In the hills

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In the hills

Post by patransom » Fri Jul 21, 2006 4:39 pm

Validation continued …

You travel north, entering the plains of Tharbria, for the rest of the afternoon, making camp that night without incident. Three more days of travel brings you to the hills shown on the map. It has been getting colder as you travel. Once you enter the hills, it begins to snow. Three more days of difficult, but uneventful, travel through the snowy hills and you arrive at what Esias indicates is the location marked with an X on the map … You’ve made better time than expected and are now only 11 days out of Tak Shire. It is evening, nearing the time when you would camp.

Reaching the top of a large hill, you look across a snow-covered valley, perhaps 100 feet below you. There are a number of crude tents within the valley and you can see people moving about. The central area within the tents is lit by torches and the people are congregating there.

Across the valley, 500 feet away is another large hill. Atop it is a huge stone obelisk and at the base of the hill, on the level of the valley is a massive stone door that appears to lead into the hillside.

Two maps below show your location in the world, and, on a smaller scale (but non-tactical), your location relative to the things of interest noted above
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Post by shai-hulud » Fri Jul 21, 2006 5:18 pm

As the party makes their way up the hill and the Obelisk comes within view, relief washing over Oldin's expression until realization begins to hit and his calmness melts into fear, verging on panic. Oldin swallows hard and regains his composure, his face no longer revealing much emotion at all.

"Everyone, we have made excellent time. Our group's apparent strength, survival expertise, and common sense have kept us safe. And now, here is our final test. I know, we have all traveled long, but seeing our goal so close at hand, I find myself gathering strength anew. Seker is telling me that we should strike now. We have the element of surprise. He says that we should use the cover of night to sneak past their encampment to the doorway beneath the obelisk. But, sadly, I do not possess knowledge of the tactics of stealth nor of battle. For those of you with more expertise in these matters, I will yield to your advice. Should we proceed now, or find a secure location to make camp for the night?"
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Post by valinor » Fri Jul 21, 2006 5:28 pm

"For a man, worshipping Seker you seem to have a good firm hold of strategem, Oldin." the half-elf smiles and continues, "Even though I frown upon travelling at night, I would agree in a pre-emptive strike while we have the advantage and strike hard and swift." as Aeless starts to unravel his weapon and resharpen it and darkens the sheen.
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Post by patransom » Fri Jul 21, 2006 5:41 pm

Tildon the chef speaks up with nervousness in his voice, "Master Oldin, if you think there is going to be combat or a need for stealth, perhaps it would be wise for me to retreat whence we came and seek some hiding place at the back side of this hill. I could watch over the horses while you do what is needed ..."

He glances nervously at Aeless' weapon.
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Post by shai-hulud » Fri Jul 21, 2006 6:21 pm

"Tildon, my friend, I wish you could join us, but you are right. Take cover in the hills with the horses. Esias and Aeless, please discuss with Tildon what you think might be a good place to take the horses. Tildon is a very skilled woodsman, himself, so he should not have any trouble keeping safe if the three of you work together to come up with a good location."
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Post by valinor » Sat Jul 22, 2006 10:33 am

"I would suggest around 4-6 hills back to assure that their patrols do not see you, Tildon. Make sure not to use fire especially at night, less you want these hooligans to spot you." Aeless asks Esias to show the map so they all could get a good point area for Tildon to camp and for us to get to him as soon as possible.

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Post by TheGreenLabrador » Sat Jul 22, 2006 3:58 pm

"As much as I would prefer moving forward under the cover of darkness, perhaps we should scout the area out before moving forward." At this Vulan slowly looks to Leenah, as if expecting something.
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Post by Icefire » Sun Jul 23, 2006 1:48 am

Given our numbers, we definitely need some scouting. I've never dealt with a party this large. If I can get to the door, I will get it open. But I need to get to it and I need to be able to see what I'm doing.
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Post by shai-hulud » Sun Jul 23, 2006 5:04 am

"So perhaps a small group go ahead to the door to see about how it opens. Leenah and one of our scouts, perhaps? What should the rest of us do? And what if you are discovered? Should we determine what the locals here are gathering for? Leenah and Aeless, would you be able to scout out the doorway? And Vulan, as the only one of us of Tharbrian descent, do you think you would be able to blend in with the others who are gathering and determine where they are going? Perhaps you could pretend that you are a new arrival, drawn to the call of Natch Ur? The rest of us would stay close to provide back-up should you be discovered. It is a great risk, though, so if anyone feels that we have better options, please speak up."
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Post by valinor » Sun Jul 23, 2006 7:52 am

"I got your back, Leenah." as Aeless finishes his prepping with his tools of the trade.

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Post by jameswllorimer » Sun Jul 23, 2006 8:46 am

"I cannot claim to be skilled in the arts of war, but I think our best course of action should be a small scouting party to try and determine our foe's plans. I know some of my magic's could perhaps be of use in obtaining some information, or allowing us to slip in secrecy." He paused for a moment to adjust his cloak to stop the many small tomes from falling out. "I will however bow to the group, and just allow my talents to come to bear whereever they are needed."

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Post by shai-hulud » Sun Jul 23, 2006 12:48 pm

"Jermain, would you be able to disguise several of us as Tharbrians with your magics? That way we all of us who appear Tharbrian? Riverkeeper told us that many locals have been traveling here talking about Natch Ur. I think we would be able to blend in easily. What do you think?"
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Post by TheGreenLabrador » Sun Jul 23, 2006 2:48 pm

Vulan looks out towards the encampment, "Yes, it is possible that I may join their ranks. However, if I were to do that, it would be better if I attempted so during the day, making my night as obvious as possible to them to show no hostile intent. Unfortunately, I know very little of Natch Ur, and I fear that might be a problem, but I don't doubt my ability to blend in as a Tharbian, if that is all that is required."
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Post by shai-hulud » Sun Jul 23, 2006 3:16 pm

For all we know, they could be gathering tonight to perform the ritual. I agree that scouting will be necessary. I don't want to appear hostile, either. Perhaps Jermain is correct that stealthy scouting using his magics will be the best course of action, at least until we can determine what they are planning. Jermain, what magical assistance could you provide? Esias, how many of us should go scouting? Elezar, on the high seas, it is invaluable to be able to observe an enemy from a distance. Do you have a seaman's ocular enhancement? A spyglass, I believe it is called? Leenah, do you think your skills would be more valuable scouting the door or aiding us in determining what the current gathering is for? Jiam and Brand, let us share our knowledges of Natch Ur that if we must blend in with these locals, everyone will have enough knowledge to do so. Rúadhnait, I hope you are ready for battle, because I Seker is telling me we will soon be engaged."
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Post by shai-hulud » Sun Jul 23, 2006 7:08 pm

Oldin begins explaining what he knows about the Natchai religion while the others come up with scouting strategies.

"The Natchai offer power to defend yourself or defeat your enemies, often without them knowing how you did it. It is quite disconcerting that a Viridian Prelate would be here in Tharbria attracting Tharbrians. My best guess would be that he is offering Tharbrians power against their enemies, which by my reckoning is the Viridian Empire, itself. The fact that he has kidnapped the son of a political figure like Shah Leayh furthers my concerns that this Prelate, Phatel Rablim, may very well be attempting to usurp power from the Viridian Empire. By bringing the secret powers of Natch Ur to the Tharbrians, perhaps he will be able to overpower the Empire and come into his own.

"However, if this truly were his plan, I don't understand why he would have traveled so far north. He is bringing the Tharbrians further from the Empire. Brand, you have defended the Empire's borders. Do you understand this strategy? Is there a benefit to moving your center of power away from its ultimate goal? Or can anyone think of another goal that is reachable from this northern location?"
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Post by CGM3 » Mon Jul 24, 2006 10:22 am

After advising Tildon of likely places on their backtrail to which he could withdraw, Esias examines the map. "Your ambitious prelate could be thinkin' o' leadin' his warriors 'gainst eastern Caithness, or 'cross the water to the isle o' Kelt, or even t' war on other tribes o' Tharbria," he muses. "But unless this location be somehow special t' his god that required his presence, the likeliest target for an attack from here would seem t' be the mountains t' the north, the realm o' the frost giants, as you said. Belike they might have something Natch Ur could want?"
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Post by valinor » Mon Jul 24, 2006 10:49 am

"So, who will go?" as he stand up awaiting others.

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Post by shai-hulud » Mon Jul 24, 2006 12:42 pm

Oldin opens his saddlebags and removes a sheet of parchment. He tares off a piece and scribbles a couple sentences down. He then reaches back into his saddlebags and removes a handful of something. Opening his hand, he casts a spell and a small bird flies right into it. He ties the piece of parchment to the bird's leg, and it flies off.
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Post by Galaphile » Tue Jul 25, 2006 12:06 am

Jiam and Brand, let us share our knowledges of Natch Ur that if we must blend in with these locals, everyone will have enough knowledge to do so.
"I'm sorry Oldin, I don't know anything about the Natch Ur.

OOC: Or do I, I don't think so?
Brand, you have defended the Empire's borders. Do you understand this strategy?
Brand looks over Esias' shoulder at the map. "I don't see any strategic reason for the Natch Ur to use this locale as groundwork for an invasion of the Empire. Perhaps they look to convert the people of Tharbria to their religion, does the Obelisk have some spiritual magnitude to the Tharbrians? I'm not familiar with it. Or it is as you say Esias, perhaps they look to invade North."

Brand, falls silent for a moment. "On the other side, mayhap they pupose to build up followers from here, and gather more as they advance south? "
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Post by Icefire » Tue Jul 25, 2006 3:46 am

Which ever everyone thinks is best. But while I work to get in I can't defend myself so Aeless the offer is greatly appreciated. We have the other unfortunate issue... I can't see without light. So Jermain would it be possible for you to cast a spell that would allow me to see in the dark? If I am to go to the door that is.
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Post by patransom » Tue Jul 25, 2006 12:10 pm

As the party has not yet agreed on a plan of action, there's not much to validate yet ...

The sky has grown dark as you discuss strategy. You can no longer see the opposite end of the valley where the doorway lies. The center of the camp is lit by torches and it appears all of the people have gathered there.

Tildon, after consulting with Esias and Aeless, leads the horses down the back side of the hill to seek a place of shelter.

Note: if you want any of the supplies from the horses, grab them now, as Tildon will be a good ways away. Two of you have the wands, and a few of you had tucked away everburning torches, but otherwise most of the supplies are packed away in the saddlebags.

Brand: per your OOC question, you know of Natch Ur and the Natchai religion, but don't have anything to add to what Oldin already explained
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Post by Icefire » Tue Jul 25, 2006 12:18 pm

Makes sure she has a quiver of arrows, her bow, two extra daggers, lock picks and her goggles before the horses are led away.
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Post by patransom » Tue Jul 25, 2006 12:45 pm

To clarify: you all have the equipment listed on your character sheets.

In addition, according to my records:

Leenah has a wand, a sunrod, the goggles she bought in town, and, now, two extra daggers.

Oldin has a wand, dust of illusion, and an everburning torch.

Aeless has an everburning torch.
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Post by valinor » Tue Jul 25, 2006 2:18 pm

"We have to make a decision as it is folks. Else I'm asking you Esias as back-up for harassing fire for Leenah and I. IF it gets in that situation, for now we scout, and check if we can approach the door. We use night owl for answers of yes or clear and a crickets noise for a no or occupied." as he brief the party for silent run.

OOC: Hide +7, Move Silently +7, Spot +6, Listen +6, Large Composite Longbow: Rng 110' Dmg 2d6+1, Rapid Shot, Night-Vision
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Post by CGM3 » Tue Jul 25, 2006 7:25 pm

Esias hefts his short bow with a wry expression. "Might as be your bow would have a better chance o' reachin' that far, if need be," he opines. "And might as be I'm a mite sneakier than you. Faster, too, if a fleet set o' heels be called for."

OOC: Hide +7, Listen +11, Move Silently +14, Search +10, Spot +11. +6 with composite shortbow, which has a 70-ft range increment. Movement is 40 ft.
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Post by Galaphile » Wed Jul 26, 2006 3:20 am

Brand, grabs a pair of Manacles out of his sadde bags, commenting "We might need these."

"Aeless, I agree, take a look at the door, you might want to leave now, perhaps the ceremony they are starting down there, will provide enough cover, otherwise wait until everyone is abed. Sounds like Esias would be better equipped to watch Leenah's back, while you provide cover with your bow.

"Perhaps, you should check around back see if there is another entrance as well."

"Sending the horses away, may not be the best idea if we decide a full out assault is the only answer."
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Post by shai-hulud » Wed Jul 26, 2006 4:13 am

Oldin considers Brand's words, then comments, "You make a good point, Brand, but if stealth is going to have any chance at all, we can't have a group of horses sitting on the hill where any of the encampment below might happen upon. If an all-out assault is the only answer, we will have to return to Tildon and retrieve the horses before we begin. It is unfortunate, but I don't see any alternative."

"As far as checkind the door, Esias and Leenah, the two of you will sneak in with Aeless providing ranged cover. The rest of us will come up with a plan to investigate the nature of this ritual."

"Jermain, do you have any magics that will allow us to keep in contact? I don't claim to know much about wizardly magics, but I believe I have heard rumors of a spell that links the minds of companions allowing communication in a sort of mnemonic bond, but I don't know much about it."

OOC: Yes, I know it is too high level for this party, but I figure my character doesn't know that.

IC:

"So, what sort of strategy do we have for attempting to figure out what the gathering at the camp is doing? We don't want to attract attention, and I don't care to witness any depraved Natchai rituals, but if their gathering is for some reason beyond a nightly ritual that Natchai perform, I would think the information might be helpful. For all we know, they could be gathering with Amon as we speak preparing the Scarlet Sprinkle, in which case, fiddling with the doorway would be all for naught."
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Post by whtknt » Wed Jul 26, 2006 11:04 am

Rúadhnait snorts derisively. "We scurry like rabbits when battle calls. Warriors would choose to meet their fate! We should strike while they do not suspect we are here!"
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Post by shai-hulud » Wed Jul 26, 2006 12:55 pm

Oldin shakes his head, "If battle would save Amon, then I would be the first to charge in. But I guarantee you that the dark powers of Natch Ur would not allow for such a battle. Natch Ur is a god of secrets, not battle. You would attack our enemies head on, but they would deceive you like cowards. To fight these enemies, we must anticipate their deception. We cannot charge in to our deaths or our journey here was in vain. If you have a strategy to overcome their magics, then please share it. Otherwise, we will sneak past them and fight when we must, hopefully on our terms, honorably."
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Post by TheGreenLabrador » Wed Jul 26, 2006 5:55 pm

"For once, I am slightly on the side of Rúadhnait. I believe we should eliminate any outlying guards and move in while we share their cover of darkness. Unless they have had prior knowledge of our arrival, we are in a situation in which we have the upper hand to move in. If they do, nothing we do can surprise them, I again suggest a rather hostile approach, but not a full direct one." Vulan nods to Rúadhnait nonchalantly as he speaks this while he watches the scouts prepare to leave.

"Besides, if they do know of our presence, we send half our number alone into danger. I would prefer meeting it as one.
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