A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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    Some of you are certainly among the more unusual guests and correspondingly received a couple curious looks from fellow travelers, but to the staff of the Worried Wyvern you seem nothing too much out of the ordinary; it seems exotic things like antropomorphic ravens and goblin tinkerers passing through is business as usual. Beliost Sevenecho, a wiry man with a bald patch has the look of someone whose age is well beyond what his enduring fitness might lead to expect, is a good enough host, at least far as any of you can tell from just looking. Rarely has he the time to spare a moment for a lone traveler and most of the Wyvern's day to day business is handled by his children or, in some cases yet, grandchildren. It is no coincidence the hamlet of Sevenecho is named after this man. Not only is his inn the sole reason for the settlement's existence, the vast majority of its permanent residents are of his blood or married to his blood.

    The permanent residents are alas at most times outnumbered by those passing through, spending a single night or a couple of days at the Wyvern depending on mood, urgency or weather. Offering no fewer than 120 beds in fifty rooms spread over the four floors, many wings and some adjoining towers of the Wyvern the inn could house a small army. The large common room is always bustling with activity, many tale-tellers, musicians or just like Rook random travelers take turns providing entertainment, accompanied by quality and mostly house-made food. The local game, be it boar, deer or rabbit, is of fine taste indeed, although the cheese might be a bit on the strong side for some. Beer is another matter; there seems some competition between Beliost's eleven sons, most of whom make their own brew and insist on theirs of course being the best. It is certainly refreshing to taste a quality homebrew, although if its merit is lacking one would be well advised not to say it too loudly.

    Only the earliest hours of morning know some peace and quiet in the tavern, when the night's festivity has subsided but it's still too early for most to eat their breakfast. At this time, the sun in the east barely starting to reach over the horizon, a tumult quickly rises to rip you out of the peace of sleep. A thick fog spreading over the landscape promises evil portents, and an eerie wavering silhouette nears the building with slow steps. Tock-tock, tock-tock, the sound of horseshoes on cobbled stone echoing through the morning twilight. Finally the figure comes close enough to be seen through the veil of mist. It is a white horse, beaten and weary, its coat soiled by dark red blood long since dried. The source is easy enough to guess: the headless rider still mounted in the saddle, his skin pale and covered in hoarfrost.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff the Green View Post
    Actually, when you first put up the post where the gazebo started trying to eat us, I assumed you were pulling our legs and you'd put up the real post soon enough.


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    Sei long ago developed a habit of rising early; the lazy bullies were the cruelest, and sleeping too late or too deeply tended to result in losing something important. However, this hasn't stopped her from appreciating the luxury of sleeping in when she feels safe enough to, and it is with an irritated moan that she crawls from bed to look out the window. Squinting through the mist, she eventually picks out the rider, or at least what's left of him. It is a good thing for Sei at that moment that she's the closest thing to a priest within hearing distance.

    Splashing a bit of water on her face, she looks outside once more, just to be sure, then grudgingly combs her hair flat with wet fingers and reaches for her clothes. Her church garb was both comfortable and durable despite its fine appearance, and the armour lightweight enough that even she was barely bothered by it. She almost leaves the earrings on the nightstand, but turns back for them in the end; the dead man wasn't going to get any deader, and they were safer in her ears than lying around in an empty room.

    Sei pads down the hallway to the common room, looking around at anyone else who's noticed the horseman, but making no move to approach the corpse itself. "So... anyone know the dead guy?"
    Last edited by Sallera; 2013-09-19 at 06:59 PM.
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    Draruuc is sleeping deeply. He's having the dream again. He's at the good part. The best part. The charges are set, the construction is magnificent, the fuses are lit and growing shorter...

    Awake. Why awake.

    Getting up he wanders to the window. He frowns. The commotion must be on the other side of the building. He enjoys the view while the the Homunculi dress him; their chains rattling lightly. Their eyes do not meet his. Even if they could speak, they wouldn't. As is proper for a slave.

    He glances over Piddin Kmu's work of the evening he sees that it has once again failed to craft the poison. Yawning, he cuffs it across the side of the head with a half closed hand.

    His attire assembled, his belongings gathered, he heads for the common room. Let's see what all of this is about shall we. The homunculi fall in line and follow him into the hallway.

    There's no one at the counter when he goes to order breakfast, though he can smell the starting of it from the kitchen. Bah. How irritating.
    The human girl had already arrived. "Ho, what's the ruckus all about?", he asks her.
    Upon seeing the headless corpse, "Ruuumo kroood! Where's that one's head at!"

    Finally, an interesting day. "Lovely, just lovely.", he mutters.
    Last edited by unseenmage; 2013-09-19 at 07:30 PM.

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    Rook has been awake some time already. Mercifully, given his voice, he has never felt the need to join the dawn chorus, but he remains a bird and his body demands that he wake in time to hear it.

    So it is that from his seat in the far corner of the common room he spots the rider.

    "Mother veil me," he mutters in prayer. He rises cautiously, grabbing his breakfast (an apple, naturally) and heads to the window for a better look, and this is where Sei finds him.

    He takes a bite of his apple and looks at her quizzically. "How does one recognize a headless corpse?" he asks with a full mouth.
    Last edited by Jeff the Green; 2013-09-19 at 08:57 PM.
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    Damien had been outside since the first moments of morning light, having slept only through the darkest part of the night and rising before the sun; a side effect of countless sleepless nights in the Stonelands, no doubt. He decided to make himself useful for his morning exercise, and he had taken up an axe and was splitting wood with one of the innkeeper's sons when the corpse rode up.

    He and the son laid down their axes, and Damien took up a different blade; a long and well-kept greatsword, held in a dark leather sheath and slung across his back. Drawing a simple, tattered cloak over his back, covering both blade and armor, and taking up a simple oaken staff, he made his way closer to the body, watching the reactions of the crowd. After a few good minutes have passed, and seeing that no one else was going to do the deed, he drives his staff into the earth and walks to the horse, holding out a hand.

    Taking the horse's bridle in hand, he whispers a few quiet words to the animal. Then, deftly, he lifts the corpse off of the animal, setting it down gently once it is free of the stirrups. With that finished, he begins removing the saddle from the weary animal. Only then does he speak, and softly. "One of you children, run and get water and a washcloth. This horse deserves a drink and a bath. Does anyone recognize the horse or the man?"
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    "Don't be stupid, how the r'mm's anybody supposed to know a man's face when it isn't even here?", Draruuc saunters up to the corpse and squeezes a sample of the moisture on the body into a vial. Mostly for show, that. Nothing special about morning dew.

    Draruuc is visibly delighted. "It's about vukko time some trouble crosses my vn'ugok path. The food's good here, real good, but boy was I getting bored with sleeping in every morning.", he lets fly epithets in goblinese as he saunters up to the body. "Name's Draruuc, alchemist, artificer, adventurer. Let's see what the r'mm we can see shall we?"

    Though his words are harsh and rude, he doesn't mistreat the corpse. His eyes briefly ask permission from the greatsword wielding human before he begins to examine the body, permission or not. He carefully turns out it's pockets onto the ground first, then begins opening, but not removing, the clothes. He remarks aloud of whatever he finds.

    Lacking parchment or pen, the more humanoid Homunculus begins taking notes in the dirt with a finger in common. It struggles to keep it's grossly oversized manacles from falling off and ruining it's work. After he's finished searching the corpse for identifying marks or possessions Draruuc turns to the crowd, "Any of you tuspukk'k recognize any of this krod? I'm not over here molesting a corpse for my own amusement here.", he gestures overdramatically to the list the homunculus has made and the riffled body.
    Last edited by unseenmage; 2013-09-20 at 08:11 AM.

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    The horse is clearly distraught and in a bad state, cold sweat covering its body. It backs away to resist Damien's attempt at calming it and it takes three more men to finally get control over the animal. Removing the headless rider takes its time as well as it turns out the man - probably a human or maybe a halfelf - had his calloused hands tied to the reins. But a quick cut severs them and soon the body is placed flat on the stone.

    By now a crowd of maybe twenty people has gathered around the scene, most of them keeping their distance and talking in hushed whispers. Draruuc receives some unpleasant looks when he takes charge of examining the body, and when he moves to open the clothes Rigar, the tall redhead who'd been chopping wood with Damien, finally pushes him away, putting a bit more force into the shove than strictly necessary. It seems what tolerance he found here despite his race has reached its limit.

    "I'm not sure about the man, given his state... but I know the horse", a young girl, no older than sixteen, says. Her freckled face visibly paled from witnessing the corpse, but she holds strong. "I took care of it more than once in the stables. It belongs to a farmer living on the edge of the Brynwood. I don't recall his name, but he was kind... His wife is called Lia, or perhaps Lienne." Two young men nod along in confirmation, somehow both recognizable as Beliost's brood despite one being a thin redhead and the other coarse and ravenhaired.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff the Green View Post
    Actually, when you first put up the post where the gazebo started trying to eat us, I assumed you were pulling our legs and you'd put up the real post soon enough.


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    Damien listens intently to the townsfolk, but he keeps half an eye on the armored hobgoblin. The goblin was almost aggressively foreign, and in light of a murder his cavalier attitude may get him killed. Not caring much for unneeded conflict, he steps forward, sweeping his eyes over the crowd. Not too many competent warriors, but there are a few likely faces.

    "Well, it's pretty obvious someone needs to take a trip over to the edge of the Brynwood to see what's going on. It's hard to imagine something like this happening just once. Are there any locals that know the way willing to go with me? I can't make promises about your safety, but I've handled worse than most."

    He looks to the hobgoblin, holding out his hand with a faint smile. "My name is Damien. I'd certainly like it if you came along, if you have the time. I have a feeling you know how to hold your own."
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    "Already on it", another voice calls out. Four young men in their late teens to early twenties step forth, already clad in chain and mail. While the others are still in the process of fastening their greaves and vambraces the speaker tosses a sheathed sword to Rigar, who deftly catches it. "Father, I'll take the boys to go check it out. Take care of things while we're gone. Osden and Felin best stay here too, they got their own kids to worry about." At last Beliost can be seen, standing next to the Wyvern's doorframe, his arms crossed and face neutral.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff the Green View Post
    Actually, when you first put up the post where the gazebo started trying to eat us, I assumed you were pulling our legs and you'd put up the real post soon enough.


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    Draruuc shrugs at being shoved away from the body muttering, "Only trying to help. What's a spirit want more, privacy or recognition? How was I to know some spit of a girl would know the horse."

    Pouting, he begins kicking the half finished notes from the ground when Damien makes his offer. "I have nothing but vukko time, but mind I'm no warrior. You hand me a big sword like that'n the best I could manage would be to strip it an' melt it." He takes the outstretched hand and gives it as good a shake as his short arm can manage. His demeanor is thankful even if his words aren't.

    Glancing nervously over at the body he adds, "Though I don't rightly know if just the two of us'd be enough against who or what'd be willing to do that to a man, then strap him to a horse just to show the deed off."

    "But as I said I've nothing but time so I'm game. I'll go the r'mm with ya. Just let me get some breakfast in me, long as my coin's still good hereabouts, and we can be off." Rud tus!! Finally, something to do. Maybe I'll even get to blow something up.

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    "I dunno, build? Weird features?" Sei answers the bird's question almost without thinking, watching the examination of the corpse. "Or horse, apparently." Well, that pretty much put an end to any possible excuses.

    "Time to run headlong once more into mortal peril," she says in a tone that doesn't match her words, sweeping out an arm in grandiose fashion as she eyes the gathering Sevenecho warriors, "with no hope of reward or recognition, so that we can... um... oh, whatever." Hanging her head with a dejected sigh, she turns back to the hallway. "...I'll get my pack."

    Sei can't seem to make up her mind whether to hurry or take her time, half-fearing they'd leave her behind and half-hoping they would. In the end, she just shoulders the bag and plods back outside, silently taking up a position on the far side of the scene as though daring anyone to object to her presence in the expedition.
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    Rook grins at the reluctant paladin. "Reward no, but recognition certainly, and that can be as good as silver sometimes."

    He sidles over to Damien and proffers a claw. "I'll join you too, Damien. Name's Rook. I can't say I'm as capable with a blade as you seem to be, but then sometimes a blade's not the best weapon, no? Give me a moment and I'll get Porter and Poacher."

    The kenku fairly flies to the stable where he finds Porter still asleep under a blanket. He wakes the massive dog with a gentle scratch behind the ears. "Upara, Porter," he orders. "A'o." Porter rises and the two fairly fly up the stairs to his room, where Rook lays Porter's pack upon him and scoops a sleepy orange tabby into one of his own pockets. Staff in hand, net and lasso on hip, and real cloak atop beshadowed, the three return outside.

    "Right," he addresses the young men. "Any of you good at sneaking, thieving, hunting, or spotting?"
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    "Uh, what now?" The boys seem rather confused. "Why'd you think this is a matter of stealth? Who are you anyway." "Did he just casually include thievery in there?"
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff the Green View Post
    Actually, when you first put up the post where the gazebo started trying to eat us, I assumed you were pulling our legs and you'd put up the real post soon enough.


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    Seeing so many readying themselves so quickly Draruuc nearly abandons all hope of a leisurely breakfast. Prob'ly wouldn't have vukko sold me any anyway.

    With a few terse commands he sends the Humunculi to clear his room and fetch his packdog. "Kmu, clear my room. Piddin Kmu fetch the hound. And be quick about it you kus." For his part Draruuc hustles off to see if the kitchen would wrap him some breakfast for the road. Perhaps it's not too late just yet.

    Draruuc considers briefly asking the price for a runner to act as go-between to the trading post but something tells him there isn't anyone here willing to run the risk; even if he did have enough gold to break through their newfound distaste for him. Guess I'll have to make do with what supplies I have handy.
    Last edited by unseenmage; 2013-09-22 at 05:57 PM.

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    I'll be frank, while at first I enjoyed the flavor of Draruuc's speech, the random gibberish words make it very difficult to understand.


    Damien sighs internally. While the other three travelers that volunteered all seem competent (though he has questions about the young girl), they also apparently have little regard for what the townsfolk think of them. "I'm sure the kenku- Rook, that is- only means to ascertain who can scout should we come across a situation that requires it. As much as I'd like to believe that this was the act of a single individual..."

    He trails off, looking at the corpse. "Well. Let's just say that I don't mind any additional eyes or bodies. Can I get your names, by the way? Other than Rigar, I'm afraid that I'm not well acquainted."

    When Sei returns, Damien smiles, wondering how best to phrase his question. After all, he killed his first man at thirteen; youth was no indication of weakness. Even still, he had to ask. "Miss? I hate to be the one to ask, but have you ever been in fight before? Because whoever did this, I can't see them turning themselves in peacefully, and I'd hate for you to get hurt."
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    "Name's Rook," the kenku repeats for the benefit of the young men. "And Damien has the straight of it. Everything's a matter of stealth. Someone or something killed that man, and it may not want to stop at one. Knowing what it is and where it is before it learns of us would give us time to prepare, or to run away if it's the smart choice."

    "So I'll be out front, ready to run back to the others when I spy anything; any of you young men want to join me?"

    Like Damien, he has reservations about having such young people come along. Still, if they want to come there's no honor or sense in stopping them, and eyes are eyes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateral View Post
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    "Who put you in charge, birdface?" Another of the boys puts his hand on the speaker's shoulder, a darkhaired and muscular man who seems to really want to have a beard despite nature predisposing him against having rich facial hair. "Sorry, sorry. That was uncalled for. We don't see something like this every day. Rook, was it? Look, you're just passing through. We live here. We say who comes and how we do things. Name's Beliost by the way, like my father. Most call me Ost." The others in turn introduce themselves as Ravan, Isgar, Morden and Allik. Their father remains silent, but seems not pleased by the development.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff the Green View Post
    Actually, when you first put up the post where the gazebo started trying to eat us, I assumed you were pulling our legs and you'd put up the real post soon enough.


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    "'Birdface'? Really? It's not just my face, you know." He smiles—an interesting sight, given his beak—at Ost and offers a claw. "You really should put some thought into your insults, or people will start thinking your heart's not in them.

    "Of course, you're the ones whose lives are threatened like the horseman's, Ost, and you're welcome to do whatever however you like, but tell me: how often do you see things like this here? Because I've been travelling for a while and have had to fight or dodge my share of things and people that wanted to kill me. I gather Damien has too, though I don't imagine we approached the challenges the same way.

    "So, we offer our help. Damien seems like he's quite good at killing things with that sword of his, but if whatever killed that rider gets the drop on you, you could be buried in a pile of swords enchanted by the Netyarch himself and you'd still be dead. What I'm good at is making sure that we're the ones getting the drop on anything that feels like relieving us of our heads."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateral View Post
    Well, of course I'm paranoid about everything. Hell, with Jeff as DM, I'd be paranoid even if we were playing a game set in The Magic Kiddie Funland of Perfectly Flat Planes and Sugar Plums.
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    Damien takes another moment to appraise the bird-man, and he recognizes a few things that he hadn't noticed at first glance; a circlet on his brow, clothing made of darkweave, gloves that don't quite look real, among a few other small details. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to agree with Rook. I hope that you fellows can accept the help of a few 'outsiders' in a matter like this; the safety of the roads matters to everyone, after all, and I like to see justice done just as much as the next person."

    The swordsman's eyes meet Rook's for a moment, and there's a faint spark of mischief in them. "As for scouting, I can't say that I'm not accustomed to going undetected. But it hardly matters now; we should just be off, and see what awaits us when we arrive."
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    Draruuc returns from the inn with a scowl where a slab of breakfast meat should be. Guess I inspected one too many corpses today. He arrives just in time to hear the bird man's "...share of things and people that wanted to kill me."

    He's about to add something about goblin communities and the varying uses to which a murder can be put when Damien has something less inflammatory to say. Just as well, these might be the only folk for miles. Suppose I'd best not agitate a perfectly good food source.
    Not that anyone here'd be interested in goblinoid succession rites anyway.

    Walking up he nods assent at Dazmien's last comment. "Agreed. And though they may not appreciate my methods either...", here he glances full on at the bird man, "...I've absolutely no problem accepting help from nor helping in return folk such as what can make the kind of comforts found here at the Worried Wyvern." With that he nods as respectfully as he can manage at each of the armored men in turn.

    He then turns on his heel and calls for his Homunculi, "Kmu! Piddin Kmu! Hurry it up, these fine folk want to be getting to their veng... er um Justice as soon as possible. C'mon!"
    Already crossing the courtyard are the Homunculi leading a Moorhound all decked out in riding gear.

    "And don't drag that across the ground, you'll tear it.", Draruuc jerks a largish bag from Kmu's grip and stows it on the dog. To the assembled group he adds, "Well I'm ready; What're we all standing around with our hands up our ukk'k for? We've a severed head to find."

    Seeing the dark looks his chipper attitude is greeted with he adds, "Cuz if we find that then we're well on our way to finding the perpetrator of this heinous and wholly unforgivable crime.", here he bows his head and just hopes they don't decide to leave without him. For Gond's sake it's just so boring sitting around mending pots and pans. All I ask is for a little adventure. Just a little.
    Last edited by unseenmage; 2013-09-23 at 11:08 PM.

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    Sei rolls her eyes at the young noble, giving a rude snort. "Yeah, well, I hate getting hurt too, but somehow that never seems to stop it happening. See the symbol?" She jerks a thumb at the gauntlet of Torm worked into the links of her chain shirt, although it is barely visible at the moment. "Whether I like it or not, the church sent me out here, so if there's trouble, I'm coming."

    "Don't worry your pretty face," she adds with an airy wave. "I know how to survive a fight. Being on Torm's side does have its benefits. And I'm called Sei." It was better than being called Miss, at any rate.
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    Titan in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The Standing Stone IC

    The young Ost is about to say something more when finally his father speaks up, which immediately silences the young man. "There might be more to this. Much as my boys are eager for adventure, I can't spare them for too long. We haven't heard from Ossington in three months. We didn't think much of it, they leave the Brynwood rarely enough, but now we should. Whatever mystery there is to solve, it is likely more than a simple murder."
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff the Green View Post
    Actually, when you first put up the post where the gazebo started trying to eat us, I assumed you were pulling our legs and you'd put up the real post soon enough.


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    Default Re: The Standing Stone IC

    Rook squints at Beliost the senior. "How far is it to that horse's farm, anyway?"
    Author of The Auspician's Handbook and The Tempestarian's Handbook for Spheres of Power.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateral View Post
    Well, of course I'm paranoid about everything. Hell, with Jeff as DM, I'd be paranoid even if we were playing a game set in The Magic Kiddie Funland of Perfectly Flat Planes and Sugar Plums.
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    TheFallenOne's Avatar

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    Default Re: The Standing Stone IC

    "About a day on foot, give or take. I wouldn't recommend bringing horses if you go on into the Brynwood to Ossington. The terrain is really bad for horses."
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff the Green View Post
    Actually, when you first put up the post where the gazebo started trying to eat us, I assumed you were pulling our legs and you'd put up the real post soon enough.


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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    unseenmage's Avatar

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    Default Re: The Standing Stone IC

    Draruuc twists two fingertips around an exposed fang contemplatively.

    He takes a half step towards Beliost and asks, "You said these folk don't get out much? Should we assume that's perfectly normal for them or is there a darker reason for their ostracism?" "Do those people have any enemies that you can think of? Historically I mean."

    Realizing these folk might misconstrue his meaning he adds, "I just want to know if there isn't a more obvious answer to our headless riddle here.
    I'd hate to go looking for demons and just find particularly viscous bugbears who've been involved in a generations long turf war that I'd never heard of just cuz I wasn't born here y'know."

  26. - Top - End - #26
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: The Standing Stone IC

    "More trouble than they're worth, anyway," Sei mutters at the mention of horses. "Well, there are worse ways to spend a day than walking."
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    TheFallenOne's Avatar

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    Default Re: The Standing Stone IC

    "They come to trade about once a month. It's just a small, isolated community within the wood. Seventy people, perhaps. I don't know of any enemies. I think there's a tribe of wood elves in the Brynwood, and ever since that war up in Ravens Bluff a couple displaced creatures from the fleeing invasion army. Other than that I can tell you little."
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff the Green View Post
    Actually, when you first put up the post where the gazebo started trying to eat us, I assumed you were pulling our legs and you'd put up the real post soon enough.


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    unseenmage's Avatar

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    Default Re: The Standing Stone IC

    Draruuc's fingers continue to twist at his tooth, "And these wood elves, you expect any trouble out of them? Are they isolationists or are they all friendly like?"

    Oh I so do not want my pack pincushioned with leafy arrows.

  29. - Top - End - #29
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    Default Re: The Standing Stone IC

    "I know nothing of the elves except that they are reportedly there."
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff the Green View Post
    Actually, when you first put up the post where the gazebo started trying to eat us, I assumed you were pulling our legs and you'd put up the real post soon enough.


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    RaggedAngel's Avatar

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    Default Re: The Standing Stone IC

    Damien looks over the group, a faint anxiety washing over him. He wasn't much for prophecy, but he had a bad feeling that the party was going to return smaller than it left. Nothing to be done now but begin, I suppose.

    He begins walking in the indicated direction, with plenty of spring in his step; Damien is clearly not a slow man, and he seems eager to get moving. "Let's get moving, then. I don't mind fighting in the dark, but I've found that most horrible monsters tend to have excellent night vision.

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    Damien has a 40' move speed right now. Are we going to plod or hustle?
    Red Hand of Doom in Eberron IC | OOC | Rolls

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