Loudwater

Loudwater

Monday, 12 August 2013

PBP post-Midsummer Ball 21/6/1480 DR



LOUDWATER PBP AFTER 21/6 MIDSUMMER BALL, 22/6/1480+

As Quinn walks back from the North Gate she reflects on the events of the night. She had enjoyed herself far more than she expected. Jorah's refusal and even worse his interest in Lireal has felt like a knife through the heart. She never thought it possible but it did make her wonder if she had been starting to fall in love....
However Arya had proven to be a wonderful companion for the evening and the dancing and singing had raised her spirits wonderfully. And she had Boris back! Scratching the little piggy behind his ears to his obvious enjoyment.
 She even had the offer to run the fest hall! Maybe not the most honorable occupation but she always said it was a necessary evil and one that was best ran by those who would not take advantage of the girls.
The obvious commotion ahead brought her back from her private thoughts. Sighing heavily: 'Never a moments peace!'
GM: The ferry trip is just a few minutes over the river from south bank to north bank. The Tigerclaws let you all collect your horses from the frightened stablehands at the ferry's stable block, then you ride west towards home - you stop off at Elfstree on the way, to let them know there's a barbarian horde camped on their doorstep. Boris and Shera are with you. The ferrymaster rows quickly back to Loudwater to tell the Covere family of Hartsfont and any others still planning to head north that they'd better stay in Loudwater tonight!
        24 July at 12:50 • Those who took the ferry back over the Grayflow: The Blackthorns (Dame Aryn, her sons & their wives), Boris & Shera, Dunstan, Lirael & Jorah, Quinn, Arya. And Father Clintus.
GM: At Loudwater's western gate, Halvath and Amanda Brooke rendezvous with old Sir Cottel Jameson of Virdan and his glamorous young wife Lana for the ride back west to your manors. Lana was one of the two whose souls Halvath rescued…
Quinn: The ride home to Travys Manor was tense to say the least. The army of Tiger Claws at the gates had everyone on edge. Quinn steps up to Lireal and Jorah:
 'Jorah Paelias wanted to speak with you, something about defensive positions I think, it sounded urgent.' Jorah nods and leaves to find the Moon Elf Ranger, giving a meaningful look to Lireal. Quinn and Lireal look at each other for a long moment before Quinn steps forward, wrapping her arms around the surprised Ranger, giving her a warm hug.
 'He had better treat you right or I will give him a pig slap like you wouldn't believe!' Quinn sighs and continues with a slightly sad look in her eyes.
 'The two of look perfect together Lireal, you’re like a sister to me and I want nothing more than for you to be happy.' Releasing the slightly stunned looking Lireal Quinn stands with her looking out over the water.
 'By the way? Do you think the good looking Tiger Claw warrior leading the army was looking at me?'...
        24 July at 10:40 • Like • 2
Lirael recovers and tentatively squeezes Quinn's hand. She clears her throat. "I believe he was," she says. "He was quite...impressive. Mayhap you could help with the negotiations tomorrow?"
Quinn: “Am I allowed to bring the pig?”
Lirael: "Um...."
Quinn grins... 'Can i bring my sword?'
Lirael: "Definitely. Please. But perhaps conceal it...we shall have to discuss with Lady Moonfire how best to proceed in this...though I am not sure we can trust her in any matter that concerns Karsus."
Quinn shrugs, 'You trust her?.... At all?!'
Lirael: "Well, no, not as such..." she says quietly, looking to see if anyone is around to hear. "But we must work with her for now. I don't see any other choice, no matter how well you got along with Lady Jaela last night..."
________
Lirael Jorah Dunstan Quinn & Arya get back to Travys Manor in the early hours. When they get a quiet moment Jorah kisses Lirael goodnight, pretty brief but quite romantic 22/6/1480 - The day after the Summer Ball - Lirael Jorah Dunstan Quinn & Arya ride back for Loudwater, stopping off briefly at Elfstree to calm the rather panicky residents. The Tigerclaw - probably about 800 of them, no sign of the dragon now - let you through to the ferry dock and you manage to summon the ferry to get rowed back across... In Loudwater, Jareth is sleeping soundly in Megana's arms after a very late night when he's woken by a terrible hammering, banging noise - sounds like Megana's brothers have made an early start in the smithy! And by the raclet they're working right outside the bedroom door... Lirael & co pick up Jareth from the smithy. Calling at Tammy's house, a sour-faced maid informs them that Paelias rose early (>:)) ...and can be found in the Green Tankard where he has a morning appointment. You can then all rendezvous in the Green Tankard mid-morning.
MORNING 22/6/1480 DR
Jareth spots Paelias at the bar and they exchange knowing grins.
        26 July at 21:48
Lirael ignores as best she can the non-verbal communication between the guys and greets everyone, ordering a hearty breakfast for everyone from Marsh.
 Pealias nods to Jareth and Lireal and makes some space around table for them to sit.
 "What now ... Go visit the drow?"
Pealias' breakfast companion the Eladrin Ilvanus greets Lirael and the others.
"If you will excuse me, I'll be about my business. Pealias most likely you'll find me at the Fisher's Friend - I have some enquiries to make."
Simon Newman (Oh BTW this has been bugging me, I forgot to post it but in case you were wondering, Jorah did compliment Lirael on her nice dress. :D)
Lirael: "You missed the excitement last night...well, some of the excitement anyway...I believe you found your own. The Tigerclaws have come to us and demand entry to a place only Karsus supposedly can open as the dragon that leads them had 3 eggs stolen and taken there. I'm not sure who the Cold Queen is, that they say took the eggs -- anyone have any ideas?"
Pealias: “Tigerclaws and a dragon on the opposite side of the river, and they are waiting! How thoughtful of them, how long do you think we can make them wait?”
Sir Jorah nods to Pealias: "They said they wanted an answer today, I think. They wanted Lady Moonfire to open a Portal?"
Arya recalls that ever since the Spellplague there have been tales and rumours of fey activity in the Direwood, often linked to the powers of ice. Around twenty years or so ago the dwarf warlock Draigdurroch built a tower just east of the Dire Wood, but one night freezing clouds boiled out of the Dire Wood and froze his tower in magical ice. It remained that way until last summer, when unseasonably cold weather struck the Vale, emanating from the tower now called the Icy Spire. A band of adventurers led by Tawny Kytra penetrated the tower and defeated a powerful winter spirit, breaking the ice spell.
 Quinn nods and takes it all in while feeding Boris bits of bacon from jaraths plate.
GM: Lirael and co complete the briefing of Pealias and Jareth. Are you going to go see Lady Moonfire now?
Kimberly Pauley I'm okay with that...everyone else? My feeling is that the dragon is justified in wanting her eggs back.
 GM Timothy Walford - Quinn is happily feeding pig-Boris his relatives, when she receives a Sending in the unmistakable tones of her mentor, Hallomak Stromm - http://frloudwater.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/hallomak-stromm-of-waterdeep.html :
"Red comet sighted. Liana's father Risen as undead abomination. Has taken Luskan, threatens Neverwinter. Thay suspected. Off north tomorrow. Deal with Cysty thing thanks."
Kimberly Pauley OOC: "deal with cysty thing" gee, thanks. Hey...had a thought...what do you guys think...could we get the Tigerclaws and dragon to fight with us against the evil undead if we retrieve her eggs for her?
Quinn cocks her head, as if listening to something only she can hear before sighing greatly. Speaking seemingly to herself she says...
'Bit busy today. Will look tomorrow. Tell Lianna I told her so. You owe me a favor. Don't forget to get dressed before you leave."
Looking up to the blank stares of the rest of the group... "What?!"
GM: Quinn replies (audibly): "'Bit busy today. Will look tomorrow. Tell Lianna I told her so. You owe me a favor. Don't forget to get dressed before you..." At that point the return-message facility cuts out.
 Timothy Walford (damn miscounted)
Lirael: “Whenever it gets to be time to talk to the Tigerclaws, perhaps Quinn should lead the discussion.” (Lirael giving her a +1 for Diplomacy)
Quinn looks at Lireal in response to this "Just so you know if the price of them leaving peacefully is me giving myself to the big beefy guy in charge, it is out of the question!"
"Unless he asks real nice...."
Lirael looks at Quinn in surprise.
 "I would never suggest that!" She shrugs, "But if you feel it necessary, never let it be said I stopped you from doing what you want."
GM: OK, let's say you all (PCs & Jorah) eventually leave the Green Tankard and head over to the Moonfire Mansion to meet with Lady Moonfire. Edmund the Factotum greets you and swiftly ushers you to a reception room, where you wait. After a while, Lady Moonfire enters, wearing a black & silver morning dress. There is a scent of incense-smoke around her. She nods to you affably as always: "Welcome, welcome, everyone! I trust you slept well?" This with a slight smile and incline of the head towards both Jareth and Pealias... "Now, about those barbarians on the north shore. You have news? What do they want of us?"
Lirael: "Lady Moonfire, meaning no disrespect, but apparently the news of your pact with Karsus is fairly widespread. The Tigerclaw clan demand that you make Karsus open a gateway to the Queen of Cold's domain in order that they--or someone--may retrieve three stolen dragon eggs. If you don't...they say they will raze Loudwater and they have brought the force to back that threat up."
Jareth nods to Lireal; 'Apparently the dragon in question is looking...unhappy'.
Quinn: "Though only in one direction as it only has one eye..."
Lady Moonfire looks rather annoyed. "I don't like being threatened... They should have a care. Would you like a drink? Some apple juice?" She waves to a carafe with goblets on a side table.
Moonfire takes a goblet of apple juice herself and sips. "The 'Queen of Cold'... I expect that's the Frost Witch..."
"Clenderi - quite a powerful Fey, but hardly a true Queen. They'll lose a lot of men if they take her on... But not as many as they'll lose if they irk *me* further!" She grimaces, putting on a playful 'angry face' expression.
Then she smiles. "Well, I suppose the best thing is just to open their silly Portal? You can go tell them I agree. It will take me a little while, though. Please warn them not to irk me further, or..." Her eyes glitter coldly, and for a moment it seems that a dark shadow looms over her, draining the heat from the room. "Some crumpet?"
 Jareth heads for the apple juice...hangover cure?  "Is there anything about the Clenderi you think we should know, my lady? We seem likely to be...nominated to perform the recovery."
Lirael: "I for one would like to know why the dragon eggs were stolen. Why tempt the wrath of a dragon, especially one who leads so fierce a tribe of warriors."
Moonfire glances over at Jareth, cocking her head, birdlike. "Oh, really?" She considers. "Well, I hear she serves Cryonax, Primordial Prince of Cold - an Exarch, perhaps. Her realm is in the Feywild, a Realm coterminous to our own. And in the Dire Wood the walls between worlds are very thin..." She finishes her apple juice. "Clenderi seems to regard the Dire Wood as her own. She consumed that poor little dwarf warlock, what was his name? Draigdurroch? Just for building his tower too close to the perimeter, I expect. She must be siphoning off some of His power, too... Last summer one of her vassals nearly froze the Vale - remember that terrible weather, Lirael? Almost ruined the Ball. Lucky we had Tawny around to sort that out!" Lady Moonfire laughs delicately. "It would be good to bring Clenderi down a peg or two. Perhaps those unwashed tawny-heads can do us a service, after all."
       
        Lirael: “I do recall the weather...how was Tawny able to...sort that out?”
        “Perhaps her methods might serve again.”
 Lady Moonfire: "She and her companions penetrated the Icy Spire, located the Feywild portal there, and destroyed the Spirit of Winter, the creature causing the disturbance. Apparently it was quite a big battle! As for the dragon eggs... Perhaps she's planning to rear some dragons? But most likely it's for a ritual. Knowing Clenderi, nothing very nice. Probably involves Him... if she's started the Ritual, that might explain why the Tigerclaws and their dragon friend have become aware of what's going on... In which case I suppose we should get a move on." Lady Moonfire yawns delicately. "It would have to be today! I was looking forward to a nice rest in the garden after last night. Well, I suppose I had better get on with preparations. Would you like me to rouse Tawny? She's still abed, I'm afraid."
Quinn smiles at Lady Moonfire's not so subtle use of her demonic power. Say what you like about the woman she had a good sense for the dramatic. Downing her Apple juice she speaks up.
"I have no doubt that you would be able to smite the barbarians at our wall My Lady but given their sheer numbers and..... grumpy disposition they would likely cause a great deal of damage to loudwater, (under her breath) and my bar! I would suggest we approach this delicately and save the smiting of the unwashed masses as a last resort."
"We will talk to them and see if we can steer this in direction that will benefit us all and if all else fails i will sick Boris on the dragon."
 "cause a great deal of damage to loudwater..." Lady Moonfire nods to Quinn:  "I'm afraid so. Frankly though, I fear it's the ...smiting... itself, that I fear would do the most damage..." For a moment she looks almost serious, as she lowers her voice, looks down, and murmurs "...Including to myself."
Quinn: ""We will talk to them and see if we can steer this in direction that will benefit us all and if all else fails i will sick Boris on the dragon." Lady Moonfire arches an eyebrow and looks slightly puzzled at the mention of Boris, but nods.
"Good, thank you. I will begin preparations to open the Karse Portal, and I'll have a check if Clenderi might be engaging in a Ritual. If she's drawing from Him, that should be easy enough. If I'm busy when you get back, please let Tawny and Edmund know how you got on, they'll inform me. Let's get to work."
 Lady Moonfire bids you farewell and Edmund escorts you back outside, into the bright sunlight of a midsummer morning.
Lirael:  "Well. That was easier than I expected, which can only mean one thing." Lirael squares her shoulders and starts walking. "All the trouble lies ahead."
GM: Back through the north gate to the docks district you go. The ferry is ready and waiting for you. A crowd of a hundred or so is watching the army of barbarians on the north shore with mingled trepidation and an odd excitement, as if it were an entertainment laid on for them. As you're about to board the ferry, Quinn spots Algrim Thane, owner of the Fisher's Friend, arm in arm with Kathy Brooke, currently his 'senior girl' - also the daughter of Sir Halvard Brooke of Brownstone. Algrim nods to Quinn. "Mornin' Quinn. See you later, right?" He nods towards the Fisher's Friend.
        Quinn nods back casually. 'assuming there is a later? Yes indeed my friend.'
Algrim nods affably. "Great stuff."
   Kathy Brooke also nods to Quinn, but her look is a little icy.
GM: You board the ferry and are rowed across to the north shore, where a party of Tigerclaw led by the big blond warrior on a giant sabretooth move forward to meet you at the jetty, his smouldering blue eyes resting on Quinn a little longer than the others. He raises a sword in greeting. "What news?"
Simon Newman OOC Just occurred to me - I hope Quinn's hat doesn't eat pig-Boris! *eek*
Quinn steps forward, maintaining complete and total dignity, Boris under one arm and her hat growling at the saber tooth ever so slightly. "Lady Moonfire has agreed to your request and is preparing the portal as we speak. We would of course request you maintain your current position until it's completion. On that note, what are your intentions once you have your portal?
The warrior nods, regarding Quinn fiercely. "Good. We will return to the Dire Wood and wait for the Karse Portal to open into Always-Winter. We do not have much time. When it opens, we will take back that which was stolen."
Quinn: “You are referring to the three dragon eggs yes? We suspect they are intended to be used as a component for a powerful magic ritual though at this time we do not know what. We are attempting to gather information as we speak.”
Lirael pulls Quinn and the others aside for a conversation.
"I had mentioned it before, perhaps half in jest...but it seems to me that the Tigerclaws might be powerful allies in our coming battle against the undead, should the cyst rupture. What do you think--should we volunteer to assist them in retrieving the eggs in return for their support later on against a common enemy?"
The Tigerclaw leader watches Lirael whispering with Quinn. He speaks again:
"The Lady's eggs, yes. The shamans say the Queen of Ice will steal their souls to power her Abominations - undead demon-things. Unstoppable. The Cold Queen's power will ravage the High Forest, and all of your Vale - unless we stop her first." He looks up, shielding his eyes against the noonday sun. "We don't have much time if we are to stop her. Tell your Lady Moonfire to be quick. Tell her that if she does not open the Portal in time, I, Konn, son of Scargash, Prince of the Tigerclaw, will come for her, though all the Powers of Hell stand in my way! I'll take her life before she takes my soul!" Konn finishes grimly, then turns back to the assembled host, sword raised high...
Quinn steps forward, raising her voice above the roars and cheers of the assembled Tiger Claws, putting a fair bit of Bardic magic behind it. "HERE ME KONN, SON OF SCARGASH, PRINCE OF THE TIGERCLAW! I am Quinn Eventide, Battle Master to Lireal (insert lastname here lols), Warden of the North and leader of Council of Heroes (I had to make something up! We need a name!)! The Grey Vale is under our protection one and all! You have my word that your Lady's eggs will be returned to her unharmed or we will dye trying! I offer our aid in your quest. But hear my words, should any ill befall Loudwater or any of it's citizens we will rain destruction down upon you and your clan the likes of which you have never seen!”
Quinn brings her voice down a notch, cutting back on the Bardic power, walking up to Konn, her hands clearly kept away from her weapons. "Konn there is no need for us to be enemies. You and your people have a place here in the vale as much as we do. Allow us to show our intentions by lending you our aid and helping you recover what was lost."
Lirael gives Quinn a significant look, hoping to prompt her into mentioning future common undead enemies and future cooperation and other fluffy happy things like that, but holds her tongue so as not to confuse Konn.
 GM: The thousand-strong Tigerclaw host regards Quinn...  I roll 7, +16 for skill, +4 for knack for success, is 27, you fail the DC 30 to Intimidate 1,000 Tigerclaws and their Prince by 3 pts.
Konn laughs, eyes flashing. "You don't scare me, little girl. But I like you.." His eyes linger on Quinn's curvaceous form, seeming to undress her with his eyes. "We don't need your help. This is Tigerclaw business. Our Queen will lead the attack on Always-Winter. When it is over, perhaps I shall return and we can..." he winks.
Prince Konn turns to the Tigerclaw Host. "Men! Prepare for WAR!!!" A huge roar goes up: "RAAOOOAARRRR!!!!!!"
Konn nods briefly to Lirael, perhaps seeing her as your leader, then turns his great cat away and heads away from you; the Tigerclaw host following.
 James Andrew Joyce By the Power of Grey Skull, that was intense
 Simon Newman (DC was high because (a) there were 800+ of them and (b) if Konn had let Quinn scare him he'd have lost face in front of his men)
Quinn returns to Lireal, walking casually despite the angry army behind her. "Well that went well!"
 Simon Newman >>(OOC. TBH I wasnt trying to intimidate him, I just figured that would be his version of diplomacy and that he would respect the challenge.)<< GM OOC Actually I think the challenge here was to realise that everyone actually had mutually compatible goals and successfully communicate that, while navigating the minefield of the Tigerclaws' Pride and Lady Moonfire's Pride, which could have led to them fighting each other even though really they have the same interests...
 Timothy Walford Well we are not currently in the middle of a huge war so I call that a win.
 Simon Newman You achieved the basic goal ok. You failed on the extended goal Kimberly came up with - you didn't even say anything about the undead threat.
 Simon Newman Konn had been told NOT to accept aid from Lady Moonfire other than to get the Portal open, so it was unlikely he'd have accepted your offer, but I did pack my cold monster minis & ice battlemaps just in case …
 Simon Newman Success on Intimidate roll might well have been a bad thing anyway, if they were scared of you they'd be less approachable in future, so may be good thing you failed.
   Simon Newman (Don't expect a post mortem like this every time!)
   Simon Newman If Quinn had approached him quietly/seductively that would have opened up Diplomacy right away, still hard DCs to persuade him to let you help him, though!
 Simon Newman The main way to actually fail the challenge would have been to carry over Lady Moonfire's threat to obliterate them, which Quinn came close to. >:)
 Simon Newman Moonfire didn't tell you how long it would take to open the Karse Portal. What are you doing now?
Pealias : “Why get involved, we would be putting ourselves and the town in danger if we become more associated with this, as it stands we have done all we can (except ensuring that lady Moonfire opens the portal) if we get involved and fail where would the blame land. Bigger fish to fry... Undead, drow, etc.”
Lirael: “True enough -- I was just thinking about them owing us for later when we might need them to fight hordes of undead. But we can easily back away, having done our duty and at least preventing/not causing a full scale escalation between Lady Moonfire and Konn. And see what they look like when they come back out...if they do.”
        Timothy Walford Quinn will cast the ritual of sending to update Lady Moonfire.
"My Lady. Their Leader Konn only wants to retrieve the eggs before they are used to create abominations. How long will the portal take?"
 Simon Newman @Tim - Quinn consults her Ritual book (if you have one, and f you have Sending in it), sets up for a Sending ritual, scribing the magic circle with magic inks, scattering the magic incense... it will take 10 minutes and use 50gp of Arcane Reagants; you can buy more in town from Tanara Cothwick.
 The last Tigerclaws disappear into the trees.
 Timothy Walford (I have all the required reagents with me so now worries there).
Simon Newman After 10 minutes Quinn may complete the Ritual. Lady Moonfire responds: "They have until Midnight before Clenderi finishes. Plenty of time. Gathering 5,000gp worth of Reagants for Planar Portal now..."
With Arya's knowledge of History (rolled 13) she knows that most likely the Karse Portal is in the Temple of Karsus in the ruined city of Karse in the heart of the Dire Wood, the place where the Shadovar returned to Faerun from Shadow a century ago.
Legends say it's a black pyramid that flickers with eerie green radiance.
After the fall of High Netheril, the surviving Netherese built a city and a temple atop the shattered stone remnants of the Failed God, Karsus. The temple supposedly marks where Karsus' still-beating heart fell to earth. A century ago the Netherese destroyed its guardian, Wulgreth of Ascalhorn (as Emissary Gerin told Dunstan), and took the Heart.
Or part of it anyway.
GM: Apparently Lady Moonfire will be using the Planar Portal (level 18, 5,000gp components cost) Ritual to open the Gate to the Realm of Always Winter...
 Kimberly Pauley OOC: At least she's not asking us to pay for it...
The Karse Portal is in Karse (unsurprisingly), in the Dire Wood. Apparently Lady Moonfire thinks she can open it from her home in Loudwater. At any rate she didn't say anything about travelling to Karse.
Kimberly Pauley Well, if Tawny woke up after her...er, hard night...then she's got some help...
 Simon Newman Moonfire casts ritual in Loudwater. Ritual opens Portal in Karse. Tigerclaws in Karse. Tigerclaws go in Portal. Tigerclaws come out in Land of Always Winter.
       Timothy Walford (Got it. Understand now.)
Simon Newman The Tigerclaws never went south of the Direwood Outer Ring of petrified trees, until last night. No contact with Vale folk, no pillaging. The Dire Wood is known to be roamed by an unusual number of large animals. They may also have hunted north beyond the Heartblood river.
It's about 20 miles across, ca 1400 square miles, so they could probably survive by hunting just from the Dire Wood.  Certainly for some years; it was pretty much uninhabited until they arrived; a few orcs and goblins etc.
Quinn casts the Sending ritual again, this time to Konn. "Apologies for the intrursion. Portal will open shortly. You have until midnight to rescue them. Return to me after. There is much to .... discuss."
  Simon Newman The Dire Wood:  The Dire Wood is about 20 miles across, ca 1400 square miles, though some say that within distance is oddly distorted, that it's larger within than without. It's marked by an outer ring of frozen, petrified white oak trees. Strange beasts unknown in the outside world are commonly encountered there. At the heart of the Dire Wood lies a redstone butte embedded with green crystals; legends say this was once a flying city of Netheril. The ruined city of Karse is built at the northern foot of the butte, with the waters of the Heartblood River lapping its crumbling quays.
 Simon Newman @Philippe >>I am trying to see if they are having any contacts with the locals where they are. And if so maybe we can get some additional info about their intentions ?<< You could try the Heartblood River halflings; the Tigerclaw passed through their territory on the way to Karse. That would take some time, but you're not in any hurry right? >:)
 Simon Newman >>"Apologies for the intrursion. Portal will open shortly. You have until midnight to rescue them. Return to me after. There is much to .... discuss."<<  Konn replies in Quinn's mind:
"You've done well, Witch-Woman. We will be there by sunset. Open Portal then. If I live I shall return for you! Farewell."
Pealias: “we can only hope witch-woman is a compliment”
 Philippe Marti Perfect ! I saddle up (bring some rations, no pigs :-)), tell the others where I am going and if somebody want to come with me and I start immediately to see the Heartblood River halflings. Before I leave I gather some info about their leader and any way to meet him quickly if needed.
 Timothy Walford quinn raises her eyebrows at the last comment but can't deny she is intregued. "We should report to Lady Moonfire. The Tigerclaws want the portal opened at Sunset."
 Simon Newman Philippe Marti - notes on the halflings here - http://frloudwater.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/the-southern-high-forest.html
 Stewart Coombs I will go with dunsten, but rather than stop with the halflings he will carry on to Karse and try to stealthily find a vantage point to see where the portal is opened
Simon Newman To get to them you either have to go through the Dire Wood or else North-East through deTrevani Barony. Amara DeTrevani has had contact with them recently and is a friend of Lirael; the Burning Hand rescued her from the Zelbross slavers.
Simon Newman GM: OK, you have your horses here at the northern ferry stables so you can head off right away. To get to the Halflings Downwater Shire either go by the Fiery Spire or by Castle deTrevani -
        29 July at 16:56 • Like • Remove Preview
        Stewart Coombs Yes, even my tracking skills should be enough to follow a horde.
Kimberly Pauley Lirael wouldn't mind traveling along with you if you go by way of the Castle -- it has been some time since she's seen Amara DeTrevani and she feels she should pay her respects anyway, as her father recently died.
 Simon Newman So Dunstan heads north-east towards Downwater Shire, Pealias north following the Horde, Quinn returns to Loudwater. Anyone else? Jorah would like to report to Elfstree, Tavysburg & Trayvs Manor, tell everyone what happened & that the immediate danger seems past.
        Simon Newman Lirael with Dunstan to Castle deTrevani?
        Kimberly Pauley Sure, will do, if Dunstan will have her. Otherwise, I'll go with Jorah and reassure the people.
        Kimberly Pauley Besides, I like halflings. They're shorter than me. (OOC)
        Quinn will return to Lady Moonfire allowing her to update her and Konn should the need arise.
Lirael awkwardly bids Jorah farewell and tells him to tell her sister and family not to worry.
        Philippe Marti Excellent news ! I will have great company on my travel !
        Maybe it's a good idea to take a fine barrel of Ale or small keg of Brandy with me to share with the hobbits to break the ice... ?
Kimberly Pauley We could bring some of Marsh's finest unless we have time to stop by Anwyn at Tavys Manor and get some Dragon's Milk ale...
Simon Newman >>Lirael awkwardly bids Jorah farewell and tells him to tell her sister and family not to worry.<<
Jorah nods, looking slightly concerned. He steps forward and holds Lirael's arms reassuringly, speaking softly: "And you be careful around those Halflings, right?" He grins, then sobers. "Actually it's the Tigerclaw I'm worried about... They had the death-look in their eyes. If they think you're coming between them and their prey... Try to stay out of their way, right?"
Lirael nods. "And you as well," she says. "Don't worry about me, I will have Dunstan with me."
Philippe Marti Like most Dwarves, Dunstan sometimes has the social skills of an anvil and fails to give Lirael any privacy when she bids farewell to Jorah. He stays next to them like a lemon and reassures Jorah: "Don't worry good Sir, my shield will never be far from her !"
 Kimberly Pauley "You see," says Lirael, smiling fondly at the dwarf and the shield that is nearly as tall as he is. "No harm will come to us!"
 Jorah looks into Lirael's eyes a moment, offering reassurance, then over at Dunstan. He nods and smiles. "My thanks, Sir Ironforge."
Simon Newman OOC aww they're all so cute.
        29 July at 17:19 • Like • 3
Quinn steps up and pats Dunstan on his head. "don't worry Jorah", She says with genuine warmth, "Dunstan is the best shield there is and Lireal can take care of herself. i will use Sending rituals to keep in contact on the hour as well."
Quinn finds a quiet moment alone with Jorah & pulls the ranger to one side. 'I don't think I have ever seen Lireal smile as much as she did at the ball and you looked happy yourself, like you weren't carrying the weight of your families name on your shoulders.' Quinn puts a hand on his shoulder. 'Jorah you are two of my closest friends and I want nothing but the best for both of you. Oh and if you would like to give her a gift... She keeps talking about magic arrows....'
• 30 July at 22:38
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LIRAEL & DUNSTAN  22/6/1480 DR ca 4pm (30 July 2013 at 15:47)
 Lirael and Dunstan have been riding east along the river road for several hours, through the villages of Hartsfont (greeted cordially by two of the Covere siblings Marco & Agnes, out for an lunchtime stroll on the riverbank) Greentree and Trevan, then north for five miles or so through meadows and light woodland until they see ahead the sturdy stones of a rugged hilltop keep - Castle deTrevani, built on the south-western end of a craggy ridgeline. The castle still shows signs of considerable fire damage from the conflagration, when Amara deTrevani and Lirael's old friend Ashara of Akanul incinerated the Orc clan that had long occupied Amara's ancestral seat. Riding up a narrow track towards the Gatehouse, a lookout sounds a horn and the gate is opened at your approach. Amara is already in the courtyard to greet you, wearing a high-necked black mourning dress that sweeps the dusty cobbles. With her is Treona, the old Wise-Woman of Kiris Manor. Both women wear holy symbols of Kelemvor, Lord of the Dead - lockets depicting a skeleton hand grasping a Balance.
Amara's face is pale and her eyes reddened with recent tears, but her eyes light up at the sight of Lirael - old Treona also smiles, happy to see her. Amara: "Lirael! I am so glad you have come!" She moves forward, nodding to Dunstan. "And greetings to you, Sir Dunstan!"
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-xHaOSFBS8Mo/Ue-utyiRj2I/AAAAAAAAA0w/i9cb9rl_gxo/s320/Amara+deTrevani.jpg
 http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-xHaOSFBS8Mo/Ue-utyiRj2I/AAAAAAAAA0w/i9cb9rl_gxo/s320/Amara+deTrevani.jpg
Dunstan: "Greetings Dame Treona, Dame Amara."
        I get off my horse and salute appropriately to Ladies of their rank.
The women regard Dunstan, Treona smirking slightly - he's just insulted the *Baroness* Amara deTrevani and elevated the non-noble Treona…
Amara looks at Dunstan a little icily, but says nothing. Lirael with her Insight can tell that Amara is unhappy at Dunstan's phrasing and that Amara still seems a bit insecure in her position as Baroness.
Treona chuckles: "You do me too much honour, good Sir Dwarf! I am a mere commoner, while this is the Baroness Amara deTrevani, heir to all the lands of deTrevani and Kiris!"
Amara clearly looks a lot happier at Treona's words - Treona shares a quick glance of mutual understanding with Lirael (Treona also being blessed with Massive Insight :D).
"Oh Sh*t" Dunstan thinks. Mr Hammer, meet Mr Mouth !
        It seems that I am only good at protocol when I am with my own kind... I never understood all these human mannerisms, especially when a good head-butting would fix it in no time...
        I let Lirael do the talking from now on, unless I really have something important to contribute.
        Later, I will present my apologies to the Baroness and put that on the fact that my belly was empty most of the journey as I forgot to bring a third backup ham in my travel rucksack.
Lirael steps forward, both hands held out to Baroness Amara. "It is good to see you again, Amara, and you as well, Treona. I just heard about your father and wanted to make sure to stop by. His passing was a great loss to the Vale."
Amara: "Thank you, Treona. Yes - it's a pity my father did not live to see Kiris Dahn restored..."
  Lirael:  "He had the utmost faith in you. You have done great works here. I know he was very proud."
 Amara steps forward and embraces Lirael. When she steps back, a tear glistens in her eye as Lirael speaks. She nods. "Y-yes... My father always fought for what was right for the Vale, and for our House." She turns to regard the battle-blasted castle walls as Lirael praises the great works. "Th-thank you Lirael. We have done such repairs as we can, but of course there is so much still to do. So much... Please, come inside with me. I have black tea from Tethyr, would you like some?"
Lirael: "We would love some, though we cannot stay long. I don't know if word had reached you yet or not or whether they came by here, but a veritable army of Tigerclaws led by the barbarian prince Konn have descended upon the Vale. It seems Clenderi, the Queen of Cold, had stolen three dragon eggs from Bitterstrike and they intend to retrieve them. Lady Moonfire is preparing to open a portal even now." Lirael takes a breath. Dunstan and I intend to go to the halflings to see what word they bear and to see if we can learn anymore."
Amara escorts you into the castle, which resembles a military fort more than the villa-like manor houses of most Loudwater nobility. Inside it's clear that much repair work has been done, though some fire-blackened timber remains. Amara:
"Ashara has been so helpful, we could not have progressed so far without her..." You head to a circular staircase. Treona: "I shall go to resume the Vigil." She withdraws, heading down the stairs. Amara, to Lirael: "My father is lying in state in the chapel down below. The burial is tomorrow. He wanted to be buried in Kiris Dahn, but of course that is impossible."
Lirael: "Now, but perhaps someday. If there is ever anything I can do to help, please just say the word."
 Amara nods at Lirael's promise of help. You ascend the steps, and go through several halls to Amara's personal quarters, a single large bedroom/living room, where you are soon sipping hot black Tethyran tea - honey is available in a pot, but Amara drinks hers unsweetened. Over tea, Amara asks you searching questions about the Tigerclaws' exact strength and disposition, about Konn (she seems mildly interested in Lirael's account of the mighty-thewed young Prince), about Clenderi, Bitterstrike, and the plan to open a Portal to Always-Winter.
After discussing all of those things, Lirael changes the subject. "My lady," she says, "Have you met the Green Regent as yet? Or, at least, heard tales of his return?"
Amara looks surprised at the question, but nods. "I have not met him in person, but tales of his return are all over the Vale. It is great news..." She touches the holy symbol of Kelemvor at her breast - Amara has been a devout adherent of the Kindly Shepherd since Treona brought her spirit back from the Shadowfell. "...There has been too much Death. Let there be new Life in the Vale."
Amara looks to the light filtering in a narrow bedroom window, that could serve equally as an arrow-slit. "I was going to say, about the Karse Portal, it sounds as if Moonfire is planning to open a Gate - a True Gate.. powerful magic, indeed."
Amara sips some more tea. She takes on a more businesslike expression. "You might remember, a month or so ago I enquired about the possibility of mutual aid, a defensive alliance among the northern lords - yourself, myself, and perhaps Boris of Secomber, if he can be trusted. DeTrevani has much to offer - we are training a powerful cadre of Fire Wizards at Fiery Spire, in time they will be a great defense to the Vale. But for now we are still weak. I have a dozen men-at-arms, mostly men from the villages. You have much wealth, a band of heroes, and also well-trained soldiers..."
Lirael pours Dunstan some more tea and (if there is any), passes him a small cake.
"Yes, I did wish to speak of that with you as well. We also have heard rumors -- actually, more than rumors -- that dark times may be coming upon us all soon." (Lirael goes into detail here about the undead hordes and that nasty cyst just waiting to pop) "As to Boris, I must admit that I would not yet trust him with my life and possibly not even my horse, but he does seem to have turned over a new leaf and seems sincere in his following of the Green Regent. I think only good things could come from us aligning ourselves together."
 Amara: "I have not been able to afford the cost of a mercenary captain. I was thinking, for instance, perhaps you could loan me one of your experienced warriors, perhaps your man Jareth, to help train my soldiers? In return, perhaps we could send one of our apprentice Wizards to study with Arya at your manor? Or some other boon?"
 (there are small anniseed buns, and oatcakes)
 Lirael: "I shall speak with Jareth upon the next opportunity, but it certainly sounds like an excellent idea to me. While I am not sure if Jareth himself will be able to come, as we may have great need of his sword arm in the coming days, we shall certainly be able to work out something to our mutual satisfaction."
Amara thanks Lirael for the offer re a military trainer. "That would be most welcome. I know quite a lot about Akanul Portal Magic, and Pyromancy, but the soldierly arts are a mystery to me..." she smiles. "We also have few Rangers. I don't know if you could spare Sir Jorah, perhaps... of course not right now, not with the present emergency..." (OOC whether you let The Most Beautiful Woman in the Gray Vale near Sir Jorah is up to you!)
Lirael places a few more buns and oatcakes on Dunstan's plate. She leans towards Amara. "You know that I have the utmost respect for you and Treona both. We owe her a great debt as well and will never forget it. I am happy that we can work together for the good of the Vale." She takes a sip of tea. "How are the apprentices coming along? I have heard good tidings from Arya."
 Kimberly Pauley (OOC: Wait, is she looking for a husband?? lol)
Philippe Marti I get Lirael's message and use the buns and oatcakes as a mouth-gag ! <chomp chomp>
GM With Lirael's Insight she can tell Amara does seem a bit lonely, and of course Sir Jorah is awesome...
Lirael: "We have a few of our recent recruits who have taken up the bow, as well as my younger brother, Arvis. If Jorah is not able to spare some time, I'm sure that Arvis, though young, would be more than happy to visit."
 Kimberly Pauley (OOC: Everybody loves Jorah)
Lirael: "I do hope that you will visit us soon as well. We also have much work to do at Northwood Manor, but would love to see you there." (OOC: Going with Northwood, I think)
>>"Yes, I did wish to speak of that with you as well. We also have heard rumors -- actually, more than rumors -- that dark times may be coming upon us all soon." (Lirael goes into detail here about the undead hordes and that nasty cyst just waiting to pop) <<
GM: Amara seems quite shocked to hear about the Cysty Thing and rumours of undead hordes waiting to devour all life in the Vale!
>>"As to Boris, I must admit that I would not yet trust him with my life and possibly not even my horse, but he does seem to have turned over a new leaf and seems sincere in his following of the Green Regent. I think only good things could come from us aligning ourselves together."<<
 Amara nods. "He has the most battle-tested soldiers of all of us, and he crushed the Urshani hobgoblins - he must have some military talent. But I will take your advice that we should be careful. I have fallen into the clutches of brigands once. I do not intend to do so again." (You first met Amara when you rescued her from the Zelbross Slavers with the other captives).
 Lirael: "My Lady, I note that you have not included Lady Moonfire or Queen Esme or Queen Valeris in your plans. In the latter case, is that because of distance or...?" She delicately sips from her teacup.
>>"We have a few of our recent recruits who have taken up the bow, as well as my younger brother, Arvis. If Jorah is not able to spare some time, I'm sure that Arvis, though young, would be more than happy to visit."<< Amara smiles a little bit condescendingly. "Thank you - we do have a few such youths from the villages though, skilled at rabbit-hunting. What they need is training, leadership... ...Hmm, perhaps these new Needles of the Green Regent could assist us, in time."
>>"I do hope that you will visit us soon as well. We also have much work to do at Northwood Manor, but would love to see you there."<<
 Amara nods "I would love to visit again, as soom as this Tigerclaw issue is dealt with." (she did visit you briefly a couple times over the past 3 months, on the last visit she told you her father was very ill. OOC I'll edit the maps with Northwood Manor!)
 >>"My Lady, I note that you have not included Lady Moonfire or Queen Esme or Queen Valeris in your plans. In the latter case, is that because of distance or...?" <<
Amara looks a bit taken aback by the question.
"Esme and Valeris... I'm sure they have their own problems, in the East. And like you I am vassal to Lady Moonfire, so I could not approach them, without appearing disloyal..." She sets her cup down, the porcelain clinking. She takes a deep breath, and then speaks in a rush:"As for Lady Moonfire, the deTrevani have had precious little help from her all these years. Where was she when the Orcs took our land? When the Goblins took Kiris Dahn? We lost everything, while she sat in Loudwater, holding those... Balls..."
 Amara looks pale as she realises she may have crossed the line, showing open disloyalty to her Liege.
 Lirael takes her hand. "I understand," she says,"you need say no more."
Amara looks down, face flushed. "I'm sorry." ~long pause~ "..Did you say you were on your way to see the Halflings? We have established good relations with the Little People..." She looks over at Dunstan (:p) "...If you like I could go with you, make introductions? I certainly owe you that."
Amara looks down at her delicate hand, held in Lirael's. Lirael can tell that there is a lot of inner turmoil in the young human woman, many things she would like to say... For all her recent success, the Baroness deTrevani does not seem a happy soul - and it goes beyond her father's death.
Lirael:  "We would definitely appreciate the introduction, if you feel up to it." She looks to the dwarf. "Dunstan, perhaps you could see to the horses?" (Provided Dunstan leaves, she then leans toward Amara and says quietly:) "If you ever need to talk, do call upon me any time." (OOC: in a completely platonic way !)
 GM: Yeah, Amara really wanted Dunstan to leave, well spotted. Often I type up (or say) these Insight Skill based stuff for Lirael, but I sometimes wonder why bother since you generally seem to know what my NPCs are thinking anyway...
Dunstan:  Before I leave the room, I make a reverence and in the same gesture, grab almost all the cakes leaving just one for Lirael and one for Amara. "If you'll excuse me, Baroness, my Lady, I believe the horses are in urgent need of combing".
>>Lirael: "We would definitely appreciate the introduction, if you feel up to it." She looks to the dwarf. "Dunstan, perhaps you could see to the horses?" >>Dunstan:>>Dunstan: "If you'll excuse me, Baroness, my Lady, I believe the horses are in urgent need of combing".<<
GM: Dunstan leaves
>>Lirael:"If you ever need to talk, do call upon me any time."
GM: There is a long moment's silence in the room, now empty but for Lirael and Amara deTrevani, holding hands while the Tethyran tea grows cold. Amara's grip is tight on Lirael's striong hands. She is looking down, and it's a moment before Lirael realises that fresh tears are rolling down her cheeks... A teardrop falls into her teacup with a tiny splash. A sob racks Amara's body, and she looks up, her face anguished. "I... I never wanted... " she takes a breath. "All my life... My father wanted me to be a son, a warrior... strong.. To crush our enemies, to take back what was lost. I tried..." She looks to the window-light.
 The tears are coming faster as she continues: "I was riding... I'm not a good rider... My father wanted me to learn, to be a knight... I was riding out by the river, when the river-pirates... *aaa*" She sobs again, her face anguished.
Lirael puts her arms around Amara and holds her, rocking slightly back and forth and making those murmur-y noises one does when comforting someone.
Amara: "I... I never told him... but I blamed him... for what happened." She looks up, at Lirael, and takes a moment to regain some composure. "The Death-Cyst, the Tigerclaw... How can we fight that? I've tried so hard, Lirael. But I can't protect my people... I can't even protect myself."
Amara grimaces: "Ashara taught me how to kill, Lirael. We burned the Orcs, slaughtered them here... Even the children. The smell... I wanted to vomit."
 Amara goes on,more calmly: "You know the Covere say we're cursed? My grandfather, Aumvor Trevani, he had two daughters. Anwyn was the firstborn, the heir... But she married Velius Covere, against Aumvor's wishes. He disowned Anwyn, made my mother Ama heir to deTrevani... They said she was barren.... She was forty when I was born, after Aumvor was already dead. The Covere - Aryn Blackthorn, Brandini Covere - they say we're cursed, because Anwyn was the true heir, and through her to Brandini Covere. They say the line of Trevan will dwindle and fail."
Lirael: "It is a hard world we live in, fraught with dangers at every turn and full of evildoers and naysayers. But know that you have friends that care for you and will do our best to help you in all your troubles. We cannot fix the past, but we can look towards the future and that is what we should do now."
"Nay, what we *must* do." She lifts Amara's chin. "You are not cursed, Amara. We can fight and we will -- not just the obvious creatures of evil, but the insidious rumor mongering as well."
Kimberly Pauley (OOC: This girl seriously needs a husband. I wouldn't normally say that, but she needs to beget an heir...and she seems the sort that needs a strong arm to lean on)
Kimberly Pauley (What strong and noble enough guys are there left? Any? Now that Joran is betrothed...)
 Kimberly Pauley (Totally not going to push her toward the Covere... hm. Esme, don't get Jonas killed, he's the right age! I suppose there is Jorah, but he and Lirael are getting along so well! Though Amara probably "needs" him more and Lirael would be very sad.)
Kimberly Pauley (Well, at the moment it looks like Harvarr is the best of her local options if she wants to stick to nobility and I imagine she probably has to...we should contrive to throw them together when we can. At least he's got that guilt thing going so that whoever he does take on next should be extra-protected...)
 Kimberly Pauley (Hey! Let's marry her to Dolf! Alistair Morgan ! He thought Amara was quite pretty! Heh, everyone thinks she's quite pretty...)
 James Andrew Joyce AWESOME!!!!!
        31 July at 10:27 • Unlike • 1
        Kimberly Pauley (And he's got ruler-ish experience after running that city for so long now...surely another mayor could be found after all this time...and he's awesome...and she could flame-cook any deer that troubled him...)
        31 July at 10:32 • Unlike • 3
        Philippe Marti After Smouldering-Lirael and Agony-Auntie-Lirael, here is Matchmaking-Lirael !
        This Lady is the swiss-army-knife of any adventuring team: Never ever leave in the wild without her !
        31 July at 10:49 • Unlike • 2
        Kimberly Pauley (Well, she doesn't want to give up Jorah when she's just got him! )
        31 July at 10:50 • Unlike • 2
        Simon Newman Re Dolf Dragonheart - yep, and Erstlin borders DeTrevani to the east, albeit over the Heartblood and Delimbyr rivers so it's not an easy path. Dolf has a deputy, the Cleric Orien, who can manage the Seminary of Torm & Bahamut while he's away. OTOH Sir Dolf Dragonheart is vassal to Queen Valeris while Amara deTrevani is vassal to Lady Moonfire, so it raises an issue of divided loyalties and they would need permission from both monarchs to wed. Historically IRL it was quite common in the European middle ages for lords to be vassal to more than one liege, which could be a recipe for chaos as you could justify pretty much any behaviour as keeping your oath - whichever oath suited you at the moment...
 Kimberly Pauley Perhaps after the Tigerclaw threat is abated we can have a nice dinner party at Northwood Manor and invite Amara and Dolf...
Lirael: "Don't fear, Amara, we will help you. *I* will help you. Are you sure you are up to introducing us to the Halflings? If it is too much for you, I'm sure we will be fine. You have many burdens to bear and I don't want to trouble you further." She stands, keeping a hand on Amara's shoulder to reassure her. "When this immediate threat is over, I hope we can talk more. And I will talk with Jareth immediately upon return to Northwood and we will send someone over."
 Simon Newman >>Philippe: Simon's NPC page is becoming such a little black book of hookups !<< The possibility (but not certainty) of rebirth and new life after a period of decline is perhaps the most major overarching theme in the whole Loudwater campaign. Getting to the new life may require some hookups, first.
        31 July at 11:40 • Edited • Like • 3
>>"It is a hard world we live in, fraught with dangers at every turn and full of evildoers and naysayers. But know that you have friends that care for you and will do our best to help you in all your troubles. We cannot fix the past, but we can look towards the future and that is what we should do now. Nay, what we *must* do." She lifts Amara's chin. "You are not cursed, Amara. We can fight and we will -- not just the obvious creatures of evil, but the insidious rumor mongering as well. Don't fear, Amara, we will help you. *I* will help you." <<
GM: Lirael comforts Amara;  Amara matches Lirael's gaze and nods silently, eyes glistening. She doesn't say anything, but has a look of deep gratitude.
>> Lirael: "Are you sure you are up to introducing us to the Halflings? If it is too much for you, I'm sure we will be fine. You have many burdens to bear and I don't want to trouble you further." She stands, keeping a hand on Amara's shoulder to reassure her. "When this immediate threat is over, I hope we can talk more. And I will talk with Jareth immediately upon return to Northwood and we will send someone over." <<
GM: Amara nods, standing too. "You are right, thank you. I will write you a letter of introduction for the Halfling Shire-Reeve. I would like to get out of this castle - but I think perhaps I should stay with my father tonight. Would you like to pay your respects, before you leave?"
Lireal nods. "Of course." She follows Amara down to the chapel.
Downstairs, in the dimly lit stone-walled chapel, above the ancient subterranean crypt of the deTrevani, Kiris Alkirk, last Lord of Kiris Dahn lies upon his funeral bier. Treona stands vigil in the candelight. She nods silently to Amara and Lirael as they enter. Amara quietly lights another candle, placing it on the altar. From the embossed stonework above the altar watch the shadowed faces of Silvanus, Kelemvor, Mielikki and the gods of the Vale.
Kimberly Pauley Lirael stands, head bowed, quietly murmuring a few words of prayer to Mielikki.
Lirael turns to Treona and bows low. "I wish to honor him properly, but I am unfamiliar with the rituals. Would you show me?"
Treona nods agreeably, and shows Lirael how to light a candle to light the path for Alkirk's soul as he passes through the Shadowfell to the Halls of Kelemvor for judgement, to be tested in the balance and sent to his ultimate reward, Io alone knows where. Eventually it is time to leave, later than planned (ca 6pm). You gather in the courtyard, Amara gives you a letter of introduction and directions to find the Sheriff's Hall in Downwater Shire on the Heartblood River. Amara: "If you hurry you can still be there by sundown. Please stop in on your way back, if time allows - I would love your company for dinner after the funeral tomorrow."
Lirael: "We shall do our best," says Lirael as she mounts her horse. With a final wave, she rides on, following the directions given by Amara. "Apologies," she says to Dunstan as they pass beyond the gates. "I did not mean to tarry so long, but Amara seemed as if she needed a friend to talk to."
From Castle deTrevani Lirael and Dunstan ride north over the hills and into wild wooded country, where the eastern Gray Vale gives way to the High Forest. The signs of Orc despoliation are starting to heal, and they pass a couple newly built or rebuilt farmsteads; rugged or desperate men and women who have already started to recolonise this frontier. At the second such they stop to ask directions from a wild-haired human woman, a baby on her back. "...Yes milady, the Halflings of Downwater lie yonder upon the river; the village is well hidden but look for the bluebells upon the trail..." She pauses: "You - you are Lirael! I know you, milady! You saved us on the Black March! The Hand of Naarash attacked our village, but you saved us! The others stayed at Erstlin, but Wilsam and I heard the Baroness was giving Freeholdings here... Wait while I fetch him!"
        2 August at 10:24 • Like • 2
Dunstan and Lirael look west, where the sun is dipping to the western horizon. There is an odd expectancy in the air, and the fine hairs on the back of Lirael's neck stand on end. West over the Dire Wood dark clouds seem to be gathering...
Lirael nods and gets down from her horse (OOC: seems more polite) and waits for Wilsam, keeping an eye on the sky.
       Dunstan also dismounts and stays two yards behind Lirael...
The woman - http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-NI6qO2nNXbI/Uft-gEyLhpI/AAAAAAAAA3U/eKMNR-uLOJU/s1600/Wylla.jpg
You dismount, the woman nods to Dunstan: "I'm Willa milord! I was heavy with child when Lady Lirael saved us at the village, me and the others. She was taking us back down the Black March with Sir Dragonheart and Father Orien, when the Hand of Naarash attacked us again - after they wounded her leg with an arrow, she stayed behind to snipe them, hold them off while we got away... She saved us all!" Lirael has only dim memories of this (Kimberly was away for the session) - Lirael vaguely remembers Wylla among the survivors at the burning village; the trip back down the Black March road with them, the Banite ambush, being wounded by a black-fletched arrow, and taking up a sniping position in the high boulders... holding off the Banites for an hour until her own arrows ran out... then a hobgoblin club to the head, and it all went black until she awoke in the prison cells of the Temple of Naarash beside the deva paladin, Shawna Carter.
 (Dolf & Orien got the survivors back to Erstlin, where Dolf stayed on as protector/lord of the manor and founder of the Dragonheart seminary)
Willa scurries off and returns shortly with a stocky, balding, middle-aged human male, carrying a heavy wood axe. Wylla: "Lirael, this is Wilsam, my new husband! We met at Erstlin..." Wilsam nods cordially. "Good evening, milady. Nice weather we're having..."
Suddenly there's a distant roll of thunder, as a huge arc of green energy appears across the western sky, from Loudwater north towards the Dire Wood and Karse!
 As the sun dips below the western horizon the weird green rainbow hangs there, shimmering. Willa and Wilsam gasp in amazement. Willa: "Mielikki preserve us!"
Lireal receives a sending from Quinn "Do I even need to tell you?"
Dunstan grabs his shield promptly, victim of his atavistic weariness for everything that comes from the sky.
 "By Moradin !" he exclaims, tightening his grip on his horse's bridle in case it panics, and gets closer to Lirael.
 "Do not fear," says Lirael. "Lady Moonfire has opened a portal. It will not harm you." ( she hopes...) "I am glad to see you both looking so well. How is Erstlin? Is Dolf Dragonheart well? I have not seen him for some time now. I hope to reacquaint myself with him." She turns to Dunstan. "He is a man after your own heart, Dunstan. Brave and true."
Willa looks to Wilsam. He turns from watching the flame-arc across the sky, and shrugs: "We've not been in Erstlin for months, but it was all going fine with him last I heard. His Seminary attracts many fine young men to study as Paladins and Clerics. I wanted my own land, though, a freehold to call my own - our own." Wilsam gestures towards the wheat growing in the nearby field, and the pigs and chickens scratching around by the midden pile. "We found that stone farmhouse, fixed up the roof... This is pretty good land here, and Lady deTrevani's guards do a sweep-through every couple days, chase off any goblins that come calling. In a couple months we'll be harvesting for the winter. Should do alright."
Lirael:  "That is wonderful to hear. I am hoping that the same thing will happen around Northwood Manor -- as Warden of the North, I intend to make that happen. It is time to reclaim the land and make the Vale a happy, growing place once more."
Willa and Wilsam nod in agreement. Willa: "Yes, milady... My first husband Connor, he died fighting for what he believed in... He wouldn't yield to the Naarash, wouldn't join them... When the Banites killed him, I lost hope." Willa wipes a tear from her eye at the bitter memory. "But you've given me back hope, Lady Lirael. You, and our Lady Amara." Willa takes her baby from her back, holds him proudly. "Little Connor here, he'll grow up a free man, 'cos of you, milady."
        Simon Newman OOC tearing myself up
        2 August at 12:53 • Like • 1
        Kimberly Pauley (Awwww! See James Andrew Joyce Banites are not nice!)
Lirael: "We had best be on, unless there is something that we can do for you. Is there anything you need?" Wilsam scratches his chin. "Got any baling twine? Gonna be baling hay for the cow, soon."
 Lirael reaches into her pocket, hoping she hadn't left everything back at the manor. Gladly she finds some coins. She hugs Willa and pats little Connor on the head, then hands 10gp to his mother. "This is for the little man," she says. "May he grow up safe and strong. If he ever desires to be a ranger, many years from now, of course, you send him my way. The need will always be there."      
 The two farmers look delighted by the gift. Willa nods delightedly. "Thank you milady! This will see us right! I'll go to Loudwater when Connor's bigger, buy him a toy at Garwan's shop! I'll tell him it was your present." She grins.
Dunstan check mentally if he has anything that could be used as bailing twine in his travel bags and if he has any, offers it to Wilsam.
GM: Dunstan passes Farmer Wilsam some leather cord, for which the farmer says thanks, then you say your farewells and remount, riding on into the dusk eerily green-lit by the fiery emerald rainbow across the western sky.
GM: Night has fallen when you spot the bluebell trail (yaay Low Light Vision) down to the hidden dell where nestles the Halfling village of Downwater. Approaching you are met by Bounders, the Halflings' elite guards, who escort you to the Shire-Reeve's hillside estate/halfling-hole. You are taken to an antechamber (Lirael ducking) to wait while your leter of introduction is presented to the Shire-Reeve. After a short time Shire-Reeve Will Oakshot, a bewhiskered middle-aged fellow, enters and greets you. With him is a lean, weatherbeaten Halfling with a warrior's look - Tal Goodfellow, leader of the Bounders. Will greets you cordially: "Any friend of the Baroness deTrevani is a friend of mine!" Tal is more taciturn., You ask about the Tigerclaw. Will: "They passed through Upwater Shire last winter on their way in to Karse. The Bounders monitored them..." Tal nods: "We count them as three thousand, with a thousand warriors, hunting cats and sabretooths in numbers too. And the dragon of course. They've claimed the Dire Wood for their own; drove out or killed every orc and goblin they find. We avoid them, and as far as we know, they don't know we exist."
        3 August at 07:13 • Like
Kimberly Pauley "Have they harmed anyone who has not sought to harm them that you know of? Or have they only attacked orcs and goblins? Perhaps they are not as bad of a neighbor as I feared, though I know not what their plans are if they succeed in their quest."
Tal: "We didn't want to take a chance, so we told the Folk to hide from them. They've kept very tight within the Boundary Line of the Dire Wood, and we don't go in there, so no trouble - they've harmed none of us directly. We had some trouble with Frost Goblins fleeing the Dire Wood though... took us a couple days to hunt 'em all down, and a couple of my men were wounded." Will nods: "Aye, but now they've cleared the Dire Wood I'd say they're about as good neighbours as one could expect, for a place like that. From what you were telling me, Tal, looks like there's not a single Orc or Goblin clan left south of the Heartblood now, from here to the Star Mounts. First time I could say that in a hundred years - perhaps forever." Will Oakshot lights his pipe and puffs contentedly. "So far, they've been good news for us. But we didn't want to risk approaching them, just in case..."
Shire-Reeve Will Oakshot offers Dunstan and Lirael smoking pipes, then continues: "If I were a religious man, I'd say Lady Yondalla - that's yer Mielikki/Chauntea, Miss Lirael - had sent them Uthgardt as a blessing to us. I feel it in me bones - good times are coming to the Shires, and the Vale." The Bounder captain Tal Goodfellow smiles wryly as he lights his own pipe. "Perhaps, Will, perhaps. But I'll be keepin' up my prayers to Arvoreen the Defender, just in case..."
Lirael chats amiably with them, holding the pipe but not smoking it and trying hard not to sneeze. "And how are your people doing? Is all well?"
The Shire-Reeve nods to Lirael.
"We are doing excellently, yes. In fact, quite exceptiionally well! Thanks to Lady deTrevani the Orcs are finally gone from our southern border, so that a free flow of trade has resumed with Loudwater and the Vale. This year's harvest looks to be exceptionally good, and..." He taps out his pipe, looking thoughtful. "Even Halfling-wives long thought barren are now with child... It is as if Life has returned here, after many long years of darkness."
 Tal Goodfellow nods shrewdly. "Aye. I hear Yondalla has sent an Avatar to the Vale - a Green Regent. That might explain a thing or two."
Dunstan accepts the pipe eagerly and savours each puffs with blissful enjoyment, trying not to blow my smoke towards Lirael. When the conversation pauses, he suddenly exclaims; "Oh ! These herbs are so delightful to smoke that I almost forgot... speaking of dragons...".
  I unfold the cloth that was wrapped around the keg of Dragon Milk that brought and offer it to our host.
"Dear Shire-Reeve, please accept this little token of our appreciation for your hospitality and your brilliant company."
 Dunstan presents his keg of Dragon's Milk; the Halflings look delighted, though Shire-Reeve Oakshot seems a little nervous. "I hear this is strong stuff, ha ha!" Tal Goodfellow nods to Dunstan with the respect due a fellow warrior who has just gifted some exceptionally fine ale!
 Shire-Reeve Will Oakshot: "A wonderful gift! Thank you! You must both stay to Late Dinner, we have so much to discuss. We have been nearly cut off from the outside world these last eight years, since the Orcs took deTrevani. You must tell me all about how things are going! I heard from Baroness deTrevani that the Banites were gone from Orlbar - does Gulthog Halfhand still rule in Llorkh, or do they have a new Brigand King now? ...And then tomorrow I'll show you round Downwater." Bounder-Captain Tal Goodfellow nods: "And I'd be glad to discuss military affairs with both of you. We Bounders must combine the talents of both Knight and Ranger - I'm always eager to learn new tricks."
        3 August at 10:19 • Like
 (on to 23/6 now - you stay for dinner, next day the Halflings take you on a tour of Downwater, explaining that Upwater is a little hard to get to but Tal can take you there if you wish. Will Oakshot:
"Upwater folks are a little queer, if you ask me... Tattoos and hair-braids - why, they're half-Uthgardt themselves! But Tal knows them well and seems to get on with them, don't you Tal?"
 Kimberly Pauley Lirael consults with Dunstan. "What say you, Dunstan? Should we go on to Upwater? I would like to meet them, though I must confess I am also anxious to return to Loudwater and find out the result of the Tigerclaw's meeting with the Queen of Ice."
Dunstan:  "I don't think the people from Upwater will tell us anything more about the Tigerclaw, but I might be wrong on this one. The only advantage I can see at the moment is to meet them in order to start diplomatic links with them, in case we need to enrol them as allies at some point."
       I try to ask Will Oakshot: "Would you know if these braided and tattooed people from Upwater have been in contact with the Tigerclaws tribe ?"
 Tal Goodfellow the Bounder captain answers:
        "No sir, they stay clear, just like the Downwater folks."
        He puffs his pipe.
        "We Halflings have learned to stay clear of the big folks, less we're sure they're of goodly sort. That's how we've survived. And if big folks not of goodly sort do find us, well..." His eyes gleam dangerously "...Then they don't get back to tell of us."
 Shire-Reeve Will Oakshot: "I'm sure the Upwater Shire-Reeve'd be happy to come down here to visit you. Why if it's more convenient for you we could all meet somewhere more central - Castle deTrevani, perhaps. How is the Baroness keeping up? I heard her dad just passed?"
Lirael:  "Yes, and his funeral is today. I do think that is an excellent idea, though will obviously have to be put off for a time. I would not wish to impose at such a time."
(I'm gonna be out most of tomorrow and tomorrow night...would say that Lirael and Dunstan make their goodbyes very politely and with promises of future meetings and good will and make post haste for Northwood or Loudwater depending on where everyone is. Then Lirael will go to Northwood whenever it is you guys are off and will tend to manor business (and uncomfortably find her father has come to visit after being tipped off she'd been on an actual date...trolls and goblins don't phase him but dating is another story)
 Simon Newman LOL GM - ok, Lirael and Dunstan eventually say goodbye to the Halflings and head back south, stopping in with Amara that evening for the post-funeral dinner they were invited to. Amara seems a little happier now, and chit-chats a little, asking about the Ball and the other guests, especially the nobles. Amara:
"Sir Dunstan, you must tell me about your travels in the east, and Clan Glintshield. I hear they are great warriors?"
        4 August at 23:15 • Like • 1
        Simon Newman Amara: "Of course you must stay the night. We so rarely have guests, it will be wonderful to have you here."
        4 August at 23:16 • Like
 (You'll be able to get back to Northwood Manor afternoon of 24/6, which is probably where I'll start the game tomorrow evening)
____________________________________
QUINN EVENTIDE 22/6/1480
    22/6/1480 DR ca 12.30pm - Quinn reports back to Moonfire manor. She's met by a disapproving-looking Edmund the Factotum, who takes her report and bids her wait. Twenty minutes later a rather tired looking Tiefling girl, Tawny Kytra, comes into the Manor, carrying two large woven bags full of assorted Reagants, and greets Quinn. "Oh hi! You're Quinn Eventide the famous bard, right? I love all your work! You were great at the Ball last night - loved that song! Just been out shopping for the big Ritual - Eclara's gotta rip a hole in the fabric of the spacetime continuum, it needs a lot of this gunk! I cleared out Tanara Cothwick's shop, had to stop in on Father Griffon too... What's up?"
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(NEW THREAD)
As the Sun was just starting to touch the horizon Quinn turns to Tanara and taking her hand Quinn says "Thank you Tanara I had a wonderful day. Your teachings of Sharess were most..... thorough. I hope you will return soon to teach me more?"
    • 31 July at 19:07
On the bed a very satisfied-looking and tousle-haired Tanara Cothwick nods happily. "Mmmm.... yes... but I think I can learn as much as I teach!" She winks at Quinn.
Quinn kisses Tanara goodbye and leaves her to freshen up, returning to the bar downstairs to talk to Al.
GM: Quinn finally drags herself from Tanara's welcoming arms a little before sunset and takes herself downstairs. Algrim is serving the evening crowd, he nods to Quinn and draws her aside. "Tanara is an agreeable wench, eh? Any idea when you can start as festhall manager? I was thinking ten percent of the take, fifty percent for any gentlemen you entertain personally..."
Timothy Walford Quinn smiles coyly, "Why Algrim... whatever do you mean? We were just discussing religion."
 Timothy Walford "In regards to the position I can start right away.... barring any inconvenient barbarian attacks that is.... But what would you say if I told you I was interested in taking my involvement in our little establishment a little further than just managing upstarirs?"
Algrim looks at Quinn shrewdly. "Heh. Festhall Manager not enough for you, Quinn? Sorry to hear it. I'm not interested in selling up or partnering, no. The Fisher's Friend is mine, and it'll stay that way till I die... and no, don't be gettin' any ideas! But as it happens I do have an old friend who told me he's looking to sell up, go east. Poor guy's not been the same since *she* left him..." Al looks down, rubbing the bar. "You want your own place, you go see Marsh Laval. He'll sell you the Green Tankard, for the right price."
 Quinn raises he eyebrows, "I assume your talking about our favorite Bane child? I had heard that she and Marsh were close before she left but not THAT close?". She settles onto one of the bar stools. "Let us talk percentages then my friend. 10% seems very low for the amount of business I would be bringing in. I think a more generous cut would be appropriate."
Algrim: "THAT close..." he holds up his hand and crosses two fingers. "Let's just say there are rumours her child will likely have hairy feet... And poor old Marsh's been pining ever since she left. I stopped round there this afternoon and he was just moping since she left."
Algrim rubs a rag across the bar. "Percentages... Now, Quinn, I have all the running costs... You saw how nice those rooms are! Lovely soft beds, sheets of silk... Regular laundry... Free bed and board for the girls, and they take ten percent too on top... It's a tight margin I'm running at."
He leans in. "I have Kathy 'managing' right now as a stand-in, but she's only getting double tally on her own callers - 20% - and 5% off Maggie and Pamela... I'm giving you the same deal I gave Chastity..."
Quinn leans in close, putting her elbows on the bar, making sure Algrin has a good view. "You yourself said that business has never been better than when I was running things... Make it 15% of the take and you have a deal." (+4 boon bonus on a diplomacy roll!)
 (JAMES STAY OUT!!!) Algrim looks down at Quinn's cleavage, salivating... he doesn't seem to hear what she's saying, and seems to lose all self control as he reaches out and cups her breasts! (OOC: rolled a natural 1 on your Diplomacy check. but with you using the +4 Seduction bonus you still made the DC 20 check, so you still 'seduced' him only it went awry!)
        Kimberly Pauley (and attendance at the bar shoots up)
        Timothy Walford (Hmmmm what to do what to do....)
         Timothy Walford (im weighing between hitting him and raising the percentage per grope...)
        Kimberly Pauley (The Dock Master, sitting on a stool nearby, falls off and spills his beer down the front of his trousers, his jaw hanging open in surprise.)
 Timothy Walford Quinn reaches out to tickle Algrin's beard a little. "Why Algrin if you keep that up you will have to throw yourself out..... (Leaning very close) make it 20% and next time Tanara visits.... I might let you watch...."
Kimberly Pauley (sorry, couldn't resist...I just imagine the bar coming to a dead stop as all eyes turn to Quinn and Algrim...)
        Timothy Walford (I think that happened a while back lols)
        Quinn: "Algrin.... Am I going to have to start charging you...... Or should I just start increasing my percentages..."
        Algrim nods dumbly, seemingly having lost the power of speech... (9 on Diplomacy roll+16+25).
Timothy Walford Quinn stands up breaking Algrin's stupor and bringing him back to reality.... "Wonderful doing business with you Algrin. Maybe you should take it easy... you look a little flushed."
 Quinn turns her head at the sound of footsteps coming down the stairs. Smiling widely as Tanara appears, as radient as always. Quinn steps forward to take her hand as she descends the last few steps, leaning forward to kiss her delicately on the cheek. "Thank you coming Tanara, I don't know if you have heard but I will be taking over the running of the Festhall here. I will look forward to you deliveries with great anticipation..... "
Tanara smiles at Quinn. "Wow, that's great! Sorry to take your room so long, Al, hope you didn't lose business."
Al: "Anything for you, my dear. He turns to Quinn, his hands finally detached from her bosom. "15%... alright then, you have a deal."
He holds out his hand to shake on the contract. "Can you start right away?"
Timothy Walford Quinn leans into Tanara pressing rather close and whispering in her ear "My room is ALWAYS open to you Tanara." Quinn pulls her in close and kisses her deeply in full view of Algrin. Eventually pulling back she looks over her shoulder at Algrin "20%... i think you can see it will be money well spent..."
GM: Tanara gasps in surprise, but responds eagerly. Algrim and the roomfull of fishermen and sailors gape... rolled 14+20 (with boon)=34 on check. Algrim nods, wiping sweat from his brow. "20%... Yes... and watch..."
Tanara looks over Quinn's shoulder, raising an eyebrow in Al's direction.
Quinn: "A pleasure doing business with you Algrin. I have to check on the situation of the Tigerclaws before I can start officially but with luck that should not take long. Barring attacks from Dragons and the barbarian horde I will be here tomorrow." Quinn reaches into her pouch and pulls 10 GP from it. "I think this place needs more security. If you know of any halfway honest guys who can handle themselves and will keep there hands off the girls without my say so offer them a decent wage and get them to start as soon as possible."
 Al looks at the small pile of coin. "Prefer to keep things relaxed, like. Happy 'n laid back. Geezers with clubs isn't my style." He shakes his head. "I was thinkin' with you about is all the security I'll need!"
 Quinn ponders this. "Hmmm your right.... it may not give quite the right impression. Maybe what we need is someone a little more subtle. Let me think on it. I have other business to attend to at Moonfire manor. I will see you tomorrow." quinn shakes Algrins hand firmly and turns to Tanara "shall we?"
 Tanara perches on a barstool: "I'm staying for a drink, honey - I'm a little weak at the knees!”
  Quinn: "In that case make sure you keep your strength up" (winking) I am sure i will see you very soon."
        2 August at 09:47 • Like
Quinn bids farewell and leaves.
(New thread)
Once Quinn's business is completed in the Fishers Fried she leaves and walks through Loudwater to the Green Tankard with a noticeable spring in her step. Upon entering she takes a seat at the bar where despite her critically low insight even she can see Marsh is not his usual jovial self. 'Copper for your thoughts Marsh? You look like you've lost the love of your life?'
Marsh seems distracted. He turns from serving Sunsteen Urbeth a beer.
 "Uh, what? Oh yeah." He looks distinctly unhappy.
"Old friend left this mornin', brought back... memories..."
At this point Quinn and Marsh hear shouting and yelling from the streets outside.
Quinn raises her eyebrows and sighs.
 "Never a dull moment in this place it seems. Marsh it has come to my attention that you may not be as... content here as you once were. I was wondering if there was any truth to the rumor that you were thinking of selling this place?"
Marsh glances towards the door, then sighs.
 "It's just not the same without Esmerelda, Quinn. I miss her so. Been thinking about packing it all in, moving to Llorkh..." Outside people are yelling: "The Moonfire Mansion! Look!"
There's a kind of an ozone smell in the air, and the fine hairs on the back of Quinn's neck are tingling.
Quinn: "I think Lady Moonfire is about to do something.... dramatic. I must go and see to this Marsh but perhaps we can speak tomorrow. I would be interested in buying this place from you if that is agreeable to you. I think Lireal would appreciate keeping it in the family so to speak."
"She might be Warden of the North and live in a manor.... but I think this place will always be a second home to her. I would like to keep it that way."
Marsh nods. "Aye, well, we'll talk about it."
Quinn: “We will talk soon Marsh. Chin up!" Quinn leave and looks towards Moonfire Manor....
 Marsh & Quinn join the crowd of customers heading outside to see what's up. To the north-east across town, the Moonfire Mansion is enveloped in a flickering green radiance. Dark stormclouds roil overhead. The air pressure is rising, and nearby a small boy starts crying as blood trickles from his nose. Suddenly there is a green flash like lightning, a clap of thunder, and a huge column of crackling green energy shoots up from the Moonfire mansion into the sky, arcing north towards the Dire Wood and Karse!
As the sun dips below the western horizon the column hangs there, bathing the town in green radiance.
Quinn concentrates and casts Sending ritual towards Konn.
"Lord Konn the portal is opening as we speak. Good luck my warrior... return to me with the heads of your enemies.'
deduct 50gp of reagants) Prince Konn's voice replies in Quinn's head, his tone grim but triumphant:
"Aye. Bitterstrike summons her mate to join the battle. The portal is open. We are ready. Soon we depart, to death or glory!"
 Quinn looks up at the display, smiling.
"Hehe... showoff.."
GM: You watch the energy ribbon for a while - doesn't look like anything more is happening right now. Eventually Marsh says:
"Let's go back inside, talk business."
Inside, Marsh escorts you through the kitchens, saying hello to two female halfling cooks. Marsh:
"This is Brenda and Wanda, my cousins. Ladies, meet Quinn Eventide."
The cooks greet Quinn affably. Marsh escorts Quinn to a door and into his low-ceilinged chamber. Marsh:
"Here's my books... As you can see, I normally clear around fifty to a hundred each month, after wages and costs. The servers and cooks get five silvers a day each, that's fifteen gold a month. Usually two cooks and three servers, so seventy-five gold between them, but I'm short a server right now. I have the freehold on the property. The whole business with the property is worth around six thousand I reckon, but you can have it for four grand."
GM: From what Quinn knows, Marsh's wages are around double to treble the typical going rates she's used to - a house maid or scullion typically earns around 3gp a month with accomodation, tavern staff earn more as it's harder work, but 6gp-9gp is typical for a good serving maid or skilled cook. Either Pamela Bardew must be earning a lot at the Fisher's Friend for Algrim to have lured her away from the Green Tankard, or else she just prefers working on her back to working on her feet... (compare Northwood Manor wages - 2gp/month per servant & 6gp/month per soldier, bed & board not counted)
(On wages - 3gp/month is subsistence for a single adult; 10gp/month can support a family of two adults and three children; 30gp allows a middle-class lifestyle, 100gp allows an upper-class lifestyle).
 (You can add on effectively ca 3gp per person for your manor staff for effective wage, since they get bed & board covered. So eg where you employ a married couple, effectively it's like 4+6=10gp and they can afford to raise three children at the manor. Historically unskilled castle staff were not paid at all!)
 (Marsh's bar staff work 12 hour days almost constant labour, your servants really work more like 6 hour days although they're on call the whole time, so it's not as big a difference as you'd think.)
Kimberly Pauley (oh ok, I don't feel so bad then though hopefully can take a look at it when things are gaining ground, find some apprenticeships or something for kids, etc.)
 Simon Newman You're a great lord of the manor.
Kimberly Pauley (Ha, Lirael'd better be, they're mostly related! Anwyn would kick her butt! She's the bigger, older sister...they always win...)
GM: Moving to next day (23/6) now - is Quinn going back to the Fisher's Friend to get started in her new role?
The green arc cuts out a little before dawn on 23/6.
Timothy Walford  All for starting the new thread. Quinn will hake Marsh's hand. Expressing genuine interest but stating that she needs to discuss the matter with Lireal first. She will return to Loudwater tomorrow to talk further.
GM: When Quinn gets back to the Fisher's Friend, Algrim offers her a place on one of the giant Festhall beds with Pamela & Maggie, since neither is being used by patrons overnight. Or she can sleep on a bedroll on the taproom floor.
Pamela Bardew smiles warmly at Quinn:
"Welcome, fellow Initiate of Sharess! We are honoured to have you with us."
Maggie Arkwright: "Hello Miss Quinn."
Maggie yawns: "If you don't mind, I'm going to go to sleep now..."
Mid morning, 23/6/1480: Around the time that Pealias returns to Northwood Manor after his adventures in the Dire Wood, at the Fisher's Friend Quinn rises for breakfast downstairs, then it's time to brief the girls on the new managerial regime. Upstairs in the Festhall reception room, Algrim Thane musters the three girls - Maggie Arkwright and Kathy Brooke both slim and with signs of elven ancestry, Pamela Bardew tall, shapely and clearly all human. Kathy Brooke is looking distinctly disgruntled - she spent the night with Al, but Quinn would guess they slept on opposite sides of the bed last night. Algrim Thane: "Now, ladies, you know I like everything peaceful and happy, like. Well run. Well, I know we've had our disagreements recently, but that's to put behind us now. I've brought in a real professional, a Sword Coast girl who really knows what's what! You all have met her allready, but now 'tis a great honour to properly introduce our new Festhall Manager, Miss Quinn Eventide!" Al turns to Quinn and bows in gentlemanly fashion. The assembly wait for Quinn to speak.
GM: Kathy Brooke (Halvard's runaway daughter) and Maggie Arkwright (a riverboat girl) were at the Fisher's Friend when Quinn was temporary manager during the tense two days waiting for Lyath the Wereserpent, the Najaran spy. Pamela is new, having been a server at the Green Tankard until recently.
Quinn bows humbly (bluff check) it is wonderful to see you all again. I look forward to getting to know you all much better in the coming weeks and months. I will be here to ensure the smooth running of our little family and to provide a safe and secure environment for us to share the love of Sharess. Does anyone have any questions?
Pamela Bardew looks to Al and raises a hand: "What are the new sleeping arrangements?" Al smiles: "Well, as Quinn is Manager now, she gets to share with me in the right bed... Kathy, you'll be sharing the other bed with Pamela and Maggie. Or there's the couch and the bedrolls, if you prefer." Pamela nods, and smirks at Kathy Brooke's disgruntled expression - the young scion of Brooke manor has just been demoted from 'Acting Festhall Manager', and doesn't seem happy to hear that she's also being kicked out of Algrim's bed in favour of Quinn Eventide. Assuming Quinn goes along with this...
Quinn smiles and holds up a hand. "don't worry I have no intention of kicking anyone out of their beds. My commitments to our newly appointed Warden of the North will mean I may not be here at all times regardless. I will either take couch or find myself a modest room nearby, and in a pinch I can think of much much worse things to do at nights than share a bed with two such lovely ladies
Kathy Brooke smiles triumphantly, and turns to Al, speaking in the cut-glass tones of Loudwater gentry: "No Quinn for you, Al! But since you're so tired of me, I'll be sleeping in the left bed. Looks like you'll have a nice rest tonight!" Al's homely face looks crestfallen, but all the girls are grinning at Quinn, apparently happy to see Mr Thane taken down a peg or two. Algrim: "*sigh* - I'll be goin', then... Kathy, show Quinn the books." Algrim heads downstairs; Kathy smiles at Quinn, who gets the feeling she may have just passed a sort of test. Kathy: "The ledgers are in the study-desk; as you can see, the Festhall is rather profitable - at least for Al..."
 Timothy Walford Quinn smiles at the girls and sniggers quietly at Al's retreating form. After sitting down with Kathy Quinn asks... "Kathy, how much did my predecessors make in percentage off this place? Al did tell me but I would trust your word over his."
Kathy nods. "I only have a record from Chastity Blair's time, here. The books say she got ten percent, fifty percent for clients she entertained herself. Of course she was the one doing the books... Did Al offer you less?"
Kathy seems quite hopeful that Al *did* offer Quinn less.
 Quinn looks at the books - the girls are only getting 10% of their own take, plus free bed & board - free small beer, but not wine - they're encouraged to get clients to buy them overpriced Tethyran wine. With the manager taking another 10%, Al was getting 80%, less all expenses. Even with the running costs of the Fisher's Friend, which don't appear in the books, he must be making a lot of money. Even with Quinn taking 20%* he should be doing ok! *Includes Tanara/Quinn-watching supplement.
If Quinn split her own share of the others' take in half Quinn would be taking 10% from each of them, while they'd each make 20% of their own take. That works out that assuming no personal clients herself, Quinn would then be making 1.5 times what each of the girls made on average.
Quinn smiles wickedly.... "In fact I managed to arrange a little bump in wages with Al... something I will be splitting with you and the girls. After all ... who it is who does all the hard work around
Kathy raises an eyebrow: "Oh?
Quinn smiles even wickedier (ok that's not a word). Adopting a similar pose to when she was negotiating with Al. "Lets just say I can be very.... persuasive..."
Quinn has been looking at the books with Kathy Brooke awhile, when a ragamuffin looking girl of 10 or 11 enters the study from downstairs. Kathy Brooke smiles warmly at her: "Oh hi, Kally! What news today?" The urchin girl Kally smiles back: "Hi, Kathy! I have a message for Mistress Quinn Eventide and Pamela Bardew - Tanara Cothwick the Apothecary invites them both for lunch at her residence!" Kathy Brooke smirks and looks to Quinn. "Looks as if you're in a lot of demand today! Pamela is in the left room, I think."
Quinn flicks her hair and sighs in an over the way... "Ah what a trial to be so in demand from our fair cities even fairer people. What is a girl to do..."
 Kathy Brooke nods to the errand girl, Kally: "This is Quinn Eventide, the famous Bard of Waterdeep." Kally's eyes go wide. "Pleased to metcha, ma'am!" She holds out her hand to shake.
        Timothy Walford (Do I know that Kathy is working for Pealias?)
GM: I expect at this point Pealias has spoken to Kally a few times for info/use of Streetwise, and we can say he's mentioned her as a good source of information. Kally is a pretty well known local character, so it's reasonable Quinn would have heard of her (DC 10 Streetwise)
Simon Newman Kally - http://frloudwater.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/kally-docks-urchin-npc-created-by.html
Quinn:  "It's a pleasure Kally. Perhaps you could do me a favor. You know of my good frind Pealias the Eladrin Ranger? He is looking for people such as yourself who know how to make themselves useful. Seek him out, tell him I sent you. You will likely find him at the Green Tankard or the new home of Tammy (insert last name here)." Quinn will dip her hands into her pouch. "Here is a 50 silver for your trouble... (smiling) don't get into too much trouble."
Kally: "Fifty silver!! That's like a million gold!!" She looks amazed, but takes the money. "I-I know Pealias, I'll look for him..." (OOC It's around noon; Pealias hasn't reached Loudwater at this point in the timeline, he's probably just finished chewing out Ilvanus and will reach Loudwater in a few hours, then go to Tammy's - you can rendezvous this evening - possibly this evening IRL also!)
(Quinn last saw Pealias heading north into the Dire Wood at noon yesterday 22/6, so apparently her faith in his abilities is considerable!)
 Timothy Walford (He always arrives just when we need him)
Quinn turns to Kathy. "Now then I have a lunch date it seems. Kathy, perhaps you have something....."suitable" for me to wear? I find my traveling attire lacks a certain something."
Kally takes the coin and leaves, skipping happily. Kathy Brooke frowns slightly and turns to Quinn: "You know Quinn, giving her that amount of money could put her in danger. The streets aren't completely safe. One silver would have been plenty."
Quinn enquires about a loan of clothes. Kathy Brooke looks down at her own modest bosom, then at Quinn's chest. "Er... I think Pamela might have something?"
Quinn: "Lets go and see shall we? Pamella! It seems we have a lunch date to attend!"
Quinn finds Pamela Bardew in the left-hand room in a white lace undershift, sitting on a stool by a dresser and applying some eye-liner. The statuesque blonde nods to Quinn as she explains about the invitation. Pamela stands, going to the clothes-chest. She grins: "I think we better not tell Al where we're going, or he'll want to come along..."
 Pamela and Quinn are both buxom lasses of 5'10" (Quinn somewhat more buxom, if those pics of yours are accurate!), so it looks like Pamela's dresses would suit Quinn very well.
 Quinn laughs at Pamela's comment about Al, "Ah the trials of being a bartender, always stuck behind the bar.... never getting involved!
 Quinn and Pamela will have a lovely time trying on dresses and looking for something that will suit Quinn. I am equally sure that Quinn will take notice of Pamela's figure as well.
Quinn: "Pamela about Al. Does he treat you all with respect? By that I mean has he ever .... (Quinn is looking for the right words for once) have you ever been mistreated by him or a client and Al let the matter slide?"
Pamela looks at Quinn, shakes her head. "No... I've only been here a month, mind you. I don't tend to see much trouble. And what we charge, most of our clients here are the wealthier element - lots of merchants, the occasional aristocrat, sometimes an adventurer or two. They tend to be well-behaved. For the rest, there are streetwalkers who ply the docks for a silver... But there was a docker came in, about a Tenday back. Must have won a dice game or something. Nasty little guy, pointy head. He was over-rough with Maggie... She cried out, we called up Al. He came upstairs with that big knobbled club he keeps behind the bar, real angry. He threw the guy out on his ear. Later, same guy tried to come back in with his mate, and Kazon Kul the dwarf, he flattened them both! Pow! Pow! We gave Kazon a little something for free that night..." she grins. "...I'd say Al, for what he is, he's alright."
Quinn smiles, warmly "Good, I like to know about the people I am in business with. Perhaps I misjudged al if he takes matters that seriously! I think I should have a word with our friend Kazon as well, always worth knowing there is another capable pair of hands around. I haven't been in Loudwater very long Pamela, are there many girls working their trade out on the streets?"
Pamela shrugs: "Well, you know... Depends on the time of year. Not so much in the winter, but when the boats are in, yeah... Poor things, that's no kind of a life." Stripping off a green dress, Pamela notices Quinn looking over her body, and grins. Removing the dress, Pamela takes a step over to Quinn, looking down over Quinn's figure likewise. She speaks softly - too quietly for Kathy in the study to hear: "You and me Quinn, I think we're a bit alike - more than the others..." Quinn gets the impression that Pamela isn't just talking about their vital statistics.
Quinn smiles, letting her own adventuring gear drop to the floor and stepping closer to Pamela. "I suspect you might be right..... maybe I should stay here rather than rent a room of my own... it might be more fun!"
Pamela smiles rather seductively, her arms going to Quinn's waist, but shakes her head: "Naw, Kathy and Maggie, they don't like girls - they only do when they're paid... "
Then Pamela looks up, meeting Quinn's gaze, and for the first time she speaks very seriously:
"Sharess saved me, Quinn. She gave me power - the strength to seduce the leader of the Zelbross slavers, so he didn't send me south to Najara with the others. Sharess saved Tanara Cothwick too, when she was taken by the Shadows gang. We both give thanks to Her, every day."
Timothy Walford Quinn's arms go to same place on Pamela's back pulling her close and smiling rather sadly.... "Sadly she wasn't able to save me from a similar fate many years ago..... but I see now that if I hadn't endured such trials.... I wouldn't be in the wondrous place I am now."
Pamela nods sympathetically. "We've all suffered, Quinn.  Ilmater takes us through suffering, to endure - but Sharess gives us power! Power over the minds of Men. The power to win! We should give thanks..." Pamela turns, and leads Quin to the bed... (FADE TO BLACK) ...Some time later Pamela and Quin rise and dress, now a little late for their lunch date - Pamela wears a blue dress, long and strapless with a thigh slit, and suggests a red sleeveless one for Quinn, fairly short. Downstairs, Algrim Thane is minding the bar. He's whistling to himself, and looks awfully happy for someone who's just lost a sleeping partner. He looks up as Pamela and Quinn descend the stairs. Algrim: "You two look nice! Going out? Back by four, remember Pamela, that's when yer shift starts!" Pamela sighs theatrically, but nods. Algrim beckons to Quinn: "Quinn, quiet word, if you please." He escorts Quinn into the storeroom, then turns, smiling broadly. "Great work, there! Ye've already solved the problem I was havin'!"
Quinn:  "I aim to please Al Which problem was that by the way?"
Algrim laughs: "Ha! Y'see, after Tammy left, I only had Maggie and Kathy. They're nice girls, but they weren't doing the business - lots of men like a girl with more meat on her bones. So I brought in Pamela, offered her a bit extra, like. You won't see it in the books - Kathy's been doin' the books, didn't want her finding out. So, business was great again... Only problem - ever since then, Kathy and Pamela've been fighting like cats and dogs! Both of 'em thinking they should be the one in charge. And you know I like the place peaceful and happy, like. So, I brought you in over 'em, got Kathy out of me bed - only problem, I was worried they'd be hatin' your guts, instead! But you solved that one real well. Now they're liking you, they're all thinking they got one over on me... I even saw Kathy and Pamela talking to each other friendly-like. Sorted." Algrim grins broadly, then leans in and whispers: "When we go outside, pretend I was beggin' you to come into my bed, and you said no again. Pamela will love that."
Quinn pouts slightly.... "Hmmm, that will put even my acting skills to the test. We will be back before the afternoon shift don't you worry. Keep an eye on them while I am gone please?"
Algrim nods. "Sure thing, Quinn." He goes to the storeroom door and opens it, escorts Quinn out. Seeing Pamela in earshot, Algrim talks loudly: "Sure you won't reconsider, Quinn? You're breakin' me heart..."
Quinn: "Al I am sorry but mixing business with pleasure is completely unacceptable! I trust we will not be having this conversation again?!" Quinn puts a little bardic oomph behind the last statement, making the air in the pub tingle a little. "Pamela and I will return in time for the afternoon shift. I expect you to keep a propper eye on things until then!" Turning and sweeping towards the door of the pub as if born into the aristocracy.
 Algrim scowls quite convincingly, shaking his head so sadly as to elicit a murmur of laughter from the regulars near the bar. The slablike dwarf docker Kazon Kul reaches up from his bar stool to slap Al on the back. "Cheer up, mate! Plenty more fish in the sea..." Kazon winks at Pamela, who winks back cheerfully as she and Quinn exit the Fisher's Friend, heading south through the gate from the Docks district and into the main town to seek out Tanara Cothwick. In the main town square by the Moonfire Mansion, Quinn sees Kally the errand-girl come skipping up. "Hi there Quinn! You're late to see Tanara, she'll be gettin' worried! Oh and Pealias the Ranger went in Tammy's house, 'bout a quarter-hour back. I don't think he'll want disturbin', though..."
Quinn: "Thank you Kally. Keep your eyes open and once he emerges pass along my message. If he has time I would also like to speak to him tonight. I will be at the Fishers Friend from 4pm onwards..... And Kally. Be careful with that money. I value your service and will pay you what you deserve.... but don't go flashing it around. There are plenty of people who will take that from you and they wont ask nicely."
 Kally looks very serious. "Yes, Miss Quinn!" She turns and runs off, back through the Docks gate. Quinn and Pamela head over to the Cothwick Apothecary (previously the Manx Apothecary), on the south side of town beside the Loudwater Smithy, from which the sound of hammering echoes. Quinn spots Meg Nistral and her brother Dendry hammering iron, they look up and Megana waves to Quinn. Pamela raises an eyebrow: "Another friend of yours?" She grins cheekily. You enter the Apothecary - Tanara is behind the counter, nearly bursting out of what looks like the same little black dress as yesterday. She's arguing with Curuvar the Wizard. Curuvar: "What do you mean, no Reagants?! How am I supposed to craft without the necessary materiel? By Mystra's lost Spell, I never heard such a thing!" Tanara shrugs: "I told you honey, Moonfire's Tiefling took them *all*, and I ain't had time to brew a new batch..." She looks up and sees Pamela and Quinn, her face brightening: "Hi there! Curuvar, I have guests. The shop is now shut - for lunch. Come back in two days..." Curuvar: "Hmmf." He turns, doffs his hat to Quinn and Pamela. "Afternoon, ladies. Is that Elturel lace? Very nice."
Quinn smiles warmly at Tanara, drinking her figure in with her eyes as she shoos Curuvar from the shop. "Wonderful to see you again so soon Tanara, I am not sure about the lace however, perhaps you should take a closer look?"
 Pamela joins Quinn in shooing the Wizard of Loudwater out of the shop; then Quinn turns to Tanara. Tanara: "I recognise that dress! You look very nice in it..." Tanara produces a pair of looking-glasses from the counter top and leans in close, peering at the lace at Quinn's bosom. "Yes, I don't think it's real Elturel lace... Probably a cheap knock-off from Iriaebor. I'd remove that if I were you, Pamela. You don't want gentlemen thinking you're cheap." Pamela looks a little disgruntled. Tanara straightens, and goes over to the door, latching it and drawing the shutters. She turns to the other Initiates, grinning. "Lunch is prepared. I have many, many, delicacies awaiting..." (VERY VERY FADE TO BLACK)
Timothy Walford (Hmmm Quinn is getting laid A LOT. Perhaps I should tone her down for fear of making her seem slutty.... nah!)
        5 August at 13:25 • Unlike • 2
Two hours later, a very satiated pair of Festhall girls bid farewell to Tanara Cothwick. Tanara waves Quinn and Pamela goodbye: "I hope you saved something for the customers!"
   Quinn:  “Did Tanara pay for that?”
 Pamela: "Tanara doesn't pay. She cuts Algrim a deal on the poultices and stuff, he don't mind. Though you're going to have to let him watch, *sometime*..." She grins.
 Simon Newman "Perhaps I should tone her down for fear of making her seem slutty.... " I fear that ship has sailed.
Quinn kisses Tanara goodbye warmly. "Thank you for the wonderful meal Tanara, it was extremely satisfying as always. I overheard you saying you were out of reagents. I will be taking a trip to Waterdeep soon if you would like me to stock you up?"
Tanara nods: "I can give you a list of ingredients to bring back for brewing. Eye of newt, wing of bat, that sort of stuff."
Quinn: "Perfect... perhaps you can drop it off at the fishers Friend later? Also.... I don't want to impose but...... the sleeping arrangements at there are a little tight already... I was hoping I might be able to stay with you until I find a place? It shouldn't be for more than a day or two I promise!"
Tanara nods re the list. Re the accommodation - LOL - Diplomacy or Bluff, I roll a 4, I think that's 20? Tanara looks a little uncertain, but nods. "Well, long as you don't keep me from getting any work done!"
She smiles and bids you goodbye, re-opening the Apothecary.
__________________
 PEALIAS 22/6/1480
ca 8pm - Pealias: The Tigerclaws set a fast pace northwards, Pealias following. Through the High Forest, past the ring of petrified white oak that marks the outer boundary of the Dire Wood, north… The midsummer sun beats down through the trees, but as the hours pass Pealias does not falter (rolled 16 on d20 for DC 17 Endurance check).
At the heart of the Dire Wood, the Tigerclaws’ trail skirts the eastern edge of a redstone mesa or butte, the flanks dotted with large green crystals – said to be the remains of a flying city of Netheril that plummeted to earth with Karsus; the crystals part of Karsus’ shattered stone remains. The trail winds round north and west to the northern side of the butte, where in the evening light Pealias can see through the trees the silvery scarlet-tinged ribbon of the Heartblood river, lapping the crumbling piers of an overgrown ruined city, Karse. The ruins lie between river and butte, with a trail leading up from the ruined city to an eerie black pyramid that sits at the northern edge of the butte, looming over the ruins. The Tigerclaw are camped in the centre of the ruins – hundreds of tents – thousands of them. They have piled stones and debris into a crude perimeter wall. The last of the men Pealias was following are passing through a gap in the east side of the wall, while the bulk of the warriors are heading up the cliff trail to the pyramid atop the butte, or are already up there, visible on the edge of the cliff. The white dragon, Bitterstrike, sits perched atop the black pyramid, surveying the scene.    Like • • Unfollow Post • 2 August at 08:26
Added map - http://frloudwater.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/2261480-karse.html
Pealias looks scans the surrounding area, searching for an area which balances concealment with closeness. If most of the encampment is empty because the tiger claws are moving towards the temple, he will go through the encampment, if not he will skirt round the walls. If he walks past any tiger claw clothing he will hastily put it on, and then try to make his way onto the red stone messa, concealment being his priority.
 GM: There are at least a couple thousand Tigerclaw in the camp, mostly women and children, with sentries atop the wall, especially at the gap. You might be able to slip over the wall u seen once it's dark. You could try to climb the Mesa but it looks a formidable prospect, and Pealias is not much of a climber.
 Most of the Tigerclaw heading up the cliff trail - perhaps five hundred - have now reached the top, gathered around the temple. There is an ozone smell in the air, and the fine hairs on the back of Pealias' neck stand on end as dark clouds gather and swirl above the black pyramid. In the red light of sunset Pealias can see flickers of eldritch green radiance on the pyramid. The dragon shifts, uncomfortably, then takes flight, landing at the clifftop edge. The dragon roars, seeming annoyed, and the Tigerclaw hurry more quickly up the trail.
Looking at the rock face that stands before him and decides the chance of him falling is too great. From the dragons behaviour, the completion of the ritual is close. Go through the camp, and trust the one of the thousands of women or children don't see him, or stay and find a high vantage point.
Pelias remembers the old silver star priestess's words "discretion is the better part if valour", and looks for the best tree to "climb"
GM: It looks like you'd almost certainly be spotted by the wall sentries if you approach the camp from this angle. You might get to the wall if you sneak through the undergrowth and ruins further north.  That'll take a while.
Pealias mind racing... Try bluffing the guards that he has important information from lady Moonfire, risk climbing the rock face
Can Pelias see anything (the top of the messa, alternative routes) etc
 GM: Pealias climbs a nearby tree, he has a better view of the camp now - the Tigerclaw are all looking up to the temple... To the west the sun is dipping below the horizon. Suddenly there is a titanic thunderclap, a bright green radiance blasts from the temple pyramid, the light washing over the ruined city, and Pealias. There are cries of fear and alarm from the Uthgardt women and children. As Pealias' sight returns he sees a crackling column of green energy now rises from the pyramid, arcing off south towards Loudwater. On the cliffttop the white dragon Bitterstrike rises up and unleashes a titanic roar, directed north-west - not towards the city below, but far off across the forest, in the direction of the Lost Peaks...
The last of the Tigerclaw ascending to the top of the mesa have finished climbing the cliff trail, and there is an air of expectancy, when Pealias sees something in the sky to the northwest, approaching rapidly. Something white, and big - very big... Bitterstrike roars again in greeting as the gigantic form of an Elder White Dragon swoops down from the sky towards the Temple of Karse. The Uthgardt below quail in fear - this immense beast makes Bitterstrike seem positively tiny...
 (OOC got my Huge Elder White Dragon mini on Tuesday)
The huge male answers Bitterstrike's cry with an answering roar, alighting on the clifftop - Tigerclaw warriors scurrying out of his way.
 After a brief roared conversation between the two mighty dragons, Bitterstrike turns to the Tigerclaw, and roars again. A huge answering roar goes up from the Uthgardt warriors atop the Mesa. Then the dragons turn and move out of sight, the warriors following as they enter the Karse Gate to the Realm of Always Winter and battle with the forces of Clenderi, Queen of Cold...
It's now dark enough even with the green light from the energy arc that you could probably get over the wall unseen.
 Ok .. Pealias makes his way carefully over the wall, and up towards the top of the Mesa ...
Taking note of current tiger claw numbers in the camp
GM: Pealias slips over the wall unseen, into the Tigerclaw camp. There are still several hundred warriors here along with a couple thousand women, children and elderly. Four sentries guard the bottom of the trail, but it looks like Pealias could climb up from off to the side and join the trail further up...
 Also trying to get any clue as to how long this camp has existed, (maybe by looking at the characteristics of the structures they have built, looking at the effects the camp has had on the local fauna, etc ...) and also how long they expect the warriors to be gone, food stores etc...
Pealias will try everything to avoid being seen, tracking to the side if nessasary
The camp has been here for six months, they look well settled in. Deer carcasses and other, larger and stranger beasts are hung for curing over the woodsmoke fires. There are some small spoil heaps, but it looks like they dump most waste downstream into the river.
The forest immediately around the city looked pretty trampled and cleared of game, but the Dire Wood is large enough to support several thousand hunter-gatherers.
Ok pealias gets the impression that, they are not expecting the army to return in the immediate future, 1000 soldiers means either an overwhelming success, or a long campaign
And Pealias is going with the long campaign
Pealias reaches the cliff out of sight of the sentries at the bottom of the cliff trail. He looks for footholds and starts up (Ahletics 8+ to pass, 3- to fall): '4' - a loose stone skitters back down. No reaction from the sentries. '19' - Pealias climbs up 15', another 15' to go... '13' - Pealias keeps climbing and reaches the trail 30' up, from where he can sneak up to the top of the Mesa.
        Stewart Coombs Phew ....
Pealias sneaks carefully up the trail... twenty minutes later he reaches the top of the bluff, and beholds the shattered ruins of a vast High Netherese city stretching off into the distance - tumbled towers, broken domes - there is only a little vegetation here atop the butte, wispy grass and sickly trees that are little more than shrubs. The black pyramid of the Temple of Karse is the only intact structure; in the courtyard before it is the 20' wide, green-traced structure of the Gate...
Can Pealias see inside the gate ?
A small band of Uthgardt - eight robed shamans and a dozen guards - stand before the Gate. Through the Gate can be seen a white plain of ice, grey cliffs in the distance. Snow is falling on a battlefield, red blood splashed from the bodies of fallen Tigerclaw warriors across the snow. Mingled with them are the shattered blue-ice forms of many other creatures in the rough shape of dwarves, men, and other things.
Over towards the cliffs, through the falling snow Pealias can dimly make out the bulk of the Tigerclaw army, hundreds of warriors streaming into caves set in the base of the cliffs.
 Kimberly Pauley (note to self: Do NOT make Bitterstrike or her hubby mad...)
James Andrew Joyce ( I think they have a civil partnership, the church doesn't allow marriage between dragons)
 Pealias takes a deep breath, both shocked and impressed at the savagery of the uthgardt. Under his breath he whispers "what have we got ourselves into"
 Is Pealias waiting & watching?
        Stewart Coombs Will watch the battles progress for a while, always mindful, of the return of a dragon or a large force, he will also scan the Mesa for possible routes down which would mean he avoids the encampment
 And prepare ropes, for a quick descent
GM: The mesa cliffs fall several hundred feet to the forest below, there are no other safe routes that you can see, but if you have ropes and plenty of pitons you could probably descend the eastern face ok - you'd make noise hammering the pitons though. Or just going really slowly you might be able to work your way down over several hours (reduced DCs, you can do it at night due to low light vision, but it'd be well after midnight before you got down)
Through the Gate, Pealias can see that most of the Uthgardt have now entered the caves, about fifty form a perimter. About fifteen Tigerclaw and fifty or sixty of the blue-ice creatures lie dead just on the other side of the Gate from you, snow covering the bodies now.
 Simon Newman ((Finis for now as Craig is arriving shortly)
        2 August at 13:33 • Like
Time passes as Pealias watches the Gate - after about half an hour, masses of Tigerclaw warriors re-emerge from the caves in the distance, heading back towards the Gate. They seem triumphant, though you can't hear them, though some are wounded, supported or carried by their fellows. At the rear of the throng emerge the two great white dragons; Bitterstrike walks on three legs for she is carrying something in her left forepaw, cupped against her body...
        3 August at 07:18 • Like • 1
        Is Pealias going back before the Tigerclaw reach the Gate?
        Stewart Coombs Yes ... Over the eastern face ... Slow and steady
GM: OK, Pealias sneaks over to the eastern cliffside - the Uthgardt shamans are watching the Gate intently - and begins a slow descent, testing each foothold and resting on the occasional ledge (DC 13, so you don't fall). A little after midnight he reaches the ground safely at the north-eastern base of the butte, out of sight of Karse and the Tigerclaw. He can hear sounds of celebration drifting over on the night wind - it sounds as if the Tigerclaw are holding a great revel in Karse. Presumably they won...
Endurance check - rolled 9 on d20, unless you have +11 or better on Endurance you are now fatigued and will take -2 on checks until you take an extended rest.
(You can spend a Healing Surge to burn off the fatigue penalty for 5 minutes though, eg if you needed to fight)
Stewart Coombs Ok ... Pealias scratched, bruised, and exhausted from his descent of the east side of the Mesa, disappears of into the darkness of the forest.
 GM: Pealias can return safely to Northwood Manor mid-morning on 23/6, exhausted and in great need of an Extended Rest. The arc of green fire vanished a little before dawn.
        Stewart Coombs When I reach north wood manor I ask one one of the servants if they could fetch Ilvanus from loud water for me. I then go to get some rest. When Ilvanus arrives I talk to him about setting up a trade caravan going towards the uthgardt, I think it would be difficult to infiltrate them since the are such a close knit society, but we should at least keep tabs on them. A force that big with two adult dragons could easily take over the vale. We need to start making diplomatic links there, trade is a start. After that I will go to see Tammy, <fade to black> <fade to light> I will talk to her about what I saw the night before, and about what the spell the spell that lady moonfire cast last night implies about the power she is wielding, and ask her that If I can get her a position at her court would she be able to keep an eye on the goings on.  If she agrees, and I do leave the choice up to her, I will go and find Quinn and explain to her my worries, and that I want her to help persuade lady Moonfire to give Tammy something to do.
        Simon Newman (moving to new thread)
(23/6/1480)  after returning to the Northwood Manor house from the Dire Wood, and resting 6 hours… • 3 August
 Pealias: >>I then go to get some rest. When Ilvanus arrives I talk to him about setting up a trade caravan going towards the uthgardt, I think it would be difficult to infiltrate them since the are such a close knit society, but we should at least keep tabs on them. A force that big with two adult dragons could easily take over the vale. We need to start making diplomatic links there, trade is a start.<<
3/6/1480 DR ca 3pm, Northwood Manor: Pealias has been up for a little while when Ilvanus Tarc's arrival is announced. Pealias greets him and escorts him to his chamber to talk business; makes his proposal. Ilvanus' eyes widen slightly, he shakes his head.
"That's really not my area... Pealias, I'm sorry, I have decided I cannot help you. This is not... I will not be taking the position. I'm returning the deposit you left with me." Ilvanus hands over a pouch of gold. "I incurred around thirty gold in expenses, but I have made that up from my own reserves. If you want a Spymaster, I suggest perhaps Quinn Eventide would suit well."
Ilvanus shifts uncomfortably in his chair. "If I may make a suggestion, Pealias, you are not someone with an intuitive grasp of Human nature. I would suggest that you take consultation with your Human friends, and have a clear idea of your goals, before you seek to implement them. Your lady Tammy, for instance, and Lady Lirael's wisdom is highly spoken of... Now if you'll excuse me, I shall return to Loudwater. I intend to stay at least a short while longer." With that Ilvanus rises to depart.
Pealias stares at Ilvanus, then with suppressed anger in his voice he says "Last night, after tracking, the uthgardt, to their encampment at Karse, I parsed unnoticed through a thousand strong encampment, to spy on a savage battle, waiting till the last moment all the time in danger of discovery, to view the outcome of the battle, I risked my life returning quickly to northwood, do you know why I did this Ilvanus? I do this because the people of the gray vale deserve to live in peace, they deserve not to be threatened because the rulers, who should have their subjects interests at heart, play at power games which threaten the lives of these people.
If trying to ensure the safety of these people, by coming up with some way to keep tabs on a very possible threat, is in some way to difficult for you then it's best that you leave.
The anger boiling up inside Pealias at this moment, brings images of what his dagger would look like, embedded in Ilvanus's forehead, but he has felt like this before, when seeking revenge for the death of his family, and knows that this feelings are the first step down a path he does not want to tread.
Pealias slumps into his chair, and tries to regain some composure
Ilvanus looks fearfully at Pealias, clearly intimidated. He speaks no more, but departs quickly.
Pealias walks outside, to watch the guard train, as he watches he wonders if these men could stand one on one against the uthgardt savagery, the judgement was academic he knew, numbers won most battles, and if it took the uthgardt horde less than a night to end a ruling power in the feywild ... What would become of the grey vale if it drew their attention for some reason
 Stewart Coombs With these thoughts in his mind he travels to loudwater, and Tammy’s.
        3 August at 17:20 via mobile • Like
>>Pealias walks outside, to watch the guard train, as he watches he wonders if these men could stand one on one against the uthgardt savagery<< At current rate of progress, in about a month they could stand one on one against the Uthgardt savagery. Of course there are 13 of them and (currently slightly less than) 1,000 Uthgardt.
 GM: Tammy greets Pealias with open arms... (for James I'll)... Fade to Black.         3 August at 19:20 •
Late afternoon, 23/6/1480: A much happier Pealias is with Tammy in her boudoir... >> I will talk to her about what I saw the night before, and about what the spell the spell that lady moonfire cast last night implies about the power she is wielding, and ask her that If I can get her a position at her court would she be able to keep an eye on the goings on.<<
Sitting up in bed, an equally happy Tammy is listening to Pealias as she brushes her bed-tousled hair. "That green fire was amazing! I was worried the Mansion was going to explode! Silly, I'm sure." She smiles self-deprecatingly. "I heard Lady Moonfire could cast spells, but I had no idea she was so powerful." Pealias goes on, and Tammy frowns slightly. "I... I'm not exactly sure what you mean, Pealias. I'd love to be invited to parties like that on my own account, be a part of High Society!" She giggles. "I don't know if they'd allow that, though. I saw a few of them giving me looks, like I shouldn't be there." Tammy rises and goes over to the dresser, shrugging on a grey silk negligee. "I don't think I'd want to be a Lady in Waiting like Carlia Covere, though. Always having to be around Lady Moonfire. Lady Moonfire's always happy and smiling, but underneath, don't you think she's a little ...creepy?"
At the dresser, Tammy looks in the mirror as she re-applies a little rouge and red lip-colour, then turns to Pealias, looking nervous. "Um... Pealias... I was wondering... You know, I don't have to work anymore..." She looks down, blushing. "You've been so generous... And I know this house isn't much, but it does have plumbing!" She looks up, smiling. ""Dora works the pump, and water goes up to a tank in the attic! It's heated by the kitchen fire; I just turn a tap, hot water comes out whenever I want! Bet you don't have that at Northwood!" She looks down, blushing again. "Sorry, I'm babbling. I was trying to say..." She peeks up at Pealias. "...Would you like to stay here, with me? I mean, just when it's convenient - I wouldn't want to cause any trouble."
 Kimberly Pauley (Hey what about her painting?? Nobility always love to get their pictures painted...gives her an excuse to be in their houses for periods of time...and no one minds if an artist has a "past"...if anything, it makes them cooler!!
        4 August at 23:06 via mobile • Unlike • 1
        Simon Newman Dunno about Stewart Coombs but I for one think that's pretty brilliant, Kimberly Pauley
        Stewart Coombs Yes ...
         5 August at 07:57 • Like
LIRAEL’s DEPARTURE 26/6/180 DR (to 9/8/2013)
26/6/1480 DR, sunset: The red light of sunset is coming through the western windows of Rensard Manor, when Lirael's fever breaks. She returns to consciousness quickly but quite quietly, opening her eyes, becoming aware that Sir Jorah Blackthorn is sat beside her bed, face tense and full of concern. He's holding her right hand. In the shadows across the room sits Halvath, the Green Regent. Halvath speaks, in rumbling tone:
"My friend, 'tis done. She should awaken shortly."
Then Jareth sees that Lirael's eyes are open, and his worried face breaks into a relieved smile.
"Lirael!" he exclaims.
As Lirael's low-light vision kicks in, past Jareth's left side she can see Halvath more clearly now. The Green Regent is not looking too green. In fact he looks distinctly... wilted.
Lirael sits up, perhaps a little too fast.
 "Where is everyone? Have they gone? We must close the Cyst!"
 She pauses and takes a good look at Halvath. "Halvath! Tell me, what did you do?"
Lirael has a vague memory of the others discussing the Death Cyst with the elf Ranger Ardan then leaving, earlier the same day.
 "Jorah, we must follow. Please, bring me my things." She looks to Halvath once more. "And you, Halvath, into bed! You must conserve your strength!"
Lirael gets a good look at Halvath, slumped in his chair. The green grass in his beard looks yellow and shrivelled, almost dead. The flowers growing on the floor under the armchair have turned to fetid mulch. Halvath looks up blearily.
"I...I'll be ok, Lirael. At least for now. The power of Mielikki still flows through me, countering the Necrotic energies of the Death Cyst. As long as I endure, the Land itself will remain unharmed. But yes, if you could close the Cyst..."
He smiles. Meanwhile Jorah has already collected Lirael's things. Lirael feels strangely, uncommonly good for someone who an hour ago was almost at Death's door - with her Insight it might occur to her that the Green Regent has transferred into her a little of his own curative power - at some cost to himself. Sir Jorah:
"The horses are saddled in the courtyard, packs made, your bow is with your horse. Who are we leaving in charge here while we're gone? Anywyn, or maybe Jareth's sergeant?"
Jorah looks worried,probably remembering what happened to Travys Manor last time he departed his Stewardship.
Lirael:
"Anwyn, but she should confer with the sergeant for all matters related to security. She will alert the family as well so everyone is aware of the danger we are all in--and give Arvis something to do so that he is not tempted to follow.”
 "Tell them to prepare for the worst but pray for the best."  "
Jorah nods, and hurries off to make the final arrangements.  Lirael puts on her armour, and hugs Halvath.
"Be well, my friend and may Mielikki sustain you. We will not fail in our task."
 Fifteeen minutes later Jorah and Lirael are ready to leave the Manor.  Lirael asks Anwyn to send word to Lady Moonfire and Baroness  Amara deTrevani about the Death Cyst threat, and briefly stops by at the manor’s shrine to Mielikki for a quick but heartfelt prayer. Then Lirael returns to the bedchamber, puts a hand to her heart and looks at Halvath.
"Halvath," she says softly,
"I can feel the strength of Meliekki within me." She crosses to the visibly wilting cleric and hugs him.
 "Perhaps you have given me too much of yourself..." She searches his eyes and then mutters a prayer to the goddess and kisses his forehead. "I will not fail you."
Halvath hugs Lirael back.
Halvath:
"I wish I could go with you. But Mielikki will always be with you Lirael, even in the dark places you must walk. She told me… I'll see you when you return."
Lirael turns to Jorah as they hurry toward the horses.
"I may not get a chance to say this later, so I will say it now: Thank you for everything. I cannot even put in words what you have meant to me."
She squeezes his hand, not quite able to look him in the eye.
"I would wish you safe here at the Manor, but I know you would not heed me. And I equally know how much I will need you by my side."
She looks for a moment as if she wishes she could say more, but instead hurries on faster. There is no time to waste.
 Soon they are riding south from Northwood Manor towards Tavysburg and the west road. In the gathering dusk they skirt Tavysburg after four miles, onto the Secomber road, then heading west towards the Unicorn Run River, the Endless Caverns , and the Underdark drow city of Phaervorul, legendary location of the Deadhold Cyst. However, as night falls the sky above is muggy and cloudy, with little moon – too dark for the horses to ride quickly on the rough roadway without risk of stumbling and breaking a leg.
Jorah suppresses a curse as they have to slow the horses to a walk:
   “We’ll never catch the others at this rate! They’ll be too far into the Underdark…”
  Then out from the trees to the right of the trail comes a slender white equine form, golden-horned – a unicorn! A large male, bearded, it has a wild, fierce look about it, much different from the symbolic representation Lirael is familiar with. Its wicked horn looks fearfully sharp. The unicorn steps out onto the trail in front of you and whinnies, raising a hoof in greeting. Then he kneels, as if bidding you both to ride him…
Sir Jorah Blackthorn glances over at the Lady Lirael Widdershins, scratching his bearded cheek and looking slightly embarrassed. It’s well known that only a virgin can ride a Unicorn…
Jorah: “Eh… well, I guess I can… You?”
Lirael colors but says nothing. She merely nods and dismounts, preparing to climb onto the unicorn. She walks slowly over to it, not looking at Jorah.
The unicorn lowers his head; Lirael mounts, followed by Sir Jorah, bringing the most important stuff from your packs. Once you are both mounted, the unicorn stands. Lirael grips his mane - can feel his supernal strength, and he seems to have no trouble carrying both riders as he heads into the forest, leaving the road and your horses behind. He runs through the forests of Mielikki at amazing speed, it feels as if the trees part to let you pass, and it is a breathtakingly short time before you reach the dark mouth of the Endless Caverns by a glittering waterfall.
Sir Jorah dismounts and chivalrously helps Lirael down, not that she needs the help - she feels very fine, better than ever. You both have a chance to salute the beast of Mielikki and it returns the favour before turning and disappearing into the trees.
Jorah regards the dark cave entrance, the path into the Underdark. He cracks a sunrod. "Ever done much cave-tracking?" He grins.
"I've been in a few," says Lirael, thinking back to Stonefang Mountain, which she knew someday she would have to brave again, if Dunstan would ever be able to win Serka's hand.
 "But I am sure that terrors untold await us within."
She took a deep breath and squared her shoulders, perhaps more for Jorah's benefit than her own.
"Together?" She asked, and held out her hand.
He took it, and they stepped into the darkness together.


     

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