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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Kingmaker in the Forgotten Realms [IC thread]

    Overture




    Setting aside its apprehension, the unicorn picked its way into the clearing.

    Moonlight lay on dew-soaked grass. Selune cast its pale white circle across the pool lying at the clearing’s centre. The pool had fouled long ago. It stank with the acrid pungency all stagnant waters took on, and the night’s stillness did little to keep the smell from reaching into the woods. But at this hour the silence and the stillness and the moonlight were enough to make the rotten little space beautiful. And the unicorn’s instinct had always been for beautiful things.

    It drank in the moonlight, and allowed itself a small measure of peace. The unicorn’s unease, which had followed it for long days and longer leagues, washed away. The feeling had been as unfamiliar as it was unwelcome. Even in the Greenbelt few things would willingly challenge a creature of its abilities; those that did shortly learned the error of their ways. And those few things that were a threat never saw the unicorn, never heard it pass, might only have glimpsed it as it disappeared. Its instincts were strong, and its discernment stronger. To be plagued with a feeling of wrongness, a feeling like moisture in the air ahead of a night wind, was something outside its experience entirely.

    Something had changed, was changing, in the Greenbelt.

    The thought crossed the unicorn’s mind like an unwanted guest over a threshold. In this span of forest, where so little had changed for time out of mind, there had been some shift in the state of things. The elves had barely touched these woods, and they had vanished from these lands long ago. Men came and went into the forest, as was their wont, but never for long; never staying to build hearths, granaries, keeps. Almost all retreated, cursing the Greenbelt or the Great Mother or both. Those few who remained to make the Greenbelt their home did not change the Greenbelt; the land imposed upon them, changed them, made them not visitors but indigenous, and worked upon their minds as it did. Those who stayed brought no others with them, and in time they returned to the earth, resting below towers of emerald and gravestones of grass. This had been the cycle so many times that it was a part of the state of things.

    No longer. It was in the air. The change coming to these forests was one that would be forever, a challenge for the first time in centuries to the perfection of the wood. The unicorn tried to comfort itself that this might not be such a bad thing. Not all change was evil. Perhaps, the unicorn wondered, this was how it had felt when the elves first arrived and began to harness what was meant as wild. Perhaps the elves were returning.

    An eddy of wind rippled across the waters of the pool, bringing with it the stink of decaying things. The wind set the dead leaves at the water’s edge to dancing, rolling, tumbling, and the unicorn realised it was not alone. It turned. Something off to its side. All its unease and calm disappeared like they’d never been. It turned like quicksilver, head lowered, horn gleaming white in the moonlight, muscles bunching, readying to charge whatever had managed to take it unawares. And immediately raised its head, amazed.

    The woman was walking towards the unicorn along the water’s edge. She was lowering her cowl. The remainder of her was swathed in a long emerald robe, but every element of her movement shouted through the shimmering green material: precise, graceful, from the sacred geometry of her hips as they moved to the last flick of her fingertips. Her face was…

    Perfect.

    Beyond human comparison; perhaps beyond elven.

    The unicorn slowly, gently, as compelled as not, went to its knees, one after the other.

    The old stories had power in them. Human maidens rarely saw a unicorn, and those that did rarer still had the comeliness to bring this reaction from the unicorn.

    This face was pure beauty. And so the unicorn’s instinct for beauty held it just as strongly as the woman sat down on a fallen log that hadn’t been there a moment before, and gently took the unicorn’s head to its lap.

    The woman was singing something, the unicorn realised. Some tune that danced across the scale like a dirge.

    O my pretty, hide your cares
    Let worry pass on into the airs…


    The unicorn remembered the song. Even beneath the intoxication of the woman’s beauty, it began to raise its head.

    The woman’s hand caressed the unicorn’s cheek.

    Then, as the unicorn’s lifeforce drained from it, as its heart slowed and stopped, as the unicorn died, the woman’s other hand came up to gently caress its head, and that pure, corrupted, beautiful face smiled.

    The leaves rustled, danced, rolled, tumbled, and finally, came to rest at the water’s edge, under the light of Selune.







    KINGMAKER
    Book One: The Stolen Lands



    Southernmost Emmerock, the Border Kingdoms
    Eventide, 30th of Mirtul, Year of Lightning Storms (1374 DR)




    Mystra’s Tears were blooming. The tiny blue stars of its flowers gleamed in the afternoon light. Small sprays dotted the plains in the travellers' path. The breeze out of the south carried a tantalizing scent of something alternately sweet and fecund, and then was gone again the moment one concentrated on it. On the southern horizon was a haze of dark green, spreading in a girdle many miles wide. That, the six travellers knew, was the reason the Emmeryn called it the Greenbelt.

    The Greenbelt was also given another name, along with most of the territory along this, the southernmost border of Emmerock. The Emmeryn named these territories the Stolen Lands, although from whom or what the said land had been stolen was a matter of conjecture depending on whether one lived in High or Low Emmerock. In either event, it was uncivilized. And unexplored, which was why each of the travelers held the parchment from the Lord of the Bridges. This end of Emmerock was home to no settlements, no farms; only the occasional crofter or trapper, from what the travellers understood. And, of course, bandits.

    The trail from Dunbridges had wandered a little north or south over the past few days, but always westward; an easy walk through plains of waving grass sparking green in the new spring. Now, out of the plainsland, and against a reddening sunset, they finally saw what passed for Emmeryn authority out this far: a wooden palisade ten feet high, in what looked to be a square over a hundred feet a side. Four watchtowers twenty feet high, each with a catapult atop them that didn’t look terribly well-built even at this distance. Overall, the impression one got of the place was a border fort recently rebuilt (or patched up, in any event). Oleg’s Trading Post: the last stop on their journey, the first step of another - a journey truly begun the better part of a week earlier, when each of the six travellers had received with some ceremony, documents that all read the same thing:



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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Orc in the Playground
     
    OrcBarbarianGuy

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    Dergosh was quite pleased. It seemed his dream of expanding the lands of the Wolftooth tribe was off to a good start. He still remembered proudly the words of encouragement from his Clan Chief (“Please… just…just go”) when Dergosh told him of his idea. And while his new tribe members didn’t look much like his old ones, they were still Wolftooth to him. Especially the dragon.

    Dergosh burned with pride that his new tribe mates already had a hatchling dragon amongst them, the one called Ruk. He could only imagine what a position of strength and power the clan would be when he grew up into a huge, scaly monstrosity and terrorized their enemies.

    And so the half-orc marched happily towards the fort like a low rolling thundercloud, occasionally pounding his drum-shield and scattering any flocks of birds that had the misfortune of being in the vicinity. He had, admittedly, been a bit disappointed that no bandits had yet shown their faces, but he held out hope that that would change soon.

    As the fort came into view he stared up at the catapults appreciatively as they approached. Stopping some distance yet from the gates, he looked over his new tribe. “Ho! We here,” he said confidently. “Want Dergosh to go pound open gates?” he asked, waving his blood-blackened mace vaguely in the direction of the fort.
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    Three pulled lightly on her wagon's reins, urging her mules to stop near the half-orc, on the side with his good ear. She looked from him to Oleg's, then back again. "Oh. Eh..." Three glanced back toward Oleg's Trading Post, which didn't look like any trading post she had ever seen. It looked more like a military installation. Considering the warning in their charters about bandits and other dangers nearby, she supposed it may very well be one.
    Three looked back at the cleric. She didn't think he could break down the gate, but definitely didn't want to risk it. Why make the soldiers in Oleg's- the guards, rather- think they were a threat? She spoke a little louder than normal, knowing Dergosh may not hear her otherwise, "No, I think you should pound on your drum instead. Make a lot of noise, let them know we're coming."
    Last edited by almondsAndRain; 2018-05-05 at 09:11 PM.

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    Korlann nods as the ensouled construct (I'm still surprised such a thing exists. I've heard of constructs animated by stray wisps of Incarnum, but never a full soul...) speaks, and adds his agreement. "Yes, it's best for us to announce our presence. If you would be so kind as to do so... Dergosh?" He hesitates before saying the half-orc's name, as if trying to think of something and not coming up with anything.
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    Dergosh nodded at the construct’s wisdom. He had never seen her like before—well, he’d never seen the like of most of his new tribe mates before—but she had proven her intelligence on the trek here. She would probably have a seat on the Council of the Wise for the new tribe.

    At Korlann’s urging he positioned his instrument and prepared to announce their presence, pausing only for an admiring glance at the skarn’s impressive spikes. Both Dergosh’s armor and own flesh were pierced with trophies of fallen victim’s— teeth, claws, fangs, quills—but he liked the idea of growing them out of your body. He’d have to ask later how to do it.

    boom, BOOM, Dergosh beat on his drum-shield. “Ho! Oleg’s Trading Fort! Open up gates quick! The Lance Lords send us to settle Greenbelt and tear hearts out of enemy bandits. We are the mighty Wolftooth, fearsome of visage, girth, and especially VOLUME! Open up in the name of Lord Bellowing Sandras!” he shouted. boom, BOOM, BOOM.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Oleg's Trading Post, Southernmost Emmerock, the Border Kingdoms
    Eventide, 30th of Mirtul, Year of Lightning Storms (1374 DR)


    For a few moments, there was no response that any of the six could see. The stockade's drab colours slowly began to drain away with the sunset, towards leaving it in silhouette. A couple of the more courageous crickets in the grass nearby, momentarily silenced by what they'd thought was a sudden and unseasonable roll of thunder, tentatively recommenced their songs.

    A figure's head and shoulders appeared above the top of the palisade's eastern wall. Unarmoured; it wasn't even wearing a helmet, and it held no shield or spear that might otherwise have been expected. Indeed from this distance the more perceptive of the six travellers could tell it was a slender woman, the sunset's last light setting her yellow hair to burning gold. The woman peered out into the east, saw the travellers, and waved to them with what looked to be genuine friendliness. Then she cupped her hands around her mouth, and the woman's voice came drifting down to the travellers.
    "The gate's still open, we're about to close up for the night - it's on the south side, we'll meet you there!" She gestured towards the south wall of the palisade; as they'd come from the east, the gate wasn't visible, but in the near-to-last light of the day the scrubby path that passed for a road did give some indication of curving around the southeast corner of the palisade. The woman gave another friendly wave, and disappeared down below the palisade wall.

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    Orc in the Playground
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    "Right then. We should get a move on. Hopefully they'll let our animals graze inside, and will have a place for you lot to sleep." Three waved in thanks to the person on the wall, then whipped her reins to have the mules start to the left. "I think I'll scribe a scroll tonight. Any spell requests?"

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    Korlann nods as the woman directs them towards the southern gate, and turns towards the path. At Three's words, he considers for a moment before saying, "I am unfamiliar with the arcane arts, so I wouldn't be able to offer specific suggestions at present... if you're intending to scribe a spell that would be intended for combat use, perhaps something to bolster the group as a whole?"
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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Oleg's Trading Post, Southernmost Emmerock, the Border Kingdoms
    Eventide, 30th of Mirtul, Year of Lightning Storms (1374 DR)


    Moving around to the southern face of the palisade gave the travellers a better look at the stockade. Up close, it was apparent that while the place might have had some military function in the past, it certainly wasn’t being kept up to military standards at the moment. Indeed, it was questionable whether the stockade had served any military purpose in decades. The structure was old – maybe a good hundred years or more, given the tired-looking wooden walls. It certainly wasn’t under a military schedule of maintenance: yellow-backed spiders, centipedes, and moths were building enlightened civilisations amongst the posts. It also didn’t take a quartermaster or engineer to tell that the catapults mounted on the four towers at the corners of the stockade would be fortunate to throw rocks, now or ever again. The place wasn’t a wreck, but it wasn’t much more than a shell of a structure, either.

    The gate, a good thirty feet wide and placed in the centre of the south wall, was open. The travellers caught the sound of some form of hammering as they moved towards it, only to spot a figure shifting around the roof of one of the structures inside the palisade, hammer and pouch in hand. Nothing more suspicious than roofing going on there, though it was either foolhardy or brave to be wandering around on a rooftop with the sun about to go down. And the big man -- as far as they could see -- also hadn't spotted them, intent on his work on the roof with his back to the gate.

    Within the palisade, the trading post looked quiet. Four large wooden buildings spread across the inside of the walls, standing and centred on a cleared patch of ground right ahead, apparently some sort of trading market. Not that much trade was going on at the moment. Nobody but the man seemed to be around, and a pen which seemed clearly intended as the market's store was empty just off the market square. All was quiet, but again, no sixth sense twanged on the travellers' instincts: this was just inactivity, not a waiting ambush.

    The door of one of the buildings opened, and a human woman – blonde, very likely the same one they’d seen on the wall -- strode out. Strode was probably the wrong word; glided came closer to describing it. She had a plain, homespun calico dress and apron that any goodwife of the Border Kingdoms would wear, but she wore it as if it were a countess's robe. She wasn't terribly tall, but finely proportioned; even though she'd clearly run to plump and wouldn't have been the kind side of forty, her skin was clear and blue eyes compelled the impression that she'd been responsible for a string of broken hearts in her younger years. Hair blonde and tied with a small but elegant clip, as opposed to the usual rope knot most goodwives put up with. Inviting smells of cooked meat and stewing vegetables came wafting in her wake.

    The woman saw them, and the smile that crossed her face in response was as genuine as any they’d ever seen. She walked towards them, hands clasping in a look of gratitude. The travellers emerged from the gate’s shadows into the evening light of the trading square, and the woman hesitated for a moment. It was a look that the travellers would likely have expected; of them all, the ones who looked most human were Kuros and Korlann, who had more spines and arms than was customary.

    But the woman she seemed to remember herself and essayed a curtsy with that homespun dress which would've passed in the court of one of the Lance Lords themselves. "Forgive me. My name is Svetlana Leveton; saers, you are most welcome in our trading post."

    The voice, too, had acquired something of the accent one might expect from a Low Emmeryn, but there was an unmistakeable set of elocution lessons hiding in there, too.

    "Please," she continued, "I have stew and fresh bread for eventide. You've travelled far. Those animals arrive tomorrow and I realise you’ll want to prepare for their arrival, but I have to insist - it's the least I can do to thank you for your help."

    She turned in the direction of the man on the rooftop. “Oleg!” she called. “We have guests! Dinner is ready!”

    The man turned in her direction, raised a hand in response, and then turned back to his hammering.

    Svetlana gave the travellers an apologetic look, then hurriedly stood out of their way. “I’m sorry I didn’t greet you right at the gate – I just had to take the stew off, it’s just done, I didn’t want to burn it.”

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    Orc in the Playground
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    “Well, I can think of a few spells like that. But at my current level of skill, they wouldn't last long.” Three looked at Korlann, “At most, I imagine we'll have one minute to act.”
    -
    The closer Three got to the walls, the happier she was that Dergosh didn't pound on them. Maybe he could have brought these old things down. At any rate, the man on the roof didn't need more work. What he already had was cut out for him.
    When Three noticed the woman walking towards the party, she brought the wagon to a halt with a tug of its reins. She reached back into the wagon and grabbed her backpack, before stepping onto the ground. Three was already taller than most humans, and the extra height from her seat in the wagon wouldn't help her come off as less intimidating. She'd lead the mules by the reins.
    -
    After Svetlana had finished talking, Three hesitated for a moment before raising her hand to catch the woman's attention. Three hope she was missing something, because if she wasn't then it sounds like the trading post was going to be assaulted. “Pardon, Ma'am. Animals?” She gestured back to her mules and tried to make her voice sound a little humorous, “And while on the subject, is there anywhere to put ours?”
    Last edited by almondsAndRain; 2018-05-06 at 10:44 PM.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Oleg's Trading Post, Southernmost Emmerock, the Border Kingdoms
    Eventide, 30th of Mirtul, Year of Lightning Storms (1374 DR)


    A confused look rippled across the woman -- Svetlana's -- face. "Ah -- there's a stable, over there." She indicated one of the long buildings off on the western side of the square. Svetlana looked back up at the tall warforged. "But surely they told you about the -- your pardons, saers, perhaps I was mistaken. Are you the party of adventurers out of Dunbridges, sent to fight off our bandits? Emelden's message said you were coming to our aid."

    Emelden, at least, was a familiar name to the travellers: Emelden Barakash, the Lord of the Bridges' seneschal, a thin, snake-eyed administrator who had handed over the exploration charters to the party and thus their licence to commence their exploration in the Greenbelt.

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    By the time the group had entered the settlement, Ruk's ears had finally quit ringing. He managed a quick glance at the hulking beast Dergosh. There was something... off about him. Ruk had come into contact with plenty of orcs in his time, and none of the experiences had been pleasant. But this one was strange. He kept looking at Ruk and smiling broadly with his mouth full of crooked fangs. It made him vastly uncomfortable, but he wasn't quite sure what to do about it.

    -
    "I have no need of any specific spells to my knowledge at the moment, but I keep your offer in consideration. By the by, would you by any chance need a form of healing for the future? To my knowledge beings of your... composition cannot receive the benefits of healing magic. I may be able to whip up some alchemical mixture that could do the job though."

    -
    Ruk looked up at the woman and straightened his cloak a bit.
    "Erm, ma'am we were indeed told of banditry in these woods, but unless my companions contradict me, I do not think we were briefed on our apparent position as guardsmen."
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    Kuros was nervously following the rest. Too busy trying to guide the pack horse he had brought with him to give his opinions on how to approach the fort. Nevertheless, Kuros was almost glad when the fort was revealed to be a paper tiger, as, judging by the way Svetlana hesitated in her greetings, the band appeared to be a group of wandering monsters than what most would call people.

    Taking a moment to wipe his sweaty palms on his pants, which takes quite the moment considering the number of palms he has, Kuros works up the courage to introduce himself to their host, "I-I am Kuros, thank you for your hospitality. As for the bandits, I believe the writ mentioned punishing bandits when encountered, but we weren't hired too..." Kuros voice trails off as something clicks in his head as he turns to the others, "We weren't scammed were we? The whole expedition wasn't just to get cheap bandit subjugation right? Right!?"
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    Gakan hadn't said much beyond vapid small talk up until this point, content to merely scope out his new companions. And he'd been briefed on the bandits, but he had to admit, he hadn't expected them to be so bold.

    "Don't you, like, have a militia or anything?" he asked, brow furrowed in confusion. He was pretty sure he knew the answer already, and it was quickly becoming obvious why Kyran had wanted the place looked after. "I mean, I ain't much of a fighter, but I guess I can be bait or whatever?"

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    Oleg's Trading Post, Southernmost Emmerock, the Border Kingdoms
    Eventide, 30th of Mirtul, Year of Lightning Storms (1374 DR)


    Svetlana's smile faded as the travellers spoke and explained themselves. She blinked quickly, eyes moistening, putting her fingertips to her lips as she bowed her head. Then, took a shuddering breath as she looked back over to Gakan. "No, saer, we've no militia. I -- but you've travelled far. The nights can be cold here. Please - come, sit, eat." She gestured to the largest building in the stockade, on the northeast corner of the traders' square. "I've a bottle of wine to refresh you while I put the last touches on the stew."

    They were ushered through double doors with a locking bar standing sentinel to one side and into a small dining room with a few chairs and a table; though some of the partymembers’ senses and instincts would have been on alert for some sort of trap, there seemed no such thing here; again, all was quiet and suggested nothing but a small trading place. Svetlana left them with a bottle of wine – again, with nothing untoward about it, (in fact, Gakan would have noted with some surprise, that the wine was a Memnon’s Tear – Kyran's choice of table wine, and therefore a little pricey for the backblocks of the Border Kingdoms, but whether in Dunbridges or here he could be reasonably confident it would go down a lot better than a heavy ale).

    The rest of the place certainly didn’t have the look of a wildly successful trading post; it actually more resembled an enlarged house for two people. Wooden walls, little ornament, though given the shine and lack of dirt throughout the place it seemed Svetlana took a lot of pride in this little house on the edge of nowhere. Even the receptacles for the wine they drank - milky glass cups - had been polished to a dull shine. The little candelabra she brought out to illuminate the table - three sticks of white candle - carried more honour in its shape than the fifty-fluted things Gakan had seen on occasion working for Kyran amongst the lords and ladies. And there was a warm fire already glowing in the hearth in one corner of this common room. Ruk was surprised to note that the goodwife, without even asking, had discreetly put a pillow on his chair that would allow him to sit at the table, if not at the same height as everyone else, then at a height that did not make a laughing-stock of the exercise.

    They didn't have much time to sample the wine. Svetlana quickly brought out several dishes of hot, thick stew that brimmed with the smell of herbs, and finished off the table with a loaf of day-old but still fresh bread. That done, the more perceptive of the travellers would have detected the first hint of weariness in Svetlana's manner, have noted that as she sat down at the head of the table that the weight of worlds seemed to settle on her shoulders as well. But just as her courtesy outside in the yard had quickly reasserted itself, she straightened, dusting her hands off, and looked at the travellers.
    "The first time they came was on the first of Ches,” she began. “They threatened to burn down our trading post and take me for their--” she shuddered, “—in any event, they said if we handed over all the past month’s takings of furs and trade goods, we’d be spared. There’s only the two of us here, and there were fourteen of them – what else could we do?”
    “Fourteen?” echoed Three. The travellers exchanged grim glances. The mathematics were straightforward enough: more than two to one odds. Higher, if one discounted some of their slighter companions. At best they'd be outnumbered.
    Svetlana nodded. “Though only that first time. On the firstday of Tarsakh, there were nine of them; on the firstday of Mirtul, seven. Always coming on the first day of the month. That falls tomorrow morning.” She gave a sad, resigned smile. “I think they believe us cowed. There’s only Oleg and I here, and we’ve sent word to the Lord of the Bridges begging for help without a single guardsman sent to assist in reply. When we received Emelden’s word three days ago,” she said, turning to Kuros, “saying you were on your way to aid us, we thought Waukeen had answered our prayers. But … if you were not on your way to aid us, may I know why you have come out this way?”

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    [Svetlana]>"The first time they came was on the first of Ches,” she began. “They threatened to burn down our trading post and take me for their--” she shuddered, “—in any event, they said if we handed over all the past month’s takings of furs and trade goods, we’d be spared. There’s only the two of us here, and there were fourteen of them – what else could we do?”

    Dergosh briefly starting counting on his fingers before quickly abandoning the task. He knew fourteen was a lot, maybe even more than the current members of his new tribe, but no matter. A dangerous, confident smile cemented itself on his face.

    “If only fourteen puny bandits, rest of you can all watch from walls; the dragon and I will tear them apart and bring their hearts for roasting. Not sure what rest of you do, maybe make bets on how many we kill before rest soil their loincloths and try to run away.”

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    "Oh." Well now, that was a kind offer. Three happily looked at Ruck, "Thank you for the offer, but I can repair myself with a minor spell I know, or with enough materials, time, and tools.
    -
    Three was unsure of the proper procedure here. When you are offered food and drink, you are expected to dine on them. Leaving it untouched is considered rude, not to mention wasteful. But Warforged can't eat or drink anything non-magical- and Gond help her, she still has no idea how that works. Fortunately, Svetlana seemed too busy talking to judge.
    "We were sent to explore the Greenbelt, Ma'am. Although your current situation does explain this part-" Three dug through her bag for her charter, "'The carrier of this Charter should also strive against Banditry and Other unlawful Behavior to be encountered. The Punishment for unrepentant Banditry remains, as always, execution by sword or rope.' I admit, I took that as a warning rather than an order."
    Three watched Dergosh play with his fingers as she placed her charter back in the bag, confused as to what he was doing. Then he spoke and Three briefly understood- until he mentioned a dragon. Deciding it best if she doesn't comment on that, Three spoke to Dergosh about the number of bandits instead. "I don't think we'll have to fight fourteen bandits in the morning. Less of them have come with each visit, so I think we'll only fight five or six."
    She turned to Svetlana before continuing. "If we're going to help you, we need more information. Do you have any idea where the bandits are based? We may have to hunt the rest down. And are there any notable ones, like a spellcaster or a leader? An unorganized mob is easier to handle than a well organized, magically-backed group."

  18. - Top - End - #18
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    Default Re: Kingmaker in the Forgotten Realms [IC thread]

    Oleg's Trading Post, Southernmost Emmerock, the Border Kingdoms
    Eventide, 30th of Mirtul, Year of Lightning Storms (1374 DR)


    Svetlana's face washed with relief and gratitude. And then, tears, suddenly, unbidden. The goodwife hurriedly wiped them away. "I'm sorry," she said. "We just -- we've had a good month for furs and trade goods, enough to make up what we lost to those vermin over the winter. And we were hoping -- praying -- to Waukeen for a patrol from Dunbridges to help us. The raiders were due tomorrow, we thought we'd lose everything. Then you offer us your aid, and I --"
    More tears, but she brushed them away with the heel of her palm, taking a deep breath, evidently getting herself back under control.

    It was at this moment that a large, sweaty male figure clomped through the doorway of the dining room. He was chalk to Svetlana's cheese; tall, heavyset, with hands that looked even at a glance to only recently have been working hard on the haft of an axe or a hammer. He'd had a gut, but it was fast disappearing; probably the sweat and the newborn tan he was acquiring had something to do with it. Even so, for the sort of man who looked a tenderfoot, his eyes had crow's feet around them that suggested he'd spent many of his four decades or more in the world with worry on his back. Still, those eyes were brown and piercing. And though he was taken by surprise by the group of unusual individuals in the room, he recovered quickly, looking them over with his sharp gaze.

    Svetlana stood. "Saers, my husband Oleg."
    "Tymora's blessings to ye," said the man gruffly, glancing back at his wife.
    "These gentlemen are adventurers," she said, a smile lighting up her face. "They've agreed to help us with the bandits."
    There was a light of hope in Oleg's eye, and his tight frame seemed to sag a little. Then he frowned. "Ye weren't sent here t' aid us?"
    "They were just telling me," said Svetlana. "They have a charter, from Dunbridges. They're explorers."
    "Explorers - of...?"
    "Of the Greenbelt, to the south," amplified Three.
    Oleg's eyes tightened, though the movement warred with the stance of relief that he'd fallen into. But the man nodded, letting out a shuddering sigh. "Well, good meal t' ye, saers. We'll be glad of a few swords t' help us deal with the carrion-eatin' scum when they come here t'morrow." Another unidentifiable emotion crossed his face, and he hurriedly ducked his head, turning to leave the room. "Yer pardons, saers, I'm not dressed f'r company."

    He waved Svetlana's raised hand away, turning to disappear out of the doorway back into the house.

    Gakan cleared his throat to cover the moment of awkward silence that followed. "You were saying?"
    Svetlana nodded, sinking back to the table. "Yes -- the bandits." She took a delicate sip of wine, steadying herself before looking at Three and Gakan again. "They've always ridden up at close on sunrise, when they've come. They ... always struck me as eager to get back to their camp, from what I heard the last two times they were here. I get the feeling their camp isn't far. I've never seen anyone who can cast spells with them, or at least anyone who looks like they can. Not to me, anyway. No, the first time they showed up, the one who did most of the talking was a woman. Carried two small hatchets -- she seemed to be their leader. Very sharp, very observant. Spoke like a noble's daughter. She frightens me. More than all the rest put together." She raised her right hand; every finger was bare. "That first time, she took my wedding ring off herself. Payment, she called it. For 'not shortening your husband's reach'. Right before that she'd had Oleg's hand out on this very table, swung a hatchet at it, and missed it by three good inches if that."
    Her voice was shuddering as she told the story, and Gakan spoke up. "You said the first time they showed up?"
    "Yes. I mean, no. Well, she wasn't with the ones who came the other two times. The last two months, it's been a cloaked man armed with a bow who seems to be in charge -- he was with the woman the first time, but he seemed to be her second in command or something like that. He struck me as a lot more crude than her."

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    Default Re: Kingmaker in the Forgotten Realms [IC thread]

    Kuros was thoroughly enjoying the stew. The thick use of herbs tantalized his tongue while the meat melted as he chewed, and the broth warmed him from the inside out as it filled his belly. The dinner conversation left much to be desired though. Kuros was angry at the bandits, but was relieved that his companions also seemed on board for a fight.

    Oleg came into the room around the time Kuros had finished his first bowl and was taking a drink while using a hand to pull Three's bowl over to himself. At hearing the man talk about dressing for company, Kuros looks at his own bare upper body. Slightly embarrassed, Kuros wonders if he should see about buying a tabard that he could wear to avoid being under dressed.

    After hearing about finding the base of the bandits, Kuros swallows his latest mouthful of stew and raises a hand excitedly. "I can do that! After we fend off the bandits tomorrow, assuming the weather holds and it doesn't rain tomorrow, I should be able to track them back to their base. Master Gerald taught me a bit of forest craft y'see."

    Kuros then tries to remember if he saw any signs of the weather turning poor for tomorrow.

    Spoiler: OOC
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    Survival to predict tomorrows weather: (1d20+9)[14]
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    Default Re: Kingmaker in the Forgotten Realms [IC thread]

    Oleg's Trading Post, Southernmost Emmerock, the Border Kingdoms
    Eventide, 30th of Mirtul, Year of Lightning Storms (1374 DR)


    Kuros did try to remember whether there were any signs of incoming bad weather, but the relative pleasantness of the day and the failing light confounded him: for all he knew, there was no indication that the weather tomorrow would be sunny ... but also no indication that it would be raining, either.

    Across from him, Svetlana's expression had turned to a frown, and she looked across as Dergosh. "Your pardons, saer, but did you just say you had a dragon?"

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    14 is below the Survival check needed to predict the weather 24 hours out, so, no. By the way, I'm liking Kuros's innocent enthusiasm, it's nice.

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    Default Re: Kingmaker in the Forgotten Realms [IC thread]

    Korlann nods at the construct's comment regarding possible spells, and replies, "It doesn't necessarily need to last long, if we make sure it's used when it will be most impactful."
    ---
    As Svetlana begins her explanation about the bandits, leading the group into the main hall, he listens intently, both to the woman's explanation and to the responses of his companions as he finishes his stew. Finally, as Svetlana comments on Dergosh's mention of a dragon, he speaks up, "Dergosh is speaking of Ruk, I believe - you can't deny that he has some draconic features, though certainly not the size that would be expected of one." After a moment's pause, he then continues, "While our purpose here may not be strictly to defend you and yours, we would be happy to help, both with those who arrive tomorrow and in tracking down the remainder of their group and ensuring they will bring you no further harm."

    Turning towards Kuros, he then says, "Tracking them will make things much simpler - thank you for that. Still, we'll need to consider our plans for when the group arrives tomorrow morning, first." Returning his attention to Svetlana, he continues, "Of what race are they? It may allow us to better understand their capabilities, and plan accordingly."
    Zio Avatar by acelegna

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    Default Re: Kingmaker in the Forgotten Realms [IC thread]

    Oleg's Trading Post, Southernmost Emmerock, the Border Kingdoms
    Eventide, 30th of Mirtul, Year of Lightning Storms (1374 DR)


    Svetlana seemed to accept the explanation of the dragon without further comment, though there was a certain something in her eyes when she looked at Ruk one more time before returning her attention to Korlann. At the Skarn's question, she spread her hands helplessly. "I've not seen any dwarves among them, nor anyone like yourselves. They all look to be men -- apart from that woman who came with them the first time," she added, with another shudder. "They've always come here on horseback - but I don't think you'd have to trail them very far if that's what you intend, saers. I doubt their camp is more than a day's ride from here."
    "Why do you say that?" asked Korlann.
    "Their horses. They load their horses up with all the things they take from here, they don't have any pack animals. Even warhorses can't take that sort of load too far without a substantial rest. And horses run over a long journey have a different look to them - a certain stretch to their fetlocks. The ones they use don't look that way when they turn up, and they don't have a lot of traildust on them either. I'd guess they'd have to be stabled or quartered somewhere within a day's ride of here."

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    Default Re: Kingmaker in the Forgotten Realms [IC thread]

    Having finished his meal, Kuros thinks over a plan to finish off the bandits. An idea begins to form and he follows the trail of thought whilst speaking aloud, "Well we should be facing an even number of bandits, and we have the fort to help us. The catapults don't look to great though, but the walls are still standing. The bandits could just run away and get help if we close the gates on them and attack from the walls."

    Kuros was rubbing his chin with one hand, scratching the back of his head with another, and had another pair crossing his arms while the last two acted as a scale weighing the pros and cons, before he perks up and three pairs of fists are caught in as many palms as an idea strikes him. "I have an idea!" Kuros says excitedly, "We don't want the bandits to get away, and we know they will come for the pelts in the storeroom right? So while they are looting that, we can close the fort gates and trap them in with us. Svetlana and Oleg can bar the door to their house and we can call them when it's safe!"

    Kuros eagerly looks around the table to see if his plan is met with approval.
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    Default Re: Kingmaker in the Forgotten Realms [IC thread]

    Edit:
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    Woops. I started that post before the one above had been posted but I took too long to finish it. Let's pretend mine came first yeah?

    Since Dergosh's comment Ruk had been staring intently into his bowl of stew, thoroughly embarrassed.
    At Korlann's assertion that the dragon, was, indeed, him, Ruk lifted a white painted claw and raised his gaze until it rested on the woman.
    "My lady, I believe we all agree that it is our duty to garrison your humble settlement here. The question is, how do we go about it? Setting an ambush within the walls would no doubt be easiest, but then we run the risk of you or your husband being taken hostage in the scramble. If we wait for them to leave with your wares, one still may get away with a horse, and will likely return to their camp for reinforcements. Meeting them on the road would also carry it's risks. It may very well be that the best plan of action would be to allow them to rob you and your husband, and then attacking them under the cover of night..."
    Ruk suddenly realized that he had gone from addressing his host to thinking out loud. He looked around to his companions.

    After Kuros: Ruk nodded approvingly to the plan.
    "Quite a clever idea, though perhaps a bit risky for our wards here. We still must plan a contingency for later attacks, the camp will surely notice if their raiders do not return."
    Last edited by Zombulian; 2018-05-08 at 12:30 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Deeds View Post
    Caster backstories require a reason as to why they can cast spells. Wizards study hard to learn spells. Sorcerers often learn of their powers and then hone them through traveling. Clerics use piety to find the gift of spells through the gods or their ideals. Druids shun deodorant until a riding dog appears and they learn Entangle.
    Quote Originally Posted by Red Fel View Post
    Zom, my imaginary hat is off to you. *Horns? *What horns? *It's just an unusual hairstyle.
    Quote Originally Posted by Venger View Post
    There are certain advantages to a game being as badly written as 3.5.

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    Default Re: Kingmaker in the Forgotten Realms [IC thread]

    Oleg's Trading Post, Southernmost Emmerock, the Border Kingdoms
    Eventide, 30th of Mirtul, Year of Lightning Storms (1374 DR)


    "Y' needn't worry about the risk to me," said a gruff voice. Oleg was standing in the doorway of the common room, one arm braced against the frame. The man's dark eyes shone in the candelight. "If you need someone to act as bait to get those carrion-eating scum in a trap, I'll stand for you."
    "Oleg!" Svetlana's eyes had filled with fear. She had already paled for a moment at Ruk's suggestion that they allow the trading post to just be robbed.
    Oleg pointed to her, as though she hadn't spoken. "One condition. Whatever scheme you come up with to take these scum, she stays safe."

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    Default Re: Kingmaker in the Forgotten Realms [IC thread]

    Ruk's eyes lit up, he admired that kind of sense of duty. Though he was also relieved that the job would end up being that much easier.
    "You're a brave man, Oleg. Just make sure not to get yourself in too sticky a spot. The post is named after you after all."
    Ruk hopped down from his makeshift highchair and rustled through his bag.
    "Let's see here... hmm. I have some caltrops, 5 flasks of oil, and 3 flasks of acid. Oleg, do you by any chance have more oil? Tanglefoot bags? Anything of that kind?"
    Quote Originally Posted by Deeds View Post
    Caster backstories require a reason as to why they can cast spells. Wizards study hard to learn spells. Sorcerers often learn of their powers and then hone them through traveling. Clerics use piety to find the gift of spells through the gods or their ideals. Druids shun deodorant until a riding dog appears and they learn Entangle.
    Quote Originally Posted by Red Fel View Post
    Zom, my imaginary hat is off to you. *Horns? *What horns? *It's just an unusual hairstyle.
    Quote Originally Posted by Venger View Post
    There are certain advantages to a game being as badly written as 3.5.

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    Default Re: Kingmaker in the Forgotten Realms [IC thread]

    Oleg's Trading Post, Southernmost Emmerock, the Border Kingdoms
    Eventide, 30th of Mirtul, Year of Lightning Storms (1374 DR)


    The big man shook his head. "Th' bandits have been clearing us out every month over the winter. On top of that, the way traffic's been down I think they might've been hitting people on their way to and from here. Even before then th' trade was mostly crofters and trappers and the odd potion or two from crazy old Bokken. All I've got left in hard goods and tools like that is the pelts and drieds in the storage pen out there. There's enough there to make up what we lost over the last two months. But if that goes--" Then he caught his wife looking at him, and stifled whatever he was going to say next.

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    Default Re: Kingmaker in the Forgotten Realms [IC thread]

    "What about rocks?" Degosh inquired, his head tilting up to gaze at the ceiling as if he could see through the roof to where the catapults stood at the top of the watch towers. "You have any rocks to squash them with?"

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    Default Re: Kingmaker in the Forgotten Realms [IC thread]

    Oleg's Trading Post, Southernmost Emmerock, the Border Kingdoms
    Eventide, 30th of Mirtul, Year of Lightning Storms (1374 DR)


    "Rocks?" Oleg frowned. "Well ... there's about three or four big stones on each of the towers. Probably meant as ammunition for the catapults. Wouldn't want one of those dropped on y'r head, they must weigh a good forty pounds or so. Didn't have much use for 'em, and I like my back, so I left 'em where they were. Rest of the rocks around here is nothing but pebbles really."

    Svetlana stood and politely began to gather empty plates and cups from around the table. (The bottle of Memnon's Tear seemed close to empty, but she left it anyway for someone to discreetly pick it up and take it with them to nurse.) "Saers, I have to heat some warming irons and turn down your beds in the guesthouse before you retire for the night. Maybe my husband," and the more perceptive of the company would have noticed the tremble of fear in her voice as she said the words, "could show you around the stockade, give you some better ideas for what to do?"
    "By now it's full dark," said Oleg gruffly.
    "It's also a full moon," she said in reply, and there was a no-more-nonsense note in her voice that it didn't take much in the way of perception to hear. "And if you're going to go and risk your life for a pile of pelts and dried old berries, then I'd suggest you go and work out exactly how you're going to stay alive, husband."

    Oleg and the company fled. Outside, Selune had turned the world silver, but there was no wind, and the cold hadn't quite set in as yet. And with a warm dinner and a snifter or two of wine in their bellies, it seemed to make looking over the grounds of the place somewhat easier. Even if the company hadn't been blooded together, they had enough experience between them to realise a few things about the small stockade they now intended to defend.

    The first was that in its present position the buckwagon standing forlornly in the market yard covered the entrance to the stables excellently. Two or three people could easily be at the doorway and surveill anyone entering the gates without being spotted. The second was that the buckwagon in its present spot is heavy, but could be pushed into place to block the gate behind an entering force with sufficient effort. It was also a buckwagon with sideboards high enough that someone could lie flat in it and not be seen by anyone walking alongside it. Someone on horseback could, of course, but if there was a suitable piece of cloth around, that could hide a person in there also. And third was that although the towers offered a good view of the surrounding countryside, bowmen shooting inward from the 20-foot-high towers (as opposed to the catwalks, 10 feet up) wouldn't have a free field of fire; the roofs of the buildings inside the palisade would screen their shots.

    Spoiler
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    On rock throwing, a small reminder that without the Rock Hurling feat, you'd be considered to be using an improvised weapon. A 40- to 50-pound rock deals 2d6 points of damage with a range increment of 5 feet, and such a rock can be thrown only as a full-round action. A character without the Rock Hurling feat is considered to be nonproficient, taking a -4 penalty on the attack roll. Dropping a rock right on top of someone might be another matter, but arranging that to happen might be a bit difficult.

    Also, I found this little lovely for an even better idea of what you're dealing with...

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    Default Re: Kingmaker in the Forgotten Realms [IC thread]

    "...Wouldn't they see big rocks up there? That'd ruin the surprise, wouldn't it?" he asks, idly twirling his mane. He was trying not to give too much away, but maybe there wasn't much point laying on the vapid act quite as thick as he usually would. After all, next to the half-orc, nothing would make him seem like the stupid one, save for sinking to depths he wouldn't even plumb for Kyran... probably.

    He made a show of coming to a slow realisation. "Wait. Won't they, like, realise there's more people here when they see the carts?"


    (And gosh dang it I got swordsage'd)
    Last edited by kjelfalconer; 2018-05-08 at 09:02 AM.

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