2. The Road Less Travelled.   Posted by ~Jaguar.Group: public
~Jaguar
 GM, 85 posts
 Weaver of tales
 Master of destiny
Sat 22 Jul 2017
at 01:06
Re: 2. The Road Less Travelled
No one followed Ginny as she made her way into the grass, even Ciara. It was easy enough to follow the half-orc's tracks, though. He had been in too much of a hurry and frenzy to worry about covering his movements, at least to start with, so the broken grass blades were simple enough to follow. The rustle of the grass moving echoed around her as a breeze started to blow in the late afternoon.



****

With the main group, Ciara ventured her concerns about the camping location, and the Dwarven cleric agreed with her.

"Aye, but we need to move quickly if that's the case." Brumli replied, "We're losing valuable daylight."

"I may have a solution." Naomi piped up.

Ciara, Brumli and others stared at the nymph who, until now, had rarely spoken a word during their trip so far. It was like they'd forgotten she was even with them.

"What is it lassie?" Brumli coaxed.

Naomi, as slight as she was to begin with, seemed to try and shrink herself even smaller when she realised that all the attention was now on her. She paused for a moment, before continuing.

"There's a river - or some form of water, anyway - not far inside the forest. I would be able to find it easily enough as we get closer. Perhaps I and someone else can go and find a place to make camp, and the rest can wait here for Guinevere and Xochil to return?"
Xochil
 player, 61 posts
Sat 22 Jul 2017
at 05:56
Re: 2. The Road Less Travelled
Watching Ginny heading into the grasses, undoubtedly following his route away from the road, Xochil scowled and cursed softly. He took a look at where he'd moved most recently, considering it critically; minimal evidence, but if he could detect it, she might be able to as well.

Annoyed, now, he checked on her progress, then relocated himself again, this time picking his path with the awareness someone might definitely attempt to track him. The tall grasses were both helpful and not in this, as he could move fairly easily without being seen -- but it was hard to choose a path that wouldn't leave evidence.

Ultimately, it all depended on how good she was at tracking, and how far she'd pursue the matter. Maybe she'd give up before it became an issue.

Either way, he had no intention of letting her actually reach him. If it looked like she could, and would, keep after him, he'd have to give up on his gear and go. To that end, he picked out a course of retreat that should keep him safely concealed long enough to get out of bowshot, once he'd found a new vantage point.

Then he settled in to watch. Maybe he'd talk to her, if it seemed likely she could track well enough to follow when he was being careful. Or maybe that would just be his clue to give up and go, before she ever even knew she was close.
Ciara Rubeir
 Player, 49 posts
Sat 22 Jul 2017
at 14:04
Re: 2. The Road Less Travelled
Ciara forced herself not to stare mouth agape at the fact that Naomi had said something. She quickly recovered from her surprise and listened, nodding her agreement.

"That sounds like a great idea, but let's get most of us going there, and then we can start making camp rather than waiting for everyone else to come by. Astrid, Maud, James, how about you guys come too. Brumli, Owen, are you happy to wait here for Ginny - and maybe Xochil - and we'll reconnect down the path a ways. No point all of us sitting here waiting for gods know how long, and potentially having to camp here."

A mischievous grin flashed across her lips and she stepped across to where Xochil's pack still rested, and picked it up, hoisting it over one shoulder.

"Oi, Xochil!" She yelled, "If you want your pack you'd better come camp out with us tonight. Otherwise, if I find anything valuable I'm selling it the first chance I get!"

With that, she started off toward the forest.

"Come on Naomi, let's let Larek... Where the hell is Larek?"

Sure enough, the orc who had been urgent to leave already was out of sight. Ciara rolled her eyes, and again wondered if she'd made the right decision in joining this mission.

"Rufus owes me good when this is over." She murmured under her breath, "Come on guys, let's go."
Astrid Daleborn
 player, 86 posts
 Human
 Paladin
Sat 22 Jul 2017
at 21:31
Re: 2. The Road Less Travelled
Astrid stretched her neck and looked around the area for a little bit. She was worried about Xochil, both for the little man's safety and for the danger of leaving someone like him on the loose. As the others debated setting the camp though, she elected to sigh and agree with them. They would have to make camp anyway, and she figured that her time would be better spent on that than trying to track the boy. Ginny seemed quite the competent huntress, so that job was probably better left to her. She sighed  and nodded. "Aye...I suppose we should try and make camp." She winced just a tiny bit and wiped her brow as she got ready to get going again. Contrary to what many thought about heavy armor, the weight was not terribly burdensome. It was actually the heat that was the danger. And between all of the fighting and walking she was starting to feel it. Mayhaps setting camp would be for the best. She frowned a tiny bit at Ciara's joke about stealing Xochil's belongings...but it hardly even seemed like a bad idea at this point. She started walking with the others, wiping her brow as they moved forward.

"Hm...I am not certain where our orcish companion ran off to...hopefully he'll meet up back with us soon." As she started walking she went through the old motions and stretches, trying to loosen the tension in her muscles that always came with battle. "But setting up camp for the night seems lovely. It will be good to rest after such a long day of travel and fighting." She certainly was looking forward to the rest, and she started to get a bit more of a spring in her step as she moved forward. "We've certainly had an exciting day...but we should make sure to set a watch for the night. We have no idea what's out there..." While Astrid was an excitable sort...she could be practical when she needed to be.
Maudeline Black
 player, 81 posts
Sun 23 Jul 2017
at 10:11
Re: 2. The Road Less Travelled
Maudeline followed Ciara eagerly, glad to be moving on towards their resting place for the evening. With all the excitement she had forgotten for a moment how sore her feet were. She wasn't used to walking this much. The young mage hardly dared think about tomorrow - she hardly thought a night's rest would fix both her feet and the magic burn. But apparently that was the price to pay of being an adventurer: if the others could do it without complaining, she was sure she could too.

"Perhaps it's best if I take first watch then," she said faintly. "I think that once I'm asleep it's going to be hard to wake me up."

She hurried forward until she was walking besides Ciara and asked softly: "What kind of creature do you think it was, that summoned beast? Do you think anybody knows of our mission and is after us, or do you think it was an unfortunate accident, too?"

Ciara had seen a lot in her short life. She would probably know what to make of it all.
Ciara Rubeir
 Player, 50 posts
Sun 23 Jul 2017
at 22:37
Re: 2. The Road Less Travelled
"He was a grumpy bastard anyway." Ciara said, a grin flashing across toward Astrid about the disappearing orc.

She too, was looking forward to what she hoped would be a peaceful night. They were still far enough inside the Estrana border that there was probably little risk to their safety, but that wasn't a reason to abandon the basic safety and security measures.

Following Naomi, the slight water nymph into the forest, what sunlight was available faded heavily. They could still see well enough, but the shadows darkened their surroundings heavily. They were only a short way in, though, when the sound of babbling water could be heard nearby.

The road itself curved sharply to the left here, but Naomi, instead, continued straight ahead. It wasn't a non-existent path she moved into, rather a small animal trail. Ciara kept note of the surrounding scenery if the need ever came to rediscover this place, noticing a particularly gnarled tree that stood out well enough on the inside of the bend in the road.

Naomi didn't lead them more than maybe fifty metres from the main road before a small clearing opened up along the side of a creek. The flow was not heavy at this time, leaving silt flats on either side of the river bank and then enough space of grass available to pitch tents and set up a small camp site.

"I think we can afford to let you sleep through tonight after your day's efforts." She said to Maud, shooting an additional glance that suggested they'd talk later about the beast and the mission. "If we set a three-watch shift, then I'm thinking maybe Hawk, Astrid and myself tonight?"

Her eyes shifted toward the Paladin. She wasn't sure how much experience on the road the younger woman had, but she certainly seemed capable enough with weapons in hand.
James Alexander
 player, 66 posts
 Mage for Hire
 Adviser In-Training
Sun 23 Jul 2017
at 23:03
Re: 2. The Road Less Travelled
James did not comment on Xochil or Larek's disappearance. His disposition was quickly becoming one of racial bias, particularly against those of Orcish blood. To date, they had not proven to be welcoming allies or trustworthy companions. Perhaps that is why their society is the way that it is currently?

Who could tell? It was most likely more nuance and complex than what James could glean from having only interacted with two people. Perhaps he was too quick to pass judgment on the entire race. That aside his opinion of nymphs was now positive as Naomi led them to a suitable clearing near a source of fresh water.

When Ciara began discussing watch rotations, James decided to offer his expertise.

"I am not skilled in practical magic but I am a master ritualist. If you would allow me I can ward our campsite for the night. I would only require a campfire."
Astrid Daleborn
 player, 87 posts
 Human
 Paladin
Mon 24 Jul 2017
at 02:56
Re: 2. The Road Less Travelled
Astrid frowned a little bit when James offered to make a ritual to protect the camp. She was a bit wary of magic, especially given the stories from her mentor about how many dangers to the world had originated from wayward or idiotic mages. Still though, she figured that such a ritual would probably help them quite a bit, and she nodded in response. "I think that setting up that ritual would probably be for the best James. And we'll definitely set up a campfire anyway..." She said, not wanting to sleep completely in the dark on a night like this. They had already run into a demon...heavens knew what else they might run into. As the sun started to fall down she winced a little bit too though, feeling the goosebumps crawling up her skin. Ever since she had become a Paladin of Rauna, the dark of night perturbed her more. The grace of the goddess was to be felt on her skin and seen with her eyes, not lost to the moon and the darkness. But that was just the nature of this world. Even Rauna needed her rest.

The paladin yawned slightly as they kept walking, the sweat oozing its way through her armor. That was something she'd gotten used to, but never enjoyed. She looked through the clearing for a little bit, mumbling to herself and trying to see if there would be any breaches or dangers in their defenses for the night. She did not want to trust only a mystical ritual for the night. "And I agree to your three part shift Ciara." She said, stretching her neck before blushing a little bit. This part was always embarrassing. "I um, have a favor to ask if that's alright though." The girl gulped a tiny bit again. "I would like to request the last watch if that's possible." She knew that the last and first watches were the ones that people wanted most...it was the best sleep one could get. Normally Astrid considered herself quite self-sacrificing, and would never ask for such a luxury. But she had her reasons. "I need to do my morning prayers at the light of dawn, to welcome Rauna's light into the world." She bowed politely. "In return I shall work my hardest on the camp preparations! I can pitch someone else's tent for them if they wish."
Ginny Hawk
 player, 57 posts
Tue 25 Jul 2017
at 06:38
Re: 2. The Road Less Travelled
Ginny moved silently through the grass, much more used to the outdoors than the city life. As much as her name was renowned, she still didn't like big cities. There was just too many...people. It wasn't that hard to listen to where the others were headed. Besides, she could just follow their trail as well. For now, it was Xochil she was looking for. She didn't want to spook him, so rather than stalk him like she was currently doing, Ginny stood straighter and hopefully, less threateningly.

"Come on Xoch. I just want to talk. I know you can hear me.. You can't have bolted that far without your stuff." She took a moment to unstring her bow and carefully sling it over her shoulder. Maybe if she wasn't armed, he's show himself. It's not to say she wasn't armed, but she didn't look armed. Which was half the battle sometimes.

"What do you have against Gules anyway? So you're a shrimpy half-breed. I'm a human. It's almost as bad. Let me teach you how to fight and grow a backbone. Use the lay of the surroundings to get an advantage over your foes." Looking for a half-orc through the bushes.

Eh...I could be doing worse things
But it was also getting late. And this was getting old. Quickly. It was like traveling with quarreling children. ...Like Astrid. She couldn't even be in her twenties yet, if Ginny had to guess.
Xochil
 player, 62 posts
Tue 25 Jul 2017
at 09:39
Re: 2. The Road Less Travelled
As Ginny started moving his way, Xochil scowled when he saw, back on the road, Ciara pick up his pack. As her words reached him, he growled deep in his chest. As if his life was worth anything in that pack!

He growled again as she walked off with it though, because he'd really hoped they'd just ignore it. It would take him weeks to replace it all. No way to avoid it now, gods curse them.

Shifting his full attention to the archer as she gradually drew closer, he waited for her to reach the point where he'd stopped to watch the fight with the two-headed dog. She'd actually stopped short of there, though, when she called out to him. Oddly enough, she unstrung her bow as she talked. So what was that about? Planning to give him a headstart, if she sighted him?

It was clear from what she said that she didn't understand orcs at all; a small human woman was hardly unusual -- but the key there was human. Different standards. And keeping his backbone intact was what he was doing right now. Knowing how to fight -- and when -- was why he'd managed to live this long.

The comment about using his surroundings to gain advantage made him huff; he was doing pretty well with that right now, hey?

She was still a fair distance away, far enough that he could easily move again without being obvious, so he called back, "Yer human. You ain't 'spected t' be good as an orc!" She wasn't even big enough to be considered good breeding material. None of the women in this group were.

He didn't see any point in rehashing why he didn't want to go to Gules; he'd covered that last night -- told her again this morning -- and it hadn't mattered. It wouldn't matter now, either. Besides, it wasn't orcs that had attacked him out there on the road just now!

Which made him angry, thinking of that kind of base treachery. "You could hav' just said, if'n you didn't wants me along, 'stead of lurin' me out here an' attackin'! Worse'n orcs, you are, fer doin' that!" Orcs wouldn't have sneaked around like that, not before the first blow was even struck.

"You can leave my pack fer me 'er not, ain't nothin' innit I gots t' hav', but I ain't givin' you anoth'r chance at killin' me!"
Ciara Rubeir
 Player, 51 posts
Wed 26 Jul 2017
at 00:03
Re: 2. The Road Less Travelled
When James offered to ward the camp, Ciara hesitated for just a moment long enough to be noticeable. She far from being the most arcanaphobic person in Eugios, but given the day they'd had, a part of her wasn't quite sure whether she wanted to tempt fate further.

Then Astrid spoke up and agreed with James, and Ciara chose not to say anything. The reality was that yes, they were better off with the additional protection, and so she let her concerns give way to her common sense, nodding her ultimate acceptance of the plan as well.

Perhaps surprisingly, she didn't argue Astrid's request for the last watch of the night.

"That sounds good to me. I actually tend to be happy with the deep watch. Not sure why, but for some reason my body likes to sleep in two parts anyway, so it works. Maybe just wake someone before you start your prayers though - I've seen you religious types before, you can be pretty unaware of your surroundings when you get into it with your god."

She flashed a grin to soften the comment. It wasn't meant to be an insult, in truth she sometimes envied people with faith and the hope they often took from their belief that some higher power was looking after their needs.

"Actually - grab Owen. I'll tell him later that it's happening, he's green but he's going to need to pull his weight around here, so it'll be good for him to get used to the idea of taking watch."
James Alexander
 player, 67 posts
 Mage for Hire
 Adviser In-Training
Wed 26 Jul 2017
at 15:24
Re: 2. The Road Less Travelled
With the groups approval, James set out to setting up the ward around the campground. Traditioanlly a ward of this caliber would take him a matter of minutes, the most complicated portion being the sheer size of the ward. That, however, was when he had the use of his good arm and ritual components. Out in the field he found ritual work much more labor intensive but oddly satisfying.

Ultimately the ward was simple. A warding circle was drawn on the outer perimeter. This was to filter out any magical interference that would affect the ward and hopefully prevent any accidental summonings. It wouldn't serve to actually stop anything but he could prevent it from being casually destroyed by reinforcing the ward with written druidic invocations, anchoring the markings to the ground. As he worked he cursed the ancient druids for their overly complex written language or perhaps he should be blaming the spirits that they learned it from. All the same it was tedious.

Once that was down he drew a large double walled triangle with a circle at each point.

"Please build the fire in the top circle."

He continued to work, anchoring the triangle with a mound of dirt and his own waterskin. Finally, within the space of the triangle he wrote out the actual wards, opting for a simple barrier given time constraints.

"The outer ring will keep our scrying magic as well as any sympathetic magics. It can't be erased easily but I wouldn't put too much stock in it stopping anything truly powerful. The inner triangle is empowered by the elemental energies around us with the campfire serving as a wardflame. If something tries to bring the line the fire should grow to twice its height and flash green; that will be the only warning we will get. Outside of that as long as you stay inside the triangle we should be protected by an air barrier but again anything of significant power will shatter the barrier."

He looked to Astrid

"I can't block out divine intervention so you shouldn't have issue reaching Rauna with your prayers. The same goes for her enemies."

He turned his attention to the group as a whole.

"Also this won't protect us against spiritual assaults such as oneiromancers and curses."

With that he was exhausted and took a seat on the ground.
Astrid Daleborn
 player, 89 posts
 Human
 Paladin
Thu 27 Jul 2017
at 22:01
Re: 2. The Road Less Travelled
Astrid's face was still a bit flushed even as Ciara (surprisingly without argument) agreed to Astrid's request for an ideal watch position. She supposed it was not too ridiculous of a request, but she had expected to have to pay for it with extra work or some sort of honorable service. That was the way these things usually went after all. At least from what she'd heard. Then again, maybe it was the difference between a more military or chivalrous environment compared to this one? Regardless she frowned at the moment that she insulted the prayers. "Do not worry Ciara. I am a paladin, not some cloistered priestess. I would be dead a dozen times over if I were not able to maintain my vigilance during my prayers. You have nothing to worry about!" Her words were said with that sort of strange forthrightness that only the youthful could show.

Either way Astrid was thankful that she could handle her morning prayers, and she would work her hardest to help the group. Earnest as usual, she was the first to collect the stones and wood for the fire, and would help pitch everybody's tents as quickly as she could. After she'd helped the others, she would let out a somewhat improper sigh of relief as she removed her armor, taking a few moments to bathe once the others were not occupied. Then, for as long as she had sunlight, she would carefully clean, oil, and maintain her armor. Her armor had saved her life today, and she praised Rauna for even being alive to clean it.

When it came to James's more magical preparations, she was much more shy however. She was inexperienced with arcane magic, and suspicious of it besides. She breathed a sigh of relief when he said it would not block her divine powers before smiling. "It is only correct. There is no way that mere mortal sorcery could block the power of the gods! Especially mighty Rauna." She said with a hint of superiority. "And I suppose I'll have to watch out for those, erm, one-ee-ro people." She had no idea what he was taking about.
Ciara Rubeir
 Player, 52 posts
Tue 1 Aug 2017
at 05:48
Re: 2. The Road Less Travelled
Ciara was visibly taken aback at Astrid's passionate response to her comment about praying, and impressed herself as she managed to hold in the smirk that was trying to break out as she was chided.

"My apologies, I didn't mean to offend. We can get Owen to sit with Ginny tonight instead - he's her project, after all."

She watched with interest as James unfolded the ritual of protection over their campsite, not distracting him. Finishing, he explained all that it would do.

"So is it going to harm us as we go out, or when the others get here and try to come in?" She asked.
James Alexander
 player, 69 posts
 Mage for Hire
 Adviser In-Training
Tue 1 Aug 2017
at 15:31
Re: 2. The Road Less Travelled
James looked to Astrid as she attempted to say oneiromancer and let out a slight sigh.

"Dream mages."

He then looked to Ciara.

"I've made the Ward to permit you all but deny everyone else. You shouldn't have any issues moving through them."
Maudeline Black
 player, 85 posts
Tue 1 Aug 2017
at 21:20
Re: 2. The Road Less Travelled
However badly Maudeline wanted to pull her weight and prove her worth to the group, she felt a sharp tug of relief when Ciara told her to skip keeping watch for today. She shot her friend a grateful glance.

When James made the ritual circle she tried to take in what he was doing exactly but it was hard to focus. Instead, she occupied herself with helping Astrid to gather dry branches. She lit the fire clumsily as per James' instructions and then settled down close to it, drawing in her knees under her skirt. She rummaged around in her leather bag until she found her most recent notebook and started scribbling down some preliminary notes regarding her use of magic and the transference of it to Xochil.

Then she retrieved one of the many loose, thin papers she kept in her notebook and started writing more earnestly. She drew her lips together and a small frown appeared on her face.

Dearest mother,

My apologies for not writing sooner. I have been preoccupied with an important task that's been imparted upon me these last few days. I am sorry to say that I cannot elaborate regarding the specifics of this mission yet, but I assure you that you would most certainly approve.


Would she approve? Of the mission, yes. Of the company, not so much.

As to my own role in it, we shall have to see. I travel with mixed company, each bringing their own expertise and broadening my horizon as I travel with them.

She considered telling her mother more about her new friends, but she didn't think Vivendel would approve of any of them, except maybe Astrid because she was loud and confident and nothing like Maudeline in any way.

My own work has been progressing steadily. I know you thought the first chapter of my thesis was crude and missed some vital points regarding symbolical and at times nearly subliminal imagery used to invoke an otherworldly impression of Ifenor specifically in Yasean artwork. You are, of course, completely correct. Thank you for your valuable insights. I have

Maudeline paused for a moment, hesitant about even including this. Would she seem combative or too proud? Still, her mother always insisted on her needing the guidance of scholars to improve upon her work.

I have sent a few of my chapters and some notes to doctor Elsath, you might remember her from my earlier letters? She was kind enough to write a letter of encouragement and invited me to visit her this coming summer to further discuss the topic. She wrote that she thinks there is a possibility of publishing my work in the future. Can you imagine?

She bit her lip and scratched through the last two lines. She would rewrite the letter later. Her handwriting was a little too shaky for comfort now anyway.

I hope to be able to be done with my task in time to visit her. As you say, I am sorely in need of continued education. On the topic of which, I have been practicing my magic with one of my companions, a kind-

Scratch.

an intelligent, honourable-

Scratch.

a friendly

Noooooo. She blotted out that word as well . She wasn't going to make the same mistake again as with Ciara. When she'd told her mother she was traveling with a 'seasoned swashbuckler and fast friend', she'd received a four-page letter from her about how her choice of company would reflect badly on her and a neatly copied out essay by some long-dead philosopher about how moral corruption was contagious to even the purest of souls. Maudeline had seen it fit to accidentally tip both the letter and essay overboard while they were traveling to Kishire. She still felt a bit bad about wasting the paper like that.

with one of my companions, who is knowledgeable on the subject and has been patient with my many failings. I know you would prefer for me to spend my time on tasks I'm more suited for, but I'm excited to be making progress.

I hope this letter finds you well. It was pleasing to hear that there has been a rise in admissions to the school and that so many more young women from good families are finding their way there. If you have the inclination, I'd love to hear what you're working on next now that you're done editing
An Abridged History of Political Strife in the Unbound Lands.

Your loving daughter,
Maudeline Black


After she was done she leaned back and read over her work, stretching her aching fingers. She would hand it over to someone traveling vaguely in the direction of her hometown next time they would stop in a town.

This message was last edited by the player at 22:22, Tue 01 Aug 2017.

Ginny Hawk
 player, 63 posts
Wed 2 Aug 2017
at 02:23
Re: 2. The Road Less Travelled
In reply to Xochil (msg # 103):

"Me? I didn't do shit. If I'd wanted to kill you, You'd be dead by now." Ginny hated when she was lumped in with 'everyone else'. It was a pet peeve. Really. She could have shot him through the throat at least a half dozen times in the Tavern alone.

Everyone else would have torn her apart, but those are unnecessary details. "You're right though. I'm not expected to be like an orc." While that was true, He left out a whole slew of details. "Then again. I'm a woman. What could I possibly know of being being belittled for my craft and being bullied by force?" She rolled her eyes both physically, and in her tone of voice.

It was a constant uphill battle she chose to fight because she liked what she did. Adventuring called to Guinevere like a fish to water. Unfortunately, the rest of the world, or at least most of it, felt to tell her she didn't belong in this world. Had to stay home. Rear children. Even to go so far as to send her on a dummy mission against mages. More than one.

"You know what happened, right? Maud went unconscious, the other mage went to catch her, you jumped like a scared kitten in a pit of vipers, lashed out and got him with one of your knives. Ciara grabbed you to calm you down, and you ran for the bloody hills. So yeah, It's all your fault you're in this mess to begin with. So calm yourself." Did he really black out memories when he got skittish? That'd be a whole new level of cowardice that Gin had never seen before.
Xochil
 player, 66 posts
Wed 2 Aug 2017
at 05:04
Re: 2. The Road Less Travelled
Xochil frowned at the Hawk's words. He had no idea what being a woman and being bullied or belittled had to do with anything. He wasn't even sure what "belittling" was... unless it was something mages did to you?

Still didn't make sense. Nor matter, as far as he could tell.

"If that orc gots knifed when he tried t' jump me, then he gots what he earned -- 'cause if I'd attacked him, he'd be dead."
Or bleeding out. His knives went where he threw them nowadays, almost always.

"An' ain't nobody allowed t' grab me! I wasn't the one attackin' someone else, an' I'm damned well gonna defend myself if'n I gets attacked!"
If they thought otherwise... Xochil shivered, holding his painfully throbbing arm close, but suddenly hurting even worse inside.

If they thought he wasn't entitled to defend himself, they weren't safe to travel with here, in human lands. And if they weren't safe here, they'd rutting well get him killed in Gules. Probably just stand by and watch the orcs cut him down.

Xochil shivered again. Shock, he told himself. That was what it was. Nothing to do with the hurt in his chest. If the Hawk was telling the truth -- and why wouldn't she be, given the lot of them thought so little of him, not being either entirely human or orc -- then Ciara was the one who'd broken his arm.

He'd thought she was a pretty decent person. It put her confiscating his gear into a whole new, ugly light: She'd been gloating. He wasn't ever getting it back.

Another shiver, a worse one, but at least he knew where he stood, now. Time to go, before shock made him sloppy and he ended up dead for it. "Just go," he called to the archer. The shivering made his voice shaky, too. "You thinks it's alright t' attack me and steal my things, I gots no need fer any of you! I'm done wi' you."

He moved then, along the route of escape he'd already picked out. Mindful of the way shock could mess with his thinking, he concentrated hard on what he was doing: don't make the grass wave; stay low, so even if the grass thinned, he'd be down where it was densest; keep his weight on the bits of earth, so he didn't crush the grass; move slowly enough to be quiet....

Once he'd gained some distance -- and the Hawk left, which shouldn't take long, impatient as she was -- he could sit and rest until the light-headedness and the shaking went away. Then he could double back to the road to get his missing knives. He was going to need everything he could still lay hands on, with a bad arm and no supplies.
~Jaguar
 GM, 96 posts
 Weaver of tales
 Master of destiny
Thu 3 Aug 2017
at 09:19
Re: 2. The Road Less Travelled
In the end, with it becoming obvious that Xochil wasn't going to listen to Ginny's reason, the huntress was left with little choice but to return to the group. Daylight was becoming an issue now, and both Brumli and Owen had their own looks of relief on their faces when she finally emerged from the grass.

"No luck, 'ey?" Brumli asked, it didn't need answering.

A little while later, and the remaining party were sitting around the campfire. Naomi had provided them with some purification over the water gathered from the river, and also been able to help them in catching several fish to enjoy for dinner. At one point in the evening, Brumli produced a wooden flagon, and after giving it a shake and murmuring a dwarven word, it was filled with ale, which he leaned back against a tree and consumed silently.

Ciara had produced a map, and rolled it out on the ground near enough to the flames to provide light, far enough to be free of sparks.

"There's two main roads that will get us to Osraco," She said, "But one goes through the heart of Gules, and then into Cainadel, and will probably take us an extra three or four days to get to our destination. My thought is that we travel along the border of Shazia, stopping in at the military outposts on the way. From the southernmost outpost it's ten days or so to the village of Sharnwick - nice little place, I've stayed there once before. It has a good inn."


She was gesturing over the map with her finger, tracing a trail almost directly south from where they were, to the Hammerthrone Mountains, suggesting a route that travelled through the foothills of the mountains to the border of Awrarene and Cainadel.

"Only thing is it finishes off with four days or so in the Great Forest. Shouldn't be an issue but they do have their fair share of bandits down there. We'd miss it if we went through Cainadel, and instead have a nice journey down the coast, but..."


She trailed off. They all knew they were on a time crunch, so the likely path was the fastest path, and whatever danger there might have been from bandits in the forest, they were going to deal with just as much - or worse - trying to make their way through Gules.

Truth be told, most orcs in Gules were indifferent to other travellers. They still needed the trade to be able to survive as a species, and over generations, they had almost learned to become civil with their non-human neighbours. That didn't stop the odd traveller, though, being eaten by a hungry group of orcs who just came upon them at the wrong time.
Astrid Daleborn
 player, 92 posts
 Human
 Paladin
Thu 3 Aug 2017
at 12:34
Re: 2. The Road Less Travelled
Needless to say, Astrid was as cheerful as always as they ate dinner around the campfire. She ate voraciously, happily thanking Naomi for the fish. She wondered if nymphs usually ate fish like that, it seemed almost too mundane for such mysterious creatures. But, regardless, she was happy and helpful for most of the night. She did sour a bit when she saw Ginny return, and without Xochil. She could not necessarily say she was surprised that the madman would not stay with the group, but she was certainly disappointed. She had hope that he might be able to see reason. Instead she just sighed a bit. "I'm sorry Ginny. I guess he couldn't see reason on this..." She said somewhat sadly. She didn't know if Xochil was dead or not...but he wasn't their problem anymore. Hopefully anyway. It was sad to think that they might have lost one of their number so early, even if it was due to the man's mental frailties rather than the dangers of the trip. She said a passing prayer for him though.

Astrid seemed almost uncharacteristically nervous about the route they were taking. She muttered to herself as it was all pointed out. The words were inaudible, but her fingers were shaking as she did it. She gulped a little bit and shook her head before smiling. "Right! I agree that we should take the fastest route." She said with a nod before frowning again, considering Ciara's words. "We don't' know how long it will be before the princess faces danger, and I'd rather get there sooner than later. We should be um, careful with Chadwick though." She said with a nod. She didn't seem to offer any reasons for it just yet though. "And dropping by the military outposts for supplies seems like a good bet. We can probably get what we'll need there." She grinned again. "As for the bandits...well, I am not afraid of any bandits. And we have a quite skilled band here anyhow."
Maudeline Black
 player, 87 posts
Fri 4 Aug 2017
at 20:39
Re: 2. The Road Less Travelled
Maudeline was saddened to see Ginny return on her own. She didn't quite understand what was wrong with Xochil and why he hadn't wanted to travel with them anymore, but they could hardly force them, could they? Still, she hoped he was alright. Maybe he just needed some time to cool off and would join them again later. One could hope.

She munched quietly on the grilled fish Naomi had so kindly supplied and was ready to call it a night, but of course Ciara was already preparing for the next leg of her journey. She craned her neck to follow Ciara's gesturing. When she mentioned Cainadel, Maudeline felt a tight squeeze in her stomach. Oddly enough, the thought of going home often made her feel that way, even though she wasn't sure why. She hadn't seen her mother in too long and it would be great to catch up and see her childhood home again. The squeeze in her stomach turned into a knot. Super great.

"I have family down in Cainadel," she offered. After a few moments of silence on her side, she realised that this information was probably not useful to the others in itself. "We'd have a safe place to stay for at least a day or so if we went that way. B-but I agree that speed is p-paramount."
Ginny Hawk
 player, 65 posts
Sat 5 Aug 2017
at 05:17
Re: 2. The Road Less Travelled
Gin emerged from the grass, somewhat frustrated. Now she had a half-orc to look out for. He could be nothing, he could be anything. He could just flap his lips at the wrong crowd. Either way, even if it's stupidity, he was a dangerous man. And one that wasn't one to listen to reason. She shook her head at Brumli with closed eyes.

"Just leave his things on the road. We don't need them." And they didn't need a reason for him to want to follow and or harm them either.

But the others didn't need to know that second part.

"Xochil just has a different perspective on life. That's all it is. When everyone's attacked you all your life, it's hard to break the habit. That being said, I'll kill him if he puts us in danger." She sounded indifferent and firm about it. A professional as it were.

"We should go the fastest route though. There could be bandits the other way too. The only thing we know for sure is the route itself is shorter. A high or low chance of hitting bandits is still only a chance."
Ciara Rubeir
 Player, 53 posts
Sat 5 Aug 2017
at 05:28
Re: 2. The Road Less Travelled
"Honestly, now that I've seen him in action, I'm not sure how the mind reader got the idea that he'd be a good one for this mission." Ciara added.

She agreed with the decisions to leave his things behind. There certainly wasn't any need to add to the risks they were facing by pissing Xochil off any more than he already was. She felt an element of disappointment, though. She'd hoped that they could somehow work their way past his skittishness and insecurity, but apparently not.

To be honest, though, she wasn't completely uncomfortable with the idea of having lost both orcs from the group. They'd miss the additional muscle with Larek being gone, but it wouldn't hurt too badly.

"You're right." She said, before turning her attention toward Maud. "You think it would really be a 'safe' place to stay if we stopped by your home?"

Not seeming to hear any strong objections from anyone, she began to roll up the map so that she could put it away. Given she'd have the middle watch, Ciara's plan was an early night to try and get most of her sleep done beforehand.
Maudeline Black
 player, 88 posts
Sat 5 Aug 2017
at 11:42
Re: 2. The Road Less Travelled
Maudeline considered Ciara's question. She'd tried not to burden Ciara too much with her stories during their travels together due to the fact that her friend's youthful adventures were exciting and hers were...well, boring. They mostly featured books and parental disapproval. Still, as they'd spent time together, Maud was sure she'd let enough slip to form a general idea.

"I suppose it depends on your definition of danger," she replied earnestly.
Astrid Daleborn
 player, 95 posts
 Human
 Paladin
Sun 6 Aug 2017
at 20:15
Re: 2. The Road Less Travelled
Astrid sighed a little bit. "Aye. It's a right shame that Xochil wasn't able to conquer his demons. I'll say a few prayers for the poor man." Her words weren't entirely sincere unfortunately. While she did mean to say some prayers for the boy, she also understood that he was, then and now, a danger to their party. If he took everything they tried as an assault against them then he probably wouldn't be a very good companion in the first place. She stretched her neck a little bit as they continued to discuss the plan. "It's good to hear that you have family down in Cainadel." She said a bit more cheerily, even if she seemed swift to move on. "But what do you mean by danger Maud? I'm not one for all of this dancing around the subject." She said, narrowing her eyes a bit. "If there's a danger, you'd best tell us all of it right here and now. We've already lost Xochil, and we'll need to look for Larek tomorrow. I wont' stand for losing more of our little band. On my honor as a Paladin of mighty Rauna I have pledged to protect all of you." She said a bit more firmly. Astrid was still young, and did not yet have the cynicism and pragmatism that older knights, even Paladins, had in their duties.