Chapter 4: The City of the Forgotten Ones.   Posted by Raellus.Group: 0
Corros Graelor
 Adventurer, 249 posts
 Half-Elf Warlock
 keys138
Tue 24 May 2016
at 01:03
With her long blonde hair and her eyes of black...
Corros spins slowly in place as the creatures surround their little group.  Part of him is processing their once again betrayal at those they thought dealt with.  Another part is dealing with the movement of his companions around him.  The final sliver of his mind is making a note to look a little more at the followers of Arma, because Jenna just jumped off the dock and went headlong into the sea of bad ass.  And truth be told, the whole black eyes thing makes him a bit nervous.  Not deal breaker nervous but,-

Hey stupid, bad guys. Right.

I think you will find that we are not an easy meal. Corros sends, then begins drawing power around him.

The snakes are headed out.  The direwolf/dwarf has a plan.  Jenna is about to smite her enemies and Nic is getting stabby with the pointy end of a sharp sword.  Corros does what Corros does.  He drops Shatter on the group opposite Jenna to soften them up for Gronk, and preps for a hellish rebuke.

Corros
AC 13, 26/25 HP
Casting Shatter on a group for Gronk to go bananas on
Will use Hellish Rebuke if hit

Gronk
 Party NPC, 90 posts
 Half-Orc Fighter
 Raellus
Tue 24 May 2016
at 02:02
Rear Guard

Gronk loves a good, straightforward toe-to-toe fight; this is rapidly turning into anything but. Bug-men, magical snakes, a wolf that used to be a dwarf, now hightailing it out of the fight (or so it seems to the half-orc) at full speed, and the rest of his companions, each doing his or her own thing.

Normally, he'd move alongside Nic in melee- the pair had, so far, fought very well as a two-man bash-and-slash team. But, surrounded as the companions were, someone had to keep the bugs off their backs. He spun around to face west and prepared to meet the approaching enemy.

Gronk
AC 16; HP 52/56
Ready action; will use Action Surge to make second melee attack; riposte reaction on tap


-

This message was last edited by the player at 03:38, Tue 24 May 2016.

Raellus
 GM, 453 posts
 Sage
 Raconteur
Tue 24 May 2016
at 15:18
Kicking an Ants' Nest

Ulfgar lays down a squirming carpet of vipers at the feet of the insectoids forming the eastern face of the ring, then, transformed into a direwolf, dashes between two of them. They both swipe at the passing Ulfgar-wolf with their polearms but, beset by biting snakes, their attacks are distracted and clumsy; only one succeeds, slicing into the direwolf's right side as he runs by ( T2 -11HP, T3 -16HP, T4 -15HP, T13 -24HP; Ulfgar-wolf -5HP). Ulfgar-wolf quickly moves out of range of the bug-men's long-hafted weapons, but the painful wound breaks his concentration, banishing the serpentine summons.

Jenna is next to act, launching a Guiding Bolt into a bug-man on the Five's right flank. It reels back, still glowing from the aftereffects of Arma's power (T7 -14HP & grants advantage to next attacker).

In the blink of an eye, the tip of Nic's rapier darts outward, piercing what, on a human, would be its right cheek (T3 -14HP). Stung by the impact of the slim blade, the insectoid pulls away. Backpedalling, it swings its double-ended halberd-like weapon at the Ardani, but Nic easily evades the blade. His slashing riposte strikes the bug-man's head from its shoulders, killing it instantly (T3 -15HP = T3 is dead!). Two allies on either side of its now headless body counterattack but neither manage to connect with the slippery rogue. (Nic -2 superiority dice)

Corros centers his spell's intended impact point on the northern trio of thrikreen (this, he senses, is what they call themselves) and let's fly. The powerful thunderstrike staggers all three, the two just left and right of center receiving the worst of it (T11 -26HP, T12 -13HP, T1 -26HP).

Gronk turns around to face the insectoids attacking from the rear. When his chosen opponent draws within striking range, Gronk bashes it hard with a forehand blow, then catches it again on the backswing (T9 -24HP) with his morning star. It's flanking companions flail at the half-org with polearms and barbed forelimbs, striking him thrice (Gronk -16HP). He tries to respond, but fails to connect with his counterstrike. (Gronk -1 superiority die)

The trio of thrikreen wounded by Corro's Shatter spell attack the young warlock. The first to strike him erupts in a gout of flame, then collapses, burned to death (Corros -5HP; T11 is dead!). Undaunted, its companions press on, continuing the assault, and Corros nearly falls under the rain of blows (Corros -20HP).

Three insectoids close in on Jenna but the priestess manages to turn away most of their polearm blows with her shield (Jenna -5HP).


Your Turn.

-

This message was last edited by the GM at 15:42, Tue 24 May 2016.

Corros Graelor
 Adventurer, 251 posts
 Half-Elf Warlock
 keys138
Tue 24 May 2016
at 17:58
Kicking an Ants' Nest
Corros knows that his spell hit its target hard, but he is a little disappointed that all three of his targets continued forward to maul him.  An attempted twist away leaves a blade scrape my across his ribs that The Library takes offense to, ripping the thikreen from this life in a blast of fire.  He would celebrate, the warlock is driven to the ground with a shout of pain by two other blows that leave blood flowing into his mouth coming out in spurts.

Corros is hurt bad and he knows it.  Jenna is in danger of being overwhelmed, he's afraid to distract her, and the others could fall alone as well.  A weak hand reaches for his wand, calling forth three magic missiles that streak out towards their targets.

Gronk, he calls out, unable to speak around the fluid flooding his lungs and mouth. Help me.

Corros
1/35hp, AC 13
Magic Missile wand, 3 charges, 4 remaining
2 missiles at T1, 1 at T9
1d4+1 each

Jenna Drax
 Adventurer, 301 posts
 Human Cleric
 Dave Ross
Tue 24 May 2016
at 18:40
Kicking an Ants' Nest
Jenna can feel the force of the creatures' blows reverberate through her shield as it absorbs most of them, although a sudden sharp pain shoots through her left arm, followed a moment later by a feeling of wetness against her skin as one of them manages to catch her with a glancing blow.

Her attention is focused solely on her three attackers now, those obsidian eyes shifting from one to the other. Somewhere over her shoulder she can hear Corros cry out in pain. Arma was surely testing her, measuring the strength of her faith. And Jenna would not be found wanting. Her lips form a humourless smile as she lunges forward, swinging Arma's Blessing through the air, every ounce of power she could muster behind the blow as she tried to strike down the creature that the Warrior had illuminated for her (T7), her lips moving in a silent prayer to the Goddess to guide her blow. And when that one falls Jenna will turn to the next one, send it on the same journey as its companion.

Jenna
AC: 17, HP24/38
Warhammer +1
Using War Priest for bonus attack and Divine Favour for extra 1d4 damage
Primary target T7, secondary target T5

Gronk
 Party NPC, 92 posts
 Half-Orc Fighter
 Raellus
Tue 24 May 2016
at 18:43
Kicking an Ants' Nest

Gronk hears Corros' psychic plea, and he reacts quickly to help his physically fragile half-elf friend.

Trusting his shield to protect him from the three bug-men he's now choosing to ignore, Gronk pivots right and picks out the insectoid closest to Corros.

"I'm gonna squash you!" he shouts in the creature's bug face, trying to capture its attention. The half-orc gladiator's attack is designed to goad his opponent into a hasty counter-attack. With some luck, the monster will ignore the severely wounded warlock and turn its attention to Gronk instead.

The half-orc's instinct is taking over, channeled fury building to the point where he feels less pain as he doles out more.

Gronk (enraged)
AC 16; HP 42/56
Goading attack v. T12; Riposte on tap


-

This message was last edited by the player at 19:55, Tue 24 May 2016.

Ulfgar Frostbeard
 Adventurer, 246 posts
 Hill Dwarf Druid
 Spartan-117
Tue 24 May 2016
at 19:48
Kicking an Ants' Nest
With the Summons gone, there was no possibility of kiting any of the insects, so Ulfgar turned around and dashed back into the fray.  He looked for an opportunity to threaten one of Nic's opponents, while Nic threatened one he was planning to chomp on.

Dire Wolf (AC: 14, HP: 37, Move 50’)
Move: 45' feet to a position near T4 and T13
Action: Attack T13 - Bite +5, Damage 2d6+3.  Must STR save vs. DC13 or get knocked prone.  Using Pack Tactics to gain Advantage.

This message was last edited by the player at 19:49, Tue 24 May 2016.

Nicolai Romanelli
 Adventurer, 366 posts
 Human Rogue
 Tegyrius
Tue 24 May 2016
at 21:55
Kicking an Ants' Nest
The sound of large blades cleaving flesh draws an involuntary wince from Nicolai even as he kicks away the corpse of his first victim.  A quarter-turn to force one of his oncoming opponents to veer around the other also gives him the chance for a glance over his shoulder.  Corros is gravely wounded but Gronk is clearly on the move in that direction --

-- and there's a furry blur heading back into the fight behind the creatures closing on Nicolai.  A grim imitation of a smile creases Nicolai's face as he maneuvers to hold his opponents' attention for a few more seconds.

Nicolai
AC 17; HP 23/28; superiority dice 2/4
Move: Maneuvering toward T13 for synergy with Ulfgar
Attack: Against T4 with +1 rapier (attack +7 w/ advantage; damage 1d8+2d6+4)
Contingency: If attacked and missed, will expend a superiority die for Riposte

Raellus
 GM, 459 posts
 Sage
 Raconteur
Tue 24 May 2016
at 22:51
Kicking an Ants' Nest

Three incandescent violet darts shoot from the tip of Corros' Wand of Missiles. The thrikreen just east of north falls backward, steam venting from two mortal wounds burned through its abdomen (T1 is dead!). The thrikreen formerly facing off against Gronk is struck as well, but to lesser effect (T9 -4HP).

Gronk's attack against the surviving bug-man still threatening Corros (T12) is perhaps too enthusiastic, getting its attention but passing harmlessly wide of the mark. Otherwise, the half-orc's ploy works perhaps too well. He draws attacks from no less than three of the instectoids (T8, T10, & T12), four of which connect with his unprotected flesh (Gronk -12HP). He fights back desperately, capitalizing on his chosen opponent's miss with a powerful counterblow (T12 -18HP). A fourth bug-man (T9), badly wounded by the half-orc's earlier attacks and Corros' solitary Magic Missile, hesitates for a few heartbeats, then stalks forward, weapon lowered at the grounded warlock.

On the Five's southern flank, Jenna fights off three bug-men by herself. Arma's Blessing cracks one opponent's hard shell (T7 -8HP), but her follow up attack can't replicate that success. The war priestess' three attackers (T5, T6, & T7) hack away at her with their polearms, producing a fresh trio of painful wounds (Jenna -15HP).

As Nic maneuvers to grant himself and his lupine ally the advantage of complementary flanking attacks against the easternmost pair of instectoids, Ulfgar-wolf launches himself back into the fray, biting at the nearest monster's legs (T13) from behind. His canine teeth glance off of the insectoid's hard, rounded outer shell. The bug-man turns on its attacker and hacks at wolf, but Ulfgar manages to pivot out of the way of both blows.

Nic's rapier again pierces exoskeleton. When the wounded bug-man misses with a pair of rushed counterstrokes, the Ardani deftly answers with with a quick thrust through its thorax, dropping it, mortally wounded, to the ground (T4 is dead!). The insectoid now behind Nic (T2) somehow manages to miss the Ardani- twice- with its sweeping halberd attacks, making its presence known in the process.


Your Turn.

-

This message was last edited by the GM at 02:43, Wed 25 May 2016.

Corros Graelor
 Adventurer, 253 posts
 Half-Elf Warlock
 keys138
Wed 25 May 2016
at 01:14
Kicking an Ants' Nest
Relief floods through Corros when Gronk arrives at his side.  Watching another of the thrikreen fall helps, but the five are still badly outnumbered and on the edge of catastrophe. With several of their enemy showing signs of severe injury, Corros lifts the wand again and spreads out reach of the missiles in an attempt to even the score a little more in The Five's favor.  Or to at least stay alive for another few seconds.


Corros
1/35 HP, AC 13
Wand of Magic Missiles 3 charges, 1/7 remaining
1 missile each at T7, T9, and T12

Jenna Drax
 Adventurer, 302 posts
 Human Cleric
 Dave Ross
Wed 25 May 2016
at 07:41
Kicking an Ants' Nest
Jenna’s thigh is slashed, the material of her breeches ripped, blood running down her leg. The Priestess can taste more blood in her mouth as she faces her foes. Still three of them, for the first one had yet to fall, her second blow missing its mark.

The blows to her body are blows to her faith as well. How much more did Arma wish to test her? Had she not proved herself time and time again in the subterranean City? But still the Goddess wanted more. Jenna would give all that she had, but she could feel her strength ebbing from her with her blood. And as her strength fades, the realisation is dawning that she does not expect to survive this fight.

So be it. She will give her life defending her friends.

The slim Priestess deftly unbuckles the straps that hold her shield in place, let it fall to the ground so that she can heft Arma’s Blessing in both hands, lets out a wild cry as she lunges at her enemy, determined to see at least one of them dead before she falls.

Jenna
AC: 16, HP9/38
Warhammer +1 two handed
Using War Priest for bonus attack and Divine Favour for extra 1d4 damage
Primary target T7, secondary target T5. If T7 is already dead both attacks to T5

This message was last edited by the player at 07:41, Wed 25 May 2016.

Ulfgar Frostbeard
 Adventurer, 247 posts
 Hill Dwarf Druid
 Spartan-117
Wed 25 May 2016
at 13:57
Kicking an Ants' Nest
Ulfgar leapt back after his bite failed to penetrate.  He'd need to find a softer part of the bug to sink his teeth into.  The druid knew he needed to kill this foe and quickly move on to fighting the others.  He carefully considered anatomical option on the creature before lunging forward once more to strike.

Dire Wolf (AC: 14, HP: 32/37, Move 50’)
Action: Attack T13 - Bite +5, Damage 2d6+3.  Must STR save vs. DC13 or get knocked prone.  Using Pack Tactics to gain Advantage if possible.

Gronk
 Party NPC, 93 posts
 Half-Orc Fighter
 Raellus
Wed 25 May 2016
at 15:48
Kicking an Ants' Nest

Gronk continues to defend Corros. Despite being badly wounded, the warlock is wreaking havoc with his magic. Gronk can't allow the wizardling to fall. The half-orc turns on the next closest bug-man and attempts to smash through its bony hide with Spike.

Gronk
AC 16; HP 30/56
0/4 Superiority Dice
Finishing T12 or attacking T10


-

This message was last edited by the player at 16:48, Wed 25 May 2016.

Nicolai Romanelli
 Adventurer, 367 posts
 Human Rogue
 Tegyrius
Wed 25 May 2016
at 21:44
Kicking an Ants' Nest
Another bugman falls, and another pivot and glance shows Nicolai that the fight is starting to equalize.  Gronk has intervened in Corros' fight - but Jenna, almost as bloody as the witchling, appears to be making a last stand.

Yeah, that's not on.

"Pull this one to me," Nicolai snarls to the skin-dancer, flicking his blade toward his last opponent's eyes for emphasis - and a distraction as he dances out of the sweep of its polearm.  Then he turns, hurtles another overgrown insect husk, and drives straight for the back of one of the two creatures still coming in on Jenna.

Nicolai
AC 17; HP 23/38; superiority dice 1/4
Bonus: Disengage (from T2)
Move: Into melee with T5/T6/Jenna
Attack: Against T5 with +1 rapier (attack +7, damage 1d8+2d6+4)
Contingency/Reaction: If attacked and missed, will expend last superiority die for Riposte

Raellus
 GM, 462 posts
 Sage
 Raconteur
Wed 25 May 2016
at 21:57
A Change of Pace

Three more glowing darts leap forth from Corros' wand, each shooting out in a different direction. Two more thrikreen meet their ends, crumpling to the cold earth in fleeting flurries of bright sparks. (T9 & T12 are dead!) The third Magic Missile blasts off one of Jenna's current opponent's four arms (T7 -4HP).

Trading protection for offensive power, the war priestess drops her shield and uses both hands to bring Arma's Blessing down on her opponent's bug head, smashing it in an explosion of yellowish ichor. (T7 is dead!)

Ulfgar channels all of his ursine instinct into an all-or-nothing, open-jawed lunge at his opponent's abdomen. His sharp wolf teeth tear into the bug-man's relatively soft underbelly, spilling its guts in a brief gusher of steaming gore. The creature stumbles as its legs give out, then crashes to the ground dead. (T13 is dead!)

Swinging Spike with a vengeance, Gronk bashes a dent in his target's thorax (T10 -16HP), forcing the creature backwards in obvious distress.

Rapier outstretched, Nic vaults one of the insectoid dead and becomes a human missile. The bug-man sees the flying attack coming and steps aside to avoid being kebabbed.

Without any audible warning, Nic's target and the remaining insectoids leap away from the fracas, each easily clearing about 30' from a standing start. Corros senses fear, disappointment, and resignation swirling in the creatures' hive mind.

They are too strong.
We have lost too many.
I am hurt.
The hive must survive.
We must flee.
Away!


The six survivors of the swarm skitter away, quickly disappearing into the snow-dusted rubble. The Five are left alone on the battlefield, surrounded now by seven battered instectoid corpses, still steaming amidst the churned-up snow and damp earth. In death, their well-camouflaged exoskeletons slowly transition in color from an environmentally appropriate grey-dappled white to an orange-ish brown.

After catching their breath, the Five take their loot and make their way out of the ambush-friendly ruins, emerging on to the open, snow-coated steppe. The horses are gone. The stakes used to hobble them are still in place, but the ropes have been cut. The Five, weary from their wounds, will have to walk home.

After a hike of several hours, the Five arrive back at the wagon trail that runs between Balefyre and Yonder's Hole to find the beginnings of a structure set just off of the tracks, opposite the mounded graves of Old Klem's caravan crew. It wasn't here the last time the Five passed through. A low wall constructed of stacked slate surrounds a rammed-earth floor, with a cellar cut square into one corner. The wall's been covered with a thin layer of straw; some sections are tarped over with oiled sailcloth. Next to the structure, a large corral has been staked out with wooden fence posts. A crude sign beside the unfinished building, facing Balefyre, reads,

Welcome to Pace
Population -
Future Home of the Halfway House Inn



Your Turn.

Congratulations, you have all leveled up!

-

This message was last edited by the GM at 20:11, Sat 04 June 2016.

Ulfgar Frostbeard
 Adventurer, 249 posts
 Hill Dwarf Druid
 Spartan-117
Thu 26 May 2016
at 16:13
A Change of Pace
As the bug-men left, Ulfgar, who shifted back to his dwarven form, breathed a sigh of relief.  They were a tough foe and he was quite impressed by their chitinous armor's ability to turn away his Dire Wolf form's vicious bite.  As a Druid, Frostbeard admired nature's way of creating adaptations that ensures a species survival.  By his reckoning, mother nature had made a better set of armor for these creatures than he'd been able to cobble together with pelts and hide.  The thought gave him an idea.

"I need just a minute before we set out," Ulfgar said.  He selected the two most intact Thri-Kreen corpse and covered them with his cloak.  Over the rest, he said ancient prayers and set a small stones upon their foreheads.  Then Ulfgar dragged the cloaked corpses behind cover near the ruins.  The dwarf ducked under the cloak and set about his task.  When he was done, he said his venerations and laid two small stones upon the cloak.

"Alright, ready to go," Ulfgar said, patting his bag of holding.


"I don't know Pace, but I'm sure he or she wouldn't mind if we laid out bedrolls and got some rest behind these walls," Ulfgar said.  "Especially as I'm happy to pay if'n they show up demanding coin for accommodation."

Frostbeard found a suitable spot and prepared to nap.

This message was last edited by the player at 18:18, Thu 26 May 2016.

Jenna Drax
 Adventurer, 303 posts
 Human Cleric
 Dave Ross
Thu 26 May 2016
at 17:58
A Change of Pace
Then

"Thank you," Jenna says to Nicolai as she sees the Ardani standing next to her, her eyes turning towards him, pools that are still pure obsidian resting on him for a moment before she closes them, breathes deeply, her chest rising and falling as she sinks slowly to her knees, leans against her hammer, its blunt head to the ground, her hands resting on it. Her face is streaked with whatever had erupted from the innards of the thing that she had slain. Her thigh is throbbing and she is bleeding from at least four different places where her flesh has been sliced open. She can taste blood in her mouth.

Arma had tested her. And she had proven herself worthy again. She felt...strange...weak...but, too, invigorated, for her skin had tingled as she had smashed the thing's head as though the Goddess had thought fit to Bless her with her divine grace.

The Priestess takes a deep breath, opens her eyes. They are still black. Slowly she rises to her feet, using Arma's Blessing to push herself up, wincing as she feels a fresh stab of pain in her leg. Looking over she sees Corros. She had heard him cry out, but had been so focused on her own fight that she had not realised how badly he had been hurt. She looks over at Gronk, anguish writ large on her face, but a reassuring nod from the half orc sets her mind at least partly to ease. Elsewhere, she can see Ulfgar set about some task.

"I need a minute as well." Jenna says, addressing her comment to them all. Her eyes have not changed colour. "A promise was made." Slowly, tentatively she walks over to one of their slain foes, its head lying on the ground parted from its body. She knew not that it was one that Nicolai had slain. Its weapon lay next to its body, where it had fell. Placing her hammer down on the ground Jenna picks up the decapitated head, holds it in one hand, the other reaching for the thing's weapon, pushing the pointed tip of the polearm hard into the thing's skull, causing more yellowish spray to strike her as she drives the other end of the polearm into the ground, hard.

"I told you that I would mount your head on a spike for all to see." the slim blonde hisses as she steps away, picks up her hammer and shield and then nods. "I am ready." It would be several minutes before her eyes regained their normal colour.
Corros Graelor
 Adventurer, 256 posts
 Half-Elf Warlock
 keys138
Fri 27 May 2016
at 22:51
A Change of Pace
Then

It takes Gronk's help to get Corros back to his feet.  Then it takes a few moments of barf/coughing to clear his mouth of the blood their thrikreen opponents put there via battery to the warlock's body.  A glance down at his body shows the damage.

"Thanks," Corros manages to Gronk, relief thick in his voice.  "I'd be dead..so thanks."  He wasn't sure he would have survived much longer anyway, not if the insects hadn't pulled out when they did.  His fingers had formed the symbols needed to hurl a little more magical punishment at the retreating...backs? But he couldn't clear his mouth in time to speak the words.  The wand they'd been given had proven its worth.

He watches, oddly detached as Jenna mounts a head on spear, finishing her pre-battle oath in gory, if not literal, fashion.  It probably doesn't even matter if it was the same thrikreen, Corros has lost track of which one was which somewhere between being stabbed and the Library burning an insect to crisp.  The length of time that passes before her eyes return to normal, concerns him a little as he notes that each time she gives into battle rage it seems like it's a farther trip back.  Or I'm just imagining it.  What do I know about Arma and justice?

"I'll, uh, need a minute," he says with a grin he doesn't necessarily feel, trying to hide the depths of his injuries. "Just need to catch my breath.  Anyone want to check my injuries?  Make sure the important parts are all there?  Heart? Lungs?  Something to pass the time while Ulfgar is off being Ulfgar?"




Corros sits heavily on the small wall, legs, and body, weary from the long walk.  It hadn't been exactly surprising to find the horses missing when they'd returned to where they left them.  More like irritating and a sign of how this place seemed to be working against them.  Like trying to save the world didn't rate assistance from the actual world.  Bastards.

In defiance of their circumstances, the warlock produces a single copper and jams it into a gap between two of the stone.  "Hey look, we're they're first paying customers!"  With hands hiding a tremble of fatigue, he opens his waterskin and finishes what's left.  "Okay, I'll take first watch.  Sleep.  All of you."

Unless you want to talk, he adds silently to Jenna. We can sure make it look like you're sleeping, though.
Nicolai Romanelli
 Adventurer, 369 posts
 Human Rogue
 Tegyrius
Sat 28 May 2016
at 00:02
A Change of Pace
Then:

"Ungh," Nicolai manages.  He finds a convenient boulder to lean against and contemplates his sword for a minute before cleaning and sheathing it.  He gives Jenna's display a rueful glance but withholds comment.

"Take all the time you want," he says to no one in particular, staring at the leaden sky.  With effort, he transfers his gaze to Corros.  "Hey, Gronk.  Nice save there."




Now:

Despite the horses' disappearance, Nicolai's mood and energy level improve steadily as the party leaves the ruined city behind.  By the time they draw into view of the construction site, he's almost cheerful.  "The caravan-master said this would be a good place to put in an inn," he remarks.  "I guess someone took him up on..." his voice trails off.

"Fuck," he says faintly, resignedly.  Then, in something approaching his normal tone: "This wasn't here when we came through before."  He scratches pointedly at his beard, which is several steps closer to a goatee than usual.  "'All the time you want.'  Heh.  Mórag's teeth.  I may want to retract that..."
Jenna Drax
 Adventurer, 305 posts
 Human Cleric
 Dave Ross
Sun 29 May 2016
at 10:54
A Change of Pace
Then:

Jenna feels a pang of remorse when Corros asks if someone wants to check his injuries. She should have been doing that rather than mounting the dead thing's head like a trophy. There's a further conflict of emotions as she remembers the dark and twisted thoughts that she had had about him in the underground City.

"Let me have a look." She says, walking over to the half elf, limping slightly. She's streaked in blood and whatever squirted out of the creatures, but she ruefully reflects that he looks much worse than she does as she steps up to the Warlock, places her hands on his arms, carefully, so as not to aggravate his wounds. "You need some rest. But on first glance I think everything is still there." It's said with a coy smile, her head dipping as her cheeks colour slightly.



Now:

The trek had felt like a long one, one aggravated by the injury to Jenna's leg that soon makes every step painful. She tries to ignore the pain as best as she can, but at one point she has to lean on Nicolai for support for a short while. Given the choice she would rather it were Corros of course, a fact that she suspected the Rogue would be well aware of, but the Half Elf was clearly in no condition to render assistance.

"I wonder where the people are?" She muses almost to herself as Corros thrust a coin into a gap between the stones. Was Arma about to test her again? Hurl more dangers at her? Jenna looks around warily as they make their preparations to bed down.

She's just lay down on her bedroll when she feels the gentle caress in her head that heralds the presence of Corros. It's a welcome sensation, calming, soothing, a contrast to all of the conflicts she is experiencing. The slim Priestess closes her eyes, pulls up her blanket, rolls on to her side. And opens up her mind to the Warlock.

I thought that I was going to die. That we were all going to die. It felt strange. Not scared, I wasn't scared, I had accepted it. But it was as though I had somehow failed Arma. It is as though She wants more than I can give.


Different images flash through her head. A frightened blonde haired ten year old girl hiding as orc raiders slaughtered those around her. A man in the garb of an Armist Priest carrying her away from that place of death. Lessons in the sheltered environment of the Cloisters, being taught how to fight, how to serve the Goddess. The same girl, older now, lurking, unseen, eavesdropping on the elder Priests. They are arguing, one of them thumping the table, another shaking his head. Leaving the Cloisters, setting out with the same Priest who had shook his head. And then burying him days before she had encountered the others. Since the age of ten Arma has been her life.
Corros Graelor
 Adventurer, 257 posts
 Half-Elf Warlock
 keys138
Sun 29 May 2016
at 19:00
A Change of Pace

The crossroads is quiet except for the sounds of adventurers bedding down or preparing to bed down.  Corros doesn't skimp on the watch, the groups safety depends on his alertness for the next couple of hours, but he doesn't simply stare into space, waiting for something to emerge from the forest.  The elven heritage of his mother has granted him the ability to see into the dark, at least somewhat, and that sight gives him enough comfort that he is willing to "speak" to Jenna for a while.  The perch he chooses against the wall is close enough that he can overlook his companions and allows him to lean against the still warm stone.

I was afraid, he admits without trying to hide it.  I was afraid I would die and wouldn't be able to protect you.  Or the others and that everything would have ended up meaningless.  But fear isn't really new.

Images of his own life are brought to the surface and shared.  Pieces of memories at first: a snatch of songs in the elven language, a bright forest, and a slender elven woman with purple hair so dark it is almost black.  Then there is Corros walking into a city, hungry and scared, holding his mother's hand, then standing, screaming in a public square as people walk around him, ignoring the child.  A pack of children arrive, shoving him down and mocking him.  The same children, a few years older, hiding and stealing food from the market.  Acquitors of a blood cult pulling children off the street to do something with. Corros hiding whatever food he could and stealing away into secret places where no one could hurt him.

It was this way until the dreams started.  More visions, this time of a massive library whose geometry gives proof to it's magical origins.  Shelves of books line every wall, the floor, even descending from the ceiling.  Doors that won't open until they want to.  Tables with candles that never burn out where he learned to read, sounding out letters.  Warmth.  Safety.  Power.  For the first time, a power to protect himself.  Then visions of a teenager on the street, rich with with the arrogance of youth despite being a street rat.  Then the attention of the Eleventh Finger and a burning city and being told to leave Silverleaf.  Through it all, there is a strong undercurrent of being alone and scrambling for everything he ever had.  Except for The Library, his one safe place accessible only in his dreams.

Corros is older than his nineteen years.  Experience has taught him to shield his emotions well, but he can't keep the fear of losing Jenna from leaking out in his thoughts.  Or how badly he wants to walk over to her bedroll and kiss her, hard, in celebration of the fact that they are both still alive.
Jenna Drax
 Adventurer, 306 posts
 Human Cleric
 Dave Ross
Sun 29 May 2016
at 20:35
A Change of Pace
Her eyes still closed, Jenna gazes at the images in her mind, awestruck as she looks on books that stretch for as far as the eye can see, making the library within the Cloisters that represented centuries of knowledge accumulated by the Priests of Arma appear to be no more than a mere cupboard. The blonde haired Priestess tries to reach out in her mind, to touch one of the tomes, but that is when she finds herself gazing on a City that burns. Perhaps it is this Library's way of telling her that she can look but not touch.

Did you...was that your doing? She is referring to the burning City, although as soon as she has thought it she wishes that she could retract it, lest it cause the Warlock hurt. She can hear his other thoughts too, as clearly as though they were sitting in a room facing each other and he was speaking them aloud, feel the emotions that are spilling out.

You are not alone. Not any more.More images flood her mind, shared with Corros, this time of things that have not yet passed. Her, in his arms, his lips finding hers. A room, somewhere, she knows not where, although it is not their current residence in Balefyre. The trappings are luxurious. Her armour is scattered about the floor, intertwined with his robes.

But amongst the images there's confusion too, uncertainty. For the Warrior expects devotion. Dedication. And She does not care to share Her priests with others. With mortals. We need to talk about this later. Alone. She meant when they could be properly alone, rather than a secret conversation whilst their companions lay around them, asleep.
Gronk
 Party NPC, 94 posts
 Half-Orc Fighter
 Raellus
Mon 30 May 2016
at 00:03
A Change of Pace

Gronk's toothy, awe-shucks grin stands out in stark contrast to his bright red cheeks. For some reason, kudos from these few, these new friends, mean more than the loudest roar of the biggest Freeport pit crowd.

"Don't mention it guys- you'd all do the same for me."

He lays out his bedroll at the base of the unfinished wall, covers himself in a blanket, and falls fast asleep. The former gladiator dreams not of arenas, or cloisters, or arcane libraries, but of a sexy, dirty-blond city watch commander (none other than Commandant Kara Overmark) wearing nothing but a come hither smile...

"Thanks for saving my city. Again. I wanted to give you your share of the reward, personally. Come here, big guy."

-

This message was last edited by the player at 02:51, Mon 30 May 2016.

Raellus
 GM, 464 posts
 Sage
 Raconteur
Mon 30 May 2016
at 00:20
A Change of Pace

The night passes quietly- the moon in roughly the same phase as when the party last came this way, but tracing a slightly different course in the dark sky.

Long Rest completed.

Dawn comes cold and crisp, a layer of hoarfrost crackling from the party's disturbed bedding. The Five are startled to find that they are not alone. Perched on the low wall, or hopping about just outside, is an unkindness of ravens- nearly a dozen jet black birds of considerable size, considerately refraining from waking the campers by cawing.

The birds make no attempt to cause trouble, and they don't seem interested in anyone except for Nicolai, to whom they pay particular attention. They refuse to be shooed away, not far at least, but they make no effort to hinder the party's breakfast or groggy-headed efforts to break camp.

-

This message was last edited by the GM at 15:53, Mon 30 May 2016.

Nicolai Romanelli
 Adventurer, 372 posts
 Human Rogue
 Tegyrius
Mon 30 May 2016
at 15:24
A Change of Pace
The ravens come in the Liar's Hour.  Nicolai is on watch, facing away from the sullen fire and into the equally-sullen wind.  He has felt as if he's on the cusp of something otherly since the skirmish with the thri-kreen, so he does not scream when the first orange-eyed corvid settles on the wall in a rattle of wings and speaks to him in a voice of whiskey and disquiet.  A distant corner of him is obscurely proud of that restraint.

"Diarmuid Ma'Thaidhg," and he knows he's in deep, deep trouble because no one still living knows him by that name, "do you know why I'm here?"

An icy certainty that "Nicolai" has been denying for months settles along his spine.  He forces himself to bow as deeply as his seated position allows.  Standing would put his eyes above those of the raven and that seems like a remarkably impolitic act.  "I'm neither bard nor priest nor of sufficient rank to receive one of the Cofgodas at my fire.  So I'm the last of the Reach."

A second raven alights alongside the first.  "Not quite.  There are others.  But none of higher rank remain.  Aisling Tsagairt was the last Castellan.  You knew her as Johanna Salvai.  She fell tonight."

Nicolai thinks of Johanna, of a silk dress and a starmetal dagger and a red-lacquered harp, of two swift and bloody months in Varimor, and does not close his eyes.  "And my oath?"  His voice is low and even.

"You remain bound," chuckles a third raven as it picks at the buckled flap of Gronk's pack.  "Your 'limited evidence' is correct, so far as it goes.  Though the Riordan heir is veiled from me."  All three birds hiss with frustration.

Nicolai lets his own frustration leak into his tone.  "So what would you have me do?  You didn't come here just to tell me of Johanna's death."

"I did.  But not to torment you."  The first raven regards him gravely.  "Think on what it means.  There is no one from whom you can seek orders now.  If you will accept advice," and the bird's tone is dustily sardonic, "continue on the path you've chosen.  Rebuild.  Listen.  You have the tools, and you have my favor," a most un-avian sigh, "attenuated though my touch is this far from the Byrne lands.  And I leave you these.  They will extend your eyes and voice.  And occasionally your reach."

Another double handful of ravens descends upon the camp, eerily silent aside from the flutter of their wings.  They take up station on stumps, atop piles of building supplies, on Jenna's stacked armor - briefly, in the latter case, before hopping away with a somehow apologetic air.  In unison, they fix their gazes on Nicolai - then the otherworldly intelligence slides out of their eyes.

Nicolai breathes deeply.  "The collective noun for you is 'unkindness,'" he tells the former spokesraven.  It chuckles softly in return.