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Old Jan 23rd, 2021, 11:14 PM
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Chapter IV: On the Road

The Trade Way is one of Faerun's most well-trodden trade routes, running from Waterdeep to Calimport in the far south of the continent. For ages, merchants could rely on relatively safe roads, patrolled by armies and adventurers looking for news and hijinks there along those roads. For centuries it ran uninterrupted, until the Spellplague in the Year of Blue Flame, 1385 Dale Reckoning.

Then the roads grew unsafe. Then the patrols stopped coming. Then the adventurers looked elsewhere for adventure. Things looked grim for the villages that seemed defenseless therein, unprotected against the craven tastes of bandits, monsters, and looters.

Until Elturgard, that is.

In the 1430s, the holy city of Elturel began taking the smaller towns under its protection, for Baldur's Gate would no longer send their Flaming Fists outside the city since the Bhaalspawn Crisis. Elturel stepped in, and where cities were less than willing to join freely, they forcibly annexed them, under the auspice of protecting them from "undue influence" of unholy beings and organizations, like the nearby Zhentarim of Darkhold.

Irony abound: in 1444, it was revealed the High Rider of Elturel was a vampire and undead began to prey en masse on the holy city, until Thavius Kreeg, a young paladin of Torm, was given the gift of the Companion, a holy light given to him from the Celestial Realms above, by an angel. The vampires and undead all perished and Elturel grew stronger, Elurgard now a holy kingdom under Kreeg. The Trade Way stabilized. Merchants felt safe again.

Baldur's Gate, Elturel's near neighbor, grew restless and angry, for Elturel proved a strategic stopping place on the Trade Way, with high taxes specifically for Baldur's Gate. A "morality tax," as it were.

Trade on the seas was the norm for the century after the Spellplague, but things are changing. Baldur's Gate came to dominate trade in the years after the Spellplague, but Waterdeep threatens to supplant it by the end of the decade. Grand Duke Abdel Adrian perished after ruling for the better part of that century, revealed to be the last of the Bhaalspawn, whose death ushered in the return of the Lord of Murder himself. While Baldur's Gate falters, Elturgard flourishes.

The Trade Way has returned: but the future of the powers that lay upon it is an uncertain matter indeed.
-Lady Marbella Greenwinter of Waterdeep, in an economic report to the Lord's Alliance, 1486 DR





7 Flamerule 1489 DR
Outside of Elturel, Elturgard
The Sword Coast


The evening of the fifth day has led them at last to this: to the gates of Elturel.

The Friends of Graycastle, if they be worthy of such a name, left Greenest early on the 3rd,through clear weather. The day was uneventful, and camping out, it was on the second day of their journey that they arrived at Berdusk, thus officially passing into the territory that belonged to Elturgard. Already the air grew thick with sanctimonious souls, with farmers all wearing folk renditions of the holy symbols of many a goodly god: Chauntea, first, but then Torm and Tyr and Illmater, and Lathander the Morning-Lord. Most were reasonable folk, but many insisted that instead of "good day" that they be told "gods be with you," or specific gods for those sworn to certain deities. When the farmers sang songs in the fields, they were hymns.

Day two saw them leave Berdusk by midday and head northward, crossing the farmlands of Elturgard. The further from an established city like Berdusk, the more the signs that Greenest had not been an isolated incident. More than one village had been burnt to the ground, left for the crows with no survivors to speak of. Greenest was lucky.

In the third town, they come across Hellriders, the name of an order of knights that serve Elturel. Led by a dark woman dedicated to Tyr, she stopped the group, demanding their name and reason for traveling. Talking it out was not difficult, though not all members of the group were agreeable. At news that even outside of Elturel towns were being raided and by the Cult of the Dragon no less, the Hellriders were hardly put at ease. "Praise the Blind God, that this was not an attack on our holy kingdom. It does little to put my heart at ease, though. Gods keep you safe, travelers, and to Elturel in haste."

Hellriders: a curious name.

The third and fourth days are hardly any better, though with more survivors: farmers took in refugees, many heading for the holy city. The closer to the Holy City, the more refugees heading towards it, many without horses. It may take a tenday for many to reach it.

And by midday on the fifth day, they arrived at the banks of the River Chionthar, heading west to the Sword Coast and Sea of Swords. Following it, when their bodies told them that night had come, light hardly seemed to fade: the sky turned orange, but a bright light, not the color of the sun but something else, a whiter light, shone from the northwest, and soon, the north: for they arrived at a bridge, and across it, was the Holy City of Elturel.

At the banks of the opposite side of the river were high white walls, and a layer city, with a tall central keep and several large green areas in the city. Music rose from the shores, and carried across the river, which was guarded by a contingent of not Hellknights, but Knights of the Companion, dedicated to the light that glowed above the city, called the Companion. The light is powerful, almost too strong, but grows softer, as if it knows night is coming. It soon comes to look like it will be a permanent, glowing moon above the city, in spite of the moon above that shines just fine.

Meepo is absolutely gobsmacked. "Mee—I.... I think big wall city is pretty!" Meepo grins to Rhokax and Sora, who have been helping him with his speech. With his hood over his head, he has been careful not to reveal himself, and keeps his snout covered too: given the status of the Cult of the Dragon in creating this train of refugees, it would be quite dificult to explain his presence here as a knight himself.

As they approach the Companions, one of them, a smaller Half-Elf male with rusty hair and a triple claw scar on the left side of his face, looks them over. "Welcome to Elturgard; accomodations can be made for any and all at the temples, or you can find an inn or hostel to your liking. A pledge of pacifism is required, and your names. If you seek someone, we can check for any messages left here for you."

He and his companions look expectant. Meepo gulps.
Out of CharacterWelcome to Chapter 4!

I left Days 1-5 open for you, and role-play those amongst yourself in Fieldset boxes. I gave some prompts but you're also welcome to invent them, use the Discord to talk it out.

Let's tango and get moving, Elturel offers plenty of opportunities!

Last edited by Sassafrass; Feb 12th, 2021 at 01:42 AM.
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Old Jan 31st, 2021, 10:19 PM
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Gukan "Clawmarked" Titaniadaoro
The Wandering Goliath

ClassHP/MAXACSPPP
Warlock28/2812309
SSDC SAB L1 L2 L3 L4
12 +4 2/2 2/2 0/0 0/0




Gukan spoke little during their journey, which alarmed none of his companions, as he was typically one of few words. Of course, there was plenty he could probably say, and his lack of conversation was voluntary only because he felt stunted around the others, his words simple and direct, theirs being more eloquent and expository. Still, being branded the dumb one for the duration of one's existence does have some advantages. As the elders generally put it to young children, one's ears worked twice as well when one's mouth was shut. Listening was perhaps one of Gukan's greatest assets, and he had no shortage of things to listen to.

Each burnt town brought new demands of justice, spoken silently by the still-smoldering ruins of simple housing for common folk who had nothing to do with the wars between powerful men and women of these lands as they doggedly toiled toward dreams that the Gods had denied them. The Goliath's coal black eyes laid locked on the wreckage of a once meager farm, the farmer a pile of scorched bones mere inches from what had probably been the front door of a small home.

The scene played out in his mind. A fire so hot raining down upon the crops that they crumbled to charcoal in seconds. A terrorized shriek from within a house ablaze. A man driven by survival instinct reaches for the front door as it vaporizes before his eyes. He dies quickly, at least, feeling the physical pain for only a moment and never realizing that the entire town was suffering the same fate.

Gukan wanted to feel anger, but was graced with no such luxury. Sadness came in its stead, wrapping his heart in its unyielding grip and pulling it down into the pit of his considerable stomach. Sleep would not come for him that night, as he lay in the open away from the others, looking straight up into the abyss of night sky. The moonlight betrayed his tears as they rolled slowly, one by one, down the sides of his head. He let them come.

"You weep for others, as others do. You are not so alone in this world as you think, Clawmarked."

"No, Lady Titania, grace of my life, I am not. I may cry because I wish to be." Gukan must have finally drifted to sleep, although he was still unsure just where the Lady's realm connected to his own, and how he got there. In this moment he noticed the Gukan gains the Poison Spray cantripdelicate thorny vines searching for purchase at the fuzzy edges of his vision. He was in her realm, though she had not appeared to him, yet He felt her slight frown, none the less.

"Why? How would that help the others?" The Lady's voice had a slight music to it, and was higher than usual, making her sound tiny. Gukan lay on his back, still looking to the stars and tracing the edges of the scar the bear's claw had left.

"I am no help. Not in a way that they need. My skills lie in death. Killing. Little thinking is required for such brutish activity."

"A brute." she said, seeming to roll this word around on her fingers as she slowly flitted into Gukan's view. She was in the form of a tiny faerie, her wings barely visible as they kept her aloft. The crawling vines had now framed everything he was looking at, secreting a dull green, viscous fluid. A small toadstool sprouted to form a perfect seat for her to alight upon. She crossed her legs, put her elbow to her knee and her hand on her chin, and considered the Goliath.

"A brute does not cry at those lost. A brute does not try to stay the hands of comrades at odds with each other. A brute does not seek to make peace with his former prey. A brute, Clawmarked, does not reflect. You are no brute."

At this, he wept, more tears streaming and blurring his vision, though Lady Titania herself remained very clear as she reached forward to brush his cheek with her bijou hand. Gukan had never experienced such comfort, and it nearly overwhelmed him, the sobs silent but shuddering. He became concerned he would accidentally knock her from the air, but something told him that would be impossible, so he allowed himself to cry, perhaps the first Goliath in Faerun to do so, as far as he knew of his culture.

And yet, the Lady's words had him wondering just how much a part of his culture he was? A Goliath by birth, but by nature? It was less of a doubt and more of a Gukan gains 2pts Wisdomcritical analysis as he tried to get to the bottom of just who he was. Gukan Titaniadaoro, Clawmarked, he who fell to a bear, wielder of a gift bestowed by the Queen of Light, and Friend of Greenest, all these aspects swam in his psyche, threatening to coalesce into...what?

"In time, Clarmarked, you will know. Your truth will shine for all the heavens to see, and when it does, the world will be blind with joy, for you will have righted a wrong, banished a dread, and cast out the darkness. Look within, and you will see proof of what I say. You have grown wise by your own hand, Clawmarked. My powers have their place, but you must do the rest, and you have begun without even knowing it."

"Your faith renews me, my Queen." His tears had dried, somehow. The anchoring weight on his heart was lifted. He stood, slowly, realizing that he could no longer see the Lady, and the vines had retreated from his vision.

"Faith has no place here, mighty Clawmarked," her disembodied voice continued, "you provide all the proof you need. Go now, aid your companions and find your friend. Your wisdom grows each day, yet the minds of others in this world remain dull, and unexamined. Give them something to think about.". Her invisible smile was there, Gukan learns Mind Spiketingling in his mind.

The world returned. Morning had come, and Gukan looked to the rising sun. This was a new day, and they neared their new destination. The Friends of Greenest were, by most reasonable accounts, new people.

This, then, would be the Day of Renewal.

Gukan lumbered forth, following his companions, pulling his jazz flute from his pouch and played an easy-going tune.

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Last edited by benchly; Mar 5th, 2021 at 05:24 PM. Reason: words are hard
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Old Feb 5th, 2021, 07:22 AM
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Dane
Male Human Assassin
 


"Fine day, Pride." Dane said. His hand was in the sky, blocking the sun out as he drove the carriage along.

He had gotten used to driving and planned to continue, now that he was along for the ride, so to say. Beside Dane was a pony keg of wine for the trouble, dripping fresh drops as he took another swig from his refilled canteen.

Sure, there were those less enthused to have him along, but had little mind to think about it. So as they ventured along the Greenfields, he whistled and enjoyed the winds as they ran along the wide-open green. Birds flew upon the free sky with little care and the place smelled of early midsummer flowers. He'd dream later about the same field. Of sleeping under the few trees that placed themselves temptingly close. At night it just wasn't the same.

But, the campfire was nice.

When they traveled along Berdusk-way and the farmsteads, his whistling died down and Dane was quick on the reins to have them moving along. His gaze would shy from the burnt and destroyed homes. Something Rhokax caught him doing along the way.

Few words were spoken in those reprieves from normalcy. And each time Dane filled his canteen a little more. Each time, he saw more and his gaze became less shy. Hymns echoing out of the burnt houses like those of the fields between.

"Kelemvor." He started at one point, but didn't continue.

By the night they crossed paths with the Hellriders, Dane was more led by the horses than him leading them. But he could still recognize that knights might not like the name Dane, depending on where they were from. He couldn't figure that part. Some cavalry. The day had not been kind to him or he to the keg. Quickly, the hired mercenary rounded up their solid reason to have the knights get gone.

"I'm headed to Elturel, knight. They are too. Name's Heathr—" He slowed, words caught in his throat. "Hea... hea... h."

One of the knights quirked an eyebrow as the lady knight ahead gave a stern glare. "Is there something funny tonight, traveler? Your name."

Dane glared back, confusion rising as his words choked him. She must have been casting magic! Gods damn the... the... Hellriders? Were they the Hellriders? His fist balled up and Dane made to stand. Until Meepo popped out of the window.

"Meepo's name is Meepo. No, me- me's name is Meepo!" He chimed, studies going... well.

Nearby, Dane fell out of his seat and hit the dirt, not having stood up for the whole day. Meepo jumped outside and hopped around, trying to see if the scoundrel was alright. Meanwhile, the lieutenant groaned into the road.

"Dane. I'm Dane. Blight. Lieutenant of the Scythes of... him." Rhokax was pointed to as people began to get out and explain better than Dane would.

Before they were gone, whoever her name gave a disturbed but genuine smile and sent them along with a prayer. Not the best first impression, but they made it by.

"Thy truth lies cry out for." He muttered a fading hymn, taking another swing so the memory would be softer tomorrow.

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Old Feb 10th, 2021, 02:14 PM
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Visverax
Male High Elf Wizard
 


Excerpts from a wizard’s diary:
Quote:
Today we leave Greenest, heading north. I travel with a goliath, a gensai, a dragonborn, a kobold, a traitorous assassin and a cat. We head toward Elturgard to catch up with one Leosin Erlanthar in the hopes that he has information to stop the machinations of the vile Cult of the Dragon. Yet even as Greenest falls beneath the horizon, I feel that perhaps I am going the wrong direction. I should be traveling west, to find Barny. Instead, I have left that task to the most loathsome creature on this plane…
A conversation best forgottenVisverax was reluctant to speak with Sabe. Of all the races, he despised the Drow the most. And the only thing he hated more was a half-breed. Sabezdyn A'Daragon was both. Even though he had traveled with her for some time and she had proven her worth, the high elf was hesitant to trust her.

Strangely enough, the girl seemed happy to see him. "Did you find him? You look no worse for wear, I can't imagine it was easy." On her bed, a packed bag: she had no intention of staying. "If you're delivering bad news, I would rather not know. I'd rather that little braggart live on in memory than cold comfort."

“Banry is alive, but the Cult has taken him prisoner,” Visverax said flatly.

“Alive!” Sabe smiled. Visverax had never seen her smile before. “So we’re going after him, right?”

“No, we have pressing business in Elturgard which cannot be delayed…”

“What!” The smile was gone, “We’re just going to abandon him? I can’t believe this. If Evandur or Talyn were here…”

He raised his hand to stop her ranting, “I meant that I … and the others … are going north. I want you to find Barny.”

“Oh,” A mix of emotions spread across her face; surprise, distress, betrayal. Normally, Sabe was good at hiding her feelings, but here they were. “So, I’m not going with you. You expect me to track down Barny and free him from the Cult … alone?”

Visverax looked behind him. Gukan wasn’t there. He doubted anyone else would want to travel with a half-Drow. “Ummm, yes,” he said sheepishly.

Sabe’s mask of indifference returned. “Fine then. I guess I will leave now. No time to waste…” She grabbed her gear and brushed past the wizard on her way to the stables.

“Uh, thanks…” he said to the empty corridor.


Another entry in the diary:
Quote:
After a rather uneventful journey, we arrived at Berdusk. I have been to the so-called “Jewel of the Vale” before. I paid a visit to a few acquaintances I knew at the temple of Deneir. They were very helpful in providing me with valuable materials for my spell research. Now I should be able to complete the nasty little enchantment I’ve been working on. They were unable to tell me if Leosin passed through here recently. It seems odd that he wouldn’t have left word.
Just a suggestionVisverax laughed in delight as he fanned the pages of his book to help the ink dry. He had finally completed the complex spell he’d been working on. There was only one thing left to do. He needed to test it. And for that, he needed a victim volunteer.

“Ah, Meepo!” Speaking the kobold’s ludacris name left a bad taste in his mouth. “I wonder if you could assist me?” VIsverax said politely. This caused suspicious looks around the campsite. The mage was not known for talking nice.

“Leave him alone, wizard,” Rhokax warned, in concert with Sora’s “What are you up to?”

“I only wish to practice my spellcraft. I assure you it is perfectly harmless,” Vis explained. He held out his open palm toward Meepo. “Look! A dollop of honey…”

“Honey?” Meepo perked up with interest. The wizard smirked. That was all that was needed. He spoke the harsh syllables of the Suggestion spell. The kobold’s eyes glazed over and his jaw went limp as the enchantment took effect.

“Now, you will tell me EVERYTHING you know about dragons and the dragon cult!” Visverax said with authority. And with that, Meepo began talking, and talked and talked and talked some more. There was little order or reason to what he said. Some of it was nonsensical. Most of it was trivial.

Dragons big, scary, have big teeth, wings! Meepo saw big blue breathe lighting…
… kissing black dragon cures A kobold-borne STDlekil svrak, all tribe knows that…
… Meepo pay 2 copper to see dragon tooth Yurk keep in box. Fake! Yurk big liar!...
…Old Grunkee say swimming in dragon pee turns kobolds into urds. Meepo wants to try it...”


This went on for quite a long time. Occasionally Sora or Rhokax would attempt to correct Meepo’s horrendous grasp of the common tongue. This was ignored, as was any attempt to ask a question or clarification. Apparently, Meepo was adamant on spewing out all his knowledge and would not be deterred. Visverax gave up on taking notes after 10 minutes. After an hour passed, Sora turned on him, saying, “Don’t you think this has gone on long enough?” Visverax hushed her. The kobold would say something useful, he just knew it.

Gukan lifted Meepo into the carriage, as the kobold seemed unable to do anything other than continue his rambling. The group continued their voyage north with Visverax and Meepo in the back of the cart. The cat also rode in the carriage but as usual seemed oblivious to what was going on. Meepo spoke of the cult and their travelling to the caves where the set up camp. But the kobold knew no specifics, no names of places or whereabouts. He spoke of odd dietary habits of his fellow kobolds, of how many times a day he was kicked by his superiors and his distress over not being picked for latrine duty. (Apparently, Meepo was quite proud of his latrine digging skills.)

Visverax continued to listen, out of spite if for no other reason. It took a small bit of effort to maintain concentration on the spell. The wizard didn’t have reason to concentrate on a spell this long before. He didn’t know how long he could endure it. A few times he felt himself falling into a trance, but he grit his teeth and shook off the lethargy. He wouldn’t let this yapping kobold get the best of him. Some others of the group tried to get him to stop but he shooed them off until they gave up in disgust. Not even Dane’s infernal whistling or Gukan’s amateurish flute playing could unnerve him. Visverax would prevail.

“... Kibba was shot by arrows and Nuffet was burned with … Meepo likes honey!” The kobold looked around as if he’d just awoken from a dream. “What Meepo doing in back of cart?” he said stupidly. Then he curled up in a ball and fell asleep. Visverax checked the time. Eight hours had passed. “Well, that was a complete waste of effort,” he mumbled to himself as he began his trance.


Yet another diary entry:
Quote:
We are finally approaching our destination. We’ve passed many villages burned to the ground. It is a shame we could not have been there to save them like we did at Greenest. I’ve met many boisterous braggarts at the taverns around these parts, all proclaiming their greatness. Where were these so-called “heroes” when the cult came? Did they fight or run away? They're probably still drowning in their cups.

In addition to the parade of refugees heading toward Elturel, we have met some Hellriders and a few Knights of the Companion. What a bunch of religious zealots! I’d not be surprised if they had to perform some deific rite before they purge their bowels. It makes me glad that the only supplication that Mystra requires is the pursuit of knowledge and the propagation of magic. Adulation of the gods is fine, but do they need to be so vociferous about it?
As Dane had failed miserably, Visverax unceremoniously stepped over the drunken lout to take charge of the situation. “Oh look Clawmarked, a kindred spirit of yours,” he quipped as he glared in contempt at the scar-faced half-elf. Visverax was no noble, but he was a high elf and a wizard which in his mind made him superior to all. “I am Visverax of Evermeet,” he intoned with authority, turning up his elvish accent a notch for good measure. “We have no interest in conflict. We are looking for someone who had recently arrived here. So, you can be helpful and take us to him, or get out of the way!” He crossed his arms with an air of impatience and waited.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2021, 06:55 AM
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The first day out from Greenest was one of the longest since Sora had left her native land far behind. It only took her the morning to figure out how to juggle stones while on the back of her horse. It would take her much longer - and a number of large welts on Meepo's head - to give up trying to teach it to the kobold. By evening, she had worked her own way up to the strange, tri-pointed metal darts she had brought from Kara-our.

"Dane! Dane! Look at what I can do!"

He didn't seem all that impressed, however.

By the second day, the darts had been put away as the group travelled amongst the farmers in Berdusk. Whenever she was told 'gods be with you,' Sora would slip off her horse and approach, determined to figure out which gods, exactly, should be with them and how she would be able to tell if they were or not. This happened a handful of times before she was told, in no uncertain circumstances by a haughty elven wizard who shall remain nameless, that she was not to get off her horse again until they reached the camp that night or else she would be left behind. Sora's response to the threat was to tie her rope to her saddle then leap off the horse and cast levitate on herself so that she hovered just a few inches above the ground, pulled along at the same speed as the horse and glide along beside the offending wizard's horse until the spell wore off.

After that, the first time she was told 'gods be with you,' Sora replied with, "And may the Compassionate Kwan Ying ease your suffering. May she grace this land with her presence, so that all may feel her glory," yelled from the back of her horse.

That night, she began a contest with Gukan to see who could hold their breath the longest.

It wasn't until the group found their first burned out village that Sora began to take the journey a bit more seriously. Walking among the rubble and debris, she was much more somber than she had been since meeting the others. Slipping from her horse, not really caring if Viservax upheld his threat or not, she moved through the destruction, placing her hand on a few of the charred beams and closing her eyes. When she returned to the others, face dirty with the soot, there were streaks running through the black grime and she positioned her horse in the back of the line, cloak pulled up tight around her.

And so, when the group came upon the refugees, Sora began to fall further and further behind and she left her horse to approach families. A small child traveling with her grandparents was given rations; water to an old woman; a glowing left hand on a wounded leg. When the group finally reached Elturel, Sora was on her feet as she half-walked, half-trotted behind the others. Her horse had been given to a pregnant woman so that she may have an easier time reaching the city.

Despite her own sore feet, the genasi seemed to find herself over the three days and she walked with a lighter step. She had seen death on the road, yes, but she had been able to give others something more powerful than that darkness: she had given them hope. Hope that someone out there still sought to help those in need while asking for, and expecting nothing in return. Her heart was lighter and when she saw the great, holy city, she had a look of childlike wonder in her eyes.

"Very pretty," she agreed with Meepo. "Like the court of the Celestial Emperor..."

Last edited by G in Japan; Feb 23rd, 2021 at 06:56 AM.
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Old Mar 4th, 2021, 12:58 AM
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They have arrived. And perhaps, before their manners in some cases, which follow behind.

The knights are confounded from the confusion Dane has in giving his name, in part because he must have something to hide if he cannot simply state his name. Fortunately Meepo comes to the rescue and Dane collects himself. They soon take stock of the group: a Kobold clearly dressed as a knight of some sort, a Dragonborn who was undoubtedly some sort of warrior-knight... in the mind of a good scion of Elturgard, all warriors worth their weight in weaponry are knights.

And soon, Dane Blight of the Scythes of... Him is made a knight in their eyes. The second knight smiles, her face serene but weathered by sights of war. "Well-met, Dane, and Meepo is it? We do not often receive Kobolds so boldly, and I am glad to see you have nothing to hide in your pride. I hope you hold fast to hope and faith; not all so-called civilized folk are as welcoming as we. Brandish your smile in good faith, and your weapon only in defense of that faith or others." If Kobolds smile, Meepo is gushing.

Unfortunately for her and her Half-Elf companion, the Elf of the group steps in to make negotiations short. Or rather, ruin them.

By Visverax's reckoning, the Half-Elf was half-Sun Elf, putting him in an opposed category to his own Moon Elf form of High Elves (a category used in Evermeet due to its proximity to the plane-hopping Eladrin of the Feywild), and Visverax cuts to the chase: they are looking for someone, and they would like to be taken there. The woman's face hardens, while the younger Half-Elf blushes, even in his scar, feeling quite put in his place.

"I am no stranger to Elven haughtiness, but you do not seem unintelligent enough to make such a comment and not realize the sheer insidious hilarity in it?" The woman indicates all around her, to the refugees pouring into Elturel. "Everyone is looking for someone. Everyone has messages left for them. You are not alone, good sir Elf. As it happens, Samael here was given instructions by a Half-Elf traveler a few days ago, telling us to look out for a group with a haughty Elf, a Goliath, a Dragonborn knight, and a foreign Genasi of some distant land, among others. You are so far the only group that meets the description. The haughtiness set me off. Samael? What was the message?"

Samael, the Half-Elf, reaches into his leftside pocket and pulls out a small piece of torn parchment, reading it, realizing his handwriting is terrible; or no, it was smeared. "Oh, uh... 'Vesvarix, Gokun, Sara... bring group to A Pair of Black Antlers.... ask for Frume. Leosin.' You know Ontharr Frume? Lucky break, that. Are you even refugees? Or are you warriors come to join us?"

The woman clicks her tongue. "Now Samael, we cannot presume the intentions of all wayfaring strangers. They have business that predates the refugees and smoke. Whatever the case, Ontharr Frume is a well-known name around here. You'll be looking for A Pair of Black Antlers. Across the bridge, follow Southbridge almost until you reach Shiarra's Market; on the last street you're able, called Maidensbridge Street, turn right. You'll see the sign. It is, you will be unsurprised to hear, marked by a pair of black antlers." She nods across the bridge, pointing to the docks to the northeast of where the group stands, in what is the city's southeastern side. Ships are docked all over the city but it is here that the city's docks can be seen, with cranes and numerous river vessels loading and unloading goods; clearly Elturel is planning something, from the sheer amount of goods.

"Do you need anything else? Any other directions? You're just in time for the Festival of the Companion come tomorrow." Whatever they inquire, she gives them a final order: "And when you find Frume, tell him he owes Marinda Evenhand a shot tomorrow in the wrestling contest; I expect he doesn't have a chance." Samael smiles as the group departs. "You're going to kick his ass for sure tomorrow!"

"Kick his ass for sure tomorrow, ma'am. And watch your language, Samael." She winks at him.

Last edited by Sassafrass; Mar 11th, 2021 at 10:20 PM.
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Old Mar 9th, 2021, 10:31 AM
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Gukan "Clawmarked" Titaniadaoro
The Wandering Goliath

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Gukan's somber mood fell away quickly after the visit from his Lady, and he found himself entertaining a strange new feeling that had him walking a little lighter, and perhaps standing just a little taller. Confidence had different results, depending on the person, and Gukan's newfound faith in himself presented as a quiet, yet slightly knowing look. This was certainly a few face for Gukan, and even Visverax cast some sidelong glances in the Goliath as he gently lifted the chatty Meepo into the wagon. The wizard's insatiable curiosity was glazed sticky with spite, but this sort of thing is what Gukan's exceptionally thick skin was for. In any case, the Goliath knew the cranky Elf would be at his side during the darkest cataclysm, as all the Friends of Greenest would, despite their own backgrounds driving wedges between them.

They formed an odd group, the Friends of Greenest. Sora's endless compassion countered Vis's cynical approach, yet the wizard's intelligence often set fires in Gukan's mind that cast light where there was once shadow. The warrior Rokax and the mercenary Dane influenced each other in ways they had not anticipated, despite their obvious animosity. Even Puma, reclusive as they come, offered insight from a place in the world that the rest knew little, if anything about. Each member contributed something unique to the pot, and the result was a feast that could sate the hunger of any challenge. Thinking about it made Gukan feel a little invincible.

As if meeting the Knights wasn't impressive enough for the Goliath, one of them spoke his name. They had been left instructions, something about seeking out black antlers, but Gukan had trouble keeping his thoughts on the goal set before them. Some part of him, long buried from his youth, awoke at the mention of a wrestling competition at the Festival of the Companion, and if that didn't sound like a great way for a Goliath to spend the day, Gukan didn't know what did.

Gukan's hand shot up like a school boy who finally knew the answer to a question in class. "I like wrestling!" he announced with more excitement than he had shown in recent days. It was the truth. Goliaths were required to wrestle as youths, training with each other, eventually resulting in clear, and perhaps questionable social hierarchies among the young Goliaths. Gukan was not the best wrestler to emerge from the Ky'lari Mud Pits, but he was competent and could probably prove to be quite the challenge for most folks, so long as they were not bears.

Tomorrow, Gukan wanted to wrassle.

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Last edited by benchly; Mar 9th, 2021 at 10:37 AM.
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Old Mar 17th, 2021, 11:58 AM
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Puma
Black Tomcat

 

Though Puma wasn't exactly standoffish before they left Greenest, it was hard to say that the mostly-absent feline fellow was involved either. But what else was new? He tended to spend most of his time in one cat form or another both before and after they left, so it's not as though there was ever a time he was particularly involved. Even so, while not the brilliant conversationalist some of the others could claim, his presence and manner shifted enough to take part in anything of import, even without words. Cats didn't often have trouble conveying their displeasure, certainly, and while his purr wasn't that audible over the noise of the carriage, it was obvious to anyone near him.

The tomcat remained most comfortable with Gukan still, respected Sora and Rhokax, and more than once was caught watching Meepo. Not so much in a threatening way, but the cat's curiosity was definitely getting the better of him at this point. Since the kobold at this point knew the tiger wasn't just a beast, some of that curiosity seemed to have rubbed off, but cats were rarely bothered by adoring interest, whether truly adoration or not. Dane's confession back in Greenest had made Puma spend some time in deep thought; the concerns were mostly academic for the druid who had no firsthand knowledge of the groups involved or their impact, only that Dane was choosing to make his allegiance with the group. Was that not what Puma had himself done, for the time being? Given Visverax's attitude toward the druid, the cat tended to avoid even looking in the elf's direction when he could avoid it. Why invite trouble when there were more interesting ways of spending his time, among them snoozing on the goliath's shoulder or lap?

It was at their first campsite where the Friends of Greycastle first met the panther which had earned Puma his moniker. The significantly larger black cat liked to scout the campsite and even stayed up at night on watch, even if admittedly some of the time that watch was in a tree with the panther snoozing with one eye open. For nighttime guard duty, the panther was far less likely to be spotted by anyone interested in the movements of the humanoids around a campfire. There was an evening when he felt it best to shift into a tiger, but the benefits of darkvision and size when there were more scared and desperate refugees around them added a certain weight to the choice.



As the druid was curled up on Gukan's lap as a black cat when they were stopped to declare themselves, he didn't feel particularly obligated to respond. The only indication he's paying attention to what's going on around him was the quiet huff when Visverax demanded ridiculous things... like gate guards knowing precisely who he means when every traveler is alike. Thus it came as a surprise when they actually did have some knowledge of this Leosin character, but the manner in which an authoritative voice handed Vis his metaphorical rear end made even the pretend-asleep cat perk up and yawn a big grin.

Stretching in a very feline way—complete with his tail brushing the face of his seat the goliath—the cat took stock of where they were and those checking travelers. The refugee influx was not unsurprising, though the humor remaining in the attitudes of the guardians was a pleasant surprise. Many would have long since grown jaded or blinded, but not these two... or was it the city or country as a whole? This whole "second sun" business felt strange to the nature-bound druid, but what was there to do? It was a feature that had been present for longer than Puma had been alive, and he had passed through parts of the country before—but without interacting with any of the godbound folk inhabiting it.

Choosing to wake up and sit on the goliath's shoulders instead of pretending to snooze further, the druid paid attention to everything he could see from his perch. The festival the following day meant they would have trouble moving around the city, but the number of ships meant possibilities for getting out of there faster. Taking the river would be a more pleasant way to reach Baldur's Gate, after all, for all the cat tended to avoid the water. Not wasting time was more of a priority at that point.
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Old Mar 29th, 2021, 08:39 PM
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Rhokax Soulreader
Male Dragonborn (Silver) Divine Soul / Hexblade

 



The journey to a new city...
Rhokax had been taking his time during the journey to better balance himself with the transformations he’d undergone within the Hatchery Caves. Where he went into the caves a holy avenger, he came out something wholly different. His connection to Bahamut was strong… stronger even than it had been before.

There was a focus he’d attained that was missing previously, and he was seeking to find where that was borne, and how it could help him during this crusade he had found himself involved with. The other portion that was different was more… obvious.

Siliokythranax was a constant companion, in a way far more invasive than the pleasant company his group had been. She was no comrade in arms, or even a mentor to guide, even though she’d played at the role in some, perversely draconic manner. Rhokax couldn’t help but feel it was more akin to an infection, a disease that would not be rid of his body or mind. He’d nearly lost himself with the reaction to Dane’s admission…

So, taking a lesson from Sora, Rhokax worked to center himself, to find balance, or acceptance, between these two forces fueling his own power. It was new, and terrifying to the dragonborn. The blessings of Bahamut as one of the platinum dragon’s war priests came as a gift, like sunlight falling upon the earth, and Rhokax was a mirror for which the sunlight could be redirected and focused where it is most needed.

The power Rhokax had been gifted by both Bahamut and Siliokythranax acted more like a raging river, filling the far too shallow depths of Rhokax as a jug, or barrel. There was much untapped power and potential in both sources, but Rhokax could barely manage how it was affecting him personally, or around his companions.

It was in this rudimentary meditative state that a powerful vision struck at the silver-scaled dragonborn:

Fire engulfed his vision, and at first Rhokax was fearful this was not a vision, for he could feel the heat against his scales, but the truth revealed itself as from within the intense vision of roiling flame, there emerged a space of calm. Certainly not tranquility, or the harmony Sora advised he seek. No, this was a break amongst the turmoil of flame for something to take root. Pushing the flames back with a vicious roar was a tiger, but one which seemed to be made entirely of rubies, as fiery as the flame itself, but untouched by its heat, and unbowed by the flame’s fury.

A crack of Lightning shot through and replaced the flame with the unbowing power of a raging storm. While Rhokax could feel the cold rain seep into his very soul, he felt relief from the constant downpour, as he turned to look up and find an owl, glittering a rich blue, made of pure sapphire, it diverted the rain aside to keep Rhokax dry. Lightning came down and struck the crystalline owl, but instead of shattering, it merely became as bright as a new moon, electrical energy twisting and coalescing within its form, before shooting out, back up to the sky.

In the next instant, Rhokax found himself within a thick forest, and a quickly growing bramble of poisonous ivy, malevolent trees, and terrifying howls of feral animals beyond. Wishing to backup to safety, Rhokax felt himself pressed against something large, firm, and unmoving. Turning, the dragonborn watched in awe as a huge flower bloomed from the ground, but this flower was made of emerald, and moved with a smoothness to seem alive. With grace that seemed impossible for a plant, it bloomed fully, a ray of sunlight reaching through its green crystalline structure, and then shot forth a beam of greenish warm energy as to burn away the corrupted forest quickly approaching.

Plunging within water that felt brackish in the back of his throat, and thick as a day old stew, the movements of trying to swim to safety and escape were becoming more and more desperate, and futile. The vegetation within this water seemed to wrap around his limbs, and hold him in place as his lungs burned to be filled with air. But the vegetation was cut away with a swift and decisive strike, and Rhokax felt himself being pulled from the water with urgency. Rising above the swampy water below, spitting out the salty, acidic fluid from his mouth, Rhokax looked up to find himself holding a banner, but one made of Onyx, billowing impossibly in the thick swamp air, reflective surfaces, and razor-sharp edges offering the promise of protection in uncertainty.

Chilled air, despite his own protection against such climates, buttressed against Rhokax as he found himself at the base of a towering mountain, the roar of the wind and snow hammering down upon his diminutive form. The power and size of such a peak made the dragonborn warrior feel unprotected, vulnerable, and even afraid. The rumble of what Rhokax knew was an avalanche could be heard, and looking with keen eyes towards the peak, he could see the gathering wave of snow and rock as the avalanche, a promise of oblivion, rushed towards his position. Knowing little else to do, Rhokax covered his head in a position he hoped may protect his body from the impact, but when he felt the snow should have impacted, it instead hit a swirling vortex of sparkling air-currents. Coalescing, they began to form a glittering barrier, not just protecting Rhokax, but pushing back at the avalanche to clear way through the monstrous wave of cold death. A barrier was forming, made of diamonds it appeared, and it was serving both as a protector, and cutting through everything the mountain threw at it. It could not stop the Avalanche, but it cut through it easily enough.

Finally, Rhokax found himself in the position he started in, his meditative state returned… but not finished. A purple glow surrounded his form as his awareness brought him to a familiar location. Fully expecting to open his eyes and see Silio standing before him, he was surprised to instead find himself seated at a table, triangular, and made of a glittering purple stone, Amethyst perhaps? Seated on one-side, Rhokax looked to his left and saw sitting with grace and strength, a silver-scaled dragonborn, dressed in resplendent armor, with piercing blue eyes and a warm countenance that both comforted and buoyed Rhokax’s spirit. The light seemed radiant and welcoming around this person.

To the right was seated a purple-scaled dragonborn, almost alien in appearance, an approximation of dragonborn form, but twisted, not defined. There was power there, and rather than the radiant light to Rhokax’s left, there was a darkness that was amplified by the purplish light to Rhokax’s right. The visage of the purple dragonborn was cold, calculating, impatient at times. There was power, but it was not a force of personality; it was untapped feral potential.

Rhokax glanced down at the crystalline table he sat at with these two beings, and realized neither one had advantageous positioning at their seated positions. The thought was growing within Rhokax: they all hold just as much power over the decision that must be made… but none are completely free from the other’s influence. Bahamut had guided Rhokax to this place, because the Platinum dragon knew there was a form of control for the unbridled ferocity that was Silio… and sometimes in order to obtain justice, strange bed-fellows must be made.

Rhokax placed his hand upon the table, and at the tip of each finger, a different hued glow shone through the table, the crystalline structure of the Amethyst causing broken lines of light to fill the purple-fabric draped room he found himself in. A Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Onyx, and Diamond each rose from where his claw-tipped fingers touched the table, and each precious stone transformed into a crystalline dragon-wing which stretched out and arched as if launching in flight. Each one circling the other to form a star of sorts, not dissimilar to the iconography of Tiamat’s cult.

Glancing down at the table, Rhokax made a quick slicing gesture across the Amethyst, and from the gesture a symbol rose up, enclosing the five winged stones within its stretch: a purple-crystalline scythe, positioned to reap the sown injustices left in the wake of Tiamat’s cult.

Eyes opening for the first time in an hour… or two… or more? Rhokax felt the jostle of the carriage as Dane drove the transport towards their destination. The images still fresh in his mind, Rhokax glanced around at the gathered group. Dane he’d conscripted to the reformation of the Scythes. It was a moment of panicked resolution, something to divert Rhokax’s own focus so that he did not strike at the man with the dreadful urging of Silio in the back of his mind. However, as with many choices in his life, there appeared to be the seed of something greater in that decision a few days earlier. Looking around at his surroundings, Rhokax frowned as he could see the burnt ruins of a village, unlucky compared to Greenest.

There was work left to do it seemed…

Recruitment Attempt 1: Ruby Tiger
Rhokax was bowing his head towards the small black-cat form of Puma. There was little in the form of communication between the two, but Rhokoax had been intent on the course of action he decided on, and thus went about the process of recruitment. "Master Puma… I humbly ask that you join my cause officially. As a founding member of the mercenary company, profits would be split evenly, but our specific focus will be contracts which work to undermine and eradicate the Cult of the Dragon. You would lead the Ruby Wing, specialists in defense, protection, field control, and siege tactics. If the prospect of money is not enough, then I offer you a favor, whatever you wish. You’d have complete autonomy over your wing, including who you wish to recruit under your command. As long as your second can do an adequate job of leading in your stead, that’s all I care for. You may leave the scythes at any point. Whatever terms you wish to sign on."

Rhokax had his head bowed still… the rather obvious begging was really several steps further than Rhokax had gone for previous recruiting efforts, but something drove him now. The dream of the Ruby Tiger, and the only person Rhokax knew who must fit that role.


Recruitment Attempt 2: Sapphire Owl
At the completion of Visverax’ experiments with Meepo, Rhokax placed a clawed hand atop the shoulder of the Sun-Elf, "A word Vis? Before you enter your trance…" With the grumpy and no doubt disdainful grumblings of the elven wizard, Rhokax placed a sheet of parchment in front of the man’s eyes. "This is an offer to become a founding member of the Dragon Scythes, a mercenary company which would see you become a Lieutenant within its hierarchy, functioning with close to complete autonomy as the leader of the Sapphire Wing, a branch of the organization dedicated to arcane research and development of historical importance for dragon-kin, and combat tactics which would lead to their elimination with minimal collateral damage. It’s basically doing what you are already doing, except it’s an income based on the Mercenary Company’s success, and with a provision to have a funding budget for your research. You’re responsible for your Wing’s own recruitment, whoever you want or need to be under your purview, with a mostly ceremonial hand-wave of approval from me for your officer choices. Basically they need to be able to follow orders and know I’m overall commander of the Scythes, but the Sapphire Wing will largely be yours to run."

Rhokax pauses for a moment, and pulls out his battle axe, acquired within the hatchery just days previously, it looked menacing and alien, even for those familiar with draconic lineage. "Part of that will entail finding out more about this weapon. I’ve…" Rhokax seemed quite bothered, hesitant, and deliberative. How honest was one to be with Vis on such a topic… Rhokax came to the decision that if he was going to ask, or beg, these people to join his cause and recognize what he was trying to do, then he had to trust them fully.

"This axe has a dragon’s consciousness within, Siliokythranax. She has purple-metallic scales. Not purple scales like the purple dragon of yore, these are specifically a metallic sheen. I was warned in a vision by Bahamut that she is dangerous, but necessary in the coming conflict. So far I’ve managed to stay ahead of her in our dealings, but I am bound by a pact. I will gladly wear that burden if it means destroying the cult, which is why I am even trying to organize this endeavour as a Mercenary Company, which can often do a bit more than an adventuring party might." Rhokax felt his train of thoughts leaving him once more. Pulling it back in, he shook his head, "Anyway, this battleaxe, Silio. I cannot let you hold it, but I need you to do what you can to find out more about that dragon. The more I know, the more control I can exert over it. She is fiercely opposed to the cult, so there is that benefit. Perhaps researching more into her, will lead us to finding out more about the cult, their motives, and their strengths and weaknesses. If you agree to join the Scythes… I’ll do whatever I can to help further your research and goals. Does that sound like a beneficial arrangement to you?"



Recruitment Attempt 3: Emerald Bloom
Listening to the gentle giant blow a wind instrument ahead, Rhokax quickened his step and approached Gukan, "Friend Gukan, may I have words with you?" Rhokax wasn’t entirely sure how… dim Gukan was. There were many moments of inspired insight the Goliath offered, but by and large it seemed as though he was led by instincts that served better than most people’s logic.

So, it would be through metaphor that Rhokax attempted this recruitment of such a powerful ally, and even friend. "Gukan, I had a vision. Part of one anyways, which I would like to share with you…" As such, Rhokax began to convey what he saw in his visions, as simply but evocatively as he could. The images of precious gems, metaphorical images, the threats arrayed against Rhokax and the powers which sought to aid Rhokax each time.

"I believe the blooming emerald was you. I believe that Bahamut guides me with purpose, and my dark companion, Silio, guides me to use what is available, ample that it is. My Dragon Scythes are to have an Emerald Wing, and I feel it should be you who is the Lieutenant to lead it. There is… much I do not know, but I can see that we face foes who have a variety of tools at their disposal. Kobold servants, half-dragons, mercenaries for coin and zealotry, dragons of every chromatic hue, and no doubt hidden allies which will seek to undermine our progress along the way."

Rhokax thinks of their destination ahead, the Hellriders they passed, and the scepticism of his people towards religion which was always present in the back of his mind, despite how he acted and lived his life. Just because he believed in a god, and a dragon god at that, does not mean that Rhokax believed that everything done in Bahamut’s name was just, and merciful. "I believe you have a connection that can aid us in pursuing our tasks. We face a foe that we know to be incredibly adept at guerilla tactics-" Rhokax thought for a moment to contextualize in a way that Gukan might better grasp. "Our enemies hide and move with a speed that is organized, and decisive. I feel you could gather people too our cause, to recruit them to your Emerald Wing, which would specialize in scouting, hunting, information gathering, and surprise tactic warfare. Gukan, I need your help, and I will do whatever I can to aid in your goals if you would help me with mine, with this. I think the Dragon Scythes can combat what is coming, but I need it to be more than just a reincarnation of the Scythes from before." Rhokax bowed his head low to Gukan as they walked, submitting himself to the mercy of the one known as “Clawmarked”.



Organization Attempt 4: Onyx Banner
Dane had been dutifully driving their cart, and Rhokax took a moment to sit next to the man as they drove onward. Having just passed the Hellriders, the dragonborn noticed Dane was coming apart a little. Sitting in companionable silence, Rhokax clears his throat slightly to speak, "I apologize for essentially conscripting you. My… judgement has become tense since I found the battleaxe." Rhokax had little need to recruit Dane… he’d already roped him in… but he was his first Lieutenant, and as such… well… trust needed to be established. "The battleaxe has an ancient sentient metallic-purple dragon within that I made a pact with to destroy Tiamat’s followers so that I may better aid Bahamut during his dragon wars. It’s taking a lot to try and control the impulses and instincts for which the axe influences me… and I’d like to ask that if you feel I could lose control, that you handle it." Glancing over at the one who was once called Bannerless Dane, and yet now fought with the Banner Rhokax had created out of desperate distraction, there was a serious look, one that a commander offered to the most trusted of lieutenants.

After the moment was shared, Rhokax turned to look back along the road. "I had a vision, different from what Silio usually tries to show me… I’m not entirely certain it was from her. She seemed… annoyed by it, which gives me some satisfaction I won’t lie. I’m going to have you be in charge of the Onyx Wing of the Dragon Scythes. Oh, yeah, we’re going to call ourselves that now. My goal is to counter the Cult’s movements, and if I do that with my name heralded along with the force, it feels… meager in comparison to that which the cult worships. No, it’s better we grow our name as those who reap dragons I think. Hah! My kin would be so proud…" The irony dawned on Rhokax, thinking of how much his fellow Tymantherans were opposed to his religious following, but the likely scenario that they’d jump at the chance to kill dragons themselves.

"Onyx Wing will specialize in subterfuge, deception, espionage, and covert operations. You’ll be responsible for recruiting your own people, but my intention is for you to be specialized in taking out prime targets of our enemies. This will also make you a founding member of the Dragon Scythes, so you’ll obviously take a bigger share of any bonuses we receive for successful contracts. Questions?"



Recruitment Attempt 5: Diamond Gale
This was going to be the hardest conversation Rhokax was likely to have. Not because he doubted Sora would help… but because of the judgement that would inevitably come with it. As they passed through the ruins of another village, Rhokax approached Sora, his towering form to her squat frame. "Little sister, may I speak with you?"

Rhokax began by telling her everything… what transpired in the hatchery caves when he received the axe, the pact he made with Silio, the blessing from Bahamut in regards to the whole affair. What was going through his mind when responding to Dane’s confession… how he almost lost himself in rage… and finally the vision he received when attempting the meditative trances Sora had introduced to him just briefly.

"I believe, little sister, that you are the diamond gale that protected me from the avalanche… thus, I ask… in fact I will beg, that you join my company. I need you to lead my diamond wing. It will be the largest, and it will be the primary fighting force of the Scythes. The other wings specialize in their own areas of expertise, but the diamond is the core. It must be unbreakable, and hold fast again anything that smashes against us. It must also be pure of intention, and compassionate in its duties. I do not want to become a warlord at the head of a rampaging mob. We are going to pass through many more villages, towns, cities, and countries that lie smoldering at our feet unless we do something. Yes, we need recompense, but that’s to continue doing our work, the work of eliminating the Cult. You challenged me, to believe that not everyone of our enemies is bad."

Rhokax looks over to glimpse at Meepo, "You were right in that instance, but I know the cult we face will have those who cannot see it your way, they will see it as I did, and little will change their minds. But, I believe it is important to have that hope, that mercy, within the company. So, little sister…" Rhokax kneels down, his bulky form bending forward so that his head presses down into the cooling embers of the ruined village around them, pressed almost completely to the ground, this holy warrior of Bahamut, dragonborn in exile of his homeland, and travelling companion of the air genasi monk from another land, kept himself bowed, awaiting Sora’s judgement on the matter, and her answer to his request.






Rhokax winced at Vis’ attempts at… diplomacy? Intimidation? Just rudeness all around. Stepping forward, Rhokax bowed appreciatively to the two guards, "Apologies for him, and gratitude for guiding us on our way. May Bahamut show you merciful paths to justice."

Walking towards their next destination, and this new contact Leosin wished to acquaint us with, Rhokax glanced upwards at the moon-like light, the “Companion”. Placing a hand on his purple battleaxe, Rhokax almost grimaced at his own “companion” that followed him along on this new journey. There was much left to do… and he had a new company to recruit for, including his own Amethyst Wing. Each of his companions would aid in getting the Dragon Scythes to their goal, and that was the elimination of the Dragon Cult. Which meant, once you scouted them out, you researched their weaknesses, you eliminated their organization heads, you established your own defenses, and you brought your army to make war; then you sent in your specialist team to remove the dragon heads from their bodies.

Rhokax could feel his battleaxe shiver, with arousement, or excitement… Rhokax cared not.




OOC I’m back!

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PCs: Dramoth "Nova" / Rhokax Soulreader / Kayne Cyire / Torm / Donovan Whistler
GM: Scales of War 5e & Yeohven: Fall from Grace
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Old Apr 1st, 2021, 02:33 PM
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Dane
Male Human Assassin
 

In the moderately distant past...

Thuik. Thuik. Two knives landed on a tree littered in similar scars. Across the way, Dane moved to grab a new knife from his collection. They were all simple, but each had their own look and maker. None were like Sora's odd disk knives, a group of fancy eastern pieces from Kara-Tur.

He had been interested for a moment as she juggled, but a champion of Knives doesn't go glowing-eyed at every new blade.

Thuik. No, he had a standing to keep. Or else everyone he'd beaten would look a bit less. Each company, gang, and merc he'd out-tossed, time and time over, were counting on him. An agreement between travelers aware and hungry to win next time.

Dane had two more knives of his throwing set to go. And after he readied himself up, the knives flew... Thuik. Thuik. Sshik.

"Heard the metal flyin' miss?" Dane laughed. He was already aware of who's fancy eastern knife was imbedded in the tree. As always, a master knew a master. And nobody worth their knives wouldn't accept a challenge.


In the not so distant past...

Rhokax sat beside him as Dane took another nip from his canteen. The horses jostled about as weight shifted on the cart, before settling back into rhythm. And the two sat quietly for a while. The mercenary was comfortable in silence. Happy it went unbroken. There were a lot of things he wanted to say, but didn't need to. So, clearly, it was Rhokax that would end it.

And Dane listened. Not everything did he understand, but he listened. There was a lot to be sure. Magic, dragons, war, death, the cult and more. Each was over his head in a way, but also in his grasp. Oddly, he'd found himself embroiled in something big. And he wanted to be, more oddly. Never would the world again make a joke so laughable.

"Rhokax. I don't ever wanna lead anythin' much less a cadre of bastards bad as my ass. I got connections that can help out in learnin' things, maybe stealin' things, but they're that and only that. They ain't folk 'at wear armor in the daytime and ain't no soldiers. If we meet any soldiers I'll turn em your way, but I won't lead nothing real. Hell, few I know were still in with the cult last I heard. An onyx wing don't exist, unless it doesn't... and even then it's a bad idea."

Dane grumbled into his canteen about the scoundrels he knew as he took a swig, then offered a cup to Rhokax with a motion to the keg. It was poured and the lieutenant took his time of it.

"That bein' said, here as I am, I don't know nothin' too much about the dragon wars. Though I'm sure I will soon. Nor much about magic either being as I can't read much, but it sounds like that axe you got is magic... or those hymns are gettin' to you fierce. Either way." He shrugged, spilling a bit of wine. "If you need me to kill some blight in with the cult? Yeah. I'll do that. I will. But like you said, we'll get a name for ourselves in slayin' dragons. Or at least those deluded into thinkin' they're dragons. Just control that axe and a purple one won't be added to that list, aye?"

He slapped Rhokax's back with a cocky drunkenness. Aware that the problem was serious, but not willing to say so.


Presently...

"Ugh, yeah. Real beautiful." Dane grumbled to himself as he brushed by another pedestrian in the holy city.

It was a great, big, beautiful place with tall buildings packed tight. A tavern drink would go warm from tap to mug here. Elturel was a holy city and doing fine enough for it. The church windows were visible from the gates in all their resplendence with stained glass and statues. Pricey stuff. Place was probably packed with thieves.

"Shiarra's... before Shiarra's... so it's a right here." Dane moved through the city, weaving into Maidensbridge street. He was the sort that didn't like crowds or the squeeze of buildings around him and the rogue made quick pace to get them to A Pair of Black Antlers quickly. Quick enough that soon the horns were raising up over the streets ahead and they'd found their mark.

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  #11  
Old Apr 15th, 2021, 01:01 AM
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Twilight with a sun above makes for strangeness.

The Paladins are the gate hail mention of the Platinum Dragon, a familiar faith here. One of the boons of the coming of Dragonborn was, for those brave enough to acknowledge the gods outside of Tymanther, where such things were unheard of, was that Bahamut had returned to the world, taking on fallen Tyr's place in the Triad with Torm and Ilmater. The Triad was central to life here in Elturel, it seemed, and in Elturgard in particular. Tyr seemed to perish fighting back a horde of Demons, freed from the eternal struggle of the Blood War (if ever so brief a pause) and Bahamut took his place. It was not quite the same, however, and Bahamut seemed to understand he was ever a placeholder. Still, after many long centuries of inactivity in Faerun, the Platinum Dragon had looked down upon mere mortals once more, no longer reserving his voice only for the rare Metallic Dragon worthy of his weak whispers.

But why did Bahamut step back, and why had he made the effort to step forward again?

Across the bridge they spy the High Hall, Elturel's most majestic building. A cathedral doubling as the seat of power for the High Observer. Compared to the rest of the city it is imperious, a high fortress wrapped in walls covered in stained glass and numerous holy symbols and images of Torm. Above it is the Companion, the white mechanism doubling as a sun. Its glow is faint, enough to keep one illuminated but not enough to blind, not really. It is a hard light, a righteous one, but at times overbearing; how does anyone sleep in this city? Fair questions, and each of the Friends think of different questions, whether cat-like curiosity, ignorance to the significance of this holy city due to being from the far east of Kara-Tur, or spending too much time thinking on the arcane functions of the Companion and how it might be used, if he might be allowed to use it.

Some don't think about it at all, and head on.

Dane leads them right, in the directions provided by the gatekeepers of the holy city. The streets bustle with life, and not just because of the incoming festival. Buildings struggle to maintain how many people have come into the city, with alleyways housing more souls than one might expect at twilight, but perhaps that's the eternal bright white sun above. Not warm, but relaxing, calming, the light seems to flicker harmlessly above, twisting as if by some internal mechanism. The refugees in Elturel, for their part, are doing their best to fit in, with hymns heard in the street and sometimes fun songs of a more secular nature, shanties closer to the docks. And it is to the docks of Elturel they cling, where ships are unloading goods, seemingly in preparation. Indeed, the storefronts and merchant shops give praise to many, expectant of tomorrow's great show and pageantry.

As they approach the ward called Shiarra's Market, there are rows and rows of skeletal booths and tents, with open areas ready for contests. Gukan spies something therein, a roped off square on a raised platform.

The wrassling ring. It beckons.
right-aligned image


But before that, at the intersection of two streets, is a massive tavern, two stories with a half-story tacked on, full of light and sound and life. Above the door hangs a sign, an older one but with a single thing on it: a pair of black antlers. Aptly named, A Pair of Black Antlers is there, door open with a warm atmosphere within offering a getaway from the light of the Companion above, almost tyrannical in its glow. The bouncers at the door size each of them up, and one steps forward, a bulky man wider than he is tall, with Elven ears indicating a variety of heritages. His clothing simple, he wears a necklace with a symbol upon it, a hand wrapped in bandages: Ilmater, the Broken God.

"A-welcome, one and all of ya, to A Pair of Black Antlers," he says with a deep drawl. "We've stabling for your horse and such, fair prices too discounted for th festival, and rooms if you are interested, discounted for refugees and the like. If you're seeking someone, Fezerin at the bar'll handle you just fine. Now I must ask all weapons be cared for but kept on-person, and no violence is permitted, if you understand. Solve your issues with words or wisdom. If you have any questions, I'm happy to help you."

Inside, the place that might have once been warmed and inviting are correct, but it goes deeper: the place is downright joyous, raucous almost. And for good reason: above the many tables is a sign that reads plainly "ARM WRESTLING CONTEST" and it is underway, with several tables seeing people wrestling with one another. Burly Half-Orcs, thunderous Golden Dwarves, an Emerald Dragonborn, a rare sight in any part of Toril; a tall bearded man in silver armor flanked in blue, a surprisingly stout Gnome, and an exceptionally serene Hobgoblin missing one hand with an axe in its place all arm wrestle with one another, with a man in blue taking notes in a ledger, a massive pile of coin beside him as he does so. The bards at the stage are a varied bunch, led by a Halfling woman with pipes and a voice huskier than she might be expected to have, and an Elven fellow with a Bandore, a Shaaran elephant drum, and a silver harp, though not all at once. The rest of the band comes and goes as the performance continues, though they are all members of the same troubadour company, judging from the symbol they all have tattooed on their necks: a crescent moon surrounding a boar's head.

Behind the bar, three Gnome brothers take orders, bring food and drink, and offer fair conversation, pointing people here and there. The place is packed; there are no empty tables, though the bar could see them all standing.

But then, why not join the fun?
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  #12  
Old Apr 20th, 2021, 03:43 PM
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Rhokax Soulreader
Male Dragonborn (Silver) Divine Soul / Hexblade

 



Black Antlers
The scents of new adventure and possibilities filled the room, something Rhokax had forgotten in the recent weeks of the Scythe’s downfall. Unbidden, memories rushed through his mind of taverns, much like this one… actually perhaps this one as well, in which Rhokax and his fellow mercenaries wandered into a tavern for some downtime to spend their hard-fought coin and engage in many such trials with one another. It was always exhilarating, and it fed the hunger within his dragonborn heart to compete with worthy opponents without the fear of too much pain leaving you drained.

Scanning the room, Rhokax felt the compelling urge to consider recruiting options. While he was giving his companions space to decide for themselves whether they’d come to his aid, Rhokax knew he needed to redouble efforts on his own. There must be worthy comrades-to-be within this fine establish-

Rhokax’ eyes stopped as they landed upon the emerald scales of a dragonborn. Not green, or aged copper scales, but true, glittering, emerald. Here for the competition no doubt. Clenching his fist, Rhokax could feel the flex of his muscles, but the comparable strength of so many here seemed to be far more impressive than anything he could muster. At least, physically.

Approaching the barkeep, Rhokax offered a salute and a greeting, "Goodman. We come seeking a companion of ours who has directed us here. In addition, however, I am looking to potentially recruit fine mercenaries with an upstanding, or at least reliable, reputation. I’d like to setup shop at one of your booths to hold interviews for anyone interested. They can speak to me, Rhokax Kimb-, sorry, Soulreader, or my Lieutenant, Dane." As Rhokax arranges the particulars, including pointing out Dane to the barkeep, he reflects on his instinctual use of his clanname: Kimbatuul. It had been a long time since he used that name, or was even permitted to use it.

Through his insistence to worship and even espouse the teachings of Bahamut, he was exiled from his homeland. He had found in the battles which saw Tymanther free from Tiamat’s influence, proof that even if Bahamut is not widely worshipped, his treacherous sister seeks to undermine his people’s strides. Alas, his people’s mistrust ran deep, and it was something he couldn’t blame them for; generations of enslavement can affect the cultural perception of a people.

With matters arranged with the barkeep, Rhokax makes a straight pass for the emerald dragonborn, and bows his head with respect, speaking in draconic, "May a dragon’s shadow never eclipse your home, my name is Rhokax and I bring you my honor as blade, so we might exchange blows and see the make of one another." It was an ancient greeting of Tymanther, one exchanged between warriors. Motioning to the contest, Rhokax smiles, "I’m afraid I may not be a worthy opponent, but do you care to indulge this silver-scaled mercenary?"



OOC Persuasion check of barkeep, if they can point me in the right direction for recruits:
Dice Persuasion barkeep:
1d20+5 (18)+5 Total = 23
(23)

Persuasion check on emerald dragonborn to just… be cool. Haha:
Dice Persuasion emerald dragonborn:
1d20+5 (19)+5 Total = 24
(24)

Actions
Move:
Standard:
Bonus:





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PCs: Dramoth "Nova" / Rhokax Soulreader / Kayne Cyire / Torm / Donovan Whistler
GM: Scales of War 5e & Yeohven: Fall from Grace
Real Life hitting harder and harder. Working on updates as soon as I can, please have pity (patience) on me!

Last edited by Sassafrass; Apr 22nd, 2021 at 07:49 AM. Reason: Missing fieldset tag
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  #13  
Old May 4th, 2021, 01:12 PM
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Dane
Male Human Assassin
 


"We'll set up a spot fer em in the stable." Dane responded to the bouncer. His hand went to the reigns of one of the horses, leading them around to the stable. The other was pulled by someone else. The stablehand spotted him first. As he exchanged coins and the minder went to set them up, he called over. "Somewhere near the center for the both. And hook this bag up near the dapple. They're just plants. The scent keeps her calm. Don't mind the other overmuch."

Not feeling he needed to say much more, Dane headed into the din of the Antlers.

As he entered Dane was pointed out by Rhokax. He gave a half-nod and could only find space at the bar, so he went there to join them. "Y'all get me an ale? Place is louder than lightning."

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Old May 27th, 2021, 05:06 AM
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On the Road
The PantherThe sudden appear of the large black cat was nearly as surprising as the original appearance of the smaller black cat and it is something that Sora can't help but follow with her eyes, even if she doesn't follow Puma around on her feet. By the second night, though, her curiosity gets the better of her and, while Puma is taking watch in the tree during the evening, Sora levitates herself up next to the panther and rests herself gently on the branch beside him.

"So... This is new..." she begins, looking out of the side of her eye toward Puma. "Well... newish... So... come on... You have to tell me... What's your real name? Or did your mom really call you Puma? Wait... Was she a seer? Could she tell you would be able to turn into a cat? Oh. My. Gods... DID SHE CURSE YOU!? Can we heal the curse? Do you want to be cured? ... Do you eat mice...?"

The ChallengeSora bounces with barely contained excitement as she is challenge by Dane and she already has two darts pulled out and held between her fingers. Her hair dances as the gentle, personal breeze that seems to constantly surround her grows stronger in her excitement. She takes a deep breath to settle herself and puts on her most serious, Dane-esque expression and then shrugs her shoulders, noncommittally. "Sure... Whatever," she states, trying to sound impassive. The breeze betrays her.

"Name the target and the stakes."

The VisionWhen Rhokax comes to explain his vision to her, Sora sits cross-legged in front of him, back straight, and looking right into his eyes. She listens intently, nodding in places and frowning in both confusion and discomfort in others.

"Interesting," she begins when the dragonborn has finished. "I, too, had a vision, a dream really, that caused me to set out on my journey to Greenest. A dream of a five-headed dragon that shares the same coloured heads as the colours of the gems you saw in your vision. Viservax has seen it as well." She pauses to look off in the distance toward the wizard and then back toward Rhokax.

"I do not think it was a coincidence that there are such similarities between what we have seen." She leans in a bit, keeping her voice low, "Honestly, Viservax sharing my vision is one of the reasons I put up with his attitude. We are connected and I cannot ignore it. Now, if you have seen something similar, we are connected as well. All of us.

"For that reason, I will aid you, Rhokax. But I will not harm those I feel are innocents caught in this conflict. On either side. You cannot fight hatred with hatred. If you wish me to lead anyone, they must understand we are doing this to help people, not to hurt the enemy. Agree to that, and you have my support."

At the GateSora can't help but wince when Viservax speaks to Samael. More flies with honey. More flies with honey, she repeats in her mind over and over again as she stares at the back of Viservax's head, hoping that he will be able to sense her thoughts but knowing full well that he won't. Worse, if he could it would probably just make him even surlier. If that was possible.

Thankfully, there are cooler heads that can get the information they seek and, as the group turns to start walking away, she gives Samael an apologetic expression before moving to follow Dane to A Pair of Black Antlers. As they go, she leans toward Rhokax and states loudly enough for the others to hear while keeping her words within the group.

"Who's Ontharr Frume?"

At the BarLooking at the spectacle within A Pair of Black Antlers, Sora grabs Gukan's meaty hand and pulls toward the arm-wrestling tables. There's no way that she could hope to move him on her own, so she can only hope that he comes along willingly. With his size behind her, it should be easy to clear a path through the throng of people.

Once she reaches a table near the competition, she releases Gukan's hand and leaps up, using a bit of her innate magical abilities to lift herself gracefully onto one of the tabletops. There, she takes a deep breath and starts speaking in as loud a voice as she can muster.

"Ladies and gentlemen! Boys and girls! Folks of all ages! The Friends of Greenest are proud to present to you, the undisputed heavyweight arm wrestling champion of Green Fiiiieeeelllldddssss! The Manic from the Mountains! The Favoured of the Fey! Gukan Clawmarked Titaniadaoro!

"For the tens of dozens in attendance here and the.... however many more watching from the rafters... Ladies and gentlemen...

"Let's get ready to RUUUUUMMMMMMBBBBBLLLLLEEEEEEEEEEEE!"


She then jumps down from the table next to Gukan and pats him on the shoulder.

"It's all you now, Big Guy."

Last edited by G in Japan; May 27th, 2021 at 05:07 AM.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2021, 04:28 PM
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Visverax
Male High Elf Wizard
 



Back at the gate…

His companions gave dark looks and even apologised for him, ignoring the fact that his words had provided precisely the information they needed. Ingrates! Even the gate guard degraded him.

”Haughty?” Visverax responded haughtily, ”I assure you that compared to some of my kin, I am the epitome of cordiality! Most would be nauseated to be in the vicinity of an ill-conceived half breed, much less speak with one.” With that said, he stalked off towards the city.

He hadn’t always been this way. When he first came to the Sword Coast, Visverax was a happy and kind fellow. But there were those who took advantage of wet behind the ears foreigners. He’d been beaten and robbed on a number of occasions. Elves were a rare sight in some parts that people would stop and gawk at him. When they found out he was a wizard, folks would ask all sorts of inane questions. ”Can you enchant my sword?” ~ “Can you brew me a love potion?” ~ “Can you turn my enemy into a newt?” Visverax intended to put the racial stereotypes of his kindred aside, but the more he dealt with humankind the more he agreed with their assessment. Over time, he became jaded. He found that by treating people with an arrogant condescending tone, he could get the results he needed without them asking silly questions or assuming he was some gullible fool. And sneering … yes, sneering helped immensely.

He turned his head back to see if Samael or Evenhand were watching them depart. They were. Visverax offered them his very best sneer. Contented, he followed Dane toward ‘A Pair of Antlers’.



Conversation with a dragonborn…

”What’s this about? Oh, your ridiculous idea to start a mercenary company…” Visverax said grumpily as Rhokax began his spiel. The wizard listened with mild disinterest, interrupting at several points. “Lieutenant? Bah…” he interjected in disgust. When the Sapphire Wing was mentioned, he turned to Dur’Even, “Would you like me to turn you blue?” The owl ruffled its feathers negatively in response. And he laughed loudly, “Purple dragon! How absurd!”.

The elf glared at the dragonborn as he awaited his response. Vis grit his teeth to keep the tone of his voice even. ”Listen, the only reason I haven’t dismissed your foolish endeavour entirely is because of this portentous dream you had. As you should know, I take such visions seriously. That said, I feel I am ill-suited for the position you have offered.

First, I have no desire to train a bunch of fledgling mages and then send them off to their deaths. I know you think I am the murderous sort, but I assure you the fate of the souls I have taken rests heavily on my heart. To send innocents into harm's way … No, I don’t think I could do it.”

”Second, whatever amount of gold you offer me cannot possibly compensate for the time and energy taken away from my personal research. This little foray we are on to destroy the dragon cult has already cost me much. I cannot waste my valuable time on trivial matters.”

”Third, I am concerned about you taking leadership of the group. So far, we have all been equals with no one having to answer to another. Now you wish to change that. Remember, we were a cohesive group long before we found you tied to a stake. I understand that a group needs structure. But I, for one, do not wish to be lorded over, even if it is in name only. And there is also the issue with the axe. You say it holds the consciousness of a purple dragon? Ha! I need no research to tell you that metallic purple dragons do not exist. It is the stuff of children’s tales. More likely, it is a demon trying to deceive you. Nevertheless, who is truly in control, you or the axe? How can we even trust you? Bah! You made a pact with an entity inside a weapon you found at the bottom of a pile of offal. That’s worse than making a deal with the Seelie, but at least Gukan has the excuse of being a mindless oaf…”

Visverax realised the conversation was starting to go sour. ”Look, I don’t want to step on your dreams. I’m sure the rest of the group will follow you like the docile little sheep they are. But I have no interest in being one of your lieutenants. Instead, I will gladly act as ‘Adviser’ to you and the group. I will gladly help you find a person to act as your lieutenant for your precious mercenaries. I will help you discover the secrets of your axe, though I doubt the name Siliokythranax is a true name anymore than Visverax is mine,’ Vis had heard his true name uttered only once, in a whisper, at his ceremony of adulthood. It held power, power that one did not give up willingly. ”Indeed, I will cooperate and assist in any and every way … but only at MY convenience!

Think about it. Now, it’s been a long day. Begone!”



Fun at A Pair of Antlers…

Visverax hated festivals, crowds and sports competitions. Fortunately, A Pair of Antlers offered all these things. Do I have to go in there?” he groaned. Inside was everything he expected and more. The wizard squeezed through the crowd and found an empty spot at the bar. He realised the others had dispersed in the crowd and he was all alone. He was looking around trying to locate people when suddenly Sora jumped on a table and began screaming about Gukan. Visverax covered his face so no one would know he was associated with them. The bartender arrived and asked him for his order.

”You haven’t got some decent wine here, do you?”

”Wine!” the gnome behind the bar smiled craftly, ”Here, this is made by the halflings up in Gullykin.

The bartender watched with an amused look as the elf took a sip. It tasted rather good. ”Hmm, halflings are good for something besides pickpocketing after all…. Urk…”

He suddenly had the irresistible urge to belch. When he did, a gout of flame came shooting out of his mouth. The gnome doubled over in laughter. HA .. ha .. ha … Firewine…” The bartender managed to say between chuckles. ”Have another?”

”Vey funny, you little…” Visverax started saying, when a sudden warmth travelled through his whole body. It was a feeling he hadn’t experienced in a long time. ”... on second thought, leave the bottle.”

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