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Standing in a large valley unclaimed by all surrounding fiefdoms, Oreid was once the shining jewel of a small country by the same name. The capitol, nestled in the shadows of three surrounding mountains, enjoyed prosperity despite its remote location for the advances in magic and technology it shared freely with its surrounding neighbors. Even those who would think to take it out of misplaced avarice could eventually be persuaded to turn their eyes elsewhere by healthy trade agreements and the imposing nature of the city's defenses.
That was twenty years ago. Today the city lies under a palpable aura most call the Fog of Chaos for good reason. For twenty long years no one who has studied the city has been able to determine the cause of this maddening miasma. Representatives, bound to the wills of their summoners, from both the Abyss and the Nine Hells were called to explain what part their planes may have had in the destruction of this civilization, but neither could answer and would only lay blame on the other plane's machinations no matter how they were compelled.
For years there was a mad race to penetrate the glowing radiance that covered the city center, beyond which the palace and all the secrets of the city's greatest minds lie preserved in the minds of the greedy and curious. Thus far, none have breached the fog and returned with any news of the other side, and even the most advanced magical scans devised show nothing they were not already aware of. Although the aura of diluted chaos is thick in other areas of the city and shifts like a bank of clouds on the wind, the glowing golden haze which radiates out from the castle has seemingly replaced the air itself.
Still, life goes on for those few inhabitants brave or mad enough to remain here. Living mostly on the outside edges of the city where the chances of insanity and mutation are low, those who did not flee the city entirely have made a life for themselves here the only way they can, trying to wring any drops of normalcy out of their lives to match what they remember of the old days when the city wasn't a crumbling ruin. The younger generation, born since the Fog of Chaos descended on the city, don't even bother with that. Many treat every day as a new adventure to be found, and with good reason. The fog's presence has acted as a documented magical beacon, drawing monsters from deep beneath the earth and high in the mountains to the city, warping and twisting them just as it does their humanoid counterparts. The city has achieved an unusual sort of balance over the last two decades, with monster and man coexisting in their own way. The predators still stalk their prey, but when sated they do not hide in dark corners and wait for their next meal. Instead, they go to the taverns and mingle with old friends and potential enemies. And even the most savage beast knows that picking their battles poorly could mean the end of them in this city.
The taverns are another matter altogether. With one on nearly every corner and most of them connected through their basements by a network of tunnels, the sheer variety of spaces to eat, drink, and be merry could be called one of the few remaining draws of the city. Once their mighty mages were lost to the blinding glow, the only source of income left to the remaining inhabitants was catering to the whims of those who came to study and capitalize on the phenomenon. When the scholars and historians were eventually replaced by looters and thugs, the long term residents didn't bat an eye and simply started watering down the liquor. Fewer and fewer come back every year, but there will always be some lured by the temptation of the mysteries beyond the golden fog.
"And that, my dear fellows, is where you all come in." The peddler coughs a phlegmy bit of lung butter up onto the soiled cobblestones as he leans on the ruined edge of Oreid's former whitegold gates. A massive circular hole had been melted clean through the gates during a forgotten conflict, melting them together in one solid mass but leaving a means by which to enter for those brave or greedy enough to do so. The peddler's gnarled hands clutch at a large number of leather straps, from which hang various talismans that he insists will ward against the chaos that awaits this fresh batch of "adventurers." Each one, he says, is good for a few days of eased minds and unwarped bodies, and they're a steal at only 120 gold pieces each. So he says, anyway. By the grin on his face, a steal might be what he's trying to pull off at the moment.
Just beyond the gate, you new arrivals can see that the street lies nearly empty. A single guardsman, done up in a full set of military armor that makes him indistinguishable from his fellows, stands on a street corner silently. He's apparently unconcerned with the hawker and his dubiously effective wares so long as the man does his peddling outside the city walls.
Periwinkle observes the peddler with a scrutinous eye. He takes in the pendants more carefully. Had they needed them the last time they were in the city? He can't remember. So many jobs. So many years. They all tend to blend together.
He tries to remember back, to recall what he can about such pendants from his last time in the city.
(knowledge local) (1d20+3)
Of course, there are other things from the past to consider. Such as Lyzper. It has been a while since Periwinkle parted ways with the lizard folk. They seem to be doing okay. Interesting that they should meet up again at the gates of the city that almost ended the two of them last time. He wonders if Lyzper recognizes him as well.
The tiny warforged turns back to the peddler once more.
Not really here. Just an illusion.
A young elf stood near the gates as well. His golden locks curled into soft ringlets that fell to his shoulders. Bright blue eyes shone hopefully behind gold rimmed spectacles. He was flamboyantly dressed in a doublet and pantaloons of soft blue, slashed with cloth of gold. A short cape of the same fabrics was slung over one shoulder. He even wore matching yellow tights. His shoes had buckles.
He grinned at the peddler, projecting youthful confidence. "Thank you, good sir, but I shall have to refuse your generous offer! I will be gone from this place quick enough, as soon as I earn my fortune." He laughs. "And I had better do so fast, as I'm rather low on funds." He winks at the others.
A black-scaled dragon wyrmling lounges lazily overhead, watching the gates with some amount of interest. Her superior dragon senses allowed her to think she knew exactly what they were talking about; they also let her see that Lyzper finally got off his tail and found his way!
She skulks along the edge of the gatehouse tower, simultaneously hoping Lyzper would and would not find her. She never knew what to think of that crazy mortal. He was all like, a dragon sort of, but not really. Was he even a mortal? Can you be like a half-mortal or something?
Oh well. She wasn't going to get anywhere in the city without bait, and she kind of liked hanging around Lyzper, so revealing herself would probably be the best idea. She leapt from the tower, using her wings to give her a steady dive directly behind the peddler. A taste of anticipation and of the peddler's fear were already dancing on her tongue.
"rrrroooooooooooOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaar!" Like a volcano erupting (one that was about 10 feet tall), she roared as she descended.
Not exactly Lyzper's first choice of destination. Especially not after the particularly disastrous outcome of his last little visit. He'd heard that it had been the last official attempt to reclaim it, or something like that. Not that the failure of countless armies had deterred the endless string of young adventurers Lyzper met from bragging about their plans to raid it. Lyzper had dismissed it as a fools dream twenty years ago.
And yet, the gates of Oreid rose up before him again.
Life was funny like that.
Not that Lyzper was here on his own volition. He'd been following a trail of destruction for the past week, and wouldn't you know the trail lead here. Five burnt farmsteads, two dozen partially- and wholly-devoured livestock and a guilty conscious had lightened Lyzper's purse dramatically on the way, but that wasn't new.
("How did you lose a whole dragon?" people would ask as he explained why he was going in that direction. Apparently they forgot that dragons have wings.)
The lizardfolk sighs quietly to himself as he surveys the gates with one eye, the other fixed on the peddler. He was (pleasantly?) surprised to see the little warforged scout was here too. For... whatever reason. Lyzper was never quite sure why the little guy did anything. He wonders if it's still going by Periwinkle, before returning to his search. Some prissy looking, over-confident mammal. If Lyzper had a gold piece for every time a mammal bragged to him that it'd be in and out of Oried soon enough with its fortune in tow, he'd have a horde to make any dragon jealous. The lizardfolk snorts and returns to his search.
Oh. There she is.
Lyzper spots Mab seconds before she decides to make her grand entrance. Both his eyes focus on her as she floats down, and he doesn't even flinch as she roars.
"And hello to you, too," he replies in Draconic. "Next time you decide to burn down a farm, please chase the horses out first. Much cleaner."
Only half-listening the scaled woman seems far more interested in the other adventurers then the peddler and his wares. The bronze scaled woman is actively wandering between the others listening to the salesman, looking over their shoulders and stealing not-so-subtle glances at them, returning every look at her with a warm smile.
With her stylish brightly colored clothes she do seem to enjoy attention, not shying away from. Acting pretty oblivious that everyone does not care about this intrusive curiosity.
Suddenly stopping she turns to look upwards, her mouth gaping open as she watches the dragon descending from above.
Wow! Her first dragon already!
The very same day she had fought off her first bandit and freed a farmer from the giant rats in his basement.
This could only get better from here.
Stepping closer once the black dragon lands the she attempts to overhear what she and the lizardfolk had to say to each other. Maybe it even was related to her somehow? The possibilities were endless!
Ah. That seems to be what Lyzper has been up to. Or something. Dragons are trouble. Dragons are complicated. But so is everyone present. Periwinkle runs down the possible disposal methods. The elf and dragon woman would probably go down with a good cut across the throat. The dragon would be harder. More than likely, slipping away and letting it get bored and move on is the best method. Lyzper.... the original plan would probably work still.
Not that Periwinkle wants to or thinks he will need to kill the rest of them. But it has never not paid to have a plan in the works for these kinds of things.
Back to the task at hand, though. Periwinkle points to the pendants and pulls out two coins. He attempts to palm one of the coins and hold the visible one up to indicate that he wants half price on the pendants, given the lack of proof of their effectiveness.
* post roll count doesn't match database
Not really here. Just an illusion.
Mabdebereth folds her wings against her side and struts over to Lyzper, like a huge fiery cat-lizard with wings. "Kosjpothoc, Lyzper," Mabdebereth growls with a very thick Draconic accent. "*Mabdebereth* axun vethvalignatrhyaex." She turns to the others and strikes a pose. "Vethominak *Mabdebereth*. Vur wuxominak...?"
Translation from Draconic:
"*I* like my food burned."
"My name is *Mabdebereth*. And your names are...?"
The peddler shuffles to the side nonchalantly as he hears the beating of wings behind him, and although Mab's roar makes his shoulders hunch and has him reaching for his ears to protect them, but he quickly straightens in time to see Periwinkle is the only one taking his offer seriously and focuses on the small warforged. People in the city seem to have a very nonchalant approach to nearly being eaten by a massive predatory beast.
He nods in appreciation of the trick with the coin, clearly impressed by the construct's manual dexterity, but even though he understands Periwinkle's intent, he shakes his head quickly, "Sorry gent, but if I let these beauts go for less'n that, my old lady would smack me one for losing money again. You understand, don't you? Times are hard all around, but just one of these will keep you safe from the dangers you can't see or swing a sword at for at least a week, and if that isn't a bargain I don't know what is.
Drat! Foiled again by being a tiny warforged that everyone assumes is harmless. At least until he has stabbed them to death. But at that point, haggling and intimidation is pointless.
No, Killing the peddler would be faster, but more likely to hamper the mission in the long run.
What Periwinkle needs is some back-up. He looks over the others once more. He knows nothing of the scaled woman, but she seems unstable at a glance. The dragon is right out. Lyzper, though dependable in a pinch, wasn't strong at haggling -as far as he can recall. Which leaves the somewhat shaken looking elf. They look personal enough. Most similar to the peddler at the very least. How fleshy beings prefer those that look like them. Yes, they should be sufficient.
Periwinkle motions to the elf to come closer.
Not really here. Just an illusion.
"I'm Cassidy." The 'dragon woman' replies without thinking, introducing yourself was just the polite thing to do. Even if it was in common. "Nice to met you Mab, can I call you that? I'd spare you from hearing me slaying your beautiful name with my horrible attempt to pronounce it, I'm really terrible at it." She says with a laugh.
Mab manages a toothy grin at the assumed compliment, even if it wasn't about how amazing her scales were or anything. "Wux gixustrat aricassidyoth mrith arimunthrekrenthisj," she rumbles to Cassidy. "Ekess aridarastrixrenthisj bensvelk arythiejir. Lyzper, ukris vaecaesin vur kosjvythsthyr vethominak Mabdebereth, kosjominak Mab."
"You sully your tongue with Common,"
"To speak Draconic is good for our kind. Lyzper, tell the elf and the small, steel man my name is Mabdebereth, or just Mab."
One of Lyzper's eyes rolls independently from the other when Mab insists on her "properly cooked" food. "If you don't start chasing your food instead of letting it die in a fire, you're going to get fat," he mutters. But, as requested, he turns to Periwinkle and the elf and clears his throat. Switching from Draconic to Common was always a bit of a chore.
"Mabdebereth requested that you introduce yourselves. Mab, the warforged goes by Periwinkle, or..." he tilts his head slightly, giving Periwinkle a questioning look with one eye, "do you still?"
The warforged points to the pendants, then crouches to draw a series of monsters in the dirt. He draws a series of humanoid figures and draws an arrow between the two, indicating that the humans became the monsters. He then adds pendants to the humanoids and swipes away the monsters. He waggles his hand 'they might not even work' then indicates the protected humanoids once more. He then repeats his coin trick, holding out two than hiding one. Then points to the peddler, the pendants, the coins, the elf, the picture.
Hopefully he made his intentions clear. The pendants might protect them and are worth buying. There is no guaranty, though, so paying anything more than half-price is pointless. He want the elf to make his case for him to the peddler.
Oh. Lyzper is speaking of/to him. He looks to the lizard person, then nods. Still Periwinkle. He nods a greeting to Mab. Of course, he understood what the dragon had said. But there is little to gain by acknowledging that just yet and much to possibly be gained by playing ignorant. People -even dragons- had a tendency to speak more than they should when they assumed nobody else could understand them. One of the reasons Periwinkle had never bothered repair his lost ability to speak. One was a lot more careful when they have to ponder exactly what they want to say and how to do it. It prevents idle chatter and saying too much.
Of course, pondering leads to problems as well. He looks at the elf to see if he understood what he should do.
Not really here. Just an illusion.
"I haven't actually spoke draconic since I was like this tall..." Cassidy replies while indicating the length with her hand. "...so it might be a bit rusty. I can still understand it though. Obviously." She says, laughing again. "Anyway, are you all adventurers too?" The spellscale asks while looking around.
"Sjek clax persvek aristhyrrhyaex, yth gethrisj okarthelhurthi?" Mab turns her head to the side, inquiring of those Draconic-speakers in the group. "Wux clax aristhyrrasvim thric virlym, vur Mabdebereth clax achthend. Vivex-vivex, axun?"
"If I eat the man, can we go into the city?"
"You will get the amulets without stealing, and I will get some food. Win-win, yes?"
The elf frowns, confused by the warforged's gestures for a moment, but suddenly it clicks. "Ah, sir." He tries to get the attention of the peddler. "My mechanical friend here is offering to pay half price for your items, on the grounds that you have provided no proof as to their authenticity and power."
He then turns bowing deeply, and flamboyantly, to Mabderbereth. "I am Orpheus, adventurer and entertainer extrordinaire! At your service." He spares a charming smile for Cassidy as well.
The merchant shakes his head, his mouth curling into a sour line, "Sorry mack, you don't get no guarantees in this town. I sell you one of these, it might be food for some gibbering eyeball that rolls you out the city tomorrow, or join the collection of the ravens. I could come out here selling anything, but I sell these because smart people with a bit of experience under their belt know the score, and know that they need defense against what they can't fight. Go on and head in then, I'm done dealing with you. Either you'll be back once you've wised up or I'll never see you again. Either way, it's out of my hands."
The peddler steps back into the hole in the whitegold gate, slipping back and out of the way so the people crowding around can pass through if they like. He doesn't slip entirely out of sight, but he begins packing his wares back into the folds of his coat, seemingly resigned to not making a sale tonight.
The guard in full armor just beyond the gate down the street stares ahead impassively, not reacting to the scene at all. If he wasn't upright, one would wonder if he wasn't just completely asleep.
The sky overhead rumbles slightly, even though it is clear of clouds, and suddenly the peddler looks nervous as he looks up and mutters to himself in a language other than common that most of the people there can't recognize as he looks to the surrounding buildings for open doors, casting glances up to the roofs and awnings as well.
Roll a listen check to make out what language the peddler is using and what he's saying.
Lyzper sighs as he returns to stand by Mab. This day was going to be long and ardours, he could tell already. Mab already wanted to eat someone and the mammal Orpheus was giving him a headache. Adventurer extraordinaire his scales.
"I'd really rather you didn't eat him," Lyzper replies in Draconic. "But if you're going to, then go get it over with and then we can leave." He glances up at the sky as it begins to rumble.
Leaving would be really nice.
Orpheus looks up at the sky nervously. Strange, that was thunder, but there's no clouds. His long ears give a slight twitch as he listens. For a brief moment, a frown crosses his face. It soon disappears, replaced with a laugh and a smile.
"I believe that is a good signal for me to go find the nearest tavern!" He declares. "Who's with me?" the elf asks, smiling at the group. "I am certain we can find some absolutely juicy rumors!" Orpheus just about jumps with glee at the thought.
Mab taps Lyzper on the hip and gestures towards Orpheus. "Shafaer karifgix, arituor ekess clax persvek *arorpheusrhyaex*," she says with a toothy grin and a wink. Without giving Lyzper a chance to respond, she bursts into deep, guttural laughter, sounding more like something choking on spittle. A small wisp of smoke issues forth from her nose, which she blows away with a snort.
She flaps her wings and ascends about 5 feet in the air, keeping a good pace with Orpheus. She stays quiet while following him, the ominous whumf, whumf of her wings the only sound she makes while wondering if Elf tastes anything like Human, or if it's more like goat. Or maybe it's all stringy and woody and magical, like, ew. Thinking maybe elf isn't the best kind of snack, Mab keeps her eye out for a rock to snack on.
"On second thought, I want to eat *him* now,"
I assume I don't need to roll to find a rock about the size of a (human) child's fist in a ruined city, but if I need to:
They were adventurers! Or at least they acted the way Cassidy had envisioned adventurers to act. She had never seen a dragon adventurer though, but that was just details. "I'm with you!" She is quick to answer the elf whose name she didn't quite catch when he introduced himself. She liked his smile though, just the kind of guy she'd follow.
She was concerned about Mab though, she wasn't going to eat one right? Keeping an eye on the dragon she really wished she could use draonic and not just understand it. "Eh, mister elf? I think Mab might want to eat you." She attempts to whisper to him as Mab is stalking them.
Mab has no trouble spotting a large rock that isn't too covered in road dust and questionable muck, but even as she looks at it, there's a faint whistling from overhead and a massive chunk of ice in the shape of a miniature poodle smashes into the rock, pulverizing both.
Everyone in General
The peddler flinches and runs for the nearest house, abandoning the remaining trinkets in his hand to the cobblestones as he yanks open the door and ducks inside. Of course, he may not be anymore protected than the rest of them, as another house farther off having its roof caved in by a falling icy crockpot soon proves.
As more and more frozen facsimiles of everyday objects start bombarding the streets, shards of the broken ones begin flying as well, making standing out in the open a more and more dangerous notion. There are some nearby buildings around they could take shelter in, with the majority of those closest being fairly flimsy looking residences, huts really. Farther down the main road there are a pair of taverns that look to be weathering the bizarre storm a bit better, one on each side of the street. The group could try to make it there, but doing so would mean spending more time out here and in danger, as they're a fair distance away.
The guard doesn't seem to pay the falling sculptures any mind as their shards break harmlessly on his armor, and he's standing under an overhang that seems to be protecting him from a direct hit well enough.
At a glance, it seems the peddler dropped about three of the trinkets, but they're so bunched up it's hard to tell. Someone could attempt to grab them if they thought it was worth a few precious seconds out here among the peril.
From much deeper into the city a gong sounds, the sound just barely reaching their ears. Perhaps it's unrelated, or perhaps it's to alert those outside to take cover. The hail seems to be a very localized event in any case, even though there are no clouds visible that would help them predict where it ends. Surely, it can't be hailing over the entire city.
Alright everyone, roll a single reflex save for your first round out in the sculpture hail. The falling object damage is unspecified until someone gets hit, but the exploding objects are tossing shards which will do 1d4 piercing damage (reflex half) to everyone outside. There are two DCs for the reflex check, but only failing the lower of the two will get you hit by a frozen cat.
The taverns are about 200ft down the road, the houses are within one round of you, but will provide dubious protection, and retrieving the trinkets would take a move action to get to them and another to pick them up for whoever decided to do it.
Orpheus' eyes go wide at Cassidy's translation. "But... oh dear me..." He flinches when the ice sculptures start to fall. "Perhaps we should get inside?!" He suggests, panicked. The elf points towards the tavern on the left side of the street and starts to run for it. Sharp eyed, he noticed the Peddler had dropped some of his trinkets.
The elf makes certain his path towards the tavern crosses over the trinkets, and he stumbles at just the right moment to pick them up and slip them away in a hidden pocket.
Reflex Save (1d20+6)
Sleight of Hand (1d20+6)
Lyzper chuckles to himself as Mab flies off... And then his stomach sinks when he realizes the dragon is flying off after the mammal. Hopefully to eat it, but unquestionably beyond the gates of this accursed city. The long-suffering Lyzper straightens his spear to act as a walking stick, and follows after his charge.
And then it starts to rain giant hail novelties.
See, this is exactly the reason Lyzper didn't want to stay here. Lowering his head, the lizardfolk hurries after Mab.
Periwinkle has his eyes on the pendants as they hit the ground. And as they vanish following the elf's "stumble". He makes a note to bring that up if and when they make it to "safety". That is an awful lot of air quotes, but he feels the situation warrants it.
The others are moving so Periwinkle follows suit. Kind of. He throws a tiny black pellet at the ground by his feet. The pellet explodes in a cloud of smoke that instantly engulfs the tiny construct. A few moments later he steps from the shadows next to the guard, under cover of the awning. He nods a hello to the guard and eyes the distance between himself and the next bit of cover.
Not really here. Just an illusion.
Yanking back her claw before it gets smashed, Mab gasps and looks up to see more strangely shaped pieces of hail striking the ground. Seeing Orpheus run for the tavern, she flaps her wings and pushes away from the ground. As the ice breaks around them, she tries to pull as many evasive maneuvers as she can. "Ocuir wux," she says, dashing (flapping?) madly through the tavern doors.
Runflying (x4 speed) towards the lefthand tavern and landing just inside (total of 240 speed, so I make it in 1 turn) (1d20+4) Reflex save
Cassidy nods at Orpheus and makes haste towards the tavern, unable to resist calling out something in response no matter how cheesy it was. "Onward!"
She completely fails to notice how the elf snatches the trinkets from the street too as she is far too fascinated with the rain they're running from. Glancing upwards as she run she she can't help but to smile a bit. It was really beautiful when you thought about it.
As the ice smashes against the ground, the shards hitting her in the side, her day-dreaming is interrupted though, that really hurt. She looks straight forward again, decided that watching the ice fall probably was a lot better inside.