Hex F6 - Shrike River
The human male from whom she had tried to steal the potion addressed Poro. He was kind and smiling, even though she had tried to take his equipment. Or at least she thought he was a male. By her limited knowledge of mammals, she guessed there were two males and three females in this company, though she couldn't be certain.
"Vile mites live hole under tree. North of kobolds. Big tree not far. Can see from very far away."
The old sycamore, around which the party had just not long ago first encountered the 'battlefields', came to mind. The only tree in the hills large enough to have made it onto the map as a major landmark, it certainly sounded like the right tree.
Whatever Poro thought of the plans to exterminate her clan if they proved to be 'troublesome', she didn't add her assessment of what the kobolds might do if the tallfolk decided they were a threat.
(As if we didn't already know where the mites lived, but it's nice to play it out in character properly. If no one objects to Miguel's plan with this information available, I'll get around to actually moving on. If somebody really wants to keep exploring and ignore the mite problem for now, state your case and maybe we'll just cast a vote on it or something)
Posted on 2013-09-22 at 17:22:24.
Edited on 2013-09-22 at 17:32:29 by Sibelius Eos Owm
Quick, how much do you know about weather patterns? What happens when warm updraft meets cool air?
Mite Warren; Hex E6
Zeran took up the watch following Krii's since the latter was almost over anyway, and the rest returned to sleep. Poro, deemed to be not significant enough of a threat for the effort it would take to keep her hostage, slipped into the river within moments of being released.
The next day continued the hot trend but with a steady, warm breeze that helped if only a little. The crew traveled just west of north and soon after a few hours were rewarded for their map sense by the sign of the great old sycamore—still as skeletonized and leafless as two weeks before—appearing over the horizon.
With the great behemoth in sight the party spent the rest of the day travelling more or less on a direct route for the mite warren, keeping a weather eye open for any sign of the ugly blue creatures with the massive eyes.
By late afternoon they were perhaps a mile away, and could see all the way to the base of the tree, perched on its hill as it was. Late afternoon also brought with it a tremendous bank of black clouds rolling up from the south. The more Frodrick watched the approach of the clouds from behind him, the more his old bones gave him misgivings. He longed for a sturdy shelf of rock over his head and a sheltered cave entrance.
Without knowing exactly when the storm would break, the dwarf did not relish the idea of crawling into some godsforsaken hole in the ground, particularly one with as dubious craftsmanship as he suspected of the crude looking blue gremlins. Add the cramped space, the rainwater seeping in from above, and whatever resistance the mites put up, with the likelihood that should anything at all go wrong, their retreat would run directly into the middle of a violent storm, and it did not paint an attractive picture. Jabbers agreed with him he knew by her body language.
Frodrick decided it would be in the best interest of all to wait out the storm before the attack. It would be evening within a couple hours, anyway. Taking the wisdom of the dwarf's advice and bone feeling, the party found the lowest point between two hills that they could within a mile of the tree to leave the wagon and set up a camp.
Frodrick and Krii went together to the tree, using the advantage of their mounts' speed unhindered by keeping pace with the wagon to scout the area and be back in less than an hour. Exactly as Poro predicted, there was a very small hole amid the tree's roots, that appeared to go 20' straight down beneath the tree itself.
By the time the sun was beginning to touch the horizon, it became clear that the storm was not merely going to pass them by nor blow itself out before night fell. The setting sun painted an impressive contrast of golden orange and menacing black on the thunderheads still slowly incoming.
The wind picked up as the sun fell behind the horizon and twilight deepened into dusk. Anything that could flap in the wind did, and many things had to be pinned down for fear of losing them. Incoming rain or no, the possibility of a grassfire was too great to risk starting anything.
Their positioning between hills reduced the strength of the wind on the ground level, but could not possibly protect them from the it. Even with Frodrick's impromptu lean-to, made out of the poles and canvas of his tent, sleep came slow and fitful.
When the storm broke, there was never any chance or need for the watch wake the party. First the rain came in droves against the tent canvas, like a river pounding over a waterfall.Within minutes the dessicated landscape was drenched with the pounding of the rain, and the grass flattened by the wind.
The first strike of lightning blinded the watch and startled the rest out of sleep. As the impression of the bolt faded on their retinas, a bellow of thunder that had more in common with the sound of an enraged giant than it did with any sort of weather phenomenon.
The wagon could be heard groaning loudly and the canvas rattled to the point that barely anything else could be audible. That was the last warning they had before a gust in the wind tore their lean-to out of the ground and sent it off into the darkness.
Adrenaline snapped minds and hands awake as everyone groped out in vain, some blindly some with limited night vision, to catch hold of the flying equipment. A horse screamed in the darkness and Frodrick could see at once that the horses had ripped their tethers out of the ground and were gone. He didn't spend another moment worrying about them. Their natural instincts would likely serve them better in this wind anyway.
The next lightning flash brought everyone to a horrified pause. Illuminated in perfect detail over the span of a second the growing funnel cloud dipped toward the earth.
(I think it was Thomas Swift who said 'If I had more time, I would have written a shorter essay' but I never really edit these much anyway, and if I did I don't know if I would have made this one much less of a block than it is now. It was kind of fun to plunk out, having been building up to this for a couple weeks.)
(Prevailing wind conditions are between high severe (some 70km/h) and low windstorm (around 100km/h) levels, though gusts are stronger. Windstorm levels can check (prevent from moving) a medium creature walking against the wind while stronger gusts have a chance of sending a medium creature head over heels briefly. The tornado hasn't landed and currently isn't very near you, but that's not much by way of reassurance.)
Posted on 2013-09-22 at 22:40:37.
Edited on 2013-09-22 at 22:45:39 by Sibelius Eos Owm
Zeran blinked, and blinked again throwing his hands up after. "Alright! That's it I quit I'm going back to Oleg's! Everyone up! NOW!" He barked the last bit, scrambling to get things under way and get them the hell out of there.
The sight was horrifying, and Frodrick wished that he was in that tree hole at this point - or some other subterranean shelter. Never had he seen such a thing, and it was enough to make his once proud and stubborn knees buckle. Add to it the deafening wind and dagger-like rain and Frodrick felt like he was in the maelstrom of chaos itself with all the sensations and instincts hitting him.
Looking around, Frodrick saw that Zeran was throwing his arms up and screaming something, though it was hard to tell what exactly it was with the gusts rushing his words in another direction and the rain blasting Frodrick's helm. But it became evident what the boy was planning when he started ushering with his arms to start moving.
Rushing forward with his dwarven bulk, Frodrick threw his full body onto the boy, though his knees ached at exerting such force. As Frodrick pinned Zeran down he yelled into his ear as he contended over the wind. "We cant move boy! I ain't experienced such a thing as this here tunnel of wind, but I have heard o' em! We need to stay put or we get swept by the wind to our deaths!"
As another violent gale blasted through their natural shelter of the naturally formed trough, Frodrick pressed his weight down on Zeran. When it passed, the old dwarf rolled over, thinking the boy would not like a fat old stinky dwarf on him all night. With motions to show as such, he tried to scream out for everyone to fall down and group up.
Kyrie wasn't sure what she expected when their shelter was blown away. The gaping dark of night probably wasn't far from it though. That would be troublesome.
Shifting to try to get her bearings, she prepared herself. First thing was first. Get the shelter back, ram it in place so it wouldn't fly off again, and that way ensure that no one caught cold. If she could figure out where the thing went in the first place. Stupid dar-
The illumination brought by the lightning eradicated her train of thought, as she saw what lurked high above.
"Dear Mother, what would you have us do?" Kyrie breathed, her words torn away by the fierce wind as her face paled. Thankfully, no one was able to see it.
Adrenaline surged in her blood as she felt and heard the others stir to action. Zeran yelled for them to move, Frodrick advised for them to stay. Regardless of what they did, they needed to make sure they stayed together.
"Do we have any rope?" Kyrie shouted over the storm, "We should set up some sort of life line between us all!"
Kyrie had no personal experience with tornadoes. What she did have, however, was her intuition. And her intuition was screaming at her that anyone being able to be blown away was a very bad thing.
Posted on 2013-09-24 at 04:00:49.
Edited on 2013-09-24 at 04:05:42 by Reralae
Stay Still: Goes against all Survival Instincts XD
Zeran simply groaned when the dwarf forced him down. He hadn't any experience with something as fierce as this but he trusted Froderick enough to stay put. He nodded at the dwarf and army crawled after him sticking right on his heels, shouting hoping he heard. "Thanks Froderick, I like storms but this is ridiculous. You take the lead and I'll follow you to the letter!" he hollered, determination crossing his features.
Miguel leaned forward uncomfortably under the tarp. He glanced up at the sky hoping the wind would blow the storm past them. However he could only feel the wind getting worse--then the s*** hit the fan all at once.
The lightning flashed and Miguel could only stare in blissful terror at the sky, held by the raw majesty he witnessed. It was both beautiful and terrifying at the same time.
He didn't snap out of it until seconds later the tarp pulled his attention away from the spectacle. Without the lightning it was completely dark and now he was soaking wet, too. He realized the danger they were in suddenly.
The bard focused his mind on his hands and voice to make movements he couldn't see and words he could just hear, ushering forth four beads of light and sending them into the air to the party's aid.
Posted on 2013-09-24 at 05:56:18.
Edited on 2013-09-24 at 05:56:32 by Okron
They should have sent a poet. Or maybe a meteorologist.
Frodrick threw his short, stout dwarven mass at Zeran's lanky legs, physically dragging the taller man to the ground. Zeran couldn't hear barely half of what Frodrick was shouting thanks to the wind, but several words, particularly 'stay or die' made it through.
In a brilliant flash of single-minded insight, Kyrie seized upon a plan even as unseen Frodrick wrestled Zeran down. With very little hesitation and a determination partially divine in nature, Kyrie tried to find the sound of the wagon groaning in the darkness. Inside she knew, she had seen in the idle days passed, she would find the weapon she needed.
Krii made it up just in time to see Frodrick drag Zeran down. Had he been thinking more clearly he perhaps would have followed quicker, but his immediate reaction seeing the horses gone was to try to make it for the tree—the only stable thing for a mile around. Perhaps he could even find the hole again and get some cover. Though his night vision was exceptionally good, the tree was much too far, and he was picking his direction from memory and the flash of lightning when the light returned again—but in different form.
Miguel was frozen with awe for a second, the image of the cyclone burned into his retinas that he could still see it in the pitch darkness. Though he could barely hear the sound of his own tenor with the rain and wind pounding down, soundlessly he shouted out the appropriate words, willed waterlogged sluggish fingers to perform the motions, and concentrated his power into points of light glowing above his head.
Frodrick braced himself and Zeran to the ground as a powerful, sustained gust of wind rocked through their depression between the hills. Miguel's lights barely flicked on when he was forced to brace himself, barely keeping balance.
Krii was not so lucky, with his long lanky frame. The wind caught hold of him on the uneven terrain and would have sent him tumbling if not for Kyrie reaching out almost by instinct to grab his arm.
The group was frozen in their positions for a long moment as the solitary gust grew stronger before it abated. With a loud groan and a crash, Kyrie could only hold on and watch in frustration as the windward side of the wagon lifted and overturned, dumping the supplies onto the ground beneath it.
The gust quelled to the normal windspeed and the party had a moment to take stock of their emergency. The driving rain glinted and reflected off the glowing lamps, crowding the illumination to a just small area, enough to see the debris of their camp but not well enough to guide themselves by.
Lightning crashed across the sky and they could see the sycamore in the distance, rocking alarmingly under the force of the wind.
(I consider Kyrie still on the warpath for that rope, and anyone else who had plans that are not obviously changed by the events are still enganged in that pursuit; I pause mostly for effect and to give y'all a little more to react to and work with. On that note, I'm totally not just punishing Krii for being one of the first advocates of a dash to the tree [that was my initial plan myself before I reread the conditions I put you in] but I needed somebody to get caught for dramatic purposes and everyone else already had interesting things to get up to.)
Almost thought I wouldn't get this one up tonight.
Frodrick rolled off the poor gunslinger, who now saw the need to keep a low profile better than ever before. The dwarf was indicating that the others should get down, and upon seeing this Zeran pantomimed his message as clearly as he could.
After the wind passed, and Kyrie released his arm, Krii needed no further convincing to get down. He dropped to the wet grass and plastered himself as flat as possible to keep the wind from getting under him and lifting his skinny body away.
Whether because she didn't see the signals, or was simply ignoring them, Kyrie ploughed on toward the flipped wagon, bolstered by sheer stubbornness and determination. In the faint light she could only just see the scattered contents laying around, propping up one corner.
Miguel got to the ground with the rest after the gust of wind, but as he saw that Kyrie was on a mission he resolved to do whatever he could to help. He willed his lights closer to the wagon, then propped himself back up and started crawling after the paladin. (3/10)
Kyrie had just made it to the wagon when—something, she didn't get a good glimpse of it—bounced past her, narrowly missing her. Behind her Krii got a better look at the modest sized branch as it flew for him. He rolled out of the way just before it hit him.
Among the small pile partially trapped under the rim of the wagon, propping it up just slightly against the wind, Kyrie quickly found Miguel's 50' length of rope.
The wind picked up again and Miguel stopped to cling to the ground, while Kyrie held onto the edge of the wagon. It didn't last as long nor was near as powerful as the last and soon she was back at work.
Kyrie picked up the bulk of the coil and clutched it to her chest with one hand before it could have too much a chance to catch the wind. Looking up she saw Miguel crawling several feet behind her. She wasted no time and threw the coil to him so he could begin tying himself a loop.
As Kyrie threw the rope she noticed the tail end of the rope by her was partially pinned by the wagon, ordinarily not such a titanic task, but the wagon itself was pinned down on the debris by the wind on its undercarriage.
Miguel took the rope coil in one hand and wraped his arm around the lead back to Kyrie to stabilize himself. He came back downwind to where the others were taking cover only a couple yards back. With a underhanded heave he threw the coil over them landing in a pile next to Krii at the back. “Take hold!” he shouted, wondering if they would even catch his words as they blew past them.
The bard quickly undid his belt and redid it over the rope, to give him better freedom of movement as he moved back to see how Kyrie was faring.
At the leeward end, Frodrick was seeing to it that the other two had both seen the rope and took a hold of it so they could follow it up. As he did, he spotted something moving behind Krii. He tried to raise his voice in warning, but he needn't have. Krii saw them, too.
A small group of the little blue mites, crawling through the trough by clutching the grass as if they were scaling a wall were approaching. From the way they ducked their large heads and shielded their bulbous eyes, it didn't seem as if they had noticed at all that they shared the small alley between hills.
Meanwhile back at the top of the rope, Kyrie braced her back against the wagon and heaved, to little success as the wind bore down.
Frodrick knew nothing of these creatures aside from the fact that they were categorized as gremlins. And gremlins had a tendency in his people's lore to destroy and sabotage equipment. In the dwarven mines it could be a support beam. in the forging halls it could be a critical cable that held a cauldron of molten iron. In the hills, it could be a lifeline rope that stood between a man and his plummet into the sky.
It was at least partly evident that they had no idea that Frodrick and the others were here, but that could change. It would be a slow and tedious task, but Frodrick would have to make his way to them. If all went well, he would be able to throw them just enough off their anchored grass that they would be swept up in the winds and carried to their (hopeful) demise.
Inch by inch Frodrick made his way towards the potential and presently unaware threat.
Kyrie heaved on the rope to try to free it, but it wasn't having any of that. It must've been stuck good, but she didn't think it was that good to remain anchored on the wagon. Particularly if the wagon ended up moving. That might not be a good thing. Best to get it loose.
"Alright, you stubborn little dandelion." Kyrie rubbed her hands, "Out you get."
With practiced motion, Kyrie grabbed the offending piece, and shifted her center of gravity, using her own weight for more leverage, to try and pull the weed, er, rope, free.
Posted on 2013-09-26 at 05:25:44.
Edited on 2013-09-26 at 05:26:46 by Reralae
Lightning continued to flash sporadically, illuminating large parts of the sky. For those still paying attention, the funnel cloud had not yet touched down, but there were many more things to worry about than watching the sky.
Krii saw the diminutive creatures with the massive heads crawling up behind him. Since he was furthest back on the rope, he would be the first they would encounter. He let go of his sickle, rammed blade first into the ground for stability, and pointed at the lead. With a little concentration and some soundless shouting, he fired a black beam, almost indistinguishable in the darkness.
The mite clung onto the grass it was holding tenaciously, but barely, as almost all the strength fled from its body. It didn't seem like it could continue pushing against the wind, and probably a gust would cause it to lose its grip entirely.
At the moment the wind was merely severe, and Frodrick, being of stout dwarven build, was more than equal to it. He let go of the rope and quickly got to his feet and left Zeran, now safe with the rope.
The old dwarf allowed the wind to half push him as he dropped back down just passed Krii and first in line to throw the mites out of the trough as they approached. His red-and-white beard flew out a short way before him like a drenched flag, soaked from the rain.
As the lead mite stopped moving forward, it provoking the others to begin prodding it to move faster. Almost as an afterthought they glanced up to see what was ahead and jumped. They began reaching for the tiny daggers, barely larger than parring knives, that hung at their wastes.
Meanwhile Miguel carefully worked along the rope back to Kyrie's side as she heaved upon the stubborn rope. It would probably take the two of them to counter the weight of the wagon combined with the force of the wind.
Zeran, left by Frodrick as the dwarf went to see to Krii, pulled himself up toward the wagon one hand over the other, crawling slowly. As he did, the wind began to pick up again, gusting twice then hitting with a steady but not immediately threatening stream. The mites rattled on their grass anchors.
(I'm assuming Zeran is moving up the rope; if he wants he can also take note of Frodrick's departure and follow him down a bit, or alternatively stay put and clutch the rope.)
(This is just a bit of surprise round; Kyrie Miguel and Zeran are considered noncombatant at this point, though no doubt that changes eventually. Wind gusts to windstorm, which for medium creatures such as yourselves merely prevents movement upwind pending Str check.)
(Gotta run to class now; if there's a detail you'd like to add or change, Skype or Q&A it and I'll try to rectify that when Iget time.)
The ugly, puffy blue faced gropped for their knives as Krii took aim again. With the wind kicking up so violently he had to squint to see—the spell was absorbed harmlessly by the soil a foot and a half to the right of the mite he had targeted.
The spell he had already gotten off, however, proved to be nearly as effective. The lead mite lost its grip with one hand as a surge of wind came up, causing him to lose his handhold entirely. He tumbled backward into the next in line. This proved immediately a serious detriment to the latter's ability to hold on, sending it rolling away, helplessly thrown tumbling across the ground into the darkness (-4dmg Mite B; Unknown).
The lead mite, through desperation and luck, seized once more his lifeline to the long plains grasses, uninjured thanks to the serendipitously soft landing he received. The other two, meanwhile, drew their knives, but couldn't make progress against the wind (Checked) as the dwarf crawled closer to the lot, waiting with his gleaming axe to foul any plans they held of enacting their vile ruinations upon their makeshift shelter.
Zeran nearly suffered the same fate, though his greater mass saved him from being in danger of being blown away. Were it not for the rope and his low profile against the ground, the gunslinger would have been held in place. Zeran pulled himself hand over hand on elbows and knees slowly closer to where Kyrie and Miguel struggled to release the rope from the wagon anchoring it.
Miguel placed his back to the wagon as Kyrie pulled. He held out his hand to gesture her to hold a moment, timing their efforts with interpretive facial expressions and gestures.
The wind lagged just a bit and Miguel gave a short nod. He threw his strength into lifting the wagon off the ground just enough while Kyrie similarly put muscles hardened through years of toil in the fields. Kyrie dragged the rope out of the wet mud for a foot before suddenly the entire pinned length came free, almost pulling Miguel with her by the belt as she stumbled backward.
Victorious, the young woman's triumph would have to be shortlived. Even as Kyrie held the rope in her hand the pitch black sky lit up with the sight of the long, malevolent funnel stretching mostly diagonally across the hills, possibly seconds or moments from touching down.
She tried to shout to her companions as she redid her end of the rope around her waist, but it was in vain. The rest were either too distracted or too distant or both to hear her shouts.
At the same time, though, Kyrie and Miguel both became aware of a sound from upwind, almost like a low-pitched whistle quickly growing louder. As they turned they saw a violet ball of light speeding toward them, seemingly caught up in the force of the wind. As it approached it became obvious the sound was originating from the ball—they both ducked as it shot toward their heads, but at the last minute it hooked back and down, squeezing into the pitiable shelter offered by the wagon.
Despite themselves and the drama of the situation, both looked at each other, dumbfounded. It was a will-o-wisp, possibly the very same they had encountered just over a month before.
“Ah, you folk again. Don't mind if I rest my spiracles within this conveniently positioned shelter, do you? It seems there has been some turbulence of late and I have deemed it prudent to allow things to temper down out yonder.”
The very same.
It's ethereal voice nevertheless managed to vibrate loudly enough to be audible to those nearest it, though for the moment there were. For example, the fact that if many more creatures showed up to take cover in the narrow gulf between the hills, the party may have to start charging admission.
Frodrick grimaced as he saw the wisp come into view. He felt offended by its words - as if it was showing off its vocabulary and acting superior in its intelligence.
It had wanted them all to kill each other before for its own satisfaction. Perhaps death was what it fed upon or took delight in. As it was, Frodrick and company could not take it on - but perhaps it would leave them alone if something else died.
It was a convenience that there were a few ugly pigmies near by that could be the sacrificial lambs.
Crawling forward again, Frodrick wanted to see if their heads were as soft as they seemed. Hopefully their brains wouldn't get blown into his eyes by this confounded wind.
Miguel turned his attention from the wisp hiding under the wagon. There was nothing he could do about it, at least not by himself anyway. There were more important things to take care of--like what were those other two doing?
Frodrick and Krii seemed to be distracted fighting some lumpy forms crawling toward their shelter. With a thought the bard willed the lights to their position, leaving the wisp's natural glow to illuminate Kyrie as she made a temporary loop of rope for Zeran.
Through the heavy rain and wind beating down on their backs, Kyrie, Zeran, and Miguel saw the three mites, clinging desperately to the grass and holding down Frodrick and Krii's attention. With the tornado bearing down, Miguel frantically tried to come up with a solution to help the others--he could not call out to them and they were still out of reach though they held the rope.
Kyrie set forth, now beginning to wonder where her shield, her shovel had all gotten off to, but Miguel took her arm. He had a less determinedly suicidal idea.
Frodrick and Krii saw as the mites dug their tiny knives into the earth in a weak attempt to fight against the wind and gain ground. A barely perceptible magical whisper shot over their heads and, as they had seen it done in Oleg's yard, landed among the mites with a pulse that immediately stole the consciousness from two of the three. Both bodies immediately slackened, the wind beginning to push them slowly over the slick surface of the grass--the next gust would take them with it.
Both watched with growing amazement, though, as the last remaining conscious mite--the very same that had suffered from Krii's necromancy--clung to life and fought off Miguel's enchantment.