Chapter 1: Black Riders on the Black Road.   Posted by GM.Group: 0
Cordelia 'Cory' Longsaddle
 player, 19 posts
 Capitalism, ho!
 Senses: 14/10/14, Ini: +2
Tue 5 Dec 2017
at 11:24
Chapter 1: Black Riders on the Black Road
"Giant toenails," Cory replied to West as he approached, her voice heavy with disgust. "Our goblin was carrying them, and the other goblin wanted them." She gave the hooded man's much friendlier owl a little wave, before continuing.

"Fern and I were wondering if you knew of any exotic uses for those. Those that would be of interest to goblins, anyway." Looking over to the Zhentarim leader, the halfling added: "Or you could help get that answer out of Fzoul's captive. Among others. I'm not too good at that kind of thing, but I can sit in and watch."
Malark Chondathan
 player, 16 posts
 Senses: 12/9/10, Ini: +2
Tue 5 Dec 2017
at 11:32
Chapter 1: Black Riders on the Black Road
Getting almost ripped apart twice wasn't exactly Malark's idea of a first combat engagement but at least he was alive. Instinctively reaching out for his weapon, he regains consciousness with a gasp and immediately looks around for the next target to attack.

But all he finds are his comrades going about doing whatever it is people do after coming close to being slaughtered - checking items, tending to the wounded and the dead. So much carnage. He mentally checks off that Fern, West and Cory are alright and finds himself somewhat relieved. Few things bond people together faster than knowing that you've collectively shed blood.

His body is aching badly but it'll heal.

"Hey how're you folks holding up? How long was I out?" he tries to ask the group.

Turning to West Malark asks, "Did we get those bastards? Why is that one still alive? You going to talk to it? Well if he doesn't talk, I could take a swing."
Randolph West
 player, 16 posts
Wed 6 Dec 2017
at 06:14
Chapter 1: Black Riders on the Black Road
"Toenails." West mumbled to himself. He racked his brain to recall if they were spell components, or if there was some bizarre market for them, though he highly doubted both prospects.

"Well I'm not someone blessed with glibness, but from what I know, what you lack in charisma you make up with external factors." he said, putting aside (though thankfully not literally) the toenails for now.

"Punching it might help, in all honesty." he replied to Malark. "Though violence is another area I don't specialise in either."
Fern
 player, 20 posts
Wed 6 Dec 2017
at 13:37
Chapter 1: Black Riders on the Black Road
"Good for potions," Fern mumbles, hopefully out of earshot of Fzoul, "giant's strength. You are what you eat and all that. Taken a bit literally in this case," the elf shrugs, waving at Malark as the warrior joined in, "ho there Malark. I'm afraid you were out most of the night. And for most of the fight too."

"If we're all going to interrogate the goblin, I suggest letting Fzoul take the lead. Man probably has had practice," the druid adds darkly, "the most important thing to find out is where it came from. And how many more of it there are. Aren't you a mage, West? Can't you just..." Fern makes some wavy motions with his fingers, "force it to talk? Read its mind or something?"
Fzoul Slovis
 Zhentarim, 5 posts
Wed 6 Dec 2017
at 14:37
Chapter 1: Black Riders on the Black Road
Fzoul acknowledges Fern's wave as he walks past with a nod, although the expression on his face remains grim.

"I'm on my way to find out what I can from the scum that you guys caught last night," the mercenary says, spitting words out through gritted teeth. Fzoul clenches and unclenches his fist, and pulls an ugly-looking club from his belt.

You get the impression that the goblin isn't going to enjoy his upcoming conversation very much.

This message was last edited by the player at 03:33, Thu 07 Dec 2017.

Randolph West
 player, 17 posts
Thu 7 Dec 2017
at 06:56
Chapter 1: Black Riders on the Black Road
"Unfortunately I cannot read minds, not with the spells I have. Most of my selection is to aid with my business." West shook his head.

"However, I do believe our captive might not speak Common, and I happen to have a spell for that. It's useful for clients from out of town."
Cordelia 'Cory' Longsaddle
 player, 20 posts
 Capitalism, ho!
 Senses: 14/10/14, Ini: +2
Fri 8 Dec 2017
at 12:28
Chapter 1: Black Riders on the Black Road
Cory made a face at Fern's suggestion. "That does not sound appetising. Or marketable. At all. Remind me to let someone else taste any potions that you find first."

"So the spell'll let you understand the goblin? That's useful," the halfling added when West mentioned his magic. "Are you able to cast it on us too, or do you have to translate?"
Fern
 player, 21 posts
Fri 8 Dec 2017
at 14:59
Chapter 1: Black Riders on the Black Road
"Go listen in," Fern gestures at Fzoul once the man turns away, "no telling what we might miss. If you can cast it on us too, that would be helpful."

The druid leans forward, brows furrowed,

"We hear rumours of giants, and goblins show up with their toe clippings. I do -not- like the implications of this. But more importantly, remember that one of them lot got away. The boss in fact, if its trappings were anything to go by. We need to know where it came from and how many," the druid grimaces, muttering half to himself, "its never just one goblin..."
Randolph West
 player, 18 posts
Mon 11 Dec 2017
at 07:53
Chapter 1: Black Riders on the Black Road
"The spell will only work on myself, but I can supply translations, assuming our captive lacks the culture to speak Common tongue. As for beatings..." West nodded and turned to F'zoul.

"I may be of assistance, from what I recall, the goblins never spoke a word of Common to us. I can be of help."
Fzoul Slovis
 Zhentarim, 6 posts
Fri 15 Dec 2017
at 12:11
Chapter 1: Black Riders on the Black Road
Nodding to West at his offer to help, Fzoul leads you all to the clearing near to the smouldering ashes of the night's campfire, where the captive goblin is kept. The goblin's eyes widen with fear as Fzoul looms over him, cracking his knuckles..
GM
 GM, 30 posts
Fri 15 Dec 2017
at 14:14
Chapter 1: Black Riders on the Black Road
An hour later, with West's translations and Fzoul's, uh, persuasiveness, the goblin tells you what he knows.

"Me goblins from Jawbreaker Tribe. Boss Goblin orders raid wagons for food. New tribe from west come, take over old hunting ground. New Tribe chieftain is smart and strong and lead well. Many followers, bugbear, hobgoblin, goblin."

You also learn that his tribe stole the bag with the "wooden strips" from the goblins to the west, but don't know what they are or whether they are valuable.
Randolph West
 player, 19 posts
Sun 17 Dec 2017
at 01:59
Chapter 1: Black Riders on the Black Road
"So we have more than one goblin tribe running around robbing and looting. Fantastic. Also why are they even gathering giants toenails...?"

West pondered for a second.

"I still say we continue on, exterminating a goblin force isn't something we should prioritise right now."
Fern
 player, 22 posts
Tue 19 Dec 2017
at 05:39
Chapter 1: Black Riders on the Black Road

"Definitely. But news like this is something we should pass word on of," Fern largely agrees, apparently deep in thought, "hobs and bugbears means its a pretty powerful one. Might become a regional threat if allowed to build too long," the druid fidgets with the tip of his quarterstaff, tracing the numerous carved markings along the uneven wood, "least we know to watch for the west. And if this one's tribe is dealing with a bigger threat, chances are we'll not have to deal with a second wave of goblin raids."

Standing up and dusting the sand off his trouser, Fern makes for a quick stretch, looking around camp;

"Well.That's that then. No point wasting time. Pack up, grab our rations and let the little bugger go I guess," a pause, as his eyes swivel over to Fzoul, "...unless you prefer to enact justice for your men, of course."
Cordelia 'Cory' Longsaddle
 player, 21 posts
 Capitalism, ho!
 Senses: 14/10/14, Ini: +2
Wed 20 Dec 2017
at 04:51
Chapter 1: Black Riders on the Black Road
"Hobgoblins and bugbears," Cory muttered, once West had finished translating. "I wonder if the toll station Fzoul mentioned yesterday might have anything to do with them. Either way, we should keep our distance. The caravan has to stick to the roads, but we could steer clear." And if Fzoul's caravan got to Vuerythl first...well, warning the trading post of the new goblin tribe was also in the Zhents' interests.

The little merchant glanced towards the bound goblin as she considered Fern's words. She didn't have much stomach for killing the pitiful looking creature, even if it had been trying to do the same to her the previous night. "What should we do with the goblin's bag?" she asked instead, sidestepping the issue. "Other than some truly disgusting mixtures -" here, she made a face at Fern "- I don't see much use for...ergh...its contents."

This message was last edited by the player at 07:17, Wed 20 Dec 2017.

Fern
 player, 23 posts
Wed 20 Dec 2017
at 08:02
Chapter 1: Black Riders on the Black Road

Fern looks puzzedly at the smaller halfling,

"...we...sell them, I presume?" the druid scratches behind his ears, perplexed, "given your background, I would have thought that obvious. Reagents like toenails are pretty valuable to the right alchemist," he shrugs, "giants not being very forthcoming with their clippings, or friendly to folks wanting to take a pair of shears to their toes."
Cordelia 'Cory' Longsaddle
 player, 22 posts
 Capitalism, ho!
 Senses: 14/10/14, Ini: +2
Wed 20 Dec 2017
at 08:17
Chapter 1: Black Riders on the Black Road
"...I'll have to bow to your expertise in this," the halfling grumbled, abashed. She had to look beyond her own prejudices, or she wouldn't be able to get ahead.

"It's just that...couldn't the goblins have taken, say, hair clippings instead? Or maybe they could've at least have washed them..."
Fzoul Slovis
 Zhentarim, 7 posts
Thu 21 Dec 2017
at 09:51
Chapter 1: Black Riders on the Black Road
"Don't you worry about that. This filth and his tribe owes a debt of blood, and I always collect."

He stands up, and turns around to grip West's hand in a grateful handshake. "Thank you for your help, mage. And to all of you as well. I am glad to have met with new friends."

The Zhentarim turns away to direct his mens' preparations to leave the campsite. When all the preparations are done, Fzoul bids your party goodbye, promising to buy everyone a round the next time you meet.

This message was last edited by the player at 10:03, Thu 21 Dec 2017.

GM
 GM, 31 posts
Thu 21 Dec 2017
at 10:32
Chapter 1: Black Riders on the Black Road



There's nothing like the desert to make people feel small and insignificant. In every direction, huge dunes roll across the landscape, and an even bigger sky looms above. The oasis of Vuerthyl is a motley collection of sun-bleached tents in the vast Anauroch desert.



As you arrive at the desert stop, you are ushered to meet Azam the caravaneer in the large, Calimshan styled tent that passes for a tavern here. A pair of tieflings, who seem to be unaffected by the heat, eye approaching visitors warily. The dim interior of the tent is a relief from the bright light and wind, though itís as hot here as anywhere else. The gentle sounds of a stringed instrument fill the air, and the people inside are hunched over food, drink, and conversation. A dragonborn with rust-colored scales greets you, and guides you to a private table. There are a few other adventurers here, but it appears that they are ignoring you for the moment.

The dragonborn delivers water as well as dates, olives and bread. Before long, you are joined by a lean, half-elven man with a long, craggy face and the dark skin and hair that shows his Rashemi ancestry. He has an impressive mustache. Heís clad in practical desert gear. His most striking feature is a golden-scaled pseudodragon that lays draped around his shoulders. The pseudodragon stirs, blinking with milky irises, and sniffing the air.

"Hsing, my patron," the man gestures to the snoozing dragon, as if it was a perfectly normal thing, ͞"Is most pleased that you have come. Welcome to Vuerthyl. I am Azam, a humble merchant."
Randolph West
 player, 20 posts
Wed 27 Dec 2017
at 11:24
Chapter 1: Black Riders on the Black Road
The owl fidgets quietly in the presence of the pseudodragon. West, annoyed, plants a firm hand on the bird to stop its movements.

"Greetings, I take it you have business with us?" West gets to the point straight. "We're merely passing through though."
Fern
 player, 24 posts
Thu 28 Dec 2017
at 14:23
Chapter 1: Black Riders on the Black Road
The presence of the dragonborn and the pseudodragon on his shoulder draws Fern's undisguised interest, the druid alternating glances between the pair with clear curiosity in his eyes. As West goes up to greet the half-elven merchant, Fern is reminded a little of their current situation and quickly composes himself. Still, the elf seems far more interested in the pseudo-dragon's scales than the conversation with his half-kin.

"Rare to see one of their kind," Fern comments almost absent-mindedly, turning his apparent stare into a frown, "what do you want with us?" his mind turns to an old tale by his mentor, and the elf's scowl deepens, "if its camels, no we do not need camels. Not a single one."
Azam
 caravan master, 1 post
Fri 29 Dec 2017
at 08:09
Chapter 1: Black Riders on the Black Road
"I welcome you, travelers, to Vuerthyl," Azam repeats himself. "Many travelers like yourselves pass through this place, and we like to treat our guests well. Allow me to buy all of you a round of food and drinks, and in return, you can tell me a tale of your travels thus far."

He signals with his hand, beckoning the dragonborn to come. He does so, bearing a plate of dried dates, flat loaves of bread and various cheeses, laying it in front of you. Your stomachs involuntarily rumbles at the sight of the delicious looking spread.

Azam, smiling, gestures for you to eat, as he fills bronze cups with wine for each of you in turn.
Fern
 player, 25 posts
Fri 29 Dec 2017
at 12:21
Chapter 1: Black Riders on the Black Road
Fern's frown quickly turns into a puzzled glance as Azam brings in plate after plate of food. Though by no means a pampered louche, the elf found himself staring hungrily at the spread, especially after the days of hard rations and water from their trek through the desert.

Staring at Azam for a good five seconds, he elf gives the equivalent of a mental shrug before seating himself at the meal. Yes, they could be trying to poison them all or something. But food was food, and he was reasonably certain in his constitution. Reasonably.

Fern takes a cautious sniff of the wine, stealing a quick look towards West, and then Cory. He does not yet drink, but the druid's eagerness to partake of the first hearty meal they've had in a while is plain to see.

"...not sure what is there to say, really," he manages, still holding the full cup of wine, "the deserts the same everywhere. Sand, heat and insects, all which try to kill you in various ways."
Azam
 caravan master, 2 posts
Sat 30 Dec 2017
at 02:41
Chapter 1: Black Riders on the Black Road
The bread is crusty, sprinkled with rock salt and goes exceedingly well with the platter of goat cheese. Sun drying the dates to preserve them has also concentrated their sweetness manifold, proving to be a surprisingly delicious complement to your meal. The food is standard fare for the Bedines, natives of the Anauroch Desert, but hunger is excellent seasoning to go with it.

Azam stifles a grin as he finishes pouring a cup for himself. You and your group are obviously hungry after their travels, and he delights himself in being a good host. The pseudodragon settles back into a comfortable position, wrapping its long tail around Azam's arm, oblivious to the difficulties posed to the poor man in raising his cup to his lips.

"Ah, but surely you have come from somewhere other than the desert dunes? What news can you tell me, of the regions outside of the Great Sand Sea?"
Randolph West
 player, 21 posts
Tue 2 Jan 2018
at 07:28
Chapter 1: Black Riders on the Black Road
West still wasn't up to trusting the half-elf, he wipes the lip of his cup and only takes a drink once he's seen their host consume some himself.

"Well, if its rumours you want, I've heard tales of dissent amongst the dwarven kingdoms. Whispers of a maddening material, hewn from frost pitch as night, that sends even the stoutest of dwarves into a madness. Of course, tis nothing more than a rumour, but here's hoping the frosty shortlets keep their supply lines well maintained. They're too important to many a merchant."

West rests his hand on his cup as he finishes, stopping his bird from trying to take a sip.

"But lets talk about here, what's been going on in this harsh, crisp desert of yours?"

This message was last edited by the player at 07:33, Tue 02 Jan 2018.

Fern
 player, 26 posts
Wed 3 Jan 2018
at 13:02
Chapter 1: Black Riders on the Black Road
Unfamiliar with procedure, Fern mimics West in his actions and speech, only drinking after he sees the wizard drink as well.

"Well, I'm not much for gossip," the druid adds, tearing into the bread, "but news does reach me sometime. Small tales- a dryad from the forests of Tethir marrying a human adventurer in a nearby town. A mold that affects only the certain wildberries up North, widespread enough that a small reward has been offered for a cure. Some sort of new dish from the South, involving fermenting eggs in a special mix of brine and vinegar while buried under three feet of soil."

What other conversation the elf might make is temporarily put on hold as Fern shifts his full focus to devouring the spread before them.