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[4E IC] ODAM: The Piece that Doesn't Fit

HylianbunnyHylianbunny Registered User regular
edited July 2011 in Critical Failures
The Lost Chronicles of Odam
The Piece that Doesn't Fit

Chapter 1 - Snowfall

"Behind you."

Lifting her great blade, the young elf took one steady step forward, and then another, quicker, barreling towards her foe. Light glistened behind Vanquisher as it swung forward, swiftly removing her quarry's head, and very nearly the young man he was fighting, who scrambled away in the nick of time. Grateful for the help, the curious young man backed away for the moment, giving Shyrilith an opportunity to observe.

A quick glance about suggested that the rest of her companions were faring well enough, given the circumstances - the halfling woman nimbly weaved through the battle with her hawk close behind, bolstering her allies when they needed it and guiding their blows with her own. The human seemed comfortable enough in the thick of things, grabbing his foes and tossing them about like ragdolls. Even the squire was holding his own, though he seemed to throw a glance every now and then in her direction.

In just a few moments the battle was over, greenish blood soaking the field covered in light snow. The forest of pine betrayed no movement, but all five of them were well aware that the danger was far from over.

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  • KimmerynKimmeryn Registered User
    Anderra's breathing begins to slow, watching carefully through the trees. "Where from Ismira did that come from? Is everyone alright?" Shaylyn, the brown, mottled hawk lands deftly onto her outstretched arm. Her gloved hand idly begins to stroke the feathers, as though gaining a sense of grounding from her devoted companion. The forest surrounding them seems to have gone suspiciously quiet, though the noise of the previous battle could be the cause. She decides to keep a watchful eye as she groups with the others, keeping her small sword unsheathed and her intricately carved instrument tucked under her arm.

  • starchaservastarchaserva Registered User
    Cole stares wide-eyed at his surroundings, his beleagured breath coming in sharp spurts. He looks left and right over the pile of bodies covering the ichor soaked ground, still unsure just what in the hells was going on. He pats himself for injuries, the mental fog lifting from his brain. It happened so suddenly. They were here, and gnashing and crushing and blood, and then, just as fast, it was over, like a bomb had gone off and he was the epicenter of the explosion. "I'm alive, I think"

  • ArcanisTheImpotentArcanisTheImpotent Registered User regular
    Shy let Vanquisher's tip thump into the hard-packed snow, her arms burning with the exertion of battle. She kicked the troll's head down the slope a little bit and leaned on the great blade for support. "There's a warren 'round here, I'd wager. We can either wait for them to come to us or go to them. Either way, it's bloody."

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  • starchaservastarchaserva Registered User
    Cole peers over the slope, watching the head roll down the hill like an incredibly ugly stone. He chokes back a throatfull of vomit and turns away. "I would rather do neither of those things. I didn't come here to get eaten by some frozen cave beast." Wrapping his arms around himself, the young scholar fights off the sudden bite of chilly wind as the adrenaline slowly starts to seep from his veins.

  • KimmerynKimmeryn Registered User
    The halfling keeps her eyes on the trees above, listening carefully. A studious gaze comes across her face. She looks up at the elf, "I know I'm of diminutive stature, but I am certainly no coward. I suppose the decision relies on whether or not we can scout out how many lie in wait. It would definitely be better to catch them off their guard than be hunted by," she glances toward the human male, Cole, "frozen cave beasts."

  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    "Sergeant Bollinar always said that ogre warrens were like mazes," the squire pipes up. "It seems unwise to enter that type of unfamiliar, enclosed area in the search for creatures who could crush us even as we fell them."

    Pausing to grab a handful of snow, he then uses it to wipe down his blood-smeared crowbar.

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  • HylianbunnyHylianbunny Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    The headless body still at Shy's feet twitches slightly as she leans on Vanquisher, and then again. Whatever the decision is, it's probably not a good idea to linger for too much longer.

    As the crew of companions thinks about their options the wind picks up slightly, rustling the branches all about them and dropping the temperature a few more degrees. It's certainly not too late to return to town, should it come to it.

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  • KimmerynKimmeryn Registered User
    After steadying Shaylyn and drinking in the calm that comes from stroking her companion, Anderra peers up to the group, "I agree with the Skyknight, a warren might be too much to handle. I say we head back to town, or at least find some shelter quickly." She shivers slightly from the cold, and moves under the cover of one of the feathery branches extending from the tree.

  • starchaservastarchaserva Registered User
    Cole shivers violently against the bitingly cold wind, rubbing his hands over his sides in an attempt to build up some added warmth. "This is too much...as much as I appreciate the help. I'm going to head back to town...get myself a strong drink and a warm bed. One far away from the snow and these creatures."

  • ArcanisTheImpotentArcanisTheImpotent Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Shyrilith shrugged. "You're the boss."

    Her heart yearned to pursue their foes and fulfill the dictates of the Elf-father, but they all plainly needed the coin. She hoisted Vanquisher from the snow and let it slide with a slick shunk into its place on her back. Varis had a point; troll warrens, something she was admittedly not familiar enough with, were labyrinthine and treacherous. The petite elf pulled her furs close and began the trek through the frosty wood toward Harling's Cross.

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  • starchaservastarchaserva Registered User
    "It's only logical. These are trolls. We are wholly un-prepared to deal with trolls. Especially large numbers of trolls. You want to charge headlong into a tunnel full of these foul beasts, be my guest." Cole pulls his hood down tightly over his head, trying to block out the howling wind. He followed after Shyrilith, mumbling to himself as he trudged through the increasingly deep snow. "I didn't come this far north to get eaten by something. I only wanted to raid the local library"

  • KimmerynKimmeryn Registered User
    edited July 2011
    The female halfling falls into line following her comrades. "We certainly do need to let the people know about what we discovered. It is imperative that no one else happens upon these trolls unaware." She makes a mental note to report the results of their investigation to Undersheriff Banumor. She knew that he would more than likely direct them back to investigate the warren, but it's better to get out of the snow. She gathers her coverings around her as the snow begins to fall lightly. Her mind takes inventory of what an expedition into such a tangled nest might require. She pulls back the fingers of her gloves and begins plucking at her lute and humming. A fog, only deep to those looking within, seems to surround the party, obscuring them from anything that might be lurking in the forest as they travel.

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  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    The young elf crunches through the snow, his clothing soaked from melt.

    "Might it not be best to at least locate this warren, though? If we head back now, all we have to tell them is that there are trolls out here, and I would wager that this isn't new information for them."

    Varis coughs lightly, as the increased air requirements of the march and his speech catch up with him.

    "But if we know where it is, our trip will have been less of a waste."

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  • ArcanisTheImpotentArcanisTheImpotent Registered User regular
    Shy grunted. "It wasn't a waste. The creatures lurking in the dark number a handful less. Still, I get your point. I'll volunteer, if that's our course. I think I can at least manage to find their hole without being detected."

    Cam Ithel's chosen continued forward in the marching line.

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  • KimmerynKimmeryn Registered User
    "I agree that it's wise to locate the warren." She eyes Shaylyn. "Perhaps sending my hawk ahead to scout the area would be prudent. I would hate for us to be ambushed. What do you think Shaylyn?" The hawk nips at Anderra's glove indicating her assent. She takes to the air quickly, her flight making almost no noise. Certainly no one would take her for anything but the hawk she seems to be. "It shouldn't take long for her to come back with some sort of sign that she has found the barrow. Then at least we'd have an idea of what direction we should head, but I think it would be important to make this a scouting mission. If we should come across any threat, we might bring the entire den upon us."

  • starchaservastarchaserva Registered User
    Cole peers over his shoulder back down the slope, then back at his wearied comrades. "The hawk would be a good idea, better than risking one of us in having to sneak all the way down there and putting ourselves in danger" He watches the hawk take off into the distance. "We came here to investigate the presence of a troll warren...we weren't supplied nor instructed to go beyond that and try to take that warren out. Do we even have the materials to burn out an entire barrow of these horrid things?"

  • KimmerynKimmeryn Registered User
    edited July 2011
    At the word "burn", a light seems to come across Anderra's face. "Burn, burn...." she taps her forehead, mouthing the words to a tune about trolls. "Oh! We need to burn that body..." she sings the one line, 'remember to stop troll's return, ever their body must be burned.' We need a flame right away." She pats her body looking for flint and steel. "All I have are these sunrods."

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  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    "That won't be a problem," replies Varis, grasping a pouch at his belt and shaking it. "I have more than suitable tools for starting fires, should it come to that."

    The young elf begins to scan the horizon, gauging which direction the trolls they had just slain had come in from.
    Spoiler:

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  • KimmerynKimmeryn Registered User
    At that moment, Shaylyn appears holding what appears to be the tattered clothing of two, maybe three different Ice Trolls. Anderra rewards her with a bit of ration pulled from her belt pouch. Shaylyn seems to scoff at the piteous reward. A few unintelligible clicks and whistles at the hawk and she explains, "Shay says we should hurry if we'd like to be sure that one we already vanquished doesn't rise again and turn the whole barrow into a rampage against the town. She also indicates that if we were to head southwest from the body of our troll, over a rolling hill, we would be sitting right on top of the cave entrance. She was able to steal bits of their clothing off their sleeping bodies, so sounds like a good time for an ambush. As you know trolls snore like the devil. I doubt they'd even hear us coming."

  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    "We should remain wary, though. Trolls are known to have guard animals, and you can imagine that anything they'd keep as pets are at least as ferocious as they themselves."

    The young elf then pulls a torch from his bag and puts a flint to it. Slogging to the body of the fallen troll, he thrusts the brand into the severed neck of the beast, cauterizing it.

    "That should do it," he says, holding the still-lit torch. "Perhaps it is best if we elves scout ahead of the party a ways, to get a better understanding of the tactical situation before we all go barging in."

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  • HorseshoeHorseshoe Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    "Good. Burn the bodies. Keep the heads. Right on schedule."

    Hal Waxworth pulled his embroidered cape back over one shoulder and cocked his head to the side, eliciting a series of cracks from his bullish neck. A student of history might have observed that he was the very picture of his line of brick-headed, bull-necked ancestors. He had a certain noble air (despite the fact that he had discarded squirehood - and thus potential knighthood - for militant adventure) even in the middle of a forest thicked steeped in mud, blood, and snow.

    He looked about him for a moment as he noticed that nobody was setting fire to the Trolls. The four people whom he'd managed to find in town were just standing there looking at him. It was as though they hadn't expected to find Trolls. Hadn't he told them?

    "I told you lot that we're hunting under the Decree on the way to the West Garrison, right?"

    Shy shook her head to indicate quite correctly that no, he had not.

    "Well even if that were the case, it's all the same that I'm telling you now. Troll heads are valuable, and the Garrison's the only place in leagues that will pay on 'em. That way when we get there, you get your gold just like we agreed."

    Getting paid in the money you'd earned. This was the logic of human nobility at its best. It's lack of sense was what made it impenetrable. Elven scholars often noted that it was the paradoxical nature of human thought that made them hard to understand, and even more difficult to oppose.

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  • HylianbunnyHylianbunny Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Flames licking the corpses hungrily do bring some warmth to those shivering in the cold, which is a start. The journey should only be a short one to West Garrison, and a warm meal and bed wouldn't go unappreciated.

    The tracks through the snow are clear enough that they could likely be seen by a blind man; Varis's judgment is that they head off to the north, though it seems they curve off after a short period. At the very least, it's some distance away and could be moved past without incident. The other thing that is called to his attention is the sound of snow crunching under heavy wooden wheels from the east, still faint. If it's a caravan passing through, it certainly seems like a dangerous route to choose.

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  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Varis motions for everyone to be quiet.

    "Someone approaches from the east. This is an odd place for anyone who isn't a troll or a troll hunter to be about."

    Without waiting for confirmation from the group, the young elf moves swiftly toward the new sound to get a better look, doing his best to remain unnoticed by whatever it may be.
    Spoiler:

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  • HylianbunnyHylianbunny Registered User regular
    Slipping through the trees and ice is not too much of a burden, and Varis is fairly sure he's made a quiet approach of it. The noise from afar looks to indeed be a wagon, rather large with a covered top. A heavily-bundled man sits on top as he guides the cart forward, rather taciturn and keeping his eyes on the road. The young Skyknight can pick up two voices from inside.

    "This was a bad idea." a man says first, the tone of his voice suggesting more than a little worry has set in. "It's not too late to turn back."

    "We are more than halfway to the garrison and Tasen is getting worse. We press on - end of discussion." a woman says, rather curt with the first man. "With luck we avoid any other t-"

    There is a very sudden pause in the conversation, perhaps as they listen for movement. When the moment passes they continue their argument, though in more hushed tones.

  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    Varis returns to the party.

    "They appear to be travelers, also headed to the garrison. They seem to be in bad shape. Perhaps they could use an escort."

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  • KimmerynKimmeryn Registered User
    edited July 2011
    Anderra looks at the troll carnage, glancing up at the snow. "I still think Banumor needs to be warned about these things," she turns up her nose at the smell, "being so close. Since my duty seems to be discharged here, I believe I'll slog back to Harling's Cross and make a report." She bows to the nobleman, allows Shaylyn to fly from her arm. The hawk takes wing, soaring slightly ahead of the halfling as she begins the trek back to Harling's Cross.

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  • starchaservastarchaserva Registered User
    Cole frowns, watching his employer trudge off through the snow back to Harling's Cross. He picks up his pace, hurrying to catch up with her on the way back to town.

  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    In the wake of the sudden departure of the others, Varis turns to his remaining companions.

    "I suppose that settles the matter of warning the garrison. They should be sending reinforcements as soon as they get the news. We should scout the area in preparation for the larger force."

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  • ArcanisTheImpotentArcanisTheImpotent Registered User regular
    Shy nodded. It was good at least to be traveling with another elf, especially a Skyknight (if only a squire). "Hal, Varis and I will sweep the area, by your leave."

    The human grunted; it was not an unusual reply. The smaller elf looked to her companion to lead the way.

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  • HorseshoeHorseshoe Registered User regular
    "Varis," Hal called after the Elf, "West Garrison may indeed be warned. But West Garrison is where payment awaits you, and nowhere else. That was the deal, as I said. And once there, I'm sure you can earn quite a bit more coin and reputation such as a Cavalier needs. Think on that before you consider the matter settled. Go ahead and sweep the area with Shy... I can wait a few moments for your answer."

    The young lord scratched the rough stubble at his neck and took a deep breath of the cold air. Though the company of adventurers was tricky, he'd always known Elves to be a dependable lot. He hoped that Varis was no exception.

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  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    "I haven't forgotten our final destination, Sir Hal. I only see an opportunity for earning even more coin and glory. If we find these warrens and are there for their cleansing, we would be in a position to collect many of those heads you want so badly."

    Varis hoped he'd phrased that in a way that was compelling to the human, but who could tell, really?

    "Shy, as you are the hunter of Cam Ithel's enemies, I defer to you on the hunt. But I would wish to accompany you to offer some degree of protection, as is my duty."

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  • HylianbunnyHylianbunny Registered User regular
    Anderra and Cole trudge off back towards Harling's Cross as the three deliberate for a moment longer; Hal taking a moment's rest by the still burning corpses as Varis and Shyrilith prepare to scout the area briefly. The light snowfall is picking up very slightly, as the afternoon starts to reach mid-point.

    The caravan which seems to be approaching presses forward, as the three suddenly hear a very loud swearing from the man leading it along. "Blasted wheels!" he mutters as he hops down, having not yet noticed the burning corpses and three standing aboout. Evidently he's not the most perceptive sort.

    Two other figures duck out the rear of the wagon, Varis very much doubting that they were the voices he heard from his earlier trip. A rather large dwarf (at least, wide around, if not particularly tall) jumps outside alongside an elderly man who truly looks ill-suited to the weather about them. The three surrounding the wagon seem to be conferring about how exactly to get it moving again, because this is not the best place to get stuck...

  • The Muffin ManThe Muffin Man Registered User regular
    "Wow, this is a rather unimpressive garrison, eh, Father?" Erik chuckled, quite pleased with his attempt at humor. He let out a quick shiver, and turned to the driver.
    "How far is it from here? Walking might be ill-advised, but if you're hearing things and with snow imminent, it might be easier to walk, or at the very least camp out here."
    The thought of a warm campfire filled Erik's mind. Crackling fire, roasted meats, burning wood...he could practically smell it now! Although, for some reason, the meat smelled rather gamy...
    Spoiler:

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  • ArcanisTheImpotentArcanisTheImpotent Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Shy moved toward the caravan warily and more importantly, quietly - with Varis in tow and the falling snow somewhat masking their approach, they stopped behind a pair of trees relatively close to the caravan, listening carefully to their words. They weren't trolls at least, though they were so far afield that it was hard to write it off as ordinary.
    Spoiler:

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  • Tiger BurningTiger Burning (poster is a bear)Registered User, SolidSaints Tube regular
    "Indeed, my friend, indeed.", chuckled the fat priest. He jumped off the back of the wagon. "Oof!"

    Turning to the teamster, "Tell me, goodman Dorrick, is there anything we might do to assist? Heaven's favor shines on the just and unjust alike, but it's been my experience that it shines with particular favor on those that don't tarry overlong in strange woods."

    He frowns and peers nervously into the surrounding woods.
    Spoiler:

    “You could tell by the way he talked, though, that he had gone to school a long time. That was probably what was wrong with him.”
  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    "They look to require aid," whispers the squire, still crouched behind a tree out of sight. "Perhaps we should approach them."
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  • The Muffin ManThe Muffin Man Registered User regular
    (Well normally, I'd wait for the DM, but I think we can figure out what Perception rolls vs Stealth rolls means, so in the interest of moving things along, I suppose!)

    Erik shrugged his slight shoulders as the Father seemed to be listening intently.
    "Did you even BRING a second axle, Dorrick?"
    The caravan driver mumbled and swore about strange sounds as he rifled through the back.
    "Oh come on...bloody..."
    The wizards brow arched, "Go on...'bloody' usually precedes a long string of cursing."
    "Bloody axles broken!" Dorrick barely leaned his head out.
    "Yes. That is our problem. The bloody axle broke. Because you drive like a tarrasque."
    Dorrick lifted a broken mass of wood and metal, "No. THIS bloody axle broke."
    He buried his hand in his brow and let out a few arcane curses.
    "Is there ANYTHING else that wants to go wrong? Maybe some wolves would like to have a snack of us?"

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  • Tiger BurningTiger Burning (poster is a bear)Registered User, SolidSaints Tube regular
    edited July 2011
    The old wizard's breath puffed into the frigid air. "Is there ANYTHING else that wants to go wrong? Maybe some wolves would like to have a snack of us?"

    From your mouth to the gods' ears, old man. There were eyes watching them from the trees nearby. First this unseasonable snow, then the axle, and now they were to be set upon by brigands or savages or worse. And he hadn't even reached the frontier yet! Why his great and merciful Lord chose to test his most humble and faithful servant so..

    He trundled over to where the mage was berating their driver. Speaking quietly in what he hoped was a casual tone, he said, "Ready thy selves, my sons. We are not alone.", and in a louder voice, "Yes, yes. I agree this will take some time to repair." He loosened his hammer in its belt loop and grasped his crook under his snow-white woolen robe.

    Tiger Burning on
    “You could tell by the way he talked, though, that he had gone to school a long time. That was probably what was wrong with him.”
  • Tiger BurningTiger Burning (poster is a bear)Registered User, SolidSaints Tube regular
    edited July 2011
    woops!

    Tiger Burning on
    “You could tell by the way he talked, though, that he had gone to school a long time. That was probably what was wrong with him.”
  • HylianbunnyHylianbunny Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    "Will you all be quiet?" Alinn hisses from the back of the wagon, emerging. She has a fine wooden longbow in her hands and is in the middle of nocking an arrow. "Anything in the bloody area could hear the three of you yammering about." The half-elven woman casts a worried glance about the area before stiffening and pulling the string taut. "Do you hear that?"

    There is an almost deafening silence interrupted only by the sound of the wind rustling the trees for a moment before the ground shakes. And then again, far too close. The sound of branches cracking is startling - how did that thing get so near without being heard? "You had better fix that fast!" Alinn shouts as she lets an arrow fly without luck.

    Varis, Shy and Hal are all well close enough to see the danger approaching; it looks as though a stray troll has stumbled upon a boxed snack.

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