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Over 1000 years ago some cataclysm happened. No one alive knows what happened exactly, but the result are obvious. The monsters of legend became embolden and no longer hid in the wilds away from humanoid kind. At first attacks were infrequent and didn't cause much damage, but they soon escalated. Monsters of all kinds began striking in large number against the settlements humanoid prided. There was no obvious purpose aside bloodshed.
Kingdoms at first rallied their armies to combat the threats, but they were ineffective at gaining ground. They barely managed to hold their borders. Mages were drafted like peasant infantry when dragons and other oncient beasts joined into the fray. It was an all out bloodbath for near fifty years.
After that time the races knew they could not hold out alone and joined forces. Gnome engineers machining engines of war right next to dwarves. Human and elves joined in effort and magical knowledge. Orcs, Gnols, any not skilled in other arts of war were brothers in arms on the front lines. Their blood spilled together as one fighting off the giant beasts and abominations.
The creatures saw this and marveled at the union of all things man. Then they themselves let loose a true horror. For fifty years battles happened between dawn and dusk. Now a new war was waged. Lycanthropes, Vampires, and all manner of undead joined in their attacks.
It wasn't long before no hour was safe, and the races of man grew weary. Their defences couldn't hold. They fled their homes of honor and took to the wilds. Survivors set up small villages fortified in nature and armed with the remnants of their war efforts. This is where they have stayed for over 800 years.
Some science and magic remain, but it is a far cry from the pinnacle that exhisted before the war. It is enough to help keep disease down and grow sufficient food. The knowledge to maintain or manufacture the village defenses is gone. Some have learned a few of these artifacts secrets, but not enough to be of true use.
In these dark times, few have brought up the courage to leave their homes, but there are those who risk life and limb. Their call is their own, but they all make strides in reclaiming the lands of their forefathers. This bunch are all met with diffrerent opinions, and even more names, but all are known as...Hunters.
The day is hot, and the hours long. Even in this village that has seen relative peace for a few years, life looks hard. Those that live here are bustling about like bees in a hive. Carts full of produce and animals are moved along the cobblestone roads like cloakwork. Shopkeepers bellow out the wares at any unfamiliar faces that traverse the streets.
Aside the noise and smells, the town seems pleasent enough by most standards. That is aside one old man that can be seen running down the street screaming his head off at anyone who will listen. Something about monsters, or beasts, and a girl. That is about all that can be made out during his frantic ramblings.
Willem shakes his head at a peddler running an apothecary a stand. "I beg to differ. When applying the correct combinations of fomentations and electuaries to ease the pain and treat the wound you can heal just as effectively as you would with a-" He looks up as the old man runs by screaming. "What in the nine hells?!"
Willem looks about for signs of trouble...
If he doesn't hear or see anything:
He looks to the old man, to see if he's lost his mind.
Sense Motive: (1d20)
General Int (To see if I recognize the man): (1d20+4)
If he does:
"Take cover," he yells to the vender as he slips his bow from his shoulder and darts off in the direction of the impending threat.
Knowledge Checks (To see if I recognize the threat):
Sister Judith Goodberry exits the small home where she had been tending a sick child. In time, the young boy's strength would return, and rest was all he needed now.
A tall and well built woman, Judith is clearly a traveler - she is heavily armed walks with confidence. With a longbow on her back, a glaive as a walking stick, and a backpack full of the other travel necessities, the Healer makes her way onto the main street of the village. A white tunic cut from a traditional healer's robe marks her for her primary profession, while the sturdy leather clothes and travel worn boots mark her other one.
Judith looks around, finished with her work for the time being.
Thanks Gigi Digi for the avatar.
Screaming reaches to near wagon with hay. Small, lizard-like person sleeping on it rises slowly. "They just won't left a guy sleep for a five minutes." Baran Dowan says, jumping from the wagon and landing on the ground. He is small, red-scaled kobold, wearing no other armor but helmet and face protection. He walks towards the old man and stops him.
"Well old guy, where do you have these monsters?". He asks nonchalantly, giving old man a look like he cared nothing of his problem, but wasn't doing anything better anyway.
Having just finished his study session, Illyvion left home only to stumble on some crazed old man rushing across the street. As he notices a kobold stopping the man, he leans on a wall with his face concealed by his cloak, and simply listens in on the exchange to determine if there's anything that needs a hand.
Determine if the man appears to just be creating commotion or if he actually believes what he says: Sense Motive - (1d20+6)
The old man stops with a fright at the sigh of the kobold. The sudden halt sends him falling backwards as he tries to scramble across the ground. His babbling not much more coherent until he manages a few feets distance.
T-th-they took her! They t-t-took my baby girl! Bastards stole my daughter! S-S-something about her entering their lands...BASTARDS TOOK MY DAUGHTER! Someone's gotta help me...gotta get her back...PLEASE SOMEONE!
It would seem this excitement has not done the old man well. He starts to breath with his chest heaving before collapsing to the cobblestones. It is obvious he is still alive and breathing, merely unconscious.
The others in the street begin to murmur and disperse away from his unconscious body. Their faces contorted as if he was carrying a plague, and getting too close would contaminate them. The once bustling area starting to clear out like a flop broadway performance halfway through the second act.
His story and fright seem genuine. There are no obvious signs of danger this far in the village.
Illyvion is slightly shocked and begins to move so as to rush to him, but as the man collapses but as he notices his stable breathing, he stops himself. He seems a bit uncertain about whether to intervene.
He'll stand a bit back, an unmoving silhouette against the wall but if everybody clears away with the man still lying on the ground:
Illyvion half-yells with frustration in his voice: "Can't anybody give him medical attention?"
And proceeds to do what he can for the man: Heal - (1d20+6)
Willem looks to the vendor and shrugs. "Pardon me... best to go see what all the fuss is about."
He walks up to the fainted man and the priestess and the elf hovering over him, giving him first aid.
"Hm... passed out, eh?" He uncorks his waterskin and hands it to the healer. "Is there anything I can do to help? Perhaps we should get him out of the sun, or I can fetch some smelling sauce from that apothecary over there."
"why are you looking at me like that? I didn't do anything to him." Baran almost barks at Judith, his voice slighty irritated. "Now quickly, get him back on his feet." He orders her, like he was her boss or something.
Judith nods her head and returns to the task at hand. She tucks a strand of honey colored hair behind her ear, and attempts to return the old man to consciousness.
If successful, she gently says, "I am Judith Goodberry, Elder. Who took your daughter, what is her name, and where can we find her?" The healers aura settles around her shoulders and head and sheds faint golden light.
Thanks Gigi Digi for the avatar.
Willem shrugs when the healer ignores him and just stands back, observing the events, trusting in the professionals on this one. But he keeps a sharp eye on the antsy kobold. While he takes a swig from the waterskin and corks it, then puts it back on his belt, he eyes the strange markings on the kobold's face with an expression of curiosity, and a vague hint of recognition that he can't quite place.
"Does it looks funny to you?" Baran asks the man looking at his facial markings and adjusts his face protection to hide them better. "Wanna ones yourself? It hurts when you get them burned in your face. It hurts like seven hells. And you may lose an eye or two if we're not careful. But at least ladies dig it." He speaks apparently nonchalantly, but his voice is full of barerly hold anger.
"I know you," Willem replies with a contemplative expression, apparently not noticing the implied threat.
"You must be the dragon hunter. I've heard tales of a dragon-slaying kobold marked with the symbol of the Dragonfire on his face. Strange that a kobold would wish to hunt dragons. I thought your kind served and revered the beasts."
"Kobold?" the healer says apologetically, "I apologize for my earlier rudeness, ser. Lizardmen killed my father, and I confess I... Mistook your heritage. Please forgive my poor knowledge of your race." Knowing full well how poor that makes her look, Judith nonetheless confesses her racism.
Thanks Gigi Digi for the avatar.
The old man slowly rouses under Judith's touch. He seems a bit groggy at first until he sees the kobold again. That makes him tense as he looks around then back to the good sister. His voice is strained and a bit weak. I...I am sorry. This...this is no place...to burden you with this. If you are Hunters, then we should do this professionally...please...please tell me you are hunters.
Illyvion ignores the exchange between the other 3, as if such matters were beneath him. After witnessing Judith bring the man back to consciousness, he appears to be visibly relieved.
"A stroke of luck we would happen to be here", Illyvion answers after Judith's introduction. He takes off his hood he'd been hiding behind thus far, revealing his sculpture-like elven facial features and black hair with slight tint of red. "Unless I'm entirely mistaken, and pardon me if I am, this man here is Willem Donassik, a hunter and a scholar of some renown.", he says while bowing slightly at Willem then addressing Willem himself, "I was actually looking forward to meeting you when I heard you'd be in these parts, though I suppose this isn't the time for elaborate discussions interesting though may be. Oh, pardon my manners. I am Illyvion CalmoriŽ, a scholar and a hunter myself."
Finally, he turns to address Baran: "And you, master kobold, based on the earlier..." Illyvion pauses for a bit, as if trying to figure out how to formulate this without offending any present parties "...exchange I would assume this also goes for you?"
"Anybody ever told you you are great at making friends? Because they lied." Baran angirly barks at Willem. For a moment he thinks of beating him up, but decides not to - he won't raise his dragon-hunting army if he'll beat every idiot insulting him, he needs to show he's above such petty things.
"Yeah, I'm a hunter. Dragon Hunter, as somebody had already noticed. I'm the guy who finds dragons enslaving my people, and all the others for that matter, and murder them." He says, then moves a bit towards the old man. "Tell me, did a kobold kidnapped your daughter?" He asks, noticing how tense the man became at the sight of him.
The old man begins to shake the weariness from his head as he looks to the group. He was in luck that they were hunters indeed. He leans up to sit and begin to attempt to rise to his feet. No, it wasn't kobolds...though you do look a good bit like the type of creature that actually took her. Gave me a fright you were after me. I am sorry that I made such a fuss over it, but I do feel this is a matter best discussed in private.
With that he looked about and gestured to an approaching carriage driver. If you all would be so kind as to join me, I shall have this driver take us to my home. There we can discuss your contracts and fees for helping me to retrieve my daughter...that is if you interested in helping an old man in his time of need."
For those that decide to join him
The man speaks briefly with the carriage driver before entering the vehicle. He then waits for you to join him inside before allowing the carriage to take off. It takes several turns and twists down the streets before stopping infront of a rather large home...well more of a mansion.
The gate walls are easily a yard thick of solid stone with ornately decorated spikes lining their tops. The walls look smooth as polished wood and easily as tall as three men stacked. The gate is easily recognized as adimantine bars swirled into his family crest. A giant falcon with wings spread wide.
Beyond is a yard perfectly manecured with several blooming trees and bushes. Obvious expensive and needlessly showy. All of this pales to the main house which towers over the gates and is a good 50 yards away from it.
The old man chuckles softly as he says,Home sweet Home... while unlocking the gate and motioning for you to enter the front walk.
"Hard to refuse, when the curlpit looks like me, ain't it?" Baran says and joins the man.
During the ride and entering the mansion he notices the man doesn't act like he would expect from person whose daughter just got kidnapped. It's suspicious, but he still follows him to listen to whatever he'll have to say.
Judith agrees to follow the old man, though she is a bit surprised when he offers to charter a wagon. Her eyebrows raise further when he reveals a well-kept mansion to be his home. Surely, the entire village could take refuge in there?
For the time being, the Healer waits to hear the full story - or at least this man's version of it.
Thanks Gigi Digi for the avatar.
Willem turns to Illyvion as he removes his hood. "Master CalmoriŽ. I'm flattered that you recognize me. Your reputation precedes you as well, though mostly by name. Your father is a great man. I've studied many of his writings at the Institute. I should like to meet him some d-"
He stops abruptly as Baran chimes in with his insult, then shrugs, deciding that it's best not to stick his foot in his mouth any further.
Willem doesn't know what to make of this group, or the odd old man, but... any opportunity to research new beasts. Besides, he wasn't getting anywhere haggling with the apothecary.
He climbs gingerly into the carriage, carefully arranging his massive collection of supplies so that it doesn't take up too much space, then sits and enjoys the ride.
Willem continues to grow uneasy as they approach the luxurious manor, but the hairs on the back of his neck bristle and perk when the old man chuckles.
"You seem calm for a man who has just lost his daughter." He hooks a thumb around his belt, keeping it close to his weapon, in case something sinister should reveal itself.
Readied Action: Swing that hammer if the old man turns out to not be what he appears.
"Noble pursuit you have, master Kobold. It would appear we'll be working on the same task shortly; by what name should I address you, should we work together?", Illyvion asks Baran, smiling slightly, after Baran's statement.
Illyvion joins the old man in the wagon; he fully trusts his earlier judgment that the man is indeed in trouble and needing help. As he climbs in, he languidly looks around, noticing the others somewhat tense and ready. Just to dissolve unnecessary tension, he asks the old man in a solemn voice: "Sir, there are no uninvolved ears here in the wagon. You have us at a disadvantage; to whom do I have the pleasure of speaking to?"
Knowledge Local - (1d20+9) on this man (using a point of Inspiration for the daily +Factotum Level bonus to a skill), modified as appropriate by his introduction. Does Illyvion know him by reputation or in person, and if so, what does he know of him?
The man is Gomst Ancrath. He is one of if not the richest men in the village, as well as very influential. His wealth and power comes from his owning one of the largest trading caravans in the frontier. It specializes in rare goods and specialty items that other caravans can't seem to ever get a steady supply of. It is also not unheard of for artifacts of the past to appear for trade even if incredibly rarely.
The man turned and plastered a smile on his face. A good attempt made to hide his feelings with pleasantness, but for naught nonetheless. I am sorry, it would seem my manners have escaped me in all this chaos. I am Sir Gomst Ancrath. I do hope you will forgive me, for my rudene... He trailed off at the mention of his demeanor in this situation.
After a moment the old man's eyes steeled and narrow but steady streams of tears began to roll down his cheeks. His voice took on a dangerous edge of sorrow and rage when he next spoke. Sir, it is advised you watch your tongue. I love my daughter, but being the man I am in the position I hold...prolonged outbursts are not a luxury I can afford. They show others where and how to strike me to take me down and ruin not only me, but my house. I must suffer silently, while entrusting my own flesh and blood to strangers ...ask yourself how you would like that? Could you force it down? I think not.
With his rant finished, he shook his head to try and clear it as best he could. His tone softening once again, I am sorry...please let us discuss the task at hand. In the end, it all comes down you either brining her back alive, or proof of her death. For this I will pay you each 5,000 gold pieces. 1,000 up front as a retainer and the rest when you complete the job.
He paused for a moment to let the sum sink in, Before you think me too generous...you must know what it is you face. Atleast a two days ride from here, in the middle of a dense forest lies the remains of a castle. Inside it, is some manner of monster that looks like a man, but is not...of this I assure you. He fancies himself some form of ruler within the world of our enemies...if such a thing exists to their kind. I doubt he will let her go willingly, and he is not the kind to be bought with gold or favors. Do you think you can handle it...or should I look elsewhere?
"Was it once a man? Have you spoken with it? What does it want with your daughter? What is her name? Description? How do you know about the castle? Any known associates of the creature?" Sister Judith speaks professionally and without accusation; she is merely trying to learn relevant facts to use against the creature.
Thanks Gigi Digi for the avatar.
"Describe that guy. What's so strange about him? Why did you mentioned I look like creature who took after your daughter? Does he has some lizardman servant or something? Hope he ain't werelizard or something like that." Baran asks, already calculating what these things could possibly be and what buy for this mission.
Willem eases a bit and tries to look contrite. "My apologies, Sir Ancrath. I spend more time amongst the beasts these days than amongst men, and perhaps have lost some degree of social decorum. I will help you find your daughter."
He sees Baran and Sister Judith begin to interview him with questions, so he decides to stand back and listen, rather than overwhelm the beleaguered man. His own questions can wait...