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Dying a fool's death in silence. No last words. Poetic. Jonas' hand comes to rest on Saul's shoulder as he lowers his own blade. Their eyes meet, and Jonas tosses his head North, away from the fire and, he hopes, the unnatural silence that surrounds them currently. It is difficult to gauge Kren's response in the flickering light as Jonas cleans his rapier on the tattered edge of his cape before shooting it home in its scabbard. I think we'll need to talk. He points in the same direction he indicated to Saul, and begins a deliberate walk away from the firepit. He hums melancholily to himself, waiting for the sounds to reach his ears, so he can turn and consult his remaining companions.
Saul stares at the corpse a moment, brow furrowed. His anger had mastered him, and a man was dead because of it. A man who deserved to die, Saul concluded as the anger ebbed from his mind -- but what of the next time his blood boiled?
For now, Saul searches the corpse, looking for clues as to Vayshan's murderous intent.
Kren felt sluggish, almost as if he were under water. He rarely sleept so deeply - but then, he rarely had such intense dreams. Visions.
He stared at the dead man a moment, rubbed the sleep from his eyes, then followed Jonas away from the unnatural silence surrounding their camp.
I'm glad you and your friend are such light sleepers... Anyway, we're all awake now - let's talk.
I had told you that I am a Moonspeaker, a druid - what I did not say is that many Moonspeakers are prophets and visionaries. One of the eldest of our circle gave me this prophecy - and my dreams are haunted by it as well.
I saw a lion, proud and noble.
Suddenly he is struck by an arrow.
He turns and roars in defiance at a mighty giant standing near.
The giant's mouth opens and hundreds of arrows pour forth.
The lion is pierced many times and sinks to the ground.
The ground begins to burn, engulfing everything.
The lion disappears, the giant disappears. All that remains visible are five arrows, embedded in the ground in a circle
When I approached you on the road, I was struck by a vision - you humans are involved in the prophecy somehow. As the dead man might have been.
Jonas smiles at Kren's apparent good humor about the recent bloodshed. Good, my fears of a misunderstanding were unfounded. It appears these visions told him what he needed to know.
Think nothing of it - a favor returned for your assistance earlier. But as to your visions - I've told many tales in my time, but that one's got a nice ring to it. Mind if I use it? And Saul and I, we are in your vision? We are here on business, but I doubt it involves giants or lions. Of course, if you had asked me a few hours ago, I would have told you it probably didn't involve invisible horsemen. You should tell Saul what you've told me - maybe he'll know more.
Jonas begins walking toward a stand of brush that had been recently cleared from the road.
As far as Vayshan goes - all I know of him is what you already heard. But, backstabber or no, he was a Pathfinder, and he deserves better than to rot here by the side of the road. I'll gather some wood for a pyre.
As Jonas returns to the camp dragging two small saplings, he calls out to Saul and Kren.
Well, did we find anything useful or perhaps more informative than what he had to say while he was breathing?
I'll cast detect magic to examine any items of Vayshan's that Saul has come across - and take the time to concentrate on any relevant auras. Assuming he hasn't yet, I'll also search him and prep him for the pyre - once everyone else is pretty well finished.
Here's the wand of silence he used on us. I see no harm in taking the rest of his belongings with us, especially the scimitar. I may be able to learn to wield it, given time. Then again, if anyone has objections to looting from a dead man...?
Jonas drags the body onto the haphazardly lain brush. He dusts his hands, and crosses Vayshan's arms across his chest, before taking the offered wand with a nod of thanks.
I don't see that leaving it here for goblins and orcs does anyone good. That red metal of his smells magical, and might draw a nice price if nothing else. Maybe he will pay you back for that horse after all. If you start to feel any guilt, there are beggars and orphans most everywhere who will be more than happy to relieve us of it.
As he brings a glowing torch out of the fire pit, he turns to his companions, and says, in his best oratory voice, says
I knew little of this Vayshan, except he was one of us - a Pathfinder - and a gifted and bold opponent. May whatever gods he prays to receive him - so that he doesn't come back at us again. Either of you want to offer any words before we set him alight and move on? The sun will be up soon.
Jonas waits briefly to see if Kren has anything to add. He stands stoically, staring at the flames. Perhaps that is the way of the Moonspeakers with a slain enemy.
Alright then, well said.
Jonas lowers the branch onto the pyre.
That deed complete, Jonas begins gathering his belongings. Paco is up, thanks to the careful ministrations of Kren, so Jonas affixes his saddle and other gear. However, with Saul dismounted and a heavy chest of silver to be carried, Jonas decides to let the wounded beast rest before trying to carry both rider and silver.
The stars are fading as Jonas completes his tasks, and he turns to his companions.
Well Saul, I'm prepared for the road ahead. Kren, we are making our way to Drellin. I know nothing of this prophecy of yours, but perhaps someone there will. And if we are involved, somehow, it would do us well to have your help again. That, and I owe you an ale.
A few hours past midday, Jonas rummages in his saddlebags for a small packet of food he had brought from the Welcome Wench. Feels like ages ago, now. He divides what little remains with his companions for a brief meal as they walk.
Last of the real food, gentlemen; savor it. Tomorrow it's back to 'bricks' and 'leather'.
He looks over at his companion, trying to avoid concern. He's limping, again; maybe two more hours.
Let's pitch camp before dusk, Saul; I'm already starting to tire. Until then, I'm eager to hear your interpretation of this prophecy, Kren. Since Saul and I appear to be bound within it, I desire to know what role we are to play. You stated that another of your people has been seeing the same visions - is that commonplace?
Well, I told you that I am an initiate of the Moonspeakers. Our circle began by ministering mostly to shifters though we will help and counsel all who seek our aid. Perhaps it was natural that we would pay closer attention to the moon than other students of nature...
Moonspeakers embrace the power of the heavens, not just that of the lands we tread. As such we are often astronomers - we chart to heavens in order to understand the power of the stars and bodies.
Some few of us have visions of great clarity; only rarely, however, do two of our circle share a dream. In this case, the dreamseer Grevaa - a respected and ancient member of our circle - was able to tell me what I had been dreaming. She then spoke the prophecy I have already related to you.
As to interpretation: I have little real idea. Vrath was once a land of giants - hence my travel here. The lion would seem to represent the Empire...or perhaps a representative of it? The arrows would seem to suggest Pathfinders.
I would welcome your insights regarding the interpretation of these things.
I remain unaware of its full meaning, Kren, but am grateful for your candor. It seems we must wait for what follows. I have heard the giants are gone from Vrath, and I believe your interpretation of arrows and lions, if true, suggests dark times are ahead. But the fire and the circle? I know not what they portend. And if it is as rare as you say, two of your people sharing a vision is the most important omen of all.
The Empire has, in its vast wisdom, afforded me with many opportunities for travel over the years. When I am not immediately engaged, I take the time to collect tales from other people to augment my skill as an orator. I find these stories often have visions and prophecies; let me ponder for a few moments, and see if one of these tales might add anything to our analysis. And if any new visions come to you while we travel together, please share them with us.
Jonas remained quiet until they were encamped that evening, deep in his own thoughts.
I'll bust out all my knowledge skills here - I assume they could all be relevant (in different ways, even). Essentially, I'm rolling for stories with similar structure and/or thematic elements. Take whatever you feel is appropriate, OQ.
Jonas, you have the same basic impressions of the symbols that Kren does. You know that according to legend each giant tribe had a king who was said to be especially mighty. Arrows are also associated with elves as well as with the Pathfinders. Fire has many associations in legend, many dwarven gods and legends are associated with fire and earth, dragons are associated with fire, the empire and Volcannon are also associated with fire to a certain degree.
Your peaceful discussion is soon interrupted by an unknown voice. "In the name of the master of these lands, Tolmer Ai'Bandon, I command you to state your purpose for trespasing on his domain."
You all look up to see a young man mounted on horseback about 50 feet further into the field (ie. he came cross-country and your camp is between him and the road). In the dimming light it is difficult to make out many fine details, but he appears to be a young human wearing studded leather holding a bow at ready. Behind him a few feet is another human on horseback. He appears even younger, probably a teenager. This one is also wearing leather armor and carrying a bow.
If you make a trained knowledge nobility check of 15 or bardic knowledge check of 20, you can look at the following:
Tolmer Ai'Bandon is fairly famous and just received a knighthood about 10 years ago. He is a member of a group of newly knighted warriors typically called The Pride. They are all handpicked officers who have served under General Nestor who have been rewarded with titles and land for long and heroic service. Most of them rose from the bottom of the ranks of commoner society and a few, though not Tolmer, were slaves when they entered the army. They are quite popular among commoners for this reason
Jonas starts slightly upon hearing the unfamiliar voice. He quickly digests what was said, and a small smile crosses his lips. Ai'Bandon, well well. I've heard good things - let's hope his man heels close to his master; and that he is no friend of the recently departed. Jonas stands slowly with a glance at his companions that he hopes will calm their nerves. He holds his hands palm up and steps a few paces towards the mounted men so that he need not shout.
Greetings, man of The Pride; stories of your Master Ai'Bandon's noble deeds in service of the Empire reached even my lowly ears in Eastern Glade. I am Jonas Ai'Lenti; my companions Saul and Kren. We had a horse fall on the road, lamed the poor beast and had to put it down. As a result, we have been slowed in our travel to Drellin. We mean no insult or trespass to anyone, and certainly not a hero of such renown. Please, we don't have much for food, but join us and eat, and tell us what news there is from these lands. I'm anxious to hear firsthand tales of The Pride.
Jonas stands still, waiting for the whistle of fletchings from bowstrings.
Bardic: 15+6 = 21
if I need it for my mild glossing over details - Bluff: 19+10=29
crap, the dice have been saving up.
"Hail, master Ai'Lenti. I confess I am unfamiliar with your family but we are honored by your presence. If you had sent word of your passing through we would have been sure to greet you under better circumstances. I am sorry that my father is away and so not here to see you. I am Aelas and this my brother Tollin. Come, tonight you will dine and stay at our manor. Tollin, ride ahead and tell mother to prepare to receive a noble guest. We will of course prepare quarters for your servants as well."
Call me Jonas. One of your father's greatest ideals is that there is no need for men in the field to worry of titles. A gracious offer, which we most humbly accept. We are all pleased to make your acquaintances, young Masters Aelas and Tollin Ai'Bandon. If you must announce us, Tollin, do tell your Good Lady Mother to make no fuss over us! A hot meal and a soft bed will be quite sufficient. Oh and to avoid any confusion later, I should mention that these men are my traveling companions and free citizens of the empire, not servants. It will be fine for us all to billet anywhere there is space - again do not trouble yourselves over us! Let us gather our belongings, Aelas, and then we shall follow towards this manor of yours.
As he gathers his bedroll and straps it back onto Paco, he glances at his companions. Hang in there lads, hopefully we'll learn more about what's going on in Vrath.
As they fall into step with Aelas, Jonas walks close to the young man's stirrup so he can speak to him more easily.
I did not realize we had drifted into your father's domains; most rude of us to come by announced. It is quite unfortunate that your father is away, I'd always wanted to shake his hand one day. Perhaps another time. I hope nothing too urgent or dire has called him away? Certainly not Nestor's campaign in Halstein? I feel sure I would have heard if that were the case...