Ongoing Games (In-Character)Play-by-post games are going on in this forum as we speak (well, read). All threads on this board are actual games, so please, only post on a thread if you are a player of that game.
Brevoy is a cold land, and spring comes late to its hills and valleys. The air still carries a cold bite as you begin your journey south from Restov, and patches of snow dot the landscape even as sparse pines and grasses begin to green. The sounds of emerging wildlife and the rushing meltwaters that cut channels through the snow and earth accompany you, as does a shy sun, that shines intermittently and never with enough force for the day to be truly warm.
Further south, the well-worn South Rostland Road gives way to seldom-travelled dirt, rutted with wagon tracks and transmuted to mud at some points. Small spring flowers bloom close to the ground, and mosses and lichens, revitalized by the sun, carpet the rocky plains through which you travel. A winter wind blows over the land, defiant in the face of the new season.
Your charter has brought you this way, an impressive document that has put to you a monumental task. Drawn to these lands for your own reasons, you have only your wits, your strength, and your fellow charter-bearers to rely on. You have shared the road with these people since Restov, and yet still know little more than names.
The road crests a small hill, and you can see its end. It winds its way towards a weathered palisade, capped with four wooden towers, each with an old, battered catapult atop it. The slated roofs of a few buildings peak out over the ten foot wall. This is Oleg's Post, the last point of civilization, however meagre, in the Stolen Lands. An opened gate beckons you onwards, and past the Post, only a few miles off across a flat, rock-strewn plain, a thick wall of trees rises. The Greenbelt. Your charter begins here...
Last edited by ApatheticAbacus : 10-20-2012 at 07:36 PM.
My father's seal, Ilya thinks, his blue eyes returning to the scroll. I'm quite sure he's absolutely furious that I've left, yet his own seal is provided me with a means of escape. The young man smiles at the irony as a slim finger traces the cool wax of the familiar Surtova signet idly.
A gust of cold wind ruffles the paper, and Ilya stows it safely in his breast pocket. He adjusts his cloak - dove-grey and made from the finest wool - against the chill. Ilya Surtova is a young man of medium height, with a lithe build, slender but athletic. His face is handsome and youthful in appearance, characterized by large blue eyes, a long, straight nose, and high cheekbones. His mouth is fairly small, with pouty lips that have often smirked playfully throughout the journey. His skin is pale and smooth, but a shadow of stubble reveals his recent time on the road. His hair is a curly mop, slightly overgrown without regular maintenance and a soft brown in colour, which tumbles around his ears and over his forehead.
He wears fine clothing, clearly demonstrating wealth. His shirt is fine white silk, and over this Ilya wears an ornate chain shirt - silver, sparkling, and fitting perfectly - and a deep blue velvet doublet. The young man's pants are a rich burgundy and likewise tailored to fit precisely. A carved horn bow is strung across his back, while a thin blade dangles from his hip. He has a pair of shiny black boots that extend up his calves and which he likes to absently click together when bored.
"I suppose this must be Oleg's Post," Ilya says, slightly skeptically, to the taller, armoured man next to him. "Well, it isn't much to look at, but it must be warmer inside those walls than it tis out here. Shall we?" Ilya says to his travelling companions with another smile, gesturing at the open front gates.
As Oleg's post comes into sigh, Zinovia has to suppress a low sigh of relief. Instead, she merely grimaces; likely the shadows that her cowl casts over her pale face conceal the expression. She steadies herself, leaning her thin frame against her blackened staff, taking a long, raspy breath. She seems barely to have survived the journey here on foot, yet never has she fallen behind, nor insisted on a slower pace.
The wizardess surveys Oleg's Post through cold, dark eyes, that belie the the clammy feverishness of her skin. Zinovia's deep red robes catch on the wind. They are voluminous, covering her body from head to toe. Only a few strands of strange white hair that seems almost dead fall from the hood that cloaks her face, which is gaunt and callow. She draws breath again, rattling, then coughing harshly. I will not appear weak, she orders herself, straightening herself proudly.
One of her companions, the one who seems familiar to her somehow, Ilya, speaks. "I do not believe there will be anything that is 'much to look at' out here," she says, her hissing tone reflective more of her discomfort than any particular dislike. "But we are not here to gawk. Let us tarry no longer, and enter."
Trudging has been Estanos' lot in life recently, and the fact that this new beginning involves yet -more- trudging comes neither as a surprise nor a burden to the upbeat foreigner. His smiling face framed by an immaculately trimmed goatee, the swish of his white robes ( less immaculate, after this hike ), the small buckler he lugs on his back carrying the blazing sigil of Sarenrae. Every now and again as they've traveled, and some new breath taking vista has rolled in to sight, Estanos has muttered something happy sounding in Kelish.
Perhaps he seems an unlikely companion to the others; it is obvious enough that he bears no weapons, and unlike the 'unarmed' mage he has never left the state of good cheer he began with the entire trip here. Once Zinovia makes her comment on the state of the outpost, he clucks his tongue and suggests," Be charitable, Zinovia. What these folk have built at the edge of the world is commendable. Remember... four walls, however simple or plain make for a pleasant home in the wilds."
" Hello the post!", he cries, hailing the nominal fortifications the gate offers access through. Wouldn't do to startle any would be defenders with a sudden appearance, would it? And having accomplished that, he heads for the gate.
"Resembles more a fort than a home," Tireas comments in his whispery voice. He removes his hood to get a better view, exposing his upward-bending horns and fiery eyes. "Probably doesn't have the finest acommodations, but better than a bedroll, I'd wager."
Zinovia raises an eyebrow under her own hood, looking Tireas' red horned face up and down methodically. "A tiefling, unless I am mistaken," she murmurs. "And a tiefling who states the obvious, it seems," she adds snappishly. "But you won't find condemnation here, tiefling, for your breed. Your failings just happen to be more... apparent than the failings of those around you. No, I find myself intrigued that you were not slaughtered in the cradle. But it can keep for another time; I tire of idle talk."
Viktor's breath rises in the morning chill, an almost opaque mist of white. The paladin - a tall, muscular man with a handsome face and dark blond hair - breathes heavily as Oleg's Post first comes into view. It has been a long journey from Restov, and before from New Stetven, one made no easier by the man's heavy plate armor nor by the omnipresent mud of the roads. Throughout the trip Viktor has seemed constantly on guard, casting suspicious glances alternately at the treeline, the horizon, and his companions. The priest seemed eccentric but harmless; after all, what assassin brings canaries without weapons? The wizardess and the demonspawned were another matter entirely.
"Yes, we should enter immediately," Viktor responds in answer to Ilya's question, hoping that his voice does not betray his tiredness. Nodding in approval at Estanos' call, he strides to the gate and pushes it open with one gauntleted fist (his other hand rests inconspicuously on his pommel). "Greetings," the man calls in a clear voice. "We have come bearing the Charter of Lord-Regent Noleski Surtova!"
As the weary charter-bearers approach the palisade, the sound of someone hammering can be clearly heard, ringing out with each blow. Viktor pushes open the gate, declaring his presence, and those of his companions, loudly.
The inside of the timber wall is as utilitarian as what you have been before. Several sturdy wooden buildings stand around a dirt courtyard, in which a few weeds struggle for survival. One is a stable, with a thatched room and several hay-matted pens, one of which contains a horse that idly chews on grass that has come within reach of its neck. The others seem fit for human dwelling, each with log walls insulated with baked mud pushed in between the cracks, and several small windows.
As you enter, the hammering ceases. A thumping noise draws your attention to a human male who is climbing slowly down a ladder from one of the building's roofs. He finishes his descent, wiping his sweaty brow as he turns to face you. He is a sturdily built man of about thirty with a ruddy complexion brought on by a hard life. He wears a simple tan shirt that is belted at the waist, with sleeves rolled up past his elbows and a pair of mud-stained wool pants. He has light brown, short-cropped hair.
"Charter, eh? That's a fancy word for helping a man out." the man says, unimpressed, folding his arms across his broad chest. "Name's Oleg. Suppose you're the ones I sent for from Restov. 'Bout damn time. The bandits are due back tomorrow to rob me blind. So excuse me if I'm not in the friendliest of moods."
Viktor frowns. "Our company was chartered in Restov, but not to defend this outpost. Still," he says, thinking. "the charter obligates us to strive against all banditry. Nor would I allow your homestead to become prey for these criminals even without such a duty."
Viktor pauses, still looking grim, and glances over his shoulder at Ilya. We cannot afford delays without risking discovery, yet this man needs my help. I pray to Abadar that lingering here does not bring harm to Ilya. Then, turning back to Oleg, the paladin continues.
"We have come a long way, and are cold and tired. Perhaps we might share your fire while you tell us more of these bandits. You have said they are to return tomorrow?"
"I do not see why you should not be in a good mood, impudent little man," Zinovia barks, her reedy voice growing steely and high-pitched, clearly vexed. "Tomorrow your bandits shall lie slaughtered and you will once again be free to hawk pelts, or what ever it is this post does."
She turns to her companions laboriously. Her retort has left her out of breath, and each word is punctuated by a painful wheeze. "If the bandits... come... I will... destroy them. You are welcome... to... assist me."
At Viktor's request for fire, she nods her approval. "Fire would be welcome." She tries to keep her tiredness out of her voice, masking it with invective: "though I care little to know more about men who will cease to exist so soon."
Estanos has spent this first small sliver of time glancing around the interior of the outpost, appreciating its simple, journeyman design aesthetics. " For one thing, his mood might be improved by a less venomous tongue, Zinovia," is said sotto voce for the benefit of the fiery mage.
Looking to Oleg, the priest speaks loud enough to be heard, his tone rich and timbrous " Our thanks for your hospitality, friend. As has already been said, in such a colorful variety of ways, there is no doubt that we will be able to lessen your troubles, at least in part."
"Do come, Zinovia, I'm sure it's an exciting tale," Ilya says. He doesn't sound sarcastic, exactly, but you get an almost imperceptible hint that the young man doesn't entirely believe it. "I'm glad you're confident, truly, but I doubt you'll slay many foes half-asleep and starving."
"What do you say, Oleg? Will you grant us your hospitality?"
Oleg doesn't even blink at Zinovia's tongue-lashing. Instead, he grunts. "Please, this way. Very generous thing you're doing."
He waves one thick arm, opening a door to let you inside one of the buildings. "'Lana," he calls, "company."
This building appears to be a cozy frontier house, with a small fireplace gently crackling, keeping it comfortably warmer than the outside. Cupboards stacked high with dishes, along with a countertop and copper wash basin, form a kitchen, while a large table is the centrepiece of the house. "Sit, please," Oleg says, clearing his throat rather uncomfortably, shuffling his feet slightly.
At that moment, a woman comes bustling in. She smiles warmly as she sees the group of strangers entering. She has blonde hair tied back in a practical bun, and wears a calf-length cream-coloured dress, with an apron knotted around the front. Her hands holds a tray of food: a loaf of bread, a kettle of soup, and a pitcher of warmed milk. She goes over to Oleg without missing a beat, kissing him on the cheek. The woman sets the tray down on the table, before motioning again for you to sit. "My wife, Svetlana," Oleg says. "We have company, 'Lana," he repeats. "Some folks from Brevoy."
"Yes, dear, I saw them coming up the road," she says for her husband's benefit. "Please, eat!' This time it is directed at everyone, her tone earnest and cheerful. "So you'll help, then?" she asks, hope in her blue eyes.
Oleg nods. "Aye, seems so. Mighty generous. Suppose I should tell you what's been happening, seeing as you don't know much."
Svetlana pulls up a chair and seats herself, while Oleg remains standing. His mouth opens a few times, as if starting to speak. Svetlana is the one who ends up talking, though.
"Two months ago, some people came by the Post. They were bandits... They took our money and some of our wares. There were maybe... twenty of them. They cursed and made all sorts of threats... Their leader was a woman."
"Nearly took my hand off with an axe for trying to defend my own home. Just took 'Lana's wedding ring instead... Said it was the price for my hand. Threatened to do worse to 'Lana if I tried anything." Oleg's hands clench into fists.
"They came back the next month. There were only fifteen that time, and the woman wasn't there. There was a huge brute leading them. He just took everything he wanted and left..."
"Now they're back again tomorrow," Oleg says, his voice sturdy, but with a hint of defeat. "You made a kind offer, but you didn't know what you were agreeing to. There could be twenty bandits here tomorrow..." There is a long pause. "If you aren't, I won't hold it against you."
Last edited by ApatheticAbacus : 06-04-2012 at 12:24 AM.
"I have no intention of abandoning your homestead," Viktor says determinedly. "Our purpose in these lands to to restore order and bring justice to all those practicing banditry." One of our purposes, at least. "You are threatened, so we will defend you. Will we not?" the paladin asks, surveying his companions with brows furrowed, as if expecting opposition.
"Our chances of success will be greater with more information, so I must ask that you answer some questions," the man asks, staring levelly at Oleg and Svetlana. "When the bandits last arrived, were they prepared for battle? Were they heavily armed?"
"How well-maintained are your fortifications? Are the walls and gate strong enough to repel the bandits?"
"When do you expect that they will arrive tomorrow?" Viktor's questions flow steadily and deliberately as he seeks to assess the situation. I must do my utmost to keep my prince, and these good people, safe from harm.
Tireas for the most part stays silent as Oleg and Svetlana describe their bandit problems. Grateful he hadn't been kicked out, even with his hood down, he speaks up once Viktor agrees to help. "If we've got the surprise, then an otherwise losing battle can quickly become one in our favor. So long as we don't announce our presense before they arrive, we should have a susbtantial advantage. We can either slaughter - er, excuse me, take care of them the second they enter, or shoot them down from the top of the fort when they get close. I don't suppose the catapults are in working order?"
Zinovia takes a seat, a long, low sigh escaping as she eases herself into the chair. "No, no," she says as she removes her hood, showing a face that seems devoid of all colour, bloodless and cold; "slaughter was the correct word." She starts to speak more, but descends into a fit of coughing that racks her thin frame. "If... we do not... kill them all... they will come again... Whatever we... do... it must end... this."
She staggers to her feet, going over to a window. "We should trap them inside the wall, where none can escape."
"Killing them all?" Ilya asks, raising an eyebrow at Zinovia. "You don't think that we might capture one or two, question them, and find out where their leader is?" The young man continues. "I'll remind you we're not here to slaughter bandits for fun, but to end their threat."
Ilya pauses to sip at the soup brought to the party. "Thank you, Svetlana, for this most admirable meal," he says, smiling politely at the woman.
"I think the ti- er, Tireas," he amends, with a glance towards the rogue that is equal parts apologetic and frightened, "is right, surprising them seems best. Yet I doubt we'll face twenty, Oleg. First it was twenty, then fifteen. Let us hope our bandits are mathematical," he says with a laugh. "For then we shall face a quite manageable ten."
"Well then the problem would be solved in two months time, anyway," he responds with a grin, "But we should still help, of course. Let's leave one lucky bandit alive at any rate. At least long enough for questioning."
Oleg does not bother to suppress his scowl when Tireas speaks, but is not about turn away any help he can get, no matter its origins. "I'm no soldier," he says, taciturn, "but the catapults are old. Were here when I came. Never been fixed. Never needed them. Maybe if you were good with some tools you could do it, demonspawn."
Svetlana seems uncomfortable with Zinovia's and Tireas' talk of slaughter, but also overwhelmingly relieved that something might be done.
Oleg, meanwhile, answers Viktor's questions, evidently taking the paladin for the group's leader. The trader scratches his head. "First time, yeah, they were ready for a scrap. Bows and swords. Leader had some damn sharp axes, like I said. Didn't know what to expect, I reckon. Second time, they were still armed, but they just swaggered in like they owned the place. We left the gate open and they didn't think twice, came right on in." Oleg's red face hints that not being able to defend his own property has injured his pride severely.
Oleg scratches his head again. "The fort? I make sure the wall doesn't fall down, but it never seemed important. It was all here when I came. Setting up the post here was convenient. Never thought I'd actually need a wall."
"Still," Svetlana says hopefully, "it's tall. It would be hard to get over."
"I climbed it once myself," Oleg admits, "but it wasn't easy. Gate's the weak point anyway. It's just wood. They could burn it or chop it down. Might take them some time, but it wouldn't be hard."
Svetlana answers Viktor's third question. "They always come in the early morning on horses, an hour or two after sunrise. We've just left the gate open for them, put the payment they want in the courtyard and stayed inside last time they came."
"Then by all means," Tireas replies, "Keep the gate open. Let them think they own the place... let it be their last thought as they're picked off one by one." The tiefling's face at this point appears almost livid, but calms down as he notices Svetlana's worried look, and he awkardly shifts in his seat with his hands on his lap.
"But, ah, that's for tomorrow. In the meantime, we should rest and prepare. Would you permit us to rest here, Goodman Oleg?"
"'Lana and I aren't soldiers, like I said. We'll do whatever you tell us. Open gate, closed gate, so long as it gets rid of the bandits."
Svetlana speaks up. "We have some beds we rent out. They're yours for free. It's the least we can do, since you're being ever so kind and helping us out. She is polite, though she does not look at Tireas as she answers.
Oleg peers out the window. "Still sunlight left. If you want to plan, I'll show you around the Post and get your things unpacked from your wagon."
Oleg's Post - Map
You can use this map to make any plans you'd like.
A1: Market Yard.
A2: Guesthouse. This is where you'll be sleeping.
A4: Storage Building.
A6-A11: Oleg and Svetlana's House.
"All I ask is that on the morrow no one gets in my way," the wizardess says, a hungry glint in her eye. "I will incinerate them as they come through the gate, so long as you stay away from the flames."
No, Zinovia's not just being a bitch for no reason She has a 4d4+1 burning hands that is dying to fry bandits. So ideally she'd be able to hit a lot of bandits with that. I think the best place for her would be tucked in the area between A2 and the east wall. That way she can blast one side of the courtyard.
Ilya listens with feigned intent, learned and perfected during hours of dull sessions at court, as Oleg and the others discuss strategy. It's not that it's boring, not exactly. But how dangerous can these bandits be? Ilya thinks. They may be able to scare peasants, but they've never seen Viktor's swordwork. Or my skill with a bow. Surely, Ilya thinks, this rabble will not pose a serious threat.
"Rest would be good," Ilya says, yawning so dramatically that you're not sure whether it's real or not. "In the morning we'll ambush these bandits of yours, and be done with them." He gives another winning smile at the pair of traders.
" As potent as your magic might be, Zinovia, perhaps some planning might be called for. Very few have been -too- prepared." He draws a breath, seem to think for a moment, and then suggests," Perhaps... once the bandits have been lured inside, the mage could begin with this fire of hers, as Ilya there opens up with his bow from atop the wall. Viktor and I would be there to support Zinovia, and then, once we've got their attention, Tireas can move in from behind." As he says their names, Estanos looks to each of his fellows, smiling. He obviously has no problems with the tiefling being, well, a tiefling.
" In any event, I'll be leading a prayer for our victory at dawn. All those who wish to take part are welcome."
Just to give some specifics about Estanos' suggested plan; Zinovia, Viktor, and Estanos would wait in between the eastern wall and the A2 building, Tireas would wait north of A4, and Ilya would be ensconced on the wall's walkway. Once the bandits have filed in to A1, the trio moves up to the southwestern corner of the A2 building along its southern edge, where Zinovia lets fly with her burning hands. As the most visible and threatening source of scary, any surviving bandits should come towards her (and, therefore, Viktor). Meanwhile, Tireas can move in and flank. The whole time, Ilya can be raining death down on bandits.
"If we allow these bandits much traction, then we may have to contend with a prolonged battle, priest. Why let them in the fort, near Oleg and his wife, when we can assail them as soon as they pass the gates? If we all strike together, enough of them will die, I am sure, that the rest will be outnumbered. From there, our victory is assured."
At the mention of a victory prayer, Zinovia scoffs disdainfully, but says nothing. At dawn I shall not be taking part in such frivolity. I shall be ensuring that I have enough magic at my disposal to lay waste to bandits. You are welcome to your preaching.
I like the plan, but I worry that it doesn't make optimal use of the surprise round that we should get for ambushing them. Remember, we only get a standard action each (unless AA decides to be generous ), so if we move into position, we can't also attack. I'd say that launching a full-out attack would be best. So right as they get inside the gates, while they're still caught between the wagon and building A2, we should hit them hard.
Zinovia one square the leftmost bedside table inside A2. That would let her burning hands hit six squares in where there are likely to be at least a couple bandits. Viktor and Tireas can charge from either behind the wagon or the south side of the fort (between the wall and A3), hitting the other side. Ilya can hit them from above on the wall. Estanos can buff one of the melee fighters beforehand, then support with spells. Assuming all goes well, we could kill five or six bandits.
"I am glad that we are all agreed," Viktor says unsmilingly. The paladin won't truly be glad until the bandit threat is eliminated. "Estanos," he says, the exotic name sounding even more so on his tongue. "Your plan is sound. The wizardess has suggested closing the gate, and I concur," he says with a sharp nod at Zinovia. "I do not wish any bandits to escape and warn their compatriots. I will volunteer for this task, if there is a way to do so."
"I can't imagine closing the gate will be too much of a problem. I'm sure you'll do wonderfully," Ilya says, smiling at Viktor's offer. "I think I ought to stay on the wall above the gate, where I'll be best able to greet our bandit friends."
"Now, if you've got a plan, shall we adjourn to bed?"
"The rooms are yours when you want them." He raises his hand, gesturing with his thumb pointed behind to to the guest quarters. "'Course, there're still a few hours of daylight, if you need to do anything else."
There's time for as much or as little RP as you'd like right now. When you'd like to skip forward to tomorrow, have your character head off to bed, or post OOC.
"Well, if that's all I'll be off," Ilya says cheerily. "Thank you for the wonderful meal, Svetlana, truly tis the best I've had in weeks." With that Ilya exits the building. The young man swiftly crosses the courtyard and clambers up a ladder onto the palisade wall.
The sun is beginning to set over the western horizon, casting the mossy plains and deep green copses of trees in an orange glow. The sky is orange, the clouds pink, and the first stars are appearing in the upper purple reaches of the sky. Breathtaking. From somewhere, the young man catches the scent of cedar. Ilya smiles. If you'd asked me a month ago where I'd be now, not in a thousand years would I have told you here, at the ends of civilization with only what I can carry on my back. And yet the bard feels content, free. The endless wilderness just beyond the fragile walls of Oleg's Post seems full of promise to Ilya. As if, amidst the trees and rivers I can slip away forever. They'll not find me in there.
A cold wind stirs beyond the Post, causing the young man standing on the wall to shiver and his curly hair to blow, but he does not move. It feels good.
Zinovia folds her frail arms across her chest. Despite her heavy robes, the cold air makes her shiver profusely and visibly. Curse this weather, she thinks. The swordlords might have decided to call this expedition a month from now. But she knows it would not help; she is well used to the chills that wrack her body even in the heat of summer in warmer Cheliax.
With a look of discomfort on her pale features, she stumbles towards the guesthouse, muttering her apologies, as quickly as she can carry herself, her staff's butt leaving round imprints in the dirt as she leans on it heavily.
Once inside, alone, she finally is able to display a degree of weakness. She drops into one of the beds, leaning over the small wooden table beside it. With a wince of pain, she hunches her back more, rummaging in her pack for something. She finds it, drawing out a collection of bottled tinctures and herbs. With a hand that shakes very slightly, she begins to mix several of these, taking pinches of green leaves, tuberous roots, and minced petals.