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  #1  
Old Apr 9th, 2023, 01:22 PM
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Those Who Stood Against the Griffins

"They have names for us," you recall your grandmother saying. "Avars, Sabirs, Onogurs, Horse Raiders, Pillagers, Hordes, Imposers, Pagans, Devils, Monsters ... and worse. But we know who we are, and who we will always be, we are the people who stood against the griffins, the creatures who rose from up from the seas, bringing waves, destruction and nightmares upon their backs. The griffins' floods consumed our fishing towns along the shores of the Great Central Ocean, and they washed away the floating villages of the tributary rivers that are people had used for generations. And after they washed us away, they hunted us down--all peoples who had lived in peace and harmony, more or less, until then."
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"Some tribes fled--they were pursued and devoured."

"Some tribes hid--they were discovered, contained, and eaten during the cold months of winter."

"Some tribes did worse--they gave their elderly, their wounded, their infirm and even their infants to the monsters and they promised to help lure in other people. The griffins gave them magic and branded them with marks of ownership. Those tribes thrived, but you could no longer call what they did 'living.'"

"Only a few tribes stood against the griffins. Most were destroyed, many were betrayed, and a scant number survived. We are their children, and so we call ourselves that--Those Who Stood Against the Griffins. It is a difficult word to say, and so we know who is of us, and who might still be the lingering servants of the monsters who still seek to reverse our victory and open up the waters to the griffins again."



How many times have you heard that story?

How many times had you played Griffins and Warriors as a youth, grabbing sticks for spears and your older siblings' bows and arrows that you had stolen away?

How deep has that story buried into your young bones?

And yet ... other kids say, and you might wonder, how could a people who defeated monsters be the same ones forced to wander across the lands in search of a home where they are not driven our or expelled. The brother and sister tribes, sure, they accept you for a month or two but then words are muttered and then said loudly in council that the grazing fields cannot support so many horses, that the rivers seem scant of fish since your arrival, and inevitably there is always a conflict around a desirable marriage prospect who dared to cross the tribal lines.

And so your people set off again.

And so tonight, again, you are on the back of your cousin's horse, approaching another campsite that the scouts described as: "not the land we are seeking, but a land where we could be sleeping for a night."

"Get off!" your cousin says, barely enduring your presence over the past miles with scolds of: "do not hold on so tightly, baby" or "you ride like a fat, stolen bride of the castle people."

And so you have arrived, assembling at the center of tonight's camp, where the elders will give out instructions for the night.

You know where to stand to have the best chances of being assigned the task you wish, but which task is that tonight: collecting wood or dung for the fires? penning in the animals that travel with you? gathering water? running errands for the elders? or caring for the infirm and very young?

 
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Old Apr 10th, 2023, 02:37 PM
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Kusta drops off the rump of his cousin's horse and rubs his backside. Some day he would have his own horse. Someday he would be reliant on nobody. Someday he would be able to provide for the clan: bring home a fat roebuck, fight off invaders, or even find the clan a place to stay forever. Kusta loved being on horseback, but he wanted a home.

The elders were beginning to hand out tasks, and Kusta had been daydreaming. He imagined he was a tall majestic elk and raced over to the other children, leaping off things as he went. A few disgruntled cries followed him as his enthusiasm caused him to bump into people. But he didn't care. He was an energetic youth and his goals were much more important than his journeys.

"Need six for the fire watch. Gather what you can and return in an hour." Elder Laktos, Kusta's uncle, was one of the elders responsible for managing the children. He kept a tight leash on the younglings, but while his punishments were harsh, his rewards were excellent. Two months ago, Kusta had found a bee hive as he was foraging for kindling. He had used the kindling he found to smoke the bees out and brought the hive back to camp for the clan. The clan enjoyed honey for almost two weeks. Laktos had beaten Kusta for failing to bring home any kindling. But later that night he gave Kusta a double portion of honey. The man was harsh but fair.

Kusta's hand shot up now as Laktos searched for volunteers. Kusta would endure another beating if he could find something else out there that would help the clan. As soon as Laktos pointed at Kusta, the hobgoblin youth sprinted out of camp. He stopped at the nearest sapling tree and cut off some green branches. As he walked he peeled the bark into long strips and began weaving them into cords to hold the kindling he was sent to collect.

The young Magyar's red fingers worked with practiced skill as his eyes scanned the underbrush. The site the scouts chose for the clan's campground was apparently quite popular. Very few dead branches could be found near the site, so Kusta kept going straight, away from the camp. His long red ears twitched as the forest breathed around him. His mother said that he would grow into his ears and his nose, which was almost as large as Elder Laktos' nose. Someday.

 
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Old Apr 12th, 2023, 09:44 PM
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"Kusta! Kusta!"

Two, three, then four voices rang out behind you as a group of hobbles raced in your direction.

"Laktos-viz says we are to assist you," the oldest of the hobbles says, looking Kusta directly in the eyes, raising all the courage he could muster from his four years of life lest Kusta defy the relayed orders. "He says you have to assist ... I mean have assist us."

Kusta, you know that once you were also a young hobble, your hair still bristles, your skin still splotchy as it is for most of your tribe's hobgoblin's at birth. "Wants to ride, but is all splotch and bristle!" goes the saying to describe a hobgoblin who aims higher than their station or age. But surely, your Uncle Laktos realizes you are too old to be grouped with these hobbles, doesn't he? Is it confusing, infuriating, or something else amid the maelstrom of emotions you might feel when you realize you are assigned to a kid's group?
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But, ultimately, you know it doesn't matter how you feel. Your uncle has spoken. The horses have taken to the road, the wagons will follow, as they say. And here's you ... with four little wagons in tow.

It must be admitted, however, the hobbles might be annoying, but they are enthusiastic and eager to please. Seeing the pile of bark, the hobbles began applying the cords and then laying them out on old hide they had brought, knowing that if they placed everything onto the hide, they could drag it across the ground, even with their meager strength.

Soon, they were singing a work song, the one about the golden eagle and the hare, and they would periodically look up to Kusta, eager for his approval. After all, Kusta was unsplotched, and for some of the hobbles, this was their first time in a work crew not supervised by their mother or older sister.

"Kusta-viz," one asks, erroneously using an honorific that Kusta has neither earned nor claimed. "Yaviz was bad. He tried to ride a wild deer today!" says the hobble, with a gleeful pleasure in either denouncing his friend or sharing a revelation with his elder.

Yaviz looks quickly to Kusta, ashamed and yet somewhat proud ... awaiting Kusta's praise or slap.

As he stands and regards Kusta, the other three finish bringing over the last pile of corded wood onto the hide. They are ready to set off back to camp, and look to see if Kusta will remain here working, or return with them to camp.

And in the silence before Kusta's answer, all hobbles and the one youth hear a crashing in the woods, near the ravine, past the formation of rocks just up ahead.

OOC
Thanks for the double dex catch!
Your previous rolls are noted and have been applied or will be applied if certain triggers arise.
For this one, please take your actions, giving me a History and an Insight roll.
Because we are playing as a youth right now, remember the reduced scores and do not add any proficiency modifications (you are, as of now, untrained).
Please take any actions and describe any movements you make, up to the point of encountering whatever it is that has made the noise or moving any great distance from your current location.
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Old Apr 13th, 2023, 10:25 AM
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Kusta's annoyance at being stuck with the hobbles quickly subsides with the crashing in the distance. Uncle Laktos may have stuck him with this undesirable task, but now it was his turn to protect the young ones. Kusta reached into the pile of kindling and grabbed the sturdiest branch he could find. He would find this disturbance and fight it off. He would win the respect of his tribe and his elders. Everybody would hail him as a hero this night! He set off through the underbrush with a determined gait.

"Kusta? What about us?"

The youthful hobgoblin stopped dead in his tracks. He couldn't very well bring honor to the tribe if he let the hobbles get lost or eaten while he was fighting some monster. He sighed and turned around. Growing up was supposed to be fun. But responsibility was anything but.

Another crash in the distance made the whole group pause: breath held, movements rigid, eyes scanning everything. Kusta listened and tried to think what might be making this sound. Were two elk bulls fighting over a female? Had a tree fallen? He shook his head. He had one priority right now. Uncle Laktos had tasked him with the hobbles and with the kindling. If he returned without either... The thought made the splotchless hobgoblin shudder.

"Come. We must get back. Gather the sticks, now, and hurry. Laktos-viz doesn't tolerate lazy hobbles."

Kusta matched his words with action. He helped them gather the last of the branches onto the canvas and roll it up. Then he took the heaviest part of the bundle and began pulling, letting the hobbles pull on the edges. As they dragged the kindling back to the camp, Kusta couldn't help dreaming of fighting some wicked monster and saving his tribe. Every few minutes he would look over his shoulder to make sure nothing followed them.

As they neared the camp, Kusta leaned over to Yaviz. "How far did you get?"

Yaviz turned a confused face to Kusta. "What?"

"On the deer. How far did you ride it?"

Yaviz frowned. "Just a few steps. I snuck up from behind it and tried to jump on, but it bucked and I fell."

"That is very bad. I am tempted to tell your mother about this." Yaviz's countenance fell and Kusta laughed before continuing. "You need to wait in a tree and ambush it from above. Much better chances of staying on the deer that way."

Yaviz peeked at Kusta, but when he saw the hobgoblin's slight smile he broke into a giggle. Soon all the hobbles, and Kusta too, were laughing.

 
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Old Apr 19th, 2023, 09:12 PM
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Try as he might, Kusta c"Honoring" your critical failan't seem to identify the crashing in the woods. In fact, when he stops to listen, the young hobbles seem to find Kusta's strained face of concentration to be the funniest thing since Uncle Okran fell off his horse and into the creek, cursing in epic rhyme as he fell. Their laughter drowns out any noise from around the forest and--somewhat worryingly--surely signals their own position to every living creature around.

As the hobbles haltingly give up their mocking, they return to the hide and deign to help pull it further, every few seconds stopping to raise a hand to their ear and make a pained expression on their face as they frantically scan the area and fall victim to another fit of giggles.

And then they stop. It's hard to say who notices first, but someone does and--as happens sometimes among people whose survival depends on sensing movements Will give the 14 insight a boost from collective hobgoblin powersand moods within the others around them--the realization dawns on them all, Kusta included. Six were chosen to go out for wood. But only Kusta and four others assembled.
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It was probably the hippos.

"Gnunti!" says one of the hobbles, first with an excited realization that they could put words to the unsettled feeling among them all, and then again, with an exasperated sigh. "Gnunti has gone off again!"

Kusta knows this--all those who travel in this tribe know this--Gnunti is a curious, bright, incautious youth. He listens to no elder and he has placed the tribe at risk more than once by wandering too near, too far, too soon, too late .... too Gnunti. All hobgoblins of the tribe know this, as well, Gnunti is the head-rider's pride and joy. The young boy who emerged from his loins at an advanced age (with the help of his fifth wife, and those rumors of the child actually being sired by the young shaman--totally false, of course). The surprise child. The little golden brat.

"Maybe the lions got him?" queries one hobgoblin, who seems to think this a distinct possibility.

"No, hippos," says another, who has heard tales of these beasts and apparently remembers only that they are dangerous, not that they live in lands your tribe has not seen for at least a generation.

"Humans," says the third, with disgust.

"Humans," agrees Yaviz, spitting on the ground and looking to Kusta to confirm.

Kusta could confirm. After all, that is a possibility. But Kusta also knows you are near a trade route, and A 12 History ... you've heard things; you acknowledge possibilities, but know nothing for certain about this particular part of the route.you have heard the elders' tales that all sorts of the world's peoples are washed up along these pathways.

"Well, I guess we better go tell Head-Rider you lost Gnunti," says one of the hobbles, smart enough not to look Kusta in the face ... but wise enough to know to disassociate himself from the hobgoblin who was to be in charge.

All four hobbles are about to bolt back to camp.

 
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Old Apr 20th, 2023, 12:37 AM
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Kusta stands taller to show his height to the hobbles. He looks each of them in the eye to remind them who is in charge here. Finally, with a nod, he speaks.

"Go then. Return to Laktos-viz and tell him why you return without the kindling. Tell him how you all left together and then arrive here missing one of your number. Ask him why we Magyar always move as a group and why we don't leave anyone behind." Kusta watched the hobble who had suggested the insurrection begin to wilt under his words.

"Or, you could be wise little hobbles. Bring the kindling back to the camp. Tell Laktos-viz the truth. Gnunti wandered off again. It is your responsibility just as much as it is mine. Laktos will beat you, and he will beat me. But he will beat you harder if you try to blame others for your mistakes."

 
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Old Apr 21st, 2023, 09:00 AM
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They bolt.

One of them--it isn't clear which--shouts back: "Beat only you!" A brave defiance of a hobgoblin much larger and a bit older than them, but one they seem quite sure about.

But in their mix of fear and gleeful upturning of your authority, they seem to scatter off in various directions ... some of them not toward camp.

As the crashing sounds of hobble feet fades across the woods, Kusta is left alone.

That's when the first arrow lands.

 
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Old Apr 21st, 2023, 09:38 AM
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As the hobbles scattered, Kusta set his jaw in frustration. He resolved to pay more attention to the elders when they were rallying the tribe. They always filled his heart with courage, but his words didn't seem to have the same effect on the young ones.

When the arrow buried itself in the dirt between his feet, however, all thoughts of grand speeches vanished.

 
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Old Apr 21st, 2023, 09:47 AM
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There's a flurry of movement up ahead and slightly to Kusta's left.

Kusta can't make out what it is, only that it seems to be moving away from him, not toward--and it seems to be moving haltingly, as if it had fallen or tripped in a hasty retreat.

Though unarmed, the hobgoblin your initiative win, so allowing you first movement, and then first action if the movement brings you toward anythingmight be able to get a jump on whatever it is up ahead.

 
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Old Apr 21st, 2023, 11:00 AM
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Kusta scrambles away from the arrow and tries to see where it came from. He had been staring after the hobbles and not watching his surroundings. He chided himself but kept his mind on the hobbles. And he was glad he did: he saw something moving through the underbrush ahead.

Without pausing to consider the implications, he rushed forward to meet the foe head-on. When he got close enough, he leaped forward through the underbrush and tried to wrap his arms around the thing

 
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Old Apr 21st, 2023, 01:34 PM
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Kusta's leap through the underbrush lands him amid a pile of thorns, brambles, moss-covered rocks ... and the furry hind of some sort of creature.

There is a snarling and a kicking on the other end of Kusta's grasp, and Kusta feels the wet-furred limb slip from him and stumble up to its feet.

"Hurry, Beelan!" a voice calls nearby. "It's not a full-sized one, we can make it!"

There's a muffled cry from another voice--unmistakably Yaviz' cry for help.

And then a notch, and another arrow. This one zings off a rock next to Kusta's head.

"Stay down, green rider!" shouts the voice. "The next one hits you in the head."

Followed, again, by the sounds of running.

 
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Old Apr 21st, 2023, 04:01 PM
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Kusta wrestled with the brambles as he tried to scramble to his feet. Yaviz' voice rang in his ears and once again he felt the weight of responsibility bearing down on him. He did not like growing up, but he had a responsibility to protect the hobbles. Besides, even if he could catch these unknown enemies, they were two and armed, while he was unarmed and alone.

"HOBBLES! ENEMIES ARE HERE! RUN!" If the thorns stopped him from reaching the young ones, at least his voice might.

 
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Old Apr 21st, 2023, 04:26 PM
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Kusta arises and runs toward the sounds, but the only foe he can find is the darkness of the forest and the vines and stones which seem to purposefully hinder his speed.

Yaviz' screams become more muffled, until they disappear, leaving Kusta alone, with bits of fur in his hand. He does not recognize the creature who would grow such things on its skin, though he thinks he has heard tales of these ones. "The Bristles" they are sometimes called, or maybe that is a type of them ... "The Gnolls" seem to be another name. Savage, powerful, and fiercely united against their foes--or one another when it comes to such divisions.

But none of this knowledge brings him any closer to the hobbles.

 
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Old Apr 22nd, 2023, 05:41 PM
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The forest had seemed to fight his every step as Kusta raced through the underbrush. But now that he stopped, the trees and bushes were as peaceful as could be. The forest didn't care about Kusta or his plight. It didn't care about the hobbles either. Creatures lived and died in the forest and that was the natural way of things.

Kusta cared, though. He beat his fist against a particularly large hemlock tree and was rewarded with a small shower of needles. How could he let the hobbles vanish like that? And these furry enemies, these gnolls? Why would they take a child?

Standing, Kusta brushed the needles off his shoulders and looked about. The sun had fully set by now and his eyes had transitioned into the infra-vision his race enjoyed. Some light still trickled down onto the forest floor from the moon and stars, but it wasn't enough to disorient him. All the colors had faded into shades of gray, but he could see by heat now. Stones that had looked too long on the sun were still bright to Kusta's eyes, while the leaves on the ground were dark and formless. He looked over to the hemlock and saw the rapidly fading imprint of where he had hit the tree. Some of his heat had escaped him, but the night was quickly collecting it.

Putting his losses out of his mind, Kusta begins collecting his wits and trying to consolidate what he still has. He has lost one, perhaps two, hobbles this evening. He has no kindling. And he still has to collect the other three.

"Assuming they yet live." His shiver was not all because of the wind beginning to whisper through the trees. He surveyed his surroundings and tried to pinpoint his location. "If I ran from over there, and the camp was that way..." He turned around mentally reviewing his movements that afternoon. "Then the hobbles must have run... Over there?"

Kusta was not positive he was going in the right direction, but he began a much slower trek through the woods in search of the missing hobbles. As he went, he kept an eye out for his companions or more of the Bristles. He called out as he went:

"Hobbles, where are you? We must return to the camp! Come to me!"

 
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Old Apr 23rd, 2023, 10:18 AM
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Kusta could not be reproached for his fury and his diligence.

The young hobgoblin pounded the trees and scoured the forest. But pounded trees yield small secrets, relevant only to squirrels and owls, and scouring the forest does little when a hobgoblin becomes lost, Sorry...those dice rolls, dude...treading in circles.

As dawn began to emerge, a discovery is made. Not by Kusta of lost hobbles, but by Kusta's cousin of Kusta.

"There you are," he says disdainfully. "The ones who survived told us of your shame. The elders await you."

There had always been a rivalry between you and this cousin. In some ways, you were forced to be on good terms. You were told to ride on the back of his horse, you were often paired together for tasks. But your cousin, even though 2 years older than you, resented you. There was always talk of some type of star signs during both of your births. Your tribe regards these signs as sacred, too sacred to be talked about in the open, and so you have never been told the details of these divine hints at your future. But your cousin knows, or at least knows his--having had it revealed to him when he took the ceremony to become a warrior of your tribe. It should have been a proud moment for him, and in a way it was, but Kusta knows ever since that ceremony, his cousin seemed to resent him even more.

And as Kusta reflects on this, the cousin turns, not particularly waiting nor caring if Kusta follows, to lead Kusta back to camp ... or allow him to wander endlessly alone.

Of course, the cousin cannot refrain from a bit of spite. As he walks along, he calls out in a caricature of Kusta's voice:"Little hobble, Kusta! We must return to the camp! Come to me!"

 
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Last edited by bananabadger; Apr 23rd, 2023 at 10:48 AM.
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