The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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  1. - Top - End - #211
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    Default Re: Ansalonian Adventures IC III

    Quote Originally Posted by Ninja_Prawn View Post
    To Eren: "certainly I am in favour of expanding our party. I am expecting this job to be dangerous, and I have had quite enough near-death experiences for one lifetime already."

    Regarding Achuak, I do agree that he hasn't done anything to deserve the hatred he's been shown, at least in the day or so I've known him. My feeling is that it isn't fair to judge him by anything other than his own actions. On that basis, I'm willing to give him a chance, plus he seems somewhat different from the stereotypical depiction of a Jarak-Sinn.

    Perhaps it would be best to get to know him a little better, before going any further. I try to sound neutral, and to ignore his strange mannerisms. "Well, Achuak, temporary goals aside, your overarching aim is to serve Zivilyn, yes?" I have no problem with that, for sure. "Do you have any kind of long term plan for how you are going to do that?"
    Achuak

    "Yes, to serve Zivilyn is Our reason of life and goal. As for a longer term goal.... no. We do not have a goal to reach. It is about the journey and to experience what happens during the Journey. We guess the goal is to return home some day with a greater wisdom, to use that wisdom and improve the life and cultural existence of Our people." Achuak said with a thoughtful hiss to the words.
    "Does that answer your question sufficiently? We do not really know how to explain it much deeper since it was a divinely inspired choice to leave Our homelands and see the wider world."
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  2. - Top - End - #212
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    Pierre knows nothing specific of dragons, relaying only a handful of wholly unsubstantiated rumors and tall tales.

    You continue to spend a nice warm evening in the tavern and eventually find yourselves some very very small but loudly adorned and comfortable rooms. The beds are on the small side and rickety, but are piled high with down pillows and colorful quilts.

    The next day beckons. What is your next move? Plan?

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    Jason will pack up his gear, get dressed and cleaned up, and prepare to head out to that mountain trail to take them up to the monastery.

  4. - Top - End - #214
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    Achuak

    Being a newcomer to the group, Achuak will primarily just follow the others' lead for now. As well as observe and learn. These are all softskins after all and he is yet to trust any of them beyond basic pleasantries... Well, THEIR kind of pleasantries like talking, or exchanging information, etc.
    Had it been his homelands, it'd have been a lethal fight to see who won and that way you might be able to establish a brotherhood-feel for your fellow comrades. Or you'd end up dead, or possibly make an enemy for life.
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  5. - Top - End - #215
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    First thing this morning, I'll prepare my spells for the day. I opt for a more combat-focussed selection, since we don't know what we might be facing. After breakfast, I lace up my new dwarven boots and pull on my dark coat, ready for the road. Before we leave though, I'd like to see if any of the locals know anything about what's been going on at the monastery. Just some polite questions for anyone who doesn't seem busy - maybe people loitering at the inn or waiting to meet someone in town, or even children if they can understand me. Questions like whether they have any dealings with the monks, what they're like, who (if anyone) they worship, how long the monastery has been there, what their experiences with the mountain tribes has been, if there have been any attacks on travellers, etc.

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  6. - Top - End - #216
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    Sorawyl, having gotten some hints about the mindset of the Qwermish people over the past two weeks, and with the additional insight of the merchant Pierre last night, sees an opening; they're proud and strong, but under that warm and thoroughly committed to community and mutual support.

    Amongst the people, early in the morning setting up their stands and opening their shops, she leads with subtle praise and questions about their wares and workday, slowly working toward more "intrusive" questions about the community at large.

    It seems the monastery, while not especially remote, is seen as an alien establishment on their soil which is tolerated because the monks largely keep to themselves and are otherwise seen as a rarely-observed benefit. She learns that a small group comes to town every few days to deliver vast loads of eggs and takes away fish. Maybe sometimes other things, such as simple tools and cloth.

    Nobody asks about godly worship, though they usually wear loose robes of red and yellow. The monastery has been there for as long as anybody knows, but they don't give it much thought. As for the mountain tribes ... they're a horrible, savage, cannibalistic, brutal, warlike bunch best avoided. It's known they sometimes come sneaking down to kill and pillage and steal, but that's what great walls and hired guards are for. Loaz hasn't suffered a real attack in many years, and the people are happy for it, but the middle generation has memories of a terrible battle.

    As for direction, you are pointed toward the back of town; the broad gate at the mountain road is what you seek. Three guards are on duty here, sharing bread and a basket of bacon. They note you with curiosity but allow you to without question.

    You wonder how far off this place must be, but you don't have to wait long, as it's about two miles away. That said, the road wraps long and upward, so while it's close, it's also a steep incline rising a good thousand feet above the land you approached from, and the village of Loaz is lost from view within minutes. While you haven't traveled far, you're winded and the terrain appears entirely different, from forested hills to scraggly rock peaks in an instant, and to your right is a complete panoply of the countless tortured miles of the Dargaard Mountains. It's quite a view.

    As is the monastery itself. Set in the depression of a small, steep peak, it's naturally protected on three sides. A great stone building, three stories tall, sits before you, intentionally wedged between the surrounding stone. Once inside, you will see the depression and gatehouse, as its called, form a circle around several lovely and well-tended acres. The gatehouse leads to a half-dozen other wings. In the middle are gardens and fountains, and chickens and goats and more chickens abound everywhere else. A twenty-foot wall surrounds the entire facility.

    Still, you are not yet inside, and pulling a heavy rope at the massive front door, you hear a low bell toll within, and a shaggy head appears in a window far above you. "State your business, strangers," he says in Common.
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  7. - Top - End - #217
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    I'm pleased with this information, and share it with Jason and Eren. And with Achuak and Morhar, given our conversations last night. "So that is the situation. If the mountain tribes are even half as bad as these folk make out, the monks deserve to be protected from their depredations. We will need to be on guard as soon as we are outside the walls of Loaz, of course, but if all five of us stick together, I expect we will be able to protect each other."

    I wonder, do the red and yellow robes mean anything to me? Intelligence (Religion): (1d20+3)[6]
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  8. - Top - End - #218
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    The next morning Eren went to talk with Jason. "Master Barker... I was already thinking that we were rather short on man-power, for our current mission, and last night master Morhar, the dwarf, offered to accompany us. Lady Sorawyl and I were ready to accept him, seeing that he does seem to posses martial skill, even if his temper does seem to be rather... short. On the same note, I invited master Achuak as well. He does seem to be after some noble pursuits in my humble opinion, and clerical aid surely will come in handy, should we need to face the bandits in battle."

    "I know there was the incident, but I don't think master Morhar is evil, but more likely misguided in his rage. I'm not saying you should forgive him, but perhaps offer him a chance of redeeming himself? Perhaps he could learn compassion and wisdom to temper his passion, should he travel with us." Eren does his best to sound calm and even-tempered.
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  9. - Top - End - #219
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    "If the mountain tribes are even half as bad as these folk make out, the monks deserve to be protected from their depredations."
    "Still, let's not jump to any conclusions until we have the full picture," Jason says.

    "I know there was the incident, but I don't think master Morhar is evil, but more likely misguided in his rage. I'm not saying you should forgive him, but perhaps offer him a chance of redeeming himself? Perhaps he could learn compassion and wisdom to temper his passion, should he travel with us."
    "I've no issue with the Jarak-sinn, and he's welcome as far as I'm concerned. But even if you're right, and the dwarf is not evil, just misguided, well...I didn't see any remorse on his part for what he did. Redemption requires effort on his own part. It's not something we can thrust upon him, or hope will just happen naturally.

    "And even ignoring all that, is that the sort of person you want to trust to watch your back? How can you be sure he'll watch over and protect you while you sleep and he won't just 'lose his temper' and slam his axe into your skull like he did with that giant? I don't know about you, but I wouldn't be able to sleep at all with someone like that in my camp. He's more of a danger to us than any enemy we would face, because we at least know what to expect from an enemy."

    "State your business, strangers."
    "We have heard stories that your monastery has suffered recent attacks, and you are seeking aid," Jason calls out to him. "We are here to offer that aid, if you still require it."

  10. - Top - End - #220
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    Default Re: Ansalonian Adventures IC III

    Upon hearing the occasional raid trouble, Morhar hangs his head in deep thought, stroking his vastly trimmed beard as he recollected his own memories dealing with raiders and other such nuisances. Mostly airing his concerns a decent bit away from Jason, still respectfully cautious of his perception of the dwarf's recent actions, he feels relatively at ease with most of the others.

    "Ah know tha despahra'shun of git'n wut ya need but ahn'ay self-respect'n moon'ten dwellahs ought ta nah bettah than go all wild on anyt'ing more den beasties 'n' cut-throots. Unless dey be dem demselves...." Morhar ponders the point. Granted, the barbarians he was raised among were more in tune with fairly basic living aside nature and let nothing go to waste but it all seemed like common sense to him.

    "Yah. Senseless greed's and rabid madness from livin' nay but a thread from death's tha only t'ing that comes ta mind with a stor'hay like dat. We used'ta say "bettah we let da cold winds an' tha snow strip our flesh ta spare our brothas 'n' sistahs from turnin' as well". 'Course...then agiiiiiiiin [shrugging his shoulders with raised palms]...tha shamans were nevah too keen of oos not t'ussin' da elements tha firs' kill o' tha new moon anym're since we cou' nah affor' ta. Idlin' thoots, ah s'spose."

    With that, the dwarf looks his gear over and double-checks everything he might need is ready on-hand. Most of it is basically very niche or simple compared to most travelers' needs. Even the slight variance that does exist in his inventory doesn't seem practical even for creative scenarios but as a man who hates to be unprepared for having reverted 'mostly' to his base instincts and barbarian training, it would be foolish to purge anything at the moment.

    "'Ah'summin' all t'ings can be set aside...[alluding to the understanding there may be more vocal concerns regarding Morhar's presence]...once we get really gon' 'n' goin' throo dis first bit 'n' all, dunnae s'pose we be havin' any 'vantage points shud we be forced ta rest, ey? Ah dinnae t'ink it wise to let us be sa'roondid, stooped ah naw. Ah know most'uv tha folk who were raised in such a land may well be wook'in on air for all dere werth."
    Last edited by MechaKingGhidra; 2019-11-20 at 11:33 PM.

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  11. - Top - End - #221
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    Achuak

    Achuak has spent an hour of morning prayer to both give thanks to his patron god, along with Chislev since she is the overaching patron deity of his kind, so she deserved some focus as well, but only after the primary focus upon Zivilyn first and foremost.
    With all that done with, Achuak would venture downstairs to see if he newfound, well.... Travel companions would be the most correct term right now, well he was checking if they were still down there or had left him behind.
    From what it all seemed, it was clear they were still here, so Achuak'd just take a seat at a table nearby and fish out a piece of smoked and dried meat-of-unknown-origin and cut small pieces from it and ate while listening to the folk around him.
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  12. - Top - End - #222
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    Back at the inn:

    "It's not the ideal situation, master Barker... But... Jason... If there are innocents at the monastery, I believe they'd need all the help they can get. None of us can really tell master Morhar not to come, if he so wishes, unless we wish to physically confront him. I don't believe we are in danger from him either. The fight with the giant was unfortunate, but I don't think it was avoidable. Perhaps we should talk more about this later, but I'll need to go prepare for the journey." Eren tried to sound compassionate, but he just couldn't make himself to feel as strongly about the giant's death as Jason. As he left, Eren did wonder Jason lacked pragmatism, or if this was just a flaw in Eren's own character.

    At the monastery:

    Eren waited for the shaggy man to respond to Jason, hands clasped behind his back. He did remind himself to talk with Morhar later, about how they'd try to handle the possible attackers.
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  13. - Top - End - #223
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    "If there are innocents at the monastery, I believe they'd need all the help they can get."
    "If there are innocents at the monastery, do you really want to risk unleashing a mad dwarf on them? Who is to say he won't lose his temper and just start slaughtering them all? You're putting an inordinate amount of faith in someone we not only just met, but whom the only real detail we know of about him is that he has a habit of going on murderous rages sometimes," Jason points out.

    "None of us can really tell master Morhar not to come, if he so wishes, unless we wish to physically confront him."
    Jason exhales a defeated sigh. "No, I suppose that's true enough. But if he tries to murder anyone, I won't hesitate to cut him down myself if need be." He shakes his head sullenly. "I won't just stand by and watch again...like last time."

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    Monastery of the Forgotten Mind


    Shaggy disappears and you are left standing along the side of a mountain. It really is quite a stunning view, entirely different from the green Vingaards overlooking the glistening Bay of Branchala and the bustling wagon wheel that is Palanthas; or the rugged and bare Garnet range, all dusty, jagged and orange stone.

    The Southern Dargaards are sharp and dark and surprisingly full of life. Nets of black lichen and green vines weave across murky-colored stone, small forests of short trees and big, messy shrubs abound, making at appear as if the peaks rise out of shadow. From experience, you'd guess the tallest peaks reach perhaps five thousand feet.

    You wait quite a while, but eventually you heard a thunk and heavy grinding, and the great doors part as if on well-oiled rails. Within is an open, austere hall replete with handworked art, unassuming furniture, and potted plants of a hundred varieties. A tall, dark-skinned bald man in red and gold walks toward you with purpose and a palpable inner strength. He's unfazed by the makeup of the party. "Good morning, travelers. I am Brother Windmark. You claim to come to our aid. If true, I thank you for this. Please come in and tell me of yourselves, and I will, in turn, tell you of our plight."

    The Ergothian, for that's what he surely is, invites you to sit upon plain seats and share hot tea. You note men and women of several races doing chores and working at any number of tasks throughout the huge building and outside. Though not for all of you, it's incredibly peaceful, and everybody goes about their daily routines with a satisfied and a visible ease in their strides.

    "The Monastery of the Forgotten Mind has stood here for nearly fifteen hundred years; one of the few remaining ancient citadels to The Master of the Mind. Here we live simply and dedicate our lives to quiet study, farming, and self-improvement." He grins and shrugs. "It's not for everybody, I know, but some find peace in a simplicity of purpose.

    "We've always had trouble with the local tribes. They're a hard people who live off the land and by the sword, unforgiving as nature. When they aren't raiding to the west or east, they warring with each other. And when they aren't doing that, perhaps once a decade, they come here to prove themselves and take whatever they can carry. Before you ask, simply giving them whatever goods they desire isn't enough. It's been tried. They want to fight for it. It's unfortunate, but violence one day every decade in exchange for thirty-six hundred days of sunny solitude seems fair enough.

    "Unfortunately, for whatever reason, a single raid isn't enough this time. I suspect the leader of the tribe is trying to prove something, and has whipped his people into a fury. In the past month they have struck three times and killed seven acolytes. Our walls are tall and strong, but they don't defend themselves. We require help to defend ourselves or turn them back."

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    "Well met, Brother Windmark," Jason says in greeting. "I am Jason Barker of Palanthas. So what did you have in mind for us to do then? Help defend the monastery if another attack comes, or to seek out these mountain folk and get them to de-escalate?" he asks.

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    "I have no mind for battle. I know only that previous attempts at diplomacy have failed, and they seem intent on our destruction this time. We need them stopped or deterred - how to accomplish this I leave to you. You are all armed and responded to our call, so I assume you are more capable in this regard than a company of academics and theologians."

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    If the tribesmen have attacked three times in the last month, it seems likely that they will attack again soon. That being the case, I would prefer to stay at the monastery. It'll be safer and if we want to negotiate, it'd be better to do it from a position of strength (i.e. the monastery's walls) than isolated in the mountains. Plus it'll be more comfortable!

    Still, a few things don't quite add up... these "academics and theologians" have already turned back three assaults, and the raiders seem to consider it enough of a trial to attack the monastery that it would "prove" something. The monks must have some kind of defensive capabilities aside from us. Brother Windmark could also stand to share a few more details about the situation, I feel, so I speak up: "Sorawyl Kassonor, wizard. A pleasure to meet you, brother. I have a few questions, before we agree to terms."

    I ask the questions as they come to me, waiting after each to allow him to respond. "First of all, what do you know about the mountain tribe - how many warriors can they muster, where are they camping, are there any spellcasters amongst them? Besides that, what is the condition of your defenses? Were the walls damaged in previous attacks? Are any of your brethren available to aid the defence? How much ammunition do you have to hand? How long has it been since the last raid?" Really, what I want to understand is the scale of the problem.
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    Throwing in a question of his own along with Sorawyl's, Jason asks, "How far away is this tribe from the monastery?" He'll also look around the area, trying to get an idea of how defensible the place is. He'll use his experience as a soldier to look for good choke points, spots to set up traps, and overall get a good feel of the monastery's design.

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    Windmark merely shakes his head. "How many? I have no idea. This is the third time I've seen this, and I could not even tell you if the attacks are being perpetrated by the same tribe. I estimate they come in a force of between fifty and one hundred each time - this is the first time they've attacked more than once, so I think I have recognized one or two of them from earlier.

    "We rarely stray from our compound unless it is to trade with the village below. Though foraging for the goats is common enough, we never leave sight of it. A reasonable constraint on our mobility given the barbarian's wandering ways and the appearance of dangerous creatures. We lost a brother and sisters as well as a herd of goats to a dragon not five years ago.

    "I have never noted obvious spell-wielding among them. Perhaps they prefer to rely on pure strength. And the occasion has not arisen to discuss their religious practices. A shame, really. They do make use of a sort of warrior-skald, pounding out beats on drums and hooting on ram's horns.

    "The walls have suffered some scores and burns, but again, they have no powerful magic and their lifestyle prohibits the use of siege engines, so our greatest fear is ladders and ropes. They attacked eleven days ago, though we've seen them sitting and walking up on the nearby peaks, watching us, daily. We have crossbow bolts and spears, but we've used over half our stockpile.

    "There are - or were - fifty-one of us here. Only three are mendicants - holy warriors - and most of the rest are simply students of the Mantis and of life. Others study the discipline of the mind and fist, and can, will, and do defend ourselves, Miss Kassanor, but it does not make us warriors. We raise arms only in the defense of the innocent. We do not make war or shed blood to to prove something."
    He is by this point gently scrutinizing Jason.

    For his part, Jason notes even the nearest peaks are too far off for any but the most long and lucky ranged attacks (though the compound was not constructed to defend against air assault). He sees a number of locations he would fortify though because the barbarians are still watching, he thinks they are still planning. The earlier strikes may have only been probes.

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    Jason turns to the others. "Well, we can either try and fortify this place up and ward off the next attack when they come. Or we can try and take the fight to them, or at least figure out why they keep attacking so we can put an end to it. I'm inclined to the latter, myself. It will help keep the monks and monastery out of danger, but also...I have a feeling they are gearing up for a much larger scale attack. I think these last few times they might have just been testing out the place's defenses. It's possible this place won't survive the next attack, so it might be better if we can stop that from happening in the first place."

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    Keeping mindful of the information aired thus far, Morhar finally chimes in.

    "Wit' tha mos' re'cen attacks, have the lot of ya spotted dem goin' ova the same parts or do thay just be seemin' to go at 'er willy-nilly? I be t'inking that we shud be makin' plans for any breach-points, ya get me? Even wit'oot any sieg'in doohickeys, enuff warriors goin' afta tha same spots be getting me ta t'ink it could be a bit too easy to get tha ropes 'n' ladderes up in tha firs' place."

    Morhar looks around, not entirely confident that catapults and trebuchets couldn't also be part of any future attacks but is willing to let go of that for now.

    "Not only dat boot if'n dey DO git up an' all, tha preem'tar: can eet be blocked off any or na 'fore thay just git down inta tha t'ick o' t'ings? A few traps ta slow 'em doon can be buyin' time ya not be havin' ootha'wise.

    An' nah jus' traps but a bit o' trickery, eh? I be havin' some ram horns, me'self. D'ya know woot any o' tha commands mean or is it being pretty straight 'n' ferwerd? Contrary orders 'n' all dat, y'see, can be really confoozlin' on tha battleground 'n' if dey hafta ques'hun everyt'ing dey hear, we might be gettin' ta tha boot'm a' all dis wit who be leadin' dere charge. When a warleader or da like not be havin' full grip o' what's what, the mos' reazz'n'ble t'ing dat dey be comin' ta iz findin' who t'inks dey're tha one in charge and slittin' his throot PERSHUN'AH'LAY, don'tcha know?"
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  22. - Top - End - #232
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    Achuak

    Achuak felt very out of place here at the monastery, to a much higher degree than when he'd been with the others at the tavern. The wider world was still very new to him after all, so rather than be overly listening to what the others were talking about with the Brother of the Monastery, being much more interested in the architecture, the visuals of everything, and how much of a difference it all held compared to a deep-forested or swamp touched land like his own homelands to the north.
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    Eren greets the monk respectfully as well, introducing himself, and then staying quiet to listen to the battle plans.

    "Traps sound like an excellent idea, master Morhar... I can send my familiar to scout, he shouldn't draw as much attention as any one of us." Eren immediately summons his bird, giving it a telepathic message to go look for large gatherings of humanoids nearby, and report back to him.

    Eren looks at Jason. "I don't believe with so few of us we can really make effective head on strikes, though perhaps we could do some sabotage... Unless you were thinking of assassinating the leader who seems intent on causing this trouble. That could indeed work, though I'm still uncertain how we'd get close to them..." Eren scratches his beard in thought, looking into the woods.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Majin View Post
    "Traps sound like an excellent idea, master Morhar."
    Jason leans toward Eren and whispers, "Wait, did you understand any of that? I can't even tell what language he's speaking..."

    Quote Originally Posted by Majin View Post
    "Unless you were thinking of assassinating the leader who seems intent on causing this trouble. That could indeed work, though I'm still uncertain how we'd get close to them..."
    "Assassinate? Maybe as a last resort, but no, I was talking more about finding out why they have changed their behavior. Perhaps they are being coerced or there has been some kind of misunderstanding. Barbarians these people may be, but still people, which means they could be reasoned with, at least in theory. Even if diplomacy fails, it might be a good idea to scout them out and learn more about their numbers, formations, and tactics."

  25. - Top - End - #235
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    I nod. "And Brother Windmark said that there had been "previous attempts at diplomacy", so it must be possible to treat with them. Maybe not wise..." After all, if the monks couldn't do it, with all their wisdom and familiarity with the mountain tribes, I sincerely doubt we can.

    I ask the brother: "purely out of interest, please could you explain how the previous attempts at diplomacy were conducted? Perhaps we can find a different angle that will produce better results."
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    Windmark sips at his tea and describes to Sorawyl what he knows - that masters have many times set out when seeing an approaching horde and declared peaceful intent to talk, and been set to flee before arrows and axes (when able to escape - some simply never returned). He knows of one instance in which mendicants used their godly magic to sway their minds and return to the mountains peacefully. Though an undisciplined rabble, they were many, and only a few were affected. "Obviously," he says, "assassination is not our way, and so it has not been attempted. I wouldn't want to use that method, given a choice. Of course, here the choice is yours."

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    "I agree with Brother Windmark," Jason adds. "I feel there has been enough death as it is. If we can solve this without it, we should. I'd rather save killing as an absolute last resort."
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  28. - Top - End - #238
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    It's clear that any kind of long-term solution will require a peaceful, negotiated settlement - it's not as if we can or would eradicate an entire people on behalf of this monastery, and the monastery isn't moving any time soon either. Still, though... "that is all well and good, but how do we bring the mountain tribes into a parley? Our approaches will surely be chased off slings and arrows unless we can prove to them that talking will be more beneficial than fighting..."
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  29. - Top - End - #239
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    "We could use more information, on this tribe's culture and beliefs. It might help us find some kind of leverage to get them talking," Jason speculates. "I don't suppose your magic could help us learn more?" he asks Sorawyl.

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    Eren nods in agreement. "Perhaps a peaceful solution would be better for long-term... You don't happen to have any books concerning the history of these tribes? Or anyone in your monastery who might have studied them?"
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