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.
As a gnome of rural origins, Daralis was accustomed to proverbial bucolic scenes: sedimentary rocks and multicolored pebbles scattered alongside glistening streamlets. However, the Familiar that loomed beneath the glyph-strewn tower did not fall into the aforementioned category. As a youth, Daralis engaged in fanciful playacting. " Giants and Bibbimottin the Slayer" was the common favorite among the Ellinger siblings; however the mock combat against Nacklebur, clumsily masqueraded as a giant, failed to prepare Daralis for the colossal statues that glowered down at her now.
Daralis sidles Tirion closer to Vaelas' mount, giving him an unsettled look. It was certainly fortunate that Arthos was an ally; he would make a formidable opponent. She whispers timidly to Vaelas:
Have you ever witnessed anything akin to this creature?
"Generally they are. Most wizards do not devote much study to the familiar bond. However, I have found many principles of the study of the elemental planes applicable. Arthos was but a wee thing when I graduated from the academy. But in the years since he has fed much on elemental plane-stuff conjured from the far realms and his power has grown with my own. Now when we get to the pillar I will need to spend several hours studying the runes and casting magical divinations to discern their meaning. Arthos will protect my person, but his senses are not the sharpest and so I want you two to make sure there aren't any surprising coming up on us."
Daralis remained apprehensive. She judged the gargantuan familiar to be approximately twice her height, and Arthos almost certainly weighed more than she and her companions combined. Despite her misgivings, Daralis was afflicted with impetuous curiosity and a nagging desire to play with the prodigious fellow. She discerned a benevolent, good-humored face concealed among the rocky crags above Arthos' torso. Besides, she rationalized that Arthos would inevitably engage in battle alongside Vaelas and herself--discovering his weaknesses was as useful as knowing his strengths. She decided to test Thorius' assertion that the elemental was weak-sighted by making miniscule waving motions in front of Arthos face - or as close to it as she could reach from her lower elevation.
Pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr. Arthos!
She timorously peeped up into the familiar's scraggy eyes , and gave him a quick, hesitant pet on the end of the stump that served as his hand.
Vaelas smirks at Daralis's actions and rides ahead to scout out the area. As he passes a statue he gives it a sidelong glance and hurries on to the central pillar where he dismounts, glances to the sky to check the weather, then begins searching around the base of the pillar for indications of recent visitors.
Though no one appears to be here now, you find the remnants of two campfires, one about a three days old and one about a week old. There are also tracks from various humanoids and animals, maybe fifteen different sets within the last two weeks--some goblins, some orcs, some wolves and perhaps a bugbear. The weather looks clear for now but there are some clouds far in the distance. It might rain tomorrow or the next day.
Arthos turns to face Daralis. He stoops down to peer closely at the gnome. He says something unintelligible in reverberating Terran, scoops up the gnome with one of his enormous arms and brings her close to his ill-formed head. After a few moments he puts her back down and turns his attention back to his master.
Thorius has pulled out some colored sand is pouring it out in some kind of circle around the central pillar.
I was wrong about Arthos's height. He's about 16 feet tall actually.
It appears we are currently alone, but others do visit this location. Daralis, stay here with the professor for a bit; I wish to examine something.
As he says this, Vaelas turns and begins walking towards one of the statues. When he nears it, he begins to examine the area around it, as he did the central pillar, but also examines the statue itself.
Search Roll 1: 13+8 = 21
Search Roll 2: 7+8 = 15
If nothing noteworthy is found, I wish to continue to the next statue, then the next, and so on, until I come full circle. Feel free to make any additional rolls necessary (search, jump, climb, et c.).
Though you have little familiarity with sculpture or stonework, the statues seem to be of great craftsmanship. The one on the right you identify as a stone giant and the one on the left you identify as a hill giant. The pillar itself seems of less fine construction. It is uneven in parts and not very smooth. It looks hastily cut perhaps. You can make little of the runes themselves though they are carved quite deep into the rock's surface.
After several minutes of examining, Vaelas returns to the others at the central pillar just as Thorius finishes pouring his sand.
Thorius, before you begin: Earlier you mentioned that Malbolge unified four tribes of giants, but here we have statues representing just two. And statues and pillar appear to have been crafted by different hands... What do you make of this?
"Well the statues are obviously of later construction, made during the flourishing of giant culture brought on by Malbolge's rule. Perhaps this was the spot where he took the oaths of the stone giant and hill giant kings and the statues commemorate that."
"Arthos was saying that your people are very small and that he would be careful not to step on you. He said the same thing to me when I first summoned him."
Thorius has now removed a heavy book from his pack. It appears to be metalbound and the pages may be very thin metal as well. He has finished drawing a complicated magical circle around the central pillar and is now reading Draconic text from his book and gesturing with his staff.
From on the statue you have a good view of everyone's position and into the forest beyond. You doubt anyone could sneak up on you from this vantage point.
Daralis smiled. Arthos was gracious to extend such courtesy.
After a short interval of time passed, Darlis grew listless. She nimbly flipped upside-down on the gnarled branch, but even from her inverted perspective the horizon was void of enemies. Berwyn snarled in displeasure at the unforeseen reversal of his universe. Daralis frowned, but righted herself at the sounds of Berwyn's protest. Berwyn was a sneaky badger, but his grumpy disposition occasionally gained the better of him.
Daralis affectionately patted his head, "Silence is necessary during concealment, Berwyn"
The grumpy badger chortled his annoyance-preferring to conceal himself in a burrow.
Daralis merely shrugged. "It is an advantage. No one would expect a badger in a tree."
I don't know if I need any of these, but, just in case (rolls only):
Handle Animal: 10
Thorius finishes casting his first spell and golden arcane energy surrounds his person then dissipates.
"I can read your tattoos with my magic, I know you are Pathfinders. But the questions remains, why are you here? I've been trying to figure it out since I saw you in the city but I have no answer as yet."
"I'll tell you the truth and you do likewise, how about that? I'm on a military mission from Halstein in cooperation with certain forces from the Empire. I don't need you to protect me, and I am quite capable of defending myself if you should try anything. According to my information, you aren't supposed to be here. It would probably be safer just to kill you both, but you did rescue me from that pit which I may not have been able to do on my own. I feel honor bound not to kill you outright. Also, the fact that you didn't leave me down there leads me to suspect that you are not here to hinder me. Now, your turn."
"I do have an interest in this pillar, though not quite what I told you before. If you are not on active service then it seems you have a choice. We have need of people with your talent. Change is coming to the Empire, and to my country as well. The corruption and religious dominance of the Empire, as well as the xenophobia and greed of my country, have held the mortal races back and at each other's throats for too long. Like-minded individuals like myself and others within the Empire are working to change all that. We are building a just society. I am offering you an opportunity to join us. If you refuse, I feel indebted to you and I will allow you to leave if you do not try to oppose me."