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" On the contrary, they've been all too common. It seems as though that's half the reason we're here." The foreign priest performs an elaborate and esoteric bow as he delivers his name. " I am Estanos ibn Rafiq ibn Omar ibn Jacin ibaq Cayin mar Nasra. We are a group under royal charter to explore the Greenbelt, and extinguish any threats to the greater good which lie within. You, on the other hand, must be the guards Oleg had been expecting when we first arrived several days ago. Good to see you."
" Looks like we won't need to worry about whether its safe to leave our prisoners here, after all," Estanos says in an aside to his fellows. He smiles, and waits for the guards to accept their credentials and indicate that they won't be peppered with bolts if they advance.
"Greetings, friends," Ilya calls cheerfully from horseback. "I'm glad to see that we shan't face all the perils of these lands unaided. Also," he continues, brightly. "Tis heartwarming to know that we won't return here to find this place burned to ground."
"Might we know your names, good soldiers of Brevoy?"
Viktor remains dour the whole ride back to Oleg's Post, glowering at the three bandits regularly. He is very glad to see the Post again, with the possibility of a hot meal beckoning. Then, suddenly, he tenses. The banner of Brevoy, he thinks, worriedly. Have the King's men tracked us here so quickly? Perhaps...
The paladin rides through the gates warily, hand ready to go to his blade at a moment's notice. He breaths a sigh of relief as he observes the men. Common guards, not the agents of the crown.
"Greetings, guardsmen. Your presence here is welcome," Viktor says, his tone darker than his sentiment. "We have returned from the wilds, having destroyed a bandit camp. We have prisoners who must be dealt with."
Zinovia's frail body is stiff and tired from days of riding. This has also made her irritable. "Now open the gate and cease this foolish impediment. You know what we are. We have done your work for you, and this warrants your respect."
Forgot to give the detect evil results to Viktor in my last post.
Cutter and the talkative bandit (who shall shortly be named) are both faintly evil.
Also, loot from Kressle's fight will be OOC.
"Kesten Garess," the plate wearing guard replies. "Open the gates," he calls down. You can hear a bolt being slid back, and the Post is open to you.
Garess comes down from the wall to meet you. "I command these guards." He eyes your prisoners. "We'll lock them up in the store room." To the prisoners: "Don't try anything stupid or we'll cut you down."
"Right," the talkative bandit says. "Beginning to think I may have done something stupid already," he quips. "Name's Vasily Derorn, not that the guard making death threats cares about names." Cutter, who you've found to be thoroughly unpleasant, silent and glaring, throughout your journey, grunts. The two men are led off to be locked away.
Kesten waves you over to a tent bearing the Brevic seal that has been erected near the wall. He bends over, unlocking a chest that sits on the ground there. "I've been authorized by the swordlords and the Crown of Brevoy to grant a reward to bandit slayers." He removes a sack of gold. "One hundred gold coins each for your defence of the Post and your victory against the others."
Like the man said, 100 gp each.
You notice now that you are inside that the Post bustles with activity, far busier than you have seen it before, as though your victory against the bandits has lifted a curse.
Oleg is nailing a piece of curling brown parchment to a wooden wanted board that stands in the courtyard, joining several others that hang there.
Three of Kesten Garess' guards sit around a table in the courtyard, chuckling with two leather clad men with bows strapped over their backs who you surmise to be hunters.
And finally, a middle aged man with a ruddy complexion, balding brown hair, and a long, drooping moustache, wearing a simple brown wool robe, sits at another table, quietly reading from a book.
" Marrin, could you tend to the horses please? Perhaps Goodwoman Svetlana has some carrots for them. I think they've earned themselves a treat, don't you?," the priest requests of the demi-bandit.
Heading towards Oleg, Estanos asks the man in passing," I was wondering if you were at all willing to consider having an addition to the post built. These aren't likely to be the last prisoners we take, and I would be happier to put them in a place more secure than your storeroom next time, if for no other reason than I worry for the safety of your stock. We've some reward money, and I'm willing to fund the construction myself. Think about it, and let me know before we head back out, if you would? We'll probably be staying at least for a meal, if not the night." Having said that, he leaves Oleg be for the moment, and walks over to the robed reader, sensing something of a kindred spirit in the man.
" You don't seem to be associated with the guards." Estanos brings himself up short, seeming to cut off his conversational thrust as he chuckles ruefully and apologizes. " Please excuse my manners; it seems it takes only a few days in the wilds for me to forget them. I am Estanos ibn Omar ibn Jacin mar Nasra, devoted servant of Sarenrae the Healing Flame." He repeats a somewhat more restrained version of the bow he delivered outside the fort, touching his forehead and lips as he does so. "Pleased to make your acquaintance. Do you mind if I join you?"
"Thank you," Ilya says as Kesten Garess hands off the reward. He is unusually subdued, as if not wanting to draw attention to himself. A Garess, he thinks to himself. He may not be looking for me, but with his family he might recognize me nonetheless. Taking his gold, Ilya hurries off to somewhere less conspicuous.
Spotting the laughing hunters and guards, the young man joins them. "Something humourous gentlemen?" he asks with a smile. "Unless I'm much mistaken, you two are hunters. Is there any chance you might know something more about these woods than a group of five bandit-hunters who arrived fresh from Restov not a week ago?" he asks wryly. "If there's anything you'd care to share, it would be most appreciated."
If there's anything more to know about Kesten Garess, other than that he's a Garess and a Garess is a noble, perhaps a Knowledge (nobility) check might reveal it?
Knowledge (nobility): [roll]1d20+6[/roll] (dndsheets is down at the moment, so I'm going by memory with that bonus).
Zinovia follows Estanos over to the robed stranger. She eases herself down opposite him, feeling faint, wiping away cold sweat from her brow. Her eyes close, and for a moment it looks like she has fallen asleep. But they open again, looking with brazenly at the man's book, more interested in it than him. "A reader," says, her voice little more than a whisper. "That must be a rare thing here. I am Zinovia Surtova, devoted servant very little," she introduces herself cadence as Estanos. Of course, unlike the priest, Zinovia has already seated herself, not bothering to ask whether she is welcome at all.
Viktor pays neither Oleg nor the hunters nor the older man any attention. As the company disperses, he hurries to speak with Kesten Garess. Approaching, he greets the commander.
"Hail, Sir Garess," the paladin says with a salute. "As I have said before, your presence is most needed here, for these lands are yet lawless and full of evil. Still," he says, cracking a rare grin, "being stationed here must be better than spending all your days at court."
"My party has ventured some short distance south of the Post here," Viktor continues. "As you are aware, we have dispatched a significant camp of bandits. However," he says, his countenance again grim, "a larger threat has come to our attention. It seems the bandits of the Stolen Lands are united under the rulership of the so-called Stag Lord and likely pose more of a threat than was initially thought. You and your men ought to be aware of these... difficulties."
Tireas approaches Oleg at the wanted board. The trader turns at the tiefling's appearance to speak to him. "Tireas, right? Yeah, it's mostly for you. Thought you could use some coin down here, so I set it up. Lot of hunters an' other folk have trouble. Way I see it, problems get fixed and you get some more resources. Suppose someone else could do 'em and claim the bounty, but not many with your skills 'round here. Maybe some of the strangers who came in day before yesterday with the guards, but they didn't even look at the board."
Cant rite to good so I mak this short. Tuskguttor is a meen boar. Ever hunter in the green belt got a woond by Tuskguter. Rite nasty pig. Last yeer I tusseled with him. Got my leg of all the way. Now Im retired cus cant hunt with one leg. Anyon hoo brings me Tuscgutters hed gets my bow and arros! Kil that pig!!!
Wanted: One tatzylwyrm head, good condition.
Pay: 750 gold pieces.
Deliver to: Oleg Leveton.
CROWN PROCLAMATION: SOOTSCALE KOBOLDS
The Swordlords of Restov, acting on behalf of the Crown of Brevoy, in light of the current kobold threat to the region known as the Stolen Lands, hereby authorize and deputize any and all volunteers to act as our agents in this matter. They are to eliminate the Kobold threat to the stability of the region and the welfare of its inhabitants.
Success in this matter will be rewarded. The Swordlords or Restov have charged Captain Garess with the holding of a prize of 1,000 gold pieces, to be discharged upon completion of the task.
Oleg looks as though he's remembered something suddenly. "Oh, and 'Lana got some letters sent this way from one of our provisioners. She said one of them's for you."
As if one cue, Svetlana comes out of the house, holding a pair of letters. "I'm so glad you're all safe! Tireas, this one's for you," she says merrily, handing off the letter before continuing on her way.
Estanos and Zinovia
"A fellow priest, then" the moustached, robed man replies, his voice rustic, slow of speech without being plodding or ponderous. "I am Jhod Kavken, of the Church of Erastil." When Estanos mentions his lack of manners, Jhod chuckles heartily. "No need for apologies, brother. I am a simple man; pleasant company with or without manners will do me fine."
To Zinovia, he adds, that, "indeed, the Parables guide me on my journey. I could lend them to you if you wish more devotion."
"But you must be the Charter bearers that I've heard so much about. You have brought hope to the people of this stead, whether you know it or not, and for that, Erastil smiles upon you.
The priest pauses, stroking his moustaches. "I wonder if I might ask a boon of you? I travelled here because of a vision. In my dream, I saw an ancient temple to my god, overgrown and empty. A great bear guarded it, and I could not enter. I believe that the temple of my vision is somewhere in the Stolen Lands. I had come here to ask if any of the hunters know of such a place, but they do not. If you find it in your travels, I would be grateful for the news."
Just then, Svetlana comes hurrying over to Estanos. "Sorry Fathers. I've got a letter for you," she says to Estanos. She holds it close to her nose, taking a deep breath. "Mmm, smells like myrrh and a dozen other spices." She hands it over after another sniff.
The hunters and guards welcome Ilya to their table. "Good on you for askin'," a hunter with a bushy brown beard replies. "Lots o' men don't an' most of them ain't around no more. Not a forgivin' place, this."
"You want my advice, go see Bokken; it'll keep ye alive. He's a damn buggered nuisance to talk to, but he brews a mean potion, an' when ye've been wolf-chew, ye won't regret it."
This is met by a mumbled agreement by the man's companion. "An' o' course, there's the fey. Mostly they be alright little bastards, only play tricks and such. But if they're the little blue fellers, then ye best run or fight. Those ones is called 'mites' and they ain't the nice fairies."
Bokken has a hut at F2 on the map.
You can't recall any specifics, but you know that Kesten Garess suffered some disgrace back in Brevoy.
"I see," Kesten Garess says, frowning severely as Viktor gives him the news of the Stag Lord. "Thanks for the warning, friend," he says, dropping the "garrison commander" attitude somewhat. "I'll tell my men to be on the lookout, and maybe talk to some of the hunters about forming a militia."
Kesten shrugs his broad shoulders, his plate mail clanking. "I guess you should know," he says slowly. "We came down here at the same time as some Issians from House Surtova." Kesten nods at the heraldry on Viktor's armour. "They went out into the wilderness the day after we arrived. They barely said a word to anyone but each other, honestly."
Last edited by ApatheticAbacus : 06-20-2012 at 10:21 AM.
" We would be only too glad to help, Brother Jhod." Estanos nods in assent. "When we find this temple, is there anything in particular we must do? Slay the bear? Not slay the bear? Bless something?"
Obviously a little startled by the mail delivery, it takes him a moment to react. "Ah, a letter? Splendid. My thanks, Goodwoman Svetlana." Taking the letter, the priest carefully opens the packaging and begins to peruse it.
"I should write these down then," says Tireas, pulling out some parchment and a quill. "Hmm, never heard of a Tatzl worm before, but worms don't really sound that dangerous. Oh, that's wyrm; those are like dragons aren't they? Never fought one of those before."
When Svetlana presents him the letter he comments, "Why thank you, good woman. I do wonder who this is from."
"I will do without your parables, Jhod. I do not need guidance on where my life must lead, and what I must do. Like you, I am already aware of the paths that I must travel."
"Pour devil's blood over the altar?" Zinovia adds quietly to Estanos' query about what they must do to the temple. Her wan face curls into a small smile, her gaunt cheeks twitching. It's not entirely clear whether she's joking.
"Yeah," Oleg says, "they're a local beast. Biggest predator around here, wingless dragons, hide in the forest and ambush." The stolid man shrugs, a common gesture, it seems. "Never seen a live one. Supposed to be as big as a man, sometimes bigger. Figured a head to mount in the Post would scare away troublemakers and animals. Don't want to tangle with one. And it makes for good conversation for the hunters."
Before Svetlana leaves, she replies to Tireas' question about the letter. "There's no name on it, but it's nice, fancy paper." Indeed, the only name upon the letter is "Tireas Slate," written in black ink with a slight flourish to the writing. It has been carefully sealed with wax, though no mark has been pressed into it.
Estanos and Zinovia
"In my vision, the bear was ferocious and dark, corrupted. It guarded the way to the temple, and I fear that it will be a threat to you. I suspect that it must die."
Jhod looks confused and perturbed by Zinovia's comment, as if trying to make sense of it. He glances briefly at Estanos. "No, despite the bear's corruption, young lady, I believe that the temple is not lost to Erastil. I will re-consecrate it after you have found it, and, in time, I hope that it will flourish."
He hesitates, looking back at Zinovia. "And... young lady, if you wish it, I can try to heal what ails you..."
You open the letter's envelope. Inside is a letter, written on fine papyrus. The hand that has inscribed it is fine and flowing, and the language is Kelesh-ite.
I greet the new day with you, Estanos ibn Rafiq mar Nasra. May our Goddess watch over you and guide you always.
I write you this letter from the golden halls of the Grand Temple at Persipoli. I have lived here for my entire life, and yet its spires and statues and mosaics leave me in awe. It is truly a wondrous place.
Your letters have found me well and content, but I cannot be so for long. Even with the beauty of the city and the peace I find in my prayers, I cannot but feel your pull. Your work calls to me; it has made me question myself and my calling. To walk in contemplation in a temple, to learn the arts of the sword as mediation. These were my joys, but I startle myself from that sleep to find that you do true and good works in the world, where our light is needed most. I am told by Arch-Canoness Shazzar that I cannot leave. Sarenrae herself granted you your sign and summoned you to your station, while I have only my conscience and my love summoning me to you. I cannot deny those any longer.
This is the last letter you will receive from Persipoli. It will take me many months, but I am coming.
May the sun's rays never fail to warm you.
Last edited by ApatheticAbacus : 06-20-2012 at 01:31 PM.
Upon reading the letter, Estanos is struck stock still for a long moment. He obviously can't quite believe the words he's reading.
Once the moment passes and he's moving again, Estanos folds the letter up once more, places it within the envelope for safe keeping, and tucks it in to the folds of his clothing. He blinks a few times, and then says to " Please, try not to let what Zinovia says trouble you, Brother. The path she is walking is not one I imagine you or I would be able to understand, but she means well."
" As to your request, all I have heard about Erastil is nothing but good. To aid one of his faithful in their task can only serve to improve the world. I assure you, we will do our best to see your hopes realized."
"Thank you, good sirs, you've been invaluable," Ilya says smoothly. No point antagonizing the locals, he thinks to himself. No matter how provincial they might be. He smiles again, just to make sure they're appeased. "And however nasty this Bokken is, I'm quite sure he won't rival the bandits we just met. Or the cold!" Ilya says with a final laugh.
“Issians?” Viktor says, frowning. “From House Surtova? It... it is strange that they are here under their own jurisdiction, separate from your command,” the paladin says, he voice wavering only slightly with concern. Surely these Issians can only be the King’s agents, unless - no, why else would they be here?
“I thank you for your time, Sir Garess,” he says, giving a stiff bow before hurrying away. Crossing the courtyard, he spots Ilya speaking with a group of hunters. He approaches, standing just behind the prince and whispers in his ear.
“Ilya,” he says quietly, “I have disturbing news. Your father’s agents reached the Post, and are now somewhere in the wilderness. We - you - must be cautious, and discreet. Please, be careful.”
At Jhod's offer of healing, Zinovia begins to laugh uncontrollably, the first full-bodied noise she has yet made. She recovers, shaking her head, her eyes glinting with feverish light. "...If you had that power, priest, I do not think you would need our help finding mere ruins."
And I shall incur no more debts.
She clears her throat. "But enough of this. I have heard ill spoken of Erastil, but I find the prospect of an ancient temple tantalizing. It may be empty, but the faint chance of some secret has to it an allure."
I... see." Jhod looks as though he does not see at all while Zinovia laughs. "That may be, but if you should ever decide to live differently, my offer still stands, hopeless though it may be."
He bows to Estanos. "And I look forward to learning more of Sarenrae from you. Now, I must excuse myself. I promised Svetlana that I would earn my keep chopping wood, aside from extending healing and other remedies to those in need." The ruddy-faced priest stands, spry for his age. "Until our next meeting."
Ilya doesn't look nearly as concerned by Viktor's news as perhaps he should be. While his eyes do widen, briefly, at the mention of Surtova agents, he quickly regains his cool.
"And I was so sure we had out-witted them too," Ilya says with a laugh. "I suppose you're right, I had better lay low, or else I'll risk being dragged out of these freezings woods and back to the palace!" he says, clearly enjoying the irony. Then, more seriously, he continues, looking levelly at Viktor. "I will be careful. I know what I have to look forward to back home."
You spend the rest of the day at Oleg's, and take the night to rest there. It is a refreshing change from the last several days that no watches need to be taken.
7 Gozran, 4708
The day dawns bright and sunny, and, by the time that the dawn has passed into morning, the air has warmed considerably, bringing with it scents of blooming flowers and growing grasses. You leave the Post behind, watching Kesten Garess and his watchmen atop the walls shrink to dots, and then disappear.
Turning your horses eastward, you cross the plains quickly. Mapping the region, you ascend to the tops of heights of land to obtain the best views. Around you, the plains are vast expanses of hardy grasses growing in clumps amidst strewn rocks and boulders.
As the day creeps on, it grows warmer still, and you come across a small, circular hut situated at the top of a small hillock. It has stone walls coated in moss to the point where it is almost part of the hill. The roof forms a point, with smoke drifting upwards from a simple chimney. Approaching, you can see a face watching you through a grimy window beside a wood door. It is male, with a tangled grey beard and long hair. It quickly disappears, and the door opens.
A man emerges, jittering. He wears a loose, faded garment that might once have been a robe, but now is little more than cloth. "What do you want," he asks in a high-pitched voice. "Bandits? Nononono, bandits know better than to come to old Bokken. Taught them better. Well come now, tell what you want, or go away and let Bokken have his tea!"
Zinovia does not dismount from her horse as the strange old man comes out of his house. It is too tiring a process for the wizardess, and this man is likely too insignificant.
"We are here," she says from the depths of her hood, "to teach bandits who have not visited your abode a lesson that they will not soon forget, old man. We are also tasked with exploring this land. If you have any sense in your head, then your help would be welcome."
"Pull yourself together, man!" Viktor barks at the hermit. "We have no intention of harming you. We are tasked by the Crown of Brevoy with exploring the Stolen Lands - any aid or information you possess is welcome."
Last edited by Winterfell : 06-22-2012 at 10:44 PM.
For the moment, Estanos says nothing to the hermit, fearing that the obviously easily excitable man will suffer from an overload of sensory information. Instead, he looks to the surrounding countryside, and drinks in the wilderness.
Bokken's head swivels back and forth, then he leans in and whispers to you, conspiratorially. "For me to welcome my help being welcome, you have to make yourselves welcome. I need fangberries. Lots of fangberries! They grow in patches. Great big fangberry patches. Full of fangberries." He breaks into crazy laughter. "Don't let the fangs get you! If you bring me a bushel of fangberries, I'll tell you what I know, and even give you potions."
The madman scowls, perturbed suddenly. "Now I'm a hermit, so you should be going. I don't entertain. So as your questions or off you go!"
"What are these fangberries for, hermit?" Viktor demands, eyes narrowed suspiciously. He isn't particularly eager to help this strange man acquire a possibly dangerous substance without at least knowing why he wants it.
"Oh. You want to buy potions? Why didn't you say so? I buy, sell, trade, just like a proper shopkeep! You can see my wares if you want."
He has 2 CLW potions, 2 endure elements potions, and 1 CMW potion in stock. He can make anything from the adept spell list of second level or less.
"What do fangberries look like, hmm? They're... berries. With... fangs. Big. Sharp. Point. Thorns." Each word is punctuated by the mad hermit making a clawing gesture with his hands. "Oh, and they're nice and shiny and red."
He scowls at Viktor. "None of your business, some might say. Very rude to ask. Did I ask you what you were going to do with your Charter? No. No no no I did not. Maybe I'll eat them. That would be fun. De-fang them first. Maybe I'll use them in potions. Maybe I'll use them as bait. Who knows? I don't! Not yet!"