Chapter Eighteen: In the Shadow of the Maiden of Pain!

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
"Nothing is worse than nothing." Raymond E. Feist, author of The Riftwar Saga.

Location: On the Wayward Wagon, heading toward the troubled village of the Kobolds of the Silver Sun in the eastern parts of Shandra's Evergreen.
Time/Date: Late morning, Monday, the 18th of November in the year 1118.
Weather: The morning air is fine and sweet, the warm glowing sun seems to peek out from behind distant clouds to greet you as you come out to see it!

"Elmer Bernstein - Complete Heavy Metal Score - 09 - Getting Bombed.wmv"


The Wayward Wagon crosses through the beautiful blue of the bright late-morning sky. Four mighty hippogriffs pull the wagon along, the sun glinting off of their shades of jade stone, the great custom-made harness tight and creaking against their massive bodies as they seem to easily haul all that comes behind them - wagon, furniture, goods, adventurers, and each of their youthful dreams! Most of Shandra's Evergreen appears as a series of dreamlike green/brown blurs as it passes under you. That is, unless you look far off into the distance and then the ancient trees, hills, and rivers which all form into one grand and majestic view worthy of a painting in the hall of King Wildegard of Highwind himself.

Most folk long for the comfortable life, good and safe, soft and without too much worry. It is the soul of the adventurer that longs something greater, something more. Memories worth looking back on with terror and surprise, delights and fabulous victories over dangers Sharseyan common folk hear only in legend and never ever see face to face, if they are indeed so lucky. Better still is the life of the successful adventurer, their riches won from battles past keeping them warm and fed and reasonably safe most of the time (for is it not the rare armed traveler who wishes to travel safely all of the time?).

And so it is with the Wayward Wanderers. Well-rested by a good night's sleeping in fine beds, your fasts comfortably broken by good morning meals, each of you prepared for your day in your own ways. You woke to the sounds of Powerpaw and Mamapaw together in the Grand Pool with Powerpaw teaching his ever-careful mother the ways of the maul, specifically the legendary Maul of the Titans! That huge tool and weapon capable of demolishing stone to dust and blasting one-foot-thick wooden doors clean off their hinges was in the hands of your Mielikkian Felane Druidess as her son, a master of this weapon, guided her with his own lesser maul as something of a special time spent between mother and son.

You also heard and perhaps enjoyed the sweeter sounds of Bria of the Ko singing as she helped with the morning chores, her spirit, mind, and body seemed as close as cloud is to wind as she performed her Ko morning moving meditations, a practice no Averlundian ever created, you could say for certain. Stewart the Steward, his lady Beatrice, and the ever-alert turtle-creature Auri created your meals and sent you outside to the driver's seat and roof of the Wayward Wagon where you are now, the crisp wind tugging at your clothes, the delicious air in your every breath, and the stunning majesty of Shandra's Evergreen all about you. Even Nitwit and your kobold allies could not help but gather about to try and enjoy the wonder that is flight! These were good times, simple times.

But not all who lived in the forest could call life simple...

...or even good.

"Dere! Down dere!" Nitwit the Kobold Ranger points toward a wide gray patch of barren ground that lay at the base of a small valley near a thin brook and glittering lake. On one side was a great wall of hills and three caves that could easily be seen from your high, bird-like vantage point. "We're finally here! Dat's our tribe's place! Da Tribe of da Silver Sun! Dat's our..."

As Mamapaw guides the hippogriffs down, you begin to see... perhaps what was once good, but not any longer. Small rows of tents are there, but every one of them are flattened. Little wooden buildings and barricades once stood here, but each is clearly smashed down as destroyed as if by a meteorite sent from the skies. Not a single piece of good wood stood here now. All was demolished.

"...home." The word dies in Nitwit's mouth.

What was once perhaps a thriving village, new to the forest like a green seed greeting dawn, is no more. The colors are gray here. Gray and black as if stained with dried blood on the ground. Huge prints of boots the size of humans can be seen everywhere, especially on what were once homes... and perhaps what were once kobolds too. All is one great mess - defeated, dusty, and terribly sad. There is no village here anymore. Just a huddled group of thin - pathetically rail-thin - reptilian beings squatting obediently in the center of a huge circle drawn into the earth around them. One might think that the delightful sight of a magical wagon being hauled by flying golems with well-armed adventurers and happy kobolds upon it would cause cries of alarm and whoops of joy to come from the lungs of those below. But no.

They don't even look up at you.

Not a single one.

"Elmer Bernstein - Complete Heavy Metal Score - 11 - Dem Bones.wmv"


Mamapaw sets the Wayward Wagon down just outside of the village-become-battleground. Your kobold allies are chomping at the bit to run to their fellows, a few of them have to be grabbed back lest they hop off early and fall to harm themselves on the earth below. Once you land, Nitwit and his fellows skitter and scatter every which way. Their red scales and clean brown tunics seem bright and lively beside the muddy colors and disgusting globs of dirt that covers every one of their dear people.

"Guys! Guys! It's us!" Nitwit cries as he runs up waving his spear in excitement. As if ensorcelled, his kin which number about fifty, hardly stir. Those sparse few who turn in his direction seem to look through him instead of at him.

"What happened? Somebuddy tell us what happened!"

Not one opens their mouth to answer him.

As you get closer, you do not see the promised village of intrepid kobolds looking for their chance to leave these woods and to a better life inside the safety of Highwind's hope-filled walls. In their stead, you see dust-blasted little scaly people that may as well be the living dead. Even grave-haunting zombies show more life than this. These kobolds stare wide-eyed about them like a people imprisoned. But you see no chains, no bars. Just a huge collection utterly devoid of spirit, of energy, of hope. Young, old, male, female, they all look the same - deathly afraid. They won't hardly look at you. Some begin to tremble uncontrollably under the weight of your stares. But they do not go from the ugly circle drawn into the dirt around them. What few who move at all look away from you as if to simply acknowledge your existence is some mortal sin payable in scale-rending tortures unknown. The tribe are all thin; sickly thin as if they have never eaten - a terrible gathering of shadows. The state of the Kobolds of the Silver Sun, those savvy people Nitwit and Skiviks described as being so ready to worship and serve Charmsring, the goodliest of dragons, are a huge surprise to the kobolds that have brought you here. They stare and openly gawk at their friends, their families, their people, this gathering of victims who are sorry-looking, filthy dirty, skeleton-thin, and worst of all...

... absolutely quiet.

The air here is thick with silence as if to shout out would be something most terrible. Powerpaw the Fearless and Mamapaw the Motherly exchange very worried glances with you and each other. They look as if they don't know what to think of this. But Bria of the Ko trembles too as she looks on. She is the first to speak to you. "Heavens alight!" Her whispering voice shakes in real trepidation as her Healer senses see things beyond the reach of most living beings.

"Their spirits! Guys.... something... has snatched the very hope from their lives!"

Nitwit and his kobolds look at you with a mixture of pained embarrassment and fang-gnashing frustration. They are helpless to deliver any sort of explanation. Regardless of your backgrounds, unless you lack a heart, you see it too. Quite clearly as it becomes plain to all. What perhaps was once savvy, intrepid, hopeful... has been replaced by the deepest shadow of all.

Despair.

What do the Wayward Wanderers do?
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Earlier....

Luna is in a good mood. It always comes to her when she's on the beginning steps of a new adventure, and saving these kobolds from whatever curse or blight that Loviatar has placed upon them is most certainly going to be an adventure. She bounces out of bed to begin preparing for the day.

Once she is properly cleaned up and presentable, the next step is to grab for her spellbook so she can prepare her spells for the day. After lining up a good mix of offensive and defensive spells, the Pyromancer decides to go ahead and cast her first spell of the day; an Extended Mage Armor II. With the extension she's put on it, it will last her well into the next day, giving her a bit of protection from the bad stuff out there.

With that taken care of, Luna heads out of her room to see what she can rummage up for breakfast to fill the void in her belly.

Later on....

When the Grand Wagon makes its entrance to the kobold village, Luna is expecting many things, but the utter lack of any response is not one of them. At first, she is simply puzzled. But then the realization of the true level of the crushing despair hits her, and she is caught up short. "Holy Boccob! What has happened here? Nitwit, you told us that there was a problem in your village, but you never indicated it was this bad. I've never seen anything like this before!"

Luna's first thought is to check for the lingering effects of any magic that might have been cast in the area. If they are cursed, it may show her just how it happened. "Detect Magic!"
Level: 13
Class: Wizard
Hit Points: 74 +1d6
Action Points: 11 / 10
Diamond of Fate: 1

Armor Class: 18 - 24 Mage Armor II. +2 from Ring of Force Shield
Touch AC: 14 Flat Footed: 22

Initiative Bonus: 2
Fortitude Save: +6
Reflex Save: +7
Will Save: +16

Base Attack: +6 / +1
Melee: +4 / -1
Ranged: +8 / +3

Extended Mage Armor II active for the next 26 hours

Spells memorized:
Cantrips (4): Mage Hand, Light, Detect Magic, Read Magic
1 (7): Magic Missile x4, Shield x2, Unseen Servant
2 (7): Web x2, Protection From Arrows x2, Glitterdust x2, Scorching Ray
3 (6): Haste x2, Fireball x2, Slow, Lightning Bolt
4 (5): Empowered Scorching Ray x3, Ball Lightning x2
5 (5): Cone of Cold x2, Empowered Fireball x2
6 (4):
7 (2): Prismatic Spray, Mage Sword

+7 damage to all Evoker spells
 
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jaydude

Four Thousand Club
"Mielikki's grace, how could this have happened?" Alisa asked while giving the destroyed village a troubled look, echoing Luna's sentiments.

Seeing the pyromancer check the area for magic prompted the paladin to act accordingly, using Detect Evil to aid in Luna's supernatural investigation efforts. At the same time, she wouldn't complain if her goddess decided to give her a little help here.
 

Kaerri

Dannigan's Lady
Administrator
Supporter
Roleplay Availability
Roleplay Type(s)
Kaerri-by-peritwinkle-sm.png

Art by Peritwinkle
Character sheet
Hit Points: 99/99
Armor Class: 27
Touch Armor Class: 17
Shadow Illusion: 3/3
Shadow Call: 2/2
Shadow Jump distance: 80/80 feet
Defensive Roll: 1/1
Rogue Talent Resiliency: 1/1
Stinger -- uses of Slow remaining: 3/3
Charm of Bastet -- uses of Cat's Grace remaining: 1/1
Action Points: 14
Earlier
Before going out to ride on the driver's seat (on the roof, while the wagon is in motion through the air, is just too much to face that early in the morning), Kaerri twists her now-long, now-rainbow-colored hair into a knot on the back of her head and sticks her new hairpin into the knot to hold it in place. She looks at her equally-colorful hands, then shrugs. It will go back to normal when the effects wear off, or her friends will help her find a way to make it go back.

Meanwhile, as the wagon wends its way down to the ground, she pulls her cloak hood forward to hide her face in shadow. She wonders if she ought to get a pair of (nonmagical) gloves later, but as she hasn't any now, she just tucks her hands into the folds of her cloak.

Now
The devastation, both physical and emotional, is heartwrenching, but Kaerri spares a moment to shake her hooded head at the wizardess. "Come on, Luna, can't you see this is as much a surprise to him as to us? Obviously they didn't know it was this bad."

While Luna and Alisa do their thing, the shadowdancer jumps down from the wagon to do some inspecting of her own. She keeps well away from the circle drawn around the poor kobolds, in case it's something more than psychological, and tries not to step on anything worth looking at (tracks or other evidence), while looking for any physical signs as to who or what happened to this place. From time to time she glances up and around, wary that who/whatever it was might well be coming back.
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
Oreleth stands back, letting the details of the scene sink in as she keeps careful watch. With her bow in hand, she slowly moves around, her head on a swivel as she tries to keep her guard up.
Attacks per Round:
1st - Manyshot (firing two arrows). "To Hit:" +18 (+20 First Attack, -2 Rapid Shot). Damage: 2d8+12 (+6 Base damage).
2nd - Improved Vital Strike. "To Hit:" +13 (+15 Second Attack, -2 Rapid Shot). Damage: 3d8+6 (Improved Vital Strike, +6 Base damage).
3rd - Normal Attack. "To Hit:" +8 (+10 Third Attack, -2 Rapid Shot). Damage: 1d8+6
4th - Rapid Shot Bonus Attack. "To Hit:" +18 (+20 First Attack, -2 Rapid Shot). Damage: 1d8+6
+1d6 per arrow of either Cold, Fire or Electrical from Arcane Archer class.

-3 to hit/+6 Damage from Deadly Aim
Hit Points: 91 +d10 per level
Action Points: 11 / 11
Bonus Action Point: 1 / 1
Diamond of Fate: 1

Armor Class: 24
CMD: 26
Fort Save: +9
Reflex Save: +13
Will Save: +6 (+11 vs Fear)
Perception: +15

Spells Memorized
Cantrips: Mage Hand, Detect Magic, Ray of Frost, Message
1: Shield x2, Shocking Grasp x2, Burning Hands
2: Flaming Sphere, Glitterdust x2, Web
3: Fireball x2
+3 damage to Evoker spells.
 

Captain Hesperus

Harbinger of the End Times and Apostle of Ghan
Administrator
Supporter
Otiorin Taletreader

Earlier
There was nothing quite like waking up in the comfort of your own bed after a good night’s sleep. Otiorin could have as easily remained there the rest of the day and not cared one whit, but alas, his stomach won over his laziness and he rose to seek out something to break his fast with.
With a haunch of fresh bread and some smoked ham pan-fried in creamy butter in hand, the Half-Elf sat on the roof of the wagon as it swept through the skies. He enjoyed his food alongside the view and wondered what new things he would experience today.

Now
Otiorin hopped down from the wagon, having retrieved his trusty harness laden with swords and crossbows, and advanced cautiously on the ruins of the Kobold village and it’s demoralised inhabitants. He willed his dragon-blessed eyes to take in the scene, looking over each of the villagers one at a time, even as he moved himself in support of his fellow Wanderers.
“What kind of magic could do this?”, he pondered aloud, looking to the more magically-adept members of the party.
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
Captain Hesperus Captain Hesperus Tag!

(Part 1 of 2)

When the Grand Wagon makes its entrance to the kobold village, Luna is expecting many things, but the utter lack of any response is not one of them. At first, she is simply puzzled. But then the realization of the true level of the crushing despair hits her, and she is caught up short. "Holy Boccob! What has happened here? Nitwit, you told us that there was a problem in your village, but you never indicated it was this bad. I've never seen anything like this before!"
"Whaaat?!" Nitwit leaps back as if physically struck by Luna's words. "You tink I knew it wuz like dis an' didn't saaay?" His little reptilian snout, ears, and tail, if they were low before, were lower than ever now. The very heroes he had literally prayed for were doubting him and something in the little Ranger could not take this. "I tolds you everythings! I didn't knowses! Pwease beweeve me!"

Nitwit looks at the fellows he brought with him. Their nods and pats on his shoulders show that they support him, but even now the kobold crew you brought with you are looking up at Luna with fear and doubt in their eyes - fear and doubt that slightly mirror the hellish abyss of the tormented kobold tribe behind them.

Nitwit and his crew appear almost paralyzed now in their desire to see how Luna to this, their only plea. Not only them, but confused and uncertain Powerpaw too, glares especially to see what card the noble from Summerset plays next.

Luna's first thought is to check for the lingering effects of any magic that might have been cast in the area. If they are cursed, it may show her just how it happened. "Detect Magic!"
Luna calls upon one of the first cantrips she ever learned, Detect Magic. Upon casting the simple sorcery, she views the area and finds no magic of any kind in the immediate area of the cantrip save for that which is carried by her own party - most of all, the Maul of the Titans upon Powerpaw and that strange golden-green trident from another age ever in Kaerri Rainshadow's ready hand. The thick circle dug into the earth that surrounds the shivering tribe is also without enchantment of any magical kind. Still, it holds a spell of sorts as surely as Powerpaw's red-eyed stare upon the young Wizard.

* * *
"Mielikki's grace, how could this have happened?" Alisa asked while giving the destroyed village a troubled look, echoing Luna's sentiments.

Seeing the pyromancer check the area for magic prompted the paladin to act accordingly, using Detect Evil to aid in Luna's supernatural investigation efforts. At the same time, she wouldn't complain if her goddess decided to give her a little help here.
In Alisa's time as a Paladin, such little wishes though wishes they be, have never produced any result she could ever tell. Instead, prayer was key. To ask with soul-felt humility from the Goddess of the Forest was better - to have acted in her name or be prepared to sacrifice something in Her name exceeded this. In Alisa's worst times, she had evidence - clear and true - that something from somewhere else, likely spiritual creatures devoted to ageless Mielikki were trying to aid Alisa and far more often than not, they had succeeded. But this was not Alisa's worst times, but someone else's entirely.

Clearing her mind of distractions through the meditations and remembering of scriptures written in Her name were the way to putting aside one's own feelings and using the revealing power of Detect Evil, at least according to the Highwindian faithful who also worshipped the Evergreen Lady. However Alisa chooses to approach this, immediately, Alisa feels a great uneasiness - a horrid presence like a powerful stench permeating from everywhere but not a feeling felt with the nose, but through her very heart. The land itself was not wrong, the trembling kobolds, Nitwit and crew included, had no taint of diabolic intent in them - to a reptile, they were not evil.

But the air all around Alisa felt thicker by the moment. A strange... trail of sorts then became clear to her as she enters the third stage of using her Goddess-given ability. Slowly, almost as if turned by gentle and firm hands she cannot see, Alisa turns (or is turned) to her left until she gazes at the hills against the valley not far away... and the three gaping caverns that seem to swallow the morning light with an awful glee.

Then she is "let go." Free. On her own again to do as she will. For while the Goddess of the Hunt had her own opinions, ever was she willing to let the people who loved her do as they would.

So deep is Alisa into these meditations and their findings that she has not heard the brown-furred Druidess about twice her size and four times her weight approach. There, clad in new-looking red armor with feline-slit eyes to match is Mamapaw. Alisa hears a deep throaty growl emerge and then pass inside of the huge cat-woman's throat - it is a clear sign her fellow Mielikkian does not like what she feels here. It is an emotion she gives voice to.

"Alisa," Mamapaw's voice is deep and worried, her eyes wide-eyed, yet not fearful. "What has She shown you? Why have you turned so to those caves?"
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
(Part 2 of 2)

While Luna and Alisa do their thing, the shadowdancer jumps down from the wagon to do some inspecting of her own. She keeps well away from the circle drawn around the poor kobolds, in case it's something more than psychological, and tries not to step on anything worth looking at (tracks or other evidence), while looking for any physical signs as to who or what happened to this place. From time to time she glances up and around, wary that who/whatever it was might well be coming back.
Kaerri of the Forest Eternal, leader of The Last Resort and survivor of their incredible and incredibly-perilous adventures, realizes swiftly that one need not be a Highwind Ranger here to understand the tale told here - if only one just looks for the clues.

Tracks upon tracks, stains, blows made to the Sharseyan soil. Grass uprooted, homes and hovels crushed flat. Kaerri sees tracks that pull her unusual brain straight over Sharseya and to realms beyond as she sees prints, deep and wide, in the ground the likes which she has not seen the likes of in a long time - perhaps not long enough.

Giants!

Not since The Last Resort adventures across the legendary realm of the Norse Gods - Gladsheim! - where Kaerri won the beautiful elven mail she wears now - has she seen tracks so huge and sure as not to be anything else but the deep stomp of giants. How it is that her fellows do not immediately see this is almost obvious; they don't know what to look for and perhaps the Wayward Wanderers have little experience fighting the spawn of Jotunheim here in Averlund. Nevertheless, the tracks and signs and tale is here! These kobolds just had their fates handed to them by a few things that went wandering in the direction of three tall caves - tall enough to hold true giants (of which bloodline, Kaerri cannot say though Ragnar the Bold probably could).

Somewhere in another part of Averlund, never far from Highwind, that Paladin of Thor, God of Thunder, feels a strange pang of envy, but he knows not why. Still, he grins. Someone special to him is up to no good!

And who could that be? =)

* * *​

Oreleth stands back, letting the details of the scene sink in as she keeps careful watch. With her bow in hand, she slowly moves around, her head on a swivel as she tries to keep her guard up.
There are many tracks, many stains in the earth, many quivering and silent kobolds that won't even look at you, and an ill wind that Oreleth of the Forest Eternal cannot deny. Growing up in the blessed forest of the wood elves, she has never before seen woods quite in this state. Not goblin, not gnolls, not even her worst of foes - the Bloodland Minotaurs - could make a mess like this! It is like some evil dragon came out of the sky and smashed all, even hope, to dust.

Every fiber of the Arcane Archer's being, every drop of her Wood Elven blood sworn to Solonor Thelandira, seems to cry out to Oreleth - "do not drop your guard here!"

* * *​
Otiorin Taletreader

Otiorin hopped down from the wagon, having retrieved his trusty harness laden with swords and crossbows, and advanced cautiously on the ruins of the Kobold village and it’s demoralised inhabitants. He willed his dragon-blessed eyes to take in the scene, looking over each of the villagers one at a time, even as he moved himself in support of his fellow Wanderers.
“What kind of magic could do this?”, he pondered aloud, looking to the more magically-adept members of the party.
"And who saysss it isss magic, Otiorin Taletreader?"

Otiorin's ears know who has spoken even before his eyes fall on her - it is Sparkle, Luna's purple-scaled Pseudo-dragon familiar, speaking from the Summerset Wizard's shoulder. The Half-Elf sees the old lady dragoness distancing herself between the tenseness forming between Luna and Nitwit's little gang - distancing by way of looking deeply, very deeply, until her eyes fade away into seemingly nothingness. Her reptile eyes then glow softly even as Otiorin's own begin to do the same as the Rogue/Sorcerer calls upon his own birthright - the heritage of Charmsring the Dragon-paladin as he has been called. Still, Otiorin cannot help but hear Sparkle's words - hissing as true dragons like her oft do when deep into their own formidable powers.

"Dessspair castsss itsss own ssspell, doesss it not?"

Her question is answered in a strange way all on its own as Otiorin ceases to see in the colors of humans and elves, Felane and intelligent weapons. A deep heaviness then seems to sit itself upon Otiorin's shoulders, a grey weight come'a grasping without welcome. It clenches and holds and steals away all thoughts of Bria and the hot coffee she delivered to him this morning or the two swords he loves hanging on someone else's very worthy hips or even the friends he has come to trust and travel with. As Otiorin looks at the kobold tribe with his Dragon-sight, all becomes dark and listless, grim and purposeless. Adventuresome spirit is replaced by something terrible and commanding - obedience!

The all-encompassing feeling of obedience stems and stays, gripping each kobold outside of Nitwit's gang greater than any rusted iron chain and more firmly than the promise of a cruel leather whip!

Otiorin sees Sparkle again. The old dragoness is as unchanged and unmoving as a statuette upon the crackling feminine fire that is Lady Luna Callen. Sparkle is staring at the kobolds intently like a creature on the hunt. She appears completely unaffected by the darkness and tragedy that fouls this place. Instead, her straight back and aimed eyes are like an arrow aimed true.

"Bria?" the dragoness speaks.

To Otiorin's right, there is a flash of brown-haired movement in answer.

"Methinks your mate could ussse your gentle dissstraction about now."

Bria turns toward Otiorin and Otiorin finds himself turning to face her. In Dragon-sight this morning, Bria is an awesome shining angel, womanly, loving and lovely to look at, non-judgmental, good-for-the-sake-of-goodness, with a purity of soul only few ever know, and with eyes only for Otiorin Taletreader, the roguish spellcaster born in Waterwind. In that one moment, Otiorin's Dragon-sight pulls him in a way that causes the darkness and tragedy to shake, and the deadly soul-killing chains of despair that often come a'clanging with it, to be blasted - violently - out of existence, at least for Otiorin, as sure as a supernova vacates all blackness in its vast, cosmic reach.

Bria strides up to Otiorin. Held in this spell of Dragon-sight, Otiorin realizes he has lost the ability to walk toward her. Still, the Last Healer in all of Sharseya and Oti's happy girl, continues unfettered up to him until she is almost nose-to-nose with him. Otiorin is momentarily helpless as she briefly and full-heartedly gives him a fresh kiss his lips. Then all despair is not only gone but it is as if it had never been. Despair, at least for Otiorin, has fled and fled fast. Otiorin knows it will not return for him soon, if ever.

It is then that Otiorin's Dragon-sight, his sudden warden, releases him. Otiorin detects Sharseya now with all of the five powerful senses he was born with. And there stands Bria before him, smiling sweetly, eyeing him knowingly, as she whispers only for him to hear, "Oh Scoundrel-of-my-heart, could I bring you another cup of coffee?"


* * *
To the rest of the Wayward Wanderers near Otiorin, a strange thing takes place before you. Otiorin stares intently at the scene. Sparkle, Luna's ever-boon Familiar, resting upon Luna's shoulder, is staring too. Otiorin says aloud as if to all of his magic-using companions...
“What kind of magic could do this?”, he pondered aloud, looking to the more magically-adept members of the party.
... to be answered by one of their number. Sparkle herself, deep in concentration, hissing as she focuses. They converse briefly.

"Dessspair castsss itsss own ssspell, doesss it not?"

Then in moments, both dragon-blooded creatures are staring with eyes aglow of what can only be called sorcery! With Otiorin's purest silver and Sparkle's a rich purple, they become still and see... something! What it is, you cannot tell.

But all of you notice this. While Sparkle stares in a relaxed fashion, even once slowly and carefully whipping her deadly sting-tail as if to always keep it aimed away from Luna's tender neck, Otiorin becomes as rigid and as unmoving as a man turned to stone! Whatever he is seeing, you can tell he damned well doesn't like it! He is not staring overly long when, without warning, Sparkle says in tavern-casualness, "Bria?"

Bria of the Ko has not been able to take her eyes off of these kobolds-become-shadows, but at the call of a friend, she spins, her long brown hair twirling in the wind.

"Methinks your mate could ussse your gentle dissstraction about now."

"Teleri" by The Lonely Mountain Band!


Bria gives a little gasp of discovery as she stares kindly at the seemingly-paralyzed Wayward Wanderer that is her handsome boyfriend. Despite the terrible scene about you, Bria of the Ko seems to give him a moment all their own as she stops and smiles at Otiorin. She seems to know what is happening to him, and if she doesn't, her sandaled feet carry her step-by-step to him as if to say, "I don't know how to save these dear kobolds, but you, my love, are another story."

Bria steps up to Otiorn, who mechanically turns his head, and only his head, to her as bright beams of starlit silver flash from his eyes like twin comets traveling through a night sky. Bria steps up face-to-face with him. Then she gets up on her tippie-toes so that her face is level with his. Then she gives him a nice kiss right on the lips and whispers something only for him.

Immediately, Otiorin returns to himself. It is as if she had cast Stone-to-Flesh on a man transformed by some hideous medusa. Otiorin is back to himself, his roguish eyes no longer glowing. Whatever black spell was holding him... is gone not to return.
 

jaydude

Four Thousand Club
In Alisa's time as a Paladin, such little wishes though wishes they be, have never produced any result she could ever tell. Instead, prayer was key. To ask with soul-felt humility from the Goddess of the Forest was better - to have acted in her name or be prepared to sacrifice something in Her name exceeded this. In Alisa's worst times, she had evidence - clear and true - that something from somewhere else, likely spiritual creatures devoted to ageless Mielikki were trying to aid Alisa and far more often than not, they had succeeded. But this was not Alisa's worst times, but someone else's entirely.

Clearing her mind of distractions through the meditations and remembering of scriptures written in Her name were the way to putting aside one's own feelings and using the revealing power of Detect Evil, at least according to the Highwindian faithful who also worshipped the Evergreen Lady. However Alisa chooses to approach this, immediately, Alisa feels a great uneasiness - a horrid presence like a powerful stench permeating from everywhere but not a feeling felt with the nose, but through her very heart. The land itself was not wrong, the trembling kobolds, Nitwit and crew included, had no taint of diabolic intent in them - to a reptile, they were not evil.

But the air all around Alisa felt thicker by the moment. A strange... trail of sorts then became clear to her as she enters the third stage of using her Goddess-given ability. Slowly, almost as if turned by gentle and firm hands she cannot see, Alisa turns (or is turned) to her left until she gazes at the hills against the valley not far away... and the three gaping caverns that seem to swallow the morning light with an awful glee.

Then she is "let go." Free. On her own again to do as she will. For while the Goddess of the Hunt had her own opinions, ever was she willing to let the people who loved her do as they would.

So deep is Alisa into these meditations and their findings that she has not heard the brown-furred Druidess about twice her size and four times her weight approach. There, clad in new-looking red armor with feline-slit eyes to match is Mamapaw. Alisa hears a deep throaty growl emerge and then pass inside of the huge cat-woman's throat - it is a clear sign her fellow Mielikkian does not like what she feels here. It is an emotion she gives voice to.

"Alisa," Mamapaw's voice is deep and worried, her eyes wide-eyed, yet not fearful. "What has She shown you? Why have you turned so to those caves?"
"I sensed a great taint of evil within the air here. It led towards those caves." Alisa answered, turning back to look at the caves in question. "I fear that whatever caused all this destruction went over there after it was done."
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
jaydude jaydude Psychie Psychie

Mamapaw's ears and eyes widen and the white whiskers on her face fan upwards in surprise. The Shamballan feline's tail swishes back and forth as she turns and calls out just audible enough to get a certain Wood Elf's attention (and anyone near Oreleth). "Oreleth? Alisa has made a... discovery."
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
Oreleth looks over in the direction that Mamapaw and Alisa are pointing, turning her own keen eyes to take in the details. "Wayward Wanderers, we have a potential source of the deadly malaise that has struck these poor kobolds. We came here to stand up and help those that cannot help themselves, to place ourselves in the line of fire to protect the innocent and needy. It looks like our path will lead us into the caves, but before we go, let's try to get some information from these little guys, assuming that we can get through to them."

She looks around at the team, continuing with, "Even we cannot get much from the kobolds, we still have made our commitment to help. Now, lets see what we can find out before we run headlong into the caves. Bria? You have the softest touch of all of us. Could you please try to break through the depression of the kobolds and get them to talk? Anything at all you can find out will be a help. Alisa, Otiorin, what can you share with us that your own special senses have discovered?"

As she talks, she tries to get a look at the tracks around the area, hoping to determine the type of creature that made the footprints, and the numbers of beings involved.

Attacks per Round:
1st - Manyshot (firing two arrows). "To Hit:" +18 (+20 First Attack, -2 Rapid Shot). Damage: 2d8+12 (+6 Base damage).
2nd - Improved Vital Strike. "To Hit:" +13 (+15 Second Attack, -2 Rapid Shot). Damage: 3d8+6 (Improved Vital Strike, +6 Base damage).
3rd - Normal Attack. "To Hit:" +8 (+10 Third Attack, -2 Rapid Shot). Damage: 1d8+6
4th - Rapid Shot Bonus Attack. "To Hit:" +18 (+20 First Attack, -2 Rapid Shot). Damage: 1d8+6
+1d6 per arrow of either Cold, Fire or Electrical from Arcane Archer class.

-3 to hit/+6 Damage from Deadly Aim
Hit Points: 91 +d10 per level
Action Points: 11 / 11
Bonus Action Point: 1 / 1
Diamond of Fate: 1

Armor Class: 24
CMD: 26
Fort Save: +9
Reflex Save: +13
Will Save: +6 (+11 vs Fear)
Perception: +15

Spells Memorized
Cantrips: Mage Hand, Detect Magic, Ray of Frost, Message
1: Shield x2, Shocking Grasp x2, Burning Hands
2: Flaming Sphere, Glitterdust x2, Web
3: Fireball x2
+3 damage to Evoker spells.
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Luna looks troubled. "Well, I can say for certain that there is no magic in use here besides what is working from us. It is not a spell cast upon them."
Level: 13
Class: Wizard
Hit Points: 74 +1d6
Action Points: 11 / 10
Diamond of Fate: 1

Armor Class: 18 - 24 Mage Armor II. +2 from Ring of Force Shield
Touch AC: 14 Flat Footed: 22

Initiative Bonus: 2
Fortitude Save: +6
Reflex Save: +7
Will Save: +16

Base Attack: +6 / +1
Melee: +4 / -1
Ranged: +8 / +3

Extended Mage Armor II active for the next 26 hours

Spells memorized:
Cantrips (4): Mage Hand, Light, Detect Magic, Read Magic
1 (7): Magic Missile x4, Shield x2, Unseen Servant
2 (7): Web x2, Protection From Arrows x2, Glitterdust x2, Scorching Ray
3 (6): Haste x2, Fireball x2, Slow, Lightning Bolt
4 (5): Empowered Scorching Ray x3, Ball Lightning x2
5 (5): Cone of Cold x2, Empowered Fireball x2
6 (4):
7 (2): Prismatic Spray, Mage Sword

+7 damage to all Evoker spells
 

Captain Hesperus

Harbinger of the End Times and Apostle of Ghan
Administrator
Supporter
Otiorin Taletreader

“Aye,”, Oti spoke up at last, “there is no magic at work here, save what we have brought. These poor people have been compelled to strict obedience by overwhelming fear and threat. Look at this place, what used to be a town. No structure still stands, no item of property remains intact. These Kobolds were overwhelmed by a force so great they could never resist and their every possession was destroyed. Thereafter, perhaps after a few ‘object lessons’, they were put within this circle and likely told if they dared raise so much as a head toward the edge of the ring, they would suffer the same fate as their home. Creatures of true evil did this.”

The Half-elf shuddered as if ice water had been dumped on his head and his hands slowly closed around the hilts of his thornblades.
“I shall end the lives of the ones who enacted this atrocity.”
 
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Kaerri

Dannigan's Lady
Administrator
Supporter
Roleplay Availability
Roleplay Type(s)
Kaerri-by-peritwinkle-sm.png

Art by Peritwinkle
Character sheet
Hit Points: 99/99
Armor Class: 27
Touch Armor Class: 17
Shadow Illusion: 3/3
Shadow Call: 2/2
Shadow Jump distance: 80/80 feet
Defensive Roll: 1/1
Rogue Talent Resiliency: 1/1
Stinger -- uses of Slow remaining: 3/3
Charm of Bastet -- uses of Cat's Grace remaining: 1/1
Action Points: 14
"Giants," Kaerri nods, and points out the tracks she's been inspecting to Oreleth. "Not sure what kind, but I haven't seen tracks this big since I was in Gladsheim, and giantish for sure. We've got a big fight on our hands coming up." It's a joke, but like most, the humor is mixed with truth -- the fact of that fight definitely being, by their own will, in their future (as opposed to trying to avoid it). Though less grim, the shadowdancer is no less determined than the others to end the evil that's been done here. "Once we're ready to go, I'd say let's leave the wagon here, with some of us to guard it," she suggests to Oreleth. "Even if all the giants are in those caves and we can keep them from coming back, something else might show up, and these poor guys are in no shape to defend themselves."
 

jaydude

Four Thousand Club
Alisa shook her head when Oreleth spoke to her. "I cannot say much right now. Only that those responsible for this atrocity have likely headed for those caves."

She gave a nod of agreement to Kaerri's statement. "Those giants wrought harm upon those who would have called this forest their home. They have a lot to answer for."
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
With her eyes welling up with tears, Luna goes over to Nitwit, drops to her knees and pulls the little guy into her arms for a hug. "Oh, Nitwit, I am so very sorry that your people are so hurt! We will make this right, I swear it! Your people will not suffer under the yoke of these giants while we all still draw breath!" She sniffles a bit, letting the kobold go so she can reach in her robes for a handkerchief to wipe her nose.

With that done, she stands and takes a deep breath, then in a very stern tone of voice she says, "To quote a good friend of mine, those giants will get it in da faaaacceee! Big time!"
Level: 13
Class: Wizard
Hit Points: 74 +1d6
Action Points: 11 / 10
Diamond of Fate: 1

Armor Class: 18 - 24 Mage Armor II. +2 from Ring of Force Shield
Touch AC: 14 Flat Footed: 22

Initiative Bonus: 2
Fortitude Save: +6
Reflex Save: +7
Will Save: +16

Base Attack: +6 / +1
Melee: +4 / -1
Ranged: +8 / +3

Extended Mage Armor II active for the next 26 hours

Spells memorized:
Cantrips (4): Mage Hand, Light, Detect Magic, Read Magic
1 (7): Magic Missile x4, Shield x2, Unseen Servant
2 (7): Web x2, Protection From Arrows x2, Glitterdust x2, Scorching Ray
3 (6): Haste x2, Fireball x2, Slow, Lightning Bolt
4 (5): Empowered Scorching Ray x3, Ball Lightning x2
5 (5): Cone of Cold x2, Empowered Fireball x2
6 (4):
7 (2): Prismatic Spray, Mage Sword

+7 damage to all Evoker spells
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
Oreleth nods. "I'm glad that we are all in agreement. There is just no other option than to help these people." She looks around at the devastation and heartbreak around them, then says, "We'll need to have someone stay behind to guard the Wagon and make sure that if any of the giants slip past the insertion team that the kobolds won't be left defenseless. I am thinking that Powerpaw is just the fuzzy goof to be able to stand his ground and keep the villagers safe, while Bria uses her healing touch to keep him going, along with trying to soothe the wounded hearts and minds of the villagers here. We would take Mamapaw with us, to aid with her magics and wisdom."

"Are there any other ideas that someone would like to suggest?" Oreleth looks expectantly at the others, looking for feedback.
Attacks per Round:
1st - Manyshot (firing two arrows). "To Hit:" +18 (+20 First Attack, -2 Rapid Shot). Damage: 2d8+12 (+6 Base damage).
2nd - Improved Vital Strike. "To Hit:" +13 (+15 Second Attack, -2 Rapid Shot). Damage: 3d8+6 (Improved Vital Strike, +6 Base damage).
3rd - Normal Attack. "To Hit:" +8 (+10 Third Attack, -2 Rapid Shot). Damage: 1d8+6
4th - Rapid Shot Bonus Attack. "To Hit:" +18 (+20 First Attack, -2 Rapid Shot). Damage: 1d8+6

+1d6 per arrow of either Cold, Fire or Electrical from Arcane Archer class.
-3 to hit/+6 Damage from Deadly Aim

Hit Points: 91 +d10 per level
Action Points: 11 / 11
Bonus Action Point: 1 / 1
Diamond of Fate: 1

Armor Class: 24
CMD: 26
Fort Save: +9
Reflex Save: +13
Will Save: +6 (+11 vs Fear)
Perception: +15

Spells Memorized
Cantrips: Mage Hand, Detect Magic, Ray of Frost, Message
1: Shield x2, Shocking Grasp x2, Burning Hands
2: Flaming Sphere, Glitterdust x2, Web
3: Fireball x2
+3 damage to Evoker spells.
 

jaydude

Four Thousand Club
Alisa gave a shake of her head. "Your plan works well enough. I'm ready to head into the caves whenever." she replied.
 

Kaerri

Dannigan's Lady
Administrator
Supporter
Roleplay Availability
Roleplay Type(s)
Because I forgot to put it into my last post after Dann and I talked about it:
Earlier, in the wagon, after Kaerri heads into the main room...

Kaerri comes out with her hair tied into rather a messy knot at the back of her head. It's clear she tried to pin it up herself, and also that she's not at all used to having hair this long. Hairpin in hand, with her rainbow hair already trying to unknot itself, she spots Bria and beelines for her. "Help," she says, smiling ruefully, and points at her head with the hairpin. "It doesn't have to be fancy, just tidy and out of the way."


- - - - -
Now...

Kaerri nods. "Sounds good to me. D'you want me to scout on ahead, or should we stick together?"
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Luna looks over at the elf and nods. "I like this plan. Especially since it involves me throwing flaming death in their faces. I'm good with this."
Level: 13
Class: Wizard
Hit Points: 74 +1d6
Action Points: 11 / 10
Diamond of Fate: 1

Armor Class: 18 - 24 Mage Armor II. +2 from Ring of Force Shield
Touch AC: 14 Flat Footed: 22

Initiative Bonus: 2
Fortitude Save: +6
Reflex Save: +7
Will Save: +16

Base Attack: +6 / +1
Melee: +4 / -1
Ranged: +8 / +3

Extended Mage Armor II active for the next 26 hours

Spells memorized:
Cantrips (4): Mage Hand, Light, Detect Magic, Read Magic
1 (7): Magic Missile x4, Shield x2, Unseen Servant
2 (7): Web x2, Protection From Arrows x2, Glitterdust x2, Scorching Ray
3 (6): Haste x2, Fireball x2, Slow, Lightning Bolt
4 (5): Empowered Scorching Ray x3, Ball Lightning x2
5 (5): Cone of Cold x2, Empowered Fireball x2
6 (4):
7 (2): Prismatic Spray, Mage Sword

+7 damage to all Evoker spells
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
Captain Hesperus Captain Hesperus Tag!

(OOC: Catching up with notable things)

"Giants," Kaerri nods, and points out the tracks she's been inspecting to Oreleth. "Not sure what kind, but I haven't seen tracks this big since I was in Gladsheim, and giantish for sure. We've got a big fight on our hands coming up." It's a joke, but like most, the humor is mixed with truth -- the fact of that fight definitely being, by their own will, in their future (as opposed to trying to avoid it).
Something to ponder.

To those adventurers out there who are still getting into their careers, to say "...since I was in Gladsheim..." is quite a telling statement indeed. Gladsheim! Home of the Norse gods! Most beings here on Averlund and perhaps Sharseya over will never see such sights in all their lives - the Rainbow Bridge that spans the reaches from the world to Asgard, the towering snowy mountain homes of the terrifying giants of Jotunheim, the home of Asgardian High Elves, and more legends than some cultures have children to hear them. These are the realms of the gods themselves - few mortals anywhere tread these grounds, know these songs firsthand, and take their breaths upon the snow-laced, blood-drenched eternal battleground called... Gladsheim!

Of course, it is for each of you to decide what this means to your characters or if it means anything at all. =)

* * *​

With her eyes welling up with tears, Luna goes over to Nitwit, drops to her knees and pulls the little guy into her arms for a hug. "Oh, Nitwit, I am so very sorry that your people are so hurt! We will make this right, I swear it! Your people will not suffer under the yoke of these giants while we all still draw breath!" She sniffles a bit, letting the kobold go so she can reach in her robes for a handkerchief to wipe her nose.

With that done, she stands and takes a deep breath, then in a very stern tone of voice she says, "To quote a good friend of mine, those giants will get it in da faaaacceee! Big time!"
"AAAHHH!" Nitwit freezes in place as the much-taller and larger human Luna reaches out to hug him. This gets the attention of his little band and the dozens of his mostly motionless kin inside the ring drawn into the earth. Nitwit clenches his teeth as Luna sniffles. Sparkle the Pseudo-dragon leans over from Luna's shoulder and says something soothing to Nitwit in Draconic.

"Relaaax. Ssshe is not attempting to eat or kill you. Thisss isss what humansss call... a hug."

"Oh?" Nitwit gulps and tries to relax. He even succeeds a little.

As Luna stands and makes her declaration, Nitwit lets out a whoosh of relief. He seems vastly more confused now than before, but somehow his motions and expressions are lightened. "Uhhh. Thanky?" he squeaks with a little smile and wag of his tiny tail.

* * *​

Because I forgot to put it into my last post after Dann and I talked about it:
Earlier, in the wagon, after Kaerri heads into the main room...

Kaerri comes out with her hair tied into rather a messy knot at the back of her head. It's clear she tried to pin it up herself, and also that she's not at all used to having hair this long. Hairpin in hand, with her rainbow hair already trying to unknot itself, she spots Bria and beelines for her. "Help," she says, smiling ruefully, and points at her head with the hairpin. "It doesn't have to be fancy, just tidy and out of the way."
Earlier...

At the word, 'help," Bria is already stopping what she is doing (in this case, carrying a basket of recently-folded washables) and looking about for the source of the request. THen Bria does a double-take, first to identify who it is that is approaching her (for in truth her senses take a moment to remind her that, yes! This is Kaerri Rain-bow-shadow! At least... until the potion's magic wears off... right?) and secondly, at the exploded tanglefoot bag that Kaerri's knot somewhat resembles.

"Ohhh, Kaerri... give me just a--" Bria is already turning to skooch around Kaerri. Then she gets a little too close and pauses with a gulp as she finds herself but a foot from the algae-green trident of unknown age and unchangeable purpose. Her brown eyes widen as she beholds the unquestionable majesty with its four golden tines gleaming (three atop in a row, one large tine at its base).

"Um. Uh. Hi Wave!"

As always, Kaerri has unconsciously moved the sacred trident as far away as possible, but Bria of the Ko cannot help but smile and grimace at the same time, full in the knowledge as she is of what takes place to those who touch, even accidentally, the trident of Poseidon.

Wave's voice is low and rumbling like the tossing of the sea. "Fear not, gentle heretic. You have proven yourself a most boon ally of my wielder. Who else could she turn to for such feminine catastrophes as this?"

"Oh! I have to agree," Bria goes right back to playing with Kaerri's hair. "Uhm, you've... really done a number here. Are you sure you don't want Oti on this? I mean, he's better at disarming traps than I'll ever be..." Then her eyes glance to a copper band crowned by a single smooth ruby upon her ring finger. "Oh!" comes her little shriek. "Before I forget! Your ring!" Bria slips off the Ring of Warmth belonging to Kaerri and hands it to her before returning her attention to Kaerri's mess. "Thank you sooo much! I can't tell you how handy it's come in! Especially in Pohjola! What a bitter place!"

"Pohjola?" Wave murmurs.

"You know? Loviatar's home realm? I mean, Loviatar also makes her den in Gehenna, but wow... talk about a place I'd like not to go back to anytime soon. Unless... of course... there are people who... you know... need aid there. Then I'd... Like these kobolds! I'm so glad we found them." Bria continues as she focuses completely on Kaerri's hair. It seems, little by little, she is getting somewhere.

Kaerri's Player is now free to return that item (or rather, update its note) on Kaerri Rainshadow's Character Sheet. =)
 
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Kaerri

Dannigan's Lady
Administrator
Supporter
Roleplay Availability
Roleplay Type(s)
Earlier...
"Oh! I have to agree," Bria goes right back to playing with Kaerri's hair. "Uhm, you've... really done a number here. Are you sure you don't want Oti on this? I mean, he's better at disarming traps than I'll ever be..." Then her eyes glance to a copper band crowned by a single smooth ruby upon her ring finger. "Oh!" comes her little shriek. "Before I forget! Your ring!" Bria slips off the Ring of Warmth belonging to Kaerri and hands it to her before returning her attention to Kaerri's mess. "Thank you sooo much! I can't tell you how handy it's come in! Especially in Pohjola! What a bitter place!"
Kaerri grins. "Oh yeah, that. Glad it was useful! Which reminds me, d'you want your featherfalling ring back? Prob'ly borrowed it off you the same time you borrowed mine, so it seems fair to trade it back now." She offers the ring over her shoulder while Bria works on getting her rainbow-colored hair into a more presentable shape.
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
Captain Hesperus Captain Hesperus Tag! =)

(Part 1 of 2 - I'll cover "Earlier" here and "Now" 1 and 2 in my next post. O.K., this'll be a 3-parter. Sorry to spam! Part 1 of 3.)

Earlier...

Bria's face goes through a number of expressions, most of them involving pondering. "Oh, I don't know. I mean, among us Ko, the one who needs most receives. Remember when you visited how we didn't even have a monetary system? That's the way it's always been!" Bria takes a breath as she focuses on making progress. "Your hair is so pretty! How do I get hair like this?! So... between the two of us, who is in more danger of falling to their doom?"

Just then, Kaerri's own shadow changes its pose and rises from the floor. She stands calmly and seemingly carefree as she tosses its own long hair and speaks like a person who lets little bother her. "That's easy, Bria," says Eris. "You are. Kaerri's got a number of ways to not squish to her death including Shadow Jumping or her intelligent rope. What've you got?"

"Um, I have two Spells that allow me to defy gravity?"

"And if you can't cast 'em?"

"Er... ker-splat?"

Eris raises a black fist. "An' there ya have it! Kaerri's got more tricks up her sleeve than a sunny-sweet angel like you."

Bria smiles at the compliment. "Well, I suppose that's why Kaerri should own a Ring of Warmth. I can sew glamoured clothes that can keep me warm! Which reminds me - Kaerri, do you want me to get started on making you a glamoured dress or outfit? I mean, Luna seems to love hers!" Bria pauses and takes out a worn hairbrush from her pack. Then she just about squeals as she gets to work preparing the half-elf's now-untangled hair. "Huh! There! Now what kind of style would you like it in? I'm loving this - there's sooo much you can do with all this hair now, Kaerri!"

(OOC: The Ring of Feather Falling has been returned to Bria's inventory.) =)
 
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Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
(Part 2 of 3)

Now (with the Wayward Wanderers sans Kaerri)...

Now (this takes place in accordance with what your Party Leader has declared in Adventurers' Table)... =) The party is effectively split into two with Kaerri making her way with shadows toward the three great cave mouths that yawn from the edge of the valley just north of what was once the humble hamlet of the Kobolds of the Silver Sun. The Wayward Wanderers are some distance behind Kaerri Rainshadow.

As the Wayward Wanderers follow Kaerri toward the three great caves, it becomes distinctively clear which of the three the giants moved into as their crushing footprints have scarred the landscape, flattening everything in their path in their way inside. The Wayward Wanderers see the shadows seem to swallow up one of the last remaining half-elves alive. Then Kaerri is gone and vanished soundlessly into the center cave like a drifting dream leaving the recently-awakened.

Two things take place as the Wayward Wanderers give Kaerri the space they decided on for her to scout well ahead:

* * *​

"Click" goes the fantastically-built leathery belt around Mamapaw's waist, put there by Powerpaw's paws. "Ooh!" Mamapaw straightens as its magic seeps into her being. And then, her son hands her the Maul of the Titans. Ever the worrier, Mamapaw looks sorry for taking it.

"Son, I don't know about this."

"Well, I do, mom!" Powerpaw argues. "Wif me an' Bria guardin' da wagon, you guys don't have a front line no more! I'm bettin' Alisa here can't hold giants back by herself an' Oti even less so! Dat means if da line breaks, yer it!" Still Mamapaw has her worried face on, her whiskers drooping. "An' besides! Yer facin' giants, mom! Do it fer da kobolds! We ain't got giants in Shamballah! I've seen 'em here in Averlund - 'big' don't start ta describe a single giant an' you guys are walkin' on more dan one! You guys are gonna need da biggest smacker you kin get! Bren would agree, dese bein' enemies of Mielikki an' all."

"You... didn't call her 'Likki-face' this time."

Powerpaw pats his mom on the shoulder. "Well, I'm askin' you ta listen ta me; least I kin do is listen ta you when ya says ta call her Mielikki, mom." They share a big hug and Powerpaw returns with his spare maul to stand beside the wagon. "An' don' worry 'bout us, you guys! Unlike da horsies we used ta have, dese here jade hippogriffs were built for more dan jus' pullin' wagons!" He pats the huge stone golems confidently.

* * *​

Bria gives Otiorin a big hug of her own before they separate. "You be careful in there, my scoundrel," Bria kisses Otiorin and looks up into his eyes. "This will be your first time out without the Moonlit Edge, Sunfire Blade, and me. I've fought giants before," the cute and harmless Healer tells him with complete confidence in her expression. "They play by their own rules, be they Hill Giants, Stone, Cloud, Frost, Fire, Storm, or even something else. So keep them playing your game instead, O.K.?"

When finally they disengage, she says, "Oh and wish me luck! I'm going to try and get the kobolds to take refuge in the wagon. They'll be so much safer and happier sitting around the Grand Pool with food and drink." Bria immediately begins to kindly beseech the despairing Tribe of the Silver Sun to do just that, but they pay her no mind and do not even look their way. Starved, scared out of their minds, and wretched-looking, they appear to do their level best to ignore her.

Powerpaw gets annoyed. "Bria, can'tcha see? You'se wastin' yer time! Dey ain't gonna listen to ya!"

Bria shoots the fearless gladiator a serious look - the kind of look one gives when they speak from their very soul. "Fuzzy Goof, even if they don't listen, even if they stay, even if they should die right now - each of them is going to know - someone in Sharseya honestly loves them!" Then she turns back and continues.

Powerpaw can't help but grin proudly at her. "Bouncin' Bastet, dere's only one Bria!"
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
(Part 3 of 3)

Now (with Kaerri)...

As Kaerri descends alone into the center cave, the light of the fair sun and the sweetness of fresh tree-touched wind fades and becomes quickly replaced by motionless air, dry and joyless. Darkness cloaks about her until even her rainbow eyes, skin, and hair join it in complete and utter blackness. Vegetation in the form of light moss is the only sign of life down here. Kaerri treks on. Thirty yards becomes forty and then fifty.

Kaerri quickly learns that whatever once ruled these great caverns was much taller and much stronger than any human or elf or anything in between. Wide, massive steps are carved into the earth that slopes down, down into the gaping tunnels, each ten times her height in the least. Her Darkvision tells her the beginnings of of craggy stalactites that hang from the ceiling like huge rocky teeth and rows of stubby stalagmites that one day might prove equally long in the tooth. It proves well that the Wayward Wanderers are not near her for she can faintly hear them, and if she can, who or what else might also?

Most of the trek is straight and descending. If one were to roll a boulder from the entrance, no doubt it would make its way here and bounce beyond. Wave, in her hand, casts no light and the cold, welcome feeling of Eris the Dead Shadow is silent and ever-near. Making less sound than a stalking wolf, Kaerri begins to hear murmurings that caverns do not make and rustlings not born of cavern crickets or mosses never touched by living hands. Deep throaty voices, low and rumbling and somehow powerful, carry to her pointed ears. The words are hushed and yet hurried. Soon, Kaerri hears what sounds to be something akin to an argument, and in a tongue she knows as taught to her friends among the Highwind minotaurs, but in a dialect no minotaur on Sharseya has ever uttered. The giant-speak is, at first, difficult to make out as the use of words sounds old like cloud-touching mountains and clear like untasted underground water. There is something refreshing to the language but also.... dangerous... in its heavy tones.

Yet, as Kaerri comes closer and therefore nearer to comprehending the tongue, her eyes flick out and in the lightless world, she sees... movement. Kobolds!

Not twenty paces away stand four silent kobolds, their draconic features staring and fear-filled, weary-souled, and standing on spear-thin legs that seem to barely hold them upright. The kobolds are looking right toward the way which Kaerri has come and yet, they look directly past her. Kaerri is sure she is undetected. For now.

For her to see the speakers, she will have to move alongside these sorry-looking kobolds who stand in a line along the cavern with no armor, no weapons, just a pair of empty pots and pans in their scraggly, knotted paws. Fortune favors her a touch as the voices of the speakers rise in volume and are thus more easily detected. Detected... and understood!

"My lord! It is not my fault!" Kaerri hears a giant say in their old-sounding and strange dialect. "They all should have been here!"

"Nor mine!" another defends. "I can count as high as any other and I know when eight are missing!"

"Well, you two are not pinning the blame on me!" warily warns a third. "They are not stuffed into my bags or down digesting in my gullet! One of you probably sat on them!"

"Enough!" shouts a commanding voice, firm and powerful, slower speaking, and tinged with age. "You promised me sixty slaves. I count only fifty-two among the dead and living. Perhaps the three of you will enjoy filling the roles of the missing?"

That is when the real pleading begins! Kaerri knows sounds of genuflecting when she hears them as huge armored knees fall to the earth and great hands pat the floor in repeated bids for mercy while their tongues wag on and on.

Then without warning, Wave sends urgent alarm-filled thoughts into Kaerri's mind. "Mine wielder! Give thought to putting me aside! Mine presence endangers thee!"

What does Kaerri Rainshadow do?
 

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