroc, who was silent and looked a bit distanced from it all until now.
"Or we will not only bore you to death, ku ku..." Adds Natakar. "And don't try to trick us again or run away. I could hurt some townsmen because of my frustration, and it would be your fault!" His demonic smile is so wide that it's a wonder how the upper part of his head doesn't fall off.
11-30-2007, 10:01 AM
Kadree opens her eyes wider at the sight of the warstrider. "How did she grow so huge?", she mutters to herself, apparently not familiar with such vehicles. "Nevermind..."
She turns to Haskel and speaks in a much louder, confident tone. "The scroll is not for sale, or rent, or anything. Be reasonable and leave. If you decide to take it from us by force, then these legionnaires will arrive here long after the battle is over, and the bodies they find will not belong to the Dawning Suns."
She puts her hand to her side, atop her scabbard, and Vanguard slowly materializes in it. She moves the sword above her shoulder and behind her back in a broad, slow and almost sound-making arc, holding it in the typical position of wielders of huge swords.
11-30-2007, 02:03 PM
"I had hoped it would not come to this, but it seems that you leave us no choice. Very well, then. You will not leave here alive."
With that, Insar reaches behind him and pulls Legacy from its harness, bringing the great weapon into a ready position in front of him and planting his feet in a fighting stance. Mentaly, he again channels Essence to strengthen himself for the coming conflict. That golem-thing is not going to go down easy.
If I remember the rules with Hearthstones correctly, I regain my Manse's rating in motes of Essence each hour as long as I have it with me, right?
6 motes of Essence spent on Increasing Strength Exercise.
11-30-2007, 03:58 PM
There's no way I can beat an academy-trained sorcerer in a spell duel. He probably has countermagic, and I'd run out of Essence before him at that rate. If someone can distract him, though, I might be able to shape a few tide-turning spells. And we need them with that warstrider around.
Star twirls open both her fans.
"I need someone to keep the sorcerer busy while I cast spells. If he gets the chance to use countermagic, it will make things worlds more difficult."
With that, Star gets a steely glare in her eye. Noticing that the rest of the Circle is preparing to fight, she makes her own preparations. Hers are a bit more obvious, though.
Without warning, golden Essence erupts from her, swirling about in powerful streaks. It threatens to tear the fabric of Creation around her, so powerful is its force. Bits of earth fly into the air, and gusts of air blow away from this epicenter of power as it continues to grow. However, after what seems like a gripping eternity, but is in reality not even a second, some force grips the Essence and begins controlling it, containing it. While many of the streaks fly unbound, many more of them begin to contract themselves around Emerald Star, taking the shape of her body. She's casting a defensive spell, and it looks like as long as nobody interrupts, she has a good hold on the torrents of raw Essence carving the air around her.
Using the Charm Terrestrial Circle Sorcery to cast the spell Invulnerable Skin of Bronze. Spending all Peripheral Essence on this. Hiding Sorcery is impossible anyway.
Since I'm not acting first no matter what, given that Initiative roll there, hopefully someone will launch into battle before this.
It should be noted that my Hearthstone still allows me to parry ranged attacks at my full pool without counting it as a distraction. I'm sure the Dragon-Blooded don't know that, but just to ease things when you're writing stuff up. No need for you to go back and edit things, you see.
11-30-2007, 05:51 PM
(OOC matters first: I took liberty for rolling initiative for those of you who didn't. Mariko got 24, Kadree got 25. Don't forget to declare actions for this turn - this is for Insar too. Also, for unfortunate reason I am unable to check most rules. I know the basics, but if you use a Charm make sure to point out what it does and how much does it cost. This unfortunate condition should fade in less than 24 hours.
Final note, spoiler tags for other languages are clunky so I'll use brackets instead. That's enough for OOC stuff.)
"Anathema!?" Haskel looks surprised, but it seems he can add two and two together very quickly. As soon as Star starts to channel essence, Natakar sends two arrows her way, in moves so fast that they were almost instant!
Emerald Star feels the power of her Hearthstone as she tries to deflect the missiles with her fans. Unfortunately, the first one was too fast and accurate - she manages to throw it off course, avoiding a potentially lethal shot, but the nasty frog-crotch head still manages to rake her side, shredding clothing and leaving a bleeding wound. Fortunately, it is a shallow one, and the second arrow was aimed badly and deflected easily. ((7 successes on enemy's hit, 4 on your parry. Two damage, he won initiative so no need to roll for spell interruption, because you didn't start to cast anything yet.))
Immediately after, Haskel jumps down the hill and starts running forward, shouting commands in High Realm at the same time.
("They're Anathema, don't pull back! Berroc, neutralise the blonde! I'll kill the big man.")
("What about me?!") Tanime's voice resonates from him angrily.
("Pick targets of opportunity!")
The hulking armour crouches lightly, and launches itself in the air! It swiftly descends down, the tree-turned-club raised high above its head - right down on Iskira and Oak (who didn't even dismount so far!). The impact leaves another explosion of earth and plant fragments, obscuring the effect from view and causing any other mounts you have with to flee in panic! Catching horses and the fate of your companions are the least of your concerns now - there are far more pressing matters to attend to!
Kadree feels a strong, sudden gust of wind and the next thing she sees is Berroc appearing right at her side. "You are the infernal anathema, aren't you? That explains why you were so stubborn to refuse - allow me to change your mind. But we are not without mercy, give up and we will treat you lightly." His expression is very determined, devoid of his usual light smiles.
Haskel charges quickly towards Insar, his eyes looking at him like a bird of prey would look on a defenseless rabbit. His dark blade is held before him, equally ready to parry or strike blows. In his left hand he still grips the papers the Dragon-Blooded offered in exchange for the scroll - whether he is that confident in his skill, or did he simply forget about them in the heat of starting battle, it is unknown.
Arsa leaps up several meters into the air, not making a faintest sound, not changing her expression nor saying a word. She is obviously heading towards Mariko, and she should land very near if not right atop of her. You can clearly see fresh leaves swirling around her right hand and forearm, in a miniature green whirlwind...
(Don't forget to declare actions!)
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