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  #121  
Old Oct 18th, 2020, 03:46 PM
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At the Midnight MarketHaela, the merchant hands over the shaft to you and you toss it back and forth in your hands, feeling its heft.

"Pretty nice, hey? If you know enough to appreciate it. Which I imagine you do," she says to you in Dwarvish.

It does, in fact, appear to be adamantine. This stick itself isn't a finished item -- it's like an ingredient in a recipe that could be used as the handle of an axe, the shaft of a glaive, a hammer, a spear. It is very fine and very well composed. You examine it for identifying marks, and in a metal disk bound to the bottom of one end of it, you see the forge stamp of Fireshear, a city on the coast north of Luskan. So, this wouldn't have been made in Dwarven Valley here in Icewind Dale, but might have belonged to one of the smiths there who was going to use it to make something cool. You know that a pound of this material is worth thousands of gold, but it's a rare thing to want or use. Very exciting to hold in your hands.

Oar, you go get Prong's inert body and drag him near to the sleds. He raises an eyelid just a slice, and seeing you he mumbles, "Ah itsyoo, Rapunzel. Face hair is why. I saythis to yabecuase you have hair on your--" and then he lolls back into sleep. No one at the sleds bats a goggled eye at the state of him -- crumpled, bound, and gagged. Torrga motions you to load him up.

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As you look over the sled to find a good place for him to go, you see a bundle there, wrapped in a tarp. Could be wood planks, reindeer parts, furs, or -- wait. Sticking out from the bundle, stark and undeniable in the flickering light of the torch that Torrga lit, you see a frozen hand. This is a humanoid hand. Frozen and sticking out of a bundle on this sled. You look up at Bander and you see that he has seen it also. You lock eyes.

Bander, not only have you seen the frozen hand sticking out of the bundle, but you also see the guy that Tru saw, working around the other sled, who's wearing inappropriately summery clothing. You take notice of him, and then you see, as you peer past the torchlight, him disappear in a puff of frozen air. One minute he was there, his greying hair pulled back in a ponytail behind his open collar, inexplicably wearing only shirtsleeves and a vest, and then the next minute, he is gone. Just gone.

Looking into the darkness, your head snaps instinctively toward the pole. You see a whisper of snow shimmer The tree at S8out of a tree.

OOCI have Tru, Haela, Bander, and Oar up by the sleds on the ridge. I have Falfen at Q15, Ziusudra at N3, and Anomaly at N6, all hidden. We're not necessarily in initiative right now as in combat, but when you post, limit yourself to the actions and movements you could take in one round, and I will do the same for the NPCs. If you want to attack or cast an offensive spell, we'll initiate combat.
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  #122  
Old Oct 18th, 2020, 06:23 PM
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Bander squints his one good eye at the frozen hand hanging out from under the sled covering. He glances over at the guy wearing summer clothes out here on the frozen tundra.

What the bloody hell is that guy doing out here? It is as cold as forking Auril’s teat out here tonight and that guy is prancing around dressed like he thinks he’s our forking cracked in the head sailor.

Just as Bander finished this thought, the strangely dressed gentleman goes ‘poof’ into nothing.

Forking frozen dingleberries!

Bander quickly looks around to see where the grey-haired man disappeared to. Spotting movement near a tree down in the valley, the old soldier goes charging off. Calling back over his shoulder, “Torrga, when I get back we are having a talk about what you have covered up on that there sled.”


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  #123  
Old Oct 18th, 2020, 07:45 PM
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"You do realize, don't you, Auntie Torrga," Oar says leaning into the poshly dressed dwarf, "that you have a dead body on your sleigh and some fairy guy in summer wear poofing around about your dogs?"





 


 
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  #124  
Old Oct 18th, 2020, 08:57 PM
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The Hidden OnesAnomaly, Falfen, and Ziusudra, you are still hidden in the snow, among the trees, and up on the ledge. You are well aware that someone arrived up on the other ridge -- that there are two dog sleds with mysteriously silent dogs and some people. You would have seen Oar get down from the tree and Haela and Tru come out of hiding to approach the sleds, and Bander stand firm as they approached, and then go over to them. You would hear voices up there, not very clearly.

OOCHaela, Tru, Bander, and Oar have all interacted with the dogsled situation. You guys who stayed on watch can also move, roll, or act, and I'll wait on that before we move forward with what's happening. If you give me another perception roll, tell me whether you're concentrating on the pole area or if you're listening and watching up toward the dog sleds. You can also ready an action if you want. Or you can say that you just want to pass, and stay hidden, and wait.
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  #125  
Old Oct 18th, 2020, 09:51 PM
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Tru is trying to figure out exactly how to nonchalantly climb up a Dwarf as if she were a tree and give her a whispery heads-up that some guy in a floopy shirt and sandals is lurking by the sled, and then Oar speaks. Wait, what? The summer-clothes guy POOFED? And there is a CORPSE?

Sure enough, the Goliath is balls on (and also balls out) accurate. Summer-Clothes is gone, and there is a frozelled hand sticking up out of the tarps on the sled.

Bander is ALSO talking about the dead guy on the sled, and then he goes charging off toward the fish on the pole for absolutely no reason, as far as Tru can see. Still, if the old soldier sees trouble down there and needs her to whang a stick about in the air near some baddy’s face, then he will call, and she will go.

But until he calls, she has business with Torgga Icevein, and it is emphatically not shopping. She launches a quick prayer to Sarenrae for guidance and then glances around the Market, assessing, but much too interested in Torrga perception on market 13to notice much.

She steps to Torrga, leaning up as far as she can toward this minor dwarven deitess of the Ten Towns criminal-underworld so she can speak softly. There is a height problem. Tru’s little pointy chin ends up framed almost perfectly by Torgga’s not-at-all scanty bosoms as Tru says, quietly, Someone has been slipping in, silent-like, and knifing the sacrifices before they can get a good freeze on. I don’t suppose you and your corpse friend know anything about that? Is he---or rather---was he a lucky-lucky-lotto type from Easthaven?

She doesn’t ask it in a confrontational way. More winky-winky just-us-thieving-girls. If Torgga DOES recognize her name---well, Tru's fence has passed on PLENTY of objet d'art and unopened luxury parfums and unguents and the odd bit of out-dated jewelry to this lady. She’ll hopefully assume Tru is just checking the angles. (Perhaps the angles created by the fit of her corset...sometimes, it's not easy being SMALL.)

It feels best to play this friendly. Tru is measured Kevin Baconallytwo degrees from Torgga, and she suspects that if it came to fisticuffs, this cold-blooded lady would carve her innards out and then go for a hearty breakfast before Tru could so much as whip her stick down to murder the air near Torgga’s ear.

 


 


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  #126  
Old Oct 19th, 2020, 09:44 AM
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As Bander heads down from the ledge once more, Falfen remains hidden in the snow. He barely moves as he replies to the soldier, "Aye. I'll watch the pole. You keep the proceedings moving down there." Then he braces his crossbow against his shoulder and continues to scan the scene. If there was ever a stranger conflagration of events, I've not seen it, he thinks. The continuous interruptions seem...odd, out of place, and Falfen's instincts are prickling, so much so that he has a Perception 4hard time focusing on much, mind spinning as it is.


 


 
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  #127  
Old Oct 19th, 2020, 11:28 PM
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For Freedom
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"Oh, I'll be your Auntie alright," Torrga grins at Oar slyly, her teeth mottled and crooked. "But I can look after my own dogs, thanks."

Then a lot of things happen at once. Bander goes dashing down toward the pole.

Torrga slides a scimitar out of a scabbard within her robes and brandishes it at the three of you standing near the sled "Sephek, you're made! Watch out!" she cries out.

As the old soldier goes sprinting through the snow, you hear a cry echoing through the valley:

"FOR FREEDOM!"

Another shimmer of snow drops from the At S8tree, and then a mechanical clackety clack and a familiar but weary IF I FILET HERE? IF I JUST FILET HERE--GACK sounds in the night. And those of you watching the pole see a figure in shirtsleeves appear just in front of it, a light blue weapon shimmering in the starlight, and slice Ol Bitey's neck from gill to gill, under the hot pink wig. Filet lady filettttttttt the enchantment grinds out horribly as the fish cranks out a few mad last jerks. And the stern figure turns around, looking left and right, weapon raised, ready. He's angry, defiant, and dressed for sun. "Who's there? What vile trick is this?"

 
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  #128  
Old Oct 19th, 2020, 11:52 PM
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Ziusudra was too far from the caravan, these new intruders, to hear that conversation clearly enough to follow. Instead he kept his eyes trained to the pole, so he was already looking in that direction when the uneasy peace that hung in the air finally shattered.

Beyond the figure that appeared, beyond the shouts, beyond all that a honed instinct set off within him. Violence was imminent. And when violence was imminent, a Disciple of the House was taught to strike first and strike quickly.

Ziusudra burst forth through the snow at Sephek, moving startling quickly towards the man. Too quickly perhaps, as his feet caught in the snow, causing him to tumble forward. He rolled out of the fall, his sai flashing forward to strike out once - twice - three times, feeling the weapon catch flesh on the third strike.


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  #129  
Old Oct 20th, 2020, 12:29 AM
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On the edge of the Korinn Archipelago lies a small island inhabited by a group of monks who developed a unique martial arts style of fighting. Because these monks had to fight off raids by the Black Blood Tribes throughout the 1400s, their style of fighting developed as a way to grapple an opponent without exposing oneself to bites or counter grapples. In the local language of the islanders who lived there, and whose language the monks had adopted for their commerce with the island trading rafts, this fighting style was called: oji multri ko, or "against wolf fur."

Oar learned of this style a few years ago, when his ship (at that time he was on The Silver Kraken) was chartered by some sages who said they were from Mantor's Library (who knows, maybe they were) and who wanted to visit the island and record what they could about the fighting style and philosophy of these monks.

It was one of those rare trips where everything went well. No storms. No pirate attacks. Only 3 stabbings among the crew. After several weeks, they arrived and dropped off the scholars. The captain gave the crew liberty among the neighboring islands for the unheard of period of two entire weeks. Most of the crew went whoring and drinking. But a few stayed on the island and learned the basic fighting steps from the monks.

As he threw himself through the air to land on Torrga, Oar thought of that island. And he thought about staying with the monks to learn their fighting style. And he realized that part of him should be wishing that he had been one of the sailors who had done that.

But of course he hadn't been one to waste two weeks of freedom with some monks, no matter how useful their obscure fighting style would have been at this moment.

So, as he landed, Oar fell back on his own fighting style...this grapple was called a belly flop. He impacted his target with a satisfying jolt as snow puffs erupted upward around him and he grabbed hold of the dwarf. He couldn't tell, though, if he had a good hold on her or perhaps only a part of her sled?

But he was smiling. After all, thinking of the various fighting styles and those monks was causing Oar to remember all the dancing, singing, drinking and everything else that had gone on during those two weeks of freedom back on the Korinn Archipelago.

Do you think those monks, who had given up all those pleasures to study some obscure grip-'n'-grab were smiling at this moment, wherever they were? Probably not.





 


 
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  #130  
Old Oct 20th, 2020, 10:19 AM
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There is a wolf inside of her. She can feel it, prowling in trapped circles through her viscera. All the wolves around here are white, and this wolf might be white, if she so wills it.

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And she does will it. Tactical advantage, to be a white wolf in this inescapable white Rime. But in its heart, it is a muddy, sweaty summer wolf, a rich and ruddy brown, and she can feel it pushing and snuffing about inside her skin, trying to find a way OUT of her, or more deeply INTO her, or---Her spine ripples, seeking a new shape. Her throat is choked in fur.

Oar is tackling Torrga, the Summer-Togs-Man is murdering the fish, and she should move, she should lift her stick and strike. by which I mean, she rolled a 5 initiative because the dice gods HATE MY DARLING LITTLE HIN!But she is paralyzed by the wolf, trying to burst out or become her or--- She tries to let it.

She knows where this wolf comes from. Once, when she was little, she was in the courtyard helping her mother tend the winter herb bed, and she saw the Old Druid ---no! Why does she still think of him this way? The “old druid!” She once saw her father, her unacknowledging, wealthy, former-adventurer FATHER, lope arthritically at his two legitimate small boys, both noble-born, both laughing to see their Da shifting seamlessly, easily, thoughtlessly, instantly into a dire wolf, mid-bound.

The boys ran to sink their their fingers in the thick, ruddy ruff and climb up, clinging while the Old Dru---their shared, same father---cantered them about. She watched, smiling, unenvious, because back then, he was just the master of the house, always so kind to her, and they were servants. Then she noticed the noble-born, pointy nosed wife his fortune had bought him, so tall for a Hin, looking down on the courtyard from the balcony.

I love it when you remind me that to get my sons, I had Lobleena Proudfood did not actually say "to lie with." She used a different word. Bander knows it.to lie with an actual dog... And then she’d shot a venomous look at Tru and her mother, a look Tru had not understood at the time, and added, At least I do not make a habit of it.

Tru has her father’s journals now. She knicked them. She knicked his focus, too, blood red and warm as a heart, and she has been reading and trying and pushing; these things have made a wolf in her.

If the wolf would only come out! She could help Oar knock down the snaggle-toothed criminal, latch her big, wolf teeth into Torgga's thick ankle and hold her until Summer-Clothes-Guy is dead or down at the pole.

The focus heats until it feels like a live coal. Fur clots her insides. Four scratchy feet paddle at her guts, and a big, toothy head thrashes in her chest. Or, maybe her initiative was FIVE.She misses her chance to strike with her stick because she wants to release or be or have or know this wolf.

The wolf is stuck. She stands motionless in the snow, wishing three things.

1) That she had used this time to bonk Torgga in the face with her stick.

2) That having a wolf inside did not feel so very terribly exactly like a bizarre form of very hairy, sweaty constipation.

3) Most of all, that back when she was worried her lotto number would be called, she had not hidden the now very-quite-hot-indeed-oh-my druidic focus in her skivvies...

 


 


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  #131  
Old Oct 20th, 2020, 03:13 PM
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Haela Starshield
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The dwarves of Ironmaster knew adamantine. The dragon-worshipping Northmen of Tuern crossed the sea to bring the master smiths their ore, and if the finely-smelted bars and rods they took back with them didn't quite weigh up... well. What did humans know about smelting? It wasn't dishonest if they weren't dwarves.

So Haela had seen adamantine before, and worked it too... but still. Even in Ironmaster, it was rare. This was a bit of a find. She nodded, acknowledging Torrga's compliment, and turned the shaft over in her hands; reverently, critically. Not bad. She wouldn't have anything like enough gold to buy it, of course (and she wouldn't dream of insulting another dwarf by trying to persuade her it was worth anything less than its true value), but handling the thing was a pleasure unlooked-for. Haela sighed.

...and then, the atmosphere changed. Haela looked about herself, confused, as her companions' demeanour suddenly altered. What were they talking about? Something on the sled...? Torrga was... drawing her sword...

Oh. What a shame.

Haela laid the adamantine shaft down, gently, on the snow. A shame to damage it before it'd properly become something. She took a step back (towards the little brave one, who seemed to be struggling with something), frowned at Torrga (but the big naked one seemed to be squaring up to her), and slipped her warhammer from its fastenings.

She struck her shield, facing down the treacherous dwarf's crew. "Come, vagabonds! Minions! Abject reptiles! Come crash against my steel, and vanish from this world! Haela Starshield is upon you!"


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  #132  
Old Oct 20th, 2020, 04:33 PM
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The situation below changed in a heartbeat. The team had been perusing Torrga's wares when all of a sudden, the dwarf merchant shouted something, "FOR FREEDOM" rang out across the dale, a strange man dressed completely wrong appeared out of nowhere and slashed the enchanted fish open, and the stranger who was supposed to be trussed to that pole rushed out of hiding and stabbed him.

To top it all off, the giant he had saved flung himself back out of the trees and tackled Torrga.

Falfen's usually strange and stoic demeanor finally cracked under the absurdity of this night. For freedom? What in the frozen Hell of the Rime was a renowned figure of the underworld doing posing as the leader of a band of freedom fighters? What did she care? And freedom from who? And how was murdering someone already slated to die an act of liberation? He cackled out loud with a thin, reedy, quite un-barbaric laugh, yet another of his qualities that caused his clan to always look at him oddly until they decided to not look at him at all anymore. Even as his failing the hide checkstrange laughter rolled off the ledge where he had hunkered down, he took in the night-market-turned-battlefield with his hunter's eye. Leader, restrained. Cronies, surrounded. Man with strange blade, fighting one-on-one. He knew how effective pack tactics were. He would form a pack with the sacrifice.

While he was sure his laughter had given away his element of surprise, he knew how to regain an advantage. Wetting his finger again, he pointed towards the enemy and felt the tiniest of winds swirl around his finger again. Yes, I see it." From the way the man held his blade, Falfen could tell he would be launching to that side shortly. He aimed his crossbow, anticipating the movement.


 


 
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  #133  
Old Oct 21st, 2020, 12:16 AM
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Ziusudra comes up out of the snow in a swirl of blades and draws first blood on this cold enemy, slicing through his thigh and then slipping away to the south. Sephek pursues him immediately, growling and swinging his glistening blue sword, but hits nothing except gusts of snowy air.

Up on the ridge, Oar overpowers Torrga with the sheer heft of his Goliath form, but Torrga digs her scimitar 17 to hitenthusiastically up into Oar's grappling guts, stabbing through feathers and 4 slashing damagetarring her blade with blood. Her minions creep forward, not too boldly, to help her. Haela knocks aside one's miserable blade with her strong shield, but another one of them pops up over the sled to 16 to hitattack Tru with a bent rattly scimitar, and manages to stab straight through her skivvies and into her 5 slashing damageribs. The other two creep about nervously, watching the fight to see which way it will turn.

 

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  #134  
Old Oct 21st, 2020, 12:42 AM
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She has never actually been stabbed before. Most people have not been stabbed. Most people run around growing winter lettuce and making shoes and birdwatching, and no one ever stabs them at all.

It’s very surprising, to be stabbed.

Well, she is up to dangerous business. She supposes she should not be surprised but---look at all that blood she has in her, just pouring out, pretty in the snow.

Blackness comes in at the edges of her vision, and she staggers back, miss with a 6 I CANNOT GET A BREAK!waving her stick at Larry, wobbly and ineffectual, as she has been since they arrived at the pole.

She touches her palm to herself and it comes away sticky. That’s no good, she says, staring at the hole in herself. I reject this whole idea.

The focus in her skivvies flares, insult to injury and she---the wound is closing. It closes. It is closed.

No. She closed it.

She blinks down at her stabbed self. And she is unstabbed. She is fine.

That’s new! She feels a surge of interest; perhaps she might have some use here, after all.

 


 


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  #135  
Old Oct 21st, 2020, 02:05 AM
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Ziusudra raced casually away from his target, the would-be ambusher, the Zakharan warrior's arms hanging relaxed at his sides, dark three-pronged weapon in each, his black-furred cloak flagging vigorously in the icy wind. Zius looked over his shoulder, the eloquent curl of his eyebrows dipping in inspection. What was their purpose here? It was truly unclear. All he had heard of the botched sacrifices had made him come to expect a solitary actor, perhaps a deranged killer living out their fantasies on the helpless sacrifices. He had not expected a group and certainly not one with a ruse.

His Masters would say, "Child, have no expectations."

'Sephek', as the other had called out, chased him. Good. He would soon learn what a mistake that was. They were attuned to each other now. It was the only manner of attunement that Ziusudra had been able to manage so far in this hells-forsaken wasteland. The most base and primal attunement: that which exists between predator and prey. Gold washed over Zius's eyes briefly as he saw the invisible thread that ran between them, drawing them together into a deadly dance.

The bounty hunter continued moving through the snow at an easy pace, allowing the man to gain ground and finally catch up with him. The man grunted, swinging out his blade and Ziusudra ducked well below the swing, sinking into a coiled squat before he sprang forward, low and serpentine across the snow, driving the longest point of one of his sai through the man's calf. 'Sephek' flinched from the blow and in that moment Zius leapt up and forward, his other weapon going clean through his quarry's bicep.

Neither were fatal blows, but out here any wound or weakness threatened death.

Then Zius was gone, slipped away into the wind and cold in the moment of his stinging blows' distraction. He moved quicker now, close enough perhaps to tantalize Sephek, but far enough away to make him work for it.


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