Please, do not overdo the formatting if you use it. Make it comfortable to read.
You can add your character's image to every post if you'd like. The suggestion is using the imagefloat=right code.
If you interact with a player, it is better to add a mention @[their username] to your post so they pay extra attention.
Use third person, past tense for your posts to keep it consistent and comfortable ("he went", "she said", etc.).
Post order will only be applied during battles.
No Charisma rolls are ever made against a player character. If an NPC wants to convince a player in anything - they will make it via cues. If a player wants to convince another player in something - they are to make this via cues. However, a player convincing an NPC might use dice rolls if she deems it necessary.
With Dragon War and Silvermarch War being not so long ago, players who will pick dragonborns, half-orcs, orcs, or half-ogres for their race, might encounter more racial prejudice from the rest of civilised folk whose wounds are still fresh. In turn, the usual prejudice against other races are not as prominent.
Let's write the universe together: you are absolutely allowed to make adjustment to the looks and traditions of your race if this doesn't break immersion and makes sense. Extreme racial and gender dimorphism is highly appreciated.
The expected dice system will probably be much lighter to make such things as battles, traps, etc. more dynamic.
Inspiration given by the DM will be additional d6 you can roll to add to your result, not unlike bard's inspiration.
Nearly everything above is up to debate.
In OOC, we have decided to colour code different languages. Thus far, we have: Common | Elven | Halfling | Dwarf | Orc | Infernal | Giant | Draconic | Bothii | Sylvan | Deep Speech | Thieve's Cant
Late autumn wind chilled to the bone as the caravan slowly dragged itself further and further up North to the direction of Waterdeep. It felt as if with each milestone they crossed the temperature was dropping a couple of degrees. And it was barely after the harvest! It was not even winter!
It was the usual way of travel: following the caravans. Some people joined them for safety, others were providing this safety for food and a potential discount. The latter was probably not going to happen here. Many people joined a long string of brightly-covered wagons with painted wheels and ornamental armours on their sides, going along the road, and being dragged by almost giant-sized white bulls, phlegmatically chewing dry grass as they walked on the stone track. The caravaner's name was Fahrida Zaira, a black-furred tabaxi, whose slightly darker spots flickered on her fur on direct sunlight, and her amber eyes glowed each time they made a stop for the night. The tabaxi huffed, and puffed her whiskers, wrapping herself in a warm fur coat of a disgusting brown colour. "I hope we reach Waterdeep soon. I'd kill for a warm bed!", she kept saying, but the city was nearing all too slowly. "Come!" She was telling in her low, nasal voice to every new face joining her travel, brightening up each time she sensed a deal. "Why not share safety of the group, and have a nice bargain? It's so cold in your lands - I can see you trembling from over here! I have a few exquisite coats of llama fur - soft and fragrant, and as warm as a summer's evening!" She usually went on with her tirade about the silk embroidery and copper buttons, telling stories of the faraway lands, and the travel the fur made from far south-east to the white sands of the south, before getting into these barbaric lands, explaining what a llama was and how these noble creatures feared ho cold, neither heat - all thanks to their amazing, cream-coloured curly fur worthy of a king. "You will not get another chance! I have but a dozen left, and rest assured, the noble lords and ladies of Waterdeep won't let them stay on sale for longer than an hour! You can't just walk away thinking 'another time' - there won't be another time! I know it's hard to sustain yourself in winter over these parts, but I promise you'll regret it if you won't spend a few golds on yourself!" Her southern accent was warm, welcoming. It reminded so many of exquisite wines and exotic fruit. Needless to say, some of the people have bought a coat or two, and seemed to be quite happy with the purchase, even if it hit their pockets hard.
Her caravan was filled with spice, cloth and cheap, but exquisite jewellery, however, after a few nights of chit-chat among the travellers, it appeared that they all were fellow venturers, while she was travelling alone. How did she fend for herself, was a mystery, but, luckily, along the wide stone tract there was no one to put her security to the test. Highwaymen knew better than to try and rob people along the Trade Way - not with caravans moving from Calimport, guarded by spirits and genies, and dark worshipers of Shar. Some looked at large, colourful bottles with suspicion; others - at filigree rapiers and sabres, as if a djinni would pop out any moment now, grab a weapon and slay them where they stood. That, however, never happened, the wagons providing for good shelter, and their hostess - with weird spice each time someone would cook a stew. They burned their throats, leaving them warm and cosy, while the taste turned from sharp and spicy into sweet and thick, like cold mead being drunk after a spoon full of warm jam.
"Some of you headed to Nightstone, friends?" Was heard Zaira's voice one early morning, jolting some of the travellers awake, lulled by a measured, regular creak of the wagon wheel. When the group that headed there was in her vision, she pointed to the road to the right of the caravan, jumping off her seat. This was a warmer morning, and Zaira was in her happy mood. "It is just uphill!" She declared, pointing along the road, as the caravan was slowly passing her. She wasn't a proud owner, and didn't mind running after the wagons when she had to walk off-road for one reason or another. Indeed, on the crossroads stood a sign. One pointer marked the road north with 'Waterdeep' carved into it, another showed south: 'Daggerford'. And the third one, smaller one, was pointing to the hills. 'Nightstone'. "Few hours on foot, and you will get there, friends." She sighed. "You had been a curious company to travel with, and I hope to meet you again this winter..." her amber gaze lingered over Iris, as if she Zaira had specific plans for the young woman, but she said nothing, shaking her head as if trying to get rid of a pestering fly. "I am travelling through Waterdeep, far, far North, all the way to Luskan, and then east... east, east, east to Everlund through Triboar. Do not be shy to keep me company." She gave a group a polite foreign bow. "But you. You should stop playing that blasted thing." Tabaxi's ears pressed tight to her skull, as she eyed the bagpipes.
The hill road, indeed, went up, the end of it being covered by green and yellow grass, peppered with late-blooming flowers of blue and purple. The group heading to Nightstone was relatively large, somewhat familiar after the travel, and all coming for the same thing: the hunt. This was a hunting season in these parts, and Nightstone was the jewel for hunters. A resort, if you will. A small town, built around a mysterious black obelisk it took the name from, ruled by a generous and kind Lady Velrosa Nandar, who sent messengers to all the surrounding towns looking for help. The advertisement told of a group of wood elves that decided to make old elven ruins in a nearby Ardeep forest their home, and were threatening noble lords and ladies each time they went hunting. A large tavern usually hosted no more than half a dozen of nobles to hunt magnificent deer in these parts, and the city lived from their generosity. With the elven clan being dead-set on claiming the forest for their own, and not desiring to negotiate, it was going to be hard to keep every hunter safe, and so, the High Steward Lady Nandar - a well-known Waterdhavian noble - was looking for daring adventurers to wield whether a mighty sword, sorcery, or the power of negotiation to keep the lords company. It was a good deal that promised tips twice as big as the payment, as well as good food, fancy alcohol, and the thrill of hunt.
Soon, however, the group perceived a strange noise coming from far ahead. It echoed around, reminding of a blacksmith shop... or rather, a dozen blacksmith shops, surrounding them from each side. As the road straightened up, and the walls of the city became visible, it became clear what this noise was. It was a loud Bom! Bom! Bom! of the church bell. Three rings. Silence. Another two. Silence. Another three... It went on, and on, and on... it was no time. It was no prayer. It was no alarm. It was something else. Something else entirely.
The closer the group got, the clearer it became that something wasn't right in town. The drawbridge over the mote was lowered, yet there were no people outside, no children playing in the fields. There were no voices, no music, no guards on the towers - their tall walls flanking the gap in a short - no higher than fifteen feet tall - palisade of dark wood. To the right - south of it - a cone-shaped flat-topped hill, and on it, overlooking the village, stood a keep enclosed by a wooden wall. A long bridge, connecting the town to the keep... broken. Huge chunk of it collapsed into the mote, and was now floating somewhere south, down the river. Bom! Bom!, the bell rung, and stopped once more. But just for a few seconds, before drowning the surrounding area in its ringing once more.
Iris shivered as the cool breeze passed over her. As much as she loved the country air, she hated how quickly it had gotten so cold this year. A warmer morning was still fairly cool in the autumn, and her dress offered her next to no protection from such elements. Had she known they were in for an early winter she would have packed a warm coat instead of buying one from the tabaxi. There was no mistaking that it was of good quality, but Iris was on a budget. As soft, warm, and beautiful as the coat was Iris could not shake the unfamiliar sickening feeling have having spent too much money on something. At least Yeux seemed to enjoy the coat. She could feel the slick scales slide across her shoulders as the jet black serpant poked its head out from her collar. The poor snake must be having a harder time with the weather than she was. Iris ran her finger along the based of the viper's skull down its spine, using her opposite hand to quietly turn the page of the leather-bound tome in her lap. She had been awake since early that morning, studying from the spellbook for the day ahead. Given how prone the rest of her traveling companions were given to chatter, it was the only time of day she felt she could focus. The only sounds came from the rhythmic jostling of the wheels below and the sounds of the animals outside.
To that end, she winced as the tabaxi's voice cut through the beautiful silence. She glanced back at Zaira, noting her sizing up the noble woman. Iris had seen that look several times before from rogues and merchants alike. She narrowed her eyes and glared back at the tabaxi, challenging the cat to speak her mind. "Yes, thank you." Iris answered as Yeux retreated back into the warmth of her coat. It seemed they would have to travel by foot the rest of the way. This was why she hated public transportation, but such was her place in life right now. Sourly she packed her spellbook back into her light messenger bag. However, at the mention of the bagpipes she gave a small sneer before climbing down from the cart. She waited patiently for everyone to climb down, but handed off her bag to a red-horned tiefling as she climbed down, "If we have to go by foot, then I won't be going weighed down by this." She said as she dropped the bag into the shorter woman's hands, "You've had plenty of rest on the cart Deidre, its time for you to do your job." With that Iris turned on her heal and started down the path without looking back to make sure she was being followed.
Nightstone was a nice town at least, which was to be expected around this time of year. The nobles who came to hunt deer helped keep the town afloat, so it made sense that the people who lived there would do whatever they could to keep them happy. People enjoying themselves were more likely to spend money after all. Iris almost wished she had any interest in hunting, but at least the flowers around the town were nice. However, as they continued into the town and the bells began reaching her ears she frowned. She could not quite make out what the matter was, but the damage done to the bridge and the lack of people were clear signs of trouble. The bells just confirmed where that trouble had gone. "Get your weapons," She said to everyone as she reached up to clench the crystal hanging off her choker.
"I've never understood the point of buying something you could grow yourself" Zi'on said watching as the furred coats were bought in quite an abundance "You'd never see me buying armor, why evolution would cause you to abandon such an advantage continues to escape me" for others as they watched him, it would be quite unsettling to watch him speak without actually making any minute movements, not that he couldn't of course.
It was just more amusing to see the reactions.
"Bagpipes are a particularly interesting instrument, I am more particular to the Viol but to each their own" one could hear the amusement in his voice.
As they got closer to the village he gave a soft sigh as it was quickly became clear that they were going to meet some form of trouble " I was hoping that today would be more relaxing, but I suppose sitting around will just make me rust...not that ironwood rusts of course" he chuckled as he tapped the short sword on his waist, wondering if he should draw it or use his fists.
Bits and baubles everywhere but not a copper to spend. It was a good thing that Deidre wasnt one to crave such novelties. The coat, was especially enticing, as she did love the feel of fur. Nothing that could be afforded, and it was ultimately unnecessary. She her cloak and clothes were warm enough for now. Thankfully with the purchase of the coat by Iris, it made her reconsider. It made the girl look like a gaudy sheep.
Still, the ride was not unpleasant. Their hostess made things warm enough. And the bagpipes were not a horrible break from the monotony of wagon travel. So for the most part, the tiefling kept to herself, writing little bits in her journal during the times Iris forgot she was around.
As they came to a stop, Deidre stepped down from the wagon. "Thank you, Ms. Zaira. Your company was most pleasant." She said in her usual low monotone voice. That somewhat betrayed the sincerity, despite the sentiment being there.
Deidre pulled her cloak tight, and made sure the fabric she had wrapped around her neck and lower face for warmth was snug. Then Iris made her exit.
As expected, she took the bag and slung it over her shoulder. "Of course Mistress. It would be my pleasure." She said in slow deliberate words, that dripped in dry sarcasm that bordered on bored tolerance, falling just barely shy of being the verbal equivalent of an exasperated eyeroll. "Yes. We cant have you throwing out your back, now can we? Would be mighty unbecoming." Yet, despite the tone there was no protest. The pack mule of a tiefling would follow behind 'the Mistress'.
And then they came to the town... Hmm. Not quite what she expected, even with her naturally low expectations. At least she didn't need to be told to ready her staff. It was already in hand. "Plan on storming the town?" She asked.
"I bet everybody is already dead." She stated flatly, with half kidded eyes that were almost disinterested. Almost. Because it was certainly a curious state of being for a town. Everybody was still probably dead though...
Normally Iris would not be interested in this place either. She had nothing to gain from risking her life investigating an abandoned village. She did need Lady Nandar's money though, and winning her approval would not be a bad thing either. Even if they killed the original threat, coming back to her with news the village was already empty anyway would give Iris neither of those things. "Of course there are people alive. Use your ears, girl." She said, looking over the town. From their vantage point she should be able to find a steeple or a church. "Listen to that bell. Two, three, two, three. Its too orderly to be an animal, so whoever is still here is sending a message." She glanced over back at the broken bridge, "There's damage here, but the buildings are fine. No fire. But the bridges are down, and there are no guards or people. There was an attack, but whoever came through couldn't use fire. Or, more likely, was not willing." Iris closed her eyes to think. Wood elves were the most likely culprit, but this didn't add up. A group of rogue elves should not have enough manpower to empty out a whole town, nor enough strength to tear down a bridge. That did not necessarily mean they were innocent either, but for now she had no intention of jumping to conclusions. "Whatever happened here, whoever is ringing that bell should know where everyone went."
"Of course" Zi'on said in response to Iris "The bell could also be a trap, why spend precious time going door to door when you can just draw every survivor to one place and deal with them in a timely manner?" he looked around the village "Now here is a good question. If the buildings are fine, why was the bridge destroyed? My guess is that it wasn't destroyed by the attackers." It'd be pretty silly to put in the time to not damage the village but destroy a perfectly good bridge.
"Now...about that possible trap...it isn't going to walk into itself" he laughed before his voice suddenly turned serious "Besides, if we can hear that bell, then so can others, and not everyone is so nice as us, if that is a survivor then it is possible that the bell will bring the attackers back, or anyone else looking for an opportunity" Zi'on didn't want to be standing out in the open if that were the case. He didn't know who'd attacked the village. What he knew about the area was sparse and filled in by those who'd pointed them in this direction.
Wood Elves maybe? But they liked the forest, what would they have with keeping any artificial structure standing? If they weren't the culprits, then they could also be drawn in by the bell going off. By this point they'd be familiar with the bell cycles of a regular day in Nightstone, any break in the daily norm would gain some attention.
It had been many moons since Sturdy had last travelled alongside a group so large as the brightly coloured, caravan’d train that he had recently attached himself to. Adventurers, merchants, traders, and wanderers alike had banded together under the same general umbrella idea that there was a certain safety in numbers. Sturdy himself just liked having some company for a change, and some people to play his bagpipes for -- though, don’t think that he didn’t notice that some were not so appreciative of his music. Which was ridiculous! He was a half-orc and there was something infinitely pleasing about making a load of noise in the absence of conversation.
When he wasn’t actively attempting to engage others in conversation -- and unintentionally intimidating his fellow companions with his brusque opinions -- or playing his bagpipes, Sturdy spent his time with his gaze fixed on the horizon and an old, discoloured blue ribbon in hand. One which he ran absent-mindedly between his fingers, feeling the ruined silken material with an intensely haunted expression that proved to be enough to keep even the bravest at bay. Overall, it was an uneventful journey, and even the bite of the cold could not temper the feeling that he was finally headed towards his purpose.
And when it was finally time to dismount and continue forwards with said destiny, Sturdy found that he was strangely anxious to progress. Unfortunately, it seemed that the tabaxi -- though interesting and good-willed enough -- had depressingly poor taste in music and needed to depart this knowledge upon the group before they left.
“And rob people of their enjoyment?” Sturdy rumbled in response, his voice a deep and gravelled tenor that hinted towards amusement. However, when the tabaxi turned her dour expression onto his precious instrument he couldn’t help but shift it out of her line of sight. There was no need to glare at them like that! Even the human priss had sneered at them -- but he supposed, he’d have been more concerned if she’d smiled -- it was only Zi’on who offered him some consolation.
With a wolfish grin sent in the warforged’s direction they ascended upon the town of Nightstone. Only to find that there wasn’t much of a town left. It spoke volumes about Sturdy’s life that he was accustomed to stumbling across empty, dead villages.
“Well, I don’t think we’re gonna find answers just standing around,” Sturdy snorted after the two had theorised what could have possibly happened to cause everyone to abandon ship. He reached up to scratch at his beard, squinting out at the deserted town with a disgruntled expression. Personally, he agreed with Zi’on’s assessment though he wasn’t sure whether his companions were that much nicer than anyone else on the road. Himself included.
The morning was colder than the previous day. Rina shivered slightly as she tightened the cloak around her shoulder. The cold air reminded her slightly of Silverymoon. Passing through the Moonbridge always made one tightened any clothes from the cold breeze blowing. Snow should came faster from yesteryear.
On her journey to look for her mother, Rina chanced upon a request from Nightstone nobles regarding solving a conflict with local elves. Imagine her surprise when the travelers she met on Trade Way also headed to Nightstone for the same reason! Needless to say the journey became more fervent afterward.
Rina had hiked for a ride in the wagon of Fahrida Zaira. The Tabaxi was a pleasant merchant who made the ride not as boring with her tales of far lands and occasional pitch for her wares. And what good pitch it was! Though she rejected the merchant's offer for the fancy, cream-coloured llama coat during their first meeting, the coat looked especially attractive with the foreboding winter ahead.
For that reason, Rina left the wagon 8 gp lighter and a thick coat warmer.
"I never said they were necessarily going to be friendly." Iris said, turning to the machine and the half-orc. "So before you two go charging through the front doors, lets come up with a plan of attack." She had no doubt the two would be good in a straight up fight. The half orc seemed pretty sturdy while the warforged was some religious monk, but a murder machine was a murder machine no matter what clothes you put them in. However, starting a fight with an unknown force was always a bad idea. Instead, she looked over her traveling companions. She already knew about Deidre's magic, but the devilspawn did not have any kind of spells that would help them in this situation. The tall, dark-skinned woman looked like she was about as useful as the other two men right now; strong if a fight broke out, but Iris trusted her with stealth as much as she trusted the orc. The half elf looked like she had never seen any kind of combat, so Iris already counted her out. That left the halfling, the masked woman, and the elf. Halflings were notoriously good sneaks, while the masked woman seemed like she could handle herself. The wood elf also probably had the right skills, but Iris could not bring herself trust her. They were there to hunt down other wood elves, and the bonds between people were a strong thing. Was it racist? Probably. Did Iris care? If it kept her from getting stabbed in the back, not really.
"Alright, I've got it." She announced before pointing to Yenric and... whoever had the mask on. She could not remember her name. "You two know how to sneak around I assume? You go in first and start by finding out who's ringing that bell. If there is a threat, then we can come up with a plan. If there is no threat, all the better. If you get into a problem, scream and run back towards us." With that her finger moved back to the three warriors; Zi'on, Sturdy, and Rain, "You three, be ready to run into a fight if you hear any yelling." Finally her finger moved right past Rina to point at Deidre and Naivara, "You two stay back with me. If there is anyone coming, I don't want them coming up behind us." Plus that gave her a second person to watch the wood elf with. "Any questions?"
Road to Nightstone
Equipped: Leather Armor & Dagger
Rolls: Stl:9, Inv: 22
Interact: Iris (@Xio) Team in general (@Seraph Darkfire@Nacre@Damafaud@useless@wowbobwow@D. Rex@The Regal Rper)
The road up had been rather peaceful, for someone who offered to be the eyes of the caravan she’d had a remarkably easy passage. Typically when she offered her services she’d be three fights in by now. Though that meant she would be nice and rested for the last leg she supposed. Her own spot at the top of the caravan wound up being quite comfortable. She could hear the protests of a few in the carvaan from her spot as they began to get colder. A small reminder that not everyone makes journeys they are gonna prepared for. She let out an airy laugh as she heard the Tabaxi caravan leader start up her pitch, a good saleswoman indeed.
As the carvaan slowed she did a once over of their location checking to see that nothing was moving in the distance before jumping down from its roof. She landed light on her feet with only the slight sound of her rapier clanging against her knives. With a full turn she faced the signs. It was a peaceful journey and she wished the Tabaxi her best.
“Looks like we split her Ms. Zaira”
She’d done her part, even if it didn’t seem so in her own head. She fell in line with the others heading down to Nightstone bringing out her book to log the journey. The path had been calm but far from empty. She got only a few lines in before the noises started. She put away her book securing it in her sack. She grabbed one of her knives not yet pulling it out but watching for anyone that would come barreling forth.
She walked at the very back not planning to rush into a mess she knew nothing about. Yet as they got closer the situation became even more tense. The bridge was down and yet no people left it. The clangs were loud yet there were no voices. The whole atmosphere was wrong.
She let the others deliberate before her as she investigated the area around the bridge. Only really listening as she saw the woman who used another as a pack mule saying that she should stay with the two.
“No, that sounds rather like a bad idea. Do you all intend to stormforth? Two teams, a scouting crew with the ability to hide going around the sides of the wall. And a strike forces ready to come in that goes forth defensively, covered by the strike team. That would do us best, well best would be leaving whatever is making that noise. At best it’s a survivor that we’d need to drag along. At worst a trap that we can still fall prey to even prepared considering they have the home field advantage.”
"Yes, you are right. Sorry for my assumption. Certainly must be human. As no enchantment is so advanced as to ring a bell. And the dead are completely incapable of doing anything but being dead." Deidre would say in the same deadpan voice as before.
Then Iris began bossing everyone around like she was paying them. Which was amusing to her considering that Iris would likely balk at the idea of doing so. Paying them, that is.
"Or we could just not go in and go someplace else entirely... with all the ill omens that advise against it... but if we absolutely must go in. There is no sense in rushing in blindly. Have someone peek over the wall. The bell, let me think..." she paused. Listening to the bell and trying to think of what it might mean. Town bells didn't normally ring in patterns for fun.
The cold meant little to her. It wasn’t that she didn’t feel it, how could she not? The chilly wind bit at the exposed flesh of her throat and fingers, causing her to shiver involuntarily at times, but she was used to enduring the weather. If she had the ability to beat the cold into submission, well, it would certainly be a different story, wouldn’t it? But the weather did what it wanted, so she learned to ignore it, figuring that if she couldn’t change it then it really wasn’t worth her time, anyway. Besides, her mind was too preoccupied to worry about the mildly uncomfortable weather. The hunt, the great hunt, perhaps the greatest hunt of life! Trolls, dragons, giants - she craved nothing more than to slay them all. She wasn't sure where she would find these beasts, but the best way to find out was to travel and listen in on what other travelers had to say.
Along the way, she had heard tale that the town of Nightstone was very well known for mass hunting this time of the year. Why they only hunted during specific months she couldn’t understand, but she would go, and she would show them all who the true master hunter was. She would kill their bears and their wolves and laugh n the faces of those who hunted meek deer and docile little bunnies. How dare they refer to themselves as ‘hunters’, hah! Just a bunch of spineless weaklings! And the elves? If they got in her way she’d make prey of them, too. The pesky little tree-huggers were as good a game as any if they so much as showed their faces while she was on the hunt, as far as she was concerned...
As fate would have it, there was a caravan headed in the direction of Nightstone, and, hoping to hear tale of some great beast in need of slaying, she opted to tag along… and immediately regretted that decision. The flea-bag Tabaxi didn’t know how to shut up, and the bagpipes! Oh, gods, there was no way to make that sound pleasant. Sounds like a screaming deer being put to slaughter. Needless to say, she stuck to herself, waving off the annoying cat as she tried to sell her the pelt of some beast from far off lands. If she wanted a pelt, she would go out and get one on her own, for fuck’s sake!
After some time, she was finally able to part ways with the caravan and the annoying cat (whose name she never bothered to pay much mind to), only to discover that she wasn’t the only one headed to Nightstone. In fact, there were a great deal of other people headed there it seemed. She scowled when she noted that the bagpipes were coming along as well, scowling beneath the mask and merely pressing on behind the group, diverting her attention to the land around them as they marched toward the town.
Only, the town wasn’t quite right. The bells were ringing, but there was no one around. No screaming, no smoke, no real sign of an attack, just the broken bridge leading to the keep. Immediately, her heart leapt joyfully in her chest and a grin spread across her lips beneath her mask, looking to the keep as the others gave their opinion of what was happening. It was entirely likely they the bridge had been intentionally destroyed somehow, and all of the people were hidden away in the keep.
“... This will be fun.” Her voice was a low murmur, the excitement concealed behind her mask showing through in her voice as she rested a hand on the hilt of her sword and made a movement to head toward the town, only to pause as another woman spoke up with her own plan, and the sheepish horned-one throwing her own two cents in. She growled a little as her impatience began to fester. She wasn’t one to sit and plan and plot. Hell, she didn’t even care about the people of this town, she just wanted to kill whatever the fuck was capable of clearing out and entire village like this!
“You all stand here yappin’, I’m gonna look around. You coming, small one?” Her words were short and impatient, her head snapping to looking towards the halfling expectantly. He was certainly little enough to avoid being seen.
While the bell kept ringing, and Deidre concentrated, attempting to use all her knowledge of alarms and codes available because of her education, Naivara, trying to be as silent as possible, approached the drawbridge. It was a chaos of tracks and trails, the dirt brought from inside of the city smudged across it, mixing with the water from what seemed like a light morning rain that passed not so long ago. The wooden bridge, lowered, chains leading up to the two stone towers on each side of the entrance, was peppered with footprints. It looked like a lot of people - both barefoot, wearing soft and simple shoes, and heavy army boots, had fled the town. It was hard to determine when exactly, but with rains showering the lands during these seasons, it was safe to say that the fleeing was quite recent. At the same time, there were a few other prints on top of them, going the opposite direction. Something that looked like a wolf or a large dog, heading into the town in huge leaps. One, two, three... she counted around for of such large beasts, getting inside after the people fled. When it came to the civilians, well... there were so many of them, and they were moving in such a chaos, it was impossible to tell how many escaped, but there was no doubt they headed somewhere north.
In the meantime, Deidre could only shake her head: there was nothing about the bell ringing that would suggest any code known to her. It was too uneven. There were no timed pauses like one would expect from the code or an alarm. At times its pattern broke from three-two-three into something like three-two-three-four-three-two, and such. It almost sounded as if a little child found a cowbell and was trying to play a monster attack, imitating what it saw adults do when a pack of wolves headed towards a village or a small town, but failing miserably.
"As for the bell... whomever or whatever is ringing doesn't exactly know what they are doing... They aren't exactly keeping a steady pattern. Why not instead split into two groups? One to investigate the bell, the other to look around the town proper?"
Yenric had thoroughly enjoyed his time with the caravan, though he thoroughly enjoyed most things in life. He was particularly enamored of the bagpipes. The first time he had heard them a few nights before, he gasped aloud and practically knocked over the half-orc bard as he charged with his eyes wide and a huge smile on his face. Ignoring the music for a moment, he peppered the bard with a hundred questions. That was days ago, though.
Yen rolled out of the caravan, a bit of boar jerky in his hand. He was missing elevenses these days. He didn't understand how all these people ate so infrequently. He made his polite goodbyes to the cat lady and followed the rest of his new friends to the gates.
"You think I'm sneaky just because I'm small?" He asked, scrunching his face up in mock dismay. He shrugged his shoulders. "I guess it makes sense. I'm no thief, but I can do okay." He stayed mostly silent, letting the rest of them discuss a path forward. For the most part, the little man was easy going, eager to help where he could, but he wasn't really a leader. He had spent too much time in seclusion, reading scrolls or discussing the philosophy of worshiping Tymora to gain may leadership skills. Still, he was excited to be around so many varied and interesting people ... especially with a mystery before them.
He looked up at the masked woman. "Sure, why not," he said with a smile on his face. "And you can feel free to call me Yen ... or Ric ... or Yenric. Or Little One, I guess," he said, following close behind the rogue.
Road to Nightstone
The road to Nightstone, thankfully, didn't have to be traversed alone. Rina walked comfortably behind beside Sturdy, the half-orc bard she knew from a while back. And there was a warforged among them! Rina glanced furtively at Zi'on. He was nothing like the story said regarding warforged. Certainly not unemotional, with how he stood over her sleeping to surprise her. Then there was Yenric! How surprised she was when she discovered he was not a child.
Lost in her thought, Rina only became aware of the group's own conversation a bit late. She certainly heard the bell, but was it so strange? What she did find peculiar, however, was the absence of farmers and the usual bustle of a city.
"How about we try luring whoever is inside out?" suggested Rina. "that sounds safer, right?"
Humanoids running outside, beasts running inside. Now, it was weird if anything, but the silence and absence of beasts growl also made it strange. It couldn't be that all beasts that ran inside were nocturnal.
Iris groaned. She hated when Deidre was right, mostly because it meant she was wrong. She was not about to admit that fact though; the tiefling had enough of an ego problem as it was. As such, she ignored the good point about the bell and moved straight to the problem, "Two parties makes for two easy targets, especially if we divide evenly. Two groups are only effective when they're working to support each other, and a smaller party can be stealthier while a larger party has an advantage in combat." She told Deidre before nodding to Naivara. "As such, I agree with the wood elf. Granted it's a simplified version of my plan, and we still need to investigate the church. Regardless of if its an animal, a survivor, or an enemy, its our clearest lead. I would much rather we take a chance and find them than have them find us." As she spoke, she watched the masked woman and the halfling walk off. Iris did not care much for the ranger's tone, but she could hardly argue with the result it produced. "Fair enough. We'll follow you two soon." She told the scouts before turning back to the rest of the party, "See? If we're all in agreement, we'll let those two scout ahead. Once we can confirm what is ahead, then the quote strike team can move forward and come up with an actual plan." She did hear Rina's plan, but chose to ignore her. With the scouting party already leaving and the half elf's lack of combat experience, Iris did not see any reason to waste her breath explaining how many ways luring out an unknown enemy could backfire.
"It'd be much easier to do some recon if one of us possessed a familiar" Zi'on said with amusement in his voice as he looked towards Rina "Bad idea to draw the enemy to us, not with such a disadvantage in location" he scratched his chin "We shouldn't stick close to our scouts, but we should get closer and at least fortify the drawbridge while we wait, or at least find out how to raise it if we have need" anything was better than standing in this easily spotted location.
"I'm fine with letting you be in charge" he said waving at Iris "It is fortunate that there weren't any archers to see us in our planning phase" he stared at the chains connecting the drawbridge before walking into the wall, poking around on the inside, looking for the control mechanism.
As Zi'on spoke, Iris held out her arm. Yeux slid out from her sleeve and rested his head in the palm of her hand. The viper hissed quietly as Iris brought him close to her chest and ran her finger from the base of his skull down his spine, "If you have an idea, just say it. I get enough sarcasm from Deidre," Iris sighed before beginning her explanation, "Yes, Yeux could scout ahead unnoticed. Unfortunately, he can't do that in this particular situation. For one thing bells are in steeples. The kind you can only get to via ladders and stairs. And if you haven't noticed, Yeux has no way of climbing those. Secondly no, I can't just have him search the rest of the town for us. I lose my connection with him after about a hundred feet. As you said, we shouldn't stick close to our scouts. Ergo, while he theoretically would make for the perfect scout, in practice a person would be better." She said before looking up at the walls around the town. "And think for a moment. We came down the main pathway this far and this close to the town. If there were any archers, they would have fired-" She stopped talking as Zi'on walked away towards the wall. He could have at least stuck around to hear her answer. He was right about getting out of the open though, so with a small grumble she followed him towards the gate. The group seemed to be taking her plan well so far, she just wished they did so with a bit less lip. All there was left to do now was keep watch, stay out of sight, and wait for the two scouts to report back.
"That's true," agreed Rina once Zi'on pointed out the flaw in her idea. Frankly, she was more worried about the mission being cancelled than anything.
After she realised that wandering on her foot alone wouldn't increase her chance to meet her mother, she turned her focus to increase her strength instead. If she was influential enough to move organisations, or famous enough to be known by the general population, her search for her mother would be easier. This request to mediate between local lords and wood elves were supposed to be her first step, and yet...
She sighed, hoping nothing was truly wrong with Nightstone. As she followed Zi'on closer to the bridge, she couldn't help but wonder what kind of animals made such huge prints.
"Oooooh, a mystery! This is going to be fun, isn't it?" Yenric asked, his voice soft and quiet as he followed the masked ranger. They approached the bridge and headed into the city proper. He considered for a moment suggesting that they head in different directions, but his confidence was not quite that high and he preferred to stick with the ranger. She looked mean, and he made the calculation that she would be much better in a fight than he would be. It seemed lucky that he had her. Praise Tymora.
As he stuck to the shadows and tried to make himself even smaller than he was ... which was fairly small to begin with ... he looked around for any signs of life or hints as to what the hell had happened in the eerily quiet place.
The warforged's feet clacked on the bridge, as he approached the mechanism, only to discover, it was as simple as it got. Two chains, as thick as his forearm, connected the bridge with two thin vertical holes in the centre of each stone tower - pulley, he thought they were called. In there there should've been a primitive mechanism - a winch that would pull the bridge up, or let it down. By how loose the chains were, and a few cracks he managed to notice on the bridge, it was obvious that it wasn't lowered properly - rather, it was almost thrown down. With how many tracks there were, and how little people they saw thus far, it was obvious that it was an emergency gate opening. Looking up, Zi'on, indeed, noticed a couple of handles, like of a steering wheel, popping from the top of open towers, right under the canopies. It looked like a person should've been present on each tower to successfully pull the bridge up, or let it down.
As he looked down from the towers, he saw the beautiful bard examining the footprints right besides him. She was realising these were not wolves or dogs. Not ordinary ones anyway. The prints were too large, claws - too long, and trails - too deep. Maybe, dire wolves, she thought. Winter was nearing, and thus, these beasts would be around human settlements soon, hunting for whether animals... or people. She was just about to stand up and switch her attention elsewhere, when she noticed something else in the tacks. Front paws, with toes elongated - not yet human, but not animal as well. These were not wolves, she realised. These were worgs! Dark, malevolent creatures that loved torturing their prey before devouring it whole. Something that a scouting party would learn all too soon.
Sneaking around seemed to be an easy task at first, with no people around, but maybe the scouts were too clumsy after they saw what they saw inside the city walls. As soon as they passed open gates, and their eyes adjusted to the bright light after carefully tracking in the shadows, they saw... stones. Not just stones, but large, carefully carved stones and rocks, almost perfectly round, as tall as the adventurers themselves, lying around the central square. The curious jolly little man immediately lay his eyes on the closest one in sight - lying in the pavement just some thirty feet away, trotting to examine it, and discover they not only peppered the settlement, but also were buried deep enough in the pavement to be thrown here from enormous height - like an especially large trebuchet or a catapult, capable of throwing such projectiles dozens of miles away. He looked to the left, to the church, and saw another such rock popping out from behind it, lying on the edge of what looked like a cemetery.
Then - to his right, noticing a small farm with a garden, with recently harvested wheat; two such rocks lay in the centre of the garden, and, judging by a collapsed room of the L-shaped farmhouse, hit the farm as well. The more he looked around, the more rocks like these he discovered. People, he realised, fled from this attack - whoever or whatever was in the city, came later for the spoils. But who or what attacked the town, and why, still wasn't clear.
What became clear, however, was what was around town now. As the wind blew into their backs, making capes flutter; at the same time as Rina realised the nature of the beasts, the scouts heard a low growl coming behind the first rock their halfling discovered. Loud, slurping sniffs pierced the air between the bell rings, and the clack-clack-clack of large claws echoed through the square. From between the rocks two enormous beasts emerged, sniffing air with their distorted noses, before their eyes locked onto the newly arrived trio. Large, black canines as tall as a human, with their mugs looking as if they were skinned. Their eyes, however, not beastly at all - they were human-like, intelligent... and immensely cruel. They looked at the people with a mix of hunger, desire, and glee, fresh blood foaming at their mouth, soaking a harness they had on, connected to a simple painted saddle on each of their backs - empty for now. One emitted a sound that was almost like human speech - but distorted, growling and drum-like, while the other... laughed. Deep, gurgling, disgusting laugh, and, like on cue, both darted forward, eyes locked at the trio.
Road to Nightstone
Equipped: Leather Armor & Rapier
Interact: Rina (@Damafaud ) Team in general (@kevintheradioguy@Seraph Darkfire@Nacre@useless@Xio@wowbobwow@D. Rex@The Regal Rper)Fools. These people were fools. She didn’t quite want to get entangled with them but it seemed that very little was going to stop their advances. Especially since they weren’t actually listening to her, going in at all was a bad move. Well at the very least she could tell that a fairly dangerous foe was in if they had to evacuate the city. It was no wonder things felt bad around her, but that leads the question of just who was ringing the bell? It’d been enough time for the tracks to settle that near everyone still left inside would be expected to have died.
She broke out of her cover, as it wouldn’t matter much as their approach would be seen a mile away. The others seemed to think that they could take whatever was inside so she’d let them continue first, from the back she could spot any approaching threats and listen for anyone trying to circle them. She pulled out her rapier, it was time to do things like her tribesmen. A quick blitz in and out, because they likely wouldn’t survive if it was any longer.
“Watch for any potential threats. If they make it to the bridge hold and try to knock them away if you can.”
She hoped the others would be able to make sure they didn’t get trapped but they owed her no favors and she wouldn’t be surprised if they cut and run. For now all she could do was ensure that their escape route wasn’t lost. In her head she laid the groundwork of the town guessing what turns would lead back in a pinch.
And then she spotted them. Rabid dogs basically. She didn’t want to get closer but there was no choice anymore. She’d be so pissed if this game back to bite her in the ass. Either way she was going to turn them into mincemeat. She found herself muttering to herself.
“Craven assholes I thought we were going to deal with elves”
Yen? Ric? Yenric? “Why do ya need so many damned names?” She grumbles as they crossed the bridge, drawing her sword now so it wouldn’t cause too much noise later. The goal was to be sneaky after all, wasn’t it? So, why was the small man following right on her ass? This was far from stealthy. Easier to see groups of people. At least the other member of their little ‘scouting party’ was smart enough to hang back a bit. Well, whatever. Didn’t matter much in the end. Besides, her attention was elsewhere once they entered the city and got a view of all of the huge rocks. Very unnatural rocks at that - far too round. Ah, but it wasn’t the rocks Jo really cared about. She was curious, sure, but the sound of… sniffing? Immediately, a smirk tugged to life across her lips beneath the mask, a small, giddy laugh escaping her throat and causing her shoulders to tremble in excitement as two savage beasts came lumbering out into the open.
“Best be ready for a fight, small one. If you’re not, then get the hell out of the way, got it?” As she spoke she stepped eagerly between the halfling and the wargs, prepared to try and give him some sort of cover if he chose to flee, while also being very keen on being the prime target of these two mutts. They were disgusting in every way, from their eery laughing to their almost human sounds, to their hairless, ugly faces, and most of all in the light of intellect that shimmered from their beady little eyes. Ah, how delightful it would be to watch that light fade to nothingness when she carved their heads from their greasy, matted bodies. This was much better than hunting boring wolves or bears - to hell with 'llama' fur, she was gonna get herself some monster pelts today!
“Let’s dance, then!” She howled back at them, sword at the ready, mind zoned solely on the two beasts now as they barreled in their direction.