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  #16  
Old Oct 26th, 2022, 07:30 PM
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Keani Owata
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Keani had almost forgotten that there was beauty outside the endless sea and the wonders that only those she cherished were allowed to witness. The sailor exited the tavern and looked at the glowing reds, oranges and yellows that had transformed the western horizon into a riot of fiery colors as the sun was slowly setting beyond the Marrow Valley, realizing suddenly that he was smiling in spite of himself. He had been disappointed that the ogre lord would not be receiving them that evening, but this spectacle of light and dark almost made up for it.

As day begrudgingly gave its place to night and the Urzinites started lighting fires, everything from tiny candles barely keeping the darkness at bay to blazing pyres of celebration, the stars appeared to descend from the heavens to settle upon the backs of the gigantic turtles.

"Shining daughters of the void, looking down from the sky,
light my way in the dark, steer my hand and guide my eye."

The half-elf spoke the words softly, reverently, remembering the countless times he had asked the stars to help him steer the right course and safely guide the ship, his ship, to the next harbor. Would they help him this time as well? Would they guide him on land as flawlessly as they had done in the vastness of the ocean? He hoped so. He needed all the guidance he could get.

The smoke from the fires, or perhaps the noxious fumes from the marshland, must have done something with his eyes, for he had to blink back a few tears before turning to Gelda and accepting with a smile the Keltaly she graciously offered him.

"This is… It’s amazing!", he exclaimed as surprised as he was delighted. The cream melted in his mouth and the pulverized black currants provided the sweetness he had been missing in the tea that Aezin had prepared for him. "Thank you so much for your hospitality. Shelly’s Shelter is truly a home away from home thanks to you."

Keani was sincere in his praise. It was clear that these good people went out of their way to please their guests. This was not a matter of having been paid enough for the services they provided. This was a result of taking pride in doing a job well. The half-elf knew all about that feeling and he wished that Gelda and Aezin would never stop experiencing it. It was what made a life worth living.

Feeling much more optimistic than a few hours ago, Keani silently wished old Vorino could have been there to play his Udu, a musical instrument resembling a water jug and able to give birth to a surprising array of different tones and pitches. Sadly both had been lost at sea…

Eager to get away from the smoke that made his eyes tear and burn, Keani wished his new companions a good night and returned inside the tavern, deciding to retire early this night. He doubted that he would be able to sleep at all with the storm of recent memories and powerful emotions tearing at him from the inside, but shaming himself before others was the last thing he wanted.

Pulling the sheet to cover his head and gently caressing the stitches Gelda had so lovingly made, the half-elf sighed deeply. Forty-three days had already passed. Tomorrow would be the forty-fourth. He really hoped that Buhfall’s offer would be one worth the long way he had had to travel to reach this place. At least locating the missing counselor Bol’bara sounded like a worthy task. That didn’t mean that it would be easy, especially if the Dwendalian Empire was somehow involved. Keani was not particularly fond of the Empire. It was too autarchical and militaristic for his taste. That didn’t mean that the people were bad too. Old Vorino had been originally from Nogvurot, one of the Empire’s cities. It was the tales he had heard from travelers that made him leave his dreary life there and look to the sea for the passion he had been lacking. He had never looked back.

It would be many hours before sleep claimed Keani, since his dark thoughts were keeping his mind too busy with matters of honor and guilt to accept the peace that surrendering oneself to oblivion offered. He wished Shelly had still been journeying through the swamp. Despite the noise that definitively took some getting used to, and contrary to the other guests, the sailor found the constant movement reassuring. He could imagine himself aboard the Silver Dolphin once more. Perhaps wishing it hard enough would finally make it true…



 
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  #17  
Old Oct 26th, 2022, 09:12 PM
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Dewdrop
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Dewdrop was pretty sure she knew how conversations worked, she somewhat regularly hurled herself into them after all. Which made the next minute almost as confusing as it was excruciating, and it was as painful as the marsh around them was filthy.

It started as one might expect: the brief recognition of eye-contact followed quickly by a friendly smile to set the tone; turning towards each other and so agree to exchanges; a compliment and thanks to open and a simple polite question to build momentum……but then there was almost always something else. Yet the Elf said nothing, which by Dew’s reckoning was not really an adequate answer to the question. Sometimes it was, sure, but in this instance?

~I’m not imagining things, she definitely heard me. Correct?~ Sabanna said after perhaps six seconds had passed and the first shoots of discomfort sprout in the silence.

~Pretty sure. She nodded, smiled, and is staring right at me. Do you think she’s mute?~ Dew said, committing to her smile.

Ten seconds, which was really beginning to feel awkward. ~She just ordered drinks and bought us some. So no.~ Sabanna replied. ~And yes, I used Common and not some strange dead tongue before you ask.~

~How did you - ~

~I live in your head remember. I know when you’re going to ask something very stupid.~ Fifteen seconds. Dew’s smile was beginning to hurt at that point and it was all she could do to stop the sincerity draining and turning it into a rictus grimace. ~I can only conclude that she’s probably mentally impaired in some manner and has slipped into a fugue state.~

~Sabanna! For the Light’s sake can you just once not immediately dismiss someone as a simpleton just because they don’t do what you want?~

Sabanna sniffed at her. ~It’s not just me that want’s this to be happening. No one does.~

~I’ll admit it’s strange, but people have different cultures and she’s clearly not from here.~ The agonizing tableau had reached twenty seconds by now and had become a pitched battle of politeness. ~Maybe there’s some gesture or something we need to make in order to permit her to speak.~

~Like, perhaps, asking a polite and simple question, hmm?~ Sabanna’s tone didn’t help. Dew considered reaching for the Yeulaayu again and downing it in the hope it’d just kill outright. ~We need to know why she looks so out of place.~

~And how, Sabanna? Clearly she’s not interested in answering even simple questions at the moment.~ Thirty seconds had passed, though Dew felt like she’d kept this alert and open smiling pose since the God’s cursed Calamity! ~Hi! Not answering my question seems shady. Are you planning on killing me?~

~Us.~ Sabanna corrected.

~I’m not saying ‘Us’, that’s even more of a give away.~ Dew felt a bead of sweat carving a clean runnel through the skein of mob on her forehead.

Sabanna sighed theatrically. ~Fine, just use the singular then.~

~Light, I’m not asking her that!~ Dew said.

~Well, you’ve got to say something. Anything!~

~Like what? I’ve never been in this situation before!~ Dew replied. The silence now had become a monster, a terrible interminable horror stalker the ‘conversation’ and leering down at her with malevolent force. Maybe the Horizonback would roll over rand kill them all.

~This is literally the longest time no one has ever spoken before. Dewdrop!~

Something misfired in Dew’s brain and the first thing that came into her head rolled out her mouth. It was a throaty, full laugh, as though Vanerua had just fired off the sharpest, wittiest joke ever delivered. Silence shattered, Dewdrop could only commit. She hopped off her chair and all but bounced the few short meters to Van. Throwing a long arm around the elf’s shoulders – the big metal pauldrons dug slightly into Dew’s rib as she gave her a friendly hug and clinked her mead against the elf’s own mug.

“That’s hilarious! Amazing! You’re a hoot!” She took a swig. “I know the feeling too, not really knowing where exactly you’d really call home, or even which place you’ve been that you’d feel comfortable saying you’re from. I myself have travelled all through Xhorhas – from the Vermalloc Wildwood to Charis in the south, to here in this thickest of all the Dynasty’s swamps…..Oh, oops, here let me get that.”

Dew stepped away and went to wipe the muddy hand print off Vanerua’s shoulder with an equally muddy cloak, and hastily folded it inside out, looking for a clean piece or fabric. “But look around! You’re clearly in fine company and not a soul will judge you for the dirt your boots have picked up on the road. Well, not your boots, as by the Light I could eat off them they’re that clean. Aha!” Dew had removed her cloak by now and triumphed in finding a sew square inches just inside the hood that wasn’t covered in the grime of the Brokenveil.

“So, just so you know, no judgement from me, or from any of us. Looks like we’re all here for the same reasons and Light willing will be working together to hunt down this poor missing Goblin fella in glorious service to the majesty of Gold Coins. Right? There, all cleaned up. Right as rain. Cheers!” She clinked glasses with the elf, and toasted the job. “So don’t worry out there, I’ve got your back and you mine. Perfect!”

~That,~ Sabanna said, stunned. ~Was really something. Dreadful and terrifying, but really quite an experience. I think she really should kill you after that!~

Dew gave Van a smile powerful enough to charm a hungover moorbounder, winked, and practically hurled herself back towards where Keani, Argus, Nissa, and Kimma made a knot. ~That’s me saving you bloody non-existent ass. Again.~ She fired at Sabanna…..

And just at that moment the Horizonback started the giddy turmoil of settling itself down for the night. Dew grabbed the nearest chair, which immediately slid away from her across the wooden floor scoured smooth by spilt ale and heavy boots. So she spread her legs wide and rode the rolling, heaving of the world for the long minute until with a final thundering BOOM everything shuddered to a standstill. Her few days in Urzin had already made dealing with the pitching floors of the town something of second nature, but she wondered how many years it took to get used to that every night.

Peering inside her mug, she’d spilt barely any mead, so Dew necked the whole thing instead. The day had been a tense, chaotic whirlwind of subterfuge, deception, falls, mud, and now….well, she felt the mead going to her head. But she wasn’t imagining the goblin woman in a blue frock addressing them and herding them outside.

In the fresh air and the gentle rituals of Urzin at sunset, watching thousands of denizens all moving in some fantastical process off turning a ramshackle thatch of haphazard wood, rope, and spit into a blazing constellation of lights that gathered around them like walls, Dew finally started to relax. She moved next to the Silver Dragonborn - Argus – and folded her arms atop the rickety fencing that was all that stood between her and another spectacular tumble into the swamp below.

“Been here a few nights now, and this” – she gestured at the lights in the dark – “is wonderful. I’ve seen Rosohna at night and the low lights there are smudges, indistinct. Like fog, you know. But this? This is like a thousand the stars have decided that they’ll stop spinning for the night and just….be. Definite, distinct, precise. Never thought I’d like a place like this, but each morning all those souls get up, scatter and tumble and spin around each other, becoming something new. Each one can be anything or anyone for the day, then find a new pace of their own happily amongst everyone else.”

Then she belched. How the hell could she still taste that damn Yeulaayu!

~You’re drunk.~
Sabanna said softly.


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Last edited by Hillsy7; Oct 26th, 2022 at 09:20 PM.
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  #18  
Old Oct 28th, 2022, 02:39 PM
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Okay, but hear me out! Floating sea turtle cities!!!
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Nissa had decided she quite liked the bronze dragonborn. He was the precise amount of spirited to make for a wonderful companion. So she happily stuck close to him, allowing his powerful frame to soak most of the conversations floating their way. Not to mention his sturdy presence made for a handy hold as Urzin swayed its way through the marsh. The movement was much akin to the swaying and bobbing of a ship sailing across the seas. And gods knew Nissa had been on her fair share of those. Though she'd done so with her feet planted firmly on the deck. Or wrapped in a hammock for a sweet night's rest. The svirfniblen could honestly say she'd never navigated the swaying movement of any sort of vehicle while with her butt parked on a high stool. Moreover, she didn't have enough heft to keep the stool from toppling over, causing her to tumble in the process. How undignifying would that be, right?!

So, yeah, Kimma's presence was quite welcome indeed.

It was about at that time that a hunched, old female goblin appeared, scolding their host.

Aezin, huh? So, not Shelly?! Maybe it's the name of the original proprietor. By the conversation going on between Aezin and the old goblin Nissa could tell they were family. She couldn't help but feel a pang of sorrow and envy. Witnessing this blatant demonstration of familial love made her miss her family even more than usual. She was about to fall deep into her flagon of mead, but Keani pulled her back out with his offer to help tend to her cart and Tobby. She looked him up and down. He was almost blinding with his perfect physique and wholesome freshness. Her eyes made a second pass, almost as if to confirm... or reaffirm, something. Chuckling, she shook her head and shrugged a bit. Nissa was sure Keani had his fair share of oglers that would lust after his particular... treasures. She, however, wouldn't be one of them. The man appeared to be a peach. And she wasn't much for peaches.

"You are sweet to offer. And for that I would never inflict Ol' Tobbers on ya. At least not at first!" Nissa grinned and winked at Keani. "You leave Tobby to me. And maybe once yer done with the cart I'll introduce ye. He looks mean, but don't let that put you off. He's only mean to me!" Again, Nissa chuckled and gave Keani a slap on the shoulder. Much like she'd done with Kimma. I mean, they looked like they could take it.

The two came back from tending to her cart and Tobby just in time for the final movements of Urzin And Gelda's heartfelt speach. Between the two of them they'd managed to make the cart serviceable and Nissa had unpacked Tobby and cleaned him well enough, offering him the feed Aezin had provided. She'd even managed to convince him to accept an apple or two from Keani.

"Y’know, of all the places in Exandria I could be, every night when I’m steppin’ out on the back of Shelly, I am reminded how lucky I am to be where I am."

Have I died and gone to naming heaven?! First Kimma and now this charming tavern named after the majestic creature bearing the town on its very back? How f*cking adorable is that?!? Nissa thought to herself as Urzin settled for the night. She almost missed the constant swaying and shifting. She could handle it well with her lower center of gravity. Well, as long as she wasn't perched on a high stool. A thought flashed through her mind. So wait... if there are land tortoises carting whole cities on their back why not use sea turtles instead of ships?! Hmm... The svirfniblen pondered as she enjoyed Urzin coming alight for the night.


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  #19  
Old Oct 28th, 2022, 03:10 PM
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Vanerua Galanodel
Level 1 Twilight Cleric

The Curious Shifter After what had probably seemed like a lengthy moment of just staring at each other, for anyone but a Pallid that had spent decades seeing only the same faces, Van's reply was answered with spoken words instead of an implanted message. It was clear the elf was initially confused by Dewdrop's response, but seemed to gradually come to some form of understanding of it.

This moment was brief, however, as Van's gaze seemed to narrow on the woman as she approached. Everything that came after only enforced the initial confusion she'd had. Van knew not of Xhorhas, the Light, nor why the shifter felt the need to clean her, even though it was a losing effort. The muddy handprint on the elf's cloak had been but one splotch of many she'd collected during her journey through the swamps. Her boots, despite having been freed of any heavy chunks of earth, were not what one would normally call 'clean' given the half-dried muddy glaze covering them.

Despite her words, the entire interaction had been certainly awkward, and only left Van considering whether she should trust the shifter or not. Normally, people that were so friendly wanted something from the Pallid, but the priestess wasn't entirely sure of what in the current context. The slightest flashes of relief flashed across her eyes as Dewdrop's attention shifted away just as quickly as it had come to her.



 
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Old Oct 31st, 2022, 07:38 PM
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Argus Varak, Student of the Five Metal Path
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'I call this one the Blazin’ Aezin!'

Argus accepted the offered beverage and took a cautious sip. The unique blend of flavors and experiences was... not unpleasant. Interesting and... almost enjoyable? As warmth suffused his body, the back of his mouth was hit by the final wave of spice and he took a sharp breath. The noble exhaled thoughtfully, almost convinced he would discover the ability to breathe fire in that very moment. But no... not yet. The rest of the glass was drained slowly, as he let the heat relax away some of his stress.



'Just Keani please.'

Argus quirked a single brow ridge at the former captain's response, but merely nodded silently in the man's direction, smiling secretly to himself. Trying to keep a low profile? There truly must be something deeper going on here, and the draconblood was keen to discover what that was, but for now he could be patient. There was something strange about Keani's stance, the way he held his hand over his pouch, and something about the man's gaze...

'Did the Kinespaji work!?'

Interuppted, Argus turned and blinked slowly at the Ravenite, not entirely sure what his fellow dragonkin meant or was implying. Was it some kind of crude reference? Ignoring the matter would surely just prompt another outburst, and denying it would probably be pointless. Best to just... go along, he supposed. A false crocodilian smile glossed briefly across the silver's mouth, never reaching his eyes. His response just as slow and drawn out as his gaze. "Quite."

Social niceties dispensed with, Argus stood by quietly, noting a strange look that seemed to pass between the cat-eared woman and the pallid elf. Did they already know each other? Or was this just what passed for flirting here in Xhorhas? Whatever it was, the strange non-sequiters from Dewdrop, left him sure that he had missed something. Damned if he knew what, though.

The sudden halt of the horizonbacks served to distract the young dragonborn from all his musings about the gathered strangers. He'd almost grown entirely accustomed to the rhythmic footfalls of the giant turtles, and now the lack of movement was almost as disconcerting. The general halt was immediately followed by the emergence of Aezin's Me-Maw, and everything else was put on hold for a few moments as she led them outside to experience was passed for local color, he supposed. To be fair, the lights were a sight to behold... but he wasn't sure that the vista was worth visiting a mud city on turtle-back in the middle of nowhere. Literally nowhere. Even Urzin wasn't near Urzin.

As first Vanerua and then Keani bid the group goodnight, Argus was quick to excuse himself as well. If Gelda was correct, they would be meeting Lord Buhfall II in the morning. Best to have an early night. The accommodations were... small, and there was a strange odor. Everything itched... hopefully not from anything alive. He briefly considered sanitizing his bed with a blast of his frosty breath, but wasn't sure exactly how close the horizonback was to the inn's floor, and what it would be able to feel through its shell. Best not to risk spooking the creature. Argus sighed a little to himself... his journey thus far had left him sleeping in more uncomfortable places before. This room wasn't so bad, after all. May as well make the best of it. Within moments, he was asleep... eager to get started in the morning.

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Last edited by hafrogman; Oct 31st, 2022 at 07:38 PM.
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Old Nov 6th, 2022, 07:01 PM
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Pallid Peculiarity
"If it will not cause any trouble, I would like to walk Urzin for a while. I've never seen a city quite like this and fear that with tomorrow's meeting it may be some time before we can take in Urzin for all it has to offer." The request from the acolyte of Sehanine received a nod from Aezin, who trailed behind the rest of the group as everyone began to head inside after enjoying the view. The hobgoblin barkeep turned in her direction, a smile over his face.
"Of course it wouldn't! There's a bunch to see here, but things do calm down quite a bit in the evening on the rises. There'll be a bonfire soon down on the ground, and the Urzin guard likes to play music and talk in between their patrol shifts. I'll caution ya on a couple things though. Them shells over there," He pointed over to three of the horizonbacks that formed its own ring of a perimeter. The construction that was upon each of them looked similar enough to the other abodes, shops, and stalls that were part of the rest of Urzin. "Those’re known as the Warrens. Mainly gnolls and ogres have their places in there. I’d stay clear if I was you, Dumprot and his crew are only nice cos they get paid to be, and the rest of the gnolls can be pretty wild. Plus, them and the ogres don’t get along too well, and fight over nearly everything. Even others who live here don’t mess with ‘em much."
As he began to move back into the tavern, Aezin then looked to the North, and pointed at the farthest tortoise on the outskirts of the reptilian brigade. "Over there is one of the two highest points in all of Urzin. If ya climb to the top of the watchtower, above the barracks, you’ll be able to see a lot farther all around ya, if that is of interest. Just warn whoever is on watch there that you’re comin’ up, don’t wanna spook ‘em!" He gives a slight chuckle, and Vanerua got the sense that he had done so himself at least once before. "Anyway, the door is open when you’re ready to return. The bridges should be easier to cross now that they ain’t movin’!" With that, he then heads inside the tavern, leaving the cleric on her own.

All was rather quiet for a few moments, save the nighttime insects and croaking frogs. A slight breeze passed by, carrying a combined scent of boggy mildew, fresh sea breeze, and crackling campfires. Looking out, it seemed that the denizens of Urzin were either preparing themselves for an evening’s rest, or were readying for a time of activity. In the same moment, an odd melody of sounds carried from behind Vanerua, sourcing from the alleyway next to Shelly’s Shellter. It was a combination of a forceful exhale of air, some giggles, and high pitched voices.
"No! You’s da archer, I’m the knight!" A squeaky female voice called out. Van stepped toward the alleyway, keeping out of sight for the moment and peering around the corner, the tavern’s entryway now behind her. Within this enclosed space, she could see the back of a wagon, followed by three small goblinoid children who were currently either on or standing next to a quadrupedal beast of burden - a mule.
Though the rear end of this mule was not telling of its demeanor or mood, the heavy huffs it sounded off with gave a rather obvious insight into its annoyed state. Two of these youths were goblins, and sat atop the back of the beast, while the third looked to be a young hobgoblin, and was noticeably smaller than the pair. The hobgoblin boy crossed his arms and looked up in a frustrating manner. "Hey, no fair! I wanna ride da horse too! I wanna be da wizard!" He exclaimed, the goblin boy on the back of the mule looking down toward him.
"Wizards don’ need a horse, Jano! Dey got magics, duh!" The youthful goblin said in retort. Jano, the young hobgoblin, stuck out his tongue at the goblin tyke, and received a tongue back in return. The girl in front grabbed onto the short mane that was present on the irked mule, and pulled upward. "Go horsie! Go!" She called out, pointing ahead at the dead end of the alleway. Another angry huff came in response, and she then crossed her arms.
It was clear enough that these young Urzinites meant no harm to Nissa’s mule Tobby, and were just having a good time with their own imaginations. With this in mind, Vanerua moved from the end of the alleyway and onto one of the nearby bridges, finding her way across the different tortoises that made up all of Urzin. The leather and cloth tents that made up most of the homesteads here wrapped around each of the rises, seemingly without rhyme or reason to their position. The denizens here were either within their homes or outside finishing work up for the evening. There were a small number of night time guards that were moving about here or there, mainly watching past the perimeter of the settlement, and not looking too concerned about unruly activity within its boundaries.

Shortly thereafter, the cleric found herself standing atop a platform, looking out onto the darkened horizon. Catha was rising into the sky now, and the shades of purple, orange, pink and gold were fading into a deep, dark blue. Specklings of stars began to appear, and the sea breeze from the north grew colder, but also stronger in its fresh scent. Looking out toward the white orb glowing within the evening sky, a feeling of cool calmness washed over Vanerua as she prayed, the muddled dark red moon behind and beside Catha barely visible, but showing itself all the same.

Perhaps there was more reason to being here than first believed, or maybe it was all happenstance. Either way, the mostly quiet evening’s start was interrupted by the sound of chatter and revelry from below. It seemed the bonfire mentioned by Aezin was beginning to garner its people, and the warm glow from beneath the horizonbacks casted long shadowy silhouettes from the individuals in the center of the clearing. For some, Urzin was a beautiful home that held everything they could need. For others, it was a ramshackle combination of dirty hovels and rowdy miscreants. Either way, this locale was undeniably unique, and most of the people of Exandria would never have such an experience as being here. After some time, some self-reflection, and some prayer, Vanerua found her way back to the tavern and joined in rest near the others in this new group she found herself a part of.




Morning Meeting
Current Date, Location, Region, and Weather  
Date Grissen, 11th of Sydenstar, 833 PD  
Location Urzin  
Region Brokenveil Marsh, Wastes of Xhorhas  
Weather Slight fog, cool breeze, 68°F/20°C  

A mostly calm night’s rest was had by the group that had responded to Ogre Lord Buhfall II’s request, only interrupted by occasional muffled noise from outside of Shelly’s Shellter. It was harder to sleep through the sway and rumble that occurred when Shelly herself rose up after her slumber, and the straw-filled mattresses you all laid upon shifted and nearly slid off of the beds. Wiping the sleep from your eyes, standing and stretching, one by one you found yourselves leaving your almost spherical cubby chambers, your equipment and belongings in tow. Walking into the main bar area, you could see that Gelda was already hard at work, preparing a morning meal. It looked to be some kind of rice based porridge, but had chunks of meat within it - which Gelda was quick to point out that it was Xhorhasian mammoth. Berries were provided on the side, and the flavor was not bad, but much different than the foods that those who lived in other areas of Wildemount were used to. In any case, it was filling, and the goblin hostess was more than accommodating for food and drink. Aezin was nowhere to be seen this morning, and Gelda mentioned he was still sleeping due to his evening shift.

It was not long after your morning meal and conversation that the entry opened, and a small squad of squat gnolls walked into the establishment. In front of four others now, Dumprot looked about, his small, almost completely black irises darting about the interior. His demeanor was that of someone who was overly paranoid at all times, his twitchy and jumpy mannerisms did nothing to ward against that presumption.
"Readies for meetings, ha, yes?" He asked, his volume befitting a soft yell rather than a question. The hairy and slobbering gnolls behind him shifted in their place, looking around and sniffing the air that was dense with a meaty aroma. "We comes to gets yous! Ogre Lord sees yous alls now!"
Gelda looked to Dumprot and his entourage, waving a porridge covered wooden spoon that flicked specks of the rice based concoction onto the bartop. "Give them a moment Dumprot! You and your…crew can wait outside!" She gave a narrow eyed look to the escorting party as she said this, and the back two gnolls nearest to the door gave a brief but angered growl. Dumprot raised his left claw, and the growl subsided immediately.
"Still mads ‘bouts the damages, lady Gelda?" He inquired, looking to the back wall, where cracked wood planking was haphazardly built over with newer boards. The gnolls behind him snickered, a wheezing cackle that Dumprot did not stop.

"Yea yea, laugh it up!" Gelda quipped. "Ya know your not welcome here anymore ‘cause of that! Now get!" She crowed at them, having climbed on top of the bar. Dumprot’s compatriots settled down as their leader waved at them. He then looked back toward the group, motioning to the door. "Yous comes, outsiders. Follow!"
As you all began to move toward the exit, Gelda waved everyone off, a warm smile given to each of you in passing. "Aezin and I hope the best for all of ya. Come back anytime, ya were good company and hope ya liked the food!" She called out, watching as each of you passed outside, before presumably continuing her tasks.

Walking out into the teeming morning here in Urzin, you immediately are hit with a bright blast of light now that the sun had risen - a stark contrast to the muddled lantern light of the otherwise dark interior of the tavern. The nighttime chirping of crickets and croaking of frogs was now replaced with a plethora of droning tones, as insects of varying sizes flew around with impunity. A slight fog was present on the ground below, and would have looked almost majestic across the swamp, if it wasn’t for what was known to be underneath the wispy layer. Dumprot and his crew split their ranks in order to flank your party around the sometimes narrowing (and harrowing) pathways, and across the rickety bridges that connect the horizonbacks.

Sure enough, it seems that you are headed for the previously seen centermost tortoise within the city’s formation. "Not longs to gets theres! Ogre Lord waiting fors yous! Ha!" He gave a snort-like exhale after saying this, the spit and snot flying into the air in front of him. Thankfully, he was at the head of this formation. As you all began crossing a bridge across to another of the walkers, Vanerua was able to tell that the party was heading into the Warrens, as described by Aezin the night previous.

The group continued, walking across the overpass, ahead seeing a mass of tents and shoddily constructed abodes that were stacked atop each other in random ways and angles. An incredibly massive heap of heavy dark soil was compacted enough to serve as a foundation for the many dwellings that were present here. Though this substrate was nearly solid, it gave slightly under the weight of your feet, almost like mud. The smell was strong here, and it did not take much deductive reasoning to know that what you were now stepping upon was most likely not just wet compacted soil. The insects droned much louder here than elsewhere, almost matching a tinnitus-like frequency, and landing on your skin at leisure as you got off the bridge.

Dumprot began to move forward up an inclined embankment, the pathway having some structural integrity due to wooden planks being slightly indented into the ground. As you came to the peak of this ramp, you could see that a walk through one of the neighborhoods was needed in order to get to the next bridge, which was ahead and to the right. The busy maze that are the streets of this place were alive with activity. Here and there were shopkeepers, selling wares out of shoddy looking stalls made of hide, mud, and sticks; calling out to those who were passing, advertising their wares.

An ogre nearby grabbed a massive beam of wood, two freshly filled large wooden tubs of water on either end. Lifting it onto its shoulders, it began to step away, lumbering toward its destination. A handful of orcs stood around a large keg of ale across the square to your groups right, drinking from their mugs and looking in your direction as you passed. Goblins, gnolls, and even a dark-feathered individual with a beak moved around the sprawling surroundings. Urzin was a place of perpetual movement indeed.


OOCAs you all are now in the Warrens, I figure it would be a good time to ask if anyone wants to make any checks, have any conversation, or make any preparations for your meeting with the Ogre Lord!
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Old Nov 8th, 2022, 03:26 PM
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The lick test!
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Nissa had stepped into her room with a bit of apprehension. While the proprietors of Shelly's Shelter had provided the group with top notch service, the fact still remained the establishment was in no way luxurious or spacious. And while the svirfniblen didn't care much for luxury, space was a bit of a must for her. So when the room proved to be spacious enough, she'd let out a sigh of relief. After the frustrating ordeal in the swamp, she wanted nothing more than a good night's rest. And now she knew she could comfortably have one.

The next morning came soon enough. And while, her sleep had been undisturbed, Nissa had been completely caught off-guard by the wake up call. As Shelly rose from her... eh... or his slumber and got her or his legs from under her or him, Nissa's lax, slumbering form shifted this way... and that. Until, finally, with a thud her body hit the floor, jolting her into precocious wakefulness. Still half-asleep, she sprung to her feet. Her short stature allowing her to maintain some sort of balance about her.

"Tobby, ye darn a$$! I thought we agreed to avoid holes in the road! Ya doin' this on purpose again!" Nissa groused, before her brain had time to fully awaken and inform her of her whereabouts. "Oh, right. Urzin. Shelly must be awake." The gnome scrubbed the last vestiges of sleep from her face and made short work of putting herself in order for the new day ahead.

Gelda was at her post and breakfast was already laid out as Nissa descended the stairs to the common room. She readily availed herself of the prepared meal, making small talk with Kimma and Keani as she'd felt some sort of immediate affinity to the bronze dragonborn and the sun-kissed elf-kin.

The arrival of Dumbprot and his gang of gnolls was marked by tension. As there seemed to be some sort of bad blood between them and Gelda. If her, promptly throwing them out of her establishment to wait for the group, was any indication. Not to mention the growls that came as a response from a couple of the gnolls. At this Nissa's lip curled in a quiet snarl and she balled her hands in tight fists. Gelda was nothing but a sweetheart and the gnome wanted nothing more than to b*tchslap those ragged mutts silly for giving her grief. And, naturally, the Hitchhiker was not helping her any with the self-control. Still, Nissa managed to keep her righteous anger at bay. As the group began filing out of Shelly's Shelter she dove into her backpack.

"Your hospitality was much appreciated, Gelda." Nissa spoke, producing two small bundles, each the size of a piece of pie. Both wrapped in grapevine leaves and tied securely with a piece of string. She slid them toward Gelda. "Please, enjoy these with Aezin. Lunar pastys. Me ma's recipe. Though, I am most assuredly not doing it the justice it deserves. But I've prepared them with all m'love for it. So there's that at least." And with that Nissa quickly refastened her backpack, jumped off the high stool and followed the group outside. "I will be back for Tobby and the cart once we find out our next destination." Nissa threw over her shoulder and was out of Shelly's Shelter.

The svirfniblen made it a point to shoulder past the legs of the two gnoll that had growled at Gelda. Hard enough to push them around a bit. Before she took up stride alongside Kimma. The walk to the Ogre Lord's abode was as nerve wracking as the previous day's walk to Shelly's Shelter had been. Nissa made sure to stick extra close to Kimma's sturdy presence, often times having to curb the urge to grasp him by the pant leg. However, when the group reached a portion of the city with what looked like a layer of compacted soil, her attention shifted quickly from the ever present horror of falling to her death. This... soil felt springy underneath their feet. Akin to mud... and yet, the smell it produced spoke of something else entirely. Not to mention the swarms of insects that seemed to multiply around this patch of compacted... soil. Nissa slowed her steps and squatted down to inspect. Her curiosity piqued. Quickly she retrieved the knife from her mess kit and used it to scoop a bit of dirt onto its tip. Gave it a good sniff. And then, as any miner and rock expert worth their salt, gave it the ol'... lick test.


OOC
First roll of the campaign for Nissa. Aptly, below ten for a nein

I'm also marking off 2 days rations to account for the Lunar pastys Nissa gave to Gelda

 



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Old Nov 8th, 2022, 06:57 PM
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Keani Owata
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The sight of the bestial and much taller and stronger gnolls snickering at the goblin innkeeper’s expense woke up emotions within Keani that he hadn’t even known existed. Recent events had overwhelmed him so swiftly and so completely that they had given him no chance to fully comprehend the consequences of that fateful storm that broke the Silver Dolphin and to figure out his place in this new, nightmarish reality. The result was that his heart was full of anger at the world’s injustice, a serpent ugly and poisonous, fitfully slumbering just beneath the surface of his calm demeanor, much like Uk’otoa did at the bottom of the sea. Even more than the growls of Dumprot’s companions it was the gnoll leader’s shameless sneering that woke the beast inside him and made Keani rise from his seat with such force that the chair he was sitting on fell to the wooden tavern floor.

The thunderclap cantripdeafening noise that was produced as the piece of furniture struck the wooden boards surprised no one more than the half-elf himself, who was left dumbstruck and staring at the violently vibrating plates, bowls and cups on the nearby tables, a few of them falling off and shattering on the floor. All thoughts of defending the innkeeper from the gnolls had evaporated like water in a salt pan. Confusion was all that remained.

What in the nine hells was that!?

Keani’s questioning eyes looked around him, trying to find an explanation for what had just happened, conscious at the same time that all gazes were on him. Perhaps Shelly had stumbled or had tried to perform a tricky maneuver to avoid a patch of quicksand or some other natural hazard. Yes, that must have been it. That was as good an explanation as any.

"I am terribly sorry, Gelda", the sailor spoke softly, though he didn’t elaborate what he was actually sorry about. That noise had nothing to do with him after all. In any case, he felt obliged to help the kind goblin clean up the mess of pottery shards and spilt porridge from the floor. With quick movements he picked up the sharp pieces of clay and carefully placed them upon his open palm. He would be doing the innkeeper no favors, if she was forced to clean his bloodstains as well.

"Forgive me", he said to the goblin, approaching the bar to place the shards upon it. Her eyes met his and inside them there was embarrassment, but also honesty. "I have repaid your kind hospitality by causing you trouble. It seems that Kord’s curse follows me everywhere I go. I just couldn’t listen to them talk to you like that."

Whether it was the strange incident inside the inn, Gelda’s bravery or Dumprot’s common sense, the situation did not escalate further and the gnolls soon escorted the adventurers through the streets and rickety bridges of Urzin. The half-elf walked silently with his eyes glued to his feet, not because he was afraid of slipping and falling to his death, but because he tried to ignore the angry gazes of the gnolls. There was no use provoking them further. It would only make things more difficult for the proprietors of Shelly’s Shelter. It seemed that they had had enough of the assistance he had to offer them.

Even though his eyes refused to scan his surroundings, Keani’s nose didn’t display the same sensitivity as a sharp, revolting smell assaulted his nostrils. Though unable to identify it with certainty, there was something very familiar about it. It reminded him of the first time young sailors embarked on a sea voyage and had to face a storm, sea monster or some other danger that threatened their very lives.

"By the endless sea, is this…?"

Gust and Prestidigitation cantripsA cool breeze appeared out of nowhere, bringing the scent of salty water and carrying away the odor of the “foundations” of this unusual town. Keani was thankful for this gift of the skies until it dawned on him that he was a very long way from the ocean and that there was no way that a sea breeze would be able to reach him here, in the middle of the Brokenveil Marsh. Raising his eyes to the heavens, the sailor frowned.

"If you think that a taste of salt is an acceptable apology for ruining my life, you couldn’t be more wrong, Stormlord", the half-elf hissed in a way that made it absolutely clear that he wasn’t joking.

The breeze instantly grew weaker and within moments died altogether, allowing the scent of Urzin’s special soil to return more powerful than ever. But Keani didn’t care. There were things more important than the excrement of giant reptiles and the caprices of gods. He had an enormous debt to pay off and Kord would not be lifting a finger to help him. Keani was on his own and yet he would make it work somehow. He always did.



 
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  #24  
Old Nov 9th, 2022, 01:29 AM
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Argus Varak, Student of the Five Metal Path
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Argus managed to avoid being awoken by Shelly's own stirrings by the expedient method of already being awake. He had bade his farewells to the others early the previous evening, and awoken even before the dawn, answering to his own internal rhythms. The room was unlit, but its indescribable odor left absolutely no confusion about where he was. The room was too small for his purposes, so he quietly crept out through the taproom into the pre-morning darkness outside, clad only in his training attire.

The ground was Bahamut only knew how far below, and his memories of the swamp left him no desire to go and revisit it in these small hours. The tiny walkway around the edge was certainly not wide enough, and the swaying rope bridges were even less suitable. That left the scion of House Varak precious few options. A glance upwards gave him one final choice, and with a sigh he made his decision. A quick leap brought a roofbeam within reach and it was easy enough for Argus to haul himself upwards. Balanced precariously up there, but with enough space all to himself, he began to methodically and silently go through his motions. Practiced maneuvers and careful exercises... hopefully nothing loud enough to wake the establishment's other occupants.

So it was that Shelly's morning routine didn't signal the start of Argus's, but the end. He made his way to the edge of the roof, now fully visible in the dawn's light, and dropped back down to turtle-back level. He let himself in the front door, nodding his greetings to Gelda as he strode through the room on the way to his chambers. When he returned once more, enrobed in his sumptuous cloak, he joined the others for a brief breakfast.

Eventually Dumprot's arrival heralded their forthcoming audience with Lord Buhfall II. Argus silently witnessed the exchange between the gnoll and their goblin hostess. Interesting that the Lord should choose this place to house his guests, but also send one of his lackeys who had such an acrimonious relation with its proprietor. Then again, his tour through Urzin hadn't left the draconblood with the impression that there was much choice in housing... perhaps the Lord also suffered from a lack of choice in his hench-people. After all, he was hiring this motely assortment for his missing person's case.

Dumprot and his cronies had seemed almost functional the previous day, but their drooling animosity this morning did little to improve Argus's opinion of them. They were needed to escort the group to the lord, but hardly worth ingratiating oneself with. Thus it was that when the Capt- ah, the Ki'Naun stood up suddenly, knocking his chair to the floor with the most hellacious clatter, the silver dragonborn simply watched the gnolls with half-lidded eyes, curious how they would react. Either Shelly herself was reacting to the noise, or Keani himself must have done something to set everything in room a-shudder. Did he intend to fight them?

After a moment's hesitation, the sailor seemed to rethink himself, settle down and slip Gelda a few coins for the inconvenience. With nothing precipitous happening... yet, Argus shrugged and finished off his breakfast before rising to his feet ready to follow Dumprot to their audience.

The new part of town, Van called it 'The Warrens', did nothing to improve the noble's opinion of Urzin. If anything, this neighborhood was even smellier, dirtier and more run down than the sections he'd seen before. Was this really where the local lord chose to live? There were enough ogres around, perhaps that was why. But given the option, Argus was sure he wouldn't have held court here.

He was roused from his reverie as Nissa knelt down for a moment, digging at the soil with her knife. What was the gnomish lass up to? Wait did she just... surely not! Shaking his head, Argus could only remark. "I met a dwarven trader once, a fellow by the name of Gherrin Rockbiter. I'd always assumed the patronymic was just figurative..."

OOC
 

 
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  #25  
Old Nov 9th, 2022, 01:53 PM
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Kimma" VyufrasWith a rousing jostle of Shelly, morning arrived for the youngest of the Vyufras children with a sliding tumble from the straw mattress. Much in the way a shelf of snow would slide from a tin roof after basking in the rays of the sun, Kimma's mattress and body slid off the frame and onto the limited space the rounded cubby offered. "Morninggggg..." The ravenite bellowed loudly to no one in particular.

The round door to the pugilist's temporary abode opened abruptly with a violent swing as the dragonborn collapsed onto the floor, unwilling to actually get up. Kimmaath's jaw lay square against the wooden floor and his arms limp against its surface, eyes barely open. His legs were the only portion slightly raised and after another unenthusiastic drone of 'morning,' the large skirmisher pushed himself forward unceremoniously across the main room floor. The tips of his horns scraped lightly against the wood like a metal chair being shoved about declaring his entrance. Sliding up to the counter, Kimmaath slowly pulled himself from the floor in a sleepy daze sitting among his new acquaintances. It wasn't until freshly cooked meat and rice from Gelda was placed before the sleepy Ravenite did he finally 'wake up.' Like a switch the skirmisher's eyes bolted open and lethargy flittered away like a morning bird taking flight to find its first meal.

"I don't know about all of you, but I haven't had a better sleep than that in moons!

Wonder if it was the swamp mud or the whole swaying for a day. I don't remember even fallin asleep!
Course, waking up was ... a thing."
Kimma chuckled with a mouth partially full of rice enjoying the morning chat with those that would have him. They seemed like fine enough folk. An eclectic bunch from the goblinkin and orcs he was user to, yet change was always something that should be welcome to one born for competition. Rezaan always chided him in the earlier years for sticking to the same patterns. "Change it up! Be like the damn ocean!" Never made a lick of sense, really. The ocean was always just full of water and waves!

The morning carried on and Kimmaath made sure to be as spoiled with food as Gelda would allow before the Ogre Lord's gnollish couriers arrived. The others were quite tense over sharp words being tossed to and fro between the goblin and gnolls. As a protector, the Ravenite just watched. There was little reason to act on-

The thunderous crash of Keani's chair, among other pieces of furniture and utensils, sent a signal into the skirmisher's mind. A signal that was mixed with the other actions going on. Instead of rising to be ready to fight; Kimmaath instead almost consumed the wooden fork he was using. Like a cat with a hairball the draconborn hacked a few times to dislodge the pronged wooden utensil and launched it onto the table.

Kimma paused and looked at the spit-covered fork laying on his plate before looking around. When did this place get ransacked?

The gnolls were still over there...

"You stay there, I'm not done with you." Kimmaath said in an authoritative voice pointing to his food and the utensil that nearly killed him before joining Keani to clean up the place. "This place is just full-a surprises, isn't it?!~"

After the cleaning was done and proper farewells (for now) given the Ravenite followed behind the miniature warband of Dumprot's alongside Nissa. "Careful of the bridges now! Almost became paste under Shelly's foot yesterday, I did!" Kimmaath barked with a laugh before pulling up along side the divine sorcerer. "S'cuse me! I couldn't 'appen but to overhear you mentioning the Stormlord's name earlier - had to ask:
Have you ever taken part in the Kord's holidayDay of Challenging?! We have a small gather out on the edge of Jigow once a year and have a good time but you look like yer not from around here. Wondering if you might be from Menagerie Coastthe Coast?! My ol mentor told me the competition was BIG out there! Wanted to see it for myself one day, I did!"


The Ravenite continued on happy as could be chatting with whomever and following the pack towards the Ogre Lord's abode.

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Old Nov 9th, 2022, 03:29 PM
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Vanerua Galanodel
Level 1 Twilight Cleric

Evening Explorations The sights and sounds of Urzin by Night were both wondrously exotic and yet oddly familiar in ways to the Pallid Elf. Most of what she did was watching and listening, which had become a common practice since emerging from the Grove. The People, of all the numerous shapes, sizes and races, were terribly interesting to the woman who hadn't even seen anything besides another Pallid save for the last few years. While massive tortoises wading through a swamp was certainly unique, she found the city to feel very much like the port slums she spent so much time serving in.

The children had been especially interesting, and not only because they had been disturbing a beast Van was surely suspicious belong to one of the group she'd met earlier in the evening. While relatively common in other places, such beasts seemed both ill-equipped and unnecessary in Urzin, causing it to stick out like a sore thumb. For a time she watched, but when the one mentioned 'wizards' not needing horses, she smiled to herself before emerging from the shadows to slowly approach the children.

"I've met many a wizard that have ridden a horse," she said kindly as she stepped up to the mule to gently run her hand down the back of his neck, "I've even ridden them myself." With the revelation, Van turned her hand over and caused a small orb of light to grow on her palm. Soon it grew to shed the light brightly all around them. Offering the children a friendly grin, which was only subdued by the fact she was still wearing her armor from her initial arrival, the priestess tossed the hand holding her magic into the air as if tossing rice. As the light was snuffed out, a shower of violet-gleaming dust was tossed forth, coming to cover Van, Tobby and the children in a dull glow.

Watching as the children took in the harmless magic she'd cast upon all of them, Van smiled and snuffed a giggle as the small ones had a mix of reactions to the magic. Just as quickly as she spread it, as the interaction was coming to an end, the priestess drew back the magic, causing the violet twinkles to slowly fade away, blinking out one by one until only the light of nearby torches lit the stables. "Now, children, I would warn you to be extra nice to this beautiful steed, here. I've met his master, and she is a mighty, frightening creature that would surely hunt down any who would harm her beloved mule. Massive, too, so please be nice to Tobby." Offering them one last, gentle smile, with her exaggerated warning given, Van disappeared back into the night to continue her walkabout of the city before heading back to the inn for a very much welcomed night's rest…


An Audience with the Ogre Lord Even in the cramped quarters, it was certainly enough for Van to stretch out after having to catch herself form the sudden shift of the tortoise the inn was built upon. Having spent a long year sailing the sea, the occasional rogue wave had made her reflexes fast enough to only have half her gear going tumbling as opposed to the elf herself. Climbing out and collecting her things, upon meeting gazes with whoever else was awake with her, she let out a slight, bright yawn as she offered a muddled, "Good morrow."

Taking the time to clean herself up with what little might be offered for such in this place, while her standard attire was the same as the previous day, the priestess decided against the armor for a meeting with the one who'd afforded her the night of food, lodgings and exploration. Instead, Van uncovered her shield and donned elaborate vestments that were intricately embroidered with both the symbols of the Moonweaver, but also an abstract depiction of the fate that had led to the emergence of the Pallid from their Grove thanks to the protection of Sehanine. The encompassing vestments, when combined with her shield, left little doubt who the elf was a follower off. While Van had not gotten any sense that those here held the same ignorance as those of the Dwendalian Empire, she didn't want to have it be a surprise for the Ogre Lord, should such a thing matter.

Having readied herself for as much of the day ahead as she could predict, Van took a place at the bar with the others to enjoy the offered breakfast. While some may have been hesitant to try what had been laid before them, the elf showed no such restraint. Trying everything, her enjoyment or disgust was clear to see in her reactions. If Lady Gelda showed any discomfort at any particular one, Van was quick to offer her apologies and explain, "A lack of variety in ingredients plagued the Pallid for many, many years. Every taste, whether favorable or not, is a welcome adventure for me." There was really no truer statement from the elf.

Upon the arrival of Dumprot and his gnolls to usher them to their fated meeting, Van had not seen it fit to interject into a dispute that had clearly existed long before her arrival in that inn. Before she departed, though, the elf paused to ask Gelda if she would allow the priestess to pray over her. If so, Van kept it quick, but did nothing to disguise what she was doing. She didn't imagine many had seen such practices, especially since they were wholly unique to the Pallid worshippers of Sehanine. If Gelda declined, the elf offered only acceptance. It was not on her to decide the beliefs of another, nor thrust hers upon them unwanted.

Even if he hadn't meant to, Keani had enforced Van's decision to wear her faith openly with his mention of the Stormlord. Knowing well of Kord and those that follow his tenants, she couldn't help but intrude when the half-elf called out to the deity. "Perhaps he didn't ruin your life, but presented you with a challenge that you must overcome to prove your strength. Such is important to the Stormlord, I've come to understand," she offered optimistically with no prompting as she passed by the sorcerer to handedly navigate the swaying bridges with the manner that was befitting the sword carried at her hip. She skipped across the planks without even glancing down at them, seemingly accustomed to their feel beneath her boots.

While there were certainly a great number of interesting things to peruse and potentially purchase, Vanerua's focus seemed to rest solely on the backs of the gnolls as the group was led through Urzin's busy pathways. It wasn't until they started past a vendor selling insects encased in candy that she was forced by both her curiosity and memories of home. Inquiring about each as her eyes widely scanned all that was offered, the elf decided a collection of things to try was the best way to go. With the Brokenveil Butter Bite surely being the star of constellation of offerings, she had to try one first, and spent a good amount of time moving it around her mouth before deciding on a few of the small candies and one of the lollipops, of which there was a large spider encased in it that had definitely caught her eye from the start.

With her collection of treats tucked away to be sampled when convenient, Van was sure the gnolls had grown tired of the numerous distractions that had pulled the group in numerous directions. While there was a meeting to be had, no one could blame the group of clear outsiders for showing their interest, as well as the bottoms of their coin pouches, to the denizens of Urzin. Gathering back with the others, and having finished the sweetened, buttery bite, the elf had begun to suck on the lollipop, clearly enjoying it to the point that if any in the group showed even the slightest interest, she'd offer them a taste.

With the lull created, and the watchful eyes of the numerous gnolls, goblins, orcs, and others on them, Vanerua decided now, given that she was unsure if she'd ever get the chance with the gnolls again, was an appropriate time to offer some advice to Dumprot and his lackeys. With the lollipop quickly becoming a prop in her expressive animations, a result of once expecting to be a revered member in her community, the spider frozen in time danced about as she spoke. "You know, Dumprot, Lady Gelda does make some very interesting foods. Not necessarily better in your tastes, but…different. It is said that only those of great wealth or great renown get to sample all of the numerous tastes in the world. Wouldn't you want to be like those and have the opportunity to taste anything and everything you could?

While she did pause to allow the gnoll to respond, she wasn't going to let up without offering up a solution to the difficulties between the two parties. "If you ever have the desire for her offerings, perhaps you could make amends by offering her an apology for the previous troubles caused. Perhaps you could even offer to properly repair the damage caused. The mightest do not fear admitting when they've made a mistake, for they know that any misstep is just an opportunity to grow stronger, and not make the same mistake again. I'm sure if you offered such to Gelda, she would offer you some of her delicacies in return. She is a kinder woman than what you've incurred from her. If you show her respect, she will do the same to you. And I'm sure that's not something you can say about all of those you deal with, huh?"

The question was not one that needed answered, but one that hoped to spur something in the gnoll's mind. Even if her words fell on deaf ears, Van was pleased to have promoted such understanding and compromise to one that may or may not see the value in such. Whether Dumprot would ever believe it or not, everyone was stronger together than divided. Those that called Urzin home were no different in that regard.

All that was left was to meet the Ogre Lord and see what was required to repay his generosity.



 
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Old Nov 10th, 2022, 08:31 PM
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Dewdrop slept the deep slumber of the young. Slightly high headed from the previous night’s mead and….other drinks, she’s clambered into her smallish room to the surprisingly comfortable bed. She even had the presence of mind to ensure that the covers were firmly wedged beneath the mattress, lest the Horizonback spill her out of bed again when it lurched awake. In that, at least, she was successful.

She overslept considerably. Her dreams were bland but curious: walking beneath the vaulted thatch of a white-wood forest on a carpet of brown leaves, the endless ranks of petrified trees like cathedral pillars; A vast palace of doors, behind each was a place she’d slept, whether inn, hayloft, a rented room, damp bush, a campfire, her room at home; Playing an endless game of cards where no-one won and the kitty towered up endlessly beyond the light of the room.

Until a quite thunderous blare of noise jolted her awake. She would’ve jumped out of bed, but the tight sheets that had kept her from falling now pinned her down like the hands of kidnappers had once before. With a yell, and a feline contortion, she slid down instead of up, popped out the foot of the bed, and snatched up her crossbow in one smooth motion. Thankfully, the sound of the bold thudding heavily into the door frame was masked by what sounded like plates clattering to the floor in batches.

She was breathing heavily and the adrenaline buzz of fear finally clawed through the fog of sleep. ~A fatal blow, my dear Dewdrop. I wonder who will pine for that door now it is dead.~ Sabanna’s caustic tone helped clear her head as well. She attempted the metal equivalent of poking her tongue out at the other woman, and proceeded to get changed. Outside the grumbling murmur of the others conversing with….was that Gnolls?

~It seems our Lordly messenger Mr Dumprot has arrived already. Hurry now.~ Dew rolled her eyes. Sabanna’s habit of affecting the tired wisdom of aged parents when she was barely older than Dew herself was a little tiring. But also somewhat endearing. Like an older sister when their mother was not around. She scrambled into her leather breeches and strapped the boiled-leather padding over her filthy shirt.

She couldn’t hear exactly what was being said, but even as garbled as the Gnoll’s Common was, she could tell it wasn’t a particularly friendly exchange. Gelda’s replies were just as sharp. Then someone more eloquent was lecturing someone….was that Vanerua? She found her other boot, snatched her crossbow and cloak, and headed for the bar. On the way out she pulled the impaled bolt from the door frame and gave it a pat of apology.

Dropping into the room, Dumprot was herding the others to the door. She started after then the odour of breakfast run up her nose, down into her belly, and woke it up. She turned to the bar and her face lit up in a huge grin. Grabbing Gelda’s face in both hands she planted a kiss on the old woman’s forehead. “You’re a light in the dark of the world!” she said before shovelling one, two, three, four, five forkfuls of rice into her mouth, filling her cheeks like a paranoid rodent, and a double handful of fruits, and scuttled out behind the others.

Urzin’s nightly beauty and calm was scoured clean by the daylight. The heat was damp blanket draped over everything, and the constant drone of wildlife a soprano threnedy above the bassline burble of the city proper. Everything shifted in the sway of the Horizonbacks. Crowds blended and parted like the chaotic waves of meeting currents, carts and cart-sized ogres lurched across the thin paths ahead at all angles. Even the thin bridges seemed to end up attached to a different point by the time you crossed them as the mooring points changed relative positions. It was an easy place to get lost in, but just as hard to tell who was watching.

By the time they’d reached the Warrens, Dew had managed to chew and swallow her brunch without choking or spitting it out, and was furiously stripping the last of the flesh from some apple analogue that was a deep purple colour. In fact she almost tripped over Nissa who was crouched over the foundations of one of the huts. A crouching gnome was very small indeed - unlike a hidden dragonborn. Argus and Keani were watching intently.

“Has she found - “ she started when the smell of fetid dung hit her, but no sooner had her eyes began to water, a blast of salty air sprang up causing her cropped fringe to fidget. It didn’t last though and the reek reappeared. It was so potent, that she looked at the apple core in her hand and couldn’t bring herself to eat it. So she turned and heaved it as far as she could over the side of Horizonback.

"If you think that a taste of salt is an acceptable apology for ruining my life, you couldn’t be more wrong, Stormlord" Keani hissed from beside her, and the naming of one worshipped deity brought a sudden sourness to her mind. Glancing at the approaching cramped labyrinth of the Warrens, she didn’t see a weaving cascade of hiding places, but a thousand hands waiting to haul her into a cage. She shuddered, and flipped her hood up, covering her mouth and nose only partially against the smell.

“I know what you mean,” she said, leaning into Keani. “God’s are supposed to bring people together, but people always seem to find ways to make it like stepping on a Moorbounder’s tail.” She peered out at the crowds thronging the alleys, suspicious. “Though I reckon it’s knives and pickpockets to worry about for now, at least.”





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Old Nov 12th, 2022, 01:24 PM
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Keani Owata
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Mentioning the gods’ names was claimed by priests to draw their attention. It was only natural then that cursing or challenging them placed the blasphemous individual at the very center of the disc used by the offended deities for target practice. Keani wasn’t afraid of Kord’s wrath, because he had already felt it more intensely than most. A ship could only sink once, as the Ki’Nau said. What more could the lightning-wielding god do to him? What surprised him, however, was the fact that those around him reacted in various ways in what had obviously been a personal grudge between himself and the Stormlord.

Kimmaath’s question had been far too close to the mark, and the sailor abruptly stopped walking as he turned to face the large Ravenite. Sensing in the dragonborn’s words no desire to offend him, the sailor nodded softly. He had watched the Godsbrawl in Port Damali more times than he cared to admit and he had even cheered for Kord’s champion. That was before of course. Now all he wanted was to teach the Stormlord a lesson by humiliating his champion.

"I am indeed from the Menagerie Coast, Tussoa to be exact, and have often been in Port Damali to witness the Day of Challenging celebrations. Your mentor was right. Only the greatest of champions are chosen to fight against each other. I have never competed in the arena, but hope to change this someday. Perhaps you will too."

Keani’s strained smile towards Kimmaath instantly disappeared, however, as the Pallid elf offered her wisdom to him. Had he been thinking straight, he would have welcomed such words that were meant to enlighten. Unfortunately, the injury was too fresh and the pain too great to really appreciate Vanerua’s efforts. It was like applying an ointment on skin that was raw and bleeding. No matter how cool and comforting it was, it hurt.

"Or perhaps he should have been minding his own damn business!", Keani snapped back at the elf, surprising himself as much as everyone else with the ferocity of his response. "I never cared for the strength he provides, never asked for it. And as sure as the nine hells I never asked him to sink my ship or end the lives of the people that I considered friends. He had better stay out of my path, if he knows what’s good for him - This is strictly IC, Saratek. Thank you for providing this chance for roleplaying!and you had better be keeping your godly wisdom to yourself!"

He knew that he was being unreasonable. He definitely knew that he should be apologizing as soon as possible, but at the moment he saw no reason to do so. These strangers were nothing to him. They did not care for his troubles and he didn’t care for theirs. Once the goblin counselor had been located and returned to Bufahl, he would never see them again. They would go on living their happy lives of tasting candies, drinking dubious colorful liquids and sampling “mud” that had better remained untouched, while he would still have to find a way to repay the Myriad for a debt that had not been his own fault to begin with.

DeeDee too showed him some sympathy that would have been greatly appreciated, had the half-elf not been striding like a madman between the buildings that passed for houses in Urzin. He might very well have fallen off the Horizonback’s back, had he kept blindly moving forward, but eventually he realized that he didn’t even know where he was going. He stopped, panting more in rage than exertion, and after averting his gaze so as not to face anyone of his new companions, waited for Dumprot and his gnolls to take the lead again.

Great job, Keani. That was an excellent way to make new friends. The “Shipwrecker” has done it again.



 
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Old Nov 17th, 2022, 12:38 AM
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Weary in the Warrens
Shock, awe, and wonder were but a few words to describe the mystified expressions that came over the children’s faces in the alleyway that night. As the magical particles rained down upon Tobby, the younglings could only look up to the face of Vanerua and smile, their eyes momentarily lighting up with the divine spark that had emanated from her hand. As the cleric warned them of being cautious with the stubborn beast they had included in their playtime, they nodded in near perfect unison, unable to summon forth the words of adulation that were surely caught in their throats. As the night continued on, and Vanerua found herself back at the tavern after her evening escapade, the children were nowhere to be seen; most likely summoned back into their own homes for a night’s rest.

So it was that this group of adventurers followed suit with the denizens of Urzin, finding whatever comfort they could within the confines of the rooms they had been granted. Though small and cramped compared to many other establishments throughout Wildemount, Shelly’s Shellter at least provided a feeling that many other locales failed to encapsulate - the feeling of a home. Gelda and Aezin were good hosts, even in lacking many accouterments or any level of luxurious accommodations. Dusk turned to night, and other than the distant muffled sounds of boisterous voices from the marsh floor, all was rather calm.



With dawn arriving, and everyone rising out of their beds (some more peacefully than others), the main common area of the tavern was soon alight with activity. The porridge that Gelda had made unleashed a torrent of steam from the scaldingly hot pot, and its consumption seemed to bring a natural smile to her face as she provided for others in her establishment. As Vanerua ate the porridge, giving her compliments, Gelda nodded with a smirk. "Well, I’m glad ya are gettin’ a taste of somethin’ new! Hope this is favorable!"

But the calm before the storm was short lived, mainly due to the arrival of Dumprot and his canine clique. After some build up of tension with the back and forth that he and Gelda had, the two conflicted parties in this exchange whipped their heads in the direction of a cacophonous BOOM! With a wooden table sliding a foot forward, plates performing a spinning dance followed by a tumultuous tumble, and a chair clattering to the floor - its backrest now cracked down the center - the loud noise was followed by a deafening silence. Dumprot and his associates looked toward the source of the noise, the half-elf from Tussoa, their eyes narrowing and three of them instinctively reaching for their jagged, crudely made blades strapped to their hips. Gelda, in the meantime, had her short goblin arms outstretched to catch the bowls that had wobbled precariously at the edge of the bartop, holding them in place and pushing them forward. One of them fell to the ground in front of the counter, its clay construction shattering into large shards of different proportions.

One of the gnolls behind their de facto leader gave a throaty snicker that was unable to be held in. It at least seemed to diffuse the tension of the moment, Gelda able to grab the cutlery that hadn’t fallen down and push it back onto the bar. As the moment passed, and the feelings of possible conflict settled, Dumprot called to the group to follow outside. As Keani approached Gelda, apologizing to her, she shook her head and smiled.
"Do not worry yourself," She began quietly, lifting her right hand from the now reorganized bowls and placing it upon the half-elf’s. "Ya have a good heart, I can tell. A few repairs ain’t gonna break me. Take care, and don’t let anyone but yourself tell ya what you are capable of." She patted his hand, then looked toward the approaching form of Kimmaath. As the dragonborn helped with the cleanup, she nodded and gratefully accepted the assistance.
As everyone began to find their way to the exit, the sound of wood slamming against wood grabbed Gelda’s attention, Dewdrop moving into the main room just as Nissa approached the bar. With the svirfneblin producing the wrapped pastries and presenting them, Gelda’s eyes widened, as did her smile. "Ya are too kind, friend. I’m sure ya would make your Ma proud. Aezin and I will eat them tonight as we’re lookin’ at the sunset. Tobby will be safe with us, I assure ya. Good luck to ya, and don’t be a stranger!" Her words were warm and she gingerly took the lunar pasties behind the bar.
With Argus’s approach, she took the coin he laid out onto the countertop, nodding toward the silver scaled scion. "Thank ya, I hope ya had a good rest, and have even better travels!" She watched as he walked away, her focus then pulled abruptly to the cheerful face of Dewdrop, who had grabbed her and planted a kiss on her forehead. She chuckled, responding. "And ya were a light in our tavern!"
With the party now filing out of Shelly’s Shellter to Gelda’s kind farewells, they then found themselves outside, flanked by Dumprot and his entourage. The walk along the narrow pathway on the edge of Shelly herself was slightly nerve wracking, and the swaying bridge that had to be navigated was even more so. Regardless, the arrival in the Warrens was upon the hired hands, and the stench - now rank in the air - only solidified the fact that the warm welcome they had received had been left behind them. There was a momentary pause in the group’s movement as they took in the odd surroundings of this place, Dumprot and the escort he provided were now able to spread out a bit more now that the walkways had opened up on this plateau.

This plateau, built high atop the shell of another horizonback, tall and made of…well, as Nissa found out - offal. Awfully pungent, more like, and mixed with swampy earth that had become solidified by repeated exposure to sun and rain alike. It was hard to tell what kind of refuse was used to make such a foundation through taste. Not because Nissa did not have experience in tracking, no - that was part of the hunt. Rather, it was difficult due to it being a mixture from many different sources. Luckily, this was all the svirfneblin needed to find this out, and continued onward as Dewdrop threw an apple core off the side of the horizonback after losing her appetite from the stench. As the full extent of the Warrens came into view, a weird yet true form of wonder washed over the party.

This section of Urzin was dirty, crowded, smelly, and wild, yet also defied all presuppositions as to its existence. Not only was it built upon a rather intriguing foundation, it also had multi-story buildings and branching paths throughout its construction. Shops in the form of stalls, tents, or even lean-tos were prevalent here, and the goods they offered varied from storefront to storefront. The walkways of the Warrens were wide enough to accommodate two ogres walking shoulder to shoulder, and elevated, taut strands of rope connected the architecture that stood on opposing sides of the streets. They were garnished with pieces of clothing or other fabrics that were left out to dry, though how long that would take varied depending on the weather patterns of the Brokenveil Marsh. Raucous voices filled the air here - a combination of shopkeepers hawking their wares, group conversations, manual laborers completing tasks, and the continual stomping of the moving tortoises giving motion to the entirety of the city.
With the group moving forward, and the escort doing so as well, you found yourselves in the middle of two strips of active merchants, calling out to your party who are obviously outsiders. "Jewelry ‘ere for sale! Look pretty, make ‘er feel pretty, at a pretty great price!" A bugbear called out, his hairy form covered in necklaces, bands, trinkets, and rings. Moving past another couple of vendors, a new smell intermingled with the fetid scents playing within your noses. It was an aroma of burnt sugar, sweet yet off putting, as the savory and earthy blends that were noticeable in the air did nothing to compliment the sugary confection’s smells.
They were coming from a stall manned by a tan-olive skinned kobold, standing alongside two other even smaller kobolds, who gave an air of youth about them. The goods that were available for purchase ranged from beetles and ants suspended in hard candied orbs or bricks, to sugar and cinnamon crusted spiders that were frozen in a shocked stance. But the main delicacy pushed by the proprietor of the establishment were labeled as Brokenveil Butter Bites - cubes of sweetened butter that contained candied crickets within them. "Treats for sale! Treats that can’t be beat! Butter Bites and insects without flight!" The squeaky voice called out. Though these treats were eclectic and possibly unappetizing to those who had never tried insects as a food source, it could not be denied that these items were unique to Urzin, and Vanerua did not waste any time in purchasing some of the confections for her enjoyment.

Passing by some more shops with an array of odd foods and items, including one with gaudy apparel that had fallen out of fashion years ago, a large tent near the end of this shopping strip caught the attention of one of the group’s dragonborn members. This forest green colored cover had two hat rack-like constructs outside of it, flanking the open flaps on either side. Upon them, there were a number of wigs and masks hanging off of the pegs that stuck out at odd angles. Kimmaath was the first and only member of the party to take an immediate interest, walking up and perusing the items on display. The wigs were made mainly of coarse hair that would most likely be scratchy and uncomfortable for wear, though a handful of them did seem at least passable as a real head of hair. The masks on the other hand looked cleverly designed, though many of them were smaller than what would have fit the dragonborn’s skull's shape. Stepping into the tent, a singular male goblin who looked to be middle-aged, was working on a wooden mask, whittling away in the morning hours. He looked up to the large customer that now stood partially hunched over in the tent, and stopped his tool midstroke. "Ah, welcome in, welcome in, my scaled friend! Lookin’ for a mask? A wig? A mask with a wig? Ol’ Ragatag has it all!" He cheerfully stated, standing up straight, his head as high as the Ravenite’s femur. It was not long before Kimmaath walked out of the shop, a couple coins gone from his pockets, but a shiny kobold’s “skull” in his hands. The mask was porcelain based, but was reinforced with a thin layer of tin on the outside, giving it a sheen and novelty that the dragonborn couldn’t resist. It could fit just over his eyes and the first quarter of his snout, looking more like a masquerade ball mask than anything ceremonial or protective.

During his escapade, Vanerua had a quick yet effective conversation with Dumprot, as the group waited on Kimmaath (and now Nissa - who was looking for some sort of container) to finish their shopping. The cleric brought up Gelda and her food to the leader of the gnoll grouping, he scoffed, the sound more akin to a loogie being hocked up from deep in the bowels of his throat. "Elf ladies steps wheres they shouldn’ts. Dumprot needs no foods froms old goblin ladies." He seemed to be indifferent to the following words from Vanerua, but it looked to be more likely due to him not understanding what accountability or apologizing actually meant. "Respects is from strength! Little goblin ladies has none, so she gets nones! Ha!" His broken common made it sound even ruder than what was intended, though the intent was obviously not to be kind in the first place.

Meanwhile, Nissa had found a stall that was selling different shapes and sizes of containers, including backpacks, knapsacks, pouches, and wooden boxes ranging from the simplest design to more decorative pieces one would display in a homestead. The proprietor of this shop was an odd fellow - jet black in coloration due to the many feathers that covered his form, a large raven-like beak extending out over the counter where the merchandise sat. His eyes blinked vertically, and his head turned inquisitively at the small svirfneblin that now stood below his average height. "Shop? ‘Click click.’ Box? ‘Click click.’ Want…box?" His words sounded strange, as if they fluctuated in both pitch and intonation, while his beak gave out soft clicking sounds between phrases. His head twitched quickly to the left and right as he watched Nissa inspect the goods, before she came across a decently made pouch. "Gold. ‘Click click!’ One!" The number sounded proud from his beak, and he picked up the pouch. A sideways glance from the robed and feathered individual was aimed at Nissa yet again. After a bit of back and forth with the shopkeep, Nissa was able to procure the pouch for half of his initial ask. Content, she joined back with the group, which was now carrying on toward the final stretch leading to another bridge - this one longer than the last.

Indeed, the next bridge that the group arrived at after passing the shopping strip was one of the largest in the entire settlement. Close to fifteen feet wide, it had a pair of thick wooden piles to support the entry, buried into the fetid foundation atop this tortoise. Support bracing extended from these piles, fortifying at least a portion of the construct near the beginning, though the mid of this bridge did sag slightly before it was again sturdy near the end. Speaking of which, the end was well over two hundred feet away from where the group stood, and a trickle of foot traffic was making their way to and from the party as they stood looking at it. Beyond the bridge, the centermost horizonback walker was slowly striding, carrying the weight of the largest and tallest building in all of Urzin. Dumprot pointed forward. "Across! Haha! We goes to Ogre Lord!" He announced, before one by one, the group began to make their way across, step by ginger step.



In the Belly of BuhfallArriving at the other end of this expansive bridge was a relief. The trek across was mostly uneventful, though the midsection did prove a bit precarious as it tilted back and forth, gently swaying with the movements from below. Looking over the edge was not advised, but it was hard not to at points. The fall from here could prove to be the last anyone took, and the idea of falling, only to be stepped on by the walkers was hard to ignore. But at long last, solid ground was beneath your feet here.

Even from the starting point of the bridge it was easily noticed that the tortoise the group was upon now is larger than those surrounding it. The shell was solid onyx in its color, and quite wide. Upon its form, a massive and tall singular structure, looking almost like a pointed tower. Dumprot and his crew moved in front of your party now, as on the approach toward this building, there were a number of guards - varying in shape and size - that looked in the group’s direction in the now open courtyard before this tower’s entrance.

Stone, paved and clean is what was stepped on in this sector of Urzin. There were a few denizens that were working around this area, with some canopy tents scattered about around the perimeter of the structure’s grounds. Those doing their tasks were unperturbed by the consistent sway of the giant beneath them, and carried on in and out of the building ahead. A small set of smooth stone stairs led up to the large open flaps that was the opening. From a distance, this place looked to be made entirely from wood and stone, but up close, it looked to be more like a titanic tepee, reinforced with the aforementioned materials.

Here, the rank odors of the Brokenveil Marsh mingle with the musty aroma of a fleet of gargantuan reptile creatures. The smell of waste in the air was diminished compared to the Warrens, but the general stink on your clothes still remained. The gang of gnolls escorted you to the top of the stairs, Dumprot grabbing the left flap and turning to the group. "Ogre Lord sees yous now! Ha! We stands in backs of room. Yous no do funny business! Haha!" He grinned widely, his drool covered gums exposed, alongside his sharp canines. With the doorway now opened, the group passed through.

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Ogre Lord Buhfall II
The din of the swamp and the hushed chatter of Urzin’s residents was muted as the party stepped through the folds of the heavy leather curtain into the chamber beyond. Here, the reek of the marsh was quickly replaced by the favorable scent of roasted meats and spiced wine. Orc attendants looked to be the main laborers here, and they gesture you all toward a litter of dingy furs before the seat of Buhfal II. His “throne” consists of a massive wooden chair, connected to a ten foot tall platform with a few large stairs leading up it. Furs pad the wood, and the very large form of the Ogre Lord was casually sitting, a half eaten leg of some sort of very large bird in his left hand.

The imposing shape of Bufall II was easily over ten feet tall, and that was judging it as he was seated. His hair, a braided array of differing lengths, draped over and behind his shoulders. Curved, impressive tusks protruded from just below his high-set cheekbones that came down to an angular jaw. Broad chested and muscular, his only form of body armor was that of a fur-lined, wrapped, and belted loincloth. Scarily large feet were covered with thick furs and leather, and his legs were medium-sized tree trunks, like those found in the swamps below. Scars were abundant on his form, even visible in the mediocre lighting that seemed to plague all the interiors of this roving city. The Ogre Lord looked to be no stranger to combat in his time, and the gigantic, sharp-pointed morningstar that rested next to his seat did nothing to break that truth. A larger-than-average bear pelt was draped over one of his shoulders, while the other shoulder had what looked to be large metal spiked coming from a reinforced leather shoulder pad.

As the group moved further into this chamber, Dumprot and his hooligans stepped inside, now on either side of the entrance. It was close to a thirty foot walk to arrive at the mass of furs at the bottom of the stairs. Upon them, platters and an array of different foods - a couple of which you all have had recently. Others looked to be dishes from other areas entirely - even some paella and fried plantains! With Ogre Lord Buhfall II waiting for everyone to settle in, there was a quiet walk to the front, before his booming baritone voice issues a warm welcome.

"Eat! Drink! But be wary, for the empire has come to Xhorhas, bringing damnation with it!"
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Old Nov 19th, 2022, 10:19 AM
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Vanerua Galanodel
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Raising her palms defensively and giving him a look that spoke to her understanding of his words, Vanerua would be sure to adhere to the man's wishes. While she may serve a god more directly than most, the acolyte understood that most weren't interested in hearing or being treated to the dogma of another deity…

Letting out a slight chuckle through pressed lips at the gnoll's comment, the Pallid only added in defense, "Yet, that 'little goblin lady' had the strength to drive you and your lackeys from her tavern…" It was spoken as a passing thought as she turned her attention back to waiting for the group to move on, which didn't take long once all were gathered.

The hall was certainly impressive, but Van had seen several such places before, and each one had its own variant of opulence, and this was no different. It all served to further the desired presence of the one that sat in the big chair. Knowing the importance of being a good guest, the Pallid moved casually over to the offered furs, dropped her pack next to the one she'd selected, and took a seat upon it, presenting a much more relaxed demeanor than the situation may promote.

She didn't need the Ogre Lord's encouragement to dig into the offered items. Taking small bites of everything offered, Van was certain that, once he'd seen enough, the Ogre Lord would speak. Until then, the traveler was going to taste all she could and stuff herself with whatever was tastiest.

Upon the Ogre Lord's booming proclamation, Van didn't look up from the fried plantains she'd scooped into her palm to savor to utter, "F**k the Empire."


 
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