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  #91  
Old 01-09-2020, 05:50 PM
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The lizardfolk was speaking to him, but Telephus heard only two words. He planted his heel in a moist patch of soil, and made an about-face in a motion so fluid that Babble nearly tied his legs in a knot trying to keep pace. The sorcerer was not sure what sort of business these strangers had at Gorogan’s Maw, but he was certain that he wanted nothing to do with it. “Actually, maybe the big fellow had a point,” he quipped, “The view is probably just fine back in Horizon.”

Unfortunately, he was immediately confronted with the hulk, scale-plated form of Bazziox. Something about the way that the dragonborn hovered around the lady made Tel anxious, as if he could sense that it would be dangerous to pass between the two of them. The sorcerer sighed and then relented, resuming his forced march alongside the other set of scales.

“Not that I recall. Anyway, you don’t look like the sort that frequents many taverns,” the half-elf answered Emak’s question at long last, although only in a roundabout sort of fashion. “I lived in Horizon for a time. I was a student at the Observatory.” His tone fell flat as he became less appreciative of his predicament. Perhaps he would have been better off in a classroom after all.

“Now, the highway is my home, although I must say I prefer the northern road.” His penchant for wandering had always lured him back to the Elf Queen’s woods, rather than the barren stretches to the southeast.
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Dim the Drowned|Telephus Lorre
Tribulations of the Stag

Last edited by Grenadier; 01-09-2020 at 05:51 PM.
  #92  
Old 01-10-2020, 09:34 PM
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It seemed that the new party dynamics were cause for great speculation, both for the kidnapped half-elven sorcerer and for the mixed group of would-be allies. Only three party members had traveled from Axis, and their three day trip by horse was infinitely more comfortable than the group's new travel methods in their mixed group both ahorse and afoot. Even in the more open lands, the terrain was rocky, and it made foraging for the horses harder by the day. They were lucky they'd carried feed all the way from Axis, because now they needed it. The amount remaining dwindled visibly by the second day after leaving Horizon.

The relative newcomers Kerr and Breeze knew only the minimum which had felt safe to tell them while there were open ears nearby. Of course, they'd met trouble at their first stop after leaving the city, and now they had the unanticipated pleasure of abducting a young man to keep their secret... except half their group didn't even know the secret. Something about a very important message carried by Jolene, but that was all. It was unlikely they would learn more now, not with the level of paranoia individually as well as between them. Which begged the question, who needed to be concerned about whom?
~

It was not until their guide mentioned the name of the unappealing mountain coming closer to the north of the group that Tel did more than offer his original token protests. Gorogan's Maw was a landmark of geography taught in schools as the edge of civilization. While there was more beyond, and indeed Santa Cora was a popular destination, Gorogan's Maw both figuratively and literally marked the unpleasant encroachment of demonic activity on the face of the world. The mountain was jagged and abrupt, not at all like a mountain formed of the usual geologic processes which would cause mountainous ranges. No, the lone mountain was not natural, nor did it appear such.

It took four days from the time they left Horizon to truly stand in the shadow of the mountain. By then they had all had time to wonder about the spiky monstrosity said to be the grisly mien of an archfiend attempting to claw its way through between worlds. They were alone, it seemed, and yet not; the shadow from the highest peak reached farther than it had any business, bringing with it a chill that had nothing to do with the relatively pleasant if windy spring weather.

They were camped, sunset fading into twilight when out of the blue, Babble went nuts. Bleating and running around, the small goat seemed to have gone mad, but once Tel was able to physically stop the kid, Babble immediately directed the sorcerer's attention skyward. First the astronomer's eyes and then the eyes of his captors rose to spot first one shooting star, then another, shortly followed by an entire meteor shower lasting almost fifteen minutes.
 
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  #93  
Old 01-10-2020, 09:58 PM
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The party was quiet -- tense and on edge. No one had much to say in response to his question about the Gorogan's Maw. He could tell that the newcomer wanted nothing to do with it, but Kerr Ironheart didn't care; the sorcerer could be a powerful ally, and the goat could make a reasonable stew if food became scarce. The Paladin glanced at Emak; the Lizard-kin acted timid and self-effacing, but she'd shown a stout heart when the battle had raged. The warrior monk, the amazing gnome,and the massive Bazziox... this was as good a group to die with as any.

Though it had been many a year since he'd passed this way, it appeared he still had the most experience on these roads. Still, the Paladin realized, he was their guide and not their commander. They needed to understand why he leading them around the Gorgons' Maw instead of the traditionally more congenial coastal road.

"The coasts are no longer safe," he said as if in answer to his own question. "The Emperor does not control the Midland Sea as he once did. My research at the Fellowship Hall of the Order of Wayfarers revealed that a number of strange creatures have risen from the depths to pillage the coastal road. I'm trying to keep us clear of it if possible."

He moved forward to lead the way, following known paths when he could and using the sun, as well as terrestrial landmarks, when he could not.

After several days they sat camped at the base of the Maw. They'd carefully doled out their rations, having supplemented with berries, fish, and certain roots along the way. None were hungry but neither were they feasting. They'd just set up camp and had lit a small fire as twilight grew in the night sky. The sudden meteor shower drew their attention skyward.

"Telephus, do you know if this is some portent? What does it bode?"




Last edited by Grimbreath; 01-13-2020 at 10:09 PM. Reason: Renaming of the Maw
  #94  
Old 01-11-2020, 04:11 PM
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"A week ago, if someone had told me I'd be laying in the grass under the night sky in the shadow of a demon watching a meteor shower I'd have laughed in their face," Breeze mused.

The meteor shower ended far sooner than he would have liked, but that did little to dim his enthusiasm. The past few days had been uneventful, to put it mildly. The weather had been fine, there hadn't been another soul in sight, but the mood was tense and Breeze had kept to himself for the most part.

After a few minutes, Breeze got up and dusted himself off and rushed over to Bazziox.

"That was incredible! I should have left Horizon ages ago. Where do you think all those stars landed? Let's go look for them! They'll be easy to find. Well, unless they burn out when they hit the ground they will be."

Then, without waiting for Bazziox's response, he rushed over to Kerr, hoping to enlist their guide to his cause.

"Kerr! It's ok to go look for some of those stars, isn't it? It's dark. No one's going to see us in the dark. Maybe we could even get a piece of one as a souvenir! Wouldn't that be great?"
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Old 01-13-2020, 10:38 PM
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While the party took the time to watch the meteor storm, Kerr sat near the fire, working a small dent out of his shield. While he'd lightly oiled the shield and armor and cleaned the iron-shod club, he'd kept one eye on the heavens. He knew that such portents seldom boded well, and the gods' hand in things was always ill.

Breeze especially seemed enraptured by the spectacle. He was an interesting study, a great power, but volatile. It was as if he was chaos personified.

As the others gasped in delight at the spectacle in the heavens, the grizzled paladin"Everything unknown seems magnificent." muttered, "Omne ignotum pro magnifico."

At the end of the display, Breeze rushed over to the paladin who'd been still seated, glowering at the sky.

"Kerr," exclaimed the gnome. "It's ok to go look for some of those stars, isn't it? It's dark. No one's going to see us in the dark. Maybe we could even get a piece of one as a souvenir! Wouldn't that be great?"

Kerr Ironheart stared at him, the Paladin's face an impassive mask. The silence seemed to stretch on for a time as if Kerr was formulating an answer. Finally, he replied,

"No."



Last edited by Grimbreath; 01-13-2020 at 10:40 PM.
  #96  
Old 01-15-2020, 12:26 PM
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Bazziox's wariness persists for the first two days of travel. He is loathe to leave the Princess' side for even a moment - and is berated soundly on a few occasions when privacy is expected, but not given. Then, slowly, as the third day wears on, boredom overtakes the dragonborn. Around midday on the third day, the pipe makes a reappearance. For the rest of the day, the yellow, slitted eyes take in the landscape with an eerie apathy and gently curling smoke trails up and over the scaled head. While the Princess is still rarely allowed far from Bazziox, there is a more relaxed air to the overprotectiveness.

It is not until they make camp on the fourth day that Bazziox says anything substantial. Breeze's childlike exuberance is, perhaps, the catalyst.

Bazziox is seated, smoking when the kid loses its mind. The dragonborn hefts his bulky frame from the ground and snatches his mace, head swiveling about. Then the sky lights up. Bazziox stands frozen, eyes still scanning the horizon, trying not to let the shower distract his gaze. Yet, the event ends with no sign of ill and Breeze leaps into action. With a heavy sigh, Bazziox shakes his head at the gnome, "No, young one. Your task is here, or have you forgotten." With a subtle motion, the dragonborn references the Princess. "There is a day that I would follow you to chase these stars, or their like, but our focus is demanded elsewhere now. We have nearer concerns and similarly cryptic stars to read in our own midst."

In two strides, the dragonborn stands above Telephus, mace still clutched in his clawed hand. "It is time to address your situation, starry-eyes. We have taken you from your previous journey against your will, yet you have not shown any signs of threatening our well-being. Perhaps the decision was made hastily and with no real understanding of the circumstances." Bazziox pauses to take several deep puffs of his pipe. "I think we can ill afford to monitor you any longer for there are dangers ahead that will likely require no distractions. I am of a mind to release you from our control. However, I am also keenly aware that we have brought you to this location where a journey back to Horizon may hold dangers for a lone traveler." The dragonborn pauses to look around the camp, capturing the gaze of each of his companions. "If there are objections, speak now. Otherwise I propose we release this elf unto his own free will. He can choose his path once more: return to Horizon or journey forth amongst our company on the path to Santa Cora."

There is a noticeable omission from the dragonborn's speech: anything remotely resembling an apology ...


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  #97  
Old 01-18-2020, 06:39 PM
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Breeze appears crestfallen after being rebuffed by Kerr and Bazziox. His hope was renewed; however, when the Dragonborn reminded him who they were escorting.

She'll want to see a star up close. Then they'll have to let us go, Breeze thought as the smile returned to his face. It wasn’t long before Bazziox moved on to discuss Telephus' disposition among the group. Seeing his opportunity, Breeze timidly approached the princess.

"Um... Your high-no... Uh... Ma'am?" Breeze whispered, bowing politely. He tried again, a little bit louder when the first attempt failed to get her attention."

"Miss Jolene? Uh... Your ma'am-ness? There is something I’d like to ask you about."

He waited until she had turned to face him to continue.

"I was watching the sky a few minutes ago and I saw a bunch of stars just fall, right out of heaven. Did you see them? I sure hope so. There were an awful lot of them all over the sky. It truly was a sight to see. Then, all of a sudden it was over. That’s when I started wondering about stars. You hear about them falling now and then, but you never hear anybody talk about seeing one up close. But, if they fell from the sky then they must be laying on the ground somewhere. right? And I figure, with as many as were falling a little while ago, that some of them must have landed fairly close to us. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, you know? Once in two lifetimes, maybe! Why, I bet we have a responsibility to investigate things like this, don't we?"

"So, I was wondering... Do you want to go with me to see if we can find one?"

The excitement had begun building again as Breeze tried to convince the princess to go star hunting with him, and by the time he finished, he was practically sitting in her lap and looking up at her expectantly; his big green eyes almost glowing under the moonlight.
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Old 01-19-2020, 01:44 PM
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Jolene
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The young woman known to the newer party members as Jolene had been staring into the fire with a stony expression on her face, at least until Babble pitched a fit. There was the hint of movement around her neck as well, and she leaned back to stare up at the sky in awe. The golden head of a pseudodragon rose from under her collar to watch as well, apparently her familiar didn't think breaking protocol to watch a meteor shower was going to get him in trouble, at least this far from civilization where the number of watching eyes was limited to those present. Unlike Breeze, whose enthusiasm caused him to leap up and urge others to go in search of fallen stars, the young woman turned her head down toward her shoulder. While there was no audible speech, the little dragon no longer hidden by her shirt collar rose a bit further and rubbed his head against her jaw.

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Gwir
The two were deep enough in telepathic conversation that when Breeze first tried to attract Jolene's attention she was oblivious to it. His repeat attempts did draw her out of her conversation with her familiar, but at first she blinked at him, appearing to be rather surprised by his sudden verbosity. He had been keeping to himself long enough she didn't know what to make of this energy. It took her awhile to decide what to do, and even then she first glanced in Bazziox's direction. Her chaperone was concerned with the half-elf, so she wouldn't necessarily be overheard. Even so, the sight of the dragonborn made her face sober somewhat. "It's nice to see you so eager, but I don't think I can. Not at the moment, anyway." Another glance was directed at Baz, this one more accusing, for all the cleric was only a reminder of her father's edict. "Maybe someday you'll be able to go in search of a fallen star. It would be fun to find one, you're right about that!" Her thoughts definitely trended toward the fun aspects rather than the research Breeze seemed to have in mind, but then, she was a I can't find any reference to her age, so she's now 19,
no matter what earlier evidence might have said
nineteen year old girl.

In response to the mixed emotions she was trying not to display, the pseudodragon rose from his necklace position and reared up on his haunches, bracing himself with one tiny claw on her ear as he leaned into her. In contrast to his gold scales, his eyes were a curious shade of blue that shone like silver at times that seemed more related to what he was feeling than the angle he was seen at. Jolene blushed a bit in the light of the fire and her neutral expression blossomed into a smile. "That's sweet, Gwir, thanks. I'd forgotten, I guess." Almost immediately she realized her gnomic companion could only hear half of the conversation. "He was reminding me of wishing on a star when I was a child, mostly after hearing a fairy tale about a girl who went on an adventure trying to find her family and wished on a star when she was running out of ideas, only to be aided by a blue fairy. I used to love that story." Her eyes drifted sideways as she heard something else from Gwir. "Isn't it too late, though? I thought it was always about wishing right when you saw the star." She giggled at whatever the response was and closed her eyes. A moment later she opened them and gave Breeze a much happier smile. "I'd like to find a fallen star someday, but for now I guess wishing on a star will do." A minor tilt of her head rubbed her cheek against the golden dragonette there.
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Old 01-21-2020, 07:52 PM
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Once Telephus's attention was upon the wondrous display in the night sky, his attention was held fast. Ker's words were audible to his half-elven ears, but he barely acknowledged them at first. Instead, his mind was busy making observations and performing calculations as he fumbled through his pack while keeping his eyes glued on the falling stars. His hand eventually found his journal, as he started hurried jotting down notes as soon as the spectacle ceased.

"Aye, it portents, sheriff," the sorcerer said at length. The mixture of poor usage and dry tone must have been something of a joke, because it made him laugh. "It bodes well for your little company of kidnappers, because you've taken an astronomer prisoner."

Tel worried that this half-answer may have vexed the dragonborn. The fellow was upon him quick with a couple of mighty strides, and with him was a rather forboding looking mace. The approach left Tel feeling a bit anxious, but Bazziox's words were not as confrontational as his demeanor.

"This was also a sign that this conflux has led me to just where I am meant to be at this junction of space and time. I left the Observatory so that I may follow the stars unfettered, and now it seems that a star hangs over Santa Cora."

While Telephus negotiated the terms of his release, the gnome began to make a case of his own to the archer. Tel was compelled explain to the little fellow that most of the stars would never reach the ground. The friction against the air would cause all but the largest to burn away in the atmosphere. The effect was spectacular to watch, but the quality was bittersweet as it made fallen stars, or meteorites as the astronomers called them, exceedingly rare. In all likely hood, one that had survived would have been large enough to cause a noticeable impact if it had landed anywhere in the vicinity.

Unfortunately, the pressing matter regarding his freedom kept Tel's tongue occupied, but this distraction drew his starry eyes over to Jolene. As she sat speaking with Breeze, the firelight glimmering of the golden scales of a marvelous of what appeared to be a tiny dragon perched upon her shoulder. His gaze immediately cut back to the men-at-arms.

"However, if I were to travel with you, then it would only be fair to tell me of the dangers that hound you," Telephus reasoned, "And just why they are after this girl."
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Tribulations of the Stag

Last edited by Grenadier; 01-23-2020 at 11:54 PM.
  #100  
Old 01-22-2020, 10:07 PM
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Kerr stood and paced slowly toward the Imperial archer, his gaze resting on the small golden dragon. Hardly a creature that would accompany a soldier in one of the Imperial Legions.

When Telephus had astutely questioned the identity of the woman they had called Jolene, Kerr leveled an accusing glare at the young woman and stated, "Yes, perhaps it's time we knew who this woman really is." While he stared at 'Jolene', his question was clearly directed at the leader of the group -- the dragonborn Bazziox.

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  #101  
Old 01-24-2020, 04:08 PM
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Emak the Meek and Guythraxix the HungryThe days that passed simply continued the trend. Emak's friendliness, the fluid comfort with socializing was still there, but was buried deep and only drawn out when someone else started, worked at it. Well, that and sudden unexpected bursts of good-natured chatter that felt glossier than it had any right to feel, and that ebbed away just as quickly as they had surged forward. Her free time was mostly spent flicking through novels, the covers of which stayed hidden from her travelling companions, and the speed of her reading was great enough that nothing could really be gained by looking over her shoulder.

It was such a book that she had been reading when the shower began, and she quietly took a break to watch the show, slipping the novel into her pack and resting her hands across the sling'd tome that was ever present on her person. She only spoke up when Breeze moved to the Princess, shaking her head slightly. "If one had fallen nearby close enough to get to, we would have heard it." After all, The Red was a bit... notorious for delivering things in such a manner, usually with a light snack in the form of charred carcasses to go with it. Emak gave a slight prayer in appreciation of The Blue's much more sensible methodology.

It was only as accusations of sorts were leveled at Her Highness that Emak knew she really had to do something, and probably pretty fast. Something dramatic, which she moved to act on immediately, leaping up fast enough to cause a cramp in her tail. She stumbled her way in between the suspicious glares, coming up to a halt and quickly bringing her tail around so that she could massage at the tangled up muscle that was hurting now. "Ok, ok, I! I will admit it and come clean!"

Her claw tips finally managed to zero in on where the painful spasm was and began to solve the problem, giving her the time to straighten up and stand tall, at her very not tall full height. "I... am of the Goodman clan! Emak Goodman, one of the two daughters of Ama Goodman," she revealed with a small, curt nod. "You may have heard of my family. My mother and several of my fathers are pivotal within the mercantile industry to the south-east." Her tail came around, to curl over the front of her shins.

"There is much reason that I would be targeted, but normally I keep a low profile. Unfortunately, Scabbard and I were involved in an... incident. We helped fend off a demon incursion, and we met with the Emperor. That is hardly the kind of low profile that I prefer to keep, so moving swiftly and being properly suspicious of suspicious figures is hardly unreasonable, I reckon." The best lies were those that were true, was a philosophy that Emak tried to keep in mind. As long as her mother never caught wind of Emak using her name in such a crass manner, this should be perfectly fine....

 

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Old 01-26-2020, 12:35 AM
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Scabbard of IronAs little Breeze eagerly sought to leave the relative safety of camp and traverse the darkness in search of pieces of the heavens, Scabbard of Iron closed his eyes and crossed his arms over his chest. The little sorcerer did not ask him specifically to escort him into the night and it was just as well, for the monk had no intention of dividing their number at such a dangerous time of day for such a small comfort. Night time meant low visibility for those not using magic; enemies could be lurking out there, and could fall upon two or three of them alone. No, it would be best for them to stay where they had the safety of numbers.

Indulging in Breeze's flight of fancy may have been safer than the conversation that began later though. The one called Telephus harbored suspicions about the Princess; while he could be easily ignored or dismissed, his mistrust found Kerr's ear an eager recipient. On his face he wore the same stoic expression as always, but inside he began searching in vain for the words that would quiet this matter and set everything to rest once again; Kerr was still a newcomer, and the strength of Telephus's loyalty to their mission could not be expected to be high. It was times like this that cast a light on the shortcomings of a monk's training: tearing a wolf apart with his bare hands would be quite easy, but convincing a man to quest and possibly die for a stranger was something he could only ever hope to do by acting as an example.

It was little Emak, ever full of surprises, who put forth a valiant effort at allaying those suspicions. Scabbard of Iron nodded as she mentioned his name, but otherwise sat silently through her story. This was the kind of battlefield she was suited for—he would leave this sort of fighting to her and Bazziox, and continue serving as one who lived the importance of their mission.
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Old 01-26-2020, 12:54 AM
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In spite of the polite gentility of Jolene's refusal, Breeze would have been disappointed had the sight of the strange little golden dragon not caused him to forget all about falling stars. He nodded as she shared her story, but once he saw the tiny dragon that she was talking with he became mesmerized by it. The grace of its movement, the warm color of its scales, and the way the firelight reflected off of them captivated his attention.

After a moment, another dragon, half-sized but otherwise almost identical to Gwir, materialized on Breeze's left shoulder. It only remained there for a moment, though, disappearing abruptly when the discussion taking place around him pulled him from his reverie.
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Old 01-30-2020, 12:06 PM
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Bazziox stands over the elf, brow furrowing as he tries to decrypt the words coming from the starry-eyed wanderer. His brow furrows even deeper as the elf requests the information that they have been reluctant to supply in full. Kerr then intones his own desire to better understand the situation.

At first Bazziox's only response is the brightly glowing embers in the pipe and the accompanying puffs of smoke suddenly billowing forth from the dragonborn's nostrils.

Then, Emak happens. Slowly, the puffing dwindles as the lizardwoman continues. By the end, the dragonborn's jaw is hanging slightly ajar and the pipe seems forgotten.

Silence hangs over the camp.

Finally, the silence is broken by a snort and a deep rolling laugh. Bazziox's entire frame relaxes. A dull thud as the mace falls to the ground. A second dull thud as Bazziox himself falls to a seated position, only feet from the elf. Yet his attention is now elsewhere. "Emak," he rumbles, "you are more than you seem. Even with the Emperor's faith in you, I had my doubts. No longer. There is more to heroism than slaying the foe. Ultimately, protecting our mission at all costs is the true form of heroism. Forgive me for ever doubting you!

Yet, I say they must know the truth. We must trust those we travel with. If we do not trust those within our ranks, then we shall fail. And having those we travel with protecting the wrong person is sure to lead to disaster. So know that your willing sacrifice is not unnoticed, but here the ruse must end before it begins."


Bazziox falls silent for a moment, puffing slowly on the pipe. Then he closes his eyes and pulls the pipe from his lips, letting the smoke coil around his head on its way to the stars. A moment passes. Then another. His eyes remain closed.

Finally, his voice rumbles out, "Sitting before you is the daughter of the Emperor, Princess Maelona."

Bazziox lets the words hang in the air before opening his eyes. "The Emperor himself set this mission before us in Axis: deliver his daughter to Santa Cora. Deliver his daughter to safety. The implications are dire."

Bazziox pauses again, replacing the pipe and puffing gently as he leans back on his hands. One might even suppose the dragonborn has let down his guard, but his hand now rests on the hilt of his fallen mace. "We have recruited help under false pretenses. We have replaced our guide with one that did not understand the risks. So here, in the shadow of a great evil, under the veil of stars, everyone must decide on their path. We who started this," Bazziox nods toward Emak and Scabbard, "shall continue to Santa Cora with Her Highness, Maelona, hope of the Empire. I am Bazziox, advisor to the Emperor. In his stead, I must make the decision that I would advise him to make. I would advise him to enlist all aid that comes his way. Therefore, barring objections from Emak or Scabbard, I ask you all if you will join our mission, take up the Emperor's quest, and see the Princess to Santa Cora?!"


OOC

 
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Status: Distance Learning with young children is killing me ... delayed
GM: Sky Realm (Fate) | Blackbrooke (PbtA)
Playing: Cinch (SR) | Bazziox (13th Age) | Cassia(13th Age) | Jenny (PbtA) | Moemoe (Fate)
  #105  
Old 01-30-2020, 07:10 PM
Grimbreath Grimbreath is offline
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KerrWith a suddeness that comes when the puzzle finally makes sense, Kerr Ironheart understood. He'd been surprised by Emak's sudden 'admission', but while he was impressed with her courage he also doubted what she said.

She makes a brave comrade but a bad lair, the Inquisitor thought.

Then had come Bazziox's revelation, and the import hit him like the dragonborn's mace. The stakes were far greater than he'd imagined when he signed on ostensibly to escort the party while actually ensuring Bazziox remained faithful to the Light. Nothing had changed in the wild lands around them, but now the Paladin recognized that dark forces would be taking a great interest in their journey.

He glowered silently, lost in his internal torment: It's not just the Dark that's manipulating things here, he thought. The Light is playing with me as well, setting me on quests that will most likely lead to death and dishonor.

His eyes moved from the calm serenity of Scabbard of Iron to the restless energy of Breeze. His gaze lingered on Emak, who had shown she had much more depth of spirit then met the eye. He saw Telephus now as an ally for the first time. Fate had sealed all their lives together; there was no turning back.

Finally he turned his gaze on Jolene and her protector, the dragonborn Bazziox. For the second time since this had all begun, he bound himself for good or ill by intoning the "By Reason or by Force"Oath of the Inquisitors,
"Aut concilio, aut ense."

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