PRP: Haunted Mine Pt 2
The Lycene coast along Igniseri lands is remote and thinly populated. Would anyone in Granato notice if people went missing? Not until it's a Knight of Solace. Darker currents trouble the fringes of civilisation -- and if nothing is done, the good people of the Compact are going to suffer mightily. Drink up, for tonight, you fight in...
Nov. 18, 2018, 8:30 p.m.
Outside Arx - Lyceum near Granato - Docks - Giovinazzo
Comments and Log
From Part I... The Igniseri party set forth from the dingy seaside hamlet of Giovinazzo in search of a missing Knight of Solace (and a courier, at least). Superstitious villagers claimed they both up and vanished in the haunted woods. How sad, too bad. At the arson site at the fish plant, two workers were cowed into mentioning the Tolltakers, sellswords taking payments in exchange for payment keep the forest's dangers, like orthusi, at bay. Orthusi being legendary black dog-like creatures suspiciously similar to gyre-hounds and other canine myths.
Quenia leads the group into the woods where they encounter tracks that Ian suspects lead to a camp. The main road heads to another fishing hamlet. Unnerving canine howls heard in the woods encourage the party to hasten along into a trap. Archers rain arrows down. Calaudrin and Merek lead the counterattack, Ian protects Lucita and Quenia, and Cullen heroically charge-hugs a trapped tree. Eventually they win the day after grievously injuring two scruffy archers, who after some questioning, coughed up that their compatriots were holding more than the missing knight and courier.
Previous scene: http://play.arxmush.org/dom/cal/detail/2416/
Merek had taken his time to do research, as well as to make some preperations for combat. He has on his cloak with hood up as he comes back to the forest to meet with the others, likely someplace from where they can all move into the target proper. He has wristbow and sword, as he looks from under the hood with his scruffy soft beard as he rubs at it thoughtfully.
After his heroic, if ill-advised, charge-hug of the trapped tree, Cullen wisely took some time on the mend while Merek was researching and everyone else was doing whatever they were up to. Dipping his head at Quenia, "I'll stand in front of you again, Marquessa. Apparently I am not very good at knocking down trees in the right direction, but I can at least catch arrows with my body, so there's that."
Surely Calaudrin was doing /something/ useful in the downtime. But it's hard to say, for now, he's finishing up a smoke while everyone else is gathering their things together. He looks like he's ready to get a move on when the time is right. "I'll scout on ahead once you're ready to get going."
Quenia gives Cullen a bit of an amused look at his comment. "Thank you for volunteering as tribute." She winks in his direction, but then gives the archers a rather stern look. They'd already been questioned, but that doesn't mean she has to approve of them. "We should secure the archers, and then make our way ahead." She nods in Calaudrin's direction as he offers to scout.
Calaudrin checked perception + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 22 higher.
Cullen checked perception at difficulty 15, rolling 10 higher.
The rain hasn't tapered off. Late autumn in the northern Lyceum can be as gloomy as the Mourning Isles, really. Water gathers in small puddles on the rutted one-cart road headed north and runs in silvery trails down the trees denuded of their foliage. Gloomy and oppressive, the tangled woodland untamed by axes or saws bears down on the psyches of the gathered. This time they've not got Lucita to brighten their moods, either, with her and Ian Kennex retreating back to the hamlet with the archers, intending to manage injuries, and canvass the bothered population.
Calaudrin has little trouble guiding them back to where they left off. A huge fallen tree will do that. Now they know to be wary of traps, he finds evidence of several beyond the tree. Another thin wire about fifteen minutes along the track. Another lies in the bushes, a pile of deadfall concealing probably something metallic, spiked, and nasty. Cullen sees little evidence of disturbance or change as the drizzle builds, though he might see a bundled net in the branches with difficulty that would be nasty if it fell on them.
"There are an awful lot of traps laid out here. I feel like that has to be a sign that we're getting closer to what we want to find," Calaudrin calls back as he gets done marking the most recent one. As the party moves, he'll quietly point out where not to step and how to move around the next obstacle so that no one gets themselves hurt. It wouldn't do to set of a trip wire or anything.
"Nothing wrong being tribute," @me replies with a grin to Quenia, hand gripping the hilt of his sword and peering ahead of them, glancing over at Caludrin as the designated searcher of stuff on the road and all. Spotting the net above, he grunts and extends the tip of his longsword towards it. "Looks like there's more traps. They're really fond of them...way too fond of them." Nodding at Calaudrin, he moves as carefully as possible.
Quenia wields Resurgence, a rubicund saber.
Quenia frowns a bit as more traps are mentioned and pointed out. She pulls out her sword and wields it. While she says she's not a fighter, she's also not unfamiliar with the grip of Resurgence, from the many hours she's practiced with it. "Seems they really don't want others finding out what they've come to do. We should be prepared for both them and whatever dogs they are using. I don't particularly believe they are the cursed hounds the villagers believe them to be. It's easy to tell tales and scare people." Being an expert in manipulation, she ought to know!
Merek walks forward with the others through the forest. He doesn't use that weapon of his, but instead seems a bit content with looking at some papers which he brought with him to look through. "I was looking for maps that would assist in strategy, while we were away, I hope they will be useful."
Cullen checked perception at difficulty 15, rolling 4 lower.
Merek has rolled a critical success!
Merek checked perception at difficulty 15, rolling 36 higher.
Calaudrin checked perception at difficulty 15, rolling 17 higher.
Quenia checked perception at difficulty 15, rolling 5 lower.
The next hour is riddled by slow movement for Calaudrin to pick out other hazards. Most are subtle bits of woodcraft intended to stymie and stifle. It's clear from their set that travel between Giovinazzo and its neighbour, Sauli, overland must be infrequent. The occasional noise is enough to leave the skin crawling, even if it's a squirrel in the undergrowth or a snapping branch under Cullen's boot. That crack makes the most /interesting/ sound. Fortunately that's all it is.
Merek shifts a bit as he pulls his cloak to him, then he points to the distance of the west. That said, how can he even see that far even? "There's smoke that way, as well as a... Dome, perhaps. Looks like someone is there. He nods from the hood of his cloak, "I think it might be that which we're looking for? Or perhaps... Well."
Quenia glances over at Merek, her gaze curious. "Perhaps what?" she asks simply.
"Anyone else hear what I'm hearing?" Calaudrin asks at one point, tipping his head in order to try and get a sense of the direction. He shakes his head in frustration though and keeps moving, still carefully picking around the traps and obstacles. When Merek gestures to something, he nods his head. "I see it too. I think I can find us a path, lets turn off here." And when he finds an appropriate place for them to change direction, he does so.
"I don't know, it's way to the distance, it could just be someone's home," Merek mentions, while he nods to Calaudrin as he follows with him.
Quenia turns her attention to the place that Merek pointed out and Calaudrin confirmed and squints that way. "Wouldn't hurt checking things out. But no, I haven't heard anything," she tells Calaudrin. She's only pretty perceptive when it comes to researching things!
Then came the crack under his foot - never wear rubicund in the woods could be the title of this chapter. Frozen for a moment, Cullen slowly removes his sabaton with a chilled grimace - but nothing happens, and his shoulders sag. "Alright. I need to be more careful. Or not walk around in solid metal," he mutters with an apologetic look to Quenia. "I promise, I'm doing my best not to get us killed. If there's any solace, it'll hit me first, you'll have time to dive out of the way!"
Lucita continues along with the group, her gaze sweeping over the surroundings. She, very properly, stays behind the more experienced warriors amid the group but keeps an eye out to the sides and behind them, not totally useless baggage to trail along with the others. "Don't want anyone hit if it comes to that."
"No worries, Lord Cullen. I trust you know your ways around the forest, where I'd be lost out here if I hadn't any guides to lead the way." Quenia assures the Greenmarcher, offering him a light smile. She glances over at Lucita, "He's offered himself as tribute, taking any additional arrows for us," she explains. She reaffirms her grip on her sword as she follows along.
The distance to that mound off aways isn't close. Not by a long-shot. Even with Merek and Calaudrin to help, seeing it through the trees as the day wears on and the rain settles in takes some work. The road weaves on ahead, miserable and wet.
Delilah has rolled 1 100-sided dice: 21
Calaudrin checked dexterity + survival at difficulty 20, rolling 32 higher.
Merek checked dexterity + alchemy at difficulty 25, rolling 40 higher.
Lucita's boots squish through yet another mud puddle and she would be a sodden mess if not for her waterproof cloak and cowl. With pragmatic resignation she says. "At least it is not snow and ice. Times like this I feel like an impatient kid asking 'aren't we there yet?" And she awaits instructions to see how she can be of help. "Do you want the rest of us to look around, too?"
Merek takes a lantern from his cloak to light with the turn of a mechanic. It is quite a device, which he uses to allow for some light as he looks to the others. "The Sparklegas will be useful here, it can manage a while and with this... The conditions of the rain won't affect it as much," he offers.
Cullen checked perception + survival at difficulty 25, rolling 12 higher.
Quenia nods to Lucita. "Agreed. The cold weather can stay north. Rain I can deal with," she replies, though as they approach she keeps her voice lower. She looks over at Merek's lamp with some measure of curiosity. "Sparklegas? What's that?" she asks, crinkling her brow at him. She nods back to Lucita. "We should all keep watch," she says.
Quenia checked perception + survival at difficulty 25, rolling 3 higher.
Merek checked perception + survival at difficulty 25, rolling 10 lower.
Lucita checked perception + survival at difficulty 25, rolling 4 higher.
Server Announcement: Server Message of the Day: Lodge crisis is done, actions and investigations will open up after chron.
"Merek, did you say that you saw smoke?" Calaudrin calls back over his shoulder. Carving a path out for the group is a big pain in the ass, but he does it. And he manages to make them something reasonably traversable that doesn't involve anyone falling into a hole or being eaten alive by snakes. When he looks back, the other Iron Guard is taking out a crazy lantern. He shakes his head, 'Looks like a rocky outcropping. Lot of stones and such. We're here, might as well take a closer look."
"Yes, there was smoke to some extent, I could tell," Merek offers, as he nods a bit, "It looked like a dome as well in that direction." He looks then to Quenia from the hood as well, "I assisted in the rediscovery, it was perfected with another alchemist though. It's the same thing that keeps the lamps of Arx on the streets lit through the ages."
"Huh," Quenia says to Merek, giving the lamp a sort of sidelong look. "Interesting. I'll have to ask you about that some time." Her attention, however, is caught by something else. "I think I see something... there's a flat part to the ridge over there, and I think... well, there looks to be the entrance of a cavern up there," she points it out. It's about 20 feet off the ground.
Lucita has been busy looking around and not forgetting to look up at trees and the climbing terrain around theat rocky mound. She tilts her head, squints and frowns a little, tilts her head the other way. "Don't see or smell smoke but ...that spot up there, see it? It's right there, the rock looks flat and there is a spot there... is it a hole? That might maybe be a cave, I agree, Cousin.
"Hey. There's some smoke coming up over that ridge we're going over, actually. And there's a split in the rock well below, hidden in the woods. Can you see it?" Cullen asks, pointing down there - then nods at Quenia with a chuckle. "Keen eyed too, clearly." Gazing at the sparklegas, his eyes widen a bit with a curious scratch at his jaw. "Interesting. Never seen a personal one, I think."
The crazy lantern throws pretty light across the dour forest. It does a fine job reflecting off the glistening puddles and showing the mossy swatch of stone poking out from the slowly inclining ground. The forest climbs almost up to the foot of the stony jumble, and more trees grow at crazy angles where they can, proof nature will take up everywhere it can.
Quenia's place is up. Cullen's seems down. She looks down at the direction he points and frowns. "Seems like there's quite a few places to check out." She turns her attention to Calaudrin. "Which do you think is best to search first?" she asks. "Though, I suppose the smoke is the bigger priority. Maybe sneak over the ridge where it's at," she motions off in the direction Cullen pointed out. "And see what we can see?"
"I'd suggest checking out where the smoke is coming from first, at least to make sure it's not something that's going to surprise us later on?" Calaudrin suggests, tipping his head in the direction tat smoke is coming.
Merek looks around a bit, then he notes a tree. He moves that way to settle and pick up some flowers as well as moss to collect. He keeps up that lantern as he does, seeming to wait while the others search.
Quenia seems good with that, and nods. "Then let's," she gives the order. But, she's doing it as quietly as possible! Hopefully
Lucita says, "I'm no strategist on these things. Smoke could be people or a house, or another trap and someone or thing in the cave, if that is what it is get us from behind. I'll try to keep an eye out that direction to make sure while going with you all, Don't think splitting up would be a good idea. Quenia and I could not do much to hold off a serious attack."
Lucita checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 20, rolling 11 higher.
Quenia checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 20, rolling 6 higher.
Quenia checked dexterity + stealth at difficulty 20, rolling 28 higher.
Cullen checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 20, rolling 18 higher.
Merek checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 20, rolling 8 higher.
Merek checked dexterity + stealth at difficulty 20, rolling 6 higher.
With Quenia's leafy armor, she blends into the surroundings, or maybe takes to the shadows, or something as she's suddenly quiet and sneaky. She also has little trouble climbing the rocks.
Cullen checked dexterity + stealth at difficulty 20, rolling 5 higher.
Calaudrin checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 20, rolling 0 higher.
The unfortunate part about picking that cleft in the ridgeline is the absence of any kind of actual path. Clambering up some rocks is one thing, but the Igniseri group has to string themselves out in order to make any headway. Slippery footholds and some uncomfortable spots teetering on a narrow, wet ledge all stand ahead.
And there's Cullen like a damn mountain goat in rubicund, hopping from spot to spot like he decided to go for a stroll on the beach. He makes good headway, though more than likely the group may lose track of Quenia when she starts going up a little more than ahead. She rather vanishes against the ridge, even for those exposed parts.
Merek moves to the others so that he can work his way to check in on things. His cloak about him and a hood up, he looks like a man that keeps to the night.
Delilah GM Roll checked perception(3) at difficulty 15, rolling 1 higher.
Delilah GM Roll checked perception(3) at difficulty 15, rolling 8 higher.
Following Quenia's orders, Cullen nods and follows directions as instructed. While climbing and moving about in his rubicund is not new to him, somehow he manages not to do it loudly, which clearly surprises even him, given the shocked look on his gaunt face. "Well then," he murmurs to Quenia with a stifled chuckle, although once she passes him up, he kind of hurries to try to keep his protective role protective.
From somewhere in the wet and dreary a hand reaches out to lightly grab Cullen's arm. It's Quenia's hand, trying to stop him from coming up too much higher. She puts a finger to her lips and points blow the ridgeline. She raises a finger, to indicate 'one', and then pantomimes pulling back in a bow - for archer. She makes a circling motion around her head, to indicate there might be something wrong with said archer, and then turns and frowns at it. Hopefully the others see this as they come upon them!
Is not, it's raining. You LIE, weather!
What archer is Quenia possibly talking about? What is this brilliant performance being conducted under the open sky? The one who might be sizing up the view down there, and the evident figures emerging from the wooded cover? Correct, the very one. Alas, not the most evident figure to see. The smoke that winds up into the air is finally well visible, though its source takes some effort to locate.
Delilah has rolled 1 5-sided dice: 3
As Quenia's hand grips him, Cullen stops dead in his tracks - and says not a word when she puts a finger to his lips. But, looking up there, he sees...nothing. What. Blinking, he shrugs his shoulders like he's got no idea because, well, he doesn't. Although it is highly entertaining, and he gives the Marquessa a silent clap for the silent performance.
Calaudrin is absolutely still there. Though he has to move really carefully over all of these rocks. Ugh, athletic and nimble on his feet at such things he is /not/. When other people start to stop, so does he and his eyes roll around to get a glimpse at their surroundings.
Delilah GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + archery(3) at difficulty 20, rolling 27 higher.
Calaudrin checked perception at difficulty 15, rolling 1 lower.
Merek listens as he is noted to the fact that there are people here. He keeps on with his moving while he places a hand upon the hilt of his weapon should it be required.
Quenia checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 20, rolling 7 higher.
Quenia gives Cullen an exasperated look and whispers, "ARCHER!" in an exasperated tone. It's not yelled. Just exasperated. She tries to keep to her cover though and then frowns there's an arrow coming at her. She doesn't dodge it very well!
20 inflicted and Quenia is unharmed.
The arrow has the same make as the previous ones: black, thin shaft, fletched in a haphazard arrangement of trimmed feathers. It comes from fairly far on high from an archer in dark mismatched garments that has to come out somewhat from the rocky ledge to bring ruin descending on Quenia. By the time the first arrow is loosed, the second is not on its way. Though the one that does land gets her through the shoulder on a fairly vertical trajectory. Not easy to see the archer.
Merek checked dexterity + archery at difficulty 25, rolling 2 lower.
Merek lifts up his wrist crossbow to work it so that he can use it. He then takes a shot which doesn't hit, but it's meant to distract as he keeps on the way towards the foe as he does so as well.
Cullen checked dexterity + archery at difficulty 25, rolling 10 higher.
Delilah GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + dodge(3) at difficulty 20, rolling 22 higher.
Cullen checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 20, rolling 37 higher.
Ugh. People are shooting at them again, Calaudrin tries to keep his foot as he draws his bow, nocks and arrow and lets one fly.
Calaudrin checked dexterity + archery at difficulty 25, rolling 23 higher.
Once again forgetting to bring a bow, Cullen throws a rock with horrible inaccuracy, and nearly totters off the ridge. "Alright, you know what? I am just going to charge him next time. I can't do a thing if I don't have a bow on me..." Sliding about and having to plant one leg dangerously, the knight exhales and glances at Quenia and Lucita. "If I die like that, just tell someone I got eaten by something awful."
Delilah GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + dodge(3) at difficulty 20, rolling 10 higher.
Lucita checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 20, rolling 11 higher.
They like archers, this group does. After the initial shot, the archer retreats from the presence of a rock and another arrow being fired their way. Without any clear line of sight, it's hard to say whether they are hiding out of sight or ventured somewhere inside the ridgeline through that gap the group originally spotted.
Lucita carefully crouches so to make less of a shilouette and uses some of the rocks and what growth is discernable to grant her some shelter, make her a less visible target. The hue of her armor helps her blend into some of the shadows and be less obvious. "Can you get him?
The arrow sails through the air and plinks the other archer, Calaudrin doesn't have the chance to aim for him again just yet because the guy starts to retreat back from sight. "Oh, ho. Not so excited to be shooting arrows at us /now/ are you?" Not that the guy can hear him.
Quenia checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 20, rolling 16 higher.
Not one to take things lightly, and maybe mustering a bit of a backbone, Quenia starts to climb her way down to where the combatants are, and not doing a half-bad job of it. "Just be careful. They don't look right, these folk," she says just before she makes her way over the ridge and toward the ground on the archer's side.
Merek checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 20, rolling 15 higher.
Cullen checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 20, rolling 22 higher.
Merek moves to the place where Quenia is at, rather than shooting while the archers seem to be moving to take their cover. He notices that the brazier is there as well, while he nods a bit aside while he pulls his cloak to him and shifts back that crossbow as he draws his sword.
Calaudrin checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 20, rolling 7 lower.
Calaudrin checked strength at difficulty 15, rolling 9 lower.
Given that Cullen is utterly useless at range, he makes his way down to Quenia and the archers. "To the Abyss with standing around and waiting to get shot while I stupidly throw rocks." Looking clearly annoyed at being both useless and dumb in the attempt, he gets down there and then tries to charge the archers with his sword drawn - while Calaudrin takes the quick route down behind him.
Lucita checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 20, rolling 19 higher.
Calaudrin begins to descend the ridge, everything is going so well at first. Until he slips and then he falls, he tries to save himself by grabbing at a scrub treet sticking out of the rocks. He loses his grip. He starts to rooooooll down the ridge to the bottom. His steel and rubicund armor goes CLANK CLANK CLANK CLANK SMASH GRASH BANG BOOM all the way until the end. At least he was wearing a helmet?
Lucita starts to head down after Calandrin, eyes widening and a soft gasp coming out as she tries to stay with the group. She makes a soft gasp, horror filling her gaze as she watches Calaudrin slip and she is not in range to help him! She bites her lower lip to avoid making any yelps or screams that would draw an archer attention to her.
The descent by Quenia isn't easy. A slippery slope all said and done makes for plentiful opportunities to crash helmet over tea kettle. But no! Not this time, for the arrow-shot marquessa nor for Merek poking his way down foothold by careful foothold. The rubicund Greenwood goat may be ineffective hurling stones at the archer, but he has little trouble making his way down. Neither does Lucita. Problem is, neither of them will have much of a place to stand until Quenia or Merek head into the dark mouth of the cavern. It's an irregular hole bored into the ridge proper, a rough curve descending somewhat until their eyes -- lantern probably hooked to Merek's side or not -- cannot make anything out any further. But at least they have that toasty brazier to keep them warm.
Unlike brave, brave Calaudrin who decides to alert the entire forest by crashing to the ground in a very noisy clatter that might be dimly audible in Granato. It's not quite thunder and lightning.
Calaudrin gives everyone a thumbs up. He's okay.
Oh, Quenia's definitely on the move and heading for the cave. She pulls a torch from her backpack and lights it in the brazier. How nice of their guests to provide them with fire. And then she starts stalking toward the cave, sword in hand, a very determined Marquessa. She pauses only before the entrance to ask, "Should I expect traps, or do I need someone to check for those before we go in?"
"Always expect traps with this bunch." Looking back towards Calaudrin face down in some muck and having come down like a boulder, Cullen grimaces. Hard. "Yes, probably extra traps now. No way they won't know we're here. Everyone knows were here." Dipping his head to Quenia, "Marquessa. I will take the lead if you want traps checked for, unless Calaudrin is in shape to do so. I suppose the Baroness should determine that."
Merek lifts up his lantern which is lit, so that he can follow with the others as he does. He seems to be searching the place with curiosity as he does as well.
After laying there for awhile, staring up at the sky, Calaudrin slowly hauls himself to his feet. He begins to pick branches and leaves out of his armor and brush off the large clumps of dirt. "By all means, Lord Cullen. Lead the way." He's got some twigs to pull out of his helmet visor, after all.
Lucita says, "I'm not a healer!" She exclaims as she moves over toward the fallen man, trying to help him up. "His arms and legs seem to not be mis-shapen, and there is no bleeding, he doesn't look like he is turning white or blue or anything like that. I've some herbs for pain and hangovers but we have to get to a spot I can reach in my pack to get them. " She reaches over to pat Calaudrin on the arm and murmur to him. "Glad you are alright, I'll slip you a bit of whiskey when you want.""
Quenia nods to Cullen. "Please do," she says, when Calaudrin seems to agree with it.
The winding tunnel weaves and swerves like a drunken cadet before reaching the mouth. Merek's lantern ensures nothing by way of stealth applies; Cullen is just too tall otherwise to avoid throwing a really long shadow. Well and fine, the commotion is already in action when they're closing on the entrance. The martial marquessa and her backup surely hear the echoes of voices, shouts given in Lycene shav and a pitched crackle of noise. There are footfalls echoing and distorted. The squeal of metal, and that distant, gods-awful *howl* Calaudrin has surely been knowing about.
Well, in the tunnels, it's an entirely different game. When Quenia and Calaudrin endorse this plan of action, it seems like perhaps not such a bad idea at first. But it soon becomes clear Cullen has no idea what he's looking for in here, idly tapping at rocks and patches of dirt and generally looking pretty confident it's alright. "I think we're good here," he decides with a brisk motion forward.
Quenia narrows her eyes ever so slightly. "Well, they seem panicked that we're coming. They're talking about us coming, and they seem to be going somewhere, and also getting dogs." She rechecks the grip on her sword and follows along. "We should hurry before they get away. I will not suffer my citizens being used for whatever business dealings these people are doing."
Merek seems to be content to follow for the time being. He shifts up the shield which he keeps with him, while he takes a stance as they all move forward onwards.
Lips pressed together firmly, Cullen nods at Quenia and grips his sword tightly. "Let's go. I'll get in front. Let's hope this turns out alright. Relatively." And with that, he starts off at a grim forward march, the torchlight reflecting rather prettily off the diamondplate blade, even if it's about to get covered in gore. Or so he hopes. Smiling weakly at Lucita and Merek when he looks over his shoulder, he nods at Calaudrin. "Alright. Let's hope they're not...something we can't kill." Still, he quickly mutters a prayer to Lagoma. Can't hurt.
Lucita withdraws her dagger and readies it, reaches up to make sure her hairpins are still in place and the other small sharp objects that she can throw fairly well, then follows the others along, at the ready for when she is needed. "See, that is the type thing she taught me, That's why I wound up facing those things in the bog that were endangering my Saiklanders a few months ago. She taught me well."
The entrance of the cavern is narrow. The chamber the path opens to is picturesque and snug, if that pinchpoint right before it opens out is anything to go for. A large man -- taller than six feet in armour -- won't get through very easily. Someone smaller and lither has no issue. Not much to say about the place, it has amenities like walls and a floor. A few crude pegs rammed into a crack show where someone even thought to leave makeshift raincloaks, albeit flimsy. They smell distinctly fishy. The wider corridor swings dead east if one can imagine the cave entrance at the north, revealing another tumbling susurrus of activity. Shadows are long and clashing upon the walls, heavily convoluted, stirring motions that are hard to see. Very little by way of actual light sources are present beyond Merek's lantern, a few hooded ones that shed little light. That has to be disturbing...
Cullen checked dexterity at difficulty 15, rolling 21 higher.
"Keep going to the next room." The Igniseri Marquessa says quietly, squaring her shoulders as they prepare to face the next obstacle head on. She follows behind Cullen, expression determined.
Merek follows with the others as he keeps his shield up, sword shifted about. He nods to the others, lantern upon hip at the belt while he looks around to the walls.
Having managed to not get wedged in a choke point - perhaps he oiled up his armor ahead of time, or a careless townie smeared butter on it when he wasn't looking - Cullen squeaks through the crack in the rock and grunts, nodding at Quenia. "Of course, Marquessa. We will see this through to the end." What end, he doesn't bother specifying. Smiling at Merek and Lucita to make sure they're still there too, he goes forth.
Lucita continues along with the others, trying to adjust her eyes to the lower light and discern details, especially any that might signal an enemy or something potentially dangerous.
Quenia checked perception at difficulty 15, rolling 2 higher.
Merek checked perception at difficulty 15, rolling 1 lower.
Lucita checked perception at difficulty 15, rolling 4 lower.
Cullen checked perception at difficulty 15, rolling 5 higher.
With Calaudrin outside worrying about howling things, the intrepid adventurers inside are bound to see organized chaos in motion. This is not a pleasant cavern snug with a pretty roaring fire and comfortably appointed nooks. It feels wrong. How it feels wrong is difficult to say. Could be the absence of such niceties. Might be the graffiti scratched onto a wall, piles of rotten rope scattered all about. A large pillar of stone naturally divides the secondary chamber into two diverging avenues, one branch slinking eastward directly and the other curving southeast. A direct southern gallery slumps low, making it hard to pass without bending. Broken shields are piled up that way. Not many. But enough. And some of those shields... Well. Quenia sees a few things she recognizes.
Cullen leads the way towards that southern end, and there's no corresponding crackle of arrows coming from the eastern chamber. Any activity seems to be fading there, noises less apparent. Though there are yapping snarls, low growls, clanking of metal. Dogs?
Quenia checked perception at difficulty 15, rolling 8 lower.
Merek moves with the others, while he shifts his weapon to above his shield. He frowns a bit in thought, "The source of some of the things we've found..." A nod to the others as he keeps a formation to take the rear while Cullen takes the front.
Quenia walks over to the place where the shields are, and briefly touches them. Her free hand forms into a fist, and then she walks toward the eastern most cavern, choosing a direction randomly. "I don't want us to split up. Stay close. There's no hope if we do. If we stick together though, we might have a better chance. Lucita, can try to sing something in case the dogs might be something.... more?" she asks.
Cullen checked perception at difficulty 15, rolling 8 lower.
Lucita is oblivious which way to go, she just stays at the ready and with the group. "This place feels creepy, I'll be glad when we are out of here. I'm tempted to use that singer's trick of projecting my voice and try to spook them as much as we are getting spooked.
Lucita checked charm + performance at difficulty 15, rolling 65 higher.
All these sounds, all this rock. It just bounces around. "Well, I have no idea where they are. It sounds like they're everywhere, and nowhere. It's frustrating." Walking over to the pile of shields with Quenia, his lips curl downwards in a grimace. "Ah, this is not good, Marquessa Quenia. I even see some shields of Valardin fealty that went to Setarco versus Stormwall." And then Lucita sings, Cullen's jaw dropping every so slightly.
Now if you /were/ a nasty questionable sellsword in a cavern, what would /you/ do? Whatever theory is at play, it's hard to know. What is apparent. The caverns are getting smoky. Smoke that creeps along the ceiling in a billowing cloud. A stinking wave of it brushes closer, coming from further south. Cullen and Quenia's pile of shield fragments are near a narrowing that leads to a much larger cavern and anything they were using to see by, the sellswords extinguished. The cause of that might be the brazier or lantern thrown to the ground. It's dark and growing increasingly smoky in the process.
Lucita nods to Quenia and the song she is singing carries through the space, it is one that seems to quiet her guard dogs down when she sings it around the tower, something that sooths and reassures them, one where they come and lay at her feet peaceably. It is one her toddlers like too, and to hear it in a dark smoky cavern must sound strange to human ears that were not expecting to hear it.
Quenia turns at the smell of smoke and frowns further. "Well, gentlemen, what would you do?" Yes, she's seeking advice. She glances between Merek and Cullen. "Other than just leave, of course."
Smoke is sliding out of the southern cavern (#1) towards the narrowing neck that links it to the main chamber. There lie the remnants of shields and the graffiti. The unearthly, odd lulling song Lucita sings echoes off the low ceiling. Towards the eastern chamber that splits apart (#2) around a column, Quenia's bound to find unpleasant things -- bits of rotting cloth, discarded barrels full of salt, supply crates, none in the best of shape. There are whole chunks of salted meat hanging from the ceiling vaguely visible in the lack of lantern-light. They look particularly ghoulish at a distance, suspended from the ceiling.
Merek shifts so that he can look towards Quenia as he moves to follow her, "Put out flames that cause the smoke, before we actually try to do a lot," he offers, with amusement.
"Alright. Doesn't seem to be any water in here, but we could use the salt to try and stifle the fire I think," says Quenia, as she motions to one of the barrels. "I can help carry one of them if someone else can grab the other end. Though we need to work quickly or we'll not fare too well ourselves." She moves to grab one of the ends of the salt barrel.
Merek checked strength at difficulty 15, rolling 10 lower.
Quenia checked strength at difficulty 15, rolling 1 lower.
Cullen checked strength at difficulty 15, rolling 25 higher.
Merek tries to pick up a barrel, but it's one of the fullest. He then takes a moment to shift his shield up while he twirls his sword a bit and waits for the others.
Lucita checked strength at difficulty 15, rolling 11 lower.
Snapping to Quenia's suggestion, Cullen hurries to pick up the other end and haul it off with the Marquessa, intent on dumping salt all over the fire. He's practically dragging the Igniseri woman along with the barrel, perhaps a little too in a hurry to smother it.
Alas, when Merek and Quenia attempt to shift a barrel, at least one of them find the wood isn't up to the task -- that one, anyways. The bottom gives out, stressed planking staved in. Salt pours everywhere along with half-preserved fish. Eww...
Lucita is to busy singing and does not break her rhythm as she weaves a song of comfort, home and hearth. She eyes the barrels of salt and shakes her head, clearly too weak to manage to lift one of them. Helpfully she tries to see if any of the rags can be used to swoop up smaller, more manageable yet useful amounts of the spilled salt, moving quickly so she can keep up with the group.
Quenia takes one of the smelly rags and covers her face with it, to help keep the smoke from getting into her system. She then gathers what she can, following Lucita's example, and follows Cullen down the southwest passage, past all the shields and such, in hopes of helping to put out the fire. "If this doesn't work, we get the abyss out of here."
Merek doesn't seem to mind any of the smells, while he nods with the hood towards the others. "We should do what we can, but we might not be able to handle it all today," he muses, as he rubs his beard a little.
More of those disturbing sounds echo from further south, and the dark corridor beneath the large box filled chamber (#2) curves around back to the west. Whatever commotion exists is down there, the clamour of chains and the low protests of a voice barely audible. Someone masculine, panicked, indistinct. Lucita's singing is just too clear and pure to get through. Another yelp is met by the sound of something metallic struck with force.
The western chamber beyond the shield-mess, is filling with yet more smoke. Finding the source -- two overturned separate braziers -- isn't too hard. Acrid, it stings the eyes. And doesn't help there's a rather disturbing picture of a wave painted or scratched onto the wall, with a simple statement in Lycene shav under: "Malia Erryer died here."
Cullen pulls the collar of his coat up around his mouth and nose, hoping for the best while charging ahead with the barrel of salt. As much as one can charge in smoke, which is to say a fast crawl. Looking for the fire, he has the barrel held up and ready to upend on the braziers. Which, naturally, he does. Spotting the words in Lycene shav, he's about to read the whole thing out, before remember everyone else here knows it, too. "Who is Malia Erryer?"
Quenia blinks her eyes a few times as tears fall down from the smoke. She shakes her head. "No clue. It's in Lycene shav though, so possibly someone important to them." She helps Cullen with spreading the salt over the fires to get them to stop. Just the salt though, no fish!
Lucita helps with salting the acrid smoke producing flames, a few coughs putting an end to her singing. She follows Quenia along to the next area when she moves, again checking that her weapons are prepared.
The spilled embers are easily smothered in salt. Lacking water, that will do instead. That chamber leads to a southern neck that looks like another way out. There might be a few lumps of straw and hay left in disarray, suggesting whomever was in here left in a hurry. The straw leads to the south, suggesting they've got bandit-sellsword-people on the run. Off to the immediate east, the natural curves and dips of the caverns join into a large gallery that may well have linked up to where Quenia found the barrels in the first place. It stinks. The sounds of the dogs, quieted some thanks to Lucita, come from there. On the other hand, the 'dogs' may just be horrifying hounds being kept by the sellswords, and those ones were said to be orthusi. But there are human sounds from that direction. Choices, choices.
Quenia turns away from the work at the braziers as she hears other sounds. "It sounds like they are this way," she motions toward the east, and starts walking in that direction. "Or, at least, something is...." Could it be the Knight of Solace?
Merek moves then to follow Quenia, as he pulls his cloak to him and shifts the sword as he does. He doesn't talk a lot, instead seeming content to work towards the mission at the moment.
When Quenia heads to the east, so does Cullen. He's not the Decider here! But he does step in front of her once more to protect against arrows, rocks, falling cavern trees, whatever may lurk within the depths. "If it is the knight, that'd be wonderful. I had lost any such hope, but I suppose I should not, not yet."
Headed east... is a charade of horrors, when they come into sight. Cages. One after the other, cages are drilled into the walls and anchored down by a plethora of different materials. The missing palisade that Cullen and Ian noticed may well have been repurposed to make several rows of gates and walls to augment the curving chamber (#6) that occupies the southern bit of the cavern system. And there among the limestone dripping wet to the touch are the dogs: black, snarling things on loose chains freed from their pen. They snap and bite, half-grown things that still manage to look /plenty/ unfriendly. One or two snap at the occupied cage nearest to them with a terrified, matted figure hard to distinguish as male or female, dressed in rags, pushing up against the far corner. The dogs may not have completely lost their minds, but they're slavering, baleful things pushing hard at the bars. Worse still, on the other side is another person, limp to the floor; beyond that, another prisoner chewing their fingers to a pinkish froth.
Merek checked willpower at difficulty 50, rolling 33 lower.
Quenia states very calmly, "Do any of you know how to handle animals?" While she has a dog, she's never learned the proper skills. "Perhaps we can get them to back off a bit so we can get to those in the cages..." she suggests.
Quenia adds, "Otherwise, we kill the dogs."
An ear flicks. One of the black hounds turns its ember-bright eyes back, and the chain slithers against the floor. Its lips curl. If this is calm for them...
Merek looks at the room and takes the place into consideration. With the amount of things he has seen, he doesn't seem to wish to be here, and turns about to look towards the exit. Then he frowns a bit, as he sheaths his sword, "I know a bit about animals, I'll... Try," he offers, as e turns to move towards the dogs, and tries his best to begin his approach.
Merek checked charm + animal ken at difficulty 30, rolling 5 lower.
"No. I know how to ride elks and horses. I can falcon and hunt with dogs. But...I don't know how to deal with dogs that want to hunt me." Stated quietly and calmly as possible, Cullen backs up a little as Merek tries to be the hellhound whisperer, keeping his body between Quenia and Lucita, sword drawn and at the ready.
Lucita moves with the others. "I hope if it is she, she is alive and well. Can you see anything up there, Cousin? " And prudently, she keeps an eye out behind her, still having trouble with a lingering *cough, cough* or two. She looks hard at the dogs and at the sight once it comes into view, horror showing, and compassion in her expresson. "No, I only know the individual commands that Dame Leola taught me to handle my dogs." I can try singing at them, no words, just some bars and notes my dogs calmed down most with... but don't know, I just don't know. I could sing something terrible that makes dogs attention diverted.. something hurts their ears.
One hungry snappy hound is /perfectly/ unimpressed by Merek trying to approach. Its tail beats a staccato tattoo and the chain is clearly not attached to anything solid as it slithers across the ground. The other friend jumps up at one of the cages and the bars rattle. It snaps at the mangy, messy prisoner, who moans again in fear and tries to hide. Not possible, but still. Whether or not they've even processed that other /humans/ are here... that's another matter altogether.
Merek stands up as he nods to the dogs, then he walks to one of the barrels, to take up some fish so that he can manage them. He takes up a dagger to use as he makes some fish steaks, raw as they are. He then offers a few spices on them from the belt of his, before he gives that to the dogs.
Cullen checked command at difficulty 30, rolling 14 lower.
Quenia checked charm + animal ken at difficulty 30, rolling 13 lower.
Merek checked charm + animal ken at difficulty 30, rolling 12 lower.
Quenia tries to charm one of the dogs, to no avail. "We'll need to kill them," she says definitively. "It's the people we've come for, and we tried our best."
Lucita checked charm + animal ken at difficulty 30, rolling 14 lower.
"No, we can still manage, there has to be a way to save everyone," Merek offers, while he frowns a bit in thought. "Or maybe we can rescue the people and we can come back for the dogs another time?"
"Nnnnoooo.... Dere curthed," hisses the one moaning prisoner closer to them. The attempt to wave meat at the dogs definitely interests one of them, but the sleek black hound's glowing eyes are more on /Merek/ than the fish he offers. "Curthed and Gild take 'em, ohhhh..."
The second prisoner spasms and shudders on the ground. The coarse shift, filthy, slides to reveal a frightening number of bruises and welts in a multicoloured quilt. The croaking sound of a voice rusty with disuse is a weak thing. "Ru.." The sound gives out. A croak, not much louder: "Run."
Lucita says, "If they are cursed... those eyes... glowing!!! Better to fight them, cousin, don't think a gentle way will work!""
"Merek...." Quenia begins quietly, as she, too, sees the glowing eyes. "These are not normal dogs." Her intention is definitely to fight them.
Quenia checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 37 higher.
Merek lets out a sigh as there's mention that the dogs have been tainted in some manner. He nods as he draws his sword. He shifts both his hands upon the hilt as he does.
Delilah GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + dodge(3) at difficulty 15, rolling 27 higher.
Merek checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 35 higher.
Delilah GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + dodge(3) at difficulty 15, rolling 28 higher.
Lucita checked dexterity + small wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 32 higher.
Delilah GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + dodge(3) at difficulty 15, rolling 10 higher.
And, after Quenia says that the dogs are not normal, she quickly moves in and attempts to attack the one nearest the cages. How quick? Very quick! And dextrous. How does that girl move so easily? It's a delicate dance she does, and finally she gets in between some of those snarling teeth.
Cullen checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 42 higher.
Delilah has rolled 1 4-sided dice: 3
Delilah GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + dodge(3) at difficulty 15, rolling 22 higher.
Delilah GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + brawl(4) at difficulty 15, rolling 31 higher.
Merek checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 15, rolling 28 higher.
When Quenia makes the decision that they're taking out those cursed dogs, Cullen nods firmly and charges into the fray, both hands holding his longsword firmly and giving a solid swing at one of the tainted dogs, standing next to Quenia to try to keep her from being flanked. Keeping his cool, the experienced knight moves with precision and strength, slicin' and dicin'.
Quenia checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 29 higher.
Delilah GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + dodge(3) at difficulty 15, rolling 23 higher.
Lucita may not have larger weapons but she knows how to apply the little ones she has, planting them in spots where they may do the most good. She is well equiped with dagger, knives and a few sets of hairpins. She moves lightly on her feet so not to get in the way of the other fighters but still able to help them when she can.
Merek checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 26 higher.
Delilah GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + dodge(3) at difficulty 15, rolling 41 higher.
Lucita checked dexterity + small wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 36 higher.
Merek lifts up his sword as he swings it at the dog. It cleaves at it, but it launches through the fray to take a bite of him. He winces a bit, and while his armor takes most of the hit, it is obvious that there's more to it than that which causes his swing to move wild as he shifts back from combat a bit.
Turns out an ugly black dog with very ugly burning eyes is more than a little happy to take a bite out of anyone who rushes it. Truly it's an uncomfortable proposition for as much as those diamondplate and rubicund blades fall, it snaps back hard enough to do some harm. Blood and ichor hit the ground. The real harm really comes from the diamondplate -- and alaricite, if any of that lies around, for the metals carve deep and hurt considerably. By the time Mr. Snappy is put to the wind, his sister, Ms. Snappy, is charging into the fray instead of eating a prisoner. Quenia gets in a glancing blow but Merek doesn't hit more than air as she twists out of the way...
Delilah GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + dodge(3) at difficulty 15, rolling 66 higher.
Cullen checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 37 higher.
Delilah GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + dodge(3) at difficulty 15, rolling 16 higher.
Delilah has rolled 1 4-sided dice: 2
Cullen lifts up his sword in both hands, then drives it downwards violently, looking to spear the closest dog through its beastly body, moving with his usual grace. In rubicund plate, no less, but this is nothing new for the Greenmarch knight. Swinging the blade around then, the pommel follows up for a blow to the skull.
Delilah GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + brawl(4) at difficulty 15, rolling 28 higher.
Lucita checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 15, rolling 27 higher.
Quenia checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 38 higher.
Merek checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 38 higher.
Delilah GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + dodge(3) at difficulty 15, rolling 47 higher.
Lucita flinches as the dog bites her, sucking in a deep breath and shaking her head. she reaches down one hand to check... no blood drawn but does it hurt, the mouth is _hot_. "W.w.watch out, they definitely aren't normal."
Lucita checked dexterity + small wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 27 higher.
Delilah GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + dodge(3) at difficulty 15, rolling 21 higher.
Cullen checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 43 higher.
Delilah GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + dodge(3) at difficulty 15, rolling 18 higher.
Merek is skilled with a weapon, however these dogs have supernatural powers things would seem. With that, it means that they somehow manage to move from the way.
Cullen Frowning as Lucita calls out that the bite is not typical of a normal dog bite, Cullen swings his diamondplate blade with vicious intent for revenge, trying to behead the one that bit the Baroness. Grunting with the heavy blow, he peers over to make sure Quenia is alright.
Delilah has rolled 1 4-sided dice: 1
Delilah GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + brawl(4) at difficulty 15, rolling 13 higher.
Quenia checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 15, rolling 8 higher.
Quenia checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 15 higher.
8 inflicted and Quenia is unharmed.
Ms. Snappy proves to be a great deal more flexible and fluid than her counterpart. She darts and dodges, running around in circles to snap at open flanks and ready limbs. The burning heat of her mouth hurts -- as Lucita learns, then Quenia. Those sharp teeth try to tear through cloth and flesh. They definitely are hard and pointy, vicious as she snaps her head side to side to inflict worse tearing damage. If only she actually /did/ get through. Oh well, everyone gets to smell horribly smoky!
Delilah GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + dodge(3) at difficulty 15, rolling 16 higher.
Quenia continues to do that dance back and forth, and does end up getting bit - but her armor takes the brunt of the damage. Thank goodness for armors!!
Merek checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 27 higher.
Delilah GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + dodge(3) at difficulty 15, rolling 31 higher.
Lucita checked dexterity + small wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 19 higher.
Delilah GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + dodge(3) at difficulty 15, rolling 17 higher.
Cullen checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 32 higher.
Delilah GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + dodge(3) at difficulty 15, rolling 10 higher.
Lucita says, "It did not break the skin on me, just... I could feel the heat, even through armor, it stings." She manages to get close enough to nick the beast a few times but over time, every little bit helps and adds up. She watches the last hound fall and looks toward Cullen. "That was a good blow struck. At least we kept it busy enough to not be able to focus on just one person to attack.""
Quenia ends up missing in her attack, but when it seems like the others have it well handled, she goes over to the cages instead. "Cursed yes," she tells the prisoners gently as she tries to work the lock, or bust it. She'll get a rock if just hacking the lock won't do the job. "But, not unkillable. They are dead," she assures them.
Staring as Ms. Snappy moves around like the wind through the trees, Cullen looks amazed and annoyed at the same time as she bites the cousins. Finally, the knight steps forward and mutters, "Enough of this, cursed mongrel." Both hands wrap around the hilt and the blade flashes downwards, snicking off the bitey head cleanly at the neck. It rolls around for awhile, then stares up at him, all accusing like. Panting, he smiles at Lucita, "Thank you."
Down goes that damn dog, /finally/. Hellhound finished with a neat and tidy break. Mostly. The dog is still a baby of a thing. Compared to the big ones, anyway. Or maybe a horror of another kind. That said, breaking into the cells is only one half of the challenge. There is also getting the prisoners out, one of whom is insensate with terror -- see chewed up fingers. The woman on the floor is in no condition to walk, clearly beaten rather savagely. The first man who warned them is afraid enough to have wet himself and totters about three steps before falling.
Quenia checked charm + propaganda at difficulty 20, rolling 48 higher.
Merek looks at the dogs which have been defeated, as he turns his attention to the smiling and also the seeming congratulations. He seems confused, as he takes his attention towards the people which are there. He picks up the woman with some care given for her status as he does.
Quenia continues to talk to the prisoners quietly, offering them words of encouragement, telling them they are safe, and are fine, and it's okay to come out of the cages. They're safe. "As Marquessa Quenia Igniseri of Granato, I promise you, you are safe, and under my protection," she adds as the last.
Lucita shakes her head and reaches into her pack. She pulls out some of her trail rations, waterskins and moves to a point she can help the freed prisoners. Her voice is calm, reassuring and she looks toward Merek and Cullen. "You think we can use some of the cage pieces to make something to help carry them out? Or walking sticks for them?
Heading over to look at the prisoners, Cullen grimaces and nods at Lucita before replying, "Honestly, with how weak they look, I can probably carry one piggyback, and a stretcher ought to do for the other." Looking over at Quenia, "Does that sound good, Marquessa?"
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