Fires in the dark.   Posted by Segev Stormlord.Group: 0
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 156 posts
Tue 29 Mar 2011
at 18:46
Fires in the dark
Merlin's cape enables fast and nearly inexhaustible, rapid, and not-easily-traced travel. It's easiest to keep together if they travel at the same rate, so if Aya has a small, possibly furry or feathery form, riding along with Merlin would enable this scouting team to remain united.

It takes several hours to get out to the edges of Trademeet Dale's influence, but as the sun sets behind them, the duo's eyes spot pinpoints of light in the distance on the road. Less than two hours later, they can see they're coming across a camp set - for them - a half-hour from where Merlin saw a cold camp earlier in the day. From this distance, not much can be made out about it, and looking too closely can ruin night vision. The other group is miles and miles back, and won't be here for days, but that's why the faster, stealthier group are on their own, after all.
Merlin
 player, 98 posts
Tue 29 Mar 2011
at 19:33
Re: Fires in the dark
In reply to Segev Stormlord (msg #1):

Merlin makes a 'high altitude' sweep around the camp fire, blocking out its direct light with the point of his pinky finger. He then gives Aya a hand signal that he is going to go down and get closer, which he then does. He will in fact land on the the branches of a largish tree near the camp to get an even better look.


OOC:Essence Sight Active
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 157 posts
Tue 29 Mar 2011
at 20:26
Re: Fires in the dark
An old, lone maple of this sort tends to grow every few dozen miles in farmland, as it provides shade, a bit of a landmark, and sometimes just a touch of nostalgia for the sparse forests and copses that once lay over modern farmland. It also provides a decent vantage, letting Merlin easily count 3 fires arranged in a largish triangle, each with about five to ten men near them. There are three large tents, and five smaller, two-man affairs near each fire, and what looks to be a rope-ringed stockade with more people huddled in the middle of the encampment. It's hard to judge anything detailed, but the men outside the stockade appear to be armored and armed in a fairly uniform fashion with scale mail and spears and shields. Several are on sharp watch, and every now and again one glances at the tree to make some sort of warding gesture.

Sitting and chatting with his men, an obvious leader is near the closest of the large tents. He bears a tabard which has a very faint shimmer under essence sight, as if the decorative threadwork around the coat of arms subtly guides natural essence flows of Creation, just a little.
Merlin
 player, 99 posts
Thu 31 Mar 2011
at 00:21
Re: Fires in the dark
In reply to Segev Stormlord (msg #3):

Merlin points at Aya, then at the tree, then ground, and lasty the central stockade. He seems to be indicating that he wants her to go scout it out closer and see what is going on.

If these guys stole another couple of farms worth of people, they might just all end up dead tonight!
Aya
 player, 160 posts
Sat 2 Apr 2011
at 13:44
Re: Fires in the dark
She takes wing simply, fluttering across. Just a bird, after all.
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 161 posts
Sat 2 Apr 2011
at 16:15
Re: Fires in the dark
The little bird is only noticed by a couple of people, and they pay it no mind. It's just a bird, after all. The men outside the stockade are all soldiers or guards of some sort, wearing similar uniforms with three distinct coats of arms adorning them. The people IN the stockade are obvious common folk. Peasants or serfs. Farmers. Three generations' worth, too, including old folk and kids as young as 8 or 9.

The soldiers look to have been on the road for at least a month, and their prisoners look a bit less tired, but more shocked and dispirited. There's some furtive planning and talking amongst the prisoners, but it doesn't seem to be getting anywhere. There are some tied hand and foot and gagged in separate areas. But most are just allowed to huddle together. A third of the soldiers seem almost embarrassed to talk to the prisoners, while the rest simply seem grim. The stockade itself is really little more than a picket of logs piled around. Soldiers keeping a weather eye on the prisoners, and the threat of spear wounds to any who try to climb over, are really all that keeps the peasants from climbing out and escaping.

If Aya's encyclopedic knowledge of modern farming is accurate, she estimates that these prisoners represent the population of the emptied farms she and Merlin scouted out earlier.
Aya
 player, 161 posts
Wed 6 Apr 2011
at 22:23
Re: Fires in the dark
One more sweep, and then she's off, back to link up with the Solar....and get to a position where she can change and explane it to him.
Merlin
 player, 101 posts
Wed 6 Apr 2011
at 22:33
Re: Fires in the dark
In reply to Aya (msg #7):

Once back, Merlin finds a stealthy method of getting a decent distance away so that they can share what they have seen.

"So, are they the captured farmers or a new batch?"
Aya
 player, 162 posts
Sat 9 Apr 2011
at 04:08
Re: Fires in the dark
She lands. Or, starts to, rather. Her body changes mid-air..bones cracking into new shapes, her coat exploding outwards, flaring in the air, as her boots slam into the ground, standing tall(Well..for her height.)

"I'd say the farmers....the right number of them, at least."


Red eyes almost glow, for a few moments after the change, as she sits down, legs crossing, smoothing her skirt.
Merlin
 player, 102 posts
Sat 9 Apr 2011
at 18:25
Re: Fires in the dark
In reply to Aya (msg #9):

"It is as I feared then."

He thinks for a few minutes.

"Perhaps kidnapping one of the guards on their way to the latrine would allow us to interrogate him and find out who is behind this? That or we can just go knock all the guards unconscious or kill them, except their commanding officer. At that point we can take the people back and make sure the commander tells us what we want to know."
Aya
 player, 164 posts
Wed 13 Apr 2011
at 09:01
Re: Fires in the dark
She shrugs.

"Sounds reasonable, I suppose. Just..how do we remove them all, before the guards say, start killing the prisoners?"

Merlin
 player, 104 posts
Wed 13 Apr 2011
at 15:07
Re: Fires in the dark
In reply to Aya (msg #11):

"If we kill all of the look outs first, we can then work inward so that the guards watching the prisoners are the last to fall."
Pulling out one of his chakrums she notes that they are made of rough sanded obsidian with a very fine blade. Noticing one of them flying through the air at night would be next to impossible.

"However, to make sure that the guards do not do anything foolish you can sneak into the pen?"
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 170 posts
Fri 15 Apr 2011
at 19:16
Re: Fires in the dark
As the guards interact with each other - and occasionally the prisoners - it becomes clear that each of the three camps are almost separate entities. There is friendly rivalry between two of them, and an understanding of cooperation between one of those and the third. The third and the other one interact as little as possible. From the tree, they're looking almost head-on at the "base" of the triangle formed by the three, so the two camps with the understanding are nearest.

The guards ARE professionals, but they're obviously not used to herding prisoners in these numbers. Their commanders - one for each camp, each obviously a knight of some ranking - keep inspecting the watch, making sure that only those who're supposed to be sleeping are nodding off.
Aya
 player, 165 posts
Sat 16 Apr 2011
at 18:40
Re: Fires in the dark
"Better idea. Give me a few hours. Then I can be one of them."

She settles in to watch, for a bit, trying to chose who to...consume.
Merlin
 player, 105 posts
Mon 18 Apr 2011
at 15:41
Re: Fires in the dark
In reply to Aya (msg #14):

"Please, be my guest."

Merlin gets into a more comfortable position.
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 178 posts
Wed 20 Apr 2011
at 13:52
Re: Fires in the dark
The men are actually of mixed ages, ranging from one youth about the age of Hun and Poe to a few men on the far side of middle-age. Most are somewhere in their twenties, and they're all professional in their soldiering. The three leaders are scattered about the middle range of their men.

((OOC: Perception+Investigation if you want more details; let me know what you're looking for. Stunts for how you go about doing your looking are welcome, but not mandatory.))
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 180 posts
Sat 23 Apr 2011
at 17:22
Re: Fires in the dark
There is a lot of jesting, ranging from friendly to bullyish to nervous and strained, amongst the men. Periodically, some make trips out past the fire-light to relieve themselves. Amongst the guards, there are no women. The two younger commanding officers keep paying attention to the prisoners, though they seem uncertain, at best, how to treat them. The oldest one is terse and businesslike, and shows no patience for the prisoners if the slightest problem crops up.

Conversations range from speculation about how family are doing back home to concern over whether Trademeet will hire mercenaries to scorn that those "spineless traders" might just learn a lesson from this. Any suggestion that there might be a reasonable explanation is met with stony glares from the oldest of the commanders, and admonishments from the ~30 year old one that they will investigate when they get back to Falan. The youngest one, out of his teens by a year or two, sniffs disdainfully at such talk. He's DEFINITELY the best-dressed of them, with all his armor and weapons gleaming and his clothing in perfect condition. He also keeps himself immaculately groomed, periodically adjusting or primping before his inspections of the prisoners.

The first watch is taken by the eldest commander, who sternly orders his own men (except for the three youths joining him on watch) to bed, and strongly suggests the other commanders do the same. The youngest goes to bed almost eagerly, while the third stays up with his men for a bit longer. Before bedding down, himself, he approaches the elder, "Make sure you wake me as soon as your shift is done, Methius. Vaniel will need the morning watch to primp, and I don't mean to have him whining on the way back."

"Nonsense, Clavien," is the response. "A fop he might be, but complaining would make him look weak in front of the women. I think he's planning to try to woo some of them, the fool." The utter contempt in Sir Methius's voice for the idea of fraternizing with the prisoners is palpable, and sends Sir Clavien off in uncomfortable silence.

Three youths - two in their mid-teens, one barely into puberty - eventually slink off towards the tree in which Merlin hides. The youngest carries a hefty bundle, which he carefully sets out around himself, sitting beneath the base. He lights a small lamp with a carefully polished focusing mirror. Why becomes clear when he begins pulling out chain mail and polishes it very, very carefully and thoroughly. "Oh, come on, Nath!" exclaims one of the boys. "It's gleaming six ways 'til Saturnday! Sir Vaniel won't notice if you skip it tonight!" His tone is exasperated.

"Pff," scoffs the other, "Nathier's just scared. He's afraid Sir Vaniel or Sir Clavien will catch him. Sir Methius wouldn't care. ...'course, he'll laugh at us if we have a hangover, but we won't!"

The first speaker sighs, "Farithe, he's a squire, for little gods' sake, and he should be participating. Cuisohn says it's a bonding experience. You know how he--"

"--gets picked on?" sneers Farithe. "Panil, he's picked on 'cause he's dumb about this stuff!"

The boy - Nathier - looks up at the other two. "Thank you for your invitation. I have to do this, though." He looks a bit intimidated, but shoots Panil a grateful glance when the older boy shrugs.

"You don't have to. But...well--"

"Are you three coming or not?" demands a whispered but carrying voice from a nearly twenty-looking youth and three others about his age, maybe a little younger. "Trademeet beer is s'posed to be some awesome stuff, and we don't want to wait all night, or our watches will start!"

With that, Farithe scoffs at the youngest boy for his obsession with scraping off imaginary stains, and joins the others. Panil shoots Nathier one last questioning look. "You sure?" At Nath's rueful smile and grateful shake of his head, the older boy jogs off to join the others in cracking a surreptious cask of beer, doubtless stolen from one of the raided farms. This leaves the very young squire alone with his work, beneath a tree. The light from the boy's work-lamp blinded any of them from noticing the well-hidden figure up in its branches.
Aya
 player, 170 posts
Sat 7 May 2011
at 22:46
Re: Fires in the dark
Well, nothing for it, really. Closest....pity she didn't know too much about him, makes an impersonation so much harder.

Stealth is....not really possible. For her, at least. Oh, she can become something small, but, well, that's it.

A few idol thoughts bounce around, as she slowly moves out of cover. Hopefully....well, he'll be not too bright, and fall for the old "Attractive female, forget what is doing, and then follow" trick, otherwise she'll have to do something that will make some noise...

She peers around the tree, letting enough of her form show to show female, as well as a bit of her face, just enough to hopefully get him closer.
Merlin
 player, 108 posts
Sat 7 May 2011
at 22:57
Re: Fires in the dark
In reply to Aya (msg #18):

Merlin makes ready to sever the guys jugular veins and wind pipe should things not work out for the best. An obsidian chakrum is ready in one hand and two in the other.

Hope she knows what she is doing, but best to be prepared if something goes sideways.
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 194 posts
Sun 8 May 2011
at 06:01
Re: Fires in the dark
The boy scrubs patiently, methodically, at each link in the chain shirt, making sure to get between them so no rust spots or even faint smudges show. He angles it carefully under the lamp-light, only satisfied when the link on which he's working shines before he moves on to the next. This isn't as hard a job as it might sound; the chain shirt is in excellent condition. A few sizes too large for the boy, though. He has a sword, some greaves, and a pair of plate gauntlets, all equally too large for him, arrayed neatly to the side. They are apparently waiting their turn. He hums a marching tune as he works.

So intent is he on his task, and night-blinded by the lantern-light against the darkness, that it takes him a fair minute to notice the feminine form off to the side. Looking up, he jumps a bit, startled. "Oh," he nearly yelps, his voice high and clear, but pitched softly. "I didn't know any--wait," he lowers his voice to conspiratorial whispering volumes even as his tone becomes faintly nervous and accusing. "There aren't any women guards with us! Who are you?" Then a warring thought visibly crosses his peach-fuzz free face, and he adds, "You are not lost or in trouble, are you, m'lady?" in tones that are doubtless meant to sound chivalrous. He finally remembers to scramble to his feet; being rude to a lady is inexcusable. The chain shirt he's cleaning he carefully laid aside just before doing so.

He's maybe four and a half feet tall, at most. Probably hoping for a growth spurt any day now. He can't seem to decide whether he's supposed to be smiling warmly or looking stern and manly. Fortunately, he hasn't raised his voice above a stage whisper thus far, as if the night were pressing in to muffle the sound at the edges of his lamp's light.
Aya
 player, 171 posts
Sun 8 May 2011
at 22:58
Re: Fires in the dark
Someone with more of a conscience might be bothered by what she might be about to do. She almost utterly lacks one, just the merest hints, enough that unlike a full sociopath, she is able to discern right and wrong, as other people see it. And this is very much in the wrong...

Thankfully, she doesn't care. Knowledge knows not of right or wrong, it merely is...and so must be any seeker of it. Perhaps to show his help, she can make use of something in an upcoming plant, or something...

Her lips move, as if she's trying to speak. A slim pair of fingers draw across her throat, as she makes a frustrated face, as if something is keeping her from speaking.
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 196 posts
Tue 10 May 2011
at 14:24
Re: Fires in the dark
The boy frowns, concerned. "You can't speak? What is it you need, Miss?" he asks, trying to sound manly and confident. "Are you from around here?"
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 203 posts
Wed 1 Jun 2011
at 00:52
Re: Fires in the dark
Just then, an already-tipsy youth of about twenty summers loudly calls out to the youngster, distracting him. By the time he begs off - AGAIN - on drinking with them, Aya has slipped off, lest she be seen with her intended victim.

Seeing nobody around him anymore, the confused and somewhat exasperated boy returns to his duties.

Merlin is left to his own devices regarding how best to handle this situation, now that the Lunar is off studying other potential targets. She'll be several hours at this, at LEAST.
Merlin
 player, 113 posts
Thu 2 Jun 2011
at 19:20
Re: Fires in the dark
In reply to Segev Stormlord (msg #23):

Seeing where Aya has gotten herself off to, roughly 200 yards away from the camp, he heads up into the sky to finish what has been started.

Leaderless, I wonder what the common soldiers will do?

Diving Merlin activates his armors Cloaking Device and Air Dragon Form. As he nears the camp he comes down about 3 feet above the heads of the soldiers and flings a single chakrum out at the oldest of the 3 leaders, which he has lined up to be in his flight path.

The officer should be stunned into inactivity by the time I swoop by grabbing him under the arms and lifting him out of the camp.



(OOC: Flurry of 3 actions: Attack from range using BREATH-SEIZING TECHNIQUE, Grapple, and move.
Fly Silently to Surprise = 14 successes
Chakrum = 8 successes (Target is being attacked unaware: DV 0)
Damange = ((10,2,2,6,10,9,3,7,10,10,4,2,2,1)) Take soak off the right till you get to min damage on the left) With a 4 lethal soak that would be 6 stun damage so he would be down 6 dice to defend himself for the grapple.
Grapple = 6 successes (Attack may still be from surprise, Dif 4 to detect))

Segev Stormlord
 GM, 205 posts
Sat 4 Jun 2011
at 04:04
Re: Fires in the dark
So stealthy was Merlin's sweep in to pick up the middle-aged knight that nobody noticed, initially, that he was gone! Only after about ten minutes, when the youngest of the knights went to his tent to find him, did the camp start to realize something was up. Immediately, the two remaining officers put up a call, and the young boy polishing the armor hastily begins to pack so he can take it back. The drinking soldiers are slow, however, to respond, so the camp is in a slight disarray as they are initially counted among the "missing."

The two remaining knights do swiftly take charge, though the guards under the missing one seem to have their own sub-officers who regiment them. The camp is much more on alert, though, now that they realize people are missing!

((OOC: If you want to act sooner than this, let me know, and I'll alter this post to accomodate whatever post you make about when you next act. Again, the camp doesn't notice only one of their leaders missing for nearly 10 min.))
Merlin
 player, 114 posts
Tue 7 Jun 2011
at 23:06
Re: Fires in the dark
In reply to Segev Stormlord (msg #25):

(OOC: Yes, in fact I was hoping to acquire and tie up all three of the 'leaders' for later interrogation before the camp started into action, in earnest.) It is so much easier to pick people off as they run around panicked than if they just stay in formation.)
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 206 posts
Wed 8 Jun 2011
at 02:53
Re: Fires in the dark
In reply to Merlin (msg #26):

((OOC: Okay, then I need stunts for each of them and rolls for each of them. An external penalty of 2 for the second guy and 4 for the third applies, as it gets harder to do it fast enough that nobody will notice any of them missing as more of them ARE missing.))
Merlin
 player, 115 posts
Fri 10 Jun 2011
at 23:29
Re: Fires in the dark
On the way back Merlin finds a reasonable sized rock and carries it back to above the camp. Some 500ft up he identifies the next leader like person that he wants to abscond with. Circling he finds a good spot and drops the rock and then goes diving at an angle away from the camp. About half way down he flips a wing and inverts himself so that when he pulls up he will flight into the camp instead of away from it. About three seconds after the rocks lands, on some poor sleeping soldiers tent, a chakrum hits the intended target all but paralyzing him. Merlin is right there behind him swooping him up and out of the camp while everybody else is rushing towards the large noise.


{OOC:Flurry of 3 actions: Attack from range using BREATH-SEIZING TECHNIQUE, Grapple, and move.
Fly Silently to Surprise = 12 successes
Chakrum = 9 successes (Target is being attacked unaware: DV 0)
Damage = (2,5,7,6,5,2,10,6,7,2,9,1,6,6) Take soak off the right till you get to min damage on the left) With a 4 lethal soak that would be 3 stun damage so he would be down 3 dice to defend himself for the grapple even if he wasn't surprised.
Grapple = 6 successes (Attack may still be from surprise, Dif 4 to detect))

Segev Stormlord
 GM, 207 posts
Sat 11 Jun 2011
at 01:41
Re: Fires in the dark
The camp is in a right proper uproar, now. Everybody noticed the rock crushing the tent, and there are cries from the guards to man the pickets and to help dig out Jorsen - apparently the guy in the tent. It's not yet known if he's dead even as Merlin lifts up and away with the youngest of the three leaders. He can't be more than 25, and looks like he spends a lot of time grooming. That's a bit ruined by being totally out of breath and red with fury as he can't even struggle effectively against the Solar's flying power.

He'd call out, but...well, he can't. He's not even sure what's grabbed him, whether it be man, god, or beast.

This message was last edited by the GM at 05:54, Fri 17 June 2011.

Merlin
 player, 117 posts
Sat 18 Jun 2011
at 02:30
Re: Fires in the dark
In reply to Segev Stormlord (msg #29):

Merlin takes him back, remands him into Aya's custody and heads back to the camp on his feet. It takes a minute or two, but soon he has his arms full of sticks and a few stones. At that point he takes to the air again. Flying near the camp he ascertains where the last leader has gotten himself off to. Surrounded by guards, the final target will not be easy to approach.

Heading even higher into the sky Merlin releases his load directly over the group of guards surrounding the captain. Then its a race to the ground. On his way a volcanic glass chakrum slices through the air and shatters upon the captains helmet exploding razor sharp obsidian splinters everywhere. As he lands he grapples the captain and says, "RUN!", which is followed by the sticks and stones pelting the area from the sky. Assuming that the captain has been grappled and the earlier blow crippled him, Merlin takes to the sky with his captive.


{ooc:
Flurry of 2 Actions: Strike with BREATH-SEIZING TECHNIQUE and fly.
Flurry of 2 actions: Grapple the Captain and 'Move/Fly' straight up.
Fly Silently to Surprise = 7 successes
Chakrum = 8 successes (Target is being attacked unaware: DV 0)
Damage = 7 ((5,10,9,3,8,7,10,10,3,4,5,7,1,3)) damage on the left) With a 4 lethal soak that would be 6 stun damage so he would be down 6 dice to defend himself for the grapple even if he wasn't surprised.
Grapple = 2 successes (Attack may still be from surprise, Dif 4 to detect))

Segev Stormlord
 GM, 208 posts
Sat 18 Jun 2011
at 02:59
Re: Fires in the dark
This man, in his late twenties or early thirties, manages to notice the incoming grapple and defend himself. Though he is lifted into the air, he is still struggling and capable of shouting, "In the name of the King of Falan, I command you to put me down and surrender yourself!" It doesn't sound like he expects to be obeyed, so much as he's following procedure, as he drops the halberd he'd been carrying to try to swing his legs up and around those of his captor, seeking to hinder this flight. Using the conflicting momenta of his upward motion and Merlin's downward adjustment for the struggle, he pulls his fist in close beside his breast plate and, kneeing a little space between them, aims a mailed uppercut for the airborn kidnapper's jaw.

Below, the guards are scattering from the falling debris. At least one seems to have been stunned by a particularly large rock to the helmet. But now they ARE pointing upwards, and some are spotting the struggle their captain is putting on. None have yet managed to gather their wits enough to scramble for bows, but a couple ill-aimed spears fall short of hitting the flying duo.

((OOC: The captain channels his Valor for a vain attempt to actually break out of this grip, and manages a whopping 6 successes on his beleagured attack roll.))
Merlin
 player, 119 posts
Sat 18 Jun 2011
at 06:15
Re: Fires in the dark
In reply to Segev Stormlord (msg #31):

Interestingly enough Merlin does let the Captain go for a moment, but maneuvers into a barrel roll down and underneath the captain to grab him again, from a different angle. Perhaps from this direction the captain will not be able to use his legs quiet as effectively.

[OOC: by the UCS the captain is an immensely talented man to be able to muster any dice at all past the -6 (or 7) that he is currently down.

You rolled 6 successes using 10d10 with the White Wolf Exalted system with a target of 7 ((10,3,1,9,5,10,3,3,3,5) Grapple in the Air +1WP.) If he manages to get free he is in for a nasty landing.]

Segev Stormlord
 GM, 209 posts
Sat 18 Jun 2011
at 17:12
Re: Fires in the dark
((OOC: 7 dice base, 4 Valor, 2 10s, a 9, a 7, and a 2. He got lucky.))

The dizzying view below as he falls briefly and is caught causes the man to choke out, "Right. I get your point. What is it you WANT? Who ARE you?" He's trying hard not to struggle; he's pretty heavy in his armor, and would rather not break something in a fall. He's tensed for it, though, as if expecting to be dropped any second.
Merlin
 player, 120 posts
Sat 18 Jun 2011
at 17:20
Re: Fires in the dark
In a raspy voice that might terrify a peasant, but likely only is mildly disturbing to a seasoned and hardened soldier,

"You have taken people that don't belong to you. We want to know why and on who's authority."

Merlin does two more barrel rolls, to confuse not just the captain but the aim of his soldiers, and heads off in a direction that is not towards Aya.
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 210 posts
Sat 18 Jun 2011
at 17:39
Re: Fires in the dark
"And you have assaulted a landed Knight of Falan," retorts the self-proclaimed knight, "on a mission of investigation authorized by the King." At least, that's what he means to be saying. The vertigo and the motion sickness of this unnatural means of travel makes it come out in bursts between bouts of suppressed nausea and sudden intakes or expulsions of breath.

"Land and we will negotiate. I wil--oof!--not be bullied by an airborne bandit! If your pur--*choke*--pose is defense of others, I might overlook your own crimes against the Crown in the--*gasp*--name of--*grk*--WILL YOU STOP THAT?! --in the name of getting to the bottom of this!"
Merlin
 player, 121 posts
Sat 18 Jun 2011
at 18:01
Re: Fires in the dark
Merlin does as requested, letting go of the Captain a meer 4 feet above the ground, some 500 yards away from camp. Landing easily he makes sure that he is in full view of the moonlight from where the Captain will eventually stand up.

"Oh, but I am so much more than a bandit Sir Knight."

The wings become a cloak and Merlin looks expectantly directly at the Knight, for he can see his every expression in the darkness as if it were daylight.
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 211 posts
Sat 18 Jun 2011
at 18:35
Re: Fires in the dark
Now that opportunity is presented to examine this knight closely, he's definitely on the lower end of Merlin's original estimation for his age. Somewhere in his late 20s, then. Blond and green-eyed, he's probably got some Northerner in his ancestry. He takes a moment or two to regain his dignity by adjusting his breastplate so it isn't obviously dirt-covered nor pressing in uncomfortable places thanks to the awkward way he was carried out here. He does his best to focus on the silhouetted form that turned from bird-man to cloaked man just moments ago as he straightens his tabard, which bears the symbol of his command.

"I am Sir Clavian, sworn sword of Duke Lothus of Watch Hill, liege-man to his Sovereign Majesty, the King of Falan," he announces with practiced formality, not as if he expects it to impress anybody, but by simple way of establishing his credentials. "Tell me who you are, more-than-a-bandit? Be ye god or beastman, you have assaulted me in my camp, and presumably are in league with the force that took Sirs Methium and Vaniel. You have implied a just cause for these actions; identify yourself and your authority and speak your purpose."
Merlin
 player, 122 posts
Sat 18 Jun 2011
at 18:50
Re: Fires in the dark
"Your lordship, I am an exalted, if you must know. I discovered that a large shipment of supplies had not founds its way to a city where I was enjoying a circus near the great river. I was asked to investigate by the local authorities. I did so and found dozens of peasants missing from their homes, farms, and fields. I reported this and followed them to your encampment. I am sure that the other lords are being kept well, for the moment, under the watchful eye of my other exalted companion. You three, who seem to be in charge, are charged with kidnapping of men, women, and children. How do you plead?"
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 212 posts
Sat 18 Jun 2011
at 21:58
Re: Fires in the dark
The man looks a bit sick to the stomach, but manfully grits what is doubtless the tenor of his orders out: "They are either witnesses taken into custody for their own protection, or prisoners of an impending war, depending on what we learn from them. We are acting under writ from Duke Lothus of Watch Hill, who commands that we learn whether these," and here his mouth twists at the pained inaccuracy of the term he is using, "'lawless lands' are responsible for the disappearance of our own serfs to the north in Watch Hill. So long as I am one of the commanders of this investigatory expedition, they will not be harmed, and at worst, they will have new farms to man in the north of Falan."

He leaves unsaid that he's not certain of their providence if he's unable to return to keep order. He does add, however, "If you know anything of Trademeet Dale's involvement in the capture or instigation thereof of Falanian serfs, I charge you to declare it so now."
Merlin
 player, 123 posts
Sat 18 Jun 2011
at 23:42
Re: Fires in the dark
In reply to Segev Stormlord (msg #39):

Merlin's stance changes slightly from one of barely concealed hostility to one of disgust.

"Interesting. I have recently spoken to a few in leadership there and investigated their boarders personally. I have seen no evidence of abduction from your Dukes lands to their lands. I have been given to understand that Falan has been in need of slaves and that they could possibly be shipped by the guild through Trademeet. Seeing as the peasants were taken from the North it seems highly unlikely that they could be secreted, in numbers, across the duchy and to Trademeet.

I think that you should return to your men, give orders that the abducted peasants be returned to the homes from which they were taken, and take them there. Meanwhile, I will keep the other lordlings pleasantly occupied, yet unharmed until you return back here. Failure to comply will cost you the lives of not only the lordlings but every man under your shared commands. Test me not in this for I command the very air that you all breath and can take it from you if I wish."

Segev Stormlord
 GM, 213 posts
Sun 19 Jun 2011
at 00:21
Re: Fires in the dark
"Slaves?" snorts the Knight disdainfully. "Falan does no truck with slavers. The Beastmen have been raiding more heavily, depleting entire earldoms of their serfs, and our best information is that they're selling the surplus slaves for profit.

"Trademeet is known to be a den of money-grubbing cutthroats." He hasn't drawn a weapon, but he is fairly clearly preparing himself for death at the hands of an unreasonable demon. "It is the Duke of Watch Hill's belief that they are paying the Beastmen to take the excess prisoners. If Trademeet is, as you said, attempting to sell Guild slaves to Falan, then that would explain why they seek to create a demand like this!"

He grits his teeth. "It would be more honest to simply launch your raids and steal our wealth rather than paying others to steal our people. I did not want to believe it. The Count of Reeds would never permit Watch Hill serfs to be moved through his territory, so your accusations fall flat, O mighty Exalt.

"If you wish to murder me and my men, I cannot stop you, but know that it will be seen for the act of war it is. It may cost the lives of those you claim so much to wish to protect. If you wish to try to prove Trademeet is not behind this... then offer your proof. I would like nothing better than to discover the merchants are not hiring mercenaries to force us to starve or buy into their disgusting slave trade."
Merlin
 player, 124 posts
Sun 19 Jun 2011
at 00:40
Re: Fires in the dark
"Also interesting. I know of the Beastmen and their attacks, but Trademeet has no wish to traffic in slaves or unknowing serfs, which are essentially slaves. The Guilds seems to be pushing their way into the market to meet a need that Falan has for more population.

So, regardless of who is at fault, lets go down this list. The Beastmen take from you and give to somebody or eats them or whatever, you take from Trademeet, Trademeet purchases from the Guild to replace its losses.....or in perhaps Trademeet gets a small profit from handling the slaves through their port on their way to you.

Who really looses here? The serfs that the Beastmen take. I fail to see how Trademeet would want a war with Falan by stealing your serfs just to sell them back to you. They would instantly tell you who took them. Either way Trademeet will gain little if not loose under your theory.

In more likelihood there are outside forces manipulating the entire situation for profit or power. Since Trademeet, as a city, does not seem to want to traffic in slaves nor wants a war with Falan it falls on others to want this. You know the politics of Falan better than I do, at this time, who would gain from a war with Trademeet inside and outside of Falan?"

Segev Stormlord
 GM, 214 posts
Sun 19 Jun 2011
at 03:26
Re: Fires in the dark
"That...is a very good question. There is no way to say, other than that Falan loses if we must go to war. Nor can we three knights return empty-handed with just the word of 'an Exalt' that Trademeet is not behind this. We will have to bring back someone to speak your claims, and who Duke Lothus or the King himself can question to their satisfaction.

"To comply with your demand and do naught else will simply cost my men and I our commissions, and another group, more bloody-minded for the necessary task, will be sent to repeat this investigative quest. It would mean war. I sense in you at least a willingness to avoid this conflict. If you can propose aught to satisfy my lord, I will work to persuade Sir Vaniel and Sir Methius to go with an alternate plan. The peasants we have rounded up are, I want to believe, innocent, even if their masters in Trademeet are guilty. I would much rather not endanger them further if there is any alternative.

"So, then, Exalt who has disrupted my camp single-handedly, what do you propose? How can we resolve this without bloodshed which will beget only more bloodshed, and make whoever DOES benefit from this laugh at his easy victory?"
Merlin
 player, 125 posts
Mon 20 Jun 2011
at 20:07
Re: Fires in the dark
In reply to Segev Stormlord (msg #43):

"I propose nothing less than what I have already stated. However, I understand where there might be issues. I do believe that I can have a representative of Trademeet before the your Duke within a short period of time. In fact, they should already be on their way now.

In that I could have killed all of you in a matter of minutes should tell you something. So, you will have to trust me. You, will return to your camp, give the order that you will be returning the peasants to the boarders of Trademeet. There will obviously be questions and concerns. You can answer them honestly in that if you do not do exactly that, every soldier and officer will be killed.

Your fellow officers will be traveling as 'guests' to the Duke and they, myself, and my friend will meet you there. We will be a 100 yards inside the treeline near his stronghold. You will be permitted to confer with them before proceeding.

Meanwhile, I will keep my side of the bargain and fetch those necessary to talk to your Duke.

Agreed."

Segev Stormlord
 GM, 216 posts
Mon 20 Jun 2011
at 20:38
Re: Fires in the dark
"You will have difficulty traveling through Reeds if you attempt to pass Count Aquain with knights of the realm as 'guests,' and equal trouble getting by the others of Duke Amaran's vassals. You would do well to bring your alleged friends to meet with us here and now; I will happily and gladly release the peasants to return to their homes once those with more ability to speak with Trademeet are near. Attempting to murder the soldiers may well result in retaliatory deaths of the prisoners before you are through.

"I know that sounds a threat," he says, holding up his gauntletted hand, "but it isn't. It is just an assessment of the temper of the men. This has been stressful, and is not typical of our quests. Vaniel's men, in particular, are on a hair trigger of stress. Methius has been invaluable in helping to keep the men's heads cool. In a way, I am glad I was the last one you grabbed; I was able to leave orders that the prisoners be guarded and kept from harm. I do not know if those will hold if you attack again. I only hope they have held so far."

The man looks older than his body's years for a moment. "If I command a release of them, with you here and no goodwill established, Vaniel's men may revolt. I have no technical command over them or Methius's. But, come. Let me try to bring order to the camp, and then let me speak with the other Knights. We will resolve this without bloodshed, I hope. At a minimum, your threat of violence and your obvious power should be enough to justify waiting for your supposed emmisaries to arrive. Even should they be yet another army, that would simply be proof we could not have succeeded...though it will also mean war.

"I will send a runner to Reeds so the Count knows what to expect, if that meets with your approval." There is something of a test in the Knight's tone, as if he's measuring something by Merlin's response.
Merlin
 player, 126 posts
Mon 20 Jun 2011
at 21:20
Re: Fires in the dark
In reply to Segev Stormlord (msg #45):

"Those who speak before acting are not with me. Mine was a scouting mission to find the peasants and if possible free them. I would be happy to make my presence known to your men if that would make returning the peasants home easier for you. However, as is, those who speak before acting or many miles away. I would need to go tell them what would be expected of them. This is why I told you what to do."
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 217 posts
Tue 21 Jun 2011
at 16:13
Re: Fires in the dark
"And I have told you," he says, sounding...tired, and unsure whether to be resigned to death yet or not, "what we CAN do. Given the threat you pose, I can absolutely keep the men here, and establish a camp. But actually releasing the prisoners before 'those who speak before acting' arrive to negotiate the exchange is not going to happen. As much as I hate to hold them hostage, that's what they are. 'This flying Dragonblooded told me he could kill us all, and to release the prisoners and go back without completing our mission, even though that might mean war,'" he says, pantomiming explaining this to the other soldiers, "'but don't worry, he promises he won't kill us while we're heading back, even though he kidnapped me and Sirs Methius and Vaniel.' Yeah," he adds, looking back at Merlin, "That'll go over well. Let me explain the situation to Vaniel and Methius. Vaniel will be furious, but Methius will help me bring him around.

"We'll be camped right here, and when your people 'who speak before acting' arrive, we'll negotiate the release and figure out who's coming back with us instead." He sighs. "Or, you can kill me, and attack the camp. You'll probably kill a dozen or so before they start murdering hostages, and you'll probably save two thirds of them or so if you're fast enough at your killing.

"Duke Lothus will use this to convince the king to send an army to conquer Trademeet within the month."
Merlin
 player, 129 posts
Tue 28 Jun 2011
at 21:41
Re: Fires in the dark
"Then, if your ready I will take you to meet your other officers."

Merlin will fly the guy over the the small clearing where the other two are under the watch of Aya. Not much to watch since they are bound and gagged. Merlin will remove their gags but not their bonds.
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 218 posts
Wed 29 Jun 2011
at 00:01
Re: Fires in the dark
Clavien speaks with his peers at length. It is clear that Methius, the oldest at somewhere in his late 40s, is also the one to which both Clavien and Vaniel (who can't be even half Methius's age) defer, at least in terms of social dynamics. Vaniel has to be hushed more than once in his insistence that they should simply "deal with" the fools who kidnapped them and march the prisoners back. Obviously, the young one thinks having authority from his Duke is equivalent to having the power to exercise it.

Methius, like Clavien, proves wiser. Though the older knight gives the impression he feels Clavien has sold them out, somehow, he does acknowledge the reality of the situation.

Before long, the three are in agreement that they will return and set up a more permanent camp, and inform the prisoners that somebody is coming to negotiate their release. No mention is made of improving their treatment, but it is less out of a lack of caring and more out of a sense that they would feel irresponsible to ever mistreat their prisoners. Clavien, in an uncharacteristic show of bad judgment, suggests that fraternization with the prisoners might improve morale for both sides. Vaniel scoffs, but it is Methius's stern but subtle hint that the men might think that means they can take...liberties...that reminds the trio of their duty to keep order, for both sides' sake.

When all's said and done, the three knights agree to wait for Merlin to bring "those who speak before acting" back with him, and return to their men to restore order to the camp. Aya remains in one of her many easily-overlooked forms to watch and make sure they adhere to their word. Merlin...has a several-hour flight before he will find Beatrix and the others. It will be nearing dawn, by then.

((OOC: Feel free to post yourself arriving in the other thread early in the morning, before dawn, if you choose to leave immediately. If you choose to wait until morning, discuss with the others in OOC whether they want to do anything more before you catch up with them.))