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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    The past few months at Hadran have been as peaceful as ever, everybody going about their lives as if nothing would ever happen.

    Then, one warm summer's evening, as he's eating in his house with his parents, Aspen suddenly hears the sound of a villager running towards the town hall and crying "Orcs! Orcs!" Looking outside, you see a long line of torches and fire, less than a mile away and coming towards the village at an alarming speed. Already, villagers are beginning to leave their homes wielding bows and pitchforks and daggers, disorganized and obviously terrified but resolute.
    "Looking into the abyss is fun!" - Nietzsche, or somebody

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  2. - Top - End - #2
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    Aspen jumps to his feet. "We're leaving. Move," he orders his family, rushing to his closet and packing as much stuff as he can fit into one bag. He quickly urges his father and mother out of the house, and when they ask where they're supposed to go, he quickly replies, "We'll head north, towards the country. We've got family out there, yeah? We can stay with them a few days until all of this blows over, and then come back and see if the damage is too bad to repair."

    Aspen sneaks his parents out of the house, but as he leads them from building to building, he spots the orcs killing other people and grits his teeth in anger and fear. Not the time, he tells himself. Grieve later, run now. Aspen manages to lead his parents out of the city and looks back behind him. Something inside of him snaps.

    "Come on. We're going to Lux," he informs his parents.

    "Lux? But why would we go there? You just said we can stay with your aunt until this all blows over..."

    "Lia," his father interrupts sternly, "let's go with the boy. He's old enough now to make some decisions, and I trust his instincts as much as he does."

    "Thanks Dad," Aspen replies, shaking his head. "I need to stay close to the city to make sure any refugees have cheap supplies available to them after the orcs clear out. Plus, if we get to Lux, I may find out more about why the orcs attacked in the first place. Come on, let's go."

    He starts to follow the main road with his family in tow.

    * post roll count doesn't match database
    Last edited by NeoSeraphi; 2014-04-03 at 11:23 PM.
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    Aspen and his parents walk all night on the main road towards Lux. There are others on the road, as well: the butcher and his son, burly humans with naught but some food and two cleavers; an aged gnome who hobbles along with the agility of a tortoise; the two orphaned twin sisters, 38-year old elvish scoundrels whose belongings amount to a wicked-looking collection of knives and a few copper pieces; and a full family of human peasants, father, mother, and three children. When the group looks back occasionally, they see the village burning behind them. Yet nothing abnormal occurs during the journey - no wolf attacks, no run-ups with other people, not even any signs of pursuit from orcs.
    "Looking into the abyss is fun!" - Nietzsche, or somebody

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    Aspen quickly surveys the group moving at the same pace as him. After a time, he stops walking and clears his throat. "Excuse me, everyone? Could you all gather together for a moment please? I know everyone's eager to get somewhere to sleep for the night, but if we just keep walking with no plan we'll never get anywhere. Now then."

    "For those of you who don't know me, I am Aspen Shadowstep. I used to work as a negotiator for the farmers in Hadran. Now, I'm a refugee. Same as all of you. However, what I have that you don't is..." he ignites his hand with electricity for emphasis, "Magic. It's my intention to get everyone in this group to Lux safely. If I'm going to do that, I need to know exactly who I can rely on and who I need to protect. So, if any one of you is able and willing to fight for your life, step up now and introduce yourself."
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    The peasant father immediately answers the question. He seems like he is desperately trying to be a good 'father figure' and keep a brave face through his fear. His family, however, makes no effort to conceal their fear: the children huddle around their mother, who whispers vaguely comforting things to them with a pale face.
    "My name is Sigvaldi, this is my wife, Gwenevere, and my three children, Yevgenii, Sigrid, and Stein. I can fight if necessary, but I have no weapons and no training."
    Next, the butcher's son speaks up. He and his father exhibit less fear than pure shock - especially his father, whose face is obviously swollen with tears.
    "I can fight." the young butcher says, tersely.
    There's a long pause. The gnome seems to be using it to catch his breath, while the two sisters gaze mutely at the other villagers through their hair. Finally, one answers "We'll fight.", and the other flashes a brief smile.
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  6. - Top - End - #6
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    Aspen shakes his head. "No. If you have no skill with a weapon, you'll be more a hindrance than a help. Put your strength to use elsewhere, such as by acting as a blocker for anyone who tries to touch your family or mine. I can guarantee you, you won't have to hold them longer than a moment."

    Aspen sizes up the son for a moment, then nods. "Alright. I can see your determination. Just remember, if we meet any orcs or bandits on the road, they will likely go if we give them enough trouble. But if you wound a man without killing him, it could turn a simple robbery into a lifelong desire for revenge."

    The woman's voice surprises him. "You two want to help? Well...I did say I needed to know who I can rely on. Very well. What are your names?"
    Awesome hell knight avatar by gr8artist!

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  7. - Top - End - #7
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    The father replies calmly, though it's obvious that he's relieved: "I will protect them with my life." Stein, his youngest son (aged about 4), leaves his mother to hug Sigvaldi's leg.

    As Aspen speaks of wounding without killing, an odd expression appears on the older butcher's face - a sort of cross between cynicism and malice. The expression isn't lost on Gwenevere, who watches the butcher narrowly. The butcher's son, however, nods to Aspen to indicate he understands.

    Both girls peer at Aspen for another moment through their hair, glance at each other, and then the one who already spoke says "Illivien and Blade." The other does nothing but stare stolidly at Aspen.

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    How about you roleplay for your parents, since you've already started doing that? Would that work for you?
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  8. - Top - End - #8
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    That's fine with me. Didn't mean to step on your toes any. Sorry


    "Dear..." Lia says, looking at Aspen with worry.

    Arthur nods and steps up. "I can't help fight, I'm afraid, but I will put my skills to use in other ways. If anything is damaged, any equipment or shelter, I'll repair it as fast as I can."

    Aspen smiles. "Thanks Dad. Now then. Illivien, was it? Are you and your sister armed, or do you need us to procure you some weapons? Also, you both can march next to me at the front of the pack, while this young man can stand guard at the rear." He nods to the butcher's son.
    Awesome hell knight avatar by gr8artist!

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    I take back my gratefulness for NeoSeraphi being DM here.
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  9. - Top - End - #9
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    The butcher nods, while llivien smiles at Aspen, and without removing her gaze from the halfling, points a bony index finger at her sister. The latter gives another odd smile and silently opens her cloak. Its insides are lined with knives of various sizes and makes - at least 5 or 6, all looking remarkably sharp and in very good condition.

    There's something in the two elven girls' attitudes that seems to unnerve the rest of the villagers, especially the old gnome. He hacks loudly and says "We'd better git movin' 'fore the wolves git us."
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  10. - Top - End - #10
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    Appraise check on the knives (12 tells me if they're mastework, 20 tells me if they're magical): (1d20+8)[11]
    Sense Motive on the silent girl, just to get a general hunch about her (DC 20): (1d20+5)[21]


    Aspen nods. "Well then, a pleasure to have you both assist me. Right. We have our marching formation, everyone get moving again. Sigvaldi, I want you to cover the butcher's son. If he's caught by surprise, try and get some space between him and his enemy long enough for him to get his bearings and fight, please. So the two of you in the back, me and the sisters up front, everyone else walks in the middle. Let's go."

    Aspen will head onward to Lux, only stopping when the group needs to rest, at which point he will let everyone but Illiven go to sleep. He asks Illiven to stay up and keep watch with him, the two of them should be able to get enough "rest" to keep marching just by sitting still, though of course they don't get any spells back.

    "So, I don't think I've ever seen you around the village. What did you do there?" he inquired, his tone pleasant and friendly.

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    Perception, both on the road and to keep watch at night: (1d20+7)[16]
    Diplomacy on Illiven: (1d20+10)[11] (DC to change from friendly to helpful is 0+her Charisma modifier, or if she's just indifferent at this point then changing her to friendly is 10+her Charisma modifier)
    Last edited by NeoSeraphi; 2014-04-19 at 10:08 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheEmperor
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  11. - Top - End - #11
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    Thanks for outlining the DCs. I constantly get them wrong, haha.

    And let me know when you're finished roleplaying with the various villagers.


    The knives seem to be well-made, and their owner seems to be very proud of them - perhaps even holding feelings of affection for her knives.
    The villagers enter Aspen's marching order without a grumble, and restart their march towards Lux. Illivien looks at Aspen with some slight surprise when he speaks to her. After a pause, she answers with a frank expression "We sneaked." If the halfling looks confused or asks for clarifications, she adds "We hung around and stole." Indeed, as she says this, both Sigvaldi and the gnome pass a 'yes, I know all about your shenanigans, you dirty rotten creature' look at her.
    "Looking into the abyss is fun!" - Nietzsche, or somebody

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    "You sneaked, huh? I see. Well," he gives a pointed look to the rest of the group, "Whatever you did before has nothing to do with where we are now. You are both my allies and I welcome your assistance gratefully. A pleasure to make your acquaintance as well, Blade," he adds, smiling warmly at Illiven's sister.

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    Is "affection for their knives" the only result of my Sense Motive check?
    I'm done roleplaying now, we can move on. But Aspen is going to treat Illiven and Blade very well and chat lively with Illiven on the way to Lux, keeping up his Diplomacy.
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    Well, not necessarily. What other kind of thing did you want to know? Just what kind of girl she seems like?

    Blade doesn't smile or say anything, but nods at Aspen to acknowledge his comment.

    As the group travels through the night through fields and small forests, Illivien makes a minimum effort to keep up the conversation, outright ignoring any questions that get too personal. If the topic of knives is broached, Blade smiles oddly again. The atmosphere in the group during that walk is fairly somber. Sigvaldi and his wife make only a few half-hearted attempts to contribute to the conversation, but their children get progressively more friendly with Aspen (apart from Stein, who is soon too tired to walk and has to be carried sleeping by his mother), not fully understanding the impact of the events having just transpired. The butcher and his son remain entirely introspective, while the gnome walks slower and slower over time. Come dawn, he literally collapses onto a bush in the middle of an open plain and refuses to move. The two children who are still walking lie down beside him, utterly exhausted. The rest of the group stands still and looks at Aspen. "I suppose we had better let the children a chance to rest." Sigvaldi says, uncertainly.

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    If you wanted to find out something about the various other villagers during the walk, you can make a Diplomacy check (or two, or three, or even ten, if you want to learn lots of things) to wheedle the information from them in conversation. In some cases the check will be very easy, possibly as low as DC 0, while in others it might be a lot harder.
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  14. - Top - End - #14
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    What she's thinking. Getting a hunch for her emotions or her basic opinion of the situation.


    Aspen nods with understanding to the group. "That's fine. Illiven, if you could stay up and watch with me, then that should be enough man power. The rest of you get some sleep. We leave in eight hours."

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    Aspen will ask Illiven what she likes to eat (1d20+10)[18], and whether she wants to stay in Lux with the rest of them or head out on her own with her sister (1d20+10)[15]. He does not actively engage with the rest of the group, as Blade seems uninterested and he has to keep his face forward, but he will answer anyone and keep up a smile the whole time.
    Perception: (1d20+7)[8]
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    Blade seems to be taking the situation pretty calmly, actually. What she seems to be most uncomfortable about is having to be around other people.
    When asked about what kind of food she likes best, Illivien seems confused, and has to think for a moment. At length, she answers "Sheep."
    Aspen has to really beat around the bush to find out Illivien's plans, finally realizing that she and her sister seem to take life only a few hours at a time, crossing each bridge when they get there.

    Sigvaldi smiles at 'man power', his first smile all night. He, and the rest of the group, appear immensely relieved at the break. Gwenevere immediately begins doing her best to make her children reasonably comfortable in 'bed' - an effort not strictly necessary, as they all fall to sleep within minutes. Sigvaldi and Gwenevere lie on either side of their children, and the butcher and his son also lie down back to back. Blade lies in fetal position with one hand in her coat, while Illivien stands sits immediately next to her sister.

    As always Illivien is silent during most of the morning, and except for the occasional yawn, she seems to be coping quite well with her lack of sleep. As the sun has almost peaked at the top of the sky, Sigvaldi's youngest son wakes up and tells his parents he is hungry, and Blade immediately wakes up at the sound of his voice and gets to her feet, only relaxing when she realizes the source of the sound. Gwenevere rouses, slightly slower, and begins to explain to Stein that there is no food.
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    "Enough," Aspen cuts the woman off, shaking his head. "I'll be right back, little one," he says to the boy, smiling. Glancing at Blade he says, "Keep them safe until I return. Illiven, use this time to rest your eyes a bit."

    Aspen walks off the road and heads out into the plains/forest/whatever is next to the road and searches for any source of food to help the group (berries, small animals, anything they can eat).

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    Survival: (DC 10 to find food for one person, food for one extra person per 2 I exceed the DC by) (1d20-1)[5]
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    When Aspen returns after an hour of unsuccessful foraging, he finds everybody awake, and, in fact, sharing a meager meal consting of a single loaf of bread. The gnome is in a foul mood, but the rest of the group seems to be coping well with the circumstances: the butcher and his son are more open, if still somber, while Sigvaldi and his wife act with a new energy.

    The villagers look expectantly at Aspen when he arrives, and Sigvaldi stands up. "Do you think the orcs will be following behind us?" he asks, almost immediately.
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    "It's unlikely. Lux is a huge city with a powerful armed guard. Attacking it with such a small band would be suicide. Though, I can't claim to understand the orcs' motives for attacking our village either, so if they really are mad with bloodlust, it's possible. Honestly, I'm more worried about highwaymen or animals than orcs at this point." Aspen answers truthfully.

    He waits for everyone to finish eating. "Right then, break time is over. Let's move, everyone. Illiven, Blade, with me."

    Aspen takes the lead and heads down the road towards Lux again.

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    Perception: (1d20+7)[24]
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    Sigvaldi seems slightly reassured, if not actually convinced. The group follows Aspen's instructions immediately, however - they seem to have all taken Aspen as their leader implicitly.

    After two hours of walking in through hills and plains, the group finally does come up against a small farm beside the road, complete with a small farmhouse. They don't see anyone in the fields (or hear any other human sound), however, and the door of the hut is ajar.

    Spoiler: OOC
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    Make yourself two Fort checks, one at DC 12 and the other at DC 14.

    2 for Illivien: (1d20+0)[13]
    (1d20+0)[20]
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    "My, my. Now this could be a stroke of good luck. Much as I'd hate to rob a man who could be down on his luck, I'm sure he'd part with a small amount of food voluntarily if he knew our situation. Illiven?" Aspen nods towards the house. "Blade, keep a look out for any danger. Sigvaldi, if she or you spots anything, give us a shout. We'll be right back."

    Aspen approaches the house and takes a peek inside the cracked open door.

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    Perception: (1d20+7)[13]
    Con Check 1: (1d20+1)[21]
    Con Check 2: (1d20+1)[15]
    Last edited by NeoSeraphi; 2014-05-16 at 02:55 AM.
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    Illivien nods and follows Aspen - clearly, she and her sister were thinking very similar things. Blade begins to follow as well, but stops when Illivien makes a peculiar gesture at her.

    When the two arrive at the hut and look through the door, they see a horrible scene: a human man and woman sprawled across the floor, hideously mangled. The man's skin is almost torn off his face, and the woman's entrails are torn out of his belly and scattered around her, limbs contorted in unnatural positions. Both are wounded in a thousand places, their flesh slashed or torn. The room bears obvious signs of a struggle, covered with coagulated blood and with the various elements of the room either destroyed or overturned. Illivien seems oddly unaffected by the scene; she enters the room, cautiously but without exhibiting any signs of revulsion or pity for the couple.
    Last edited by Eonas; 2014-05-23 at 03:59 PM.
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  22. - Top - End - #22
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    What kind of gesture did Illiven make?


    Aspen grits his teeth and shuts his eyes, turning away from the scene. "What the hell...what the hell happened here?"

    He shakes his head and then opens his eyes again, boldly glaring at the corpses. "I wonder if this was some kind of robbery gone wrong...there's no way the orcs did this, they came from the opposite direction..."

    Aspen kneels down and examines the bodies, looking for any clues or perhaps a weapon. After looking for a moment, he stands up. "No time to give them a proper burial. I'll inform the authorities when we get to Lux so that a proper investigation can be carried out. In the meantime, as disturbing as it sounds, this is very convenient for us. Dead men hold no property rights after all. Let's take a look around. Illiven, go outside and get Blade. I don't know if whatever did this is still around, but if it is I want both of you in this house and sticking together. Watch her back. I'm going to look and see if there's an attic or a basement."

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    Perception: (1d20+7)[10]

    Edit: Actually, assuming there's no danger, I'll just take 20 on my Perception, takes 20 minutes but since there's no penalty for failure, it's just me thoroughly examining the area. 27 total.
    Last edited by NeoSeraphi; 2014-05-23 at 04:07 PM.
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    Illivien spins around, steps outside, places her arms above her head in an X and, for lack of a better word, flaps them. At the signal, Blade runs toward the pair in swift, elegant strides, one hand in her coat. This done, Illivien re-enters the house, and rapidly finds a loaf of bread in a chest in the corner of the room. She eats it with the ferocity of a wolf and tosses another one to Blade when her sister comes in. If Aspen questions her or asks her to stop, the elf glances first at Aspen, then at the corpses, then resumes eating.

    Aspen has little difficulty in finding a trapdoor. It's unhidden, in the center of the room, where the man's head rests.

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    Also, are you going to roleplay for Aspen's parents? I think we both maybe forgot about that?
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  24. - Top - End - #24
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    I am going to roleplay my parents, for as far as the road goes, after that I assume they'll be out of the game. Right now it's just Illiven and Blade though


    "...Food. That's good. Alright, can the two of you take what you can find and distribute it among the rest of the travelers for me? I'm going to look under this trapdoor." Aspen says, a little disturbed at the pair, but understanding their instincts. He kneels down and lifts the trapdoor up, and after making sure there is a clear path down, he lights a candle and descends below.
    Awesome hell knight avatar by gr8artist!

    Quote Originally Posted by TheEmperor
    I take back my gratefulness for NeoSeraphi being DM here.
    I swear he's Asmodeus's avatar on this earth.
    Seraphi HomebrewTM

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    The sisters glance at Aspen - Illivien even hesitates, but only for a moment. Then she rejoins her sister in eating the loaves, and when those are done, they both fish out another and munch on that as well.

    The trapdoor leads into a simple small cellar. As he climbs down the wooden ladder into it, he can see that it's it contains a total of about ten boxes and barrels and urns of various types and sizes. There doesn't seem to be anything else in the cellar.
    "Looking into the abyss is fun!" - Nietzsche, or somebody

    I often forget about new posts. If I go AWOL on a game I'm running or playing in, feel free to prod me via PM or the OOC thread. Thanks!

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    Aspen sighs. "Selective hearing. Nice. I'm a merchant, you think I'm not used to this?"

    He crouches down, then shoots forward, dashing between the sisters and snatching a large portion of the contents of the chest, taking a single loaf from the pile and biting into it slowly. "The rest is yours, ladies. But you do have to share enough for the group to survive." He finishes the bread, swallowing loudly, before stepping outside and handing out the rest of the food to the group.

    "Oh, thank you so much!" Lia exclaims, munching her share quickly. A loud belch follows her actions as Aspen's father mimicks her enthusiasm. Aspen narrows his eyes and turns to Sigvaldi. "No matter what happens, no one is to enter this house. Understand? Leave this to me and the girls. No matter what you hear, no matter what comes out, do NOT enter this house. I'll be back soon."

    That done, Aspen resumes his original plan of entering the trapdoor.

    "A bunch of containers? Someone was quite the hoarder before they died..." He looks around, drawing his dagger and hiding it under his cloak, ready to spring at any time. "Two dead humans upstairs and my only backup is a selfish bloodthirsty thief and her mute sister. Well, no one's getting the jump on me."

    Aspen raises his free hand and uses a combination of the mage hand and open/close spells to remove the lids off every vase, barrel and box in the cellar, preparing himself for anyone who may jump out at him.
    Awesome hell knight avatar by gr8artist!

    Quote Originally Posted by TheEmperor
    I take back my gratefulness for NeoSeraphi being DM here.
    I swear he's Asmodeus's avatar on this earth.
    Seraphi HomebrewTM

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    The others grab the bread and eat it as hungrily as one might expect. Sigvaldi and Gwenevere eat last, after their children, and the old gnome has a violent hacking fit in the middle of eating a loaf of bread, but soon they have all eaten their fill.

    The various containers seem to only contain grains and salted meats and other food for preserving - certainly, nothing hops out of them. In the midst of opening the last two containers, however, Aspen hears a woman's shrill screech, then Sigvaldi's reassuring voice. When he looks up, he sees the villagers at the entrance of the house, looking in at the bodies with shock. "What happened here?" asks the butcher tersely.
    "Looking into the abyss is fun!" - Nietzsche, or somebody

    I often forget about new posts. If I go AWOL on a game I'm running or playing in, feel free to prod me via PM or the OOC thread. Thanks!

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    Aspen narrows his eyes. "I gave you a single order, Sigvaldi. Come on, how hard was it for you to stay outside? Did you think I told you that for no reason? Look, when we entered the house, these people were already dead. It doesn't look like there's anything valuable here, so we're going to leave and get to Lux immediately. Come on Illiven. Grab your sister."

    Aspen will cast detect magic and scan the house before he leaves, taking anything that has a magical aura with him. Afterwards, he gets his group out on the road and moving on.
    Awesome hell knight avatar by gr8artist!

    Quote Originally Posted by TheEmperor
    I take back my gratefulness for NeoSeraphi being DM here.
    I swear he's Asmodeus's avatar on this earth.
    Seraphi HomebrewTM

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    There's a laden silence for a few seconds, and suddenly Sigvaldi erupts. "Hold on, young man, who put you in charge? Two people died! This wasn't any freak accident, either. These are my children, and it's my duty to protect them."
    "Looking into the abyss is fun!" - Nietzsche, or somebody

    I often forget about new posts. If I go AWOL on a game I'm running or playing in, feel free to prod me via PM or the OOC thread. Thanks!

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    Aspen's eyes narrow and he raises his hand as it sparks with lightning. "I put myself in charge, old man, and I did it because I have the power to kill anyone who doesn't listen to me. If you want me to protect you and your children you had best be sure to make yourself more useful to me in the future, or else you're just a stubborn mouth to feed."

    Arthur steps forward and gently places his hand on his son's shoulder. Aspen frowns but takes a breath and lowers his hand, letting his magic dissipate.

    "Right. We've got food, that's what we stopped here for. These people are dead, but there's no sign of whatever killed them. As curious as I am about the affair, we need to keep moving. Finish your meals and we'll be back on the road in fifteen minutes. Illiven, if you and your sister keep eating you won't have any left for the road." he calls over his shoulder.
    Awesome hell knight avatar by gr8artist!

    Quote Originally Posted by TheEmperor
    I take back my gratefulness for NeoSeraphi being DM here.
    I swear he's Asmodeus's avatar on this earth.
    Seraphi HomebrewTM

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