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  #106  
Old 11-09-2019, 03:52 AM
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Maja
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Somehow, Maja managed not to flinch when the large goliath reached out and touched her hand. She had to crane her neck as the tattooed man spoke to her.

"The great glacier is not unknown to me; it is far away in the northeastern direction from where I live... lived," the girl replied. Despite the hopelessness of the overall situation, she had to chuckle at Gauth-Touri's comment about halflings being shaved dwarves.

"I am a cartographer in training," she explained. "Mom and dad have a renowned shop for maps in Amphail."

Her look saddened. Her throat felt dry as she continued. "I wished I wouldn't have to tell you this, Gauth-Touri, but if you are from the Great Glacier area, you have been abducted by the mists as we were and you are now trapped as much as we have been in the realm of Count Strahd from Zarovich. You mustn't think of this realm as some country in Faerûn like Cormyr or Vaasa. This realm here forms its own demi-plane, a perfect prison whose walls are made by the prevailing mists and which we may only leave again through powerful magic or Strahd's will."

She nodded. "You may call Strahd the chieftain of these lands, but he is not a benevolent one. From what we have learned, he views his subjects merely as toys of him. He's a tyrant."

Maja gestured at Ireena and looked at her apologetically. "This is Ireena Koylana," she introduced her to the goliath. "Contrary to the rest of us, she was born here. She can tell you much more about how it is to have a chieftain like Strahd. From what I have deduced so far, Strahd is not omnipotent, though. There are powers above him. He once called them Dark Powers in a letter he wrote many hundred years ago."

"I am sorry about the witch," she finally said. "I was being sarcastic when I shouldn't have lost my countenance." She shrugged. "I don't know how Strahd calls me — should he ever consider it necessary to give me a name — but probably not a witch."

"But I would like to help and find your missing charge Aran," she added. "As much as I let my mind wander into yours, I can let it travel through these lands to search for specific people. Don't ask me what's wrong with my brain that I can do these things, though, I have no idea. Anyway, if you could describe Aran to me as good as you can, I will look out for you."
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Last edited by Disaster Master; 11-09-2019 at 02:16 PM.
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  #107  
Old 11-10-2019, 04:47 AM
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Gauth-Touri of the Auranthanati
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Gauth listened impassively as Maja again explained the nature of the place.

”It is what it is.” he said after a moments thought.


First he turned to Maja ”Our Shaman would sometime speak in our heads. It is a gift, Maja Talistag, there is nothing wrong with your brain. It is only the use you put it to that can be right or wrong.

Your offer to use it to help find Aran-Tho is a kind offer, it shows kindess to strangers. It would place me in your debt, but I should happily be at your service if you would tell me where I can find him.”


He closed his eyes a moment, then opened them looking directly into the young woman’s eyes. ”I am thinking of him now, holding a picture in my mind. Can you see it? He is but a boy in our tribe, maybe the height of your trickster there, but he would look like me. I know you lowlanders have trouble telling us apart, but if see his markings are thinner, and seem to avoid the nose, not point to it. And he has no tattoos, not yet. He will be dressed like me too. Will that help you find him?”


Then he turned to Ireena. ”Ireena Koylana,” he gave the woman a slight bow ”I am curious. Why do you let Strahd remain as chieftain if he does not act for the good of your tribe? Why does no one challenge him? From what Maja Taistag says he is an ancient chieftain, surely at some time someone would have challenged him. If not, vote another and leave this place. An over-strong chieftain who cares not for his tribe soon finds himself lord of the land alone.“

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  #108  
Old 11-10-2019, 06:23 AM
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Maja
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Maja had expected the worst and definitely not the goliath's calm reply. It is what it is. She had just revealed to him that he had been abducted and imprisoned in Strahd's dark dominion with no chance to return home anytime soon! How did he manage to retain his mental balance?

The young telepath immediately understood that a great source of wisdom was behind Gauth-Touri's stoic expression, even if he had troubles with her surname. Those who measured the goliath only by his size and his bodily strength must underestimate him by a magnitude.

He said kind words to her. "Maybe nothing is wrong with my brain and it is just a whim of nature that it is different to anyone else's. But I still fear that putting it to any use could be wrong. Had I never learned the secrets of my mind, I wouldn't have had to flee from home and would have never ended here and I would be spending a merry time with Darvin."

Are you believing what you are saying? her inner voice spoke to her. The actual reason why you ran away from home was that your parents had found out that you had slept with your boyfriend. And hadn't you mastered to control some of your powers, your virginity would have taken much earlier from you by the man who tried to rape you.

She brushed her wet hair away from her face and looked into the eyes of Gauth. "I'm probably talking drivel. Renouncing the powers that define me would just be stupid here at the foot of Castle Ravenloft when we have to deal with a centuries-old vampire," she said after a while.

The girl placed her hand on Gauth-Touri's meat hooks. "But you are also talking drivel," she said and dared a smile. "If I help you to find Aran-Tho that won't place you in my debt. If he is in danger it is as much my duty to help him as it is yours. This is what humanity is about, isn't it?"

Maja stared at him with wide eyes when he told her that he was holding a picture of the missing boy in his head and encouraged her to take a look at it. Was he suggesting that she invaded his brain?

"You must be putting a lot of confidence in me," she whispered and hesitated.

"I won't abuse it," the human girl said eventually, and as Gauth-Touri opened his mind for her, he could feel her telepathic feelers invading his brain. He knew instinctively that none of his thoughts would be concealed to her should she decide to mentally rummage in his memories, so, indeed, he had to trust her that all she was looking for was the mental picture of his charge.
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Last edited by Disaster Master; 11-10-2019 at 09:14 AM.
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  #109  
Old 11-10-2019, 10:55 AM
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Tarton Wetfeet
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Tarton silently watched the stranger meet most of the group. He was a strange fellow, "perhaps an even more simplistic world view than Renata, or even Maja," he muttered to Gareth as the man struggled to wrap his head around where he was. He smirked at the shaved dwarf comment as well. "Aye, you ain't never heard o' the Bareback dwarves from Magden Hills? Don't feed that pile o' goblin crap ta me boy, everyone has." Tarton let out a derisive noise from between his lips, a look of scorn on his face.

OOCAction: Put on a little show
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  #110  
Old 11-10-2019, 12:02 PM
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Gauth-Touri of the Auranthanati
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The little one seemed upset for some reason. He whispered to the joker, the said with a sneer ”Aye, you ain’t never heard ‘o the Bareback dwarves from Magden Hills? Don’t feed that pile o’ goblin crap ta me boy …”


Gauth turned and crossed towards where Tarton and Gareth were standing.

”I seemed to have caused offence.” he said dropping to one knee, trying his best to get eye-to-eye with the little fella. ”The Auranthanati keep themselves to themselves and I do not think I have heard of your Magden Hills, nor the dwarves that dwell there. You see all the dwarves that trade with the lowlanders near the Glacier take pride in their beards, and …” he paused for a moment, then continued ”… and seem to carry a bit more meat on their bones. I can see there are many more folk that we see in our valleys, I have much to learn.”


He stood up again and bowed his head to Tarton and Gareth and said with some formality ”I am Gauth-Touri of the Auranthanati, I am pleased that our paths have crossed. I hope that we may travel a while together.” he looked to them, hands gripping his staff, awaiting their names by way of introduction.

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  #111  
Old 11-10-2019, 03:50 PM
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Gareth Blackcroft
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At Tarton's remark Gareth let's out a short bark of laughter. "He'll fit in well, I think."

The rogue falls silent but nods gravely as Tarton spins his yarn and soon has to fake a coughing fit to mask his giggles. At least the newcomer wasn't trying to kill them or turn them into undead. That was a positive development. When Gauth-Touri introduces himself Gareth offers a gloved hand to the Goliath.

"Gareth Blackcroft, waterskin salesman extraordinaire. And as you've seen, I've picked up a few tricks in my travels, although my greatest power is to keep my friends from getting themselves killed doing something chivalrous."

The rogue favors Maja and Renata with a wide smile and a little wave. He does not seem to realize that he is standing in a puddle of goblin guts.

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Last edited by OldSchool; 11-10-2019 at 03:52 PM.
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  #112  
Old 11-11-2019, 11:53 AM
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Aubron Wranlana
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As Maja took the time to greet the strange goliath both verbally and non verbally, Aubron walked back over to the corpses of the goblins. The ranger knelt down on one knee and looked them up and down, studying their garb, their stature, and any identifying marks.

With his ears, however, he listened to Gauth's story. It was similar to their own, but a bit more tragic. He was missing a companion, where Aubron had wished that they shed some dead weight themselves.

He stood and walked over to Gauth. "Aubron Wranlana, Ranger of the High Forest. I may be able to track these creatures from where you first exited the mist. From there, I could look for your friend."

Then he turned to Maja. "I do not share your childish sympathy for all creatures under the sun. You've not lived the years, nor seen the tragedy that could unfold. Your naivety may get us all killed, and you should take note to NEVER impeded me again, Maja. This was not the first time you tried to intervene, but it will be your last."
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  #113  
Old 11-11-2019, 01:27 PM
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Maja
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Maja Tallstag (click to enlarge)
Shaved lean dwarves!

Maja looked at Tarton and Gareth. She should be glad that at least two of her party hadn't lost their humor. As she came to think about it, she hadn't seen any halflings, elves or dwarves in Strahd's domain. The natives seemed to be all human. She glanced at Gauth-Touri. As long as he was trapped on this plane, his misconception wouldn't probably matter.

Waterskin salesman extraordinaire!

Gareth continued to spin his yarn. She met his wide smile and little wave with a wink at him on her part. She formed an ironic Thank you with her lips.

Maja turned to the goliath whom she wanted to help with his missing charge but Aubron stepped in front of her, chiding her.

The girl looked at the alien ranger open-mouthed.

I may not see the tragedy that could unfold, she thought, but I do see the tragedy you have unfolded here.

She looked at Renata for help. No, she would have to stand her ground herself.

Maja turned back to Aubron and took a deep breath. "You have no right to judge me, elf," she finally said. "I may be an infant in your eyes, but I have as much my beliefs and values as you have."

"You say my naivety may get us killed — maybe," she continued, "but your remorselessness may likewise cause us to become forever trapped on this plane. How can you be so sure that I am wrong and you are right?"

The telepath took a step back and glanced at Aubron's weapon. "If I have understood you correctly, you threaten to kill me. That's not a good argument for your cause, is it? And what if I followed your logic, the wisdom of an elven century? You wouldn't wake up tomorrow morning."

She looked at him expectantly, wondering whether he saw through her argument.
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  #114  
Old 11-11-2019, 01:58 PM
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With a rare flash of emotion, Aubron flashed his eyes at Maja. "No, I do not threaten to kill you, girl. I threaten to abandon you. Twice now your impetuous ways have put us in danger. Once, you actually turned on me. If you say that Strahd is behind every movement in this hell, then I say that you are just as infected as the wolves in the mist.

Now, I have spoken my peace. We have a long way to travel yet."

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  #115  
Old 11-11-2019, 02:51 PM
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Tser Falls, 11:45AM, Thunderstorm
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As the cold rain pours down and the wind continues to howl, It becomes apparent that the group must move on. To stay out in the open upon this bridge, in full view of Strahd's castle… would be akin to suicide. The goliath and the rest of the group see that both of their stories lead in the same direction and by necessity, if nothing else, they decide to travel together.

Guath is on a mission...a singular mission. Barely able to truly comprehend so quickly what has befallen his charge… never-mind himself, the monk stalks forward. The rest of the party follows close behind, their destination of Vallaki, not far. The Old Svalich Road transitions soon from being a winding path through the Balinok Mountains to a lazy trail that hugs the mountainside as it descends into a fog-filled valley.

In the heart of the valley, you see a walled town near the shores of a great mountain lake, its waters dark and still. A branch in the road leads west to a promontory, atop which is perched a dilapidated stone windmill, its warped wooden vanes stripped bare.


OocFrom your viewpoint, the windmill is about 30 mins away and the village is about 2-3 hrs away.

 
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  #116  
Old 11-11-2019, 05:01 PM
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Gauth-Touri of the Auranthanati
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They’d taken turns introducing themselves. The joker was called Gareth Blackcroft – he held out a hand for holding; the dark skinned one, who he inferred was known as Renata, kept herself to herself; and the killer was called Aubron Wranala, a ranger. good, good, I approve of rangers. He too offered to put his skills to looking for Trouble.


But before Gauth could answer this Aubron Wranala and Maja Tallstag seemed to fight again. this is no tribe, they have no chieftain. They need order

Gauth stood impassively as they squabbled. If they wanted to fight so much, why did they not just get on with it? Maybe this is their challenge ritual?


He looked down from the bridge, towards the distant castle and the nearby village. But before the village there appeared to be a windmill, turning fast in the storm.

”I hate to interrupt. If this is a formal challenge between you, then I am afraid it is too subtle to me, but I must beg your forgiveness if I do not stay to watch. This weather is rough and it may be that Aran-Tho has sought shelter yonder. I will head that way to check. I am grateful for your offers of help. If, after you have completed your ritual, you still care to help you will find me at that building” he gestured at the windmill.

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  #117  
Old 11-11-2019, 05:48 PM
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As Gauth speaks Renata looks to the party's goal in the valley below, then up to the windmill. The goliath seems to have honorable intentions. "This is no place to travel alone," she says as she turns to accompany him, "certainly not for the young."

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  #118  
Old 11-12-2019, 01:28 AM
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Tarton Wetfeet
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Tarton shrugged slightly, surprised the goliath accepted his yarn so easily. He watched the ranger lambast the young woman, choosing to not voice a side in the fight, but knowing which he would choose if pressed. As they moved off the bridge, he grinned at Gauth's question regarding a challenge. "Yes Gauth, those silly lowlanders don't even know how to challenge each other! Not like us barebacks, let me tell you. Or those disgusting hairy dwarves, for whatever else is wrong with them." He stepped towards the mill, indicating that he was ready to go. "How does one challenge another where you're from?" Tarton asked, always keen to learn about another place.

OOCAction: Head off to the mill that's probably full of vampire werewolves.
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  #119  
Old 11-12-2019, 02:25 AM
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Maja
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After they had left the bridge, Maja looked back for a last time. The carnage was another monument to the depression that had befallen Strahd's lands. Another gash in this world's fabric.

She remained silent during the leg of their journey to Vallaki that had brought the party near the crumbling windmill.

Maja only looked up when Gauth-Touri wondered aloud whether he had been witnessing a formal challenge between Aubron and her. "We must have left a bad impression with you," she said. "That wasn't a formal challenge, neither formal, nor a challenge. That was what happens if we don't respect different views, forget what each of us has had to go through in life and especially during the past days, and talk and act before thinking."

She glanced at Aubron. "I'm sorry," she said, deeply ashamed that she had believed it possible that the ranger would have wanted to kill her. Will we become friends again? She wanted to say more to him but no words left her lips.

That hadn't been a healthy dispute. Maja had to admit to herself that neither of them had convinced the other. Aubron might be wiser than she was, but she was also able to put one and one together.

Eventually, she turned back to the goliath. "Renata's right. Let's go to the windmill together. If he's not there, I promised you to look for Aran-Tho, but for that, I need some time and maybe a bit of peace, which we hopefully find there."
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Last edited by Disaster Master; 11-12-2019 at 06:26 AM.
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Old 11-12-2019, 01:50 PM
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Gareth Blackcroft
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Gareth watches the exchange between Maja and Aubron with mild interest, enjoying all of the excitement after what seems like endless days and nights of terror and stress. The rogue glances at Tarton and grins appreciatively, but like the mage he remains silent.

When the village and windmill come into view the group decides to press on and search for Gauth's apprentice, or son, or cousin, or whatever, which suits the thief just fine. Something about the windmill nagged at him and after a few hundred meters Gareth pipes up.

"Don't we own a windmill now? Maja, you remember everything. Didn't we find something in the....the House."

Gareth stutters over the mention of the House, clearly trying to suppress or repress all memories of the place.

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