Chapter 1-A war of attrition (Part 4)

Jules sits in the tavern, listening in on the other conversations as best as he can, as well as looking around for anyone matching the fake description he had given. He would need someone average weight, slightly tall, an older person, with brown eyes and dark hair. A stretch perhaps, but the soon her finds a target the better. No reason not to make ze most of ze situation.

“By pitfalls I mean the mistakes people tend to make when looking for someone. I’m supposed to meet the man tomorrow, obviously showing up any sooner will provoke suspicion. I can try and find him, but if he cared enough to hide his identity when we first met, I don’t think I’ll be able to find him before he wants to be found. As for the location, well forgive me, but you don’t have much reason to keep me around if I tell you that, but I can tell you that if he sees you with me, things won’t go over well.

“He’ll either run, fight back, or leave before I can make contact. Either way not good for you. So I would suggest you hide, and I bring them man into view, maybe have a signal of some sort, that way he never suspects me and you still know who wanted you followed.”
(OOC: Caithas uses his move to go two squares forward, two squares up, and one more forward, leaving him nestled in the crook of the rock wall.)

He calls to the boys as he advances, both blades drawn, “Come on, you little bastards, let’s see those clubs of yours up close!”

(Round 1 done. For subsequent rounds, Caithas will hold his ground, if attacked, and will fight with two swords whenever possible. If the boys do not advance and attack, starting next round, Caithas will begin to chase them down, one by one.)
[OOC: Sounds good.]

Elana thanked Harald for the book and the information he’d given her. He’d been more than helpful. She made her way back to the temple, hoping to find the others there and that they found some success in their plans. She clutched the leather bound book of her father’s records close to her chest, eager to read about him.

It struck her as odd that a copy of the book wasn’t available in her own home, or that she hadn’t even heard of it. One would think that Mannix would at least have a copy of his brother’s reign or maybe even mentioned to her. Elana chalked it up to her uncle’s typical tight lipped manner and continued blissfully back to the temple.
[[ Move 5 right, then melee attack w/ combat expertise+threatening defender ]]
Attack – (1d20+3)19
Damage – (1d6+3)4
Bonus: +1 to AC until next turn

Malcom follows the man as he withdraws into the room, careful not to leave an opening for him to escape or retaliate. His and the boys fumblings may have cost them dearly. He could only hope the impact against the door was not heard by more than prisoners. He wouldn’t win a fight against a garrison. Another swing of the make shift mace goes flying at the man, with more than a hint of spite from having received his own mace injury.
Jules (eatery in Government district)

[OOC: Jules-Perception check-failure.]

Jules looks around the room, but he is unable to find anyone even remotely matching the description of his imaginary master. He eventually gives up the search and explains the official his arrangement with his “master”. A waitress brings two dishes of roasted fish and two glasses of water. With a smile directed towards the officer, she says: “The usual, right?” The man whispers a thank you, before inviting you to share the meal.

As Jules goes on explaining, the man listens carefully with the same cold expression. However, when he speaks his tone changes, betraying his dissatisfaction. “Sounds reasonable… If you would join me after lunch then, I have a friend that I’d like you to meet.”

The man makes a long pause, after which his tone switches back to a more pleasant one. “But let us not discuss business any more. Tell me, Lionel, did you have any aspirations before turning to a life of crime?”

Caithas (The Arena)
[OOC: Initiative-Caithas: 19; B1: 17; B2: 12; B3:3.
Round 1: One of the boys (B2) urges the two others to join him and go after Caithas, but the two remain behind, cowering. The crowd roars its disapproval at all combatants.
Round 2: Caithas goes after B2, who has come closer. Move; Attack (13=hit, damage=8). B2 falls. B1 and B3 see Caithas and they panic. They try to flee, but they cannot.
Round 3: Caithas goes after B1. Charge (attack roll=29, critical threat=13 (success), damage=15). He kills B1 outright in a dramatic way of your choice. B3 still attempts to flee.
Round 4: Caithas goes after the last boy. Move, attack (17=hit, damage=12). B3 falls. The crowd roars its approval as Caithas emerges the victor. They are now urging Caithas to finish the two boys who are still alive.
Popularity points gained: +1 (Critical); +1 (victory); +1 (outnumbered); +1 (flawless victory) = +4. More to be gained / lost based on whether Caithas complies to the audiences’ will. Feel free to describe this fight as you like. And maybe you have leveled, but I will check later.]
Elana (Outside the temple of Delrodin)

[OOC: Elana-Perception check-Failure.]

Lost in her thoughts, Elana walks towards the temple without paying a great deal of attention to her surroundings. When she approaches the entrance, she fails to notice two individuals engaged in conversation. However, one of the two does notice her: “Here’s who you should talk to! This woman was amongst those who helped save your colleague’s life! She deserves gratitude for this noble act.”

Too close to avoid the scene by now, Elana turns to the pair and sees that the man who spoke is a priest of Delrodin. Next to him stands a guard, who quickly turns his attention to Elana, asking her: “Is this true? Are you amongst the ones who helped Gordianus and his family yesterday?”

[OOC: Let’s assume that Ariel bailed out when the guard started looking for her. She managed to do so without attracting anyone’s attention.]

Malcom (Barracks dungeons)

[OOC: Attack succeeds and brings guard to 0 hp (disabled). He spends a standard action on his turn to scream his lungs out, before collapsing (dying).]

Malcom’s attack connects, hitting the man on the knee. Staggered and disoriented, the man panics, shouting in a powerful voice that reverberates across the complex: “HELP! THE PRISONERS HAVE ESCAPED!” Raising the alarm is the soldier’s last action, as he quickly collapses after on the floor, dying.

Malcom can also hear some unrest coming from the cells. Although the sounds are muffled, indicating that few prisoners took notice of the fight, the guard’s shout will definitely awaken the lot of them.

Fearing that this attempt at escape is about to turn ugly, Malcom quickly observes the room for anything that might be of use. A large chest sits next to the door, currently closed. There is a table and a pair of chairs in the room. The guard’s armor and sword are lying atop the table. Behind the desk, a large, wooden case with a glass front contains many keys, each hanging from a nail.

[OOC: You can freely post your actions outside of combat now, but as you can probably guess, time is very important.]
Jules looks at the fish and thanks the waitress, but puts off eating any for the time being. The man turning the conversation to ‘Lionel’ gives Jules an opportunity to test exactly what kind of man he is working for.

“I wouldn’t call what I do ‘crime,’ maybe a bit grey in legality, but crime seems a bit harsh. But there was a time when I had loftier ambitions. I wanted to put my skills to a better use. When I was younger I wanted to be a spy. The idea of being an agent of the empire, the secrecy, the danger, exotic places, exotic women. But it doesn’t matter much now.”
Elana cursed her luck, and stared at the guard with some trepidation. Thankfully, her hair was magically altered, so the guard would have to know her face well to recognize her. She considered telling the guard that he was mistaken, but it was one of the priests from the temple that pointed her out. If she lied, that would only arouse suspicion from the priest, and that would be dangerous too. Maybe if she just downplayed her part . . .

“Oh, well I only helped the priest carry him to the temple,” Elana said, trying to sound like a helpful bystander. “Really, I didn’t do much, you should thank the priest and the healer there. They’re the ones who saved Gordianus’ life.”

She flashed the guard an innocent smile. Please buy it, please buy it . . .

[Bluff maybe? +8]
Ariel awakens to the sound of sharp knocking at the door to the library. A meek voice comes from the other side and she recognizes it as Darien a fellow cleric. “Coming! Just a minute!” She gathers the books and rerolls the scrolls into their bindings then rushes to the door. She opens the door and greets him. He gestures in the direction of the main temple door where a man in guard’s armor stands looking around.

She pulls the door shut, right in the face of Darien, and whirls around. Oh God’s…Aldus must have sent him. Her eyes scan the room for any other exit. She notices a window just above the top shelf along the far wall. Darting as fast as she can Ariel moves a ladder in place and climbs to the window. With the thought echoing in her mind she leaps out the open window praying she finds something soft to land on.
Caithas breathes heavily, looking at the bodies at his feet.

No more than boys…and I’m murdering them where they stand, he marveled. Worse, he found himself unable to feel guilty. Games are games…and they would have killed me had things gone the other way, the half-elf reasons to himself in an inner voice almost foreign to his own.

In this pit of a city, what’s two more?

The ranger drags the two wounded boys together to the center of the arena. The dead one he leaves alone. He lets the crowd’s roar wash over him.

“This is what you want? This? It’s yours then,” hollers the warrior, drawing his blades simultaneously across the two boys’ throats. Their blood gushes. They drop. Caithas never smiles. Instead, his eyes search for Apicius…
“Alright boy, back into the cell, keep the door shut. Don’t make eye contact with any of the other prisoners if they are awake, just straight back into the cell.” As he talks he paces across the room and retrieves the keys and armor, quickly swapping outfits with the guard, “Help me get this armor on quickly, then go.” By the time everything was said and done, he looked like a guard and the guard, an escaping prisoner. Though they would recognize his face… so Malcom took a moment to land a few punches on the dead mans face, bruising and swelling his face.

He then planted the mace by the guard and then pulled the spear from the door tossing it aside. before getting himself into a position which looked as if the fight had just ended. It was a simple enough plan, though it might not work it was one of few options to take and he could at least lower the alarm if it worked. Otherwise… well, there was no otherwise. They come in, he says that his face was maimed because the bastard was angry his was, and now he’s dead.

The sweat came down over Malcom’s face, it would be a lie to say he wasn’t afraid. He took his free hand to wipe the sweat from his face. But it was all about the courage too fight even when things looked bad.
Caithas (The Arena)

The crowd shouts as Caithas finishes off the fallen. Looking at the crowd, the half-elf sees an audience of more than a hundred men. They are all dressed well, but not extravagantly so. Apicius seats next to a clean-shaven man near the arena. The man is sitting on an ornamented chair; from his position, he probably has the best view of the blood sport. He raises a chalice at Caithas, congratulating him for his victory. Apicius simply smiles.

Caithas is eventually led back to the infirmary, where the priests check if he has been wounded. While being checked, Caithas can hear the sounds of combat and the crowd’s shouts and applauses. After about half an hour, the noise subsides and the ranger is summoned back to the arena.

A group of almost twenty gladiators, along with almost twice as many guards, are standing in the small arena. Although crowded, an empty raised platform rests at the center of the circular structure, with no-one standing on it. People in the crowd are whispering amongst each other, until Apicius stands up, announcing in a loud voice:
“Lords and Nobles, free citizens of Demeria! We have gathered today to witness the best of the best clash within this glorious arena! Sixteen warriors of unique fighting styles have been selected. They will be tested against each other in single combat. Only one champion will emerge!” The crowd shouts excitedly as the combatants are introduced; each time a name is called out, the gladiator is summoned upon the platform, until all sixteen of them are introduced. When Apicius announces “the Twin blade”, a guard pushes Caithas towards the center of the arena, so that he can take his place amongst the rest.

[OOC: Fighters paired randomly. Caithas fights in the 4th match (also randomly selected).]

Fight 1: The berserker vs. the marksman.
Fight 2: The deceiver vs. the skirmisher.
Fight 3: The impaler vs. the barbarian.
Fight 4: The twin blade (aka Caithas) vs. the eliminator.
Fight 5: The demon vs. the fisherman.
Fight 6: The juggernaut vs. the destroyer.
Fight 7: The nimble vs. the bull.
Fight 8: The unburdened vs. the elf.

After being introduced, the gladiators are escorted to one-man cells at the periphery of the arena. From there, Caithas can see the arena reasonably well. He observes the three fights before his own, hoping to learn the fighters’ weaknesses.
Fight 1: The berserker is a large man clad in chainmail, who wields a massive sword. As soon as the fight starts, he charges against the marksman, screaming. The marksman shoots two arrows in quick succession, but he misses both times. Yet he does not panic; he quickly sidesteps the berserker’s attacks, taking small steps back and seizing every opportunity to pepper the warrior with arrows. In the end, the marksman outlasts the berserker. He finishes the warrior with an arrow on the back of his neck, as the crowd screams ecstatically.
Fight 2: As the deceiver is introduced into the ring, he is booed by the audience. He pays little attention to the spectators, as he retrieves a vial from a belt and pours its contents on his rapier. The skirmisher is a tall, thin man equipped with a longbow and a two-handed sword. At the start of the fight, the skirmisher manages to put an arrow into the deceiver’s leg, but the deceiver manages to close in. In the battle that ensues, the skirmisher switches to his sword and attempts to cut the man down, but the deceiver avoids all attacks, as he consistently lands elegant, well-directed attacks on his own. The deceiver emerges the victor, decapitating the skirmisher with his own two-handed sword.
Fight 3: The impaler is a heavily armored gladiator equipped with a trident. The barbarian is wearing equally heavy armor, but he also carries a shield and a large, curved sword. As soon as the fight starts, the impaler closes in, using his trident’s reach to his advantage. But the barbarian parries all stabs with his shield, bypassing his opponent’s weapon and landing two solid hits. The Impaler realizes that he has been bested; he yields and the barbarian spares his life, after the crowd decides that the defeated fighter can live.
When the three fights are over, the arena is cleaned and the next pair of contestants is called forth. Caithas steps into the ring, seeing once again his opponent, a fighter called “the eliminator”. He is wearing a closed helmet, chainmail armor and a shield. He is holding a flail in his right hand, its chain ending in three heads of blackened steel. One depicts a skull; the other a clenched fist and the third one is shaped like a heart. He approaches Caithas as Apicius screams “Begin!”, rattling his weapon’s chain as he moves to intimidate the ranger.
[OOC: Roll for initiative. The eliminator rolls a 7. If you want to speed this up, inform me about subsequent actions. Also, feel free to level up.]
(OOC: Sweet! I’ll roll for initiative now, but before I fight, I’ll level up. I’ll post actions after leveling.)

Initiative – (1d20+2)12
Jules (Government district)

The man, Jules’ target, smiles as the cunning young Lord replies. He does not say much in response, just: “Careful what you wish for, friend…” After that, the conversation ends, as the man has nothing more to add. “The bill, please” he says to the friendly waitress, before paying and urging Jules to get up and follow him.

Once outside, the man never lets Jules out of his sight. He easily exits the district, despite the numerous barricades. Jules realizes that the guards go out of their way to show their subordination to the man, after he has presented his documents.

[OOC: Jules-Perception check-success!]

The official leads Jules through almost the opposite end of Lower Andelia, reaching neighborhoods much poorer than the government district, but still better off when compared to the slums of Upper Andelia. He knocks on the door of a simple, wooden house. A bulky, bald man who is missing an eye opens the door. “Zaracas”, says the official, “this is Lionel Pitch, my guest. He holds important information. Will you do me a favor and show this noble lord how hospitable we are in these parts of Svorinn?” Zaracas inspects Jules from top to toe, giving his a crooked smile after he is done.

Elana (Outside the temple of Delrodin)

[OOC: Elana-Bluff vs. guard’s Sense motive-Success (barely)!]

The guard cannot help but smile back to Elana. “There is no need to be modest, my Lady. Gordianus already told me how you helped him. I am looking for two priests, though. One is Sister Ariel, the one who tended to Gordianus’ wounds. She seems to be out at the moment. The other is Brother Percy. Gordianus spoke highly of the man. He said that, if it weren’t for him, he’d be dead. There is a great reward for both of them. Unfortunately, no-one in this temple knows where I might find him.

Do you know anything about the two priests? Every piece of information, even what might seem insignificant, may greatly help.”

Ariel (Outside the temple of Delrodin)

[OOC: For the sake of the story, let’s assume that the guard does not behave that aggressively. Also, he doesn’t notice Ariel; she manages to leave undetected without arousing suspicions. Please edit the previous post accordingly.]

Ariel notices the guard and her fellow priests, as the latter eagerly direct the soldier towards her room. Fortunately, they do not notice her. She heads towards the library, opens the window and, with no little hesitation, she jumps outside, hoping that the fall will not hurt her.

Ariel jumps one storey down, but the soft snow cushions her fall. She looks around and thanks Delrodin when she realizes that she hasn’t been noticed. Armed with the knowledge that the temple, once her safe haven, will now be watched, she considers her options and decides where to go to next.

Malcom (Barracks dungeons)

Malcom tries to strip down the defeated guard as soon as possible, while the boy prepares the armor for him. Unfortunately, this time the guards react swiftly and competently: less than a minute after the alarm has been raised, a large group of them violently push the door and enter the room. They quickly dispose of the boy who, without a weapon, offers no significant resistance. Then, they focus their attention on Malcom. Although the former corporal is now dressed in the uniform of the fallen guard, the dead man’s colleagues realize that something suspicious is going on. They surround Malcom, closing in with weapons drawn, their intentions clear…

[OOC: We can play out this fight, but I do not see the point of it. Unarmored Malcom vs. six armored guards… I doubt that your PC has a chance. Alternatively, you can describe Malcom’s final actions and last thoughts / words. You can make it as heroic, dramatic or tragic as you want. You can even say that Malcom manages to take some of the bastards with him… but ultimately he will fall. Your call. But I think that we can create a vivid, unforgettable scene here.]
Jules follows the man obediently, half hoping for a chance to escape, half hoping he can see where this takes him. Whether it is the man’s intent or not, he is still revealing things about himself, little by little. A man of authority who commands the respect of a legion. A man with potential underworld contacts by the look of Zaracas. A man who could have brought him here to have him tortured or killed. Jules tries to hide his fear, but isn’t sure how well he can manage.

He called me a noble lord…he thinks Ah have important information. Oh hells, he can’t possibly suspect who Ah am. Why ze meal, why ze ruse, what does zis sick fuck get off on zat sort of thing?!

Jules struggles to contain his panic as he returns the smile.
Caithas does what he did in his last arena battle: He draws his blades and steps back thirty feet. The well-armored man would tire quickly, the ranger knew; make the fucker run.

“Come, tough guy! Come, and fight! Come, and die!”

Intimidate – (1d20+5)22

(OOC: Caithas will keep his distance, until the opponent charges. When in range, Caithas will attack with both swords; hopefully that level two BAB helps )

Round 1 Caithas done.
Elana eyed the guard suspiciously. Was he one of the guards hunting Ariel or was he actually looking to do some good? The latter seemed unlikely, but he knew Gordianus . . .

[Sense Motive +5]

[OOC: If he seems to be telling the truth . . . ]

“I can’t say I know where they’re at,” Elana said. “But I’m headed to the temple now to drop something off. You can travel with me if you like; they might be returning there.”

[OOC: If he seems untrustworthy . . . ]

“I’m sorry,” Elana said. “I didn’t know either personally. That was the last time I saw them. Is there a message you’d like for me to give them in case I see them again?
”/campaign/the-road-not-taken/wikis/Power%20Attack%2C%20Cleave%2C%20Combat%20Expertise/new" class=“create-wiki-page-link”>Power Attack, Cleave, Combat Expertise
attack – (1d20+2)16
damage – (1d6+5)10

There’s little way out of this now, and the boy is dead or dying on the floor. It was time to fight without holding back. A powerful swing towards a nearby guard goes flying. Time slows to a crawl as the mace flows towards the enemy.
attack – (1d20+2)20
damage – (1d6+5)9

Malcom’s attack follows through and knocks the guard next to him with a crack of bone. Hyper-focused on the task at hand, malcom would not let himself fall, not here not now. He could not hear any of their shouts, only the collision of the weapon and bodies, the breathing of his foes and his own beating heart. He cannot let it end this way. He rounds on the next guards as the two guards recoil from the attack, “Bastards, have at me then. Cowards and mongrels the lot of you, striking down a boy! I’ll kill you all!”
Caithas (The Arena)

[OOC: Caithas-Intimidate check-success! Opponent demoralized!]

The flail-wielding warrior, enraged by Caithas’ taunts, charges against the ranger. The attack is powerful, but easy to avoid. The gladiator misses entirely, as Caithas takes the chance to strike with both blades. Both hits connect, but the opponent suffers no damage, as neither of the blades penetrate his armor. Infuriated, the Eliminator swings his flail against the half-elf. The chains wrap tightly around Caithas’ scimitar, making it easy for the man to yank the sword out of the ranger’s grasp.

[OOC: Caithas has just been disarmed. Your turn (round 3). Just for the sake of transparency, the Eliminator suffered a critical miss after the charge. Caithas attacked with both blades for 11 and 9 (both missed) and then the Eliminator rolled a 16 for disarming. Keep in mind that the buckler does not provide the +1 to AC if you have attacked with your off-hand on the previous round. So, in this situation, it is pretty much useless.]

Elana (Outside the Temple of Delrodin)

[OOC: Elana-Sense motive check-result kept secret.]

Elana cannot say if the guard is being honest. If he is lying, then he must be a very talented liar, at least for a guard. Still, the situation does seem suspicious, so she decides to play it safe and lie back to the man: “I’m sorry,” Elana said. “I didn’t know either personally. That was the last time I saw them. Is there a message you’d like for me to give them in case I see them again?”

“A shame, really”, replies the guard. “Well, there’s nothing I can do but keep looking. If you see either of them, tell them to drop by the Finest Tankard, a tavern not far from here. My superior, Maxentius, would gladly meet with them. Deeds of such benevolence should not go unrewarded.”

[OOC: You can do whatever you want now.]

Malcom (Barracks dungeon)

[OOC: Let’s skip some technicalities and rule-lawyering and proceed with what you posted, although it’s not 100% accurate.]

Cornered, outnumbered and out-geared, Malcom nevertheless fights like a lion, for what may well be his final stand. He strikes with his poorly-made mace, downing one guard and then another. But as the two soldiers fall, three take their place. They slice with fury at Malcom, their blows fuelled by fear at how dangerous the unarmored man seems.

[OOC: Attack 1 (16), Damage 1 (6); Attack 2 (5, miss), Attack 3 (22, crit threat 12, crit confirmed), Damage 3 (13). Between all attacks, Malcom is at -8 hp.]

The fight is uneven, quick and dirty. The three soldiers quickly manage to overpower Malcom, who falls to the floor, bleeding heavily as his life seeps away from his body.

[OOC: Closing post is yours, if you want it. R.I.P. Malcom…]

Jules (Basement in Zaracas’ apartment)

[OOC: If Jules wants to try to escape while the duo is walking to Zaracas’ place, I can rewind a bit. Let me know.]

“Good”, says the official. “I will be back first thing in the morning. Until then, make sure that you treat our guest appropriately. See you tomorrow, Lionel. Remember our deal, and everything will work out for the best.”

“Will do, boss”, replies Zaracas laconically, who takes a step sideways, allowing Jules to enter the man’s house.

Once inside, Jules observes the dark room. There are no windows, and the only furniture on the ground floor is a mattress and a couple of chairs. A ladder leads to a room upstairs, but other than that the main room on the ground floor seems featureless. Zaracas addresses Jules as soon as he is in the room: “So you managed to mess with the wrong man… I hope you’re wise enough not to cross him, but in case you did not get the point, I will make it plain for you. Be a nice lad and do as he says, and you’ll manage to get through this without any… how should I put this… unfortunate accidents… Hells, you might even make some coin out of this. But if you try anything funny, you will force my hand. Is this clear?”

Jules observes that the man, despite his brutish exterior, is fairly articulate.
Caithas switches hands and swings the short sword he had in his other hand.

Attack – (1d20+8)27

Damage – (1d6+6)8
Critical Confirm – (1d20+8)14

That mad half-elf swung with all his might at the disarming-bastard.

He was glad. He threw his buckler down and held on to that blade.
“Oh, I see. So I’m being kept here to make sure I don’t run off as soon as he turns his back, vanishing into the night? That about right?” Jules sits in one of the chairs, leaning back.

Perhaps some small talk will take ze man off guard, or at least warm him up to me. Might give him pause before killing me if it comes to zat.

With a resigned sigh Jules addresses his jailer, “So, you want to hear something funny? I don’t even know who that man is. I was given a place, a time, and a description for the man who brought me here, nothing else. And now all I have is a place, a time, and a description for the other man. After this I’m going back to finding shopkeepers who don’t pay their debts, I’ve never once been taken captive by a shopkeeper. Stabbed once, but never taken captive.”

[OOC: Not sure what this would be, but I would assume diplomacy trying to get into Zaracas’ good graces. When/if Zaracas does go to sleep/leave the building I’d like to check out the room upstairs.]
Elana continued on her way, casting a glance over her shoulder at the guard. He was difficult to read, but Elana didn’t want to take the chance of bringing trouble on the group. Things were dangerous enough as it was. She picked up the trail back to the temple, hoping Jules or Ariel would be there to sort things out. Maybe one of them knew who he was talking about.
Jules (Zaracas’ house)

[OOC: Jules-Diplomacy check-Failure.]

Zaracas reaches into his pockets and produces a pipe. He searches his pockets again, this time producing some tobacco and matches. He prepares the pipe, lights the tobacco and takes a couple of puffs, before offering it to Jules.

“Oh, I see. So I’m being kept here to make sure I don’t run off as soon as he turns his back, vanishing into the night? That about right?”

Zaracas responds: “That’s it, more or less. You seem like a smart guy, who knows what’s good for him. Do you think that he could not track you down, if you escaped? No, I think you realize this. I think we’ll get along just fine.”

“So, you want to hear something funny? I don’t even know who that man is. I was given a place, a time, and a description for the man who brought me here, nothing else. And now all I have is a place, a time, and a description for the other man. After this I’m going back to finding shopkeepers who don’t pay their debts, I’ve never once been taken captive by a shopkeeper. Stabbed once, but never taken captive.”

“Well, think of it as a smidgen of good fortune within this otherwise unfortunate day. If you knew who the man was, I’d have to kill you." The man smiles, as if he was joking. "Yup, going back to the shopkeepers is a good idea. Hopefully you will be able to do so. Now, if you don’t mind, I’d like you to go downstairs. We can continue out talk there.”

[OOC: It is still early in the afternoon. The man is unlikely to go to bed anytime soon.]

Elana (Inside the temple of Delrodin)

Elana enters the temple, finding that most of the priests are discussing amongst themselves. They appear distressed by the guard’s visit. Elana understands that, although the guard seems to have been polite during the visit, this kind of incident is fairly uncommon. She asks around, but she is unable to find Jules or Ariel, or any of her friends, for that matter.

Caithas (The Arena)

[OOC: My bad, but I shouldn’t have disarmed Caithas… poor understanding of the combat maneuver rules, but let me compensate for this now… Also, Caithas is a bit silly, removing the buckler when it would have been useful for a change .]

The blade slices the Eliminator’s hand, who attacks with a scream, raising his shield. One of the flail’s heads, the one shaped like a skull, hits Caithas right in the chest. Caithas can hear his ribs cracking, as he desperately kicks the man a few feet back.

[OOC: The Eliminator rolled attack (23) and damage (12). Caithas is now at 9/21 hit points. The kick back is a freebie, pushing the man 5 feet back, so you can still attack with both weapons next round.]

Dizzy and disoriented, Caithas hears a loud shout from the audience. It is a familiar voice, though one he has not heard for years: “Caithas, here! Kill the bastard!” A handaxe flies from the audience into the arena, landing into the half-elf’s hand as if by magic.

[OOC: There, you should have a handaxe now (1d6/x3) and Grunur has been introduced. Feel free to post for Grunur, as well.]
Jules follows the man’s instructions, taking note of how he responds to the lordling. Polite, but he won’t hesitate to kill me if it comes to zat. Regardless of how he looks, zis man has information and is smart enough to avoid giving anything away. When they head downstairs Jules continues thinking his way through this scam. He was clear on the description, but there has to be more than one man in this district who matches his description, fingering him is the easy part. His captor may not trust him, but giving him a target would give him time. Ah need a location with a lot of people. Crowded and always active. Ze gallows perhaps, or a large temple?

[OOC: Unless Zaracas strikes up a conversation Jules is going to be pretty quiet, but follow any reasonable order given to him for the time being.]
Caithas catches the handaxe. This couldn’t be; that last hit must have disoriented him.


But the axe seemed real and this was no time to fuck about. Caithas swings both the shortsword and the newly-caught handaxe at his wounded foe. If the man didn’t die soon, Caithas surely would.

sword Attack – (1d20+7)19

Damage – (1d6+6)12

Axe attack – (1d20+5)23

Damage – (1d6+6)7

The two blades spin in Caithas’ hands, and though somewhat unfamiliar, Caithas’ years with the dwarves came flooding back as he cut and slashed at his bleeding opponent.
Grunur tossed the handaxe before thinking clearly.

Gods, what if it’d hit the damned half-blood? What if the officials saw?

But there didn’t appear to be much in the way of official anything. This was gladiatorial war to the death; not much room for rules.

He worried only for a moment. Then he watched his old friend swing, first the sword then the axe.

Grunur’s mouth spread into a grin. His tufty whiskers tickled his nose.

That half-elf had gotten better. But so had he, the armiger thinks with pride.

Ten years is a long time, even in dwarf years.

At least it didn’t look like Grunur would watch his old friend die in front of him; not at this moment anyway. Those last two strikes dealt by Caithas were beyond vicious…

When the blood flows, Grunur lets out a throaty, hearty bellow along with the rest of the roaring crowd.
Caithas (The Arena)

The armored fighter is fast, blocking the sword strike with his shield. But with the axe, he’s not so lucky… The blade sinks into his thigh; his scream is covered by a thunderous roar from the crowd. His eyes burn with rage, as he looks at Caithas through his helmet’s eye slots. Caithas senses that his opponent is close to death. He swings his flail desperately; Caithas is unable to avoid all three heads. The one shaped like a fist hits him in the ribcage once again, knocking the air out of him. Caithas falls to the ground, beaten and bested by the unnamed warrior. Before he passes out, he hears the roar of the crowd: “Life! Life! Life!” as he sees the bleeding fighter approaching.

[OOC: The sword hit did not make it, just for one point. The eliminator attacked (17) and delt damage (12), so Caithas is now at -3. The crowd decides between death or life; 1d100+(popularity points); 1-50 death; 50+ life. Caithas got lucky (71+6=77). I ’ll go on with the story tomorrow, but Caithas gets to live for now.]
The last thing Caithas thinks as he sees the spiked mace coming is that he hopes Grunur will not watch him die like this…

The last thing Grunur thinks as he watches Caithas beaten bloody is that he hopes he will not have to watch his old friend’s death this day…

(OOC: Well, pretty damn close anyway. I’m glad the roll was high; at least Caithas leveled up and lived. Not many can say that from the arena If only he had a hero point to boost that 19 a few extra points!)
Ariel stands up and brushes the snow off. She crosses her arms and makes her way back through the city. Where can I go now? Think…think… the temple’s no good…No family, no friends…Wait! Cyric! Gods be good hopefully he’s around." She clumsily picks her way through the cold streets.

After she loses track of time trying to keep her appendages warm, she finally finds herself on the stoop of a small hut. She raises her hand and knocks gently, waiting for a reply.
Elana paced nervously in their cramped attic room. If the guard below was looking for them because he suspected they were rebels, it wouldn’t be inconceivable of them to storm the place. Even with her hair colored, they could figure out who she was eventually. Caithas and Jules were off doing their own thing, but Ariel should’ve been here.

Maybe she went out for an errand, Elana thought. No need to worry. I’ll just wait for a while, and one of them will return.

If no one showed up in a reasonable amount of time, she would have to move. But to where? Ariel could be anywhere. Jules was investigating the Black Chamber, which was out of the question. And Caithas had met some man called Apicuis about a fight. She hoped they would return soon, or she would have a tough time finding them on her own.
Caithas and Grunur (The Arena)

Grunur sees the aftermath of the battle. The warrior removes his helmet, throwing it violently against the walls of the arena. He unstraps his shield, letting it drop upon the sand. He raises his weapon, as he achieves apotheosis. Triumphant, he hears his name being chanted as he walks towards Caithas… but his moment of glory is short-lived. At first, Grunur simply sees the man coughing, as he limps towards his fallen friend. No-one else seems to pay attention, but as the coughing gets more and more violent, silence fills the hall. The man falls to his knees and hands, as a cataract of blood and bile exits his mouth. The entire room remains quiet like a grave, until two large men drag the bodies out of the arena. The noise of conversation slowly starts to return, but after what he has seen, Grunur has no interest in watching any of the following matches.

Instead, he decides to look for his friend, or what’s left of him, at the infirmary of the Arena. He is impolitely stopped by two men in armor, both of who hold halberds. “Piss off, shorty. This area is off limits.”

[OOC: Time for Grunur to use his talking skills . Post about Caithas tomorrow.]

Jules (Zaracas’ house; basement)

Jules walks down the wooden staircase, followed by Zaracas. It takes a while for Jules’ eyes to adjust, but what he sees in the basement is an abandoned room, with no features other than a number of chains connected to the four corners of the room. The wooden walls also lack decoration, although one of them features a door. All of the chains end in manacles. Zaracas urges Jules to lock the manacles around his wrists and ankles: “For your own safety… In case foolishness gets the better of you.” Jules observes that there are four locks lying close to the chains. They look simple enough; given enough time, Jules might be able to pick them.

Elana (Temple of Delrodin)

Elana patiently waits for two hours in the temple, but neither of her friends returns. Bored and frustrated, she has nothing to do but to think of possible locations to visit during this period. Harald was an option, and that guard nicknamed Langbard she met yesterday might have completed his duties with the guard. Perhaps he would be in that tavern… what was its name again… right, The Finest Tankard. She could always visit Gordianus or his supervisor, Maxentius. Either way, she could return later to the temple, hoping that her friends would return by then.

[OOC: It is around six in the evening. Just giving you some options, but you can try anything else you want. Some of the options are more risky than others, though. Not to meta-game here, but Jules and Caithas are unlikely to return tonight.]

Ariel (Cyric’s house)

[OOC: I will let you RP this as you want, as Cyric is your NPC. I am not sure what Ariel is trying to achieve here, but if she’s just looking for somewhere to crash, sure, she can stay with this Cyric fellow.]
Jules connects the manacles to his wrists and ankles, smiling as he realizes how helpful he is being for his captors, but they had also been particularly polite to him, so it seems only decent to return the kindness. “Wouldn’t want that to happen. So, do you ever show this place to the ladies? ’Here’s my house, this is my living room, upstairs is the attic, and down here are where we chain up the prisoners. Mind the mess.’”

“But in all seriousness, what exactly is a room like this used for, I can’t imagine there are that many people following your boss to warrant a permanent room for storing them.”
Ariel stands there freezing… and knocks again… finally a shuffling is heard from the other side of the door. “Coming…coming…just a moment.” The door opens just slightly and a stunted old man stands hunched just inside. “Yes…who is it?”

His white hair is laid back across his head and he wears a thin pair of spectacles across his nose. Gods… he has gotten so old… “It’s me Cyric… Ariel… Alvo’s daughter…?” She looks intently at his face, hoping for recognition.

“Ariel…oh yes… I haven’t seen you since you were a small child. Come in… come in please” He opens the door and ushers her inside. The small hut has a bed off to one side and a table along the opposite wall. From hooks on the ceiling hang various plants drying. Boxes of roots and herbs line the wall marked with small white cards. In the center is a small fire pit over which is a small pot filled with a stew. “Please please… sit… my my. You’ve gotten so big! You remind me of your mother when she first met your father. I was there ya know… I saw them just after their second date. Quite the cute couple….” He skitters about pulling a small pot off the table and moving it to a plate on the fire.

“Now…what can I do for you my dear?” He smiles warmly and looks at her.

Ariel processes for a moment, debating about how to say what she must…“I need a place to stay. I’ve come into some…unfortunate circumstances and there’s no one else I can turn to.” A lump forms in her throat.
“My dear…what about the temple? Surely Echo still blesses you?” Cyric gestures to her robes. Ariel hesitates and bites her lip nervously. [b]“I…uh… something bad happened Cyric… let me try to explain…”

((To be continued…))
“Piss off, is it? Gentlemen, yer mistakin’ me fer a common thug, I fear. My name is Grunur of House Rooinnir, official emissary of The Iron Domes. I’m here on business with yer Senate, so unless yer tryin’ to start a fucking war within the Empire, boys, yer barkin’ up the wrong bloody stalagmite. I was just stoppin’ in for a bit o’ sport when I noticed one of yer fighters there, the half-elf, is an old aquaintance o’ mine. Since he don’t appear dead yet, I was hopin’ fer a visit. So let’s start over, yeah? Instead of ‘piss off, shorty’…try again, eh?”

(Diplomacy and Bluff +4)
It was taking them too long. Maybe they were just delayed, but Elana thought it be better to assume things were going wrong than right. The temple was too risky to stay at; the guards knew Gordianus’ rescuers had stayed there and if they figured out the true identities, then they wouldn’t think twice about barging in.

She had to move, but to where? Gordianus’ place was out of the question; if he found out who they were he was just as likely to have them arrested as any other guard, savior or no. Harald would keep her safe, but Elana didn’t want to risk putting him in danger. She’d done that one too many times already.

That left Langbard. She didn’t particularly trust him yet, but he was part of the rebellion and could be expected to keep her safe. Elana gathered her things, being sure to keep her crossbow under her cloak, and made for The Finest Tankard.
Hours pass and the conversation goes on between Ariel and Cyric. She explains her plight, the situation at the temple, her new goddess.

When she is finished, he leans back in his chair and runs his fingers along his thin hairless chin. “Oh my my… you’re in quite a predicament my dear.” He looks off into the air in front of him as if the answer will manifest there. “Fine fine… you may stay the night here. There is a cot under the table… feel free to set it up. I forgot I had an errand or two to run.”

He laughs quietly to himself. “What would your father think of me now…I’ve given up my sword and taken up a proper trade, HA!” He laughs again and mutters as he grabs a cloak off the wall and drapes it around himself. “Try to stay out of trouble my dear..” He says and then disappears out the door.

Ariel sighs deeply. Perhaps the gods are watching over me afterall. She moves the chair back in place and sets up the small cot and lays down on it to take a small nap…
Jules (Zaracas’ basement)

“You ask too many questions, Lionel. Don’t concern yourself with such matters. Just try to get a good night’s sleep if you can.” The man is content to see Jules lock the manacles around his limbs. “Good. See you tomorrow.” With those words, he climbs up the staircase, locking the hatch on the top with a lock from the outside.

Jules is left alone in the dark basement, with nothing but time to his disposal. Despite the darkness, he manages to examine the locks binding him. His suspicions are confirmed when he concludes that, despite their superior quality, he could open the locks if he would put his mind to it. The room is completely dark and, other than the staircase leading upstairs, there is a closed door in the basement, not far from Jules. Jules can also hear Zaracas’ footsteps through the wooden floor.

[OOC: If you choose to remove the locks, it will take you two hours to do so. You can also perform Stealth checks in the darkness, and if Zaracas were to come down again, you would probably hear his footsteps as he descends the staircase. The other door is close, but you cannot examine it without removing the manacles first. What do you do?]

Elana (The Finest Tankard)

The sun is setting as Elana walks the streets of Andelia. She pauses to gaze at the sunset through the sky, which is unusually clear this evening. Then, darkness falls, covering the city almost instantaneously. As soldiers and guardsmen light torches, Elana hurries to the tavern.

Many heads turn as Elana enters the tavern, but after spotting Langbard and joining his table, the conversations resume. Langbard, sitting alone with a mug of ale, seemingly lost in his thoughts, is surprised by Elana’s arrival. “Aella, if I remember correctly. What are you doing here? The only women frequenting this place are barmaids and whores.”

[OOC: If you prefer to go somewhere else, Langbard will agree to provide hospitality at his house.]

Grunur (The Arena; outside the infirmary)

[OOC: Grunur-Diplomacy check-failure.]

The watchmen gaze at the dwarf seriously as he addresses them. After he finishes, they remain silent for a few moments. Tension builds up in the air, but before Grunur has a chance to speak again, both guards burst in thunderous laughter: “Ha, ha, ha! That was amazing! Did you hear how he spoke, brother? I swear, this Apicius may not have an eye for fighters, but he does know a good jester when he sees one. A pirate midget; who would have thought that such a thing existed!”

As the laughter subsides, the two men wipe the tears from their cheeks and address Grunur: “You should have told us that you are here for the interlude show. Go on; I think you have only one hour before the break.” One of them attempts to jest: “Arrgh, sail away, me matey, yer ale is waiting for thee!”

Grunur tries not to let the taunts get to him, as he enters the infirmary. He looks around the room until he spots, lying on a stretcher, his old friend…

[OOC: It is not necessary for dwarves to talk like pirates in this setting, but if you prefer to stick to the cliché, I will not make fun of Grunur again . Reunion time!]

Caithas (The Arena; infirmary)

Caithas can only hear some rhythmic chanting before he feels a gentle touch against his chest. It seems to do nothing, but after a few seconds, he is overwhelmed by pain. It feels as if his ribcage is exploding. To his surprise, he feels the bones moving, repositioning themselves, aligning and eventually binding, as the fragments come together under his skin. Bumps form on his chest, moving for a few seconds before settling down. The whole thing lasts for a few moments, but the pain makes it seem like ages.
Eventually, Caithas gets up, feeling already better. One of the healers addresses him: “You aren’t making our job any easier, you know. That man you fought-you cut him up real good. So good, in fact, that he won’t be able to continue the fights. So you can take his place for the next round. Lucky you.”

Caithas retrieves his swords, puts on his armor and is about to wear his helmet, when suddenly he sees Grunur, standing not far from where he is and looking back at him, equally surprised to see him.

[OOC: So, as I said, reunion time. After that, Caithas gets to fight while Grunur remains in the background.]

Ariel (Cyric’s house)

[OOC: I am not sure what to post. Let’s assume that the night passes by uneventfully until next morning. Unless you want otherwise, in which case you are free to post whatever side-story you want so long as the main storyline is not affected. I hope you don’t mind Ariel staying in the background until the rest of the PCs get together.
…You can always go shopping if you are bored, you have 1000 gp which you haven’t spent so far.]
Jules waits until he is sure the man has left before he examines the locks. More than that he is also weighing the consequences of trying to escape against staying put. Escaping would require getting through the locks, getting past a locked door, and most dangerously, trying to slip past Zaracas. Staying puts him at risk for failing to find a suitable scapegoat for his snooping, and puts him at even greater risk. No, he will stay put, for the time being, but not in chains, and not without understanding his surroundings. He slowly begins fiddling with the locks, looking to investigate the closed door in his room.

[OOC: Picking the locks (+9), and then investigating the door, I’d also like to see if the bindings could be reattached, or made to look like they were still holding him.]
Jules (Zaracas’ basement)

After two hours of persistent work in darkness, Jules manages to quietly remove the manacles. The lordling makes sure to take extra care not to damage the locks. Therefore, he can easily put them back on, if he decides to do so later. Free from his binds, he explores the door in the basement. It is a wooden door, which happens to be locked. Jules tries to guess what lies on the other side. A faint, chemical odour seems to be emanating from behind it.

[OOC: Jules-Perception check-success!]
Caithas blinked.

Gods, it hadn’t been the pain.

“Grunur…hells, man, how are you here? Look at you! Look at that armor! How…when…?”

The dwarf smiles. It had been too long.

“I’ve been in the Domes fer a few years now. Came over after failing to find ye, I hate to say. You were me best friend…but bah, that was a long time ago, eh?”

A wave of emotion flooded over Caithas. He sat up with a grimace, touching tenderly at his ribs.

“Grunur…I’m sorry, old friend. I thought…I thought you would hold me back. More the fool I am, eh? Look at you! All official looking…and me, a goddamned rebel and gladiator. What a sick bitch Fate can be…”

The dwarf sits on a nearby, dirty and sticky stool. He asks Caithas about the rebellion, the posters, and the fights. Caithas never lies; he fills Grunur in on mostly everything since he’d arrived in Svorinn. In between the ranger’s stories, Grunur details his own journey across the sea and his reason for visiting Andelia. Caithas seems interested in Grunur’s position, but does not pursue it. After dozens of minutes pass, Grunur exhales with a huff.

“Quite the predicament, old friend…and you sent a letter to the domes, you say? Might not be wasted parchment; no love lost up there between me kin and the tax collectin’ Crown. But I’m just an errand boy; not as if I can say much to it. So, what now?”

Caithas pauses and continues, “Now? Now, I fight. Now, I try to kill, impress and not die long enough to secure the shady support of the nobles who get rich on this blood sport. I swore to these rebels and their cause…I won’t quit them now.”

Grunur tugs at his beard absentmindedly. He huffs once more.

“Always a damned fool, but then, what can ye expect from a damned half-elf? Caithas…try not to die in there. I have to get back to the domes soon…but I’ll not miss a day or two, nor will they. If you fight again, I’ll be there to cheer your fool self on…or throw another axe yer way, yeah?”

And the friends embrace…knowing it could be the last time.

Caithas Initiative – (1d20+2)6

(OOC: Make fun all you want, Vlad; he’s got an accent, no question. I see it as a Crag’s accent, not a dwarf accent. The Domes dwarves don’t talk that way, but Grunur does. Few would have ever heard it as Svorinn natives. After all, how many dwarves use sea travel? But anyway, I like your idea. Caithas is ready to fight, and if he lives, he can easily get Grunur to meet his rebel friends. If he dies in the arena, I imagine Grunur will pick up his dead friend’s mantle and seek out the rebels. It’ll all come down to the dice, I suppose.)
Jules sniffs at the chemical order, shaking his head. The room probably held nothing, maybe a lab of some sort to help make acids or tonics for intimidating the less polite guests of this room. But as his curiosity builds, Jules moves to pick the lock, thinking to himself as he does, Ah did say Ah wanted adventure…
“Well, I’m certainly neither of those,” Elana said. She made sure that no one was close enough to eavesdrop on their conversation. “The ‘priest’ I travel with has been out longer than I expected, and I find that some of the guards are snooping around the temple we’ve been sheltering in. They’ve been asking for my companions and I fear that the temple’s shelter may be compromised. I’d rather play it safe, so I was wondering if there was any place you could offer me to stay the night? I don’t know if my friends are in trouble or just taking longer than usual, but can’t risk staying at the temple any longer.”
Jules (Zaracas’ basement)

[OOC: Jules-Take 20 on Disable Device (29)-Success! Locking back the door will require another Disable Device check, but you can also take 20 given enough time.]

Jules works the lock, patiently and carefully. In doing so, he makes sure that he can lock it again once he’s explored the room, so as not to raise suspicions. The lock eventually yields to his skills, revealing a dark room behind it. As it is pitch black in the basement, Jules has no option but to walk inside, if he is to explore the interior. The odor gets more intense, as Jules walks in.

Jules feels his way through the room, finding out in the process that it is small and narrow. There is no real furniture inside, but there is a long shelf covering one of the walls completely. There seem to be large, cylindrical structures resting atop the shelf. Jules counts them; there are four, all similar in size and texture. He takes a closer look, but it is not easy to tell their function… until he looks at one of them from a different angle. The little light inside the room momentarily illuminates one of the cylinders, which is revealed to be a glass container with head of a man inside it.

[OOC: Jules-Will save (5)-Failure and Reflex save (26)-Success.]

Jules steps back in fear as he realizes what the glass jars contain. In his attempt to escape the room, he almost knocks down the jar he was examining, but he reacts quickly, stabilizing the heavy container before it falls. As he regains his composure, he hopes that Zaracas did not hear anything.

Elana (Langbard’s house)

As Elana is about to enter Langbard’s house, the man warns her: “I am sorry if you do not find the place to your liking. I haven’t had time for keeping this place in a state proper for a lady.” Elana observes that the otherwise confident, surly warrior is blushing as he says those words.

As Elana enters the room, she understands why Langbard was feeling a bit awkward in letting her in. The entire house is a mess, with cutlery, clothes and military equipment lying around in every room. More disgustingly, there seems to be a cockroach infestation in Langbard’s house.

Langbard apologizes profusely, before offering Elana his hospitality. She is free to sleep in his bed if she so chooses; he would gladly sleep on the floor. Before she gives her answer, Langbard switches the subject to another issue.

“Malcom’s arms and armor,” he says, as he points to a corner. Indeed, Elana can readily recognize her former companion’s glaive, a weapon relatively uncommon in Andelia. “I promised to brother Percy that I would retrieve his items, and I am a man of my word. I believe that you knew Malcom… this is the least I could do to honor his memory. Although I do hope with all my heart that he has, somehow, made it. He had… has… a wife and a daughter, you know. Someone should tell them what has happened. Perhaps they would like to speak to those with who Malcom spent these recent days. Perhaps they would like to have his equipment returned to them.”

Caithas and Grunur (The Arena)

[OOC: Fights determined randomly.]

The two friends’ reunion is interrupted as Caithas is summoned back to the arena. “You are facing the Elf. Come on, everyone is waiting for you!” Caithas follows the man, who leads him to the arena.

As Caithas enters the ring, he is introduced by the announcer: “Back from the dead, it is the Bloody Butcher himself!” Despite his new, impressive-sounding nickname, the crowd is not exactly enthusiastic as the ranger walks in, observing his opponent.

Before him he sees a man of elven descent. He is wearing breastplate and holding with both hands a massive sword. It is shaped like Caithas’ scimitar, but it has almost double its size. He stares at his opponent coldly.

“Begin!”, shouts Apicius. The elf charges towards Caithas, downing his sword in one fell swoop. Caithas is quick to avoid the blade claiming his head, but it nevertheless makes a deep wound along his arm, almost removing a slice of skin and muscle.

[OOC: The elf rolls Initiative (10), charges and attacks (21), hitting for 11 points of damage. Caithas is at 10/21.]
Jules leaves the room, stumbling and horrified at what he has just seen. He locks the door up as best as he can, and tries to calm his racing heart. Ah am not going to end up like zat. Zes sick fucks will not have my head decorating zer grotesque basement. He reconnects the manacles around his wrists and legs, trying to look as though he hasn’t moved. Zey won’t kill me, not here, ze man still needs me, and… As Jules looks around the empty basement he feels the the weight of his situation pressing down on him.

He tries to stay calm, but all he can think of is dying in this place, his head taking up another spot on the wall. Before, whenever he had been faced with death he had options, or at the very least unconsciousness. The day at the gallows was fueled by fear and action, death never entered his mind. The drug dealer’s cut was filled with blissful delirium. But here, in this pit all he has to occupy his mind is the cycling thought of dying, alone and forgotten. Angry and frightened tears start to pool and cloud his vision as he thinks. Ah don’t want to die in a place like zis.
Gods, but that hurt!

Caithas felt blinding pain seize him. Fucking bastards, does anyone ever miss in this goddamned arena, the half-elf thinks with agonized wonder. He knew one more strike like that and he’d be as good as dead.

And I doubt the crowd and Fate will save my half-blooded ass again, he thinks bitterly.

His only hope was that the charging, slashing elf had left him an opening.

“Full or half-blood, now you die,” Caithas growled in Elven, both blades flashing.

(OOC: Intimidate, if needed, is +5. Vlad, is this guy a full elf or half? And, if half, does Caithas get any of his favored enemy bonus or no? As of now, I’m rolling assuming no bonus; if there is one, it can be added in. Let’s just hope the -2 this bastard took for charging is enough for me to hit him…)

Attack – (1d20+5)20

Damage – (1d6+4)7

Attack – (1d20+3)5

Damage – (1d6+4)9
“Please, don’t apologize,” Elana told Langbard. “I’m just glad to have a place to st-augh!” Roach had crawled on to her boot, and Elana spent a moment frantically shaking it off then stomping it to death. She breathed a sigh of relief, then cleared her throat. “A place to stay,” she finished.

She looked sadly upon Malcom’s equipment. There was no word yet on his fate, but his chances were slim. He was the first person Elana really connected with in Andelia, before she even grew accustomed to Jules and Caithas. He reminded her of Lucius in some ways, and that just made losing him all the worse. “Someone should see to his family,” she agreed. When this mission was over, she thought it would be the least they could do to return his things to them.

Elana tucked her things away and crawled onto the bed, sad thoughts and all. Sleep would be elusive tonight. The faint scratching of bugs, the ripe odor of rotten food, and the dark thoughts of her most likely dead friend were recipes for a nightmare.
Caithas and Grunur (The Arena)

Caithas’ scimitar slices the elf across his belly, but the thrust made with the short sword is quickly side-stepped. The opponent counter-attacks immediately, rotating his entire body as he swings his two-handed scimitar in a horizontal arc. The blow ends the fight instantly, as Caithas collapses, bleeding heavily.

[OOC: I just used a fighter (1)/ranger (1) with the favored enemy bonuses, exotic weapon proficiency and power attack; I did not expect this build to be particularly powerful, but wow…]

The crowd screams with bloodlust, wanting to witness another death, but Grunur sees that the elf is reluctant to oblige. Eventually, though, he turns his sword upside down and inverts his grip on the pommel. He thrust the weapon against Caithas’ body, as the crowd shouts in approval.

[OOC: I am not ready to kill Caithas yet; I need him to introduce Ark. The sword did not run through Caithas; it was simply thrusted against the sand, close to Caithas, just to give the impression that the elf killed his opponent.]

As a man comes to haul the body away from the arena, Grunur rushes to the infirmary, not willing to believe that his friend is dead. He quickly finds his dead body upon a makeshift bed, with no physician to tend to him. Next to him, an idle physician is discussing with a dark figure that Grunur has not noticed before.

[OOC: I want to introduce Ark at this point. Please do not make posts until I do so.]
Elana (Langbard’s house)

Elana dozes off directly after lying on the bed, heeding no attention to Langbard’s loud snoring. She is woken up several hours later, at dawn, by her host, who is preparing for his duties at the guard. “Hope you had a good night’s sleep, my lady. I have to be off to work now, but brother Percy knows how to contact me when he is ready, and now, so do you. I will have to ask you to leave, so as not to compromise this place as well, but if you need somewhere to sleep tonight, you can stay with me again.”

Elana leaves with Langbard, deciding to head for the temple of Delrodin once again to see if any of her friends have returned. This time, she approaches the temple with great caution, for she knows that the place might not be safe.
Ariel (Cyric’s home)

Ariel spends the evening catching up with Cyric. After his return from the errands, her old acquaintance also updates her with whatever news he has. The conversation goes on well past nightfall. Eventually, Ariel decides to stay with her old friend, knowing that she will be safer there.

After a long, much deserved rest at Cyric’s house, Ariel wakes up in the morning and decides to check the temple of Delrodin once again. Hoping that her friends have returned, she carefully approaches the temple, making sure that no guards are around.

[OOC: Feel free to develop Cyric as you see fit, or not at all. If I posted something not consistent with his character above, let me know and I will edit the post.]
Jules (Zaracas’ basement)

After what he has seen, Jules is unable to sleep. Thoughts of death torment his mind, making this night the longest in his short life. Eventually, mental and physical fatigue overwhelm him. He falls asleep just before dawn, waking up hours later only because of the noise made by his captor.

As he opens his eyes, Jules sees Zaracas examining the door in the basement. Jules recalls that the door was locked last night; surely, Zaracas would remember this. The man looks at Jules with a crooked smile, giving the impression that he is almost satisfied that Jules made last night’s gruesome discovery.

“I see you’ve discovered my skeletons in the closet… You play along now, and I’ll make sure you don’t end up like them.” Zaracas unlocks the manacles and climbs upstairs. Jules follows; once on the ground floor he is offered a slice of dry bread and some tea for breakfast.

Zaracas doesn’t drop the subject, chatting about it idly during breakfast as if talking about the weather: “Decapitating a man is an art in itself. Most people think that decapitation is painless; a final act of mercy bestowed upon the convicted by his executioner. In reality, it all depends on the executioner. If he botches it, it can take several swoops of the blade to completely sever the head. During this time, the victim is very well aware of what is occurring, mind you…

…but the victim is also aware of what is happening even after his head is removed. Thorben the Black, the famous executioner of Andelia, even wrote a treatise on the subject. You see, Thorben was not content with his job as executioner. He fancied himself as something of a scholar, with a great interest in the macabre. After removing a head, he would shout the man’s name loudly at regular intervals. To his surprise, he observed that the severed heads still responded by opening their eyes even several minutes after decapitation. Can you imagine what it would be like? It must make for one hell of a last experience…”

Zaracas’ musings are only interrupted by the arrival of his boss, the unnamed officer who brought Jules here. “Ready to go?”, he asks Jules, as he sees the two men in the room.
(OOC: Continued from Ark’s prologue…)

Grunur couldn’t believe his eyes. First, he thought Caithas had been killed. Then, it appeared only badly wounded. And now…gods, was this stranger paying off the doctor? Was he taking Caithas?!

What was wrong with the people in this fucking city?

“Oy! Where’re you taking that half-elf, stranger? He’s a friend a mine!”

Grabbing his war hammer meaningfully, Grunur moves towards the dark newcomer.
Jules shuffles up the stairs, his noble clothes looking a bit messy after the previous day’s events. He listens to everything Zaracas says, no longer taking any joy in the dark humor that he himself had been trying the day before. Ah don’t know what it would be like, Zaracas, but Ah know when Ah am in charge here Ah will give you a chance to find out. Maybe I’ll even get Thorben to do it. Ah’m sure you would enjoy zat, you demented fuck. Jules lets out a small sigh of relief as the twisted discussion is finally interrupted by his unnamed captor. “Yes, I know where we need to go. Let’s get this over with.”
The assassin stands over his new associate. He looked like hell but he fought like a beast, and apparently not too smart for fighting here. Ark looks around the red room, stained with blood everywhere… Bandages bandages…

Jeez… he’s in terrible shape… he might fall apart if I touch him.

For now he’d have to take him to a temple or something… Then came thumping feet from behind him, and then a bit of shouting. Ark wheels around his cloak whipping about his heels. His arrows clamored as they rattled in the quiver. The sound of steel on steel rang out as the daggers and gladius collided. His mask hung hidden beneath his cloak with the strap around his neck. Ark slowly waves his hand and dismisses the dwarf, the buckler on his arm flopping while he moves his arm, simultaneously drawing a dagger with his main hand, twirling it dexterously and replacing it without looking downwards. “I paid for his life, relax. Otherwise your friend won’t be among us for very long.” he shot the dwarf a look that simply said, ‘Well?’

“He’s going to die soon, he’ll need more attention than they will give a loser here. If you’re his friend then you can help him square his debt by helping to carry him to safety.”
((OOC: Perception? If she doesn’t see any guards she’ll enter. Hopefully running into Elena))
10th of Frer-mánuðr, 2482. The Arena (Ark, Caithas and Grunur)

[OOC: I encourage you to continue with the RP, but I need to keep things moving, so I will railroad you a bit.]

As the dwarf and the assassin continue arguing, the half-elf lies next to them dying, mumbling incoherently a few phrases from time to time. “Ariel… The Temple of Delrodin… Get help…” Eventually, Grunur shifts his attention to his friend’s words. With his options running out, he lifts the body and walks outside, following Ark. The assassin is skilled at avoiding detection. Before the dwarf knows it, they are at the temple. They enter, hoping to find someone who can treat the dying ranger.

Most of the priests are busy and, after the recent developments, reluctant to harbor a dying stranger, who could be a criminal. Ark and Grunur’s appearance are also not particularly reassuring to them. Still, they do their best to stabilize Caithas. By the morning, he is still unconscious and his wounds have not been treated, but at least he is attended to by the healers.

[OOC: Caithas is at -1 hit points and stable. You will need someone to heal him; the priests are reluctant to help. Ariel, maybe?]

11th of Frer-mánuðr, 2482. The Temple of Delrodin (Everyone but Jules)

[OOC: No need for a Perception check, Grant.]

Ariel waits carefully outside the temple, making sure she is not seen by any of the priests. It takes half an hour of waiting, but the cleric is nothing if not persistent. Eventually, her patience is rewarded, as she sees Elana approaching the temple, equally attentive of any guards or soldiers.

After the two women meet, they pass the time talking to each other while waiting for the rest of their companions. Their waiting is in vain, but while waiting they conclude that the temple is safe, at least for now. They enter as cautiously as possible and silently search the rooms for Jules and Caithas. There is no sign of Jules, but they do find Caithas… struggling to cling on to life, with two strangers standing next to him. One of them is a heavily armored dwarf; the other a suspiciously-looking young man.

[OOC: Do what you want, but at some point you’ll have to leave the temple.]

11th of Frer-mánuðr, 2482. Market district (Jules)

Relieved to be finally out of Zaracas’ house of horrors, Jules leads the official to the Market district. He hopes that the place is crowded enough for him to find a man that bears some semblance to the description of his supposed “boss”. Alternatively, the crowded locale could help him escape, and his captor might be reluctant to shoot him down in front of a large audience.

[OOC: Jules-Intelligence check to realize alternatives-Success!]

While walking, Jules realizes that he is not alone. Zaracas appeared to have stayed behind, but in reality he has been following the duo all along. Jules can see the man’s cloak from time to time; he also catches glimpses of a couple of additional silhouettes accompanying him, but it is difficult to estimate how many are following him.

[OOC: Jules-Perception check vs. Hide-Success!]

Once at the market, Jules desperately searches for a man that fits his description. He is lucky: standing behind a stall piled with clothes, a merchant that looks like Jules’ “boss” is advertising his wares. Jules looks at the man, trying to confirm this, before saying anything to the officer.

[OOC: Jules-Perception check-Success!]
Somewhere in his bloodied, beaten mind, Caithas felt as if he was being carried. Then…voices? Women…Grunur…?

“These bloody priests’ll let ’im lay here and never wake up,” Grunur huffed in frustration.

“Look, stranger, you’ve asked me to help ye carry me friend here, and I admit…you seem to want him alive too, which means we’re on the same side for now. But who are you? And why buy the half-elf, near dead as he is?”

When the girls arrive, Grunur looks up from his questioning. Now what?

How in the hells did I end up back looking after this fucking half-breed, the dwarf wonders? But despite his frustration, he stays. Gods help him, he stays, and though he doesn’t admit it to himself, he somehow senses that his simple life is no longer quite so simple.
Elana’s breath caught at the sight of Caithas’ badly wounded body. She quickly caught herself before she let out a reaction; there were strangers in the room. The dwarf and the man both seemed like they could handle themselves, which made them dangerous. Were they with the guard? Had they done this to Caithas? Elana was hoping she could have turned and left until she figured out who they were, but they were already looking at her, so she would have to improvise.

“Can I help you gentlemen?” Elana asked, implying that she was somehow affiliated with the temple. One hand slid casually into her cloak to rest on the wand she had tucked there; true it just conjured a pool of grease, but it might be useful if she had to run.
Jules moves through the market district slowly, keeping an eye on his captors the entire way. When he finally catches a man bearing his fake master’s face he lets out an internal sigh. Today, at least, Ah am still alive. And possibly one step closer to ze Black Chamber. Jules signals for the official to wait, wanting to avoid frightening his ‘former employer’. Jules approaches the man, lifting up a shirt so that he looks like a buyer. He leans in next to the man saying, “How much for the shirt?”

[OOC: Depending on the result of this perception check my next action will change. If Jules notices any of the people following him within earshot he will just return to the official and indicate who the man is, if not he’ll do the following.]

In a quiet voice Jules addresses the merchant. “Sir, I know this will sound mad, but you are being followed, and with ill intent behind it at that. They are government officials like myself, but I disapprove of what they intend to do with you. They think you have some information they want, and if they catch you, you will be spilling everything you know and some things you don’t within three hours, I have seen their methods; the things they can do to a human body would make the most grizzled headsman shudder. When I leave, I want you to start slowly walking away from this place, this is your only chance at having any hope for life after today. Don’t make me regret putting my neck on the line for you.”
“Depends, lass. Can ye heal this fool half-elf I’ve made the mistake of calling ‘friend’? Because if not, he’ll soon be dead and then we really won’t have much to talk about, will we?”

Grunur eyed the woman and her companion. She carried herself well. Noble? Ecclesiastic? Whoever she was, her eyes betrayed that she knew Caithas; the worry on her face was plain. And if she gave a damn about him…well, maybe they were in luck, the dwarf thought.

Then he looked over at the dark stranger who had essentially bought the half-elf.

In luck? What was he, mad?

Just heal ‘im up so I can shake the fool’s hand, say farewell, and get out of this fucking city, Grunur mused.
[OOC: Well that’s a word I’ve never heard. Kudos.]

Elana let out a sigh of relief. They weren’t guards, and it didn’t look like they were going to cause trouble. But that didn’t mean she could trust them yet. “I am acquainted with Caithas,” she confirmed. “The priestess, can take care of him from here. Might I ask what your relationship Caithas is?” Though she was talking to the dwarf, she directed a glance at the other man to say that she wanted to hear from both of them.
The dwarf speaks first.

“I was this idiot’s friend, once…perhaps I still am. As for this one,” he says, jerking his thumb at the dark stranger, “he’ll need to tell you for himself.”
The Market district (Jules)

[OOC: Jules-Perception check-result kept secret and Diplomacy check-success!]

Jules cautiously looks around, trying to figure out if Zaracas and his unnamed friends are still following him. He notices no-one near the merchant’s bench. Although his pursuers might have eluded him, Jules decides to trust his skills of observation. He approaches the man, explaining the situation as best he can so as not to further compromise his position.

The merchant is at first reluctant to buy Jules’ half-lie: “Surely you must be joking. What job do I have with government officials? I am but a simple peddler of cloths!” However, seeing Jules’ dead-serious expression convinces him that he should do as the nobleman instructs him. “Why…?” he asks quietly before he follows Jules’ instructions. This age-old philosophical question, that so many have asked before, is directed to no-one in particular: perhaps to Jules, perhaps to himself, or perhaps to the almighty gods above.

Jules simply walks away, as the merchant starts doing the same, but towards the opposite direction. Whatever the nobleman’s cunning plan was, it was set in motion…

[OOC: @ Jeff-It’s actually Greek, ecclesia = church in Greek. Just in case you need some more useless information to clutter your brain.]
Jules returns to the official, keeping his head and his voice low. “That was him, the man at the stall. He told me that I was followed and then started walking away. Apparently your men were noticed. I don’t know where he is going, but if he thinks he has been found out then he likely means to disappear.”

[OOC: Going for a bluff here to convince him that the man intends to disappear.]
Ariel gasps when she sees Caithas’ lying there. She looks from the men to Caithas to Elena. “What has happened to him?” She looks at the two hoping that the distress at recognizing Caithas doesn’t show in her face.
“Did something stupid, I bet,” Elana muttered.
“Stupid maybe, but he’s a tough one.” The rouge’s azure blue eyes look at all the faces, no names from the ladies or the dwarf… at least the sorry sod he bought had a name. “As for our relationship… well, lets just say I believe saving his life is worth a little use of his muscle. Of course in a much safer environment than an arena. And of course… He’ll need to fully recover first.” Ark shrugs, they all know the half-born and… seemingly are all friends of varying degrees… Though the girls bothered to hide it from a stranger. The dwarf… Not so smart.

I may have just gotten a good deal for this half-born…
“What happened to him is that he’s on Death’s bloody door!” the dwarf roared. “You said the priestess will care for him, lass,” Grunur says, pointing at Elana, “so of yer the priestess,” he continues, eyes shifting to Ariel, “what’re ye waiting for?”
Ariel nods and ducks out of the room. She returns just a few moments later with her supplies in hand. “Please explain to me how he ended up so badly wounded?” She tries to keep the anger back, but her fingers quickly work with the healing agents to Caithas’ wounds.
[OOC: A bit busy night, so I will be brief.]

The Market District (Jules)

[OOC: Jules-Bluff check-Success!]

The official does not seem to doubt Jules’ claim, but he is dissatisfied nonetheless. Jules sees for the first time a few cracks appearing in his cold, detached demeanor: “So go after him. Reassure him that he is not followed. Take him to a safer place, if you need to. You seem to think that you are good with words-time to put your skills to the test. I have tried to be civilized, but there are other ways to make men talk. Your fucking lives don’t mean shit to me if you don’t give me information. Do you understand this?” He violently pushes Jules away; the nobleman seems to be running out of choices. So much for an easy way out.

The temple of Delrodin (Everyone else)

[OOC: @ Grant-What does Ariel do? You spoke of supplies, but there are none nearby, and you lack any in your inventory. You can try a heal check or casting a cure light wounds. Roll if you decide to do either; until then, Caithas will remain at -1 hit points and dying. You can always refuse healing, of course, or demand a better explanation, but the guards may or may not return soon.]
Jules reacts to the shove, glaring at the man only for a brief moment before composing himself. “Of course, whatever you say. He won’t believe me if I say he isn’t being followed, but I know a place. Not many people, and most of them won’t ask questions. I will take him there. Just make sure your men aren’t as noticeable.” A thin smirk spreads across his face as he follows after the man. He had expected his employer to track him down, interrogate him, and end up with nothing to show for it. But here he was handing Jules an opportunity to lead the man wherever he wanted. The opportunity to lead this man into a trap, to turn the tables on the man.

Jules follows after the scapegoat, and when he finally catches up with him he says, “Good, nice to see you could be trusted, now I need you to follow me. The people trailing you are still after you, but I have a safe house, the temple of Delrodin. You will be safe there, and I can deal with the threat these men pose without fear for your safety.” He continues to plot as he speaks with the man, hopefully Caithas and Elana would be there, maybe Malcom too. They can help him subdue his captors, taking them prisoner and letting the scapegoat go free. And if they aren’t it would still provide him a chance to feed the scapegoat misinformation before the official catches up with them.

[OOC: Using my Rogue ability to roll two d20’s for my diplomacy check and take the better result. Also if he follows I’m taking him to the temple. Hopefully this helps with reuniting the party and seems logical as a path Jules would take.]
“Good gods, do you clerics down here ever actually heal or do ye just berate and question the wounded until they give up their bloody ghosts?! He nearly got cut in half in an arena, and he’ll tell you the story himself, girl, if you quit yappin’ and heal the poor boy already! If you won’t do it…,” the dwarf hesitates, then sighs, “then…dammit, then I’ll try to do it meself!”

(OOC: Not sure how this works, Vlad; Grunur can only bestow temporary HP, not regular healing, but here goes.)

He remembers his mother’s words. It had been so long now, across a world and time, and Grunur didn’t even know if he could perform the ancient rites passed down the Rooinnir line. But his friend was dying before his eyes, the fool cleric didn’t seem ready to act…what choice did he have? He had to try.

The dwarf mumbles something in dwarven and closes his eyes, hands outstretched over Caithas’ broken form.

Temp. HP – (1d8+1)6

(OOC: Grunur’s purple speech color is awfully similar to Jules’, so I was thinking of simply doing his speech in bold. Does that work for eveyone?)
Temple of Delrodin

As Grunur touches his friend’s unconscious body, the ranger stirs, seemingly in reaction to whatever magic the dwarf has just cast. The armiger waits for a few seconds, hoping that his powers are sufficient for bringing the ranger back from the dead… but to no avail. Caithas remains unconscious and in desperate need of healing, as he was before.

[OOC: @ Mike: This is going to come up a lot, so I have done a bit of research. Rules as written imply that normal HP and temporary HP do not interact. Temporary HP are completely independent and simply provide a buffer, in a sense that any damage dealt is subtracted from those first. So basically if Caithas takes damage now, he will lose those 6 extra temp. HP first, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is at -1 and dying.

Still, good to know, I guess. It makes this power good to use in the morning on any characters that will be doing any combat, especially since the duration seems unlimited. Or a sort of emergency pseudo-healing for anyone fighting next to the dwarf in combat.]
(OOC: I responded to this in the Discussion thread, Vlad.)

Grunur sighs. Maybe he’d done it wrong? Dammit…he’d felt…something…he was sure of it. Some power stirred…but it wasn’t enough to wake the half-elf up.

“I…I can’t. If one of you doesn’t heal him soon…he’ll…he’ll be dead.”

Resignstion is the only emotion heard in the armored dwarf’s voice.
“Hey!” Elana snapped at the dwarf. “I don’t care if you are a friend of Caithas, but you don’t go insulting people who are offering to help.” She was at least taller than the dwarf, but he was far larger than her, though if she was intimidated in the least she did not show it. “Ariel is an expert in the field, so you can answer her questions politely so she knows what she’s dealing with or you can step outside and wait until our mutual friend has recovered.”

Elana checked to see that Caithas’ wounds seemed to heal slightly with the dwarf’s words. At least he’s not completely useless, she thought.

“Now if you gentlemen wish to continue this conversation politely,” Elana said, pointedly at the dwarf. “You can begin by telling me your names, or you can go outside and heal him yourself in the alley. My name is Elana,” she began, hoping the others, namely the dwarf, would settle down. She probably shouldn’t have reprimanded him so severely, but Elana didn’t like the way he was treating Ariel.
Grunur turned his sad, misty eyes up at the redhead. His voice was no more than a gruff whisper. He looked older than he had a moment ago as he sputters out.

“Grunur. Grunur Rooinnir. A very old friend of Caithas’, you could say. So I ask you, Elana…Ariel…please. Just save my friend.”

(OOC: How’s that for making you feel guilty, eh Jeff? )
Ark remains a quiet spectator through the outburst, merely quipping at the end, “He was indeed doing something stupid. He got pretty battered in an arena fight and after he got patched up following that…” He shakes his head, “He would have died if I hadn’t dropped the coin to spare him.” shrugging, “I haven’t the faintest clue why he was there though. You’d have to ask him the full details.”

Ark peered down at the dwarf, it was quite a pathetic look for a dwarf… One of the mountain born warriors of the deeps. He looked like a puppy.
Grunur nods quickly at Ark’s words.

“The stranger here speaks true. If it weren’t for his willingness to part with his coins, the half-elf’d be still rotting away underground somewheres.”
Jules (Just outside the temple of Delrodin)

[OOC: Jules-Diplomacy check-success!]

The official urges Jules to get up from the ground, after Jules outlines his plan. “I will wait for you outside the place. Don’t take too long. Learn whatever you can; I can extract the rest. Just make sure this is not a trick.” He remains behind, observing Jules from a distance as he catches up with the fleeing merchant.

The merchant follows Jules’ commands to the letter as the nobleman guides him to the temple of Delrodin. From time to time, Jules looks behind his back to see if the official and his men are still on their tracks. Although he fails to catch a glimpse of the official, he does observe Zaracas and at least three of his men following the escaping duo. Luckily, the merchant seems too distracted to observe anything. After a few minutes of hasty walking, Jules and the merchant reach the entrance of the temple.

[OOC: Multiple perception checks-mixed successes and failures.]

Jules guides the merchant inside. Before he enters, he checks for one last time to see how many have followed them here. He fails to observe anyone, but he is certain that he is not alone. As he enters, he is drawn to one of the rooms by a loud conversation that must be some sort of argument. He approaches, and gradually he recognizes some of the voices; Elana is definitely there, but the rest of the voices sound unfamiliar.

[OOC: Jules-Perception check-Success!]

Before entering the room, one of the clerics of Delrodin misidentifies Jules as brother Percy, despite his attire: “Brother Percy, you have returned! The guardsmen wanted to have a word with you with regards to that colleague of theirs you brought in for treatment. They were here yesterday, and they said they would return today. If you wish, you can wait in the library until their arrival. They seemed extremely grateful.”

[OOC: Jules-Disguise check vs. cleric’s perception-failure. Jules is currently next to the merchant. The merchant looks a bit skeptical /cautious as the priest of Delrodin identifies Jules as brother Percy.]

Everyone else (Temple of Delrodin)

As the party continues arguing, Caithas’ situation does not improve. Eventually, perhaps giving in to Grunur’s demands, Ariel decides to start tending to the half-elf’s wounds. She takes what she can find from a neighboring room: bandages, a needle, some thread and a bottle of ointment. As soon as she has everything, she starts working on Caithas’ body.

[OOC: Ariel-heal check (treat deadly wounds)-Result=23-Success! Caithas recovers 2 hit points and is now at 1/21 hp.]

After an hour of silent, methodical work, Ariel manages to repair a minimal amount of the damage, but the ranger’s body is still in a terrible shape. Most of his wounds are open, but at least he can speak now, albeit in a weak, barely audible voice.

[OOC: Grant responded via PM. If Jules chooses to ignore the cleric and walk into the room, you can role-play with him as well, exchange information, make introductions and discuss the plan of action, but nobody has heard the nobleman step in or the priest address him as brother Percy (failed perception check by Elana).]
(OOC: Caithas also has those six temporary HP too…so that’s something.)

The half-elf groans and his eyes flutter. Grunur…and Elana…and the cleric…together? And who is…that? That…man?

“Where…how…gods fucking…shit, that hurts. Sister…Ariel…do you have any…any faster recovery…abilities? My gods…how…how it hurts…,” he whispers and his eyes close once more.

(OOC: Come on, Doc, don’t be so stingy with that healing spell of yours! Haha)

Grunur smiled, despite Caithas’ obvious agony. The fool half-blood would live. That was enough.

For now.
Jules moves quickly, hoping to inform his friends on the situation before Zaracas and the rest of the goons catch up with him. The people trailing him aren’t the real objective right now; that honor goes to the official following them. When the priest stops him he gives up faking the accent, “Yes, why wouldn’t zey be coming here. Have zem wait somewhere when zey arrive, Ah have a pressing matter to deal with.”

After brushing past the priest Jules brings his bait with him and follows the voices, hoping to find his friends and inform them of the situation. Instead finding Caithas wounded on a table, Elana and Ariel standing over him, and two strangers there as well. Jules looks down at his friend thinking to himself, Damn it, Ah should have though of zis, Ah sent him out to fight, why wouldn’t he come back like zis. At least he is alive, Ah suppose zat counts for something. He eventually clears his throat as he enters the room.

“We have a lot to discuss and not a lot of time to do it. First, zis man,” He says pushing the street merchant forward, “Is under our protection. At least until zis situation is resolved. Second who are zes men? Ah assume zis has something to do with why my friend is so keen on showing us his innards? And third, at zis moment we have at least five men coming towards us with ze intent of taking zis man and myself into zer rather uncomfortable custody, by force if necessary. Ah have a plan, but at ze moment ze man Ah was relying on can’t stand up to a light breeze, much less ze thugs who are after me.”

Jules looks the two new men up and down. [OOC: If Grunur and Ark look armed then Jules will say the following.] “Alright, you two, one hundred gold pieces each for zis job. Ah will need help with zis plan and you two seem like ze sorts Ah need. What do you say?”
Grunur, wearing full armor with a giant hammer strapped to his back, regards the man with the accent. So there’s a leader, he thinks. Interesting. What the hell have you gotten mixed up in this time, you fool half-breed?

Clearing his throat, the armiger speaks.

“Save yer money. You called Caithas here a friend; good enough for me, lad. Who are we fighting and what’s yer plan?”

As Grunur speaks, Caithas’ eyes open once more.

“Jules…good to see…you…you look…terrible,” the ranger whispers, though his lips turn into a grim smile. “Someone…give me my…my blades. And help…me s-s-stand, will you?”

The dwarf feigns a look of horror…but he can’t help his grin.

That fucking half-elf hadn’t changed a bit.
Jules looks at his friend with a look that is somewhere between confusion and dismissal. “Ah look terrible?! Ah’m not putting you into a fight in zis condition. Ah could beat you in a fight right now. Stay here and do whatever Ariel says.” He returns his attention to Grunur. "Ze plan is fairly simple. Zis man is being hunted by some unsavory people, but these people have information zat Ah need. Ah have been told to meet zer leader outside after Ah secure our friend. Ah am going to lure him in with ze promise of delivering zis man.

“So ze plan goes like zis. We secure zis man in a room where ze priests will not have reason to be. Anyone fighting will be divided into two groups, zose in ze room, and zose outside ze room who will fall in behind and close ze trap. Ah would like you inside ze room, along with me since Ah will be leading zem, while everyone else involved strikes from behind. Most of zes men are unimportant, taking zem prisoner may give us bargaining power later on, but it is unimportant for ze time being. Zer are only two men Ah want taken alive. Zer leader, ze man Ah will be leading, and his second, a thug called Zaracas. Ze main target is a politician, not a fighter, so Ah do not anticipate much struggle from him, but his second will likely put up a fight.”

Jules takes a moment to describe Zaracas and the official to the group, and then leaves the merchant with them while he goes and looks for a room to build the trap.

[OOC: He’s basically looking for a room that has a small entrance and easy places to hide, either against the walls or behind some sort of furniture. If he can’t find a room like that then he’s going to use the attic instead. Also, just to check, are there stairs leading to the attic or is it some sort of ladder?]
Elana was relieved that Jules was back in good health. Now they were all together again, which was always reassuring. She listened intently to what Jules had to say and digested the situation quickly.

“I think I can be of use,” Elana said. She held up the grease-wand that no one knew was really just a grease-wand. “I can put them to sleep if we get them together. Prisoners would be better off in mint condition, right?”
Jules nods to his wife. He finds himself grateful that his wife had learned something useful in her education. The ability to activate magical objects will be particularly helpful today. “Perfect, stay away from the fighting and try to keep quiet so zey don’t come after you. Ze faster zey go down ze better. Speed and surprise are our allies in zis.”
The rouge shrugged, money for assassinating people? And one was a politician? This day could hardly get better.

“Five men seems hardly like a fair fight. For them at least, and If he doesn’t want the gold, I’ll take both halves.” Ark reached over his shoulder and pulled Tsukasa from its sheath. The longbow was black and simple. With a recurve part of the way down. It was thick, and a hand guard which came together in points just in the middle of the bow. Simple carvings adorned it with red paint within the groves. Cherry blossom flowers, swirls and sharp lines. Clearly the bow had been well made, sturdy, and packed a punch.
Jules looks at the newcomer. Curious about who he is and why he is there, but his curiosity will have to wait. “Fine zen, but remember to keep ze two Ah need alive. If zey die you get nothing.”
“Fair enough, I’m not responsible if one of you slays him.”

Ark follows behind Jules as they go searching for rooms. Passing through one place and onto the other.

“A good ambush position is nice, but don’t expect them to wait forever for you to get them.”
“Ah don’t plan to keep zem waiting long. Ze man Ah’m after told me to get information from ze target before contacting him. Zat should give us enough time to get ready.” As Jules walks through the temple, searching for an ambush site, he feels the fear and helplessness of the previous night slipping away. He might not be much of a fighter, but planning, preparing, luring people into a trap; these are the skills that make him a threat to this official and Zaracas, not the ability to chop off some helpless man’s head.
“Jules…,” Caithas croaks, “keep me…with you…in hiding. I may…may be weak but…if hidden…I…I might be able to…to strike. Of course a little…healing…would be nice,” he says, his eyes flicking again to Ariel.

Grunur nods and adds, “Then I’ll help spring yer trap, stranger. And, gods be willing, we’ll all see each other alive when this is done so that I can learn what the bloody hells is going on.”
Temple of Delrodin

[OOC: Where the hell is Doc? I am NPCing Ariel until he returns; it seems like her only role is to stand by and do nothing most of the time and frankly, it’s getting a bit annoying.]

As the companions discuss their plan, the merchant and Ariel stand by, listening to the conversation as it develops. Jules is able to secure a room on the ground floor; he tells a couple of lies and half-truths to the priests about Caithas needing an operating room immediately, or else he will die. The priests are eager to oblige; they clear a small room for the nobleman. The room is equipped with a pair of narrow beds and a closet, thus offering secure places for three men to hide there.

[OOC: You will still need Stealth checks, and the people under the beds will need to spend a move action to get up.]

The merchant follows the conversation with attention. His behavior betrays confusion, but this slowly turns into wrath. He directs this anger towards Jules: “Wait a minute! First you say that you are an officer, then that priest calls you brother, and now you speak with the accent of a foreigner. What is going on here? Who are you people?” He glares at the rest of the party with clear frustration. Whatever the group’s plan, he seems unwilling to risk his life for it.

[OOC: @ Ross: I realize that Jules rolled great on diplomacy earlier, but still, even with a +100 modifier, the man would have to be suicidal to agree with what has been implied.]

Ariel is equally dissatisfied. He looks at Caithas with no pity for the half-elf’s condition. “No. I will not heal you so that you can murder more guards.” She turns to everyone, and especially Jules: “Do you even care about this place? The temple of Delrodin is the only decent place in this city, a house of healing devoted to good. And you want to use it to set up a trap? And you, brother Percy… is that even your real name? Do you even care about what will happen to these priests here once you are done with this blood-bath of yours?”

[OOC: There, hopefully realistic and in-character. I don’t remember if Jules revealed his true identity to Ariel; if he did, let me know so that I can edit.]
“You’re…you’re on the wrong side…Sister…,” Caithas spits out at Ariel. “You…you imagine a…a uniform…and a title…for these guards makes…them…just? Corruption…wears nice clothes, Sister…always has…”

He pauses to cough and continues fitfully.

“You don’t want…to heal me? Then my death…and others…are on your hands, lady. The men…the men coming…will kill…kill us all…the priests too. Trust…Jules…trust…trust Brother Percy…and you may yet live. But leave me like…like this? Just…slit…my…fucking…throat…now…”

His eyes flutter as he struggles to sit up. Still badly wounded, he still found some strength from…somewhere.

(OOC: I’m banking on those six temporary HP that Grunur gave him.)

“But know this, Sister…when those…priests…lay dead…it will be your…your precious ‘guards’ who killed them…not us.”

Grunur just watched the whole thing in horror. There was trouble in the Domes, true, but this? This was…madness!

(OOC: Stealth +7 for Caithas and Stealth +0 for Grunur, when needed.)
Jules listens to the complaints, the accusations, and the indignation building in the room. As he listens to Ariel accuse him of being heartless something inside him decides that he has had enough. He turns to the man he is preparing to use as bait.

“Alright, first, shut up. Who we are is irrelevant right now. What is going on, is Ah am trying to gather anyone willing and able who can help save your life right now. And at zis point you have two choices. You can stay here, act as bait, either conscious or not, and stand a good chance of surviving. Or, and Ah say zis with all ze truth Ah can muster. Ah will drag you out to zat man, call my debt squared, leave you without a second thought, and zen let you spend ze last days of your life in ze custody of a man who will break every bone in your body, flay ze skin from your limbs, and zen when you have no more meaningless lies to tell zem, he will leave you in ze care of a thug who has mastered ze art of chopping off heads and preserving zem in jars! And zat is ze optimistic outlook. Now be silent and do as Ah say!”

With all the words he cares to use on the man spent, Jules turns to the man he intends to pay. “If he tries to run, incapacitate him. Without ending his life.”

Then the frustrated lord turns his attention to Ariel. "You have ze memory of an Ennuit Moth, my lady. We first came here to save ze life of a guard. We could have left him for dead, dumped his body in ze river and been perfectly fine, probably in a better situation zan we are currently in. But we worked to save his life, despite ze pain it might soon bring us.

“As for your other questions, let me start by saying very little of what Ah have told you is ze truth. My name is Jules Aime Amour, not Brother Percy. Ze reason for zis lie is because Ah am a wanted man, ze same as Caithas here. And do you know why we are wanted, no of course not because you never bothered to look past ze wanted poster. We are wanted because Ah made ze senator command the guards to stop slaughtering civilians during ze festival a few days ago. And when ze captain of ze guards refused to stop, Caithas and Ah stepped in to try and stop him from hurting people.

“Ah don’t want a blood-bath here, sister. True Ah may not want to help ze sick and injured or any lofty ideals you hold so dear, but Ah have made ze best plan Ah can, given my resources, to keep as many people alive as possible. You and zes priests included. If all goes well zes priests will not come to harm. But if something goes wrong, zen Ah will do whatever is in my power to keep zem safe. But Ah am not a fool, nor an Ah a martyr, and if putting zes priests at risk for a time helps me to keep my friends safe zen zat is a risk Ah would gladly take ten thousand times over. Because Ah trust my friends and zer skill and zer dedication to do what must be done, and to keep safe zose who we must put in harms way.

“And when zis is all over, Ah will answer any question, take any accusation you wish to heap on me, but for ze time being, if you care about zes people at all, zen you will heal Caithas, and get him on his feet, so zat he can help protect zis place and all of ze innocents within.”

[OOC: I think we’re a bit beyond diplomacy and bluffing with the merchant, and I’m really wishing I had put a rank in intimidate at level up (+3). As far as Ariel, I don’t know if you plan to keep NPCing her, but I’m going for a mix of intimidate and diplomacy, not sure if I would get the +2 diplomacy buff from attraction, especially considering the nature of the discussion, but I’ll leave it up to your judgement. Also I don’t think Jules will be stealthing since he’ll probably be the one leading them into the temple.]
[[ Stealth +8; Not sure where Ark could fit-in, but he’d like to be positioned to snipe at least once.]]

Ark remains silent but nods at his orders. This was a bit mad…

He looked around the room and could find little places to hide… It was a poor spot for an ambush at best.
Elana waited for the debate to be settled. “I’ll be in the room across the hall,” she said, once Jules had spoken his peace. She took out her wand and loaded her crossbow, just in case. She hoped she wouldn’t have to use it, cos if it came to her firing bolts in such close quarters, their plan would have gone very much south.
Grunur looks at Jules with new-found respect.

“Just tell me where you want me, Amour; you’ve got my loyalty for today at least. And I promise you this, girl,” he says, turning to Ariel with a growl, “if you don’t heal that half-elf, and he ends up dead…I’ll smash your fucking skull in, by the Hammer I swear it!”

Caithas said nothing, but smiled. Even if I die, he thought, Jules will be fine…that’s something anyway…
Temple of Delrodin (Everyone)

[OOC: I think we are beyond skill checks with everyone; I doubt Ariel would budge, due to her morality and connection to the temple. Ross, you can re-adjust your ranks to put some into In timidate, if you want.]

With the argument escalating, whatever sensible points are made are lost within the torrent of accusations, threats and insults that are hurled by the most vocal members of the group. Ariel turns to each of those who addressed her in turn and gives her answers:

(To Caithas) “And what of your hands? Are they not tainted with blood? You would see me take your side, but how much blood has been spilled already? How would spilling more help anything? Why am I to believe that your group has the interests of the people in mind, when brother Percy here has not even been honest about his name? You could be killers or fanatics, for all I know!”

(To Jules) “And you forget how the very same priests you now wish to jeopardize offered you hospitality, despite your dishonesty. What do you think will happen to those priests tomorrow, or the day after that? I’ll tell you what: they will be prosecuted, imprisoned or worse, because of your reckless behavior. What of the sick and the dying? Where is your conscience? No, I am washing my hands off this; I am leaving this place and I am taking the priests and the injured with me.”

(To Grunur) “Strike if you have to, mighty warrior. Strike at a defenseless woman that seeks you no harm. I have made my peace with the gods a long time ago. I hope you are equally prepared to face judgment.”

The conversation has attracted several of the temple’s priests, how are standing by the priestess.

[OOC: I no one does anything, Ariel will take the priests and the injured and she will exit through the front door. She will not heal anyone, but if you are willing to steal from the temple, you can try to find some potions. Make a perception check vs. a DC of 20; if you succeed, you find a potion of cure light wounds. If you roll 25 or higher, you find 1d2 (roll) of these potions.]

The merchant follows the conversation, shaking in fear. He has become entirely compliant, and it is clear that he will do whatever is asked of him.
Grunur Perception – (1d20+5)22

Caithas Perception – (1d20+6)18

“Bah, go then girl. But when you and yours are cut down in the streets by the guards you’re so hellbent on protecting, remember that you had a choice.”

With that, Grunur searches the temple looking for something, anything…there! A potion!

“Drink, Caithas. Drink, old friend.”
Potion of Cure – (1d8+2)5

Gulping, Caithas grits his teeth, but manages a smile.

“Saved…my ass…again…dwarf.”
Jules lets the priestess leave. He makes no attempt to prolong their argument, but his anger is written across his face. Her refusal to heal Caithas would make things more difficult, but not impossible, not if everyone remembered their parts. “Everyone, get into your positions. You, merchant, in ze room and in plain view. Ah want two others in ze room. Elana, you and our new friend here will stay outside ze room, hit zem from behind and be ready to run if we fall. Caithas, if you are so hellbent on fighting today, Ah want you hidden in ze room. You and your dwarven friend can fight over who gets ze closet and who gets ze bed. Ah am going to go and bring zem in, be ready when Ah return.”

With his last instructions given, Jules leaves the temple. Looking around for the official or any of the men trailing him. When he finally sees the man he approaches him, ready for another round of lying. “He’s inside. I convinced him he would be safe here while I threw you off his trail. I wasn’t able to gather much, but I think he’s one of the Denizens. Either working for them or hired out. I told the priests he was a wanted man, and they left on my behest. Assuming they actually listened you shouldn’t be noticed getting the man out.”

[OOC: I don’t know if you meant one perception check overall, or one each, but here’s mine just in case.]

Perception – (1d20+4)20
(OOC: Come on, one more healing potion for the road! haha. Caithas will take the bed; Grunur the closet.)

When Jules leaves, Caithas lays on the bed he’s told to lay on, swords drawn and laid across his chest. Grunur covers him with a dark sheet.

“Survive this, half-elf, and then you’ve got some explaining to do,” the dwarf muttered, hammer in hand, moving towards the closet.

Indeed I will, Caithas thought, still in terrible pain, as his eyes flicked towards the doorway.
Ark gave a Kind and coy smile to the lady as he crossed the hall with her, “A crossbow eh? I find the mechanisms can sometimes snag at the most inopportune time, and a wand… imagine that. I’ve got a friend, she’d be thrilled to meet you.”

He observed her as she loaded the crossbow, “Easy now, the calmer you are the straighter it’ll fly. You’re pretty new at this aren’t you?”
Elana shot the man a withering look. She didn’t need him to tell her she seemed like an amateur. “This is a good crossbow,” she said defensively, holding Ællastyr up for him to see. “She won’t snag.” She eyed his own weapons. The bow piqued her interest. “I don’t think I got your name.”
“Aye, it looks like a wonderful weapon. She? Glad to hear she has a name.” Ark held up Tsukasa, noticing her gaze, giving the bowstring a flick. The hum of the string was music to his ears. “This, is my partner Tsukasa.” He pulled out an arrow and notched it.

Arks smile widened devilishly, “as for my name I never gave it, but you can call me Ark if you’d like. Elana was it? Pleasure.”
“Elana Savain,” she formally introduced herself. Ark’s smile had a predatory feel to it that only made Elana more uncomfortable, though she was glad he was at least fighting on her side.

She was tempted to ask more about him, but the sounds from outside indicated that Jules was leading their prey into the trap, and so she remained silent, listening for their time to strike.

[[ Knowledge Local – (1d20+5)20 ]]

She was a noble of some kind or other… Though not directly important herself…. what was she doing out here with a crossbow in hand with two wanted men? Well… technically three…

He shook his head, noises were coming. He moved behind the doorway and pressed against the wall, a small step to the side and he could fire through the doorway.

[[ Stealth +8 ]]
Before hurrying off, Jules scrounged up another potion, which Caithas gulped quickly. He’d need all the help he could get…

Potion – (1d8+2)10

(Ahhh…not too shabby! 16 regular HP now, plus 6 temporary HP.)
Grunur, waiting in the closet, silently calls upon his mother’s gift once more, this time blessing himself to prepare for the coming fight…

Temp. Hp – (1d8+2)5
Outside the temple of Delrodin (Jules)

Jules follows the procession of priests. Led by Ariel and carrying the wounded, they exit through the main entrance. Jules does the same; once outside, he easily spots the officer, Zaracas and his men, who have taken no trouble to hide themselves this time. Jules explains the priests’ presence, but it seems that he has told a lie too many.

[OOC: Jules-Bluff Check vs. Officer’s sense motive-Failure. Jules sees the official, Zaracas and three thugs.]

“How convenient. So your safe room is in a temple, but the evacuation of the premises is required before we are allowed to venture in. Please forgive me if I do not trust you. Zaracas, bring me his head!” Before Jules has an opportunity to react, the henchman grabs the young lord by his hair and unsheathes a dagger.

“Wait! Stop this!”, a voice interrupts. It belongs to none other than Ariel, who has witnessed the entire incident. “The man is telling the truth! He told us to evacuate the temple because he feared for our safety! I can vouch for his word!” Zaracas hesitates, anticipating a command from his boss.

The officer replies after a few seconds: “Sheathe your blade, Zaracas. Alright, let’s have a look then.” The official turns to Jules, saying: “If you are lying, I swear I’ll make you wish you had never been born.” Zaracas directs a similar threat to Ariel: “Same goes for you too, gorgeous. I’ll find you and I’ll gut you like a fish.”

The official eventually takes a long sigh, before continuing in a casual tone: “Alright, let’s go inside, shall we? Lead the way, Lionel.”

Inside the temple of Delrodin (everyone)

While Jules is outside, the rest of the companions make sure to position themselves as the nobleman had requested. The merchant follows the orders slavishly, sitting behind the table. He is completely unable to conceal his fear; he remains on the chair, but he is shaking and perspiring heavily.

As soon as Jules enters the main hall, the officer commands: “Zaracas, take your men and investigate. I will stay here and keep Sir Lionel company.” He turns to Jules, giving him a confident grin. He unstraps a large crossbow with an extremely intricate mechanism from his shoulder. The contraption holds multiple bolts, which are loaded via a complicated set of gears. He points the weapon at Jules, before saying: “Take ten steps forward.” He operates the gears and levers for a few seconds, before saying: “If you’re planning to make a run for it, run fast. I enjoy a challenging target.”

Zaracas, following Jules’ directions, heads towards the room where the merchant is held.

[OOC: Caithas’ Stealth (18) vs. Zaracas’ Perception (11) (success!) and Grunur’s Stealth (17) vs. Zaracas’ Perception (21) (failure).]

As the thug enters the room, accompanied by his three associates, he pauses. He carefully looks at the merchant, who does not reply. As he inspects the room, he turns to the closet, where Grunur is hidden. “It’s a trap!” he shouts, loudly enough so that everyone in the temple can hear him. He readies two daggers, one in each hand, while his fellows take his side with short swords in hand.

[OOC: Zaracas is wearing no armor that you can see; the thugs are wearing studded leather and carrying bucklers.]

In the entrance hall, the officer is about to shoot a bolt at Jules.

[OOC: I am having trouble with Scene viewer, so I will upload the map instead. I have added static tokens with your PCs’ initial on them (green). Caithas will need to spend a move action to get up from under the bed. Either Ark or Elana also has to spend a move action to open the door of the room they are in. Jules can head towards the library (where he can attempt to hide behind the bookshelves), but if he decides to head left, towards the room where everyone else is, he will also have to spend a move action to open the door.
All enemies roll for initiative: Thug 1 (21); Officer (14); Thug 2 (12); and Thug 3 (5). The merchant also rolls for initiative (4).
@ Mike: The potions heal 1d8+1 hp (not 1d8+2), so please subtract 2 hp from Caithas’ character sheet.
Everyone roll for initiative!]
(OOC: Fixed, Vlad; Caithas has 14 HP and 6 temp. HP, heading into the fight. Grunur is at full strength with five additional temp. HP added in.)

Caithas initiative – (1d20+2)5

Grunur initiative – (1d20)7
Jules eyes go wide when the official calls for his head, and even after surviving yet another brush with death, Jules continues onward, leading the group into the temple. He figured it was too much to ask that the official would go straight in, but the sound of Zaracas shouting about the trap, signals the first snag in the plan. At least the official wouldn’t be caught in the crossfire., but he would also be able to escape. An unacceptable outcome; especially after how he had treated Jules.

Initiative – (1d20+3)11

Jules swallows, as he see the official raise the strange crossbow, ready to fire. Ah am not going to die here. Zis is not how Ah die.
Initiative – (1d20+6)14
Temple of Delrodin (everyone)

[OOC: Rolling for Matthias to speed things up. Sorry Mat, but it’s just a random number, so hopefully you don’t mind.]

Ark Initiative – (1d20+3)21

[OOC: Not bad! Ark goes first, then me.]
Having lost any sense of the rest of the ambush, Ark throws the door open and lets an arrow fly at T1

attack – (1d20+7)26
damage – (1d20+5)12

[[I failed the damage and did 1d20+5, re-rolling…]]
Damage – (1d8+5)12
The thug falls to the ground instantly. Ark’s deed has not gone unnoticed by the henchman’s boss, Zaracas. He screams a threat as he moves in to attack: “I’ll have your head for this!” He buries one of the daggers deep into Ark’s belly. Sickened by pain, the assasin is struck by how strong the man is-he has never been dealt such a powerful blow. The man’s strength seems almost unnatural.

[OOC: Zarracas move and attack (22, success; damage=12). Ark is now at 3/15 hp.]

In the entrance hall, the officer unleashes a bolt at Jules. The man manages a hit, but Jules suffers only a flesh wound.

[OOC: Officer attack (20, success; damage=2). Jules is now at 11/13 hp.
Elana is up; I will upload a map with Zaracas’ new position.]
Elana took a reflexive step back as the man charged into the room and stabbed Ark. She immediately launched into one of her spells, not even to bother pointing the wand at the man.

[OOC: Sleep; Will save DC 14. I guess that would affect the man on the other side of the wall too?]
Jules feels the bolt cut across his arm, the pain urging him into action. The lordling rushes at the official, trying to restrain him on his own.

[OOC: Jules is going to try a grapple combat maneuver. The official will get an AoO. I’ll link the information, but I think it indicates that he can only make a melee attack with it. If it succeeds the damage done is subtracted from my Combat Maneuver result.…f-Opportunity]

Grapple – (1d20+1)19

[OOC: This would be a great time for the dice gods to favor me. Edit: ]
[OOC: Elana’s DC is actually 15. Zaracas fails his will save (10) but Thug 3 succeeds (16). Thug 2 moves in and wakes up Zaracas. Jules’ grapple attempt does not provoke an AoO, since the officer is equipped with a crossbow, and it is actually successful. Both the officer and Jules gained the grappled condition.]

Zaracas falls to the spellflare’s magic, but the thug manages to resist the spell. His colleague enters the room and shakes Zaracas violently with his foot, causing him to wake up. He gets up, his eyes burning with fury. He eyes the sorceress intently.

At the entrance hall, Jules manages to overpower the official. Both men have fallen to the floor and are struggling for control, but Jules seems to have the upper hand for now. He has managed to grab the man with a chokehold; the officer is struggling to escape.

[OOC: Grunur’s turn. Mike, you can post Caithas’ action as well (remember; he needs a move action to get up); thug 3 will probably go after Grunur if the dwarf’s attack is successful.]
Caithas springs up from the bed, feeling revived from the potions, swords drawn. He takes a five foot step away fom the bed, to the left, nearing his opponents.

“C’mon, you fucking bastards! Have at me!”

(OOC: Intimidate +5. Because Caithas needed a move action to get up, I wasn’t sure if he could get any closer to the enemies or not. If he can stand up, swords drawn, and take a defensive stance, hoping to lure the enemies in with his shout, he’ll do that.)

Grunur, meanwhile, charges straight ahead, out from his cover and pounds his feet on the church floor, launching himself and his war hammer at the thug who’d woken Zaracas. The dwarf’s roar echoes as his hammer comes crashing down…

(OOC: Charging, so Grunur’s AC is 18, not 20, for next round.)

Charge Attack – (1d20+7)21

Damage – (1d8+3)8

The dwarf’s howl is all the more horrifying when the hammer strikes the thug, whose back was turned, with a sickening crunch.
Grunur’s attack takes the thug out. The remaining henchman strikes at the dwarf, inflicting a superficial wound.

[OOC: Grunur’s attack is succesful. Thug 3 moves in, attacks the dwarf (19) and deals 6 points of damage. Grunur is now at 23/24 hit points (temporary hp lost). Caithas’ attempt to demoralize Zaracas is unsuccesful (13).

Ark is up again!]
Grunur grunts as the other man, from out in the hallway, strikes him. It almost hurt in fact…

Fucking humans, the dwarf thinks, eyes darting around.
Ark’s side was bleeding profusely, of course he’d go straight for him and not the squabbling merchant… He wasn’t even supposed to kill the man.

He took one step backwards climbing onto the bed

Acrobatic Vault – (1d20+10)23

Ark readies another arrow and sends it flying at the man, only slightly trying not to kill him.

Accuracy – (1d20+7)23
Damage – (1d8+5)12

[[I have to speed off to work, sorry for not posting an updated picture! D: ]]
[OOC: Let’s just assume a 5-ft step, it is easier that way.]

Ark’s arrow buries itself deep into Zaracas’ chest. Growling in pain, the thug follows the archer eager to take his vengeance. His dagger flashes with blinding speed, slicing Ark’s throat. The assasin takes a few step backs, surprised, before closing his eyes. Zaracas turns to Elana: “You’re up next, witch!”

Struggling against Jules’ hold, the officer drops his crossbow. He takes the opportunity to draw a hidden dagger, which he thrusts against the lord. The attack fails entirely, leaving the man exposed.

[OOC: Zaracas moves, attacks (20) dealing 9 points of damage. Ark is now at -6/15 hp and dying. The officer attacks (critical miss). Elana’s turn!]
Jules grins as the officer fails his thrust. The fight between them wasn’t the contest of skill and ability that Jules had seen when Caithas fought. There wasn’t any skill involved in this, only the question of who could overpower the other. And for the moment that seemed to be Jules of all people. His hands still around the man’s neck, Jules slams him against the ground, hard. Trying to pin the official’s arms with his knees as Jules keeps his hands tight on the man’s throat.

[OOC: Grapple check again at +6 this time due to already having the grapple. If it succeeds Jules is going to give the official the pinned condition.]

Grapple – (1d20+6)7

[OOC: Of course, this should not surprise me.]
Elana backed up against the wall as Zaracas stepped over Ark’s body. The man had pitiless eyes and she knew he’d kill her if she didn’t stop him. She raised her crossbow to fire, but her hands were shaking unsteadily.

A sharp pain ripped through her mind. Elana reflexively pressed a hand to her head, but the pain was internal. Not again!

[OOC: Sleep; targeting just behind Zaracas so he should be the only one affected. Will Save DC 15]
Elana’s spell once again succeeds in putting Zaracas to sleep. The large man falls to the ground. In the entrance hall, the officer manages to wrestle free from Jules’ grasp.

[OOC: Zaracas Will save (10; failure). Good job! Grunur is up.]
(OOC: A couple quick questions before making Grunur and Caithas’ moves: One, is there still a thug standing besides Zaracas? Two, with Zaracas down and sleeping, can Grunur coup de grace him or otherwise smash his head in with a very large hammer? Three, can Caithas reach the melee by either charging or jumping over the table in the middle of the room?)
Grunur holds his action, eyes bulging out as he watched the bloodthirsty thug (Zaracas, though he doesn’t know his name) drops narcoleptically to the ground with a thud. Caithas, meanwhile, seeing the last-standing thug ready to strike at his dwarven friend once more, moves quickly across the cramped room to stand beside Grunur and to strike with his curved scimitar (attacking Thug #3).

Attack – (1d20+9)14

Damage – (1d6+6)9
Grunur, seeing Caithas stand by his side, swings his own warhammer at the bastard who’d nicked him a moment before.

“Good to stand besides you once more, old friend,” the dwarf said as he swung his hammer down.

Attack – (1d20+5)6

Damage – (1d8+3)9

As his blow missed, he muttered, “Quick little fucker, eh?”

(OOC: Both Grunur and Caithas attacked Thug #3. Caithas now gets a +4 AC bonus for being adjacent to Grunur.)
Before Caithas has a chance to take his friend’s side, Zaracas’ henchman takes a swing at the dwarf, but his blade is deflected by the armiger’s heavy armor. Despite their efforts, neither Grunur nor Caithas manage to damage the thug.

[OOC: T3 attacks Grunur (13, failure). Ark can make a constitution check modified by negative hp to stabilize.]

In the entrance hall, the officer drops his dagger and attempts to pick up his crossbow. Jules takes the opportunity to take a swing at the man, but his punch is wildly inacurate. The officer shoots Jules at point-blank range, dealing massive damage.

[OOC: The officer provokes an AoO from Jules (8, failure). The officer attacks (25, crit. confirmation 20, crit!; damage 9. Jules is at 2/13 hp. Elana is up!]
Elana kicks Zaracas’ weapon from his hand on the off chance the man might be woken up. She set down her crossbow and wand as she knelt to examine Ark’s wound. His neck had been cut quite badly. She quickly tore off a scrap of cloth from her sleeve and tried to make an impromptu bandage around his neck to stop the blood flow. Elana had seen people do the sort of thing, but having grown up a noble, she never learned the trade or had to apply it before.

Heal – (1d20)17

[OOC: Woo, got lucky there!]

Elana tied off the bandage, hoping she wasn’t strangling the man. The cloth actually seemed to stem the blood flow somewhat, but there wasn’t much more she could do. The best thing for Ark would be if the fight was finished quickly so they could get him proper medical treatment. To that end Elana, reached for her weapons.
[OOC: Jules, then Grunur and Caithas. You can go in whatever order you desire.]
Jules body jerks back in pain as the crossbow bolt shoots through his insides. Whatever it hit, it isn’t enough to take the lordling down yet, and he attacks the man again, trying to keep him from getting another shot off. As he lunges at the man’s wrists Jules shouts to the other room. “Caithas, Ah could use some help out here!”

Grapple – (1d20+1)21

[OOC: Since he has dropped the dagger and he couldn’t make an AoO the first time Jules went after him, I’ll assume the same goes for here. Edit: Wow, this guy and I are matching each other roll for roll over here.]
Caithas hears Jules’ cry for help, and watches as Grunur tried once more to lay the thug in front of him low with his massive hammer.

Grunur Attack – (1d20+5)15

Damage – (1d8+3)4
Shit, the ranger thinks.

(OOC: I don’t think Grunur’s attack did the trick, so Caithas will attack once more to get rid of the thug. If, by some chance, Grunur’s attack knocked the thug out, Caithas will charge to Jules’ aid; if that happens, obviously ignore the following rolls.)

Caithas Attack – (1d20+7)17

Damage – (1d6+6)7

Caithas Attack – (1d20+6)26

Damage – (1d6+6)7
Critical Check – (1d20+6)14

(OOC: Assuming the attack here kills the thug, Caithas will take a five-foot step out of the room towards Jules.)
Hearing Jules’ call for help, Elana bounded out of the closet and past Caithas, who was helping the dwarf finish off his opponent. She entered the foyer to find Jules and their target grappling each other, and from the looks of it Jules was badly wounded.

Her hands were still covered in Ark’s blood as she raised her wand in one hand and the crossbow in the other. “Stop!” she commanded, looking somewhat disheveled.

[Double move to the room with Jules]
The officer once again is joined with Jules in a violent embrace; he attempts to escape so that he can use his crossbow on Jules.

Combat Maneuver – (1d20+1)6

[OOC: You guys go again. I cannot upload a map now, nor can I check if the officer’s attempt to escape is successful, so please work it out yourselves ]
Grunur will look around for anything handy to tie Zaracas’ arms and legs up while he sleeps (rope, bed-sheets, anything – Perception +5), while Caithas will run towards Jules.

The half elf won’t reach his friend this round, but he will the next. He stands beside Elana and growls, “Put the fucking crossbow down or you’re a dead man.” (Intimidate +5)
[OOC: Since Jules CMD is 14 the escape fails.]

Jules feels the man struggling to escape, likely hoping to get another shot against Jules, but somehow the nobleman’s grip holds strong as he stops the escape. “And where?” He says with a forceful shove, “Do you think you’re going?” Jules once more tries to restrain the man, his courage bolstered by the arrival of his wife and friend.

Grapple – (1d20+6)7

[OOC: If it succeed he’ll continue the grapple and give him the pinned condition, but I think at this point it doesn’t matter as much given the numbers on each side. Edit: This is the most embarrassing fight of all time, even getting shanked had more dignity than this, Mike please put us out of our misery.]
Caithas is horrified by what he sees: Jules, gushing blood, crossbow bolt jutting out of his guts, slipping and slapping at the also-struggling official. The nobleman appeared to be trying to grapple the enemy to the ground, but it looked more like two children dancing around each other in a slap-fight behind a schoolhouse than two men locked in mortal combat. The scene would almost be funny if it wasn’t a life-or-death situation.

Gods, he may be a good speaker and friend, but he is shit in a fight, isn’t he, the half-elf marvels, blades out, ready to charge into the fray.

(OOC: Haha, I’m coming man! But I think Elana and the official are up before Caithas is again. Seriously, how many natural ones can one guy roll?)
Elana watched the two struggle, but it didn’t look like the man was giving up. They needed him alive, so Elana lowered her crossbow; plus, she was fairly sure she had a good chance of shooting Jules in that situation. She raised her wand up and leveled her most useful spell at the wrestling duo.

[Sleep; Will DC 15; I guess the spell would affect Jules too? Hopefully he doesn’t fail his roll and the other guy succeeds. That would be embarrassing ]
Jules struggles against the man, feeling his grip slipping once more. Suddenly, a wave of exhaustion spreads over him. It was true he hadn’t slept much the previous night, but why would the fatigue be hitting him now? As Jules feels the weight of his tiredness and injuries pushing down his eyelids, he realizes a moment before hitting the ground why it was happening. His last thought before blissful sleep is that his wife’s wand manages to take the officer down with him.

Will Save – (1d20-1)11

[OOC: Have I mentioned how much Jules sucks at will saves.]
[OOC: @ Mike-I think that, after Grunur failed his attack against the thug (T3), the thug was entitled an action. I’ve rolled the dice and Grunur took 5 damage, bringing him to 18 hp. Please update! Caithas then procceeded to kill the thug.]

Amidst the confusion, the spellflare unleashes yet another sleep spell against the struggling duo. Unfortunately, her spell affects her ally, but not the officer. The officer seizes the chance to shoot Jules, before exiting the temple through the main entrance.
[OOC: Actions so far for Round 4:
Officer: Tries to escape grapple, fails.
Elana: Casts sleep. Jules fails his save (14). The officer is not affected (excessive hit dice). (EDIT: I rolled better than RC, but still not well enough…)
Jules: Well, technically asleep, but still, his attempt to maintain the grapple would have failed anyway.
Grunur: Looks for some rope, perception check (22, success). Finds some bandages; he can tie Zaracas’ hands and ankles, but he would need 2 full-round actions.
Caithas: Attempts to Intimidate officer (22, success).

Round 5:
Officer: Attacks Jules (22, success, deals 4 damage. Jules is at -2 hit points and dying. Then he moves outside. This concludes the fight; if any of you try to go after him, you should give me perception checks. Also, I am so nice for not attempting a coup de grace ]
[OOC: Oh, the officer had more HD than I thought. Damn, didn’t think about that…]

“Jules!” Elana ran to the unconscious man. “Caithas, go! I’ll stay here.” The half-elf stood a better chance of catching the man. She saw that Jules had been shot three times. Thankfully he was unconscious when the last bolt hit him.

Elana carefully pulled the bolts out, and applied pressure to the wound.

Heal – (1d20)14 [OOC: Aw for Christ’s sake]

The bleeding wasn’t stopping. “Grunur!” she called. Maybe the dwarf knew a thing or two about wounds. [i]Damn it!, she thought. How did that spell not work? It always worked before.
Caithas will chase the bastard, while Grunur ties Zaracas’ hands and feet, taking the two turns. Caithas will sprint after the official like a madman, trying to catch and kill him if possible.

Caithas Perception – (1d20+6)22

After tying up Zaracas, Grunur will come try to help Elana with Jules. (Grunur Heal +5 and sheet updated to reflect the thug’s final attack.)
Inside the temple of Delrodin

Back at the temple, Elana is struggling to stabilize Jules, who is losing blood at an alarming rate. She tries to do her best, despite her limited knowledge, before being joined by Grunur, who has managed to tie up Zaracas without waking him up.

[OOC: Jules Constitution check (18; success). No need for subsequent healing attempts; Jules is stable at -2 hp. The DC for Zaracas escaping is 24 for each set of binds (20+Grunur’s CMB).]

Elana sees that Jules eventually stops bleeding out, although he does remain unconscious. Grunur helps her carry the noble’s body next to Ark’s. They place both of their fallen comrades on beds, before starting to contemplate how to best deal with the situation. Without a healer, there is no easy way to revive their companions. Elana also realizes that lingering in the temple could be risky. Grunur keeps a watchful eye over Zaracas, who seems to be stirring. He is about to wake up, no doubt.

Outside the temple of Delrodin

Outside the temple, Caithas’ keen eyes quickly spot the officer, running like a madman. He is heading for the marketplace. If he is allowed to reach it, finding him amongst the crowd will be difficult. As he observes the man escape, Caithas has to quickly make a critical decision.

[OOC: Not really a chase (not yet), but you have several options here. If you want to go after him, you can give me a Dexterity check, modified by -2 because of your decreased speed (20 ft; breastplate). This will be opposed by the officer’s Dex check. Both of you will roll 3 times; the one who wins 2/3 determines the outcome (i.e. Officer reaches the Marketplace or Caithas catches up with him). You can also try something else; e.g. shoot him with your bow or something of the sort. The officer is currently 30 feet away from you.]
Dex check – (1d20)8

Dex check – (1d20)16

Dex check – (1d20)11

(OOC: Caithas will try to run him down. Here goes…)

Grunur looks at Elana.

“My lady…these two are not waking up soon, but the bastard tied up there is. Do I kill the man or no?”
[OOC: Officer rolls 9, 22 and 5. Officer wins the race.]

Caithas attempts to chase after the officer, but the man is too fast for him and his armor is slowing him down. As the ranger runs in wild pursuit of his targer, the officer keeps increasing the distance between the two. Eventually, Caithas reaches the marketplace, but he has lost sight of the man. He walks around, trying to catch his breath in the cold, thinking that he has seemingly failed.

[OOC: You can use Perception to try to find him again (opposed by the Officer’s stealth), Climb and then Perception to spot him from a vantage point, social skills to try find out where he went by asking one of the merchants, whatever.]
Caithas first tries to spot the man in the crowd; if that fails, he darts up a nearby fires-escape ladder and looks from above.

Perception – (1d20+6)22

Climb – (1d20+4)9

Perception – (1d20+6)16

(OOC: Any chance there’s a nice set of outdoor stairs leading to an apartment instead of a ladder? )
The marketplace (Caithas)

[OOC: Caithas’ perception (22) vs. Officer’s stealth (12); Success!]

Caithas searches desperately for the man. Although it is difficult, his efforts are finally rewarded: he sees a silhouette at a distance, its figures obscured by a hood. Caithas cannot be entirely sure, but the figure’s demeanor suggests that this might be the officer.

[OOC: You can try to sneak up on him using Stealth or try to shoot him with a bow or something else. If he realizes you are following him, you’re up for another chase. Also, you are at the market district, so it’s a good opportunity to buy those two potions of cure light wounds and be a hero to Ark and Jules once again.]

The temple of Delrodin (everyone else)

As time passes by without Caithas returning, Elana’s spell finally wears off. Zaracas wakes up and he is clearly not pleased with the situation. He struggles against his binds for a while, before finally giving up. Eventually, he turns to the dwarf, speaking with a voice that lacks any fear: “So you let the witch win your fights? I thought you dwarves were honorable folks. Cut me loose and, if I am bested, I will willingly do as you say.” He turns at Elana and winks at her. The man has only one functioning eye, the other being a white, lifeless thing, so this creates a very disconcerting effect.
(OOC: Vlad, you mentioned a while ago that PCs had money to spend, but for the life of me, I can’t find the post and like an idiot, I never wrote it down. Caithas will buy as many potions as he can afford, but I don’t know how many he can afford. If he can’t afford any, he’ll try to trade his anti poison and anti toxin potions for two potions of cure light wounds.)

While keeping an eye on the silhouette, Caithas tries to sneak up without drawing attention. When and if the officer stops for a moment, Caithas will try for the potions for his friends…

Stealth – (1d20+7)12

(OOC: Fucking dice…)

The dwarf barks a laugh, “Honor’s a relative term, ain’t it, Mad-Eye? Yer not going anywhere. When the young fella here wakes up,” Grunur says, indicating Jules, “he’ll decide what to do with ya.”
Elana sat across from Zaracas. His wink gave her a dirty feel. “I’m no witch,” she said. She patted the wand in her belt. "Just got a few tricks. If you try to escape . . . " She leveled her crossbow at him. “I’ll show you my other trick.”

She sounded braver than she felt. If he did try to escape, Elana would shoot, but she wasn’t comfortable with the idea of killing a bound man. Even one as ugly as this one. If Caithas didn’t return soon, they’d have to move somewhere else before any guards showed up.
The marketplace (Caithas)

The officer is quick to notice that he is being shadowed. He quickly starts pacing towards the government district, picking up speed if the ranger decides to follow nonetheless.

[OOC: Perception (26; success). If you decide to follow, give me three dexterity checks as before for running. The officer will roll 20, 24 and 23. If the officer is succesful, he escapes to the government district, and you’ll have to pass through the well-guarded barricades to gain access to that district. If Caithas succeeds, roll for initiative. Also, you already made the purchases some time ago (hence the breastplate); you can assume that you manage to find two potions of cure light wounds.]

The temple of Delrodin (everyone else)

“What if he never wakes up?” says Zaracas with a sly smile, hoping to provoke a reaction from either the dwarf or the spellflare.

[OOC: Sorry for the short posts, but hey, better than nothing ]
“Then your skull will be split by me axe, good sir,” the dwarf grunts, casting a glance at Elana, “which may happen regardless, if the lady says aye.”

(OOC: Against those rolls, it’s hopeless. Damn.)

Caithas is forced to abandon his pursuit, and after seeing if he can barter for two potions of cure light wounds, heads back for the temple to warn the others, running as fast as he can.

(OOC: Vlad, may Caithas trade his two existing potions of anti poison and toxin for two cure potions? If not, he’d like to try to barter with his remaining items, such as his buckler, bow, or even his Crragoon set. I forgot about the shopping I did; silly half-elf can’t save a damn coin to save his life. Haha)
[OOC: Sure, but you do have 2 potions of cure light wounds (check your character sheet!). If you choose to replace the antitoxin and antiplague, you’ll have 4. If you decide to return to the temple and give the potions, you can roll for those who drink them (1d8+1).]
(OOC: I don’t trust just two potions So I’ll trade. Four cure potions it is!)

Caithas, potions in hand, sprinted back to the temple…he just hoped he was in time.

(OOC: Assuming he makes it back unmolested…)

“Grunur! Elana! Open their mouths!”

Ignored Zaracas for a moment, Caithas poured one potion in Jules’ mouth and another in the stranger’s (Ark):

Cure Jules – (1d8+1)3

Cure Ark – (1d8+1)8
Once they are awake, Grunur will channel his last charges of energy of the day into Jules and Ark, granting them temporary power.

Temp HP Jules – (1d8+1)4

Temp HP Ark – (1d8+1)5
[OOC: So Jules is at 1 hp and Ark at 2 hp. Plus temporary hp granted by Grunur. Please update character sheets. Welcome back to the game, guys!]
“I have two more potions, but that’s all…if you boys need a bit more, they’re yours,” the half-elf says breathlessly, “but be quick about it. The officer escaped, the slippery fucker…that means we need to go out of this place. Now. What’s the plan for this bastard,” Caithas asks, kicking Zaracas painfully between the legs.
Jules coughs at the taste of the potion as he returns to consciousness. His wounds still pain him, and as he tries to rise he is doubled over by the pain. “Ze man Ah was fighting, he escaped? Fuck! Fucking hells, can nothing go right in zis whore fucking shithole of city! Fuck!” The nobleman’s ranting continues, losing all meaning and descending into little more than a slur of vulgarities and curses, many sound foreign, and others seem to make no sense other than to slur together as many spiteful words as can be conjured to the imagination.

Eventually Jules manages to return to a state of silence, mostly through the pain stifling his voice and restraining his movements. When he finally stands his nonchalance is nowhere to be seen. Jules is no longer even pretending to be relaxed. “No, save the potions,” he says looking at Zaracas, “He’ll need them more than we will.” When Caithas asks for their plan it manages to bring Jules back into a more stable state of mind. “We leave, quickly. Ah need you to knock ze bastard over zer out. Zen Ah need to find somewhere safe, where we can lay low for a few hours.” As Jules looks around at the mess of bodies a realization strikes him, “How many thugs were there?”
“He’s gone, Jules; the only one to escape, but he’s gone. The henchmen are dead, with the exception of the big one who nearly killed our new ally here. He’s tied up. But we must be quick, sir; the escapee will have swarms of guards descend on this place in any moment. I…I’m sorry I failed to stop the bastard. I tried…”
Ark coughed lightly as he woke, bandages wrapped around his neck, “That’ll leave a neat scar…” he muttered to himself. He then watches the scene in a fog before gaining enough clarity to speak,

“One got away?” he says softly as he sits up. His voice is hoarse and dry. “Damnit.” though Ark knows the man didn’t see his face, he had already invested into the group. He could at least get what he wanted out of them. “He can’t run from me in Andelia. But for now we should hide out, I don’t like the sound of guards coming to visit.” he eyes Zaracas and stands up. Slowly walking over to him, “You are a lucky man that I wasn’t allowed to kill you.” Ark reaches out from the still protruding arrow and rips it from the mans chest. “Now, cooperate or I might get set loose on you.”

[[ Knowledge Local +5 ; Any places where unsavory lots can rest at ]]
“Good to see you boys back in the land of the living,” Grunur growled. “Now, ye say you want him knocked out? Done,” the dwarf says, whacking Zaracas on the head with his hammer relatively lightly.

“Any one have an idea where to go?”

Caithas replies, “Harald’s, maybe?”
“Anywhere’s better than here,” Elana agreed. She pushed herself to her feet and staggered as she tried to regain her balance. She felt light headed and a faint keening was ringing in her ears. How many spells did I cast? she wondered. Three? Maybe four? Either way, it was far more than she was used to in such short time. She hoped the effects wouldn’t be too harsh.

I can’t afford them to think something’s wrong. A break down like she had in the alley way in Grey Hold would be a disaster now.
“Then if you can walk, gentlemen, I suggest you do it. And if it’s this Harald’s or wherever, I don’t care, but we need to go. Now,” the dwarf said, looking worried.

Caithas nodded, “Grunur’s right; time is short here and you two can’t survive another fight like that. If anyone knows of a place to go other than Harald’s, I’m there. I hate to bring Hell down on the poor old guy. But this place is a vice closing in on us. So we need to go…and I’ll help carry this big bastard here,” he says, pointing at Zaracas, “if you all are determined to keep him alive. Personally, I say let me slit his throat and do what we do best: Run and hide.”
Jules looks around the room, counting the bodies, one, two… he could be wrong, but not likely. “You want to kill our only advantage and run away? How does zat help us? How does zat get us any closer to our goals? No, we need whatever information can be pulled out of zis man. We need somewhere close, we can’t be seen carrying zis man all over ze city. Whoever is carrying him will need to take him to ze first easy residence we can find, inn, house, whatever, so long as we can find a private room for ze time being. Ah don’t want to bring people we know into zis; we might end up losing our chance at ze Irregulars’ support today, Ah won’t risk any more.”

Jules is still without his new crossbow, but a quick look through the attic finds him the rapier he had left behind. Not exactly the perfect tool, but it might keep him alive a bit longer.
(OOC: RC, unless Vlad PMed you otherwise, or unless I missed it, I’m pretty sure the three thugs/henchmen were killed. Only Zaracas was noted as alive and needing to be tied up. Just want to check to see if I missed an important piece of information.)

Grunur merely grunts, but Caithas nods his assent at Jules’ words and says, “Fine, an inn, an empty house, whatever…I’ll try to lug this big bastard, but let’s try to make it close, eh?”

(OOC: Caithas Strength +4)
[OOC: Yes, seems I misread the initial post, I’ll edit my previous post.]
(OOC: Ok, good to know.)
The temple of Delrodin

If Zaracas feels any fear, he hides it well. He simply follows the conversation as best he can. He cries out neither when Caithas kicks him in the groin, nor when Ark twists the arrow protruding from his chest. However, in the latter case, his eyes do water, betraying that the man is not impervious to pain. Even then, he chooses to stare directly into Ark’s eyes, with an immovable smile on his lips, but does not utter a word of provocation. Ark sees a promise of vengeance in the man’s eyes…

Eventually, Zaracas passes out, after a considerable amount of effort by the dwarf. The party is left standing within the empty temple, discussing how to proceed. Eventually, a decision is reached: the group will try to seek shelter at Harald’s organization of scholars. Fearing that the military is about to descend upon the temple, the party quickly prepares to leave. Caithas lifts Zaracas’ unconscious body on his shoulder; the man is every bit as heavy as he looks.

[OOC: Perception checks for everyone-Ark rolls highest.]

Before leaving the temple, Ark notices a small satchel that is lying close to the temple’s entrance. The officer must have dropped it while wrestling with Jules. The assassin examines its contents. It contains nothing but a stone disk with letters and unrecognizable symbols carved upon it. Closer examination reveals that the disk consists of two homocentric rings. The outer ring is immovable and bears all twenty-six letters of the alphabet. The inner ring can be rotated, but only in one direction. It also bears twenty-six symbols, but Ark cannot recognize most of them. A strange mechanism can be seen on the back of the disk. It is a small, metal ratchet; a gear that confines the rotation of the inner ring in one direction only.

[OOC: Let’s assume that everyone in the group notices Ark examining the contraption. I will include a picture of the disk in the post.]

Ark also recalls several taverns run by barkeeps who would be happy to rent a room, no questions asked, provided that they received a bonus fee. One of them, the Intoxicated Ice Monster, is close to the temple. Therefore, the group could avoid any mishaps, such as the guard stopping them and asking questions. Indeed, Elana, who has been at the Keepers’ headquarters, is quick to realize that this band of wounded, bleeding men, one of whom is carrying the body of Zaracas, is unlikely to be allowed inside the building, even if Harald would vouch for them.

[OOC: Ark-Knowledge (local) check-Success!]
Ark tumbles the device in his hand, looking at the working of the gear. It’s of little use to Ark at the moment, but he shares it briefly with the party before placing it away and speaking, “We’ve wasted to much time. There’s a nearby tavern, and for a nominal fee we can get a room and be left alone. I suggest heading there so we don’t get intercepted by guards while walking to Harald’s.”

The rouge had been beaten and battered before. Even though his voice sounded like the dead speaking. He led the way as fast as his legs could take him to the tavern.
Caithas groans as he stumbles along under the weight of the unconscious Zaracas.

“Gods be good, this big bastard’s as heavy as he looks…the closer, the better, folks. Let’s do this quickly.”

Grunur offers to help, and reaches up to take a little weight off the ranger’s shoulders. Caithas smiles a tight smile in appreciation, but he still bears the brunt of the weight.

Seeing Ark by the door with something odd in hand, the half-elf huffs, “What’s…what’s that, stranger? Never mind – ooof – tell me later. Lead on to the tavern, man. Hurry! I’m going to…ugh…collapse soon if I don’t find a place to throw this sonofabitch fast.”
Jules sees the man playing with the device, unaware of its potential importance. Before he puts it away Jules stops, “Oh, thank ze goddess he dropped it, Ah don’t know what Ah would do without it, may Ah have it back? Ah’ll see zat you’re rewarded for recovering it.” The man had been helpful, and was still helping them, but there was too much unknown about him. Caithas had put a word in for the dwarf and he seemed decent enough, but a man who sold his services as easily as Ark had leaves Jules wary of him.

When Ark begins leading them to a nearby tavern, Jules counts himself lucky following after with little more than a “Lead on.” Ark’s arrival was certainly fortunate, and his knowledge of the city was proving especially helpful. But the convenience and the timing of his arrival makes Jules instantly suspicious.
The Intoxicated Ice Monster (everyone)

The group makes way for the shady inn, led by Ark, who seems to have been in a similar situation before. The party arrives at the small, inconspicuously-looking building and enters through a small door, which is almost invisible to the casual observer from the street. Once inside, Ark is greeted by the innkeeper of the nefarious establishment in the mostly empty hall.

“I see you’ve been having some troubles, again” says the man to Ark. He is short and squat, with short hair and a chin covered with dense stubble. Upon closer inspection, he observes that Ark and a few of his comrades look beaten up or bleeding: “Looks worse than last time, doesn’t it? I can get a healer or a medic to look to your wounds and those of your comrades. Two hundred sovereigns should be sufficient for the healer; or, if you prefer, I can call a medic for just a hundred.” He then shifts his attention to Caithas, who is carrying Zaracas. “What about him?”, he says, pointing at the body. “Does he also need a medic, or is he the one who caused all this trouble” He turns to Ark again: “Should we be looking for a dumping place, as well? ‘Cause that ‘ll cost you extra, but I can make sure the body “disappears”.”

Jules leaves the dealings with the innkeeper to Ark, Caithas and Grunur. He realizes that the official might return to the temple soon, but this time probably with a bigger custody. Perhaps this is Jules’ last chance to capture the man, although that would be a risky endeavor, especially with many of his comrades and himself gravely wounded.

[OOC: Short-ish post from the airport ]
Caithas responded to the man who seemed to know Ark, “Thanks. A room…would be good. No need to make this big boy disappear…yet. If it comes to that…we’ll let you know. But a healer is badly needed, aye. Does…does anyone have the gold? I’m, ahh…a little short,” he huffs, out of breath and struggling with Zaracas’ weight.

Grunur grunts, “60 from me and that’s every last coin in me purse.”

Ark waves his hand dismissively at the half-elf and the dwarf, and he speaks soft and quickly to the man, “It’s only worse than last time because there’s more of us.” Ark reaches into his coin purse and produces the 200 Soverigns, though there isn’t much left from what his employer gave him, it’ll be money well spent. “He” Indicating Zaracas “Will be fine. He’s just has some business to conduct. That’s all.”

[[I’m not entirely sure how much money was given to ark, but I think its safe to say that if he could afford 200 soverigns, he can’t afford much else now.]]
The half-elf and dwarf both nod their heads and voice their thanks to the stranger.

For both of them, though neither spoke of it, the gesture went a long way towards them trusting the mysterious stranger.
[OOC: Sorry, I’ve been busy getting ready for exams lately, all of them decided to happen the same week. Assume that Jules paid Ark for the fight, I think the agreed on price was 200 gold, but correct me if I’m wrong.]

Jules lets the others handle the situation with the tavern keeper, he would have to remember to ask Ark for some other places with similar services in the city, but for the time being more pressing matters occupy his mind. The official would no doubt be returning soon, to scope out the surrounding area, and no doubt they would have someone search this place as well. A guard wouldn’t get far, but a guard disguised as a customer might. They would need to stay vigilant.

When the wounds flare up again he casts aside the thought of going after the officer now. Fighting him was foolish, but necessary, but now it was Jules turn to make a move, information gathering was over for this man. Jules begins to work together a new plan based on what he knows of the man. The information was limited, but one part stands out as a fatal weakness, he followed a routine. ‘The usual.’ When the rogue ends the discussion with the tavern owner Jules approaches Ark and says, “Ah need to talk to you about something; you seem to know more about zis area of expertise zan most Ah have met in ze city. Ah need to procure a specific type of potion.”
“Thank you,” Elana said to Ark. “We’ll be sure to repay you.” The man was turning out to be surprisingly helpful. He knew his way around Andelia and apparently had been living the shadowy lifestyle long enough to have some connections here too. Still, Elana didn’t like being in anyone’s debt, particularly someone she wasn’t sure she could trust.
“A potion?” Ark thought for a moment, “I’m sure I could find whatever you need someplace. If its simple enough I maybe able to make it for you.” As Ark awaits further instructions from the lordling, he turns to greet Elana as she speaks to him.

“It was nothing, I’m just glad we made it out.” Ark gives a luke warm smile, with a more than a hint of gratitude to the woman. Thinking for a bit, ark speaks again to her. “Though… What exactly happened in there?” Ark might not be a scholar, but he wasn’t dumb. The man fell asleep on the floor and woke up and called her a witch. As crazy as Zaracas was, could he be right, is she a spell flare? Thinking it rude and impertinent at the moment, he let it slide to the back of his mind. He quickly looks over the woman, “You are okay, right?”
“A potion, or a poison, Ah’m not sure what ze technical phrase would be, but ah need some sort of substance zat could render a man unconscious, or better yet into a death-like state zat could be reversed at a later time. And it would need to work when ingested orally.” The nobleman begins to think through the rest of his plan, he goes to talk to the tavern owner, trying to make a plan come together. “Excuse me, Ah have an odd request, do you have a spare cook’s outfit Ah could purchase, or even a clean apron might suffice if you have one.”
Caithas looked bemused as he leaned Zaracas’ body against the wall, still slung over his shoulder, waiting for the innkeeper, if this hole could be called an ‘inn’, to let them know which room they might have. He watches Jules talk to the owner, and hears him ask for a cook’s outfit.

The dwarf, it seemed, did too.

Whispering close to the half-elf, Grunur asked, “That friend of yours there, half-blood…is he right in the head?”

The ranger smiled down at his friend.

“He’s smarter than you and me.”

Apparently, Caithas saw that as a fit response to Grunur’s query.

The half-elf continues a moment later and says, “Once we have a room and this fucker’s off my shoulders, you’ve got to tell me…well, everything, man. How you ended up in this city, throwing me a bloody axe in an arena…it’s got to be a hell of a story.”

The dwarf smiled broadly.

“I bet you have a few to tell yourself, half-elf. Did you ever find your girl’s killer? That Laitis?”

Caithas’ eyes glass over and his mouth sets in a grimace.

“No…no, but I was close. Close is how I ended up across the ocean. Close is how I ended up in this city. But after ten years, close wasn’t good enough.”

The dwarf nods but says nothing. That too, it seemed, was a fit response in the ranger’s mind, and Grunur said no more.

Neither said it…but both were glad to have their friend back.
Elana spoke to Ark while Jules went off on another of his crazy/grand ideas. “I’m quite alright, thank you.” Truth be told, the ringing in her ears wasn’t fading away as fast as it normally did, which was worrying. She pulled out the wand she carried. “I get asked about this a lot. Its just a little trick I picked up from a Keeper,” she explained.

“How’s your neck?” Most men wouldn’t survive a wound like that, but Ark seemed to be tougher than most. The healing they’d managed on their own wasn’t much, but once the healer arrived he would be good as new.
The Intoxicated Ice Monster

[OOC: I had intended the undetermined amount of money Ark had to be only usable for the campaign hook (buying Caithas) and bribing, so you should divide the 200 amongst yourselves and pay from your regular gold. Please update character sheets after subtracting your share. A sort of “party gold” for similar expendables (say 10% of everyone’s gold) is much advised .]

The innkeeper takes the money that Ark and the rest of the party offer him. Ark pays for the “hospitality”; an exorbitant fee for a dirty, dark inn, but he didn’t come here for luxuries. He knows that the inn is the safest place he could be right now; he has used the man’s services in the past.

[OOC: No need to subtract gold for this.]

For the healer, the whole party pitches in, since Ark is starting to run low on money. The innkeeper takes the coins and quickly addresses one of the few patrons sitting inside the tavern. As he leaves to fetch the healer, he guides the group upstairs, where two rooms are awaiting them. The party settles in and, before they know it, an old man arrives at the scene, escorted by the innkeeper. He looks experienced; the kind of fragile old man that has eyes attesting to the fact that he has seen it all before. He bothers not with questions about Ark, Jules or Caithas’ wounds. He just looks to his tasks, examining the wounds treating them with vials of purple, small crystals that he pours directly onto the wounds.

Heal Caithas – (1d8+1)2
Heal Jules – (1d8+1)9
Heal Ark – (1d8+1)2
Heal – (1d8+1)7

[OOC: Last healing goes to Ark, who seems to need it the most. Please update character sheets!]

After the old man has performed his duties, he leaves, taking his payment from the innkeeper. Jules follows the man, addressing him when the healer is gone with his odd request. “A cook’s outfit? Why on earth would you need that? Never mind, I know better than that. Well, normally I’d charge you for it, but me and Ark, we go a long way back. Well, actually, not that long, but he has been generous to me. Tell you what: you can have mine for free. How does that sound?” He tosses an old, greasy uniform towards Jules, before returning to his work. “Let me know if there’s anything else I can do for you. I wouldn’t go out right now if I were you, though. Best to wait for this whole situation to cool down.”

Indeed, as everyone can verify, loud noises can be heard from outside, mostly consisting of shouts and barked orders. The inn has no windows, but from the sounds of it, there seems to be a great deal of activity outside. Ark recalls that one could have a look from the roof of the tavern, but caution is required: one might be spotted up there by the guards that seem to be gathering in the district.

[OOC: Stealth check if you want to check what is going on; you can also try to convince the innkeeper or one of his men to check it out with a social skill.]
Ark ran his hands over the bandages, “My neck… is alright. It’ll be stiff for a while, but luckily he missed anything vital.” he shrugged and quips, “It’ll make an awesome looking scar though.” Ark examined the wand as the woman produced it, “So its a sleep wand then? I wonder how long it’ll last.” Ark shuttered a bit from the thought of it. “Bad past experience with the things.”
[OOC: For clarification, Jules paid Ark his 200 gold from participating in the fight, and will also contribute 50 gold to the accommodations. This should bring him down to 611gp I believe. Just to clarify, the Rapier he has isn’t masterwork.]

The nobleman roles up the outfit and thanks the owner, leaving with a smile and a nod to go and talk to the rest of his allies. He would need to wait before heading back to the tavern the official ate at, and that time could be better spent not worrying himself. He approaches Caithas and his friend, glad to see the Half-Elf alive after the fight, especially considering how he looked only a short time before. “It is nice to see you alive and well my friend,” Jules turns and extends a hand to Grunur, “Ah don’t think we had a proper introduction back at ze temple. Ah am Jules Aime Amour, and a friend of Caithas.”
(OOC: I’ll post more later, but for bookkeeping purposes, Grunur will throw in 50 gold towards the healing costs. Caithas, that slob, is flat broke. What a jerk. Oh, and by the way Vlad, Grunur is wounded as well. Any chance he can get a healing roll from the healer as well?)

Caithas grinned, despite the sounds of shouting outside.

“You too, Sir Amour. You didn’t look so good the last time I saw you either; crossbow bolts jutting out of your chest just doesn’t become a man of your station.”

The dwarf, far more serious than Caithas, gives a proper bow when Jules gives his full name.

“Grunur Rooinnir, of House Rooinnir, third family of The Crags. Well met, Sir Amour. I didn’t know there was another man of honored blood mad enough to get mixed up with me half-breed friend here, but it seems this cruel world still holds a pleasant surprise or two. Yer a brave man, going toe to toe with that bastard back there, and braver still for waking back up, ready to fight again. Ye seem to have a good head on yer shoulders. I never meant to get mixed up in this – delivering a bloody letter, gods be good – but here I am, and my loyalty and hammer is yers. Truth is, I’ve been homeless fer years. Spent time in The Domes, but it was never home. And though I’m loath to admit it, lest it’ll make his head that much bigger…but this damned half-elf has been more family to me than me own it seems, even when he ran off chasing shadows and rumors. If the fates have let me find me brudder again, who’m I to judge? So here I am. Alls I ask is, whatever damned thing we do, we do it for the betterment of these beaten-down folks, human and dwarf and all else alike. The Empire’s been grinding us all down with Her bloody boot for too long. Besides, I won’t lie…it felt good to crack a few skulls back there with you folks. I been a gods-bedamned postman for too long. War’s in me blood, and make no mistake, Sir Amour…war’s coming. By the sounds of it out there,” he finishes, nearing the windowless wall, “it might’a started.”
• The Intoxicated Ice Monster-First floor (Everyone except Eva)
@ Matthias: I don’t think Ark would know that Elana cast a sleep spell; that would require a spellcraft check. Plus Ark was out for most of the fight, and there is nothing in his background stating that he is familiar with arcane casters / spells. Let’s keep player knowledge and PC knowledge separate !
@ Mike: Oops, sorry, forgot about Grunur. Too late now, but at least he has most of his hp! Better get on Eva’s good side.
@ Everyone: I am not sure what you’re trying to do, but if you don’t do anything, I will let everyone get properly introduced, and you can play around with Zaracas a bit.

The sounds from outside get progressively louder. The galloping of horses can be heard, as riders rush to the district to investigate. The group decides to stay inside the inn; it would be unwise to sneak out when the combined military forces of Lower Andelia might be looking for them.

[OOC: Random Player-1d4=1; Matthias]

As Jules, Caithas and Grunur converse, with Elana busy collecting her thoughts, Ark goes to the room next door to check on Zaracas. The man is stirring, as if waking up from a nightmare, when Ark approaches. He eventually wakes up, and takes a minute to look at the assassin indifferently before speaking: “You gonna knock me out again? I ‘ll spare you the trouble; I anyway intended to fall asleep. Wake me up when you decide what to do with me.” He turns to the side and begins doing as he said, paying no attention to Ark.

[OOC: Whoever wants can join in; others can go to the main hall to meet with Eva.]

Suddenly, loud noises indicating some kind of argument emanate from downstairs. Everyone recognizes the voice of the innkeeper, although no one else can be heard.

The Intoxicated Ice Monster-Main hall (Eva)
@ Stridar: I am not sure if introducing Eva right away is what you want; if not, just say so and I will edit my post accordingly. This does seem a bit fabricated, but then again, it’s best to start sooner than later. I was thinking of running some introduction for Eva, which would allow some character development / exposition, but nothing crucial plot-wise. It would take place 1-2 days before what is happening now, and it would be a big debate at the Keepers’ Headquarters regarding the current political situation and its effects on that scholarly organization. You can be there as a member of the group or a guest. Let me know if you like the idea; it should get you started on the rebellion.

Eva follows the group from the Temple towards a shady establishment, an inn with a strange name. Having seen many similar places in the past, Eva realizes that The Intoxicated Ice Monster is merely a front; a safe haven for those seeking to escape the law’s grasp. It is not difficult to understand why the group would seek such a place: one of its members seems to be carrying a dead body. What is more difficult to figure out, though, is what Grunur would be doing in such company. Could he have turned to crime? Would that explain his disappearance?

As Eva ponders these alternatives, the district suddenly becomes the focal point of a great deal of activity. The common folk empty the streets, taking refuge inside their homes or hiding in the twisting alleys, as a considerable force of soldiers descends upon the place. Men of the cavalry arrive first to the scene; at least twenty riders, armed and armored, seemingly ready for combat. With little choice, Eva enters the inn, where she is greeted by a short, squat man, with little courtesy: “Hey! What do you think you are doing? This ain’t a kindergarten, nor some shelter for the neighborhood’s orphans! Go back outside where you belong, before I have you kicked out!” The man seems to have mistaken Eva for a little girl. His loud voice attracts a lot of attention, making a few heads turn in the-mostly empty-hall.

[OOC: Just giving Eva a chance to meet the party .]
Though ark doesn’t have explicit knowledge of magical artifacts, Kitsune’s have a natural affinity for it, and in his line of business he’s had a run in with one or two magical items before. I was going to write a comedic story involving a wand failing on Ark during an assignment. I’ll stop probing for now, and I need to subtract some arrows from my inventory…

Ark wanders into the room and watches quietly as the man taunts him, silent anger building in him. The bastard wasn’t even scared and he deserved to be punished for what he did to him. But he didn’t know what exactly the group was after from him… so interrogating him would have little purpose for Ark. He could still play with the man though. Ark sets his bow leaning against the door frame, with a few arrows out of the quiver next to it. He then reaches around behind him and slides his mask out from beneath his cloak, placing it over his face. The mask was not particularly menacing, it was orange with black trim, with a nose and mouth like a fox’s the eye-slits were similarly shaped and Arks eye’s seemed to fill the hole completely. Two ears protrude from the top of the mask, tipped in black. The mouth had tiny holes in it to allow for breathing and speaking. Next to be drawn was Ark’s gladius. The short sword was light and balanced, perfect for tricks and murder.

Ark walks up to the apparently sleeping man and strikes him with the back-side of his off hand, “I didn’t give you permission to sleep.” Arks voice is still hoarse and dry and rasps behind the mask, creating an intensified effect to the mans voice. Far beyond what the mask alone did. Ark cracked his stiff neck to the side.

[[Intimidate +1]]
Eva raises an eyebrow at the loud obnoxious man as she calmly pulls down the hood of her travelling cloak, “I would soften my voice if I were you, human. The heavily armed soldiers outside might take notice and come in for a look, something I have no doubt your establishment does not require.”

The reveal of the face and voice clearly hammer home that this was no girl accidentally wandering into the wrong part of town. She gave a mildly amused wink with a slim finger on her lips, almost a parody of the dangerous situation outside. “I’m looking for few acquaintances of mine, they would be hard to miss, carrying a dead body about. Perhaps you could point me in the right direction?”
Jules blinks for a moment, trying to take in everything the dwarf has just said, “Don’t start thinking zat Ah’m ze one to turn to in a fight. Me fighting zat official was an act of desperation, and a foolish one at zat. Ah try to leave ze real fighting to more competent people, like Caithas, and yourself, and my wife as it seems.” The young noble laughs for a moment at his own joke, not fully realizing how true it is, “Ah am more suited to zis sort of thing,” he says, holding up the apron, “Now if you’ll excuse me, Ah have to try and clean zis up and take off my beard, two days of wearing zis thing is two days too many.”

[OOC: When/If the guard’s attention fades, Jules is going to try and find somewhere to buy a poison, or potentially try to buy one from the healer who shows up.]
The Intoxicated Ice Monster-First floor (everyone but Eva)

[OOC: Ark-Intimidate check-Failure.]

The one-eyed thug wakes up when smacked, but his behavior is still lethargic. “What d‘ya want, god damn it?” he asks, as he looks up to the assassin. He sees Ark’s mask, and a smile appears on his face. “What’s the mask for, then? I’ve already seen your face and I never forget faces. Do you want anything from me, or is this all just for your personal amusement?”

[OOC: @ Ross-It will take a day at least for the guard’s attention to fade, and even then, they will be much more alert than before, especially in this area. You can wait until tomorrow; it is currently early in the afternoon.]

The Intoxicated Ice Monster-Mail hall (Eva)

The innkeeper recognizes Eva for what she really is, but that does not do much to improve her situation. However, he does realize that the gnome has a point, and thus he lowers the tone of his voice. “No dead bodies around here, I assure you. Whatever you’re looking for, you came to the wrong place.”
Eva smiles as she calls his bluff almost immediately, having followed the group here herself. “Then you won’t mind me taking a look around your rooms to see if they’re here will you? Don’t worry about me, I’ll holler if I require assistance.”

She brushes him off like lint off a coat as she heads towards the rooms, pointing with a smirk towards the entrance and the patrols outside who might hear the scream of a lady in need. She makes her way around the room doors, knocking urgently on each one attempting to draw out the occupants. Those answered by none of the group she recognized, she apologized and left them in peace, continuing this way until a familiar face opened the door or she ran out of rooms that answered.
If stopped by the innkeeper in someway that doesn’t alert the guards (grabbing her arm etc.):
Eva frowns as she is stopped, the man was more inclined on risking his entire livelihood for coin than she thought… She casts a simple spell, causing the sound of a door knock to echo around the hall (Ghost Sound), “Next time it might be real soldiers knocking on that door. Or worse, you may begin to test my patience, human. And believe me, you don’t want that.”
“So what do you do? Can I sleep? Just let the world go nuts out there and sleep? Because I could use some – ugh, there,” he says, sitting down, " – fucking sleep."

Caithas closed his eyes, listening to the madness outside.

Grunur closed his as well, yet he was just as worried about the madness he heard on the inside of these walls.

Just a bloody letter, the dwarf thought uneasily.

What next, he nearly muttered.

What now?

(OOC: Since these guys don’t know a healer’s on her way, they’re content to rest and hope for a slow recovery.)
Arks shrugs, “There are plenty of reasons to wear a mask Zaracas.” he pauses and looks at him, “Yes, one reason is to hide one’s identity. And I’m well aware you’ve seen my face. I’m glad you’ll remember my face. I’ll remember yours. I always remember the faces of people I’ve killed. No, Zaracas, sometimes people wear masks because they don’t want their face to get dirty. Perhaps I’ll use it to eat your soul? Assuming you have one.” Ark played with the gladius in front of the mans face, “Or maybe I wear it to mess with people. But honestly, does it matter?”

“I am a bit curious, why were you after that man in the temple?”

The innkeeper does try to discourage Eva from searching the rooms, grabbing her by the arm, but eventually he does let go, after hearing the knock on the door and what Eva has to say. Before doing so, however, he offers a thinly veiled threat: “I’m not saying that there is someone fitting your description here, but if there is, I’d be careful not to get on his bad side. Anyone carrying a corpse would not react well to intruders. Proceed at your own risk, lady.”

(Everyone except Eva and Ark)

As everyone is about to call it a day, with Caithas and Grunur about to fall asleep, a knock on the door disturbs the silence.

[OOC: It’s Eva; feel free to RP as soon as someone opens the door.]

(Ark and Zaracas)

Zaracas first responds to Ark’s comments about the mask: “No, it does not matter. Not to me, anyway. But it does say something about you. You really believe in that hogwash about souls and spirits? I didn’t expect you to be superstitious, boy.”

Zaracas continues: “Don’t deceive yourself, archer. Let me give you some advice, killer to killer. Killing a man is no different than killing an animal, soul or no soul. You can tell yourself whatever you want to sleep at night, but in the end, we you are no different from me. Besides, a war is coming. You’d better choose your side wisely.”

Upon hearing Ark’s last question, Zaracas is intrigued: “Hasn’t your friend told you? Interesting… Just ask him, the man with the beard and the noble’s outfit… Lionel Pitch is his name. He‘ll explain everything. So I take it you don’t work for him, then. Let me guess: The Denizens? The Shades, maybe? Or are you a freelancer?”
Jules hears the knock at the door while he is busy changing out of his clothes, now having spent two days wearing the outfit. His fake beard not yet fully washed washed away, and it looks as though he has clearly missed chunks of hair while shaving. He goes to the door and opens it a crack looking out only to see, nobody. Curiosity gets the better of him and he opens to door fully. The exhaustion of the day causes him to take a moment before noticing Eva. “Who are you?” the half-dressed, partially bearded nobleman says with confusion in his voice.
Caithas barely blinks, though privately he’s surprised to see a small woman at the door. In situations like this, he found, it was rare that small women were the door knockers.

Grunur’s eyes, though, go wide.

The dwarf says nothing, though.
“You misunderstand the question. I know why you were there, you’re a thug of an official. You’re probably in it for the coin and political protection. I doubt that man was a friend of yours. I’m asking, you know the war is coming, which side are you on? And at the end of the day, tied up in a small room with me, is it the right side?” Ark shrugged, “You aren’t a coward are you? Clinging to the power that is the current empire? No, what killer like you is certainly no coward.” Ark points the gladius at the mans good eye, “So then, what made you choose your side?”
Eva shrugs lightly at the partial warning/advice, taking her time through the doors before finally being greeted by the bearded man who seemed halfway through his shaving. She takes a quick peek and spots the dwarf in the room behind the man and her face breaks into a polite smile, “I am here seeking the dwarf Grunur, may I come in please?”

She waits patiently for either a confirmation or a denial, stepping past the clearly exhausted man either way, she’d come too far to be stopped by youngsters a fifth her age. Once inside, invited or not, she looks around at the weary bodies and speaks, “I apologize if this is a bad time after your little altercation at the Temple but my name is Eva and I’m here to bring Grunur Rooinnir back.”
Jules listens to the small woman explain her purpose, here for the dwarf. Caithas’ friend. He tries to send her away, “Well, actually, as you can see we are in ze middle of something so if you could-” he is stopped mid-sentence when the woman brushes past him and enters uninvited. Jules is about to ask her to leave, or become indignant, but when she mentions the fight at the temple he realizes that sending her out where she could tell the authorities would only bring trouble. Instead he closes the door behind her. He walks over to Caithas and whispers, “It would probably be for ze best if she doesn’t leave, if she knows about ze fight we need to keep her where we can see her, at least until things cool down.” The lordling takes a seat wherever he can find one, and waits to hear what else this strange woman seems to know about them.
Caithas nods at Jules’ words and silently makes his way over to the closed door. He stands in front of it, hands on his blades’ handles, eying the small woman and listening to Grunur’s reply.

“Back? Back where, little lady?” Grunur asks with genuine curiosity. Who is this little lass, the dwarf wonders? Too small to be human, too hairless to be a dwarf…gods, was she a gnome? They almost never stuck their tiny noses into people’s affairs like this.

Caithas draws his swords and says in an honest and matter-of-fact tone, “I don’t believe my friend here is going anywhere with you, miss. You’re a bit outnumbered here, you see.”
Ark and Zaracas

The murderer remains unfazed even as the assassin threatens to destroy his remaining eye. “You are no fool after all, despite the mask.” says he, as the tip of the assassin’s sword is about to plunge into his retina. “Winning a battle is one thing, but winning a war… You’ll need a lot more than luck to accomplish that. I trust you have not forgotten that your entrails might have been decorating the temple’s interior, had chance not chosen to spare you from my blades…” Zaracas concludes, in a tone he manages to make sound both bitter and gleeful: “But next time, chance may choose to switch sides, as oft’ is the case with that capricious whore.”

In response to Ark’s final question, Zaracas changes his tone, forsaking threats and insults for something that, had he not tried to murder Ark less than an hour ago, could have passed off for friendliness. “So you wish to swap stories with your would-be slayer. So be it; since you insist on keeping me awake, I’ll humor you. Just take that pointy thing away from my face.” His eye twitches expectantly as he awaits Ark’s response.

[OOC: Not much plot advancement, but I enjoyed writing that. I’ll leave the others to settle things with the newcomer; unless someone chooses to do something drastic, you can rest for the day after Eva has been introduced / accepted and we can move on to the next day.]
Eva holds her hands open in a calming gesture, deciding to answer the anxious one with the weapon first, "If I were here to take Grunur by force, would I have knocked on your door and introduced myself? I’m confident in my abilities, not suicidal. This is a peaceful talk wherein I attempt to convince Grunur to return of his own free will. "

She then turns to Grunur, pulling out the piece of parchment that mysteriously begins to fly out of her hands as if a breeze were taking it for a ride, then came the eerie tinkling of windchimes in the room though the room’s air was still. She mutters irritably as she watched the paper sweep about like a child playing with his kite before snapping her fingers with a spell that drags it back down to her waiting hands (Mage Hand). “I apologize, old friends deciding to show off. Here is a letter from your mother, another old friend from Graggskruin who asked that I return a favor I owed her long ago. She misses her son.”

She passed the letter to Grunur, written entirely in Dwarven and addressed to the gnome as she said. She gives him time to read the letter as she turns to the bearded fellow, “Indeed you are, picking a fight with the Empire would normally fall under categories other than ‘the middle of something’ but no doubt you’re different from the masses. I imagine a dead body might stink up the place a little, or did you already dispose of it?”
Grunur takes the letter with a shaking hand. He reads silently, mouthing some of the dwarven words.

“My…my gods, little one…how…why…how did you find me? Across the sea and all? What…why does my mother need to send someone so badly? The Crags won’t fall without my hammer there.”

Caithas beams at the change in tone in the room.

“That’s from your mom? Hells, but I miss that woman. Best damn baker I ever met. Hit like a fucking brick too; never forgot her pies or her punches,” the half-elf chuckled.

Grunur grins but then his smile fades.

“Little one…what is your name? I want to thank you for this, but…but as of now, I could not leave with you even if I wanted to. My companions and I are trapped and a bit under the law’s eye, you might say. So unless you happen to be a healer, leave us and save yourself, girl; you don’t want to be mixed up in this.”
“Fate is a fickle one, but we’ve danced with her before and so far, still here. Though worse for wear.” He points the gladius at his neck and then to Zaracas’ bad eye. “To answer your first question, personal amusement. I have no use for you besides getting paid, and I’ll be honest, you weren’t even in my plans for the day. But it turns out you’re an exciting man.” Ark looks to the door which leads into the room, a nice voice mumbles through the spaces.

Ark finishes playing with the gladius and holds it down towards the ground, “I love being humored. And don’t forget, you’re swapping stories with someone who could have easily been your slayer. A few inches higher or to the left.”
Elana had been stewing in the corner of the room. Her head was still ringing from before and she had made an attempt at a nap before the gnome knocked on the door. The spell the gnome cast quickly caught her attention. If she was a wizard of some sort, then Elana would have to be much more careful; a real caster could piece together that she’d been lying about the wand, and expose her true nature as a spellflare.

Elana tried to make herself still and unnoticeable, hoping that the little wizard would leave them in peace. But just in case, she kept a spell on her lips, ready to silence the woman.
Eva smiles slightly at the idea of being a little girl, size really did mean a lot to people she’d learnt. “Oh aye, trust me, she’s mellowed over the years believe it or not, she was the fiery beacon of femininity some sixty years ago when we first met. I’ve heard little from The Crags since I’d visited, incidentally before either of you young uns were born. But some rumors have floated over the seas, nothing earth-shattering but problematic, dwarves of Graggskruin born are returning in trickles, though to what end I have no idea.”

She then drops her pack on the floor and looks over the party with an interested eye, “On a brighter note, you’re lucky that I am indeed trained in healing magicks, your decision on whether to go with me can wait till the morrow, bring the wounded to me and I’ll do what I can.”

Eva has 5 CLWs to go but I’m not entirely sure who’s injured and how badly so I’m not sure on whether to blow all 5 right off the bat and how to assign those numbers that roll up. I think I’ll leave GM-Boss (or indeed any player who thinks they might need a heal or two) to roll them and apply. The roll is 1d8+2.

Also, I’m talking out of my ass about the troubles at The Crags but Grunur brought up a bleeping good point I had no answer for, so I made up a situation for a future plot hook for Vlad. If that’s a problem, I’ll change it to the pre-arranged mummy wants you home.
(OOC: Jules, Ark, Grunur and Caithas are all in various states of wounded.)

“Indeed? Then stay with us, little one, and heal us if you would. Only the lady in the corner is unscathed. And tomorrow, we can discuss me homeland and family if you wish.”

The dwarf no longer felt worried nor threatened by the strange intruder, but he was surprised nonetheless. He’d left home years ago, acrimoniously at best. His family had never minded Caithas as a man, but they were traditionalists, and they (especially his mother), felt that it was silly for a dwarven lad like Grunur to be palling around with a cursed half-breed. Worse, when Caithas left – and damned if Grunur would ever admit this to anyone, especially the half-elf – Grunur became despondant. Not only did he miss his friend, but he desired more than his mountain home. It was as if Caithas’ restlessness and mere presence had instilled a sense of wanderlust into the dwarf.

It was unnatural and ill-advised to leave the mountains, but he did it anyway. He forged where forging was needed, he’d added his own pieces to his impressive set of armor, he traveled and eventually did was so very few of his kind did: He crossed the great sea. On a journey that had begun as a search for a friend, Grunur ended up traveling to find himself. True, the Domes were a home away from home, but despite the miles between them, the Domes and the Crags were little different. Both were mountains filled with dwarves who didn’t want anything to do with anyone but dwarves. Grunur had had enough xenophobia for one lifetime.

But now…this? An official missive from his mother? Rumors of trouble in The Crags? Surely the Empire wouldn’t…only fools ever tried to mount an assault on the mountains…no, no the dwarf thought reasonably, it couldn’t be that. And this news of other dwarves returning…how could that be trouble? Unless…unless the dark-kin had returned…but they hadn’t been seen for centuries. Whatever it was, the dwarf thought, there’s little to nothing I can do about it here, trapped in a bloody box like a coon in a hunter’s trap.

Still, one question nagged at him.

“I must ask,” the dwarf continued, after a long and pregnant pause, eyes narrowing at the small woman “how in the name of Hornbreaker did you ever find me, here of all places? Tracking me across the sea must have been trouble enough, but to find me in Andelia instead of the Domes seems…seems…improbable, at best. Suspicious at worst.”
Eva answers as she works, frowning slightly as she channels the healing magic through her fingertips and into the injured. “I am a seeker of knowledge young one, channeling those skills into finding a person proved simple enough, few dwarves leave The Crags as is, you stuck out even amongst your own people in the Domes. My first thought upon receiving that letter was to look for you in the Iron Domes, I got lucky there, a few drifting words pieced together a story well enough, you’d left for Andelia for a message and so I followed that trail.”

Healings (Spread out among 4 with the most injured getting another dose, though Ark hasn’t yet introduced himself I think)

She breathed slowly to calm her heart, blowing through her entire reserve of heal energy in a few minutes was harder on her than she’d thought, especially with the damnable spirits breaking her concentration every once in a while by whipping up winds around her or creating sounds of knocking and laughing. “Returning to the Domes again was… strange for me, but I’ve been putting tales with little facts together long enough that you were difficult, but not impossible to track. But enough about us eh? How does such a wonderfully disparate band of people wind up in a resistance to the Empire? Or for that matter why?”
Caithas sighs contentedly, feeling the energy flowing through him and says, “Good question, stranger. Unfortunately, the man to answer that was named Malcom. I say ‘was’ because if he isn’t dead already, he likely soon will be. So that’s that. Why am I doing this? I’m doing this because my life has been one failure and fuck-up after another, so why not shoot for the stars, yeah? The happy married couple here,” he says, waving his hand at Jules and Elana, “can likely answer with far more eloquence than me, though.”

Grunur listens to Caithas’ explanation and, as the gnome heals him as well, he whispers his thanks and says, “Wait a minute…you two are married?”

(OOC: Caithas and Grunur will each take one of the “4” rolls that Stridar rolled for healing. Jules and Ark can take the other three rolls as they see fit. As of this healing, Caithas is at 20 of 21 total HP and Grunur is at 22 of 24 total HP. After a night’s sleep, they’ll both be at or near full HP again. Goddamn it’s nice to have a healer around who actually heals people for a change )
Elana glanced at Jules before looking back at the others. “Well, technically.” She pushed herself up from the corner she’d been curled up in to stand amongst the others. “I’m Elana Savain of House Savain,” she formally introduced herself. “Jules is of the House Amour. His father and my uncle arranged for us to be married not long ago. That’s what brought us to Andelia. We kind of got swept up in the whole rebellion business.”

She was feeling uncomfortable talking about herself in front of the strangers so she tried to change the conversation. “Are you a wizard?” she asked Eva. Wizards didn’t have curative spells, though. “Or a priestess of some sort?”
“Many glad tidings and the boon of a happy marriage ahead would be the standard blessings I believe. Though I get the sense that this isn’t particularly the blossoms of true love shining through after the arrangement?”

Eva actually took a moment to answer this question, she hadn’t really classified herself into the various magical categories what with her constant wandering and melting pot of many many styles of magic. “Interesting question indeed Ms Savain, no, I hesitate to call myself a wizard or a priestess. My best guess would be a passing similarity to the clerics of faith, though my studies have rendered me somewhat doubtful of a higher power, no offence to all those who do of course.”

She nods towards the airy breeze playing about Elana’s skirt hem, cheekily flowing about like a risque play, “An unfortunate side effect of my magic sadly, they seem to like you though. I see you’re lightly armed compared to the boys, perhaps a fellow mage seeking someone to relate to?”
Jules doesn’t speak up through the exchange, still changing out of his old disguise,but when Eva brings up the unhappy state of their marriage his mood darkens. He hadn’t wanted the marriage, but he had done his best to be decent about it at the very least.

When Eva asks about Elana being a mage, Jules laughs. “Ah’m not sure about ze dwarven lands, but most nobles here don’t walk around in full suits of armor, decked to ze teeth with swords and shields.”
“Maybe they should, sir Amour. Maybe they should.”

The dwarf’s words are a whisper.

Caithas looks at his friend, but says nothing.
“Oh, no. I just have a passing knowledge in magical devices,” she said, revealing the wand at her waist. “I’m afraid growing up in a noble house hasn’t left me with a practical profession. Least, not one suitable for warfare. I do what I can though.”

Again the subject had shifted back to her, and again she threw the ball back into Eva’s court. “You know,” she said. “If the the guards find you with us, you’ll be charged with treason. I understand if you came to find Grunur, but it isn’t safe for you to stay here.”
“What are you, nuts? First rule of travel tips, Miss Savain: Never, ever send a healer away. We lost one already when we turned that little god’s temple into a fucking bloodbath. Things won’t get safer from here. Little lady, stay as long as you want,” Caithas says, leaning his head back on a pillow, eyes closing, with a crooked grin on his lips.

Grunur didn’t look like he agreed exactly, but he couldn’t help but smile.

Indeed, he’d missed that half-elf, damn his eyes.
[OOC: Let us assume that everyone is fully healed, and spells have been replenished. You can role-play last night’s events; I will move to the next day to push the story forward.]
The group decides to stay at the inn for the entire evening and night, fearing that venturing outside might lead to yet more undesirable misadventures. The innkeeper has nothing to offer for dinner other than a viscous, foul-smelling porridge. Still, in times of need, even the party’s two nobles are forced to compromise with what they are offered.

Ark decides to remain with Zaracas, choosing not to interact with the newcomer, despite having been healed by the gnome. The rest of the group has dinner in the main hall, where more time is spent chatting with the fellowship’s newly-acquired healer.
Ark and Zaracas
Upstairs, Ark and Zaracas, who seem to be developing some strange kind of respect for each other, continue their conversation. Zaracas reveals that he was a member of the Denizens, until he decided to leave the guild, dissatisfied with the control they exert upon their members.
“I promised you a story, archer. You seem unlike the rest of your companions, choosing to remain with me of your own volition. I trust that you are not friends with that bunch? Besides, your appearance and your conduct imply that you are not on law’s side.
Neither am I, although I fought for the officer at the temple. I reckon there’s no harm in revealing this-I used to be a member of the thieves’ guild. The denizens, as they call themselves. I started with theft, then moving to extortion and intimidation.
Somewhere along the line, people started to seek me out for… let’s say making certain problems disappear. It was alright in the beginning, good pay for just removing nobodies for other nobodies that saw the former as threats. Not much risk, really, and the cash was more than decent.
…As I was offered more and more of such jobs, the stakes were steadily increasing. My targets slowly became more and more important; first merchants, sometimes clergy and eventually minor noblemen. Not to mention their guards and escorts, who also had to “disappear” to avoid any witnesses. Mind you, there was no way of backing down. I was good at killing, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t expendable. So I followed their instructions, accepting one suicidal mission after another, without having a chance to bail out. My last target was a nobleman from house Thoranius. Stupid f%%er thought he could get away with screwing the guild over…
I failed; the man escaped to Sailor’s Stone. I tried to leave the city as well, but the Denizens got hold of me. Needless to say, they don’t appreciate failure or being betrayed. I was lucky: the prize I had to pay was only an eye. Somehow, I think they still thought I was too good a killer to waste. I did a couple of jobs more for them, but after that incident, I had no stomach to remain in the guild. When that officer gave me the chance to change sides, I jumped on it lime a drowning man clings onto a piece of wood. Things seemed to be turning up, until that whole temple incident. And now, it seems, my fate rests in your hands and those of your companions.”
[OOC: Feel free to chat with him some more; if you ask certain questions I will rewind a bit and give you answers.]
12th of Frer-mánuðr, 2482
The Intoxicated Ice Monster, Lower Andelia
The ordeals suffered during the last few days have taken their toll on the party. Nevertheless, sleep does not come easily to most. As night falls, the noises from outside do not subside. Instead, more soldiers arrive at the district, both on horseback and on foot. The epicenter seems to be close by. The sounds of soldiers are gradually replaced by other noises. In the darkness, all members of the group listen attentively the unmistakable sounds of destruction. Among others, windows can be heard being broken; wooden planks smashed and walls being knocked down. Eventually, these noises give way to the crackling sounds of fire.
[OOC: Random PC=Elana.]
Unable to sleep and wishing to find out what is happening, Elana decides to take a look. She climbs up the stairs to the inn’s roof. Under the dark sky, she is not in any danger of being seen. What she sees verifies her suspicions: the Temple of Delrodin, just a few hundred yards away from the inn, lies in ruins. Next to it, a huge pyre has been constructed, containing all the wood that made up the temple. The fire is large enough to be seen in the entire district. Tired, Elana eventually returns to the room, where she sleeps until the morning.
Ark decides to share the room with Zaracas, convinced that he should keep an eye on the man. He makes sure to tie the man carefully, with some proper rope provided by the innkeeper, so that the thug does not stand any chance of escape. The criminal sleeps peacefully, despite his wound, and does not attempt to escape. When Ark wakes up, he sees Zaracas already awake, observing him from a distance. He does not say anything, giving the archer a creepy smile instead.
[OOC: Random PC=Jules]
As a new day dawns, Jules is the first to get up and make his way towards the main hall, in hopes of finding something better than last night’s dinner for breakfast. He is offered a slice of stale, dry bread and a bowl of watery soup by the innkeeper, who informs the lordling of recent developments:
“If you had any plans for venturing out today, I have bad news for you. The whole district is under military control. They are determined to leave no stone unturned. If you and your friends are those they are after, fear not: I can hide you in my cellar. There is a secret room they would never find. I don’t know how many days it will take before this whole thing gets sorted, but I can provide shelter for a reasonable fee.”
Jules considers the man’s offer over breakfast. He is eventually joined by the rest of the group, who are also offered the same breakfast as he was.
As the rest of the companions prepare, Ark decides to go to the roof, like Elana had done in the night. The assassin sees that many soldiers are walking in the streets of the city; navigating the alleys undetected would be next to impossible. The rooftops, however, remain unreachable to the military. Although treacherous and covered with snow, they offer a rare chance for escape from this place. As Ark ponders this, he realizes that his new companions might slow him down: the men might be able to follow him from roof to roof, but the assassin is not so sure about the women. Eventually, Ark decides it would be unwise to think this through on an empty stomach. He climbs the stairs down to the main hall, where he joins the rest of his companions.
[OOC: You are free to discuss alternatives, plans of action, what to do with Zaracas etc.]
The discussion over breakfast is interrupted abruptly by loud knocks on the door. “Open up!” says someone from behind the door, in a commanding voice. “In the name of the Senate, open up!” Although unknown to Grunur, Ark and Eva, the authoritative voice sounds vaguely familiar to Jules and Elana; Caithas suspects that it belongs to none other than Langbard.
[OOC: Perception checks-Successes.]

Caithas felt good for the first time since….gods, since when? Before the boat ride…before that damned bar fight…hells, probably before he came to this bloody city.

Grunur woke refreshed and healed as well, though the continued presence of Eva worried him.
“Miss Eva, your healing greatly helped,” the dwarf said the following morning, “but I must ask…what now? I am not coming with you; it looks like we’re not going anywhere in fact. So I ask you: What now?”
Caithas wondered the same thing.
When the knock sounds and the voice calls, Caithas’ normally hidden, tell-tale ears actually perked up.
“I know that voice,” the ranger says to the group gathered, “it’s Langbard!”
He looks to Jules, then Elana. “Guess we better let ’im in, yeah?”
(OOC: In case folks don’t check the FAQ, here’s how to roll dice, without spaces of course:
[ dice] normal dice format from TTW [/ dice]
Apparently, it’s just like Mythweavers. As for colored text, that I don’t know about. Vlad, how do you want to deal with that? Should we all just use black and white, should we bold speech, or is there a color function I’m missing?)
Elana was pondering over what she had seen that night while the others discussed plans. The temple was gone, now. All the priests had been displaced to who knows where. It seemed that everywhere they went they brought misfortune upon the innocent.
She poked at the beans on her plate with uncharacteristic lethargy as her melancholy surfaced.
The knock on the door jolted her back to the present. Since Caithas mentioned it, it did sound like Langbard.
“Alright,” she called. “Just a second.” She stood up and moved to the door, casting one glance back at the others before opening it.
Ark stood quietly and listened to the story, “Ain’t that a shame. I’d have to say they do take failure pretty seriously don’t they?” He wasn’t really asking, more… communicating the bit of sympathy that he could.
“No Zaracas. Your fate is not up to me nor my friends. It’s up to you. I don’t know what they want from you, but cooperating is always a good bet. Who knows, maybe your new boss will think you’re dead and you can slink away from this place of death. While you still have one good eye.” Ark feels the pang of hunger and feels like investigating the new voice, so he leaves the captive man to rest after a fixing some more bindings on him, “Zaracas… Get some rest.” Ark removed his mask and hid it away under his cloak before leaving the room.
========== == Ark met a short little woman, who insisted on treating his wounds. To which he had no qualms about. As far as he knew she was just yet another friend. For the rest of the night Ark kept to himself and remained silent unless spoken to. ============ ====
“Who’s Langbard?” He whispers quietly as he draws a cautious dagger beneath the table. “And why are we letting him in?”
Eva woke up lazily as always, the life of a scholar was thankfully a lethargic one, books rarely ran away and she was content to not chase after them until after breakfast.
The question by Grunur was answered with surprising conviction, “I had a feeling you wouldn’t return with me on the first day but rest assured I will convince you eventually. Your little quest seems interesting and if knowledge should benefit men, so should I help it on its way. I will stay and assist, unless you and your companions feel the need to force me away.”
She then attacked her meal with impressive gusto for a woman her size, looking over at Elana, “Not in the best mood toda-”
The interruption from the door knock gave her pause as she felt for the small knife on her belt, she was officially with the rebels now and she would probably be treated as such by the officials.
Grunur nods at the small woman’s words. It was madness, but then, his choices had been mad since he’d used his hammer against an Andellian official. Who was he to judge?
“Very well, Eva. We shall see. If we ever escape this inn, this district, this city…this rebellion…perhaps we’ll go pay mum a visit.”
As to who this Langbard was that Caithas piped up about, he knew not. But the married noble couple seemed to take great interest in the half-breed’s words.

Jules listens to the man’s offer of shelter. It sounds nice, and it would give them time to plan, but it would set them back as well. Every day not moving forward was another day the rebellion could be snuffed out by some lucky patrol of guards.But at the same time, running out into a city on alert would do nothing but hurt them.
“Alright, Ah’ll think on what you’ve said,” he tells the man without giving a real answer. When the others join him later in the morning he tells them of the owners offer to hide them.
When Caithas mentions that it’s Langbard knocking at the door; it surprises him. “We should let him in, but it shouldn’t be one of us who opens ze door, he could have unfriendly guards with him.”
“Good point,” Caithas says to Jules. “See? That’s why you do the thinking and I do the cutting.”
Grunur steps forward.
“I shall do it. The official never saw me; no dwarf has been sighted with your band.”
The dwarf moves to open the door, blessing himself with his mother’s gift as he does so, just in case trouble greeted him on the other side. Hammer in hand, armored as always, the dwarf moved to open the door, muttering in dwarven as he went.
1d8 + 1 ⇒ (1) + 1 = 2
(OOC: That’s the 24-hour temp. HP for Grunur, of course.)
Ark and Zaracas
Zaracas silently considers Ark’s words for a few moments, before going to sleep. When he wakes up, he is more willing to talk to the assassin.
Listen: you may not realize it, and your companions are probably not aware of this either, but you’ve tried to f@*~ with the wrong man. You have no idea what he is capable of, or how much power his agency commands. You asked for my cooperation, so here’s my advice: Get the hell out of here, before it’s too late. You just can’t win this one; not without an army backing you along the way. Not me, not anyone can protect you from the man’s wrath when he finds you.
The dwarf volunteers himself, remaining in the main hall, next to the door, as the rest of the party moves upstairs. Grunur allows his companions a few moments to hide, before opening the door. He sees a man, tall and wearing a long beard, standing in front of him. Apparently, he had not expected a dwarf to open the door for him. His eyes wonder for a moment before finally spotting the stout warrior. Even when he sees him, he seems reluctant to acknowledge his presence. He brushes him aside, hurrying to the innkeeper without paying any attention to the armiger.
The bearded warrior approaches the owner of the establishment closely, before whispering to his ear. Grunur overhears the conversation as best he can: I am looking for Brother Percy. Can you summon him for me? He gives a detailed description of Jules, or rather the man he was pretending to be, before arguing to strengthen his request: I am his friend. I know he is here, and that he does not wish to be disturbed. I know that you look at me and you see a guardsman, but appearances can be deceiving. All I wish from you is to let him know that Langbard is here.
Despite Langbard’s pleas, the innkeeper claims that he has never seen or heard of a “Brother Percy”. The man may actually be speaking the truth for a change, since Jules has already shed the guise of the wandering priest. Grunur, to whose presence none is alerted, takes the opportunity to sneak away, quickly climbing up the stairs to his companions’ room. He finds Jules and explains that the man, who claims to be Langbard, is indeed alone, but that he doesn’t seem to be looking for him. He describes the soldier to the lordling; Jules understands the situation and decides to leave his room and talk to the man.
The noble catches Langbard as the discussion with the innkeeper begins to escalate. It takes a moment for him to recognize the once-disguised lordling, but he does so eventually. Reassured by Jules’ presence, the old soldier quickly terminates his argument with the innkeeper. Finally, I have found you. We need to talk. Is there a safe place within the inn?
Jules asks the innkeeper to show them to the basement, while the rest of the party joins the two men. Langbard eyes the newcomers suspiciously, before whispering to Jules a few words: They should join only if you trust them. Otherwise, it’d be better for them-and us-to wait outside.
Jules can determine who joins and who doesn’t, but party members who are not invited can also argue with Jules and Langbard, if they want to.
Once downstairs, Langbard makes sure to lock the door behind him. He quickly addresses the group in a tone that denotes urgency, if not distress or fear. Last night, a temple not far from here was burned to the ground. Many of its priests were killed on the spot, while others were arrested. No interrogation was necessary for them to reveal that a man that went by the name of Brother Percy had instructed them to evacuate their church. They also gave descriptions of his companions. I guess I do not need to tell you how these companions looked like…
He looks around at the group, before continuing: The entire might of Legion XI, until recently charged with protecting the government district, has been deployed to comb every alley of this city in search of the rebels. They will not accept failure; they are determined to leave no house or establishment unsearched until the heads of the traitors adorn the walls of the Rector’s Seat.
I know not how you managed to get yourselves in such a situation, and I will not demand answers from you, even though I should. These things will have to wait. I am here to urge you to leave this part of the city before it is too late. Whatever your mission here was, there is no way to accomplish it now. Not with the entire military looking for you. Don’t fool yourselves; Malcom has already given his life for this. Throwing your lives away, while commendable, will do nothing to further the goals of the rebellion. I can give you a way out of this mess. I can acquire some full-body armors from people in the guard who owe me a few favors. Disguised as armor-clad guardsmen, we can leave Lower Andelia by crossing the Knight’s bridge. I will join you; my men will do so as well, after we reach Upper Andelia. We can organize the rebels there, armed with information about the Legions’ strength.
The armor will conceal the features of lady Savain, allowing her to pass of as a soldier. As for the two dwarves, we could pass them off as criminals or rebels led to Upper Andelia for execution. It’s not the most convincing excuse, but it’s the only one I can think of under the circumstances. Langbard looks at Jules seriously, before concluding: Think about it carefully, but answer quickly. Every moment spent here increases your chances of capture and execution.
[OOC: Jules is going to have Ark, Grunur, and Eva wait outside, no offense intended, but he wouldn’t feel comfortable with essentially complete strangers listening in already.]
Jules asks the three newcomers to wait behind, while he meets with Langbard. It wasn’t a lack of faith in their skills, but Ariel had proven unreliable and nearly doomed them only yesterday. He wouldn’t be making the same mistake again.
Jules tries to think through the situation as Langbard explains it to him. If they stay, they die. And if they leave, they lose the Irregulars and all of the supplies and men they could bring. But they had other allies they could draw on in time, and throwing their lives away would get them nothing.
“Ah would like to hear what everyone else thinks before deciding anything, but as for myself, Ah say we retreat. We may have failed to decode ze message, but for all we know it is no longer even relevant. We have allies to gather in Upper Andelia, and zer is still work to be done there.
“But if we leave, Ah want to deal with Zaracas first. He may know something, and Ah want to see if Ah can’t get zat out of him.”
Caithas spoke before Jules had the words out, “Grunur comes down with us, sir. I promise you that.”
The dwarf said nothing, but he crossed his arms. He was insistent.
Caithas continued before heading down stairs, “Jules, you have trusted me before. Trust me on this one. I’ll be your blade…but if he’s here? He’ll be the hammer. Besides, he’s my friend.”
(OOC: Assuming Grunur is allowed to join without a fuss, he will be down there with you guys when Caithas says…)
“Jules, I’ll take care of the big thug. Just let me know when,” the half-elf said with no cruelty in his voice.
Just honesty.
The dwarf continued to say nothing.
Ark looks at Zaracas as he tells them to flee, “You’re right. The temple we fought in is now ashes, and the whole military is looking for us like dogs. Well. Not me really. Seeing as you’re the only one still alive that’s seen my face. Your boss never got a glimpse of me so I’ll count that as a saving grace. I’ll be sure to pass on the message to the rest of the group though.”
Ark mentions a bit of the conversation before they’re interrupted. He doesn’t bother to mention it again.
Ark allows Jules to dismiss him and he waits outside of Zaracas’ door. He could get to know the new comer that healed him… but… He wasn’t sure how much he wanted to associate with them.
Eve consents to wait outside, she knew she was new and understood the need for secrecy in a coup. She returns to the table and pulls out a small journal, scribing the events of yesterday in a lore log, noting down the new resistance to the Empire she’d encountered without mentioning specific names.
Her interest is absorbed in writing in the new entry and re-reading what she had discovered about the Empire in the past until the rest return.
“We should retreat,” Elana suggested. “With the entire legion out looking for us, we can hardly even move from our room. Staying here doesn’t seem to be doing any good.”
She crossed her arms and glanced at the door that held Zaracas. “So what do we do about him?” she asked. “We can’t take him with us, can we? And if not . . . can we afford to let him go?”
“Let him go? Are you mad? We kill him, that’s what we do. This is a bloody rebellion, not a carnival, my lady. The man tried to kill us. We captured him. He has seen our faces and knows our intent. Now we kill him. So it goes,” Caithas finished with conviction in his voice.
The discussion does not last long. So it’s unanimous, Langbard concludes, we should flee before it’s too late. I will go gather the men and all that is necessary. Two hours should be sufficient.
Do not do anything other than remain in hiding and await my return … I will bring an extra set of armor for the archer that is waiting for you outside, he says, referring to Ark, in case he chooses to join us. As for the dwarves, a set of plain clothes or rags should be sufficient. He turns to Jules: You seem to be proficient in the art of disguise. I trust you will take care of this.
Langbard makes sure that Jules, Caithas, Elana and Grunur understand everything and agree on the plan of action. Leaving in broad daylight under the nose of the Legions sounds like a desperate plan, but I want you to muster all your courage. Together, we can make this work. He exits the room, bumping into the rest of the party members, who have been waiting outside for a couple of minutes. He does his best to hastily answer any questions they might have, before leaving the tavern altogether.
Langbard’s departure leaves the members of the group to share information and discuss what to do with Zaracas, who remains upstairs. In addition, as Langbard should return soon, there is no time to waste for the final preparations. If the guardsman’s plan works, and if the companions manage to survive this, it might be long before they return to Lower Andelia. Even if they ever would, the circumstances of their return would most certainly be radically different.
Feel free to finish up whatever needs to be done and deal with Zaracas as you see fit. You can also converse with Langbard if you so desire.
Grunur gulps and balks when he hears Langbard say what the disguises are, “Langbard, is it? I…I trust my friend, and he seems to trust you, so I would place my most sacred belongings with another for the first time, you see. Me…my armor, it is…it is my body, you see. Sounds silly, I know…but it is. It is my honor. To trust it to another to complete this task will be hard, but to leave it behind, I’d rather die. Please, if I am to mime a weakling and a captive…swear one of your men can somehow smuggle it to the escape with me. If you can’t, I’ll go out, hammer in hand, and die facing them now…”
The dwarf sputters a little at the end, and his ruddy cheeks blaze a bit red, but his gaze is firm.
Caithas seems surprised by Grunur’s words, but he makes no move to speak or intervene.
He does turn to Jules and Elana and say, “We have two hours. If either of you want anything out of that thug, make your plea and peace. Because I’m cutting his throat before we leave this building.”
His hand drops to his blade.
He continues.
“We should inform those other two if they want out. The guard hasn’t seen them, perhaps…with Zaracas dead, they both may escape if they wish. If not, they can watch the sonofab&~$~ bleed and pay for what he did. And then they can come with us, yeah? Tough to be picky with this rebellion…”
Elana crossed her arms and fixed Caithas with a stubborn look. “I don’t think we should kill him. He fought us, yes, but he’s a mercenary. He has no allegiance to the Empire. If we have no use of him, we can just stuff him in a barrel and kick him into the river, or something.”
Ark eyes the dwarf as she scribbles in her book. He wonders for a moment before walking over to her and sitting across from her. He gives her a warm and coy smile from across the table,
“Thank you. By the way. I’m afraid I neglected to say so earlier.” Ark removed the makeshift bandage from around his neck, revealing a long scar which was midway between his adam’s apple and his chin. About 4" long, nice and fresh.
Eva looks up as she closes the journal shut, leaving the quill trapped in the middle as a bookmark. “You’re welcome, seems like I was timely intervention with that wound of yours.”
She gestures towards the meeting they weren’t in with a curious look, one that she wore often, “So… I know all their business with the Empire, but what does a man of your skills have in that fight? It doesn’t look like much gold comes from a venture such as this.”
“Ah, you peg me for someone who’d grovel over coin. I did get two-hundred sovereigns for it. So at least it was worth it, even if it is a bit of a distraction.”
He thinks for a moment, realizing what she meant,
“The whole rebellion thing? I’d rather the people won it for sure. When you’ve grown up in this city with no parents and no one to watch over you… you become a child of the streets. These streets in a way are mine and the people. My life has been a living hell because of the empire. Thievery, extortion, you name it. Of course… I’ve always tried to guide myself through right and wrong. But sometimes you just can’t turn down a job.”
He smiles devilishly at the short woman, “What about you half-pint? where did you wash up from? Iron domes or something? What have you here more than anyone?”
Caithas returns Elana’s look grimly. He forces his voice lower and speaks with as much respect for the noble woman as he can muster. His eyes dart to Jules, silently pleading with the nobleman to listen to reason and think like a man at war.
“Lady Elana…I understand you have a noble heart to go with a noble name, but please understand…we’re at war here. You joined a rebellion; you knew the terms, as did I, as did we all. The man upstairs…he is the only one to see Grunur’s or Ark’s faces. He tried to kill us all. He’s seen you. He’s seen me, and Jules. He is the only link, besides the official, to all of this. The official only saw Jules clearly, and likely me as I pursued him. But this Zaracas has seen us all. You’re right that he is a mercenary. That means he will sell us all to the highest bidder, make no mistake of that. His life is a compromise to our safety, if such a thing can ever be said to be had in this damned city. He cannot live. So whether I slit his throat or throw him in a barrel and toss him in a river, as you say, the end result must be the same: He must be dead before he leaves this building. I have done as you and sir Amour have said because you are my betters and my friends, but in this, I am adamant. Grunur risked his life and reputation to help me and us; I will not return the favor by sending a coin-hungry thug into the streets with his description, as well as ours. The man dies, Lady. If that means that you no longer wish me to accompany you, so be it; I’ll go on my way, as it were, with a heavy heart and much regret. But I will not go before that sonofab~@+$ upstairs is dead. That much I promise you.”
“We shouldn’t murder a prisoner of war,” Elana replied. "If we’re a part of the rebellion, then we’re an extension of that will-be government. Otherwise what difference is there between us and the corrupt soldiers of the Empire who kill indiscriminately?
“I understand your concern over Grunur and Eva, and I agree that we shouldn’t put them at risk. Still, if Zaracas is a mercenary then why don’t we buy out his services? Why throw away your opponents sword when we can wield it ourselves? You know he’s a good fighter, and the rebellion needs every man it can get.”
“Because he doesn’t fight and kill just for coin! He does it for fun! He is sadistic, Lady, and your squeamishness over killing him will lead to more death, I promise you. He held your husband prisoner and would do so again if freed! Sir Amour, for the love of sanity, speak up and settle this! You’re the leader and the tie-breaker. What do you say?”
Jules listens to the plan and agrees to help disguise his friends at Langbard’s suggestion. But when the question of Zaracas’ fate comes up he find himself falling silent.
They both had good points, and the memory of those heads in jars put Jules in a dark state of min. He wanted to see the man dead, and let him know that the thug wasn’t the one holding power anymore. But at the same time Elana wasn’t wrong. They were little better than those they fought if they started killing prisoners indiscriminately.
“Let me talk to him. After Ah learn what Ah can, zen Ah’ll know what Ah want done with him.”
Jules leaves to go speak with Zaracas, and when he finds the man he says, “Zer are some things zat Ah want to know before your fate is decided. And ze first is zis, what is ze name of ze man you serve?”
“A soldier should relish a fight,” Elana said, after Jules left. “And for someone who condemns a man for violence, you sure are eager to murder.”
She leaned back in her chair, arms crossed. “‘For the love of sanity’?” she quoted. “Really?” Elana shook her head and let out a frustrated sigh.
As Jules leaves to talk to Zaracas, Caithas says, “Remember the two hours we have, my friend. Time’s running short. Learn what you can; my blade is ready.”
Turning to Elana, the half-elf scowls.
“You mistake me then, my Lady. You think me a soldier? I’m no more a soldier than you are. I fight for what I believe in and I protect those I care about. And yes, I’m asking you to be sane. I’m asking you to set aside misguided honor and look at the fact that we have a beast of a man who wants to kill us captured. If he had died in battle, you would not have blinked a damn eye. But now? Now, you choose mercy? It is madness!”
Leaving his companions behind, Jules heads upstairs to address Zaracas, in a conversation that may well determine if the thug lives or days.
Jules and Zaracas
As the nobleman enters and closes the door behind him, Zaracas looks up at him from the corner he is laying, with no fear in his eyes. He waits for a few seconds before giving his answer: ”I thought you had forgotten about me. I thought you’d let me walk. The archer sure seemed reluctant to slay me. But I suppose I ain’t getting away that easily… a man can always hope, though. Right?”
”I don’t know much about the man myself, but he introduced himself to me as Raynald. Whether that is his true name or not, I never bothered to ask. After all, he did pay me well, and I never got into trouble with the Imperials while serving him. He never had qualms about employing me or criminals for his needs, which is unusual for a governmental official. Then again, I don’t suppose he was a plain governmental official, was he? What else do you need to know
Everyone else
[OOC: I’ll try to push the story a bit by making things move in parallel…]
While Jules converses with the thug, the party makes preparations. It takes little more than an hour for Langbard to return, with a mule dragging a cart. He asks for everyone to join him outside. Those who join him observe that the cart is covered with a thick sheet of dirty fabric. Langbard makes sure that no-one is nearby, before informing the party what it contains. ”I managed to get some old armor parts and full helmets. If the gods are with us, we shall be able to escape. Have a look at the armors and see what fits you. Lady Savain, I sincerely apologize, but I wouldn’t ask this of you if it wasn’t absolutely necessary.”
He then addresses the Grunur and Eva, mistakenly believing that both of them are dwarves: ”I am sorry, but there are no dwarves serving in the Andelian guardsmen. You will have to pretend you are captured criminals. Where is Brother Percy? He should make sure your disguises are convincing.”
Turning to Grunur, he explains: ”I am sorry for this, but we should be able to transfer your armor on the wagon. I could hide it under some supplies; if anyone else has more skill in this, I would encourage him to help me. The truth is, the military is growing suspicious of everyone, even its own men. We might get inspected while crossing the bridge, and we should make our story as plausible as we can.”
[OOC: Everyone except Grunur and Eva can pick up an old, rusty suit of chainmail, a longsword, a small wooden shield and a full-face helmet from the wagon. When Jules is done, and if he agrees, I would like to roll disguise checks. Ross, give me the modifier (depending on whether you use a kit etc) and I will roll for you, twice. If anyone wants to hide Grunur’s armor, please request a stealth check and give me the modifier. As soon as Zaracas is dealt with and you guys are ready, we can move on.]
[OOC: Using the disguise kit will create a +12 bonus to the roll.]
Jules listens to Zaracas’ answer, but doesn’t put much faith in the answer. The man was a thug, and trying to get worthwhile information from him would be like trying to get a battle strategy from a common soldier. He had just wanted to see the man’s willingness to save his own skin.
“The archer…Ah don’t even know him, but Ah should, he helped us and didn’t turn traitor even when it could have helped him. Ah paid him to fight because he was convenient. You know, Ah was in a similar position to zis recently. We had saved ze life of a guard who we attacked, hoping to use him as hostage for one of our friends, our leader. But eventually we set ze man free, he had a family and wasn’t worth killing. And as it turns out, our leader is now lost to us as well.
“But Ah can’t see any reason to keep you around. Your master wouldn’t let a glorified thug know anything of real value, so you are useless there. Ah can’t use you to get close to him.
“My wife wants me to let you live, and my best friend wants you dead. Ah am inclined to agree with my friend. You are a threat, a killer, and Ah very much dislike you. So here is my next question, why should Ah let you live?”
Caithas works with Langbard outside, nervously glancing back at the inn now and then.
Jules wouldn’t be a fool here, he tells himself. He looks at Elana, whom he’s had trouble meeting the gaze of in the last hour or so.
Dammit, the ranger thinks, as he straps on the make-shift disguise.
“Here, I’m dressed now…I’ll do the best I can to hide Grunur’s armor here. You all keeping working…maybe if I smear some more mud – sorry, old friend – it’ll keep this out of an inspector’s eyes…”
(OOC: Caithas +7 Stealth check for helping with the armor.)
Grunur, looking pitiful in rags and miserable without his suit of metal, a thin and sad looking man indeed, grunts to Langbard, “The more plausible’s the truth, sir. If yer gonna get us out of this mess, might as well do it without having to remember too many lies. Tell ‘em that we’re not who we said we are. We’re not Iron Domes dwarves at all, but rather Crags’ born, come across the sea to spy on their precious colonies. The Empire can’t invade The Crags anymore than I can fly to the damned moon, so you canna hurt ’em too much with your words, I pray.”

(OOC: I have some friends in town for the weekend, so posting will be erratic; just a head’s up!)
Eva raises an eyebrow at the history she was given, growing up on the streets with nothing but your wits was familiar to her, it seemed like she shared more in common with the group than she’d thought.
“Aye, I was from the Domes originally, but that was a good four score years ago. I left to see the world and never looked back, and if you’ve seen how badly the Empire treats their citizens in the city, you should see the lands when you’re travelling the roads. I’ve watched it for many decades and perhaps its time I did something about it.”
========== ========
((Question, do the prisoners need Stealth checks as well? Or do I use someone else’s mod for looking grungy and beat up?))
Eva consents to giving up her gear, all but the battered journal that she insists on being stuffed down her prisoner’s garb. “Trust me, there are observations and notes in here to rise and topple ten Empires, this stays with me.”
It was trial and error for Elana as she tried to figure out the clasps and straps of the Empire’s armor. Everything seemed too big on her, and even her helmet fit loosely so that if she tilted her head down it would slump forward and cover her eyes.
Langbard kept on apologizing profusely to her, but Elana simply waved his worries away. “No need to fret,” she told him as she belted on the sword belt. “You shouldn’t apologize for saving us.”
As she fiddled with her helmet strap, her eyes caught Caithas’ who seemed to be avoiding her. Indeed, she was still upset with his decision regarding the Zaracas issue, so the avoidance was mutual. Jules still hadn’t come back, and Elana hoped he’d do the right thing. More so, though, she hoped Zaracas wouldn’t prove her wrong if they did spare him.
The half-elf saw Elana’s furtive glance and looked away. Then he cursed himself for a fool and walked over to the noblewoman.
“My lady…we will not agree on this, and perhaps not on many other things as well…but that does not mean you don’t have my sword, my friendship or my respect. And no matter what the result of this argument comes to be…I hope you know my words to be true.”
With that, the half-elf went back to busying himself with covering Grunur’s armor with as much mud and refuse as he could. Poor dwarf, he thought, looking at the pitiful man in rags. I’ve dragged him into a war and have forced his most prized possession to be stripped from him…some g!!&%$ned friend. It’s a miracle he doesn’t crush my skull with his bloody hammer and be done with it.
But if Grunur shared these feelings, he made no show of it. He was despondent and anxious, but he was not wroth. He just looked like he wanted to get this over with as quickly as possible; as it was, rags or no, he felt like a naked man being paraded through the streets. Neither beggar, nor soldier, nor Queen would appreciate such a feeling…
Jules and Zaracas

“I see”, says Zaracas, “you don’t mind hiring one thug to fight for you, yet you would kill another just because he happened to be fighting for the wrong side. Tell me this then, Lionel: could it not have been the other way around just as well? Had things happened slightly differently, it might be me standing by your side now, and the archer pleading for mercy. Would that have changed your appreciation of me? What makes me different from the rest of the killers you are associated with?”

“… but if you want to see me plead, I will not grant you the favor. You say that I am of no value to you, since I know nothing of Raynald’s activities. You are right about the second half. But are you right about that first part? Your friends have seen me fight. Have you asked them what happened? Like it or not, they’d have to admit that I can fight, probably better than most of them. You look like you could use another pair of blades. How about mine? Hells, I’ll even do it for free. It’s not like you’re giving me any choices here.” He observes Jules as he takes in his answer, trying to weigh the effect his words have.

“You think that you shouldn’t turn your back on me? Then you are a clever boy. But there is a way around that, you know. I can take the frontline; I am anyway well-suited for it. If you see me run, ask that mercenary of yours to bury his arrows in my back. And if we get out of this alive, you may find that I have more uses than being a murderer. You don’t get to climb through Denizens’ chain of command without acquiring friends in the process.”

Zaracas pauses. “So what is your choice? Whatever you’ve decided, do it know. You don’t have much time. So cut me lose and give me my blades, or end this now.”

Everyone else

[OOC-@ Stridar: No need for Stealth checks, the disguise checks made by Jules should suffice.]

Langbard looks around impatiently as the group prepares. He seems to be plighted by many concerns, so when the dwarf addresses him with his suggestions he gives a short, inattentive reply: “Sure, as you wish. Let’s do this one step at a time. For now, I need you to follow the plan. We’ll see if there will be any need for lies and subterfuge.”

After dismissing the stout warrior, Langbard exclaims: “Where is brother Percy? We can’t afford to lose more time!”
“I’ll get him,” Caithas says, eyes averted from Elana.

The half-elf darts in and finds Jules listening to the thug talk. “They are ready for us, sir. Let us be done here,” he says, sword in hand, eyes on Zaracas’ neck.
The killer before him isn’t lying, at least not about most of what he says. “You’re right. Ah would probably be contemplating his fate just as Ah do yours. You aren’t different zan ze rest of ze killers Ah fight with. You just fight for ze other side. If zat man had told you to cut off my head, you would have done it, and you probably would have enjoyed it. But for some reason Ah don’t want to see you die. One of my friends died in zis failure of a mission, and if you are ze best reward we can get, zen Ah will not throw it away. You could prove useful if Ah ever need something done zat my friends are unwilling to do. So for zat reason you will walk out of here with us, in chains and unrecognizable.”

Jules hoists Zaracas up to his feet, keeping his arms bound behind his back. He walks the killer to the others as he hears Langbard shouting, “Calm down, Langbard, Ah was just getting our last prisoner. Caithas, bloody him up, make sure he isn’t going to say anything on ze way back. He’s coming with us.” When he finishes handing Zaracas over to Caithas he gets to work helping to make sure everyone else is disguised properly before getting into his own armor, masking his face in a layer of makeup, tinting his skin to appear darker and older. “So, Langbard, is it true zat Malcom is gone?”

Chapter 1-A war of attrition (Part 4)

The road not taken Svorinn