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Thread: Last Redoubt

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    It is the dawn of First Watch, the time that to surface-dwellers might be called morning, and Rasht'dajath is shifting from night watch to the day's work.

    The bustling community of 1,326 humans, kalashtar, xeph, and sundry other races moves with the practiced air of routine, but with the leaden movements of a world without much else other than routine to live by.

    "Hey! Anyone seen Niev?" Chorad, the head miner of the settlement, walks among the gathering miners, looking for the recruits assigned to his company for the day. Guarding, or worse, helping, the miners is one of the least glamorous jobs in Rasht', and it always takes some time to find those assigned to it. "Laskin? Mari? Come on, those kids have got to be around here somewhere..."
    Drew

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    Huddled in the shadow of a nearby building, Niev sits with one arm around her knees, sipping tea from a metal flask. Eyes closed, she slowly lets the calling voice filter through into her unwilling mind, waiting for the last possible moment that will allow her to avoid seeming to be hiding. A few seconds more pass before she opens her eyes with a sigh. Stopping the flask and stowing it in an inside pocket of her dark green cloak, she stands and brushes the dust off the fabric before emerging into the slightly brighter gathering area.

    "Hello, Chorad. First Watch already?" There is no sense of purpose in her stride, but she reaches the caller regardless, greeting him with a half-raised hand.
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    Mari comes hurtling down a narrow street, dodging past the odd miner or two and coming to an abrupt halt several yards away from Niev and Chorad. Oh good. I'm not late this time. I think… As her heavy breathing subsides, she approaches with a more dignified walk coupled with a yawn. "G'day."
    Last edited by FirebirdFlying; 2010-07-15 at 06:43 PM.

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    NinjaGuy

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    Default Re: Last Redoubt

    Laskin tightens the straps on his armor once more each movement precise and deliberate, with no wasted motion.
    Perform every action as if it is the last thing you will ever do he thinks as he does so. Satisfied that he is prepared, Laskin strides forward towards Chorad.
    I am ready
    Last edited by acid_ninja; 2010-07-15 at 09:45 PM.

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    AssassinGuy

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    Chorad grumbles at his errant guardians, even as he shouts back to the gathered workers, "Let's get going! That iron vein isn't going to mine itself!"

    The miners' chatter dies away as they gather their kits for the day (as much as any time spent in the dark below the earth can be called day) and head for the new vein of iron ore discovered a week ago by an exploratory dig.

    Other digs might be willing to go without guards, but this one is dangerously close to Khyber; it wouldn't be worth it had not there been hints that the iron was of high enough quality to forge adamantine from it.

    Still, this didn't stop the miners from spreading rumors of ghosts and demons seen lurking that deep.

    Surely nothing more than rumors, but Lasht' didn't survive this long beneath the surface of Eberron by being reckless.
    Drew

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    NinjaGuy

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    Laskin strides to the forefront of the company. If there are more than rumors waiting in the dark he will meet them head on

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    Niev drops back to walk with Mari, taking out the flask again. "Good day to you as well, although," she adds with a wry smile, "this doesn't look to be the most auspicious start to it. Tea?"
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    "Oh, yes, please." Covering another yawn, Mari grins up at Niev. "It'll do me good - overslept again. Stayed up reading, you know how it is…probably not the best idea." Her grin fades. "You know, I was reading, some demons down there can make themselves sound like your dead loved ones. They call your name, and when you've gone after them far enough away from the path they drain all the flesh from your body and wear your face. Along with all the others they've collected."
    Last edited by FirebirdFlying; 2010-07-16 at 09:41 PM.

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    AssassinGuy

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    A few murmurs from those closest to Mari suggests her commentary isn't helping the superstitious mood today.

    Neither is the lighting -- even everburning torches seem to be flickering as if on the edge of dying. The day is going to be a gloomy one, and the miners keep closing in small packs and muttering to themselves.

    The word "nightmare" keeps drifting through the crowds, a word that has an all-too sinister meaning below Eberron's surface.

    Soon enough, however, they reach the twisting iron mine Chorad is overseeing, and Chorad stops at the entrance, turning to his assignees.

    "Now, we've found no side-passages down there, and generally it's better if we don't have any outsiders messing around the mine. But we're close to a few entrances to Khyber down here, and so it's your job to keep anything dangerous out." He wrinkles his square face at the thought of Khyber monsters. "Of course, if we run into anything troublesome, we'll give you a shout, and directions, through the ring."

    He is speaking, of course, of the two circles of sound, crafted by a master artificer who was a part of the early settlement. Their range is nearly a mile, and at times essential for communication deep beneath the earth. He hands one of the rings to Laskin.
    Drew

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    NinjaGuy

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    Laskin puts the ring on his right hand.
    Understood. Nothing will get by us.

    Laskin draws his sword and moves to take up a guard post near the entrance. He stands still as a statue but alert, giving the impression that he is prepared to stand without twitching a muscle all day if necessary.
    Last edited by acid_ninja; 2010-07-17 at 12:03 AM.

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    Niev hands the flask to Mari, eyes widening at the tale. "Sounds like a nasty lot. What do they need the faces for, though, I wonder? If they catch people by calling for them? Is it just some sort of... trophy?"

    She stops with the others, and leans against the wall next to the entrance. "Well, we won't need to worry about face-collecting demons on this job, at least, but I'm sure there's plenty of variety in Khyber's denizens. A tool for every job - if there were someone to pick, which we can hope there isn't."
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    Mari shrugs, sipping tea. "Didn't say. I'd guess so, though. I mean, the faces would probably dry up or decay or something after a while." She glances down the tunnel, across at Laskin, and back at Niev. "I've never actually met anything down here, though. Besides the odd fungus worm."

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    "Yeah, they don't seem to have much desire to leave. Still, if we sit around on their doorstep taunting them... who knows? Might try to have us end up in someone's face collection after all." Niev raises an eyebrow. "Oh, maybe that's what they do with them! Dry them out and hang them on a wall somewhere... could have a whole row of them staring down at you."
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    A quiet sound, much like the movements of small vermin through the tunnels beneath Eberron, disrupts the general quiet of the twisting passages.

    Movement almost seems to flicker through the darkness beyond the reach of their everburning lanterns, but to see more, one would need to explore beyond the small entrance.

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    At the same time, a startled voice speaks from the ring of sound:

    "What in Siberys' name-?"

    The voice itself cuts off abruptly, as if the power of the ring itself has been broken.
    Drew

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    NinjaGuy

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    Laskin lets his inner senses take over, reaching out with his mind to detect any hostility directed towards him. (Manifesting Detect Hostile Intent)

    Quiet. Something's wrong.

    He speaks into the ring:
    Chorad? Are you okay?

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    "Tch." As amusing as it would be to think the conversation had made the normally unflappable Laskin nervous, that hardly seemed likely. And there was something odd about that noise... it was probably better to err on the side of caution. She nods to Mari, briefly channeling energy through her body and trying to discern the source of the sound.

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    Mari nods back at Niev as a small rock clambers its way out of Mari's belt pouch, crawling down her leg to end up on the floor beside her. She stares down the tunnels, listening - much like the rock, which although expressionless gives off the impression of alertness.

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    Listen (M): (1d20+2)[11]
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    AssassinGuy

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    Laskin
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    It is said that holy warriors can go mad in Khyber, as their ability to sense evil is overwhelmed by the darkness below the earth.

    Even seeking only hostile emotions, you can see how such people might avoid the depths, as a subtle malevolence pervades the tunnel. But you sense no creature actively seeking you ill.

    The speaking stone hisses and crackles, and then goes dead.


    Mari
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    Mari's psicrystal sends disjointed thoughts along their bond -- something -- larger than a normal rat -- not too far away.
    Drew

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    "There's something there," Mari whispers. "Not - big. Should I…?" She gestures towards the entrance.

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    Niev frowns, reaching out to take one of the everburning torches. "Not alone," she whispers back. "Have your crystal take a look if you can, but otherwise we should all go."
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    NinjaGuy

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    Default Re: Last Redoubt

    Whatever is out there, it isn't actively hunting us. But I can't raise Chorad on this ring. We need to go and find out what's happened to them.

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    Mari nods, and the crystal skitters down into the tunnel.

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    Laskin takes the lead, trusting his augmented senses to warn him of any attack, and heads down the mine towards where Chorad and the others were working.

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    "Kuh! You..." The hissing whisper barely escapes her before she bites it back. No choice, then. It was probably the correct choice - if the circle was dead, then something untoward had certainly happened - but rushing off without at least having a look first didn't feel right. "Come on, then. We can't split up now." She motions Mari forward, taking the rear and holding the torch high, glancing backward every few steps.
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    Mari gives Laskin an irritated look before following quietly at Niev's behest. She can feel the slight disorientation of not having the crystal close already, and stares vaguely past Laskin's shoulder as her focus shifts to wherever the rock is.

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    The group leaves whatever was lurking outside the mine to discover what has surprised the miners.

    The mines are tight -- only large enough to fit one abreast -- and twisting almost at random. While the paths branch almost incessantly, arrows etched in the stone guide the errant towards the main mine.

    Something about the mines seems odd, although it isn't immediately obvious what.

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    Ugh, how were they planning on getting the ore out of here? Mentally cursing as she scrapes against another rough protrusion, Niev wraps her cloak tighter around herself, still trying to hold the torch where it won't interfere with her vision. Well, this isn't really anything new, but under conditions like this, even these passages seem like they're out to get us...

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    …I hate mines. It's official. Never again. She trudges along, staring mostly at her feet. Her psicrystal has scuttled back, and clings like an odd sort of bird to her shoulder. They might even be down one of these side passages.

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    (1d20)[8]

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    NinjaGuy

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    Laskin keeps his calm, despite the thoughts that come unbidden Perhaps I will have a chance to test myself.

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    Laskin:
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    It occurs to Laskin that there aren't any noises surrounding them -- even of mining.


    Niev:
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    The miners have abandoned their duties, if the all-encompassing silence is anything to go by.

    Luckily, the same silence means there's about an even chance that they haven't gotten involved in a pitched battle for their lives.


    As the troupe moves further along, the dimness of their surroundings recedes; it's still dark, but there's something more welcoming about the darkness. And something like a pure, clear bells cuts through the eerie silence.

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    Drew

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