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  #46  
Old Feb 25th, 2016, 06:09 PM
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Wordlessly, Silas took the offered bottle, tipped his head back and imbibed. He let the bottle down with a breathy sigh. "Gods that's good!" He angled the bottle to have a look at the label in the flickering firelight and took another swig before passing it back. Absently, he used a long stick to poke at the fire, adjusting one of the burning logs to allow more air flow. Sparks flew up, dancing in fevered spirals as they rocketed up and out of the firelight before disappearing into the dark of the trees above. A thought that the darkness seemed to swallow, even devour the light skittered across Silas' mind. Silas placed another, and yet another piece of wood onto the fire to keep it going. It seemed somehow important to keep that light going against the darkness. Silas shook his head. This was The Falls. No harm could come to them here unless they brought it onto themselves.

It sounds tempting Dan. Really, it does. But what about all the strange effing shite that's happened to us? Could you just go back to how simple it all was before? Could you really forget the Ichvaal? I don't know Dan. That flaming shite that happened with Corq.... I mean, I don't know, but this is just BIGGER than us, you know? If we don't continue on..." Silas absently poked at the fire, scraping his stick and sharpening it to a point in the coals. "I think we have to. I think I have to. "
  #47  
Old Mar 7th, 2016, 09:45 PM
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The two boys watched the fire as its sparks sailed upward. The falls. It felt good to be back.

Dan had removed his worn leather boots and had set them steaming by the fire. He was laying comfortably on the ground, with his back against a rock, just like he had done a hundred times before. But now, his hand was on his mother's hymnal -- the small black book held magical secrets, and he was becoming increasingly taken by reading it. Firelight was a poor thing to read by, especially the spidery language of magic, and he quickly slapped it shut.

He had been listening absently to Silas as the ranger debated the option to give up. "I know," Dan says finally. "We have to do it I guess. Besides, it seems like the only way I make more progress on learning magic is to get out and use it. I just wish it didn't entail almost dying every effing day." He curses. There's silence for a moment, then the two old campaigners share a laugh. Danger was the way of things, the only path to greatness.

The moon rises and the nearby creek babbles on and on. In the distance, the plaintive call of a wolf echoes repeatedly. Conversation moves along and they discuss what they'd seen in the past few weeks, what might have happened to their companions, and what their old friends were doing right now. With the lights of Leyman's Hollow flickering in the valley below, it was hard not to wonder.

"I bet my dad is bottling this year's vintage around now. Probably has my brother helping him."

Dan takes another swig and abruptly gets up. "Know what? Screw it. If we're going to go to Hartford, or to steal some shite from the wizard that lives down in some gods-forsaken swampland in the south, there's a really good chance we'll never see Leyman's Hollow again. I'll never see my family. You'll never see... that girl that you were so bloody sweet on... what was her name? At least, not for a very long time." He hands the bottle to Silas for the last swig. "We've escaped giant sloths and shape-changing madmen. We're carrying artifacts that are probably a thousand years old!" He raises his strange staff, and nods to Silas's ornate mindbow. Standing, albeit a little wobbly, the young wizard says: "You and me can get through some rickety wooden gate outside the Hollow no problem. Let's see our old friends one last time. Come on, Sy, don't make me do this alone."
DM's NoteIf you decide to go along to Leyman's Hollow, include an unmodified d20 roll with your next post.

Last edited by mountainbound; Mar 7th, 2016 at 09:47 PM.
  #48  
Old Mar 15th, 2016, 12:44 PM
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Silently, Silas poked at the fire as he considered Dan's entreaty. It really would be great to go home. Ma worried enough on a normal, boring day. It'd be good to at least let her know we're still kicking. But what if they got caught? The last thing they needed now was beef with the flaming local yocal fuzz. It was a damned stupid idea but.....

Suddenly, Silas grinned, now decided. "Bloody hell this is a stupid, effing, wool headed thing to do Dan. Let's do it."

Home. They were going home!

1d20Dice Roll:
1d20 =13
  #49  
Old Mar 17th, 2016, 03:08 PM
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The two companions sling their packs over shoulders and kick out the fire, suddenly energized by the prospect of getting to see their families again. The night air, with early spring crickets chirping and a crescent moon gliding through the branches, is alive with energy.

In no time the boys are walking along Scott's lane, a dark rutted path leading down to Leyman's Hollow. The Hollow itself was a collection of farms that sprawled down the side of a formidable hill, right to the Yakawanna river. On the other side of the water was Olyphant, the low-lying twin to Leyman's Hollow. Early on, the inhabitants of the Hollow pooled their resources to create a stout wooden fence miles in length to protect the families living there. There were three gates through the fence: the Olyphant gate lower down by the river, the Main St. gate to the east, and Kutsop's gate, far up the hill on the north-west of the village.

Since the families of both adventurers mostly lived higher up on the hill, the boys made their way toward Kutsop's gate, named for the village butcher who's shop was nearby. The gates were locked every night, and guards were usually posted, so there was no chance of just walking in at this hour. It seemed to Dan they had two options. "Well," the wizard says, "We can either go to the gate and see if it's guarded tonight. If so, maybe we can disguise who we are to get in. Or, we climb the fence. You have any other ideas?"
DM's NoteIf you climb, post a climb check, DC 18.
If you go to the gate, post a Disguise check, DC 12.
If you have other ideas, post the appropriate skill check and we'll take it from there!

I'm saving the roll in the previous post in case I forget to ask for something or need a quick "decider" check.

Last edited by mountainbound; Mar 17th, 2016 at 04:45 PM.
  #50  
Old Mar 18th, 2016, 10:43 AM
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Silas smiled as the two made their way down the familiar path. It actually felt good to have his pack on again, and his feet seemed flow across the terrain with a little extra spring in each step. Silas imagined that he could hear this piece of the forest whispering welcome to him. Blood and ashes, but it was good to be home!

As Silas and Dan came near to the old worn bridge that spanned the crick, Silas couldn't help but marvel at how small it seemed. How small the whole of the Falls seemed. After all they'd been through, and all they'd travelled, it felt as if the Falls itself was only but a few strides in length. The thought didn't diminish his love of the place any, but the place had always seemed huge in his mind. Colossal in its importance and in its stature. Now it seemed....small and quaint and...simple.

"I think we should just hop the fence," Silas said to Dan. After all they'd been through, he felt a kind of smugness about the whole thing. What was it to hop a fence in a tiny little town like Leyman's Hollow? They'd faced down crawlers, done battle with beings wielding magic who were way more experienced than themselves. They'd survived ichvaali ruins, and met small magical beings. They were bearers of Ichvaali artifacts imbued with powers they'd only barely begun to understand. What was a stupid little fence? Warm with a bit of wine and his confidence, Silas was looking forward to going home.

Climb CheckClimb Check

Dice Roll:
1d20+8 (8)+8 Total = 16

Last edited by Krimchee; Mar 18th, 2016 at 10:46 AM.
  #51  
Old Mar 21st, 2016, 10:43 AM
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More skilled at scaling walls and balancing across logs, Silas clutches a finger-hold in the stout wooden wall surrounding Leyman's Hollow, and begins hoisting himself up. In a few moments, the ranger slides down again. Moving a bit further down the fence, he tries again, only to jump down, stymied by the relatively smooth wood. It's higher and seems built of newer wood than you remember.

"Tougher than it looks, eh?" Dan whispers. The young wizard doesn't even attempt to climb. If Sy can't make it, I doubt I would. This part of the Hollow isn't very populated, but guards have been known to walk the perimeter at night. Many more tries at climbing and you were bound to be heard by someone. "I've been thinking... I learned a spell from Mother's book. If I understand it correctly, it can unlock objects like chests and stuff." The two continue down Scott's lane in the darkness. "If the gate is unmanned, I might like to try that spell. And if it's manned, well... we can think of something. It's not like we look like we did months ago when we left with my brother's canoe." He chuckles, scratching a considerable beard. Silas's own face was equally bushy from too many days in the wilderness.
DM's NoteThe fence is higher and better built than expected. In fact, in many cases it appears it's been fortified and improved with new timber. You can attempt climbing one more time, but if you do, there is a good chance you'll be noticed. Climb DC 18. I will roll the notice check if you decide to try this again.

Option B, you can go to the gate and "Knock". If you choose to disguise yourself beforehand, it's a Disguise check, DC 12. This is an optional check, though a good roll will help you with future Bluff checks if they're needed. A poor roll simply means you would be recognizable by acquaintances.

Or... anything else you might like to try, such as scouting the gate to learn more information, etc.
  #52  
Old Mar 24th, 2016, 09:45 AM
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Cursing with frustration, Silas quickly realized that climbing just wasn't going to work. He scowled at Dan's comments, glaring at him with undisguised annoyance. That son of a goat is enjoying this, he thought. Some part of him knew that they'd laugh about it over a glass of wine later, but right now he was mostly annoyed at himself for assuming his newly acquired 'worldly' experience would be too much for the fence of a po-dunk backwater like Leyman's Hollow.

"Alright, alright. Let's try the gate then. This is a bloody stupid idea," Silas mumbled this last as he began to prepare himself. Looking critically at Dan, he realized that they both probably looked considerably different than when they'd left. Dan was leaner, more sturdy looking then he remembered. All the non-stop travel and fighting had forged him into a more solid version of himself. The road hadn't been completely unkind to his buddy, Silas thought. Silas imagined he probably had changed too, but gods knew he hadn't had much chance to dally in front of a mirror of late.

"We should bloody well try to at least make ourselves unrecognizable." Silas drew up they hood of his cloak and tried his best to arrange his weapons so they were less noticeable, if that was even possible. He wasn't willing to do without them. He'd needed them too many times, and too often now to really consider it an option. On the one hand, they might draw attention, but on the other, they might be a kind of disguise in and of themselves. Prior to all this, the boys certainly hadn't walked around their hometown armed. Sure, they'd shoot bows in the yard or carry a pocket knife. But strap on proper weapons meant for killing and run around the neighborhood armed? Silas smiled as he imagined what their parents would have had to say about that kind of foolish behavior. Who were they supposed to fight? Rambob?

Silas' first instinct was to be skeptical that Dan could use a spell to unlock the gate. But he grudgingly had to admit that Dan was growing increasingly adept at magic and had used it to to save his bacon a couple times now. "If we're going to go on with this flaming foolishness, let's bloody well get on with it then."

DisguiseDisguise

Dice Roll:
1d20+1 (3)+1 Total = 4

Last edited by Krimchee; Mar 24th, 2016 at 09:48 AM.
  #53  
Old Mar 25th, 2016, 11:05 AM
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The boys walk along the grassy path, dark trees looming on their right. On their left, the twinkling lights of Leyman's Hollow. Further down in the valley, a few lights from Olyphant flicker across the unseen Yakawanna River. As they near the Butcher's Gate, they pull up hoods and hide daggers as best they can. Dan is quiet, pursing his lips as he tries to recall the exact words of a few spells. Drinking wine and trying to remember magic spells were not exactly complimentary.

You round the last bend, seeing the roof of Kutsop's Market below you, on the other side of the unclimbable wooden fence. Many other rooftops spew gray smoke in the spring moonlight. Then you come to the gate. Instantly both boys notice gouge marks in the wood, and in spots it appears that the timbers have been burned by some sort of corrosive acid. There are signs of repair and fortification in numerous spots nearby. "Looks like there's been some action here," Dan mutters. "Spitting crawlers attack the Hollow, you think?"
 

Before you get a chance to knock, a peep-hole slides open and a gruff voice says: "Who goes there? What's yer business whispering out there in the dark? This village be under the protection of the Great Magi, and we don't open the gate for anyone except those that serve Her. As a rule, travelers in the dark only bring trouble." The voice belongs to a man, but his accent is strange -- definitely not from Leyman's Hollow.
DM's NoteDiplomacy check, DC 14 to influence the guard's attitude. Feel free to roll other checks as you see fit.
  #54  
Old Apr 5th, 2016, 07:48 AM
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Silently, Silas looked at the scars on the fence that Dan referred to. There'd always been some danger of crawlers in The Hollow, but it was pretty rare for them to attack the fortifications themselves. Small groups of travelers, pets, even horses and wagons from time to time. But this... "Yeah, it looks like that's exactly what happened. But why?"

Silas silently berated himself for not noticing sooner. At least Dan's paying gods damned attention, he thought with annoyance. We need to pay extra attention here, he told himself.

When the peep-hole suddenly slid open with a hiss and a thud, Silas nearly jumped. He silently cursed himself yet again for being caught off gaurd. What the eff? he thought silently. Pay attention! Then the guard's words hit him. What Great Magi? There's no flippin Magi in The Hollow.... He'd expected Ry-an Hogan or maybe Ram-Bob to be at the gate. What the eff was all this about?

"Um...Good evening Sir. We're on our way to the Butcher's Shop sir. My grandma sent us to get some of his kielbasi for a family reunion next weekend." Silas paused for a few seconds, thinking furiously. "We're sorry for the late hour sir, we'd intended to get here sooner but we stopped for a drink and....Please sir, may we come in? Neither of us wants to spend a night out here alone these days."

Diplomacy CheckDiplomacy Check

Dice Roll:
1d20+1 (19)+1 Total = 20


Perception CheckPerception Check

Dice Roll:
1d20+11 (13)+11 Total = 24
  #55  
Old Apr 9th, 2016, 10:13 PM
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The grizzled old gatekeeper grunts, then belches loudly in Silas' face. "Kielbasi!? You damn yokels," he laughs condescendingly. "Traipsing through a dark wood to get kielbasi for your grandma." He shakes his head, takes another swig of his flask, then then slams the peep hole shut. In another moment, one of the doors that protects Leyman's Hollow from the nasty things that creep outside swings open.

With a sigh of relief, Sy and Dan walk through the opening, giving a slight nod to the old man guarding the gate. He sneers drunkenly but says nothing.

The two boys walk past the butcher's shop -- it was closed at this hour anyway -- and wind their way down the street. Most of the small hovels were dark. When they come to Dan's home, they see there's no candlelight glowing through the small hole in the door. "Huh, strange that Dad would have no light. It's not that late." Dan says.

Sy cocks his head, listening with uncanny perception, but there's no sound. "No need to knock. Nobody's home. Let's try my Dad's house." So cautiously you make your way down 7th street, taking in the familiar sights. Not much has changed, except for the odd quiet that seems to have fallen.

Walking up the steep lane leading up to the Mota homestead, the boys are surprised to see that there are several horses tied outside, and even at this distance the din of many voices is discernible. You walk up the stairs leading to the door, wondering what all the commotion is about. Silas pushes it open -- it was his home anyway -- and peers inside. There are dozens of men and women crammed inside the house, deep in deliberation. If you didn't know better, you'd think you walked into the middle of a secret meeting. But all conversation dies when the two of you appear at the door.

"Silas! Dan! What the hell are you doing here?" booms a loud voice from the other end of the room. Silas Sr. pushes forward, giving his wayward son a handshake and quick embrace. "Everybody said you were dead after that incident with Jenson. I knew you were too smart to get killed in the wilderness. It's good to have you back," the man says, "both of you. We need you now more than ever."

Silas'brother can't help but whistle in admiration at the bow his older brother now carries. "Whoa, where did you get this? It's looks like it weighs nothing! What are all those markings? Where did you get it?"

Dan's own father also appears from the crowd, along with other family and friends. They swarm around you, smiling despite the heavy tension in the air. Pints of beer are placed in your hands and things turn into a mini reunion as people clamor to find out what happened to the two hometown boys who've been lost for almost a year.
DM's NoteYou can tell as much or as little of your story as you like. Throw a Perform check in for good measure.

Last edited by mountainbound; Apr 10th, 2016 at 07:12 PM.
  #56  
Old Apr 10th, 2016, 10:03 PM
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As he opened the door, Silas was relieved and super glad to see family and friends crowded into the house all in one place. After what seemed like a long round of hugs and handshakes and assurances that he was well, it quickly became apparent to him that this was not a festive meeting. In fact, Silas sensed a tenseness in the air and bit by bit he became more and more sure that all was probably not well in Lehman's Hollow.

He gratefully accepted the offered pint with a grin, raising the glass, "Cheers!". At the first sip, the hometown brew tasted divine. Silas found himself feeling nervous at being the center of so much attention. It seemed like ages since he and and Dan had had any experience with a crowd. Silas took solace in his pint, quickly finishing it and grabbing another as he deflected question after question and trying to ask after his friends and family instead. People always would rather talk about themselves, and Silas just wasn't into explaining. He knew it'd sound bat-shite crazy. Hell, it WAS crazy, if the truth be told. They'd probably think he and Dan had had too much moss.

Silas ignored his brother's question of where he'd got the bow. But he couldn't ignore his own pride at the weapon and eagerly showed it off, promising his brother to let him fire off a few rounds when there was time.

"Enough about us...what about you guys? What's going on here? And what's all this about serving a 'Great Magi'?"

PerformPerform

Dice Roll:
1d20+1 (14)+1 Total = 15
  #57  
Old Apr 12th, 2016, 10:04 PM
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At the appearance of two prodigal sons, the mood in the house lifts, and questions are fired at the boys like arrows from a quiver. Silas is somewhat reserved, but his terse responses only heighten the mystery of where he acquired the exquisite bow he carries, and where he's been. Dan, on the other hand, is more of a crowd pleaser. He's well into the story of the collapsing fungi and the long fall into darkness when Silas reigns him in.

"...And what's all this about serving a 'Great Magi'?"

The room quiets, as does Dan, waiting to hear who would answer. Silas Sr. clears his throat. "Well boys, a lot has changed since you disappeared. There were crawler attacks just about from the day you went missing. We couldn't protect ourselves, not with a good portion of the men recruited to sail back to OR. That left us shorthanded."

"Then the southern sneaks started showed up," Dan's father pipes in. Dan's older brother Geoff was among the ones who sailed off, and without Dan around, the man was left to tend his farm and his vinyard by himself. "It was clear they weren't here to pick grapes. They started pouring in, mercenaries and theives all of them. Stole more than a few silver from me, and roped the elected officials of the Hollow into paying them a handsome salary to patrol the town. Then Crace, their leader, showed up. That's when it got really bad. He sealed the contract to build the wall with Mayor Munley."

Old Al P'la, sucking on a pipe near the fire, takes up the story. "With the crawlers attacking almost every week, the wall seemed like the first good thing to come from the southerners being here. But when most of us couldn't afford the 5 golds Crace demanded for materials and labor, they issued a monthly "wall tax." Then they started taxing every person leaving the Hollow along with every cart entering the village, and the Olyphant bridge as well!"

"Don't forget the Keilbasi tax," grumbles the village shaman, who was also the local butcher.

"And now Mayor Munley is missing!" someone calls.

"That's true," Dan's dad says. "A week ago Crace produced a note in Munley's handwriting that says our Mayor up and left in the night, heading south to tender 'unnatural items' over to the Great Magi on behalf of the Hollow. But don't you believe it. Those southerners came here looking for Ichvaali artifacts, just like they did in Wilk's Bear and Archeebald. Most every town around here is built on an Ichvaali ruins, and the Great Magi is paying big money to collect every last damn trinket that anybody can dig up. But I don't think Munley would turn traitor. He's a bastard, but he's not the type to leave his cushy position to travel hundreds of miles in the wilderness."

Al blows a smoke ring, "We think Munley is being held captive so that Crace can take over Olyphant and Lehman's Hollow. He's put everybody in prison who's outright spoken up against him, and he's now paying his own mercenaries to police both towns."

Silas Sr. finishes the tale. "That's why we're here tonight: to make a plan. We need to find out if Munley is alive. If he is, then we have the proof we need to throw Crace and his ilk out. We think Munley's in the Olyphant courthouse -- it's the only building built on the old ruins, and has plenty of catacombs beneath it. We weren't sure who among us was up for the task," he grins, "but you two showing up is mighty convenient."
DM's NoteLet's pick up the story in the new chapter.

Last edited by mountainbound; Apr 13th, 2016 at 02:22 PM.
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