The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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    Beyond the City of Thieves


    Spoiler: Rosa and Benedict
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    It’s an early spring evening in Port Blacksand when Rosa and Benedict find themselves in the main hall of The Minotaur Inn. Normally, neither of you would be inclined to share a table with a stranger. But the Inn is packed for the first stage-play since it’s recent reopening, having been damaged by fire some weeks ago, and you've no other choice but to bear with it.

    Halfway through the performance of Halfhand, Prince of Lendle, a popular comedy, a young woman accompanied by a stout dwarf enter the Inn and politely inquire if they can join you at your table. It being some of the last free seats in the house, you can’t bring yourselves to refuse. Both are dressed in rugged traveling clothes and it is clear the pair are not from Port Blacksand. They introduce themselves as Mirelle Carralif, daughter of the mayor of Silverton, and Vedran Redbeard, son of Silverton’s head stonemason.

    Over a meal of braised catfish, Mirelle and Vedran tell their tale in hushed tones. “A few nights ago, a strange man came to Silverton. He demanded all the gold the town could muster. When we refused, he said he would return upon the next full moon to take the town’s children. He then unleashed many great hounds upon the townsfolk. Despite the efforts of our town guard, and our sturdy doors, twenty-three of our fellows were slain. The next morning Vedran and I set off for Blacksand to entreat Lady Salancia for aid.” Mirelle lowers her gaze, a look of defeat clear on her face.

    Vedran continues. “Alas, the lady, if such you can call her, did not deign to give us audience. Our trip has been for naught, and our guard, brave as they may be, are no match for the stranger’s magics and monstrous hounds.

    Well, surely there is something that you can do to help the people of Siverton, you think to yourselves, and you offer to help in any way you can.

    Mirelle, with a hopeful look, replies “We plan on setting off for Siverton in our carriage tonight. If you would accompany us, we would be eternally grateful. My father will offer great reward if you can help us.

    You gather your things, and soon you are riding under the stars with Mirelle and Vedran toward Silverton. You finally reach the town toward evening the next day, and enter The Old Toad Inn to meet with Silverton’s mayor and merchant-representatives. Mirelle confers quickly with her father - a portly, balding man of advancing years dressed in fine robes - and he calls over a shirtless, musclebound half-orc lad to join them. You sit down at a large oaken table along with several of Silverton’s leading merchants.


    Spoiler: Borgrim
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    It is a fine evening in early spring when you ride into Silverton on a dubiously appropriated chestnut mare. It being some time since you last saw Ogden, you decide to seek out the oily horse-trader before finding an inn for the night. You are in the process of finalizing a fair price for your recently acquired horse when panicked cries pierce the clear evening air.

    Ogden assures you he’ll keep watch over the mare and hurries to secure it in his stable while you, bold as ever, sprint off toward the source of the commotion. Turning the corner, you see townsfolk running for their homes as great, dark hounds with baleful eyes stalk down the street. The few town guard you can see are making a hasty retreat to the guard house, though one unfortunate fellow, clumsier than his fellows, trips a distance from the doorway and a hound turns to rush him.

    Without a moment’s hesitation your sword is in your hands and you dash toward the beast, bellowing incoherently. A mighty blow of your blade sends the hound careening away and gives you the chance to haul the guard by his scruff to the guardhouse. You and the others bar the door. No sooner than you have it secured, something scrabbles at the door but it stands firm. You spend the rest of the night in the guardhouse with a disappointing lack of ale.

    Come morning, twenty-three of the townsfolk are dead, and the hounds are nowhere to be seen. The mayor, Owen Carralif - a portly, balding man of advancing years dressed in fine robes - sends his daughter, Mirelle, and a young dwarf named Vedran Redbeard off to Port Blacksand for aid. Due to your efforts in saving a guard's life, the townsfolk of Silverton insist on putting you up in a fine room in The Old Toad Inn for as long as you like, free of charge. You are more than happy to accept their generosity, and you get down to the business of drinking and telling great tales of your paste heroics.

    A few days later Mirelle and Vedran return. With them are a strange-looking young woman and a hardened young man dressed in practical, dark-coloured clothing. Soon after they arrive, the mayor calls you over to join his new guests along with several of the towns leading merchants. You begrudgingly leave the company of two comely maidens and sit down at the large oaken table.



    All:

    When all are seated, the mayor of Silverton, Owen Carralif, gestures toward Rosa and Benedict. “Rosa and Benedict of Port Blacksand, allow me to introduce to you Borgrim Wyldstrike.” He indicates the strapping half-orc. “He’s a local hero of sorts, and helped us during the attack.

    Owen then sweeps his hand across the rest of the assembled. He pauses to indicated each individual. “Ambrus Redbeard, stonemason.” An aging dwarf with a wild, ruddy beard nods solemnly.

    Angelica Ruthgar, potter.” A middle-aged woman with many bangles on her arms offers a reserved "How do you do."

    And last but not least - pardon the pun, ho ho! - Gale Proudfeet, tanner.” The matronly halfling woman shoots Owen a dagger-filled glare before turning to the guests. “A pleasure to meet you all,” she says.

    Now,” Owen continues, “Down to the affair at hand. As some of you may know, a few nights ago our town was attacked by hounds of a most dreadful sort, at the behest of masked stranger. They took offence when we wouldn’t meet their outrageous demands, and before leaving, they threatened to take away our children! And today, we have received word that Lady Salancia has refused to hear our call for aid. Thus, we rely on you three,” He indicates Rosa, Benedict and Borgrim, “to carry out a mission of utmost importance, for which you will be very well rewarded.

    Owen pauses to take a sip of wine. He gives his compatriots a funny, almost embarrassed look. “Well. For a short time, in my youth, I was something of an adventurer.

    "Hrrmff! Ambrus interrupts with a derisive snort, but offers no other comment.

    Owen continues: “I know I don’t look it now, but I was. Many years ago I crossed paths with a dread warlock who went by the name Zanbar Bone. I thought him dead, but now I am certain that that is the foe we face. He wields powerful magicks, and in order to defeat him, I need you to seek out my old friend, the wizard Nicodemus, in Port Blacksand. I have not spoken to him for twenty years, but I am sure he will lend us aid. He lives at Number 2, Garden Street. Will you help us?
    Last edited by Wogwoggle; 2019-05-13 at 10:39 PM.
    Spoiler: Games
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    GMing: City of Thieves (IC|OOC)
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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Wud not a better plan be to just track down this Zanbar fellow, lob off his head, and be done with it? Does it really seem prudent to bring yet more foul sorcery into this matter?

    Borgrim pulls a face at the thought of unmanly magics and foul sorcerers in general.

    Mind you, we'll help - of course. Now, let's determine in advance precisely what 'very well rewarded' boils down to, eh?

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    Spoiler: OOC
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    I'll use italics and various colors for Rosa's thoughts: Remember, she hears voices! For her actually voiced dialog, I'll use quotes.


    Spoiler: What Rosa looks like
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    The first thing one might notice about Rosa is that she's not entirely... well, thin. It's not like she's fat, she'd find that word very offensive. No sir, she's got generous forms, as many other beautiful women do, alright? Maybe she's somewhat on the chubby side of beautiful, but one thing she's definitely not is fat, even though she might look it to the most uncouth people around.

    Then, there's her skin. It's chocolate brown, which might not be unseen in these parts, but may well be unusual.

    Yet, what's not only unusual but not often seen is her face: two small horns on her forehead push back loose black hair. Her face would suit a mundane farm-girl, if it weren't for two cat-like eyes.

    She wears sturdy traveler's clothing of darker shades. It seems she doesn't like to show her strange face much, as she keeps her hoods cloak up, even when indoor.


    Rosa stays silent through the introductions. She nods at each and every person in turn and gives a thin commiserate smile to the halfling matron, then rolls her eyes at the mayor's lame pun.

    Yet, the Joker intervenes Me for one like that pun, you know the lamest ones are the best, right? Rosa draws breath to give an exasperated sigh, but stops herself. She well knows she's the only one who can hear her ghosts. She clenches her teeth instead.

    "Mister... Wyldstrike, was it? I must but agree with your sentiment. My predisposition would be to trail that foul warlock."

    Yes, Zambar Bone and Marrow, what a tasty name, of course we want to hunt it, intervenes the Slayer.

    "Yet I gather that our hosts may know more about that Zanbar Bone," Rose gives the mayor an understanding look, "and would thus have good reason to employ us as messengers rather than hunters. At minima, they summit that the enemy is at this very moment watching their town and would maybe even try to intercept a messenger. And I'm certain you heard that folk saying, Wyldstrike: 'It takes a thief to catch a thief'. Thus, by the same line of reasoning, it may well take a wizard to catch another."

    She draws a breath, and turns back to the mayor. "Bearing a message is simple enough. I know Blacksand well. Seeing your predicament, my own price will be just a covering of travel expanses."

    She know turns to Benedict, her newly acquired travel companion: "What of you, Faust?"

    Spoiler: OOC, rolls
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    Has Rosa ever heard of Bone or Niccodemus? Int - (1d20+3)[17].
    Last edited by WalkingTheShade; 2019-05-14 at 04:45 AM. Reason: formatting
    'Jernau Gurgeh', the machine said, making a sighing noise, 'a guilty system recognises no innocents. … The very way you think places you amongst its enemies. … Prevarication will be more difficult than you might imagine; neutrality is probably impossible. You cannot choose not to have the politics you do; they are not some separate set of entities somehow detachable from the rest of your being; they are a function of your existence. I know that and they know that; you had better accept it.'

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Spoiler: Rolls {DC 15 Intelligence (History) Check}
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    Spoiler: Zanbar Bone
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    All you can think of when the name Zanbar Bone is mentioned is a children’s rhyme involving a local boogyman, Mr. Bone-White:

    Smilling Mr. Bone-White,
    Stepping through the Moon-light.
    Snatching all the children up,
    And snuffing out the Sun-bright!


    Spoiler: Nicodemus:
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    A wizard and adventurer of good repute, most active thirty or forty years ago. His most notable exploit was thwarting a horde of Orcs and Goblins in the Moonstone Hills to the east, who were raiding and pillaging villages in the area. The shaman who led the horde was intent on performing a ritual to resurrect two long-dead necromancers, whose ashes had been spread about the hills by the elven sorcerers who had killed them. Nicodemus infiltrated the horde in disguise and foiled the plan.

    He retired from adventuring many years ago, and has been living a reclusive, secluded life. You’ve not heard his named mentioned by any in Port Blacksand that you can recall, but he is a popular folklore figure outside the city.
    Spoiler: Games
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    GMing: City of Thieves (IC|OOC)
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    Benedict listens attentively to the proposal from the mayor, as well as to two other people who have been gathered with him. The story he hears from the mayor is both worrisome and a bit unlikely, unless he is keeping something from them. Neither of these things bother him though: he has made his peace with the necessity of dealing with dangerous and shady business. He will need a lot of resources to wage his lone war, and he can't afford to be too squeamish.

    "I suspect that bearing a message would only be our first step, and that more will be required afterwards." he says when spoken to. "Not that I mind. As you might imagine, I did not come all the way here to turn down your offer. And I am sure that our reward will be commensurate to the effort that the situation required." he adds, looking at the mayor for confirmation.

    "Hopefully, this wizard you are asking us to meet will have more information on this Zambar Bone fellow, possibly including his whereabouts and weaknesses. That way we can get down to the business of making him regret his life choices."
    My day job is killing me. But I will rise again, more powerful than ever!

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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Borgrim's gaze wanders from Rosa to Benedict in frank amazement. Then he settles his feet - as if against a gale - and growls: I do not risk my life without knowing what I stand to gain.

    It's clear from his stance that he considers any who would to be of quite dubious mental acumen - or stability.
    Last edited by Kaptin Keen; 2019-05-14 at 03:42 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Borgrim Wyldstrike
    Wud not a better plan be to just track down this Zanbar fellow, lob off his head, and be done with it? Does it really seem prudent to bring yet more foul sorcery into this matter?
    Quote Originally Posted by The Bloody Rose
    "Mister... Wyldstrike, was it? I must but agree with your sentiment. My predisposition would be to trail that foul warlock."
    Owen Carralif sighs heavily. "Would that it it were that simple. Alas, we could find no trace of track or trail left by the hounds come morning. And if the tale that Nicodemus told me long ago holds and truth, then Zanbar Bone can travel at great speed through the night. Where his lair might be, we do not know."

    Quote Originally Posted by Borgrim Wyldstrike
    Mind you, we'll help - of course. Now, let's determine in advance precisely what 'very well rewarded' boils down to, eh?
    Owen nods, spreading his hands wide. "If you'll allow us a moment more, I will gladly discuss your recompense."

    Quote Originally Posted by The Bloody Rose
    "Bearing a message is simple enough. I know Blacksand well. Seeing your predicament, my own price will be just a covering of travel expanses."
    Quote Originally Posted by Benedict Faust
    "I suspect that bearing a message would only be our first step, and that more will be required afterwards." he says when spoken to. "Not that I mind. As you might imagine, I did not come all the way here to turn down your offer. And I am sure that our reward will be commensurate to the effort that the situation required." he adds, looking at the mayor for confirmation.

    "Hopefully, this wizard you are asking us to meet will have more information on this Zambar Bone fellow, possibly including his whereabouts and weaknesses. That way we can get down to the business of making him regret his life choices."
    "I'm very glad to hear you shall help! You are right, of course. I hope tha--" Before Owen can continue, Borgrim stands, his chair scrapping across the wooden floor with a screech.

    Quote Originally Posted by Borgrim Wyldstrike
    Borgrim's gaze wanders from Rosa to Benedict in frank amazement. Then he settles his feet - as if against a gale - and growls: I do not risk my life without knowing what I stand to gain.
    The dwarf, Ambrus, is the first to respond. "Such impudence! I won't stand for it! How can we trust the safety of this town to the likes--"

    A great jangling crash interrupts Ambrus as Angelica Ruthgar slams her many-bangled hand down on the table, upsetting her glass.

    "By Chauntea's mercy, hold your tongue, Ambrus, or I'll drag you out of here by your beard! I didn't see you out in the street with an axe, did I? And yet this young man, our guest, saved the life of one of our own that night. If your mouth holds only bile, then keep it shut," she hisses through gritted teeth.

    Ambrus opens his mouth to protest but Angelica stares him down.

    The mayor, red with embarrassment, offers a quick apology. "Oh dear, I'm terribly sorry, please do sit down. We can discuss your payment immediately. We can do much better than simply covering your expenses; Silverton is a prosperous town after all." Owen glances at his townsfolk, hesitating. "We can offer 200 gold pieces to each of you to find Nicodemus, and double that if it turns out he requires you to help with anything out of the ordinary. Of course, if you would prefer a non-gold payment, we have many spices, silks, and other fine wares that may strike your fancy. We had a weapons' trader through a year ago who left a few things, though you look well equipped already. Is the offer acceptable?" Owen looks across the table hopefully.

    "Acceptable? Might as well send word to the Redspines and hire a hundred dwarf fighters for that price, acceptable, bah!" Ambrus grumbles under his breath, arms crossed and pouting.

    "Ambrus! Shush!" Gale whispers through the side of her mouth.
    Spoiler: Games
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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Borgrim's expression brightens, and he sits back down with a smile.

    200 just to find the guy? That's excellent. I will take the gold, silk and stuff holds no value to me. 200 gold, or your finest maiden - whichever you prefer.

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    Ben is sincerely happy to have Borgrim with them. As a man half-orc of vast, but simple, tastes, he will be easy to steer towards worthy goals. He'll be the tip of the spear in what he expect will be a bloody affair, and he's not just thinking about the specific task at hand. He might not be the sharpest tool in the shed, bit even a bludgeon can be deadly with enough force behind it. He pats his own truncheon affectionately as he thinks that. The lady, on the other hand, will need some looking into. But now he need to smooth a few feathers and get the party started.

    "I think that Mr Wyldstrike here was entirely correct in wanting to put the small hurdle of reward out of the way to better concentrate on the details of our mission. He is clearly someone who knows his business, and we are lucky to have him on board." he looks at the orc without smiling. He's not sure the man would react positively to a smile from him, just like a great ape would not.

    He turns to the mayor and the other traders, making eye contact with each. "Your offer is very generous, and I am sure you will find we will be worth every coin you promised. Moreover, this could be the beginning of an advantageous relationship, should you require our services in the future."
    My day job is killing me. But I will rise again, more powerful than ever!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    200 just to find the guy? That's excellent. I will take the gold, silk and stuff holds no value to me. 200 gold, or your finest maiden - whichever you prefer.
    Rosa frowns at the half-orc. "Maiden? Forget that and take the gold, Wyldstrike. With utmost certainty, plenty of opportunity to lavish that gold on many an eager lady will arise in Port Blacksand." She shakes her head and gives a sigh. Establishing eye contact with Mrs Proudfeet, Rosa's mouth forms one silent word: men.

    Quote Originally Posted by iTookUrNick View Post
    He turns to the mayor and the other traders, making eye contact with each. "Your offer is very generous, and I am sure you will find we will be worth every coin you promised. Moreover, this could be the beginning of an advantageous relationship, should you require our services in the future."
    Rosa nods in agreement. "Well said, Faust."
    'Jernau Gurgeh', the machine said, making a sighing noise, 'a guilty system recognises no innocents. … The very way you think places you amongst its enemies. … Prevarication will be more difficult than you might imagine; neutrality is probably impossible. You cannot choose not to have the politics you do; they are not some separate set of entities somehow detachable from the rest of your being; they are a function of your existence. I know that and they know that; you had better accept it.'

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    Owen Carralif claps his hands together and smiles with relief. "Ah, excellent! Then it is agreed, despite my dwarven friend's protestations, ha ha! Though I assure you, Silverton is not in the business of selling people. Gold we can provide easily enough."

    Gale Proudfeet returns Rosa's look with a small, understanding smile and a nod of her own. Carralif waves over to the stout, mustachioed man behind the bar, across the hall. "A round of cider, if you please, Mr. Congent!" To the table, he adds, "A toast is order, I think."

    While the innkeeper pours the hazy, amber liquid into glasses, Carralif leans in toward the table. "Now, as I may have mentioned, I believe that Zanbar Bone must have some magical protections which must be overcome before he can be slain. If memory serves, we should be safe from his scrying eyes during the day, but surely some minion of his keeps watch on the town at night. Nicodemus will know more... they were pupils of the same master once, long, long ago. And subsequently fierce rivals. Ah! the cider!"

    Carralif nods to Mr. Congent and then raises his glass, the traders following suit. He smiles broadly and speaks: "To new friends, and speedy success in your endeavor! Cheers!" Carralif smacks his lips in contentment.

    Ambrus Redbeard gazes through his empty glass. "A fine batch, this one." The cider is strong and bittersweet, with a pleasant, lingering aftertaste.

    Carralif begins to shift in his seat. "Now, was there anything else you needed? We'll have a carriage ready for you first thing in the morning, and we've rooms here in the Inn for you tonight. I'll also see to it you get a quarter of the promised fee up-front as a token of our trust in you." He extends his hand.
    Last edited by Wogwoggle; 2019-05-15 at 10:33 AM.
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    Borgrim, who has drunk the vilest hooch available for the entirety of his life, tastes the cider - looking round to see quaffing is clearly not the expected style in this company - and goes blank for a longish moment. Then, he makes a silent 'oooohhhh' face. He then sips his glass again, reverently.

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    Rosa drinks slowly. She raises her eyes from her glass to witness Borgrim's facial calisthenics. She smiles to the half-orc. "Let's get that job done, Wyldstrike. I'll pay you a round when we're back here for the rest of the pay."

    She then empties her cup. After a look, through the window, at the darkening sky, she turns again to the mayor: "Could one of the villagers indulge my curiosity? I would like to have a look at where those hounds attacked. I will be back before nightfall."

    Rosa gives a brief nod to each of the assembled townsfolk and adventurers before pushing back her chair.

    Spoiler: OOC
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    So, if I have to choose between looking around an attack site and interrogating a guard, Rosa will do the first one.
    Investigation - (1d20+5)[23]
    In case she manages to find a guard or anyone (other than Borgrim) who's seen the hounds, before it gets dark, she'll try to get some intel from them.
    Persuasion - (1d20+2)[18]
    Last edited by WalkingTheShade; 2019-05-15 at 03:20 PM. Reason: Syntax!
    'Jernau Gurgeh', the machine said, making a sighing noise, 'a guilty system recognises no innocents. … The very way you think places you amongst its enemies. … Prevarication will be more difficult than you might imagine; neutrality is probably impossible. You cannot choose not to have the politics you do; they are not some separate set of entities somehow detachable from the rest of your being; they are a function of your existence. I know that and they know that; you had better accept it.'

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    "Good idea trying to gather some evidence, Miss. There is not much time before nightfall, though. I suggest you take care of searching for environmental clues while I interview a few witnesses.
    Mr. Wyldstrike could lead you to where the attack took place, while maybe one of you gentlemen could help me in my endeavor."

    Spoiler: Rolling
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    this way we don't need to choose
    Let me know if any roll is required.
    My day job is killing me. But I will rise again, more powerful than ever!

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    The mayor nods vigorously. "Of course, of course! The guardhouse is just around the corner, and one of our men was attacked just outside. I'm sure Mr. Wyldstrike could show you the exact spot. I'll show you there now."

    Carralif says his goodnight to the traders and they see themselves out. The dwarf and halfling argue quietly as they step into the street.

    "I still think we should have sent word to the Redspines!"
    "And you think the Wyldstrike lad is wild? Just imagine a whole host twice as boisterous, you'd never manage!"

    Angelica Ruthgar waves as she sets off for home. Carralif leads Rosa, Benedict, and Borgrim toward the guardhouse. He enters and reappears a moment later with a flaxen-haired young woman in a mail coat and helmet under her arm.

    "Gillian here saw one of the hounds first-hand; she was with the fellow Borgrim saved when the town was attacked. Well, I'll see you off in the morning. Goodnight!"

    With that, the mayor hurries off down the street. Borgrim steps toward a large oak near the guardhouse, indicating to Rosa where he struck one of the hounds and dragged the guard to safety. Rosa slowly and carefully circles the area, peering down at the crushed grass and undergrowth.

    Spoiler: Rosa's Investigation
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    Flattened grass and disturbed soil clearly show where Borgrim dragged a heavy, man-snapped body. A small amount of several-day-old blood covers a patch of grass near the base of the oak, toward the guardhouse (the guard's blood, you surmise.) As you round the oak you find no beast tracks, but a strange distortion amongst the grass and old leaves catches your eye. You lean down to get a closer look, and see what looks like a very large, severed wolf's paw. Only it is semi-translucent. Cautiously, you prod it with the tip of your shortsword. Along with its semi-translucency, it appears to be only semi-corporeal, as your sword sinks through it with hardly any resistance. You examine it for several more moments. As the light fades, you are convinced that the paw is becoming more opaque and more solid with each passing second. The paw does not appear to have suffered much decomposition.

    The only other thing of note you find are deep gouges in the outside of the guardhouse door. Their spacing roughly matches with that of the severed paw.
    Spoiler: OOC
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    I wanted to leave it up to you whether or not to pick the paw up and stow it somewhere (or anything else you might want to do with it) before you head back to the inn for the night.



    Meanwhile, Gillian offers Benedict her description of the beast: "Well, it were a great big thing, bigger than a pony, and black as night. Must've been a good 12 hands (4ft, 122cm) high at the shoulder at least. It had a long, thick neck, and head sorta like a lynx's. A short face, y'know, not like a wolf's. And two terrible eyes like coals starin' out of the dark." Gillian pauses, lowering her eyes and seeming to struggle against continuing. Finally, she takes a deep breath, adding: "The sound it made... Once the half-orc fella had dragged in Robert and we'd got the door barred, it set about making the most dreadful, piercing howl I ever heard. Made you wanna run and never look back, even if you left your mates behind..." The guard shivers, causing her mail to rustle.

    "That's all I can remember. Oh, and Robert got bit pretty bad. It burst some of the rings of his coat and his shoulder'll take a while to heal. Probably never be good as new, Father says." Without anything else to add, Gillian heads back in to the guardhouse. "Best be gettin' indoors before it's full dark. G'night."

    Spoiler: What Borgrim Saw
    Show

    The hound was nearly as tall at the shoulder as Borgrim's chest, with night-black fur. A long, thick, flexible neck supported a large, almost humanoid face. It had red eyes that burned like coals in the darkness, and tall, tufted ears. Its paws were much larger than any wolf's, with matching teeth.


    A church bell rings out three times and the last of Silverton's residents out on the street hurry home. With the light fading fast, the Old Toad Inn and its comfortable beds beckon.

    Spoiler: OOC
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    I didn't think a roll was warranted to get info from the guard. If there was something else specific that you wanted to ask her, then please do and I'll edit the post.
    I wasn't sure if you wanted the chance to discuss your findings before you set off, so I held off on speeding you to Port Blacksand.
    Last edited by Wogwoggle; 2019-05-16 at 12:21 AM.
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    As Rosa finds the ghostly paw, her own ghosts go wild. Interesting, this reinforces greatly the first of my theories regardi— Not much to gnaw on this— At least one of them is now known as Limpy back home on the Plane of Sha— Rosa shakes their voices away and rubs her forehead.

    "Well, if you would look at that, Wyldstrike. It seems the body of your kill was taken, if indeed it was a kill and it didn't just limp away. Yet, here's a forsaken piece of it for us to recover." She keeps prodding the paw with her blade, turning it this way and that, like a cat handling a dead mouse. "These hounds left no track. They're most certainly unnatural. Some sort of occult fetching and binding. That Zanbar Bone, or whoever called on those hounds, does not lack for skill."

    With a look to the left, then to the right, checking that no one is watching her, Rosa puts the paw in a pocket of her cloak, taking great care of not touching it with bare skin. Yet, under her very skin, Rosa can hear the Master crawling: Superstitious behavior may well be in order in such a backwater village, nevertheless still ridiculous from a mage in learning. What power can a dead pup limb possess? Rosa silently rolls her eyes.



    After hearing Benedict's report, Rosa becomes pensive. Theory all but confirmed. Practical experimentation is the only avenue left for falsification.

    Rosa finally turns to Borgrim. "I might well have a few suppositions regarding the nature of those hounds. If they are, and I hope not, you were lucky that night, local hero."
    'Jernau Gurgeh', the machine said, making a sighing noise, 'a guilty system recognises no innocents. … The very way you think places you amongst its enemies. … Prevarication will be more difficult than you might imagine; neutrality is probably impossible. You cannot choose not to have the politics you do; they are not some separate set of entities somehow detachable from the rest of your being; they are a function of your existence. I know that and they know that; you had better accept it.'

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    "That's good. I'm sure your observations will be of use to the Wizard we are to meet. In the meantime, let's stay indoors and recover our strength for our return trip. You never know what trouble you might find on your way." a brief grimace flashes on Ben's face (regret?) but disappears just as soon as it came.
    My day job is killing me. But I will rise again, more powerful than ever!

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  18. - Top - End - #18
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    I don't believe in luck. I believe in strength of arm and steel. As if to eliminate any possiblity of confusion, Borgrim flexes his supersized bicep here.

    It seems the creature is only manifest at night, and that it has a howl that instills fear in the hearts of .. lesser men. I wonder if you and Ben might be well advised to plug your ears. I hear that works for banshees.

    Anyways, I supposed we ride for Blacksand on the morrow?

    Oh and for gods sake call me Borgrim. Bor, maybe. Or Grim. But not Wyldstrike. Do I really seem that formal to you?
    Last edited by Kaptin Keen; 2019-05-16 at 07:48 AM.

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    Rosa is somewhat taken aback by the half-orc's question. She raises an eyebrow looking him up and down, as if she hadn't really paid much attention to him until this very moment.

    "Well, formulated this way, I suppose not. Maybe we should buy you a bow-tie, Sir Wyldstrike," she replies with a growing smile. "Just a jest, Borgrim. I will also take into account your advice concerning ear plugs. I believe they can be useful in many situations, beyond banshees and barghests." Rosa then clears her throat, giving a side look towards Benedict. "Faust refuses to recognize it, but you wouldn't believe how loud he snores. Yet he is right on one thing, it's time to go back to the inn."

    Spoiler: OOC
    Show
    Anyone sees a problem with fast-forwarding back to the next morning, or even to after the trip back to Blacksand?
    'Jernau Gurgeh', the machine said, making a sighing noise, 'a guilty system recognises no innocents. … The very way you think places you amongst its enemies. … Prevarication will be more difficult than you might imagine; neutrality is probably impossible. You cannot choose not to have the politics you do; they are not some separate set of entities somehow detachable from the rest of your being; they are a function of your existence. I know that and they know that; you had better accept it.'

  20. - Top - End - #20
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    "Hey, I heard that!", says Ben, whose time in the night watchman had made his senses even sharper. Somehow, there's a Raven perched on the man's shoulder now.

    To the orc: "I like your style. I'll call you Grim. It's suitably menacing. You can call me Ben, which is not,I'm afraid."
    Spoiler: Ooc
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    Ready for a timeskip
    My day job is killing me. But I will rise again, more powerful than ever!

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  21. - Top - End - #21
    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Ben, the most menacing is often the unexpected. Alright, off to the inn then. There was a most comely wench evening last whom I hope to see again. Also, if we're lucky, there might be a good fight!

    Spoiler: OOC
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    Borgrim is predictably hesitant to skip over the fun bits of the evening.

    ..... ohh, alright =(

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    Darkness blankets Silverton. Benedict, Rosa, and Borgrim settle in for the night at the Old Toad Inn. The sturdy innkeeper, Mr. Congent, offers all a nightcap before they head to their respective rooms. The night is peaceful (a little less so for Borgrim, but he spends it in good company), and the three adventurers awake well-rested the following morning. A breakfast of sausage, cheese, eggs, heavy bread and dried fruit is laid out when you descend to the main hall. During the meal, a portly, oily gentleman approaches Borgrim and pulls him aside, out of earshot of the rest.

    Spoiler: Borgrim
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    Ogden the horse trader approaches you and pulls you aside. "Listen, lad, do me a favour and steer clear of Knife Street and The Noose, will ya? They're dangerous places at the best of times, and a little bird told me there may be some nasty business going down there soon. I know you can take care of yourself; I'd just hate to lose a profitable business partner such as yourself. Oh and don't worry, I'll have gold for you if I sell the mare." He slaps you on the shoulder and nods, then hurries off.


    Owen Carralif greets Benedict, Rosa, and Borgrim as they ready themselves in the carriage, while Vedran Redbeard hitches the horses. "As promised, a quarter of the agreed upon sum, in advance. May Chauntea bless your travel, and safe journey!" He hands each a coin purse of fifty gold pieces, and waves as Vedran climbs onto the driver's bench. An older guard by the name of Brent climbs up beside Vedran and nestles a crossbow into the crook of his arm. The carriage trundles along the Great North Road out of Silverton as the Sun climbs into the sky on a fine spring morning.

    The road to Port Blacksand is well maintained and Vedran drives the carriage at a good pace. By midday the skies turn overcast, but the threat of rain is not fulfilled. The night is spent in the small village of Brook, where you enjoy a simple but filling meal and the comfort of a hayloft. On the second day a slow, steady rain has set in. You spend an uneventful night camped beside the road under a large canvas sheet attached to the side of the carriage. The rain continues unabated on the third day. It is midmorning when you finally see the walls of Port Blacksand and the many minareted towers of the palace.

    A sullen guard in mail and an iron helmet flags the carriage down as it approaches the Market Gate. He speaks very briefly to Vedran and then waves the carriage through, clearly eager to return to his shelter out of the rain. Inside the Market Gate Vedran stops the horses to let you off. "Good fortune! Farewell!" He waves goodbye and then turns the carriage down Key Street, heading for the Merchant Guild headquarters.

    The three of you stand at the intersection of Key Street to the west, Market Street to the north, and Clock Street to the east. Port Blacksand's narrow streets and overhanging second story buildings create an oppressive feeling, which the rain doesn't help alleviate. City folk and traders bustle up and down Market Street in preparation of the Sowing Festival in two days time, hooded cloaks pulled up against the weather. You double check the address Carralif gave you: Number 2, Garden Street. A fair trek across the city, north of the Catfish River.

    Spoiler: Routes and OOC
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    In order to determine the quickest way to Nicodemus on Garden Street:
    Spoiler: Intelligence (History or Watchman) Check
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    No Success: Well its on the other side of the river, right?
    Spoiler: DC 8
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    The quickest route is down Market Street, through Market Square, then down Bridge Street and across the Singing Bridge, finally onto Garden Street.

    Spoiler: DC 13
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    While the Singing Bridge route may be more direct, it runs perilously close to The Noose, and that is always a gamble. The three of you don't make very likely marks, but there are plenty of vagabonds fool enough to try something. A safer route is through the east side of Market Square and across the Middle Bridge, taking Hill Street and then turning west down Candle Street to Garden Street.

    And of course if there was anything you'd like to stop and try to buy along the way, you can find a multitude of things in Market Square.
    Last edited by Wogwoggle; 2019-05-16 at 01:27 PM.
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    Rosa first turns to Benedict. "From here Middle bridge seems the safest route."
    But there's nothing to eat on the way... We're starving!

    She then turns to the half-orc. "Unless you require a warm-up after sitting in that carriage for so long, Borgrim? Then the Singing bridge would make for a more... picturesque way. Or we could visit that market to buy that bow-tie we were talking about. Nicodemus would certainly be positively impressed by a more formal dress."
    A risqué yet bold ploy. We may thus well soon learn whether these two are brittle iron or tempered steel.
    Last edited by WalkingTheShade; 2019-05-16 at 04:11 PM.
    'Jernau Gurgeh', the machine said, making a sighing noise, 'a guilty system recognises no innocents. … The very way you think places you amongst its enemies. … Prevarication will be more difficult than you might imagine; neutrality is probably impossible. You cannot choose not to have the politics you do; they are not some separate set of entities somehow detachable from the rest of your being; they are a function of your existence. I know that and they know that; you had better accept it.'

  24. - Top - End - #24
    Firbolg in the Playground
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    As Mr. Congent brings breakfast, Borgrim exclaims SAUSAGE!! like there is no finer thing in all the lands of men. He devours everything with such ferocious passion you eventually feel like you ... really shouldn't be watching.

    En route to Blacksand, Borgrim does his level best to sleep the entire journey away. He does a decent job at it, waking mostly for meals - and to go to sleep for the night.

    On arrival, Borgrims cracks open an eye to peer curiously at the guard, quite possibly considering eh - I could take this guy before losing interest. It's not until they disembark and the wagon rolls off and away, that he finally perks back up, and looks wide awake, curious and present.

    The rain falls on his barely-clothed form, runs in tiny rivers along his exaggerated musculature, and drips off onto the ground - he seems to simply not notice, being perhaps entirely impervious to such minor things as weather.

    I was warned off Knife Street and The Noose. Maybe we could start there? To um ... warm up, eh!

    Spoiler: OOC
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    Int check: (1d20+1)[6]

    Borgrim is delightfully unaware - he has no idea where to go, but is eager to get there!
    Last edited by Kaptin Keen; 2019-05-16 at 04:48 PM.

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    Spoiler: Roll
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    int - (1d20+1)[10]. I might be proficient at being a wactchman or something, in which case add an extra +2.

    Ben eats when it's time to eat, sleeps when it's time to sleep, never drinks beyond what is socially acceptable and makes small talk when it feels like the appropriate thing to do. All the while, his attention tends to wander towards the pieces of the puzzles he is missing.

    At the gatehouse, he shies away from the guard's gaze, without appearing to be doing so. You never know who might recognise you later on.
    He disembarks the carriage with a some annoyance: after a ride that took several days, couldn't they have driven them to their destination directly? Or at least towards the closest gate? Still, he is nothing if not adaptable.
    Hearing the other two speak in agreement, he wastes no time in trying to make them change their minds: "Fine for me. Try not to kill any of my friend while you are at it". Aquaintaces, actually, but the sentiment remains.
    My day job is killing me. But I will rise again, more powerful than ever!

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  26. - Top - End - #26
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    Hmf. I assure you I'll kill only in self-defense, and even then only if unavoidable. I may be strong, but not so strong that I can take on the constabulary and the city guard. I'm not stupid.

    But ... breaking a bit of skin in a bar fight isn't usually something the authorities can be bothered to care about. Come. Rosa, you seem to know her way around - I say you lead, we follow.

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    The rain keeps some of Port Blacksand's residents off the streets, but there are still plenty of folk moving about as Rosa leads her companions down Market Street toward Market Square. You pass the Spotted Dog Inn and numerous small herb and spice shops. Market Square is not as full as usual, but several stalls remain stubbornly open despite the weather. You pass several hawking fresh bread, hot soup, and kebabs of assorted meats.

    Spoiler: Food
    Show

    Feel free to grab some grub on the way if you wish (one silver piece for whatever you like)


    In the middle of the square, a pillory on a raised platform lies empty. You pass by several other traders: A Borangian woman wearing a wide, pleated belt offers travelling cloaks of dyed wool and felt; a slender half-orc offers an assortment of adventuring tools; and an older man in a brown cloak and a scar running down the side of his face offers small pieces of worked silver jewelry.

    You head north out of Market Square into narrow Bridge Street. You pass a small cluster of houses as you approach the intersection of Singing Avenue, and begin to feel unseen eyes watching you walk by. A short distance down the street, despite the rain, you see a small boy step out from a doorway and trot quickly toward you.

    Borgrim, unfamiliar with Port Blacksand, nonetheless immediately recognizes a trap. Rosa has seen this setup before: the child has a scrap of paper in his hand, no doubt, with a demand (most likely for coin). She looks up to the right, Borgrim to the left, and they see a few second story windows with open shutters. The tips of arrows can be seen sticking out of two of them. You estimate three bows on either side of the street. A moment later Benedict stops dead, sensing something amiss with his companions.

    Spoiler: OOC
    Show

    The boy is 60 feet down the street from you, to the north. An alley to the right of you runs east into The Noose. 30 feet behind you, and alley on the left runs roughly west toward Singing Avenue. Due to the second story overhang, the archers can only shoot toward the far side of the street (I.e. you could shelter from the left side archers under the left side overhang).
    Last edited by Wogwoggle; 2019-05-16 at 08:34 PM.
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  28. - Top - End - #28
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    Time to summon your demons, sorcerers, whispers Borgrim, while he guages the battlefield and tries to come up with a workable plan.

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    Quote Originally Posted by iTookUrNick View Post
    "Fine for me. Try not to kill any of my friend while you are at it".
    "Then, Faust, who are your friends, really? I must say you seem to be from the city, as I am, but I am also certain never to have heard of you through the grapevine. Not that I care overmuch, a man deserves his privacy. Yet, if we are to work together, a modicum of awareness regarding where your interests lie seems both warranted and necessary."

    Rosa seems satisfied for a second, then continues. "On my side, I have no friends in Blacksand," she says that with a proud and detached tone at first, turning her back to them, yet a slight drop in her voice might betray a tinge of regret.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    Come. Rosa, you seem to know her way around - I say you lead, we follow.
    Rosa turns her head back, with a disturbing grin. Time for lunch.

    As they pass the market, Rosa sizes up Borgrim and picks up a rain cloak. "Showing off your musculature may be a good idea for now. You don't seem to care about the rain. Yet, even in Blacksand, you're bearing and figure stand out, as do mine." She rolls the cloack into a ball and throws it at Borgrim. "Hold on to that, in the event we need to be somewhat more discreet, at any later time. You do not want the whole constabulary after you, am I right?"

    She then gets coffee for all three and a pieces of meat on sticks from another stall.



    When she sees the child, Rosa gives a weary sigh. Sweet tender and young flesh, this one's scrawny but it'll do! the Slayer exclaims with eagerness. Rosa turns to Borgrim. "I have no idea what you're talking about," with still the same sh1t-eating grin. "Faust, are these friends of yours?"

    She takes slow steps forward, as if going to take cover from the rain under the overhang below those hidden archers. "Look at that, poor kid, alone under the rain. Come to me, I'll give you a copper, so you can find something to eat and get out of the cold." She puts her hand under her cloak, pretending to fetch her purse, to prepare her weapons.

    Yes yes, come to us little bag of sweet sweet blood.

    Spoiler: OOC
    Show
    Alright, first, Deception - (1d20+2)[21] to pretend Rosa didn't notice the ambush.
    If needed Sleight of hand - (1d20+4)[10] to ready weapons (i.e. load crossbow, draw dagger) under her cloak, without giving notice. Also, if enough time, grab a silver too.

    Plan is, if possible, to give the silver to the kid, with a message, before the trap triggers.

    (Already spent 1sp on Borgrim's raincloak, and another on the meal.)
    'Jernau Gurgeh', the machine said, making a sighing noise, 'a guilty system recognises no innocents. … The very way you think places you amongst its enemies. … Prevarication will be more difficult than you might imagine; neutrality is probably impossible. You cannot choose not to have the politics you do; they are not some separate set of entities somehow detachable from the rest of your being; they are a function of your existence. I know that and they know that; you had better accept it.'

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    Ben keeps the hood of his cloak over his head to protect himself both from the rain and from prying eyes as they move through the city. Moving in the market district, he discretely offers the greeting of the Free Traders to some of the members he encounters. No words are exchanged, just a quick hand motion. Above them, a crow flies silently.

    "I am indeed a private person. I try not to make a splash, whatever I do. As for my friends, well, it is useful to acquaint oneself with others whose goals are aligned with yours, however momentarily. At this juncture, this means helping hard-working people from being deprived of the fruits of their labor."
    As Rosa buys her food, Ben choses a hot soup for himself, hoping to get a little heat to his bones. "Great weather for hot soup" he comments with the vendor "Though it takes forever to finish it.".




    Ben is seriously impressed by the nonchalance that Rosa can muster, so much that he almost blows their game himself. "Hmmm, you're good at this." he comments. "Also, these are definitely not my friends. My friends are not out to take your money." He pauses, considering his statement. "Not at arrow-point, at least". he amends.

    Unhurriedly, he strolls towards the alley on their left, ready to take cover should the archers start shooting. While the overhangs seem to offer some protection, he'd rather not be shot at directly.
    Last edited by iTookUrNick; 2019-05-17 at 09:15 AM.
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