After the boisterous happenings of that evening, Frodrick was all but spent. He had been given a dagger and worried that someone was going to frame him. Then he finds out that one of the people he vouched for had every intent of betraying them, and was manipulating others into doing his bidding. Then there was the hostage situation. If Zeran hadn’t been where he was, who knows what would have happened to Adela.
And it all came down to judgment - poor judgement. Judgment that Frodrick had granted. It shamed him, and he wished to unleash it upon Niko - perhaps cutting his head off, or at least kicking the stool from under his feet. but that would not fix the issue: what he wanted to do was the cowards way out. He had to man-up and face his deficiencies head on. And that meant doing something he hated - almost as much as goblins. Frodrick had to apologize.
Finding Johd, Frodrick mumbled to the “old” cleric that he wished to have a word with him in private.
(Presuming Johd, though probably hesitantly or after an initial hostile reaction, obliges the request).
“I uh… I want to say something that barely no one ever has heard from me mouth. I want to say… I’m sorry. I see now that I can very well be s*** when looking upon others’ character. I over stepped my rights and my honor when I said them words to you. I know no words o’ mine be worth scatt now, but I hope to prove in actions that I am repentant of my offense to ye.”
It was a hard thing for the old dwarf to say, but he said it. He quickly went back to the stables to sleep it off. That was harder than fighting a thousand bandits, and the dwarf was exhausted.
Krii had rushed out when he heard the struggle and watched as Zeran subdued Niko and had him carried away. He remained quiet and looked at the others thinking for a moment, part of him wanted to express his joy that he had been right but he remained silent for the moment it seemed only one bad able had been thrown in with the bunch, time would tell if it had spoiled any other the others.
Oleg's Trading Post
(Frodrick & Jhod)
Jhod appeared suspicious about the idea of talking with the dwarf in private, but agreed at once—whether he somehow understood Frodrick's intentions, or perhaps thought it best to keep further arguments to less public venues, only he could say.
When Frodrick finished his bit the middle-aged man smiled softly. “I know how difficult that must have been for you to admit. I accept your apology. Erastil knows I haven't always been the best judge of a situation myself in the past, but don't let it get you down too hard. I've only been here five days and already I've seen the great work you have done with these prisoners already. When you find one rotten apple, you don't throw out the bushel, you throw out the apple, after all.”
Jhod's face hardened just a bit, assuming his no-nonsense down-to-business look you've seen him adopt whenever there was work to be done over the the last few days. “I assume your party will want to pass judgement in the morning? I'll prepare my vestments, then.”
Jhod's 'vestments' turned out to mean a clean pair of everyday clothes, with a serviceable leather cloak thrown over, bearing the symbol of Erastil burnt into the hide. Being the single most qualified in the matters of life and death, he oversaw the execution with funeral rites.
Niko, for his part, did not seem to appreciate Jhod's services and sulked twice as hard as he had previously when he was pretending at obedience. When Jhod emphasised repentance and forgiveness, Niko merely scowled as if the world was to blame for his current situation rather than his own egocentric failings.
After Jhod's few words for the bandit, Niko was hung alongside Happs' well decayed and crow-pecked body without further ceremony.
Exploration & Mapping
Hexes: B4, A4, A3, A2, A1, (B1) +125 XP Each
The party set out again not long after the hanging. Svetlana bid them each good luck, and Oleg told them to bring him back more loot he could trade.
They traveled northwest and coasted along the southern border of Brevoy for a few days without much disturbance. One night, camping a few miles from the northernmost point of the Narlmarches, however, sleep was restless and hard to come by. Beginning sometime in the middle of the night when Krii was on watch, a tremendous uproar of bellowing grunts and menacing hissing dominated the night. As far as anyone could guess, two massive animals, easily bear-sized or larger judging by the noise they made, were warring for some reason or another. While the sound was far away from where the party was camped, the cacophony disturbed sleep for almost half an hour.
Early in the next day's exploration the party came upon the source of the night's disturbance—or at least one of the pair. A large pile of fur, feathers and blood was all that remained of one of the combatants, aptly enough about the size of a bear. Despite the damage done to the body, split open with the innards largely consumed, the owl-faced creature matched the description of the legendary owlbear.
No regular animal, Miguel identified the body as a magical beast, tougher and more deadly than any common bird or beast of the wilderness. It's generally agreed that the first owlbears were the twisted product of some deranged wizard's meddling in the past, but the species has long since flourished rather well in the wild places of the world. Miguel pointed out the creature's red-rimmed eyes which many scholars thought to be physical manifestation of some kind of bloodthirsty madness that compels them to kill anything larger than a mouse. Other scholars, of course, suggest that it's merely how the monster's eyes are constructed, though the owlbear's notorious temper and aggression is well known.
(More info to come in the Bestiary section of the Q&A, Miguel got a pretty sweet roll on the lore check and I'm not going to bore you with all the detail here).
It was almost impossible to tell what manner of beastie had actually slain the monster, but the several puncture wounds near its throat suggest some form of massive insectoid similar to the spider from the week before. Whatever it may have been, it had probably buggered off back to the forest after consuming its fill.
Other than this evidence of its meal, no further sign was seen of the predator (or, knowing the nature of the owlbear, erstwhile prey turned predator)—and perhaps just as thankfully, no other owlbears seemed to inhabit the immediate area, which would have been nearly as deadly if not more so of a find.
Around the far northwestern lands of the Greenbelt Charter, at the border between Brevoy to the north and the Hooktongue Slough charter to the west the party passed a scattered selection of large stones, apparently the remains of toppled cairns from a forgotten age.
After about a full week worth of exploration the temperature took a sudden dip and the sky turned dull grey—no where near freezing, but enough to create a thick fog toward the end of the daylight hours. By the time the group made camp, visibility was reduced to hardly the span of the camp, even with a fire lit.
Overnight the fog muffled every sound and made it all but impossible to see anything outside the camp, resulting in a very sombre and subdued watch duty. As fate, luck, or dramatic tension would have it, though, such a night as this could not pass unnoted.
Toward the end of Kyrie's watch she was alerted by a faint, sobbing wail in the distance. She was only just able to make out the light of a solitary lantern working its way across the plain, though the fog obscured its bearer from sight. They must have noticed the campfire, however, and a woman's voice cried out in the fog.
Vilify’s Training: Day 13/21 (Success) Bogdan's Training: Day 2/21 Matilda's Training: Day 2/21
(I forgot to include it in the actual post, but only Vilify was taking to the training and has moved on to the final half of his training. Bogdan and Matilda have both started over from the basics.)
(Oh, also only Kyrie is awake at the time. She can (and probably will) wake the others just by shouting to them or responding to the traveler. Her shovel is immediately at hand, and I guess it would make sense for everybody to be sleeping wearing their armour except Frodrick (not counting Krii, who has never worn his armour in a fight))
Kyrie idly patted the stone circle around their campfire with her shovel. It wasn't as though there was any wind that could blow them away, but it was a habit of hers. She closed her eyes a moment to listen to the crackling of the flames. Opening them again, she waved a hand in front of her face.
"Sheesh, this fog is like mashed potatoes." She murmured, "At least it's not too cold out."
She remembered a few winters on the farm. Those could get frigid. Before she could remember what they were trying to grow through the winter as an experiment once, her thoughts were interrupted by a cry.
Even with the obscuring fog, a cry for help was very identifiable to the friendly (ex?)-farmer. Kyrie could vaguely see the source, or supposedly what might've been a lantern carried by them.
"Over here!" Kyrie shouted back, waving her shovel in the air out of habit despite the fog, "What's wrong? Can you make it here?"
(All things considered I thought it'd be longer, but then I realized that Kyrie wouldn't be anything but direct and just follow her instinctive helpfulness so… yeah, probably woke peoples up with her shouting but hey, it's for a good cause XD)
Zeran sat bolt upright, he was roused first by Kyrie yelling and was about to ask what was happening but that scream made his heart jump out his chest and dick off back towards the fort. "BLOODY HELL!" He shouted angrily grabbing his fun and checking it quickly, it was safe and in tact. He started loading it fixing his eyes on Kyrie the only real object right now due to the blasted fog. "Kyrie! What the hell is going on?!" he barked getting to his feet and whipping around to find the source of the screaming, this fog would be the death of them he felt it in his gut, and his gut was hardly wrong. "Krii! Froderick! Get up we need everyone on their feet and ready for action NOW!" He snapped fighting back that feeling of dread in his stomach. "Miguel do you got lights or something?! We need to see further we are at a severe disadvantage right now!"
Assuming Kyrie fills them in.
His heart hammered and he kept scanning for any sign of hostiles. "No one run off! We move as a group not as individuals! We can easily be slaughtered if we split up! Kyrie I know you want to investigate and help I do to. But we MUST be rational! Lead the charge and we will stay right behind you. Miguel cover the left flank I got the right. Krii get between me and Miguel. Froderick cover the rear. If anyone sees anything that looks hostile shout it out, if we see the girl and if she is still alive we stay together, secure her, and double back to the fire. If she is dead, we double back to the fire and slaughter whatever killed her. If she is not dead, we secure her, move her if we can and help her when we can. But OUR safety is paramount first. STICK, TOGETHER!" He barks, taking charge as quick as he can and praying to Hanspur that his companions follow his plan in this, that gnawing feeling in his stomach just won't quit and it shows in his eyes. Worry.
After being informed that there was a cry for help, Frodrick shook his head.
“We are in untamed lands here. If there is a voice calling for help, we can help, but we can’t go rushing in. The fog is thick, and yer torches will do little good in overcoming it. I have heard tell of mischievous critters that play pranks, and haunting spirits who lead others to their doom. Either of these could be a possibility in this case, and the environment would play to their advantage. I say we call out and inquire more. They can explain themselves if they be of living stuff. If they refuse to answer, then we stay on alert and otherwise ignore them. I ain’t goin’ into no fog ‘with me pants down’ as it were.”
Posted on 2013-05-01 at 14:29:53.
Edited on 2013-05-01 at 17:23:20 by Shades331
Krii sat up and listened before rising to his feet and clearing his throat
"If I may, on one hand there could be someone out there in need of our help on the other it could be any number of horrible thing intent on killing us and using our flesh as a puppet, what we do know is that with the current conditions were all far impaired beyond this camp... Zeran do you still have those alchemists flasks, its a touch risky but if we toss at least one out there we can provide ourselves with a little more visibility and provided the whole of the ground doesn't spring into a blaze not only that but the sudden burst of flame may draw the attention of anything out there that could be attacking whomever we heard scream giving us an opening to evacuate them if possible, either way we cant just go out there with little more then a stick together plan should one of us falter we put the whole of the group at risk in these conditions. The value of the one or two lives out there doesn't out way ours and right now the best offence we have is a good defence and as it stands this is our most defaceable position "
- regardless of the response krii's next action will probably be casting his mage armour what's a calls it-
Miguel sat up groggy hair in a mess, “wha? What's going on.” he tried to rub the sleep from his eyes. (...) “A person? What are they doing in the wild at this time of night.” He stood up sluggish from his slumber, “I'll try to give us some more light.” He began to channel one of his basic spells (Dancing lights) in the direction of the scream at the edge of his vision. “Looks like her light went out. We should see if she's okay.” He then drew his weapon and stared off in to the fog. “This is going to be a long night.”
How do you expect me to stay back? Can't tank at the back of the group!
Kyrie had already moved by the time the others were already roused, standing near the edge of where the fire's light could be considered good illumination and trying to pierce the fog with her gaze. She evidently dropped her shovel behind her similar to how one discards their bat after hitting the ball, with her sickle already in hand as she stared hard ahead of her.
"I'm not quite sure what it is." She noted back at the others, clarifying, "But someone called for help, and I can't see their lantern any more. Don't worry, I'm not about to dash over there. Just trying to see if I can make anything out."
As Miguel brought his will upon reality, Kyrie reached over her shoulder and drew her shield from her back. It was not a time to attack, but to be prepared, and her shield was her best bet to be prepared.
Kyrie frowned a bit as she stared into the fog. She didn't know what she was looking for, but her intuition was that perhaps she would be able to, if not see, perhaps feel. Later she'd probably think she was nuts but the alternative was to run forward, and this was about as far forward as she wanted to go right now, lest she abandon her allies.
(Surprise round - curiosity dictates I move forward 30ft to edge of bright illumination from campfire. Draw sickle while moving, with shovel dropped behind prior to move (free)
First round - don shield and begin scanning via detect evil, centre of gaze at where the lantern last was)
Posted on 2013-05-03 at 06:35:45.
Edited on 2013-05-03 at 06:59:44 by Reralae
There's a certain joy to using monsters almost no one has fought before.
Kyrie dropped her shovel by her post. If there was serious danger going on she would want her shield going into matters. She waited at the edge of the fire light, quickly switching weapons while the others got themselves sorted.
Miguel sprang to life first, his soonest conscious thought (excepting perhaps hoping for cooked eggs and bacon) being a simple illumination spell. The four points of light appeared in formation beyond the edge of the firelight, illuminating the ground in front of Kyrie while Miguel reached for his sword and slid off it's sheath.
At this distance the lights appeared scarcely any brighter than the now-missing lantern, illuminating large clouds of fog but providing no insight as to what lay hidden in its depths. Kyrie eschewed her sight for this matter and reached out with more intuitive senses.
Almost as soon as the paladin begin focusing, a sense of formless malice drew in her mind, originating from somewhere out in the darkness.
Behind her the party assembled themselves, intentionally or not, loosely according to Zeran's direction, Zeran drawing and loading his pistol while Frodrick and Krii approached, one with axe the other with magical protections.
(Round 2 – It didn't seem like I'd be taking particular liberties to suggest that people keep moving forward as a group, seeing as how that was the point; if you had a specific action in mind, Skype me)
Miguel joined Kyrie at her left while she continued to focus. She glanced at him as he arrived and together with the rest of the party they advanced slowly. Just before she released her concentation she felt a single, supernaturally powerful malicious presence out in the darkness. Normally most folk barely registered on her senses, so the strength of this aura was greater than any she had encountered before. (1 Aura: Moderate)
As the party passed below where Miguel stationed his floating lights, the fog seemed to get thicker—except that wasn't the case. They were only two-thirds of the way to where the lantern had gone down, but the fog seemed to stretch out of itself toward the party. As the bank of thick cloud approached them it separated itself from the surrounding fog and congealed on the spot in front of Zeran.
The gunslinger barely had time to react in fear and surprise as a monstrosity took shape, shrieking a bone-chilling cry, and lunged at him. It was about the size and shape of a child, dressed in a child's grave rags, but it could not be a child, at least not anymore. Atop it's spindly child-sized body sat an over-sized bestial head like that of a rat or an ugly dog, complete with sharp teeth and sunken, dead shadows for eyes.
Rather than grabbing onto Zeran, as it could have, it merely stretched its gnarled hand out—but on the grass below its shadow wasn't keeping still. The shadow of the arm continued to stretch where the monster's didn't, and grasped Zeran around the ankle. The man thought he was going to be ill at the sight of this unnatural event, but apparently suffered no further harm by the time the shadow retracted.
(Don't think I can't hear the chorus of WTF. I do, and it fills me with pleasure - Have fun.
Also while we're at it, I'm not going to pretend at any point that the lantern at night = danger was a surprise, but I think perhaps what actually came of it will be enough to compensate. Also, you don't know what/if/maybe became of the woman and child yet. Finally, if you're curious, the monster's normal shadow lies just to the upper left, cast from the light source to it's lower right)
Posted on 2013-05-03 at 09:44:32.
Edited on 2013-05-03 at 10:17:37 by Sibelius Eos Owm
Zeran grimaced at the sight of what he assumed was perhaps an undead kobold or something else horrible. "By Hanspur you are the most disgusting thing I have ever seen, I'd rather kiss Happs right now then have you walking." He gagged some fighting now to keep his stomach in check and to ignore the taunting 'I told you so' his gut was playing out. Thinking as quick as he could he took a step back, aimed and fired his gun hoping he hit the thing and hoping even more he either dropped it or at least gave it reason to piss off. Zeran made sure the direction he stepped, would put him beside Froderick giving the dwarf room to step in and ax the bugger better.
"Froderick have at it show this...thing what your ax is made of. So we can hopefully live through the night and maybe find the others in trouble. Provided this a**hole wasn't the one tricking us." He tried to sound in good spirits but it wasn't coming through. Instead he sounded tired, angry and a bit desperate to get back to his dreams, he was having a very good one but wouldn't dare share the...steamy...nature of it with his friends. Lava made for interesting romance.
During the surprise round: Frodrick picked up his shield that was beside his bed and got his weapon ready to fight since the group was hell-bent on going into the fog. (Trait allows for drawing weapon as a free action during surprise round).
During the first round of combat: Frodrick scrunched his nose in disgust at the creature which had just attack Zearn. “GORRUM’S BLADE* THAT THING IS UGLY!” Now was not the time for such observations though, and Frodrick was sure that Zeran would be able to elaborate more throughout the battle on the thing’s appearance, as he had done most other opponents thus far. “By Hanspur you are the most disgusting thing I have ever seen, I'd rather kiss Happs right now then have you walking." Yup. No need for Frodrick to talk, Zeran had no problem doing it, and doing it better.
Quickly fiddling with his shield, Frodrick picked up on the maneuvering cue Zeran gave, and ran in to make sure that he was between the firearm expert and the new opponent. Though instructed to use his axe, Frodrick had other plans. He was still tired, and though he would like to hack the thing to bits, it was time for team work.
“Flank it!” Frodrick called out, bearing his shield. He didn’t have time to set up a fully prepped defense, but this would have to do for the moment.
-Move action: equip shield
-Move action: move to be adjacent to enemy and between Zeran and it (even if promote AoO)
-Next turn (unless things change greatly): Total defence.
-Jargon Hooves will act on her own for now. She should have her armor on b/c she has endurance, and she knows that a threat is in the vicinity. I will allow Sib as the DM to decide what she will do as an Int 2 creature that is trained for combat who has probably been woken up rudely.
Miguel rolls a 17, then everyone else rolls 4-9. Seriously you guys, buck it up.
Miguel stepped in as Zeran fell back. He slashed his sword down swiftly and expertly across the scruff of the small creature's neck. Despite the force of his strike, thick dark ichor oozed out of only a shallow wound left on the beastie's hide. Apparently it was supernaturally resistant to mortal instruments of cold steel (-4dmg Beastie, Green).
Frodrick had called for a flanking partner, and so Kyrie ran around to the other side of the monster, opposite Zeran even as he backed out of the way. She swiped at the vermin with her sickle. Despite its apparent top-heaviness, it's small size worked to its advantage.
Zeran, found this true, too. Taking a wider aim to avoid hitting either Kyrie or Miguel, he fired a ball straight into the blasted earth, throwing up nothing more deadly than a puff of dirt. The adventurer brigand cursed his luck in Hanspur's name.
Scoring naught for naught Krii experienced nothing less than the same fate. The sorcerer stepped back from the fight, searching for a clear gap in the fighters to shoot through while not providing too much opening should the monster rush break away and rush for him. Perhaps still bleary-eyed from recent memories of sleep, he fired a beam of icy energy from his finger at the creature, only to spread a layer of hoarfrost over the plains grass and turning the dense fog into snow where the narrow beam passed.
Meanwhile Frodrick finished fitting the straps on his hefty shield. There was no telling if it would save him from what manner of attack this beastie possessed, but it wouldn't likely hurt his chances of survival, especially lacking his armour. With multiple attempts flying sour around the field, Frodrick stepped into the position Zeran vacated directly opposite Kyrie and held his guard up, tempting the monster to try something against him.
The monster must have sensed the dwarf's unspoken challenge. Instead of lashing out as it had done with Zeran, though, it glanced blatantly to the long shadow it cast thanks to Miguel's lights, stretched across the ground to Frodrick's side. Rather than attack, it took a deliberate step away from Frodrick and Kyrie, throwing it's shadow onto the dwarf at the same time as it reached out to Miguel with it's profane ability.
Miguel's quick reflexes managed to dodge the shadowy attack, but nearly every hair on Frodrick's body stood on end at the touch of the unnatural shade cast by the monster. He apparently suffered no worse than Zeran had, though.
Miguel rolls low. Everyone else high. Hell, let's get dangerous.
Miguel saw Kyrie on the opposite side of the monster. He channel his arcane energy into his sword with a thought and stepped opposite her so the two warriors could take advantage of each other's distraction.
The monster wasn't willing to let it's guard down quite so easily against Miguel, though, and hissed as it dodged his blade. It did not realize it was leaving it's back exposed to Kyrie's skilled sickle. Honed by helping her parents at the harvest, she possessed lethal efficiency removing heads... of grain, leastwise.
The technique invovled proved to be not dissimilar. The tip of her instrument sank deep into the scruff of the monster's furry neck (*crit* -7dmg) but it's natural resilience to steel took some of the edge off (Yellow Status). The monster's his turned to a rattling cough—if they didn't see the hideous truth for their own eyes the party might mistake it for a sick child.
The farmgirl nodded to Frodrick as she took position to give the old dwarf the same shot at the creature's flank. Zeran was reloading his powder quickly while Krii struck again, not subject to the mechanical concerns of ammunition (at least with this simple trick of a spell). The sorcerer struck home this time, forming a layer of condensation across the monster's grave rags (-1dmg).
“Jabbers! To me!” Frodrick shouted. He pointed to Miguel with his shield hand while he moved into position. “Help.”
The dwarf turned his attention fully on the monster, hardly a foot shorter than him. “Alright you blighted beastie, let's see what you got. Surround and eliminate!” He struck a glancing blow to the creature's face. The blow didn't leave a cut, but it did cause the monster to jerk back a bit.
Jargon's mighty hoof beats pounded behind as his mount came to answer his call. Her noble equine form appeared out of the fog and the dark, dashing to Miguel's aid.
She never made it that far. With a shrill noise that sounded more like a scream than any sound a horse might make, she skid to a halt at the edge of the fog and reared on her hind legs, kicking the air uselessly with her raised hooves.
This unexpected development rippled through the battle with a change in fortune. The monster suddenly rounded on Kyrie and reached out to grab her—not with it's shadowy attack that it had been using, but with it's actual clawed hand. It grabbed at the slats in her armour with strength suprising for it's size and frail appearance and held for a second.
Almost at once Kyrie felt an intense shock of cold seep through her armour and numb her abdomen (-6cold Kyrie). She gasped for breath, her lungs suddenly feeling empty and her hair standing on end at brushing with the monster's shadow while it held her. With childlike glee the monster giggled as it skipped by her and away from Frodrick and Miguel.
(I believe the appropriate phrase at this point is “Let's get dangerous”. Zeran is now in melee range as a byproduct of how the monster moved. It's shadow is a non-entity just now since it's pointed away from the group thanks to the current positioning of Miguel's lights. It looks like the thing's decided to fight back in earnest.)
Zeran frowned and sighed some as the little bastard stepped closer to him, either because it wanted him or because he just happened to be in that bad of a spot. "Sunvabitch, just die already!" He growled at the wee little beastie. A step brought him away from the monster out of its reach and a bit closer to the group instead of deeper into the fog. He took aim focusing all his effort, all his will, all his sex appeal, into this shot. He pulled the trigger and braced holding his breath and praying, hoping that this bullet connected and either killed the monster or at least gave it something fierce to think about.