A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default The Madness of Men in a World of Monsters (D&D 5e IC)

    Read in this voice.

    Dreams. Dreams in the dark. All of you have been having strange dreams as of late. Some in the Vale say dreams are whispered by Pale Night into our ears on the wind. Dreams of glory. Dreams of violence. Dreams of power and debauchery. Each of you have been having troubling dreams. Whether they come from demons internal or external you are not sure, but each dream strikes a chord deep inside your minds and souls. And each dream ends in the same place- Dam'ess, a troubled village in the rural outskirts of the mountain kingdom of Harumvale. This is where the sacrifice begins. This is where the madness begins. This is where our tale begins.

    Spoiler: Birel Amastacia
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    The obelisk is crumbling, age wearing even it's black stone to dust. Long after Er'qel has been left abandoned, long after your family has left, long after the prime or even the nightfall of your own elven lifespan, you sit in the dust of the ruins you helped excavate, poring over the markings and carvings on the stone. But there is no more meaning here. You long ago extracted all you could from this obelisk. But still you study, even as your millennia old body begins to break down on you. Your chocolate hair gone gray, wrinkles and age spots forming on your face and hands, and the light of youth gone from your milky eyes, but still you study. A sudden cold wind brings a woman's laughter and blows your weary, patched, and torn hat from your head. But still you study, whispering and tracing the patterns and designs with bony fingers, hoping for more knowledge. More power. Greater understanding. The howl of a beast in the night doesn't cease your work, nor the sound of clawed feet behind you. It is only in your last few seconds of life, as the claws are tightening around your throat, that the obelisk, covered with worn images of stars, moons, and suns, reveals one last secret to you. An oddity in the shapes, a paradox in the patterns, a single line of ancient celestial right where the obelisk meets the ground. You'd always thought it was gibberish, barely discernible and easily written off. But as your parchment thin skin is pierced and your life's blood begins to flow, you suddenly recognize it for what it is. A number one, followed by a number two, separated by a symbol. Replace the symbol with "of" and you have "One of Two". There is another obelisk. This realization makes you smile, even as your corpse falls to the stone floor, and the beast begins to eat. Then you are awake in your tiny farmhouse, Periwinkle chirping at your frantically and Marigold flying around the room in a fury.


    Spoiler: Selissa Betula
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    You've been here before. You've lived this before. The battle with the Horror of Yurl. Jonath tried to hold it off, but the dark, furry, scaled form ploughed him over, sending his sword flying. It hissed and gurgled as it struck Gnarl with it's mighty tail, sending him bouncing away as well. Burned by magic, slashed by blades, it was your arrows that angered the nearly dead Horror the most. It sprinted on six limbs up to you and reared up in the moonlight, reaching out at you in a lethal embrace. You scramble away, but one of it's mighty claws grips your arm so tightly that it rips through your flesh like a hot knife through butter. The pain. You remember the pain so vividly. The pain of your bones cracking, your flesh tearing, the terrible pain of knowing what is about to happen. Then Sara was there, smashing at it's freakish face with her mace, eyes alight with zealous fervor. The Horror howled in pain and tossed you away with a terrible ripping noise that nearly made you black out. It may have been more merciful if you did. Because the truest pain, the pain that resonated in your heart and soul, was the sound of Sara's scream being cut short as it's teeth closed on her neck, the sharp pop of her neck being broken, and the last gurgle as her life escaped her. Historically, this is when Jonath and Gnarl struck the beast from behind and slew it. But in this dream your fellowship is broken. Jonath has run. Gnarl's back broke when he struck that tree, and he has crawled away into the night. In this dream, all you know is the pain of your severed arm and the pain of hearing the Horror eat Sara. And the despair of knowing you will be next. But it is not the Horror, but another beast that approaches you from behind. It growls in your ear and takes an experimental bite from your shoulder. Apparently liking what it tastes, you feel teeth descend on your neck and feel the flesh give way. Then you are awake in your home in Dam'ess, with the sound of Sara's last short scream echoing in your mind.


    Spoiler: Vargath Hubrecht
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    Drum beats and bass voices echo in your mind. The voices of giants long dead. They chant the names of runes, and those runes flash like they are being freshly forged in your mind. Long ago at university you learned to drown them out while you slept, but they are particularly loud tonight. The rhythm is almost comforting at this point in your life. But then the rhythm stops dead, and the moans begin. Moans of pain. Moans of despair. Moans without hope. You open your eyes to see a barren, dry wasteland. Far to the west there are mountains, and closer to the east there are more. Before you, in this desert, are dozens of giants. Possibly over a hundred. All of different shapes and sizes, with fire giants, stone giants, frost giants, and more, all naked and chained to great wheels. The giants slowly but steadily push the wheels in an endless circle, even their mighty muscles straining with the effort. You see faces once proud and full of life gone grey and empty, with only the energy to push their wheels is Sisyphean torment and moan. You can hear machinery on a scale you could scarcely imagine under your feet, and the earth shakes and trembles like it too is afraid of what lies beneath. There is a sudden blast of wind and dry dust that makes you close your eyes, and when you open them again the giants are long gone, their skeletons still chained in their traces to the massive wheels. But the machinery is active now. The ground rumbles and shakes like nothing you've known before. The dry earth opens up in a perfect line before you and a pure black pyramid rises out of it, somehow darker than dark, as though it were eating the light of the sun, not reflecting it. The pyramid, a massive cycoplean structure covered in strange geometry that strains your mind as you attempt to understand it, floats into the air and begins to approach you. Nothing so large should move so fast, but it crosses the distance in the blink of an eye, crushing the wooden wheels and giant skeletons to dust in it's wake. It passes over you, eclipsing the sun, and heads towards what you know to be civilization. To the world of men and women, innocent and guilty alike. And you know it's purpose- to use the energy given by the toil of all those giants to bring ruin and madness to the world. Your own psyche threatens to buckle from staring at it, but you cannot look away. You are spared from madness only because a scything claw comes down from behind and nearly tears your head from your body. You hear and feel the unseen beast begin to eat. And then you are awake, at a small roadside tavern on the road to Dam'ess in Harumvale on a bright summer morning. And for the first time in your life since they first began speaking to you, the giants are silent.


    Spoiler: Set Al-Sayyid
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    The sun beats down, unmercifully hot, as you travel across the desert. These dunes are familiar to you, but the road you once traveled north on is gone to ruin for your trip south. You recognize exactly where you are. You are on your way home. But anything familiar or comforting about this journey is dead. The great river that ran parallel to the road is gone to dust, with the remains of crocodiles and fish fossilized in it's bed. Where once thousands of people made their homes and their livelihoods you see empty homes and bones bleached white. As you make your way into the grand city that you called home, all is ruin. All is dead. All is dust. Even the vultures are skeletons in what once were great plazas of commerce and bustling life. The only sound is the metallic ping of the Coin, flipping through the air, landing in your palm with a SMACK, and then back into the air, not even bothering to stop and look at which side has come up before repeating the familiar gesture over and over again. You come to the palace where your brother, your father, and all his fathers before him ruled this land. The twenty six soldiers who always guarded the thirteen massive steps are desiccated bodies clad in glorious armor, still manning their posts even in death. pingSMACKpingSMACK Up the steps you go. You find the bones of courtiers, nobles, and servants, all long dead and dried, all through the palace as though they died suddenly and without warning, living their lives like it was any other day. pingSMACKpingSMACK. You enter the apartments the royal family occupied and find only more dust and death- mummified fruit in the bowl your mother purchased from a foreign trader, tarnished bronze on your father's Ramah above the hearth, and finally you enter your sister's rooms. There you find nothing. No bodies. No empty clothes. Nothing.pingSMACKpingSMACK. The Shadowkeeper laughs within your mind. "Dear, foolish Set. I spared them all my wrath. See? They are SAVED from the fate of shadows. You SAVED them all. But because I do truly, truly care about you, and in keeping with the spirit of our deal, I removed your sisters from this place and this fate. I promise you this- they were SAVED from the fate that befell your people. And even better, they are nearby. I do hope you find them before Pale Night does. I won't SAVE them again." Now, there is one last pingSMACK as the Coin flips and lands in your palm. It shows the Scarab- death. Picking it up between two fingers, you flip it. The Scarab again. More death. Only death. The Shadowkeeper laughs again as the foundations of your sanity begin to crumble, only to be rudely interrupted by a massive claw tearing you to the ground from behind. His laughs blend with your own as the teeth descend and the beast begins to eat you alive. Then you are awake, at a small roadside tavern near Dam'ess in Harumvale, far from home. In your mind the Shadowkeeper is silent, but you know what he is doing. Gloating. Biding his time. Waiting for just the right edge to give you a nudge towards and make you fall.


    Spoiler: Jemriah Cleater
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    Music. Light. Dancing. It is Midsommer festival in Falcairn. The air smells of flowers and, like every year, the beer flows like water. You are in the town square, near the monument to Mother Willow, with a full, foaming tankard in your hand. Priscilla, that beautiful farmer's maid who would never even give you the time of day? She stands before you, a mug in her own hand, white smile flashing in the sun. "It's so good, this year, Jemriah! And your father said you made this batch by yourself! I know we haven't talked much... but your beer makes me want to dance! Will you dance with me?" Jaw hanging, you feel yourself nod yes, and without a moment's hesitation she pulls you into the square to dance with all the other couples, young and old. You spin, she dashes, you bow, she curtsies, and soon the whole town steps aside to watch you dance with the girl of your dreams. Everyone is smiling. Everyone is drinking. Red cheeked and without a doubt more than a little sloshed, everyone is cheering you on. Celebrating you. Celebrating your beer. When the dance ends, everyone begins to chant "DRINK! DRINK! DRINK!". So you raise your glass high, ass does Priscilla, and the cheers grow louder. Looping your arms around each other, the two of you drink deep of your creation. Pride and joy are erased as you taste something bitter and foul that sticks to your tongue like thick tar, causing you to cough and sputter. Looking down at your tankard, the foam has cleared away to reveal thick, black ichor. Your blood, just as it was when it attacked the Sea Witch and took her life. Bubbling and reaching from the mug like it intends to grab you and pull you in. Looking around you can see it now- they are all drinking your blood. Thick, ebon, and alive with alien life and malicious intent. A cloud passes over the sun and all the people of Falcairn begin to change. Their skins ripple. Black tar drips from their noses and mouths. You feel a hand clutch your chest as Priscilla, still laughing and smiling, begins to crumple to the ground, black tar-like ichor bubbling from her ears, her eyes, her nose, her perfect pink lips. Her final laugh comes in a thick black bubble that bursts from her mouth and across your shirt. Everyone in the town follows suit, bodies changing, bones scraping, flesh rippling, all changing in fast motion to creatures from nightmares. But the blood... the blood boils from their every orifice and begins oozing, crawling, creeping at improbable speed towards you. You turn to run, but it is all around you. It spills over the square and stickily, ickily climbs up your body towards your head. You open your mouth to let out a scream and the blood surges, filling your mouth and drowning your scream as it enters your body. You can feel the changes coming on, your flesh revolting and metamorphosing into something strange and alien. You feel a presence in your mind, watching you cry and struggle with clinical detachment. "Subject. Acceptable. Begin. The. Change." But suddenly your torture is interrupted by a deep howl, and your savior comes. Claws and teeth begin to ravage your body as the beast that came from behind you begins to eat. You can't help but whisper the words "Thank you." Then you are awake, in a small roadside tavern on the road to Dam'ess. You feel that familiar presence in your mind, but it is silent, perhaps still sleeping.


    Spoiler: Fanlomen Fogspyre
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    "Again." You hear the voice of your second teacher, Kharlis Sunderriver, as he instructs you in a familiar lesson. Standing on one leg atop a rock, you have a full bucket of water in each hand and a wooden cup of water on your head. "Again, Fanlomen." You hear yourself reciting words that are intimately familiar to you. In the course of your training you probably uttered them a million times. "My mind is a blade. Like a blade, I will sharpen it. Like a blade, I will treat it with respect. Like a blade, it can cut the innocent if I am foolish, or the guilty if I am strong. My mind is my blade when all other tools are lost to me." In a flash you are older, muttering that same mantra under your breath. "SSSSSHHHHH!!!" You do not see Gamlen- he is far too skilled for that- but you hear him trying to shut you up. You are hidden in a bush, and he must be nearby for you to hear him so well. "Quit yer nattering! Here they come!" You see figures through the greenery, walking along a game trail. "That's who we're looking for. Guilty of poaching. Take em' down quiet like. I'll back you up." Manifesting your blades, you creep forward, ready to pounce. When the figures come close, you rush out of the treeline, ready to throw a blade and start the fight. You are mere inches away from releasing the blade when realization strikes you. It is your father, and a group of huntsmen from your tribe. The blade in your hand disappears in a wisp of psychic energy as he looks at you, your surprise mirrored on his face. Gamlen rushes forward to aid you in striking them down, but you stop him with an outstretched hand. You explain the life of your tribe, how they live and respect nature and the Green Faith, and how they are no threat. Gamlen is suspicious at first, but after a few minutes of conversation he is smiling and all of you are laughing about the misunderstanding. Your father steps forward and embraces you, saying you be welcomed home by the tribe. That is when you feel the pressure. The pain. The raw force of your psychic power rushing through your mind in an unstoppable torrent. "My mind... is a blade..." you try to whisper, but it comes out as a scream. Gamlen looks at you oddly, but your father remembers what happened to your classmates, and he orders his warriors to run. "My MIND is a BLADE!" You scream again as the pressure grows, the pain intensifies, and blood begins to leak from your nose, mouth, and ears. Your body begins to seize, unable to withstand the psychic power that has been strengthened, sharpened, and trained by your years with Kharlis. Your father and his warriors are running, but so slowly, as though the air were molasses. "MY MIND... IS... A BLADE!" The pressure feels like it will crack your skull like an egg, and light is beginning to emit from your eyes. Even Gamlen is running now, but like the others he is running in slow motion. "MY... MIND... BLADE!" Your body is seizing and shaking so violently now you bite your own tongue and the taste of copper fills your mouth. "MY... MIND?!?" All your years of training are ineffective at holding back your power. Like a flood, it spills from your skull, forming hundreds of razor sharp blades that flash out from your body, lacerating and impaling your father, your teacher, and the other hunters of your tribe. Your scream tears through the forest, causing birds to take flight and retreat from your agony. It happened again- your power could not be controlled. But this time it killed instead of maimed. The power drains away, and you fall to your knees. Looking around you see holes in the greenery for miles around. Animals, killed. Trees shredded. Your loved ones, destroyed. You let out another savage scream, this one filled with sorrow and remorse, but it is interrupted by a loud howl from behind you. Something crashes into your back and sends you tumbling. Before you have the chance to summon your blades or reach for your bow it is on you, from behind again. You feel your flesh tear as the beast begins to feed, and your final thought is "at least now I can't hurt anyone ever again..." Then you are awake, in your woodland campsite not far from Dam'ess. Your mind is your own again, but you can't help but imagine what it would be like if you lost control now, with how much stronger you have trained your talent.


    Later that Day, in the Village of Dam'ess...

    The Oaken Larder is the only tavern in Dam'ess. When special occasions arose, it was also the town meeting hall, or the feasting hall for a marriage celebration, or the wake hall for a funeral. Today it was just a tavern with a sawdust floor and barrels for bar stools. Horace, the proprietor, cleans a glass behind the clap board bar, looking nervously around the tap room. There were strangers about. Good for business, but would it be good for the town? A handful of regulars were in for an afternoon ale or cider and some of Horace's wife's apple pie. But it was true. For the first time in years, there were a plethora of strangers in the tavern. Sometimes one would show up, very rarely two, but to see this many outsiders here worried Horace. He imagined that they had responded to the Chief's call for aid in dealing with the darkness and malaise that had fallen upon the village these last few years. But that was "hero" business, none of his. He finished cleaning the glass and set it down. Clearing his throat, he coughed a bit and spoke up to the room. "Uh... anyone thirsty? It's... uhhhh... happy hour. Yes, happy hour. Drinks are buy... two... get one free. Drink, anyone?" The flyers that had been left up in the surrounding villages, towns, and taverns said to meet at The Oaken Larder for more information about the threat to the town, but no Chief has shown up as of yet to reveal more. Maybe word has not reached him yet of all the strangers. But it surely will soon. It is a small village, after all. "Anyone? A drink?"
    The Bear is Back.

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    Titan in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The Madness of Men in a World of Monsters (D&D 5e IC)

    Birel Amastacia
    High Elf Wizard
    AC: 13/16 HP: 20/20
    PP: 13 PIv: 13 PIs: 11
    Conditions: --
    Concentration: --

    Birel wakes up with a start. For the briefest moment she gives her nightcap the side-eye and then she's up and about trying to calm the birds down. "What's gotten into you? Calm down buddy." she says to Periwinkle, knowing most likely it was he who set Merigold off and not the other way around. And Merigold is just a bird and can't understand her. That too.
    Several minutes later she's managed to calm her familiar and the other bird down, finally pulling the reason out of him that it was her dream that set him off.

    Then finally, it had been so hard for her to resist the urge this like, she goes over to her spellbook and begins flipping through the pages looking for what she saw in her dream. To her delight, though she had known for sure it was so, the dream was right. Right there. One of Two. She was delighted. So excited. Something to look forwards to. A goal!
    ...
    Though how to go about that goal? She couldn't just wander off into the woods by herself. Maybe she could.... send a letter to a bigger town to ask for help? But she didn't really have the funds to pay for it. Well, that was quite an issue.

    After a while she got distracted pouring through her notes for more information this new line of thinking might unlock.


    And having never found a good answer to the "how to get an expedition going" question, not that she had made herself rush to find one (because these days she didn't rush to do anything that didn't involve upset birdies), she found herself at The Oaken Larder. Like she did almost every evening. Admittedly she'd spent most of the day focused on the world in her book, rather than the world outside of it.

    By the time she notices the tavern is more crowded than usual (by which is meant it's extremely noticeable that even one new person showed up), she's already had two ales and a meat pie and has begun work on a big slice of apple pie (Horace knows how she likes it, one slice that's a full quarter of the pie). ((See that picture? That's basically her situation right there, pre-eating of the meat pie.))

    At Horace's words she looks him in the eye, turns around to look at all the new people, looks back at him and then pretends like she's trying to help him out by encouraging these folks to buy drinks. But they both know she's just taking advantage of getting a free drink she would have paid for any other night when she loudly answers, "Who could pass on such a generous and welcoming offer!? Two ciders my good man!" At her loudness, Periwinkle and Merigold start and flutter away a few feet, though slowly waddle on back over after a few seconds.

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Restless nights weren't unusual for him, and hadn't been since the voices manifested for the first time, but the anxiety that grips Vargath now is one he's not tasted for years. He runs a hand over his face, staring up at the cobwebbed ceiling. He wouldn't miss them if they were gone, but the eerie silence sounded like a message all on its own. The bright shining sun was little comfort. He was tired. So tired he could just sleep for another year, though if it meant more of that dream he might prefer to stay awake. He was trying not to think about what it meant. He'd had some instruction on prophetic dream interpretation at the university, and there was nothing he could read into it that said anything good.

    He swings his legs over the edge of the bed and stands up. Muscles moan as they woke up to a new day and he starts the same way he has done since a child - an early morning workout. The motions were drilled into him by now, natural, but he was still sluggish this morning, and so added an extra two sets on top of his normal five to compensate. All in all, an hour is spent in the cramped room he'd rented, but by the end of it he's finally awake. Finally Vargath again. No longer whispers and dreams. It was as Kelly had said. Mindset. 'Change your outlook and you'll change yourself. Change yourself and you'll change your world.' He'd laughed the first time she'd said it. They were lofty words, but - for him at least - there was truth in them. Truth in experience.

    He takes a moment to wash off in a basin before dressing and checking himself in a shard of polished metal that served as his mirror. His armour's comfortable, familiar, and he drapes his academics robes over the top of it, proudly emblazoned with his clan's icon - a blood red wolf's head. Running a hand over his stubble he wonders if he should let it grow out, like Dad's. If he was on the road for a while he might not have a choice about the beard.

    _____________


    The Oaken Larder felt identical to the last three he'd stayed in on his path to Harumvale. Lots of wood, lots of sawdust, lots of watered down booze that was your only option because pure water was probably deadlier than any fighter or fiend you'd find on the road. He glanced down into his own drink - barely half finished. Being kept waiting was frustrating. He grabs the cup roughly and downs the remaining liquid in one gulp. The sweet but dull taste of the ale washed down into the warm pit of his stomach. The clan only really drank for celebrations, but he felt like he could down a barrel of this stuff without it affecting him at all. Using his empty cup as an excuse he approaches the bar, heavy booted footsteps shaking up small clouds of sawdust in his wake. His axe is covered inside his robes, though anyone who takes half a look at him will clearly see its outline. It's not 'concealed' so much as not on display.

    He drops the cup onto the bar with a clatter, barely taking notice of the loud woman who was also there. "Another. Where is the Chief?" His voice has a natural growl to it, a deep baritone that in another life may have made him a singer. Waiting was frustrating - if this was all some fool's attempt to bring outside coin to a dying town it seemed to be working, but he didn't wish to become one of those fools.
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    Iron Crisis IC | OOC
    RHoD IC | OOC
    CotCT IC | OOC

    Playing:
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    MoMiWoM IC | OOC
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    Default Re: The Madness of Men in a World of Monsters (D&D 5e IC)

    Fanlomen is covered in cold sweat as his mind awakens from his trance, heart pounding hard and fast as adrenaline surged through him. My mind is a blade ... my mind is a blade ... I am in control... Kharlis's mantras are little solace when he had just dreamt of losing control only moments prior, but he was desperate to prevent another outburst. Even if such an event hadn't happened in years, it wasn't a displeasure he wished on his enemies. He pushed himself out the front of his tent, chest heaving for more fresh air than the world could seem to provide. The smouldering campfire and the starlight above were the lone observers to his pained meditation as he does his best to calm himself. He could already hear the venerable elf rambling in the back of his mind. Keep your senses sharp. Count to 10. Find five things you can see. Find three things you can hear. Find one thing you can smell. The list came to him in reverse order. The campfire's burnt ash. The breeze shaking the leaves above him, the scurrying of a rodent in the underbrush, and the distant gurgling of a stream. The strange knot in a nearby tree he thought resembled a pregnant woman, the ring of stones he had arranged to make his campfire, an owl perched silently in a tree to his left ... and his waterskin carelessly laying next to him, likely tossed outside from his thrashing during the nightmare. As the list grew longer, his racing mind and heart slowed down enough that he could think clearly. Suddenly shaking from adrenaline exhaustion, he wanted to get back to trancing soon. This was uncomfortable, and he had a job to get done in the morning. No sense in arriving a nervous, unrested wreck.



    The tavern seemed too small for its purpose today, and Fanlomen's feet were being pinched slightly when he didn't distribute his weight the right way. This is why he didn't like wearing shoes, but the sawdust floor certainly made the occasional pinch better than walking through the dirt that only 'civilized' people left behind. Seeing the barkeep's uncomfortable manner makes him more wary; it was a sign that the villagers here didn't deal well with outsiders. Nonetheless, he goes up to the man and orders bluntly, "One ale." Without any further words, he pays for his drink and enjoys a few sips at the bar itself. He mentally runs through a few excersizes to keep his senses sharp and his mind focused. This time the voice in his head was Gamlen's, a more scheming yet jovial tone than that of Kharlis. How many people are in the tavern? How many are sitting alone? How many weapons do you see? Who is paying with silver instead of copper? With nothing else to do but wait for the arrival of his potential employer, Fanlomen indulges his absent mentor's questions, attempting to nonchalantly find an answer to each question.

    Spoiler
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    Perception to find out the answer to each question, if possible: (1d20+4)[9]
    Last edited by WhismurWanders; 2020-06-17 at 06:47 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by fibericon View Post
    This seems like a really cool concept, so I feel like you're going to get a lot of applications. Best of luck sorting through them all. That said, I'm going to do my part to make your job that much harder by adding one to the stack.

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    Jemriah Cleater
    Aberrant Mind Sorcerer 3 | AC 15 | HP 20/20 | PP 11 / PIns 11 / PInv 10

    Jemriah woke up gasping for air with rapid, deep breaths. His mouth was dry and sticky, and he spit into his hand to confirm it wasn't actually tar, this time at least. He could see the moon above the horizon through the window. It was well before dawn, but he had no interest in sleeping again after that.

    He'd packed up before going to bed knowing it would be an early morning. Donning his boots, he went out to muck the stalls, part of his arrangement with the innkeep that allowed him to preserve his coin. Jemriah was no stranger to a day's labor, and it gave him a sense of purpose, the monotonous push and pull of the shovel, the swaying motion becoming a cathartic rhythm rocking himself to a waking sleep. As the sun's light crested the trees, he said a grateful farewell to the owner and continued down the road toward Dam'ess.


    The door to the Oaken Larder was wide open, no doubt to alleviate the dank heat of so many bodies, allowing Horace's words to echo into the street. A road-weary Jemriah steps in clutching a crumpled piece of paper. After consulting it to confirm the location, he tucks it into a pocket of his tunic and, unable to find an empty table, goes to the bar and waits for the shifty wood elf ahead of him to finish ordering while trying to not stare at his ears. "Just one for now, please. If I buy a second later can I still get the third free?" he asks Horace, placing a few coppers onto the counter. "Oh and a bit of dinner too if that's okay. I know you're busy. Need any help?"

    He stands back from the bar near the wall and looks over the crowd as he starts to set his pack on the floor then thinks twice and puts it back on for now with a sigh and a stretch of the shoulders. He brings the foamy ale to his lips giving it a good sniff before sipping and wiping the creamy moustache from his unshaven face with a dirty sleeve. Malted barley, good quality grain. Not so sweet it loses the flavor. Nicely done.
    Last edited by miinstrel; 2020-06-17 at 11:50 AM.

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    Default Re: The Madness of Men in a World of Monsters (D&D 5e IC)

    In the Oaken Larder

    Horace shoots Birel a dirty look, as though she should know that his generous offer was meant for the newcomers, not her. Still, he couldn't exactly refuse her, so he grabbed two wooden tankards (the glasses he saved for those buying liquor) and filled them rapidly from a cask behind the bar. Horace was a middling aged man with a heavy set and thick arms and legs. He wore a stained apron, bore a ring of hair around his bald head, and one eye was a milky yellow. Birel knew from one drunken conversation with the bartender that he could still see from that eye, but only barely. He refused to say what damaged the eye, even when in his cups. Letting out a high whistle, his son Alephandro appeared from the kitchens behind the bar. "Take these to Birel, Alephandro. Quickly boy." Normally Horace only used his young teenage son for kitchen work, but the bar was particularly busy today. Alephandro, a simpleton by some cruel people's standards, nodded frantically and carried the two mugs of cider over to Birel, putting them down on her table before giving her a wide, honest, amazingly white smile and dashing back behind the bar.

    Turning to respond to Vargath, Horace looked sheepishly at the outline of his axe through his robes for a few seconds before he shook himself and turned back to the casks. "Chief will be along soon, I assure you, master orc. He's a bit old is all. Walks with a cane. Might take him some time to hear about this many outsiders, might take him more time to collect himself and head over. We're a simple village, master orc, do forgive us out quaintness." He turns back around with another ale, notably taken from the same cask he filled your previous one from. For the locals and the humans he had been filling from another cask. It seems possible he is giving you weaker drinks on purpose. He also doesn't call you simply master or half-orc, but orc. This doesn't seem malicious, but does seem a bit bigoted.

    Fanlomen's tankard is filled from the same cask as Vargath's, and with him it is all bows and " Here you are, master elf. Thank you, master elf." His deprecating behavior is a little hard to watch. Fanlomen's sharp eyes spot ten people in the tavern, aside from the barkeep and his son. Four local yokels are sitting together at a table and trying to hide their stares at all the newcomers while they play dice on bone carved pieces and exchange copper, while the rest of the bar appears to be of more exotic origins. Some of them are carrying weapons openly, some appear more subtly armed in other ways. (I'll leave everyone's description up to them)

    Jemriah gets a warmer and more casual welcome from Horace, his mug being filled from the same cask as the yokels playing dice. "Oh, it's no trouble master. We may be busy, but we're more than able to handle the increased business. You sit down and enjoy your ale. I brewed this one myself. We'll have a slice of meat pie for you momentarily." He whistles that same high note again, and when the awkward boy leans his head out of the kitchen again he says "Alephandro, another slice of Mother's meat pie for our friend here. Be quick, son." The head disappears and a minute or two later the boy appears again with a large slice of pie on a wooden plate. He sets it in front of Jemriah and shoots him a smile, though it is much smaller and more reserved from the grin he gave Beril it is still a friendly and welcoming expression. Then he retreats back into the kitchen post haste.
    Last edited by purepolarpanzer; 2020-06-17 at 03:18 PM.
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    Selissa's eyes snapped open to the sound of wood creaking. For a moment, she stared uncomprehending at the dimly lit ceiling where she lay. She looked down at her hands - she had been clenching her fists so hard the wood of her magical prosthetic had been groaning under the strain, and her nails on her remaining hand had dug four red sickles into her palm. She pushed herself upright back into a seated position, and for a long moment, looked down at her wooden arm, remembering. Her gaze traced over the knurled wood, the bulky, inelegant fingers, so different from her others.

    Sometimes she could still feel the teeth.

    What had that just been, however? Had she passed out while trancing? No answer presented itself.

    Abruptly the air in her room was stuffy and overly hot. She pushed her way out the hanging curtain and opened her front door, ignoring the soft creak of one of the hinges. The cool night air hit her lungs, and she breathed in deeply. The smells of the village, of the nearby forest, of the herbs she'd burnt outside the door as an offering to the Green. Nothing seemed out of place, but a feeling of unease lingered round her shoulders like a ghost.

    Above, the moon gazed down, quiet and ever-watching, and Selissa clutched her wooden arm and shivered.


    ----

    The forest elf sat in the tavern, feeling awkward and ill at ease. She'd become far more used to strangers when she'd been adventuring, but five years keeping mostly to herself in this quiet village had caused her to regress. She clutched a mug with her false hand, while the other played with a strand of the dark green hair that cascaded in an unruly flood down to her back. Her gaze flickered between each of the people in the tavern, and she internally debated going over to Birel. She at least knew the other elf.

    A half-orc. A human. Another... human perhaps? And...

    A forest-brother. A wood elf.

    Maybe he knew of her people? The tribes in the deep forest still had contact with each other, but it had been years since she'd had much talk with one of her own kind.
    And the far stars cried, and the planets yearned;
    But no man may know, for she'll ne'er return.

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    He'd seen his fair share of bigots at the university. Orcblood stuck out like a sore thumb when it wasn't be used for manual labour, but he'd proved them all wrong - one at a time, in some cases. He downs his tankard again, the watery brew smoothly going down. "Ancestors, I miss home." he thinks. His family, his clan, the smells and sounds. Even the simple things like the soft earthy scent of the buildings. Its dusty quality that 'civilised' buildings lacked. Even the university hadn't gotten it right - it was covered in bookdust, not stonedust. Totally different. Everything here smelled wet, dank, even in summer, and a wolf howl in the night wasn't comforting like it was in the clanhold.

    His thick fingers grasped the empty cup as he ruminated on what to do. Finally, he made a decision, turning his cup upside down and placing it gently on the counter. He holds his hand there for a moment. "You shouldn't serve me differently because I'm not human." He simply says, his tone measured and without deliberate threat. Vargath gestures casually at Fanlomen with his free hand. "Nor them." Words wouldn't reach them, he knew. Words are air. Like with so many others, he'd have to justify his own existence through action. He suddenly feels tired again. Of speaking and trying.He releases his grasp on the cup and strides back to his table, to sit and wait, so he can stop waiting. The chair feet squeal against the floor slightly as he tugs it out from under the table, but he ignores any stares or looks. They didn't matter. None of them do.

    "ᛊᚲᛁ ᛒᛖᚲᛟᛗᛖᛊ ᛖᚨᚱᚦ. ᛖᚨᚱᚦ ᛒᛖᚲᛟᛗᛖᛊ ᚹᚨᛏᛖᚱ. ᚹᚨᛏᛖᚱ ᛒᛖᚲᛟᛗᛖᛊ ᛒᛚᛟᛟᛞ. ᛒᛚᛟᛟᛞ ᛒᛖᚲᛟᛗᛖᛊ ᛊᚲᛁ." A whisper sounds in his head as he takes his seat. Too much to expect they'd be gone for good. Out of force of habit he gently traces the runic shapes into the table with his index finger, leaving no permanent mark but that in his memory. "Cryptic ghru." The worst part was it was impossible to tell when their cryptic babblings were useful or just the moans of the long dead.
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    Set Al-Sayyid
    Changeling Fighter/Hexblade
    AC: 16 HP: 27
    PP: 11 PIv: 12 PIs: 9
    Conditions: --
    Concentration: --

    Set awoke with a yell, jerking slightly as his mind rejoined his body. He stared up at the ceiling for a few moments, consciously working to slow his breathing as the Shadowkeeper's laughter echoed through his mind. His Patron had never been above using His power to show Set all manner of grotesque and horrible things that had never and may never come to pass, but this felt entirely different. It felt real. His eyes watered and his gut twisted with the sickening feeling that his people might be gone.

    He felt her presence next to him before looking over to see his Favorite. She'd rolled up his arm in the night and lay there, unmoving even through all the chaos tearing him apart a foot away. The sun hadn't yet risen and the room was cloaked heavily in shadow, but sleep seemed like just another battlefield rather than an escape. He rubbed tears into tired eyes with his free hand before rolling over, grabbing her and pulling her close as the only means of comfort on hand. His thumb traced down her spine absentmindedly as he considered what to do, his fingers reaching her butt as he found himself lost in thought.

    He would do what was necessary, regardless. He'd already flipped the coin and sold himself for them, it was far too late to reconsider what he might do for his family. If there was even the remotest possibility that this wasn't a trick, a game of the Shadowkeeper's meant to finally make him crack, then what choice did he have? He would find his sisters. But if his Patron had saved them from his people's fate and they were nearby, where to start looking?

    He pushed himself up, still gripping her in one hand as he climbed out of bed, dropping her butt to the floor and leaning his Favorite spear up against the wall. He uncrumpled a piece of paper by the door, re-examining it in the light of a new day. Suddenly helping the nearby village with a problem they were having didn't seem unnecessary.

    ***

    He'd been waiting patiently by himself for a few minutes when the proprietor made his offer. Face hidden behind a shemagh, Set's head tilted to the side before he pulled a coin out of his pouch and flipped it. He realized as it flew through the air that he'd rather not partake of the local, and probably weak, beer right now, but the Ankh landed face-up in his palm. He stood slowly, pulling his shemagh down to reveal a twenty-something, clean-shaven human face, albeit one clearly not from around here.

    Set watches the half-orc curiously while approaching the bar, keeping his face neutral. There's a certain satisfaction that comes from watching an individual take complete ownership of a situation without so much as raising their voice, much less pulling what appeared to be a large axe. Looking around, he wasn't sure who would've stopped him.

    He approached Horace and nodded, asking in polite and seemingly perfect, but accented common, "I will take you up on your offer. Two, please." Accepting both graciously, Set lays down a silver and makes his way over to the half-orc's table. He raises an eyebrow questioningly before dropping down into the seat opposite him and sliding an ale across the table. Taking a sip and grimacing slightly, Set voices his displeasure dispassionately. "If this is the strong stuff, I weep for this land. My brother dabbled in brewing as a young man before responsibility weighed too heavily on him. But I get ahead of myself. Introductions. I am Set," he says, raising his glass and then taking another sip.

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    In the Oaken Larder

    Horace raises his hands defensively when Vargath speaks to him, as though he is afraid the words will be followed by violence, but when the half-orc turns away he sighs audibly and slumps back against the casks for a moment, holding his chest. He looks at Fanlomen apologetically before stuffing the bung in the air hole of the weak cask of ale and turning the tap upside down, shutting down that barrel for the night. When Set approaches, Horace looks at him with naked awe. Vargath may be a half-orc, but this "human" wore such exotic clothes that Horace was mystified of his origins. He taps the good keg readily enough, filling the two mugs requested quickly. "Wel-Come Toooooo Ouuuurrr Villllage, Strrrannnger!" He enunciates each word slowly, stretching them out, even though Set spoke in perfectly understandable common to the barkeep. Again, when Set moves away from the bar Horace seems relieved. The bartender doesn't seem to have any ill intentions, but it is clear he doesn't know how to act politely when dealing with foreigners and non-human races. Birel and Selissa could testify that it took nearly a year before they were treated like natives, and because of her infrequent trips to the Oaken Larder Selissa still got treated oddly now and again. Horace wipes his forehead with a rag before taking a tour of the room to open up all the shutters, trying to air out the stiflingly warm tavern. While his father's back is turned, Alephandro sneaks out of the kitchen and eagerly stares at the newcomers over the bar, his smile wide and his eyes joyous as only an innocent boy seeing new and interesting things can manage.
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    Birel Amastacia
    High Elf Wizard
    AC: 13/16 HP: 20/20
    PP: 13 PIv: 13 PIs: 11
    Conditions: --
    Concentration: --

    When Alephandro drops off her drinks she gives a warm smile and says, "Thank you Alephandro." It's clear this expression and the words are basically a rote action for her, having done that bit maybe hundreds of times by now.

    As Horace proceeds to fumble, Birel mouths, "What are you doing?" at him and shakes her head.

    Noticing Selissa, Birel gives a nod of her head in acknowledgement. She really wished the only other elf in town had warmed to her quicker or was just around more, but like her parents told her, "There's just no helping it that the wood elves will often rather rub their face up against bark than spend time with other folks."

    While she was considering which of the more unusual new people to try and approach, they wound up approach each other. And by the look Selissa was giving the other wood elf, that outsider would soon have a conversational partner too. Which left her with the unfortunate looking boy asking Horace an unfortunate question he thankfully declined.

    "Alephandro." she called out. "Please bring that one's order over to my table." She then switches to talking to the boy, "The only help Horace here needs is in keeping his patrons entertained. As you can see, my table has plenty of room and there's no sign of a bard about." she then makes a hand motion, beckoning him over and Perwinkle flies over and tugs at his sleeve to try and pull him over in Birel's direction.

    Spoiler: Armaments
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    For anyone looking, Birel plainly has a wand of some black stone-like material and a dagger.

    Last edited by Ramsus; 2020-06-17 at 08:05 PM.

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    In the Oaken Larder

    "Ye...ye...ye...yes, Miss Bir...Bir...Bir...Birel!" Alephandro's voice was slightly nasally, and his unmerciful stutter that had made him the butt of many village children's jokes was always more pronounced when he was excited. There was little wonder that the teenager was silent most of the time. He went over to Jemriah and joined Periwinkle in harassing the boy. "Th...th...the Lady wo...wo...would like you t...t...to join her! I'll ca...ca...carry your pl...pl...plate and mug, mu...mu...master!" One of the locals playing dice began to snigger, but Horace, who was at a nearby window, puts a meaty hand on his shoulder and meets his gaze. Despite the weak and vacillating behavior earlier, the barkeeps gaze is cold as sharpened iron when he leans in to whisper with the man. When the two separate, the dice player looks a bit pale, and when it is his turn with the dice he nearly tosses them off the table with shaking hands. Horace returns behind the bar, scruffing his son's mop of blond hair on his way by and shooing the boy back into the kitchen. "You need to practice your sums, son, if you're going to take over the family business."
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    Birel Amastacia
    High Elf Wizard
    AC: 13/16 HP: 20/20
    PP: 13 PIv: 13 PIs: 11
    Conditions: --
    Concentration: --

    While the sniggering man is distracted with Horace (and Horace distracted with him), Birel pulls her wand out and points it at the man's drink. There's a little starry glimmer from the black wand and then she puts it back. Satisfied that the man will soon be "enjoying" a nice refreshing mug of ale with the flavor of skunk spray.

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    Set Al-Sayyid
    Changeling Fighter/Hexblade
    AC: 16 HP: 27
    PP: 11 PIv: 12 PIs: 9
    Conditions: --
    Concentration: --

    After the half-orc has a chance to introduce himself, Set can't help but comment on the ongoing situation unfolding around them. Having watched the xenophobic, but amiable barkeep finally show his mettle, Set had been sure that would be the end of it. The man opposite him who'd felt the need to belittle a simpleton seemed ready to dig his own grave and lie in it. But as he turned back to Vargath, Set caught the movement of a wand out of the corner of his eye.

    He couldn't be sure what she'd done, but there was no denying it had been something directed at the very same man. Despite himself, the corners of Set's mouth curled upwards slightly. Looking to catch her eye, he nods politely at the elven stranger, raising a quick glass in her direction. Turning back to Vargath, Set adds to their conversation. "I do believe," he says, chair screeching slightly as he angles himself a bit towards keeping an eye on the man's table, "that what this place may lack in good beer, it may make up for in entertainment."

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    "Vargath Hubrecht, Bloodwolf Clan." He replies simply, his finger coming to an abrupt halt still fixed on the table. He can't say he's thrilled to be interrupted, but perhaps it would keep the voices quiet for a bit. He regards the newcomer with only mild interest. He seemed like a talker, which wasn't Vargath's favourite trait to find. "Is that why you're in this dismal place Set? Entertainment?" He tried not to sound accusatory or insulting, but it was hard for him not to find the levity offputting for what should be a serious situation. He matches eyes with Set, not touching the offered drink for now.
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    Jemriah Cleater
    Aberrant Mind Sorcerer 3 | AC 15 | HP 20/20 | PP 11 / PIns 11 / PInv 10

    Jemriah pauses at Vargath's albeit reasonable demands, looking like he's ready to step between the two if needed, but relaxes as the burly half-orc steps away. He had nothing against strangers, he'd been one himself for so long, but there was no call for violence here.

    As the attention turned to him, the tension returns to his body as he clearly tries to avoid being touched, though he seems far more concerned about Alephandro than the bird. When Alephandro reaches for the mug in his hand, Jemriah replies, "DON'T! ... I'll take the mug and you carry the plate. We'll do it as a team, okay?" His tone starts very stern then softens to a warmer, slower cadence.

    "Thanks, m'lady," he says to Birel with a nod, slipping the pack heavily onto the floor and sliding one leg through the straps in a practiced motion. "Quite the full house tonight - feels good to sit a moment." Birel may notice his eyes linger curiously on her wand after she tucks it away. Once the food is set down, he digs in hungrily and hastily with a nod of thanks to the simpleton. "Afraid I'm not much of an entertainer," he comments between too-large bites, adding cheerily, "But with this many colorful folk about I'm sure someone can play a tune until the Chief arrives. That why you're here too?" he asks of his tablemate.

    "Oh, I'm Jemriah," he adds as an afterthought, extending a closed-lip smile to avoid showing the food inside but not extending a hand.
    Last edited by miinstrel; 2020-06-18 at 11:08 AM.

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    Birel Amastacia
    High Elf Wizard
    AC: 13/16 HP: 20/20
    PP: 13 PIv: 13 PIs: 11
    Conditions: --
    Concentration: --

    "This one's a bit skittish." Birel thinks to herself, observing Jemriah's behavior.
    Once he sits at the table Perwinkle settles down on it too and the two birds just walk around the table, picking at crumbs and waddling around doing cute bird stuff.

    "Chief? Ah, so there's a reason all these people are here on the same evening. That would explain it. No, I just live in the area and this is the only place in this town to spend time with other people. Well that's interesting. And convenient for me." Birel replies and then pauses realizing she hasn't introduced herself. She blames the lack of an offered hand for breaking traditional rhythm for that kind of thing, but really she was just out of practice (or more like was never in practice) with dealing with other people in any formal way.

    "Oh. Right. I'm Birel Amastacia, the local wizard... or witch if that's the term you're more familiar with. Though I'm mainly an archeologist with an extremely specific focus. Though I imagine I could learn something of interest from any old ruin. Not that there's anything to study here. Which is why your conversation is the entertainment I could use right now. So tell me about yourself young Jemriah, you've seen like you've seen a bit of the world in your few years." She finishes, clearly indicating that she took notice of his facial scars. Though at least she doesn't seem to be staring at them. After a second she offers a finger to Merigold who hops on and then lifts her into the air a bit and then tosses her off to flutter around the room for a moment. Then she takes a long drink of her cider as she await Jemriah telling her a tale.

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    Fanlomen turns to watch the curious half-orc return to his table after the even more curious speech had been given. The strange antics of the tavern's proprieter hadn't particularly bothered him; even good manners were wasted on the wood elf. He goes back to his drink soon enough, though it seemed another had their eye on him. A wood-elf maiden. He tried his best to glance away while still keeping her at the edge of his vision. He hadn't spent much time among his own people since he had left Kharlis's training. The clans were secretive and prone to isolationism. Nonetheless, he felt his gaze continue to fall back over her. He didn't think he recognized her, but his exile was almost a century ago. Was it posible that his story was being told as a warning to children in his clan? In other clans?

    Pushing the thoughts to the back of his mind, he takes a deep breath before walking over to the table she was sitting at. In Elvish, he greets her in the traditional manner. "Greetings, Sister of the Wood. May I join you at this table?"
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    In the Oaken Larder

    The ale is raised to the lips of the shaken sniggerer, who takes a long pull to calm his nerves. This man is a local farmer by the name of Lowbe, a regular around the Larder who often times gets too drunk and ends up sleeping there. When the ale touches his tongue his eyes go wide and he does a spit take, soaking the man across from him, who reaches across and gives Lowbe a smack across the gob for his offense. "NO FIGHTING!" Shouts Horace in a booming tone. Lowbe looks down at his ale in shock, then shoots a venomous glare at Beril. Standing up, he strides for the door with one hand on his reddened face, pointing the other hand accusingly at the wizard. "You'll get yours, witch! You've overstayed your welcome in Dam'ess! Me and my friends will be seeing you soon!" He storms out of the tavern, quickly followed by the three men who were sitting with him. Each one of them shoots Beril a glare on their way out as well, one of them slowly drawing their thumb across their neck. The archaeologist has earned some enemies this night.
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    Birel Amastacia
    High Elf Wizard
    AC: 13/16 HP: 20/20
    PP: 13 PIv: 13 PIs: 11
    Conditions: --
    Concentration: --

    Before the four men can leave, Birel shouts after them. "That's fine with me. Two hours for you to go fetch your weapons or pack your things and leave town. If you're men at all, I'll see all four of you at the village square. If you don't come find me there, I'll find you each by your own later. Given you threatened my life in front of all these witnesses, I don't think the Chief is going to care what happens to you."

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    Jemriah Cleater
    Aberrant Mind Sorcerer 3 | AC 15 | HP 20/20 | PP 11 / PIns 11 / PInv 10

    Jemriah looks down at his food, the raised edge of the first scar visible in the lower corner of his vision. "We call 'em witches where I'm from. But i don't know if they have one these days... been a while since I was back." The spit take. The glare. As Lowbe threatens Birel, Jemriah stands chivalrously, again ready to take action if needed... though clearly not as Birel shouts after them.

    "Good riddance," he says sitting back down to finish his meal as the men leave. "I'm sure it's just all the extra commotion," he rationalizes giving them the benefit of the doubt. "Lots of new folks in town. And the problems in the woods. Folks are just scared of the dark," he says knowingly. "Is this the first time y'all have gotten into it with each other? How long have you lived here?" he asks, diverting the conversation away from himself.

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    Birel Amastacia
    High Elf Wizard
    AC: 13/16 HP: 20/20
    PP: 13 PIv: 13 PIs: 11
    Conditions: --
    Concentration: --

    "Oh. It's been the typical suspicious looks. Snide comments. Me taking their money at dice more than they've taken mine. A few punches thrown when people were too into their cups. That kind of thing. You're probably right about the extra agitation, they haven't gone that far before. I don't expect they'll actually show, but at least after they don't they'll be too ashamed to burn down my home or something stupid like that." Birel replies, not really noting that she is certainly included in people who have been too into their cups.

    "Just been here the last few years. I used to live in a nearby town until it stopped being one. So, back to you." Birel replies, both failing to notice Jemriah's attempt to shift the topic and failing to be pulled away from it for very long.

  23. - Top - End - #23
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    Default Re: The Madness of Men in a World of Monsters (D&D 5e IC)

    Selissa looked up at the other wood elf, then nodded.
    "<Please sit, woods-brother.>"
    She too spoke in Elvish, the flowing cadence of the wood elf dialect of Elvish almost musical compared to the Common being spoken around them.

    She paused to frown slightly at Birel's interaction with Lowbe and his friends, but said nothing about it. Birel would deal with it, or she wouldn't; likely the chief would get involved before anything more than someone's pride was hurt. Either way, it wasn't her business to involve herself. She glanced back to the other wood elf.

    "<Selissa Betula. Of the Blossomdance tribe.>"
    She tapped two fingers against her head then heart in the traditional greeting wood elves used amongst each other, though she used her right hand rather than the traditional left of her prosthetic.
    And the far stars cried, and the planets yearned;
    But no man may know, for she'll ne'er return.

  24. - Top - End - #24
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    Set Al-Sayyid
    Changeling Fighter/Hexblade
    AC: 16 HP: 27
    PP: 11 PIv: 12 PIs: 9
    Conditions: --
    Concentration: --

    Set's already tight smile flickers before disappearing as he regards Vargath, his eyes betraying a healthy curiosity that doesn't seem to be matched by his non-drinking companion. The half-orcs words roll around in Set's head for a moment before responds.

    "My people," he says, his left eye twitching as he reconciles those words with his dream, "have a saying. 'He who thirsts accepts such water as is offered.'" Set's eyes flick down to the untouched flagon of ale in front of Vargath before returning to meet his gaze. Staring back at the half-orc with a neutral expression, Set continues. "I didn't travel the desert road north seeking water anymore than I came to this place for entertainment, but when it was offered, I still drank my fill and then some." Set's eyes narrow a touch, head tilting slightly as he pauses for a moment, considering his words. He decides to be blunt, knowing full-well he has yet to really answer the half-orc's own question.

    "Why are you here, Vargath?"

    Having been distracted with his own thoughts and his response to Vargath, Set missed the initial spit-take, but it was hard to miss what followed. Insults, accusations, and threats in equal measure, though where some threats rang hollow, the witch's seemed to be made of harder stuff. There was history there, obviously.

    Set's focus was split between two very different curiosities. Social interaction of the sort that held a thin veil over the threat of violence had always been fascinating to him. Vargath's soft-spoken words to the barkeep were intriguing in their own right. Had there even been a threat there? Set still wasn't sure, even after approaching the half-orc to get his measure. The witch's threats couldn't have been more plain as she clearly had no use for veiling them. Then again, subtlety almost certainly would've been lost on those four. Set catches himself before drifting any further into his own thoughts, eyes darting around eagerly while his face remains impassive.

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    "I am beset by voices." Vargath rumbles in response. He'd often been warned against telling this to people straight, but it usually came out eventually regardless. With a meaty finger her taps the side of his temple. "Since a young age, the voices of giants long dead have spoken to me. One of the professors at my university advised 'practical experience' in dealing with them and pointed me in this direction. So far it's been a lot of poor drinks and smelly taverns." He sniffs the air to punctuate his point. "And the only practical experience I've received is in waiting." He finally takes a drink. wetting his lips, before continuing.

    "If not entertainment then what did call you here?" He pays no attention to the tables around him, his focus is on Set - and the cryptic whispers. People who were overly friendly to him tended to want something, and he was still trying to work out what it was. He didn't have the focus to think about three things at once.
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    Fanlomen mentally flounders for a moment before returning the gesture with the proper hand. It's been far too long, he muses before gathering the courage to potentially ruin his reputation. "<Fanlomen Fogspyre, from the ... the Owlwatch tribe.>"

    There. It was out, and now it was a question of whether or not she knew the connection. He mentally braced himself for the worst, taking a long drink from his rapidly emptying tankard, awaiting her response.
    Quote Originally Posted by fibericon View Post
    This seems like a really cool concept, so I feel like you're going to get a lot of applications. Best of luck sorting through them all. That said, I'm going to do my part to make your job that much harder by adding one to the stack.

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    Jemriah Cleater
    Aberrant Mind Sorcerer 3 | AC 15 | HP 20/20 | PP 11 / PIns 11 / PInv 10

    "I uhh..." he pauses a moment to take a pull from his mug, debating how much truth to share so soon. "There's something... wrong... with me. It protects me but it... I think it's just protecting itself. I can control it most of the time, but it's... hungry. I don't really know how else to describe it." He finishes the mug, again wiping the final drops from his post-pubescent beard. As his sleeve shifts back, Birel catches a brief glimpse of a rough, textured patch on his forearm. It almost looks like stone. "I figured if Dam'ess was asking for help there'd be folk here who might know about stuff like this. Curses or what have you. Thought maybe I could find some help too."

    The silence at the table hangs for a moment before Jemriah takes a deep, cleansing breath to renew his positivity. "Think I'll be needing that second drink after all! Can I get you anything?" he asks standing and collecting his dirty dishes (and hers if she allows it) to bring up to the counter once she responds.

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    Birel Amastacia
    High Elf Wizard
    AC: 13/16 HP: 20/20
    PP: 13 PIv: 13 PIs: 11
    Conditions: --
    Concentration: --

    "Two people with unusual presences attached to them? Fascinating!" Birel thinks, overhearing the half-orc's conversation as well.

    "No, thank you. I'm fine I think." Birel replies with a smile to the offer of more, thinking she doesn't want to actually be drunk if she does wind up having to fight four irate fools.

    After a moment to consider she says, "Your situation certainly is something be to concerned with. Things like curses and possessions are outside my area of expertise unfortunately. I suppose we'll have to ask Chief if he knows anyone who might be able to help."

  29. - Top - End - #29
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    Default Re: The Madness of Men in a World of Monsters (D&D 5e IC)

    Set Al-Sayyid
    Changeling Fighter/Hexblade
    AC: 16 HP: 27
    PP: 11 PIv: 12 PIs: 9
    Conditions: --
    Concentration: --

    Set's eyes go wider for just a second as he struggles to maintain his composure. Thankfully Vargath's deep baritone rumbles on, explaining the nature of the voices that plague him. Set relaxes a bit, releasing his white-knuckled grip on the tankard of ale in front of him. He can't tell if he's just remembering the echo of his Patron's laughter from this morning or if the Shadowkeeper is actually listening in, but a quick glance at Set's shadow doesn't reveal anything. He was probably just being paranoid.

    Where Set's focus had been split, it now resides solely with Vargath. Despite the fact that the half-orc's explanation for the voices in his mind sounded entirely unrelated to the voice of Set's Patron, he couldn't relax entirely. Perhaps these giants Vargath struggled with were a different entity entirely, but related in some way. He hadn't seemed to indicate he was under their control, however. But then, he wouldn't admit that openly even if it were the case, would he? They would speak in Giant, no doubt, but perhaps also in an older tongue? A test, maybe.

    "My people have another saying, if you'll forgive the string of proverbs. This one is much older, spoken in a language my people haven't used in some time," he lies. "<What master do you serve?>" set asks in Deep Speech, watching carefully for a reaction that might indicate Vargath understands. Regardless, he forges on, pretending as if the question is perfectly natural and related to what he says next. "It means, 'Truth reveals itself to those who walk the hard path.' I do not know what these voices want from you Vargath, but I know of no reason not to believe your professor. Perhaps this path will lead to understanding."

    Taking a long pull from his beer, Set collects himself for a moment before continuing. Ignoring the question entirely might lead to more. "I am on a great hunt," Set reveals, using a story he's told more than once. The best lies are well-practiced and have at least some truth to them. "My people revere those who walk the sands and beyond seeking out the abominations this world puts forth to test us. Few wander as far as I have, but then, very few have a...thirst for such things," Set says, draining the last of his beer.

  30. - Top - End - #30
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    The half-orc listens to the man speak, including his drop into a babble of language he couldn't discern. If it had come up during his studies, he certainly didn't remember it, but then he had been rather focused on his own area. Supplementary lessons had been discarded as much as possible. He's a little bit surprised at how easily Set had accepted his hearing the whispers, but perhaps it wasn't unusual where he came from - though he doubts that many have his particular variety. It would've come up sooner. "I hope you're right. I would hate to spend so much time away from home for nothing."

    "Hunting foes is a worthy task." He offers, tilting his cup in approval before taking another drink. "Among the Bloodwolves, there is a rite - the Va Kronadul. To become an adult of the clan you must perform a task to prove your worth. Most choose a hunt." Another drink, as he savours the memory of his own Va Kronadul. Days hidden in the undergrowth sucking leaves for liquid as he lay in wait for his prey. The heat. The stench of the mud he covered himself in. The thick solid grip of his spear. The anticipation. A simpler time. "There are few things more worthy than offering your life for your people," He casts a dirty glance around the rest of the tavern, "though I'm not sure many here hold to that creed."

    He'd seen plenty of it at university, the selfishness that permeated so many. Backstabbing and politics - working against instead of for each other. Though...there were a few exceptions. He looks deeply into his quickly draining cup. He didn't normally warm to people this quickly, but it might just be the alcohol. "If we're stuck waiting for this Chief, may as well trade some tales. Got any stories from your travels you can share?"
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