A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Default 3SC's Ironfang Invasion IC II

    "Ironfang Invasion II"

    "I served as adjutant to Captain Elliandro Horbus for sixteen months. The day Azaersi defected and the so-called 'Ironfang Legion' really began, Captain Horbus decided to make an example of her for her unsanctioned missions, her thefts from the depot, and the quartermaster's suspicious death. We marched into the camp set aside for the hobgoblins, sixteen of us against hundreds loyal only to Azaersi. Captain Horbus stood face to face with Azaersi in the central yard, starting his long litany of accusations, but Azaersi didn't let him finish. In the middle of his rant, Azaersi punched him in the face, pulled his sword from his sheath, and stabbed him in the neck with it. Her only remark was, 'We're done here.' Her hobgoblins killed or scattered the rest of us and crossed over the Inkwater. As far as the Molthuni army is concerned, they're Nirmathas's problem now."

    - Molthuni Lieutenant Robbick Babbin (retired), 4715 AR



    Telling the first portion of your tale takes longer than you initially expected, but you manage to recount those early days - the battles of Phaendar, the flight into the Fangwood - in a cohesive narrative. Time has transmuted your past into a room full of smoke: the details are not precisely the same, with bits and pieces left out for yourselves, but the lingering impressions are always there. There is no avoiding recounting the full measure of your initial defeat at the hands of the Ironfang Legion, though you note that your story has softened a few of the formerly stony faces from the gallery. One of the four council members sitting before you - one of the two women in their number, whose features resemble the prince's too much for her to be anything but a direct blood relative - lets out a soft sigh at the accounting of what is even now being mythologized as 'The Night of Iron Fangs'.

    The story of that first month in the wilds flows a bit more easily afterwards. Your voices are accompanied only by the slight scratching of quill to parchment, as the council's archivist frantically scribbles in his shorthand to keep up. He is the only one to interrupt you midway through the telling, asking dozens of questions about the Vault Builder crypt located in the troglodytes' lair that eventually became the temporary home to your friends and allies. However, once you move on to the final assault on Camp Red Jaw and the defeat of Scarvinious' forces, other members of the group grow more interested and he takes a backseat.

    When it is clear that the opening chapter of your story has come to an end, the prince signals that it is time to take a break. The four council nobles adjourn, their heavy jewelry clinking on their armor as they leave the room to deliberate and give you time to collect your thoughts before the next recounting. Food and refreshments are eventually brought in - mostly meats, accompanied by glasses of incredibly strong liquor whose name is nigh unpronounceable - and you are invited to eat and drink your fill. Yet even as you partake in your hosts' hospitality, the watchful guards posted about the room serve as a reminder of the consequences should the talks turn sour.

    Some time later, the food is cleared away and the council returns to their seats. "Thank you for your patience," the prince says. "We should press on. After you left Camp Red Jaw, what happened then?"



    Five Months Earlier



    Your journey from the ravine through the forest is slower than it was on your initial trip there, largely by necessity: not only is your errand less urgent, but you return from Camp Red Jaw with the spoils of war, not the least of which includes a captive hobgoblin alchemist. Yissti proves to be a pleasant enough hostage, knowing well what is likely to happen to her should she try to escape. She seems happy to carry gear and pull her weight on the trip as well. All told, by the time you recognize the stands of trees that mark the forest clearing around the entrance to the caves, almost three full days have passed.

    The early afternoon sun is out in full force, marking out the mottled green-gray of the hilly formation up ahead of you. The angled cut into the rock looks exactly the same as when you left it, but you can't help but notice that something else is amiss. There are... disturbances, in the glade around the cave mouth. Fresh earth has been churned up into dark clumps of soul, and there are areas on the nearby trees where the bark has been pressed and splintered. Something happened here, and it happened recently.

    "Who's out there? Identify yourselves!" A man's gruff voice echoes from out of the stony passage, and as you get a look inside, you see the sights of a crossbow pointed out from the darkness. The familiar figure of Kern, one of the Phaendar survivors, looms in the darkness, and as you watch you see a second warrior emerge from behind the twisting passage. Ramus carries his sword out of its sheath, ready to strike. He is the first to recognize your faces, and he lowers his guard while motioning for the other man to do the same. "Oh, thank Deadeye you're back, and just in time too! We've got a bit of a problem. Here, come inside quickly! Aubrin and the others will explain everything."

    Spoiler: Knowledge (Nature) or Survival DC 14
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    Looking at the footprints, you put together that whatever made them is quite large, leaving behind what appears to be pawprints much like a bear or another forest predator. The marks on the trees and in the dirt have definitely been left by claws. By the amount of damage here, you would also hazard a guess that whatever did this was not alone - there were at least two of them.

    Spoiler: OOC
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    Welcome to the second IC thread! If you haven't yet, please make sure to check out the loot that would have been available at Camp Red Jaw for your characters to take. There are lots of neat (and potentially valuable) magical items there, just mark it off on the spreadsheet before updating your own character sheet with the relevant item. There's also quite a bit of gold!

    Also for the purposes of the current situation, I'm going to assume that Yissti is still bound and that one of you is carrying the lead on the rope (or you're using her manacles and one of you has the key). Whoever has the manacles, please mark that on the spreadsheet as well.
    Last edited by 3SecondCultist; 2019-02-12 at 01:37 PM.
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    Post Re: 3SC's Ironfang Invasion II

    Ilsa & Ramiel

    A lot had happened within the past month.

    It had all started, of course, when the half-elven summoner and her azata eidolon had gotten lost in the woods, sent scrabbling through a cave after her previous group had gotten separated in the wake of an attack by a pack of owlbears. They had, of course, gotten hopelessly lost when they emerged, unable to find their original group. What they had found, however, was a bright moon shrouded in smoke, the telltale sign of battle.

    That had, in turn, lead them to the survivors of Phaendar, where the two of them had joined up with what could only be described as the group's advance party as the de facto replacements for one of their number who had died in the original attack, a spiritualist named Mort.

    Since then, the group had faced untold perils and trials - escaping the original advance of the Ironfang, finding a new home, tangling with ghouls, hobgoblins, and troglodytes, and - at last - taking down one of the main scouting elements of the Ironfang Legion, the perpetrators of these disasters. What had begun as an inexperienced young woman's quest to try and prove herself to her parents and gain some practical experience with actual combat had turned into an all-out quest to safeguard what was left of one of Nirmathas' more notable towns.

    It was on the back of the attack on the scouting camp that they had returned to where the survivors of Phaendar were based, in the old dwelling place of a group of troglodytes. Ilsa and Ramiel, as usual, were toward the back, being that both were geared primarily toward ranged combat. Across his back, Ramiel bore a brand-new longbow looted from the Redjaw camp, while Ilsa had several alchemical items strapped to her belt, each of them fruits of the plunder they had taken from those who would have hunted the survivors down. As they approached, they looked over the markings and prints in the earth, and both frowned.

    "Something's not right, here. I'm no naturalist, but these look to be the work of something very large and clawed."


    "Somethings, actually. From what I can tell there must have been at least two of them."


    It was then that Kern and Ramus appeared, weapons drawn and clearly disheveled.

    <This does not bode well.>

    <Indeed.>


    Ramiel spoke, the azata having gained some confidence in speaking over the past week. "Was the base attacked? Is everyone alright?"
    Last edited by Lord Of Mantas; 2019-02-10 at 05:23 PM.
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    Default Re: 3SC's Ironfang Invasion II

    Spoiler: Know nature:
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    (1d20+11)[30] on the off chance this is crap, can we roll both?

    survival: (1d20+8)[26]
    edit: such waste. XD


    For his own part, Gilraen wasn't much more talkative than usual. He found their prisoner's matter-of-fact attitude about everything- including the potential for her own grisly death- oddly comfortable. If she weren't one of the number that was equally casual about the en masse slaughter of the people of Phaendar, he might have found himself growing fond of her companionship. As it was, something about the threat of violent death seemed to overcome the usual inexplicable tendency for people to avoid talking with him, and the Elf found himself both acting as her primary guard and awkwardly straddling the lines between wanting to be the instrument of her death and hoping desperately that she manages to prove herself useful enough to warrant continued survival.

    The three day journey passes, thankfully, without greater event. It's enough, for Gilraen's satisfaction, just to have the Hobgoblin and the Fangwood to concern them. Concern begins to mar his features as they approach the cave, his trained eyes immediately noticing the claw-marks left on the nearby foliage. "We have returned, Kern!" he calls, in answer to the man's command. Eager to hear Aubrin's explanation, he offers little to the watchmen for their prisoner. "She is to remain alive, for now. Spread the word." Otherwise, he presses through the opening, all-but relinquishing the manacled Hobgoblin into the watchman's care.

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    Rask'd spent the last three days back to the cave alone, more or less in his own mind. He'd kept his distance from everyone, especially the prisoner. His dreams hadn't been too pleasant. Wouldn't have done any good to go flying off the handle and smashing the hob flat like her rat-friend. Or an actual friend for that matter. He'd plenty of time to mull it over, and none of his mullings had turned up anything good. Werent no good reasoning to be had for losing control of his own faculties, plain and simple. He'd found the solitude pleasant, 'specially on account of how it let him take stock of all the greenery about their path home. He'd have to thank the bowman for watching over the prisoner. He'd dam sure shown more restraint than

    The pack-tracks set Rask's mind on a diversion from his own grief. The first animal that came to mind when he saw the tracks was a bear. But the idea of such a big animal travelling in a pack made no sense. In the big man's experience, the strongest were the strongest by themselves. Didn't make sense for a big bear to yoke a bunch of smaller ones under its will. Could've been wolverines. Would've been odd to have them travelling in a pack, plus the tracks were all wrong. But the bladeswoman had killed one of the things while the hurricane had raged outside, and had he not forsworn prayer to his bloodgod Rask would thought such an omen foolish. As half an orc that had forsaken Nulgreth, the big man found it hard to ignore. Mother's tits, he'd gone and helped Jet in butchering the thing's carcass. Certainly seemed like a lot of deity damned doo- Rask stopped his alliteratings, struck dumb by a momentary flash of inspiration. Mother Dretha always did like her direwolves...He shook his head clear of the religious thoughts. Clearly any orc-gods that were still about had deserted him to the existence he had left.

    Rask looked away from the tracks and back to the humans guarding the cave. His cave. Rask listened to what they had to say, too tired to immediately start walking, too exhausted to be embarrassed by how he looked, for the big man still hadn't cleaned himself from the battle. It had seemed a wasteful concern, but now, amidst the work of the past few days, he found himself regretting it. Rask silently trudged past the two humans into the cave.
    “Have no fear, you will find your way. It's in your bones. It's in your soul.”- Mark Z. Danieleweski, House of Leaves

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    Narek Skyskin

    The group was quiet on the way back, most focused inwardly on what this trip had meant. While It represented a great victory against a well-organized foe determined to exterminate them, there was a sense of loss ... in killing the hobgoblins, had they summoned worse personal demons?

    Narek had little time for counseling sessions to root out deep-seated problems, nor inane small talk to encourage team building and bonding. Instead he took copious notes regarding what they learned of their enemy, and potential theories regarding Azaersi’s rise to political power and her motives. When the group camped, Narek would often interrogate Yissti at odd, random hours, sometimes even waking her up to answer his questions.

    During his alone time, Narek studied his spellbook, working out the latest spells he had been studying over the past few months. Great mysteries awaited him, if only he could piece together the clues. Even as he looked inward, however, Narek was forging a tighter bond with his swoophawk. Where once the lizard had shared feeling - fear, pain, hunger - but now Visk could fully communicate with Narek.

    So when the Shepherds returned to Sanctuary, most of them were lost in their own thought. While they quickly determined a large creature was involved, they had little else by way of evidence or clues. Griping his spear, Narek followed the others inside, eyes subconsciously scanning for Thel and Shar.
    Spoiler: OOC
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    Nature - (1d20+9)[28]. And ready to see what’s going on.

    PS - any chance Narek could research a secular version of searing light?

    Also, Narek will bring back the +1 swords, the surgical kit, and the searing lights scroll.

    Spoiler: Status
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    AC: 13. HP: 23 Init +10 Move 30'
    F +1 R +3 W +6
    Weapon: Hvy crossbow w/16 bolt
    Spells (4/4+1/3+1/2+1): Acid splash, message, detect magic, mending / silent image, obscuring mist, enlarge person, magic missile, heightened awareness / protection vs arrows, glitterdust, gallant inspiration / haste, haste, C2
    Prescience: 7/7; Good Dreams 1/1; wand of magic missile (23); wand of prestidigitation (22); wand of cause fear (10); wand of hold person (9)
    Key skills: Perception +4; Stealth +2; Survival +3; Spellcraft +12; S. Motive +6; KS Arcane +12; KS Local +11; KS P/D +10, KS Na/R/G +9; KS E/H +8
    Effect: prestidigitation (1hr); message (39 min)
    Life is ... life. As always bot/cut as necessary.
    DM: "Why do you have so many characters?"
    Me: "Because I never embraced the strategic value of running away."


    Fare thee well, N_R ... you will missed!y

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    Default Re: 3SC's Ironfang Invasion IC II

    During the trip back, Eyena is the usual level of quiet. She drifts between staying close to Yissti - any time Gilraen needs to sleep or scout ahead or similar, she takes over guard duty - and drifting halfway to Rask. If the incident at the camp bothers her, there's no sign of it. Each night, she stays awake, sitting at her sketchbook, though she does frequently look over to the prisoner, briefly watching her before returning to her work.

    As the group returns to the caves, Eyena is frowning, one hand ready to pull Eisenherz out of its sheath as they pass the rent earth and smashed bark. Kern's words draw a further frown, and she moves forwards with the others.
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    Default Re: 3SC's Ironfang Invasion IC II

    "Aye, there's been an attack alright. Probably best if I let Aubrin and Rhyna explain though, since they were on hand right after." Both of the watchmen seem to relax when you all enter the tunnel, as though neither of them could quite believe it was really you until you stood close enough to touch them. Ramus grudgingly puts his sword away, but Kern keeps his crossbow out and loaded, if not outright pointed at Yissti. The alchemist thankfully remains blinded and manacled for now, and the sounds of new voices has prompted her to remain quieter than she's been so far. Together, Kern and Ramus lead the Shepherds back into the warrens.

    As you round the bend of the snaking entrance to what was once the Cradle of Stone, you start to recognize the new unfamiliarities of these caves. First and foremost is the near absolute lack of stench - where once the nearly overpowering musk and rancid odors of the troglodytes permeated the very air down here, now all you can smell is charcoal and fresh herbs, with a warm undercurrent of sizzling meat. Then there are the regular torches and jury-rigged lanterns along the walls, casting the tunnels in a golden glow. Finally, everywhere you look, you see signs of habitation: tents and lean-tos have been set up, bedrolls tucked into root-filled corners. In the antechamber where you once fought Handiss proudly stands the green Hemlock Banner, the standard under which you have all united against the Ironfang Legion.

    Descending down the earthen ramp to the central cavern on this floor, you see the fire burning bright with several familiar faces around it. Aubrin the Green, Cayden Caileanite and wandering cleric with a past, sits comfortably on a wooden stool in the shadows of the embers. Across from her stands Rhyna, the blonde priestess of Erastil. There is a wounded man with them: Erick, one of the young farmhands from near Phaendar. He still carries some scratches on his face, and he is in the middle of pulling his bandaged arm out from a sling. "You're back!", Aubrin exclaims with a wide smile when she sees your silhouettes in the tunnel... a smile which fades immediately when she sees Yissti.

    "You took a member of the Legion prisoner and brought them back here? But... why take that risk? Who is this hobgoblin, exactly?" The cleric herself looks more concerned than judgmental, though as a few more townsfolk filter in from side passages you note that her sentiment is not shared by all. Within two minutes of your arrival, the passages are abuzz with whispers. Many of the Phaendar locals look stonily in Yissti's direction, and Clidon and Farrow seem far too agitated to be anything but nervous. Aubrin slowly gets to her feet, looking at the six of you. "You don't have to explain yourselves to me, but I think I'm speaking for all of us when I say that I'm curious."
    Last edited by 3SecondCultist; 2019-02-13 at 11:20 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeno Desaqqara View Post
    You divine bastard.
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    Default Re: 3SC's Ironfang Invasion II

    Narek Skyskin

    Narek looked around closely as the companions entered the caves, noting the many changes made in their short time gone. Once they reached the main chamber, he began to look for a familiar pair . Even as his eyes picked them out, Aubrin’s question hung in the air, drawing a stony gaze back. Raising a hand to forestall any additional questions, Narek spoke quietly. ”Let us disposition the prisoner first; then we can discuss our rationale.” . He looked pointedly at Yissti, touching his ear in warning.

    Let’s get settled first, yes? Narek will wait until Yissti is locked up and guarded somewhere out of earshot
    Spoiler: Status
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    AC: 13. HP: 23 Init +10 Move 30'
    F +1 R +3 W +6
    Weapon: Hvy crossbow w/16 bolt
    Spells (4/4+1/3+1/2+1): Acid splash, message, detect magic, mending / silent image, obscuring mist, enlarge person, magic missile, heightened awareness / protection vs arrows, glitterdust, gallant inspiration / haste, haste, C2
    Prescience: 7/7; Good Dreams 1/1; wand of magic missile (23); wand of prestidigitation (22); wand of cause fear (10); wand of hold person (9)
    Key skills: Perception +4; Stealth +2; Survival +3; Spellcraft +12; S. Motive +6; KS Arcane +12; KS Local +11; KS P/D +10, KS Na/R/G +9; KS E/H +8
    Effect: prestidigitation (1hr); message (39 min)
    Life is ... life. As always bot/cut as necessary.
    DM: "Why do you have so many characters?"
    Me: "Because I never embraced the strategic value of running away."


    Fare thee well, N_R ... you will missed!y

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    Default Re: 3SC's Ironfang Invasion IC II

    Ilsa and Ramiel

    * After Narek manages to secure a temporary holding place for Yissti out of earshot... *

    <So, you'll do the talking?>


    <I think it's our best chance, yes.>

    Ilsa nodded at Ramiel, who stepped forward and spoke.

    "Rest assured that we do have an explanation for this and that this is not some mere whim. When we attacked the camp, Yissti -"
    Ramiel nodded in the direction of whatever corner Narek had managed to secure for the prisoner, "Was the only of her kind to surrender. She offered her talents, as well as some information, in exchange for her life. And her talents... they are ones that we are in need of."

    "These trials have hardened us all, but there is no denying that even with our increasing experience, there are precious few of us who have the capability necessary to guard the survivors of Phaendar. And for those of us who do, we have need of every advantage we can get. Our esteemed guest, as it happens, has a very good knack for brewing all sorts of potions, poisons, and alchemical creations - all of which are items that we are in desperate need of. And we are not talking about mere basics; we are talking about true and advanced brewing techniques, here. And if what we have seen from the outside is any indication of what happened while we were away, it looks like such talents may be needed more than ever. Easy access to curative potions, tanglefoot bags, acid flasks, alchemist's fire, antitoxin and antiplague, weapon blanches, you name it. Since that initial run-in with that traveling merchant in the forest, we have had precious little in the way of opportunity to obtain more supplies."

    "We are, of course, more than aware of the risks, and have taken precautions to minimize them. Yissti was hooded and manacled the entire way back, and we have made it abundantly clear that any attempt at escape or betrayal will result in summary execution, and that we would arrange to have her heavily guarded and her materials examined and restricted. Is it a risk free proposition? No. But very few things are. And, after consideration, it was our determination that the benefits outweigh the risks enough to give her chance."
    He inclined his head toward Aubrin.

    Spoiler: Actions
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    Diplomacy, don't fail me now.

    Diplomacy: (1d20+6)[25]
    Last edited by Lord Of Mantas; 2019-02-13 at 02:19 AM.
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    As the group enters the Cradle, Eyena stays close to the still-bound Yissti; when Narek indicates it's time to move her, Eyena leads her down - their destination is the lower caves, specifically one of the small rooms in it. The key with her, Eyena leads Yissti down the ladder and along an unnecessarily winded path through any remaining rooms in the way.
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    Default Re: 3SC's Ironfang Invasion IC II

    Gilraen stands a few paces behind Ramiel as the outsider explains their rationale. He scans the faces of both the de facto leaders gathered closely and more than a few curious bystanders gathering in the various antechambers and hallways. As Ramiel expounds on the techniques and talents, the Elf notices a few faces seeming to be more confused by his explanation than relieved. "Put simply, she's valuable," he says- more than a little more loudly than strictly necessary given the ostensibly private discussion.

    Spoiler: diplomacy
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    (1d20+4)[13] to assist (DC 10, IIRC)

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    Gilraen, Ilsa, Narek, Rask

    There is surprise among the residents of the cave when it is Ramiel who steps forward to speak. Unlike the five of you, the eidolon is not particularly well known to the people of Phaendar. Most of these folk aren't terribly accustomed to hearing from angelic heralds, which is probably part of the reason why they listen to him as intently as they do. As Ramiel explains your reasons for keeping the grenadier alive and hauling her back here, a few hostile glances seem to lessen. There are some half nods from those who are listening to the speech, although several villagers still stand with their arms crossed and spend far too much time following Yissti's progress away from the gathering and down to the lower levels of the cave complex. Two notable exceptions are Shara and Thel, as both woman and boy move over to give Narek large hugs and stay by his side throughout the speech.

    After Gilraen adds his piece, the silence that reigns in the hall is broken only by the faint crackling of the flames. At first you think Aubrin will be the one to speak up, but instead it is Rhyna. "I don't see the harm in it," the priestess says with a slow smile. "It's like they said: if this 'Yissti' steps out of line, she will be punished for it. In the meantime, if she can help us with goods or information, then she's valuable just like Gilraen said. It sounds like our Shepherds have thought this through! Well... except for the part about Misthome not having a source of supplies." That bit actually elicits a chuckle from one of the robed women - probably Gelis - and a few more knowing smiles.

    "Right, you wouldn't know," Aubrin continues, as nobody in the crowd seems willing to speak out against your decision right now. "It wasn't the first thing on our agenda or even the second, but we've had a pleasantly unexpected visitor of sorts in the lower chambers. She's... well, you'll be able to go and see for yourself after we figure everything else out here. In the meantime, please by all means take a seat, unload your things, and let's talk."


    Eyena

    With the alchemist temporarily in your care, you make your way through the caves and down the ladder, eventually emerging into the smooth stone chambers of the derro ruins that explored nearly two weeks ago. Just like in the level above, you find the area transformed. Much of the rubble and detritus has been moved away, the dark corridors now awash with light. Down here you see that the torches are of an alchemical or magical nature, as there is decidedly less room for ventilation. The same supplies and temporary residences have been set up here as upstairs, although you can't help but notice that there are more weapons and gem stockpiles here than actual people. The hammering from the old forge would seem to indicate that Kining is in the next room over, although you also pick up on voices coming from the other open passage that winds to the south.

    "Well this all definitely sounds like music to my ears," murmurs Yissti as she picks up on the sound as well. With less people around, the hobgoblin is returning to her usual verbose routine. "If my math is right - and it usually is, you should know - we're at least a hundred feet below ground. You all must have found yourselves a cozy little hideout. Honestly, I'm excited to see where I'll set up my lab! There are always lots of local ingredients that other people miss right at their fingertips. Is there any way that you can take off my blindfold soon?"
    Last edited by 3SecondCultist; 2019-02-16 at 05:23 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeno Desaqqara View Post
    You divine bastard.
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    Default Re: 3SC's Ironfang Invasion IC II

    Eyena nods in response to Yissti's question, leading her for a few more moments before speaking. "Yes," she says. "Soon," she continues, making her way to where Kining should be, calling the dwarf's name as she approaches.
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    Narek Skyskin

    Once Yissti had been removed from the room, Narek had planned to address the pros and cons regarding the prisoner in his blunt, yet logical, way. While he half expected an attempt to sway the people from Ilsa, he was surprised when Ramiel spoke. While the angelic herald was obviously sentient and apparently well-spoken, the wizard knew his time on this plane was ultimately limited - a summoned creature, albeit it longer than a standard spell. At the extreme it would have been like Narek looking to Visk to convince the group about their decision.

    At that thought he smirked to himself, which softened into a full smile when his wife and son approached. Wrapping his arms around them, he stood silently as both Ramiel and Gilraen spoke. When Rhyna responded, he raised an eyebrow, wondering at the shift in dynamic between the two holy women. At the mentioned of Misthome, he glanced down at Shara questioningly. He also took note of those unpleased with the decision; a part of him wanted to point out the challenges of leading, and the responsibilities of those following to trust their leaders. However, with his wife and son at his die, that seemed less important to dwell on right now. Let the others speak with honeyed words - the real reason Yissti wasn’t dead was because none of them had been hard enough to kill her after she surrendered ... himself included. Time would tell if their decision was sound.

    Once the group began to relax somewhat, Narek resumed his normal, diplomatic demeanor. ”If we can set aside further discussion regarding the prisoner’s future for now, there are some questions I have. What are the clawed tracks out front from? Are they related to your wounds, Erick? And who is this visitor, presumably a merchant from Rhyna’s insinuations, and where did he or she come from? How have you vetted these newcomers, to ensure they are not spies like we’ve experience before?

    I’m curious ...”


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    Ilsa & Ramiel

    Ilsa relaxed visibly as Ramiel managed to convince the Phaendar survivors of Yissti's utility without any problems.

    <Nice work.>


    <Thank you.>


    With that out of the way and Aubrin now willing to talk more regarding what had happened, summoner and eidolon took their seats.

    "Yes,"
    Ilsa said, following up from Narek's questions, "Kern and Ramus were both pretty on edge, and those were rather large clawprints if ever I've seen any. Please, tell us, what happened?"
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    Rask kept his peace and said nothing during the entire discussion about the hob. He didn't have any good opinions to share and the ones that were fit for sharing didn't strike him as all that useful. Instead he claimed a bit of cave wall for himself and leaned up against it, arms crossed.

    He wasnt sure if he was grateful for the change in topics, especially given all the different animals it could've been. Still, it had been a while since he'd gone and properly hunted something that wasnt hob or trog. It'd be good to get back in the swing of things and besides, werent like no wolverines or wolves were gonna protest over the manner of their deaths. Least not in a way he'd pay any mind towards.
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    Gilraen, Ilsa, Narek, Rask

    With the immediate issue of your prisoner seemingly resolved for the time being, most of the onlookers steadily trickle away to return to whatever tasks they were undertaking before your arrival. A few stay. Jet finds a seat on the cavern floor not two feet from Rask, giving the half-orc a little smile. Clidon lingers near the tunnel that leads down to where he and his brother are staying. Shara and Thel don't leave Narek's side: the wizard's wife takes the boy and finds a place nearby. Of course Rhyna and Aubrin remain as well, with the dark-skinned priestess taking the floor at your request.

    "We'll start with our visitor. A few days ago, Jodis - who we've kept posted at our barricade of the tunnel that leads into the Darklands - was contacted by somebody coming up the tunnel. They tossed some glowing rocks to light the way and tried talking to the man in what we now know to be an Undercommon dialect. At the time, we marshaled our people to defend the choke-point, but it turns out that it was just a single svirfneblin gnome. A female merchant, she's been dealing with the troglodytes here for over a year but she has no real allegiance to them. She goes by the name Novvi, and she's been happy to trade goods with us. I talked with her myself to make sure she's not a threat, but Jodis is keeping an eye on her just in case." The cleric gestures with her thumb further down the passage. "Last time I checked she was still there, in case you had anything you might want to trade or buy. Novvi has an entire extradimensional bag full of stuff!"

    Her features growing more serious, Aubrin turns to the other matter at hand. "Misthome has been attacked by strange looking monsters from the woods. They came yesterday, around dusk. Erick was on watch, he got a good look at them before they mauled him. He told us that the creatures looked like some strange mixture of owls and bears, with both feathers and fur. We think they would have come in here and done a lot more damage, but the timing was lucky because the screaming from the fungi at sunset scared them off. But they definitely have a good sense of where we are... so who knows when they'll be back?"

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    Given the description of the monsters you're hearing, it's not hard to conclude that the creatures who attacked Misthome yesterday are owlbears. Owlbears are notoriously bloodthirsty killers, well known for their short tempers, aggression, and savage nature. They tend to attack without provocation, slaughtering any living creatures that cross their paths. Many scholars that have encountered these creatures in the wild have noted that they all have red-rimmed eyes that roll about wildly when they close in for an attack. This is sometimes presented as a sign of madness, suggesting that all owlbears are born with a pathological need to fight and kill, but more level-headed researchers believe that it’s simply part of the way the massive bird-beast’s keen eyes are constructed. Furthermore, adult owlbears typically travel in mated packs of two.


    Eyena

    Pushing your way through the western door from the main chamber, you immediately step into an ocean of shimmering heat. It is apparent to you immediately that Kining has reactivated the ancient forges of the derro that lived here years ago. The rubble and noxious fog that used to permeate this place are gone, replaced by a low log table of assorted weapons and the thick iron smoke of industrious work. The din of metal on metal is nearly intolerable, and the willful red light from the fires is blocked only by the movement of the figures within. Kining's back is currently to you, as she is busy hammering what looks like a sheet of new metal into the mould of a breastplate. The dwarf is not alone, either: you recognize Valethor's thick set frame against the backdrop of the refurbished workspace.

    When Kining eventually turns around, you're almost certain it was the draft of air and not your voice that caught her attention. Removing the thick glass goggles she usually wears, the smith closes the distance between you remarkably quickly. Hammer still in hand, she gives you a nod that you know conveys something unspoken, before turning on the hobgoblin next to you. "Well then," she says with a wry grin that stretches out her pockmarks and scars, "you've brought me a forge slave, have you? I got one of my own already, but thanks for the offer."
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    Ilsa & Ramiel

    At the news of the arrival of a merchant, Ilsa and Ramiel perked up noticeably?

    "Truly? This is great news! Perhaps we can finally offload some of the items we have collected and trade them for more directly useful equipment. After the raid on Camp Redjaw in particular I know we have many things to sell."


    At the news of what had attacked Misthome, however, Ilsa looked visibly alarmed, while Ramiel raised his eyebrows.

    "Owlbears?! Here?!"
    Ilsa rested her head against the table. "That's just fantastic. The last time I tangled with owlbears, just a couple of them were enough to send me and a party of ten other people scattering. Then we fell into a cave, got completely lost, and, well... that was actually how we ended up wandering into you all."

    Ramiel spoke, a look of wry amusement on his face. "Who knows? Perhaps they are the same ones that drove us into the arms of these fine people."

    "Oh, don't even get started. That goes beyond coincidence and into the realm of cosmic contrivance."


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    Technically speaking, neither Ilsa nor Ramiel have Nature, but it is in their backstory, and has been from the beginning, that they were driven into the group after a run-in with a pack of owlbears. As such, I would expect them to know at least what they are, if not necessarily their full capabilities. The above response was written with that in mind.
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    Eyena smiles as she finds Kining, and returns her nod with a similar one of her own. "Somewhat," she says, and pulls off the hood covering Yissti's head. "She is...an alchemist. She will be helping us, using that, skillset. Would it be, possible...to, that is, to aid in, ensuring she is..." Eyena pauses. "Well-behaved?"
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    Narek Skyskin

    Narek listened to Aubrin, raising his eyebrows as she mentioned the merchant. ”A deep gnome? Interesting. I’m curious as to what other connections might be made upon that path. If this Novvi is unbiased in her business, she may be willing to sell that information to others. We should take steps to ensure our relationship is mutually beneficial, and binding enough to keep her as an allly vice an agnostic financial partner.”

    When Aubrin’s talk finally turned to the attack, Narek’s eyes narrowed. After Ilsa and Ramiel’s outburst, he added, ”Regardless of if these Owlbears are the same, we must certainly deal with them swiftly. Typically they hunt in mating packs, but depending on how many young they possess, their need for food may be more pressing than normal. Unfortunately, now that they have our scent,!we cannot simply leave them be. We are probably better served hunting down their lair and ending the threat ... unless our resident experts can convince them to relocate peaceful.”

    He glanced at Aubrin and Gilraen.

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    Rask blinked slowly at all the chatter. He'd once held aquantinces with gnomes. Well. A gnome. Never could tell them from half-men, even they were a bit more touched by the other realms than there hairy-footed kin. Still, a vendor was good. Ever since his bloodlust had reached a climax he'd been thinking towards discarding the hammer. Light-weighted and dead-smashy it might have been, but the near -amputation of a friends arm and his own rising bloodlust had made up Rask's mind. It would have to go and he sure as troll-c*** didn't want to paw it off to someone else. Someone like Jet. Rask took the hammer down from his shoulders and gave it a good squint. Wound'ntve of guessed from looking at the crappy thing that it was any sort of great weapon. To his eyes it looked like a over exaggerated version of a child's toy, but that was trog artifice for ya. At least orcs used steel. And he'd not the tongue for haggling, especially not with a gnome, which meant that, killiness or no he'd not get a good price for it. Still. It would feel good to have some Molthuni Steel back in his hands.

    Rusk grunted with confusion when everyone started talking about bears and owls together as one animal. Such oddity turned his thoughts back to religion. He'd not done anything to piss off a deity like Zagresh. At least, not lately. Besides, it was hard to make a god angry when all they gave a **** about was destroying things. Not a lot of time for anger with that much devastation. The closest thing he could approximate to an owl was the terror bird that was Rull's sacred animal and he'd not made conflict with the God of thunder and storms. Not for a long time. That just left all the gods that remained foreign to his faith. Great. Still, it sounded like these "owl bears" were right ornery beasts if the mage and summoner's accountings were anything to go by. Sounded like things were going to get bloody before they got better. Maybe he'd hang onto the hammer a little longer. Just in case.
    Last edited by n0ble; 2019-02-17 at 10:47 PM.
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    Gilraen, Ilsa, Narek, Rask

    At the mention of the word owlbear, Aubrin's eyes light up and she snaps her fingers suddenly. "That's what they're called, right!" In a much lower voice, you hear her mutter: "I knew it couldn't be 'bearowl'..." Shaking her head, your friend and ally listens to Ilsa and Narek expound on what they know of the creatures before relaying her own thoughts on the mage's plan of action.

    "I think you're absolutely right, Narek. If these creatures are as territorial as you claim, then we can't risk them trying to come back while you're away. Unless one of you manages to get them to relocate peaceably, you might just need to end up using force." The Cayden Caileanite pauses, and Rhyna smoothly steps in, blonde hair bobbing in the firelight. "Speaking of force... tell us about the raid on the enemy camp! You said that you had a lot of loot to sell - and you brought back a prisoner, to boot - so I assume it was a success?"


    Eyena

    Although the other local keeps on working at Kining's instruction, the smith herself seems content to take a moment away from her work to deal with this. The moment you take off Yissti's blindfold, the other two women lock eyes and openly assess each other. The hobgoblin bares her fangs slightly in an expression that you don't begin to understand, and Kining's iron gaze sweeps over the alchemist's frame as though taking an inventory. "No," the dwarf mutters after a moment. "I'm not taking time out of my busy day to babysit a hostage, and I'm sure as sh*t not sharing a workshop with her. There's no telling what sort of chemical nonsense might explode if exposed to enough heat!" Yissti's invectives come half a second later, when she gets a good look at the forge, and before long both of them are loudly talking over each other.

    "You can't expect me to - not getting any of my supplies - space to set up my formula - the smell alone would be - foreign contaminants would ruin any - know you can even trust her - please send me somewhere else!" Both of their objections having been raised, the dwarf and hobgoblin turn to you for arbitration.
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    Default Re: 3SC's Ironfang Invasion IC II

    Gilraen remains mostly silent during the discussion of the Svirfneblin, though his expression is one of mixed feelings. He only wonders aloud, "if she speaks the common Gnomish tongue?" before falling back into an easy silence. His features darken at mention of the Owlbears- he's familiar with all of the most dangerous threats of Fangwood, though he had hoped to never encounter so many of them.

    At Narek's implied question, he snorts. "Might as well convince the rain to sit in its cloud," he mutters. "Owlbears are horrible, terrifying brutes, not capable of reason. He pauses to consider his next words. "Though, ultimately they are still animals. They are more likely to respond to their own instinct for self-preservation than anything else. One way or another, we would be wise to prepare for a fight...

    a nasty one.
    "

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    Ilsa & Ramiel

    Ilsa sighed nervously. "Well, at least we've come a ways since the first night. Hopefully it shouldn't go too badly, knock on wood."

    She then turned to Aubrin. "As for the raid on the camp, it did go well, all told, although there were several hairy spots. But there was something concerning that we found."

    Ramiel spoke next. "One of the pieces of information Yissti provided was that the hobgoblins captured one of the Chernasado Rangers. Originally, they had been sent to hunt down the survivors of Phaendar and scout out the Tamran Highway for vulnerabilities, but when they captured the ranger, their general apparently sent out another division into the forest to deal with them. Apparently they are at..." The eidolon turned to Narek. "Fort Ristin? Was that right?"
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    Eyena blinks as the exchange between Yissti and Kining begins, turning from one to the other as her expression shifts, eyebrows furrowing and frown forming as they continue, until she pauses again, as they turn to her. Her eyes widen slightly, and she slowly looks from one to the other for a moment.

    "Ehm," she says after a few moments. She looks between Yissti and Kining several more times in quick succession. "In, that is, as the situation...appears to be, that, there is...that is to say, the agreement is, present, that, both of you - that is, at present, seem to be of, ehm, the same...opinion," she nods. "I would, that is, it seems to be ideal, to follow, this...joint, er, desire." Eyena nods again, and pauses. "It may be, that is, the solution, I would consider, primarily, would be - this, chamber," Eyena indicates the other room, in which her tent and the way up are located.
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    Narek Skyskin

    Narek hlanced at Gilraen as the archer spoke, nodding slightly at the man’s assessment. While he knew from his studies there were people who had trained owlbears before, he wasn’t going to waste time trying to convince folk they should try that here. Something moved behind Gilraen, catching his eye, and the wizard glanced down behind him to the strange dog that had been following the woodsman. Gilraen continued to act as if the creature’s presence was normal, eliciting a shoke of his head from Narek.

    Glancing back at the group, he realized Ramiel was looking at him. After a moment, his brain caught up to his ears and he spoke quietly. ”Yes, Fort Ristin was the location. However, I don’t believe Scarvinious had anything to do with the Rangers - the General has already sent a force to deal with them prior to capturing that unfortunate woman. Investing that location will be a primary objective in the days to come, but we will need to proceed with caution - Yissti presumed the Rangers were already dead.”

    Running his eyes, Narek straightened up and nodded towards the back of the caves with a reserved expression. ”Further discussion and planning can wait until later. I would meet with this merchant first. Then a hot meal and some time to recover. Then we can address the owlbears and Fort Ristin.”

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    Ilsa & Ramiel

    At the words 'hot meal', Ilsa's belly rumbled audibly, and she rubbed the back of her neck in an embarrassed manner.

    "That sounds lovely, on all three counts."
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    Gilraen, Ilsa, Narek, Rask

    In the matter of food, it is neither Aubrin nor Rhyna who speak up, but Jet. The former innkeeper stands up from where she was situated down on the ground. "Well if you all stay put, I can go and get you something to eat. Our stores have been holding steady, and with the hunting and fishing from the lake down here I've gotta say that we're pretty set for the time being. Be right back! Shara, will you give me a hand?" Reluctantly, the second woman joins Jet to go and fetch the supplies, leaving the circle of the fire.

    The intervening time is marked by the yipping of dogs as the wolf pups - who seem to have grown a remarkable deal in the scant weeks since you took them in - approach the new animal arrival at the edge of the cavern. Ramus appears not too long after, trying futilely to shoo the canines away from Gilraen's furred companion, and Thel lets out a little laugh as the boy heads over to pet one of the wolves. Aubrin watches the entire display bemusedly, though she just takes a long swig from her canteen-turned holy symbol instead of stepping in. Eventually she heads out, telling you all that she'll meet up with you later.

    In the ensuing snippets of conversation, you all catch up with bits of gossip around the cavern complex from the civilians who come and go. It seems like the name 'Misthome' has stuck, which makes sense given the fog in the carved chambers below. Later, with your bellies full and the matters attended to, the five of you are left to your own devices.


    Eyena

    While Kining does her level best to be patient with your deliberation, as she well knows your tendency to elaborate and re-structure sentences, Yissti just stares at you with an expression of sheer confusion. "I, uh..." your prisoner starts, before shaking her head and gives her best pleading look to the dwarf. On Yissti, it resembles nothing so much as a wolf that just got caught chasing its own tail, and Kining makes a sound of faint disgust when she notices it. "I'm sorry, what?"

    "She's telling you to unpack your stuff somewhere else, got it? Now get out of my forge!" The smith stomps back to her work station, eager to be rid of the distraction. Barking an order at Valethor, Kining gets to work as though the two of you aren't even standing there. Taking the hint, Yissti makes no more noise as you begin to head back out into the other chamber. The alchemist frowns at the space here too, though she knows better than to openly complain given her circumstances. "I could probably get my lab equipment up in that corner, but I'll need a proper stink sheath down here if you don't want people choking on potentially hazardous fumes. A tent will do fine, if you can spare one."
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    Eyena visibly relaxes when Kining explains to Yissti what she meant, nodding to confirm the dwarf's words before leading Yissti back out. When the hobgoblin mentions a tent, Eyena nods again. "It may be..." Eyena pauses, frowns briefly, and is silent for a few moments. "...Can you, use a small one?" She asks, bringing out the smaller tent from her current, larger one.
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    Default Re: 3SC's Ironfang Invasion IC II

    Gilraen is a little hesitant at first, as the jackal is approached by a veritable pack of young wolves. His caution seems unfounded, however as the she-cub proves once again more than capable of handling her own affairs. His mood rapidly shifts to amusement and actual pleasure as he watches the critters wrestle and cavort about in the way young canines will. He only steps in to intervene when the jackal begins gearing up for dominance posturing with the largest of the pups- regardless of the outcome, it strikes the woodsman as improper to allow her to get too involved finding her place in the pack. When he realizes what he's just done, he spends the next several minutes wondering why it struck him as improper. Jet and Shara's (seemingly) sudden arrival with food stirs him from his reverie and only adds to the unexpected moments of contentment.

    As long as there's a few on watch upstairs, the owlbears can wait.

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