Two heads are better than one, but four hands kill keyboards.
Pressing the good farmer for more information yielded nothing. Tristan wasn't surprised, though he had agreed with the elf's need to check. She seemed unusually paranoid about the man... Given what Tristan knew of her, perhaps he too should be more skeptical, but at the moment he couldn't find it in himself to care.
After a brief silence on the walk back to town, Tristan glanced at his travelling companion, smirk firmly affixed to his lips. "I'm undecided as to who is going to be more fun: Relos or Malevolent Mal."
A sly glance and a coy smile accompanied Sehanine's reply. "Why Tristan, darling, it'll be the holy buffoon of course. All that purity..."
His smirk widened as he thought back to Relos's eagerness to help. "Purity indeed. And yet self-delusion can create just as many opportunities with much less work."
Another smile, this one almost predatory. "Yes, it can, and he's quite full of it. Perhaps it will be a game of purity and delusion. Which one shall claim its sinner first?"
Tristan glanced over, amusement written all over his face. "I'd say whichever of them tries to confront us first.... unless Mad Mal slips again like he did this morning..."
From the way she smiled and laughed, another person would have thought she hadn't a care about the situation. But Tristan knew her well enough to hear the promise of pain in the sound. "Then we leave it to the fates perhaps?" She pauses and smiles. "Although the Argent Ass is dreadfully close to the cliff. Just a little push and he'll fall. It would be such a tragedy."
"Now, now. No plotting against fellow Guild members." It took a good deal of the man's considerable control to keep a straight face as he said it. "Not until we have more of them anyway."
The reply was fast and seemingly careless. "Plotting against one of our honored crew? I would never do such a thing."
Thought turned to the remaining member of their hodgepodge group. "And what of the delightfully sharp Calopee, of goat pen fame?"
A more genuine smile came across Sehanine's features. For anyone who knew her, it was very possibly the most frightening expression she could wear. "That little one has potential. I want to keep her."
Tristan paused once more, weighing his next words, and her probable reaction. He could never quite predict her, but he judged the first part would go over well enough. It needed to be stated anyway.
"You know, if this whole group is going to work, it's going to come down to you and I to make it so."
A knowing, almost mournful look flashed through her eyes. If he hadn't already been looking, Tristan would have missed it entirely. "On that, you are surely right."
Tristan slowed his step, his customary smirk falling from his face, and even lowered his voice. "You know I love our little.... games.... but this is a once in a lifetime chance. Even one of Discq's Favored won't gamble those odds." He lowered his voice further. "The matter of my master's bracers needn't be dropped, nor settled here. But it cannot endanger Fortune's Favored."
Sehanine, who had slowed her pace to match his, glanced up at the taller man. Dropping a slender hand to caress the bracer strapped to his forarm, she replied in the same low tone. "The matter is long from settled, child of man. But it will not crumble our little pack of heroes." She paused, and her mercurial expression became a solmn gaze, one of ancient calm. "On that, Tristan Brice, you have my word."
All at once, the light was back in Tristan's eyes, and the spring returned to hes step. With a returning smirk he answered, "Glad to hear it. Though I wonder what the word of a Trickster can be worth, being one myself."
Just as quickly, the seriousness flooded out of Sehanine as well. "Very little I suppose."
The gleam in his eye turning wicked, he picked up his pace a further step, saying over his shoulder, "I must say though, I look with much regret upon your hair. Whyever did you drop this morning's.... bold.... style?"
With an air of superiority, she replied as she again matched his pace. "The world was not ready for such a style. Besides, it doesn't go well with lemons. Are you fond of lemons, Tristan? I hear they help with potency?"
Ouch. Kid gloves right off then. All smiles, he quickly counterd. "I wouldn't know about that, though the taste leaves something to be desired. I'd almost rather run my tongue along a dingy, ale stained, and for that matter, other stained bar-top. Almost."
The elf's voice was scathing as she returned, "I'm sure that can be arranged."
This drew out Tristan's first laugh during the short journey. "One of my foremost policies, dearest Sehanine, is to learn from other's mistakes, as well as my own."
Sehanine did not speak to him again until they reached the town proper.
Posted on 2014-04-23 at 05:53:45.
Edited on 2014-04-23 at 08:28:12 by Chessicfayth
An hour before nightfall, Isiah’s Hut, Schell After a day of searching the fields for some sort of advantage that Calopee and her compatriots could exploit in the coming conflict, her feet were sore, her appetite whetted, and her spirit diminished. She'd found nothing... No reasonable ground for pits, nor were there any sturdy anchors for trip lines. It seemed to her that this job was becoming tedious. Direct conflict just wasn't her style. She was lured out of her bitter stink of a mood by the rich aroma of homemade stew. She was first in line for a serving, and only hesitated briefly when she saw that there was meat of a kind within the brothy goodness. "Um... No offense Mister, but I didn't see your goat on the way back." She began to state into the bowl, recalling the dreadful taste of goat in her mouth from that morning. She had little interest in comparing that to their stewed loin.
In reply the farmer chuckled and assured her that there was no goat within. One last hesitant moment passed, before her stomach protested impatiently about the long intervals between feedings. A wooden bowl, some bread and fixings and she was all set to chow down. First though, their host had a question for them. A fair one at that, but not a simple one to answer. Oh sure, she imagined the newest of their ranks would have a certain zeal to the task at hand, but personally she saw no advantage to a fight on their terms.
"Do you have somewhere safe that you can secret away yourself and your family? Perhaps a root cellar? I don't want you to be hurt if things get heavy." She replied to her hosts question.
Then, turning to her group she reported, "I found nothing defensible about the land. I fear they may have an advantage, being that they are on horseback. We may be able to use the hut as cover, but we'd need to be wary of getting trapped inside." She emphasized her point by stuffing her face.
Posted on 2014-04-27 at 23:23:32.
Edited on 2018-03-09 at 10:26:12 by Eol Fefalas
The evening sun glowed over the dirty farmscape, transforming the hot mud into glistening gold. The old farmhouse looked picturesque, like a painting of pastoral bliss. Fields of grain swayed beyond it in the the fine summer breeze.
Mal walked toward the scene in contemplation, the dirt road soft beneath his feet. Up ahead he saw two figures walking side by side. Tristan and the elf. Sehanine. He had trouble with her name, and given today's episode he thought it wise to keep it close to mind. The two of them looked thick as thieves; he could hear them talking but couldn't quite grasp the words.
He quickened his pace, no thought given to stealth, and was on upon them. "You two look like you're up to something," he said. "Did you learn anything useful today?"
The group of three talked and walked for a while. Mal found the golden evening intoxicating, and his thoughts wandered all around the day's events before finding their way home.
"Oh, I learned something that may be of use", he said. "Though it isn't much. I met some hoary old man who thought he'd heard of these desert riders before. Seems they raided some of the townsfolk awhile back, but he thought it was kind of strange they would try to take the farm. Something he said stuck out to me in particular - they're followers of Sartyria, the fire goddess." The door to Isiah's hut was suddenly in front of them, the long walk made short once again with conversation. The door swung open to the sight of Calopee, Relos, and the farmer. The six of them reunited, Isiah began serving up the dinner.
Down home cooking is, without question, one of the finer experiences on the material plane. Isiah's stew was no exception. Simple though it was, even Mal could find nothing bad to say about it. This shouldn't have surpised the party, as it's hard to complain with a mouthful of bread.
“What haf’ you decided, then?" the farmer asked. "And what can we do to help" He looked to his boys with what Malachi knew was some combination of love and fear. If this mission failed, those kids were in for a tough life, or perhaps just a very short one.
Mal swallowed his oversize bite with some effort, and gave what he perceived to be a dashing grin. "Do you have any beer?"
Posted on 2014-04-28 at 04:01:21.
Edited on 2018-03-09 at 10:27:04 by Eol Fefalas
Sehanine walked the dirt path with irritated ferocity. It decidedly had been a long day and its finish had been the pinnacle of experiences. The last farm fiend had punctuated his answers to their questions with a colorful proposition so detailed that there was no need for any imagination. An image of the rapidly vibrating straw that stuck out of his thin-lipped mouth was forever burned into her memory and it set her stomach to spinning.
Out of the corner of her eye she noticed her companion moving with a perky spring in his step. Tristan did little to hide his mirth, and it set her blood to a rolling boil. Pointedly, Sehanine shot the goateed man a look that could have melted iron, which brought even more sunlight to the man's irritatingly mirthful stride.
"Come now," Tristan began in a smarmy tone. "I haven't done anything this time." He did little to hide his smirk.
In immediate response, a hiss escaped her lips as she snapped her head fully in his direction, "A day with these country bumpkins leaves me wanting a bath." A wicked twinkle began to dance in her eyes as her gaze rested on the man. "But you seem to have fit right in, you've made a lovely toothless friend..."
She was rewarded with a grimace complete with widened eyes, and he replied in a tone fully matching his expression. "We certainly have a following in this place. Perhaps a few follow too closely..."
Seeing his disgusted grimace only encouraged her biting tongue, "Oh, but she was just so helpful, Tristan. You really should have joined her for a drink. Imagine how soft that toothless maw is!"
Truthfully, it had been a trying day for both of them as they suffered the attentions of one country twit after another. A number of the town... gentlemen had designs on her, which she encouraged to loosen their tongues. It was all part of the game she played. Irritating as it might be to listen to yet another farm hand tell a brilliant joke about sheep, she was used to it and often the end result was well worth it. Every so often, however, there came along a mark that pushed the limits of even the most talented con. Today, Tristan had drawn that card in Maud, the toothless tart. It had taken all the power of every god that ever was to keep her from rolling around on the floor in fits of laughter the moment the drunken hag made her first advance on Tristan. It was a memory she would cherish for the rest of her days.
Despite their differences, she had to give Tristan his due. He handled the situation expertly. The man was good, truly a worthy rival. Another scene from the ballad of Tristan and Maud came to her, bringing an impish grin to her lips.
It return, Tristan smiled wryly, ready with his own verbal daggers, "Yes, well, I don't know where we would have found time alone. I was traveling with the most sought-after she-elf in all of Cordova, don'cha know?"
At that a flirtatious giggle danced from her lips and she batted her eyes demurely. "Oh my darling, I'm so sorry to have made you jealous. Just because I prefer the affections of pubescent bumpkins to yours doesn't mean no woman will have you. Maud, the toothless wonder would have welcomed you gladly. You should have said something if you desired her so." Sehanine purred.
Tristan's response came quickly, accompanied with his ever-present smirk. "Alas, she'd be lost in the horde of your many... admirers." His smirk became a full on smile and the light in his eyes danced with a wicked glee as he continued, "What was the last count? Three marriage proposals, four declarations of eternal love, and one extremely ill conceived proposition? How could anybody compete with you?"
They can't, not in this. The response echoed through her mind. Here, in this mortal world, she was more than some mere flirtatious hedonist. The fey blood that flowed through her veins lent her an uncanny aura. Even if her natural charms failed to beguile, she had magics that would seal the deal. All done under a mask of hedonism, Sehanine was quite adept at steering the lives of those she met in a direction of her liking. Catching the quiet, perceptive intensity in Tristan's eyes brought her back to the matter at hand. She would have to watch herself around him. If there was any among them that could ferret out the meaning behind her actions it was him, and she wasn't ready yet to reveal her deeper intentions, not that she even knew fully what they were.
With a flick, she tossed a lock of silver hair out of her face and sighed with feigned disappointment, "Yes, it really was such a slow day for me. I think I could have gotten at least twice as many marriage proposals." She paused and smiled with a poisoned sweetness, "Next time I'll save one of the rings for you and Maud."
Tristan's laughter signaled an end to this round of verbal sparring. His tone sobered as he asked, "So, what did we actually walk away with? Sand-dwellers who may or may not follow Sartyria?"
"That and little else. It all makes me trust Isiah less and less."
There was little to ground her suspicions, but the more she learned the less sense it all made. Isiah had a simple farm that at first glance offered little to entice a covey of clandestine riders. Those they spoke to throughout the day had found it odd that the riders would seek to annex an isolated farm. That Isiah was relatively new to town and kept to himself only fed the fires of distrust. There was far more going on here and her mind worked furiously to make some sense of the pattern.
Tristan's voice, dripping with sarcasm, broke her reverie, "Perhaps the youngest boy is in possession of a dragon egg that will change the course of history."
"Only if he feeds it to a certain toothless temptress..." Without thought the biting remark flew from her lips almost immediately. She must have been more on edge than she realized if it was that easy to spark her. Still, Sehanine let the remark float in the air a moment just to savor its bitter flavor a bit longer. Then with a sobering breath she continued in a cool, calm tone, "We know far too little of this man, nothing makes sense."
"Much as it pains me, I can't find a reason to disagree with you," Tristan replied in an equally sober tone. "But with no more information, it will do little good to worry about it."
She nodded quietly, her silver hair tussling about her shoulder. When she spoke, an air of warning coated each word. "There is naught we can do without more information. Just be vigilant. There is more in the air than we can yet see..."
An empty laughter, that sounded half caught in his throat came from Tristan as he replied somberly, "A lesson past learnt; and I suppose I should thank you for that."
At that a smile crept across her lips as she mused over their first meeting. Sehanine found herself glad that he had survived, even if it meant he had the coveted elven bracers, for now. She would see them returned to elven hands, but for now she was content to let the human man carry them. So long as they traveled together, she would make sure they were never used against The People. As the moment of quiet repose passed, her voice found breath again and her focus turned to their inevitable reunion with Fortune's Favoured, "What shall we tell the others of our little country foray?"
"I see no reason to hide anything so far. Maybe be careful mentioning Sartyria around Relos. I have no idea what standing his deity might have with theirs, but lets avoid a crusade if we can. It would make a necessary retreat difficult."
Sehanine nodded in agreement with his perceptive observation. "Wise words. He'll likely go trumpeting off at the slightest mention of Sartyria's name."
Nodding, Tristan turned to look further along the path. "Ah. Here comes the Masked Malfunction. I wonder if he learned anything of note."
The mention of the self-named hero brought forth an involuntary eye roll. If any among them were going to spoil the ruse, it would be him. Already he had nearly revealed everything to their toy paladin and she doubted he'd take too long to do it all over again. To put it simply, the man truly wanted to be a hero, and he wanted it badly. For the rest of them in was a ruse of convenience, but to him it was a dream and that was dangerous.
While still far out of Malachi's earshot, Sehanine spoke a final biting remark, "It'll be a miracle if he heard anything over his own hot air... Let's see just how inflated the bumpkin worship has made him."
Soon, they were joined by the self-titled “Argent Blade” moving at a quick pace. As soon as he met them, Malachi blurted out “You two look like you’re up to something. Did you find anything useful today?”
Sehanine answered his query in a tone soaked in saccharin, “Oh nothing much, we’ve just been plotting the demise of a certain magnificent masked marauder.” She dearly hoped he didn’t read too much into the joke lest he find something.
The trio continued the rest of the short way to the farm with the fading light wrapping each of them in a golden halo. Conversation was brief and introductory, but eventually turned to the matter of Isiah and his mysterious sand sent riders.
As they neared the hut Malachi steered their conversation to the matter at hand, “Oh, I learned something that may be of use. Though it isn’t much. I met some old hoary man who thought he’d heard of these desert riders before. Seems they raided some of the townsfolk awhile back, but he thought it was kind of strange they would try to take the farm. Something he said stuck out to me in particular. They’re followers of Sartyria, the fire goddess.”
His words confirmed much of what they had learned from the villagers themselves. None of what they waded through made a bit of sense, but one thing was growing clear, they would be dealing with Sartyrian religion. Even with her own love of chaos, it was not a thing she relished.
Reaching out a hand, Sehanine touched Malachi’s arm to slow their pace. “This is perhaps a thing we should keep to ourselves. That these events are odd is clearly evident and needs no mentioning.” She paused letting the reason in her words hide her true intentions. Subterfuge was so deep a part of her that she did not know if she truly could speak without deception dancing on her tongue.
The elf continued, this time speaking with urgency. “More importantly, until we know more, we should keep mention of Sartyria from Relos. Judging from his enthusiasm, our holy knight will be running off to start a holy war.”
A few more steps brought them face to face with Isiah’s opening front door and the farmer himself, along with Calopee and the holy Relos. The group quickly found themselves sitting around a peasant table with steaming bowls of stew and heaping piles of bread. It all stank of the human propensity to cook individual ingredients into homogenous pools of gelatinous mush. Their seeming fear of a simple, isolated fruit or vegetable was far beyond her understanding. Sehanine longed for elven fare and found herself dreaming of raw carrots. Her time in Cordova had taught her to stomach the vile stews these short-lived peoples seemed to love so much, but enjoying it was another matter entirely. Still, her body had a pesky habit of requiring food for survival. Ripping off a corner of bread, the elven enchantress went about letting it soak up the meaty broth before popping it in her mouth and choking it down. It wasn’t THAT bad.
After a few tortured bites Sehanine let her voice join the conversation. “It seems these desert riders have come to town before. Ever run into them before now?”
The moonlit elf paused and brushed a silver strand from her face. She did not trust this Isiah, and the thought of discussing their plans with him did not sit well with her. It was entirely possible that he was completely innocent, none of the pieces of the pattern fit together. It would all be so much easier if he just wasn't here.
A sly thought dawned in her mind, and she focused her violet eyes on the man. "Isiah, it would be best if you and your sons went in to town tonight, before these desert men get here. We don't know how things will go with them, and, if things go sour, it'll be better if you're far from here. That way, we will know you're safe."
Sehanine watched the man closely, waiting for his response. It was true that things would be much easier without having to worry about the farmer and his family, but this little request might also reveal a bit of Isiah's intentions. Her request was sound and seemingly for his own welfare, any refusal of it would surely prove her distrust right.
((The conversation between Sehanine and Tristan brought to you by the twisted minds of Chessic and Nimu))
Posted on 2014-04-29 at 02:03:07.
Edited on 2018-03-09 at 10:29:59 by Eol Fefalas
Even though Relos didn't venture forth into with with his companions or survey the field for any battle field advantage, he was preparing for tonight in his own way; reflecting on lessons from the past. Seventeen pages into his small leather bound journal and he had found the words he was looking for. He read on for hours taking his time and reflecting on his masters wisdom, re reading things over and over again making sure he understood exactly what he meant. He made sure to take time in between chapters to absorb and reflect, and even on occasion help Isiah and his sons around the house when needed.
Looking outside at the setting sun, the fields swaying in the wind, Relos thought about his conversations with Isiah and his kids through out the day. He was certain that everything here was what it was at face value. No subterfuge involved, this was a case of banditry going too far. Even when they were done telling him everything they knew (which was nothing) he gave them a copper apiece for a bit of candy in town and when he was in private, gave Isiah three silver for the meal he was laying out for them.
"There, that should be enough to cover whatever my friends and I will have today. Please take it and don't feel like you owe me anything, It's my pleasure to help all of Gians sowers and tillers."
Relos decided that letting the others talk before him while at the table would be better, since he didn't really find anything out of importance besides his own solace within the pages of his journal. To his pleasant surprise he agreed with everything the group had to say so far.
"Yes, I agree that you should hide away for the time being while we take care of this. No need to put you and your boys in harms way, if you need I'll put you three up for the night at the Bearded Dragon."
He looked to the rest of the group for any input they had on the situation. He was sure if any of them had any useful information that they would spread the knowledge among them, and if they kept quiet then the day about town must of not been as fruitful as he'd hoped.
An hour before Nightfall, Isiah’s Hut, Schell The meal had been filling; just what the Favoured had needed after their day in Schell. The town had yielded its secrets to those that had sought them, and the information gathered had seemed to weigh heavy on Sehanine, though she did not exactly share this news with the group. Tristan knew of her concern, though it seemed to trouble him far less than the moonlit elf. They had shared their own private conversation on the walk back before meeting Malachi, eager to share his own findings. They had agreed to keep some of what they learned to themselves, still a mite wary around the paladin Relos, and their discretion was more easily kept by filling their hungry mouths with the bread Isiah offered.
The bread, like all good things, had not lasted forever, and Isiah’s question broke the momentary reverie.
“What haf’ you decided, then...and what can we do to help?”
Malachi, quick with wit as he was his rapier, invited Isiah to help by providing him a mug of ale, but his opinion was quickly pushed aside by Calopee, who seemed more concerned with the matter at hand, or at least more concerned than Mal was willing to show.
"Do you have somewhere safe that you can secret away yourself and your family? Perhaps a root cellar? I don't want you to be hurt if things get heavy."
The middle-aged farmer looked thoughtful a moment, his stroking his beard.
“Can’t say I have much… the toolshed is all ‘sides my home on the property…”
Sehanine, her doubts still very much on her mind, took this opportunity to offer her own suggestion.
"Isiah, it would be best if you and your sons went in to town tonight, before these desert men get here. We don't know how things will go with them, and, if things go sour, it'll be better if you're far from here. That way, we will know you're safe."
Isiah looked momentarily taken aback, but the look soon faded away to the one of sorrow he’d seemed to become plagued with since he’d found himself in this circumstance. He began to reply when Relos piped up, adding to Sehanine’s argument.
"Yes, I agree that you should hide away for the time being while we take care of this. No need to put you and your boys in harm’s way, if you need I'll put you three up for the night at the Bearded Dragon." Though it seemed an objection was on his lips a second before, Isiah’s face took a look of resignation as he nodded solemnly. “I haf’ta trust you on this I suppose.”, he gazed over at the boys, now soundly asleep “Give us a second to gather our things, I can find us lodging in the city this night.”
Isiah stepped over and roused the boys, they argued a moment about leaving, the boys in particular wanting to stay to see Fortune’s Favoured in action if nothing else, but a stern word from Isiah ended the dispute. Gathering a few of their things the easily could be carried, they stepped out the door and into the last shreds of daylight, Isiah turning briefly to nod to the group as he closed the door behind him.
(OOC: Well this is as far as I can get then, hash out your battle plan and whatnot.)
Posted on 2014-05-03 at 02:43:04.
Edited on 2018-03-09 at 10:54:43 by Eol Fefalas
After watching Isaiah and his kids walking down the mud path towards town, Calopee turned around to face the rest of her troupe. She hadn't thought of asking them to leave, but all in all it was likely for the best. If they failed this mission, it would be that much easier to abandon it, knowing that their charges were safe. Even a paladin wouldn't give his life for stuff alone!
Now however, seeing as the farmer had technically given in to the demands of the desert marauders, she wondered what would happen if the bandits came to find that the farm was empty.
Focusing her eyes on Relos while she spoke, she began to make such an inquiry aloud. "I know that some of us would like to confront this situation head on, but I can't help but wonder what would happen if the horsemen found this place unoccupied as demanded. This place has very little merit that we've seen, and I can't help wondering what would motivate such a threat."
Calopee broke a momentary silence. "I know that some of us would like to confront this situation head on, but I can't help but wonder what would happen if the horsemen found this place unoccupied as demanded. This place has very little merit that we've seen, and I can't help wondering what would motivate such a threat."
Her words rang true to Malachi. It did seem strange that the riders would want such a place. He replied directly to the halfling.
Do you mean to leave the house as well? Perhaps it would be best to use the last of the light to make a quick search of the place. If we're leaving, I want to know what we're leaving behind. If we stay, we may find some small advantage in knowing our surroundings more exactly.
Here Mal paused. He looked at each of his companions. Some, it seemed, looked at him with distaste. The corner of his mouth twitched as he smiled for just a moment. He knew his gaff had been severe, but it hardly mattered. As soon as things got dangerous it would be The Argent Blade that stood between most of them and an untimely death. They would forgive; they would have to.
It was someone else's turn to talk. Mal rubbed his hands behind his mask, massaging the corners of his eyes but listening intently. After a bit more conversation, he spoke again. "If it please you all, I will be going to the shed. As I said, there may be something there of interest.
He got up to go outside.
[[OOC:Unless he is stopped, Mal will go outside to the shed and do a search. ]]
Posted on 2014-05-04 at 18:39:12.
Edited on 2014-05-04 at 18:40:49 by Schnozzle
Drumming his fingers on the table, Relos thought of Calopee's words. Trying to find out why the raiders were coming could prevent further attacks on any other farms. He looked over the group and spoke up.
"I think Calopee has a point. I wouldn't mind seeing why these attackers are here and if we could find something out then we could possibly prevent future incidences. If everyone else wants to I'm ok with seeing what they do now that Isiah has complied. But let it be known I will not stand by and let any harm come to this farmstead. I gave my word to him and his kids. If they destroy this farm then they essentially kill all three of them in the process."
He kept a stern look on the whole time, his features accentuating the seriousness of his comments. He wanted to convey to them all that he was up for working together and trying out different plans, but by no mean would he say anything he did not mean to back up. Relos took a deep breathe and tried to unwind a little bit, the realization that this was their first serious confrontation together was must of been getting to him. Rats are annoying but fighting another group with people who haven't been tested in battle with you was something else entirely. He hoped that they could work well together on the battle field or his time in this group could be shorter than he hoped.
No plan survives contact with the DM..... Or Mal, for that matter.
Leaning back after another decent meal, Tristan sat and listened as talk began. Interesting points, and it seemed Sehanine wasn't the only person who didn't trust the the farmer's version of events. She was just the most vocal about it.
Truth be told, Tristan had his suspicions by this point as well. Of course, that could be Sehanine's influence. She had a knack for infecting your thinking without expending much effort. But more than suspicious, Tristan's curiosity was starting to burn. Why would desert bandits, or whoever they were, be so interested in this particular farm? It seemed to him if it was a matter of food, it would be far easier to steal things during the night than make the kind of threats they had. Had Isiah angered them, and this was retribution? Did he knowingly or unknowingly possess something of value to them? Monetary? Religious? Historical?
He brought his attention back to the group as the declarations started. Calopee had thought of something he hadn't. He really was distracted tonight. Though now that he was thinking on it, it could easily be on the grounds somewhere.... but they hadn't time for all that. Malachai chimed in next. He mused briefly on the idea of letting him know that he wasn't on stage, and so didn't need to play up to his adoring fans. In the entire (admittedly brief) time Tristan had known him, he'd spoken only in bold declarations, and monologues. It was amusing, when it wasn't tiresome. Next Relos, looking all solemn and and serious. If he were any stiffer, he'd have to banish himself...
Tristan shook his head again, bringing himself back to the present situation. With no more information than what they had, planning would be next to useless. Everything would come down to the step above "wait and see".
He finally spoke as Relos finished. "Searching the house is a good idea, so long as we're sufficiently speedy and discreet about it. I'm absolutely an advocate of lying in wait and seeing what they do with no Isiah here."
[[OOC: Tristan will help anybody who wants to search the house, and unless someone suggests a better plan hiding in the corner of the wheatfield where he has a decent view of the front of the house and the path leading from the front door.... (checks map) the bottom left corner of the upper section.]]
A smile grew on Sehanine's lips as the cabin door shut behind Isiah and his sons. Gliding across the room, the fey elf sighed quietly. The farmer had left, but there seemed to be moment of hesitation in his eyes. For whatever reason, Isiah did not want to leave this farm. Laying a hand against the window sill, Sehanine watched the three farmers tread down the mud road and fade into the distance. This little interlude had only served to heighten her distrust of the man. He was hiding something, of that she was certain.
Once they had disappeared beyond vision, the silver haired elf turned to face her companions. Eclectic would have been a generous word to describe them. A collection of tricksters, hopeful heros, and bamboozled knights... Would their differences bind them together or draw them apart?
Conversation turned quickly to plans for the nights. Once again Calopee was the voice of reason, calling for them all to lay in wait. It was a wise suggestion, and her respect for the stone throwing halfling was growing everyday. They knew far too little at the moment, and any tactic that offered even the slightest illumination would be welcome. Sehanine found herself silently nodding in agreement. From the look of things, she was not the only one who did not trust this Isiah.
The suggestions to search the property before hiding themselves away to await the coming riders. Their motivations might all be different, but at least they were in agreement on this one thing...
Finding herself within a pensive air, Sehanine sat and nodded silently, it was time they discovered what waters they swam in. And so, she joined the others as they moved out into the approaching night.
((OOC: Sehanine will help search and then will hide in the wheat field))
Half an hour before Nightfall, Isiah’s Hut, Schell Isiah and the boys faded from view along their path through the wheat field, and the Favoured found themselves alone in the farmer’s home. The group’s day had been eventful, and though it had been only that morning that say assembled in silence over breakfast, it already felt like ages ago. For a second they seemed content to enjoy the respite, before the reality of their situation re-emerged in the form of a casual observation.
"I know that some of us would like to confront this situation head on, but I can't help but wonder what would happen if the horsemen found this place unoccupied as demanded. This place has very little merit that we've seen, and I can't help wondering what would motivate such a threat."
Though a few amongst the group had harboured such thoughts previously, this was the first time they’d been brought up directly. Isiah’s leaving had in part been due to the group’s mistrust of the situation, and this of course seemed a logical extension of that thinking. Has had been so often the case when the group discussed matters, Malachi quickly chimed in.
"I know that some of us would like to confront this situation head on, but I can't help but wonder what would happen if the horsemen found this place unoccupied as demanded. This place has very little merit that we've seen, and I can't help wondering what would motivate such a threat."
Relos agreed, though befitting his apparent role as the group’s moral centre, he was quick to state matter-of-factly that under no circumstances would he sit idly by if the situation took a turn against the interests of their recently departed host. Tristan and Sehanine were quick to add their assent, having been the most distrustful of Isiah up until this point, they were obviously curious to see what reason his harassers had for targeting him. They made a quick plan for the arrival of the riders, and the group stood up to begin a swift search. As they began Malachi spoke up again, almost entirely unnoticed as the group’s focus turned to the contents of the hut.
"If it please you all, I will be going to the shed. As I said, there may be something there of interest.”
He turned and made his way out, while the group began swiftly investigating Isiah’s home. Calopee in particular was overly thorough, using her tiny size to her advantage and darting under tables and behind drawers in search of anything that would confirm the group’s suspicions. Careful to leave as little trace of their rummaging as possible, the sweep concluded just as the sun began to set below the horizon. Other than the fact that one of the boys had apparently been hiding a tiny mouse in a box under his bed (a mouse that through apparent neglect, had already had its wee soul consigned to the afterlife) there was nothing out of the ordinary. Perhaps a little more at ease, perhaps a little discouraged, the group doused the fire and moved outside, seeking vantage points to put their plan in action.
Half an hour before Nightfall, Isiah’s Tool Shed, Schell Mal was no stranger to doing things on his own; he could hear the group begin their searching of the hut without him as he stepped out into the cooling dusk air. He made his way over to Isiah’s shed, helpfully marked out by the plough that lay overturned against the wall. The wooden door swung open easily, and the inside of the shed seemed about as impressive as its worn wooden exterior implied.
The floor (or rather the ground in this case, as Isiah had apparently chosen to simply build his shed on a flooring of well trampled dirt) was cluttered with wooden buckets, the walls lined with older but well maintained scythes, hoes, rakes and the like. The wall across from the door had a few shelves stacked with bags of seed, as well as a scattering of jars of a murky substance which a quick sniff determined was some type of pickling preservative mixture. Judging from the cobwebs that hung lazily throughout the shed, the room didn’t see much use other than a storeroom.
Nothing found in Mal’s search seemed noteworthy, but the moment alone in the shed could still be turned into some use. Since waking up in a ditch to a day filled with questioning locals, the swordsman’s mind remained a tad unfocussed. Malachi paused a moment in meditation, calling to mind the teachings of his mentor. He emerged from his reflection sharp as ever, his skills and techniques fresh in his memory, and not a moment too soon either. The light seeping in around was fading; though the shed offered little in the way of hiding once the door was open, Mal moved to keep his body out of sight through any cracks in the shed’s construction and prepared for the coming night.
Nightfall, Isiah’s Farm, Schell The favoured sans Mal made their way onto Isiah’s land, perhaps their expected visitors would provide them a vital clue they missed if they merely let the outsiders go about their business. As discussed, the group divided, Relos taking his slightly cumbersome armoured frame to a wheat patch to the south while Sehanine and Tristan went just north of the path to Schell. Calopee scampered up with the latter pair, though the moment she set foot in the wheat field she all but disappeared. Sehanine and Tristan settled down within a short distance of one another, as Relos did his best to conceal his shining plate armour from revealing him. Malachi, shielded from view by a door and four shoddy wooden walls, pressed himself against the door, staying still and silent while watching from his vantage point.
The stakeout dragged on, and soon the sun had disappeared from view completely. A pale moon cast its light over the field, and while the group’s eyes struggled to adjust, Sehanine’s elven vision easily pierced the gloom, and she was the first to notice the rider. Riding up the gentle slope to the west, a single horseman came into view. He paused for a moment as his mount reached the well work dirt path that surrounded Isiah's hut and cast a long glance over the area.
His horse started a slow trot around the path, the rider splitting his time between looking in the surrounding fields and through the hut’s windows. The Favoured fell silent as his line of sight passed over them, only daring breathe once more when he’d moved on. His lap complete, the rider paused at the southwest corner of the hut, dismounted and began searching through his saddlebags. Relos, the closest of the group, was suddenly aware that he was making perfect eye contact with the rider’s horse. The paladin was not overly well versed in subterfuge, but he suspected that making eye contact with anything while seeking to remain concealed was perhaps a bad idea, and slowly averted his gaze, praying silently that his cover remained intact. The horse gave a small whinny as the stare was broken, and the rider turned his head a moment, curious what had caused the reaction. His stare danced over Relos’s hiding spot for a moment, before he shook his head and turned back to his saddlebags, content in the belief his horse had been distracted by what appeared to be some fine ass wheat.
The rider finally found his prize, and stepped away from the horse, facing the west. A few sparks and a woosh of accelerant doused cloth later, the rider was illuminated by a lit torch in his outstretched hand. Though most of the Favoured lacked sightlines to where the rider was no positioned, the light shone around the edges of the hut, informing the whole group of its presence. Relos was able to now see their visitor more clearly, as the man was illuminated by the torch he was waving slowly back and forth over his head.
Relos had no previous dealings with the denizens of the Corsian Desert, so his frame of reference wasn’t the greatest, but the man didn’t seem to fully fit the description. His head and face were wrapped in a loose, black cloth, leaving only the area around his eyes visible. He wore a suit of deep black studded leather armor, and Relos was quick to spot the shortsword that was sheathed at his side. Though not in the greatest light, the man’s skin seemed smoother and less tan than Relos had been expecting of a desert dweller, but he had only a moment to think on that as soon the sounds of approaching horses drew his attention.
Swiftly, eight more riders all wearing similar headgear to the first. They dismounted as a group to the southeast of the hut; a few of them standing uncomfortably close to Relos’s position, though they seemed disinterested in searching the area and paid his hiding spot no mind. One man separated slightly from the group, and Relos quickly noticed his slightly different attire. While eight of the nine wore blackened studded leather, this man wore a shirt of chainmail, painted black in the same way as many of his comrades. He gestured at a pair of the riders, issuing a quick command.
“Stay with the horses.”
The two began gathering the reins of the other horses, bringing them together at the southeast corner of the hut before lighting a torch and leaning against the stone walls of Isiah’s home. The remaining seven made their way around to the door, and the man in chainmail, ostensibly the leader of this band, lit his own torch. He made his way to the door and peered through the neighbouring window, giving a satisfied grunt as he turned back to the group. He reached up and pulled away the cloth covering his face, prompting the others with him to do the same.
“No idea how those sanders wear these…”, one of the group muttered loud enough to be overheard, “…cannot breathe in this sh!t at all.”
“Worked though, dinnit?”, another replied, “Jaron knew no townsies would risk their neck for an outlier if they thought raiders were comin’, eh?” His smirk was visible even in the dim flicker of the torchlight.
“Shame the old man fled…” a third man joined the conversation, “…been a while since I gutted someone.” A couple men gave a little laugh at that, and the speaker did a little mock stabbing motion with his hand, to more laughter.
If what little the group had seen earlier subverted their expectations of who they thought would be arriving, the revealed faces and more revealing conversations of the riders certainly threw the “desert folk” theory a curveball. Though it was clear the men before them hadn’t lived easy lives, their lighter skin and accents labelled them as common Cordovans, though their purpose for arriving at the farm was still a mystery.
The leader, his thick black beard obscuring much of what had previously been hidden by the cloth, was quick to restore order to the group, which fell silent as he cleared his throat.
“You know why you’re here; Jaron is not going to tolerate any mistakes. You two,” he again gestured at a pair of men, “watch the path to the east, just because it’s quiet now doesn’t mean no one’s on their way.”, he faced the rest of the group as the two men walked towards the path, “The rest of your, grab everything you can, our orders are to leave nothing behind.”
The man’s eyes darted over to the shed, and the plough lying beside it.
“Someone search that shed, the rest of you, ransack the hut.” He paused a moment. “When you’re done, burn it.” One of the assembled men gave a wry glance over to the wheat, and back to his leader, who grinned and nodded. “Burn all of it.”
A couple more torches were quickly lit, and the men began to split. The two sent to watch the path stood idly in the grass on either side of the path, scarcely 10ft from three of the hiding Favoured, while two more of them stepped up and entered the hut, their torch casting shadows that danced on the insides of the windows. The leader stood in front of the hut, and withdrew a pipe from a pouch from his belt, lighting it with a twig lit by his torch as another pair of men made their way towards the toolshed that secreted Malachi.
Careful to avoid being spotted, but keeping his eye on the approaching men, Malachi rapidly found himself running out of options. The men reached the door, and reached out forward to open it. Whether the Fortune’s Favoured planned it or not, the time to act was rapidly approaching.
(OOC: See Q&A for details. Fine ass wheat.)
Posted on 2014-05-06 at 04:39:11.
Edited on 2018-03-09 at 11:01:21 by Eol Fefalas
Half an Hour Before Nightfall, Isiah's Tool Shed, Schell
The smell of oil and dust hung thick in the air here. Malachi sorted through the brick-a-brack carefully, noting anything that might be useful or important. Tools, pickles, seeds... Nothing seemed to fit that bill for a hero. A farmer, maybe. Had they found the plethora of farm equipment earlier he might have suggested they lay out a system of booby traps, but it was far too late for that now. Mal could only make use of the little time remaining.
In the graying light of sunset, the shadows wrapped around Mal as close as his cloak. This was good. Cohesion of thought and reality. He called to them, from a dark place in his mind he called each of the shadows by name. They were cold like slices of night cutting through to his skin. This stance was called Child of Shadow, and after a moment he was little more than a patch of fluttering darkness in the dying light.
In slow, smooth motions he pantomimed the art of the sword. A flick and a twist of the wrist, that was Blistering Flourish. If he put the power of his will into it, it could dazzle his enemies. A feint followed by a quick high-line attack could suffuse his blade with darkness; landing a strike would pass the darkness to his opponent. This was Clinging Shadow Strike. A sidestep with a backhanded pommel strike was a maneuver to counter a charge. The final exercise appeared simple. Thrust. With proper concentration, he could find chinks in his opponents maneuvers and execute a deadly attack.
The meditation brought Mal's world into crystal clarity as the final rays of daylight disappeared. An idea came to his freshly honed mind. He drew his dagger and cut into a nearby bag. Reaching in, he produced a large handful of the seeds and thrust them into his pocket. He was unsure of their usefulness but he certainly enjoyed having one more option. Almost as soon as the dagger was back in the little scabbard, voices began to drift into the shed, soon followed by flickering torchlight.
In the still evening air Mal could hear every word they said. Some kind of subterfuge was at work here and it wasn't the good, hero-making kind. He risked a peek. Nine men, their horses, and not one of the from the desert. They sneered and laughed, even joked about killing Isiah. They were clearly congratulating themselves on an easy victory.
The leader cleared his throat and began to give orders. "You know why you're here; Jaron is not going to tolerate any mistakes. You two, watch the path to the east, just because it's quiet now doesn't mean no one's on their way. The rest of your, grab everything you can, our orders are to leave nothing behind."
Orders. Of course. Nobody ever does their own dirty work.
"Someone search that shed, the rest of you, ransack the hut. When you're done, burn it. Burn all of it."
That was it then, a fight to the death. It seemed certain that no amount of talk would change their minds, and Mal knew they couldn't stand by and let this happen. At least, he and Relos couldn't. He was unsure about the others, but they would almost certainly stand as a group once the fighting began. Incidentally, where had the rest of the Favored secreted themselves? From his narrow vantage, he could see two men approaching his door, and could just about make out the form of the two watching the road. They seemed dangerously close to the place Mal had last seen Tristan, Cal, and Sehanine.
The flunkies were getting far too close now. Mal had to act, if only to preserve the advantage his companions still carried. He fell effortlessly back into the Child of Shadow stance and readied his rapier. Hoping to make as much noise as possible, he kicked the door open and, shouting a formless war cry, thrust his blade into the torso of his unready opponent.
Posted on 2014-05-07 at 21:52:07.
Edited on 2017-11-30 at 22:45:58 by Schnozzle
A broken mirror, by any other name, is still useless to shave with in the morning.
It's moments like these, thought Tristan, when I"m doing my best to blend into a wheat field, next to the she-elf, hiding from desert dwelling fire-godess worshippers who turn out to be ordinary bandits, that I wonder if this whole ruse is really worth it. He had fallen for the trick second-hand, and hadn't considered something as basic as a disguise. If not for the situationi it put him into, he'd be laughing at himself. He'd have to try and needle Sehanine over it later. It seems her suspicions weren't quite as well founded as he'd begun to believe.
As the man he presumed to be the leader started giving orders, Tristan found himself idly rubbing the silver symbol he wore around his neck. Discq's Loaded Die. Tristan's token acknowledgement of his patron deity. He wasn't big into worship, formal or otherwise. Discq didn't seem to have a problem with it. It was hard to tell though, as divine punishment from a god such as his could easily just be boredom, or a challenge. He didn't understand how people like Relos didn't just throw their hands up in disgust with some of the inane restrictions and rules they had to work under. Discq didn't seem to want anything from him but to cause trouble, and they was just fine by Tristan.
He shook his head again, focusing on the men left in front of him. He'd been drifting in and out of reflection all day, which was odd for him. But there was work to be done now. He ran through the spells he knew in his head, before deciding none would be as useful right now as a good ol' rapier to the face. Glancing briefly at Sehanine, Tristan struck out at the man nearest him from within the wheat field.
(((OOC: This is all I got for now. I think I'm pretty clear, but if something is confusing or breaking some rule, let me know and I will amend.)))
With the fall of night they found themselves huddling the golden sea of wheat. Sehanine winced at the sight of the rustling stalks as each of them moved into place. Once they settled down the wheat stilled, but to her elven eyes, any movement was a good as a screaming alarm. Armed with this knowledge she held herself utterly motionless as if time itself had stopped around her. Tristan and Calopee obliged with a stillness of their own. They, like her, were creatures of subterfuge and its subtleties came as natural as breath.
Held in stillness, the silver haired elf watched the final rays of sunlight sink beneath the horizon. The passing of twilight left a familiar emptiness within her. Sehanine longed for the liminality of twilight, those fleeting moments when it was neither night or day. Twilight passed quickly but during its brief reign her fey magic sang. It was the death of another day and night rose up in all her dark splendor. Soon the golden wheat field was bathed in the pale light of the moon, a blanket of cooling light that hushed the world into slumber.
It was not long before a mounted rider approached openly on the dirt road, thinking himself hidden in the cover of night. To her eyes he might as well have come at high noon. Even on a moondark night, no elf would have ever approached so openly for its darkness offered no true protection. As if responding to her thoughts, the night blind idiot lit a torch and began waving it above his head. In moments he was joined by eight more riders and the pack of them began moving around the hut with a casuality that seemed incongruous with secretive men of the desert.
A voice rose up into the night and dashed any doubt about their identity. "No idea how those sanders wear these. Cannot breath in this s*** at all."
It was all a ruse then, but it still left a question lingering in the air. For what? It was bigger than a mere raid on a humble farm to line their pockets with a bit more gold. The constant mention of this Jaron proved that someone pulled at strings for some larger goal. A moment alone with one of them and she would pry their secrets from their lips, they would do anything to please her. It was a pleasant thought that brought a wry smile to her lips. She did so love the game.
Her musings on manipulations were cut short as two of the riders planted themselves in the path directly in the front of her. It was not yet the time for subtlety and all around her knew it. At her side Tristan tensed and the pair exchanged a brief glance. The time to act was now.
Tristan burst from their hiding place, whirling into the unsuspecting raiders with rapier in hand. Her own attack came from the shadows but was no less direct. The power of night pulsed around her and she drew on it, forming it into pure magic. For a moment, the incandescent light in her violet eyes seemed to burn a little brighter as tiny motes of darkness danced around her gesturing fingers and coalesced into two pulsing spheres of impenetrable blackness. With a final word of power, Sehanine flung her spell out into the night and the spheres followed Tristan's path to spin into the raiders with deadly accuracy.
((OOC: Cast Magic Missle. Targeting the two riders in front of Calopee, Tristan, and herself. If one of the riders dies before she acts, Sehanine will target the remaining rider with both missiles.))