The Dark Ages - Southern Seas - Act 1 - Skalfier Keep - Fall 1, 56AD
Welcome to the Southern Seas.
We start this act at Skalfier Keep, a small outpost located at a strategic point, created by the Kingdom to ensure the passage from the Middle Lands to the port of Skalfier is kept open. The view is spectacular. The keep lies in the middle of a valley, surrounded on the east and west by mountains. There is also the "Twin Peaks" - two extremely tall and jagged mountains that lie on opposite sides of the valley like columns. The area is mostly open, with trees and scrub dotting the valley. It is roughly a day's ride from one side of the valley to the other and almost 2 days ride from one end to the other.
The Keep itself is a small structure, usually garrisoned by no more than 100 men assigned . The keep has enough space for the militia and Marshall to reside at, as well as provisions and stables for mounts. The keep has clearly been rebuilt several times and is currently looking a bit shabby. The immediate area surrounding the keep is dotted by large tents of caravans and several wooden buildings, serving as inns and taverns for travelers.
There are two inns - the Glowing Brand and the Cow's Cheese. There are three main taverns - The Cooked Goose, The Tally Ho and The Twins Drink. There are other smaller shops, and craftsmans' tents. around the keep.
You have come to the Keep either as soldiers from the Kingdom, as travelers who've taken a rest at the keep or as militia from the surrounding areas. With the fall harvest underway in the Kingdom and many preparations being made to get through another winter, there is a sense of urgency in the air. Talk among the people concerns mainly of the bandit attacks that have increased since the strange and awful summer that has just passed. The bandit lord DelMonte and his diamond shaped standard seem to be everywhere, and the feeling is almost one of being outnumbered, even in the shadow of the keep's stone walls.
There is one large caravan currently readying itself for the nearly three day journey to Skalfier, and another caravan that is heading back into the Kingdom. The inns and taverns are busy with merchants, craftsmen and those wanting to profit from the caravan, or join with it for safety. The weather... is a soft rain that has fallen for two days, so the mud that spatters everyone's shoes, dresses or trousers is beginning to coat all the floors and lower surfaces of the structures.
Your fortune and fate lie ahead of you. What will you do? Where will you go? And what does the Light shine ahead for you?
Graian walks through the thronging crowds searching the inns and taverns for a craftsman who may be able to provide him with some silver darts.... for something less than the shirt off his back. His last ones were unrecoverable and his encounters with the undead have left him feeing naked without them.
The taverns come up empty and all of the craftsmen shake their head sadly. While there is a blacksmith or two around the keep, nobody has those kinds of weapons available - the time to make them would take the smiths away from the more profitable creation of lesser items. They are willing to do it, but it might take a few days to complete several of the darts.
You also notice that the vast majority of the people you talk to are human and they seem a bit ... in awe and frightened of you. For many of these folks, you are the very first elf that has been seen, much less spoken with. You've heard of the Conclave gathering that passed through the Keep on the way to Skalfier earlier in the summer, which caused quite a stir in the human lands.
Just after speaking to the last craftsman, a jeweler on his way back to the Kingdom from Skalfier, a man dressed in the livery of the King's Army walks up to you. " 'ello there... I 'ear you wantin' some special weapons... might be able to help you, ayup. But favors, they run both ways, aye?" he asks in a thick accent. "You 'elp me, I 'elp you, yea?" He invites you to walk with him over to the caravan about to head to Skalfier.
Graian looks at the man sharply, he was not used to strangers opening up to him like that, either he was genuine or up to no good. However he did appear to be in the Kings Army and somewhat better shape than most of the other clientele. Not wishing to start the discussion inside the Twin Drinks he nods his agreement and follows the man keeping a keen eye out for possible trouble.
The man introduces himself as "I be known as Welsh, aye." He explains that the caravan Master by the name of Gillian was looking for some extra help to make it safely to Skalfier. "Delmonte, e's a right bastard, that un, 'e's been lootin' and robbin' caravans for monfs now. Gillian wanted some good 'elp wi' 'is goods and I reckon an ewf like you is good, yea?"
You both approach the caravan master, who is directing porters and helpers in organizing the loading of some ten wagons and carts full of crates, barrels and rolls of what appears to be carpet or cloth. You happen to be standing next to wirey human wearing splint armor and a shield and battle axe. He too appears to be waiting for Gillian to finish so he can talk to him.
"Ay, Gillian!" Welsh calls out. "I've got ye an ewf!" Welsh chuckles and winks. You're not sure if he's just that uncouth or up to something, he is about as repulsive of a human in official King's Army livery as can be.
(We'll continue in a new blip below.)
Takashi, a soldier from the easter reaches of the kingdom, approaches the keep along the rutted dirt track. He silently eyes the dilapidated structure in the midst of the its beautiful surroundings, and imagines the surrounding valley swallowing up the keep whole, returning the land to its pristine, original state.
"Ominous thoughts, Takashi. The best days of the kingdom may be behind us, but that does not mean that we can reclaim and build something better for the future. One step at a time."
With that, he continues his way into the keep and gets an overview of the settlement and what establishments are here. Noting the few coins left in his purse, he makes his way to the militia headquarters to inquire about employment.
While Marshall Reffyndi keeps his troops in line, the same can't be said for the militia. It takes you a few hours to realize that the militia is probably better described as "men who couldn't quite cut it for the King's Army." Still, you are pointed here and there and manage to find the militia "captain" at The Twin's Drink tavern, a ramshackle building that feels more like a large hut than a real building. The ale is bitter and sharp (deduct 2sp) and the grunts from some of your fellow patrons doesn't really give you much confidence. "Captain" Marks looks you up and down, asks you a few perfunctory questions, notes the rather cleanliness of your axe and asks if you're interested in a bit of caravan guard duty, as the caravan heading to Skalfier is lightly guarded and "Delmonte, he's a real bastard, been attacking left and right."
"I am willing to serve as a caravan guard, as I have no other options currently. What does it pay?"
He squints at you and chuckles. "Ten gold crowns a week, boyo, and that's a fair pay. You'll get your meals from the caravan, they already know that. It shouldn't take you a week, but you can come back on the return. Think you're interested?"
Takashi says, "That sounds like decent pay for dangerous work", as he fingers the blade of his axe with his right hand, furrows his brow in thought, and absent mindedly twirls the left side of his mustache. "Who is the caravan master?"
The "Captain" nods. "Gillian." he answers. " 'E'll be at the wagons. Tellim Marks sent'cha and that yer a right man fer the job." He chuckles and points towards the caravan that is on the southern end of the small (roughly 2 acres) area next to the Keep where the buildings are.
Takashi bows to 'captain' Marks. "Thanks for your help, captain. I'll check in with Gillian now."
With that, Takashi again bows to Marks, then exits the Twin's Drink tavern and makes his way towards the southern end of the keep to locate the caravan.
You both approach the caravan master, who is directing porters and helpers in organizing the loading of some ten wagons and carts full of crates, barrels and rolls of what appears to be carpet or cloth. As you wait for Gillian to acknowledge you, a human wearing what appears to be the livery of the King's Army approaches with an elf in tow. (We'll continue in a new blip below.)
A bored Atacius languidly hangs at the Twin's Drink, when this lonely elf comes in.
"Well, well that's interesting.", he thinks. "This guy is late for the Conclave, haha.", he chuckles to himself as he finishes his ale. "Let's see what he's up to...", and he quietly leave the place and discreetly trails the foreigner through the muddy streets.
You'll see the man dressed in the King's Army livery walk up and start a discussion with the elf. The man gestures towards the door.
(You'd see the events of Welsh escorting Gaian to Gillian below.) Feel free to indicate what you're doing there. You were not noticed by any of the PCs heading to the caravan.
Atacius has come to this lands hoping to make enough coin to start a merchant business. So far he hasn't been successfull and funds are running low.
The truth is he was forced to leave the littleling community after being wrongfully accused of thievery by a rival would-be merchant.
Callin, a young Cleric enters the Twin's Drink after spending the morning praying in the temple. He looks to find the Militia Captain. When he finds him he stats:
"Good Morning Captain! I am Callin, and I wish to offer my services of healing, combat and faith to the men of your ranks, if you will have me. It was many years ago that this very milita saved the life of my family, and now that I am able, I hope I can return the favor to the Militia!"
"Captain" Marks looks up at you from his cup. "Wuzzat? I just told you to.. oh..." he squints harder and looks at your equipment. "Uhh.. yea, yea... 40 gold, for caravan guard duty, that's what I got, unless ye'd like to walk around the mountains a bit." He chuckles, a bit soddenly. "But I think ye'd fit in helping with the caravans. They need help with the attacks by Delmonte. Go head to the wagons. Tell old Gillian that Marks sent'cha and yer another right man for the job."
"Thank you captain, may the Light always shine upon thee" Callin says as he provides a quick blessing for the captain with the aid of the holy symbol around his neck.
And with that Callin will head to Gillian to lend s hand.
"Captain" Marks grumbles into his mug and waves you off with a dismissive wave. "Damn 'lerks" he mutters as Callin marches out the door.
"Ay, Gillian!" Welsh (the man dressed in King's Army livery) calls out. "I've got ye an ewf!" Welsh chuckles and winks.
Gillian looks up surprised at the interruption and looks at both Graian and Takashi. "Yes?" he inquires?
Graian looks at Gillian and the armed man, "I am Graian, your man Welsh said you are looking for help getting caravans to Skalfier, this Delmonte keeps attacking them. I am heading that way and can join you, what are you offering in return?"
Takshi listens to the elf speak, and then adds "Captain Marks at tne Twin's Drink told me that it's 10 gold for escort duty to Skalfier, and to expect bandit trouble along the way. Why men would choose to dishonour themselves by taking advantage of the weak and unarmed is an unfortunate concept in my eyes."
Callin approaches the group and catches the end of Takshi's comments. "Indeed sir, I hail as help from Captain Marks as well. And yes it is unfortunate, but with the Light on our side, we shall prevail. I am Callin, and I'm here to lend a hand as needed"
"Honored to meet a warrior of the cloth, Callin. I am Takashi Ono from the far eastern borderlands of the Kingdom."
"Well met indeed, Takashi!" Callin says extending his hand for a firm handshake. "What brings you west?"
"Morning, gentlemen and gentleelf!", interrupts the littleling chuckling at his (bad?) joke. " I'm Atacius Lightfoot and couldn't help to overhear your conversation. What's the deal boss?", looking at the man in charge. Without waiting for a reply he turns to the elf and asks: "Lost the Conclave boss?"
Gillian looks a little non-plussed at first at the four of you, but he recovers himself almost immediately. "Well... an interesting group to come before me this morning." He speaks in a much more educated and even voice. His clothes speak of his status as a merchant and caravan owner: a rich robe with a dagger to one side, and a belt pouch that appears full in the other, with a strange clasp made of what looks like shiny thin thread in an odd knot, almost like a tangled mess of a knot. His boots are of rich/soft leather. This is a man of money.
"I offer the standard rate of 40 gold a month, should you stay with me the entire month. As you all ..." he looks at the armaments and clothing of all of you "... appear to be at least well equipped, I will assume you have some ability with your gear?"
He looks at Graian. "And you, good elf... what are your skills?"
Gillian looks at Callin. "Ah, priest. Do you swing that hammer as well? Does the Light bless you with benisons to help us if we encounter difficulties?"
"Indeed sir Gillian. The Light has blessed me to bear any burden. I can smite any would be bandits, heal the wounded, and educate the heathens in the way of the Light." Callin says as he taps his hammer with his right hand and holds his Holy symbol up in his left hand. Then smirks and nods to Gillian.
After sending Takashi and Atacius on their way, Gillian wipes his hand off casually and nods to you. "There is a guard cart that I will have you ride in. You'll walk some of the way, but I'm more interested in keeping you rested in case we run into trouble. Follow me."
"Of course sir." and Callin falls in behind Gillian to head toward the guard cart. Seeing that Graian is coming with to the guard cart Callin strikes up a conversation. "So sir Graian, it is a rare site indeed to see an Elf in this part of the world. I am happy to make your aquantance. What brings you to this part of the world?"
Gillian looks at Atacius. "I know of your kind, little one. As long as you are able with that sling and sword and those fingers stay off my goods and gold, we'll have no problems with your employment."
"Then we have a deal boss.", he says and spits in his palm after extending his hand to seal the agreement.
"Oh, and don't believe everything they say about us..."
Gillan hocks probably one of the nastiest wads of spit you've ever seen a human create and slaps his palm into your, gripping it tightly in a very strong grip. His eyes bore into yours. "See that you do. Employee. I don't hesitate to dispense justice on my caravans. Go see Grenweeve. Follow your friend there."
"Yeah, whatever...", says Atacius. He turns around, wipes his hand and follows the almond-shaped eyes guy.
Gillian nods to Takashi. "See to Grenweeve, the captain of the caravan guards. He'll get you sorted out. We'll be leaving shortly today."
Graian has been looking at Atacius throughout the exchange clearly troubled... "Do not joke about the Conclave, Littleling" he says in a measured, controlled tone. Turning to Gillian "I am adept in the art of Magic, I believe I can be of help to you during this journey."
Gillian pauses again and looks you up and down - carefully. You're clearly being measured by him.
"Hm. Yes, I think so. The bandit attacks have been increasing in sophistication and size. If you're able to deal some magic at them to stop them, you'll be especially useful. I'll show you around and have you ride on the guard's cart. Follow me."
Graian follows Gilliam thinking a ride in the guard cart, even with this militia mob, is better than walking. "So tell me more about this Delmonte character", Graian asks Gillian
Gillian looks at Graian and then at Callin. (He didn't want to interrupt if you were going to answer Callin's question from above.)
"Delmonte is the leader of a group of bandits. They have been conducting raids and robberies, with increasing frequency and success. They've begun to exhibit military discipline and have clearly profited from acquiring goods - their armament and armor is improving. It is said that perhaps he might challenge the Marshall and Army for dominance in the region."
As you walk, it is clear that the caravan is preparing to depart shortly, as the goods, crates, barrels and belongings are being strapped down, the horses and draft animals checked and hitched and the drivers and guards are organizing. You come to a cart near the rear which has arms and packs within. It's a covered cart, and there are a couple of sleeping rolls in the back. Gillian motions for Graian and Callin to either sit in front or the rear.
"Deacon, you are more than welcome to ride or walk beside us. Graian, you are best off on the cart. If we encounter trouble, stay with this cart and wait for the Captain or myself to help assist you."
With that, he bows and walks back towards the front, as several men and women approach him with questions and information on the preparations.
"Thank you sir Gillian, I have been given a perfectly good set of legs to walk, and the Light will ensure I can keep up with any man here. I shall walk with the cart and stand able and ready if and when the time comes!"
"So Graian, now that you are seated and ready for the journy ahead, what brings you to this part of the world, to walk with men?" Callin says as he makes sure everying is secure before travel.
"I am here to make a stand against this destruction taking place, my people are searching for our lost homeland, but I fear if the darkness is not stopped it will be a hollow victory. With no family that quest has little value to me personally, therefore I direct my efforts to a diferent cause. I was hoping to find others of my Race who had similar thoughts, alas that has not been the case and I must resign myself to working with others." Graian replied, "what of you?"
"Well I am glad to have you with us! Anyone who intends to battle the darkness, is right in the eyes of the Light.... As for me, I was a young boy and our village was attacked. Thankfully the Milita arrived and saved myself and my family from a terrible fate. However even as a young lad, I saw the devistation to the milita. Unfortuantly our small village couldn't help the wounded as they should be cared for, and many of the brave men died. I made a vow to myself then to train not only my arm for battle, but my faith in the Light, so that I might return the debt and help those in the milita stay healty, faithful, and protected." With that Callin extends his hand to Graian "May we shine the Light upon the Darkness, and send it crawling back to the depths."
Graian looks at Callin, something akin to a smile crosses his face and he clasps Callin's hand "Indeed we will, Indeed we will@", he replies.
Takashi bows to Gillian and makes his way to find Grenweeve.
Takashi grins and says, "an odd assortment, ideed! Perhaps our unique makeup portends good fortune for us all."
Grenweeve is a stocky, short plug of a man. If they weren't a vanished race, you'd almost call him a Dwarf. Almost. He looks like he could break you in half with his pinkies. He has a gruff voice, a mass of scars across his face and neck and he's currently pushing some of the militia around to get them organized for the march.
"Yea?!" he snarls at your approach. "What ye want? If yer here to be a guard, you'll be walkin' in the rear. Watch out fer the horse shit!" He chuckles and points to what apparently is the back of the caravan.
Takashi silently nods to Greenweeve, then fingers his axe in deliberation. He decides to simply head to the back of the caravan and avoid this unsavory character of low birth and intelligence.
Atacius joins Takashi at the back of the caravan.
"So, do you think we'll get attacked? Those bandits must have spies here. How would they know which caravan attack, huh? What do you think boss?"
"Yes, it is a fearsome weapon that I have had to use frequently on my trip out here from the East. It seems as if the Kingdom is breaking apart at the seams, and some place more rapidly than others. I think every now must deal with people like this Delmonte.
"Boss? I am no boss, litte one. I am Takashi, and I am pleased to meet you. It appears as if we will be the rear guard of this caravan...
As for the bandits and their potential spies, I would not be surprised if they had someone here at the keep to alert them ahead of time. Best keep our eyes open and reflexes sharp today!"
"Takashi huh? Not from these lands I bet. I'll feel sorry for any poor bastard that happens to be on the wrong side of that battle axe!"
Enough about me, what about you? WHat do you call yourself and where are you from? I know little of your people (pardon the pun, it was unintentional I assure you)."
"Yes the world is indeed filling with Darkness, and that is why we must trust in the Light and crush it under our boots! I find it interesting that we all speak of the darkness and how we must stand together. Perhaps the Light is guiding us all together for a reason!" Callin says to the small group of Takashi, Atacius and Graian
"Haha, 'little of your people', that's a good one!", Atacius chuckles. "I'm Atacius Lightfoot, seeking fortune on these hard lands in these hard times. Crazy huh?
We all have our means to fight the Darkness. You've got your faith, he's got his axe and you elf got your spooky sorcery (wiggles his chubby fingers). What I've got? Dunno, my wits, good humor and bad jokes."
Graian looks at Atacius, raises his hand, wiggles his (slender) fingers and starts to murmur......
Sudenly Atacius rises from the ground.......
"Wait... What?!", Atacius kicks his hairy feet trying to reach back the ground.
"Jokes and good Humor are always welc......" Callin drifts off as Atacius starts to well drift... "...uh, it seems that even with wits, humor and jokes, you manage to rise to the occasion!" Callin finishes with a bit of a chuckle.
Graian smiles... "Hmmm Callin, we may get along and this Littleling, seems as though he may have more to him than meets the eye, I will guard my pockets all the same" Graian sets Atacius back on the ground.
Takashi watches the halfling struggle with his newfound lack of gravity, and chuckles. "All this talk of fortune has seemed to carry you away, Atacius!"
"Just so long as it is not our fortune that carries him away", says Graian "I find myself in a strange situation being with you all. I was hoping to meet up with more of my own kind to fight this evil but this may work well"
"I find it best to judge a man..or Elf...or Little one... Not by the point of their ears, or the hair on their feet. I choose to see there actions. That is the way of the light. I have no need to guard my pockets. As for not being an elf...for that I am sorry, but I think that we will all do well together all the same!" Callin says as he makes a nod toward Atacius
Atacius nods back to Callin.
"And perhaps an interesting group, such as ours, will provide a different perspective to this life from one where we we are surrounded by only those who are similar to us. Variety is benefit!"
As you all are talking, the caravan is slowly taking shape and getting ready to head south to Skalfier. Slowly. As mules bray and horses whinny, and the creak of wooden wheels and loaded carts and wagons, the line slowly starts to form and Grenweeve pushes men and women here and there to assume guard stations. Some of the guards are assigned water duty. He's slowly working his way back. There are 18 wagons and carts in this caravan.
As our cart begins to move, Callin keeps in line with it. It feels good to stretch the legs! Callin thinks to himself, as he continues to banter back in forth with his newfound friends...." So have any of you run into any of Delmonte's Bandits?"
"Not me boss, but heard about a group of adventurers that took their chances against them, not long ago. The success of their raid varies from teller to teller.", Atacius tells this in low voice. "But they all agree about their fate... they misteriously disappeared shortly after that..."
"Most interesting. Perhaps we will fare better than those poor souls, with the blessings of our ancestors to smile upon us."
"Of course we will Takashi! We have the Light on our side. We shall crush these vile dwellers of the Darkness should they cross our path" Callin says with maybe a little too much youthful exuberance!
"Do not take this lightly, our foes are experienced and becoming organized by the sounds of things", Graian said as he looked thoughtfully out into the Valley.
"Then we will simply unorganize them. Start with the leaders of the groups first. Leaderless men cower quickly" Callin says all to confident.
Having awoken from his customarily long slumber (although young, Oliphas recognizes the value of sleep and is meticulous about spending as long as possible happily dreaming) looking around his small cave he decides it is about time for a venture into the nearby Skalfier Keep for a few badly needed supplies. Loath at the idea of heading into civilization, Oliphas heads out, grumbling to himself, as per usual, and keeping a wary eye out for any bandits or looters that he had begun to notice in increasing numbers in the valley.
As he nears town, after a thankfully calm trip, Oliphas makes note of a caravan just setting out from the keep, seemingly bound for Saklfier. After noticing the surprisingly well armed and competent looking guardsmen, and contemplating the opportunity to simultaneously avoid entering the keep itself (with its dirty grimy civilization-type mess) and potentially help thin out the areas pesky bandits that had been bothering him, while remaining relatively safe in the company of armed men of course, Oliphas runs a hand through his disheveled (yet still dashingly flowing) locks and removes most of the brambles and twigs that had taken residence there. He slightly alters his path as he makes the executive decision to hail the leader of the caravan and ask to be taken up as one of the guards in return for some food and basic supplies to take back to his cave once the trip was complete.
As you draw near the caravan, you find yourself surrounded by several men on horses, with spears pointed to your gut, and several more on foot following. You're roughly 300 yards from the caravan itself.
"Who are ye!?" demands one of the riders.
(@Alex Mowthorpe - go ahead and reply below to the next blip with your response. We'll start the flow from there.)
Fall 1, 56AD, late afternoon
You are not even fully out of sight of the Keep before the caravan starts lurching to a halt, with horns blowing from the forward scouts.
"Get in a defensive line you louts!" screams Grenweeve. He motions to Takashi, Atacius and Callin. "You three... run behind the horsemen, see what's going on!"
(Assuming you do...)
As you near where the horsemen are circling, you see they have surrounded a young wild looking human (with lovely flowing locks of hair), spears pointed as his chest.
You see your new-found companions run towards the group of horsemen in the distance. The driver of your cart sighs. "More stop and start. This keeps up, it'll be a week till we get to Skalfier." he hawks and spits (away from you) and clucks his tongue.
Callin Steps forward between the riders, not yet drawing his Hammer, as the wild man has yet to make a move of hostility. "Good Morning Sir, I am Callin, I assure you, if you mean no harm, no harm will befall you. What brings you to our Caravan this day?"
Takashi advances with Callin, and awaits to see how the apparent man-beast behaves. He's heard tales of feral cannibals in this part of the world, though he wonders if perhaps that was just his mother making up things to keep him in line in his youth.
Atacius, before following his comrades, looks in the opposite direction of the commotion, just in case this is a ruse by Delmonte's bandits to draw the guards away from the caravan.
As far as you can tell, there is nobody else or nothing else going on in the opposite direction.
Oliphas makes a peaceful gesture with his hands, speaking slowly and deliberately: “I mean you no harm, I only seek to join your caravan as a guard, the local bandits have been disturbing me as of late and I hope for a chance to thin their numbers with a troop of armed men at my side. If you would have me, i ask simply for a few supplies as payment to take back to my cave when all is said and done.
"Grenweeve, it seems we have a request for another guard." Callin yells back. "So might we have your name, and what you might offer as services to this Caravan?" Callin asks Oliphas
Atacius seeing it's only one guy that doesn't look dangerous, goes back to the wagons.
" My name is Oliphas, and I offer simple knowledge of the druidic arts as well as my fighting arm to defend this caravan against would be raiders and bandits" Oliphas replies turning to face Callin, "May I inquire as to your name so we can be more properly introduced?"
Callin chuckles to himself, wondering if Oliphas might have mud in his ears, since Callin already introduced himself....however, being a man of the Light means being above such pettyness. "Ahh yes, I am Callin" Callin states while stepping forward and extending his hand for a handshake.
Oliphas, confused at the mans chuckle but regarding it as just another of the ever changing and altogether confusing social customs of the time, cautiously takes the mans hand and gives it a single awkward shake. "Pleased to meet you" he replies
"Do you usually have many interruptions during the journey?" Graian asks the driver as he looks at the surrounding landscape
The driver, who wipes his hand off before offering a shake, introduces himself as Skeevos. "Aye, lately. What wit Delmonte and 'is gang of thieves. 'ey got ev'r'body skeert all 'round. We do this alla time now. Be blessed by'a Light if nothin' 'appens, 'o."
Graian shakes Skeevos' hand. " I am Graian, so what do the raids look like?"
Skeevo's shudders a bit. "Fast. Year ago... just louts waving clubs. But 'en... Delmonte start with his sigil on their chests. They start fightin' harder.. like an army, know? Now.. don't see 'em comin'. Just run and hope ye make it. S'wat I did 'bout begin'in of summer. Befo' the storms. Pop up outa grass like gobbins... but did d'eyr bizness. Wuz lucky... was in front and they hit middle backies. Hopped on the horse, cut 'em loose and ran like 'e wind. Coupla made it to Skalf'r day later. All beat up. Guards. Dead."
"Hmm, so this is unlikely to be related, but keep a watch around us all the same, we are out here and everyone is distracted", Graian replies.
Atacius comes back shaking his head. "Can you believe this boss? All this display for just one guy?", he says spreading his arms. "Of course they're going to get robbed with everyone looking the other way!"
"They certainly seem as though they over-react, guess we have our work cut out on this journey", replies Graian.
As the scraggly human speaks, the horsemen chuckle. "Dirt farmer priest wants to go walkies with us, eh?" one laughs, in a not too kind voice. They look at one of the horsemen and he nods. "Aye, ye can come... follow me to Grenweeve and we'll get ye fixed up. Just... take a bath."
The horsemen ride away, and (assuming that Oliphas does as requested), the caravan slowly starts back up on it's journey to Skalfier.
(I'll leave it as this for a little while, in case you want to discuss amongst yourselves. If you have questions for any of the NPCs, just let me know.)
"Ignore the insults, Oliphas. If you are happy with your choices, and you are a good man, that is all that truly matters in this world." Callin states to Oliphas before the man follows the horseman to Grenweeve.
Takashi walks up to Oliphas and introduces himself. "Welcome to our humble caravan, friend of nature. It seems as if we are all headed in the same direction currently, so we may as well enjoy the journey."
Graian watches the exchange "Hmmm, looks like we have picked up a stray, but I think it would be a fool who underestimates him'" he says to no-one on particular.
Callin will fall back in line around the Cart engaging in idle chit chat with the others. "So Graian, have you ever encountered a Druid before? I'm afraid that we don't see many in the temples and Cities I trained in"
Graian answers in a thoughtful manner, "Druids are strange creatures, put them in the wild and they are happy, put them with other people and they tend to withdraw within themselves. That said, having one on your side during a fight can be beneficial."
"Well then, I suggest we keep him on our side then!" Callin says
Takashi suggests, "and perhaps they will be a boon to hunting in the wilds during our journey!"
With that, he thinks of a nicely roasted saddle of venison over an open fire, and licks his chops.
Graiain relays to the others what he has learnt from Skeevo about the attacks, "It appears that Delmonte uses ambush tactics to attack the caravans There is no secret about the caravan leaving and I am sure he has informers both at the Keep and in town so an easy thing to set up."
"Interesting.... Has anyone here traveled this path before? Do we know if any good spots to hold an ambush...." Callin ponders this for a moment, then directs his conversation to the WildMan "Oliphas, you live in these woods, I can only assume you are well traveled in this place. If someone were to attempt to attack this Caravan, where do you think the best place for that would be? Perhaps we could be ready for such an attack."
"I am not familiar with these parts, being newly arrived.", says Takashi.
(Question - Just so I'm clear, are you standing alongside the horses/riders, or are you attempting to get in between the riders and scraggly human?)
Since there are spears pointed at the ragged human's chest, Takashi doesn't think it would be a wise decision to get between that and the human. However, he will advance a bit ahead of the rider, perhaps even with the head of the horse.
I was aiming to be in line with the horses, so the Wildman could see us ( not cowering behind the horses) but like Takashi says, not between the spears and the man.
Fall 1, 56AD, early night
The caravan has made slow progress, despite on/off drizzles of rain. No further stops or interruptions happen and it seems as if the train is settling into an hourly routine of patrols, scouts, traveling and eating along the way.
Before stopping for the night, the caravan passes the ruins of the old Skalfier Wayfarer's Inn. Wayfarer’s Inns were put up roughly a day’s travel by foot along the roads of major cities and locations. These were partially funded by the local rulers who taxed the Inn, but also maintained guards and services. The Skalfier Wayfarer's Inn has been in ruins since the Doom. The caravan gave the Inn a wide berth, to avoid any possible ambushes, but has encamped shortly after. It will take another full day and a half for the wagons to reach Skalfier.
Grenweeve sets up a patrol and watch schedule, with the majority of you (exception being Graian) standing watch at the same time.
(NOTE: I will be sending some of you a private wave. It is considered in-game. When we've finished with those private actions, I will continue the game in-Wave here. @Chris, just give me a day or two to finish this up. If you can remind @Alex Mowthorpe to check his waves so he can let me know his response, I would be very grateful.)
Callin takes up his guard duty, and slowly walks the perimeter. Durring this time he takes out his journal and begins mapping out the layout of the camp, and looking for possible ambush points. When he thinks he has everything mapped out, he seeks out Takashi to have him review his attempt...
Callin hands Takashi the journal and says:
"What do you think of my map, any other weak points you see?"
In response to your recon - it looks like a fairly well laid out defensive perimeter. Guards near each wagon. Gillian's wagon and the guard's cart in center. The carts/wagons bearing the more valuable goods in the center. Guards with whistles on the outskirts away from the light so they can see in the dark (as well as they can, being human.) The terrain is fairly open, with grasses and scrub brush. Gillian and Grenweeve picked a fairly secure spot. If there's going to be an ambush, it's going to be difficult to surprise the caravan.
"So Gentlemen, since it is our shift on guard duty, how do you think we should proceed? Walk the perimeter?
If you don't mind, I'll put the set up to your watch in the next blip I start below... then we can proceed with how you'll do your guard duty. If you have more planning you want to do, go right ahead.
In the meantime, Gillian has apparently taken a liking to Graian, as he has his dinner with the elf mage. The discussion is mainly Gillian asking questions about the Search of the Elves and the Conclave that is happening in Skalfier. Human ignorance of the elves is clear, even to someone who is obviously read and learned like Gillian. As the night draws close, Gillian thanks Gaian for his company and takes to his own caravan cart with an enclosed cover on the back for privacy. There is a guard stationed outside the rear of the wagon. It's clear that you, Gaian, are expected to sleep next to, or in the guard cart. The other guards have created a circle of beds around a couple of fires, taking shifts for the night watch. Grenweeve does not assign you a watch shift.
Graian looks around the camp and takes stock of the guards, they are clearly organized and prepared, but he has a nagging doubt, there are too many surprises in the world today. Kicking out the fire he heads to the guards cart, pulling his spellbook from his bag.
(What spells will Graian prepare?)
Before going to sleep Atacius will look for Graian. He will try to keep to the shadows, if possible, as he proceeds. From the nearest shadow he'll call the elf in a whisper.
"Pst, pst, elf! Over here!", he calls as he looks left and right to see if someone saw or heard him.
"Pretend I'm not here and listen. Do you speak littleling?"
Easily done, as dusk has fallen and most everyone else is concentrating on settling in.
Graian looks up from his studies and stares out into the shadows, "Of course I speak Littleling" he says quietly, with a touch of annoyance in his voice
"You need to work on your humor elf. Now listen.", he whispers. "You seem to be in good terms with the boss, so this will be of his interest. And ours.", he pauses to see if anyone else is listening.
"That guy that manages the guards, the boss right hand, is in league with big D!"
"Hmm, Greenweeve?". Graian asks
"Shhh! No names!", he says rolling his eyes. "Yes, him. He came to me with a deal: do nothing when the attack comes."
"I don't know when it'll be or who else is with him, but maybe we could play along and double cross him, and get the boss good favor... and coin."
"Warn the boss and I'll warn the others."
"Much to consider" Graian replies and ponders this new information for a few moments. He considers his options, he does not know anyone of the group, Gillian does seem knowledgeable and somewhat honorable, it would be unfair to not warn him, but on the word of a Littleling Thief? This could cause distraction and dissention among the caravan and guards....
Graian thinks through this a little more then gets up and heads to Gillian's cart. When he gets there he announces himself and request a few moments of Gillian's time.
The guard holds up his hands. "Quiet... uhh... elf." He looks a little uncomfortable speaking to you. "The caravan master has retired for the evening. He's not to be disturbed."
"I realize that, do you think I would come here for some trivial matter? This is important", Graian responds "I need to speak to Gillian."
"Oh, of course, my apologies... right away." the guard answers, looking embarassed and a bit awestruck. He turns and knocks on the door and opens it to a muffled inquiry. "Sir, the elf is here, says it's very important." He waits, then nods to the muffled voice. "Go ahead and enter, Sir." He gets out of the way.
You can climb into the wagon, which is cramped with locked chests, barrels, two large backpacks, what looks like a small wardrobe and pillows and furs on the floor, of which Gillian is lying in the middle, smoking on what looks like a hookah and is half asleep... or half drugged. It's hard to tell. There is a tangy smelling cloud of smoke from the hookah that permeates the air. It almost makes you salivate.
"What do you need, Graian?" Gillian asks is a low, husky and possibly slurred voice.
Graian hid his look of disappointment at seeing Gillian in this apparent state of druggedness. "Gillian, I have received some disturbing news and I need you to be clear headed because this is going to have consequences.... one way or another."
Gillian looks like he is trying to clear his head. "Hmmm.. ? What.... newzzzzzsszzz..." he slurs.
"I believe you have a traitor in your midst, I cannot prove anything yet but there are strong indication that Greenweeve is working with Delmonte", Graian pauses to see if this has penetrated the hazed mind of Gillian.
Gillian blinks slowly a few times. "Delmo... I .... don't understand...huzzz" and he visibly reels. "Go see... Grenwee... Grenwee... Greweeenveee... he'll unnerstand..."
Graian shakes his head and turns to leave, "Stay here and do not do anything." Graian leaves the wagon
and turns to the guard "Your master is not well, make sure he stays here and recovers, do not let anyone disturb him. I will return later to see how he is." He then leaves to find the others and see what else there is to learn.
... and you find Grenweeve standing there, mid-sentence, about to dress down the guard.
He looks at you and interrupts your beginning words. "Ah..err.. Masser Gillian not to be disturbed, as I was juz tellin' boyo here. aya... and ye should come away now..." he reaches out and takes your arm in a surprisingly strong, iron grip. "Le' me make sure ye are OK to yer bed." The guard looks a little non-plussed at the exchange, but says nothing aside from firmly closing the opening to Gillian's tent behind.
(If you want to continue to seek out your friends, he won't stop you from doing that, but he obviously wants to get you away from Gillian's cart.)
Gaian shakes himself loose from Grenweeve's grip "I am capable of finding my own way," he replies and walks to where he believes the others to be. As he walks he is beginning to think about Gillian's stupor and Grenweeve's reaction, something does not seem to add up.
Grenweeve does not follow you, Graian (or Gaian? It says Graian on your charsheet
. :) ) but you get the feeling he's watching you very carefully.
LOL - so which is it? With or without the R? :)
It's easy enough to find your friends sitting around a fire.
(I'm still holding off on the time when you all are on guard duty, to let you do what you want to do. Just let me know when you're ready to proceed.)
Atacius will creep back to where the rest of the group is. He'll relay the information, in hushed tones, to Callin and Takashi.
"Yes, he came to me with the same offer as well, Atacius. I spoke with Callin already, and I plan on being next to Greenweeve for most of our shift, if possible."
"It seems he is more interested in coin, than what is right. That is not the way of the light!" Callin's voice goes very hard and stern at the last bit. Still quiet, but harsh. Quite unusual for the normally cheery lad.
"The thing is we don't know how many guards and drivers are in Grenweeve's pocket.", he says while staring into the fire.
"Very True. But to me that is irrelevent. It doesn't change what I belive is right, and what I will protect" Callin says. "It isn't always easy to follow the Light, sometimes it is a burden, but well worth the weight"
"Aye, honor demands that I not stand by and let this happen. I will do what is right, and hope that this is enough."
Callin smiles with Takashi's response and nods to him. "Then I guess we should all know what is going on." Callin shares his layout of the camp with Atacius. "Everything looks well covered, my guess is something will shift near Grenweeve. Any thoughts?"
"Yeah, maybe", he says as he looks at the map. "Although he said 'You'll be knowin' when something happens' (imitating Grenweeve voice), so I don't think he gives the signal..."
Graian sits down with the others and tells them about his meeting with Gillian and the behaviour of Grenweeve.
"It seems Grenweeve wishes to dull the senses of the leader before this evenings festivities...We should keep eyes on his cart. Who knows what they intend to do while he is incapacitated...."
"Ok - I will stay next to Greenweeve as much as possible. Atacius, do you want to watch over Gillian's cart? Callin, you will be on watch as well - where do you plan to position yourself? If we could stay somewhat close together, that would be best to cover eachother's backs. And master elf, as you do not have guard duty this eve, what is your plan?"
"I will stay between you and Atacius. That way we all have eyes on one another. If we could stay close enough, before the battle begins I would like to Bless us with the Light, so that we may stand against the darkness, should it come this night." Callin says clutching his Holy symbol and bowing his head slightly.
"I shall return to the cart, it is central and I can keep an eye on the whole camp from there." Graian replies
"All right, I'll watch Gillian's cart. Good luck all.", Atacius agrees.
2nd of Fall, 56AD - Somewhere south of the ruins of Skalfier Wayfarer's Inn
The dark skies above are a deep black with a brilliant array of stars and starclouds, the reds and yellow hues shining in a magical glow. The rain clouds have moved on inland (north and west).
Takashi, Atacius, Callin and Oliphas are awakened roughly by the guard shift retiring for the evening. The man who will be "officer of the watch" roughly puts you into a group and tells you to "walk the circle" - indicating he wants the 4 of you to walk roughly about 100 yards or so outside the perimeter of the circle of carts. He gives you a torch.
"Allz quiet, nuffin goin' on, 'cept the sounds o' the Master sleepin'" he chuckles crudely. He goes back to the guard's cart in the center and sits next to the fire, idly sharpening his sword with a stone. He waves you off for you to start walking the circle. It will be roughly three hours for a shift.
Graian, if you wish to be awake during this period, that's fine, I'll assume one of the four who are doing guard duty will have woken you up.
Since Atacius has infravision, he'll be at the edge of the tochlight trying to catch a glimpse of anything moving "out there".
Takashi will volunteer to walk on the outermost part of the circle, so as to put himself between the camp and whatever may be outside the perimiter.
Callin will walk with Takashi, staying about 10 yards away, to avoid being lumped together in an ambush. Before beginning the walk, Callin will wake Graian "Graian, thought you might want to be up for our watch" Callin says. "We will be walking the circle about 100yards out. I'll do my best to keep an eye on you as well"
"Thank you Callin", Graian replies "I will keep watch inside and see what Grenweeve gets up to." Graian gets down from the cart and takes stock of the situation inside the camp, looking for Grenweeve and where he may have left a blind spot in camp.
You hear, rather than see, Grenweeve as he snores on his bedroll, an empty bottle next to his outstretched hand. There is a huge pile of furs over his body, but you see slight movement as he wheezes and puffs.
Oliphas will join Graian within the confines of the camp as his simple human vision will be most effective where there is a light source. He also feels a connection to his fellow magic user, although their manners of utilizing magic may be drastically dissimilar.
It's a boring, boring, boring circuit around the camp. And around. And around. And even around. Did I mention walking around the camp? Yea - the sounds of night, insects, night birds, snoring... Grenweeve could probably summon the bestials from the opposite sides of the Lands with his snoring. Boring. Mind-numbingly boring.
The torch burns lower and lower, and then finally (after 6 turns/1 hr), it goes out. You can either go get another one from your watch officer, or walk in the dark.
Atacius will go and fetch a couple of torches for the rest of the shift.
Interestingly, the "officer" only gives you one. "Keeps you coming back, to make sure ye aren't sleepin' on da job!" he chuckles.
"Thank you Atacius!" Callin says as he can see once again as light is provided. And continues his boring circle. "Lets do our best to stay sharp this night. I have a feeling that they will wait till we are lulled into boredom before they strike"
"I wonder how many of the men in the caravan know about the ambush? I hope that we do not find ourselves too outnumbered, especially if we are surrounded on both sides. A most troubling thought..."
"Indeed it would be. If that is the case, I suggest we head to Gillian's cart and do our best to help him escape alive. However I would hope that the Light shines on a few of the souls here, and that we might not be up against such insurmountable odds."
Your second hour around the camp is even more mind-numbingly boring, which surprisingly is possible. Perhaps the cumulative effect of Grenweeve's snoring, the silence and the circuit around the camp. The rocks are starting to look interesting, only because they break up the monotony of the track. Not even an animal intrusion breaks the silence and stillness. Just the clanking of armor, the tread of feet and wheezes of a sleeping Grenweeve. And the second torch burns lower, and lower, till it's almost gone. (2nd hour is now over.)
Callin will go retrieve another torch, and continue the rounds.
"Aye and ye be feelin' the fun now, eh, boyo?" the "officer" jeers at Callin's tired/bored face. "Well, ye got one more round wi'tha torch and then back to the soft ground wi'ye!" He hands you the torch.
"In Service of the Light is always fun. Even in the face of boredom" Callin says as he smiles at the Officer.
The "officer" rolls his eyes at you, but doesn't say anything else.
Takashi nods to Callin as he turns to go, "I'll get the next one."
Graian observes the exchange as he and Oliphas take a walk around the camp.
Do you keep yourself separate from the other 4, or do you walk with them?
I was planning on being inside the camp, to be nearer Greneeeve how much light is there in the camp. Looking to see if I can use my infravision to my advantage
There are fires spotted around the camp. To use your infravision, you'd need to be in the dark, which would be away from your friends and roughly around the same track they are walking.
So you and Oliphas are going to walk in the camp, near Grenweeve, but at a location you can observe things. Well, you can walk around the central carts for that, but that's about where you'll be.
Yes we will be there.....
The third hour of the mind numbing boredom of your watch concludes with the smouldering coal of the burnt down torch being tossed into the fire, as the "officer" directs you all to wake your replacements. They wake up, grumbling.
"Get'sum shuteeye, fer we git up at first light ta get the wagons in line." the "officer" suggests.
Do you still want to sleep outside, near the fire, near the carts, near Gillian or ... ?
Graian turns to the others "I think it would be wise if we stick close together and hold our own local watch, if something is going to happen we will have some warning."
"Sounds wise. Lets stay by Gillian's Cart as best we can. Should we be descreete about how we stay away for watch? Perhaps we lay down but take turns keeping watch from a "sleeping"position?" Callin suggests.
"Aye, that is fine with me. And keep a close eye on Greenweeve as well."
"Wake me when you need me.", says Atacius as he wraps himself in his blanket as close to the fire as possible.
Oliphas murmurs his assent to this plan, and quietly volunteers to take first watch in "sleeping position".
"Good. Thank you Oliphas. I will take the second watch. I'll be on your right." and with that Callin lays down and does his best to get a little shut eye.
During the last watch, many of the guards are woken up to begin preparing the caravan for leaving, but those who had the last couple of watches are left alone to sleep - which means that you all are not bothered. Nothing looks out of the ordinary and both Oliphas and Callin observe no change or anything out of the ordinary during the first two hours of the last watch.
Who will be taking the third watch?
Graian will take the third watch
Graian suddenly notices three thugs and a spellcaster about 60 feet from the group, the spellcaster looks to be casting, Graian leaps away from the fire and shouts "WATCH OUT" to the others as loud as he can.
Takashi stirs from his peacefu sleep, dreaming of far more tranquil places that his current location. Hearing Graian's call, he quickly rouses himself off his bedroll and grabs his battle axe, then turns to face the threat.
(DM Note: As I explained to Graian, with the rolls going the way they did, he had enough time to yell that, as they had surprise and a spell was already being cast. So you're definitely able to jump up... and the spell being cast at you will take effect. Sorry, my friend... we'll see what happens).
Atacius curses for being awakened in such unplesant fashion, throws his blanket aside and scoots away from the fire, to find cover under the nearest wagon. His sleepy eyes darts left and right trying to see what's going on.
Callin waking from the scream, does his best to get to his feet and grab his shield and war Hammer.
Oliphas is startled awake and quickly sits up, grumbling and rubbing the sleep out of his eyes he quickly makes note of what is going on and starts to move to join Atacius behind a wagon, deeming that to be the place where he will be most likely to be shot or scorched
As you all start to move, awakened by Graian's shout, the spell caster completes his spell and darkness falls... a soothing darkness, taking you into a dreamless slumber... (except for Graian, if he makes a 90% resistance check, and Takashi, if he makes a 30% resistance check - due to elves/half elves powers. Littlelings don't get that.)
Callin will lay his head back down and go back to sleep :D
Takashi slumps back down onto his bedroll, dreaming of things unknown.
Graian is nor affected by the spell (rolled a 4) and noticing the others runs to the cart to wake up Atacius and Oliphas (assuming they are next to each other I can shake/slap both of them - that will be his intention when we get past the missile/spell phase)
Hold up just a second Graian. Unfortunately, you're in a combat mode right now, so we're in rounds. And you might want to notice now that two of the three men not casting spells have bows... nocked, pointed right at you, and they are yelling "GET DOWN!"
Should you wish to surrender, we'll go back into RP mode, but if you want to continue your actions, we'll start from rolling initiative. I'll take your declaration that you wish to move towards your friends. It takes a round to wake them up, so given you move and act this round, I'll rule that they will only wake up at the melee round of the NEXT round. Which means they won't be able to act until the third round. If that makes a difference to your action, then let me know what you'd like to do. (in other words, you can do so, but those bows might make a difference. Just saying.)
Graian halts mid-stride, realizing he is alone and even with his Elf skills escaping from two archers and a Mage is highly unlikely. Deciding discretion is the better part of valor he lowers himself to the ground.
For the 4 affected.. the fade is to black. For Graian...
(I will have a quick conversation with Graian and we'll pick this up in a bit...)