Sailors on the Starless Sea.   Posted by Autarch.Group: 0
 GM, 2444 posts
Thu 20 Jun 2013
at 15:14
Sailors on the Starless Sea
It's the 10th aeon.

Or maybe the 5th.

Perhaps the Pandiluvian Age?

The sages disagree, and really, what does it matter?

To you, right now, not much.

Pwenet, your homeland, is land of rolling grasslands and savannah, spiked with occasional outcrop of hills and bluffs. Bordered on one side by the Nabu Desert and on the other by the Wyvern Coast and the Tepid Sea.

Your town, A Thousand Sands, is along a small trade route that winds across the land.  Not a major route (that route passes several towns to the north), yet tavelled enough to bring occasional wayfarers and allow your village to support a bustling population.

But for the past month, people have been disappearing.  First one or two, then three or four, and more, and more.

"The haunting of hill keep," your neighbors groaned.

Several miles away is a desolated keep on a bluff.  Everyone stays away from there.  far away.  Then, for the last week, it's been worse.  Almost all the outlying farmers are missing.  And last night, over 20 people disappeared from town center (gathered in a group not much unlike your own).  But their kidnappers left clues: trampled grasses, scuffed ground, and over-sized black pellets.

You are the volunteers, the villagers without enough reason to flee certain death or just enough to improve your odds.  Or perhaps avarice draws you to the keep (and with the protection of others?).

You gather close to share the whispers on the wind (each pod can make a d10 rumors roll).
 player, 6 posts
 Erik, Dale and Maldwyn
Thu 20 Jun 2013
at 16:04
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
Erik and Dale were arguing as usual.

"C'mon," said Erik. "I heard there's gold in that ole keep, buckets of it!"

"Cobblers!" replied Dale. "Where'd you hear that rubbish! Honestly, one too many jars of mead and you'll believe anything! Anyway, I 'eard there's diamonds an' emeralds an' sapphires."

"Same thing!"

"No it ain't! Gold's kinda yellow, an' emeralds is green and sapphires is blue."

Erik tried to cuff his kid brother around the ear, but missed. Dale had been expecting it. Erik tended to resort to walloping his brother when he was losing an argument, which was most of the time.

The third young man piped up. "Well, I don't know what's going on up there, but my knight's gone missing. He said he was going to investigate, and that was three days ago. Ain't heard from him since. My Ma says it's the squirely thing to do, to look after my knight. So I reckon I gotta go lookin'."

"Yeah, Maldwyn, you can go look for old Sir Donkey-Breath an' we'll get all them jewels." Dale grinned at his friend.

"An' the gold!" Erik chipped in.

"I said there aint no gold, just jewels!"

Maldwyn rolled his eyes. "Gold or jewels or whatever, we should still go and investigate. And don't call him Donkey-Breath, it's Sir Donald. People might hear and I'll be up for another hiding."

"Right then, looks like we're off. Are we just going alone, or is any other bugger daft enough to come with us?"

16:47, Thu 20 June 2013: Jarodemo rolled 7 using 1d10 ((7)). Rumours
 GM, 2449 posts
Thu 20 Jun 2013
at 19:09
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
The village's octogenarian flaps his jaws, "If yer lookin' for 'ems and ewe's and such ..."

He stops speaking, his attention captivated by two buzzing flies. They whirl and dance in the early morning light before settling on several faintly steaming black pellets.

"...beware the 'ell! It has swallowed many a poor 'oul." Like many old men, he seems to swallow parts of his own words but you hear every syllable of his inappropriate laughter.
 player, 298 posts
 Nearer, My God, to Thee!
Thu 20 Jun 2013
at 20:06
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
''I say, we are in the Pandiluvian Age.''
''No, we are not! We are in the Tenth Aeon after the Creation of Everything. Time is a circle, and everything has come to pass in the exact same way nine times now.''
''No, no, no! It is the time of All Floods, where great deluges will clean the World of All Evil. See, when the Principle of Good will...''
Zarathustra the farmer and Siddhartha the ditch digger come strolling down the street, in deep discussion, followed by a silent and dour woman.

Siddhartha rises a hand. ''Hold! We have arrived. Wait! Isn't that this weasle Dale over there? HEY, DALE! Why aren't you in the trenches?''
He shakes his shovel in a kind of threatening greeting.

Zarathustra, gripping his pitchfork, speaks to the village elder instead. ''Honored Elder. We stand ready to defend humankind against the forces of Evil. To lead the Good to the triumph it is due. Where's that haunted keep?''

''You'll all die, you know?'' It's the first time the woman opens her mouth. She's clothed the tiniest bit better than her commoner companions, and is actually carrying a real metal blade. Even if it's only a knife.
 player, 3 posts
Thu 20 Jun 2013
at 20:56
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
An elf, a dwarf and a human walk into a tavern...

Strike that. It sounds like the set-up to a joke. Let's try this again:

A tax collector, a glassblower and a miner walk into a tavern...

Oh hells. There was no easy way around it. This was an odd trio, but they were reasonably good mates, all with their own hopes of making something of themselves, however the odds might be stacked against them. What was one if they had no hope?

So it was that The Brothers of Another Mother, as they were often called, happened upon a tavern eager to hear whatever rumors might be floating around concerning the mysterious hill keep.

Finn asked around, but nobody liked much talking to a tax collector. Jobb struck up a conversation or two-he was a likable sort after all. Finally, Nyll plopped down in a chair and would have ordered an ale if he had the coin to spare. Alas, he did not so he plied a nearby guest for whatever information he might glean. Perhaps even a drink if he could...

14:56, Thu 20 June 2013: Udly rolled 3 using 1d10 ((3)).
 GM, 2451 posts
Thu 20 Jun 2013
at 23:12
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
The nearby guest happens to be the village octogenarian, one of the few tea house occupants this early in the morning with the rest having gathered in distress in the village center after last night's mass kidnapping.

Happily he obliges Nyll, telling him that "'vil still festers" on that "cursed hill." He might have meant to say "accursed," but what's the difference, anyway?

He works his jaws into a good lather, "The evil, it waits for the day it can 'merge."

"And that day is now," he adds, as if anyone hasn't caught on.

This message was last edited by the GM at 18:36, Fri 21 June 2013.

 player, 7 posts
 Erik, Dale and Maldwyn
Fri 21 Jun 2013
at 00:52
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
Dale looked around, sniffing the air and wrinkling his nose. "Smells like someone's been scrubbing out the privies again! Oh, Sidd, I didn't see you there!" He looked over and smirked at his rival. While not exactly enemies, there was no love lost between the two young men. They had competed for several years for the same contracts in the village, so every coin in the other man's pocket was one that could have been in his.

Erik sniggered and snorted, absently wiping his nose with the back of his hand.

Maldwyn looked over at the old man, trying to work out what the old duffer was banging on about. Was he just an old drunk, or did he know something?
 player, 301 posts
 Nearer, My God, to Thee!
Fri 21 Jun 2013
at 08:35
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
''Hah! And your mother, too!'' Sidd cries cheerfully in direction of Dale. He then turns towards Zar and notices he's talking to the old drunk.
''Zar, that's not the 'honored village elder'. That's Jorge, a drunk git even older an madder than you. Let's leave the tavern and go to the market place, where everyone else is!''

''Zounds! I think you're right. HEY! Anyone wants to tail along? The Principle of Evil MUST be opposed! To the market place!'' He waves his pitchfork, and even considers lighting his precious candle in lieu of a torch.

Del only sighs in desperation and trails glumly along.
Gethin Ballider
 player, 1266 posts
 +15, d10+7; Ins26, Per19
 AC26, F20, R19, W21
Fri 21 Jun 2013
at 17:48
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
Virgil and Dante stand off to one side, stamping out the cold and blowing on their fingers, watching the others gather.

"I tell you, Virg, she was the most beautiful mortal creature I've ever seen.  I stood like one struck dead, then born again into a new life."

"She's the burgomaster's daughter, D."

"She remembered my name, did I tell you that?  From when we were kids.  She remembered my name."

Virgil rolled a stone back and forth with his toe.  "It's not really a common name, is it?  Dante, she's the burgomaster's daughter.  And you're a forester and an elf.  You're going to get yourself banned from the village."  His friend had no luck, in life or in love.

The sparkle in Dante's eyes does not diminish, and the faraway look grows no closer.  He leans against his staff, watching the morning sky grow pink.  "Did I tell you about my dream?  Love came to me, carrying her sleeping in his arms..."

Virgil squatted on the ground, pretending to busy himself looking at tracks on the grassy hill.  He is a trapper, after all.  Perhaps he can tell what kind of creatures and how many haunt this keep.

"...then Love awoke her, and frightened though she was, he made her to eat my burning heart."

"That's fucked up, man."

"Virgil, have you ever wondered...  Maybe all Love is one.  Maybe Love is the force that animates all life, on earth and in heaven.  Maybe the same Love that moved the stars now moves me."

Virgil rubbed his close-cropped head and stood.  He really didn't get his friend's mystic visions.  Duty is what moves men, he knows.  Duty to one's family, past and future.  That's what brings him here to this hill: he must make something of himself, chisel on time's stony face a legacy that his sons and grandsons can be proud to name.  If it came to a choice, love -- even the epic love of princes and queens -- must be sacrificed to duty.

But he doesn't say any of this.  Instead, "Here comes Milt."

Milton struggled up the hill, dragging behind him that big empty chest he carries everywhere, squinting up at the gathered crowd.  They wave.  He spots them, but does not return the gesture.  He only changes course and plods morosely toward them.  Milton was an odd boy, that was certain.  Though so near-sighted that he was practically blind, he spent all his time in the tavern, playing darts.  He only owned but one dart, which he'd throw hopelessly against the wall, never hitting the bullseye and only rarely hitting the board.  This hopeless repetition elicited howls of laughter and earned Milt the ironic title of village jester.  He bore that name with a surly patience, as he bore all things.

Virgil and Dante had asked him once why he kept playing darts when he was so bad at it and only owned a single dart.  He had thought long, then answered slowly, "To be a living symbol of man's futile attempts at righteousness."

Milton came puffing up to them, and nodded a ponderous hello while he caught his breath.  He really had a weak constitution.

"Milt, I don't think you should come."

"I'm here, aren't I?"

"You're going to die, you know."

Milton sits on his chest and mops his brow with a silk sleeve.  "We're all going to die, Virgil.  It's how one spends his life--"

"You know what I meant."

Dante kicks the chest, a hollow thud.  "Milt, why did you drag along this old thing?  Couldn't you have left it home?"

Milton ponders that a moment.  "Yes.  I suppose I could have.  But I'd rather bring it."

"But it's empty."

"As long as it is empty, it is filled with human hope."

"Come on," Virgil says.  "The others are starting to gather.  Let's go listen to what they're saying."

OOC: Rumor roll: d10 = 6
 GM, 2457 posts
Fri 21 Jun 2013
at 22:26
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
The superannuated coot hoots, "That's right. You're going to die. You're all going to die," nearly bouncing in his joyous delivery. Then, after a few post-pronouncement hoots, he sags.

"Hey, that's my line," his frown inculpates Virgil.

Without his customary glee, he exhorts the assembled men, the last hope of a Thousand Sands, "Nothing good can come of disturbing the evil ruins. You’ll only unleash the horror beneath the hill."

With this, he appears to have regained some wind for his sails and his gums flap in appreciation -- which would be Timmy's cue.

Little Timmy. He bobs up and down with as much excitement as Jorge, "A sleeping dragon lurks beneath the keep. Accept his quest and he will grant you a wish."

But it's all wrong of course. So incongruous as to rob the morning of its solemnity. A wish-granting dragon. How absurd.

There's little left to do but march for the keep.

This message was last edited by the GM at 22:26, Fri 21 June 2013.

 GM, 2458 posts
Fri 21 Jun 2013
at 22:28
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
You stand before the ruined keep, which squats atop a low, craggy hill, its walls of toppled stone and massive granite blocks hinting at forgotten battles and the clash of mighty armies. Now the ruins seem host only to creeping vines and the foul miasma that drifts down from the keep.

The air is overrun with pestilence. Fat flies bite at you incessantly, and clouds of small black insects choke your every breath. The long abandoned land is choked with thorny vines that drape the sickly trees and hang from the ruined walls. There is an odor of rot and decay, as if the hill itself were decomposing from within.

A sight gives you pause: a ragged banner, depicting a crimson skull on a black field, stands high atop the ruined walls.

You turn to your companions and ready your meager weapons if even those you have.

 player, 305 posts
 Nearer, My God, to Thee!
Sat 22 Jun 2013
at 08:53
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
Zar grips his pitchfork even tighter and Sidd makes a few practice swings with his shovel. Any groundhog facing him today will face certain death. Even Delphi strokes her dagger - that might have as much to do with the ruined keep and the apparent danger as the fact that she's suddenly realized that she's the only woman among a band of 15 halfcrazed maniacs though. She moves a bit closer to Sidd for savety.

Zar clears his throat. ''Maybe we should send a scout ahead. Let's draw straws!''
Quickly he has improvised 15 straws and pushes one into everybody's hand. The process is a bit hasty as everyone struggles to not have the short end, and in the end it is Virgil who's left standing alone, a short straw in his hand. Most of the others keep their distance, just in case it is contaminous.

''There, we have a volunteer! You ready to go, Virgil? We others will be right behind you!''

10:48, Today: Levkojen rolled 14 using 1d15. straws for scout, alphabetic order.
 player, 4 posts
Sat 22 Jun 2013
at 09:42
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
The Brothers of Another Mother sort of clung to one another amidst the cluster of would-be adventurers. Truth be told, all were looking for someone to back out. That would lessen the pain of losing face. They could all go back to their professions and live a long, dull life of collecting taxes, blowing glass and mining ore. But nobody had the courage-or good sense-to be the first.

They were in this. For good or ill.

After some long, silent moments, Finn chimes in, "Well, I have a sword."

Jobb replies, "I have a torch," to which Nyll rebuts, "and I have a lantern!"

Finn chides each while stooping down to select two suitable heavy sticks, "Here, you should both have a weapon, even a stick will do." He thrusts one into their hands.

Both accept their humble weapons.

When it came to the drawing of straws, The Brothers of Another Mother were relieved Lady Luck had looked askance in their case. Poor Virgil.

Finn, offered to take up ranks alongside Virgil, to which Jobb and Nyll both gave a look that said, 'so long sucker...'.
 player, 11 posts
 Erik, Dale and Maldwyn
Sat 22 Jun 2013
at 13:24
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
"Dragons," said Maldwyn. "Nobody mentioned dragons before."

"Ah, shut yer bellyachin'. There ain't no such things as dragons. Crocs, yeah, but not proper dragons." replied Erik.

Dale kept quiet as they arrived, more concerned about the banner than fanciful tales of winged lizards. Between them the three young men held their weapons tight and prepared to follow Virgil into the keep, all very pleased that they didn't get the short straw...
 player, 2 posts
Sat 22 Jun 2013
at 14:11
Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea
The ritual of the straws is interrupted by the appearance of another trio or travelers, two humans and a halfling.  All have streaks of red paint on their faces in a futile attempt to make them look halfway intimidating (the better traveled among you will have seen these markings before, on the militiamen a couple villages to the east).  Their image is not helped any by the fact that the lighter-skinned of the humans smells worse than Sid and Dale after a bad day in the sun, or by the halfling's black leather gloves with the fingers cut off halfway (only the gloves' fingers, thankfully; his own fingers appear to be fully intact).

As they approach, the darker-skinned human calls out Oi, is this the group that's going to the haunted manor?  We heard you might need some help with that.  And we also heard- what did we also hear?

The lighter skinned man rolls his eyes and says That loony old codger back in the village told us that...

Josh rolled 5 using 1d10. rumor.

This message was last edited by the player at 17:12, Sat 22 June 2013.