Date: Fireday, Pharast 20 - early spring
Time: Half an hour before sunset
Place: Westchapel, half a day's ride west of the Bastion
Weather: Cloudy, with the promise of rain on the horizon
Behind those mighty double doors, you'll find an ear that listens, a mind that understands, and a voice that guides you through the times ahead. Just don't disturb the man's prayers.
That, at least, is what the locals, sometimes reluctantly, told you when you asked them about the Westchapel - residence of Ivan Dorsley, humble priest in Pharasma's service. They say that he cares for the people around him, and listens to all, no matter where their paths have led them before. A voice of reason and cooperation, where the world likes to only see the extremes. The right man to talk to for all of you, though for reasons as diverse as your ancestries. Or so you've heard.
You're close, and the time is about right. You heard that the priest spends Oathday - yesterday - over at the Bastion, getting his fair share of rumors, news and politics. On Fireday, he returns around midday, locks himself in for a few hours of prayer, and then opens the doors of this holy place for weary travellers and those who seek his guidance. A good day to arrive, or so you've figured - coming from different places, and different directions.
Renna is approaching from the west, following Brennen's Road - main connection between Northcrown, and the Bastion. The former is where the last part of your journey began, a week ago - the latter is your ultimate destination. Despite the rain during the last few days, the road is still in decent condition; you wouldn't want to imagine what it's like on the beaten tracks that you spotted every now and then, on both sides of the road. Even worse, imagine travelling through the Four Horsemen; a hill formation with four distinct peaks, all rocky and goblin-infested from what you've heard. Not suitable to travel on horseback, either. Brennen's Road winds all the way around it, in safe distance; the only part where your mercenary escort was somewhat on edge, though not too worried. The two brutes and their opposite, an unarmed, cheerful lady who negotiates for the Redfurs, well-known for their services in the south in general and for House Talbert in particular, have left you half an hour ago, turning south to meet their comrades. The remaining path is safe, from what they said. Your arrival here, without trouble, supports that notion.
Benji is arriving from the west as well, though not following Brennen's Road. Being closer to the population than any arrogant noble could ever be surely has its advantages, sometimes. The old farmer who allowed you to spend the night in his home told you about a path further north that usually allows for quicker travel. An hour at least, maybe more; the weather, however, has not been in your favor. The trail is muddy, and you had to dismount twice to lead your horse through the worst of the mess that several rainy days in a row can leave behind, in a forest. Still, with the weather being your only problems, things could be much worse - and there's always that distinct feeling in the back of your mind that you're headed in the right direction... for what purpose, exactly, only Calistria knows, though there should be enough opportunities even without her guidance. Where change happens, there are opportunities. The chapel, though devoted to another deity, should be a good first place to begin - besides, it's a chance to get your boots dry, once more.
Nyx is arriving from the south-west - which means descending right from the Four Horsemen, after climbing and trudging through a territory that can only be described as hostile. Locals told you about the path that allows you to avoid a day of travel, at least; they failed to tell you about the path itself. Sharp stones that cut into hooves and hands. Gurgling creeks, fed by the last few days' rain, making paths impassable. The silent stares from the shadows, quiet laughter of creatures too cowardly to raise a weapon against the sight that you present. At last, you reentered the forests this morning, and had an almost pleasant travel ever since. The path may be muddy, but at leats not flooded. The feew insects that already buzz through the air migth be annoying, but don't carry daggers that might step you in the back in a moment's notice. Still, a place to rest would be nice, and that's exactly what you see ahead; the chapel. Lord Orwyn spoke highly of the priest here, and his church in general - while often neutral, they usually have the right thing in mind, and this man in particular. That, at least, is what your mentor said; it's been more than a decade since the two last met.
Grit is arriving all the way from the north-east; on the back of your mighty weasel, you've made your way through a mostly uncivilised area, only finding a few secluded huts and farms near the tracks. Not unlike the place where you found your boomstick, only that crops and herbs are way less exciting than burnt-down ruins. Thus far, the trip has been surprisingly uneventful. You know the weather of these areas; at this time of the year, the Devil Ranges, as the people here call your home, are full of overflowing creeks and trickles, fed by the inevitable rain of these months. From a gunslinger's perspective, that's a hassle; if anyone ever says kobolds are unable to look after something, they should really see you now, taking care that your powder stays dry and usable. Oh well - today is a dry day, though that might change; at least, the chapel is finally in sight, waiting to offer its protective roof as shelter if what you heard is true. Its patron deity, reigning over birth and death, is not one your kind frequently worships - staying neutral in most regards, she rarely offers power. That said, knowledge and wisdom are also hers, and it might be her insights that open the Bastion's doors for you.
No matter from where exactly you leave the surrounding forests, both evergreen and muddy, the sight does not differ by a lot. You all see the natural slope of the ground rising to form an unimposing hill, carrying the chapel's weight on its top. It's a mostly cube-shaped building, with a dome on top and large, colored windows that don't quite fit with its patron deity; the 'Lady of Graves', Pharasma. The surrounding area, however, does. About a dozen mounds can be spotted in the landscape around it, too regular to be natural. In some, you can see entryways leading underground, blocked by heavy doors and guarded by statues cut from blackened stone. Overgrown barrows, as you all can tell either from familiarity or hearsay, burial chambers dug into the soil. The paths you're following keep a respectful distance to them, and you see no sign of recent visits.
There'd be an eerie silence around the place, if not for a few noisy birds praising the sun, and the sounds of clashing steel from the chapel. Shouts, too, filled with anger, a single scream piercing through the surrounding quietness. You all recognize a fight when you hear one, that much you have in common. Can't be many people, from what you hear - from your positions, either the chapel itself or an old shack, the only other building in sight, block your vision.
Everyone, you arrive at the chapel from different directions, perhaps tired from the day's travels but with all prepared spells and the like available. Near the chapel, you hear the sounds of fighting. What do you do? Tell us whether, and if so, how you wish to approach, and what the others might see when you enter their vision.
Renna can feel the ache in her bones from the time spent on the road, and she is very much looking forward to getting to a good inn to find a hot meal and a soft bed. And a bath. Oh, a bath would be heavenly right now. A good soak in a hot tub of water to ease my tired body is worth whatever the extra cost that they may ask. Not to mention, her horse is probably in need of a good rubdown and a hefty helping of oats. Also a service worth every copper that the inn may ask.
Her thoughts are interrupted by the sounds of fighting, and Renna yanks her attention back to the here and now. What is going on? Someone may be in need of aid! Too bad Mordeth is not here; but if there is trouble, it takes so long for me to call him, I'll have to rely upon my other talents. She spurs her horse forward to bring her closer to the fighting to be able to asses the situation, her free hand going to her crossbow, just in case.
Nyx lets out a sigh at the sight of his destination, the image of finally getting off of the hard ground a welcome one. The trail up to this point was a hard one, even for him, and he really wants to get off of his hooves and rest in a place of safety. Nyx briefly touches the holy symbol of his chosen deity that is hanging around his neck and hopes that Lord Orwyn's good word will be enough to keep him from being evicted out into the night.
Then his ears hear the very distinct sounds of a fight going on, and not just a simple bar room brawl. Someone is using steel to drive home a point, and the young minotaur feels the need to investigate. The fight may not be any of his business, but if someone is in trouble, it is his duty to come to the aid of those in need.
Reaching over his shoulder, he pulls his shield off of his back and sets it in place on his arm, but does not yet draw his sword, but he does increase the pace of his steps to get him over to the fighting faster.
This muddy day was perfect. Sure, Weasel was a little muddy, but days like this meant a feast for him. Which is fortunate given that he wasnt about to approach the stables here. He learned from the few times he was mistaken as a raider. But it was fine.
Weasel would keep himself more than occupied outside of the city walls. The mud made it all the more easy to dig for grubs, and it knew better than to wonder off. Surely it would be fat by the time Grit returned.
He gave Weasel a pat and walked into town, looking a lot less threatening without his i intimidating mount.
Grit was wearing a poncho of raggedy rags over his tunic, and atop his scaley head was a wide brimmed straw hat. To keep him and his powder a bit dryer and the sun from his eyed. Both rags and straw hat nicked from a scarecrow that dared to look at him funny. He almost looked like a little farmer.
But no sooner was he a little ways in town than he heard the sounds of fighting. The two predominant feelings he felt was worry and curiosity. The latter one out. Plus! Maybe if the town was in danger (hopefully from a halfling or giant rat) he could win a few goody points and be showered with gold coins. Not likely. But it might make folk more likely to not throw him out by his tail for a change. That is... if they didnt think he was the cause of it just by being there.
On his quick little legs, he ran forth to investigate. Holding what looked kind of like a staff of metal and wood. Which was unassuming enough that no body really suspected it as a deadly weapon.
Mud wasn't a bad look. Benji looked down at his mud-encased boots with a small grimace but the curve of his seemingly ever-present smile was still in place. He didn't mind the turn in weather but very much didn't like to be dirty. It was a less-than charming look on the half-elf to say the very least. The feeling of warmth and determination filled his chest like never before. The listless life he was living up to this point all seemed like a distant past as his Goddess guided him to something much bigger. His horrible bitch of a mother. Though, the thought of the wench did bring up the picture of the woman he much rather had as a mother- the goddess herself, Nisha. It was a bittersweet feeling thining about that sweet swindler.
He was contemplating his lodgings as he entered the city with little concern about his surroundings. He had plenty of money for an actual bed. Yet, his love of performing tricks and singing had his divided on if he would set up shop to sing for money nearby. Mystically so, his thinking shifted to doing those performances near the chapel he wanted to go to anyways. That way he could at least see if anyone was there first. He was pretty bad with directions so he slowed his gait to speak to a person who resided in the town to ask where the place may be.
"You, handsome. Can you do me a favor and point me in the direction of the chapel? Or if you have time- I plan on a little singing if you want to hear. I am not the worst- and I can do a few tricks with a whip that may have you entertained at the very least. I am only charging a little coi-"
In the middle of his own variety of flirt-salesman act, the sounds of a scuffle hit his keen ears. Benji's attention moved from the man to the clear path to the chapel he was close to. Really, he should have been way more aware of his settings. Puffing a breath, he patted the man's shoulder with thanks and took off in a light sprint towards the action. He was not a fighter at all, but he loved a good bar fight. But this was at a chapel and the thought of priest fist-fighting brought a grin to his face. Really, if he missed the priests fighting- he may die.
Before we see what awaits at the chapel, another person should be mentioned; clothed in a dirty, worn-down coat, hurrying away from the chapel where you approach it. Only one of you has the fortune to meet him, for a moment - the path that Benji chose to take happens to be the one the man follows. Trying to pull an overloaded mule forward in haste - you'd bet that he earns his fortune as travelling merchant - the man has little time for the offers the priest of Calistria could make. Instead, he mumbles words of the world's end, devils and bloody lords into his mighty beard, and points in the one direction that, after spotting the chapel, clearly leads directly away from it, and right to where you came from. Inquiring, if Benji wishes to do so, yields little more than him hastening his steps and cursing in an unfamiliar tongue - whatever happens at the chapel, the man is clearly not eager to speak a single meaningful word about it. Whether that changes parts of your approach, let me know - I'll adapt accordingly.
Other than this one fleeing fellow, there's no other living being to be seen, as of yet; the sounds, however, begin to change as hooves and feet carry you all forward, approaching the chapel from different directions. At first, the fighting intensifies - more shouts, more clashing steel. Then, however, a second scream can be heard, high-pitched and piercing, and the noise seems to die down momentarily; then shouts take over as your approach is likely noticed, and men call for either retreat or 'the fricking devil's death'. The latter does make a bit more sense as the fight comes finally into view; or rather, the present stalemate as the parties involved try to make up their mind if the four of you mean either bad luck, or fortune.
The most striking person amongst those gathered is a woman, standing with her back towards the chapel's closed doors; the face shows youth, yet also more scars than most fighters assemble in their entire life. The hair, put in a ponytail, is mostly black, with a few red strands. Her robe displays the same colors, reversed. Certainly not the colors of Pharasma, that much is clear. The chest is protected by a breastplate, blackened steel covered in glowing, red runes. Arms and legs are surrounded by the very same kind of armor, the woman clearly came prepared for a fight.
The other side paid the price for it. Wearing furs and leather themselves, there's half a dozen men you'd call wild tribesmen, at first glance. Long hair and beards, skin covered in tribal tattoos, carrying knives and spears, one shortsword. A seventh fighter crawls away from the woman, holding his arm; an eighth lies close to her feet, motionless. Two spears are pointed at her, as if to keep her back, while the others hectically eye the four of you, and Nyx in particular, in shock. "The devil brought company", one shouts. "Kill her!", "Stop them!" and "Get out of here!" are responses.
Devil - while the woman looks human, you know why they call her that.
Grit, you've seen her kind, once or twice, showing near your tribe's north-eastern borders. They never attacked. They never traded. As far as you know, they never passed through the mountains, either. Still, the people here name your home after them, not your kind. Devil worshippers, the worst. Some might say they're not so different from your race, embracing slavery and order. Your kind, however, knows the difference between worshipping a mighty dragon on one hand, or a slippery, scheming personified evil on the other. The matriarch sent you here rather than to negotiate with their leaders.
Renna, you recognize the robes - being familiar with different groups is part of the Talbert's success. The one she wears hasn't been seen for ages within the kingdom's borders. They serve the Old Man, a devil worshipper who made a deal with the Lord of Hell. Exiled, now, they're usually not welcome, instead hunted down if they ever showed. Slavers, tyrants, foolish enough to deal with devils - cunning enough to still exist, despite that. Some within your family might silently admire them for their wits, but the official standpoint is clear - devils are not to be trifled with.
Nyx, you recognize one of the runes - the Archstar, a red pentagram on her breastplate. Symbolf of Asmodeus, the Lord of Hell, the Archfiend. There's other symbols, but you'd have to delve too deep into forbidden knowledge to even recognize those. The paladins of Iomedae still remember their battles against the Old Man, even though it has happened even before Lord Olwyn's accolade. Iomedae herself never deals with evil, where these men and women reach out for it.
Benji, you have heard rumors amongst the farmers and villagers, telling stories; that Lord Selvyn, protector of these realms, reached out to the devil worshippers in an attempt to defend the Bastion. Thus far, it only has been rumors; the place should be well-defended enough, there's no need for a deal with the devil. Her presence here, however, fits their description of what they'd look like; and would suggest that there's possible more to those rumors than most people thought.
Either way, her mace is covered in the blood of two men already. Yet, it does not seem like she intends to find a third; holding her position, glancing over both the four of you, and the tribesmen, wary of any sudden movement. And there's some of those. One man with a spear steps back, just a little. Another grabs his knife tighter, preparing for a throw. A third digs his foot into the ground, ready for a sudden leap.
Everyone - what do you do? There's a group of wild tribesmen, in a stand-off against a single cleric of evil. Perhaps, they might be back at it in a second, for the better or worse. You also manage to spot each other for the very first time, arriving one by one, yet almost simultaneously. Grit in the north, Benji in the north-west, Renna in the south-west, Nyx in the south, surrounding the fight with the chapel to the east and a run-down shack that might serve as stables a bit down the hill, to the west. The latter has seen better days; the kind of building that's meant to be temporary, yet serves its purpose for decades.
This was indeed very bad juju. For such a being to be down this far. Grit had no fondness for that devil tribe. Their ways villainous even by Kobold standards.
But the way the others were looking at him made him pretty nervous. "Wait wait! I am not with the devil woman!" The blue Kobold exclaimed as the tribesmen readied themselves.
Even though Grit could speak fluent common, he still had a fairly predominant draconic accent.
All he held was his boomstick, and given that he hoped they wouldn't recognize it as a weapon, he hoped they saw him as unarmed. With all these angry people here, he really didnt want to die. The presence of a minotaur really didnt help. Goodness now their were monsters here!
"This humble kobold just wishes to go to church. Can you not take this fight elsewhere?"
Before just jumping to a conclusion, Renna slowly and carefully studies the scene before her. This 'devil woman' doesn't seem to be initiating hostilities; just the opposite, in fact. It looks like that this woman has only tried to defend herself, and is not the aggressor in this fight. I wonder what is going on here?
She calls out, in a loud voice, "What is this? Eight of you against one of her? Why do you attack this woman? What has she done to you that would call for a call to arms against her?"
Trying a Diplomacy roll here. Not very good; a total of 9.
Nyx is not the diplomatic type. He is the 'hit-it-with-a-sword-over-and-over-again-until-it-is-dead' type. Even so, he does take a moment to look over the situation before just charging in. Lord Orwyn would be proud of his restraint. A part of him wants to draw his sword and immediately charge into the fight with the follower of Asmodus, but another side of him is hesitant. Then he hears the white-haired women on her horse call out to the hostile crowd, and he must concede that this devil worshiper is not on the offensive, but is standing still and letting the rabble come to her.
With his deep, rumbling voice, he says, "The rider speaks with wisdom. What is the cause of your hatred? Why are you attacking her?"
lol the huge brute of a minotaur is the most diplomatic of all! A total of 16.
Benji wasn't quite sure if this was his scene, so to speak. With his arrival at the commotion, it was easier to just walk away. He could think of a joke for this very scenario. "A lady, a mini-dragon, and a minotaur walk into a chapel. How many survive?" He said out loud as his eyes scanned the scene in front of him. It was clear it wasn't the group that was causing the commotion. Really, it seemed like they were trying to talk the antagonizers down. He could appreciate that.
His hand hovered near his whip but his body language seemed relaxed as he approached. He smiled brightly at the group and spoke up himself as the others attempted to detur the situation. "Clearly this fight isn't going how you want it to go. Cut your losses and come back later to try again. I mean, even the minotaur is being reasonable here, no offense." He looked to the hulking minotaur with a friendly smile. "Really, I haven't met many minotaurs in my day but I would hate to get on his bad side. So why don't you all just skip along and call it a draw, what do you say?"
He touched his chest and bowed slightly with earnest intention- he prayed to Calistria for guidance. He really didn't want to get muddy AND bloody.
He cast guidance on himself for this roll. He isn't sure if his diplomacy is really needed to add to this but by his words- which weren't the most friendly, he wants to sense their motives. Mostly, he wants to know if they truly want to continue fighting or not so he can be ready if they come at him or his new-found friends (especially the minotaur because suddenly he wants him to be his BFF). I will roll again for diplomacy if you want me to make that check as well.
Words of reason and deescalation - if nothing else, those are heard, at least. There's no sudden outburst of new aggression, no attempt to take a life from either side, for now. But no matter which words a kobold speaks - they still come from a kobold's mouth. And no matter how highly regarded a person might be elsewhere, it does not make a difference if noone gives a damn here. You're pretty sure that it's numbers, not reason, that lets the tribesmen reconsider their position - where there's been eight struggling against one, before, there's now four more, speaking against further violence in front of the chapel's doors. That alone shifts the tides - you can see it in the swordman's angry glare, and in the way the others eye him for guidance. Before he can respond, however, the armored woman finds words to speak.
"Draw is better than what they'd get back at home; not that they'd have the guts to cross the mountains, couldn't bring enough to outnumber us there." A clear, sharp voice fitted for command. "But your place, your rules. Can always discuss an emissary's rights later." Accompanied by a grim, scornful smile - her eyes once glance over the lifeless body near her feet. A quiet challenge to dare another act of aggression.
The gesture leaves enough time for the man to blurt out a response. "She doesn't belong, the devil. Even the kobold knows." Once the first few words are out, more follow easily. "Neither does he, or you, or that beast." His shortsword points at Grit, Renna and Nyx respectively as he speaks. In case of the minotaur, that gesture seems more reluctant, as if he considers Benji's advice to not provoke him at all. "Don't need ladies on high horses to solve our problems, or monstrosities roaming our lands." As he speaks the last words, his eyes seek the woman; seems like he considers her more of an abomination than Grit and Nyx combined. Even picks up the courage to spit out in front of her, a gesture only limited in its effect by the slow retreat of the other tribesmen around him. The wounded one limps away first; the others shuffle to cover his back, taking a more defensive stance around their leader.
"You see her kind, you crush them or they'll spread like a plague. Black knows that - your leaders forgot. You side with her, you'll have the blood on your hands." As he speaks those words, he regards Benji with an icy glare. "Better you go where you came from, let us deal with that vermin. Killed good men already." That's almost diplomatic, for what the man showed thus far.
It still earns him little more than a wider smile, and words. There is anger about the 'vermin'-part in her eyes, though. "Twice you tried - twice, you failed. Or what he calls a draw." A nod at Benji, then a look at Grit. "Came to visit the chapel, deliver an offer. Didn't come to preach, only for negotiations. Not forbidden, is it? Still enough to disrupt someone's fragile plans, I'd assume."
Benji, the tribesmen seem quite easy to read - they don't like the newest turn this situation took, and will likely bolt if the four of you don't intend to side with them. You're pretty sure that the leader won't just forget the others' and your intervention, no matter how this ends. He didn't seem to like the others' presence to begin with, and your words found little appreciation. The woman is harder to read; she seems restrained, but there's anger underneath that might surface, given the chance. She likely won't act first, but she'd be happy to strike if it comes to that.
Grit looked crestfallen. He really didn't want to be involved in this, let alone be seen siding with a devil person. And blamed for any future problems she may cause. Just great.
"Not forbidden. But you come without considering what you are. Very naive." The Kobold said, a little sour now. "As an emissary you bear the burdens of your kind. That we have not been stuck with many arrows before entering the village is more kindness than our peoples would show them."
Was he happy about being kicked and thrown out of places or even attacked in some cases? No. But he expected it. This devils pride seemed to prevent her from considering such a thing might happen. Grit at least had the good sense to run to keep the peace. Even if blasting a hole in a farmers chest would have been very easy.
The Kobold looked to the others. Well... at least he wasnt the only one being blamed for this. He would likely find it easy to be overlooked as just a vermin that couldnt threaten much. Fine by him.
"The chapel. It is the man within who we deliver our requests. They say he is not one to care who we are."
Nyx lets out a low, angry rumble. "I am hardly a beast. Those that would try to attack an emissary by outnumbering her eight to one are more fitting for that label. I know not what message she bears, but who are you to judge her? Iomeade teaches us that no man, no matter what their race, are free from sin. Disperse yourselves back to your homes and know this: If any of you raise your weapons against this woman except in self defense, I will cut you down myself. Now go! Before I show you how much a monster a truly righteous man can be when pushed!"
He does not pull his blade, but his hand does go to its hilt, showing that he is serious in his threat.
Wow. Benji really hated all this politics and prejudices. Back with the troupe, many people of different shapes and sizes would come together for a single purpose- and that was the money of course. What was his motivation now for stepping into the thick of things? No money could be seen- though perhaps he could charge the stoic lady with the blood on her weapon. He just knew he didn't like this sort of injustice and really, it may have been the exact situation Nisha would have spoke up in.
His eyes took in the tribesmen's posture before turning to the woman who wasn't giving him much to work with. He listened to the people as they spoke but it wasn't really sinking in. Devils? Plague? Hell, he was just a simple half-elf with major mommy issues trying to get by. He didn't have time for this shit.
Benji crossed his arms over his chest but seemed pretty relaxed despite the situation. His smile was warm still but his eyes as cold as emeralds as he spoke up. "Now look what you have done. My new friend and I are offended. I would leave quickly, though. I don't travel alone- I simply am the scout. My friends will not appreciate you upsetting me. A dozen and a half men and women-" his eyes moved to the woman with a wink, "who are employed by a mean high elf who will more than happy keep your heads as trophies. So, for your own safety, carry on and live to fight beautiful she-devils and fierce minotaurs another day. Hurry on now, get out of here." He shooed them with his hands. Man, he was lying out of his ass but he realllly didn't want to fight with this lot- even though it was tempting to see that minotaur in action. Wouldn't that be a story he could sing about for ages?
He is going to try to bluff his way into them believing he has reinforcement. If this doesn't work- he will be drooling while he watched the literal minotaur slay. Bluff is +8 (he knows his strengths lol)
HECK YEAH first natural one. Love it. 9 in total lol. He is not a good liar today.
The kobold's words earn a shrug and a scoffing smirk from the devil woman. "That's what they say, isn't it? Open to everyone who is willing to speak. And yet, there's this pathetic bunch, inclined to do a preselection. To be expected, that's true. That's why I came prepared." Her mace points at the dead body. "Some fights are avoidable, yet worth to be fought. Still - we'd allow them to speak their piece. I'd hoped for the same here, against better judgment."
Perhaps there's more words to be said, after that - but the others' actions take away any immediate chance for further comments. The minotaur, sharing the Inheritor's teachings, as well as delivering the threat of his prowess; it does not scurry the men away. Instead, something stirs underneath the surface, somewhere behind those petty eyes. A spark of resistance, of anger and rage. A spark that loathes those foreign teachings, and doesn't like being threatened on home soil. Benji's words, supposed to emphasize that feeding that spark is a bad idea - they achieve the exact opposite. Common sense and rational thoughts take a break as the leader does not retreat,but steps forward instead, his sword's end pivoting between Benji and Nyx; those behind him move to follow his sudden surge of courage. Some hesitant, others eager, only the wounded one limps away further. The spark has turned into a brightly lit flame.
"Listen, pals. This is our place. No chapel changes that, no priest, no Iomedae." Speaking of the deity, the man spits out as if the name alone would leave a foul taste. "You think you can drive us off like this, just because the beast found some steel and a few fancy words to speak? That ain't working. This is Black's wood, if you like it or not. Three elves yesterday. Four riders today, and three of them mercs riding south." For just a moment, his eyes rest on Renna - she's the forth. "That's all, weasel, no dozen to be found. We've got our eyes where your kind is blind like a mole. So don't you dare come here and speak your empty threats."
Needless to say, the mood has shifted. This man, for the better or worse, seems ready to fight despite the pointlessness of the attempt. The woman, in turn, tenses up herself. Her voice sounds overly calm as she speaks: "No empty threats from me. One against eight worked out well enough. You're down to six for the next round, it seems." That's icy water right onto the flames of resistance. For just a moment, the leader hesitates. Tries to stare down the devil worshipper, but only finds her undazzled glare. A moment of utter silence, long enough for the others to reconsider. One tribesman slowly backs out, another one follows. The rest is a game of numbers, and deadliness, and a minotaur. The swordsman loses spectacularly. With one last threat and a hateful glare, he retreats behind the others. It does not take a genius to understand that those assembled have made themselves an enemy, intentionally or not.
That leaves the four of you, and the woman in-between - she does not make a move to pursue the men. Instead, she bows before Renna, then gives the others a nod, approving. "Bloody cowards. The Old Man owes you for being rational, and I'll repay that debt, one day." A pause. "Zylia, servant of Asmodeus and Eiseth. I expected less diversity when I came here." Her eyes rest on Grit and Nyx, in particular. "When I arrived, the door was unlocked, but the priest was praying. I assume this turmoil might have interrupted his orisons."
Renna is not overly happy with rubbing elbows with a follower of Asmodeus, but she is glad that there is no longer any threat from the hostile crowd. Shouldering her crossbow, she says, "Well met, Zylia. I am Renna Talbert." Sliding down from her horse, she leads the equine over to a nearby hitch and wraps the reins around it. With a quick glance around her, she then says, "I am going to need a minute to get someone to keep watch on my horse so it doesn't get stolen. Do no worry; he won't hurt anyone."
With that, Renna begins to cast a ritual spell. It takes her just about a minute to complete, and as she does so, a small serpentine dragon appears! Well, small for a dragon, because it is easily longer than a person is tall. The dragon smoothly walks up to Renna and she reaches out and scratches at the scales on its head, and the dragon lets out a low rumble of pleasure. The horse doesn't seem to be worried by the sudden appearance, indicating that this is not a new thing for it to deal with.
"Mordeth, I am going inside to talk to the priest. Would you be so kind as to keep watch on the horse and make sure it is behaving itself while I'm inside?" Mordeth nods, and then it curls up next to the horse and lets out a snort. Renna smiles, and says, "Thank you, my friend. I'll make sure to give you a treat when I'm done, ok?" She is answered by another snort, and the dragon settles in to wait.
After another scale scratch, Renna walks up to the steps of the church and looks to Zylia and the others that stood up with her against the angry crowd. "I am ready to go in now. Shall we?"
Grit wrung his hands nervously around his stick as the social situation grew more tense. Instead of trying to make shushing motions to keep them from digging their grave, he instead began looking for a place to hide.
Thankfully, violence did not break out. Though he had a sneaking suspicion that the wildmen weren't above waiting to ambush them.
As much as he wanted to grovel and try to save himself from future repercussions by disassociating himself from the others here. It wouldnt be all that wise given things were already volatile.
After they left, the Kobold deflated, releasing a held breath. "When you come in peace, making enemies is not exactly... what's the word... productive? Last thing tribes like us need is more reason to be attacked. As an emissary, our work is cut out for us already."
To think he, the Kobold, was the one preaching peace over the devil woman. Then again, maybe it wasnt so surprising that a Kobold preferred more flighty methods.
"I am Grit of the Duggers. Champion of Queen Ixtenixil and Ambassador of Dragons." He introduced. Devil girl got to embellish herself, and he wanted to too. After all, it sounded better than Grit the Toolmaker, sent out to look for a dragon because he was the only one who knew common.
What the pale haired said made him worry about his Weasel. It would indeed be wise given the recent enemies they made.
The Kobold let out sharp and quick whistle to summon his mount to them. And for the large vermin to come bounding up, covered in mud and with a mouthful of grub guts. (If the tribesmen didnt kill or kidnap the poor thing)
Grit ran his fingers through its fur on its neck and ordered it to stay with a command in the draconic language.
"I wish to come too." He spoke, when Renna readied to enter.
Nyx doesn't say anything for a moment, but he does raise an eyebrow at the sight of the small (!) dragon that suddenly appears. Finally, he offers up a bow to the group in front of him. "I am Nyx, a warrior that follows the path of Iomeade's teachings, and I greet you." He looks over at the woman now introduced as Renna and her dragon with curiosity. "Not to offer any offense, but I am curious. Is that a real being, or is he simply an illusion to keep people at bay? Not that it makes a difference so long as the task is accomplished."
Renna nods at Grit's request, and says, "Of course. Let us go inside." Then, when the minotaur speaks, Renna looks over at him. "Yes, Mordeth is quite real. He has been bonded to me for many years, and we have become good friends. He is my protector, and I give him treats. It is a win-win situation. Are you going to be joining us, Mr. Nyx?" Renna looks over at the half-elf, and adds, "And what of you, sir? Do you have business inside with the priest, too?"
With a deep chuckle, Nyx replies, "Yes, I will like to hear what would bring a follower of Asmodeus here to speak with this priest. And just call me Nyx. I have no title, having just started on my path, and really, I have no need for one." He steps forward, taking a moment to try and clean off the dust and mud from his hooves before entering the building, and he then takes his shield and slips it onto his back, freeing up his hands.
For a moment, the scarred woman seems inclined to only listen, and observe. Each name is welcomed by a nod, and both Mordeth and the weasel find her attention. The latter does not seem to surprise her too much, likely familiar with the kobold tribes' mounts, while the former demands a closer look; you're certain that she listens carefully to Renna's explanation after the minotaur's question, and tries to estimate the eidolon's strength like someone familiar with unusual creatures. No sign of fear, or worry; curiosity, mostly.
She breaks her silence after Nyx' last comment. "Nothing out of the ordinary, apart from my presence itself, I'm afraid. There's word that there is incoming trouble from the south. Despite our quarrels in the past, we believe that our strength and expertise might be of help. I came here to learn who might be inclined to listen, in the way Iomedae sometimes listens to The First - reluctantly, but with the willingness to act upon what we can share and offer." A shrug. "The tribes have made their intentions clear, so did I. For every foe we make, there's another one whose indifference turns into something else." The last words seem to address Grit directly - at least, her gaze finds the kobold as she speaks. "Every act is a message. Standing your ground is, but so is running away."
"Ixtenixil, you said? We are neighbors, then. Maybe this is the right moment to look into relations, see if we could share more than a common border. What brought you here, if I may ask? It's unlike your kind to travel far, or send ambassadors at all, as far as I'm aware." Her head turns, shifting towards Renna. "And Talbert, like House Talbert, all the way from the cities? If the happenings here caught their attention, then our presence here might be needed more than we thought; they do not deal in trivialities, I heard. Glad to make your acquaintance all the more, then, let me know if a strong arm or mind might make a difference in your house's favor."
Where the three of you seem inclined to enter, Zylia kneels down instead, next to the dead body left behind by the tribesmen. One might expect her to search the man - instead, she folds his hands around a club on his chest, adjusts the clothing where her mace crushed the ribcage. A sign of respect for the dead, maybe feigned, maybe real. She does look up several times in-between, waiting for reactions, or responses. The forth, Benji, draws as much of her attention as the others; where they have spoken, he's still a mostly unknown quantity.
Grit mumbled something draconic in draconic about stupid messages. But didnt press the matter.
"Queen Ixtenixil." The small kobold corrected indignantly. "A beautiful and wise matriarch."
"But yes. We are neighbors. What brings me here is trouble in the north. The foolish kobolds in the north have tricked a dragon into being their patron. They are unworthy, but they have grown a spine. They are trying to take our mountain by siege."
Grit harumphed."Idiots. They throw their bodies at our traps. Thinking they can gain ground. But a danger it is still. As it is only a matter of time before they convince the dragon to come and take it. You may have not noticed as your lands are not that valuable to us. But their clan residing in our halls would be bad for your people as well."
"We do not send out ambassadors or emissaries. But it is desperate times. I have been sent to seek a dragon rumored to live in these parts. To seek his leadership and wisdom. So that we may keep our lands."
Grit then puffed himself up proudly,"As for why me. The Queen herself chose me, and the clan agreed unanimously. I was the best (only) choice. That is because I am the bravest and mightiest of my clan. Their greatest warrior and the only one smart and wise enough to be trusted with the task and to know the tongue with which to talk to lesser races here. " he said, quite pleased with himself. Though his rags. straw hat, and beat up "staff" certainly wouldn't do much in convincing others he was the hero he was saying he was.
"As for your tribe... such a dealing would be best brought to the Queen herself. But given our amiable relations so far, and the chaos growing around us. More formal relations between our two people would not be unwise. Especially consider the stupid elves have stopped their trade. But such is their loss."
With a puff of hot breath, Benji felt his body release any tension that formed. He seemed calm but he was momentarily frightened at the idea he may have to go to blows with these random tribal people. It was not his forte, he preferred tricks and laughs for sure. Then again... What exactly was he planning when it came to his mommy dearest? The soft soprano voice of the slight woman caught his attention and he turned to face her with a smile. "The name is Benji. Yes, I do have some business inside."
He then turned to the rest of the group who seemed to be introducing themselves. All but him- a man of mystery, he liked that idea. But it wasn't as easy for him to commit to such a role. "Benji Syllabi- no wealthy family or interesting tidbit about me really. I just need to have a conversation with the priest here. Shall we head that way- or are you looking for something special in that dead man's clothes?" His smile stayed in place but his eyes seemed to cut into the woman. He didn't like the open display of searching a corpse but he understood that some people survived that way. It wasn't his preferred way despite his poor upbringing. Maybe he was being too hard on her- after all, he was not used to traveling like this.
"Nyx, was it? You are very impressive might I say. Do you plan on being in town for a long stay? I would love to perform something for you if you have the time." He moved his attention away from the woman, not wanting to cause too much more tension. He began walking towards the church while talking.