The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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  1. - Top - End - #151
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The Convergence of Sky: An Exalted campaign.

    "Well then. If the city-boy doesn't have to run back to town first..." Walda says, giving Adorei a withering look, "...it sounds like we have a plan. Should I go ahead and tell my men to set up camp to safeguard Mask?"
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  2. - Top - End - #152
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    "Again, I have sufficient supplies to keep me and my men alive. Necessity aside, a return to civilization would be valuable in more ways that one - in addition to allowing me to offload some of my less-useful or less-trusted courtiers, it would give me the opportunity to send for help. You see, I am no sorcerer nor especially learned in the ways of essence ebb and flow - given the opportunity, I could arrange for a specialist to aid us." And one who would provide a counterweight to the surplus of barbarians accompanying them on this journey, but Adorei kept that thought well-hidden. Claiming as much of the rewards from this expidition as possible for House Nellens would already be a delicate game, and should his theoretical geomancer be associated Mnemon or Ledaal more delicate still. How to stop uncultured anathema from revealing themselves, and calling down the hunt too early?

    Well, it seemed he'd have some time to plan.

  3. - Top - End - #153
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    "Frozen Glade? You mentioned that when you healed me." Decks' tail curls into a hook, an almost question mark, as he thought. "You gave it up for me."

    After a moment, Decks slings his woolen cloak over his shoulder and nods at Mask.

    "Since prissy city boy doesn't need anything from town, let's get to. Best to get your men prepped for looking after Mask."
    "In every walk in with nature one receives far more than he seeks." -John Muir

  4. - Top - End - #154
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    The Outlander frowns as the first split between Adorei and the others emerges. Her own instinct follows that of Decks and Walda - Mask is ailing, so time is of the essence. But Adorei's words do seem quite insightful to the traveller - with access to resources and support staff, they might be in a better position to make the trip. Yet just siding with the Dragon Prince will just bring them back to a stalemate. They need some sort of method that the group can at least vaguely agree upon.

    After a little consideration of the impasse, the wandering Solar settles on a way to find a middleground of sorts. She turns to their patron spirit, bowing to the strange serpent. "Mask, how much do you know about Frozen Glade's current state, and the environs? Can you describe the area?"

    The Outlander listens patiently, trying to place whatever landmarks the spirit can provide. Once the old god is done, the stranger looks between her colleagues, curious. "Do any of you know the locale, or any threats that could be lurking there? Bandits, fae, monsters? If we know what's between us and there, it might be worth a trip to civilization to prepare for it. Otherwise we'd have to prepare for everything. And we don't have time for that."

  5. - Top - End - #155
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    Mask sighs "We know not the terrain or the people and spirits there. Frozen Glade was the last demense we touched, the last we drew sustenance from. That connection allows us to trace its power. It is not far, by our reckoning of mortal strides, but we do not know what lies between our prison and there. In the time we have slumbered, mountains may have been raised, rivers may carve canyons in ice and rock. We only know the direction, and the distance, which we would guess at two days journey afoot. The last we touched that supple living essence, we knew it to be a place of boreal growth, fruit-bearing trees, great pines and sweet herbs, a majestic hunting ground for the beasts of the tundra. Ah! How we once looked on it from above and laughed! But...those days are behind us. We shall not detain you any longer, it is a poor habit for a prisoner. Depart, and make haste where you will. Our fate is in your hands."
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  6. - Top - End - #156
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    PirateGuy

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    "I can hunt and scout. Let's just go!" Decks yowls. He stalks toward the direction that Mask indicated and out of the protective winds.
    "In every walk in with nature one receives far more than he seeks." -John Muir

  7. - Top - End - #157
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    When Decks exits the winds, he can see the Moonblades gathered around, some looking anxiously at him, some ready to fight. The Nellens caravan is nearby, its attendants huddled up to the Yeddim for warmth. Off in the distance, Siev's wyld beast is lazily floating northwards. The sky is starting to become overcast, and there's a smell of snow in the air.
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  8. - Top - End - #158
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    "Eh, your boss is coming. Don't get your loincloths tangled." Decks pops another sprig of catmint into his mouth and walks away from the two groups.

    Once he is away from the massive groups, he looks towards the Wyld beast, his lips curling into a snarl. Once I make sure Mask is fed, I am coming for you, piss-pants.

    He sits in the snow, waiting for the others to catch up with him. The sooner they get this done, the sooner he can pay back Mask for their kindness. The sooner he can hunt Siev again.
    "In every walk in with nature one receives far more than he seeks." -John Muir

  9. - Top - End - #159
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    Adorei doesn't frown at the Outlander's lack of open allegiance, that would betray his training. Instead, it gets filed away - another strand in the web. He would have to work harder. Distracting himself as Decks storms out, he turns to Walda. He'd been taught as a child that asking favors could just as surely put someone in your good graces as granting them - this was spelled out, deliberately, the moment a Nellens dynast first met with anyone bearing the name Ragara- and he wasn't one to miss an opportunity. Besides, he really did need the favor.

    "I have a request, if I may." He said, hedging his words carefully. "In the commotion of the fey attack, the local guides I hired ran for the horizon. They... I am afraid that they cannot be allowed to survive. This many anathema in one place would force the Realm into action - headed, no doubt, by the execrable Peleps Deled - and bring down unwanted attention on all our heads. Your men are doubtlessly much better trackers than my own. I understand that they are my problem to fix, but, in the spirit of our new alliance... could you help?"

    A pleasant blend of flattery and appeals to self-interest. Adorei felt almost proud.

  10. - Top - End - #160
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    Walda's lip curls in distaste.

    "Regardless of what you may think of me and my people, I'll have you know that we don't hunt for sport. We're robbers, not assassins, and I don't see what we would gain from murdering your hired men. They were locals, and barely loyal even to a Dynast's coin. What gives you the notion that they'd go running straight to the Realm to cry 'Anthema'? And for that matter, what gives you the notion that the Realm would care? As long as the Bull of the North endures, it's no secret that there are Anathema in the North, and it's also no secret that your broken legions can't do a damn thing about it."


    He grins maliciously.

    "If they could, you wouldn't tolerate us either, would you?"


    The bandit chief turns his back to Adorei, poised to follow Decks out of Mask's prison-storm.

    "I'm not your executioner for hire, and I will not strip Mask of the defenders I just promised it. Let's just get moving toward Frozen Glade while we still have light."
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  11. - Top - End - #161
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    "Ah, my apologies." Adorei drawled, his voice light but eyes hard. "You're correct, I hadn't expected such a profound moral theory from a simple bandit. You say you kill people, but only for their money and not for anyone else's? What paragons of classical virtue you are! Nor had I realized that you commanded such a force, such an empire of snowdrifts, that you expect the Legions to march to battle you - as opposed to the experienced Wyld Hunt which would ordinarily be called upon hearing such startlingly accurate rumors of mass anathema activity, and which would happily kill you in the night and leave your men to die in the snow like the animals they so desperately want to be. I bow to your unmatched knowledge of the Realm's sensibilities and capabilities in the North."

    He made a short bow, eyes never lowering. Behind them, gears turned. With Ledaal so recently consumed with the realities of open war, truth be told Adorei was uncertain there were even enough experienced Wyld Hunt members in the North to make such a thing more than an exercise in suicide, but he also knew that now of all times the Realm flatly could not afford another Bull - this large a gathering of anathema could not be allowed to stand, no matter its stated purpose. Not only that, but House Nellens could not afford to associate with them, even through rumor. In ordinary times such a rumor, filled with details the Immaculate sages would doubtless be familiar with, would be problematic. In these times it would be disastrous. It endangered relationships with both Ledaal and the Order, and given the rumors swirling that the clash between Ledaal and Sesus had been a result of anathema interference it could very well redirect the whole weight and force of the war onto House Nellens' head. Adorei would be taking his own precautions, to be sure - messengers would be sent, elders informed and contingencies laid - but the deaths of everyone involved would simplify things greatly. This whole endeavor would already see Adorei walking a knife-edge between riches of legend and treason of the vilest kind; he did not wish to return and see his home burned to ashes.

    Still, it's nice to know exactly what kind of 'alliance' this would be.

  12. - Top - End - #162
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    Pausing at the threshold of the winds, Walda turns back, glares at Adorei, and spits on the ground in his direction.

    "If you have such confidence in your champions, Dynast, go back to your Realm and invite them to come hunt the Flashing Blade of the Moon in his own territory. But if you do, and your confidence is misplaced, I will come for you, and I will come wearing the faces of the monks you sent to their deaths."


    With a parting grin, Walda leaves the whirlwind. Soon, he's deep in the work of mustering the Moonblades to Mask's defense, Adorei all but forgotten.
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  13. - Top - End - #163
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    How tightly he holds his pride, when he has nothing at all to be proud of. Two hundred men on the knife's edge of starvation, with no hope, no prospects but to one day, some day, lose. Adorei ground his teeth. The sooner he no longer needed these barbarians, the better.

    Composing himself, he stepped out through the storm.

  14. - Top - End - #164
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    The assembled Moonblades and Nellens Attendants gather around as their respective leaders emerge. Much is made of the two. "Are you okay? What is happening? Are we going to be killed? What happened in there? Are we allying with them?"

    Wrek, Zheng and Nellens Bosro seem to have appointed themselves leaders during the Exalts' absence. They push forward and make themselves known, eyeing Decks and the Outlander warily.

    "Sir, we are ready to move if you need us to, but some of the wounded..."

    "Yeah, like she says, them bears weren't pushovers. Some'a the guys need to rest. I'd recommend taking what we can from these islanders and making camp."

    "And I tell you there's no need to do that, right cousin? I suspect we have a good reason to be here, right, cousin?"

    Bosro seems to pat his stomache absent-mindedly, but Adorei knows what he carries next to his skin, a silver mirror bearing the names of their ancestors, a conduit to their wisdom, and a sign to Adorei of their mission.
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  15. - Top - End - #165
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    "We'll have time to tend to the wounded," Walda assures his Moonblades. "I want you to make camp here. But..."

    This will be the tricky part.

    "Do we have the supplies to hold here for, say, a week, without taking anything from the caravan?"


    He glances to Adorei briefly, wondering how true his next words actually are.

    "The Nellens leader has pledged himself as an... ally of convenience. The supernatural creature who called us all here..."


    Walda holds up his soapstone, and gestures to indicate that the other Exalts bear them as well...

    "...is powerful, but vulnerable. If we help him, we could all gain much by it, but we will need to work together, strange bedfellows as we might be."


    He glances back at the storm.

    "Due to our new patron's present vulnerability, I ask if you can camp here in order to keep watch over him. I would not ask you to fight the Fae without me, but you can establish pickets, and if an enemy is sighted, you can retreat, and send word to me, and we will come as swiftly as we can. I can tell you which direction we are bound; we estimate the journey will be two days each way..."
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  16. - Top - End - #166
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    Zheng and Wrek look at each other questioningly, then nod. "If you think you'll be okay, we can hold things together here."

    "Just hurry back, sir. The men will welcome a few day's rest, but they will get antsy if you're gone for too long."
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  17. - Top - End - #167
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    Adorei exits the snowstorm with a smile plastered on his face, like he's back at one of the debutante events House Cynis seemed to host every other week. His tread was firm, but just like his great-aunt had taught him he held his pace steady as he saw his men looking at him expectantly - hurrying would imply a lack of control of the situation, and given what he was about to try and sell he needed to look like he was in control. He folded his hands into his sleeves, so no-one could see the twitching.

    "Indeed, a temporary bargain was struck. To insure proper behavior on all sides, all of you will need to remain here - watching, and being watched in turn. Be courteous guests, and watch for my messages."

    Of course, no messages would come. Bosro and his ilk were, for the moment, thoroughly useless except as apparent guarantors for Adorei's own behavior - but it wouldn't do to lay that out.

  18. - Top - End - #168
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    As Walda and Adorei converse with their separate groups, Decks taps his foot impatiently. His eyes tracking his new allies, if he can call the Dragon that. He turns expectantly to the whirlwind, but the Outlander still has yet to appear.

    "HEY! KITTEN, ARE YOU COMING OR WHAT?"
    "In every walk in with nature one receives far more than he seeks." -John Muir

  19. - Top - End - #169
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    HalflingWizardGirl

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    The Outlander eventually emerges, making a brisk pace to rejoin the group. "Sorry, sorry. Just... hard to take it all in, you know?"

    She glances around her newfound friends. None of them seem at each other's throats just yet - perfect. Whistling jauntily the Outlander falls into step with Decks, happy to take direction from the fluffy man while Walda and Adorei saw to the needs of their respective camps.

  20. - Top - End - #170
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    After taking supplies from the Caravan and the Moonblades, the assembled Exalts depart.

    The fight and discussion with Mask had stretched into the late morning, and it takes some time for everyone to adapt to their new companions' strides. Decks is always out in front, his short legs marching determinedly, sometimes his cat paws allowing him to bound atop the snow while the others trudge through it. Behind him is Walda, making sure the cat Lunar doesn't get too far ahead. Adorei and Outlander bring up the rear.

    The day's events and the pace Decks sets leave little time for conversation, and the terrain is mostly flat tundra, full of scrub-grass and shriveled trees poking through the snow. A sudden evening gust brings heavy clouds and an early snow begins to fall, necessitating camp. While everyone is setting up, Adorei feels a slight tug at the back of his consciousness. An ancestor wants a word.

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    While this scene is partially for Adorei's benefit, everyone should feel free to talk, give their character's perspective or do whatever they feel makes sense.
    Last edited by Sticks; 2019-12-10 at 12:34 AM.
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  21. - Top - End - #171
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    Exhausted from the hours of marching and having no useful way to help set up camp, Adorei excuses himself with a few muttered platitudes and excuses regarding necessary devotions and steps away to attend to... other matters. It's past time he spoke to his family.

    It's a full half-hour of trudging through the thickening snowfall, fingers and ears slowly numbing, before Adorei finds a small corpse of trees private enough for his needs. There, he takes a moment to comport himself. A sudden gust of wind sets the snow on his shoulders flying away, with his fingers he smooths his hair as best he can given the weather and straitens his jacket. Satisfied - well, as best he can be without seeing himself - he finally reaches into a pouch and produces a small silver mirror. It's almost cheap, totally unadorned save for the mon of House Nellens embossed on the back, and he reverently sets it across from him before backing up and bowing full to the ground. The fresh-fallen snow is frigid against his forehead but he doesn't flinch, he holds the position until he hears his Uncle's gravelly voice.

    "Up."

    "Honored ancestor," Adorei begins as he rises to a kneeling position, catching his first look at the smokey court his thicket-bearded Uncle presides over. "I offer you your due blessings on this most auspicious day, as is my duty." Chin tucked in until it was almost hidden by his collar, back slightly lowered, palms up. Danger-opportunity-extreme. Multi-layered sign languages had fallen out of favor in polite society some five decades ago, but the dead were ever slow to change. One of Adorei's tutors had begun teaching him how to speak like this when he was five, there had been whole lessons with multiple layers of lectures happening at once. "Today, the day you fell to the wretched Anathema, I sing your praises and tell the stories of your life, that you not be forgotten." He left his back curved, but tilted his head slightly to the left (Allies-convenience-backstab) but not too far to the left - he wasn't marrying any of them. Conveying any manner of detail this way was next to impossible, but this language could express incredible nuances of relationships and hierarchy. He had heard tell, once, of a similar language involving rapid, coded blinks used by the Eyes that could, in fact, fully function as a language but, personally, he thought it a clever fantasy. "You will be pleased to know that the family continues on the glorious path you laid for us, and that trees you planted have come into bloom. I only wish that your granddaughter, Nellens Eudokia, had lived to see it - she has joined you in the next world, and we dearly miss her sorcerous might." Back straight now, shoulders back, palms still up. Satisfaction-Invitation-Plea.

    Put together: Uncle, the journey I've begun has proven to be very dangerous, but promises rewards worth the danger if we are successful. My current allies, and likely eventual enemies, are Anathema. Fortunately, I do not believe any of them are sorcerers, and so doubt that they could hear you speak to me. I beg your advice in handling this.

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