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"Mr. Cecil, I still need to replace my pack and bedroll and such. I think I saw a basic soldier's kit on the way over. And we should all have some healing potions just in case. After that, I figured we could set up our bunks and hit the chow hall to plan out the return trip."
"Ooh... OK, Wrench, I'll take 10 healing potions. Can you have them ready by the morning? I think I'd like to get an early start." Butch then turns back to the leather tanning booth, "You know, if we're going to be traveling light, I should probably get some light armour. But then again, I'll still have to carry my chainmail so maybe that isn't such a good idea. Hey Mr. Cecil! Look at this! Tents... We could use a couple of these if we're spending time outdoors." Butch continues to ramble on, rooting through the provisions and equipment, eventually he produces quite a stockpile of gear.
"Ayup! That ought do it." He nods assertively at the collected pile.
Pile consists of:
1 Standard Adventurer's kit (Pack, pouch, bedroll, flint/steel, 50' rope, 2 sunrods, 10 days trail rations, waterskin) 15 gp
1 winter blanket 5 sp
2 tents (2 man) 10 gp @ = 20 gp
1 day's worth of firewood 1 cp
2 buckets for water 5 sp @ = 1 gp
1 pack saddle for a mule 5 gp
6 days trail rations (total of 16 people-days) 1 sp@ = 6 sp
3 extra waterskins 1gp @ = 3 gp
Total: 45 gp, 1 sp, 1 cp
Plus another 8 gp for a mule if available
PLEASE chime in with suggestions or comments about the pile. This is based on some potentially faulty assumptions.
"We'll need a mule too, to carry all that, but I'm not sure if any are available. The buckets are for water and so are the skins. Everyone should keep a whole day's worth of water on them. The mule will be drinking quite a bit so we need the extra capacity. I think there are some rivers to refill our supplies but I'm not particularly good at finding them or figuring out if they are safe to drink. In any case, I suspect we can ration out our food and water if we need to cut down on weight."
The quartermaster is very helpful in getting you the supplies you need. He keeps a tally of the items and gives you a bill for 50gp when you are done. He directs you to speak with the head trainer about requisitioning any animals.
As evening approaches soldiers move about the fort's walls as the shifts change and fresh faces stand ready to watch through the night. Those who are coming off duty make their way to the chow hall. The sergeant accompanying you advises that you are welcome to join the men at mess. Cecil addresses the group, "You all go ahead and get some food. I need to go see about contacting the House about the trade route. I'll catch up later. And good job getting the supplies ready Butch. See about getting us some horses or other means of transport and expect to depart no later than the day after tomorrow."
The mess hall smells of sweat and spices mixed with the scent of ale. A musician sings stories of the old days of Galfar as some of the men clap along to the beat. A small line forms to wait for a turn to get a bowl full of liquid and lumps from a large boiling pot. A piece of bread is handed to each man after they have gotten their bowls filled. A row of cups stands by a wooden keg a short ways away from the food. A soldier stands near the keg with a piece of chalk and is busy explaining to another man "No more for you. Two marks is all you get." The tables have plenty of room at them as most of the men have already finished their meals and have left to take care of their evening duties.
Butch swirls his soup around, deep in thought. When Threshkor speaks up, Butch looks up from his soup. "I don't know. I guess its a matter of hurry up and wait. I mean we got the gear for a return trip to Shavalant. But I'm not even sure we're going there. Now Mr. Cecil wants horses and that seems difficult considering we brought the horses here. Its a bit counter productive to take them back. I figure they could spare a mule. Plus, with a mule, that's a good approximation of a trade caravan. That way we could figure out good locations on the route to set up way stations."
Butch starts to rearrange things on the table.
"OK, lets say your bowl is Shavalant with a good supply of food and other supplies. My bowl will represent Orcbone... notice that its half empty. There's some supplies here, but not as much. Now, the soup kettle all the way over there would be the Orien trade road and the big cities to the east. Now for sure, we're not going to be able to get to the kettle, but between us we can share. Now as I figure it, I reckon it would take about four days for a caravan to get from Shavalant to Orcbone. So between the two there should be three waystations set up so that the caravans have a safe place to stay at night."
Butch sets out a few cups between the bowls. Taking Threshkor's mug, he pours a little bit into each cup.
"Now they're all going to need wells, since horses and people get thirsty and water is pretty heavy. So, as the caravan goes from Shavalant to Orcbone, they'll stop and refresh their horses from the wells like so..."
Butch then takes a swig out of each cup, emptying it as he arrives at his own mug.
"Now they're also going to need foodstuff, since that's a bit heavy too. So each station needs to have those supplies as well."
Butch restocks the cups with chunks from the Shavalant bowl.
"So, trade caravans will go through, restocking from each way station. And since the food won't last, they'll periodically cycle it closer to Orcbone, like so..."
Butch then dumps the closest cup into his bowl and then refills that cup with then next closest, continuing until he arrives back at the Shavalant bowl where he takes another chunk for the farthest cup.
"Now that will be fine for a while, but there's also raids from Droaam and local bandits."
Butch scoops up each cup and gulps it down.
"So, you see, we can't just leave the way stations out in the open. They need to be hidden a bit off the beaten path. Or somehow defended."
Butch thinks about the situation a bit, working on his soup. Then he starts in again, "Now here's the nice part. You see, it takes four days for a caravan, BUT a man on light horse could travel about twice the speed. So a courier could make it to the mid station in about one day, taking a midday break at the first station. Then a rider that could see in the dark, like an elf or even someone with a lantern, could continue from there through the night, allowing a message to be delivered in a single day."
Seeing his friend go through a frenzy of explaining a caravban trip while simultaneously being able to steal everyone's food, Threshkor lays his head a little backward and befins to laugh. Staring at Butch while he has his mouth full after the appetite the explaining gave him Threshkor tells him.....
"Truly Butch, There has not been a man alive that is your equal."
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"I think those people didn't grow up with seven brothers and sisters." Butch smirks and then sits back on the bench. "You know, I just went a couple days with only trail rations. I wouldn't exactly call this gluttony. I prefer to think of it as reprovisioning. I mean there's no sense starting out a long journey hungry."
Butch sighs pensively, "I'm still not sure how to get those horses Mr. Cecil wants. They seem to be in big demand here. I think I could get a mule, especially if it means it will be returned with the next supply delivery. Actually, that brings us back to the problem with the bandits. I doubt the locals would attack a military shipment, but if there are Droaamite raiders, they probably would. Anything to hinder the fort."
Butch hesitates when he notices the glares from the rest of the soldiers, "Err... umm... maybe this isn't the best place to discuss that."
As you complete your meal and decide to take your conversation to a less crowded location, a watchman's voice calls out in the near distance, announcing riders approaching.
Two of the remaining soldiers, both nondescript sorts, rise quickly and exit the mess hall, leaving their half-consumed bowls of liquid and lumps behind them. The others continue eating and chatting amongst themselves, one or another casting a sidelong glance in your direction, but generally avoiding anything close to lingering eye contact. Perhaps they're only jealous of the freedom you have to blaze your own trails, while they are resigned to hopping to the beat of their commander's orders.
This intermittent attention is not lost on your own leader, and Cecil remarks in a subdued tone, "I'm thinking it might be a decent idea to follow that sentiment, and take our leave right about now. We have lodgings on offer, so I suggest we take advantage of them. Let's meet in my room in, say, a quarter hour." He assumes you'll find it easily enough, as he doesn't bother to specify its exact location.
With that, Cecil stands fully and provides a curt nod to the lot of you before turning toward the room's main exit. Azmirith also rises to follow Cecil, but the older man pauses politely to usher the masked ninja ahead of him with a lazy sweep of his hand.
At an adjacent table opposite the hall's exit, a trio of fresh, green recruits have apparently taken notice of the mysterious cloaked man. One of the three, a red-headed youth sitting with spoon in hand and chewing whatever it is that forms the lumps in the bowl before him, turns and snickers in Azmirith's direction, before returning his gaze to his two fellows. A few hushed words are conveyed as he leans inward, and the entire table erupts in laughter.
Almost before this, Azmirith stops and turns, his eyes clearly glaring. Cecil, seems caught entirely unawares, and says to him, "Alright, well, I'll be leaving on my own then. Fifteen minutes, eh? I'll be waiting." He steps around Azmirith, essentially ignoring him and heads out the way he'd entered the hall. With a final backhanded wave, he's lost to sight.
So far, the trio of recruits haven't noticed Azmirith's icy stare, apparently being more interested in prolonging the private joke with gestures and additional mirth.
None of you were paying close enough attention to the soldiers around you, save gathering the general feeling that you'd rather be elsewhere to discuss your plans, so none caught the actual words spoken by the recruit, and thus are somewhat Cecil-like in your obliviousness. You do hear the recruits laughing it up, but don't find it unusual, as sporadic laughing has been heard, here and there, in the hall throughout your meal.
For those who can manage a DC15 spot check (please don't read any spoilers you don't qualify for--read 'em in a week, instead; more fun that way):
You catch Azmirith's motions. The laughter nearby and Azmirith's focused glare draw your own eye to the recruits. When you look back to Azmirith, you notice his hands flexing tightly at his sides.
The rest of you are preparing to leave the hall and, presumably, see to meeting up with Cecil.
Last edited by Velvet Elvis : 07-22-2007 at 09:52 PM.
Butch wraps his big meaty arms around Azmirith and Threshkor's shoulders. "Oh this is wonderful. We've got a healer and my friend Azmirith is still hurt from the other day. Oh, I have an idea, why don't you take a look at him, Mr. Threshkor. Just make sure hes fit for duty and all. I'll be right along, I think these fine young lads are interested in the receding nature of the winter snow packs." Giving Threshkor a wink, he urges his companions out the door and gives them an informal salute with his empty bowl in hand.
Reaching down, Butch hefts the bench up and out so he can squeeze in next to the recruits. Chuckling, he starts up a conversation, "That's funny... heh... You know I've seen some redheads from up north. Always talking about the snow..."
Later, Butch rejoins the group at the barracks, licking his lips and rubbing his belly.
Seeing Threshkor work on Azmirith, Butch chuckles lightly. "I guess you just can't get away from healers poking you, eh Azzy? At least it doesn't hurt as bad as Wrench. Well, lets get together in Cecil's room and figure out what we're doing."
Finding Wrench working at the desk, Butch commandeers the bed as a work surface. "OK, good, you're here too, Wrench. Keep working at... well whatever you're working on. Feel free to chime in if you have any suggestions."
Butch nods to Cecil, "If you will indulge me, Sir, I'll review some of the aspects of a trade route between here and Shavalant."
Butch goes through the details he mentioned in the chow hall and then addresses his concerns, "So you see, the way stations would be vulnerable to raiders. Off the top of my head, I'd say the options are: hide or fortify these sites. That may need some significant exploration to find the appropriate sites. Plus we need to deal with water supplies and actually getting permission to use the land."
He ponders some more, "Actually, hiding won't help much against the local bandits. They know the territory better and we wouldn't be able to keep the sites secret. I don't think a full fortification will be cost effective either. That's like putting up three whole forts between here and Shavalant."
Staring at the layout, Butch grunts and starts up again. "Clearly we need to go with the hiding option with locations provided in a need to know basis. Then someone will have to deal with the bandits. As I figure it, the bandits are only bandits because they are desperate and can't get a safer better paying job. So, we need to make the prospect of raiding the way stations less appealing for them. So how can we do that?"
Last edited by Citizen Joe : 07-22-2007 at 08:13 PM.
Meeting up with Butch and the rest of the party Threshkor comes in while he hears Butch talking.
"Well, if we really want people to think that you aren't worth stealing from, I could probably borrow some priest clothes and most of us could go in disguise. There's one problem. I need to figure out some reason for priests to keep a warforged. So what do you think?"
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Butch nods to Threshkor. "I suppose a group of priests wouldn't likely be attacked. But I'm not referring to us. I meant caravans in general. No matter how they are dressed, they'll have carts and horses with them. So there will be obvious value out there on the road. But that can be defended with guard escorts. Plus, they'll be on the move which is a harder target. Just put up a fight and let the caravan blow through. The bandits can't possibly have a deep defense, so once past the front line, its smooth travel. With the prize lost, the bandits wouldn't have anything to stay and fight for. The problem is the immobile camps at the way stations. They're sitting targets and the bandits can just wait for the prize to come to them."
Butch gets a flash of inspiration. "Wait! I got it. Sure, we need to defend the way stations, but who says that needs to be entirely human guards?" He chuckles and continues. "OK lets say we get a barn or some other building built to enclose the cargo. An adjacent building can act as a bunkhouse for the caravan personnel. Around that we'll need a corral and then fence off a certain area. During the day, guard dogs would be kept in the kennels but at night, after the caravans have arrived, the guard dogs patrol the area. They don't need to stop the bandits, just warn the encampment with their baying."
His proud look fades after a moment. "That's still going to be really expensive. Well, unless we find some existing farms that could be leased out for this."
Azmirith seems less than pleased with Butch's intervention, but at both his and Threshkor's urging, he concedes, leaving the table of recruits with a final deadly glare. He remains silent and allows himself to be shuffled out of the mess hall, though he appears less than interested in being touched.
When Butch takes a seat with the recruits, their laughter ceases abruptly. They stare at one another for a few moments before rising to their feet, one tossing his bit of remaining bread into his nearly empty bowl with enough momentum to see it bounce out and land before the man who dared intrude on their private conversation.
However, it seemed more an act of fate than intent, and the three wordlessly pushed away their seats and shouldered their way out of the room. The redhead did pause to throw one glance back at Butch, now left alone at the table, but he said nothing, allowing the half-sneer on his face to speak for itself. The other soldiers in the room took no obvious notice of any of it, and continued as they were.
Content to believe he'd defused a potential conflict, he rises and exits the hall on his way to the rooms provided to the team by the graces of the fort's commander.
Azmirith fidgets under Threshkor's attempted care. "I'm fine," he says rather tersely. The events in the mess hall seemed to bother him still, but at least he seemed less likely to bite. A bit less. At Butch's lighthearted remark, Azmirith only grunts what could be taken as his agreement.
When you see the time's come to visit Cecil, whose room is conveniently placed across the hall from your own, you find that your raps upon the door go unanswered.
"I don't think he's back yet... Mr. Cecil should be back soon though." Butch leans against the doorjamb. "You guys get the feeling people don't like us? I've tried to be courteous and professional, but its like I sprouted a second head or something."
Setting aside his crafts for the moment, so the group could speak, Wrench offers his input.
"Unless there is a highly regimented chain of command, bandit groups usually have a single leader. Take him out and the rest of the group scatters, until a new leader can be found, usually one who's less competent than the first., or they join the ranks of some other group in another part of the land. Not a permanent solution, but an effective deterrent. Few people want to be the leader, if they know assassins will be sent after them.
During the period of disorganization, fortify as needed, and maintain vigilance."
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"Hmm... That's true. Basically a bounty system. But that still implies an organized group of bandits. I mean what if its just a bunch of disorganized malcontents? Or if they're organized into small cells? Definitely need more information. I mean, I knew about the bandits, but I haven't heard anything about an charismatic leader. All I know is the sheriff's been sent out repeatedly in posse's to ferret out the bandits. Still nothing though."
Butch sucks on his teeth and then sighs.
"You know, the worst part about this is, if the bandits are removed, there wouldn't be any reason to have the way stations. But the way stations would just be a target for the bandits."
While you mill about the door, chatting about future plans, Cecil's familiar voice is heard down the hall. "Ahh, good, you're here. Sorry for not managing to be on time for my own meeting," he says with something akin to a serious chuckle.
You make room for him as he reaches the door, and turns the knob, throwing it open to reveal a room much like your own, but with only one bed.
"You boys should've just gone in. Let's go, I have something of interest to discuss with you. It explains why I was late, too." He slips in between you and heads inside, pushing a freestanding round table into the center of the room. There's only one chair available, but Cecil doesn't bother to sit.
As you file inside, you see him move a few small objects from other locations onto the table, then he produces a parchment from a pocket and unfurls it upon the tabletop, using the objects to secure the corners. You can easily see that it is a map.
"First, gentlemen, the reason why I was late is because I was called in to see Lord ir'Tajar. Seems the riders that had just arrived weren't the ones that were sent out for us--they're expected back in a while. These riders were coming up from the south, scouts that keep tabs on the area between here and Graywall." He seems fairly animated at this point, and waves you all to come closer.
When he's satisfied you're paying attention, with a slightly wrinkled index finger, he points to a spot on the map. "Alright, here's Graywall, a rather sizable city just northwest of the Graywall range, about two-hundred miles, or so, from here." His finger slides down and to the right. "These are the Graywall mountains." The tip of his finger taps a point between two peaks, and he adds, "And here...this is the point of importance."
He looks up briefly, then back down. "Those riders were passing along some information to the fort, about a sighting the Graywall watch had witnessed in that area." He taps the point of importance again. "Seems they've seen an airship disappear down into the valley right about there, and have gotten confirmation that it wasn't due to malfunction, but an attack of some sort, from the ground. Now, I wasn't made privvy to all the details; ir'Tajar was a bit tightlipped on some of it, but we've been offered another job. One he claims is of great importance. If I were to make a judgment, I'd say he was quite serious about it, too."
At this point, he takes the one available seat, sets his hands on the armrests and asks, "Any questions before I go on? I realize, Butch, that you're keen on setting up this waypoint system, and I wouldn't want to drag you away from it if it's important enough to you to deal with immediately. I'm not sure what the rest of you had in mind to do at this point. I will say, though, that this would be a prestige job as well as just another source of gold, and could lead to bigger and better opportunities for us all. And before you ask, yes, there is a reward attached, though here again, ir'Tajar wasn't very forthcoming. He just said that if we're successful, we'll be quite pleased with the returns." Cecil finally settles down and provides you an actual chance to voice your opinions.
Cecil nodded. "It's possible. Graywall itself, so far as I would guess, wasn't tossing out this information. I would imagine it was relayed via some infiltrating agency to our riders. If you'll notice where the airship was seen to go down..." He points again, at the spot between the peaks, and his words trail off, leadingly.
You look again at the indicated point on the map and realize that while the Graywalls, as a whole, are divided territory, the airship's presumed crash site is in Breland.
Cecil notices your expression, and says, "Exactly. Our territory. Lord ir'Tajar did mention that he had sent a rider to Castle Arakhain to see if they had any further information. He noted that should we accept this task, he will brief those of us involved in further detail."
Last edited by Velvet Elvis : 07-23-2007 at 03:41 PM.