"They don't normally clean up dead beasts in the wild, do they?" Robyn asks, somewhat rhetorically. "There must be something else up. Maybe they're tracking the beast that must have mangled the chimera before you fought it."
Okay fine, don't help me with the setting-building.
Two figures have been steadily stalking up the hill toward you, and finally get close enough for you to get a clear look at them. There is a big, burly woman with a hooded green cloak and darker green leather armor, form-fitted sleekly over a large-breasted and wide-hipped frame, with a plain-looking face that bears more than a couple of scars. Next to her is a half-orc boy who looks to be about twelve, though anyone familiar with orc biology knows that they reach maturity in something like three years, so an adolescent-looking person with half human and half orc blood could be as young as six (and there are such things as three-quarter orcs or even seven-eighths orcs). Though he has the gray skin and slightly protruding tusks, his build is whip-thin and wiry, not at all the stocky muscularity one expects from an orc, and he's dressed in brown traveler's clothes which have none of the martial trappings of the woman's gear, although he does have a shortsword on his belt.
Getting to within about a hundred feet, the two pause and the woman hails you in a loud, contralto voice. "Ho there; you lot look like expeditionaries. Do you know anything about the army that marched through this area several days ago?" "Hey Shel, you might at least offer greetings first; you don't know that they had anything to do with this,"the hybrid youth interjects, his own voice quiet and yet resonant, carrying just as well across the distance while being much less hard on the ears. "They're armed, they're armored, and one of them has a clockwork horse. I doubt they're completely innocent." "Nonetheless, you could better do honor to our own cause by observing polite formalities." "Hmph. Fine. I am Fiona Shelterweight of the Emerald Enclave, holding the rank of Second Commandant in the White Pangolin Division, Tenth Contingent, based out of Ardeep Forest. This is my tertiary adjutant, Private First Class Nevek. Now, you know who we are; who are you?" she finishes with her hands on her hips, clearly bristling with skepticism that borders on hostility.
"Greetings Fiona and Nevek. I am Ana. We have no idea what army marched through here," Ana says. "Ashur--" she points to Ashur "--and I noticed the soldiers' tracks yesterday as we passed this way. But we never saw the soldiers. We did find the creature loose from its chains and starving. We had to put it down. In the town of Armighast, back that way, we were told about the history of the chimera. This man, Ninuel Hartleigh, created the spells to bind the creature in the first place. He was surprised the creature got loose and we were going to show it to him but there seems to be little evidence left now."
"So you were the irresponsible sots who just left the thing out in the open to rot?" "Shel, c'mon, that attitude's not helping. I was one of the ones who dug the grave, and you don't see me complaining." "Quiet! Just who do you lot think you are anyway? You think you have the right to come stomping through here and mess up an already-FUBAR situation with your unprofessional actions?" "Miss Shelterweight, please. If anyone has the right to a stake in these proceedings, it is me; I was the one who forged the chain to restrain the chimera here, and if anyone is responsible for the fact that the bonds were somehow circumvented, I am at fault and I would like to know how it happened. Do you still have the harness itself? As the 'professional' onsite, as you put it, I would like to examine the device and its enchantments, to see if I can get to the bottom of everything." The militant ranger seems distinctly unhappy, but apparently Hartley's approach to disarming her hostility was the correct one; Fiona turns and waves him to follow, and heads back down the ridge with the smith and his clockwork horse trailing behind. Nevek is left to talk to those of you who remain, and he seems vastly more approachable.
Robyn turns to Ana, “An army came through, eh? I wonder if they had anything to do with freeing the chimera. It would seem pretty irresponsible, but such a thing might tell us something about the nature of the army.”
”Hey, Nevek, is Shelterweight always this pricky or is she particularly wound up by something? I didn’t come this way so all of this is news to me.”
"We have no idea, Robyn." Ana turns to Nevek. "I'm guessing you had a shovel, unlike the two of us. What crawled up the Second Commandant's ass, Nevek?" After he answers, she presses forward to follow the mage and doesn't let Nevek stop her.
(OOC: Damn, Ana was going to press Fiona hard about her hardass tactics. She probably would have cut off Ninuel before he could make nice.)
Dumos pointedly ignores the commander and goes to the folk who are dealing with the dead chimera. "Burial is for those left behind. This creature has no-one left behind to mourn it. And, if you just leave it in the bushes, the local predators will do the job for you."
Mips, the Chimera is already buried, so your post is out of continuity, but please leave it up because I think it's good characterization; we can just assume you said something of this sort to someone in your past at some point.
The half-orc boy Nevek smiles, sitting down upon a rock that's far too small to make a comfortable seat for pretty much anyone human-sized. "Shel's got a right to be cranky, but not to take it out on you, since you're clearly not part of the Dragon Army. We think they were the ones who let the chimera loose, but we still don't know why; they've been making quite a lot of trouble, and our Enclave is one of those who are trying to disrupt their operation. She'd have liked to have been one of the frontline soldiers who actually engaged with these enemies and forced them to retreat from one of our sanctuaries, but by the time we got word of the attack it was already over. Anyway, from what we've observed, the group that we battled with was only a diversionary arm of the main force; we don't know where exactly they are, but we've gotten a lot of reports of small villages being pillaged of all their valuables, and more than a few of our contacts have disappeared in circumstances that suggest they might well have been abducted or killed simply to silence them. It's bordering on a full-fledged war, but not one that anybody bothered to declare openly. And we still don't know who exactly they're fighting for."
Not sure who you think the mage is; if you meant Fiona, there's no evidence she has any magic, or at least any more than an average Ranger. The way I figure, if this bunch had any significant amount of magical power, they wouldn't be traveling by balloon.
Even already buried, he could have just been saying they could have just left the creature. Ana was going to say that exact same thing but Fiona walked away too quickly and I had to edit it out of my initial response to Robyn and Nevek
I had a bunch text Ana was going to say in response to Fiona being bitchy but after writing it noticed she had already walked away. So what I said above is if we were sitting around a table, when the mage Ninuel said "Miss Shelterweight", Ana would have cut him off and laid into Fiona asking her how two people with no shovel would bury a 5-10 ton creature? But we're not at the table. So I deleted it and wrote something about talking to Robyn and Nevek instead. No big deal. And I know who is who.
"This is the first I'm hearing about this," Ana said as she followed after Ninuel and the Second Commandant.
Oh right, that mage. I keep forgetting my own NPC is in the scene, that's always a great sign. Welp, I'm too tired to write any more at this point, so I'll give Ashur and Robyn's players another chance to respond, and if they don't I'll eventually respond to Mips's point.
"Sounds like we could all use a briefing on this subject. Let's all follow along and we can badger Shelterweight together. What can go wrong?" Robyn asks with a grin. He turns to Nevek, "Why don't you come along, son. You can fill us in on any more details if you have them. I suppose this is an army of men or other humanoids, not dragons. So what can you tell us about the nature of this "dragon" army? They worship or revere dragons or just fly standards bearing them?"
Nevek looks thoughtful at the tiefling sellsword's question. "Rare isn't quite the right word. 'Retiring' is closer. They're numerous enough, on the global scale at least, but they tend to spend most of their time in hibernation, brooding atop their treasure hordes. While their metabolism is partly magical, they're still flesh-and-blood creatures, so they need to burn energy in order to function, the same as any animal. To live for centuries as they do, they spend most of their time asleep, which means those who have political aspirations work through intermediaries a lot. Thusly, they're assumed to be rare, because nobody sees them most of the time. Presumably the battle you describe involved one dragon who was in league with this army of cultists, and another who was out of the political loop and thought he could succeed through his own sheer power. Both of them appear to have died for their respective ambitions, but the one who sided with a human faction may still have some allies surviving to carry on his goals, if he had any which were not completely selfish. There's a lesson in there somewhere, I'm sure..."