The Vast: On the Wandering Trail.   Posted by DM BadCatMan.Group: archive 7
DM BadCatMan
 GM, 2156 posts
 Spring, cool and clear
 Morning, 4th Tarsakh 1376
Sun 12 May 2019
at 08:21
The Vast: On the Wandering Trail
Blaern's Gate, Calaunt
Date: Morning, 4th Tarsakh 1376 DR, the Year of the Bent Blade
Weather: Spring, cool and clear


Early the next morning, the adventurers assembled at the Mocking Maiden with their horses and supplies, eager and ready to hit the road and go after the missing scions of the city's ruling families. Not by chance, they were following in their very footprints, or rather hoofprints, following the same trail to the same supposed destination.

Heading out of Calaunt through its south-east corner, they would pass through Blaern's Gate; it was commonly nicknamed the Belch, after either what the name sounded like or the particular smell that lingered there. Outside the city at last, they would take Blaern's Trail – also known as the Wandering Trail – east across the Vast to the town of Thindilar. From there, they would take the Cross Road north to the village of Blanaer, which was threatened to be just as smelly as Calaunt, unfortunately. However, it promised a trail up into the Troll Mountains and hopefully to the legendary Hollow Mountain, if the suspicious map was to be believed. This seemed the most direct route to the site, and the one most likely taken by the young adventurers, but they'd have to look for clues along the way as to where they'd really gone.

Unfortunately, they had one more hurdle to clear. The streets, normally choked with crowds and odours, were now thick with troops of soldiers on patrols and parades. These were not the household guards, these were the Teeth of Calaunt, its standing army, all six thousand of them: ruffians in well-polished armour, corrupted battle-mages, and war-captains, shouting orders and fouls insults. 'In line, you filthy mother-less trolls! One two, one two!' screamed one, spitting foam. They just kept pouring out of the Fortress of the Five Vultures.

Elsewhere, there were weaponry shows and contests, like axe-throwing and duelling, and all the attendant merchants hawking food and snacks, and thieves and pickpockets preying on them all, adding to the chaos.

'Ah. I did not expect this.' Maelarra noted ruefully from atop her high horse. 'Today is the Arming, a local festival for inspecting the militias, commemorating a time of defence against regular orc raids. They do it in the countryside this time every year, but rarely in the cities.' she explained, watching a troop march past. 'But with their scions missing, this city is on edge, preparing for war and not sure who their enemy is. So the Arming is the perfect excuse to muster the army and show strength... Calaunt is a keg of smokepowder, ready to blow.'

They pushed their way through the crowded streets, finding the Belch utterly jam-packed as a troop tried to march out while commoners and traders tried to come in, the gate guards tried to check them, and all three argued the point between them. Meanwhile, the stone golem stood by patiently, and had been polished to a high gleam in the spring sunlight.


OOC:
https://forgottenrealms.fandom.com/wiki/The_Arming

This message was last edited by the GM at 04:02, Mon 13 May 2019.

Tseran Tal'chiar
 player, 132 posts
 +3, 16/13/15
 27/27, 2/5/9
Mon 13 May 2019
at 03:02
The Vast: On the Wandering Trail

 Tseran - having at least the beginnings of an idea that this was coming - has stuffed damn' near everything of value that he owns down into the depths of his pack and laced it shut about as thoroughly as he can manage, trusting to the rapier at his side to persuade anyone who might be inclined to attempt a forceful removal of the pack itself to seek a less capable target...

 ...but there's still one hell of a crowd out there, and it's one that actually makes Tseran think longingly of the company of crocodiles, since they at least can be relied upon to bathe regularly and generally conduct themselves in an honest fashion, refraining from preying upon one another as a matter of everyday exercise... Unlike the people of Calaunt, for whom (in Tserans far-from-humble opinion) the best it can perhaps be said is that, in the event of a total collapse of society they won't resort to cannibalism, it'll be one of the first options on the table...

 Joining the group and hovering at the stirrup of the Lady Maelarra, the irritated elf can only remark "Better then that we avoid setting any sparks... Shall we tag onto the end of one of the columns and use them to clear our way?"
Aerin of Damar
 player, 1896 posts
 Init: +2 AC: 25/ 23 / 12
 HP n84/c63 - F+8/R+3/W+6
Mon 13 May 2019
at 12:32
The Vast: On the Wandering Trail
Aerin had been in good spirits at the prospect of leaving the City of Odours and Thieves. Humming to herself she had saddled Albion with special care, knowing the ageing heavy warhorse would chafe easily because of the half-dragon's heavy load. Rewarding her trusted companion with a carrot and an apple before mounting, she took point - as was typical for her, whatever wanted to harm her friends would have to go through her first.

It was when they got stuck in the unexpected traffic jam, when her mood darkened, the short-tempered Rashemi in her couldn't stand the ineffective way the guards and soldiers were handling the situation and tried to remedy it with diplomacy, or whatever would pass as diplomacy in Rashemen...

"Clear the way! - Clear the way for the most noble Lady Maelarra Hlartrym on important Procampan business, or be reduced to smoking ashes!" she roared, her face brewing a storm and tendrils of smoke licking from the corners of her mouth as she gestured for everyone to free the path.

ooc: Intimidate 22.
Maelarra Hlartrym
 NPC, 25 posts
Wed 15 May 2019
at 12:30
The Vast: On the Wandering Trail
'Yes, indeed.' Maelarra agreed. She patted the magical haversack at her side, close to her body and facing inward to her companions to guard against any more bag-snatchers. 'I have the seals of Procampur and Duke Haldyn to afford us passage through the gate without interference. '

As the dragon roared, civilians scattered and even the troop in front picked up their pace, the ones in the back who'd seen her crashing into those in the front who hadn't and propelling the whole troop forward in the same manner as a caterpillar. They reached the Belch in, well, less time than they would have otherwise.

'What is the meaning of this?' the head gate demanded of them, because the rage of a mighty dragon-warrior was as nothing to the displeasure of his bosses if he let any spies or kidnappers slip through. Behind him, guards were riffling through the possessions of visitors in search of magic to confiscate.

Unperturbed, Maelarra spoke up with diplomatically dulcet tone. 'Good morning, lieutenant. I am Lady Maelarra Hlartrym of Procampur, and these are my guards and aides. We are on official business for Duke Stormkin and must not be delayed.'

He looked suspiciously over them. 'Where's your seals, then?' Maelarra produced and unrolled it, displaying for him to view. The man squinted at the vellum; either he was in serious need of glasses or was quite illiterate. Or he could be faking it. 'I can't see, let me read that...' He tried snatching it from her hands, but Maelarra was ready this time and lifted it away. Sometimes, it was worth riding a high horse.

'No, sir, I regret this cannot leave my person under pain of death – and not my own.'

The man grinned vindictively. 'Refusing to present your credentials, eh? How do I know it's not a forgery?' He raised his voice. 'Guards!'
Aerin of Damar
 player, 1897 posts
 Init: +2 AC: 25/ 23 / 12
 HP n84/c63 - F+8/R+3/W+6
Thu 16 May 2019
at 06:33
The Vast: On the Wandering Trail
"Hrrm..." the dragonkin cleared her throat to get the obnoxious guard's attention. "I can see you take your duty seriously." she said, producing a small purse with what seemed to weigh as much as 50 gold pieces - tailored to the common rate for bribery and casually held it next to her big thigh. "It is good you are a man of duty, hence I am convinced you understand how we are bound to our duty to Duke Stormkin and the Thultyrl of Procampur. This... fee should speed up processing our request to leave the city." she said with a smile revealing very sharp teeth, while leaning forward to get into whispering distance to the lieutenant.

"We know you're trying to overwhelm us like those thugs with their pet land shark yesterday, which will result in numerous unnecessary casualties on your side. One of the first to die will be you, that is a promise. - If we are taken prisoner, Duke Stormkin will be furious and heads will roll, too. - So I suggest for the benefit of everyone involved, you let us pass." Aerin whispered in a level tone, she was fed up with the corruption of this town but would put up with it one last time if it got them through the gate without further hassle. Her words were not a threat, they were a reminder of whom the guard was facing and what he could expect if he didn't make a wise choice.
DM BadCatMan
 GM, 2158 posts
 Spring, cool and clear
 Morning, 4th Tarsakh 1376
Thu 16 May 2019
at 12:08
The Vast: On the Wandering Trail
The man looked greedily at the purse and then worriedly at Aerin. Then he suddenly grinned, all greasy charm, saying 'Of course, milady.' He peered up at the scroll and seals, suddenly recognising the crests. 'Ah, I see it now, no need boys.' he waved back the guards, and held out his hand for the purse. 'And thank you, milady, for the kind donation to the guards' benefit fund...'
Aerin of Damar
 player, 1898 posts
 Init: +2 AC: 25/ 23 / 12
 HP n84/c63 - F+8/R+3/W+6
Thu 16 May 2019
at 13:01
The Vast: On the Wandering Trail
Aerin's face did not betray any emotion when she dropped the bag into the lieutenant's hands, but it cost all her willpower not to sneer in disgust. "Smart decision." she commented and nodded her head, giving everyone the go-ahead sign. The adventurer was no fool, though, and remained alert in case the man was not just greasy but also foolish. One hand lay casually on her thigh, right next to a couple of wands she kept in her belt. Staying aside to let the others pass the Rashemi switched position and brought up the rear.
Slove
 player, 57 posts
 Init: +9 AC: 21/ 16 / 15
 HP n44/c44 - F+8/R+8/W+3
Thu 16 May 2019
at 19:44
The Vast: On the Wandering Trail
Slove as usual fell in with the group of adventures.
He keeps out of the way and quite while they try to get out of the city.
Tseran Tal'chiar
 player, 133 posts
 +3, 16/13/15
 27/27, 2/5/9
Fri 17 May 2019
at 04:26
The Vast: On the Wandering Trail

 Bribery... Of course bribery... Of course, were Tseran to be perhaps a touch more charitable he'd probably be willing to concede that when given the choice between 'argue with the angry dragon woman in front of you' or 'take the bribe', there's more than just coin weighting the scales (so to speak). In any event, he follows along like a good little aide de camp (as it were) and keeps close to their patron, fingers more than slightly itching to twist into casting position.
Angel
 player, 65 posts
Fri 17 May 2019
at 05:34
The Vast: On the Wandering Trail
The following occurs once the companions have gained some distance from the city walls, where the teeming masses of troops on parade, and those watching said troops, have thinned out to a significant degree...

Angel had not been in her room on the morning that the companions had gathered to (finally!) leave the filthy, stinking city of Calaunt. In fact there was nothing to indicate that she’d even occupied said room at all, except for that mysterious coin found standing, balanced perfectly on its edge, on the bedside table. As the companions made their way through the "Belch" gate and onward to clearer paths, there was no sign of the copper-haired she-elf and it was beginning to look as if she had abandoned them... which to at least one of the companions was no real surprise at all.

Suddenly a whooshing sound drew attention skyward and those who looked quickly spotted the surprising sight of a winged humanoid descending toward the companions. By the time those on the ground heard the sound of wings, she -- for the mysterious flying person was obviously female -- was already in the process of landing nearby. Touching down gracefully, she folded white-feathered wings behind her back and tossed hair the color of spun gold behind her shoulder. She had elvish features with deep blue eyes, and though none of the companions had seen her before, she seemed somehow familiar all the same. Placing one hand on an exquisitely curved hip, she regarded the companions with an impish grin. Then she tossed a small purse toward Aerin. "I believe that's yours," Angel's voice stated... and the purse was revealed to be the very one Aerin had earlier given to the guard.

This message was last edited by the player at 05:37, Fri 17 May 2019.

Aerin of Damar
 player, 1899 posts
 Init: +2 AC: 25/ 23 / 12
 HP n84/c63 - F+8/R+3/W+6
Fri 17 May 2019
at 13:34
The Vast: On the Wandering Trail
As the winged creature approached the dragonkin once again moved a hand close to the wands in her belt and with the other gestured for the caravan to stop. She was not a good shot with bow or crossbow, but the magic inside the ornately decorated sticks was an excellent alternative. The shape came closer and if the woman had intended to attack, she would have already, so Aerin figured there would be talk before anything else. Squinting she looked at the winged creature before her, an avariel? They were a rare sighting but she had seen mages adopt their shape for their wings and ability to fly, could this be another of the mages that had attacked them yesterday?

Thoughts crossed her mind of who or what they were facing, but when she spoke the Rashemi recognized the voice and remembered how fluidly the elf going by the name of Angel, had changed her form. Catching the money pouch one-handedly, Aerin smiled "There you are my dear jester, and I was worried you had wandered off to find yourself another pompous noble to entertain." she said with mirth in her voice. "Thank you for picking this up, it seems the lieutenant was not as keen on having it as I had thought." she added with a wink, putting it back to where it had come from.
DM BadCatMan
 GM, 2159 posts
 Spring, cool and clear
 Morning, 4th Tarsakh 1376
Fri 17 May 2019
at 13:44
The Vast: On the Wandering Trail
OOC: This goes before Angel's post.

Outside the city, they found more of the same, just with markedly less city. Outside the walls, they passed through the hovels and businesses that spilled out or tried to escape, the caravan yards, the paddocks for cattle and livestock, the abattoirs that turned them into meat and hides, and the odd tannery that combined the hides and the leftovers what they left behind into fine quality leathers...

Gradually, these thinned out into open fields and farmland, most as grey and dreary as the city. One large field had been given over, or perhaps commandeered, for manoeuvres and drills by the Teeth of Calaunt. The soldiers formed blocks and lines and turtles until their never-satisfied captains were done with them. Later in the day would come duels and archery contests. Many people had come out to watch, followed by the traders and the pickpockets. The military magelings wowed people with their illusions of beasts and defences.

Even beyond them, the stink of Calaunt continued to haunt them for miles like a curse or a vengeful spirit. It lingered foully in the air, tainted their clothes and hair, was trapped in their very nostrils.

At last, the Wandering Trail turned east, away from Calaunt and into the open Vast.
Angel
 player, 66 posts
Fri 17 May 2019
at 14:18
The Vast: On the Wandering Trail
"There is no more pompous noble than your illustrious self I'd rather entertain," Angel quipped back, her tone serious but betrayed by her smirk.
"And it is always a pleasure to recover my lady's lost things," she added, offering a mocking curtsy that was made even more grand with a flourish of white wings.
Aerin of Damar
 player, 1900 posts
 Init: +2 AC: 25/ 23 / 12
 HP n84/c63 - F+8/R+3/W+6
Mon 20 May 2019
at 13:38
The Vast: On the Wandering Trail
Aerin inclined her head in a thankful gesture, then let her eyes wander over the many people that were crowding the place, then back to where the trail led and the air promised to be cleaner than here. "So, do you have a horse or will you be our eye in the sky?" the dragonkin asked, a little jealous of the jester's ability to fly and escape the rotten smells.
Angel
 player, 67 posts
Tue 21 May 2019
at 02:53
The Vast: On the Wandering Trail
"I can be whatever you want me to be -- and some things perhaps you don't," Angel replied, her mocking grin deepening into something akin to wanton mischievousness. "But to answer the question, no. No horse for me. Wings do me well enough and when they tire I have my own two feet. One or the other, they have never failed me yet," she added, and then raised her hand as if to whisper behind it conspiratorially. "And I save a killing on stable and boarding fees too!"
Aerin of Damar
 player, 1901 posts
 Init: +2 AC: 25/ 23 / 12
 HP n84/c63 - F+8/R+3/W+6
Mon 27 May 2019
at 12:54
The Vast: On the Wandering Trail
"Well then," the dragonkin said, "be our eye in the sky." and gestured for everyone to move on, as it didn't seem there was anything else to discuss. She did like the thought of having a flying scout, few people were scanning up in the air and this would give herself and the others an advantage over possible ambushers.
Slove
 player, 58 posts
 Init: +9 AC: 21/ 16 / 15
 HP n44/c44 - F+8/R+8/W+3
Mon 27 May 2019
at 16:50
The Vast: On the Wandering Trail
Slove is very happy to stay away from Angel.
Even happier not to talk to her.  She is trouble and Slove has enough of trouble in his life not to go look to add to it.
Tseran Tal'chiar
 player, 134 posts
 +3, 16/13/15
 27/27, 2/5/9
Tue 28 May 2019
at 02:20
The Vast: On the Wandering Trail

 Tseran, for his part seems to be counting as the group leaves the city proper, going from some reasonably large number down towards an inevitable 'zero' whereupon he looks around himself, seeming to be pleasantly surprised and then relaxing very slightly from his posture of generalised cynicism.

 Five minutes later, Angel drops out of the sky and he grumpily pulls a small scrap of parchment out of his robes and makes a couple of additional notations upon it before tucking it away and continuing along - on foot - at the side of their patron, seemingly as prepared as Angel to carry himself about on his own two feet (likely due to his established 'unexpected arrival' in the city).
Maelarra Hlartrym
 NPC, 26 posts
Tue 28 May 2019
at 13:21
The Vast: On the Wandering Trail
'Well met again, Miss Angel. I am relieved to see you have decided to rejoin the party.' Maelarra greeted with good manners, adding with a small smile, 'Because not knowing where you were kept me in the most dreadful suspense.' Briefly, she appraised the winged woman named Angel, fairly sure she had no right to the wings, nor the name. Still, she was sure, or at least she was told, she would be an asset and it would be good to have her working with them. Because having her working against them was too terrible a thing to contemplate.

They rode on, east across Blaern's Trail. As the name said, it was no road, but an unpaved track carved into the dirt by the many feet, hooves, and wheels of those who lived in this part of the Vast and brought their goods to market in Calaunt or Thindilar; evidently, the Merchant Dukes had not thought it necessary to pave or patrol it much.

According to Maelarra's map (the most up-to-date provided by Procampan cartographers, she swore), it was 25 miles to the town of Thindilar, their first stop, which they seemed likely to reach by nightfall.

Beside them stretched green fields and farmlands, with the low peaks of the Troll Mountains rising in the north, and before the Vesper river. The signs of the reported orc raids were all too clear: deserted and burned-out farmhouses studded the landscape, some no more than blackened claws emerging from the ashes.

'Some trouble in the north is stirring up the orcs, driving them south. We must be wary.'
Angel
 player, 68 posts
Tue 28 May 2019
at 22:39
The Vast: On the Wandering Trail
”And you as well, Mistress Maelarra,” Angel replied, returning the greeting with a curtesy and winged flourish. The mocking smirk deepened at the mercenary cleric’s appraisal, as if the she-elf could tell that Maelarra was questioning the irony of form and name. At Aerin’s suggestion that she be their eyes above, Angel replied with an ”As you wish, m’lady,” and snapped open her wings. In a few strong flaps she was airborne again, promising to return if she spotted trouble. But before she’d gone too far, she suddenly looped back, diving fast and flying low to the ground. Quick as a blink, she zoomed past Tseran’s head, close enough that her passing ruffled his meticulously-combed hair. “Missed you too, pretty boy! She said as she passed, her tone one of playful teasing. Then she was climbing away toward the clouds again...
Arrazin
 player, 1044 posts
 Init: +4 AC: 20, 16, 15
 HP: 37/58 Save: +2 +11 +1
Fri 31 May 2019
at 13:16
The Vast: On the Wandering Trail
Suddenly Arrazin was there, next to Aerin as if nothing could be more natural a thing in the world. He rode atop his shining black thayan steed, leaning forward on the pommel in a rested stance and looked around at the others of their small troupe. "So, this is the company we keep nowadays? Where, oh where have the simple traders and simpleton paladins of yesterday gone, eh?" He turned towards her and flashed a crooked smile. "So many elves and not a drow among them, are you making an effort to put me at ease Aerin?" The smile lingered for a while, longer than usual for him, before he eased back into his usual focused, business-like countenance and shifted his gaze forwards down the road.
Tseran Tal'chiar
 player, 135 posts
 +3, 16/13/15
 27/27, 2/5/9
Sat 1 Jun 2019
at 16:08
The Vast: On the Wandering Trail

 Tseran - who is indeed a man of meticulous grooming and care in his appearance - keeps his hair in a long braided ponytail and the diving ruffle only really works when the little leather tie at the end of it is taken...

 ...which, since that's something Angel could do in her sleep means that her escape is secured by the elven mage promptly turning into a quite respectable facsimile of a scrawny Owlbear with his beak-like nose about the only thing sticking out of the mop of untrammelled locks, one hand coming up in a fashion that's decidedly 'you damn' kids!' with perhaps a modicum of 'If I could see you, I would scorching ray you added in.

 After this, there are a good few minutes of fuzz-wrangling in which the irritable, fussy wizard mutters dire things about 'winged merchants of chaos and disorder' while trying to get the mass back under control - a task eventually managed in time for him to respond to the suddenly appearing Arrazin's remark by opening his mouth to protest the remark about Drow... And then rather remarkably flushing and shutting it again, apparently conflicted all of a sudden.

 Instead he simply notes, picking up his pace while grumbling "I almost welcome the possibility of ambush..."
Aerin of Damar
 player, 1902 posts
 Init: +2 AC: 25/ 23 / 12
 HP n84/c63 - F+8/R+3/W+6
Tue 4 Jun 2019
at 10:32
The Vast: On the Wandering Trail
All Aerin could do was swallow the startled yelp she was about to make as Arrazin 'joined' the group once again. She smiled at the tight-lipped Thayan, "Indeed, as boring as it may appear at the surface, as curious it is beneath." she replied cryptically, hoping to do the 'Iron Dragon' honour with this remark. "It is good to see you have returned from your... own business." the dragonkin added. Having him back at her side was a reassuring constant, him being the only member of the original 'Heroes of Procampur' troupe apart from herself. He had been at her side before they saved the Thultyrl, having her back when they were still chasing super-sized goblins and arachnids and even the odd tiger. Looking back that fight almost seemed trivial, compared to the demons they faced in the Midnight Tower or the enemies at the Dragon Cult.

It was good he was back! - The Rashemi didn't say more, they never seemed to need many words to communicate.

Looking over her shoulder, Aerin saw Angel messing up the elf's hair and smirked, she was a handful and it would be interesting to actually learn how she did what she did and what trouble she would stir up next.

This message was last edited by the player at 10:35, Tue 04 June 2019.

Maelarra Hlartrym
 NPC, 27 posts
Tue 4 Jun 2019
at 12:58
The Vast: On the Wandering Trail
Maelarra's gaze returned from her survey of the plains and the distant burned-out farmhouse, listening in on the others' conversation, and observing Angel's antics. 'I have always maintained that I am a simple trader.' the cleric of Waukeen supplied to Arrazin with a small smile. Of course, she was also a noble, a priestess, an adventurer, and a merchant dealing in faith itself, so she was underselling herself significantly.

'Come to think of it, I do believe I have not yet thanked either of you for bringing the Hamayarch, Alamondh. I was away from Procampur at the time, but if it weren't for you and your companions, I would not have had a home to return to.'

[Private to Angel: From her eye-in-the-sky vantage point, Angel could look down behind the walls and fences of the burned farmhouse. There, she could see two enormous blue-scaled reptilian creatures, rooting through the debris.]
Angel
 player, 70 posts
 Init: +4; AC: 19/15F/15T
 HP 39/39; Saves +3/+6/+4
Thu 6 Jun 2019
at 11:22
The Vast: On the Wandering Trail
From up above Angel spotted something interesting and veered off to take a closer look...

[Private to GM: Dragons?! Angel thought, curiosity overriding common sense  -- as it normally did. Now what would dragons be doing rooting around a burned out farmhouse? She asked herself as she caught an updraft and moved closer to get a better look...

OOC: Wisdom of 8, what did you expect?   :)   
]