1.0 - Red Sands and Dark Tides.   Posted by The Herald.Group: 0
The Herald
 GM, 22 posts
 Gigantic Melancholies &
 Gigantic Mirth
Tue 31 May 2016
at 21:35
1.0 - Red Sands and Dark Tides
The pier at Red Sands is largely a reprieve from the brutal heat of summer. The wind from the sea may stink of brine and fish, but the sea spray feels better than the glaring sun. The dockmaster finishes walking to the final pier, where a large dwarven vessel has recently arrived from Ralgeshud, the Silver Hold. "This be the one ye asked about, yer lordship," he says to Reginard, his manners bolstered by the purse he received for his assistance.

Lothi follows closely but indifferently, bored that the expedition is taking so long to prepare. The docks are far too safe a place to be concerned about attacks, and the heavy cargo and wild animals of the shipyard are far too banal a danger for prolonged consideration. A dockhand leers at her, but goes pale when she meets his gaze with stony scorn.

The taller escort walks with heavy footsteps, head obscured by a scarf in the style of the desert nomads. He hasn't said a word all morning, preferring instead to look to Reginard for direction when his presence becomes relevant. The dockhands have shied away, assuming him to be a leper. Reginard has said nothing to discourage the rumor.

The plank drops from the ship, and passengers begin to pour out. The first to exit have the look of a dwarven colonial expedition. The ox-drawn wagon that rumbles from the cargo hold confirms that suspicion. The dockmaster speaks to the ship's captain in dwarven pidgin, pointing to the ship's manifest when his vocabulary fails him. The captain's beard hides her amusement well enough. Eventually, she understands the dockmaster's request, and walks aboard the ship to find the passenger.

She returns a few minutes later, and with a bow presents the final member of the expedition. "Bali Balsdottir!" she announces mockingly.

-----

A week ago, Reginard Wrane the IV arrived in Red Sands on a fine horse which he sold to the stablemaster. He handed coins to urchins, asking them to spread word that he sought brave souls to scour the bones of a dead city. He paid for a modest room at the busiest inn and waited for would-be adventurers to respond to his offer. He turned away the earliest applicants, all them brash youths eager to prove their strength (or perhaps simply rob the nobleman once they were alone outside the city). Days passed, and dozens failed to meet his unspoken requirements.

Lothi was the first that Reginard agreed to hire. She had ignored the initial call for adventurers, seeking him out later to see what sort of arrogant fool would reject several days of applicants. She scarcely did more than ask his name before he told her she was hired. He explained nothing to the hangers-on at the inn, but he did tell Lothi that they would depart when his friend returned from Ralgeshud.

Word passed quickly that only a single ragged elf had passed Reginard's muster, and soon interest in the matter died. No others came to meet the call, but Reginard seemed indifferent. What did catch his attention was a figure he had seen from his window at night, someone hiding outside the kitchens long after the cook had gone to bed. Blackstone never figured out how Reginard had seen him or approached so silently, but the calm way that he simply offered Blackstone a reprieve from gutter-dwelling without asking any other details was enough to stay his hand. The conversation was as strange as it was brief, and shortly before dawn Blackstone had wrapped his ghastly visage with the clean white robe Reginard had procured mysteriously in the wee hours.

At sea, Bali Balsdottir checked her map one last time, though by this point she knew it as well as her devotionals. The library at Ralgeshud would never know it was missing, and she suspected that no one would care even if they did notice it. She alone knew what lay at the ruins of Dol'kuruk, and was ready to meet Reginard to begin the trip to the dead city.


-----

The journey to the dead city begins when you are ready. Fill in the details how you wish regarding Reginard and Bali's prior acquaintance, the details of the voyage, and any other circumstances leading up to this expedition. What do you believe lies in the lost city? What is on your mind as you gather to leave? Is there any last business to finish here where the solid comfort of land surrenders to the indifferent infinity of the sea?
Blackstone
 A Monster, 1 post
Wed 1 Jun 2016
at 00:39
1.0 - Red Sands and Dark Tides

This message was deleted by the player at 02:47, Wed 01 June 2016.

Lothi
 An Elf, 6 posts
 Doomed Adventurer Who
 Howls at the Moon
Wed 1 Jun 2016
at 13:56
1.0 - Red Sands and Dark Tides
Lothi dodges a crustacean-laden dockworker and steps to a more secluded spot. She kept eyes on the dwarven ship.

She reminded herself of the rule she broke with this expedition. "Don't explore ruins with names." Named ruins are one of two: picked clean as a vulture's meal, or fabricated by expedition leaders. It's why she ignored the fourth man at first (and what was he fourth of anyway, a fourth child? What dull parents, to name all their children Reginard), but he hired with none of the desperation that she had learned to avoid. That made her curious, and that curiosity only grew the longer she circled the expedition. She broke her rule; Reginard was either a madman, obsessed with assembling an expedition as though he were in a child's tale, or he was completing an intricate plan.

Despite their feigned disinterest, she knew many in her line of work remained darkly curious, and it was for them that she watched now. In lieu of work, some would follow at their heels and scavenge what their expedition uncovered. She would dissuade them. Lethally, if need be.

She turned her imagination to the city, Dol'kuruk. She had never heard the name uttered. But ancient sorceries had suffused the Red Sands in ages past, or so fireside stories told her. She was eager to know what lay forgotten there, whether it be her death or merely more questions.
Blackstone
 A Monster, 2 posts
 Hideous Explorer Who
 Needs No Weapon
Thu 2 Jun 2016
at 00:53
1.0 - Red Sands and Dark Tides
Completely covered in white desert robes all that can be seen of the powerfully built man are his scarred and calloused hands, and his mismatched eyes.  Eyes that dart around trying to take in everything.

Normally cautious about the promise of a free meal, Reginard's enthusiasm was strangely reassuring. Blackstone still sticks close to his new financier because he's had too many run out on him after the promise of a job. Nothing good comes from ancient ruins, well known or not, he should know.


Blackstone rolled a 4 on a trained history check
Bali Balsdottir
 A Dwarf, 2 posts
 Dwarf Warrior Who
 Channels Divine Blessings
Thu 2 Jun 2016
at 14:39
1.0 - Red Sands and Dark Tides
A dwarf woman clad in plate and carrying a black backpack, loads of weaponry, most notably an ornate dwarven axe, walks down the plank slowly, with the gait of those not accustomed to the sea. The scowl at hearing her name mocked is almost imperceptible, and she does not respond, but her left hand goes to her chest, touching a silvery triskele. She picks up a backpack left hurriedly by her side.
She comes to a stop before Reginard, wiping her brow. She bows. Your lordship, I ought to thank you again for this chance, but I feel too sick and tired to do it properly. I need mountain air. Give me a few minutes before we leave, if you please.
Reginard Wrane the IV
 A Noble, 1 post
 Noble Human Speaker
 Who Siphons Power
Sat 4 Jun 2016
at 17:32
1.0 - Red Sands and Dark Tides
Reginard casts his eyes across the ragged team that he has pulled together. This was as good as it was going to get, it seemed. Not too bad all things considered; the poor quality of the initial applicants had been discouraging, but these three had an air of experience about them. They would do for the task at hand.

Reginard looks down at the dwarf, his face unreadable. "Indeed. Willian, help young Miss Bali Balsdottir here with her pack." From behind Reginard, a well-dressed butler moves dourly towards the dwarf, taking her backpack and placing it on a small wheeled trolley. Reginard turns and walks away from the quayside, finding a place where he can address the three new companions in relative privacy. "You may be wondering what undertaking I have planned. A... close relative of mine sent Miss Balsdottir to me from Ralgeshud, and I understand she is currently in possession of a detailed map of the archaeolgical site of Dol'kuruk. I have reason to believe that this site is an ancient elven capital, that surpassed even Ezrican in its day. Inside the ruins are numerous artefacts of great power, as well as tomes containing long-forgotten knowledge. One of these artefacts is a jewelled staff, which is the key subject of our search. For your services, I am willing not only to pay your retainer in advance, but to allow you to take a share of the items that we will recover. However, no-one but I is to take the jewelled staff."

He stops for a moment and surveys the group, arms folded behind his back, givingn them sufficient time for the information to sink in. "Are we agreed and understood? I would like to make haste, and my manservant Willian here has made all the logistical arrangements to leave at once. Unless there is a good reason to wait?"
Blackstone
 A Monster, 4 posts
 Hideous Explorer Who
 Needs No Weapon
Sun 5 Jun 2016
at 01:10
1.0 - Red Sands and Dark Tides
The imposing figure gestures to himself, My things are already packed. I can leave whenever. Despite his brutish build his voice is surprisingly soft and smooth, like well oiled leather.
Lothi
 An Elf, 7 posts
 Doomed Adventurer Who
 Howls at the Moon
Sun 5 Jun 2016
at 09:17
1.0 - Red Sands and Dark Tides
Lothi fidgets, uncomfortable with the sudden questions. Reginard was doing the thing where he obfuscates his intent, and she isn't sure what's expected of her - does he actually want to leave now? Why does he ask for a reason not to leave, then?

After a few silent moments, she settles on, "I listen and hear. If you say that we leave, then I will follow."
Bali Balsdottir
 A Dwarf, 3 posts
 Dwarf Warrior Who
 Channels Divine Blessings
Sun 5 Jun 2016
at 20:23
1.0 - Red Sands and Dark Tides
Bali takes out a waterskin beautifully engraved with dwarven runes, drinks long, breathes deeply, and follows the rest Ahh, the tang of the seasalt in the air is much more enjoyable when the darn ground doesn't move all the time. After her leader has spoken, she slowly replies Sire, I have come here to follow you because the low gods have told me to. I follow their word, but they expect me to do so with my eyes open, my mace picked clean, and my axe sharp. I am good at crawling through dark tunnels, and I will not offend you by assuming you chose less-than-capable people. Could you tell us what we can expect to face? What does the jewelled staff do? What will happen if we find it? I have some ideas, based on the map I was asked to bring, but I have no certainty. And I prefer certainty.

Bali rolled an 8 to estimating what the ruins hold. She has the map as an asset, and also her stone training (tasks related to sensing stone, history of stone, and orientation underground. I.E. the good old 4E "dungeoneering" with an extra drop of whiskey).
The Herald
 GM, 25 posts
 Gigantic Melancholies &
 Gigantic Mirth
Tue 7 Jun 2016
at 21:32
1.0 - Red Sands and Dark Tides
Willian gives a very curt nod. "I'm afraid that our resources extend little farther than a cart not unlike the one coming off the ship." Reginard lifts an eyebrow, to which Willian continues, "Milord, we spent most of the money we left with simply getting here. The wagon has provisions for the journey roundtrip, plus a week for the excavation, and plenty of space for whatever we elect to haul back."

He looks over his shoulder, and lowers his voice a bit. "I have also negotiated with a smuggler to quickly fence any less-than-reputable artifacts we can retrieve." He expresses no obvious distaste for such a task.

-----

You take the time required to collect your belongings for the trip, and Willian meets you at the city gate with an ox-cart. He sits in the driver's place on the bench, a broad-brimmed hat shading him from the sun. The oxen low and toss their heads impatiently, eager to be out of the crowd. Bali estimates that the trip will take four days in good weather.

The weather is clear, if not good. The heat is dreadful without the winds of the sea to take the edge off. You make good time during the first day, but tomorrow will take you off the road and into the jungle. The shade would be an appealing prospect if the steaming humidity trapped below the canopy did not portend to be as hot as a cooking pot.

-----

The cart can accommodate passengers, though it is far from luxurious. How do you comport yourself during the journey? Who handles watches at night? What do you talk about? How do you pass the time? The cart moves at a steady pace, but not so fast that you cannot explore, forage, or otherwise spend some time not in its immediate vicinity.
Bali Balsdottir
 A Dwarf, 4 posts
 Dwarf Warrior Who
 Channels Divine Blessings
Wed 8 Jun 2016
at 19:16
1.0 - Red Sands and Dark Tides
In one of the pauses of the first day's march, Bali approaches Reginard: Sire, after praying and reflecting last night, my heart is full of doubt. I found this map in my book of litanies and prayers, the one where I wrote the invocations I know and the lore I have studied. This shouldn't be there. I don't understand how we can be so close to Dol'kuruk and it still be a lost city. My kind haven't built it deep underground where it could pass unnoticed. I don't like this. I think we should be particularly careful when approaching.

Walking through the jungle is hard, and annoying: neekerbreekers bite with a vengeance, and the moist heat is not what dwarves are used to. Bali's long, curled hair is an advantage, mostly, as is the tough dwarven skin, but's a pity that she never took the time to properly grow her beard. The dwarf slides naturally into last watch, and usually also takes last marching order. Thanksfully, nobody comments on her profuse sweating, or her smell, which starts to fade anyway after a few hours of stomping the underwood. Words come scarcely to her: she has left her home in disgrace and she's mostly alone with someone of a higher rank and several unknowns, one of them an elf, even. The first day is hard, the low gods saying very little.

Every night, after her prayers, she sets up a few small bits and bobs over the main point of entrance to the group's resting site, and puts her small throwing axe near her left hand. She is preparing Overwatch, her 1 Int power that "targets a limited area, negates target benefit from cover etc, 1 extra point of damage. Action (ranged weapon)"

This message was last edited by the player at 19:19, Wed 08 June 2016.

Lothi
 An Elf, 8 posts
 Doomed Adventurer Who
 Howls at the Moon
Thu 9 Jun 2016
at 00:33
1.0 - Red Sands and Dark Tides
The first day is taxing; Lothi is dour and sticks close to the expedition, saying nothing that isn't in response to a question.

On the second day, under the towering canopy, she is enlivened. She becomes restless and begins to travel afield. The snap of her bowstring forms an eager tempo. Each thrum adds to the pile of small mammals she prepares at night. Though she remains furtive, careful to sear her meat and quick to wash the blood from it off her teeth, she finds herself enjoying the rhythm of the journey. It is an old rhythm, for her, and her heart still knows its beats. She appreciates the sun and the breathing of trees while she can. She still invites little conversation, but seems less insulted when one is thrust upon her.

At night, Lothi sets crude sound traps for potential pursuers. For the past two years, her sleep has been paper-thin; she does not bother to stay awake.

I doubt it's important, but I rolled a 16 on a Speed-based hunting check w/ one level of effort to see how well I did. I've also got a character that is pretty insular at the moment, so apologies on being a shit conversationalist. Let me know if you want me to talk more, I guess.

This message was last edited by the player at 00:33, Thu 09 June 2016.

Blackstone
 A Monster, 5 posts
 Hideous Explorer Who
 Needs No Weapon
Fri 10 Jun 2016
at 02:33
1.0 - Red Sands and Dark Tides
Blackstone is also fairly quiet for the first half of the day watching intently never letting his guard down. It's almost tiring watching the effort he puts into staying on alert. Once safely away from the city he lowers the face covering of his cloak. His nose has been broken a way too many times a deep, poorly healed scar runs from his left temple down to his jaw, and another one over the right side of his lip.

At the evening meal he goes back to high alert. While waiting for the meat to cook, he eats his entire apple and cleans his teeth with the stem. He stops people who are about to throw out their core and off will pocket those "for later". Under his breath he makes a general admonishment to the expedition something about wasting food. When the meat is finally ready he is overly protective of his portion and looks ready to fight anyone who might try and take it from him.

Sans bedroll or tent of his own, each night he claims the spot under the wagon and curls up in his blanket cloak.

This message was last edited by the player at 23:23, Sun 12 June 2016.

Reginard Wrane the IV
 A Noble, 2 posts
 Noble Human Speaker
 Who Siphons Power
Sun 12 Jun 2016
at 22:12
1.0 - Red Sands and Dark Tides
During the voyage, Reginard walks with the others and generally keeps his thoughts to himself, if only because his companions seem to prefer to keep their own counsel. Bali's questions and warning were a welcome, if sombre, diversion from the drudge of the journey, and he gives her and the others a general overview of the little information that he has gleaned in his research. Questions regarding the jewelled staff, however, are turned away firmly.

Reginard spends a great deal of time reflecting on Bali's warning and reading through the map that she has brought from Ragleshud. He also keeps his eye out in the immediate vicinity of their route for any evidence of archaeological material that might be linked to the ruins of Dol'kuruk.

OOC: Assuming Bali has no issue, Reginard will review the map and any other notes Bali might have for any relevant information in advance of reaching their destination. He is Trained in cyphers / magic, if that helps.

22:08, Today: Reginard Wrane the IV rolled 12 using 1d20.  Reading the map for clues (-1DC using 3 Int edge).
22:05, Today: Reginard Wrane the IV rolled 16 using 1d20.  Keeping an eye out for archaeological material (-1DC using 3 Int edge).

The Herald
 GM, 28 posts
 Gigantic Melancholies &
 Gigantic Mirth
Sat 18 Jun 2016
at 02:54
1.0 - Red Sands and Dark Tides
Much to Lothi's surprise, Willian proves rather adept at helping to field-dress the kills she returns to the wagon. Indeed, he had the foresight to include some preservative salts for just such an occasion. The fresh supplement to your supplies is delicious, and the addition of a middling wild hog extends your rations by at least a day.

Your camp is generally undisturbed. Save for an errant bat and a bony hyena, Bali's ward and Lothi's traps rest and thoroughly as the rest of you. Progress slows once you reach the edge of the jungle, as navigating the oxcart through thick undergrowth is no simple task. Blackstone proves rather tireless with a machete, though, and the second day of the journey ends in a small glade open to the sky. The night is clear, and moon waxes near fullness.

Between the heat of the jungle and the moonlight, you require little in the way of a campfire. Two more days of travel, and you will reach your destination.

-----

Of course, you aren't fools. A campfire in the jungle is still a signal to something. Whether you spot it before it is upon you, however, hinges upon passing a level 4 Intellect check.
Lothi
 An Elf, 9 posts
 Doomed Adventurer Who
 Howls at the Moon
Sat 18 Jun 2016
at 03:07
1.0 - Red Sands and Dark Tides
Tonight, Lothi is exceptionally restless and uneasy. She meanders around the edge of the camp before night finishes falling, muttering under her breath. She finally lays down and unbelts her scimitar. Her eyes remain closed for a time.

Rolled a 7 with effort first. Then 4 with no effort on keeping attentive.
Bali Balsdottir
 A Dwarf, 5 posts
 Dwarf Warrior Who
 Channels Divine Blessings
Sat 18 Jun 2016
at 15:59
1.0 - Red Sands and Dark Tides
The whole day has been tiresome for Bali. That might explain her lack of awareness at night. The wards she places work, yes, but... They're reactive, not proactive. She's munching on some beef and whispering heatedly to Reginard. Her eyes are blazing. His responses are cold and subdued, but he clearly is not used to the lack of respect the dwarf is showing.

Bali rolled a 5 on her Intellect roll to notice an approach.
Reginard Wrane the IV
 A Noble, 3 posts
 Noble Human Speaker
 Who Siphons Power
Sun 19 Jun 2016
at 19:41
1.0 - Red Sands and Dark Tides
That evening while the companions are sat before the campfire, Reginard shares an observation from earlier that day. "Before leaving the road to journey into the jungle, I noticed that one of the milestones was hewn of a different rock from the rest. Most, if not all in this region, are simple granite slabs, but we left the road at a basalt marker. Basalt is by no means rare, but the weathered mark on this marker was not mere graffiti - it resembled a sigil on the map of Dol'Kuruk." Reginald pours over the map in the flickering light of the fire beside Bali, hoping to figure out what the sigil meant.

19:22, Today: Reginard Wrane the IV rolled 19 using 1d20.  Interpreting the sigil (1 Effort, using 3 Int edge).
19:23, Today: Reginard Wrane the IV rolled 6 using 1d20.  Spotting things in the dark (1 Effort, using 3 Int edge).


Clearly, Reginard was so engrossed in his study of the map that he paid no attention to whatever goes bump in the night, which, as we all know, is what Willian is paid to do.