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  1. - Top - End - #271
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: [GURPS 4e] Banestorm fantasy game (IC)

    After about another hour of walking at Ementha's pace, the party arrives at a village. A few of the first cottages are dimly visible by the candlelight from within, but ahead can be seen the glowing halo of a larger, well lit building standing by the road. As you approach, the sign hanging above the door shows the design of a harding, painted red. The building seems quite old, but looks solid enough. By the light and sounds emanating from the structure, it is still open for business.

    Spoiler
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    A harding is a goat-like creature with tusks rather than horns. It is farmed for its thin milk (often made into cheese) and its wiry fur (harding wool). Its meat is tough, chewy and has been compared to eating leather.
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    GURPS 4e Banestorm fantasy game: recruitment thread | OOC thread | IC thread | mock combat threads I & II
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  2. - Top - End - #272
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: [GURPS 4e] Banestorm fantasy game (IC)

    Rann looks up at the building. "Well, it looks like your man's information was good, Cedric. Shall we go in? I'll just need to find somewhere to tie up."
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  3. - Top - End - #273
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    ClericGuy

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    Default Re: [GURPS 4e] Banestorm fantasy game (IC)

    Ementha walks up and opens the door to the tavern. She holds it open as she waits for the others to enter. "Well come on in then. Unless you like standing out in the dark, I guess." She surveys the room, looking for a table large enough to seat them. "Maybe over there, near the fire?" she says, pointing with one hand while she holds the door with the other.

  4. - Top - End - #274
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: [GURPS 4e] Banestorm fantasy game (IC)

    The inside of the tavern is warm but a little smoky from the roaring fire. It is fairly busy, but perhaps not full, and there is a free table next to the fireplace. The patrons would mostly appear to be local farmers and such. As the party enters, there is a quiet moment as many of them stop to look at the newcomers.

    Almost immediately a tall, slightly stocky man in an apron makes his way over to your table. "Welcome strangers. It's a late night to be travelling," he says. "Trent Harding, they call me. What can I get you? Drinks? Some food perhaps?"

    Rann comes in from outside as Trent is talking. "Food? Certainly, my good man. What have you got that's still hot at this hour?"

    "Well," smiles Trent. "We have some of our locally famous Harding Stew in the pot." He pauses, before laughing out loud at the expected expressions on the party faces. "No, no," chuckles Trent. "It's just named after the tavern, like me. It hasn't actually got any harding meat in it. It's made with lamb."
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  5. - Top - End - #275
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Zombie

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    Default Re: [GURPS 4e] Banestorm fantasy game (IC)

    Tucking the glowing farthing into his purse as he enters, Eniarch takes a look around at the patrons and settles the butt-end of his staff on the ground with a sigh of relief before addressing the tavernkeep's well-worn humor with a slight smile.

    Eniarch's nostrils flare slightly as he inhales the scent of the wood fire and the victuals waiting in the wings. The scent of a good stew kept warm on a fire. Just like all those nights in the kitchens back home.

    He casts a long considering glance at the warmth of the fire in the common room and nods as he comes to a decision. "A goodly bowl of your namesake stew, with a bit of crusty bread to accompany it and a pint of ale to wash it all down would seem the pinnacle of Heaven to me at the moment, sir." Sagging slightly as the day's march seems to catch up to him, he continues, "What price to transcend the gates?"

  6. - Top - End - #276
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: [GURPS 4e] Banestorm fantasy game (IC)

    Trent pauses for a moment, before laughing. "Well, well," he says. "Price is five Farthings for the bowl of stew, and two for a pint of ale."

    Rann nods at this. "I had promised the young lady a hot meal when we got here, so," he looks at Ementha as if for confirmation, before pulling up a chair to the table. "I'd say we'll both have a bowl of stew and a pint to go with it." Rann tips his pouch into his hand and counts the coins, before paying Trent and replacing the pouch on his belt. He makes no mention of the fact that his coin pouch now appears to be empty.

    "Thank you sir," says Trent as he takes the money. He then turns back to Eniarch. "A bowl and pint for you too then, learned sir?"
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  7. - Top - End - #277
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Zombie

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    Default Re: [GURPS 4e] Banestorm fantasy game (IC)

    Eniarch nods and reaches towards his belt to retrieve a purse. "I'll certainly take one of each. It's been a long, lean day."

    Before he actually fetches any coin, however, he leans in closer to Trent, and drops his voice into a more conspiratorial whisper. "On the other hand, if you can manage to change a mark for us, then there'll be two more bowls and two more pints for us, with one for each of my other companions here." He indicates Cedric and Franciszek with his free hand, and then looks a bit downtrodden. "If you cannot, then I fear that I have only enough small coin for my own meal, though I would much prefer to give you the greater custom."

    He then straightens, and waits to see if Trent can manage the feat for the benefit of the group.

  8. - Top - End - #278
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: [GURPS 4e] Banestorm fantasy game (IC)

    "Change a Mark?" Trent asks in surprise, a little too loudly. He realises his mistake as several other patrons turn to look. "Sorry sir," he says a bit more quietly. "We don't usually see actual gold coin round 'ere. And, begging your pardon sir, but judging by your appearance," he pauses as he struggles to put it diplomatically. "Well, I wasn't expectin' you to flash the gold, if you see my meaning.

    "Changing that won't be easy for so small a sum. But, tell you what, you seem like a trustworthy enough fellow. If you intend to be here for more than one drink, then why don't I tally up at the end and you can pay me then?"
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  9. - Top - End - #279
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Zombie

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    Default Re: [GURPS 4e] Banestorm fantasy game (IC)

    Eniarch nods agreeably to that. "I think we might be able to reach an acceptable accommodation. In the meantime, I will settle the score for my own meal and we can discuss it further later." He fishes in his own purse for the coins, the light from the glowing farthing casting a wandering light upon the ceiling as he picks out a handful of the coins with no luminescence of their own.

    Counting them carefully out for Trent, he pays for his evening's meal and ale. "..six and seven." He drops a pair of coins back into his purse, again casting a visible glow while the purse is opened, and moves to find himself a seat at the table near the fire to shed the chill of the evening's walk.

  10. - Top - End - #280
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: [GURPS 4e] Banestorm fantasy game (IC)

    Trent looks confusedly at the coins in his hand for a moment. "Um, right then. Five bowls of stew and five pints of ale. I'll bring your drinks right over, and the stew in a few minutes." He walks away shaking his head slightly.

    "Well," Rann taps a finger against his lips in thought. "This seems like a good moment to speak about those three Marks." He looks from Eniarch to the other party members. "Eniarch took custody of them, which was fair enough at the time. But we should discuss what our plan for the money is going to be."

    Rann pauses while Trent returns and places five tankards on the table. "Thank you," he says to the barkeeper, and once Trent has left he asks "What do you all think, about the Marks?"
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  11. - Top - End - #281
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    ClericGuy

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    Default Re: [GURPS 4e] Banestorm fantasy game (IC)

    Ementha seats herself facing the fire. "Well, thank you Rann. You really don't need to repay me if you don't want," she says. Then she quickly adds, "But I'll accept it all the same," before he has a chance to change his mind. "Yes a bowl of stew sounds wonderful."

    She situates herself, placing her pack at her feet under the table and leaning her walking stick against the wall next to her chair. Her shining bracelet gets placed into her pocket and she takes a moment to straighten the fabric of her skirt.

    "Well," she eventually says, "I guess I assumed we'd use it to buy food and the other necessities when we hit the next town. I've never bought supplies for a group this large before, I usually travel from town to town on my own. I think we should be able to get what we need to though."

  12. - Top - End - #282
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: [GURPS 4e] Banestorm fantasy game (IC)

    "HA HA! Gold mark... did you mention to our friend Trent that we're not getting paid until after we finish the job?" Cedric says loudly, looking at Eniarch and then Trent.

    After Eniarch orders the food, Cedric amicably calls after Trent, "If the bowls are small, bring me a second please, I'll cover it myself! And we'll see about the ale after I've had some, and we'll see if it's as good as a certain Frederick we just met claims." He quietly grimaces to himself, recalling Warrens less-then-glowing opinion of the stuff. I wonder when it would be appropriate to mention sleeping accomadations

    After Trent walks away and Eniarch and Ementha and Rann discuss the plan for the marks, realization dawns on Cedric's large face. He lowers his voice significantly. "Wait, do you mean to say we did get an advance? Out of that fish? Who managed that? Well done! Well I never handled finances for Gill, but I did have to haul the supplies for the lot of us. But planning for a trip when you have a pack horse and wagon is bound to be different than a trip on foot. Still, that being said, I may be able to recall a few things from our trips that may be of use. As for the mar... spending allowance... I would be happy to help carry any if nobody here is comfortable with it."

    Spoiler
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    sorry for the bit of "rewind time" in some of my IC here... but I did not think they would significantly alter the whole interplay and thought it might be how Cedric would react.

  13. - Top - End - #283
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Zombie

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    Default Re: [GURPS 4e] Banestorm fantasy game (IC)

    Turning to Cedric, he frowns slightly and keeps his voice low. "I secured us an advance, but only a scant three marks worth. Beyond our immediate needs," he continues, looking a little sheepish, "I feel I should point out that I've no experience outfitting groups for extended wilderness exploration at all. I can only hope one of you is better suited to that task than I and that our negotiated retainer proves sufficient for that purpose."

    Eniarch keeps his voice low as he speaks up again. "In truth, I would rather it were someone else who held them, either alone or in concert. Thanks to our discussion, half the tavern no doubt thinks I carry a nobleman's ransom. Better it were not so, as no man may surreptitiously steal coin I do not possess." He casts a quick glance around the room at the locals filling the room and to make sure Trent hasn't returned unannounced, and then continues. "As for their dispensation, I shouldn't doubt the tavernkeep will want a few pennies for allowing us to stay here tonight, and a few more farthings come morning for a meal before we set out, if he does. Since the money was to cover our supplies, I see no harm in using it for that purpose in the immediate future, but we will have to consider that the remaining money must provide anything we may need in order to make the journey to Nightstalker Forest and back."

    Now that the cat is out of the bag, so to speak, he reaches for one of the tankards and sighs softly before taking a sip of his ale. And, since more than one drink will begin to further cut into our supplies for the trip, I intend to make this pint last.

  14. - Top - End - #284
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: [GURPS 4e] Banestorm fantasy game (IC)

    Cedric thinks for a moment.

    "Well, I'm not a traveling expert by any means. However, I believe outfitting a trip of this size is a lot like outfitting a trip for yourself, and letting the others do the same... and I believe all of you already know how to do that considering you each traveled some distance. Then, perhaps, we can just keep in mind buying items less prone to spoilage, as well as a little more filling for their size, and keep in mind we may need money to hire someone else. John was a little vague on how dangerous it would be, and I'm not certain myself. Though I have heard dangerous things about Nightstalker Forest."

    Cedric pauses and smiles, leaning back, and says in a joking fashion, "Though, why you would need anyone else but myself escapes me."

    Keeping his voice down and leaning back in, he continues, "As for the money, I'm almost just as concerned about one of us. An extra three or even just two marks is almost as much as our split at the end will be, especially if we hire somebody else. It would be easier to take the marks and leave when the rest of us were all sleeping. Why don't we split one apiece, leaving less temptation for any of us. Gill recommended me in front of John, and John knows him. And I can assure you that recommendation extends to my honesty."

    "At least, as long as the sums involved cannot buy me my own tavern," he adds with half-seriousness, looking around him in open admiration of the bright and cheery atmosphere.
    Last edited by Devereux; 2010-02-28 at 10:18 AM.

  15. - Top - End - #285
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: [GURPS 4e] Banestorm fantasy game (IC)

    "I don't see how you should be considered more trustworthy than any of us," grumbles Franciszek. "And three does not split evenly between five."

    Spoiler
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    Self-Control rolls for Rann
    (will update post afterwards according to dice results)
    Selfish (resisted on 15 or less) (3d6)[9]
    Greed (resisted on 12 or less) (3d6)[12]


    "Hmmm." Rann takes a deep breath. "In any case, Eniarch has already committed us to breaking one of the coins," he says. "But that doesn't really make the division between five any easier.

    Now, much as it may seem foolish to say so, I don't think I need to have one of the Marks. You would probably feel more comfortable not trusting it to the man with the horse,"
    he smiles. "But I would be a lot happier if we had an actual agreement on what we are to spend the money on." He looks around the table at each in turn. "What do you each need? What do you think would be helpful if not essential?"
    Last edited by Unwitting Pawn; 2010-03-01 at 02:21 PM.
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  16. - Top - End - #286
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Zombie

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    Default Re: [GURPS 4e] Banestorm fantasy game (IC)

    Eniarch scoffs slightly, and draws his mouth a little tight. 'Committed us to breaking one of the coins', as though supplies for our trip and a roof over our heads tonight would just rain from the heavens for the mere asking or as if I'm some wastrel looking to bankrupt us for a suite at the finest inn on the first night.

    "Very well, then." Eniarch quietly unknots the yellow purse containing the party's retainer from his belt and drops it lightly in the center of the table. "Divide the three amongst the four of you - four should be easier than five, at least. Tomorrow, we will find a source for the supplies we need. Do not forget that tonight's meal comes from that source as well, as it's certain our host will not." With the coin purse containing the advance no longer in his possession and the matter of tomorrow's plan settled for the moment, Eniarch turns back to the fire.

    Rubbing his hands together and fanning them before the heat, he tries to get the chill of the evening out of his bones. Feeling a bit warmer, he pipes up again. "As far as essential supplies, we'll certainly need the basics for such a trip," he begins. "Food and water, skins and bags to carry it all." He turns back to the group. "Camping essentials, some way to shelter from inclement weather or at least keep the food out of the rain. There are probably other things that might come in handy, like a good hank of rope and something to see to any injuries, and perhaps some lamp oil for starting a fire in the rain, but unless you're donating that horse of yours as a pack animal, we'd best consider very carefully before going beyond the basics. We'll have to carry anything we buy, after all."

    A good meal, a good rest, and then we can see to tomorrow. If possible, a meal before we set out would be good, as things will be more expensive in town. I wonder what the tavernkeep might have in the way of supplies - maybe some hard cheese and smoked meat, a few spare sacks for carrying things.
    Last edited by NamelessArchon; 2010-03-01 at 02:52 PM.

  17. - Top - End - #287
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: [GURPS 4e] Banestorm fantasy game (IC)

    Cedric looks amused. "Or we could use a good hank of rope to see to any injuries along the way." He mimes hanging himself from an invisible noose.

    "Let's try this. Eniarch has said his peace. I believe Rann has volunteered to pass as well. Unless someone else objects to carrying a mark, that leaves one mark for each of the rest of us. I can use mine to take care of further expenses here, using my own smaller coins, reimbursable as soon as we change the mark, of course."

    He looks around at everyone.

    "And if that doesn't settle the matter, then we can certainly arm wrestle over the matter. Or, draw straws. Your pick."
    Last edited by Devereux; 2010-03-01 at 03:07 PM. Reason: Re-read Rann's statment.

  18. - Top - End - #288
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    ClericGuy

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    Default Re: [GURPS 4e] Banestorm fantasy game (IC)

    Ementha shrugs her assent to taking a coin. "If you want me to carry one, I suppose I can," she says quietly. She snatches one of the coins from the center of the table. "Though I would keep it down when talking about these sums of money."

    Ementha twirls her hair around one of her fingers as her mouth moves at about a mile a minute. "Food and water are certainly two of the biggest concerns. We should take along whatever we can carry. Though we should also not ignore the possibility for picking up and preparing more along the trail. Things like a good cookpot and a large spoon could come in handy. I'm sure we all have our own plates and silverware and things like that, but getting some things for the group to share might be a good plan too. We can spread the weight out amongst the group if we need to. Oh, lets see what else is important... Fire! A good size tinderbox along with a way of getting more firewood, a hatchet maybe. Oh and all of those other little things that come in handy when out in the wilds. Rope was a good suggestion. I hope all of you have at least a simple blanket or bedroll already, but if not you'll want one. I have my own tent, but it's hardly big enough for me. Maybe one or two others for the rest of you, or at least a large chunk of heavy canvas to keep off the morning dew. I do have a simple kit for dealing with minor injuries, but getting ahold of some extra bandages or something would not be a bad idea. You'll also want to make sure you have a good sturdy pair of shoes at least. Walking through the underbrush in sandles or the like is not much fun. I even wear leather leggings under my skirt most of the time to protect my legs from stray thorns. Doesn't protect my skirt from getting caught, buy my legs don't get nearly so cut up." She drifts off in thought, perhaps finally giving someone else a chance to talk.

  19. - Top - End - #289
    Orc in the Playground
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    "Very well," mutters Franciszek, and he takes one of the coins.
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  20. - Top - End - #290
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Zombie

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    Default Re: [GURPS 4e] Banestorm fantasy game (IC)

    No doubt there's the beginning outline of a concrete plan here, but we should certainly be more thorough in documenting this. It would be a shame to reach some supplier in the morning and be unable to recall what we said was needful over ale tonight.

    Eniarch sips a bit more of the ale. "Add 'better directions' to the list." Glancing meaningfully at the group, he continues, "Unless one of you has had the good fortune to have visited the place before, of course. It is a long trip and there will not be signposts or roads to follow along the way. It is not as though we have an accurate map or a local guide."

    Turning back to the fire, he mutters quietly to himself and again rubs his hands together. "...and it would be good to record our shopping list a bit more permanently before we head to market."

  21. - Top - End - #291
    Orc in the Playground
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    "Yes," says Rann. "I agree that we should have a list. This was why I mentioned the need for a plan, before we get to town. Otherwise, we could end up wasting time, or money. Or both.

    "As for the food and drink, I don't think that water should be too much of a problem. Though, we should perhaps buy some extra skins or bottles, if some of you don't have already. In any case, it shouldn't be too hard to replenish as we go. The food however requires more planning. It should be easy enough to replenish in the wild, but doing so will likely add more time to our journey. And the longer we take, the less favourable our pay becomes. Likewise, weight will also be a factor if we plan to buy all our food in advance, as slower walking also means more time. Do we want to buy enough food to last us all for two weeks without stopping? Or only one week, to get us there? Or what? If we still plan to hire extra muscle, then food for them will also have to be factored in.

    "Do you want to buy a map, then?"
    Rann turns to Eniarch. "Or should we seek to hire someone who's been there before? Either might be expensive, or unreliable.

    "Ementha also mentioned more camping supplies. Although I'm hoping that everyone here already has the bare minimum,"
    he looks round the table expectantly.

    "Here you go," says Trent as he hurries over. He sets down three large bowls of stew, along with five spoons. Then he returns with the remaining two bowls. And in the centre of the table he places a wooden plate heaped with several pieces of thick bread.
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  22. - Top - End - #292
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Zombie

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    Default Re: [GURPS 4e] Banestorm fantasy game (IC)

    Eniarch sighs softly and nods in reluctant agreement with Rann's observation on guides and maps. "I do not know how you could ascertain the veracity of such. The guide might well pocket the money and look to elude us, and everyone has heard stories of maps that didn't lead where they claimed. Surely, you must understand my concerns, however."

    The tavernkeep's delivery gets a small smile. "Ah, this looks most excellent, indeed." He nods to himself, then pulls one of the bowls to himself, and snags a spoon to go with it. "As for camping supplies, well... what you see is what I have. I came at great haste and with very few items of value. To be certain, I do not have enough for an extended stay in the wilderness. That is why I negotiated for that which we received."

    He then bows his head above the stew for a moment, as though making a silent benediction.

  23. - Top - End - #293
    Orc in the Playground
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    Rann joins Eniarch in quiet prayer. Franciszek makes a scoffing noise and takes a piece of bread.
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  24. - Top - End - #294
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Well not much else I can think to suggest here. I'm glad everyone here seems to know how to proceed. I would just grab a wedge of cheese, a few skins of water, and a hunk of dried beef and hope for the best. In the end, technically, I am just hired muscle, so at least I have an excuse for passing on the planning.

    Cedric eyes the food hungrily, looks around him at the silent figures, and decides to offer a silent prayer of his own.

    Thank you for another opportunity, and another square meal.

  25. - Top - End - #295
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    ClericGuy

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    Ementha takes a hunk of bread and appears to be about to dip it into her stew when she notices the others taking a moment to pray. She quickly, bows her head and joins them. "Thank you for this food, these new friends, and a roof over my head for the night. Please give us strength in the coming days, I think we'll need it."

    When she lifts her head again, to resume eating she looks to Eniarch. "I was wondering about that, if you don't mind my asking. Why did you come in such a hurry to the tower? Seems to me you could have taken a little more time to prepare and at least made the journey a little easier."

  26. - Top - End - #296
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    "Well," Eniarch begins, looking at Ementha, "That's rather.. complicated." He clears his throat and looks a little uncomfortable talking about himself. "I was asked to discover who was hiring wizards and why. When I was dispatched, I was left with little doubt that haste was my uppermost priority after success. Accordingly, I left nearly all of my belongings behind in order to travel light and make the journey more quickly, putting my faith in my abilities rather than my tools."

    He puts spoon to stew and stirs it idly for a moment, looking down at the bowl. "It may not have been the wisest decision, in retrospect." He manages a small, brief snort of personal amusement and returns his gaze to Ementha once more. "Of course, with no money to my name beyond our retainer and but a few spare coins left me by the trip, it's all but certain I will do little reporting, be it by bird, runner or in person, until after we have succeeded." He shakes his head, and tears a bit of bread from the piece lying before him, pops it into his mouth and begins to chew.

  27. - Top - End - #297
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    Cedric, with a full mouth, looks between Ementha and Eniarch as they talk, occasionally dipping bread into stew and nodding along at various points.

    sounds fascinating... dispatched, eh? Each one oof them must have a pretty interesting reason for being here, rather then just being in the right place at the right time.
    Last edited by Devereux; 2010-03-03 at 04:47 PM.

  28. - Top - End - #298
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    Default Re: [GURPS 4e] Banestorm fantasy game (IC)

    Ementha gives Eniarch a curious glance, before returning her attention to her bowl of stew. She stirs it with her spoon for a moment, before taking another bite. When she swallows she turns back to Eniarch.

    "So, your real loyalties lie somewhere beyond our current employer," she arches an eyebrow at him. Interesting." She decides to leave the whiff of an accusation hanging, hoping that Eniarch will feel the need to defend himself or his employer.
    Last edited by dariathalon; 2010-03-03 at 06:23 PM.

  29. - Top - End - #299
    Orc in the Playground
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    United Kingdom
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: [GURPS 4e] Banestorm fantasy game (IC)

    "Indeed," Rann looks from Ementha to Eniarch. "Very interesting. Then what seemed perhaps like excessive caution from John, had more substance than fevered imaginings."
    Last edited by Unwitting Pawn; 2010-03-03 at 06:49 PM. Reason: clarity
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    GURPS 4e Banestorm fantasy game: recruitment thread | OOC thread | IC thread | mock combat threads I & II
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  30. - Top - End - #300
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Zombie

    Join Date
    Jan 2007

    Default Re: [GURPS 4e] Banestorm fantasy game (IC)

    So first it is my honesty with the coin, and now the honesty of my commitments. Is it only in such debased coin that these people can repay those who strive on their behalf?

    "Ah." Eniarch chuckles softly and shakes his head with a slight smile as he looks right at Ementha. "...and now that you've resorted to aspersion and innuendo, nothing I say can possibly demonstrate my character in any way. I do appreciate this excellent lesson on how you choose to treat those who first offer you honesty. Perhaps the others should take it to heart."

    His smile fades as he continues, and the flatness of his voice demonstrates amply that he is displeased with the turn of the conversation. "Am I to assume, then, that you are merely loyal to whoever should pay your price of an evening? Or is it that you are so naive that you believe no others among us have loyalties beyond their current employer? None at all? No loyalties to friends, relatives or their fellow man? None of you have loyalty to the principles for which you stand? Am I to assume you are but blank slates awaiting a scribe with the coin to buy you?" He scoffs in derision. "I think not. I am not so.. naive as that."

    Taking a bit of bread to his stew, he simply sighs quietly at Rann's agreement and continued suspicion, then stuffs it into his mouth, chews and swallows before responding. "Fevered imaginings or not, I was just as honest with John when I said I had no particular obligations to those he feared. Everyone whispers of how wizards are known to meddle. Perhaps he has rivals at the Imperial court and fears their reach here. I do not know and I cannot say." He puts another piece of bread into his stew and then devours it hungrily.

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