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Old 06-23-2020, 10:00 PM
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Chapter II: The Great Below

Hemeth was overjoyed. Positively radiant.

You could tell from the way he frowned.

These fish people smelled terrible. Kuo-toa had two eyes, two unblinking eyes on the sides of their head. Staring, onward, onward forever, without moving. How did they move? How did they function? There was little sense to it, to Hemeth. Here in the darkness of Sloopidoop, one of the largest communities of Kuo-toa on the Darklake, and despite their insanity and the smell of fish and cannibalism, as well as whatever these so-called "people" ate, it was good trading. Gracklstugh wasn't far, by boat, and Hemeth would be home soon.
left-aligned image


He just had arms to sell. And he was making a killing.

Things were tense, even among the fish. The city had split in two, with two strange pseudo-statues competing for attention. He did not understand it, mostly it just looked like someone took crustaceans and cephalopods and made the approximation of a mortal form, complete with fish face and demonic claws. Madness, he knew. Gods were more regal, worthy of better craftsmanship. One was old, one was new. As Hemeth understood it, these fish people went through gods like fashion, often with murderous results.

Mad gods, mad cultists, mad city.

The square was a face-off between these two factions, a market of hovels and hills of rocks and boulders, nonsensical stackings of bones, selling menial things. Fish, made into foods. Fish, made into rope. Fish, made into paste. Mushrooms for making food, roofs, pillows, anything out of. Mislabeled knick-knacks, and quite a few of those. Hemeth realized how few outsiders there were.

Had he not seen a few Derro the day before? And where were the Svirfneblin?

A retinue of Kuo-toa marched down the ramshackled ruin of a street, occasionally knocking over stalls. The largest was a brute, twice Hemeth's size and four times as muscular: he did not have a single flank of fat upon him. His hiss was not unlike a deep serpent or a Yuan-ti, his growl like the howl of a Quaggoth.

"Halt, Dwarf." A voice to his side spoke. She emerged from the shadows, though the only indicator she was a she was her attempt to dress as one. Hemeth had no sense of gender among these folk. He hated it here.

"Archpriestess Bloppblippodd. I did not see you there."

"The Deep Father did not will it, Dwarf. Look there. The bubbles. He rises."

There were no bubbles. Hemeth's brow furrowed.

"You are selling weapons."

Hemeth grunted. "I am."

"It is wrong."

He grunted again, as close to laughing as he came. "To you."

"To everyone. You are a beast with two heads. Our dreaded enemies and the evil cult of the Sea Mother cannot heave weapons. You give weapons. You are false."

It was true, he was. But then, Bloppblippodd knew that. He was underhandedly selling Duergar weapons to her, not to her rivals. Her brother? Her father? He did not recall the exact relation. It did not seem important to these fish people. They would as soon procreate with one another as eat them, as far as he was concerned.

"That was part of our agreement. My terms were clear."

"You are false. You will be sacrificed." She stepped forward, wielding her scepter, almost a mace with a giant angler skull upon it.

Hemeth moved to step forward, but the brute was upon him, growling. He felt the slimy hands upon him, more than the single brute had, and knew he was caught. He struggled, cursing in his native Dethek, trying to call upon his native psionic powers, knowing invisibility would not help him. Hemeth could go no further. He was caught.

"Lock him away. The sacrifice will come when the Deep Father tells me. And then, he rises."

Beyond, something stirred in the water. Flickering, like something deep below alive.

Not even the fish-men noticed. No one cared.

Day 20
Darklake-bound
Thank the gods. I thought we might never stop.

Hours had passed. How far they had gotten, no one could say for sure, but they moved, and quickly. The scouts led, Emdal among them, making sure to check for signs of Drow traps. They find none, of course. There is occasionally signs of life: spiders, insects that seem uninterested in their activity. Here underground, everything is either exceptionally smaller, or ginormous. The spiders all seem smaller here, but each recalls the memory of Ilvara's giant spider steeds, how they were larger than some surface dogs.
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The environment begins to change instantly. The trail went upwards for some time, changing from the dirt and sand against stone walls to something more firm, a black rock worked by water, as if this were once a stream that led to the water source of Velkynvelve, whence you came. No water comes now, and it seems to get drier going forward. Then, it drops.

The trail leads downward and crystals begin to form. In the darkness this first looks merely like transluscent black glass, formed in uneven sticking edges, but as time goes on, it begins to glow some. Why? No one can say for sure, but eventually, after hours of travel, interrupting bats and centipede spawning colonies, they find their way to an opening, where crystals rise high like trees over them. Illuminated in pale blue light, they have little to fear but their own exhaustion. After all the fighting, the death of Sarith and capture of Turvey, there's a lot mentally to prepare for, but then there is the act of freedom they have engaged in.

They are free. They are free!

But now, they have to survive and make that freedom worth it.

Derendil aired his exhaustion first, sitting down in a seeming mental agreement that they need rest. Buppido does not argue, finding a place near the meager creek that moves on, from wall to wall, a brief pool no deeper than two feet forming. No fish there. In fact, there doesn't seem to be any sign of food at first glance. That might be a problem.

Well, fish-man. What are we to expect, when we get to your fish village? Buppido looks at Shuushar, trying to get an answer out of him for the whole of the group. His white eyes stare, uninterested, but intensely staring at him. Derendil looks, his jaw relaxed but breathing loudly, indicating his exhaustion.

Topsy, for her part, moves away from the group a bit, taking solace by herself. She takes a drink from the stream, and then stares back the way they came, fingering the strange pendant she found among the Drow encampment.

It will be a long few days, already seeming like forever here in the darkness.
Out of CharacterSo, a few things:
  • This is a travel section, a montage that will take place over several days. Each day we'll have different roleplaying opportunities, so basically think of it like Moria in Fellowship of the Ring: episodes in a single journey taking place over a period of time. Good stuff all around, I'd say
  • What was your character doing during the journey? It was about 12 hours running, and everyone is exhausted. You can rest accordingly, but be aware. I'll provide results, and if it is bad, I will withhold that information for now.
  • Everyone can roll to find food and water, but keep in mind, most of your characters have no idea what's going on with sustenance down here: in fact, most Underdark dwellers don't either, since they rarely leave their enclaves. Make a check of your choosing, favoring Nature or Survival or be creative, and we'll supply food and water. You have to feed the whole party or exhaustion levels start growing
  • Rest and watches will be useful for this. A long rest does not necessarily mean you are sleeping, but you'll need to do something similar to it
  • This will be an open roleplaying session, and as Buppido, Derendil, and Topsy are needed, I'll get involved
  • Explore your new characters! Well, NPC characters.
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  #2  
Old 06-25-2020, 11:13 AM
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Free at lastThe fish man seemed to flinch and turn away, though there is no turning away from his wide yellow eyes. He stroked Stool next to him with clawed, webbed hands that were somehow made gentle. Shuushar had droned on and on silently with the spore communication about how much better this was, not fighting and fleeing, until he was eventually shushed. But now that he was given a podium, the Kuo-toa seemed reticent.

Eventually under the stare of Buppido, the words came. Without the croak of his throat and originating from his mind, they were clear and compelling, Mother and Father have split the children. Fighting, always fighting. And cruelty. They would not listen to reason and would not change their ways, so I was forced to leave. The Darklake is beautiful and the creatures in it are a blessing to all who call it home. But we do not go to my home. No. The lake is the hub, the center. From there we may go anywhere and the drow will lose our trail. I go for Stool, that from there I may take the path to his home. If a fish man could smile, he smiled.

Eldeth spoke then. The dwarf woman was overflowing her undersized drow garments, but if there was shame the nakedness in the cells had stripped it from her. She sat near Emdal. They shared more than just their race. They had similar interests as well even if their ethics seemed to be very different. An' is there a way t' the surface there? Among the Myconids?

It was the question on many of their minds. There were more surface dwellers among them than denizens of the Underdark now. But one of those sat to herself in the dark. Despite exhaustion and despite ill-fitting boots that were giving her delicate skin blisters already, Laudan seemed beatific. If they knew her origins in the palace of the Grand Caliph, it would seem strange that she was so opposed to being enslaved. But her father had gifted her with the freedom of the wind and chains, physical or otherwise, were abhorrent to her now. So the flight from the drow had only made her jubilant. She had kept close to Rollo whose feelings on the matter were the same and with whom she had seemed to form a bond. She had asked him to stand watch over her now and she sat off to the side performing some ritual now that they had stopped for more than just a moment.

As it neared its conclusion, sands swirled in front of her where she was kneeling, sands from another place entirely. They swirled in a miniature whirlwind, undulating like the shapes on a potters wheel until they fell away and turned to air, leaving behind a small bottle. In her own sight which now showed the underdark in natural colors (another gift from Khotz), it was an ombre of translucent orange to the deepest of ruby red and impossibly beautiful, even compared to the dark crystals that grew here. It was the sunset on the sands and her home away from home. To those looking at it with the grey tones of darkvision, it was only slightly less grand.
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Old 06-28-2020, 07:55 PM
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Rollo Runewood
Male Tiefling Rogue


The adrenaline of the escape holds Rollo for a long time. He stays out in front of the party, working with Emdal to secure the route, his hyperacute senses on full alert while his blood sings with that magical hormone. He pushes through his fatigue. He flits between the vanguard, where Emdal painstakingly but swiftly sweeps the route of traps, and the main body of escapees, cloaked in shadow, carrying news and two daggers. He hadn't planned on taking this role, but when Emdal made the very good point that the party wouldn't want to stumble onto something terrible, Rollo understood that his talents might be of use.

The adrenaline held Rollo aloft for a long time, but hours later, with aching legs and a crushing weariness, the tiefling was grateful for a rest. He has studied the darkness for so long that he only wants to close his eyes. But he was free! He was free. He can feel a trembling laugh struggling to escape him, and he lets it trickle out in little puffs of air. Free!

He stood watch over Lauden, curious at the genasi's magic. He kept glancing over to where she worked her spell. He was not accustomed to seeing magic, and the mystery of it intrigued him. As Lauden finishes her spell, revealing the bottle, Rollo asks in a hushed tone: What is it? It does not occur to him that he does not need to whisper when communicating telepathically.


Ront
Male Orc


During the second hour of their march, Ront began to regret carrying the hapless bard. She was heavy. It was worse than wearing a suit of armor, but the bard seemed unlikely to provide much resistance to a blade. Ront chucked to himself at the thought. Usually it was the horses that wore barding.

By the third hour, Ront had stopped thinking about his burden, and was just focusing on getting through each moment, one footfall at a time. It was habit; much of his military service had been spent carrying heavy loads through the rugged lands where mankind had not yet driven out his people. It was a habit trained into him: do not think, just keep walking.

Frequently, Ront has to shift his burdens around. It's an awkward process, the first couple times, but after a while, he can swing his baggage across, then flip the bard onto his other shoulder. Then he would set off again, trying not to lose ground with the rest of the pack.

As their initial flight came to an end, Ront set his burden down with a grunt. He was as gentle as his aching body permitted, but Aryka still awoke.


Aryka Finnister
Female Human Bard

 


When Aryka was first hoisted onto Ront's shoulder, she panicked as a first response. Only after a moment's struggle did she realize she was too weak to resist and a fool to try. She figured out that Ront picked her up, and understood why. Even through the fog of exhaustion, she was grateful. If she had to make the trek on her own, she would probably die.

So she just hangs there, limp. For the first time in hours, she does not need to resist or to keep struggling forward. The best thing she can do is relax and be easy to carry. So she does, and within minutes she is unconscious.

She jolts awake at irregular intervals, when Ront makes a misstep or the passage is particularly rough. But in that shattered sleep, she dreams. She dreams of home, and of a different life, a life she left behind. In each dream, she herself appears as the broken, filthy, naked wretch that she has come to be. The people in her previous life stare at her in horror. Aryka flees from dreams.

At long last, Ront sets her down on the rocky ground, and Aryka looks around blearily. She is still exhausted, her time bouncing off the orc's hip having been less restful than it could have been. She curls up and falls asleep again.
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Old 06-30-2020, 03:12 PM
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LaudanLaudan smiled as she looked up at Rollo. Her face appeared even younger than she was. She patted the ground next to her for him to sit with her. Rather than use the mental communication she returned his whisper with one formed from the air in her lungs. He spoke at least the strange language of the countries of Faerun, she knew. She didn't care who else might overhear. Laudan missed speaking aloud with her own voice. When he took his place next to her, she leaned into him in the darkness, her face only inches from his own.

"Dere eez a place, far from our lands. A place of untold sky. My fader leeves in dis place, Rollo, in a From Lament by Rainer Maria Rilke

I would like to step out of my heart
and go walking beneath the enormous sky.
I would like to pray.
And surely of all the stars that perished
long ago,
one still exists.
I think that I know
which one it is--
which one, at the end of its beam in the sky,
stands like a white city...
grand palace. In dis bottle eez a room in his home. Khotz geeves me the powers to enter that place and take my ease. "
She lifted her hand and as her fingers passed over Rollo's eyes, an opulent room of white marble and wool and silk cushions filled his vision. It was an illusion of course. Those others in the group looking at them saw through the walls into the room with tables and comfortable places to lay and rest. From inside the illusion, Rollo saw the walls of it. With his darkvision, the illusion held six grey arches that seemed to lead nowhere, that is, they led to crystal walls the same ombre shades of the bottle sitting on a table now. "One day he will open the doors to his home to me. One day. Dis bottle holds his magic for me. Khotz's geefts are es-tronger now that I have it. I can hold things in this bottle, but I can only go inside for a few oors. The dark elves could not know I have it. Or they would torture me." she let the illusion dissolve into the darkness once again.
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Old 06-30-2020, 08:01 PM
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Isarrel stumbled into the large room with the others, settling down near the pool of questionable, but only, water. Her attempts to maintain her graceful stride were undermined by sore muscles and blisters, but still she held her head high. She sat, using the wall to give the illusion that she could still hold herself upright as she gently cast spell after spell, removing the filth from her skin, hair, and borrowed clothes. Flecks of dried blood flaked from her abdomen as she cleaned her wound that had split open a half-dozen times, if it had even really closed over at all. Every twist of her torso, every duck into a small tunnel or climb over rocks had thwarted her wound’s attempt at regrowing skin. Scar tissue surrounded small scabs that hurt when the skin around them pulled. Still, even in her dazed state she had appreciation for the perfection that her body represented. The scar tissue grew even the constant demands placed on it and the bleeding became less and less as the wounds raced to heal themselves before she could reinjure them. It was little reassurance though, considering the scars themselves would likely last a lifetime. Maybe her sisters would have a spell capable of repairing her. If nothing else, surely her parents would pay for someone who could. For perhaps the first time since being in the underdark, Isarrel missed her family.

The presence of the others barely grazed her consciousness until they began speaking of where they might go. She wanted to scream at them, berate them. Why in the world would we stay in such a place as this? We have to find the surface. How could we even think of doing anything else? Instead, she composed herself as much as possible.

We must find the surface. Some of us aren’t even capable of seeing through the darkness that prevails here. Others are unaccustomed to the foods and threats here. We must find the surface, there we will be able to offer assistance to any who wish to return, safely, to the places from which they came, she insisted.

It wasn’t a lie, but nor did she know if it was the truth. Could they help in any way? It was safe to assume that, wasn’t it? It didn’t matter, really. She needed to feel the sun against her skin once more. There were plenty who would do just about anything for her there, so she would worry about fulfilling the promise then.
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Old 07-02-2020, 12:58 PM
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They had to keep moving, yet they needed rest.
They must keep moving, yet they had no food nor water to nourish their bodies.
They need to keep moving, for only a fool would think that they weren't being followed.

Raw and blistered feet cried out in pain as did his hands from the mining prior to the escape. Every limb felt like it was made of stone. Though they say the dwarves were formed from it - thus it shouldn't bother him, yet it did. Emdal was but a simple young man, meant to brew alongside his kin as his years rolled on. Mayhap find a nice lass and settle down as per Morla's wishes back on the surface.

The lad's spores were released not too long ago as the telepathic link was apparently still operational. He was thankful for these spores yet questioned if he'd remember how to use his dull tongue if he indulged too much in this new-found ability. "Wey mus-" the dwarf cleared his through speaking with his mouth for once yet the words died off on the tip of his tongue. Emdal let out a deflating sigh before turning, once more, to the lad's gift "We need ta get ta tha surface, aye. That be true. We be needin food 'nd water first."

Oh how he wished he could sleep.

Young bones creaked as the dwarf stood up from his spot near Eldeth. The clothes taken from the barrack tied around his torso like a sling for a child opting to keep his meager mush-cap skirt. Wasn't like he had anything to hide now anyways. "I kin see if'n there be somethin near-by." the words escaping his lips in a rough whisper. "If'n someone kin come wit me 'r at least keep an eye on me as I mull around - be much appreciated."
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Old 07-05-2020, 07:13 PM
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Rollo Runewood and Ront

I can help, Ront projects to the group. He rises from where he's been squatting, watching the genasi's magic. Ront is eager to prove his worth, and it does not occur to him that his offer might not be seen as genuine. The dwarves and the orcs have long been at war, though, and there's been enough of Ront glowering at Eldeth, and Eldeth glowering back. Ront would not be anyone's top choice for Emdal's support. If he'd been thinking about it, not even Ront would think he was a good choice.

Rollo rises smoothly to his feet as Ront begins to move. The tiefling's tail lashes the air. Why don't you let me get this one, Ront? His smile is wide and his tone is chummy, but there's a steel to him. I'm good at being quiet.

Ront looks between Rollo and Emdal. It clicked. Nobody here has any reason to trust me, he realizes. He looks at the sleeping form of Aryka. Maybe she does, he thinks. He looks back to Rollo. OK, he thinks to the group. OK, I will stay. Tell me if I can help. The orc steps back over toward Aryka, selecting a space in which to sit down.

Rollo lifts his eyebrows, his grin growing wider. Excellent, yes, we will do that. He looks shining eyes toward Laudan. You must tell me more about your father when I return. He sounds fascinating! He moves to where Emdal waits. Lead on, he sends.

At the back of the impromptu campsite, Ront watches them go. Nobody here has reason to trust me, he thinks. I did not give them reason. He lets that sit for a while, lets his mind gnaw away at it like a charred bone. Derendil and Eldeth were both actively hostile. Nobody was friendly. Nobody was friendly. Ront started to worry.
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Old 07-08-2020, 12:16 PM
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The roundish frame of Aurgus the thick sat down to blistered feet and an emptied stomach. They were finally free from that prison, yet the cost of two of their cellmates weighed heavily upon the gnome - especially Topsey's likely demise. To leave him there. The gruff and harsh attitude of the dwarf drained him yet he could not let his optimism fade - not here.

Aurgus had played back any alternatives that might've been open to them before leaving, something that would've resulted in the Svirfneblin's survival - yet nothing was coming to mind. Nothing other than fanciful dreams that they would see each strike and dodge every blow; the events from a child's daydream. It pained the cleric, he could only pray that redemption for his failure wasn't beyond him.

The demise of Sarith did not weigh upon the gnome so heavily though, for he was one of them - they who locked the party in there and jeered at their suffering. Darkened thoughts washed away at the sight of Ront standing about in a stupor to the realization of the situation. "Let us bet this one will be helpful now." the words floated to his gambling gnomekin brethren. One left to the darkness would succumb - yet the seven would gladly welcome all converts into their halls. "Brother Ront, come. Sit with us! It has been a long day - we would be best to go it together!" the gnome smiled peering up at the hulking orc.

He would be no friend to an orc, but an orc would surely be friends to the seven, right?
As the odd tiefling approached the dwarf gave a solid nod "Appreciated, lad." Emdal honestly had no clue the age different between the two - this was the first tiefling he had ever met. Seemed well enough though - was at least willing to come help the party live. "First rule of huntin in places like these: If'n yer gut says run - do it. Dun be afraid o leavin me behind - I'll curse ye all tha way ta Moradin's halls, that I will but I be understandin all tha same." the words sounded serious yet almost like a joke as the dwarf moved off to begin the hunt for food
Dice Survival: Find food/water:
d20+3 (15)+3 Total = 18
(18)
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Old 07-16-2020, 08:32 AM
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And so they go hunting.

Back at the camp, words are given and the Darklake is discussed: a place of recent strife, it seems, before Shuushar was sent away. The thought falls that it may yet be full of strife, but who can say? No one there, that's for certain. Derendil, sitting there, sighs, overly large and not as graceful as his true form might be. Laudan privately tells Rollo something, while the Dwarf seems ready to head out, to get them food and water, and Rollo is happy to comply.

A brisk wind blows from somewhere, catching all their hair and clothes, and passes. It reminds them of how cold, how damp, this area is, crystalline light offering illumination but not much, as Isarrel notes.

I long for my forest, Derendil notes to them all, responding to Isarrel's need that not everyone can see in the dark.

Yes, their ineptitude does provide us all with undue safety hazards. Things will be attracted to the light they will need. Things we do not need finding us. The Underdark is quite dangerous, Elf. Buppido offers his own thoughts, grinning as he takes a crystal and begins to chew on it, testing it for flavor.

It has none. He chews anyway.

Beyond, the two intrepid hunters find meager offering here. Water aplenty, trickling out of the wall, and from the color of it has minerals in it, but is quite safe. Emdal is able to collect enough for everyone to have a half-day's ration, which can be refilled as they rest for a time, giving them enough to rehydrate after days of inadequate water. Food is another matter entirely. The cavern is full of crystals, which as Buppido noted, are not made of sugar or salt or anything useful or edible. That does not mean that the entirety of the cavern is devoid of edible fungi.

Some of the mushrooms, like the green barktop, is poisonous. Out of the side of the cavern, on a ridge, is fungi growing out from moss: bluecaps! Like the barktop, it is poisonous, but it can be ground up, removing the spores, and made into bread, which is bland and awful but can be quite good overall. There are three mushrooms, which together can make three loafs. Hopefully someone can make that. As they head back, Emdal spies a sight for sore eyes: two barrelstalks! The tall mushrooms, hidden behind a crystal, and is tall, too, moist to the touch and presperating.

Barrelstocks, he explains, are worth every bit of trouble they cause. Full of water and edible stuff, they can be made into amazing stews... just not here. None the less, they 1d6+4 gallons of water and 1d6+4 pounds of food per mushroom; since there are two, roll twice to determine how much food we getwill provide pounds of food for them all. It can last at least a week, which is fine, but they'll need more if they go forward. And they must go forward.

Back at the camp, the conversations continue.

You are irritating, notes Derendil back to Buppido. What is your goal? Where are you going?

Buppido chuckles, then laughs. What fate decrees I do. I must go.

Which means...?

The Derro chews upon his crystal, then spits it out, before picking up another crystal, testing it with his teeth, and chewing on it again. It cracks, and he spits it out too. Rinse, lather, repeat.

More laughter. You will see.

The one soul who does not join the conversation is Topsy. She remains alone.
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Old 07-26-2020, 07:24 PM
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Isarrel remained against the wall, letting it support her, though she would never admit such a thing. Derendil's wistful words elicited a small frown that was quickly hidden away. She watched him for a long moment, a far off part of her mind wondering what he was like in his true form and whether or not he was handsome.

We have a wonderful grove, she said, with a lake filled from mountain springs and wide trees that have set there a millennia - or so they say. What is your kingdom like? I've never heard of it, but then again there are a great many places I'm not familiar with. How did they do this to you? she asked.

The sound of Buppido chewing on rocks sent a terrible shiver down her spine that made her involuntarily cringe even as Derendil chastized him.

Thank you! she thought, applauding his forthrightness. A prince indeed. Perhaps he was once like me, as beautiful on the inside as the outside. Father would surely know how to cure him of this hideousness...

Yes, quite, she said, agreeing with the Prince's assessment of the gnome, must you continue? I hardly believe that you get any sustenance from chewing on them. Perhaps the others will find something more appetizing.

Her eye lids grew heavy as adrenaline wore off and she found herself fighting to stay awake. The gnome's cryptic words did nothing to ease her weariness, as riddles had always been her least favorite activity - or one of them anyways. I didn't help that her sisters excelled at them. She blinked several times in rapid succession as if to clear the thought from her mind.

Is she well? she asked of Laudan and Rollo who sat beside Arkya. As broken as she had been, Isarrel couldn't honestly believe that she was alive. Then again, the blue one had been on the steps of the abyss as well. And you? she asked, desperately trying to ignore the hunger, thirst, and exhaustion each competing for her attention.

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Old 07-28-2020, 08:57 AM
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Ront
Male Orc


Ront wasn't quite sure what to make of Aurgus's invitation. It ran directly counter to the line of thinking that he'd been perseverating on for the last several minutes. The hulking orc studied the gnome, trying to work out what he should do. Suspicion and hope had a brief war in his mind. Then, after a moment's pause, he scooted over. Together is better, he agreed. Sitting with the others, he offered little to the conversation. But he did lend a certain kind of security to the circle. He watched the gloom assiduously, and glowered into the dark, fiercely protective of the other escapees. He would prove his worth.

When the conversation turned to those without darkvision, Ront looked back to the circle. "Can carry the human," he said in broken Common, his accent thick. His gaze flickered back to where Aryka lay, sleeping fitfully. It didn't occur to Ront that Aryka might not appreciate being slung, nude, over the orc's shoulder.

When the foraging party returned, Ront saw them coming. He sprung to his feet, reaching for his hammer, when he recognized the duo. He dropped the hammer again, and eagerly resumed his seat in the circle. Food was so welcome. In the back of his mind, a savage part of him believed that the others would not share their food. That he might need to take some by force. That taking what he wanted was the warrior's way. His nose wrinkled as he thought this; his fingers flexed. He knew such behavior would swiftly result in being left behind, though.

Then a portion was offered to him, and Ront felt relief wash over him. He would not starve. He did not need to fight for it.

When Isarrel asked after Aryka, Ront volunteered, "She sleep. Seems good."

With his belly full, Ront felt ready for sleep. He didn't give in to fatigue, though. "Should have guard," he said, gesturing to the tunnels around them. "Ront guard. You rest."


Rollo Runewood
Male Tiefling Rogue


Rollo leaves, and Rollo returns. He stays out of Emdal's way, preferring to watch the ranger's back to actually foraging. "Not really my forte," he explains with a sideways grin. "But I know how to carry things." He also knows how to be quiet, and he does his best to shadow Emdal silently, daggers ready.

Back at the makeshift campsite, Rollo helps with the distribution of the food, using a dagger to slice off hunks of the gigantic mushrooms and passing them around. He saves a serving for Aryka. The human will surely be hungry when she awakens.

Then he sits down next to Laudan. "So tell me more about this father of yours," he says. "Where does he live now?"



Aryka Finnister
Female Human Bard

 


Aryka's surrender to her exhaustion was total. The rocky ground no longer bothered her; she automatically found the best position and slept. She did not sleep well, but she slept deeply. Disturbing dreams combined with physical discomfort to create a tableau for nightmares.

In her dream, there was darkness. It was the darkness of a blindfold. Her hands were bound behind her back and tied to her ankles. She was face down in a cart, its rough wood pressed up against her cheek. There: the moment the darkness began. Voices:

"They usually send four warriors," a voice was saying. The voice was familiar. Who was that? "Just hand the woman over. The rest has been negotiated." The sneer in the voice tickles her memory.

"As you say, sir," another voice replies. Was this voice familiar also? In the manner of dreams, Aryka could not quite latch onto the voice, couldn't tell whether she knew it or not.

"Sir, she seems to be coming around," the second voice said. Inwardly, Aryka cursed. She should have feigned unconsciousness.

"Ah, excellent. Hold her mouth open."

Strong hands gripped Aryka's face, twisting her head, prying her jaws apart. Someone else pinched her nose closed. "You'll want to swallow," the smarmy voice said. Liquid hit the back of her throat and she gagged, coughed, then swallowed as more and more liquid poured into her throat. She felt like she was drowning! But then it was over. That should... Then there was nothing.

The dream does not end; Aryka awakened. She opened her eyes to unrelenting darkness, and she stared into that abyss, thinking about her dream. That voice, she thinks. Who was that voice? Suddenly, it came to her. Lady Dalrymple employed a man who arranged matters requiring discretion. He'd been the one that arranged the apartments where ... Aryka smiles into the darkness, remembering the silken sheets and Lady Dierdre's embrace.

But then Aryka snapped back. What was that man's name? Evert? Epper? She couldn't remember. But why would the Lady..? She pretended uncertainty to herself, but she knew.

Months too late, she reflected that her girlfriends had warned her about this. Repeatedly. Aryka should not trifle with Lady Dalrymple. The woman had a reputation for ruthlessness. That was part of what drove Aryka to flirtation, and then romance, and then a torrid affair. The Lady Dalrymple took what she wanted, and Aryka let herself be taken. She was an imaginative lover. And when Lady Dalrymple tired of her pet lutist, she was discarded. The affair was possibly a mistake.

But Aryka was pretty sure that wasn't it. It was almost certainly her flirtation with the Lord Dalrymple that had drawn the Lady's ire. Well, the flirtation, followed by a brief but intense romance. Lord Dalrymple was equally imaginative but more forceful. He also tired of her sooner; he had a very busy romantic life, and Aryka was only apportioned a few days of it. Those few days were undoubtedly enough to ignite the Lady's jealousy, though.

Aryka stared out into the darkness, looking back at her mistake. One among countless others. Silverymoon was a city full of as many enemies as friends. Once, Aryka thought it didn't matter. Now she was inclined to agree with her girlfriends. Really should not have gotten involved with Lady Dalrymple.
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Old 08-04-2020, 12:37 PM
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Issarel fumed silently as her question was ignored by the tiefling, all while attended to the blue-hued woman who seemed to capture his attention.

'I should have left her to die. Grand palace, ha, most likely pales in comparison to home. She's probably lying anyways. 'A palace of untold sky...' more like an empty field. Her father is probably like those peasant parents who tell their daughters they are princesses and their broken down farm a castle. Terrible, leading them on like that.'

She sulked longer, hey eyes grazing over those she was stuck with. They were all filthy, ugly. She could clean them up, but wasn't sure it would do much good. Instead, she ran her fingers through her hair, brushing out the fine, golden curls.

'He must not think that he has a chance with me, that's why he pines for her. Of course, he doesn't, but such a shame for him to think as such. Luckily for them, I'm here to brighten this miserable time, so I will play along. They will recognize how perfectly beautiful I am on the inside, as well as outside.'

Oh yes, she thought, do tell us about your father and this grand castle.

When Ront finally answered her, she nodded appreciation while carefully hiding her disdain at his appearance and speech. Where did such creatures come from, so lacking in refinement? If he was lucky, he would pick up on a thing or two from her. After all, she was a perfect example of elven excellence.

Yes, rest sounds lovely. she thought, her fingers checking beneath her eyes for evidence of bags.

She took her portion of the mushroom and squeemed internally, remembering the feeling of Stool pressed against her arms and chest. The terrible, sopping, spongy texture. She took a deep breath and put a small piece in her mouth only after casting a spell on it to improve the taste. She settled on swallowing it instead of chewing. While the taste was better than it otherwise might have been, the texture hadn't changed in the least.



Jimjar laughed along with Buppido, as if he was in on whatever private joke was being told.

"Grand palace?" he asked, his head perking up, "As in, much gold? Heading back to Blingdenstone sounded as good a plan as any, but I'd be willing to see you back to the surface - for a price. Err, a reward."

The gnome pulled pieces from his mushroom and stuffed them into his mouth. Moisture spilled down his chin as he chewed, only to be pushed back into his mouth with the back of his hand.

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The land was home yet it was alien in every sense of the manner. Trace elements of illumination from various crystals scattered about the landscape gave just enough hue to the grayscale that was Emdal's vision to halt the ranger's hand on a number of occasions. As soon as they were on their own the dwarf's demeanor shifted entirely. Liberated from the smothering presence of others he now only needed to contend with the company of the tiefling. Though they have spoken little prior to the chain of events that lead to this moment it was fine.

The rogue hung to the shadows allowing him a chance at gathering in utter peace. It was through the graces of Marthammor Duin that he came across the edible mushrooms. Emdal attempted to make a mental note to remind the others of the poisonous spores after letting the thought linger a suspiciously long moment. The ranger's eyes practically shimmered in the darkness of the cavern when he laid eyes upon the lustrous tall stems of the barrelstalk mushrooms. Returning to the tiefling with a grin and armful of spoils it was time to return "Fair 'nough! E'ery little bit be helpin!"

Emdal was downright giddy with this finds trying to ponder the best way one would go about making bread when on the rundown here. Basically and literally, in some cases, naked. With nigh but scraps for tools.


Back at the camp, the guarded attitude of the dwarf returned and the grin the tiefling saw before once more vanished behind the dirty rust flaked beard of the ranger. Emdal halted momentarily seeing the hulking orc reach for his hammer before halting. "Tha savage be guarding them?" It didn't make sense to him - he didn't trust Ront in the slightest, especially with how the orc handled himself in the cell the prior days. Weary, Emdal proceeded. Handing over the non-poisonous shrooms to the rogue to cut and distribute Emdal returned to his habit of taking food last.

"We got lucky tonig... today. Should hopefully hold us fer a tad if'n we be careful." sitting down and lifting the two raw soles of his feet off the ground feeling the sting of hundreds of knicks and cuts from the sharp rocks taking into full effect. Sucking air through his teeth the Dwarf attempted to make sure
Dice medicine:
d20+2 (18)+2 Total = 20
infection wasn't setting in. Though, he had no real way to combat it - not without the proper herbs and he hadn't the slightest of where they grew down here.

"Eat quick, sleep quick." the words left Emdal's mouth right after Ront volunteered to guard. Eyes went wide realizing he was using his mouth the ranger clamored up and returned to the spores "We dunno how long we 'ave til they catch our flanks."
The gnome was overjoyed at the orc coming into agreement with him.

This boded well for their future!

"This is quite a blessing the seven provided you, Emdal! Good job!" Aurgus cheered just loud enough for the dwarf to hear and received only but a grunt in return. For Emdal knew it surely wasn't some gnomish deities lending aid - though Aurgus knew for sure, that it was! Giving an agreeing hum to the orc the gnome patted his thick bare chest "Valiant suggestion, Brother Ront - I will lend you company for the first watch until the others are ready to swap or move on!"

The gnome's goal was more self-serving than he lead on. For, to have one-on-one time with the orc meant that he could provide the gospel of the seven uninterrupted! He would have an unconventional convert yet! "Once I have finished my meal I'll provide assistance! Surely Garl Glittergold will watch over us from the Golden Hills!" just the concept of a possible convert and food had put a bit of pep in the gnome's attitude it seemed.
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