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  #1  
Old 02-25-2020, 08:47 PM
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Tenmen: The Long Night (Belliger Thorpe)

 


The Lodge
right-aligned image
”Here we are again at the ass end of the world.” It was with a heavy sigh that your uncle Galan had looked upon Tenmen as you finally crested the long hill that led to the small town. Glancing back the way you had come, however, he couldn’t help but smile a little, ”Damned fine view, though.”

From the top of the south-facing slope you could see for a great many miles, not quite all the way to Cabalan, but assuredly half-way. Lord Galan’s man-at-arms Valda had merely nodded at his lord’s words before turning his eyes towards the small town, looking for dangers that were unlikely to be found. You had gone your separate ways shortly after that, with Galan and Valda heading to secure their lodgings and you and Shiel heading down to the lakeshore to find a boat across the lake. Getting to the lodge on foot was possible, but not on horseback, and it was late enough in the day that you didn’t want to chance rolling an ankle, yours or your horses.

Travelling with your uncle allowed you to see much more of the kingdom than most nobles ever would, though at the cost of listening to the man grumble about being the tax collector for every far flung settlement that fell under the king’s rule. Passing by what seemed like the entire population of Tenmen already on their way to Cabalan had done little to calm his foul mood. Luckily you and your sister were taking up rooms at the hunting lodge across the lake from the town proper and would not have to endure his moods. The lodge was rustic, certainly, but it served its purpose well enough for those who preferred to spend their time amongst nature.

A hook, a bit of string, and some flower petals were all Sheil needed to catch two large trout as the boat made its way slowly across the long lake that continued all the way to the base of the Shrikesinger Mountains. As she brought the second one into the boat she offered you a mischievous wink, throwing down the gauntlet for your own hunting expedition in the morning. The boatman, who also happened to look after the upkeep of the lodge, was keen to offer what he knew of the deer and elk in the area, as well as where to avoid bears and owlbears emerging from their winter hibernation. Running afoul of a ravenous owlbear was not what you had in mind for the one full day you had to spend hunting in the pristine wilderness around the lake.

Belly full of trout and muscles sore from two days in the saddle, you fell asleep quickly enough in a strange bed that would barely have sufficed for one of your retainers in Cabalan. A creaking floorboard just outside your door woke you in the night, your eyes scanning the darkness as the fog cleared from your head. Sheil stepped into the doorway, illuminated by moonlight coming through your window, and your heart slowed a little. ”You awake?” she asked softly, before continuing on without waiting for a response. ”I think there’s something going on in town. I thought I heard screaming.”


OOCWelcome to the game.
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Old 02-26-2020, 03:17 AM
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Belliger
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Belliger groaned softly. 'I'm sure it was more a cheer or a holler. Go back to sleep.'

Sheil didn't budge, staring at her brother in quiet frustration. Her fair hair was tossed back, slumped over both her shoulders; Belliger suspected it annoyed her, even when bolted down with pins and clips in the city style, and she'd cut it off to the scalp one day just to see the looks on their parents' faces.

Belliger heard the unspoken admonishments and sighed. 'Listen, this is a tiny country town. Think about it. Their only source of entertainment is the tavern. You probably just heard some drunken miller losing at dice.'

'We've been here before and I've never heard -'

'Fine, fine. Get out and let me get dressed, I'll go out and have a look. Not sure what you expect me to see from here.'

Sheil nodded, never being one to say 'thank you' aloud when social etiquette didn't demand it, and retreated from his room.

Belliger took his time to slip on his hunter's garb, not quite as comfortable as the fine shirt and breeches he'd arrived in but better for the cool evening air. He strapped on the dagger against his belt as a force of habit - as little credit as he gave to Sheil's worries, it never went well to keep unarmed in the wilderness.

Sheil was loitering by the lodge's front door when he emerged from the small bunk room he'd reserved as his own. She didn't seem afraid - more wary, like she was operating on animal instinct. Belliger was still too drowsy to care much. 'Stay there,' he said as he shouldered open the front door and took a deep breath of the frigid air. The moon was full and bright, and his vantage point clearer than he'd expected. He felt settled, despite his sister's fussing; the woods felt calm and inviting, the isolated lodge a refuge. A home away from home.

He looked across the lake to the few and meagre lights of Tenmen.



 
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Old 02-26-2020, 07:48 PM
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The Lodge
right-aligned image
The clear, moonlit night offered the best possible view of the town, but it was still a long way between the lodge and Tenmen. Your eyes scanned the dimly lit town, a few small fires casting shadows on darkened homes, many of which were likely empty given the numbers you passed on the road. Just as you were turning away to give up on this fool’s errand, you spotted some movement from the corner of your eye. With something to focus on, you could now get a better idea of what was going on.

A person crept from between two homes into the street, slowly moving as they looked left and right. Were this the city you might have suspected some miscreant keeping an eye out for the watch, but in the middle of the night in a small town? The figure kept moving, stooping low as though trying to hide from sight, until they were joined by another figure that appeared scant few feet in front of them, arriving from around the corner of a small home. The two people stood in the street like statues for a moment before the newcomer embraced the first closely and they went to the ground without a sound. Watching two lovers was not something you wanted to do with your evening, but before you could look away one of the two rose from the ground and began walking away. You watched the person until they disappeared back around the side of one of the homes, until you realized the first person had yet to move. If you hadn’t known where to look you wouldn’t have been able to spot them in the road. As your gaze lingered you slowly came to realize that they weren’t going to be getting up.

They were dead.
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Old 02-27-2020, 06:13 PM
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Belliger
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Had he ... just witnessed a murder? He wasn't sure how to process that. He was also too far away to be completely sure.

Belliger also considered that he'd seen this well after Sheil heard the screams. Perhaps there was merit in her concerns, after all. Nothing in what he just saw told him the screams were part of that particular ... killing ... unless the perpetrator was a serial offender. There was potentially more going on. If this was an isolated incident, a single crime already resolved in its misfortune, he would be content to keep away and leave it to the ... what, the authorities? What did Tenmen even have for authorities?

In any case, he had a bad feeling about this. At the very least, he should alert his uncle and Valda that there were dangers in the village. Uncle Galan was far from his favourite person, but family obligation trumped complacency, for once.

He stepped back into the lodge, and Sheil stood impatiently where he'd left her. 'Bundle up, we're heading over,' he said to her.

'I was right, wasn't I?' Her voice wavered between satisfaction at being proven correct, and wariness for what that meant.

'Maybe,' said Belliger, drifting into his small room to grab his hunting bow, wrapped in leather for the travel. Even if he felt he didn't need the extra armament, he was loathe to leave it behind unsupervised. 'And if you're not, I don't see you going back to sleep anytime soon. Might as well head over anyway, and if nothing's wrong we can ... hobnob with the locals, I suppose.'

'Father's never let me go into a tavern before,' said Sheil, her eyes alight. Apparently the screams were now a secondary concern next to the prospect for the forbidden fruit of tavern hijinks.

'I won't tell if you won't,' said Belliger.

With Belliger unwrapping his bow from its protective sheath and Sheil wrapping herself in a thick shawl, the two exited the lodge and headed for the lake.


 
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Old 02-27-2020, 07:07 PM
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The Lodge
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Sitting in the boat as it moved quietly across the still, black water, your mind couldn’t help but race at the possibilities of what lay ahead. The splash of the oars hitting the water again and again was the only sound that reached your ears as the town slowly grew ahead of you. Navigating to the dock was easy enough, a large fire was kept burning in a brazier at the end of it for just such situations. Gliding in along the side of the dock, you saw no movement in the immediate area and the two of you were able to tie the boat up securely so that it didn’t drift off.

Taking the lead you walk a few feet onto the dirt path that runs along the shoreline, your eyes adjusted for the darkness see nothing moving nearby, though not far to your right you know you’ll find the body you saw from the lodge. As you consider your options and your breathing slows, you find you can hear more of what is going on. From off to the left, the direction of the inn and the center of town, you hear what sounds like men shouting, definitely not screaming, maybe someone giving orders to another. Off to your right, however, you can hear someone pounding against a door, or wall, and also several voices yelling for help. Looking to the right you wonder if perhaps the assailant you saw earlier had circled back around to the west side of town, because the last you saw of them from the lodge they were heading towards the inn.


OOCFor simplicity, the lodge is almost due north of town across the lake. From where Belliger stands: Right=West, Left=East.
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Old 02-27-2020, 11:33 PM
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Belliger
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A choice, then. Head for the possible danger or the general commotion.

'What's happening?' said Sheil, her tone neutral.

Hearing his sister's voice sealed it for him. The commotion at the inn sounded more organised, at the very least. He could what's going on there and report the possible murder, as well as the new disturbance he's hearing; at the same time, it would be safer for Sheil than having her follow him towards a confrontation with unknown factors. He might know how to hunt, but skulking about a village wasn't exactly his usual hunt. And if he were hunting someone dangerous within Tenmen, best not to go about it without some serviceable help.

'Come on,' he said, breaking into a jog towards the inn.


 
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Old 02-28-2020, 09:27 PM
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A figure in the darkness
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Turning your focus towards the inn and the center of town seems to be the wisest choice, and with Sheil following close behind you begin navigating the moonlit town. You pass by darkened homes, the occupants gone to Cabalan for the merchant caravans that have arrived in the city, or at least you hope that’s where they are. Tenmen isn’t a large town, its houses spaced well apart and offering little cover for you as you dart between them. These same spaces allow you to catch glimpses of the temple, a large and sturdy structure that lies just this side of the inn, and which seems to be the source of the commotion you can hear.

Your pace quickens as you turn a corner, now running along the north side of the temple itself towards the entrance at the east end. Too late you catch sight of another person in the street ahead of you, also heading towards the commotion, but in no great hurry from your initial impression. As you come to a halt the figure before you turns to face you, and at your back Sheil gasps in terror as the moonlight illuminates the rotting flesh of a dead man. The creature begins shambling towards you, its expressionless face leering at you as it moves with terrible purpose towards you and Sheil. Fingers rotted down to the bone, yet still dripping blood, reach out through the moonlight for you and there is no mistaking the palpable evil surrounding this abomination as it sickens you to your core.




 
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Old 02-29-2020, 06:58 AM
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Belliger
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Belliger froze. He was prepared for a murderer, maybe. Some knife-wielding rogue. But this? Sure, there had been tales when he was a boy and stories from adventurers of vanquishing undead and dispelling monsters, but he'd never seen anything like this before!

Sheil moaned softly behind him. She wasn't prepared for this either.

Hands shaking, Belliger prepared his bow. 'I-I'm warning you, k-keep back!' he called.

The undead thing, of course, didn't acknowledge that it heard him.

Belliger, still unable to move his feet, cocked an arrow and raised his bow. Actions he had trained himself to do without thinking when trying to silently line up sights on a deer or rabbit. Could he shoot a person? Even an undead one? It shambled forward, advancing.

'Keep back!' Belliger roared. He pulled back the bowstring, hands quivering, and as he released, his grip on his own arrow slipped and the shot arced low, nat 1 on attacknot even covering the distance to the monstrosity.

'Bel ...'

Belliger reached behind him, grabbing his sister's hand. Finally feeling he could move, he sidled along, hoping to ease his way around the zombie to get to the temple door. 'Keep back!' he bellowed again, louder this time, hoping someone would hear and lend assistance.


 
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Old 02-29-2020, 08:46 PM
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A figure in the darkness
right-aligned image
The milky, sunken eyes of the damned thing before you followed the flight of the arrow, demonstrating that it could still see… somehow. Unfortunately for the pair of you, the spent arrow did not hold its attention for long and it lifted its head to focus on you, then on your sister, as it turned to follow your movement and cut you off. It drew ever closer, its route taking it closer to the temple as well, making slipping past it a dangerous proposition for the both of you. Just one of you, however, might be able to slip by and find solace at the temple if it were distracted.

The flickering light of a lantern,or perhaps the fire of another brazier, from the front of the temple spilled into the alley further ahead beckoning with the chance to escape this nightmare. The shouting and clanging of steel coming from the front of the temple indicated that there were still others alive in Tenmen, but without turning that corner it was impossible to tell if they were winning that fight.


OOCYou can slip past the zombie, but one of you will take an opportunity attack in the process as it seems intent on matching your course.


 
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Old 03-01-2020, 04:45 PM
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Belliger
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It was drawing closer. The street was wide, but not wide enough to completely ignore its reach if Belliger and Sheil were to make a break for the temple door around the corner.

'Sheil, listen to me,' said Belliger, cocking another arrow. His voice shook but he inhaled deeply to bring at least a little self-control. 'When I tell you, run and get around that corner. If it's safe, go over and bring relief here. If it's not safe, stay back and keep yelling for help. Understand?'

He couldn't see Sheil's face, but he heard the small murmur of acknowledgement.

The thing shambled in, closer. Almost able to reach out.

'Go!' yelled Belliger, firing a shot. The motion was more akin to his usual effort this time, although far from his best. The arrow thudded into the undead's side, 4 damagebarely slowing it down.

Sheil began her mad dash, kicking up loose stones as she ran. Belliger lowered his bow and drew his dagger with his free hand, moving across to protect Sheil from its reaching limbs.


 
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Old 03-02-2020, 01:55 AM
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A figure in the darkness
right-aligned image
For a moment you worried that the creature was going to take a swipe at Sheil as she fled past it, but Hit Zombie for 4 damagethe arrow in its side refocused its attention on you. You could rest a little easier as you glimpsed your sister reaching the edge of the temple and taking a cautious look before disappearing around the corner. Even as you reached for your dagger the undead creature stumbled forward the last few feet and Zombie hits for 3 damageswiped at you with an outstretched arm. Your clothing caught the brunt of the attack, but you knew you’d be sporting a new bruise in the morning… if you survived that long.




 
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Old 03-02-2020, 04:23 AM
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Belliger
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Sheil was away from immediate danger for now, at least. Belliger just wished the same applied to him.

He felt the impact of the monstrosity's limb as it threw itself forward, swiping blindly. His clothes tore and he felt the impact, not quite gouging but still leaving a mark - the thought that this thing had made contact with his skin was nauseating.

His dagger was a shiny little blade, not meant for street fights, but for skinning animals in the field. It'd have to do in a pinch. He lashed out wildly as the thing closed the distance. He wasn't a practised close range fighter - what rabbit ever swiped at him like this? - but he figured he could make up for it with sheer tenacity. Hit for 5 damagePanic fuelled his wild flailing, and he hacked into the monster's putrefying face with several clumsy blows.


 
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Old 03-02-2020, 05:02 PM
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A figure in the darkness
right-aligned image
It was graceful, practiced, or even a passable attempt at combat, but Belliger hits for 5 damageburying your dagger into the undead before you was all you had wanted to accomplish, and you had done that. The absolute lack of reaction was, perhaps, the most jarring thing about the entire exchange; the zombie didn’t even seem to acknowledge the blade that you plunged into and then pulled out of its flesh. It simply took Zombie hits for 3 damageanother clumsy swing at you as you remained close to the rotting, animated corpse.

The shouting from around the corner had changed since Sheil had vanished there, no longer quite so loud, you were barely able to hear it over the sound of your own movements. You could only hope that it was a good sign, and not a disastrous turn that had forced the relative silence.


OOC- Identical attack and damage rolls for both zombie attacks (20 to hit, 3 damage). Apparently my good die rolls for the week are working against you.
- I admit it took me a long time to realize why you rolled damage with advantage. First time I’ve actually seen a character with Savage Attacker; I'd forgotten you had it.


 
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Old 03-02-2020, 06:34 PM
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Belliger
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What insanity is this? Part of its face was missing from the knife blows - Belliger practically hacked a cheek off, and it was still coming as if only bitten by a mosquito!

It swiped at him again, and this one hurt more. He felt the bony fingers clutch and grab, opening skin along his shoulder. No. No, he couldn't do this - he couldn't die, not like this!

He swiped again, if only to bat away those accursed hands, and got enough space to put to boot to it, planting a foot into its caved chest. It staggered back a step or two, Disengage action, with full movement towards the street cornerenough for Belliger to break away, following Sheil. The noise had changed - he had to find out why, and whether it affected his sister's safety. And he had to get away from that thing, if only to never feel its rancid breath on his face again.


OOCYeah, the zombie's rolling pretty strong and I had an awful start!

I probably should've added a reminder about the savage attack in the roll notes, sorry about that. The feat felt thematically right for someone who's no melee fighter but will frenzy like a fiend to keep bad things away from his personal space.


 
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Old 03-03-2020, 12:25 PM
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The last refuge
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The temple of Tenmen had seen better days, though in its sixty years since the founding of the town it had not seen a harsher winter season. Few buildings had escaped the wind storms unscathed, but few buildings in town here as tall and exposed as the temple. Soon enough when they returned from their expedition to Cabalan, the men of the village would set about its repairs, not willing to let the house of the gods rest in such a shabby state for long. They might not be fancy or wealthy folk, but the people of Tenmen took pride in their town.

The scene that greeted Belliger as he rounded the corner was not people getting ready to make repairs, but rather an armed barricade of wood and steel as the few people left in Tenmen repulsed a wave of undead. Behind you the wounded zombie had turned and begun following you, and before you lay a line of young men fighting more of the same with whatever crude weapons and armour they had available. On the steps of the temple itself, Sheil stood next to a young halfling woman who held a glowing staff that lit up the battlefield. You recognized Valda standing in that barricade, shield and spear working together with terrible efficiency as he seemed to be leading the makeshift militia and shouting orders, though he hadn’t seen you yet focused as he was on two zombies before him.

For a moment you found yourself trapped between the zombie at your back, and worse still ahead of you, until one of the villagers made an opening in the line. A mountain of a man, holding what seemed to be a shed door in his right hand, smashed a zombie to the ground with a powerful blow from a rolling pin held in his left. His expression was one of surprise and confusion as he spotted you standing there, but was swiftly replaced by a warm and open smile as he motioned for you to join the other bowmen standing behind him, ”Come friend, quickly.”




 
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