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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

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    Default IC AoW - Encounter at Blackwall Keep (PF)


    (Don't worry, this scene is a little bit later.)

    The morning dawns bright and sunny, and the party meets Allustan at his home ready for the day's travel. They leave and begin walking along the shores of the lake for which Diamond Lake was named, though it looks nothing like the gem. The pollutants of the mines, smelting, and other activities of the area have utterly ruined much of the water, and even on a beautiful day like this one it is not a pretty sight.

    Walking along the path one can expect a variety of other travelers, but no one crosses the party's way all morning.

    For an older man, Allustan sets a steady pace and the party is past the borders of the lake by lunch. Afterwards they begin walking again and the scenery changes to a mix of lowlands and farms, with the aptly named Mistmarsh becoming visible in late afternoon. Sometime afterwards the party sees a small group of halfling farmers dutifully wheeling their cart towards Diamond Lake. When Allustan asks if they have anything for sale they decline, saying they have a long way to go and prefer not to sell on the road.

    As the little people make their way past the party can see that the produce is not of high quality. It appears to have been plagued with pests, with the tubers, bulbs, and roots appearing to have taken the brunt of the infestations. Looking closely at the farmers, their clothing appears somewhat ragged too, as if it has been a particularly difficult year.

    The party finally makes it to the roadside home Allustan mentioned the previous night. The single-story farmhouse lies around fields that have lain fallow for some time, though the house seems to be in decent shape. A well stands behind the house with a rope and bucket, and inside the place is largely clean and dry. "Well, I am tired. Shall we go inside?" Allustan asks as he begins to do so.

    Spoiler: OoC
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    This is an opportunity to either get to know Allustan better or get some clues as to how pervasive the subtle influences of the approaching Age of Worms are. Feel free to ask Allustan questions, discuss the halfling farmers, explore the fields, etc...Every paragraph above is intended to be a potential conversation starter/topic. Respond to whatever moves you.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: IC AoW - Encounter at Blackwall Keep (PF)

    Caelmah stretches her legs throughout the day, running ahead and behind the party, but never out of sight. "Just feels good to be movin' around again, yeah?" she says in between her runs.

    As the party approaches the house, she seems sweaty and slightly tired. However, the grin on her face could not be bigger. Pulling a water skin out, she drinks her fill before capping it putting it away.

    Following Allustan inside, she puts her things down in the corner nearest the door before looking around the whole place. As she does, she calls out to Allustan.

    "So, what's the deal with those 'alflings? Don't think they'll get very much peddling those wares, yeah? Looked like a troll had beat them to hell an' back as well."
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    Titan in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: IC AoW - Encounter at Blackwall Keep (PF)

    Frederick frowns. "Indeed. I think I recognized the man, Charlie. Did you, Allustan? I have never seen his wares that bad, though it has been some time since I was in Diamond Lake for the harvests. They must have been pretty nervous just being out to not sell on the road. Coin is coin, after all..." He fades into an uneasy silence as he brushes Leeroy and the others move inside.

    A few minutes later, after ensuring that his horse won't be too uncomfortable- "Sorry, buddy. I have to leave that on you tonight. It'll come off tomorrow, I promise."- he follows them into the building.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    ElfRangerGuy

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    Default Re: IC AoW - Encounter at Blackwall Keep (PF)

    Quote Originally Posted by DarkOne7141981 View Post
    As the little people make their way past the party can see that the produce is not of high quality. It appears to have been plagued with pests, with the tubers, bulbs, and roots appearing to have taken the brunt of the infestations. Looking closely at the farmers, their clothing appears somewhat ragged too, as if it has been a particularly difficult year.
    "Oh no, tha won do at'all!" Dalin exclaims in dismay at the sight of the farmer's poor haul. "Allow me!" Walking up to the gnomes' cart, the party sees him cast a spell (Purify Food and Drink) that causes the worst of the rot and pestilence to subside, leaving behind healthy, if still somewhat dirty, produce. "Ah, tha's better!" Dalin exclaims with a satisfied nod. "Off with ye now, an blessins of tha All-Father an tha Revered Mother go with ya!"

    Quote Originally Posted by DarkOne7141981 View Post
    The party finally makes it to the roadside home Allustan mentioned the previous night. The single-story farmhouse lies around fields that have lain fallow for some time, though the house seems to be in decent shape. A well stands behind the house with a rope and bucket, and inside the place is largely clean and dry. "Well, I am tired. Shall we go inside?" Allustan asks as he begins to do so.
    "Aye, it's gettin late and this spot's as good as any, an better'n most!" Dalin agrees. As the group follows Allustan into the structure he stops to retrieve the bucket from the side of the well, though he disdains the nearby rope in favor of calling upon the spirits of water to fill the bucket as he goes inside (Create Water).

    Quote Originally Posted by Farmerbink View Post
    Frederick frowns. "Indeed. I think I recognized the man, Charlie. Did you, Allustan? I have never seen his wares that bad, though it has been some time since I was in Diamond Lake for the harvests. They must have been pretty nervous just being out to not sell on the road. Coin is coin, after all..." He fades into an uneasy silence as he brushes Leeroy and the others move inside.
    "Aye, though I hope tha Mother's blessin'll help em make it ta market, at least." Dalin adds. After a moment of thinking, he turns to Allustan, "What's more surprisin ta meet is that they were the only folks we saw today at all! By tha look o this road, it was built expectin much more traffic - whaddaya think, Allustan? You've come this way before, is it always so lonely?" He shares the water around with the group as they talk, while Berragi occupies himself with sniffing out every fascinating detail about the dwelling's previous inhabitants.
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    Troll in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: IC AoW - Encounter at Blackwall Keep (PF)

    Quote Originally Posted by MuffinMan View Post
    "Oh no, tha won do at'all!" Dalin exclaims in dismay at the sight of the farmer's poor haul. "Allow me!" Walking up to the gnomes' cart, the party sees him cast a spell (Purify Food and Drink) that causes the worst of the rot and pestilence to subside, leaving behind healthy, if still somewhat dirty, produce. "Ah, tha's better!" Dalin exclaims with a satisfied nod. "Off with ye now, an blessins of tha All-Father an tha Revered Mother go with ya!"
    Jan is roused from her uncharacteristic quiet by the dwarf's animated response to the halflings, and she manages an approving smile towards the blessing bestowed on the worst of the produce before returning to her ponderings.


    "Aye, though I hope tha Mother's blessin'll help em make it ta market, at least." Dalin adds. After a moment of thinking, he turns to Allustan, "What's more surprisin ta meet is that they were the only folks we saw today at all! By tha look o this road, it was built expectin much more traffic - whaddaya think, Allustan? You've come this way before, is it always so lonely?" He shares the water around with the group as they talk, while Berragi occupies himself with sniffing out every fascinating detail about the dwelling's previous inhabitants.
    "Is it that unusual? I mean, this is the furthest I've been from home. Mother doesn't... 'didn't'? get out much, aside from wandering out of the garden every now and then." The gnome pipes up from her position just behind Berragi in his exploration of the empty building.
    Last edited by JWallyR; 2015-09-12 at 08:53 AM.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    DwarfBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: IC AoW - Encounter at Blackwall Keep (PF)

    Dr. Olofire is quiet the whole way over, staying a few paces behind Allusten, still ashamed at the way he acted. As they approach the house he slips out the door to take a look around the grounds. Eventually he settles down on the porch and opens his formula book, scowling at several of the entries he put in before they went underground.

    Spoiler: Perception
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    (1d20+10)[19] looking around the place.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: IC AoW - Encounter at Blackwall Keep (PF)

    Quote Originally Posted by MuffinMan View Post
    Walking up to the gnomes' cart, the party sees him cast a spell (Purify Food and Drink) that causes the worst of the rot and pestilence to subside, leaving behind healthy, if still somewhat dirty, produce.
    Though there is some improvement, it does not appear that the spell has its full, usual effect. The halflings appear to be grateful, but remain reserved and cautious, some looking at the use of magic with clear suspicion. The lead farmer does thank the dwarf before saying, "The folks at the lodge weren't able to help much either - they said something was wrong with the land. Supposedly there are folks looking into the issues, but it has been a rough year. Now, if you'll excuse us, we must be on our way..."

    Quote Originally Posted by Untarr View Post
    "So, what's the deal with those 'alflings? Don't think they'll get very much peddling those wares, yeah? Looked like a troll had beat them to hell an' back as well."
    Quote Originally Posted by Farmerbink View Post
    "I have never seen his wares that bad, though it has been some time since I was in Diamond Lake for the harvests. They must have been pretty nervous just being out to not sell on the road."
    Allustan shakes his head. "I have not seen such poor produce in some time. Usually the fruit and vegetables from the southern farms are quite lush - the rich soil and plentiful water from the wetlands seem to make the farms particularly plentiful," he says, remembering the scene with apparent sadness. "They did not appear to be particularly wormy food, but the inability of Dalin's spell to entirely clear up the poor showing is unusual. Such an orison is not particularly powerful and could surely be overpowered, but generally spells must be overpowered by other, magical, effects. The very idea that someone would plague poor farmers with magic is bizarre and difficult to believe."

    Quote Originally Posted by MuffinMan View Post
    "What's more surprisin ta meet is that they were the only folks we saw today at all! By tha look o this road, it was built expectin much more traffic - whaddaya think, Allustan? You've come this way before, is it always so lonely?"
    Quote Originally Posted by JWallyR View Post
    "Is it that unusual? I mean, this is the furthest I've been from home. Mother doesn't... 'didn't'? get out much, aside from wandering out of the garden every now and then."
    "It is that time of year. Yes, I did expect more traffic along the road. We haven't seen any obvious signs of threats, but I am glad to have all of you with me, just in case. Shall we set watches for the evening? I will use some magic to aid us and then take the first watch if someone will join me. Having two stand each watch will be safest, and we can take our time in the morning - we are only about six hours away from the fort from here," he replies as he stands and begins casting the same spell several times around the building. If asked he explains that the spell, commonly called, "alarm," should help to warn the party should someone else approach. An audible bell sound should ring, and anyone awake should hear it easily.

    Once that is done he looks at the party and asks, "So, who will stay up with an old man? If they like I will try to make it entertaining with some stories - I know many. Stories are something more than a hobby of mine. I have special training from an organization that specializes in the collection and preservation of oral histories of various cultures. While only an initiate of the order, I have quite the collection back in Diamond Lake, and it would be good for me to have an audience to practice reciting them." His offer is made somewhat bashfully, as if he is both hopeful and doubtful that anyone will particularly enjoy his efforts. The hope on his face is apparent to all.

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    Default Re: IC AoW - Encounter at Blackwall Keep (PF)

    Frederick smiles and visibly relaxes a bit. "Help me remove my armor, and I will be glad to, Master Allustan. I think it might do us all a bit of good to hear of happier times, if such tales are worth the efforts of your organization to preserve. I suppose they are less valuable, from the perspective of lessons, but certainly serve other purposes, in darker times."

    He takes his time (with help) getting his armor off, and spends a few minutes stretching in the yard to loosen knotted muscles before settling down to the night's first watch with Allustan.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    ElfRangerGuy

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    Default Re: IC AoW - Encounter at Blackwall Keep (PF)

    Quote Originally Posted by DarkOne7141981 View Post
    "They did not appear to be particularly wormy food, but the inability of Dalin's spell to entirely clear up the poor showing is unusual. Such an orison is not particularly powerful and could surely be overpowered, but generally spells must be overpowered by other, magical, effects. The very idea that someone would plague poor farmers with magic is bizarre and difficult to believe."
    Dalin nods and frowns worriedly, but keeps his silence as he sets about preparing his bedroll and supplies for the evening.


    Quote Originally Posted by Farmerbink View Post
    Frederick smiles and visibly relaxes a bit. "Help me remove my armor, and I will be glad to, Master Allustan. I think it might do us all a bit of good to hear of happier times, if such tales are worth the efforts of your organization to preserve. I suppose they are less valuable, from the perspective of lessons, but certainly serve other purposes, in darker times."
    "Here, lad, let me help ya - that great plate o yours looks like it weighs more than master Allustan himself!" After helping Frederick remove his armor, and receiving help removing his own in turn, he checks on Berragi before bidding goodnight to the others and settling into his bedroll to sleep.
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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: IC AoW - Encounter at Blackwall Keep (PF)

    "OOOOooooo, I love a good story. Even though its not my watch, I may stay up anyways. Hard to sleep with interesting going on. Suppose I might as well take second watch, I'll be up for it!" Caelmah exclaims. She pulls up her bedroll near to Allustan. Getting in, she lies on her stomach with her elbows under her head, propping it up. Clearly , she is intent on listening to the old man's tale.
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    Troll in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: IC AoW - Encounter at Blackwall Keep (PF)

    At the discussion of a watch Jan makes a face. "Well, wake me up whenever it's my turn. A girl needs her beauty sleep."
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    DwarfBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: IC AoW - Encounter at Blackwall Keep (PF)

    I think I too will hit the hay for now. I'm happy to take the final watch.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: IC AoW - Encounter at Blackwall Keep (PF)

    Looking a bit surprised at the reactions of the party, Allustan takes his seat and spends several long moments thinking. "Perhaps you would enjoy some history of the Wind Dukes, since you have explored the tomb of one of their powerful servants already. The story is long, and begins at the beginning of time itself..." Allustan begins, casting a spell to illustrate the story as he tells it, and doing a passable job at telling the drama and impact of the creation of Oerth, ending with the climactic Battle of Pesh and the beginning of the modern age.

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    You can read about this here. I don't feel bad linking this, as it has a thorough bibliography of supporting material for the Greyhawk setting going all the way back to the 1980s. Enjoy as you will - there are no real spoilers on this material, as Allustan could easily spend his four hour watch covering the material in detail.

    Feel free to have your PC get bored with the story or be engrossed, based on their interest in such history.

    When the four hours are over, Allustan gently wakes Jan to stand watch in his place.

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    Default Re: IC AoW - Encounter at Blackwall Keep (PF)

    Frederick follows along patiently until his allies begin to doze, if they do. When the sun well-and-truly sets, he interrupts briefly, "I know you said you... uh.. warded the area? Do we need to be watching, particularly, or will we have time to prepare ourselves after your warning?"

    Once the wizard answers, he either returns his attention to the history of their first foe, or excuses himself to man a true watch, as the answer warrants.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    With a giggle, "heheheh that was a cool story. That battle of Pesh sounds exciting. Like, if everything had gone the other way, how different would we all be right now? Silly to think about how one moment millions of years ago could have such a huge impact today."

    Flipping onto her back with a thump, Caelmah buries herself into her sleeping bag, her head under the cover. Almost immediately, you hear a light snoring.
    Last edited by Untarr; 2015-09-17 at 05:44 AM.
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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: IC AoW - Encounter at Blackwall Keep (PF)

    Allustan answers, "The magic will create an audible bell sound if anything enters its area of influence. I find I can act more readily when already awake than when waking, but I am content to remain here and continue the story if you are."

    Once Jan is awake and watching, he explains the spell effects to her and excuses himself to rest with a satisfied smile on his face.

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    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: IC AoW - Encounter at Blackwall Keep (PF)

    With a modestly appreciative nod at Allustan's description of the alarm spell, Jan lets out a sigh of resignation. "Well, I s'pose I've got it from here. See you in the mornin'!" She smiles sweetly at the older man and sits, leaning against a wall. After a few minutes, she begins to amuse herself by magically lifting, twirling and otherwise manipulating small, unattended objects in the room.

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    Perception, in case it matters? (1d20+3)[17]
    Lehasti Gesmeha and Azkin for Mummy's Mask
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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: IC AoW - Encounter at Blackwall Keep (PF)

    Caelmah reacts with a grunt when someone tries to wake her for her watch. Pushing her head slowly out of the bedroll, at first all you see are eyes looking at you with daggers in them.

    Then, with an almost imperceptible nod and without a word, Caelmah pulls herself out of the bag, sits up, and begins her watch.

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    (1d20)[14] Perception


    Spoiler: OOC Watches
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    First Watch (story time) - Allustan/Frederick
    Second Watch - Jan/Doc
    Third Watch - Dalin/Caelmah
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    DwarfBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: IC AoW - Encounter at Blackwall Keep (PF)

    As Jan twirls about on their watch, Dr. Olofire reads his formula book again. He mumbles to himself. Why doesn't this make sense anymore? I wrote this myself...

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    (1d20+10)[23]

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: IC AoW - Encounter at Blackwall Keep (PF)

    The night passes uneventfully, with sunrise being blocked by cloud cover and a heavy fog covering the ground. As they wake, the party finds the air is heavy and muggy, threatening to make the day's walk very draining. No one heard any alarms go off during the night, but when Frederick goes out to check on the cart and his horse he is greeted to an unusual and discomforting sight.

    Leroy and the party's gear are fine, but it does look as if the horse had a less than pleasant night. All around on the packed earth are the remains a hundreds, if not thousands, of worms. Crushed by the horse's hooves, the entire perimeter around the animal is a mess of the segmented, green bodies. They seem to have avoided the cart entirely, and none of the party members were disturbed by such a revolting interruption in the night, but something about the horse clearly attracted them to it.

    As Frederick greets his quadruped friend, he gets the distinct impression that Leroy is glad that the other is there, nuzzling its master's face enthusiastically. It doesn't appear any worse for wear, though the horse may not be able to keep up the brisk pace it did yesterday. That, the dampness of the road, and their goal (a swamp) suggest the day's travels may be slower than planned.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    DwarfBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: IC AoW - Encounter at Blackwall Keep (PF)

    Dr. Olofire wakes up again, and immediately opens his formula book to prepare his extracts for the day. Still unable to make sense of the last several pages, he approaches Allustan. Um, Allustan? I don't understand why but I can't make sense of these formulas here. It's my handwriting, I know I wrote them, but for some reason it's all just nonsense to me now. Do you have any idea as to why that is? He holds up his formula book for Allustan to see, hiding his own face, still not brave enough to look him in the eyes.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    The party wakes to find Caelmah diligently going through a series of exercises that involve holding various poses for extended periods of time. Each pose seems to push her flexibility and strength, and she is sweating by the end. The truly odd part is that she does the whole thing while staring at what looks like a spellbook.

    After finishing, she uses some water to splash off her face before rolling up her bag and nibbling on some dried jerky she had in her pack.

    All around on the packed earth are the remains a hundreds, if not thousands, of worms. Crushed by the horse's hooves, the entire perimeter around the animal is a mess of the segmented, green bodies. They seem to have avoided the cart entirely, and none of the party members were disturbed by such a revolting interruption in the night, but something about the horse clearly attracted them to it.
    "So either the horse was the target, or the cart repelled them. Odd. Has to be connected to those halfling vegetables we saw yesterday. 'Something is wrong with the land'. Something is! Filled with green worms that attack anything that we would use for food."

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    Knowledge Check for more information about why the horse might be a target

    (1d20)[16]
    +10 (Arcana/Religion)
    +9 (Nature)


    Last edited by Untarr; 2015-09-18 at 08:09 PM.
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    ElfRangerGuy

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    As dawn breaks and the party begins to stir, Dalin relieves himself from watch duty and goes to a far corner of the farmhouse, where he kneels and bows his head for an extended period of time, praying to some power or powers for safe travels this day.

    Quote Originally Posted by Untarr View Post
    "So either the horse was the target, or the cart repelled them. Odd. Has to be connected to those halfling vegetables we saw yesterday. 'Something is wrong with the land'. Something is! Filled with green worms that attack anything that we would use for food."
    Dalin stops short, and Berragi bristles and growls at the hundreds of crushed worm corpses. "By th'gods an tha spirits alike..." he exclaims softly. "Ne'er have I seen anythin like it, except in tha vision..." He shudders and steps on the closest worm again, for good measure. "How's your horse, lad?" he asks Frederick. "He seems a might spooked but otherwise no worse for wear... might want ta check his feet, though. An its a good thing they weren't any bigger. What do ya make of it, Allustan?" He shrugs and adjusts his armor uncomfortably, as the warmth and humidity of the day set him to sweating and promise a grueling day of travel ahead.
    Last edited by MuffinMan; 2015-09-19 at 02:56 PM.
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    Default Re: IC AoW - Encounter at Blackwall Keep (PF)

    Frederick rushes to Leroy when he sees the crushed worms. He takes quite some time inspecting his hooves and flanks, dreading something. Eventually, satisfied that Leroy is fine, but didn't rest much, he feeds the horse and worriedly checks the cart. Unable to make any real sense of it, he too turns to Allustan to hopefully provide some illumination to the scene.

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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: IC AoW - Encounter at Blackwall Keep (PF)

    Quote Originally Posted by Albinobrow View Post
    Um, Allustan? I don't understand why but I can't make sense of these formulas here. It's my handwriting, I know I wrote them, but for some reason it's all just nonsense to me now. Do you have any idea as to why that is? He holds up his formula book for Allustan to see, hiding his own face, still not brave enough to look him in the eyes.
    Jan, after waking up and rubbing the sleepiness out of her eyes, pads over to where Allustan observes the spellbook. "Well," she says, "It looked like nonsense to me in the first place. Maybe your eyes are just getting better." Winking impishly at the doctor, she turns to follow Frederick out to where the grisly scene surrounding the fatigued but otherwise apparently unharmed beast. "Oh, gosh. Is he ok??"
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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: IC AoW - Encounter at Blackwall Keep (PF)

    Quote Originally Posted by Albinobrow;19838987[COLOR="#0000FF"
    Do you have any idea as to why that is?[/COLOR]
    Allustan looks at the alchemist's formula book for a moment and shakes his head. "I am not an expert in alchemical processes, nor in the format of your notes. However, after traumatic events it is not uncommon for people to have memory lapses that can last for some time. It may prove valuable to speak with someone - outside the party here - about what you have seen and done. A religious counselor is often one of the best choices, in my experience," he replies compassionately. The man shows no sign of being upset with the halfling.

    Quote Originally Posted by MuffinMan View Post
    "What do ya make of it, Allustan?"
    Quote Originally Posted by JWallyR View Post
    "Oh, gosh. Is he ok??"
    Allustan looks shocked as well and simply shakes his head in amazement. "I have never seen anything like this. Clearly our efforts are still needed..." he murmurs before shivering violently for a moment.

    Spoiler: OoC
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    Leroy looks to be alright and capable of traveling throughout the day. Unless anyone wishes to look around further, the party can leave at any time.

  27. - Top - End - #27
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Nov 2013

    Default Re: IC AoW - Encounter at Blackwall Keep (PF)

    "I don't like the feel of this place anymore. Let's get out of here."

    Pulling out her bow, she heads down the road a bit to wait for the others before continuing. Unlike the previous day, she stays close to the group the rest of the journey. Her bow never leaves her hand.
    Spoiler: Active Characters
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  28. - Top - End - #28
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    ElfRangerGuy

    Join Date
    Nov 2013

    Default Re: IC AoW - Encounter at Blackwall Keep (PF)

    "Aye, truly said!" Dalin concurs. Using his spear as a walking stick, he stays next to the cart and Allustan for the journey, even his own substantial constitution tested by the sweltering conditions.
    Spoiler: Active characters
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    Waylan, Kestros and Auspice (Wrath of the Righteous)


    Lydia (Age of Worms - loot tracking)

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    DwarfBarbarianGuy

    Join Date
    Mar 2014

    Default Re: IC AoW - Encounter at Blackwall Keep (PF)

    Dr. Olofire finishes repacking his bag and arranging his extracts for the day. He sets out to join the others. I am ready.

    Spoiler: Alchemy prepared for the day
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    1 CLW
    1 Shield
    1 Unmade (Need a minute to prepare)
    Dex Mutagen

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Farmerbink's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Texas, again!
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: IC AoW - Encounter at Blackwall Keep (PF)

    Frederick turns back to Leroy, "It seems to be a mystery to everyone, old boy. How I wish I could talk to you right now..." After running a calming hand across the horse's neck, he turns back to his companions. "Well, if we have no meaningful course of assessment, let us move on. Wherever we go, I want him with us, tonight." His thumb directed at Leroy, Frederick begins donning his armor for the long walk.

    Best to be prepared, after all.

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