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Friday, 16th September, 2011, 03:50 AM #1
Scout (Lvl 6)
The Shackled City - Golarion Prelude
The Cardinal had great plans for the upcoming Cauldron Flood Festival and required additional stocks of the rare imported ale’s and wines The Drunken Morkoth had become well known for. How he managed to sell such rare and expensive brews at the prices he did was beyond anyone’s guess. The Cardinal had place an order at the port town of Sasserine since it was the only place one could acquire such luxuries on the island. Since the Cardinal had to stay and mind the Inn, he had naturally offered the job of picking up the stock to one of the few people he could trust in the lake district, Valinnan.
Valinnan had accepted his “holy” mission to retrieve the imported booze with gusto. Anything to get out of the city for a while. Plus the mission came with a nice reward from the old man. And, if a few bottles disapeared during the trip, he could always just write it off to breakage. While he was tempted to hitch on to a caravan by himself, he had chosen to enlist the aide of a few of his fellow ne’re do well friends, believing in safety in numbers.
Svexyn had started dropping by the Inn most nights of late. It seemed like maybe he simply had no where else to go. There were rumors that he once worked for one of the various gangs in Cauldron, but recently he had had a rather violent falling out. The Cardinal didn’t seem to particularly mind him hanging around as long as he kept his dark brooding in check. It wasn’t unusual though for a ring of empty seats to form around the Tiefling at the bar.
Marcus was a former Guardsman. The Cardinal had been offering Marcus a job as a bouncer on the odd nights the Drunken Morkoth was particularly busy. Being of modest means, he couldn’t afford to hire him on full time.
Caytis was an expelled academy mage who had been given the boot for his short temper and lack of of focus. His interest in martial training was deemed a distraction by the stuffy academy masters. He started showing up at the Morkoth fairly regularly, spending what meager coin he was able to scrape together from working at Weer’s elixirs as an errand boy. The near sighted Weer was one of the few people that didn’t immediately recoil upon seeing the black scales on his flesh that marked his draconic heritage.
All of them being in need of a little adventure, and more importantly, coin, they all decided to join up with the next caravan to Sasserine. Anyone able to prove they could handle a sword had the option of signing on as a guard. Any caravaner providing one guard to the common defense was allowed to travel with the caravan for free. Dead weight had to pay. The group hoped to provide enough swords to at least pay their fare, leaving more of the Cardinal’s reward for themselves.
The caravan master was a fat Keleshite by the name of Adofo. The pungent aroma of exotic desert oils and spices filled their nostrils as he sized up their skills. After evaluating their kit and engaging each member of the band in a quick sparring match, he granted guard status to Marcus. Two of the group would have to pay their way. The party payed their coin and settled into a small, somewhat ramshackle wagon that they had rented from Surefoot’s Livery. A rather flea bitten water buffalo was harnessed to the wagon. It lazily chewed on some grass as they waited for the caravan to commence.
They didn’t have to wait long, because not long after their testing, Adofo climbed onto a wagon pulled by two large water buffalo, and sounded a horn. The caravan, and the small group of adventurers, were on their way out of the city.
Wilbur stumbled along the well worn trade road. Each footstep brought him inexorably closer to the city which had been haunting his dreams. Every night when he closed his eyes, he could see the great city built into the old bones of the a once might volcano. Somehow, he knew that his fate was intertwined with that of the city. The “Portal and the Key” offered glimpses of understanding, fleeting images and whispers on the wind. The fact that he could not piece together the meaning pushed him even harder to reach his goal.
Wilbur’s shoes had worn out before he had even reached the island, and now his feet were callused and bloody. His money had ran out in Sasserine. He couldn’t remember the last time he ate and his water skin had dried out that morning. Still, he focused on the horizon and moved one foot in front of the other. Before long, he thought he could see a pale wisp of smoke in the distance. It had the friendly curling look of a cook fire and promised civilization. He wasn’t sure how far he had walked, but he knew he couldn’t have yet reached Cauldron.
A few more hours passed and Wilbur could see the jungle breaking up. Ahead in a clearing to the side of the path, a rather sizable walled compound lay nestled up to the edge of the jungle. The eight foot limestone wall had a small guard post at each corner, and a wooden gate at each end of the enclosed courtyard. Two guards stood at the gate nearest him, idly leaning on their spears and chatting while they burned away the time until the end of their shift.
Through the gate, Wilbur saw what appeared to be a roadhouse and guard barracks. The tantalizing smells of fried bananas and roasted fish wafted over the wind and made his stomach protest angrily. A sign over the gate depicted a troop of monkeys leaping and playing, performing all kinds of death defying tricks. In bold script, the sign declared this to be “The Lucky Monkey”.
It was then, so close to salvation, that Wilbur’s body finally decided it had had enough. Wilbur’s eyes rolled into the back of his head and the ground rushed up to meet him.
Nia had followed the strange city man for the last two days. Even the city folk knew that you didn’t travel the jungle alone. Nia considered her hypocrisy briefly, but decided Shelob counted as another person. The scarlet spider chittered idly on her shoulder, sensing its masters praise. Despite the fact that the trade road was well traveled, it still held many dangerous that could ensnare the unwary traveler.
Nia had been on her way to the city of Cauldron to learn about the ways of her grand sire when she had seen the odd man stumbling his way down the trade road. More out of a sense of morbid curiosity then anything else, she had shadowed him. Perhaps he would have the good graces to die amusingly or distract any particularly large predators that might be roaming about. Unexpectedly, she sensed the wildlife was giving him a wide berth. There was some kind of power in him. Something strange and alien the wildlife didn’t like.
She saw the cooking fire smoke before the city man did, and smelled it long before that. The familiar smells of Hillfolk cooking made her long briefly for her village. Perhaps civilization wouldn’t be so bad if they could cook a proper ox-tail. Not long after spying the walled village, she saw the city man finally give up and collapse in a heap.
She stared at the body, and then at the village. The frolicking monkeys that covered the sign and the building’s exterior made her sneer in disgust. Only city folk would think monkey’s were cute. They were nuisances. They constantly stole food and damaged irrigation systems. In some ways they were worse then rats. She pondered the foolishness of the city folk a while longer before finally coming to a conclusion. Oh well, now was as good a time as any to meet these city folk, she thought. Maybe they will share some of that fish I smell if I drag their tribesman to safety.
The trip had been, largely, a disappointment. Not a single lion or bandit attack the entire way to Sasserine. The city had largely been a bust too. The local wine merchant had moved the Cardinal’s order to a holding facility outside the city walls in anticipation of their arrival. All that remained for them to do was load the casks and bottles on the wagon and pay the woman. She shrewdly judged the weight of the coin purse Val handed her then bid the party good day.
The trip back to Cauldron had been proving to be equally uneventful. However, things had just begun to look up. The caravan master decided to stop the troop at the only road house between Sasserine and Cauldron, “The Lucky Monkey”. The low wall and paltry guard complement wouldn’t stop an invading army, but it would keep out the local flora and fauna. The caravaners led their animals to water troughs inside the protective walls, then all piled into the Inn for some food and drink.
Wood carvings of monkeys jumped out at the patrons from every corner of the large common room. They were carved intricately into hand railings and ran along the surface of the bar. Some climbed defiantly up bar stools or hung lazily from the rafters. The proprietor had opened up awnings that ran around the entire common room, letting whatever breeze could be found outside blow through the crowded room. It looked like they could easily be lowered again to keep the water out during the rainy season. Large reed paddle fans rotated slowly on the ceiling, connected to a long rod that ran into the kitchen. The sweet smells of bananas, garlic, fish, and pork created a bouquet that made everyone salivate.
Valinnan, Caytis, Marcus, and Svexyn had just settled around a table near a large open window, when they noticed the room go suspisciously silent. In the doorway stood what appeared to be a native woman. Her black hair was cropped short. Bits of strange bone, small jars, and other fetishes adorned the simple woven reed halter and loin cloth she wore. Several of the Hillfolk in the common room not so far removed from their native heritage gasped and made some kind of protective sign. Attached to an improvised stretcher, she was dragging a robed man who was mumbling incoherently in his sleep.
“Your tribesman needs water.”
The barkeep rushed over to the man with a cup of water and gently lifted it to the man’s lips. After taking a few shallow sips, Wilbur’s eyes snapped open.
Last edited by ahayford; Friday, 16th September, 2011 at 05:49 AM.
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Friday, 16th September, 2011, 06:06 AM #2
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
Marcus hadn't really been surprised that he was the only one of the little band from the Drunken Morkoth to be afforded "guard status" or so it was called. Caytis seemed to know a bit about the blade but had his head too much into magic to really focus on the intricacies of weaponry. Val was a nice enough guy, hiring him on behalf of The Cardinal and all that, but he lacked either the grace or the strength of a warrior. Svexyn was... difficult to read. Not that Marcus had really tried. But it seemed like the heavily-hooded man much preferred to keep out of sight, rather than stand and fight. Well, as long as he wasn't using stealthy talents like the scum of the street Marcus had tried to arrest in days not too long past... But really, not too bad a group to be working with, even for such a simple job. And at least things had gone fairly smooth. Up to now...
Just when I'm about to have a drink, goes through Marcus's head as he stands and goes to the slowly-waking man. He keeps his eyes on the strange woman, too, but isn't terribly concerned about her. If this was meant to be an ambush, there were easier and more effective ways of staging one. He taps the barkeep on the shoulder and grunts "Get him some food, too. I'll pay for him." He takes the mug of water and helps the poor fellow drink slowly until he seems well enough to lift it himself.
"So what brings you to the wilds, with a native no less, and to the brink of dying of thirst?" he asks when it seems the man might be able to answer, voice rough as ever as he brushes a strand of dark hair back from his forehead, inadvertently accentuating his scar.
Friday, 16th September, 2011, 07:31 AM #3
Enchanter (Lvl 12)
Nia scowled to herself. Not even a word of thanks greeted her. No one offered name, nor water, nor food to ease her way. She would have loved to have imitated one of her mentor's, Kilsasha, legendary rages...but Kilsasha herself had drilled more than once into Nia's head that she should not make threats she was not willing, or able, to back up. Nothing hurt one's credibility more than having a bluff called...and for a witch to lose credibility hurt not just her, but her sisters as well.
Her strange blue eyes strayed and found the Opai'lei, the First People, who had been tamed by the invaders. They flinched at the hard scorn in her face and posture. The invader called them 'hillfolk,' and by capitulating, they had lost what they had been, and become Hillfolk in fact.
At least they had the grace enough to flinch. Some part of them remembered what they were. That gave Nia a glimmer of hope.
She released the erstwhile tribesmen from her glare and looked down to watch the innkeeper reviving the fool on the floor. It was, she decided, only right that all courtesy went first to the man who would die without it. She would give the innkeeper a fair moment to offer her courtesy before shaming this place by asking for water.
To the man who addressed the fool, she said stiffly in her accented Common, "Him did not come to de jungle wit' me." Her lips peeled back in a sarcastic grin. "If him had, I'd have kept him on his feet...or killed him on de spot." She nodded at him, sprawled on the floor there. "Found him walkin' de trade road, no food or water or blanket to sleep on. Someting be watchin' over him, doh I know not what. Someting be keepin' him alive when him should be dead."
There. Let them chew on that.
Last edited by Shayuri; Friday, 16th September, 2011 at 07:39 AM.
Friday, 16th September, 2011, 09:45 AM #4
Superhero (Lvl 15)
Wilbur's body rises with a start, speaking in a language no one recognizes.
He finally composes himself and looks at the faces around him.
"Where am I? I need to move on. I have to reach Cauldron. Everything will happen there! The stars converge and destiny will be revealed!"
He looks feverish, but that could just be the long walk in the heat without drinking or stopping. His robe that covers his armor was thankfully hooded, so he wasn't fully exposed to the sun.
"Where is my backpack?"
Friday, 16th September, 2011, 01:06 PM #5
Enchanter (Lvl 12)
"Everyting you had when I found you, you still have," Nia said dismissively. "I am no teef."
Friday, 16th September, 2011, 01:08 PM #6
Myrmidon (Lvl 10)
Caytis Maggerin, half-elf Magus
Seeing that enough people seemed to be tending to the gibbering man who hadn't the sense to drink water on a hot day, Caytis stayed where he was. It was nice for folks to be staring at someone else for once. Besides, his pride still stung that he'd not passed the caravan master's muster; one more time his skills weren't what they should have been, despite all his study.
But then he noticed the way the other Hillfolk were responding, and he turned his gaze more closely to the woman who had dragged the man in. She seemed simple enough; wore no armor, bore no impressive weaponry, but still, there was power there. More than just the mystery of why a native would bother to rig up a stretcher to aid a local. Caytis found himself wandering forward, and was about to introduce himself when the man awoke. He listened to the protestation, then sighed.
"Great. A fortune teller," he muttered. "Don't bother, friend, I already know my destiny, and it's a whole lot of hitting my head against walls."
Satisfied that he's responded to the clearly-hallucinating man, he turns his attention back to the woman and offers an awkward hand. "Caytis Maggerin. So, what makes you say something's looking out for this one?"
Friday, 16th September, 2011, 02:18 PM #7
Enchanter (Lvl 12)
Nia stared at the outstretched hand of 'Caytis Maggerin' suspiciously, then gave him a good once-over. His ears were pointed, like Tree-Folk, only not as large. Halfblood then. Maybe the hand was a Tree-Folk thing. She decided to ignore it rather than pretend knowledge of the ritual.
"You do not know de jungle den, Caytis Maggerin," she told him ominously. "Dere be tings dere dat hunt men and monkey as if one were de udder. Dey've no fear of us that stand on two feet, and dey don't care about no road neither."
She gestured at Wilbur.
"Two days I follow him, and I see and hear and smell what he don't. De beasts of de jungle never close in on him. Dey do not stalk him, even doh he be alone. Not even de sweatflies be troublin him. Dat's when I know some spirit be watchin over him. So I keep followin' to see what him be up to."
Friday, 16th September, 2011, 02:49 PM #8
Myrmidon (Lvl 10)
Caytis Maggerin, half-elf Magus
Caytis, finally realizing that the newcomer is no more interested in shaking his hand than most when they first see him, lowers his hand, glad for once of the scales as they cover the flush in his cheeks. As the woman explains her meaning, Caytis forgets his own embarrassment, re-assessing the recently-revived man.
"So, what exactly are you up to, mister stars-and-destiny?"
Friday, 16th September, 2011, 03:36 PM #9
Scout (Lvl 6)
Svexyn could feel the stares from some of the other patrons. Some of them were aimed at him, some were not. This group seemed to draw attention, but also to afford them a little bit of solitude. He could get used to this. He sits, thinking of what to do when they return to Cauldron when the door is opened, and the silence hangs in the air. Turning, he gets his first glimpse of a wild girl.
The rest happens while he watches, as the owner moves to get water. The guard moves to help and Caytis speaks to the girl. He simply stares, noting there was something different about this girl. Something feral. He looks at the stretcher to see the mumbling figure and simply waits to hear what the girls' response is to Caytis' question.
Her blunt response brings a grin to his face, as Caytis then questions the man. He liked her already.
Friday, 16th September, 2011, 03:41 PM #10
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
Marcus places a gentle hand on the man's shoulder, trying to help keep him still. "Easy, friend, take it easy. You're still some distance from Cauldron and trying to go right now will just kill you. Here, drink, eat a bit, regain your strength. I'll talk with our caravan master, see if maybe we can get you a spot traveling with us, so you don't die on your little journey. Alright?"
He looks up, still squatting by the robed man, to eye the native woman. "Not often I see folk on this island with such a sense of generosity, miss. Perhaps it's just the difference in our cultures. Might you tell us, and this man you saved, your name so his rescuer can be thanked properly?"
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