Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead.   Posted by GM.Group: 0
GM
 GM, 19 posts
Fri 24 Sep 2021
at 04:26
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
The sage, Atrocles, was a member of a patrician family whose wealth derived primarily from the cultivation of olives. The younger brother of a prominent senator, Atrocles himself spent his life devoted to academic pursuits and had several dissertations and discoveries of note to his credit. Sufficient have an archeological expedition funded. With scant proof, Atrocles staked his reputation pieces of ancient scrolls, old rural legends, and conjecture.

That expedition's ultimate destination was the troubled village of Greenvale. Located near the border of Drenan and the Young Realms. Several of the Young Realms had recently been at war and now with a recent peace it meant that armies were disbanded and fighting men were without employment. Invariably some turned to banditry, and the region was troubled by bands of robbers accosting travelers and attacking many of the rural communities. Drenan's legions patrolled the roads, but their numbers were few and they were ever over-extended. More, bandits had informants that kept largers and more organized bands apprised of the legions' movements, thwarting many efforts.

Thus, Atrocles took on several mercenaries to safeguard his enterprise. Two wagons loaded with the tools to be used to excavate and dig were his main concern, and the lives of his six apprentices - young sages learning from the master, eager for discoveries that would launch their own careers. The apprentices were all soft, rich sons of rich men with little wordliness, and kept to themselves in the main. It seemed that one of these apprentices - an olive-skinned youth named Persens - was merely there to perform the duty of making Atrocles tea, as the sage was very particular about it.

On the final approach to Greenvale the group had come upon an outlying farmstead, recently raided by a bandit gang. The legion had arrived in time to deliver retribution to these bandits, but not soon enough to save the farmers. Atrocles had engaged the young captain of the cavalry troupe - a petty noble named Lukens - to accompany the group to Greenvale, plying Lukens by playing to the young captain's desire to be perceived as a man of culture. As a military man, he was professional if something of a martinet, however, and the men under Lukens' command comported themselves well.

So the remainder of the journey to Greenvale was completed in relative security. The combined group came upon evidence of a skirmish between some bandits and travelers. The men of the legion found the bandits slain and the sole survivor of the attack being a very disoriented Dusk Elf, whom they brought to join the group and convey to the village of Greenvale.

Upon arrival, Lukens engaged rooms for himself and his men at a local inn and tap house, the Blue Boar, intending to perform patrols for some days before resupplying and moving. Atrocles engaged rooms for the members of his expedition who wished to stay on - some of the mercenaries had signed on only for the journey to Greenvale, and now collected their pay and decided instead to pursue the more lucrative enterprise of bandit hunting.

The headman of the village, a man of advancing middle years named Vors, invited Lukens and Atrocles to dine with him on the evening of arrival. Both accepted, and left their respective underlings more or less to their own devices. Atrocles' apprentices unloaded valuables and retired to their rooms. Persens seemed somewhat lost without the task of making Atrocles tea to occupy his evening, but joined his peers in a truly vapid debate about an opaque philosophical topic. The soldiers of the legion attended to their horses and then engaged in games of dice and drinking without the stern eye of their captain upon them. Their sergeant, Kade, however, was keeping order and ensuring none of the men got too deeply in their cups.

As evening arrived, so did the locals of Greenvale, eager to slake their thirst after the day's labour. There was a small damper on the good spirits of the local folk, however: the local who typically provided entertainment had broken his arm in an accident and could not play his lute, leaving the tap room devoid of its usual music.

One group of labourers stood out among the locals. They were of a rougher mould, coarser in speech, and glanced at the legion men with sour looks. So far they did nothing save murmur among themselves, but with enough drink they might work themselves up to causing troubles. The legion men marked them, and there was an undercurrent of tension in the room.
Faaid
 player, 15 posts
 High Man Rogue
 70/70 HP, 1 DR
Fri 24 Sep 2021
at 17:41
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Among the mercenaries originally hired was a dark-skinned, bright-eyed man in clothes of bright color and fine material.  His cheerful demeanor was almost out of place amongst the rest of the mercenaries, who tended to be more practical and dour individuals.  It was at camp that he really showed his value, telling elaborate tales of his past that couldn't possibly be true, but with such enthusiasm and charisma that nobody was minded.  During the day he would ride or walk beside his camel, a creature not uncommon in the Young Realms, a beautiful curved sword not far from hand.

In the tavern in Greenvale, despite the presence of ale, tensions were growing.  Faaid took it upon himself to approach the group of locals to learn what he could from them, as well as what was causing their discontent.  "My friends, Faaid greets you warmly!  The hospitality of your village has been without reproach, and the ale in this Blue Boar a pleasant reprieve from my parched throat.  Tell me, what is it that causes you such distress that you throw dark glances around?  Are we not all friends in a place such as this?"
Aleesia Valhorn
 player, 5 posts
Fri 24 Sep 2021
at 20:30
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
The dark Dusk Elf who had been found amidst the remains of a group of slain bandits had indeed been out of it for a while. One had to admit however that such was not surprising considering both that her clothes had been drenched in blood and other organic material best left unidentified. On top of that, her clothes were maybe not those one could find at some noble's court but it was obvious they were more than decent. Or would be, once cleaned and dried as surprisingly, they hadn't suffered any damage in whatever had happened. Even then, it was obvious that their wearer didn't come from the gutters but on the contrary was a child or privilege, which was further proved by the signet ring she wore: all in all, someone likely vastly unprepared for such hardships.

And if that wasn't enough, she looked young, even for an Elf. Young enough that finding someone like her, whose family had to be quite wealthy if not powerful, in the country and alone, would raise eyebrows in the best of circumstances but still not so young that anyone would consider preventing her from doing whatever she pleased. Which may actually have played a role in explaining how she had found herself in such a situation.

She hadn't said much on the way to Greenvale besides giving a name - Aleesia Valhorn - and had mostly followed around, clutching a bag with all her possessions. Or maybe it was a bag she had found among the bandits' camp she had reflexively grabbed and had made hers. Unless one of the bandits happened to play the lyre however, it truly was hers.

Despite her silence, when prompted she had quickly shown that she possessed quite a bit of knowledge of the Arcane Arts. Nothing particularly powerful or even all that useful - besides maybe her ability to conjure water - but it was enough to prove that she had had quite the education in that particular field.

The question of the ownership of her bag was answered when one of the soldiers pushed her to play, something that she did quite competently. She was clearly not a Master - which given her apparent age was no surprise - but if the melodies were relatively simple they were clearly executed with skill and obvious, maybe not pleasure, but contentment assuredly.

As time passed, and the closer they got to Greenvale, Aleesia got more lively, clearly on the way to recovery. She still didn't say much, particularly regarding the bandits and whatever had happened or even how she had found herself in that particular situation, but she at least answered simple questions with more than a simple gesture, even accepting to sing while playing her Lyre on the last couple of nights on the road. Thankfully, she happened to have a very nice voice.

When expedition and escort finally arrived in Greenvale, Aleesia seemed to have mostly recovered by then and if she appeared lost, it had probably more to do with not knowing what she was supposed to be doing than with what had happened. She had followed to the inn and was nursing a hot cup of tea, but she very obviously had no real idea as to what she was going to do next.
Ahvylyn Brightsong
 player, 12 posts
 HP [35] MP [3] Def [25]
 Per [+35] Wealth [2]
Sat 25 Sep 2021
at 00:28
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Lyn had been loitering around Greenvale for a while now. Finding a way to safely and decently interact with bandits had proven much harder than she had thought it would. It vexed her considerably. Her pa had always said she was half-too-clever for her own britches, but she'd always taken it as the compliment it wasn't intended as. The people of the village had been interesting for a few days. Greenvale was big enough for her curious mind to entertain itself here and there trying to find the spies and agents of the larger bands of bandits. Truth was, she wanted to travel among them for a while and learn their lives and motivations. Telling that to the villagers would do no good though; they hated the bandits. She expected she would, too, if her kin had been marauded like that.

Still, good luck had favored her today. The local minstrel had broken his arm. She'd had to pretend to not be elated about it, of course. Wouldn't do people thinking she had been part of it or planned to make good off the man's tragedy.

Still, the afternoon, she'd taken the time to have her second set of clothes cleaned. Of course, that meant she'd done it herself. She trusted no one else to preserve the delicate shade of blue. It had taken some time for her to find the things she wanted and prepare herself in her room, but eventually, she descended the stairs into... madness. Madness that caused her to bite her lip in frustration. This would not do at all. There was too much hub-bub and hullabaloo for anyone to properly focus on her. She tamped her foot and then huffed before descending to the room. The bright blue swish of her skirts, the swing of her bare shoulder below the blue bands wrapping up and behind her neck to keep the bodice in place. One might suspect the clothes were fine until you got close enough to notice the fabric was flax instead of cotton and the flowers stitched in reds and yellows into the bodice were more likely a mother's work than a seamstress'. It was, in truth, garb tough enough to travel but pretty enough for a country wedding. Still, in a dress the shade of blue that'd make the ocean blush and warm, polished leather boots she strode through the crowd.

It was more than enough to send the corner of her lip sliding up just barely as many an eye trailed her. Still, she was feeling a bit grumpy now, so she stopped near a table, allowing some mercenaries a fine look, and surveyed the lot. Some fop was trying to upstage her near the locals, the soldiers and that lot seemed about to spark off, and there were a few other interesting sights among the taproom. Sighting the dusk elf, her eyes glowed with interest. She swished along the pathways until she got to the table and beamed down at Aleesia, "Mind if I sit?" But she had already slid into the chair opposite and arranged her skirts. "So, it's not often we see elves out this far. You seem, bedraggled? There must be some story involved. I am something of a collector of stories, humble as I may be. Would you mind sharing it?"

This message was last edited by the player at 03:44, Sat 25 Sept.

Torstein Svanir
 player, 7 posts
 High Man Warrior
Sat 25 Sep 2021
at 02:43
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Joining the expedition had been an impulse for Torstein. A long trek alone through wild lands had left the young High Man with a craving for human contact. He was a long way from the fortress-monastery and his brothers. But he knew that leaving was the right choice: staying there was just hiding from the world. He had to go out and do good. Oppose evil.

It led to many firsts for Torstein. The strange beast that Faaid rode did not exist Torstein's fatherland. The scholar and his apprentices were very different from even the most learned of his Brothers of the Red Cup. The philosophy they discussed was beyond him. They pursued points so opaque and esoteric as to be the stuff of hermits. But it was interesting to listen.

Another first was the Dusk Elf they encountered along the way, shortly before Greenvale. Torstein tried not to stare at the traumatized female, but he could not hide his fascination at the sight of her, nor of her behaviour. He prayed to the Source for her recovery, and it gladdened him as she came more into sensibility.

In the Blue Boar, Torstein went to his room to pray. He prayed with fervor, and in a manner that he abstained from on the road for lack of privacy. But he did join everyone in the tap room, and felt much refreshed and renewed when he did. His smooth, soft face was lit with an easy, unassuming smile and though he noted the tension between the soldiers and some of the local labourers he was not really disturbed by it. Faaid was speaking to them, and it seemed to Torstein that if anyone might calm things it was the enigmatic man from the desert.

The tall blond male got food for Aleesia and himself. He was across the room when Ahvylyn entered, and Torstein noted her entrance as few others did. He stared at her, showing some awe at her appearance. She was easily among the most striking females he had ever beheld, and her concealed heritage had some effect in amplifying what Torstein experienced looking upon her. The half-elf was seated with Aleesia by the time he recovered and joined the pair. He set down the food before Aleesia, and took a seat.

After a brief prayer of thanks to the Source, Torstein began to eat.

This message was last edited by the player at 04:28, Sat 25 Sept.

Aleesia Valhorn
 player, 6 posts
Sat 25 Sep 2021
at 18:54
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Aleesia looked up at the woman in front of her, blinking in surprise. She took some time to determine how - and what - to answer, but before she could say anything Torstein had deposited a plate of food in front of her. She smiled briefly to him, nodding gratefully, “Thank you.”

The young dusk elf took a mouthful, then looking at Ahvylyn she slowly answered her question. “Some bandits captured me. Atrocles' expedition...found...me. A few days ago.” She glanced at Torstein then, as if asking him to add the missing details she didn't feel like sharing herself at the moment.
Torstein Svanir
 player, 10 posts
 High Man Warrior
Sat 25 Sep 2021
at 22:14
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Torstein ate obliviously for a few moments and then sensed Aleesia's glance upon him. He finished chewing and wiped his mouth, and a lost expression settled upon his face. "Ah, well . . . there is little else to say. Some distance away, we came upon Aleesia in a much worse state. She was covered in blood and viscera, and the legion found dead bandits and another dead elf further on. The men of the legion said they had never seen men slain in such a way. And they are not unseasoned men."

He spread his hands out, unsure what to make of the event. "I have seen men savaged and slain by beasts, and by men who behaved as beasts." The youthful warrior shook his head. "And I have not seen its like either." There was an apologetic undertone to his soft voice, and he glanced to Ahvylyn expecting to see her displeasure at how little he could share about Aleesia's tale. A sheltered upbringing by warrior-monks made Ahvylyn's beauty disarm Torstein all the more, for he was not accustomed to dealing with females of even half the loveliness of the two he was seated with.
GM
 GM, 21 posts
Sat 25 Sep 2021
at 23:55
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
The men looked at Faaid and it seemed for a moment that all of the anger they were stoking in themselves might get turned onto him. But they stopped, and cast furtive glances around the table and at each other. Some were struck by fear, and others were eased. Ultimately, a sullen eyed man with sandy hair spoke up.

"Take a seat, Faaid. Name's Jok." He sniffed and raised his mug to his lips. He pursed his lips. "We ain't all friends on account of some us don't do our fair share." There was a nod of the head towards the legion. "I'll admit I ain't never cared much for pony boys - bunch of fancy lads never done any proper soldiering - but I don't think I'm too out of line to be cross with them. Last time we saw any legion . . . has to be almost a year if it was a day."

Another man slammed his hand on the table. "And then all they did was breeze through, only stopping long enough to take food from us before riding off again!"

Jok nodded his head solemnly. "Didn't pay, neither. Gave our headman promissory notes . . ." But the man shook his head as he trailed off. It was clear the money never materialized. "Came to Drenan because we heard we'd get a fair shake here. In the main, sure, we have. Vors's always been fair with us and ain't a man at this table who didn't have a bad turn that Vors didn't help set to right. But anyone above him?" Jok waved a hand dismissively, like he was trying to blow away a bad smell.

The other man to speak to Faaid shook his head. "Sorry for my bad manners. I'm Lek. I'm just out of sorts . . . my brother's farm got hit. You'd seen it, coming in." Lek slammed his hand on the table again and looked away, overcome with emotions.

"Better if we had some blasted music instead of listening to them pony boys." Jok said sourly, casting another withering look over at the legion. By coincidence in that moment one of them had won well on a hand of dice, resulting in whoops of congratulation for the winner from observers and exaggerated groans from the loser. Lek took special offense to it, as if they were being purposefully mirthful in the face of his personal tragedy.
Faaid
 player, 17 posts
 High Man Rogue
 70/70 HP, 1 DR
Mon 27 Sep 2021
at 01:46
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Faaid listens and observes, his eyes curiously drinking in every bit of nonverbal communication presented.  Upon hearing the story and the complaints, he drums his fingers on the table for a moment while looking around the room before returning to Lek and Jok with half a grin.  "Music we can handle.  I know someone.  Money, however, is harder.  The Legion loves their notes and promises, but trying to ask for payment is often returned with commentary on the quartermaster and requisitions.  But I'd love to help try turning the notes into coin.  One way or another."  Faaid winks as he says this, making an obvious glance to the legionnaires playing dice.

His face turns solemn as he looks to Lek.  "I am truly sorry to hear of your brother's farm.  Banditry has gone too far as of late, though if it is the farm I am thinking of, vengeance was at least had.  Those bandits are no more, thanks to these young men and their fine pony's.  Don't be too hard on them, it's not the young ones who make promises they can't keep; they're the ones in the muck and grime and blood following orders.  It is those on top you should show your ire.  But perhaps not tonight, not with bellies full of ale.  Now before I blather on too much more, allow me to try returning music to this fine establishment!"

Rising from the table, Faaid looks around the room once more before locking his eyes on Aleesia.  He moves gracefully through the busy tavern, ale in hand, before taking a seat amongst the Elf and her current companions.  He waits for them to finish speaking before interjecting.  "No need to look so glum, friends!  Not when there is warmth from the hearth and ale to be drunk!  Aleesia, is it?  I seem to recall seeing you dragging that instrument around.  Do you perchance play?  Based on how everyone has been drinking, I'm not asking if you can play well.  But it would go a long ways in alleviating the obvious tension between some of the locals and our legionnaire friends.  And if not for them, it would warm Faaid's heart."  This was likely the most he had spoken to her since the expedition had found her.

This message was last edited by the player at 01:46, Mon 27 Sept.

Ahvylyn Brightsong
 player, 14 posts
 HP [35] MP [3] Def [25]
 Per [+35] Wealth [2]
Mon 27 Sep 2021
at 08:38
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
There was a small chance that something truly unacceptable was occurring. Lyn's face momentarily went blank as a sheet or parchment freshly pressed as Faiid took a seat. A moment later, a cookie-cutter smile spread across her face as her lavender eyes darted from person to person.

Finally, she turned her eyes to the aforementioned lute and her eyes lit up like lamps. Her hands fluttered to her lips to capture a soft gasp that blended smoothly into a giggle, "Oh, a musician? Oh my. I fancy myself something of a singer. Just local ditties mostly: bawdy tunes and rustic jigs. You wouldn't... couldn't... do you possibly know the Lay of Thrymm?" Smiling brightly, she started to hum a few bars of a song. The melody was a simple one used in a lot of songs. "You play and I'll sing. Kay?" Lyn reached out her hand to take the dusk elf's arm in a light grip and her eyes pleaded.
Aleesia Valhorn
 player, 7 posts
Mon 27 Sep 2021
at 11:43
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Aleesia looked away while Torstein explained what he knew. She ate her food silently, avoiding everyone's gaze. When he finished, she nodded her thanks, but obviously didn't feel like adding anything else to the story. Assuming she even could, and considering the now grey colour of her face, it would likely have been hoping for too much.

She finally looked up when Faaid joined them, nodding to confirm that Aleesia was indeed her name, or when he asked if she played Lyre though she looked a bit confused there: if he had been with them on the way to Greenvale, shouldn't he already know as much? Though maybe he had been scouting at those times. The days were still not much more than a blur to her so she couldn't tell.

While she didn't straight out reject Faaid's request, the glance she took of the stage - or what passed for it anyway - made it clear that she was a bit anxious about going there. Her head tilted to the side, she considered Ahvylyn for a moment, briefly nodding to confirm that she indeed knew what she was talking about. She hadn't exactly agreed to it yet though when the half-elf placed a hand on her arm.

She froze. Not for long, and she didn't escape in a rush or made a scene, but it was enough to show that physical contact was probably still a bit too early. Still, maybe because she had been convinced, or simply to escape the contact, Aleesia leaned away to take her instrument. She stood then and walked to the stage.

As she did, she didn't shy away from the looks, nor walked too fast or too slow. Clearly, even if it was a bit uncomfortable for her at the moment, she was used to be in public and knew how to comport herself. Once she reached her destination, she sat down and played a few notes, both to make sure her instrument was still well tuned and draw attention to herself making it evident once more that she knew what she was doing.

Very quickly it also became obvious that she indeed knew what Ahvylyn was talking about - albeit maybe a slightly different version of it - well enough that she could not only play it, but also add some discreet counterpoints in a clear soprano voice to the half-elf's singing.

13:36, Today: Aleesia Valhorn rolled 121 using 1d100+75.  [Challenging] Playing the 'Lay of Thrymm'.
Success.

GM
 GM, 23 posts
Tue 28 Sep 2021
at 02:51
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Jok looked at Faaid with a wan expression. He couldn't deny the logic, but it didn't touch his heart. True it might be that the legion took their orders from higher up and the military code did not permit a soldier to only obey orders they like, but the legion here and now were an easy and tangible target. No doubt there was some distant officer responsible for the deployment of legion forces. That officer might even be a good man who went to bed each night tormented by having to stretch the too few troops under their commands over so much territory, and who cursed the senators who stripped down the army year and year. But Jok and his fellows would never know.

When Aleesia took the stage - which was nothing grand, but a slightly raised area with a worn stool - the din of the room died down in anticipation. Every eye was upon her, and the music was welcomed heartily. Some of the tension in the room eased away as the elf became the focus of the attention for those in the room.
Ahvylyn Brightsong
 player, 16 posts
 HP [35] MP [3] Def [25]
 Per [+35] Wealth [2]
Tue 28 Sep 2021
at 06:20
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Lyn waited a few bars as the elf strode across the room. She watched her stride carefully and took careful notes of all the information available from the moment she drew back from the touch to when she sat upon the stool comfortably.

Her face, however, only beamed joy as she bounced from her chair after the first notes came strutting into the room. Smiling, she was a few steps behind the elf in approaching the stage, but she did not step up onto it. Instead, she let the elf play through the series of standard notes once to get a feel for the woman's style. As she did, she moved among the crowd meeting eyes, trailing fingertips along arms and tabletops. Slowly, using various tricks, she summoned what attention she could. Finally, still moving among the crowd, she started to add her mezzo-soprano voice to the harmony. A stumble her and there in the first notes was masked carefully as she adjusted to the lute and the elf's playing.

Finally, after a second time through the series of notes that constructed the tune's body, she started into the first verse.

Ahvylyn Brightsong rolled 94 using 1d100+60.  Singing. Not sure of success level as I don't have my book.

An old story with many versions, the lay told the story of a hero during the times of the last war. Thrymm was a common man in every version, but his race and profession changed from region to region. Lyn had made a point of learning most of the versions. She chose the local version as the hero started a farmer but ended a soldier on the walls during the last siege. Here and there, during stanzas, she met eyes and smiled. She moved among the soldiers during the stanzas where Thrymm fought valiantly and, later, when eh returned home to his family. To the farmers she addressed early stanzas where the hero struggled to wrest his crop from the earth.

She herself, never stopped in one place long though and drew their attentions around with her. Anywhere but the stage. She wanted the music in their ears not their eyes. Let their eyes feast upon her; let them release their mind's eyes to her voice.

Only once she had arrived at the final stanza where the soldier died upon the walls thinking of his family did she stop in front of the stage to sing in a bright clear voice choked with emotion. As the last note rang among the rafters, she collapsed upon the edge of the stage with her hand over her eyes. Beneath the hand, she grinned mischievously up at Aleesia. Very little of what Lyn ever did was an accident.

Finally, after an appropriate time, she stood up and swept into a graceful curtsy then motioned for Aleesia to join her but was deliberate and careful to avoid contact.
GM
 GM, 24 posts
Wed 29 Sep 2021
at 02:46
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead

As Ahvylyn wandered through the room and gathered attention, she succeeded. The eyes of all were upon her, and as she sang in tandem with Aleesia's playing the room calmed even further. It may not have reached the group quite so deeply as she wished, but it was clear that the performance forestalled violence for one night.

At the end of the performance, the room erupted in hoots, claps, and cups banged against tables.

The choice of tune made Lek melancholy, and that group got up and decided to call it a night. They left without incident, however, but Jok stayed behind and approached Faaid while the rest of the room cheered for Ahvylyn and Aleesia to play another. They chanted for the 'Ballad of Bonnie Billy Brewer.' It was a common enough song that it existed in some form or another wherever Men dwelt. The ballad had an easy, predictable beat and tempo and the rhyme structure was simple - anyone could easily play and carry the tune, which made it a sing-a-long favourite. This probably accounted for how popular it was.

Jok gave Torstein a sideways glance, and noted the red cup that decorated his chest. But Jok did not say anything on that account, but focused on Faaid. "Good of you." He nodded towards the pair of performers. "Your drinks and theirs are on me for tonight. I'll leave word with the innkeep." Jok paused, and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. The gesture caused his sleeve to slip a little. "Come see me tomorrow at the general store at dawn." The man said quietly for Faaid alone. Then he nodded his head once, and made good on paying for drinks for Faaid, Ahvylyn, and Aleesia, passing a few coins to the innkeep and pointing the three out. The he left as well, without further incident.
Faaid
 player, 19 posts
 High Man Rogue
 70/70 HP, 1 DR
Wed 29 Sep 2021
at 13:54
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Faaid is entranced!  The music, the dancing, the performance.  All of it.  His jaw drops in surprise.  He had heard the woman playing small tunes every now and then on the road, but this was an entirely different matter!  At the end of the first song he claps as hard as anyone, and joins in the cries for an encore.

It takes Faaid some time to break his eyes away from the performance, beautiful as it was.  At long last, he returned his attention to Jok.  "You and I have seen far too much darkness and violence, my friend.  It is time to bring cheer instead," is all he says to the man, nodding in agreeance to the meet.
Torstein Svanir
 player, 11 posts
 High Man Warrior
Thu 30 Sep 2021
at 02:25
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
The song brought on a sense of melancholy in Torstein. It was well played and well sung, but it caused the young man to regret many of the circumstances and choices of his life. He closed his eyes during the stanzas where Thrymm struggled to wrest crops from the earth. There was a strength and a courage in that life that Torstein lacked. There was some flaw in his mettle that did not allow him to be one of the farmers who fought every day of every season against the world and took all it would give. He did not have it in him to build for the future. Torstein did now sow for the harvest. He sowed to feed the ravens.

When he died, Torstein would have no family to think. None would mourn his passing or remember him in song. Perhaps, if the Source was kind, it would be a death that meant something. The heroes who died on the walls of Dros Delnoch tore the future of all Free Kins from the hands of the Pale Son of Night. It was a good death.

His mind was elsewhere when Jok stared at him. Torstein stroked the cup on his chest and pondered. He sighed, and rose from the table. He had no more stomach for company, and instead retired to his room for the night.
Aleesia Valhorn
 player, 10 posts
Fri 1 Oct 2021
at 14:02
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Aleesia was apparently content to let Ahvylyn enjoy the congratulations - and attentions - by herself. She nodded to the crowd to acknowledge them, but didn't move from her seat. She seemed quite happy to play the Ballad of Bonnie Billy Brewer - though she knew it under another name - and continued to play even after that. Either elvish songs that few knew in the region, or songs requested by the patrons though many times she had some of them hum some of the melody before she was able to identify what it was. Most of the time it was enough for her to identify what they were talking about and play it, but from time to time she didn't know the requested song at all.

When Ahvylyn wanted to participate in any given song, she let her take the lead with no second thought, otherwise mostly offering musical support to the songs requested. Only when she played elven songs was her clear voice really heard.

After a while she paused, if for no other reason than to have a drink. She was a bit surprised to hear that her drinks had been paid for, but gladly accepted it. While she was at it, she took a moment to finish her meal, then went back for an hour or so to play before going to bed.

15:50, Today: Aleesia Valhorn rolled 157 using 1d100+75.  [Challenging] Entertaining the inn.
Success

GM
 GM, 26 posts
Sun 3 Oct 2021
at 02:20
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
The performance was a rare treat for the villagers, and when it ended they left in much higher spirits than ever before. As Ahvylyn had a point of reference, the local performer had never garnered the reaction that she and Aleesia had that she had observed. It wasn't likely he'd ever been so well received or given a performance so touching.

But the night came to an end, and dawn came.

Atrocles was in something of a foul mood, as his apprentices all had to be rousted from their slumber by his save Persens, who was up before dawn preparing tea for the scholar. Although the would-be scholars were all grown men Atrocles drove them from their beds like children, and they grumbled like such at breakfast. Save for dutiful Persens, who was spared his patron's wrath. The breakfast was simple fare although Ahvylyn and Aleesia were treated to a choice meal prepared with more care than the others in gratitude for their performance and the upsurge in custom it brought.

Jok was curiously absent from the general store come dawn, and if any locals were questioned, none had seen the farmer since the previous night. None seemed concerned about his whereabouts.

It was two hours travel to the first site that Atrocles wished to inspect. It was the ruin of an old fort. Much of the stonework still stood, but it was covered with plants and it seemed to serve little purpose now beyond being a nesting area for migratory birds and the odd traveler, as evidenced by old campfires and others signs of past use. Atrocles gleefully set out with various tools of his craft and his apprentices joined with less enthusiasm but a surprising work ethic for spoiled academics.

They worked until midday, then halted for a meal. Atrocles and his apprentices seemed quite overjoyed at a pot they had dug up that had contained some tarnished brass and copper coins. Once more Atrocles grew sour when Persens was not at hand with tea. The youth had gone into the woods to respond to the call of nature and his return was not heralded by the expected servile apologies that'd be expected. Instead it was with muted groans of dismay.

Because Persens didn't come back alone. The youth's arm was twisted painfully behind his back by a Man in a blue cloak who held a curved blade to Persen's soft throat. Persens was absolutely terrified and it showed on his face. Behind the Man in the blue cloak came four half-orcs - burly males in leather armor armed iron-bound cudgels with cruel sneers on their ugly faces. The half-orcs bared their fangs and stood tall with their chests puffed out. Cat-like eyes gazed with predatory intent at the survey party, tormenting the apprentices with their fearful and barely restrained desire for wanton violence.

"Now, here's how it's going to be," the Man in the blue cloak said, his voice very sure and calm, "I want coin. You're going to give me all you have, or this blubbering child dies."

Atrocles was beside himself. "O-of course! Just . . . just don't harm him!" The sage declared, ready to acquiesce.
Faaid
 player, 20 posts
 High Man Rogue
 70/70 HP, 1 DR
Sun 3 Oct 2021
at 03:46
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
For the past few weeks, those that have gotten to know the desert-born have seen him using bright clothing and colorful language to make a statement.  They have seen him put on displays of fast talking and dancing that have mesmerized.  But right now, Faaid does his best to disappear from view.  His posture reverts to a very unassuming stance, his hand moves towards his curved blade, and he slowly slinks off to the side.  His eyes dart back and forth from the Man in the blue cloak to his destination, looking for any sort of clue or cover that might help him in this situation.

The stonework proved to be a blessing, creating far less sound than softer ground would.  He feels confident in his movements, and takes a few more risks than he normally would.  After all, a boy's life was at risk.  His direction suggests that he is moving to a position behind the bandits, though the still-sheathed sword suggests restraint.




20:42, Today: Faaid rolled 90 using 1d100+40.  [Challenging] Sneaking on stonework in daylight.
Partial success on its own, but the manual suggests it be an opposed roll.

Ahvylyn Brightsong
 player, 17 posts
 HP [35] MP [3] Def [25]
 Per [+35] Wealth [2]
Sun 3 Oct 2021
at 06:28
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
After a night of performing, Ahvylyn had been somewhat sated. As Aleesia had seemed up to playing the request, Ahvylyn had happily jumped in as well. The goodwill she had earned that night, as well as the adoration and coin, were well worth it. In fact, it was worth it enough that she had grown interested in the dusk elf and her companions.

Once she had learned of the scholar and what he was doing, that also interested her. Humans who researched history often confused her, personally. Then again, few had her perspective on history. She'd learned so many of the old songs by rummaging through libraries, yes, but she had also learned a great many from the oral traditions or, much more rarely, from elves that were there. Though she kept her heritage to herself, she had experienced much herself.

Still, this expedition intrigued her enough that her being welcomed along had been something worth embracing. Stories seemed to be available to learn and, if she was extremely lucky, they would be attacked by bandits and she might appease her ultimate goal in this area.

Ahvylyn has lazed about in whatever shade she could find. There was not a single scholar uppity enough to command her. She hummed a few tunes and sang a bit through the morning while they dug up pots.

Then, right around lunch, luck smiled upon her. The blue-caped man came out of the woods with a hostage. She noted the brightly-colored man suddenly disappear but only raised an eyebrow at the bandit. Slowly, she rolled and got her feet under her to stand up smoothly. She took a moment to shake her auburn tresses out behind her and then ran her hands carefully along the side of her head to make sure all was in its place. "Honestly, I ought to invest in a mirror. No handy river either. Shame" She then looked over to the men and sighed, "The boy means little to me. Perhaps the old man will pay for him?" She looked to Atrocles with a shrug, "But I've no interest. Keep him. I'm sure buggering him will earn you a few nights' entertainment. He seems awfully soft and... mm, pliable?"

She then smiled and her eyes narrowed considerably, "Anyway, I'll not pay a copper for him. And if you try to insist... I assure you that you will not be the first gelding I've made." Saying this she rested her palm on the hilt of the short-sword strapped across the small of her back.
Aleesia Valhorn
 player, 11 posts
Sun 3 Oct 2021
at 22:31
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Aleesia wasn't particularly fond of Atrocles, and she was glad she wasn't one of his assistants considering the way they were treated by the scholar. Of course, she had decided to follow the expedition, but it had been more by default than anything else: she didn't really want to stay in Greenvale since there was nothing for her there after all, which didn't leave many options.

Thankfully, nothing was asked of her, for the time being anyway, and she couldn't say she wasn't interested in whatever the academics could find: she just wasn't interested in doing the finding - and digging - herself. Which wasn't to say that she had just stayed somewhere doing nothing while everyone else was working. Or pretending to work.

No, she had in fact gone in the forest a bit, though never more so far that she'd lose sight of at least someone else for more than a couple of seconds with the goal of finding a nice staff. It wouldn't replace the one she had lost recently, but she managed after an hour or so to find one that would work, which she proceeded to enchant without feeling the need to make a spectacle out of it. If nothing else, because no one was paying attention to her in the first place.

She came back to the fort's ruins well in time for lunch, and was in the process of storing her staff in her bag when Persens came back from his own trip in the forest, having found new "friends" in the process.

She glanced Atrocles when he readily agreed with the bandit, and wasn't feeling the need to protest. If nothing else, his agreement allowed him to get back a few points he had lost previously. It was at least nice to see that he wasn't going to abandon his students like that. She was however clearly shocked by Ahvylyn's way of handling the situation. It could of course be just a bluff, but...maybe it was not.

Grabbing her staff as if her life depended on it, Aleesia...sat. And she started to sing an Elven Song, low at first, then a bit louder after a few seconds, obviously hoping to find some comfort there.

Though... From time to time, she glanced at the bandit who had his blade against Persens' throat.


00:18, Today: Aleesia Valhorn rolled 133 using 1d100+45.  Wizard's Staff.
Staff is successfully enchanted.

00:29, Today: Aleesia Valhorn rolled 110 using 1d100+60.  Song of Tranquility.
Target is the human, save DC 70 to resist.

Torstein Svanir
 player, 13 posts
 High Man Warrior
Mon 4 Oct 2021
at 00:41
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Torstein took this turn of events with stoic reserve. He stood, and looked over the Man and the Half-Orcs present. It was obvious that they meant ill. How to best proceed was not so clear to the young male. He gave Ahvylyn a sidelong glance as she spoke with boisterous bravado. Persens' safety was the primary concern on Torstein's mind. Beyond being why he was present - and already the blond male felt guilt that Persens was in danger - the Code was clear. The Iron Code he swore to follow.

He fingered his coin purse. There was not much there, and Torstein did not consider it any great loss to turn it over. No, the conflict came from a very simple lesson: one did not turn away a greater evil by countenancing a lesser one. Giving in to the Man in blue's demands was acceding to evil. And the Iron Code forbade such. Evil had to be opposed. And this was plainly evil. It seemed, however, like the way that offered the highest chance that Persens would be released unharmed. However, was the Man in blue one who honoured his bargains? Surely no, if he acted thus.

"Be calm, Persens." Torstein said softly to the distressed student. The Acolyte's voice was strong and clear and there was a certain expression upon his face. Even though they were outnumbered in terms of fighters, Torstein was only afraid for Persens' life, not his own.

"Lower the blade. Let him go." The blond male said to the Man in blue.

17:10, Today: Torstein Svanir rolled 129 using 1d100+40.  Charisma. Goal is to inspire Persens and allay his fear.
GM
 GM, 27 posts
Mon 4 Oct 2021
at 03:28
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead

Faaid's progress went unremarked by the hostile party - the Man and the half-orcs kept their attention on everyone else. He was able to move behind the group undetected while events played out.

The Man in the blue cloak seemed to waver for a moment as Aleesia, but he shook his head and snarled, twisting Persens's arm even further, causing the youth to yelp in pain. He resisted the Song of Tranquility. The half-orcs snarled and one of them beat their chest in response to Ahvylyn's threat.

Persens calmed and took heart from Torstein's efforts. His breathing slowed and calmed, although the look of panic did not entirely fade from the student's eyes. However, the command was not obeyed.

"I am tempted to slit this boy's throat for spite." The Man said, lips curling in frustration. However, he did not open Persens's throat but tossed him roughly to the ground after withdrawing the curved blade.

"You two, take the Cupbearer! You two, with me!" The Man declared, ordering his half-orcs into action. Two half-orcs to his right raised their clubs and roared, charging towards Torstein, and the other two did much the same, moving on Ahvylyn along with the Man.

Officially time for a fight. Two half-orcs are Charging Torstein, and the Man and two half-orcs are Charging Ahvylyn. The enemies are all unaware of Faaid, so he gains the benefits of that and is able to engage them from the rear. The defense for the Man is 25, is armored with a leather jerkin, and the half-orcs all have a defense of 15, and are armored with leather armor. The half-orcs are wielding short length weapons, and the Man has a hand length weapon.

This message was last edited by the GM at 04:00, Wed 06 Oct.

Faaid
 player, 21 posts
 High Man Rogue
 70/70 HP, 1 DR
Mon 4 Oct 2021
at 15:11
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Faaid maintains his distance from the Man in Blue, moving forward silently as well as drawing a short sword concealed slightly amongst his clothes (rather than his scimitar).  He uses the fray as a distraction, and begins creeping towards one of the two half-Orcs in order catch it unawares.  He pulls his headscarf over most of his face, muffling the sound of his breath as well as preparing to keep any blood out of his mouth.  Only his bright green eyes remain.



Half-Action: Move.  Faaid will move forward, following the Man in Blue.
Half-Action: Draw Weapon.  Faaid will draw his short sword.

Torstein Svanir
 player, 15 posts
 High Man Warrior
Tue 5 Oct 2021
at 01:35
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Torstein drew his greatsword from its place at his back, and the familiar weight was a comfort. Now, with battle joined, there was no room or need for moral wrangling.

The blond male moved to intercept the Man in blue and the two half-orcs with him. He placed his body between them and Ahvylyn, making a bulwark of his huge body.

Half Action: Draw two-handed sword.
Half Action: Move to intercept Man in Blue Cloak and half-orcs, interposing Torstein between them and Ahvylyn.
If possible, full parry against any eligible attack, preferably one of the half-orcs.

Ahvylyn Brightsong
 player, 19 posts
 HP [35] MP [3] Def [25]
 Per [+35] Wealth [2]
Tue 5 Oct 2021
at 10:01
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Ahvylyn arched an eyebrow as the bandits attacked. There really hadn't been another viable route this scenario would take. Pursing her lips, she regarded the three charging at her. That kind of odds would certainly see her on the ground dying rather quickly. The auburn-haired woman looked left and right even as she casually slipped her shortsword from its sheath. It flourished in her hand as she took a couple steps backward.

Then the goody-goody charged between her and the assailants. That was to the good. Hopefully, he'd peel one or two of them off. Those type of odds favored her a bit more. Pursing her lips, she shifted her feet and moved closer to Aleesia, "Handy at clobbering with that staff, are we? If not, I'll see what I can do to buy you time."

Lyn then kept a close eye on the attackers while she prepared to parry any incoming attack from the first to reach her. She hardly expected Torstein to stop the charge of five men. She muttered quietly to Aleesia, "I'd love a nicely balanced dagger if you had one?"
Aleesia Valhorn
 player, 12 posts
Tue 5 Oct 2021
at 11:57
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Noticing her target shrugging the effects of her spell, Aleesia grumbled, obviously displeased. Thankfully, he at least hadn't noticed it had come from her. Still, that left her in a bit of a bind. To say that she would be completely useless in a fight would not be too far from the truth, which was evidenced when she shook her head - emphatically so - at Ahvylyn's question about hitting anyone with her staff: not only she wasn't sure the staff would stay intact, she was also pretty sure that she might have troubles hitting a wall in front of her nose…

Asked for a dagger, she handed her own, but it was clear she wasn't about to claim it was particularly balanced. And while after that she took her bow and nocked an arrow, she clearly didn't feel confident about her chances of doing much good with it.

So I guess that's:
Half-Action: hand dagger to Ahvylyn
Half-Action: ready her bow

GM
 GM, 29 posts
Wed 6 Oct 2021
at 03:22
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Faaid's progress remained unnoticed, and he remained behind the group of bandits.

Torstein moving into the way had the effect he wished. He became the new target for the bandits. His huge sword parried the metal-shod club of one of the half-orcs, but the rest of their weapons made it through his defenses. Three clubs smashed into Torstein's body. Two were glancing blows but one was of some note. The curved blade of the Man in the blue cloak slashed and drew blood; this attack was delivered with more skill than the rest.

With the bandits engaged in melee with a focus on Torstein, it exposed the flanks of two half-orcs to Ahvylyn and Aleeisa, but posed a problem to Aleesia in that firing into it posed the risk of hitting Torstein with a misplaced shot.

There's two half-orcs who counted as being Flanked and grant +15 bonus to any attacks that Aleesia and Ahvylyn make against them, although for Aleesia, the enemies all count as having Partial Cover since they're in melee, which means +20 to their Def.



The Man in blue sneered at Torstein, showing contempt. "You're a fool, Cupbearer . . . but if you're so eager to be the first to fall, we'll oblige! Bring him down!" He said. A dark grin played across his features. "You won't be the first fool with delusions of heroism we've killed!"

Still, the Man in blue showed some caution and he was prepared to protect himself with his curved blade, attacking more with a mind to defense than the first charge. The half-orcs, however, attacked with nothing held back, and swung their metal-shod clubs with all of the strength in their brutish bodies.

Everyone's attacking Torstein this round. The Man in blue will Parry against Torstein, bringing his Def up to 55.
Faaid
 player, 23 posts
 High Man Rogue
 70/70 HP, 1 DR
Wed 6 Oct 2021
at 04:11
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
With practiced grace, Faaid drops to a knee and slices his blade into an area he sees unarmored.  The half-Orc, caught unawares, experiences the unbelievable pain of a sharpened blade thrusting through his leg just below the kneecap.  Had he been prepared, he might have been able to avoid the attack or force his armor in the way, but luck was not on his side today.

His weapon bloodied, Faaid returns to his feet and assumes a more mobile fighting stance, fully expecting the fury of one or two of his enemies.  He rotates his body to create less of a target, bending his knees and leaning slightly forward.  The blade points forward, ever forward, ready for yet another thrust.  And he remains silent.



Full Action: Melee Attack.  Faaid makes a Melee Attack with a Short Sword against one of the half-Orcs he is behind.  His weapon range counts as Long.
Result: 21 Damage and Strike to lower leg under the knee.  Tendons and muscle torn: +3 Damage, Stunned, and -25 to all actions

20:47, Today: Faaid rolled 121 using 1d100+80.  Melee Attack vs Half Orc (+30 Attacking from Rear, +20 Attacking a Surprised Foe, -15 Armor).
20:55, Today: Faaid rolled 82 using 1d100+20.  Critical Table (+50 Lethal).

This message was last edited by the player at 04:13, Wed 06 Oct.

Torstein Svanir
 player, 16 posts
 High Man Warrior
Wed 6 Oct 2021
at 04:30
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
When struck Torstein did not make a sound. His expression remained one of stoic detachment, emptied of emotion. This was not enough to make him show an expression of pain. The curved blade cut his flesh and even this was not enough to elicit anything from him.

The words that the Man in the blue cloak spoke did not touch Torstein. It did not goad him into an emotional response. Something cold inside him stirred, but Torstein kept it chained within and kept a level head.

He gripped the huge, heavy sword in two hands and prepared to strike. The man in the blue cloak was his target. Cut the head from the serpent. Perhaps it would be the more intelligent course to strike down the half-orcs first and try to take the Man for information. The thought did occur to Torstein, but he chose to smite instead, bringing the great blade down in a brutal arc against the Man.

The heavy blade struck the Man in the blue cloak's forearm, opening a minor wound that wept crimson.

Half Action: Ready two-handed sword.
Full Action: Melee Attack Man in blue cloak.
21:20, Today: Torstein Svanir rolled 126 using 1d100+35.
Result: 17 Gri
21:22, Today: Torstein Svanir rolled 54 using 1d100+30.
Minor forearm cut. +4 Damage, 1 Bleed, and Stunned.
Total damage: 21.

Ahvylyn Brightsong
 player, 20 posts
 HP [35] MP [3] Def [25]
 Per [+35] Wealth [2]
Wed 6 Oct 2021
at 11:13
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Lyn watched the combat play out and felt a few twinges of sympathy as Torstein is pummeled by the bandits. She watches Faaid appear behind the bandits and smirks. It was a solid tactic, but the sneaking about part was risky. Still, she watched as the man delivered a rather nasty blow to the scion of the Pale Son and chuckled. Not seeing much else she could do, Ahvylyn darted in to attack one of the orcs which had left its flank open. She hisses as her blade scratches the brute and looks back to see how Aleesia would fair. "If you've some trick hidden in that staff, best get it ready. Else this mob will overwhelm us."

She looked back to the mob of bandits and bit her lip. She then eyed the walls of the ruins they had been investigating.


19:07, Today: Ahvylyn Brightsong rolled 82 using 1d100+25.  +25 blades, +15 flank, -15 armor.
Total: 6 damage since he wears light armor.

Unsure if the 'flanked' brutes are the ones Faaid attacked.

Aleesia Valhorn
 player, 13 posts
Sat 9 Oct 2021
at 15:03
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
My bad, I read everything when I couldn't answer and forgot you were waiting for me after that :/

Aleesia glanced at Ahvylyn for a second, but quickly shook her head: her staff - or her stick... - wasn't particularly good as it was, but as far as actually hitting someone and do some damage... She was more likely to hit a rock and break her staff than inconvenience the half-orc.

Plus, she already had an arrow nocked on her bow. For a moment, it seemed she wasn't going to do much of anything with it, but in the end she breathed in deeply, then released her arrow. Which, maybe surprisingly, actually hit her target. It didn't leave a grievious wound of course, but it still did something...which was more than she had actually dared hope for.

16:57, Today: Aleesia Valhorn rolled 106 using 1d100+20.  Attack an half-orc.
Result: 12 Light

GM
 GM, 31 posts
Sat 9 Oct 2021
at 19:26
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
The bandit group was now aware of Faaid's presence, and his attack earned him a grunt of pain and roar of anger from the mouth of the half-orc he attacked. Blood stained the rough leather trousers of the half-orc and he was unsteady on his feet, leaving him vulnerable target for future attacks.

The Man in blue hissed and barked out a curse at Torstein, and spared a moment to give Faaid a death glare, but he could do little to retaliate after the attack upon him from Torstein.

Three iron-shod clubs struck Torstein, but one strike was completely negated by armor. The other two struck and inflicted damage, hammering hard but without other consequences.

The other three half-orcs were shaken by the turn of events, but they did not attempt to retreat. Instead they continued to bear down on Torstein, aiming to take the large warrior out of the fight.

I'm going to treat Ahvylyn and Aleesia as attacking the same half-orc. The Man in blue is going to parry against Torstein, bringing his DEF to 60. The half-orc Faaid attacked is going to Parry against Faaid, bringing his DEF to 35. The half-orc Ahvylyn and Aleesia attacked is going to parry against Ahvylyn, bringing his DEF to 35 against Ahvylyn although he still counts as Flanked by her so she does still receive a +15 to attacks.

The three half-orcs who are not stunned will attack Torstein this turn again.

This message was last edited by the GM at 21:18, Sat 09 Oct.

Aleesia Valhorn
 player, 14 posts
Sat 9 Oct 2021
at 19:36
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
This time I won't forget!

Now comited, Aleesia didn't hesitate and reloaded her weapon, then fired once more at the same target: she figured one enemy down would be better than two slightly injured.

This time however, her arrow stuck itself in her target's armour without managing to pierce it at all.

21:34, Today: Aleesia Valhorn rolled 74 using 1d100+20.  Attack half-orc.
Faaid
 player, 24 posts
 High Man Rogue
 70/70 HP, 1 DR
Sat 9 Oct 2021
at 20:12
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Having been discovered, Faaid takes his more flamboyant fighting stance with a single blade held before him.  Though his curved blade would be more effective, he was more than competent with the shorter sword.  The half-Orc attempting to parry any attack coming his way was shaky, not only because of the leg would but also from surprise at the attack.  Faaid can use this to his advantage.  He fakes a strike to the bandit's uninjured side, causing him to lean out; just as quickly, he twists back to the other side and slices out with his blade, catching the half-Orc along his side.  Using the edge of the sword Faaid is able to slice through the leather and leave a serious laceration behind.



Full Action: Melee Attack.  Faaid makes a Melee Attack with a Short Sword against the same half-Orc as before.  His weapon range counts as Short.
Result: 11 Damage and Slice through Side: +5 Damage and Stunned.

12:53, Today: Faaid rolled 102 using 1d100+30.  Melee Attack vs Half-Orc (+45 Blades, +20 Stunner, -35 Defense).
13:00, Today: Faaid rolled 71 using 1d100.  Critical Effect (Superficial).

Torstein Svanir
 player, 17 posts
 High Man Warrior
Sat 9 Oct 2021
at 21:23
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
The blond warrior kept a stoic face as he was struck. The iron-bound cudgels struck him, and he felt the impact of all three although his armour dispersed the blow of one. The other two took their toll, and Torstein was in a state where lesser men would be out of the fight or worse.

But he carried on in silence, without any indication that he was hurt. He readied the heavy blade in his hands and swung at the Man in the blue cloak. Even with the injury to his arm the Man in blue managed to parry and turn away the huge sword, leading to a blow that deeply cut the Man's thigh and inflicted another bleeding. More blood flowed from this wound than the one inflicted upon his arm.

Being cursed at was merely words in the wind; it did not phase the Acolyte any more than a light breeze might.

14:03, Today: Torstein Svanir rolled 139 using 1d100+40 with rolls of 99.
14:03, Today: Torstein Svanir rolled 68 using 1d100 with rolls of 68.
Max Result 175 40 Let

14:04, Today: Torstein Svanir rolled 31 using 1d100 with rolls of 31.
Deeper cut to thigh. If the target's wearing leg armor: +3 Damage. If not, +6 Damage, 3 Bleed, Stunned, and -20 to all actions.
46 total damage.

This message was last edited by the player at 21:58, Sat 09 Oct.

Faaid
 player, 26 posts
 High Man Rogue
 70/70 HP, 1 DR
Sat 9 Oct 2021
at 21:44
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Likely a little too late, Faaid calls out to Torstein, "Don't kill the man, he must be questioned!  Faaid has questions!"
Ahvylyn Brightsong
 player, 21 posts
 HP [35] MP [3] Def [25]
 Per [+35] Wealth [2]
Sun 10 Oct 2021
at 02:26
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
The half-orc turned to face her and readied himself. Ahvylyn was many thing, but s killed swordswoman was not one of them. Long practice and experience gave her some ability and the fact the brute was leery of Torstein behind him was helping her, but she would need more than that. Luckily, she had her mind to assist her. AS long as the orc was focused on her, then it was not focused on the real combatant. Her first blow might have convinced him of that. Still, as long as it was on full defense, she had little chance of breaching his defenses.

She flipped the dagger end for end in her off hand, prepared to throw it if needed, and put herself into a defensive position as well.

While I still have a tiny CMB after his parry, it's not enough to gamble on and I can't parry and attack. So, full defense against the orc I am engaging. Raises my defense against that orc to 50.
GM
 GM, 34 posts
Sun 10 Oct 2021
at 02:59
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
The Man in the blue cloak fell to the ground after Torstein's attack hit him in the leg. He dropped his short, curved blade and clasped the wound. He tried in vain to stem the bleeding, but all he accomplished was covering his hands in blood. He soon passed out, hands falling away from his bleeding thigh.

The half-orc that Ahvylyn and Aleesia engaged, rather than turning his wrath against Ahvylyn, decided to try to make a break for it. He looked cautiously between the High Man and the Half-Elf, and kept his weapon up in a guard position against the latter.

Faaid's target grasped his injured side and snarled, but it was all bark and no bite. The cut to the side precluded a counter-attack and forced the half-orc into a compromised defensive position.

The remaining unscathed pair of half-orcs sensed the turning tide of the fight, but they did not ask for mercy or try to flee. Instead they swung their clubs at Torstein, intending at least to take the High Man down. One grazed with a superficial but still damaging blow, and the other struck the High Man's right arm with punishing force.


The Man in the blue cloak is Incapacitated now, and with 4 Bleed he is not in good shape right now, but also not a threat.

The half-orc Ahvylyn's engaging is going to Disengage, and devote all of his CMB against Ahvylyn, bringing his Def up to 55 against her. He's also moving to face her, so she no longer benefits from Flanking him. Torstein instead gains tht benefit.

Faaid's half-orc is parrying to the best of his ability while Stunned, brining his Def to to 35.

The other two will once more wail away on Torstein.

Faaid
 player, 27 posts
 High Man Rogue
 70/70 HP, 1 DR
Sun 10 Oct 2021
at 03:51
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Continuing his assault, Faaid dances around his dazed and clearly outmatched opponent, faking jabs here and there to open up the defense.  Finally, an opening presents itself and the desert warrior has an opportunity to leave a slice across his opponents chest.  While it gives the half-Orc the opportunity to react soon, the opening was too good to let go.  After the slash, blood begins to well as the cut and slowly pour down its chest.  Not the worst wound, but not the best.



Full Action: Melee Attack.  Faaid makes a Melee Attack with a Short Sword against the same half-Orc as before.  His weapon range counts as Short.
Result: 15 Damage and Minor Chest Wound: +3 Damage, 1 Bleed, -5 to all actions.

20:44, Today: Faaid rolled 120 using 1d100+30.  Melee Attack vs Half-Orc (+45 Blades, +20 Stunner, -35 Defense).
20:45, Today: Faaid rolled 48 using 1d100+20.  Critical Effect (Moderate).

Torstein Svanir
 player, 21 posts
 High Man Warrior
Sun 10 Oct 2021
at 05:15
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Torstein grit his teeth as the metal-shod club struck his arm. The impact was intense, but he managed not to lose his grip on his weapon. It was an effort to keep hold of his weapon after suffering such a blow, but he managed. He was not sure how much more of this he could take, but he was not about to surrender. There would be no mercy from those arrayed against him.

Grim-faced and grim-hearted Torstein readied his huge sword, and the weight of it was not easy to bring to bear with his battered body. His swung in a brutal arc against the half-orc who struck his arm. Blood for blood.

The blade flashed in the air and the years of brutal training in the fortress-monastery of the Order bore a bitter harvest.

The half-orc's face was cloven asunder as the greatsword struck with righteous force, and the bandit was laid to waste by the Acolyte's attack.

22:07, Today: Torstein Svanir rolled 176 using 1d100+80 with rolls of 96.
22:08, Today: Torstein Svanir rolled 21 using 1d100 with rolls of 21.
22:12, Today: Torstein Svanir rolled 130 using 1d100+50 with rolls of 80.

Critical Strike. If the target has no helm: face split in half, instant death.

Ahvylyn Brightsong
 player, 23 posts
 HP [35] MP [3] Def [25]
 Per [+35] Wealth [2]
Sun 10 Oct 2021
at 05:37
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Lyn watched combat closely. Furtive glances out of the corner of her eye saw the leader and another half-orc felled by the obviously seriously injured human. She also saw the brute opposed by Faaid severely outmatched. With just three assailants left though, she was faced with an opponent she could not beat as it was. Granted, she was skilled enough to keep him from doing anything as well. That sort of stalemate would not last long should Torstein fall though. Still, with its new found attention fully upon her, there was little she could do but hold the line. <pink>"Faaid,


Half-action: aim with thrown dagger.
Otherwise, full parry. defense 50.

Aleesia Valhorn
 player, 20 posts
Wed 13 Oct 2021
at 13:40
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
While pretty glad that the two orcs were running, Aleesia still hesitated: on the one hand, striking them as they were fleeing wouldn't be particularly honourable. On the other hand…if they managed to flee, there was no doubt they would be trying to find other brigands to team up with.

In the end though, she decided to focus on the two still fighting: they were an immediate danger, and as such a priority. So once again she nocked an arrow on her bow, drew the string and release in one smooth movement…only to see the arrow fly above the head of all the combatants.

15:38, Today: Aleesia Valhorn rolled 53 using 1d100+10.  Attack remaining half-orc.
All that for that :o

GM
 GM, 38 posts
Thu 14 Oct 2021
at 03:37
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
One of the half-orcs disengaged and began to move away from the melee.

The half-orc that Faaid struck grasped his chest, and looked at his hand as it came away bloody. He lost strength in his legs and they collapsed under him, leaving him in an unconscious heap. Blood pooled beneath him; he would bleed out and die if left without treatment, just like the Man in the blue cloak.

The half-orc that Torstein attacked was brutalized by the High Man's two-handed sword, and dealt a wound that immediately slew him. The other half-orc, although as of yet untouched by the melee, threw down his weapon and held up his hands in surrender. He decided against attacking Torstein further upon the sudden, violent death of his companion.

"Enough! Enough!" He cried, all bravado lost. "I surrender! Let me go and . . . and . . . I'll show you where we hid a cache of coin!"

The disengaged half-orc has moved away by 15 meters. He'll flee the scene and escape if no one tries to stop him. He is bleeding and likely to leave a trail if anyone were inclined to follow.

The Man in the blue cloak and Faaid's targeted half-orc are incapacitated and bleeding, with the Man suffering the worst of the two.

One half-orc is dead, which leaves only the surrendering half-orc in engaged range.

Fight is over, basically, and we can resume non-combat posting. If anyone does elect to launch a ranged attack against the fleeing half-orc it can be freely assumed they will hit and Incapacitate him, no rolls needed.

Faaid
 player, 28 posts
 High Man Rogue
 70/70 HP, 1 DR
Thu 14 Oct 2021
at 17:23
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Immediately, Faaid drops to his knees and uses his blade to cut several strips of fabric from the blue cloak.  He attempts to bind the wounds of the Man, but speaks to his companions.  "Faaid thinks we should learn about this cache, as he will owe us for sparing his life.  I also wish to have words with this man, for I recognize him to be of great evil.  More sinister by far than a common bandit."  As he cinches the bandages down on the man, he tightens them perhaps more tightly than necessary.  "You will talk to me," is all he says at first, staring daggers at the man in the blue cloak.



10:20, Today: Faaid rolled 115 using 1d100+30.  Healing.
Aleesia Valhorn
 player, 22 posts
Fri 15 Oct 2021
at 00:02
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Aleesia warily lowered her bow, then looked around for a second or two, clearly not quite sure about what she should be doing at that point. Besides grabbing her staff back: it didn't allow her to do much of anything by itself of course, but it still felt reassuring.

Her head tilted to the side, she considered what Faaid said. She wasn't entirely sure she agreed, but she still approached what had been the centre of the fight. Instead of helping an orc though, she first helped Torstein with his own wounds. Using bands of cloth slashed from the aggressors' clothes, she tied a few bandages around Torstein's wounds, but her hands shaking a little made things a bit difficult and it was doubtful that the bandages would last for the day.

Nervously biting her lips, she watched her work, grimaced, then grumbled under her breath. Finally, she focused for some time on her staff which started to glow a little before touching the man's skin with it, the blue light being briefly transferred to him and propagating through his vein.

No idea how much Torstein is hurt, but:
01:52, Today: Aleesia Valhorn rolled 76 using 1d100+40.  Healing.
Stops light bleeding if any, but with some kind of complication

01:58, Today: Aleesia Valhorn rolled 206 using 1d100+125.  Healing Spell (Touching, 4 rounds preparation, static target).
Outstanding success on the spell, but there aren't any useful options. Unless when it's said "You can choose to add a Warping option to the Spell for free, provided that its cost is no more than half the cost of the Spell itself." that it's minimum 1?

Torstein gets 10% (or 20% depending on the Warping thing) of his HP back.

Ahvylyn Brightsong
 player, 26 posts
 HP [35] MP [3] Def [25]
 Per [+35] Wealth [2]
Fri 15 Oct 2021
at 02:00
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
It was in Ahvylyn to hurl the dagger after the retreating figures, but then she relaxed and flipped the dagger again to grab it by the hilt. The dagger wasn't hers though she was just petty enough to attack retreating enemies. Standing and watching things progress, she noted the other two seeking to help others. An eye adept at spotting skill saw more than she was capable of, so she allowed her tendencies to have their way. Slowly, she slipped her shortsword back into the sheath on her back then handed the dagger to Aleesia, "Thanks for that." She then looked over Torstein and nodded. "You can take and hit and deliver one, for sure." She then crouches down and tries her best to help Aleesia with the bandages.

Ahvylyn Brightsong rolled 72 using 1d100+15.  helping. +12 to Aleesia's Healing Roll.

She looked to Faaid's efforts as she held a bandage in place and commented, "Greater evil? A larger, more organized bandit effort? political? Or a more existential evil? Also, what concern is that of ours?" She bit her lip as a bit of blood got on her fingers and grunted darkly. She then turned her attention to the scholars and the now rescued assistant, "And you? Best show some appreciation to Torstein here. If not for him, that evil might have visited itself upon you."

Lyn is watching how the old researcher reacts to the situation and the discussion of 'evil.'

Ahvylyn Brightsong rolled 135 using 1d100+35.  perception. Uh, natural 100? haha

Torstein Svanir
 player, 24 posts
 High Man Warrior
Fri 15 Oct 2021
at 03:36
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
It was not the promise of coin that stayed Torstein's hand, but honour. His allegiance to the Iron Code demanded it. It would be evil to kill an opponent that surrendered. The fleeing half-orc was owed no such consideration. Torstein thrust the point of his huge sword into the ground and in smooth, practiced motions drew his short bow and an arrow. He inhaled, took aim, and released. He drew another arrow and repeated the maneuver. The first arrow struck the fleeing half-orc in the back, and then the next. The half-orc fell to the ground and Torstein returned his bow to his back and moved to where the body fell. He retrieved the arrow, and carried it back to lay it beside the other dead half-orc.

He looked impassively as Faaid worked to save the life of the Man in the blue cloak.

The blonde male bowed his head in thanks after Aleesia and Ahvylyn tended to his injuries. "My thanks." He said softly, with genuine feeling and gratitude. The High Man also bowed his head again to Ahvylyn, and managed not to puff his chest out at being complimented by the beautiful female.

Torstein retrieved his sword and cleaned it. He looked to the half-orc who surrendered, and then went to fetch a shovel from the expedition's supplies. "You will dig a grave for your fallen comrades." The High Man ordered, holding out the tool for the half-orc to take. He held his greatsword in his other hand, ready in case the half-orc thought to attack him the shovel.

This message was last edited by the player at 03:40, Fri 15 Oct.

GM
 GM, 40 posts
Fri 15 Oct 2021
at 04:32
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
I'm going to say the language permits you to choose that option, Aleesia. Torstein, consider 20% of your HP healed.

Being incapacitated, the Man in the blue cloak was unable to respond to Faaid's order or to register the bandages being wound extra tight.

The scholars began to murmur amongst themselves, except for Atrocles, who ran to Persens and embraced the youth in a soothing and protective manner. Persens trembled with fear and buried his face in Atrocles's robes while the elder scholar stroked the lad's hair and murmured comforting words.

"We are, of course, quite grateful." Atrocles said quickly to Ahvylyn. He spared a glance at the High Man, but his expression betrayed fear instead of gratitude. "I mistook the lion for a lamb, good sir." He rose to his feet and Persens rose as well, wiping further tears from his soft face. Atrocles led Persens to one of the wagons and had him sit within, harshly calling to one of his other assistants to sit with Persens.

Atrocles returned to the site of the skirmish, and looked upon its aftermath. He clasped his hands together, and the academic seemed unsure what to say. "Please do not think less of Persens. He is a very sensitive lad, and he has never so much as seen an animal slaughtered for meat, much less any violence like this." The old man said. He looked between all four of them.

"What say you, bandit?" Atrocles said to the half-orc who remained. The half-orc shrugged.

"Got no idea about no 'great evil.' 'Cept maybe that Baddar wouldn't let none of us have a sip of spirits while he was running things. Isn't right, I tell you, just drinking water." The half-orc shook his head, hands still up and peaceful.

The half-orc took the shovel from Torstein, and then backed off and started to dig. After seeing what the warrior had endured and doled out, he was disinclined to refuse the order.

"Deep enough for you, boss?" The half-orc asked Torstein by the time he'd dug about three feet down.

Atrocles is genuinely dubious about the pronouncement there is something greater at work here than common banditry but is not immediately incredulous or dismissive of the notion. The 'great evil' part strikes him as hyperbole and he disbelieves that. Mostly he seems scared of Torstein.
Faaid
 player, 30 posts
 High Man Rogue
 70/70 HP, 1 DR
Fri 15 Oct 2021
at 18:22
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Faaid finally notices that the man is not conscious, having been so focused on the situation rather than his own status.  He uses more scraps from the cape to bind his hands and legs, before nodding at a job well done.  "Faaid saw this one in the village, though he did not have any reason to suspect this one of foul deeds.  This man was leaving the general store, where Faaid was supposed to meet with Jok.  Jok was not present... I think we know why, now."
Torstein Svanir
 player, 25 posts
 High Man Warrior
Sat 16 Oct 2021
at 02:14
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
"It will serve." Torstein replied in a flat tone to the half-orc. He watched from the corner of his eyes. The blond male felt a touch of envy at the way Persens was treated by Atrocles, and for the innocence that Persens had. It lasted only a moment before Torstein quashed the sentiment, but it was there for a fleeting time.

"And what of him?" Torstein gestured with a free hand towards the other incapacitated and bleeding half-orc. "Will you bind his wounds as well or shall I deliver the mercy stroke?"
Faaid
 player, 31 posts
 High Man Rogue
 70/70 HP, 1 DR
Sat 16 Oct 2021
at 03:43
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Faaid gives only a small wave, almost imperceptible.
Ahvylyn Brightsong
 player, 28 posts
 HP [35] MP [3] Def [25]
 Per [+35] Wealth [2]
Sun 17 Oct 2021
at 00:51
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Ahvylyn stayed focused on the wounded and felt an itch to scream at people. Well, to scream at the researcher. But when Faaid spoke again, she only blinked and regarded the man in blue, "Oh. OH! He seems infinitely more interesting. But you should really be careful bandying words like 'evil' around. What you just described is little more than mischief in the grand scheme of things."

She blinks as the death blow is delivered to the wounded half-orc and pursed her lips. Shrugging, she moved toward where she had left her pack of belongings. There, she stood looking at the assembled lot for a bit then approached the half-orc, "Now, you've got quite the conundrum. Your ilk are seen as servants of the Pale Son, no exceptions. I doubt that is true, but you'd still be lynched if we force you back into town. We could just cut you down right now..." She glanced back at Torstein then shrugged, "I somehow doubt that's an actual option. Last, we let you go back into the wild. Out there, being what you are, you'll go find your buddy that just ran away and join up to raid some more honest folk, yeah?" Lyn shrugs as she thought about it, screwing her face up mockingly to demonstrate the depth of the thought she was working through, "Really, you should run off. You're not the Pale Son or his direct servants. I doubt he's more than a name to you. My recommendation, go find a nice lass and settle down somewhere. It's not a glorious..." She looked down into the open grave and raised an eyebrow at the half-orc, "That's where glory gets you. Now or after a long successful life, glory will get a sword in your guts. One in a million get the long successful life though. But a warm wife? A few brats running around? A bit of land? Trust me, there's happiness there if you can see it."

08:49, Today: Ahvylyn Brightsong rolled 119 using 1d100+35.  perception.
Ahvylyn will watch the brute closely as she mentions the Pale Son. See how the brute reacts. She also watches as she mentioned the fate of most glory seekers.

GM
 GM, 43 posts
Sun 17 Oct 2021
at 19:57
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Torstein delivered the mercy stroke to the wounded half-orc, quickly and painlessly ending things. The dead were placed in the impromptu grave and soil placed over the bodies. The remaining half-orc shrugged his shoulders indifferently at the mention of the Pale Son. His reaction to mentioning the fate of most glory seekers was met with a similar reaction.

Atrocles was shocked and made a superstitious gesture to ward off evil at the mention of the Pale Son, but he kept his peace, not wanting to risk anyone's ire.

"Aye, just a name and an empty promise bandied around since the time of my grandfather's grandfather and well before, I'm sure." The half-orc answered Ahvylyn, shoulders sagging. "I am what I am, miss. Ain't out for glory, or having my name in a song. Just enough coin to get by and maybe a little extra for harder times." He said of raiding honest folk and settling down. "Ain't in me to toil like that, but maybe instead of banditry I'll go sign on with some mercenaries. Always someone in the Realms with coin and a need for fighting men. Honest enough work, yeah?" He hedged to the group.

"Anyhow, I promised you to tell about a cache of coin. About half a day's walk north-east from here there's a tall tree with bark white like fresh cream. About . . . oh, some fifty feet high, with a fine scent to it. Coin's buried on the south side of the tree, amid the roots, about four or five feet down in a wooden strongbox. Reckon as I can go now?" The half-orc asked, and once given permission, he left without incident and due haste. Any further questioning would make it abundantly clear that he was just a hired strongarm with no real knowledge of Baddar, the man in the blue cloak, beyond trivial details such as remarkable - by the standards of the half-orc - fastidiousness, cleanliness, and a sharp insistence on temperance.

The research assistants returned to their work, although without the same heart and enthusiasm that marked their worked earlier in the day. They were skittish and nervous, constantly looking over their shoulders. Atrocles rejoined them and while the older scholar tried to project strength and certainty for his students, the brave front did not do much to hearten them. Eventually, towards the end of the day, they did settle when no further violence threatened. Persens eventually emerged from the wagon and began to contribute in his own timid manner. He earned gentle, cautious praise from his fellows when he unearth a bronzen helm of ancient manufacture.

Baddar remained unconscious for some time. He murmured indistinctly, shaking his head to and fro with obvious distress at times, but no efforts to stir him would prove successful.

With an hour of sunlight left, Atrocles declared the work done for the day and pronounced a return to the village due, which his students welcomed. They packed up their finds, stowed their tools, and talked in hushed tones about looking forward to a warm meal, assuring each other that the day's events were anomalous and unlikely to be repeated.

The return trip was uneventful, and the return of the expedition was welcomed, if only because the villagers they passed recognized Ahvylyn and Aleesia from their performance before. The two received hearty hellos and waves of greetings, as well as kind inquiries as to whether they intended to perform again that night. At the Blue Boar, the innkeep cheerfully informed Ahvylyn and Aleesia that the locals had left some small gifts for them and he had placed them in their rooms. The gifts were not lavish things but heartfelt in nature - a small pot of honey, a pouch of candied fruit, a freshly baked pie, and things of that nature.

Baddar awoke in the wagon. There had been no other choice but to leave him or bring him along, and so the latter was done. He was not pleased to waken in the wagon, his arms as well as his wounds bound. The man gave a curse and struggled briefly and weakly with his bonds, but gave up quickly when he got nowhere with that effort.

He looked at Faaid with disgust and shook his head. He spoke some harsh, shrill words to the High Man in bright clothing, and gestured with his chin. It was not in a commonly spoken language.


He turned to Torstein. He looked him up and down, and spat at Torstein's feet. "Unbind me and give me a blade, you cowardly dog, and let me finish what you lacked the stones to finish that I may go to Paradise as unsullied as possible." Baddar demanded harshly and with open contempt, switching to a common language. He snorted. "How I wish I could have sent you screaming to your end like I to your feckless cur of a brother! He died, weeping like a small child!"
Torstein Svanir
 player, 26 posts
 High Man Warrior
Sun 17 Oct 2021
at 22:43
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Anger flared in Torstein's heart at the taunts. The desire for vengeance, to deliver retribution. His mouth was a thin line on his face and Torstein could imagine vividly beating Baddar to death with his hands. Without conscious thought his hands had balled into fists. He felt the cold rise in his stomach, uncoiling and preparing to strike.

But Torstein let out one breath. then he forced himself to take another and breathe out again.

"Speak my brother's name." Torstein said softly. He tilted his head to one side.
Faaid
 player, 32 posts
 High Man Rogue
 70/70 HP, 1 DR
Mon 18 Oct 2021
at 04:09
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Faaid puts out a hand in front of Torstein, though it is unlikely he could do anything to stop the High Man if he put his mind to killing Baddar.  "Faaid saw the touch of the Pale Son upon this one.  He speaks with the same tongue as the dog Faaid has sworn to kill, but look at him.  Nothing but a lap dog.  Search him for tattoos.  Marks of his allegiance to the Witch Queen, of my lands."  He spits on the man, and speaks in his own native tongue.


The language flows beautifully, and he seemingly doesn't take a breath as he nearly sings to the bound man.  But the expression on Faaid's face is not one of love and gracefulness as the language would suggest, but of disgust.  He halfway draws his curved blade, clearly part of his dialogue.
GM
 GM, 45 posts
Tue 19 Oct 2021
at 02:37
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
"His name was cur! His name was craven dog!" Baddar retorted, trying to egg Torstein into violence. "Grondelstein, he said his name was, before he could nothing but weep like a woman! Bah! I waste my time with you! I broke your 'brother' . . . I should say sister! . . . so quickly. There is no reason to think you are made of sterner stuff." The man said, hurling insults upon Torstein and his fallen brother.

Should anyone search Baddar, they will find a tattoo of a spider upon his inner left arm, a coiled snaked upon his stomach, and a vulture on his back.

Baddar shook his head at Faaid, almost but not quite with pity. The contempt he felt for the dark-skinned High Man was too strong for it to beat out the hate.

"I would prefer to die at the hands of an outlander dog than you, davar veiseh!" Baddar said, his words dripping venom. Then he laughed, and it was a dull and bitter thing. "If you truly wish to face ar-Gohl . . . he is searching the hills to the East. But if you do go seeking the old wolf you will find more than you desire." The bound man looked between Faaid and Torstein, and gave another snort.
Ahvylyn Brightsong
 player, 29 posts
 HP [35] MP [3] Def [25]
 Per [+35] Wealth [2]
Tue 19 Oct 2021
at 07:13
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Ahvylyn was listening in a bored fashion to the man as he egged on one and baited the other of the men. She'd picked up a bit, here and there, of the man's native tongue and it was some impressive vitriol. It seemed the two boys had quite the past. Glancing at Aleesia, she added that one to the checkered past club. It was not everyone come upon fighting off bandits like that. Sighing heavily, she looked more directly at the man, Baddar, and considered his words.

Standing, she moved toward the man and crouched in front of him but slightly off to the side so looking at anything other than her face would require him to contort painfully. Idly, she ran a finger over the man's body slowly examining his many wounds, "Men are such a curious thing. They complain that women are emotional creatures, then they wander around waving their righteous anger and vengeance around like the most important thing ever."

Suddenly, she stood up and smiled emptily at Torstein, "Did you know, in the village I grew up in, there was a lord named Petyr. Uppity and privileged, he was. Well, he took to and took for himself a local farmer's daughter. Pretty thing, she was. Well, being uppity and full of himself, Petyr took to beating the woman figuring the poor landfolk wouldn't do a thing. Night after night, they heard he wailing and screaming from the manor." She stopped and looked down at the man again, "Well, one night the father had enough. he went out back of his house and tore up a few nettle plants. You ever seen a nettle?" She put her hands about a foot and a half apart, "Bout this big, lovely purple flowers. All up and down the stem, they have these bothersome stings. Well, anyway, the farmer gathers up a few of them and goes to the manor. There, he busts in and proceeds to lash that dandy up one side and down the other with them nettles. Wasn't his daughter howling now." She moved slowly to turn and look at Faaid now, "Well, the next few days, that lord was laid up bad. About the time he got out of bed the first time, well, someone took to nailing a nettle plant to his door every night. The lord never touched the girl again. As for the farmer? Well, his hands were so calloused and tough from working, them nettles never bothered him any. So, there's never any proof who did the thing."

She looked around the village they were in and then down at the man. She shrugged and looked at the boys to see if they were calmed down yet. "Now, when you boys are done here, might I recommend you give the man here over to the townsfolk? Never underestimate farmers. There are few people as intimately familiar with suffering as a farmer."

That said, Lyn started moving toward the inn.
Faaid
 player, 33 posts
 High Man Rogue
 70/70 HP, 1 DR
Tue 19 Oct 2021
at 14:35
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Faaid listens to Ahvylyn's words with rapt attention.  Beating with nettle?  What curious folk she must come from.  His people would have taken a hand.  The desert is far to unforgiving for his people to suffer any mistreatment of their property.  After she leaves, he turns to the furious warrior and extends a hand towards the bound man.  "Faaid gave him a choice in death, and he chose poorly.  He is all yours.  And before you extend mercy, know that each tattoo is a vile deed, and that anything you do would be a mercy compared to the wrath of enraged townsfolk.". He seemingly refuses to engage with Baddar any further, avoiding speaking to him or even meeting his gaze.
Aleesia Valhorn
 player, 24 posts
Wed 20 Oct 2021
at 02:07
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Aleesia had stayed mostly silent through the afternoon and the return trip, the whole encounter having obviously disturbed her. It had probably brought her back to not so long ago when she had been in the hands of bandits.

The first thing that drew her out of her pensive state was when Baddar returned to consciousness and spoke to Faaid. At the beginning, she had a frown, as if the language was somewhat familiar but she couldn't exactly place it. Quickly though, her expression cleared, in a sort of "Oh, that's what it is" and she then followed the conversation between bandit and rogue, clearly understanding what was being said even though, despite looking puzzled, she didn't say anything.

She watched Ahvylyn tell her story about the lashed lord, but it was pretty clear she found the story disturbing. She shivered slightly, but thankfully was soon distracted by the locals greeting her - even though she didn't believe she had done much of anything - and readily agreeing to play for an hour or so in the evening.

In the end though, after Faid talked about dark deeds and townsfolk's wrath, she finally said something, “Vengeance is not Justice. Vengeance is what he'd do. What his lot would do. Maybe the townsfolk's first answer would be to do the same. But,” she shook her head, “If we want to do better, to be better, we have to seek Justice,” she glanced at Torstein, “No matter what is said or done.”

She smiled crookedly after a second, “Even though it's easier said than done, right?”
Torstein Svanir
 player, 27 posts
 High Man Warrior
Wed 20 Oct 2021
at 03:57
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
There were many emotions that fought for supremacy within Torstein. Few of them were new. This was not a new struggle for him. The impulse to violence was so intimately familiar. The demands of the Code, and the uncertainty about what was and was not Evil. Beyond and perhaps above the demands of the Code was the simple dictums of the Source. It was very difficult to love Baddar. Torstein found in the moment that he could not. He wondered if the words of the man were even true, or if they were merely goading to invoke Torstein's wrath.

And yet, Baddar knew his brother's name.

Aleesia was right. It was easier to say that one sought Justice than to do it. Torstein was tempted to turn Baddar over to the village headman for judgement, but there was no certainty that the judgement would be applied without emotional bias. Any judgement rendered might not see the application of law but rather amount to satiating a hunger for revenge.

The story that Ahvylyn told was in some respects very simple and in others complex. Surely the father had acted correctly and opposed Evil.

Torstein exhaled. He tried to breathe the fire from his lungs and the lightning from his veins and the cold from his heart. After all, where would he be if if Vengeance ruled? If there were no forgiveness for vile deeds? The Source was a god of love. And love kept no record of wrongs. But the Source was a god, greater than all of the gods, and Torstein was only a man.

"I wish to be better." Torstein said softly. "If you still wish to die by your own hand I will loose your bonds and give you a blade. But I ask you: do you have the strength to walk another path?"
GM
 GM, 46 posts
Thu 21 Oct 2021
at 03:48
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Baddar shook his head disdainfully. "I am not a tumbleweed, at the whimsy of the four winds, cupbearer. I would not have my life be yours: every deed in vain. But enough! Loose the bonds and give me the blade!"

Within the inn there were few occupants. With dark just approaching it would take some time for patrons to find their way into the place. The innkeep and some helpers were preparing, however. Cleaning tables and glasses. From the kitchens came hearty scents of supper cooking.

A few of the Legion soldiers were present, passing the time with talk of past action. A few locals as well, talk about the weather. One of Jok's friends was there, but without the group seen last night. There was a sad look on this fellow's face as he nursed his mug, sipping at wide intervals.
Torstein Svanir
 player, 28 posts
 High Man Warrior
Fri 22 Oct 2021
at 01:15
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
An inscrutable expression settled on Torstein's face as he kept his word and loosed Baddar's bonds. He gave the Man a small knife he kept on his person as a tool, holding it out by the handle to Baddar. It would serve. Torstein chose to extend unearned trust to Baddar. He looked over to Faaid and Aleesia. "I will return, in time." He said softly and gently. The tall blond male took a shovel from the wagon, and inclined his head to Baddar. "Come. Let us away."

His intent was to go with Baddar beyond the village limits, and once the deed was done, to give the Man as proper a burial as he could given the circumstances. Though his wounds ached and he longed for the balm and solace of prayer, the comforts of a hot meal, and to rest, duty yet remained. Perhaps if their positions were reversed Baddar would have slain them all and left their bodies for scavengers. But it was not what Torstein would do. He wanted to believe that there was some good and some right in what he intended.

"Do you have any wishes about how you are buried?" Torstein asked Baddar.
GM
 GM, 47 posts
Sat 23 Oct 2021
at 00:16
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Baddar took the handle of the offered blade and there was a look in the Man's eyes, like he was thinking about taking his chances stabbing someone. But he didn't. He followed Torstein. When asked, he shook his head. "No."

The two walked for a time, and Baddar found a place. "Here." He stood beneath a tree, and then knelt. The Man briefly prayed, murmuring in his own tongue. When he finished he looked over at Torstein. "About your brother . . . it was a lie. I spoke those words to anger you. Your brother was a man, and a son of men. He died as one. I could not break him. His final words were to forgive me for what I had done to him and to wish that my journey would end in peace and light." Baddar said. Then he lowered his head and thrust the blade into his chest, piercing the heart.

He died quietly and quickly.

The ground where he'd picked was easy to dig up. The place where Baddar chose was beneath a nice tree. Not a bad place to get buried. It didn't take long to dig a proper grave for him and arrange him with some dignity and cover him with earth. But it was dark by the time that Torstein got back to Greenvale.

Things in the inn were in full swing. The locals had come in for their drinks, and a bunch of Legion soldiers, too. Not all of them, and not their Captain, but most.
Faaid
 player, 35 posts
 High Man Rogue
 70/70 HP, 1 DR
Sat 23 Oct 2021
at 00:54
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Faaid sits in the tavern, unusually gloomy.  Had these been ordinary bandits, he would have been joking and singing and making merriment.  But this encounter hit close to home.  His thoughts are on Baddar and what the man has said to him.  He drinks his ale almost mechanically.

If Torstein returns to the tavern, a tankard awaits him, as well as a request to tell Faaid about his brother.  The question is good natured, not intended to pry.  After all, Faaid himself had lost... everything.



OOC: Weather cut my hike short, but I might as well take a slow journey back west.
Torstein Svanir
 player, 29 posts
 High Man Warrior
Sat 23 Oct 2021
at 02:32
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
The blond male was tired and aching when he entered the tavern. He returned the rope and shovel to the wagon before he entered the tap room. But inside he took a seat with the group and took a deep draught from the tankard that awaited.

He did not immediately respond to the request that Faaid made of him, but he did not immediately refuse, either.

"I did not like Grondelstein." Torstein began. "He opposed my adoption into the Order. But our elder brother overruled Grondelstein's protests, and we became brothers bound by the blood of the covenant. The doubts and misgivings that Grondelstein harboured about me never abated, and when took up a quest I was glad to see the back of him. The man never spoke a kind word to me."

Torstein raised the palm of his hand to his eyes and wiped them. He took another deep drink.

"I imagine that you will desire to pursue ar-Gohl. If this is true, I wish to accompany you. I am sworn to oppose Evil, and so I must oppose him." Torstein said to Faaid. He was not undone or overwhelmed with grief but the blond male had said all he wished to on the matter. "It would also be good to retrieve the coin. The village could it use to do good for those harmed by the bandits."
Faaid
 player, 36 posts
 High Man Rogue
 70/70 HP, 1 DR
Sat 23 Oct 2021
at 15:18
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
"Faaid understands the pain of disappointing family, disagreeing with them.  But Faaid will not pretend to understand the pain of losing a brother.  There is a saying in my native lands.  'Mourn not the rain once it has passed, but be thankful that it was.'  It is admirable that you did not crush Baddar's skull right then and there, a testament to your faith and discipline."  He raises his tankard in a half-toast, closer to a salute.  "Faaid would accept your help in putting down ar-Gohl, but it is not a matter of which to speak lightly.  Let us speak of it no more tonight.  Let it sleep, but not die.  Finding the coin should be our priority, and Faaid will follow you in this endeavor."
Ahvylyn Brightsong
 player, 30 posts
 HP [35] MP [3] Def [25]
 Per [+35] Wealth [2]
Sat 23 Oct 2021
at 23:44
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Ahvylyn wasn't always at the table with the pair of gloomy men but was often on teh stage singing or telling stories. After a song or two, she'd return to the table to drink a bit then go for another round. The bard seemed to revel in the attention she garnered via her craft. She would also invite Aleesia to accompany her is she wanted to.

However, she happened to be parked behind a tankard of lager while the two were speaking of family and cocked a quizzical look at them, "I'll never understand that. I've probably got at least a dozen siblings rolling around in the world. Who knows how many nieces and nephews! It's been a minute since I was last home. Not that all of them stayed there. Some might even have passed here or there doing something or another. It's not like any of us are close. Well, except Yustyn. Me and him grew up around the same time and got into plenty of trouble together. Wonder if he is still on the farm?" Ahvylyn stopped there and pursed her lips as she thought about the siblings she was aware of. Some of them had been in the house while she was young, others not so. It was a natural ramification of a family that took only a decade or two to mature but spanned centuries of lifetime. Some of the siblings were half-siblings as well since mother and father hadn't spent all of several centuries together either. Still, it was a loosely knit network of relationships. "Still, it sounds like your brothers are family of choice rather than family of blood. I've no experience in that. Enough time in the world and you stop looking beyond yourself." She drained her tankard and then stood to return to the stage, "Everything turns to dust eventually. Still, if there's an adventure in the offing, count me in."

Whether it was her mood or the topic, Ahvylyn began to recount some of the old stories from times before the great war that had destroyed much of the ancient world. Stories of heroes now almost mythological, songs from cultures long turned to dust, and simple songs that might have been sung in bars laid waste in war.
Torstein Svanir
 player, 30 posts
 High Man Warrior
Sun 24 Oct 2021
at 19:46
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Torstein returned the half-toast to Faaid, and nodded his head in response.

Ahvylyn's words left Torstein in thought. They suggested a wisdom gained through a long life, such as was found in the Elven kin. But Ahvylyn appeared to be of Mannish descent and scarcely his own age, perhaps younger. It was hard to tell with her beauty. And yet she expressed a view that suggested it was earned by the passage of years and decades.

He looked into his tankard and swirled the liquid within around. Torstein wondered if he would ever live long enough to stop looking beyond himself. The blond male hoped that it would not be so. At least, he hoped that in all of the years of his life he would not stop looking beyond himself. If his elder brother had stopped looking beyond himself, Torstein would not have been adopted into the Order, and his life would have certainly taken a very different course. It would be a darker path.

"Such is an elder's wisdom." Torstein mused to Faaid. "And yet, she seems no more ancient than you or I. Less, even." He took another drink and found his tankard empty. He was not eager for more but asked for food to be brought.

The stories that Ahvylyn gave Torstein some comfort. Though nothing on this earth stayed forever, it did not mean all deeds were in vain. The heroes in the stories lived again in the hearts of all who heard the tales, though they were long ago gone to the home of the brave. And even those who were not remembered in song and story . . . their deeds were not in vain. Their deeds and sacrifices allowed for future generations. New men and women of great heart and soul to walk the same earth and live under the same sky.

Torstein smiled a soft, small smile.

"I would include Aleesia in our number as well, though I fear that it may not aid her recovery. But I find her company agreeable and would feel better being at her side until she is herself again." Torstein said softly to Faaid.
Aleesia Valhorn
 player, 25 posts
Sun 24 Oct 2021
at 22:20
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Aleesia had been in a sombre mood ever since Torstein had left with Baddar and had come back alone. It didn't seem to be anything against Torstein himself, but she was often pensively looking outside the windows, or in her cup of tea as if it would somehow reveal some big secrets if she started hard enough.

While she readily agreed to play her lyre, that evening even more than the previous one it was obvious that she did so because she enjoyed playing for the music, and couldn't care less about who listened even though anytime someone came to talk to her, she behave impeccably.

When she sat at the table to eat a bite shortly after Ahvylyn had started singing about the heroes of times past, she asked to not one in particular, “How many of those do you think were tyrants, thugs or even worse? How many of those reviled were in fact good men and women who either fought for the wrong side for some reason, or even whose side was in fact in the right in whatever conflict arose?”
Faaid
 player, 37 posts
 High Man Rogue
 70/70 HP, 1 DR
Mon 25 Oct 2021
at 19:15
Re: Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Torstein Svanir:
"Such is an elder's wisdom." Torstein mused to Faaid. "And yet, she seems no more ancient than you or I. Less, even."


Faaid laughs at this remark.  "Faaid believes this to be nothing but the defense of a lonely child, not some great wisdom.  'Everything turns to dust?'  In Faaid's homeland, treasures and remains are found with great frequency, telling stories of the past.  Nothing ever truly dies, my friend.  Isn't that what we're doing here, helping learn about the past?"  He drains his tankard, then orders another.

Aleesia Valhorn:
When she sat at the table to eat a bite shortly after Ahvylyn had started singing about the heroes of times past, she asked to not one in particular, “How many of those do you think were tyrants, thugs or even worse? How many of those reviled were in fact good men and women who either fought for the wrong side for some reason, or even whose side was in fact in the right in whatever conflict arose?”


"This question strikes many truths," Faaid responds, though the question wasn't directed at him.  "Faaid has personally seen what misunderstandings and lies can do, and what pride and honor can lead to.  It is hard to say in the moment which side one is on.  But Faaid believes that the truth will find its way, in one way or another.  Faaid must believe this."  He sits up straight and looks at Aleesia, who seems as gloomy as Faaid himself had been earlier in the evening.  "If you would join us, I aim to ensure at least one tyrant receives his due justice.  And there is a small treasure waiting to outfit us for such a task, not far from here."
Ahvylyn Brightsong
 player, 32 posts
 HP [35] MP [3] Def [25]
 Per [+35] Wealth [2]
Tue 26 Oct 2021
at 01:29
Re: Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Ready for a break, Ahvylyn plunked into her seat to drain her tankard again. Smiling into the paid for but now empty mug, she looked around the table, "There is wisdom in the lives of men and the lives of elves. Dwarves have their own wisdom as do the halflings and even the orcs. Every life is different and worthwhile. Aye, no life is spent in vain. Of course not." She lifted the mug to signal a refill. "The lives of men are rapid, fervent, and filled with vigor. They seek a legacy because they cannot grasp the future themselves. But imagine an elf's life?"

Here Ahvylyn sighed heavily and looked around the room, "Imagine living so long you have seen and recall faces, names, cities, kingdoms that exist only in your memory and books? Imagine being one of the few that remembers the day standing atop the battlements of Dros Delnoch when the last walls fell and staring down your doom only... to survive when thousands, millions did not? Aye, I spent a good amount of my youth in the Great Forest traveling with Dusk Elves or sitting beneath the First Tree with the Silver Elves. I learned the wisdom they carry as much as it is possible to do so."

She looked to Faaid now, "And I traveled in your land as well." She turned her gaze to Torstein, "And yours." She smiled as her cup was refilled, "I have traveled nearly everywhere the lights shines still. Each place has its wisdom and life is always worth living. After all, I have made it my life's work to collect all the stories of the world, to dance the steps of every dance I can, and to enjoy it until the last moment. I owe that much at least. So perhaps my wisdom is not one of years, but a type of experience none-the-less?" Smacking her lips, she winks at the three, "I chose to live in this moment and none other."

She went back to sing another song.
Torstein Svanir
 player, 31 posts
 High Man Warrior
Tue 26 Oct 2021
at 02:17
Re: Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Faaid's words made Torstein feel that he had not expressed himself as he wished to. He was no great orator, and no philosopher as well, so he did not press the issue. He wanted to talk about how the great things of the past were no more - the grand alliance of all Kins fallen into mistrust and ill will, the great walls of Dros Delnoch in disrepair, and the fallen Kingdoms of Men. But then, there had to have been a time before such things even existed. Someone had to raise them up. And perhaps here Faaid's words rang truest. Be grateful that something was, not sorrowful that it has passed.

Torstein tried, but despite his best efforts, he could not imagine such a long life. He imagined that it would be very joyful or very sad. Very joyful, because such a long life promised so many sunrises and so many new experiences. Very sad, because so many friends and loved ones had taken the swan's path. Or perhaps both? It was heady stuff for Torstein.

Still he was perplexed by Ahvylyn's Mannish beauty. She showed little evidence of Elvish blood yet she spoke of dwelling among the Dusk and Silver Elves. It was not impossible to him that one of Mannish descent might be welcome. But surely to learn from them in any capacity would take a very long time.

He let out a breath.

"Some lives are lost in vain. Senseless, wasteful tragedy." He murmured to himself more than to the others.

And there was Aleesia's question. Surely some of those remembered as heroes were not as the songs made them. And the same for those cast in the role of villain. It was a truism that history was written by the victor, and victory was too often won by force of arms. Many wars were draped in the clothing of righteousness, to hide that they were waged for purely material concerns justified or not. Indeed Torstein had heard it said that even the Legend himself was remembered in the main because he was the greatest killer of his age and of no particular virtue. Torstein did not want to believe that. He did not believe that the Legend was, as some tales claimed, a pure-hearted saint utterly free of sin and Evil. For that to be true the Legend could not have been a man. Torstein preferred to believe that the Legend was simply a good man. That was enough.

"I will retire for the night. On my way I shall speak to Atrocles, and inform him that we wish to proceed on our venture." Torstein told those at the table. Then he took the remains of his meal to finish in his room, ascending the stairs and seeking out the sage before he did as he said he would.

This message was last edited by the player at 02:51, Tue 26 Oct.

Aleesia Valhorn
 player, 26 posts
Tue 26 Oct 2021
at 23:32
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Fora time, it didn't seem like Aleesia was going to answer Faaid, as she was pensively playing with her cup of tea. And when she did speak, it was to ask another question, though luch like the previous ones, it wasn't aimed at any one specifically. Maybe she was just thinking aloud. “But if the truth comes out, will we recognise it, or will it be spurned? After all, isn't the truth already known?”

Shaking her head after a few seconds, she finally focused on the human. “What kind of tyrant?” She grimaced slightly, “As you have no doubt seen, my skills are not ones that are particularly useful in a fight. In a few decades, maybe,” She shrugged “But right now...” She shook her head.

As if she had thought of something else, she asked something entirely different. “The language that man used with you before... Is it the one from where you come from?”
GM
 GM, 49 posts
Wed 27 Oct 2021
at 04:02
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Atrocles wasn't happy with the news that Torstein brought him, but he wasn't about to argue with the warrior, either. He promised to pay out what he owed to everyone in the morning the next day. And he proved true to his word. Atrocles also hoped that when they'd finished their personal business they'd reconsider protecting him and his students. But he didn't push the matter, and wished them well.

The tree the coins were buried under was far enough away from town that the group'd need to camp out for the night. Atrocles was kind enough to offer to loan them tents to use during their trek, no doubt hoping he'd get into their good graces. If they didn't want to take him up on it, the general store had some tents for sale at reasonable prices, and a ready supply of rations and supplies as they'd need for an overnight stay.

It wasn't hard to find the white tree the half-orc mentioned. There weren't any other trees like it nearby. The milky white bark and leaves made it an easy landmark. It wasn't difficult to dig up the strong box, either. There was a lock on it, but it was of poor quality. Good enough to keep out the average person, but Ahvylyn and Faaid possessed enough skill to pick it with ease. Within was a variety of coins, from all over the place, and bits of hacksilver. Most of the coins were minted in silver, but there were a dozen in gold.
Torstein Svanir
 player, 32 posts
 High Man Warrior
Thu 28 Oct 2021
at 01:49
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
The blond male elected to accept Atrocles' offer of loaning equipment, and it was his intention to return to the scholar's aid once the coin was retrieved and Faaid's hunt was completed. He told the scholar that he, at least, intended to return to guard the expedition, but also indicated that he was uncertain as to how long the endeavor they now engaged in might take. Torstein also elected to purchase rations for some few days from the general store.

When the group arrived at their destination, Torstein dug. Despite the injuries he had suffered, now healing, his was the strongest back and it made the most sense for him to engage in the task. He did it without asking any of the others to do so.

The white tree was an oddity to Torstein. It must have been purposefully planted here, he reckoned, and he wondered whence the seed might have come from. He glanced upwards, and pursed his lips. His brow furrowed.

The coins were of little interest to Torstein. He was not concerned with worldly gains, and could not effectively manage the wealth they had uncovered to see it used to its best ends. For his part, he was inclined to entrust the money to the village headman and allowing him to see it effectively used to benefit the community.

"Do you see the white crow perched yonder?" Torstein asked, and pointed to where the creature stood perched. "It has followed us for most of the day. Is it not strange?" The High Man asked of his companions. He was not unfamiliar with the carrion birds, but he was no student of nature and did not know them to follow small groups. Armies, perhaps, for the creatures possessed some cunning and craftiness and could learn that large groups of fighters meant a meal was in the works. And how rare must an albino be?
Aleesia Valhorn
 player, 27 posts
Thu 28 Oct 2021
at 02:34
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead


Aleesia had followed, a bit doubtfully, clearly not quite sure she was there for the good reasons: it was mostly that she didn't really have anywhere else to go at the moment, and Atrocles wasn't terribly likely to do anything for her. Plus, while she had changed her mind a bit seeing how he had reacted to Persen's adventure, she still didn't have a particularly good opinion of the man, at least regarding the way he treated his apprentices… and she wouldn't be able to pretend at anything more than that at the moment if she were to ask him for employment.

The promise of riches didn't seem to hold a lot of sway for her either: not that she would refuse any that came her way, but it didn't seem to be a huge motivation as far as she was concerned. But in the absence of better options, Aleesia followed. Plus, who knew: she might learn interesting things and maybe make herself useful at some point. How silly had she been to leave home so soon… Her mother had been right: she should have waited a couple of decades more and hone her skills before she considered going out to see the world.

Maybe because of that she offered to help Torstein dig for the treasure - the old fashion way since she didn't have any magic for that - even though she wouldn't have been able to do all that much by herself.

While at first she had seemed unconcerned when the coins had been revealed, she soon knelt on the ground and carefully picked the dozen gold coins and placed them, face up, on one hand. The way she did it, it was obvious that it wasn't for the value of the coins, and that she didn't intend to claim them for herself, but there was something that caught her attention. Her head tilted to the side, she considered them for a long time, lost in thought.

Until Torstein mentioned a white crow anyway. At that, her head abruptly pivoted to the side to look at the crow for a few seconds. The way her gaze navigated from one to the others a couple of time made it quite clear that she seemed to see a connection there, one that, given her troubled frown, very obviously puzzled her.

This message was last edited by the player at 02:37, Thu 28 Oct.

Ahvylyn Brightsong
 player, 33 posts
 HP [35] MP [3] Def [25]
 Per [+35] Wealth [2]
Thu 28 Oct 2021
at 08:19
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Ahvylyn was always game to go along when adventure was in the offing. And the collection of a treasure and slaying of a mortal enemy tempted her greatly. It was a hard decision between that and the room and board her stories were gaining her now, but she tore herself away from that temptation for a very good reason: she didn't want to be tempted into settling. Ahvylyn's feet had always been heavy; she expected that came from her father who loved the sedentary farmer's life. Truth told: her mother had been little different if adventurous in her own way. No, it was an oath she had taken that uprooted her each time. A few memories of a time and a place and words spoken were all it took to shake off whatever dust had been collecting and move on.

Plus, this way, there were very few outside her family that knew her origins. Generally, by the time she got back around to any particular village, no one recalled her or associated her looks with the woman who had been there decades before. The few times she had been recognized, she'd just passed it off as a resemblance to a distant relation. Ahvylyn was always careful to hide her longevity. At least among men, she preferred it that way. Elves and other long lived sorts were harder to trick. They tended to be able to spot the wisdom of years.

Ahvylyn watched askance as the others began to dig and drifted away from the labor slowly. When no objection was made, she found a place to sit and began to sing softly. Her fingers moved as if plucking a lute though she possessed no such instrument and her eyes were focused on the distant horizon as she sang an ancient lullaby of the first men. As she sang, faces she had not seen in many of the lifetimes of men floated through her mind. As each made their way, the notes she sang grew more melancholy. She found she had shifted from lullabies to a Drenai dirge with similar note structures.

Shaking her head to clear the cobwebs, she noted Aleesia looking at something with piqued interest and grew curious but not before Torstein spotted the raven. This she regarded with naked curiosity and tried to recall having seen such a one before.
Faaid
 player, 38 posts
 High Man Rogue
 70/70 HP, 1 DR
Thu 28 Oct 2021
at 17:45
Re: Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Aleesia Valhorn:
As if she had thought of something else, she asked something entirely different. “The language that man used with you before... Is it the one from where you come from?”


Faaid nods at this.  "Yes, it was the language of my lands.  Baddar spoke in a dialect Faaid knows, but not of my own.  Now, we should attend to other matters, such as preparing for our small expedition.  If you wish to know more, Faaid could teach you a few phrases.  It is truly a beautiful language."



Along the journey, Faaid seemed to have his spirit back.  He hummed frequently, sometimes with a little skip in his step.  Those who had seem him sulking at the tavern might think he was posturing for effect.  Nonetheless, he traveled with some semblance of joy.

Money was a fine motivation for a man such as he.  After all, coin could buy power.  Coin could buy weapons and armor.  Coin could buy a fine evening at a tavern.  And each coin brought him closer to his goals.  Though at the rate he spent it, it was unlikely he made any such progress.

Upon finding the coin, Faaid begins filling his pouches and sack with as much as he could carry (and as much as was left by his companions).  He is surprised when the others are not quite as enthusiastic, but does not let this deter him from his earnings.  Content with what he had collected, he looks up to find his companions staring at that odd albino crow that had been following them for most the day.  "Faaid has been watching it, though it has not been hostile and has been keen on Aleesia.  Faaid assumed it was with her; so many of the old stories talk about odd animals following those who can use magicks.  Is this not the case?"  He turns to Aleesia, eyebrow cocked.

Looking back at the crow, he thinks long and hard about his own experiences with birds, and if he'd ever seen one like this.  He also considers that this might not be a normal beast, but some sort of magical creature.



10:41, Today: Faaid rolled 118 using 1d100+30.  Nature (Challenging).
Aleesia Valhorn
 player, 28 posts
Thu 28 Oct 2021
at 19:49
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Aleesia smiled, tilted her head to the side, focusing for a couple of second. “I'm pretty sure I don't need you to teach me.” She answered in that very language with a slight smile. She was obviously proficient, her grammar perfect, but still spoke haltingly as if it took her some effort to remember the exact words.

And through it all, she seemed confused, as if she had no idea where any of that was coming from.


“I remember.” Aleesia said quietly after a few seconds following Faaid's question. She wasn't looking at the bird though, her eyes instead fixed on the coins, while her thumb brushed one of them. “I was there when those were first minted. I remember...” She glanced briefly at Torstein, “He was the First King of the First Kingodm of the High Men.” She indicated the face on the coins with her chin.

“I used those, when they were still new. I was in the marketplace, buying... Wine I think? There were High Men and Star Elves all around, everything was cheerful.” She continued, obviously lost in the memory. “One of them, a Star Elf, was with me. He was...” She turned her head to look at the crow, “He had an albino crow, perched on his shoulder.”

“But...” She frowned, “That's impossible...” While she didn't sound worried, she certainly sounded puzzled now, “I'm as young as I look. Younger than I look in fact... There's no way I could remember any of that.”
GM
 GM, 50 posts
Fri 29 Oct 2021
at 02:46
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Faaid's knowledge and experiences of birds carried beyond those of his homeland and into other lands. Beyond the albinism and slightly larger than normal size, there was nothing to the outward appearance of the crow that observed the group to suggest it was some sort of magical creature. The red eyes that watched them seemed, perhaps, more focused and intelligent than Faaid's experiences in the past suggested.
Torstein Svanir
 player, 33 posts
 High Man Warrior
Fri 29 Oct 2021
at 03:13
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead


For Torstein it was good to see Faaid back in good spirits. The blond warrior did not have it in him to independently think that Faaid could be putting a false front of joyfulness.

He declined Aleesia's offer to help when asked. He tried not to let the melancholy of Ahvylyn's tune affect his mood, but he was not able to. The power of her song caused his heart to hang low. It was so very moving.

Faaid's words made Torstein frown, but he could not think long on that matter for Aleesia began to speak. Her words gave him pause and made him worry for the state of her mind. Though she was not worried, he was. Had the encounter with bandits that had preceded finding her unhinged her or caused a deeper trauma than suspected? It was beyond Torstein to assess such things. She spoke of a time place well before his own - more than ten thousand years past.

Surely the bird that watched them could not be the same one that Aleesia 'remembered.' One of Elven blood could live for thousands of years, but surely no mere animal could survive such a long passage of years. And if it was impossible for Aleesia to remember such things, as she said . . . was the sight of such a thing causing her mind to create false memories?

"Are you certain, Aleesia?" Torstein asked gently, and took a few steps closer to the Dusk Elf female. He looked at the coins in her hand and at the face upon them. The workmanship was remarkable for something so base as coinage; he could easily imagine the man whose face those coins bore. The library of his order had only fragments about the First King of the High Men. A man of great heart and a soul that shone as bright as the morning star. And yet the Pale Son of Night had struck him down, and like the Legend, his name had not survived into the modern day.

"When we found you . . . you appeared to have lost yourself. Could it not be that you are more lost than you know?" The tread softly with his words, showing concern for Aleesia as he asked the question and broached this possibility. The concern that he might say something that might hurt Aleesia was plain upon his features, and he felt keenly the limits of his sheltered upbringing in the fortress-monastery of the warrior-monks of his order. He knew little of the nature of the Elven Kins. "Elvenkind are imperishable. Could it not be that you are older than you believe?"
Ahvylyn Brightsong
 player, 34 posts
 HP [35] MP [3] Def [25]
 Per [+35] Wealth [2]
Fri 29 Oct 2021
at 08:54
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Ahvylyn has shifted forward from her seated position into a couched. She occasionally waddled a few inches closer to the bird while staring at it intensely. She occasionally tilted her head this way or that in a sort of mimic of a bird's habits. The ridge of her brow furrowed deeply here and again. Finally, she sprang up and rocked back on the balls of her feet before turning to look at the group surrounding Aleesia, "elven minds are built differently from humans'. Hmm, though I have not met many elves that actually persisted for 10,000 years, I have spent time among the longer-lived races. Their memories seem to work differently. They have a lot more things to recall, after all."

Thus spoken, she paced closer to Aleesia to peer at her along with the rest of the crowd. She had not been there when the woman was found nor had she ever met Aleesia, to her own recollections. "I never thought to ask you. do you know your people, Aleesia? You are quite obviously a dusk elf, yes, but from what tribe? I've known most in my wa-" Even as she asked the question, she glanced down at the coins and stopped mid-sentence. She crouched down next to the elf and quickly snatched up a coin, "Oh, now that IS something 10,000 years old. Lost to history? Hmm, I don't seem to recall his name as a matter of fact. Odd. I knew it once I am sure. Perhaps in a dream? This coin should not be in this state. Not unless it lay among someone's private collection for quite some time. No tarnish from handling, no stains from being buried in the earth. No chips, scratches, or other blemishes. Very unusual artifacts. Worth way more than their weights. Either for the mystery of them or their academic value should you ask the stodgy professor. I've not seen their like in some time."
Aleesia Valhorn
 player, 29 posts
Fri 29 Oct 2021
at 17:06
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
“I'm sure yes.” Aleesia first answered Torstein. For a moment, it was all she said. “I'm certain that I remember that market, the coins, the crow... But. I'm also sure that I was born...uh...not that long ago,” It didn't seem that she had troubles remembering when exactly there, more like she wasn't exactly comfortable saying exactly when, “and I remember all that happened in between then and now, including my family, yes.”

“I remembered that market before I saw the crow, so I can't have invented it. And,” she lifted one hand, on a finger of which there was a signet ring, “I could hardly invent that either.”

“Both seem real, but they're mutually exclusive, one has to be wrong.” She sounded...more confused, puzzled, than scared though. “Unless of course, the memories of that market aren't mine, but I somehow got them.”

“I'm... Well, that's not terribly likely either.”
Faaid
 player, 39 posts
 High Man Rogue
 70/70 HP, 1 DR
Fri 29 Oct 2021
at 17:42
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Faaid furrows his brow.  These two women, talking as though they were countless generations old, or at least held the memories of those ages.  Sure, one was an elf, the other was maybe a half-blood?  Elves had not been common in his lands, likely because each day being a struggle was hard enough for short-lived folks.  "Coin is coin," he mumbles to himself, clearly far less concerned with the age of the pieces.

"Well, Faaid believes that the crow must be an omen, or a foe.  It has been acting far too cleverly to be just a bird, as it would not have followed us this far.  If neither of you recall having such a pet (and it would seem your memory, Allesia, is far from perfect), then we should try to do something about it.  Baddar had connections to that dog ar-Gohl, and it is possible this bird does too.  That bastard could be watching Faaid as we speak..."
Ahvylyn Brightsong
 player, 35 posts
 HP [35] MP [3] Def [25]
 Per [+35] Wealth [2]
Sat 30 Oct 2021
at 00:17
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Lyn frowned deeply up at Faaid. A second later, the frown melted into something blank of emotion then brightened, "Correct. More or less. Coin is coin, of course. These, however, are artifacts. Not coins. And artifacts are worth a lot of money to certain mind. For instance, how did these bandits get ahold of these artifacts? I assure you, these have not been being passed around the hands of the minions of the Pale Son for 10,000 years."

Smiling, Ahvylyn turned back to Aleesia and reached out to grab her hand that bore the ring. Smiling apology for grabbing, Ahvylyn nevertheless pulled the hand close to inspect the ring. She was curious about this woman who claimed to hold the memories of two people. "Reincarnation, perhaps? A possessing spirit?" Even as she said the second thing, she looked up at the white bird and considered the last times she had seen such things. Of the two categories it fell into, the later seemed to apply to this situation. She'd need to spent time in the palace later trying to recall the details. She then looked at the ring again and spent a few moments committing its details to her memory. Perhaps her family had something to do with all this.

A mystery was ever so interesting.

Eventually, she smiled apology at Aleesia and stood to look at the group, "Aye, let's be about finding your foe. Would anyone be bothered if I mind these gold coins, though? I'll fetch us a handsome price for them." She didn't mind stooping to grab a few of the far more common silver though and filling a small purse. More than enough for a few weeks room and board.
Torstein Svanir
 player, 34 posts
 High Man Warrior
Sat 30 Oct 2021
at 02:20
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
There were no easy answers forthcoming to the mystery that was Aleesia's memories. She seemed very certain, and he did not wish to press the issue with so little unknown and so little they could do pursue it. Things moved beyond that to the crow and to ar-Gohl. Torstein did not think they could make much further progress for the day so they ought to set about making a camp, but first, the crow.

Torstein drew his bow and nocked an arrow. He took aim at the crow, but he had no intention of firing upon it. Instead he simply wanted to gauge the creature's reaction to the gesture.
GM
 GM, 51 posts
Sat 30 Oct 2021
at 05:12
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Perhaps it was a connection, but when Faaid mentioned ar-Gohl the crow's eyes were upon the brightly dressed High Man. It seemed that there was a knowing expression upon the crow, though it didn't have expressive human features. Still, there was something in the way the bird held itself that suggested that it understood what Faaid had said.

This also held true when Torstein delivered his hollow threat. The crow cocked its head, and looked at the warrior with its red eyes. In fact, while Torstein had the arrow drawn back as far as he could, the crow reared up and spread its wings as if daring the High Man to loose his arrow. Then it took wing and flew out of sight, leaving the group to puzzle over it further.

But as Torstein thought, there was little more ground that could be covered that day and little to be gained by wandering further. The next day the group could proceed to the hills ar-Gohl was said to be combing.

The journey ahead held the threat of bandits, like those already encountered, and whatever forces ar-Gohl might have at his command - likely warriors from the harsh lands of Faaid's birth, hardened by the crucible of the blazing sands.

It'll be a three day trek from the party's current location to the hills. On the way there's a strong chance they'll run into the prolific bandits in the area. Perception checks can be made to avoid and ambush and to notice other groups before the party runs into them; Hunting checks are a possibility to check for traps and ambushes; Stealth and Deceive are also skills that may be used to travel without leaving a conspicuous trail and avoid any encounters with hostiles. Other skills might be used as well - simply roll and provide your reasoning and what you aim to accomplish with that skill. Each of you may make three rolls, one for each day, to represent your character's contribution to getting everyone from the white tree to the hills.
Torstein Svanir
 player, 35 posts
 High Man Warrior
Sat 30 Oct 2021
at 19:23
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Torstein lowered his bow when the crow flew away. He watched it until it disappeared from view and offered no more on the enigmatic creature. His blue eyes fell with concern upon Aleesia again, but he did not speak any further but went about setting up camp for the night.




For the first two days, Torstein concerned himself primarily with navigation, trying to find the best route through the land to their destination. Not only that, but to find good camping places that would offer them shelter from the elements and any prying eyes that might be lying in wait. Throughout the day he kept his bow at the ready whenever practical and possible, in case they were to be waylaid or come upon bandits or other hostiles.

On the third day Torstein focused his efforts mostly on keeping watch for bandits and other hostile forces, more concerned about encountering the enemy than find the best path as they drew closer to the hills. If ar-Gohl had men such as Faaid under his command, Torstein wanted to see them coming rather than learn of their presence when they plunged a blade into his back. If bright clothing proved no hindrance to Faaid, Torstein held the same to be true for his countrymen.

12:15, Today: Torstein Svanir rolled 102 using 1d100+35.  Day 1 Wandering.
12:15, Today: Torstein Svanir rolled 63 using 1d100+35.  Day 2 Wandering.
12:15, Today: Torstein Svanir rolled 97 using 1d100+35.  Day 3 Perception.

Faaid
 player, 40 posts
 High Man Rogue
 70/70 HP, 1 DR
Sat 30 Oct 2021
at 20:50
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
As the bird flies away, Faaid lowers his head.  "It is likely ar-Gohl knows we are here.  We must be silent as the wolf, striking like the serpent."  From this point on, his smile appeared to be forced, and he displayed a single-minded focus towards the task ahead.



Over the next few days, Faaid is generally silent.  He slinks around the party, spending his time scouting around as well as removing any trace the group had been there.  The first day goes clumsily as they are only just getting used to the desert-man's tactics, but the second and third day continue to improve.  It is on the third day that Faaid doubles his efforts, working himself like a man possessed.

As the group stops for a quick lunch, he reappears from the surrounding area.  Throughout the day, they had been able to catch glimpses of flashes of purple, but only because they knew he was there.  The bright colors seemed to not hinder his ability to vanish from sight, and in fact perhaps made it all the more impressive.  "When we approach ar-Gohl, we must not think like men.  He will know we are coming, and he will strike from all sides but the front.  The nadhl* will come at us in ways you would not understand.  But let me make this clear, the dog must die.  For what he has done to Faaid, for what he has done to Faaid's people..."  As he says this, he bites into a ration with intensity, hardly chewing before swallowing the food.  A rage bubbles towards the surface, and he struggles to keep it in check.

*Faaid says this word with disgust, giving the implication that it is an insult.



13:29, Today: Faaid rolled 76 using 1d100+70.  Day 1 (Stealth). Partial Success.
13:29, Today: Faaid rolled 107 using 1d100+70.  Day 2 (Stealth).  Success.
13:29, Today: Faaid rolled 71 using 1d100+70.  Day 3 (Stealth).
13:30, Today: Faaid rolled 66 using 1d100.  Critical Fail.

13:31, Today: Faaid rolled 137 using 1d100+80.  Day 3 (Stealth): Drive Reroll.  Outstanding Success.

Ahvylyn Brightsong
 player, 36 posts
 HP [35] MP [3] Def [25]
 Per [+35] Wealth [2]
Sun 31 Oct 2021
at 04:29
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Ahvylyn wanted to spend more time investigating certain concerns, but the men-folk were eager to be about things more immediately life-threatening. Shaking her head, she gathered her things and wished, silently, that she had a lute again. She tried to recall the last time she'd had one: that time she'd lost it fording that southern river or was it when it had been smashed in the north fighting orcs? It was hard to recall exactly.

As the group moved forward, Ahvylyn was happy to let the boys take the lead in navigating, keeping watch, and covering their tracks, but she certainly didn't trust them. The first two days, she was happy to look after her own and Aleesia's tracks as they moved along behind Torstein. She was even happy to walk and let the group use her pony as a pack animal rather than ride as was her custom. And though Torstein did a wonderful job of it, Ahvylyn felt the need to occasionally offer him some suggestion about navigating. She had, after all, spent most of a very long life wandering.

For her part, despite spending time each day talking to Aleesia about this and that, her eyes were always watching the wood and the horizon. Her efforts seemed to be helping. Though on the first day, they seemed to be competing and at odds on methods to their own detriment, the second day went well and the third day Ahvylyn was happy to simply help Faaid hide their tracks rather than do the brunt of the work though she was particularly engrossed in her conversation with Aleesia that day about a certain subgenre of drinking songs from the young kingdoms and miffed the work mostly. She had started to get over annoyed by the man's heated passion for the mission. "Well, I have never been a man in my life, so I doubt that'd be hard. So, I'll just think like a woman and obviously outsmart the rogue" The beauty hid her mouth with her hand and glanced at Aleesia to laugh lightly at her little joke. "I doubt he agrees with your sentiments though." Ahvylyn didn't mean to be acerbic, but this was the very man who had been questioning heroes and villains in stories just a few days ago. It was always fascinating how people allowed personal bias to blind them to their own ideals.


12:15, Today: Ahvylyn Brightsong rolled 121 using 1d100+35.  Perception 3. eagel eyes
12:15, Today: Ahvylyn Brightsong rolled 65 using 1d100+35.  Perception 2. oops
12:15, Today: Ahvylyn Brightsong rolled 190 using 1d100+35.  perception 1. Eagle eyes
     06:46, Today: Ahvylyn Brightsong rolled 57 using 1d100.  perception explodes.
12:12, Today: Ahvylyn Brightsong rolled 130 using 1d100+30.  Wandering 3. +22 to T's roll
12:12, Today: Ahvylyn Brightsong rolled 68 using 1d100+30.  Wandering 2. Oops.
12:11, Today: Ahvylyn Brightsong rolled 107 using 1d100+30.  Wandering 1. +12 to T's roll
12:09, Today: Ahvylyn Brightsong rolled 64 using 1d100+55.  Aid Stealth. Oops
12:08, Today: Ahvylyn Brightsong rolled 139 using 1d100+55.  Stealth 2. Well, well..
12:07, Today: Ahvylyn Brightsong rolled 72 using 1d100+55.  Stealth 1. Oops.

While Ahvylyn's Stealth check are more typical, the helping with Wandering rolls always involve her telling stories. She'll never tell Torstein what way to go, but rather interrupt a decision to tell a story about some landmark or trick of navigation to aid him.

This message was last edited by the player at 22:46, Sun 31 Oct.

Aleesia Valhorn
 player, 31 posts
Sun 31 Oct 2021
at 18:25
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Over the next three days, it was obvious that the whole memory thing was disturbing Aleesia, particularly in the evenings when she had nothing else to distract herself. It wasn't that she was scared - or enthused of course - by what had happened, but it was a puzzle she wanted to solve, but one for which she was missing quite a few pieces making it impossible. And that she found annoying.

In the day, she distracted herself by looking around in the forest, trying to see if she could find interesting things such as tasty berries, leaving to the others the search for...well, for whatever they were here for. Not that she had a lot of success, but at least it allowed her mind to settle on something else besides an impossible problem.

In the evenings, she played with her magic. Which was nothing impressive, and the only somewhat useful thing she could do was to conjure ten litres of water and make ice cubes with it. Well, that and travel with a breeze blowing around her to keep herself cool which, all things considered, was still pretty nice when the temperature climbed.

Still, one evening, she took the initiative to start a conversation. “So, uh... Who is that ar-Gohl exactly, and why are we even going after him?”


Only consider the perception rolls if it's not one person only who can roll obviously.

19:08, Today: Aleesia Valhorn rolled 65 using 1d100+35.  Nature (Day 1). Failure
19:08, Today: Aleesia Valhorn rolled 106 using 1d100+35.  Nature (Day 2). Success
19:08, Today: Aleesia Valhorn rolled 49 using 1d100+35.  Nature (Day 3). Failure
19:09, Today: Aleesia Valhorn rolled 90 using 1d100+45.  Perception (Day 1). Partial Success
19:09, Today: Aleesia Valhorn rolled 102 using 1d100+45.  Perception (Day 2). Success
19:09, Today: Aleesia Valhorn rolled 94 using 1d100+45.  Perception (Day 3). Partial Success

Torstein Svanir
 player, 37 posts
 High Man Warrior
Sun 31 Oct 2021
at 21:04
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
When Ahvylyn's help came, Torstein was thoughtful and considerate of her suggestions. He took them to heart and re-evaluated the decisions he made that had prompted the beautiful female to make them in the first place, and these suggestions seemed to lead to a better course than those initially chosen by Torstein.

Torstein glanced calmly at Ahvylyn as they ate, but he did not reproach the female for her words. He looked over at Faaid instead. There was a sense in Torstein that Faaid had undergone things that no one should have to and that there was an ineffable loss in Faaid's past that had marked him deeply.

"No, Faaid. It is precisely because of what he has done that we must think like men." Torstein spoke softly and gently. "You are a man, and a son of men. Do not let ar-Gohl's Evil infect you and cause you to forget that. You need not be as ar-Gohl to defeat ar-Gohl." Although there was much that Torstein did not know and did not understand he knew well enough the desire for revenge for a wrong done. It was easy enough to speak these words without the same fire inside of him that motivated Faaid, and Torstein felt that his words rang hollow but the feeling behind them remained true. He was convinced that it was right.

Torstein had his own answer for the why of pursuing ar-Gohl. It was simple enough for the acolyte. But he sensed it would not satisfy Aleesia's question. To answer it would fall to Faaid.

This message was last edited by the player at 21:05, Sun 31 Oct.

Faaid
 player, 41 posts
 High Man Rogue
 70/70 HP, 1 DR
Sun 31 Oct 2021
at 21:13
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Faaid spits at the name.  "You ask who ar-Gohl is?  ar-Gohl is the Black Hound of the Witch Queen, who in turn bends her knee to a darker master.  ar-Gohl is one who helped lead my people from our purpose, ancient and honorable.  For that, he must die.  And, much to Faaid's disgrace, ar-Gohl was once... close.  If you do not wish to confront the dog, you have no need to.  This is Faaid's fight.  But!"  Faaid glances around at the group, taking a moment to look each in the eye.  "Faaid's people have no rules fighting alone, and he would have your help.  All your help."

Turning to Torstein, Faaid chooses his words carefully.  "To fight with honor against one so far from it is... dangerous.  Foolish.  But I have seen you face a dishonorable man as you are, and you still stand.  You may be right, my friend.  You may be wrong.  But you are alive, and that is what matters in the end.  I cannot make you any promises, but I will not be my..."  Faaid cuts himself off abruptly, eyes widening almost imperceptibly.
GM
 GM, 52 posts
Tue 2 Nov 2021
at 04:08
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
The group did not encounter any bandits on their trek, although their joint efforts did ensure that they did not run afoul of a foul-tempered and hungry bear on the first day and they avoided a few traps laid by unknown hands. These traps consisted of pits with sharpened stakes covered with foliage to mask them as part of the undergrowth. These were recently dug and constructed.

There were a lot of old tracks to be found along the way, but there was a set of tracks that was only a few days old by the time the group came upon them. They looked innocent enough on inspection. It was a wagon drawn by a team of draft horses with a medium load, accompanied by a dozen followers on foot and one other rider. On the second day there was evidence of this ensemble camping out and the remains of the camp suggested it had been used by more people than they found tracks for.

Thanks to the combined efforts of Torstein and Ahvylyn the group were able to camp and have the few amenities a camp afforded. They were able to find places where they were sheltered and could have a fire without it giving away their presence and position.

It is noteworthy that there are more of the white trees in sight as the group draws closer to the hills. They do not completely replace the local varieties, but they account for one in every ten or so trees. They also are taller than the regular trees.
Aleesia Valhorn
 player, 32 posts
Tue 2 Nov 2021
at 10:09
Re: Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
If anything, Faaid's explanation confused Aleesia more than anything: she had no idea who that Witch Queen was for example, and while she supposed she could guess who that 'darker master' was it could have been clearer. More than that though, she had no idea what kind of crimes had been committed: leading Faaid's people astray was hardly evocative as it could range from piracy or banditry to more innocuous things like deciding to eat meat on the third day of the fourth month or any other kind of obligation.

Granted, it was more likely to be the former rather than the latter, but some people tended to take those kind of obligations pretty seriously. Especially when they were of religious origins. She supposed everything - or most of it at least - would become clear soon enough though so she didn't make a big deal out of it.


Aleesia seemed fascinated by the white trees, so much in fact that she had stopped rather abruptly even though her gaze went in the direction of the hills from time to time. Finally, she shook herself. “Sorry.” She blushed slightly, clearly embarrassed to have once again let her mind wander off. “The hills are haunted, by two opposing forces. One feels rather nice...somehow... The other, not so much.”

“There's a third party trying to aid that other one.” she frowned as she looked at the nearest white tree, “It seems linked to those trees. The sick ones.” She pointed at a visible black break on the bark of that tree.
Faaid
 player, 42 posts
 High Man Rogue
 70/70 HP, 1 DR
Tue 2 Nov 2021
at 17:18
Re: Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Faaid returns to the group at the end of the third day.  With each passing day his obsession grew, but on this day he returned with news.  "The dog was here.  Him, and four of that ilk.  Travelling with the wagon.  I suspect that much like we were protecting the sage and his acolytes, ar-Gohl travels with more common folk.  But if what you say is true, Allesia, it is likely those with the wagon have ill intent.  We must proceed with caution."  He looks to the trees that Aleesia had mentioned, surprised that he had not noticed them before.  In hindsight, it had been quite obvious, but he had been overcome with purpose.
Torstein Svanir
 player, 38 posts
 High Man Warrior
Wed 3 Nov 2021
at 01:19
Re: Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
The news that Aleesia and Faaid shared gave Torstein heart. It affirmed that he was on the correct course here. He looked at the black break on the bark of the tree Aleesia pointed out and approached. Although he did not touch it he was tempted to do so. There was a melancholy expression on his face, and he looked over at his companions, wondering if they felt the same confirmation that he did.

"I think it best you remain with us now, Faaid. Only you know the signs of the presence of your countrymen, and their ways. You must be our eyes against them." Torstein said. He had not noted the presence of ar-Gohl and four others, but he had feared as much.

"Can you lend your aid to the nice force, Aleesia?" The blond warrior asked the female wizard. His knowledge of the arcane was small. If there was aught to be done to sway things in the favour of the nice force, it seemed worth pursuing.
Ahvylyn Brightsong
 player, 39 posts
 HP [35] MP [3] Def [25]
 Per [+35] Wealth [2]
Wed 3 Nov 2021
at 04:07
Re: Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
As they traveled, Lyn was quiet other than her occasional bouts of advice and moments where she, too, wandered back along the trail to hide their tracks. She had no desire to be followed as they were obviously following their quarry. No, instead, her mind was thrown back to a long ago time and the stories of that age. It was a common theme for her. A mind overflowing with millennium of memories tended to work that way. Reminded of the story, she wandered through her memory palace to find the room associated to it and slowly retold the story to herself word for word. Her fingers even danced along an imaginary harp to play the notes of accompaniment.

As the others stood discussing the trees, Ahvylyn started to put some of the pieces together, "I think I begin to surmise a purpose to your villain."

She looked around at the trees and felt sadness. If the story she recalled was right, those trees were sad tombstones. Worse, if the black split in one was what she now suspected, then a great evil was threatening the land. She craned her neck and started to look around at the various rolling hill, now filled with sinister import. She sighed heavily, "An ancient servant to the Pale Son lies sealed somewhere near here. If you believe the old stories. The white trees are meant to be part of the seal along with five forts. All ruins now, surely. Sad. I wonder if this servant of... what did you call her again? I wonder if she sent this man to break the seal?"

She moved close to the tree and inspected the black wound carefully. Without touching, she tried to understand what could make such a wound. Shaking her head, she slowly crouched down and began to speak ancient words while her hands crabbed themselves into strange shapes. Concentrating to speak the words carefully, Ahvylyn took her time casting even this simplest of spells. Still, despite her care, her first attempt fizzled as she mispronounced an ancient word then stuttered through the rest of it. Rolling her eyes, she shook out her hands then tried again. This time, carefully, she felt the magic surge through her and her eyes took on a strange umbral hue as she perceived the world through an altered sense.

12:04, Today: Ahvylyn Brightsong rolled 84 using 1d100.
12:04, Today: Ahvylyn Brightsong rolled 145 using 1d100+45.
12:03, Today: Ahvylyn Brightsong rolled 49 using 1d100+45.  Detections plus concentration for a round.

First time, failure. Second time, critical success and I finally remember to roll teh exploding dice. Second roll, 229? Good grief. Anyway, Detect Magic is cast. I assume I could just go for it again unless something terrible happened after the first roll.

Faaid
 player, 43 posts
 High Man Rogue
 70/70 HP, 1 DR
Wed 3 Nov 2021
at 04:14
Re: Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Faaid's eyes grow wide!  He wastes no time in blurting out, "Then we must put a stop to this!  Faaid cannot stand by as they release a servant of the Pale Son!  It is his duty, his purpose!"  His hand instinctively reaches for his curved blade, though no enemies are within sight nor sound.  He moves closer to Ahvlynn as she performs her magicks, eyes darting around in a frenzied suspicion.
GM
 GM, 53 posts
Wed 3 Nov 2021
at 04:27
Re: Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
With the spell in effect, the white trees blaze with light. The effect is almost blinding as they shine. Those afflicted with the black streaks do not shine as strongly as those unaffected, but their light is still radiant. Slightly less than half of the trees are afflicted by the black streaks, and those worst affected are in a generally north-east direction from Ahvylyn's current position.

The magic of the white trees affirms what Aleesia revealed. Along with the brightness of their light, the trees give off a comforting aura that Ahvylyn's able to sense while her spell is active. It's stronger in trees without black marks and weakens in proportion to the number of black marks on a tree. The black marks give off a polluting sensation of malice and filth. It's sickening to even know of its presence with the minor detection spell Ahvylyn's cast.
Aleesia Valhorn
 player, 35 posts
Thu 4 Nov 2021
at 08:15
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
When Faaid had mentioned 'proceeding with caution', Aleesia had seemed reluctant. Obviously not about the caution part, but it was clear she didn't want to leave things as they were.

Still,she hadn't said anything straight away, instead waiting to see what the other two thought about all this. Thankfully, not only it turned out that they felt the need to address the problem, but once informed of the underlying causes of it Faaid agreed to it.

Still... “I don't know.” She answered Torstein's question. “I'm not a real healer and it's my first time seeing those trees or disease. I would need to study it. I mean I could try, but...” She shook her head, “I doubt the only healing spell I know would do much. If anything at all.”
Torstein Svanir
 player, 40 posts
 High Man Warrior
Fri 5 Nov 2021
at 01:56
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Torstein's left hand rose to touch the red cup embroidered upon his tabard. He looked to the ground. He did not echo Faaid's passion, but he felt a similar determination to oppose whatever dark deeds were in the offing here. It was obviously Evil. He gave a small breath.

Ahvylyn's conclusions seemed sound with the information they had thus far. The Witch Queen, as vassal to the Pale Son, sent ar-Gohl to free the servant of the Pale Son sealed away here. Whatever action was done to that effect was harming the trees and the spirits of the heroes bound to ensure the seal remained.

Determined as he was, Torstein felt a touch of fear. It did not change his intention, and he prayed that it would not harm his resolve.

"Very well." Torstein said to Aleesia. "We must proceed into the hills, then."

Ahvylyn could share anything she may have divined with her spell on the way.
Ahvylyn Brightsong
 player, 40 posts
 HP [35] MP [3] Def [25]
 Per [+35] Wealth [2]
Fri 5 Nov 2021
at 02:18
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Lyn looked at the men who were prepared to rush into the hills and grunted in annoyance. she looked to Aleesia with a cross expression then rolled her eyes and sighed, "Always like men to rush blindly into things. I would suspect that they are trying to free the servant BY harming the trees. The harm is not a symptom, but the cause. My spell allowed me to see the magic in the trees, and I suspect though cannot confirm that they are part of the seal not just tombstones. Thus, if took a moment to see about whether Aleesia can aid the trees, we might draw the villains into our trap rather than walk into theirs. At the least, it is worth the attempt, yes?"

Grunting again, Ahvylyn then turned to Aleesia and began speaking in the elven language. "The trees' auras seems to comfort, bless almost. The trees affected by the black marks have wounds in these auras and their balm is weaker." She switches back to the tongue the men can understand and indicates to the northeast, "The greatest concentration of afflicted trees is that direction." she turned to see what the other elf might think of the magical affliction on the magical trees assuming Aleesia might have a deeper knowledge of magical lore than her dabbler's generalities.

Looking a bit consternated she looks somewhat apologetically to Faaid and Torstein, "Though I could be wrong in my interpretation. The source of the affliction may well be that way."
Faaid
 player, 46 posts
 High Man Rogue
 70/70 HP, 1 DR
Fri 5 Nov 2021
at 17:39
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Faaid nods at the sage advice of his fair companion.  "Let us take a moment and see to the trees.  If you say the concentration is in that direction, that is the way we shall go.  Faaid will prepare for the arrival of ar-Gohl, should the dog notice us.  Torstein, you may be needed to watch over the women.  Faaid worries, though, that this will not slow down our prey, and that it will instead hasten their efforts.  But let us not waste time, for there is none to spare."  The man looks conflicted, clearly still aching to track down ar-Gohl and put an end to his foe, but willing to accept alternative tactics.
GM
 GM, 57 posts
Sun 7 Nov 2021
at 21:51
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Attempts to further figure out what was transpiring stymied the group. The white trees and their affliction withstood attempts to scrutinize them, and through physical and metaphysical observation nothing came to further light. The forces at play were ancient and supernatural, and with the limited the time that the group could expend and the lack of proper tools mystical and botanical frustrated an already hard task.

There was, ultimately, nothing gained in the time spent studying, but their efforts had not gone unnoticed.

The white crow was back.

A spirit appeared. Its form was semi-transparent and white, making it difficult to see. Like many of the trees, the spirit was afflicted with black veins. The spirit was that of a High Man warrior, with long hair and plain sculpted features. Clad in chain mail and in a tabard that looked much like the one that Torstein wore, the spirit carried no weapons. Its form blurred and seemed as if it might dissipate entirely for a moment, but it held on although the edges of its spectral body were indistinct. There was a large and conspicuous black wound over its heart.

It spoke, but the words were ancient. A spectral hand raised in entreaty to all, but its phantasmal eyes laid upon Torstein.
Aleesia Valhorn
 player, 37 posts
Sun 7 Nov 2021
at 22:25
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Aleesia grumbled, obviously annoyed that she wasn't going anywhere in her study. Not that it was that surprising since she was still very much a student of Magic and as far from Mastery as one could be while still practising magic, but still. Even knowing that she didn't have the right tools, or more generally resources, to investigate that black disease didn't do much to alleviate her grumblings.

Maybe to change her ideas, or simply because she was prone to distractions, Aleesia focused on the white crow when it appeared, calling it to her...without expecting anything to happen since she wasn't a bird whisperer or anything.

Before long though, before the crow could fly to her to say nothing of her just giving up, Aleesia was once again distracted, this time by the appearance of the spirit. When the spirit spoke, Aleesia tilted her head to the side, grumbling something along the lines of So much for inventing it... When she finally noticed that everyone else seemed confused, she added, “That's the tongue of the First Kingdom of the High Men.

For a time, it seemed that it was all she was going to say, until she finally seemed to realise something. “Oh, right, uh, sorry.” She turned to Torstein, “He calls you brother and bids you join their fight against the dark.”
Faaid
 player, 47 posts
 High Man Rogue
 70/70 HP, 1 DR
Sun 7 Nov 2021
at 22:52
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Faaid looks between the spirit, Aleesia, and Torstein.  "This man must have stood sentry over the forest for generations, fulfilling his purpose.  It is honorable to do so."  His voice raises in volume, as he looks out into the treeline.  "It is not too late, cousin, for you to stand against the darkness, too.  Stand against the dark, as this man has done, as our families had done before ar-Gohl, as I do now.  Fight with me, Abtin, cousin, not against, and let us stop ar-Gohl from corrupting our people further."  It is not immediately obvious to whom he calls out, but Faaid is clearly speaking to someone.



14:48, Today: Faaid rolled 115 using 1d100+50.  Charisma.

OOC: I wasn't sure what kind of difficulty this would be, so I just went with a straight roll.

Ahvylyn Brightsong
 player, 42 posts
 HP [35] MP [3] Def [25]
 Per [+35] Wealth [2]
Mon 8 Nov 2021
at 02:23
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Ahvylyn was feeling a bit puffed up, happy, about things going on. Though she felt the general drain on her magical resources, she did not worry much as she rarely used the bits of arcane knowledge she had collected over the years. Instead, when the crow appeared she tilted her head to watch it curiously. For a few moments, her eyes unfocused as she listened to the words. She pressed her lips together Then raised an eyebrow at Aleesia. Ahyvylyn knew why she understood those words, but Aleesia's comprehension was a fun little mystery. The words interpreted, she left it at that then stood straight as Faaid made to go off, "Honourable? To be trapped in duty and afforded no rest after death?" She gazed up at the spirit and shook her head sadly, "But I think Torstein ought better hold off joining them as yet. We know not what 'joining' them means." Ahvylyn words her mouth as if she had been tasting something unpleasant. She spat and then continued in a more modern form of speech, "There's more than a few stories where a living soul 'joined' the forces of the dead. I vastly prefer the man alive and aiding us." She shrugged and then looked up at the crow again.

Finally, after a long moment, she went back to do her best examining the more physical wounds on the trees. Was it a corruption, an actual wound inflicted by an instrument, or something more akin to a curse? She did not possess a deep reserve of knowledge of the arcane or nature, but she knew many stories about many things. She slowly moved through her memory palace trying to find things related to this foulness.

This message was last edited by the player at 07:36, Tue 09 Nov.

Torstein Svanir
 player, 42 posts
 High Man Warrior
Tue 9 Nov 2021
at 03:13
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Although Torstein did not speak the language, he comprehended the meaning behind them. He was not sad to see a brother, even if death held no rest nor a seat in the Hall of the Brave or Paradise. This duty was not something undertaken lightly, and it spoke well of this man that he had fulfilled it for so long. Torstein could only pray that the Source had made of him the same stuff and that, if called upon, he would perform so well.

"Penance never ends." He murmured to himself, and touched the cup upon his tabard. He gave the spirit a melancholy look, and then smiled softly to him. Torstein was proud of this man, though centuries separated them.

"Please, Aleesia, tell my brother Brihtstein that I will join him in battle against the dark." Torstein said softly, turning his face to look at the female Dusk Elf. The blond male looked genuinely happy as he spoke, and he was. There was a lightness of the heart that this spirit evoked in him.

That feeling was momentarily overtaken when Faaid called out to someone that he could not see. Torstein wanted to draw his huge sword but he equally did not wish to sabotage Faaid's efforts to sway one of his blood-kin. He moved closer to Aleesia, to make of his body a shield for her as his eyes scanned the trees.
GM
 GM, 59 posts
Tue 9 Nov 2021
at 04:24
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Abtin tenses where he hides in the trees. His eyes narrow, a touch of anger visible. Abtin's hand tenses around his javelin, but he ultimately comes out from his hiding spot. He sheathes his scimitar and lowers the javelin but keeps it in his hands in a non-threatening manner.

Abtin's eyes looked at all of Faaid's companions, and he looks with hesitation at the spirit and gives it a wide berth.

"Answer this one question, cousin, and tell this one the truth. Swear it upon your mother's heart. Was your banishment just?" Abtin asked. Faaid's honesty would sway Abtin one way or another.
Faaid
 player, 48 posts
 High Man Rogue
 70/70 HP, 1 DR
Tue 9 Nov 2021
at 05:14
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Faaid takes a step towards Abtin, the desert-man who had emerged from the trees and shadows.  One hand rests gently upon his sword, the other hangs limp.  Looking at Abtin, Faaid's head cocks slightly.  "That is a question Faaid has asked himself with every setting of the sun.  It is true that Faaid betrayed his family.  It is true that he turned his back upon his people, with a blade still wet with blood.  So if family is what we trust in most, then yes, it was justified."

Only a moment passes where his eyes soften with memories, before hardening like flint.  He spits his words out with the rage that his companions had seen growing over the past few days.  "But our family had turned their backs upon our purpose, our creed, our duty.  Ancient oaths we have sworn to for generations.  Older than blood.  It is those Faaid chosen to follow.  And so his banishment was unjust.  That is what Faaid chooses to believe.  It is what he must believe."

He looks to the ground for a moment before raising his head with flames in his eyes, daggers shooting from his gaze.  He looks upon Abtin, his cousin, with an intensity that does not fit with the lackadaisical storyteller his companions knew.  "And you, cousin, you who still bear your name.  To what will you swear your allegiance?"
GM
 GM, 60 posts
Tue 9 Nov 2021
at 05:31
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Abtin was taken aback by Faaid's words and the fire in them. Whatever he expected, this wasn't it. He looked solemn, but he stood his ground and didn't shy away from Faaid's gaze. "I am torn between the old oaths and the oaths to my family." Abtin admitted, and empathy for Faaid's position showed.

"I desire only to be a man my father, wife, and son can look upon with pride." He was silent. "I will join you, for a time, for I no longer believe that I can be such a man and consort with ar-Gohl. If we defeat him, I will return home. And if we do not, I shall die." He shrugged.

"I was prepared to hate you. But I see you now and I know that you have not forgotten the face of your father." He sighed. He looked over at where the other was hiding, but he was gone now. "It saddens this one. But Farzam always favoured anger."
Faaid
 player, 49 posts
 High Man Rogue
 70/70 HP, 1 DR
Tue 9 Nov 2021
at 13:24
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
A nod acknowledges Abtin, the fire still in Faaid's eyes.  It had been far too long since he had gazed upon his father last, but the memory of the disappointment and betrayal still pained him.  The empty space where Farzam had stood was a stark reminder of what he had been through, and the emptiness in his heart where family once stood.

"Come then, cousin, and let us be a tribe together once more.  Let us prevent ar-Gohl from his accursed deeds, and reclaim the honor of our people.  But you must know, we will fight him with the honor that our people have lost.  This man, this noble warrior, will show us the way."  Faaid looks upon Torstein with a look somewhere between curiosity and admiration.
Ahvylyn Brightsong
 player, 44 posts
 HP [35] MP [3] Def [25]
 Per [+35] Wealth [2]
Sun 14 Nov 2021
at 08:42
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
If Ahvylyn heard Torstein uttered phrase, she did not react. The appearance of Faaid's cousin and their interaction though had her eyes rolling rather hyperbolically. "Honestly, why do I even bother with the stories? Nothing seems more dramatic than real life. Could I even, with a straight face, write anything more dramatic than that?" Still, though her words were mocking and her tone dripped sarcasm, Ahvylyn was smiling rather genuinely at the scene.

As that seemed to be settled, she surveyed their group and nodded briefly. The addition of another sword would aid their chances against this band they tracked. Unconsciously, she reached back to adjust the short sword sheathed crosswise in her back beneath her pack. She then turned her eyes northeast along the line that she had seen the magically cursed trees. "I cannot say, with any certainty, if each tree was poisoned itself or if the source is mystical and general. A poisoning of the land or some other source that reaches out to the trees. I'd say we move that way but keep our minds as open as our eyes and ears as we do so."

Ahvylyn was still rummaging through the memory palace of her mind but it was now so old, crowded, and vast that it often took her time to move through each room. Too, doing so made her sad as she had long ago and far away chosen the bleak fortress where her start had been made as her palace. Thus, she remembered its each stone as precisely as if she was still standing upon them. She was sure the fortress now stood quite differently, but the aged mental image she carried served to remind her of the oath she had taken. Sighing heavily, she moved north and east.
Aleesia Valhorn
 player, 39 posts
Fri 19 Nov 2021
at 13:04
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
“Uh…” Aleesia looked at Ahvylyn then the spectre, then back to Ahvylyn, “I…don't think joining their fight means dying…” There had to be a whole ritual to bind someone to the tree after all, right?

After which, the young elf got distracted for some time by the drama between Faaid and his…friend? Clan-mate? When it seemed to have reached a conclusion, she shook herself, and glanced guiltily at Torstein, “Yes, joining, I'll tell him.”

Despite that, and having turned to the spectre, she didn't say anything straight away. She looked…hesitant. Finally, in such a way that it was very clear that while she understood what was being said to her, finding the right words to say what she wanted was more difficult, she managed to relay Torstein's declaration, “He agrees to join you on this fight.”

She glanced around at the others for a second, before adding, “And if there's something we can to help, we will try.”
GM
 GM, 62 posts
Sat 20 Nov 2021
at 05:08
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Although the white crow seemed pretty much indifferent to Aleesia's efforts, it did take wing and land on her shoulder after she spoke to the spectre. The bird made no sounds, and it only stood on her shoulder for a few moments before it took wing again. It flew over Ahvylynn and towards the half-elf's ultimate goal.

The spectre bowed its head. "There is wonder-working power in the blood, for those with the fortitude to pay the price." The spectre said, its words ancient and formal. Then it gave an agonized cry and its spectral form dispersed violently in all directions. The terrible, agonized wailing continued without form to anchor it, but was cut off in tandem with the sound of a tree falling in the distance.

Abtin looked at Torstein with a dubious expression, but he didn't say anything against the warrior. "Perhaps it is good to stride forward like a lion; skulking in the shadows like a serpent for too long has made our people too comfortable in the darkness." The dusky skinned man said. He moved to follow Ahvylynn, and his footfalls made no sound and he left no tracks, disturbing neither fallen branch nor leaf nor any sod below his foot.

The small group made their way forward, and they were watched the entire way by members of Faaid's former tribe. These hidden warriors merely watched, and allowed it to be known they were watching. Some directive stayed their hands and caused them to allow themselves to be seen observing the group.

The path that the group followed took them to the tree they heard falling before. This tree was almost wholly blackened and rotted with corruption as it lay on the forest floor. Foulness wept from its stained and broken bark onto the earth below and the air was heavy with a tangible feeling of wrongness. To look upon the tree in this state was to know in one's soul that something pure and good had been befouled.

The trunk had broken, and around the stump was evidence of a profane ritual involving bloody sacrifice. The bodies of nine bandits, Men and Half-Orcs, lay in a rough circle around the stump. The faces of the bandits that could be seen revealed that they had died in terror and pain.

ar-Gohl stood near the stump, and his face was daubed with dried blood. There was a spark of madness in his eyes, and despite his advanced years he looked and held himself like a man in his physical prime. Beside him was a corpse in battle-damaged armour and clothing, marked in blood with runes. It was Grondstein's body, animated with loathsome and dark magic. A semi-transparent shadow overlaid Grondstein's form. It was of a warrior in ancient battle-plate wielding a grand sword. The shadow flickered every few beats of the heart, at times growing more solid only to lighten again.

The Star Elf from Aleesia's 'memory' was there as well. He looked exactly the same, untouched by the passing of time. A white robe covered his body, and in his hands was rune-etched staff of ash. A ring of carved and polished hematite decorated the ring finger of his left hand, and a somber look was on his face. The white crow was nearby, and it was picking over the corpse of a bandit. The Star Elf looked at Aleesia and his somber expression turned into an amused smirk.
Ahvylyn Brightsong
 player, 45 posts
 HP [35] MP [3] Def [25]
 Per [+35] Wealth [2]
Sat 20 Nov 2021
at 11:49
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
TO say the absolute least, Ahvylyn was unconvinced by much of what was going on around her. Still, it would make for a fabulous story one day, so she committed as much as she could understand and as many details she didn't understand as possible to a room in her memory palace. Pulling out drawers, twisting knobs, and scrawling notes on pieces of paper made the trick feel comfortable. The fingers of her off-hand twitched in the motions needed to write the notes as a mnemonic trick. It was old and familiar.

Walking along, the silent permissive warriors caused her to be well aware of a bead of sweat hovering between her shoulder blades. This could go badly, quickly.

The sight at the fallen tree made her heart sink. Some haughty looking star elf, or was the haughty part her bias, and a high man, what looked like blood sacrifice, and a possessed corpse. A corpse wielding a grand sword. Oh, she did not like the implications of that at all. "Gods above and below, this looks dangerous."
Torstein Svanir
 player, 43 posts
 High Man Warrior
Sat 20 Nov 2021
at 23:51
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
"Thank you, Aleesia." Torstein said softly. He was taken in by the drama that was shared between Abtin and Faaid and he felt empathy for the two. He could not quite relate to the depth of separation that lay between the two but Torstein knew well enough the strife that arose between brothers.

Twice now Torstein was marked out as a lion, and he felt uncomfortable with the appellation. He was not some great, proud beast. Perhaps greater humility was warranted. Equally, he felt uncomfortable with the look that Faaid gave him.

Nevertheless, he shouldered it and carried on. Ahvylyn was the first to move forward and he moved to catch up with her.

When the desert warriors made themselves known Torstein drew his greatsword. He was ready to fight, but it set him ill at ease that they eschewed the stealth that marked their comportment. It felt like they were being led into some trap, but there was no other course that Torstein could think to take in this matter. He was not afraid, though he worried for his companions who valued their lives more than he did.

It was all that Torstein could do not to roar and descend into battle frenzy when they came to the site of the fallen tree.

He looked over to the warriors who watched. Torstein met the eyes of each of them. "Hear my words, warriors. I am sworn to oppose to Evil, and I see it before me. Before battle is joined I would know where you stand. I know Faaid; he is blood of your blood and I know in him flows the blood of men. So too is Abtin a man. Your leader, ar-Gohl, stands with strength bought by blood and dark sorcery, and it is not the strength of his father and his forebearers. This is strength purchased with the coin of his soul, and of yours, if you allow it. Perhaps you may think it is too late and there is no hope for you. But you are not so lost that you may not yet be found; there are none the Source abandons.

"And you, my Brother. If there is aught of you left . . . fight. Death is no release from the Code. Our ancient Brother carries on the battle with the foe, and in his mighty company we must not be found wanting."
It was hard to see his Brother ill-used in this manner. It was hard because so many times Torstein was the one found wanting in Grondstein's eyes.

Torstein is using the Charisma skill to try and sway the desert warriors to their side, and to reach anything Grondstein if there is anything left to reach. Spending a point of Drive for the +10 to Skill, Attack, and Save rolls for the scene.

15:30, Today: Torstein Svanir rolled 150 using 1d100+50.  Charisma enchanced by Drive.
15:30, Today: Torstein Svanir rolled 13 using 1d100.  Exploding die.
Total result: 163

Faaid
 player, 51 posts
 High Man Rogue
 70/70 HP, 1 DR
Mon 22 Nov 2021
at 05:11
Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Where Torstein was able to refrain from crying out in rage, Faaid failed.  He takes in the scene before them, sees ar-Gohl covered in blood.  A humming fills his ears, a blanket of darkness around everything and everyone but his hated foe.  Torstein's voice mumbles words that he barely takes in, only just recognizing the purpose of his speech.  But his blade is drawn, and inside his chest a fire grows out of control.

"Black Hound of the Witch Queen," he spits out with fury and disgust, "You stand amongst your brothers and cousins, perverting our ways.  You stand before Faaid, who spoke out against you; who crossed blades with you so many years ago.  But you will stand no longer.  Faaid will put you down like the dog you are."  His eyes are wide and wild, and his free hand moves to cover his face sans eyes with a scarf.
Aleesia Valhorn
 player, 42 posts
Tue 30 Nov 2021
at 16:07
Re: Chapter 1: Echoes of the Dead
Aleesia grinned, obviously pleased, when the crow alighted on her shoulder. Though her smile slipped as quickly as the crow left, which led her to instead grumble under her breath for a couple of seconds.

When the spectre disappeared she looked horrified. “We had better hurry...” Despite that, she made sure to stay towards the back of the group, though she did take her bow in hands, an arrow ready to be knocked: she didn't have any illusion about how useful she was going to be with that. It would still be better than her magic, but...that wasn't exactly saying much. Or at least, nothing good...

What waited for them didn't do anything to alleviate Aleesia's fears - and disgust - but for a moment she focused on the star-elf she recognised. Not so much surprised that he had survived for so long, but that he was here. Even though the presence of the crow could have been quite the hint. What visibly puzzled her however, was the smirk: what was that for?

Aware of what was going on around her, she still asked looking at the Star-Elf, “Who are you? Why are you here?”