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Old Mar 28th, 2010, 09:42 PM
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Part 1: The Stolen Lands



As the sun rose, as with most spring days in the South Lands, the mist caressed the ground as if a sensuous lover, it's entwining tendrils drifting down the rolling plains and hills. From atop the hillock, the land below spread a sea of dew covered grass and trees, broken only here and there by fields of blood-red roses. The rose scented breeze stirred the mist, gently thinning it, as if nature was slowly breathing, inhaling in the morning, and blowing the stench of civilization away.

A few miles ahead, an old wooden fort stands; a thin wisp of smoke drifting up lazily. Beyond, the foreboding green of the Narlmarches loom. Whoever had built the "fort" here must not have had much sense- being far away from any trade route or civility. As it where, it is a bastion for travelers- the last outpost at the edge of the Stolen Lands; a place where you can rest, you hope, with some comfort, and not worry about the vagaries of the wild. This is Oleg's Trading Post.

Stanley had thought the spotted mule to be of the friendly sort, the way she had batted her eyes. But now, the little mule was acting, well, mulish. She was hissing and spitting; glaring at him balefully, and occasionally stopping of for a munch. She was not going to be the heroic sort of mule that would have made her way into on of Stan's ballads- quite the opposite. The mule seemed rather pragmatic; their pace drawing the odd angry glares from his companions, not that Stan cared. Ahh, the outpost- finally someplace where he could, "stable" the mule, oh and start his quest for fame and glory, to be world renowned, even more famous than that hackneyed poet Will.

Grannlaw looked upon the outpost with a sense of relief; it stood out like an anvil in these barbaric lands. The priest knew he had to start somewhere; after all to polish these "wild lands" one had to start somewhere. His companions...well, they did not understand the Forging of the Steel, the glory of the hammer, the power of the...

The burden of an entire tribe weighed heavily on Sartov's shoulders; yet the druid was happy- beyond the outpost stood wilderness, a land which meant hope to his people. Hope- it was the essence of his being, and without it, he was lost. He glanced at his companions, also men with aspirations, aspirations he felt might someday go against his needs, his hopes.

Karth made sure to remember this moment- it was one of perfection; all his dreams, his hopes, there was a possibility of fulfillment here. Even now, he felt a bit awkward in the company of these men; it was hard to know the right words to say to these strangers, most so different from him. Yet he felt as if his being had meaning, for once.

Lamont would make Sir Datillion proud. He surveyed the lands; yes, the rule of law and justice would prevail here; his sword arm and his faith would see to it. To bring justice and mercy to all. His father would be proud of him, yes, finally...he hoped.

Alistair looked at the hem of his mud splattered cloak.Fame, fortune, glory, nobility- it all seemed so far away, impossible, in this god forsaken wilderness. His anger, his need to restore his family's glory, it seemed so distant, almost faded. No, he would not despair claim him, to divert him from his goal.

OOCOnwards! I have taken a bit of liberty to just work all of you in and give you a field of reference. Feel free to modify anything i have stated in your posts as needed.
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Last edited by Colatine; Mar 28th, 2010 at 09:45 PM.
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Old Mar 29th, 2010, 04:41 AM
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Alistair takes a look down at his clothing. He applauded himself on the decision to buy these more functional clothing. It would be awful for his good outfit to be ruined by all of this mud. As he walks his crossbow continues to thud against his side, while he guides his horse into town. He was giving the beast a good rest, attempting to build up its trust.

The fair-haired nobling looks to the assembled group and at the ramshackle trading post around him.Every legendary rise has a humble beginning I suppose he mutters quietly as he approaches the gate slowly. Seeing it off in the distance like that was torturous. The end of the day's travels was so near, yet devastatingly so far away.

He looks over to Lamont and gives a wry smile Is this what you had in mind my friend, when we decided to undertake this venture! No regrets though, right? After all, we have to earn our station here I suppose. It won't be long now until our names are on the tongues of all the great noblemen and Ladies of Brevoy right? He had to audibly remind himself why this was worth it. Out here, those words and experiences began to seem like distant memories. But the rejections from the women he courted...those would be enough to drive any man.

Lamont was the only member of the group he knew well. He had hired the woodsmen as a tandem not more than a month ago and the other two were acquaintances of Lamont's. It was better this way. A sole Lebeda, his partner and their hired help made the journey sound a lot more impressive than it would with a group from back home.

Hey Lamont....you never told me. Why did you want to come out here. You know my plan is to become a king, but you don't seem driven by that. What drives you my heavily armored associate? What was worth leaving a life of luxury? Alistair was honestly curious and since it would be a bit before they walked into the fort it seemed like a good time to ask.
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Old Mar 29th, 2010, 05:48 PM
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"A trading post, hm?" wonders Grannlaw aloud. He scratches his scruffy chin, wearing a mixture of intrigue and distrust on his face. "I suppose they'll be selling much in the ways of iron and leather... but I wouldn't trust the quality out here, if a soul is wondering my opinion. I've seen that all of you have your equipment, and some of it's probably fit for battle, but you'll be wanting my eye if you're to spend any more gold here."

He walks heavily, each step obstinate and proud, his gait as dwarven as a human could get. He casts his eyes about the group, doubting they care heavily about the quality of their metals, but even they certainly have standards. At least it doesn't look like any of them are brandishing Bormo's work, that shoddy charlatan of a smith. Grannlaw smiles to himself at the thought that Bormo at least will have no mark upon this land. People like him will never put their clumsy hands in the New Kingdom, while this servant of Torag will become the most treasured hammerer in the land. Ah... but that's a long time off. Some of these men look eager to rest at the post ahead, and Grannlaw wouldn't mind it either.
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Old Mar 29th, 2010, 07:12 PM
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As the Trading Post comes into sight, Lamont sits straighter but easier in his saddle as he appears much more at ease even with this pitiful example of civilization. The young noble nudges his heels gently into Gold Dust's flanks as he guides his battle-trained mare up beside Alistair. His friend weaves complaints with hopes as he had done often since they set out of Restov usually about women or the weather.

The paladin inhales a deep breath of the rustic air before letting it out in a slow flow. Lamont gives his fellow nobleman a small smile, "Can you not smell it in the air, Alistair? Past the aromas of mud and rotting vegetation of course. It is the scent of 'potential'.The land overflows with the promise of what it could be if but the right hands are there to mold and forge it from its primordial state. Take the small fort before us. Yes, it is small and its walls would probably not stop a determined invader for very long but I see it as merely the first stage of a growing development. One day, this place could be the center of a bustling trading town. That is why I came with you on this expedition, to nuture this 'potential' into its full blossoming. To be king is a grand ambition but with the passing of years kings can come and go while a nation endures for much longer."

Lamont folds his hands over his saddle pommel and guides his horse with nothing but slight pressure of the legs as he studies the fort further as they draw near. Grannlaw, stoic and proud as any dwarf though hardly as short, grumbles for a bit about what probably passes for supplies this far out but he did have a point. The young noble nods in agreement with the priest, "As you say, friend, anything passed for quality this far out from the competition of rival merchants or smiths would need to be carefully examined before purchase. When one has little else to compare to, some dishonest merchants shall try and pass their worst off as the best. Hopefully, we shall not run into someone with such loose morals though, the Judge watch over us".
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Old Mar 29th, 2010, 10:27 PM
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Grannlaw nods, proud of the noble. It wasn't something he'd expected, and the man up on his horse probably has a skewed vision, but the sentiment of what will become of this land is correct and admirable. It will only be a few months before the damned bandit rabble is swept away like discarded iron shavings from the soot-blackened floor. This man, Lamont, seems to have a suitable mind for the task. The others... they are willing, and they are probably capable, but they don't quite have the vision. Perhaps Torag will show them the way before it's all done. The cleric admits to himself that these men have the potential, no matter their current perspective.
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Old Mar 29th, 2010, 10:59 PM
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"Come along now, Sally." Stan had stopped referring to the mule as 'Barty' immediately after Karth and Sartov had pointed out in tandem the lack of a certain appendage on the mule without which the name did not quite fit. Stan had accepted his mistake with a shrug and characteristic good cheer. Indeed, the mule was nothing at all what he had expected. Barty the docile brown mule had become Sally the obstinate bitch-mule, and with spots no less once the rain had started. Stan counted his blessings -- it still seemed likely that he had at least gotten a mule, though he was no longer ruling out pony or midget horse given how poorly he'd done so far. How was I supposed to know? Not many mules on a river. Or wandering in the woods.

Fortunately, the poorly tempered beast, though she'd bitten every other member of the group so far except for the woodsmen, seemed to have taken a bit of a liking to Stan. He had no idea what he was doing, but he was friendly enough and good to her despite her bad temper, and she seemed to at least be willing to continue moving most of the time if he asked nicely.

He smiled at the others with whom he was travelling. All were more than a bit tall for his liking, and he was starting to get a sore neck from looking up at them all while they talked, but they seemed like decent enough folks. And the kind of folks from whose deeds good stories could be woven, perhaps even without too much embellishment. 'Things' seemed to be looking up almost as much as he was.

Yes, his prospects were certainly better than they'd seemed when he was sitting in jail, accused (based only on his own stories!) of banditry, and with the judge on the fence between kicking him out of town on the one side and something harsher on the other. If he'd been any less of a charmer, things could have gone very badly indeed.

"You folks are being too pessimistic. This far out, there's bound to be some good cheer, and in liquid form as well! I've got all the metal I need for the time being. But a warm meal, a strong drink, and a roaring fire -- those are some things that I'm missing."
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Old Mar 29th, 2010, 11:17 PM
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Alistair stifled a guffaw at the idealism of his brethren. Alistair took a much more non-committal stance when it came to faith.Someone had given him a proper destiny and he didn't want to give credit where it wasn't due. But then, he didn't know who was to thank for his destiny so he kept an open mind to all of the deities.

Grannlaw had the right idea. As of right now, just about anyone out here was a threat. even if they weren't in direct competition with us, they would be seeking our money and to provide us services of dubious quality.We must be wary if we are to succeed. Just then, Alistair's boot got stuck in mud for a moment and he let out a deep sigh as he lifted his weighty foot. Forgive me, Lamont, if I cannot smell anything over this mud and decay. This may one day be a good city, but today these people are not our friends or even our subjects and we should be wary, Grannlaw is correct. For today we get set up and then tomorrow we begin what we came out here for. And let's not forget Lamont, you can't bring justice if you don't have any power. An attitude like yours would have us sitting at the sidelines while King Whatshisname is crowned. Sartov and Karth, are these lands familiar to you? A local touch would be very helpful at this juncture.

Alistair patted Commodore on his flanks. He decided on the name of Commodore during the trip. As of right now the horse was his only loyal subject and that results in high reward in Alistair's book. The Commodore was good burly stallion, worthy of a king, or so the stableman said. His eyes venture forward to the keep. Only a few hundred more steps.
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Old Mar 29th, 2010, 11:37 PM
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That high- and mighty-feeling pessimistic twerp is ignoring me, isn't he. Well.... maybe I'll tell him what I know, and maybe I won't.

"Ahem! Yeah, down here. You are free to think whatever you want about this place, but we'll find our way a lot easier if we are careful to act friendly and give them some respect. Imagine how much less comfortable it would be if they weren't maintaining a fort here at all?"

 
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Old Mar 29th, 2010, 11:58 PM
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Karth keeps to the back of the group, having interacted with them as much as he dared for the time being. Hopes seemed high, if a bit tempered and realistic - which he appreciated. At his core, he truly hoped they would succeed but he knew it would be an uphill fight every step of the way, and many of those battles would be waged on courts he knew nothing of.

He sighed and worked his shoulders. He had kept his heavy armor on at all times, which had been pointed out as a bit odd given his occupation. He had shrugged and rather bluntly remarked that one more set of clanking iron would hardly make them any louder. He hadn't added that he wore it like a second skin, mostly because it came so naturally he didn't even notice, but the group - especially Grannlaw, who had an eye for such things - certainly had.

His horse, a coarse black stallion, bore the weight well enough and without complaint. They had 'met' almost by chance, the horse offered as payment after a job gone somewhat awry. It wasn't until Karth had encountered Stan that the beast's lack of name came up; After much arguing and name suggestions that grew increasingly ridiculous (to the half-orc's ears, anyway), he had blurted out 'Newleaf' in a fit of inspiration mixed with frustration. The moniker seemed appropriate, anyway, and the halfling had let him be.

As he heard the others engaging in conversation he coaxed him forward. "I wouldn't trust anyone this close to the Stolen Lands," he remarked in a period of silence. "I've got all the iron and steel I need, anyway," he remarked with a clear undertone stating and so should all of you. His eyes wandered to the two he regarded as 'softest' in the group, Stan and Alistair. He doubted the former was capable of feeling miserable and the latter seemed to be holding up quite well, in defiance of his expectations.

As the argument between the two starts up, he steps in. "I think we all know to be wary here. But Stanley is right, I'm sure we could all use a warm meal and a night's rest in a proper bed. I doubt anyone would cheat us over something so simple." The halfbreed's mien darkens as he considers the area and he shakes his head, his long-tied back hair shaking like the horse's tails. "I'm afraid I don't know much of this region. Brevoy proper, perhaps, or the River Kingdoms, but only the desperate and the foolish stop long enough to learn much of the Stolen Lands."
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Old Mar 30th, 2010, 12:14 AM
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I will be nice to these people. I wasn't raised to forget my manners. But none of them are in earshot now are they! Alistair laughs lightly and then sighs at Stanley, tossing his cloak a bit behind his shoulder, having been blown into his face by the wind Well, I won't deny that I could use some time off the road and a bit more time enjoying a warm meal by a fire. You know, now that you mention it Stanley, it hadn't occurred to me to bring my own spirits. Lamont, I don't suppose you did? Ah well. I'm tired enough I'm sure the taste won't matter too much. Rest assured, once this is my kingdom, I will make sure a quality distiller is able to ply his craft. What's a kingdom without good whiskey or sour mash after all?
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Old Mar 30th, 2010, 12:17 AM
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Stan scratched his head, trying to recall the bits and pieces he had heard of this place. A fly kept buzzing by his nose, driving him to distraction. This outpost had been built as a frontier fort, during Brevoy's attempts at conquering these lands. The attempt had fallen by the wayside and soon, forgotten. He had picked up some rumors about the current owners; this man Oleg was a middle aged, gruff sort who had moved out here to get away from the city life. It was rumored that his wife, Svetlana, was quite pretty...and a "mail order" bride.

As you ride into the court yard, the smell of a hearty stew wafts in the wind, making you drool a bit- too bad that halfling cook had not come along to make your journey a bit more palatable. There is a roaring fire in the hearth pit at the center and two tables with freshly made food; hearty stew, warm bread, and even an open bottle of wine You also notice that overall, the interior of the fort is a bit run down. For example, At each corner of the palisade are 20-foot square watchtowers, each armed with a run-down catapult
left over from the site’s original use as a border fort.

A large, middle aged man is working busily on the roof of the building, hammering away. He looked down on you, scratching the stubbled chin of his weathered face. "Mmm, hey...ahh, welcome; you are who they sent huh?" said the man gruffly, under his breath. A woman, raven haired and curvy, and perhaps a decade or two younger than the man on the roof, rushed out of the building. "Ahh, we've been expecting you, I am Svetlana; you can call me Lana, please, please, make yourselves at home. Ehh, Oleg, can you stable the horses honey?" she exclaimed.
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Old Mar 30th, 2010, 12:39 AM
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Grannlaw stops markedly upon discovery by Oleg of the Roof. He puts his half-swung left foot to his side, rather than in front of him, and he puts his unshielded right arm upon his hip, curled into an unclenched fist. "Well met, and a blessing..." he says gruffly but far too quietly for Oleg to hear it. His companions surely note the dry answer.

But then pretty Lana comes out of the door, and Grannlaw can forgive the man his indifference. The priest could see himself in a similar mood if he had to spend time up on a roof away from such a wife. "Gladly met, miss. I am Grannlaw, and I am grateful for your shelter."
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Old Mar 30th, 2010, 12:53 AM
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Alistair proceed to give the fort a once over. Immediately his mind went to possible improvements. His mind worked that way. The palisades are long over-due for maintenance, and those catapults would need to be completely overhauled. It might just be cheaper to start from scratch oh well. It wasn't a bad notion I suppose

He handed Commodore off to Oleg, sliding him a 3 silver piece tip Take good care of him, alright. Alistair says with a smile. He makes his way across the fort to the kitchen and smells the food. It had been awhile since he actually felt hunger and the food smelt strangely alluring, though he suspected that was his hunger talking rather than any actual skill on the part of Lana.

He took a seat in the serving area It smells good my dear matron. What time do you suppose dinner will begin? He looked the woman up and down. She was good looking for a commoner, though he couldn't fathom any amount of money or skill that Oleg would possess to tie her to him. She was honestly the very image of a barmatron that Alistair often imagined. It was an eerie confluence of imagination and reality. Alistair, unbuckled his boot and decided to begin relaxing, his feet throbbing from the day's travel.
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Old Mar 30th, 2010, 02:19 PM
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Stanley whispers, "be good!", into Sally's ear, and ties her to the rail. Probably best to restrain her a bit to give old Oleg a fighting chance. Though from the looks of him he's been around the block... I'm sure he'll be fine. Stanley unfastens his pack saddle and drags it off the mule, hauling it up with a grunt over his shoulders. He grimaces under the strain, but turns down any help. "No.. no.. I'm fine. Who else amongst you can lift more than twice his weight? I'm a monster!"

He stumbles into the inn, and then drops his burden in the hall. "Thanks for the welcome, my dear lady. I'd love to have a spot to drop this burden and keep it safely while I'm not out on the trail. And don't bother yourself further about food and all that for right now. It looks great, but I doubt many amongst us can handle stew and wine this close to daybreak." He looks over his shoulder at Alistair, and then gives the lady Svetlana a wink. "Where shall I take these bags, then?"
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Old Mar 30th, 2010, 05:49 PM
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As the distracted Oleg and his lovely wife make their greetings to the road-worn travellers, Lamont swings himself easily off Gold Dust, keeping a grip on her reins as he pats the big horse on her neck. Lamont studies the sorry state of the defenses of the trading post even as some of the others swiftly collapse toward the waiting food and comforts of a place to rest. He tends to his own mount as he gives her a brief check and rub-down before moving her with the other mounts to the stables.

The paladin keeps a steady hand on Gold Dust's reins as he speaks to Oleg, "A well-met Trademaster. I see you tend to your shelter, which is of course wise, but it appears you have not seen to your walls or catapults in quite some time. Do you not think that a needless risk being as isolated from neighboring help as you are out here? A bit of extra effort would surely provide you with much added security in these perilous times."
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