Reset Era Players Present: Reign of Fear -- A D&D 5e Play-By-Post Campaign

Oct 31, 2017
513
Galen doesn't do too much in the way of goodbyes before the group parts, but he does speak with both Ludwig and Fhiess.

To Ludwig, he says, "Looks like we part here for now. We'll be counting on you to take care of everyone while we're gone, so be alert. Between you and Keranos, certainly there's no one better for this task." He gives the four-legged long-necked antennae-bearing creature a small smile before moving on to Fhiess. "Fhiess," he says, placing a hand on the artist's shoulder, "you've got this. Everything will be okay." He pauses before finishing. "See you on the other side."

----

There is one thing that can be said with certainty: this tunnel is some sort of tunnel.


((Galen's theoretically good at this.
Wisdom: Doom (6)))
 
OP
OP
Mike
Oct 25, 2017
1,731
Greater Seattle Area
((Thosar has a high enough check to not fall prey to the disorienting effects of being in confined dark places. Which wasn't exactly a hard check to beat, but dem's some bad rolls.

Sounds like Fheiss is going to attempt to give a pep talk to boost morale?))
 
Oct 31, 2017
513
((They were pretty bad, but that's just the way Chatbot rolls. At least we have Thosar to keep us alive.
Ironically, Galen's been planning on picking up chalk since the party left Forgerun...

Nezumi , was Sagishi still initiating tunnelconvo.exe?))
 
Oct 26, 2017
847
In between spurts of healing injuries caused by today's avalanche, as Keranos is resting, he hears some commotion from outside and emerges from the triage wagon.

It seems that only two of the scouting party have returned.

He approaches Ludwig and Fhiess. "What happened?" he asks, fearing the answer after a day already filled with tragedy.

The answer fills him with a mixture of relief and annoyance. "So while the rest of us tend to a caravan full of endangered refugees in the blistering cold, the three of them, including the only one among us who can easily start fires, have decided to go spelunking. Perfect."

He shakes his head. "Ah well. Better rest up. Seems as though we'll have a long day ahead of us."

-----

The next day, Keranos still tends to the wounded among the caravan, but this time also returns to the task of supplying them with water.

((I'll spend up to two spell slots each hour healing as necessary, and the rest will be used to create water. So that's approximately 1000 gallons of water for the day.

I also learned today that 5th Edition doesn't have an Endure Elements spell. Wacky))
 
Oct 31, 2017
513
((I'm pretty sure the explanation is "we wanted to keep Keranos from negating the cold as an environmental factor, so we took away the spell."
Maybe not Keranos specifically, but their reasoning applies here.))
 
Nov 2, 2017
118
"Well, a chunk of the party wanted to go check out that mystery cave and see if it's a shortcut or has magic shit in it or something. Honestly, I kind of lost track. Not sure what the point is if we're just taking everyone around this path anyway."

Ludwig shakes his head, the reality of the situation sinking in once Keranos expresses frustration. "Ooooooh, yeah, this is going to be a bitch, isn't it? I can help you with healing duty and take some load off there, but we need to figure out how to keep morale up and how to keep people warm. Hmm, what's the free market solution?..."

Ludwig clicks a hoof on the ground and says "I've got it! We can shave off some of my fur, make it into a coat, and have a sweepstakes to give it to someone! Everyone can enter by producing some food or firewood they gathered, we'll have a big drawing, and" looking at Fheiss, he says "we can put on a stage production! It'll be great! Everyone will get pumped, and that one person will be warm! And then others can barter with the winner for use of the coat and then they'll be dealing with it themselves. We just need to get started and . . . fuck, none of us actually know how to make a coat, do we?"

The J'raffa's head droops a bit, and he says, "Well shit. I guess I can work logs into firewood, and see if I can get a spark off a rock when we set up camp or something."
 
Oct 25, 2017
574
Fhiess nods when Keranos heads out to continue his tasks then turns back to Ludwig who presents some ideas. He responds, "I fear that could upset morale on the basis that demand greatly exceeds the demand on a.. J'raffa fur coat. It could possibly spark violence as everyone fights over the valued item with no way for us to continue production to meet the artificial demand that we had created. Morale would go down and everyone would become less trustworthy of each other. I just hope we can find another place we can use as shelter from the cold."

Once it is time to speak to the masses about the new situation he beckons his fox to come with him. He moves for a moment then looks behind him to find that she had not made any attempt to follow him. The bard has to move back into the wagon to pick up the fox to bring her with him.

He later arrives to present himself to the people on the journey. He sets the fox down so that he may begin to assist his speaking with the movement of his arms and hands. "We seem to be coming upon patches of snow ahead," begins Skullcrusher, "but let this not be something to be feared. This little arctic fox here, bred to be domesticated in the Wild Wastes is a souvenir from my time wading through endless snow, ice, and blistering winds. Even the hells would freeze under the temperature in the tundra. If we were able to survive that, then the remaining trip should be simple. Everyone should huddle together for warmth and cut out the bottoms of any empty sacks we have for extra layering."


After he makes his speech, he takes the fox and returns to travelling while looking out for any potential shelter that they can use for the night along the way.

Persuasion: rolled 13. (4, 9)
Enhance Ability Persuasion: rolled 14. (5, 9)
Perception (if allowed): rolled 13. (7, 6)
 
Nov 2, 2017
118
Whenever night begins to fall, Ludwig circles toward the center of the camp and begins setting up firewood. With his carpentry background, strength, and big fucking sword, the actual gathering of appropriate kindling is most likely not the hardest part.

Rather, Ludwig is left wandering how to spark the pile of wood before him. He's heard about striking certain kinds of stones to make a spark, so he wanders off and brings a rock back to the woodpile. Unsure of how else to go about it, Ludwig unsheathes the Invisible Hand, grips it in his mouth, and begins swinging at the rock. This is not successful on its first go, and the first few swings are spent trying to figure out how to not send the rock flying.

Ludwig frustratedly keeps swinging at the rock, repeatedly shouting what roughly sounds like "Kappf o ppphyr dawwi!" With the sword grip muffling his speech. After a bit of drawn out spectacle, the sword hopefully makes some sparks off the rock that fall properly to get a fire going for the night.

((Rolled 14 + 1 for 15 total on survival))
 
OP
OP
Mike
Oct 25, 2017
1,731
Greater Seattle Area
((Quickly now, while I've had somewhere near enough rest to form a coherent thought before the baby wakes up again...))

The night in the mountain pass is a bitter one, but the Endowed are able to get fires burning (if not exactly roaring) and distribute information on basic survival tips, such as huddling together to conserve body heat with one another. The sky lightens the next morning to find noticeably fewer men than there were the night previous. F

Fears of them falling prey to some nocturnal predation by creatures unknown are soon allayed, however, as it's discovered that they've plundered a good portion of the remaining supplies. Keranos can make adequate quantities of water, but the food will be considerably harder to replace, short of chasing down the myconids and making a soup of them.

The caravan has crested the peak, and the rest of the trip is literally all downhill from here as you are treated to a view of the waiting valley. There are still three day's travel remaining, but at the rate food was being consumed on the ascent, there is only enough for one day. At half rations--equal to what was being consumed on the trip overland from Remdormo prior to reaching the mountains--it could be stretched for two days, but that would still leave a day's march on empty bellies.

The valley of Westreach is verdant, thick with trees and probably full of game. You are perhaps a day and a half away from the treeline, then another day and a half to reach Stonegate, Perhaps the food issue will address itself?

The monotony of the tunnel is truly difficult to overstate, and with nothing to measure distance against, there's no telling how far you've gone or how far remains. Is it quicker to head back to the doorway the myconids had uncovered? Is it faster to proceed to the end?

Just before the decision is made to camp for the night, something finally breaks the tedium:


Threads of what appears to be similar to spider's silk up to a foot in length, beaded with drops of sticky mucus dangle from the ceiling. The bed of this stuff writhes with the peristaltic motion of worm-like creatures, cold blue light twinkling on the ceiling like inconstant stars.

There is a dim glow far down the tunnel from this point, so faint that when you look directly upon it, you cannot be certain it is there at all. Perhaps you are near some sort of colony of these creatures? You would doubtlessly reach it in another day's travel.

Nature Check DC 10: These glowing worms are glow worms.
Nature Check DC 16: Glow worms glow to attract insects to these sticky threads, which they then retract and eat. That they're here at all speaks to insects having a way into this part of the tunnel that is probably nearby.

((Day 7
Supplies: 2
Morale: 3
Population: 1600))
 
Oct 26, 2017
847
In the early morning, as the caravan buzzes with talk of the thieving deserters, Keranos finds Fhiess, Ludwig, and, if she is accessible, Hulna.

"The rest of the journey is downhill from here, yes?" he says, already knowing the answer. "So wagons will be less necessary. And our load of supplies has been lightened considerably." He takes a beat to collect his thoughts, and then nods decisively. "I think it's time we tighten ourselves up and slaughter most of the horses. We can pack our supplies, and our people, more tightly among fewer wagons, abandon superfluous vehicles, and keep only a few horses and wagons for the very eldest and infirm among us. The rest can go toward keeping our people fed.

"I can purify any meat that might be tainted. If we halve our rations, then in combination with the horse meat, we should be alright once we reach the treeline and can begin hunting. I think we also need to keep an open mind about setting up camp for a day or two in the valley of Westreach, to ensure that everyone is well fed and well rested for the back end of the journey toward town."

He looks at the the three of them. "What are your thoughts?"

((whether or not they agree, Keranos is still going to spend all day replenishing water reserves by casting Create Water repeatedly))
 
Oct 25, 2017
622
In the dim tunnel, Thosar's mind threatens to meander with the memory of the past days. Between the battles, terrors, and miracles the party has seen there is much to process. "When does it end? This journey is a wild race that stretches for miles. As dull as this is, I like the quiet for once." He speaks to no one in particular.


After some pondering the Flora, Thosar makes a small hop before expaiming. "They eat insects... Those have to come from somewhere, help me find where they might come in from!"

Nature: 25
Investigation: 10
Assist reroll? 28
 
Oct 25, 2017
574
Upon the dawning of lush greens full of life in the horizon, Skullcrusher points ahead for the caravan to see with a cheerful demeanor, "Everyone! We were not long to be up here! In a day nature will have us bounties for feasting." He acknowledges Keranos' idea in his speech, "If the horses must be slaughtered then so be it, everyone must save their food the best they can and share with those able to hunt and be strong enough to bring us back even more."

Persuasion: rolled 23. (14, 9)
 
Nov 2, 2017
118
With a shortage of food, Ludwig is finding himself increasingly out of his element. He's always ready to smite foes of liberty, but actually producing food isn't something he knows how to do. Likewise, with Fheiss holding down moralizing with the role of Skullcrusher and Keranos taking care of medical needs and water, there is not much left in the paladin's wheelhouse.

Unsure of how to proceed, he just kind of signs off on Keranos's proposal. "Uhh, yeah, sure, sounds good to me. Those horses weren't working hard enough anyway, right?"

He falls in behind Fheiss, and after his speech, proclaims "That's right, everyone! Victory is almost in our grasp! All that stands in our way is a few more days of walking, and meager food acquisition! Crush the horses! Consume and march! And as he said, it is time to hunt! I shall venture forth with those ready to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and see that we go threat free! But do to complications arising from me being a nearly two story tall hooved quadroped, I may not sneak up on animals so good. Now is the time to leverage your natural talents and abilities! Now, is the time to return to the roots of freedom! LET US HUNT AND GATHER!"

With that, Ludwig will lead those willing to try in attempting to hunt for food. While he has javelins to toss at prey from a distance, he's probably more useful in the form of security against things that would threaten the would-be hunter-gatherers.

((Not sure what to roll here, so here's a diplomacy and survival. I can roll something else if needed: (17 + 5 for 22 on diplomacy, 9 + 1 for 10 on survival.))
 
((Oh, right.))

As Thosar mentions the presence of the glowworms and how they might indicate that they might be close to the entrance, Sagishi turns into a fox and sniffs the surroundings in the hopes of gathering more information.

((Smell Perception roll was a 15.))
 
Last edited:
OP
OP
Mike
Oct 25, 2017
1,731
Greater Seattle Area
Sagishi doesn’t need to work very long or hard to see if he can determine a source for where the glow worms might be getting their food from; further down the tunnel their numbers increase to incredible numbers, the roof spangled with a twinkling constellation of innumerable stars. There are so many of them that they almost obscure the fact that the tunnel has been breeched here; a draft of bracing night air is evident, blowing down a short slope of rubble and debris opening out onto the surface world once more.

Upon exiting the tunnel, the team would find themselves on a narrow cliff perched directly above the walls of Stonegate, soldiers visible patrolling the parapets in the lights of burning braziers. There is a constant, dull roar of a waterfall coursing down the rockface directly through the heart of the city and the air smells of cherry blossoms.

The descent from here would be treacherous bordering on impossible without the proper gear or magical aid.

((Thosar can still use an action besides recalling nature info, and Galenf still has an action to take, but Sagishi being successful in finding a way out might impact that))

It is an easy sell to butcher all but the bare minimum of horses needed to carry what supplies remain in order to feed scores of hungry men, smashing the carts into splinters to lend fire to great fires to cook the meat. What hopes that the food could last the remainder of the journey are quickly dashed as the horses are consumed utterly, but ultimately it seems unlikely that anyone will starve to death in the final days of the approach.

The worst, it seems, is behind them.

((OK, there’s not really much challenge to the rest of the trip. They’ll be at Stonegate in two days, so in the meantime we’ll let TeamTunnel pop off in the interim.))
 
Only when they finally step out of the dark tunnel into fresh air and daylight Sagishi becomes aware of just how confining the endless turns of the tunnel had been. If one were to ask him he wouldn't even be able to tell whether there has been inside for mere hours or weeks.

Still, it is nice to have their destination in view.

Sagishi stretches and inspects the climb down. In his criminal career he had to climb in to more windows than he can count and while the cliffy mountainside has little in common with a house's brick wall, he is confident that the difference won't be too bad.

"Well, no use in waiting around here," he says before without much further also he grabs some of his equipment and lowers himself over the cliff...

As it turns out there's a difference to climbing a mountain afterall.

((Rolled a 9 for climbing))
 
OP
OP
Mike
Oct 25, 2017
1,731
Greater Seattle Area
Though the pitons seem secure and his ropes sturdy, Sagishi has descended only a few meters before the first of his anchors shifts with an audible creak, sending a cascade of rock dust and flakes to rain down upon the overconfident thief.

His panicked eyes lock with Galen and Thosar's as his ropes surrender completely and send him falling.

((If Thosar or Galen have something to try to prevent/mitigate the fall, you get one shot))
 
Oct 31, 2017
513
((Well, there are some variables here.

First, it sounded like the bags I listed when the party was forced to flee Forgerun were lost during the Boatsled Escapade? If they weren't, we could figure out what was where (though quite likely all with the caravan), and it might help. But I'm pretty sure we don't actually need what I'm thinking of.

Thosar can just throw a horse at him.

Okay, the robe has rope and, unless I missed the second ladder being used, a ladder. Either would reach, but a rope might be the best choice.))
 
Oct 25, 2017
622
Having expected something like this, Thosar makes to jump after Sagishi and pulls Galen along. "Come on, let's save our thief...Attenu Barys!" Almost as soon as the pair begins to fall, their acceleration slows to a safe and modest drop. Sagishi is no longer falling away from them, his fall more or less reduced to a curious downward drift.

"Why didn't we just do this first?"

((Hopping off the ledge with Galen, then casting feather fall on everyone.))
 
Last edited:
OP
OP
Mike
Oct 25, 2017
1,731
Greater Seattle Area
The combination of Sagishi's impulsiveness and Thosar's level-headedness results in the gentle descent onto to battlements of Stonegate. Here in the spray zone of the thundering waterfall, sand is scattered on the stone walkway to provide traction against the perpetual skein of slick algae growing on water-smoothed stone. It is wet and cold and loud, but their vantage provides an excellent view of the citystate below.


The water cascades down through the center of the city and is lined by blossoming cherry trees. The construction is stout and utilitarian for the most part, though most of them have flowering rooftop gardens that prevent them from being too dour. The streets teem with activity, more activity than it seems that a place of this size should have, but there has been no shortage of oddities in this adventure so far.

The spot that they have landed would seem to be part of the command structure of this place, if the fluttering banners of a green dragon on a black field are any indication. Oh, and there are the guardsmen approaching from either side with their spears at the ready, their shouts drowned by the onrushing torrent of water behind them.
 
Apparently even a near death experience isn't sufficent to dampen Sagishi's mood, because only moments after Thosar has saved the day, the thief is all smiles again, whooping with excitment as their little group gently decends down into the city.

His joy is shortlived however when they find themselves surrounded by guards with spears almost as soon as they have landed.

Luckily this isn't the first time the kitsune has found himself in a situation like this.

Before the guards are even close to reaching them, Sagishi has already risen his arms in a non- threating manner.

"Whoa, whoa. Not so hasty my friends. I know we live in dangerous times and it is good to see such a fine display of alertness. I'm sure Govenor Crullus would be very pleased. I can assure you however that non of these security measures are neccessary right now. As a matter of fact, we are workking for non other than Crullus himself. You see, on his travels he had noticed an alarming change in weather events alll over the continent and he wanted to make sure that no such desasters could befall the city of Westreach. So my friends and I just made a thourough analysis of the local air currents and pressure and now that we are finished it is of outmost importance that we report our findings to Crullus immideatly. So if you were so kind as to guide us to the Govenor ao that we can report our findings, that would be swell."

He puts on his most winning smile as he looks at the guards expectantly.

((Deception Check was 24))
 
OP
OP
Mike

Mike

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,731
Greater Seattle Area
The guards are clearly unsure of how to handle the situation, their eyes full of question and doubt as they look to one another for some semblance of guidance. It doesn’t take an expert at reading people to hazard a guess that most of these men are probably more accustomed to holding a broom than a spear and have likely only recently been pressed into service in the defense of Stonegate against threats from the east. Clearly men descending form the sheer mountain face to the back of the fortress is a source of great concern to security, but on the other hand it doesn’t appear that these invaders pose too much of a threat. Most of them lower their spear points over the course of Sagishi’s explanation of their appearance.

At the conclusion of Sagishi’s pitch, one of the men shoves his way forward to the fore of the group. He’s a middle-aged man, and while he was probably thickly muscled at some point in the past, he has gone a bit to seed in the intervening years. Still, his surcoat is worn, the haft of his spear is polished smooth by years of use, and his helmet is covered with the minor dings and scratches that speak of active duty.

His eyes are narrow and his bushy mustache quivers periodically like a mouse scenting the air for a cat. “Weather report,” he says slowly, as though weighing the veracity of each syllable on his tongue before allowing it to pass his lips. “Anyone here know anything about any weather report?”

A hand raises tentatively somewhere near the back of the ranks. “Isn’t that what the professor was working on?” he ventures when called upon. “The one who’s always staring into the sun? He has all kind of instruments, I’ve seen him sending people all over hither and tither to bring him results.”

The captain grunts as he turns back to the three Endowed. “Well,” he says, pointing his spear skyward once more, prompting whatever guards still pointing them in their general direction to do so as well, “let’s get you inside to deliver your critical weather report, shall we?” He jabs his finger toward three men—who, like him, carry themselves as experienced men—to come with him as the remainder of the group dissolves and resumes their patrol routes. The captain leads the way while his three underlings bring up the rear as the whole lot of them descend into the interior of the fortress.

The thunder of the waterfall dies away to a muted roar, but never fully dissipates. The interior is cold and damp, but brightly lit in no small part to the preponderance of braziers and torches set about to drive away the dark and chill as much as possible. It is a predominantly vertical structure, with a great number of spiraling stairways and leading to a multitude of small floors.

When they reach the bottom, they find themselves in some sort of antechamber just outside what is presumably the audience chamber. The door to the audience chamber stands open, allowing an unimpeded view of its interior that seems positively cavernous after the journeying through the cramped confines of the upper floors. Crullus stands on the dias that holds a carved throne, arguing with a half-elven man.

“You have enough to feed twice your number over!” the man shouts. “All we ask is that you spare—”

“If the Free People wish to partake of Telmur’s resources, then they will need to bend the knee to Telmur!” Crullus counters. “My hands are tied on this, you know that! I am honor-bound to administer the charter as it is written, I cannot simply unilaterally abrogate its terms and act as I wish!”

The half-elven man clutches the hair on the sides of his head. “My Gods, Rexam, the charter is null! Telmur is a memory, the Free Peoples and the Province of Durmas need to unite if we are to survive this!”

Crullus crosses his arms. “The city of Telmur is gone, but the kingdom still perseveres in exile. And even if Bellows were to fall to this threat, then Stonegate would become the new seat of authority, and I its caretaker. It’s called continuity of leadership. Perhaps the Free Peoples should try it some time.”

The half-elven man turns his lip in disgust and makes a dismissive gesture with his hand. “I can’t speak to you when you get like this.”

“The feeling is mutual,” Crullus agrees, taking his seat upon the graven throne. “It’s not that I do not feel for you, Ryder, truly. But if you want my assistance, you will need to seek it through the proper channels.”

“The Free Peoples will never submit to a ruler. You know that.”

Crullus closes his eyes and sighs. “Then I will never be able to help the Free Peoples,” he says quietly. “Is there anything else?”

“No. I think you’ve done quiet enough already.” Ryder turns heel and marches purposefully out the audience chamber, not even sparing a glance at the Endowed and their armed escort before throwing wide the doors leading out to the courtyard. Daylight flares for a moment before it is snuffed once more. Crullus’s sigh is heartfelt and drawn out as he stares at the ceiling.

“Sir,” the captain says, taking that as his cue to present the party. “These three claim to have brought you some urgent information regarding… the weather.”

“The weather?” Crullus says, lowering his gaze. “What in blazes—” he stops abruptly as recognition dawns across his face. “Weren’t there more of you?”
 
Oct 25, 2017
622
Thosar takes the opportunity to come forward, taking a short bow before responding. "We are not the fully party, yes, the rest of us are en route here and should arrive within a few days. At any rate, we have news of the *weather*" Emphasizing the word and making an arcing motion with his hand to make it clear he means the lights above Telmur. "...that should probably be spoken of in a more private setting."
 
OP
OP
Mike

Mike

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,731
Greater Seattle Area
"Yes," Crullus says, drawing the single syllable out for several beats. "The weather. Gravis, will you be so kind as to grant us the room?"

"At once my Lord," the guard captain replies in clipped tones. With the economy of action that can only arise from decades of military service, the captain and his three underlings depart the room, shutting the door behind him. The muffled commands of two of the men to stand guard over the chamber can be heard before the marching of boots fades into nothingness.

"Now then," Crullus says, apparently satisfied with the state of security, "I presume that affairs since we last met have been every bit as eventful for you as they have been for me. Possibly more so, given you are missing half your number. What has happened?"
 
Oct 25, 2017
574
There is an odd sense of peace surrounding Fhiess as he stands in a meadow to quickly paint the feel of the misty air blanketed by the waking sun from high. He doesn't know how long he has to relax while the soldiers hunt for today's food, but any pressure he might put on himself feels lighter and lighter as he accumulates details into his illustration with quick improvised brush strokes.

The arctic fox by now has completely shed its white coat in favor of more earthly dark browns for the warm weather. She looks completely different than when Fhiess had first obtained her.

Whenever one of the others are nearby, whether through his own wandering back or another finding their way to him, he speaks up, "It had been too long since I was able to enjoy nature like this. It is.. oddly concerning that there is no sign of smuggling activity here. Perhaps this area has been well observed and guarded."
 
Last edited:
Oct 25, 2017
622
Glancing at his two companions, Thosar replies. "Ah. Yes, Governor, you could say that things have been eventful. I'll spare the details and get to the point. After our journey through Hammerfall and moving through the White Wastes, we encountered the end of one of the aurorae in the sky. It ended at a... Structure, a tower of ice surrounded by a sort of ash. It was there we encountered the thing that captured Lord Dio, we were able to defeat it and in so doing destroyed the tower. We've made our way back here as our next stop, the others are assisting refugees from Remdormo in traveling over the pass to your gates."
 
OP
OP
Mike

Mike

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,731
Greater Seattle Area
"Refugees?" Crullus repeats, sitting at attention with a frown on his face. "More? Already? I cannot pretend I am gladdened by this news, as Mrs. Stonecipher had assured me they could hold for weeks to come. Confound it, it's like a pincer attack, I swear."

Standing to his feet, he adds, "We clearly have a great deal to discuss, but first I must tend to my duties as governor. It is just as well, I suppose, as I would much rather converse when your party is whole than repeat the same tales twice over. You are free to join me, of course, or you may have the run of Stonegate. If you wish, I will see to your accommodations in the fortress as well. An inn would frankly be more comfortable, but by the end of this day we're going to be lucky to have a spare bed in the city."

After Crullus and the Endowed have made their goodbyes, he sweeps from the audience chamber and begins issuing orders in a clear, commanding voice to put together a sortie to meet the refugees on the way to town.

#

Tired, sore, and cold but with bellies filled with horsemeat, the refugee train from Remdormo rounds the last bend in the road that takes them clear of the tree line, laying out the verdant valley of Westreach before them. Stonegate, the long-sought sanctuary of this ragged lot, stands pressed against the wall of the valley, its dark stone glistening from the ever-present spray of the waterfall coursing down between its towers. The river bisects the walled city that lies at the squat fortress’s foot before tumbling down to the floor of the vale and winding its way into the trees.

Lights are visible in the forest, some the inconsistent twinkling of fire, others the steady glow of alchemical or magical devices. In either event, the trees seem teeming with activity, which seems at odd with the previous understanding that the Free Peoples were relatively spread out over the entirety of the valley as opposed to concentrated right outside the door of the seat of Telmurian power in such a fashion.

Before too much mind can be paid to the situation, the thunder of hoof beats grows to be heard over the constant dull roar of the waterfall as dozens of men on horseback ride forth with laden wagons covered with canvas. It is not long before the figure of Crullus becomes apparent, his plate armor gleaming in the sunlight and his long hair flowing behind him as a nimbus of spun gold. As he draws near, he slows his horse to a canter, then a trot, before finally coming to a stop entirely.

“Citizens of Remdormo,” he says, his voice crystalline with hope and authority, “as the Governor of the Province of Durmas, I bid thee all welcome. As citizens of Telmur, you are all entitled to the aegis of protection I can provide. We are not living in times of plenty, but we have food and water and beds enough for all of you, I should think.”

He waves the wagons forward, and his men throw back the canvases to reveal heaps of warm clothing, blankets, and sacks of food that they immediately set to distributing. The survivors of Remdormo fall upon the bounty with great ardor, and it is not long before they are chanting Crullus’s name in thanks and praise. The governor smiles demurely and gives a small wave before pointedly turning his horse around to gaze back down on the valley. A cloud drifts over the sky and the gleam of his armor momentarily dies as he surveys the scene from a distance and sighs heavily to himself.

Finding the Endowed--not a difficult task, you just look for the ridiculously tall llama--he makes his way toward them. “It does me well to see that you are all safe,” he says. “As you have no doubt already surmised, your friends are already back at the fortress. I feel that we have a great deal of debriefing for one another that I would address sooner rather than later. I promise you my men can see these poor souls the rest of the way from here if you would see your way to returning with me at once.”

((Everyone gets a chance to respond if they want, otherwise we’ll jump ahead to Crullus’s Great Big Expository Dinner Party))
 
Oct 26, 2017
847
"Well met, Governor," says Keranos. He exhales deeply, an invisible weight lifted from his spirit. "We shall be glad to join you, though I must insist that the Lady Stonecipher come as well. I believe her insight, and instincts, to be exceedingly valuable, especially in times of crisis such as these."

((If either Crullus or Stonecipher resists this request, Keranos will push back and fight for it, but otherwise I'm good to skip ahead to the dinner))
 
Oct 25, 2017
574
Almost as if confirming his observation about the forest's blanket of protection that the party and the refugees are surrounded by a cavalry hailing. Fhiess turns, still resting a canvas coated with wet paint on his arm. Skullcrusher, speaking as Fhiess once more, responds, "Ah! It pleases me to hear they made it through the strange tunnel with no incident. I shall join you and the others immediately."
 
OP
OP
Mike

Mike

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,731
Greater Seattle Area
Crullus nods in agreement with Keranos's suggestion. "Of course," he says, "Mrs. Stonecipher is more than welcome to join us. I've not had the pleasure of knowing her long, but I know her to be a fiercely capable civil servant and administrator. We would be remiss not to take advantage of her expertise in managing our current situation."
 
Oct 25, 2017
574
Fhiess approaches one any nearby soldier that works under Mrs. Stonecipher, and explains that she is invited to have an audience with the governor should she wish to wish to attend. He nods then heads off to join the others.
 
Nov 2, 2017
118
Ludwig is a bit disappointed to see the group of people immediately pulled into state care, but given the outcomes getting here, spontaneously developing into a free group of people that get a minimal hand from Crulus's supplies wasn't really in the cards.

"Huh, guess that cave worked out after all then. Oh well, sorry horses." He bristles at Keranos's insistence of keeping Hulna involved past the point of escort, and prepares to fight against more dictator-like proposals made in the guise of rationing. But throwing a fit here won't do anything. "Right then, debriefing. It'll be good to see the others again too."
 
OP
OP
Mike

Mike

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,731
Greater Seattle Area
was itThe rest of the day is spent largely settling into the accommodations arranged by Crullus and cleaning up after more than a week of grueling footbound traffic through the mountain pass. If there is one thing the fort seems to have an overabundance of, it's flowing water, so the facilities are relatively advanced, at least in that regard. Hot water, however, must be acquired in the usual fashion of heating it over a fire, but even that delay seems luxurious given what the Endowed have been contending with these past days.

When evening approaches, pages arrive to escort each member to the dining hall, where a place has been set beneath a window for Ludwig. As far as state dinners go, it is a modest affair with generous portions of things that can be stored in quantity for considerable periods of time, such as rice and beans, and scanter on things such as meat. Men in gleaming silver armor, their faces concealed by matching helmets, stand at rapt attention around the room as Crullus hears the Endowed relate their tail, interrupting only to ask questions on points of clarification. When their tale is complete, he leans back in his chair and drums his fingers on the table in thought.

"What you describe echoes some of my own experience," he says. "A spire has appeared near the very northernmost part of the valley, but it is not one of ice. Rather it is one of stone and wood and leaves." He gestures at his armored men as he continues. "I took my Shining Guard with me to march on the structure, but we found ourselves repelled. There is some manner of barrier that we were unable to breach. None of this, what was it? Quintessential ash? No, nothing like that, though.

"Now, I'm sure you know that forest that fills Westreach is not some mundane woods from east of the mountains. It is alive with forces and beings that make the forests you are familiar with seem as desolate as graveyards. This spire, it has provoked... a response from the forest. It is like a sliver stuck in the tip of a finger, inflaming the flesh around it. This has caused more than a bit of panic, and the Free Peoples are now banging on my gates, begging for shelter. But I cannot disburse the wealth and resources of Telmur to noncitizens, no matter how I wish otherwise." Holding his hands up in front of him, he mimes them being bound at the wrist. "I am bound by the tenants of our charter of rule as surely as they were fetters." He slowly moves his wrists apart with a wry smile. "But the number of links in the chains of those fetters is a matter of interpretation."

At the snap of Crullus's fingers, one of the armored men steps forward and deposits a rolled scroll in the governor's hand. With a flourish, he unrolls it across the table before everyone, revealing a map of the valley. "Now," he says, staring intently at the map as he indicates positions with his finger, "the Free Peoples had settlements deep in the forest, but they've largely since been abandoned. That's good, arable land. If we were to cultivate it, we could potentially provide for everyone in this valley and then some."

With the tip of his finger, he cuts an arch across the northern tip of the valley. "From what we can determine, the spire and the forest have reached some manner of equilibrium point. Its influence has stopped spreading, dead in its tracks, and what vestiges of its malign power that manage to survive the wrath of the forest are so weakened by the ordeal that they are of little threat. If the Free Peoples can be convinced to return to their settlements and till the soil, then the province of Durmas will gladly pay for our share of their bounty by providing protection along the northern edge to guard against incursion from the spire. In this act, it becomes a matter of transacting trade rather than an appropriation of resources, thus skirting the prohibitions that keep me from acting directly to aid them."

With a grin, he stands akimbo with his fists on his hips, clearly pleased with his scheme. "We are fully confident that we can hold this position indefinitely, a beacon of safety until the crisis has passed from which Telmur can begin anew as necessary."
 
Oct 25, 2017
574
The much needed respite from the endless travels gives Fhiess a chance to not only clean up to smell better, but also completely remove his makeup to become himself again. A part of him is grateful that he is not seen as the Skullcrusher here as he's tricked many others into believing he is.

Later at the dinner, he can spot the missing party members that have been gone. He looks to them and smiles at them while Crullus discusses the situation. Although he had only been half paying attention, he eventually gets an idea of what Crullus is describing when he talks about the spire and what it had done to provoke a panic among its inhabitants. Fhiess eventually speaks up after Crullus finishes, "Ah, well sir. I think the reason the 'Free Peoples' you mention are in such a hurry to make their way into this fort is because they, and the forest, are in grave danger in some way. If we had not arrived at the frozen Wastes when we did the people that live there might have ceased to exist as we know it from a dragon attack. Please, we should speak to even just one of the Free Peoples to ask them what danger surrounds the tower."


<I feel like that's a reasonable enough request that I probably don't need diplomacy? Plus we can just ask one of them ourselves if we have to.>
 
Oct 26, 2017
847
Keranos listens to Crullus politely, enjoying the meal that has been generously presented to him. When the speech is over, Keranos clears his throat.

"Governor," he says, "May I make a proposal?" Without really waiting for a response, he continues. "My companions and I have already dispatched of a spire much like the one that plagues the Free People. I can see no reason that we would be unable to do the same here. Once the blight is gone, the Free People will, I'm sure, gladly return to their land, rendering trivial the diplomatic cost in trying to convince them to return despite the perceived danger."

He lets this idea linger in the air for a moment, then adds, "All that we would ask in return is that you lend us your power as an Endowed, so that we may complete our larger quest of ridding the world of this menace entirely."
 
OP
OP
Mike
Oct 25, 2017
1,731
Greater Seattle Area
At Keranos’s words, Crullus’s smile fades into a contemplative expression as he returns to a seated position, frowning as he brushes away an errant spider that has wandered across the northern edge of the map. “Consider the option you have placed before me,” he says, his eyes drifting upward in thought. “If I retain the power vested into me, I have every confidence that even if I am not able to topple the spire under my own power, I can at least prevent it from menacing those under my protection. Alternately, I can surrender it to you and trust that you will end the problem outright, but be left unable to adequately defend my people should you happen to fail.” He drums his fingers on the table as he weighs the offer. “What if I and my Shining Guard were to come with you?” he asks after a moment. “Surely you cannot object to the help we would lend, we would certainly increase the odds of success. Then, with the malign spire gone, I will have no need to retain what has been given to me and would be able give it freely and without reservation.”
 
Oct 26, 2017
847
Keranos beams for a moment, and opens his mouth to respond, but the smile quickly sours into uncertainty. "Governor, we would more than welcome your help, but you should be aware that the enemy has been known to gain dominance over sentient creatures," he explains. "This includes members of the Endowed, such as myself, and our half-orc escort in the White Wastes."

He fidgets in thought for a moment. "Of course we will accept your offer to accompany us, but I wonder if perhaps there might be steps that can be taken to safeguard the minds of you and your Shining Guard from domination effects? Perhaps a court wizard knows an enchantment, or has some sort of magical artifact?"
 
Oct 25, 2017
574
Fhiess frowns when his pleas to consider any hidden dangers are ignored. Keranos at least brings up further details about mind control, but Fhiess suspects that will be brushed aside as well if news of their ability to make even a creature of legend an obstacle isn't taken seriously.

He considers asking to speak with Sagishi, but decides it might be better to wait and finish hearing everything in the meeting first.
 
OP
OP
Mike
Oct 25, 2017
1,731
Greater Seattle Area
Fhiess frowns when his pleas to consider any hidden dangers are ignored. Keranos at least brings up further details about mind control, but Fhiess suspects that will be brushed aside as well if news of their ability to make even a creature of legend an obstacle isn't taken seriously.

He considers asking to speak with Sagishi, but decides it might be better to wait and finish hearing everything in the meeting first.
((Derp, I was writing the post piecemeal at work and completely forgot the line about speaking to people. Crullus has no problem with it and you'd certainly have no trouble finding one; you can't swing a dead cat outside the city gates without hitting a forest gnome or wood elf or something.))
 
OP
OP
Mike
Oct 25, 2017
1,731
Greater Seattle Area
"But surely," Crullus says to Keranos's reply, "the failing of the chieftain was that he sought to defeat the evil by himself, making him easy prey. By your own tale, the demonic clown creature didn't attempt to assert control over any of you. If I had to speculate, it's probably not something he could have managed on more than one person at a time, and it would have left him vulnerable to attack in the bargain. When my men and I approached the Westreach spire, we encountered no such effects or attempts. Indeed, if there is anything possessing true agency dwelling within the structure, it did not make its presence known at all."

Stroking his chin in thought, he continues. "I do not have anything immediately at hand to guarantee that nothing should ever take possession of someone's mind--such a talisman would come at a dear price, I am certain--but I understand your reservations. While I am confident in our combined power providing a bulwark of protection against such attempts to compel our behavior against our will, I have no such assurances of my Shining Guard. For all their remarkable talent, they remain lesser men simply by virtue of lacking the divine spark gifted to us. If it is your preference, I could have them accompany us only part of the way, or not at all if you truly wish to push the issue. I would advise against it, personally, but that is merely my own opinion."