A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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    Default IC Warriors of Blackvale


    Last winter was long and hard. It snowed like it has not snowed since the Gloom ended some fifteen years ago. Terrible beasts roamed the countryside, far too many succumbed to the Frostrage and hundreds more went hungry, and even starved, due to the heavy rains which ruined much of last autumn's harvest. Add to that, the totality of destruction wrought by the giants and the Red Queen and... Well you had a recipe for a disastrous winter. Yet, against all odds, you survived. Survived until the first of Spring and were able to let slip a sigh of relief. Winter was over, life would get better, this year would be happier than last. For the most part, it has. Crops were sewn, buildings repaired, monsters culled. You watched as boys gave wood carvings to the lasses they liked on Eluna's Day and smiled as girls returned the favor by giving the boys they liked a knitted handkerchief. You stripped your clothing off and danced around the bonfire while singing joyous songs on the Holy Day of Spring. For the last three days, you painted your skin in the colors of the rainbow and devoured food made from radishes. Life could not be any more happy, any more serene, any better.

    On the last night of the Festival of Rainbows and Radishes a horrified scream echoed through the streets of Blackrock. Two children had witnessed a crime most heinous - the murder of their pregnant mother. As the whole town raced to the darkened ally where two children, little Feywulf Servantson and Fargila Servantsdaughter, sat wailing beside the bloody corpse of their fallen mother, Fenoka. After much cajoling, Commander Solvald the Bloodhound was able to glean several key details from the children. First, the assailant was female and she wore a black cloak but her skin and hair were blue. Second, the assailant whispered, "This is for sleeping with my husband, you cow" before brutally stabbing poor Fenoka seven times in the stomach with a jagged dagger. Given the clues, the Commander gathered up all of the Undine in town and discovered four women were unaccounted for - Rutavesi Butlersdaughter, Rakvesi the Old, Waldemavesi Smithsdaughter and Takvesi the Azure. All of the women were married, so their husbands were detained. Commander Solvald personally, and privately, interrogated each of the husbands. He spent all night grilling each of the detainees. At morning's first light he left Tower Rock, home-base of the Rangers in Blackvale, and greeted a crowd of people eager to hear what the Commander learned. Sadly, the Ranger's efforts were for not, as none of the husbands would speak out against themselves or their wives.

    Thinking quickly, Solvald gathered the crowd and divided them into posses of six or seven, each with a Ranger assigned to act as a guide. The Commander declared that each group would head out into the Blackrock Hills and search for the missing women.

    A group of seven individuals left Blackrock that morning. These seven were guided by a young, Half-Elven Ranger named Silith Amastine. Accompanying her were Aisha Silverlight, Melinda Vilhelmisdaughter, Halbrecht, Ash d'Oscine and two visiting nobles - Lucien 'Luc' Torchlord & Anrika Ruinlord. These seven individuals were pointed in a southerly direction. The sun had just created the horizon, bathing the hills in a warm, yellow glow.

    After an hour of searching Anrika speaks up. Her voice is shrill and her attitude leaves much to be desired, "Why on earth did that Ranger send me, ME, out here to trudge through this dusty, rocky, vile hillock!? Does he not know who I am!? I am Anrika Ruinlord, daughter of Anrik Ruinlord, hero of the Third Battle of Rubyview! This search is... Servants stuff! How dare that tyrant send me on this fool's errand. We won't find the murderer! She's long gone by now. Probably jumped into the Ruby Channel and swam to Whitewillow. You know how slippery those Undine can be. They are as despicable as halflings and as greedy as gnomes. They are not folk nobles such as myself, and the handsome Luc, should ever be forced to associate with."

    Anrika gets close to Luc, taking his arm for support. She loudly whispers, "No, this is positively the work of servants... Servants like that ugly wretch of a Ranger that so-called Commander assigned to us. Do you not think her unkempt red hair and furrowed, beastly brow most disturbing? And don't get me started on those leaf ears! There is obviously a reason she became a wanderer of the wild..."
    Last edited by Felhammer; 2014-06-17 at 08:13 PM.
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    ❶ AGAINST THE GIANTS: IC | OOC

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    ​Halbrecht
    From his position near the front of the group, Halbrecht, a Cavalier of the Starless Knights, snapped his head back around to face the haughty noblewoman. As a knight in the service of the king, not only was he adept at both mounted and foot-based combat, but he was an expert in both surviving in and tracking things through the wilds and plains of Blackvale; as such, he had been more than willing to lend his expertise in this inter-organizational venture with the Rangers. He was currently mounted atop his noble steed, a proud and sturdy warhorse as black as night named Adamant. Like Adamant's coat, Halbrecht's head was topped by a short crop of jet black hair. Beneath sat a sturdy, handsome face that had caused many a woman to swoon over the years, with sapphire blue eyes, a proud jaw, and a neatly trimmed beard and mustache. He and his horse were dressed in matching gear, being chainmail adorned with his banner - a White Dragon rampant against black and yellow quarters, atop which was the crest of the Starless Knights. Both lance and sword were currently stowed for the time being, though his shield remained upon his arm.

    His countenance, normally bright and cheerful, took on a stormy look as his eyes narrowed at Anrika. Had she been a woman of lesser rank, he would have unleashed a verbal assault the likes of which the world had never seen - an innocent woman was dead, a murderer was on the loose, and all she could think of was herself? But alas, she was not, and so (un)luckily, she was spared the full force of his wrath, as he rubbed his forehead in a visible attempt to cool his boiling blood. Though it may have been said on several occasions that he was not the most knowledgeable of people, having devoted his life to studying the arts of war, survival, diplomacy and little else, Halbrecht was no fool, and knew that deliberately antagonizing the noblewoman would cause more problems than it would solve.

    Lowering his palm, he gazed steadily at Anrika. "With all due respect, milady," he said, being neither aggressive nor diplomatic - merely matter of fact - "We cannot simply abandon our task while a murderer is at large. Until we have discerned for certain that there is no sign of her, we must press on. Until then, I would thank you most kindly if you would keep your eyes and ears sharp." And, for that matter, shut the hell up and refrain from antagonizing our guide merely because her ears happen to be a different shape than ours, you pampered whelp. For while it could be said that Halbrecht had some rather unsavory opinions regarding orcs, it would never be said that he viewed the elven, dwarven, or undine subjects of Blackvale with anything less than respect.

    That said, the flightiness of the Vanara did exasperate him somewhat. But he certainly didn't hate them.

    His piece said, Halbrecht turned once more to the horizon, calling upon years of training and honed instincts in one last bid to ferret out the murderer.

    Spoiler
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    Alrighty! With that purpley, expository introduction out of the way, let's kick this campaign into high gear with some DICE ROLLING!
    Perception: (1d20+9)[23]
    Survival: (1d20+11)[30]
    Last edited by Lord Of Mantas; 2014-06-18 at 07:38 PM.
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    Luc had been as stunned as anyone by the murder of Fenoka, though he was no stranger to death or hardship in his own life, the brutal murder of a woman and her unborn child in vengeance was not something to be inured to. In his time growing up in the wilds he had learn to know the difference between the violence necessitated by survival in nature, and the colder, more savage violence inflicted by the creatures and monsters which the Gloom had brought to their full. It was only after that he began to be exposed to the altogether different sort of violence people inflicted on one another, the brutality of war and the cruelty individuals towards their fellow humanoids was oddly 'novel' to him, though he went to some effort to conceal it. 'You can't have people getting on that you're so damn green to the civilized world.' He suddenly remembered, hearing Archivist Stelldaughter's voice resound in his head, 'Let them do the talking long enough to prove themselves fools before you say anything that might incriminate yourself.' Luc had hardly understood what she meant the first time he'd heard preach that particular maxim, but now, tramping over the hills to the south with the warm light from the sunrise pouring over them, he was reminded of them again as the Lady Anrika Ruinlord continued to speak to her own misfortunes. It was clear she was trying to garner some sympathy from him, but he had to think it might be more effective if she actually gave him the chance to speak in return.

    When she took his arm for support, he became aware of a potentially different motive behind her plaintive wheedling, as he took only a moment to slow his pace so as not to seem rude. He was of course used to this sort of terrain, and tracking through the early morning mist for that matter, but never in a group, which seemed to him a clumsy way to go about it. If Anrika was right about anything, it was that this search would surely go much faster if Ranger Silith were to be allowed to set a pace in keeping with her own abilities as a tracker. Her words disparaging words in regards to the character of Undine, Halflings, and Gnomes were the most alien to him however, and he failed to grasp how she could be so oblivious to the diversity of humanoid life, however many perfidious, greedy, and unkempt elves, undines, halfings, or gnomes she might have met in the past. He sighed, and did his best to steady her at his side, trying to use her hold on his arm as an excuse to quicken her pace. The first time Goodwife Veldson had managed to get a comb through his own matted and unkempt hair, and remarked how well he "cleaned up", he had been confused as to what she meant, but when the good people of the hamlet had not recognized the wild-child adopted by the Veldsons, and he suddenly found himself the subject of more of the girls' attention, he began to understand. Presently of course, the furs and cloak of his garb did little to compliment his features, but he had gone the extra length to make himself presentable for the festival and still wore the evidence in his well groomed hair and the fairness of his visage. 'It will be no small blessing to get properly dirty again by the time this trek is over.' He thought, relishing the opportunity to perhaps leap in a the next muddy puddle they came across and see how much Anrika cared to attend to him afterwards.

    Trotting along at his side was Raev, the arctic fox somehow contriving to remain spotless where ere' she went, all the better to allow her coat to do the work of concealing her in the terrain. For the spring, it was a slightly speckled ashen gray, not unlike Luc's hair, though he lacked the speckles and a blonde sheen lingered from his efforts to wash it for the festival. Raev seemed to approve of Anrika no more than he, or Sir Halbrecht, as he rounded on Anrika, and said his peace before moving on. Finally turning to answer her latest question, Luc shrugged and did his best to smile plaintively, "I'm sure it's because her talents lie with tracking and guide those such as ourselves. The wilds are a dangerous place, no matter what shape your ears are." Raev decided to pick that moment to hop up onto his shoulder, putting herself between Luc and Anrika for a moment, and staring pointedly at her before Luc leaned around to smile at her again. "Truth be told, he ears remind me most of Raev's and I'm sure they're just as keen, the better to hear prey or threats." He intended the comment to be a compliment as he was quite certain Silith could overhear them, and a gentle warning to Anrika, but given his past attempts at courtly banter that did not rely wholly on his natural charm, he could never be sure anyone would take what he said the way he meant it. Looking forward again towards Silith, he couldn't help but think it again to himself; between her red hair and the tapering of her ears, he couldn't hep but think there was something pleasantly 'foxy' about her (quite unaware of what such a term might mean in any other context).
    'I believe you find life such a problem because you think there are the good people and the bad people. You're wrong, of course. There are, always and only, the bad people, but some of them are on opposite sides.'

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    Anrika laughs haughtily then scoffs derisively at Halbrecht, "The word of a fatherless orphan to Yasgaram's ear! Yes, why don't we just break down all of society's structures and live like mindless savages in the wild? Social order exists for a reason, boy, and you would do well to remember your station. Is that not right, Luc, dearest?"

    Turning her attention to Lucien she frowns, "Not you too Luc-y! Don't let those foul ideas muddle your mind." She rubs Luc's back and kisses him on the cheek, "Don't worry Sir Torchlord, I shall do the thinking for the both us. That way you can focus your efforts on killing orcs, murderers and other..." She bores a hole into the back of Silith's head, "Bad folk." She reaches into her backpack and retrieves a slice of yellow cake that has been delicately wrapped in a napkin. "My big, strong friend needs a reward for all his hard work. Here, you may have this slice of cake. Fret not, it is delicious. As it should be, it was made by the best chef in Blackrock - me!" She looks away as her face grows red from embarrassment, "I know, I know, cooking is for the lower classes but... I cannot help myself, especially when I am able to share the bounty of my home with such an attractive, strapping..." She fades off for a second as her eyes devour Luc, "Man. Now, quickly, before the commoners grow jealous, eat the cake I made for you."

    Spoiler: Halbrecht
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    As you crest a hill, you see another party of people about five miles way to the north-west.

    You do not spot any humanoid tracks, although you do see quite a few wolf tracks.
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    ❶ AGAINST THE GIANTS: IC | OOC

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    Luc is quite nearly at a loss when Anrika produces a slice of yellow cake, and continues her veritable tyrade of fawning and fretting. "Lady Anrika . . ." He looks at her, and the way her eyes seem to be appraising him as though he were the prey she was after, not their murderous quarry. 'Strapping?' He thinks to himself before glancing over towards Helbrecht, the knightly warrior no doubt rippling with muscle to bear the weight of his armor. 'Couldn't she want to share her cake with him? I thought noble ladies were supposed to like knights in shining armor.' Luc sighed and took a fair portion of the cake, if only to placate her for the moment and broke it into two halves. "I'm sure you won't mind sharing it then with me?" He says, offering her the piece in his opposite hand as Raev runs around to his opposite shoulder and sniffs at the culinary confection.

    Luc certainly didn't feel prepared to kill any orcs or murderers or the like. During the engagements with the Redwillow and Blackoath forces, he'd left that with to the soldiers and knights like Sigmund, his adopted brother, and wished not for the first or last time that he'd accompanied him to Blackrock. Sigmund would know just how to handle Anrika's affections, or might even divert them from Luc entirely, although he wasn't noble-born like Luc was, Sigmund was every inch the strapping soldier, and a Ranger besides, no doubt more useful to Silith in tracking down this murderer than Luc would be. The crossbow slung across Luc's back was hardly the weapon of an accomplished warrior, and in Luc's hands it felt clumsy and complicated, but he hardly wished to be caught without it. No, Luc's abilities didn't lend themselves well to the battlefield, he had acted as a guide and scout primarily during the war, there was little enough he could do to "Ow." He was forced to say aloud, caught by surprise as Raev nipped his ear, a none too subtle reminder that he indeed had power, power which had saved lives more than once.
    'I believe you find life such a problem because you think there are the good people and the bad people. You're wrong, of course. There are, always and only, the bad people, but some of them are on opposite sides.'

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    Silith

    The last few weeks had been rather rough on Silith. Her arrival in Blackvale had not gone without problems, and the attack by a group of goblins had nearly gotten her killed. Fortunately, with the help of a few Starless Knights she'd managed to find her way safely to Blackrock, and it was there she'd been lucky enough to bump into a ranger from Blackvale. Citing her experience as a tracker and a woodswoman, she'd easily convinced the man to let her tag along a few times, and now they'd already sent her to guide a group of adventurers in search of a murder suspect. I didn't expect it to go this fast. Well, at least sir Levian'll be pleased with my progress on this front.

    Silith leads the group confidently over the hilly terrain, searching for tracks that may have been made by other humanoids passing through the area. Occasionally, she looks back at the party to gauge their potential strengths. Most of them seem amicable enough, but the noblewoman somehow manages to be entirely unlikeable. Silith decides to ignore her. No reason to draw attention to myself now. I should just focus on the task at hand. And when Halbrecht starts looking for tracks, Silith immediately recognizes the technique of a skilled tracker. She nods to herself and resumes her search for tracks. She does pick up on Luc's comment however, and she quietly adds to his comment about her ears, her voice barely a whisper:"And insults."

    Spoiler: Rolls
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    Since Silith's searching for tracks, I might as well roll the same rolls.
    Perception: (1d20+14)[22]
    Survival (looking for tracks): (1d20+11)[24]


    When the noblewoman speaks again, the frown on Silith's face becomes more pronounced. Almahara's grace, that woman is insufferable. Why'd Solvald send her along with us? She couldn't find a tree in a forest. She glances over her shoulder at the woman for a split second before turning around and focusing on her search again. This is not the best way to go about this, but I don't dare risk splitting the party into smaller groups. Too dangerous out here.
    Last edited by BramsesII; 2014-06-18 at 02:07 PM.
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    Ash

    At the moment of Luc's attempt to split the piece of cake into two halves, a half-suppressed laugh comes from further back in the group. The owner of the laugh turns out to be a girl, probably in her mid-twenties, whose somewhat casual manner of dress is more than made up for by the prettiness of her face; though at present, said features are half-covered by her hands as she attempts to stifle her amusement at the recent turn of events, with increasingly failing results. She eventually gives up, letting out high-pitched giggle before finally managing to take a deep breath and compose herself somewhat. When the inevitable confused looks turn her way, she decides to just brush them off with a shake of the head; if they hadn't already realized that the hapless Torchlord's attempt at courtesy would only encourage Anrika further, they weren't very likely to find it funny when explained either.

    "Well, I think I can understand the Lady Ruinlord's sentiments somewhat. It seems a bit... excessive to send everybody out looking, doesn't it? Especially when most people really do have nothing to contribute to the search apart from bringing another body."

    It's difficult to tell if the sudden change in topic is an attempt to move away from any possible repercussions for what could be construed as laughing at the noblewoman, or merely the voicing of an opinion. In either case, the words chosen are spoken rather eloquently, and carry the intonation of someone well-used to smoothing things over in conversation. Ash gives a brief shrug of her shoulders as she continues picking her way along the path, carrying herself with an easy sort of grace despite the terrain.

    "Well, not that I'm really complaining about it either. We're here now, so may as well make the best of it. Try to enjoy it as much as one can, right?"

    She picks up the pace slightly, gradually moving towards the front of the group in the process. When she passes by Luc, however, she quickly leans in and whispers close to his ear.

    "If you aren't interested, you really should just tell her so now. Keep trying to be polite and she'll only dig her claws in further."

    Ash then continues on towards the front of the group, eventually pulling up alongside Silith, who she offers a smile.

    "Aw, don't be too upset at Lady Ruinlord, miss. I'm sure she just doesn't know how to appreciate the aesthetics of elven ears. I think they're very lovely!"

    Only Silith would have been able to see it, but for a fleeting moment, the look on Ash's face seems to suggest that the last part of her compliment carried a lot more weight than just trying to cheer the half-elf up...

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    Aisha

    How events seemed to unravel around her always seemed so mystifying. It had been a rather joyous festival, one she had ample time to attend as her lord had left her plenty of time to do as she so desired. It was a perk of her own acting as a messager and falconer to have plenty of down time when no tasks required her immediate attention. Even Mina, her personal falcon, was allowed to remained nestled at home enjoying some well deserved rest. It was quite a joyous occasion... at least until the murder.

    She followed now with a group of mostly strangers. The ranting of the woman nearby had left her practically rolling her eyes at her obnoxiousness with spouting out the same thing over and over and sound just silly. It left her quite bothered looking at Silith as she seemed to sling quite a few insults her way. Very few individuals seemed to master such a difficult trait of being annoying to Aisha, and she took the cake and ran with it. Of course that wasn't helped when she literally pulled out a piece of cake she was offering to the Luc fellow.

    She heard a familiar call as she turned her head up. She held out her gloved arm, a Falcon flying down carefully perching itself upon the glove looking upon its Master. The white haired woman smiled giving a light nod to the bird who seemed eager for a short rest upon her owner's hand as a perch. Aisha had figured taking Mina would be the best option, able to act as a messenger given any news might found.

    She followed up moving a bit closer to the front. Her head turned to Ash hearing her compliment Silith. Absent minded as she tended to be at catching onto things, she felt it was her place to chime in jokingly. "If I didn't know better Silith, you have an admirer out for your heart." She let out a light laugh in response. "Any luck on finding any clues to this shady individual we are seeking?" She asked stifling her own excitement. In some truth, she was far to joyous to be going on an 'adventure', particularly one with such a dark reasoning behind it. It was enough to make her feel a bit guilty for taking so much pleasure considering it had been the life of a pregnant mother that had been lost that lead to such a journey.
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    Silith

    Holding her bow in her left hand as always as she searches for tracks, Silith hears someone moving towards the front of the group. As the younger woman catches up with her, Silith prepares to give her a curt nod to return to searching for tracks. The friendly smile gives her pause however, and the girl's comments manage to soften Silith's expression, even putting a small smile on her face. With her free hand she tucks her hair behind her ear, bringing her half-elven heritage into plain view for all to see. "Thank you, miss... Apologies, I didn't quite catch your name." Silith looks Ash in the eye for a moment as she pauses, but if she did manage to catch Ash's hidden meaning, her face doesn't show it. "Words do not upset me, though. I know that out here we'll need every body we can get. After all, everyone can get lucky and find a crucial clue. And please, call me Silith."

    Before she can continue her conversation another woman walks up beside them and addresses Silith. The half-elf turns towards Aisha and offers her a smile as well. Her comment about the admirer catches Silith off-guard, and she's unsure how to respond. The auburn-haired half-elf lets out a very nervous giggle followed by a cough and is very relieved when the woman changes the subject to their mission at hand. "No clues yet, I'm afraid. Tracking people through terrain like this is difficult." She turns her attention to Halbrecht for a moment and calls out to the cavalier. "Have you found any sign of their passing through here yet, sir?"
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    Halbrecht
    Quote Originally Posted by Felhammer View Post
    Anrika laughs haughtily then scoffs derisively at Halbrecht, "The word of a fatherless orphan to Yasgaram's ear! Yes, why don't we just break down all of society's structures and live like mindless savages in the wild? Social order exists for a reason, boy, and you would do well to remember your station."
    "Apologies, milady. I meant no disrespect." Halbrecht inclined his head in a slight bow, his expression neutral. Internally, however, nothing could have been further from the truth. Halbrecht had spent most of his early childhood at his father's knee, spending hours upon hours listening to tales of derring-do passed down to each successive generation of the Starless Knights. At the core of each story, however, was a message of the central tenets of the Knights: Honor, loyalty, and virtue. "And not just to king and country, my dear boy." Halbrecht heard his father's voice echo through his head, almost as if he were still there with him. "You must always remember, all knights - nay, all people, in the end, have a duty to express these virtues, not just to those above them, but also to their equals and to those who may be 'beneath' their station, no matter who they might be." Halbrecht grimaced. While 12 years had done a lot to dull the pain, it was far from gone. In the end, though, Halbrecht had taken these lessons to heart, and firmly believed that knight, noble, and peasant alike, owed everyone that same respect.

    Adamant whickered, sensing his friend and master's discomfort. Halbrecht smiled and stroked his dearest friend's head, then once more turned his gaze to the horizon.

    While Halbrecht knew, of course, that not everyone shared the same viewpoint as he did - that would be outright naive - the sheer blatancy with which Lady Ruinlord made her viewpoint known, so say nothing of the shrillness and vexing tone she used, all but eradicated any respect he might have had for her. All that said, however, he would fulfill his knightly duties and not press things further. A noblewoman was still a noblewoman, after all, and the Starless Knights needed their support, so he wouldn't do anything to jeopardize either his or his comrades standing.

    And he certainly wouldn't try to mentally will Anrika to trip, fall in a pit of mud, and then throw a temper tantrum before heading home alone and leaving them in peace. That would just be unprofessional.

    But gods above, that lady tests my patience! Why on earth was she sent out as part of the search, anyway? As far as I can tell, she has no skill in scouting, tracking, or combat, so all she's doing is slowing us down. He then looked back as the incommodious noblewoman put the moves on her noble companion, showering him with caresses and the delicately wrapped pastry. A frown once more creased Halbrecht's brow. And for Almahara's sake! Cake?! This is manhunt, not a picnic in the plaza! Jealous? Ha! Even if you were the last woman alive, I wouldn't touch you with a ten-foot pole. A flash of sympathy crossed his mind at Luc's discomfort. While I would never wish to be in your shoes, good sir, know you have my support.

    Shaking himself, he returned to the task of tracking, but not before one last thought crossed his mind. And somehow, given your reaction to those you consider beneath you, I sincerely doubt you were the one who baked that cake. A couple more minutes passed, the chatter of his fellow party members passing over him as he searched for clues. Then, as they crested the top of a hill, he spotted something.

    Quote Originally Posted by BramsesII View Post
    "Have you found any sign of their passing through here yet, sir?"

    "I spy another search party... five miles that way."
    Halbrecht indicated a north-west direction. "As far as tracks go, there don't appear to be any signs of humanoid footprints. There are, however, more than a few wolf tracks."
    Last edited by Lord Of Mantas; 2014-06-18 at 06:35 PM.
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    Ash

    "Forgive me, it does seem I forgot to introduce myself, doesn't it? Ash d'Oscine. It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Silith."

    The girl's smile seems to radiate nothing short of sincere good will and friendliness as she quietly listens to the brief exchange between their guide and the woman with white hair, including the teasing comment about an admirer. When the topic seems to shift back once more to their assignment, however, she gives a shallow nod of the head towards Silith before turning to look behind her at the others.

    "Well then, I suppose I'll cease distracting you from your job. Best of luck, I'm sure you'll be able to find something useful in no time."

    With that, she turns and begins to make her way a little off to the side of the pack, hands tucked behind her back and fingers interlocked; the manner in which she moves could almost be described as playful as she seems to almost wander aimlessly around for several steps before gradually making her way back towards the rest of the group, lightly humming a nameless tune as she went. Yet behind the carefree facade, she was quite busily engaged in the process of assessing her current companions. This was turning out to be rather more entertaining than she had previously expected it to be.

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    "Do you like the cake I baked for you, dearest Luc?" Anrika smiles warmly and flutters her eyelashes like black butterflies, "I just know you would! Who would have thought that the gruesome murder of a commoner would bring two such as ourselves together? Destiny is works in mysterious ways, would you not say Sir Luc?"

    Turning her ire to the cavalier, "I am sure you meant no disrespect, Sir Halbrecht. I know these, now what did the tyrant call these... Posses? Yes, that is the word he used. These posses breed a certain kind of familiarity that, as we all should be patently aware, is unbecoming of the natural order of the world. Let us not forget who we are and lose ourselves to frivolity. It may be spring but that hardly means we should forsake our stations." Looking to the man who is nibbling on her cake, "Wouldn't you agree, Sir Torchlord?" Before he has a chance to respond, "Of course he does. Why I am the brains and he is the brawn of this..." Anrika blushes once more, covering her face with her fox fur glove, "Relationship."

    The wind picks up suddenly, Anrika struggles to grasp her mane of dirty blonde hair and tie it together before it becomes a tangled mess. Silith stands atop a jagged piece of earth and gazes out across the Ruby Channel. The crystal clear blue skies allow everyone to see the shores of distant Songwillow Isle. Several ships sail in the Channel. Fisherman for the most part. One ship, a proud looking, red lacquered cog, famous on both sides of the channel as the Saintly Courtesan, flag ship of Captain Holaf Shipslayer - renowned hero of Whitewillow. The ship is venturing north west, probably on its way to the Scar.

    Anrika begins another tirade about how unfair it is that she has been sent out here to this, "Monster infested hell-scape." As she does, both Silith and Halbrecht come across a single large footprint. Perhaps three or four times the size of either of their feet, with each toe clearly defined in the grassy patch. There can be no mistake, there was a giant around here recently. Their eyes scan the area for any signs of a cave or shelter... Until both the Ranger and the Knight look over the side of the cliff and realize that they are in fact standing atop a gaping maw in the earth. Suddenly, the sound of sheep baaing can be heard, as well as the snoring of something very, very large.

    Spoiler: Sil & Hal
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    Both of you are able to deduce that this is the foot print of a bumbling Hill Giant, rather than a mighty Cloud Giant.


    Spoiler: Mental Image of the Environs
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    ❶ AGAINST THE GIANTS: IC | OOC

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    Halbrecht
    The cavalier quickly turned to the others, his face once more in a frown. The situation may not have been as bad as it could have been, but there was still plenty of room for that to change. "Ready yourselves, friends," he said, dismounting Adamant with the practiced ease of one who has spent most of his life on horseback. His voice was low and clear to avoid any accidental awakenings. "We have a hill giant on our hands." Cautiously, Halbrecht approached the edge of the hole, his eyes scanning the interior. After a moment, he turned to Silith (whose name, owing to the fact he had been focused on tracking the murderer, he was unaware of). "I am afraid my knowledge of these creatures is mostly limited to tracking them, good ranger. If you know of any important facts about them that would give us an advantage, now would be the time to share."

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    Perception (to try and make out the contents of the cave, as well as if there is any safe route down - or, worst case scenario, if there's a good spot to tie a rope): 13 (Copied from OOC thread)
    Last edited by Lord Of Mantas; 2014-06-18 at 07:29 PM.
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    Anrika stifles a shriek of terror by slamming her fox fur gloves over her mouth. "A-a G-g-g-giant you say!?" She grabs onto Luc tightly, "Promise me you will protect me, Sir Torchlord."

    The overhang from the cliff is too great to see inside the cave without getting down on your chest and bending down to peer within. However, based on the sounds, the Giant would appear to be sleeping (either that or he is a very heavy mouth breather). Halbrecht notices a rocky outcropping to the north west that looks to be sturdy enough to tie a rope around but thing enough so it does not use too much of the rope.

    Spoiler: OOC
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    Square AC 6 is where you want to tie the rope off.
    Last edited by Felhammer; 2014-06-18 at 07:43 PM.
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    Melinda

    Melinda quietly begrudged each step across the rocky hillside. The cramp in her leg made it seem like she'd been on the road only a few days ago, though it had been several weeks since her return to Blackvale. Something about being back in her father's home was comforting to the point of softening her. Sleeping in a familiar bed, finally hearing the chants that she only ever heard in her childhood church. Whatever it was, she could already hear her half-siblings teasing her. However I tell this story, they don't need to hear that my leg stiffened only anhour after walking, she decided.

    If it wasn't for Lady Ruinlord's never-ending stream of complaints, she might have complained a little about their situation. It truly was heavy-handed for Commander Solvald to command the crowd to help. Most of them were just regular townspeople, curious about the news. What did these truly civilized folk know of walking in the wilderness, of following tracks and being quiet around monsters? They'd never hunted orcs or screamed their battle fury to the sky. One ranger, no matter how experienced, couldn't save a group of Anrikas. Fortunate indeed that most of this group handled armor and weapons with familiar ease.

    No, Melinda couldn't disagree with that. She could and did disagree with the noblewoman for making the trip far more irritating than necessary. If the terribly renowned Anrika Ruinlord hadn't gone on and on about her lineage, to the point that Melinda worried about retaliation, she might have focused her magic on making distracting noises. Perhaps howling wolves would convince the noble to be quiet. But, as the nobleman and the knight were already trying to handle her, there was no sense in making the ranger's job more difficult. Melinda just kept to the far side of the group as the noblewoman, drumming on her knees and listening to the conversation with a wry grin.

    She admired the view of the landscape from atop the hill, but the beauty was marred by the sounds of sheep, snoring and stammering. Melinda crept up beside the knight, peering into the darkness after him. In a quiet voice, she offered, "I've heard a few stories about battles with giants, let me think for a moment."

    Spoiler: Spoiler
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    Knowledge (Local) (For details on giants, since they're mysteriously considered Humanoids instead of Monstrous Humanoids. She has the same Nature score if you prefer.) [roll0]
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    Taking Ash's words to heart, and Helbrecht's warning of a hill giant most seriously, Luc let out an exasperated sigh and put one hand up to Anrika's lips, silencing her. Before she could interpret the gesture as anything else he turned to face her, smiled, and pushed her gently, but firmly a good foot or so away. "'Sir' I'm afraid, is incorrect Lady Ruinlord, for I am no knight. Neither do I have any title but my name. The 'Torchlords' were my family, and Lucyen was their son, but I'm just Luc now. Our ancestral home is gone, our lands reclaimed by the wilds, and any title I might have held made forfeit. I am no soldier, nor a warrior, and probably no stronger than you are, or at least, hardly strong enough to swing a sword." As he spoke he readied his crossbow and loading it with some difficulty, having to brace it against the ground and strain heavily against the sting despite that it was a smaller variety. "What I can do to protect you, Lady Anrika, is tell you to be silent, and stay behind me . . ."

    Lucien moves to behind Melinda, peeking over her shoulder as he held his crossbow in both hands before him, at the ready. "Is there a reason we might wish to engage this giant? If it can be avoided so much the better to continue our search, yes?"
    'I believe you find life such a problem because you think there are the good people and the bad people. You're wrong, of course. There are, always and only, the bad people, but some of them are on opposite sides.'

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    Halbrecht
    As Luc revealed his lack of land and title, Halbrecht's contemplative face briefly turned to surprise, both at the revelation and at the ease with which it came. As he sidled up behind Melinda, though, his expression quickly reverted to its business-like state. "Given that just beyond this cliff is the Ruby channel, and we have no way to cross water - and I no way to get Adamant down the cliff - I'd say that we've gone as far as possible. In the meantime, as a knight of the king, I cannot allow this giant to roam free when he could come back and terrorize innocent travelers later on."
    Last edited by Lord Of Mantas; 2014-06-18 at 09:42 PM.
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    "Very well." Luc replies, "But perhaps it would be better to lure him out of his lair? Where you may make full use of your steed here in open terrain? Perhaps if Ranger Silith and myself went? I would have a way to conceal our retreat once his attention had been garnered." Sir Helbrecht's zeal and sense of duty were admirable, but Raev cocked her head at Luc, and he could feel her unease. 'Yes, it probably would be easier to kill the thing in it's sleep someway, but this is no rabbit whose den you can sneak into and snap it's neck so easily.' He thought though back at Raev, again reminded of the blurred line between violence in cruelty and violence in necessity.
    'I believe you find life such a problem because you think there are the good people and the bad people. You're wrong, of course. There are, always and only, the bad people, but some of them are on opposite sides.'

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    Aisha

    She followed up as they had come upon the cliff, and the evident layer of a sleeping Giant bellow them. She looked on, keeping her arm lifted holding her falcon Mina up. She gestured her arm up, the bird taking note of her respond before flying up to the air for safety.

    The white haired woman shook her head a bit. "It would be best to avoid killing if all possible. We can't be certain if the giant is indeed one causing terror or perhaps friendly. Unless we know otherwise, I stand against acting without some sign of evil deeds." She spoke up in some part on the giant's behalf. If it was seen that it was 'evil' or causing terror, she wouldn't be one to stand in the way of such a slaying. The safety of others wasn't something that could be solved with honor.



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    Take 10 on Handle Animal for 19.
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    Melinda
    Before she could recite any relevant snippets of tales, the 'nobleman' revealed to Lady Ruinlord that he was no true nobleman at all. Melinda hid a smile behind her hand as Luc gave a most delightful speech, and she peered around to watch the lady's reaction, anticipating embarassment or anger even in the face of danger.

    After the reveal, Melinda turned to the sky and focused on what she could remember. Once confident in what she knew, she looked around at the others gathered. "From the tales I've heard, the giant probably won't stay here long. My cousins, in the north, fought one who traveled with a band of four orcs and seven wolves. He traversed several mountains and dozens of leagues before they caught up to him, a full week later." She shrugged a little at the falconer, sympathetic to her ideals but unconvinced. "The orcs started the battle, the giant joined them wholeheartedly. I doubt the orcs forced the giant... and I can't say I've heard of any peaceful giants. How might we test it?"
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    Anrika looks furious. More than furious. She is shocked, angry and, above all else, embarrassed! She has been struck dumb by Luc's admission. She wanders a few steps away, her face pale, "B-b-b... H-h-h-how... The rumors were false... I am betrayed by gossip... You are not my knight..." She drops to her knees and looks to the skies. Melinda even sees a few tears stream from the woman's eyes before she covers her face with her hands. The scene is quite depressing.

    After a few moments, she collects her thoughts. She brushes herself off, then darkly turns to face her new-found enemy. She glares at Luc, her hazel eyes piercing his very soul like the shimmering lances of two cavaliers puncturing the hide of a dying boar. She then jams her finger in his face and yells, "YOU LIED TO ME! Do not bother to deny it! A lie of omission is a lie none the less. You are no better than these peasants! In fact, you ARE worse. You are a dissembling rogue-like villain! At least that brutish hag of a guide has not double-crossed ME, to say nothing of her sorrowful, hayseed group of cretinous WRETCHES!" She throws up her hands in frustration, "You are a vile and disgusting CUR! You are hideous and grotesque, fit only for the circus from whence your bumpkin lineage descends! You shall rue the day you thieved my heart, then stomped upon it most heinously with your jagged, poisonous, perfidious boot heel! RUE IT I SAY!" Anrika then curtly turns away from Luc and runs off in the opposite direction as fast as her noble-born legs will take her.

    Silith and Halbrecht spy two gigantic black wolves the size of horses creep out of the cave entrance and look around to see what the commotion was about. As the wolves pad foot out, the sheep baaa incessantly as they run from the massive predators. After finding little of anything worth note with their eyes, the two carnivores switch tactics as they hoist their heads into the air and begin to sniff and snort. Luckily the prevailing winds are in the party's favor, or else the wolves would surly have spotted the group by now.
    Last edited by Felhammer; 2014-06-19 at 01:52 AM.
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    ❶ AGAINST THE GIANTS: IC | OOC

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    Halbrecht
    Quote Originally Posted by LordHavelock View Post
    Very well. But perhaps it would be better to lure him out of his lair? Where you may make full use of your steed here in open terrain? Perhaps if Ranger Silith and myself went? I would have a way to conceal our retreat once his attention had been garnered."

    "While I would love nothing more than to bring the combined might of Adamant and I into battle, he is not so agile that he can drop down a sheer cliff face unscathed." Halbrecht looked ruefully at his steed, clearly not liking this fact. "As such, his role in this will be to keep an eye out in case we're flanked. I do like the idea of luring him out before we strike, though, if we could arrange it such that we could strike at him all at once when he's exposed..."

    Quote Originally Posted by Felhammer View Post
    "YOU LIED TO ME! Do not bother to deny it! A lie of omission is a lie none the less. You are no better than these peasants! In fact, you ARE worse. You are a dissembling rogue-like villain! At least that brutish hag of a guide has not double-crossed ME, to say nothing of her sorrowful, hayseed group of cretinous WRETCHES! You are a vile and disgusting CUR! You are hideous and grotesque, fit only for the circus from whence your bumpkin lineage descends! You shall rue the day you thieved my heart, then stomped upon it most heinously with your jagged, poisonous, perfidious boot heel! RUE IT I SAY!"


    It took all the strength of character Halbrecht had to not burst out laughing the second Anrika was out of earshot; after all, a knight never laughed at a noblewoman, no matter how obnoxious or whiny she was. As such, he settled for a barely choked-back snicker.

    Then the wolves came plodding out, their noses pointed towards the heavens as they sought out their quarry. Well, now we know what made the tracks.

    "Everyone down, quick!" Halbrecht said as he got into prone, motioning the others to join him. "Adamant, down." He turned to Luc, a wry smile upon his face. "While I am immeasurably grateful to you for ridding us of that-" Halbrecht bit back a rather unsavory word for a lady just in time, "-of Lady Ruinlord... Lucyen, was it? I would be doubly so if you would make it a point to save the world-shattering revelations for situations where we're NOT trying to wake up hostile creatures in the future." His eyes then turned back to the valley below, his mind scrambling to devise a plan. If there was an upside to the situation, it was that they no longer had to worry about bystanders getting in the way.

    "The way I see it, we have a couple of options. We could stay low and pray to the gods that they give up their search and go back into the cave, at which point we could try to get the drop on them again. Personally, however, I think the odds of that happening are slim to none - I don't think the wind will be in our favor forever, and I doubt they'll stop until they find out what made the noise."

    "With the wolves alerted, my original plan is out the window, but I think we can work around that." Halbrecht looked around, assessing the armaments of his companions. "Lucyen, my good Ranger - whose name I don't seem to have caught, my deepest apologies - you two ready your bows. I have, in my pack, a length of sturdy rope, which I will tie to that outcropping over there." He indicated the rock he had spotted earlier. "The others and I will then wait for your mark. When ready, fire at one of the wolves and draw their attention while I climb down the cliff as quickly as possible. Once that's done, as the best-armored among us, I will call and try to lure them towards me, away from the rope, while the others join me down below. If we strike hard and fast, we can hopefully slay at least one of them before the giant comes out to play." Halbrecht paused to let everything sink in. "If anyone has alternate suggestions, gaping flaws in my plan to point out, or hidden talents that could help us turn the tide of battle, now is the time."
    Last edited by Lord Of Mantas; 2014-06-19 at 07:30 AM.
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    Ash

    "Oh dear, it seems you've wounded her pure maidenly heart!"

    Ash doesn't even bother to conceal her enjoyment at the most recent turn of events as she teases Luc. Not as close to the cliff edge as some of the others, she doesn't notice the wolves right away and thus doesn't drop to the ground.

    "Not that I particularly want the spoiled noble back, but do you think she'll be okay on her own? Not like she knows how to take care of her...self...?"

    She trails off into silence when she recognizes Halbrecht taking such pains to remain hidden over by the edge of the cliff. Dropping to the ground herself, she crawls up alongside the knight, maybe just a little closer than the rules of personal space would normally allow.

    "You sure about this? Those don't look like your average sort of wolf, not to mention the giant..."

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    Silith

    As the noblewoman storms off, a frown forms on Silith's face. In a normal situation, she would've chased after her to bring her back to the group. After all, a good guide never lets group members out of her sight. However, the appearance of the wolves and the snoring of the giant makes this course of action ill advised. Looks like those wolves are looking for whoever made that racket. Better to engage them now, while the group still has the element of surprise. She sneaks up to the cliff edge, keeping low to the ground, to get a better look at the newly appeared wolves.

    Spoiler: Stealth
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    Taking 10: 20


    "I'd guess we're dealing with your cousins' giant here, miss." She whispers in a low voice as she crawls back, keeping out of sight of the wolves. She turns to the others in the group. "We'd do better with more archers. Does anyone else carry a bow? If not..." She quickly reaches into her quite ordinary looking quiver and somehow produces a slightly larger shortbow and a couple of arrows out of the quiver, putting them on the ground. "I have a spare. As for the plan..." She turns her gaze on Halbrecht. "You'd do best to stay out of the giant's reach once he comes out. Probably the same for the wolves if you can manage that. I don't like the fact that you'll have only one way out once you're down there." She looks over the party, each in turn. "That said, I think we should go for it. We don't have much time. All agreed?"

    She looks over to the outcropping that Halbrecht indicated, then her gaze turns to the cliffs to the south. I wonder if I can climb down from there. Surprise them from behind. She turns back to the group. "Once you guys start fighting, I'll come down from there..." Silith points towards the cliffs south of their position. "... and surprise them from behind."
    Last edited by BramsesII; 2014-06-19 at 03:59 PM.
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    Aisha

    She looked to Melinda, hearing her question about the Giant's intentions. "Well I would think if we are to test it, we would more so be looking for clues maybe of his behavior. Maybe remains or idols or other things that..." Her words were cut off suddenly as the loud woman suddenly began to speak up at Luc. Her voice only picked up as she went on a tirade... quiet loudly.

    With a loud conclusion to the scornful woman's ranting and her carelessly storming off left, it left her cringe. She had a poor way with words, that was for sure. Her absent mindedness hadn't even thought to duck down until Halbrecht ushered them all to do so. She darted to the ground quickly keeping quiet as the others spoke. Given there were wolves, it only helped to paint the giant as likely not being the 'kindest' of creatures. It was enough proof at least for herself to be weary of it.

    Hearing the others discuss, finally with Silith, she spoke out loud, mostly to herself. "To bad she wandered off, she would of been a good distraction." She commented on the run away noble. Perhaps it would of made more sense for her to worry about her, though considering she did it on her own accord she wasn't about to worry about her.

    As if realizing she had spoke a bit out loud her thoughts, she decided to continue on. "Well I'm not much of a bow user, though I know how to use it. I am sure given some arcane influence I can hit my shot for sure." She spoke quiet confidently.
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    Melinda

    "I'm no archer, I'll be best on the ground,"
    Melinda responded to the ranger's offer of a bow, then considered the knight's plan. With her ring, she could provide a second distraction at the base of the rope, and let the others get down all the more quickly. And as for the giant...

    "I do have a few things to even the odds." She told the knight, reaching into a sheath on her belt and pulling a carved piece of wood from it. Holding it up, she looked toward Halbrecht's eyes. "This is enchanted to briefly transform people to a giant's size. If you like, I can cast it on you before he emerges from the cave. I've a few magics of my own, to jump down safely while you climb. With a glamour around me, the wolves won't see me until I let them." Her eyes flickered toward the wolves, and she grimaces. "They might smell me, but it should protect me long enough for you to get there."

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    Luc is shocked into stun silence as Anrika makes her exit, rather loudly enough to rouse the Giant's watchgods it seems, and at that point Luc is too busy rounding and listening to Halbrecht and the others to give the poor noble-girl another thought. 'Highborn daughter such as herself shouldn't have been out here after all.' He thought, 'I just hope that means she can still make it back.'

    Shaking his head, Raev clambers up onto his shoulder once more as he reslings his crossbow in front of him. "I will remain out here then and provide what help I can with my bow. I have more than a few spells at my own disposal too, and certain other, talents which should be of use to us against the wolves and their master."
    'I believe you find life such a problem because you think there are the good people and the bad people. You're wrong, of course. There are, always and only, the bad people, but some of them are on opposite sides.'

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    Halbrecht
    Halbrech listened carefully as each member of the party elaborated on their talents, paying particular attention to the modifications to the plan offered up by Melinda and Silith. At the former's suggestion of magically enhancing his size, a brief lump formed in his throat - while magic was an important part of warfare, the cavalier was more familiar with the divine aspect (courtesy of the clerics and paladins employed by the Knights to keep their comrades patched up in battle) than the arcane, particularly when the latter was directed at him. Get a hold of yourself, he thought. Now is not the time to doubt your allies, especially when being able to stand on equal footing with the giant would offer such a strategic advantage. His resolve strengthened, and he gave Melinda and Silith an emphatic nod. "Excellent suggestions all around. Now, barring anything further, I will move over to the outcropping and get to work tying off the rope. Those not on bow duty, follow behind me. Those who are..." Halbrecht paused for a moment. "Regrettably, chainmail is somewhat noisy, and as such I fear that it is more than likely I will give us away before the rope can be tied off. I would suggest that you all ready your bows now, that you might get a first shot in if the wolves should spot me."

    Done talking, Halbrecht carefully removed his pack and retrieved his standard-issue silk rope from within. Then, with great care, he got into a squat and started to make his way toward the outcropping. As he did so, he noted ruefully that he had forgotten to tie hand-holds into the rope. Note to self: Take care of that as soon as possible once we get back to Blackrock.

    Spoiler: Rolls and Actions
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    Alrighty. Here's where the plan either falls to pieces or succeeds spectacularly.
    Stealth (to move to AC7 without alerting the wolves): (1d20-1)[7]
    In the event that Halbrecht does not alert the wolves with loud, repetitive chinking, he will tie off the rope to AC6 and read an action to climb down the cliff when those on bow duty open fire.
    Last edited by Lord Of Mantas; 2014-06-20 at 01:34 PM.
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    Silith

    Silith nods, removing her pack to allow for easier maneuvering. "Aisha, take the bow and follow the others. That way, you can get down there if they need help. I'll head over there..." - Silith points southward - "And attack from behind. Any accomplished climbers are welcome to follow me." She looks over everyone in the party once more, looking all of them in the eye for a short moment to ensure they understood her. To Aisha she offers a small reassuring smile, and she involuntarily does the same to Ash. Then, she nocks an arrow to her bow and creeping into position. "Ready when you are."

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    Taking 10 on stealth: 20
    Moving to R15
    Last edited by BramsesII; 2014-06-20 at 01:30 PM.
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  30. - Top - End - #30
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Felhammer's Avatar

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    Default Re: IC Warriors of Blackvale

    The wolves seem seem to focus more on the valley below and do not consider their enemies lay above them... That is until Halbrecht accidentally kicks a rock, which tumbles off the side of the cliff. The wolves look up and see the cavalier (but not Silith). They howl and growl, attracting TWO of their fellows from inside the cave. Keeping an ear out for the giant, Melinda hears the behemoth gorily yell something she presumes is, "Shut up you mangy mutts!" in the tongue of giants.

    The four dire wolves creep up near where Halbrecht is tying the rope off, staring up at him with the yellow and black eyes of cold blooded killers...
    Last edited by Felhammer; 2014-06-20 at 02:21 PM.
    DMing:
    ❶ AGAINST THE GIANTS: IC | OOC

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