Codex I-Chapter 2

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“I’m surprised that they left as much intact as they did,” Gorgoreth was saying. He was just inside the outpost gate, looking around. The sun was just coming up over the horizon, and the group, given the all clear by Kirza, had returned to the outpost. The goblins were long gone.

“Their objective was quite narrow-minded,” said Khaska. He turned to Amara, but looked up at the white raven perched atop his horns instead of at the sorceror herself. “Kirza was not able to see what it was?” Kirza had stayed behind to report on the goblins, able to stay out of firing range and keep an eye on their activities. The remaining ones had split off after hoisting up the bucket from the well and retrieving something. One of the remaining goblins, looked to be a leader of some sort, had a worg nearby. He had ridden off into the night, leaving the other goblins to walk. They had split off into three different groups, just as they had attacked.

"No," the sorceror said. "It was too far away. Whatever it was, it was pretty small."

“What disturbs me,” said Rynn, looking at the dead bodies in the center of the outpost, “is that I’m pretty sure there were three different tribes. Goblins aren’t that coordinated. Usually.”

“Well, maybe we can ask this one.” Orensland kicked one by the front gate. “It’s still alive.”

Just then, a shadow passed over the outpost. Everybody looked up to see the distant figure of a dragon. Even as high as it was, everybody could hear the sounds of its wings beating. The massive blue figured banked and circled before landing just outside the gates in a blast of dust and rock. On its back were two figures. The front on held the reigns, a human by the looks of him, wearing plate. The other one was a skinny female elf with robes.

The elf stepped down off of the dragon and began chanting immediately. After a moment her eyes began to glow and she looked around the outpost, starting with the charred corpses at the front gate. The human stepped down from the dragon, and everybody could see the pendant around his neck. One of the famed dragon orbs.

“Greetings, in the name of Markus the Noble,” he raised his right hand in a gesture of friendliness. “I am Gerald Reitman,” he looked around at the carnage and dead bodies everywhere, “and it looks like you had an interesting night.”

Eryx (DM)
You’ve found at least one goblin that’s stabilized and unconscious. As far as the situation of the outpost, the goblins destroyed the wellhouse, but left pretty much everything else intact. You haven’t really had a lot of time to search the outpost yet, though, before this Dragonrider arrived.

I took the liberty of rolling a spellcraft check for Amara, and got a natural 20. So she totally knows that the robed elf has cast Arcane Sight, and is looking around.

What will your characters do now with this unconscious goblin, the outpost, and now with this Dragonrider and his spellcasting friend? I should note, seeing one of the Dragonriders is extremely rare. Your characters would be quite flabbergasted.

BlackWolf
Rynn will welcome these dragon riding newcomers with his typical friendly attitude. He's happy to chat with them and tell what he knows about the goblin attack. He's curious as to what brings them here; whether they know something about the attack, the 'sacred stick', or if they were just passing by.

Rynn is happy to have his backpack back (at least I presume he's able to find it easily enough?). He doesn't like to carry it when fighting, but usually he doesn't have to leave it behind. Losing it would be an annoyance and he'd miss the waterskin, but there's nothing in there that would be hard to replace.

As for the goblin, Rynn wouldn't mind interrogating it though he realizes that it might not provide any answers. He doesn't necessarily want to kill it, but won't try to stop any that feel such action is necessary. Rynn associates most everything with nature, so he tends to treat people (and goblins) like animals to a degree (and animals like people). This goblin is like an injured coyote; could be dangerous, but less so without its fellows.

Rynn is very interested in what the goblins were after and has half a mind to track them. But his promise to help the party is more important, so he'll defer to that if there are any that would rather leave the desert than chase goblins. He'll definitely suggest the idea of tracking them though. If he were by himself, he'd certainly do so — but cautiously since he's injured. The ranger wouldn't mind a heal, if one were offered.

Sayyadina
Amara would scold Kirza about perching on Khaska again, and probably comment (very quietly) to him about the elf. Kirza would then fly over and ask (in Elvish, of course, since he speaks nothing else) her if she sees anything of interest.

Amara would greet the two strangers respectfully, a bit wary both of the elf's magic and the formidable reputation of the dragonriders. However, the majority of her attention is focused on the blue dragon. She would certainly attempt to converse with (him? her?) in Draconic, without asking permission or the like from the paladin.

  • Intelligence check to see if she knows the dragon's name (and anything else about him/her): 15 (12 + 3)
  • Diplomacy check to converse: 19 (16 + 3)

In conversing with the dragon, Amara would probably begin with something unusually deferential (for her, at least), such as, "Great and estimable Ziranethsrana, I am honored and awed by the opportunity to behold your majesty and hear your wisdom." If she proves amenable to conversation, Amara would inquire (extremely politely, and probably with more sympathy than most offer to a chromatic dragon) as to her opinion of (and life under) the Knights (and before, if her parents were free rather than being bred into captivity), such as the treatment of the dragons by the Knights, etc. Amara would also ask for any advice Ziranethsrana would offer, and ask if there is any way she might be able to be of service or use to the dragon.

At some point Amara would also like to recover her crossbow bolts from the dead goblins if possible before leaving—not terribly high on her list of priorities now, though. (edit: In addition, Amara would have cast Prestidigitation after they escaped to clean any dust/sand/blood off of her dress and overrobe, clean and neaten her hair, and in general maintain as immaculate an appearance as she can manage. Unless circumstances prevent it, she continues to do so every evening as long as she still has a cantrip usage left.)

Crosis

Because Orensland apparently shot his last bolt, he wouldn't mind restocking as well, if possible. He might even pick up a few other handy items off their dead bodies, if they have any.

Orensland would express respect for the Dragonrider. However, because roguery is probably looked down upon by one of fabled honor, he would try to be discreet about his abilities, unless the rider really doesn't have a problem with Orensland's preferred lifestyle (I don't consider taking from dead goblins to be too obvious). I doubt it, although maybe he treats the travelers in general as heroes because of their deeds from the previous night, who knows.

We might want to check up on that guard that fell from the wall (Jason?) before the attack began. He was "acting strange"— did he have a part in the attack, was he drugged, what? He could be important.

Also, I'm beginning to question the bard's hand in this. He helped our side in the attack, but he was acting anxious and split as soon as he could. If we could figure out a bit more about his background from those in the outpost- where he said he was going, where he said he was from, etc.- it could be useful information. I doubt we've seen the last of him.

  • Gather information: 9 (6 + 3)

I hope that roll wasn't necessary, as we all trust each other a bit more.

Thevarou
Khaska’s reaction to the dragon’s landing will probably start with awestruck surprise – it’s certainly a sign. He has never seen a live dragon before, and even though he realizes that it’s a blue dragon – whose kind was the bane of life in the Niktean Wastes in the ancient times, and would be wreaking havoc were it not enslaved – he can’t help but marvel at it. However, he is quick to note that the rider must be one of the Knights of the Silver Dragons. Even though the Jevereshk Maha’i are not as virulently against the Knights as those from Gtarrei, they still view the Knights with a certain amount of suspicion and wariness (and the feeling is probably mutual). The magic that the elf is using would lead him to suspect the couple’s intentions more.

Thus, he would follow Rynn up to greet Gerald and ask very similar questions (what are they doing there, whether it had anything to do with a sacred stick, why that stick was important and concerned the Knights, etc.), intently listening to the answers and trying to figure out what the rider’s purposes are. The fact that he has come into Maha’i territory (the last Maha’i settlement to the north, Ghazghet, is at the far northern edge of the Wastes and is still a day or so off) is incredibly significant, as the Knights simply don’t do that – and especially unannounced. Though Maha’i political organization is relatively decentralized, they like to regulate what passes through their borders. Khaska, after garnering what information Gerald is willing to give (whether to him directly or Rynn), will bluntly inform the Knight that news of his visit will be sent back to the Ruling Council of Jevereshk via courier when they pass through Ghazghet on the way to Hammerdine. He will stay for the duration of the conversation to represent his people and will try to listen in on what is being said in different languages (by casting “Comprehend Languages”).

Listen Check: 18 = 13 + 5
Sense Motive: 4 = 1 + 3

If there’s any other time, he’ll go into the fortress and scavenge some arrows to refill his quiver. He’ll also speak with Laalaresh about fulfilling the caravan’s mission, if possible, and retrieving what goods were not harmed. Even if very little of the caravan can be salvaged, he would suggest they still make their way to Hammerdine. He’s now willing to accompany them, for he’s intrigued by the vision he had last night and interprets the dragon’s appearance as a sign he should definitely continue with this party.

He’s also willing to heal whoever needs it most:
Cure light wounds: 6 = 5 + 1

Intelligence check (just in case, to try to figure things out): 21 = 19 + 2

DeltaWolf
Jenika would try to go with the flow, though she herself would like to go to Hammerdine. If the party feels that tracking the goblins would be good, then she would go with it without complaint (I don't know if she herself would be any good at tracking). She would have gained some trust in the group. She would try to get her stuff back (she would gladly help anyone else look for stuff, though she wouldn’t like to search dead bodies);

*Spot: 10 (rolled 8 + 2 mod)
*Search: 4 (rolled 3+ 1 mod)
what ever is needed

Jenika would shy away from the “dragon peoples”, but would be polite if engaged in confersation.

*Diplomacy: 10 (rolled 10 +0 mod)

The group was quite taken aback. The Dragonriders of the Knights of the Silver Dragons were renowned the world over. To have one suddenly appear was … unexpected, to say the least.

Rynn was the first to speak. “Yes we did. Goblins came here to retrieve something, apparently from the wellhouse. A ‘sacred stick,’ they said.” He smiled, striding forward, his hand extended. “I’m Rynn Fowler, and it’s an honor to meet you, Sir Reitman. What brings you to the Niktean Wastes?”

“Always a pleasure to meet an adventurer,” the paladin smiled, looking around the group. “Adventurers, by the looks of you.”

“I’m not sure about that,” said Khaska. The Maha’i was approaching, as Amara whispered something to Kirza, who flew off the cleric’s horns and landed on her shoulder. Sorceress and familiar spoke quietly to each other. “I am Khaska, of the Mawakhavi Maha’i. And what does bring one of the Knights to our territories?” He slightly emphasized “our.”

“We’re tracking a fugitive, and saw the carnage from above. I thought we could help.” He held out a hand, palm up, in a beckoning manner. “At the very least, let me heal you of your wounds.”

“That,” Orensland said, “would be most welcome.” The paladin muttered words as he touched each of the wounded in turn, his subtle magic mending flesh and sinew. Amara had approached by now, but declined to say anything. Kirza had flapped off to where the elf was now looking at the entrance to the storehouse they had hidden in.

“Find anything of interest?” The familiar asked from the roof, in elven.

The elf snapped upright, looking at the bird, then whirling towards the group, then back to the raven. “Whose familiar are you?”

Sir Reitman stepped back, his hand going reflexively to the sword at his side, loosening it a few inches in its scabbard.

Kirza flapped twice, moving up from her perch on the roof. The elf, eyes still glowing unnaturally, looked at those present, before muttering some more arcane words in the language of magic and touching the sides of her face, by her eyes. Her eyes swept over the crowd, her body tense, fingers out at the ready. Gerald also watched, bending his knees ever so slightly, his face suddenly hard.

The elf relaxed. “He’s not here.”

Gerald also relaxed, his hands dropping to the side, his body straightening out. “Do you know if he was here?”

“I can’t tell.” The elf was already back to looking around with her glowing eyes. “The spell doesn’t work that way. Unless there was something very powerful here for a long time, or a very powerful spell, it’s been too long.” She turned and looked at Rynn. “When did this attack take place?”

“Shortly before midnight.”

“What happened? Tell me!”

“Quilleh!” snapped the paladin. “Be respectful of our friends here.” Then he turned back to the group. “But it would be nice if we knew what had happened last night. We are in this area because we detected magic use that might be from the fugitive.” He turned and gave a slight bow to Khaska. “Time was of the essence. We did not want to wait for permission from your leaders.”

“Not like the Maha’i could keep us out of the skies anyway,” the elf snorted.

“Quilleh!” Gerald’s voice was angrier this time. She hushed up, still looking around the outpost, but jammed her hands into her robes. Again, the paladin turned to Khaska. “I must be frank, though. The reluctance of your people to help the Knights has been a mystery to me. We have ever tried to do nothing but serve the peoples of our world. And I meant no offense in coming here.” He smiled. “Come though, tell me of your battle! How did it begin?”

Jenika stepped forward. “I was the only one outside when the attack started.” As she began to tell the story, even Quilleh stopped to listen. The description of the guard who had fallen over the wall captured her attention.

“Probably dominated,” said the elf.

Gerald turned to her. “Would our fugitive have done that?”

“It wouldn’t fit his profile. He hasn’t done it before to my knowledge. But it is possible.” She looked back at Jenika, who had to glance back at the paladin.

He smiled. “Don’t let Quilleh intimidate you. She’s been recruited by the Knights to help track this fugitive down, but it’s been frustrating. I know she would rather be back in Dreqorun, at the university. Please continue.”

The group huddled around the paladin and the elf, telling their tale bit by bit.

Amara, however, was at the gate, looking at the dragon. The creature stared straight back at her, even baring it’s teeth ever so slightly. But the sorceress was not intimidated. She was fascinated. Being ever so slow, out of reverence, not fear, she edged closer. Her studies in her home city of Eskele had also involved a decent amount of dragon lore. There were only fifty-four Orbs of Dragonkind in existence. The good dragons were all dead. The evil dragons were either in hiding, or had been enslaved by the Knights. She knew all their names by heart. This had to be Ziranethsrana.

“Great and estimable Ziranethsrana, I am honored and awed by the opportunity to behold your majesty and hear your wisdom.” The sorcereress spoke in draconic, using the most formal version of the language, one reserved for ancient dragons, teachers, wizards of extreme power, or great leaders of nations. As she finished the sentence, she bowed low, falling to her knees in front of the huge creature.

The dragon edged its head closer. The two were now mere feet away, the great wyrm, and the white-haired sorceress. She raised her eyes, looking at the large head in front of her. The dragon gave no indication that it would respond, but continued to look at the human woman. It had, however, closed its lips fully. Its teeth were no longer bared.

Amara decided to push on, still in extremely formal draconic. “How do the Knights treat you, great one? I am interested because I have recently discovered a talent for magic. I may have dragon ancestry, and …” she paused, unsure how to continue, “you enslaved dragons may be the only ones left with the ability to explain such things to me.”

“Hey! HEY!!” Gerald was running towards her, hand reaching towards the Orb around his neck. The dragon reared back, as if struck by pain. “What are you doing?”

“Talking to your dragon. Don’t hurt him!”

Quilleh laughed, coming behind the paladin, but just walking. “You’re a brave one! Not many would walk up to an evil dragon just to chat.”

“And not many are concerned about the fate of a chromatic dragon,” the paladin said. He held up the orb. “If it were not for this, she would already have devoured you. Remember that. What business have you with a dragon anyway?”

Amara didn’t answer him, but instead turned back to the dragon. “I’m sorry to have caused you pain.”

The dragon bared its teeth again, but this time it was unmistakably a smile. The draconic it spoke was not formal at all, but was also not insulting. “Cherish the gift of your magic, little one, and perhaps some day you may find yourself in a better position to be of use.” The word for “of use” may have alternately been translated as “helpful,” but it was unclear which way the dragon meant it.

“You’re a sorcerer?” asked Quilleh. “Not a wizard?” Amara looked at her, then nodded. The elf smirked, then turned right back to Rynn. “You were saying? The goblins had begun pushing into the fort?”

“Right. Well, Gorgoreth here thought we should hide in the storehouse, easier to defend ourselves. He went to open it up, and then Elial cast a fireball spell to thin them out a bit.”

“Wait,” Quilleh stopped him, “who’s Elial?”

“Oh,” said Laalaresh, “he was a bard traveling with our caravan. Great guy. Just with us for safety. He paid well, and was most entertaining. Great bard.”

“Wait,” the elf said. “He was a bard? And he cast a fireball spell?” She glanced at Gerald. “That’s him.”

“Are you sure?”

“That fits his profile. He would risk detection to do something like that.”

“To help us?” asked Khaska, his arms folded.

The elf turned and gave him a withering stare, all the more unnerving because her eyes were still glowing. “Don’t be fooled, silly antelope man.”

With that, Gerald finally stepped forward and actually grabbed her arm. “That’s quite enough. I know you don’t follow the code, but while you’re with me you will keep a civil tongue to everybody you meet.” She began to open her mouth, but he thundered back before she could say anything. “Even the Maha’i that doesn’t trust me,” he slammed his chest, his gauntleted hand making a clanging sound, “one of the Dragonriders of the Knights of the Silver Dragons.”

She slammed her mouth shut, clenching her jaw. Her fists balled up, she turned back to Khaska. “Don’t be fooled. Appearances are not always as they seem.” She slunk back behind the paladin, who had calmed down, his face no longer flushed.

“I’m sorry about that,” he said. “I shouldn’t have gotten so angry.” He gave a wan smile. “My friends, we are looking for a dangerous rogue sorcerer. This Elial sounds like he might be him. Elven fellow? Long blonde hair? Well, half-redhead I suppose. Some might even call it brass-like.”

“That’s him,” said Orensland. “He was awfully nervous after the fight started.”

“After he cast the fireball?” asked Quilleh.

Orensland nodded. “Before that he was all for helping us, playing his songs, strengthening us. Afterwards … he just wanted to leave.”

“And now he has, what, a ten hour head start on us?” said Quilleh.

Rynn nodded. “That’s about right. His tracks indicated he was headed north, same direction the caravan had been heading.”

Gerald nodded towards the dragon, and Quilleh began moving in that direction.

“Before you go,” said Amara, “were you able to detect anything at the wellhouse? That’s where the goblins found whatever they were looking for. If Elial was behind the attack, would he have known that?”

“I didn’t detect anything, but I don’t have time—”

Sir Reitman interrupted. “You do have time. Your spell hasn’t run out. Your eyes still shine like the sun. Please, find the information they want.” The elf stomped off towards the well. Amara followed.

Khaska turned to the paladin, who was mounting the dragon. “Sir paladin, I will inform the Maha’i leaders of your intrusion.”

The Knight nodded. “I would expect nothing less from you. You all do well to be wary in such times as these. The heart of your sorcereress friend there is a good one, having compassion even for creatures such as these,” he patted the neck of his mount. “Your feeling serve you well. Soon Arkenos and Jenoa will converge and we will do battle for the fate of our world, as Markus the Noble did. Heroes will be needed. But,” he looked pointedly at Khaska, “there must be trust among our peoples. If there is not, I fear that the forces of Arkenos will carry the day. That is something that none of us want. If you are headed to Hammerdine, come to the chapter of the Knights there. I will gladly explain more there to you, Khaska of the Maha’i, but time is of the essence now for us.”

Quilleh and Amara came back, the elf talking quickly to Amara before getting behind Gerald on his large saddle. “Markus be with you all!” the paladin shouted.

“Markus be with you!” shouted Laalaresh. Gorgoreth simply raised his hand in farewell. The dragon looked at Amara for a moment, then spread its wings and pumped them, blowing sand and dirt everywhere. The great blue creature lifted off the ground and sailed away towards the north.

The sun was climbing higher into the sky, and the heat of the day was beginning to assert itself.

“Well,” said Rynn, “that was something you don’t see every day.”

“Didn’t expect a Dragonrider to take an interest in a random goblin attack,” said Jenika, who turned to head back inside the outpost. The rest of the people followed.

“They weren’t,” said Amara. “Quilleh, between trying to be insulted by the Knight and actually looking at the wellhouse, was able to detect something. She said it felt odd, not a powerful item, but something of magic had been there for a while. A very long while. Its influence had permeated the very well itself.”

“So Elial sent the goblins to get this item?” asked Orensland.

“She was pretty sure Elial could have just killed us all and taken it himself. Oddly enough, the attack and Elial being here appear to be unrelated.”

“Really?” asked Khaska.

Amara nodded. “That’s what Quilleh said.”

“And you trusted her?”

“No. But she was pretty dismissive of the idea that Elial would have needed minions to do his dirty work.”

Orensland broke into a huge grin. “Then I think it’s time we interrogated that goblin!”

“I think moving the goblin bodies out of the outpost should be our first priority, before it gets too late in the day,” said Rynn.

“As long as we get to keep stuff we find on them,” said Orensland. Jenika shuddered.

Rynn was already inside, looking around. “We ought to move this big guy first.”

“Check what’s in that bag at his waist first,” said Orensland.

Jenika glared at him, then moved away. “I’m going to retrieve the dead guard bodies,” she said. “At least we won’t be looting those.”

Rynn untied the sack from around the goblin leaders belt, and opened it up. He peered inside, and then dropped it quickly. “Um, there’s a head inside.”

Everybody stopped, looking at the sack. It was now obvious that the stain on the bottom wasn’t mud or something else.

Rynn again picked it up, dumping the contents out. The head sat in the sand.

Gorgoreth began to laugh. “Dragonriders, evil bards, goblin attacks, sacred sticks, and now the head of Jonathan of the Wastes!”

Khaska perked up. “The bandit?”

“The very same,” Gorgoreth still roared with laughter. “It’s your lucky day. Take that head to Hammerdine, to the Kleithera house headquarters, and you could get a substantial reward!”

Eryx (DM)
Okay, this is getting way too long. But the dragon interaction was so interesting! Well played, Sayya.

All of your injuries have been healed by Sir Reitman. Khaska did not need to use his spell. Sayya, the Spellcraft check you sent me over IM on the wizard’s spell, when they got all tense and ready to fight, was not high enough to determine the spell. And your character was distracted, so the spellcraft check on Khaska when he cast Comprehend Languages, was not necessary. She didn’t know he cast it. Khaska cast his Comprehend Languages when Gerald ran back towards Amara and the dragon, so he was privy to what Amara and the dragon said to each other once the rest of you were within earshot.

Those that want to collect arrows or bolts, roll a d10. That’s how many you will be able to salvage. The goblins also have many unspent arrows, so those of you not using crossbow bolts can use those to stock up if you want. Those are plentiful.

Rang is the name of the goblin. He’s pretty intimidated by the fact that there are eleven angry people, and just him tied up in one of the storehouses. He quickly spilled the beans and was quite cooperative.

A few weeks ago, his leader (the big goblin you killed) began acting strangely, and also passing around a pipe for all to smoke. It’s obvious to all of you that Rang is beginning to suffer from withdrawal symptoms. The red leaves that they smoked in the pipe were supplied by a human who visited the camp from time to time.

It appears that the human sent these drug addicted, more easily influenced goblins, to the outpost to get this “sacred stick.” It was a surprise to Rang that the other two goblin tribes had also been sent. All three tribes were all from about the same area just outside the wastes, though. So this mysterious human is somewhere centrally located.

So, to sum up.

1. Elial appears to be a fugitive of some kind that the Knights of the Silver Dragons are tracking. The fact that they sent a Dragonrider after him indicates that the Knights are serious about it, and that they consider Elial a decent threat.
2. The goblins were sent by a human to retrieve the sacred stick, whatever that is, from the well. The well had some kind of lingering magical presence that Quilleh could detect with her Arcane Sight, but she doesn’t think it was very powerful. It had just been there a long time. A very long time.
3. Quilleh was pretty sure that Elial’s presence was not related to the goblin attack.
4. You now have the head of Jonathan of the Wastes, a bandit leader known to prey on caravans. Apparently Rang’s tribe, on their way to the outpost, ran across the bandit camp and killed them all. You’re pretty sure if you followed their trail, that you could get some loot out of it, and it wouldn’t be out of your way if you decided to track the goblins. The goblins weren’t that thorough at the camp, but their leader did want the head of the bandit leader as a trophy. If you were to take the head to Hammerdine, to the Kleithera Merchant House headquarters, you could collect a substantial reward!
5. As far as looting the goblins, it’s apparent that they did stuff themselves with some coin at the bandit camp. You and the caravan guards have collected the gold. Your group specifically has 300 gold to divvy up.
6. There are a lot of goblin weapons, mostly shortswords, bows, arrows, a few shields, and some morningstars. Nothing of note really. It’s all mundane, and wouldn’t be worth all that much if you wanted to carry and sell it.

Laalaresh and Gorgoreth have sent a messenger pigeon to their merchant house’s headquarters, and the remaining caravan guards have been tasked to stay until reinforcements have arrived. Khaska has been released from his contract, and paid his full payment of 10 gold.

Rynn seems to be in favor of tracking the goblins, as per the last gray box. Gorgoreth thinks this is a good idea. He wants to know what is going on, but doesn’t have the manpower to send people himself. The guards need to stay until reinforcements arrive. Gorgoreth can’t guarantee a reward without permission from the leaders of the Merchant House, but would really like you to go after the goblins, just to see what was going on. Laalaresh is just so grateful that you rescued him, he promises to make it up to you if you ever get back to Hammerdine when he is there.

Also, Sir Reitman did invite you to visit the chapter of the Knights if you get to Hammerdine.

As far as the narration, I’ll work this all in as I can when I start the next post so the actual story parts remain coherent. But that’s the information you have.

What do you want to do?

Edit: Also, there's a dead goblin in the well. Drowned.

Blackwolf
First of all, I suggest we just split the money equally: 60 gp per character. I've taken the liberty of marking my inventory with my own share.

Yes, Rynn is most interested in tracking the goblins. He's curious about what's going on there regarding the stick and whoever may be manipulating the goblins. It plays to his strengths, after all. Going to Hammerdine holds little interest for him. He doesn't care overly much for money, so getting the bandit reward isn't a draw for him — especially since he'd feel a little awkward receiving a reward when they didn't kill the bandit themselves.

"My new friends," he'll say, "I'd like to track these goblins and find out what this attack was all about. And I could use some good company. However, I haven't forgotten my promise to take you out of the wastes, so if any are still keen on that, I will assist you."

Rynn has a passing curiosity in what's going with Elial, especially since he was so pleasant. But he's not wanting to track the fugitive down, especially since he's reported to be so dangerous.

Also, over time Rynn will ponder what Elial and Sir Reitman said about them being 'heroes.' The ranger doesn't consider himself to be one — he just did what he thought was right.

Crosis

I agree with splitting the money evenly. It's a nice sum for each of us. Also, my roll for crossbow bolt scavenging is 2. Blast. Is there any way to get more bolts from other people/the caravan? Possibly for free, as they won't need their own crossbow bolts for a while and they feel indebted to us? I get the feeling we'll need long-distance offensive weapons in the near future. Just in case I can, here is my diplomacy check:

  • Diplomacy: 16 (12 + 4)

Orensland would agree with Rynn in following the goblins for a few reasons. He's intrigued by the sacred stick, we get the element of surprise (Orensland's favorite form of offense), and is feeling a kinship with the other travelers despite his usual preference of social independence. Well, maybe not with Jenika. Ill feelings between those two, but you get the idea. I doubt the bandit camp has much left after the goblins went through it, but we might find something of worth should we agree to travel through it. It should be on the way anyways.

Agreed, Elial is not one to be immediately meddled with. If he's dangerous enough to send a dragon rider after him, we wouldn't do well with a direct confrontation.

After the goblins, Orensland would want to continue to Hammerdine. In fact, he'd like to be done with the goblins as soon as possible. Traveling to Hammerdine was his original intention, and it seems that traveling to the city has much the same prospect as traveling to a gold mine. Sorry, he has no qualms with gaining a reward for the head, maybe even fudging the story to make it look like we killed him. Free cash is a wonderful thing. Furthermore, it seems we have a few friends in high places over there. Laalaresh could come in handy should we need any particular supplies, and I doubt it will ever hurt to have the respect of a dragon rider. And who knows? we might be able to help with tracking Elial. He was heading in the general direction of Hammerdine, maybe somebody there will remember him. If he's posing as a bard, we can check out a few taverns, but again avoiding a direct confrontation. But Hammerdine events won't happen until after the goblins, so we'll talk about that later.

Oh, and Orensland'll carry the head if nobody else is willing. Is there a stench penalty for hiding that could put his life at risk at the goblin camp? If so, never mind, Orensland would want somebody else to carry the head.

DeltaWolf

Firstly Jenika would pick up (rolled 5) bolts and give them to Orensland. Again she is perfectly willing to track the goblins, as well as share the Gold evenly. But she has no desire to carry the head.

Jenika would find Amara’s talking to dragons as unnerving and therefore will try to sense her motive.

  • Sense Motive: 14 (10 rolled +4 mod)

Sayyadina

Opposed Bluff check: 19 (12 + 7). Amara's not trying to project any particular motive, but is unwilling to discuss what she perceives as her own personal business with others.

Rolled 6 for reobtaining ammo.

As far as what to do next, Amara would like to head to Hammerdine when possible: it's been her destination all along, with the added incentives of possibly collecting a reward and learning more about the Knights. She wouldn't really be inclined to 'embellish' the story behind the acquisition of the head, but neither would she counter it if Orensland did.

Goblin-wise, Amara doesn't mind going with the others to track them on the assumption that it won't take long, and she's more than willing to see what can be acquired at the bandit camp. Moreover, she's really interested in whatever was in the well. Random Knowledge (arcana) check to see if she's heard of any magical items goblins are terribly fond of: 22 (15 + 7).

Regarding Elial, Amara's very interested in finding out more about him, but not terribly inclined to risk her own neck, especially when she feels no particular allegiance towards the Knights. If she finds a way to acquire more information, such as running into others who've encountered him or are seeking him, she'll actively pursue it.

Thevarou
Despite Sir Reitman’s attempts at diplomacy, Khaska still harbors doubts about the intentions and methods of the Knights of the Silver Dragons. He is very interested in the Knight’s invitation, however, and his primary goal at present is to get to Hammerdine to meet with the chapter of the Knights located there; he is not so dogmatic as to completely ignore the other side of the story, but he wishes to discuss the Knights’ history and why the Maha’i distrust them – and perhaps correct their view of the past. Besides that, he is extremely interested in learning about the dragons, which he considers to be signposts divinely directing him onward and their keepers. Tawru’s dragon, after all, was a blue dragon much like this one, the first he’s ever seen. DM Edit: Thevarou and I are still working on the backstory of Tawru, but he would not have been a dragon rider. More on this as Thev and I work that out.

He’s also curious as to why the Knights would be after Elial, and with his present suspicions about the Knights, he would be interested in talking with Elial about it. However, that’s just a passing notion, and he won’t pursue it actively.

Given his interest in continuing to Hammerdine, the idea of tracking goblins through the desert is not terribly appeasing, even though he, as a Maha’i, is an expert in survival. Nevertheless, he feels that it would be useful and altogether more pleasant to continue into the unknown lands north of the Wastes with this group, and will thus agree to offer his services in tracking down the goblins. The sacred stick is also intriguing to him, and he’ll attempt to recollect anything about the goblins’ religious practices that might involve such magical artifacts now that he is no longer in the midst of battle.

Knowledge (religion) check: 25 = 19 + 6

Survival Check: 14 = 9 + 5

During the scavenging, Khaska managed to pick up 10 arrows, and he wonders if the travelers shouldn’t leave some of the rummaged money for the guards. That said, he’ll take what is considered to be his fair share. He’s also not opposed to presenting the head to the leaders of the Kleithera Merchant House once they arrive in Hammerdine, but he would relate to them the true story as to how they acquired it and suggest that they split the reward evenly amongst themselves.

“I’m all for heading to Hammerdine when we’re done here,” said Amara. Trudging through the desert just to track down random goblins wasn’t exactly what she had come here to do, but the thought of bandit treasure and the curiosity of what this “sacred stick” was had certainly helped her come along. At least now it was getting towards evening their second day out from the outpost. The sun was dipping towards the horizon, and the air was dropping from scorching to merely hot. However, along the way neither she nor Khaska had been able to think of anything in particular that the goblins would be interested in.

Rynn had reminded them that the captured goblin, Rang by name, had spoken of a human that had delivered red leaves to the tribal leader of the goblins. The leader of Rang’s tribe, whose body was now baking in the sun by the outpost, had passed around a pipe with the leaves in it to the members of the tribe. It had been obvious that the goblins had been extra malleable when addicted to this substance, whatever it was. This process had, it seemed likely, been used on the other two tribes. The human was who they were after. It was he who had sent the goblins to the outpost.

Between the ranger and the Maha’i cleric, food and water were easily found, even in the harsh Niktean Wastes. They had journeyed for two days, following the goblin tracks. Orensland happily carried the sack with Jonathan’s head. The group had agreed to at least deliver it to the Kleithera Merchant House’s headquarters in Hammerdine, to alert them that Jonathan had been killed. As to take credit for the kill … that was a matter still being debated.

Kirza alighted on a rock a few yards away. “Camp close. Just over the next hill.”

Rynn turned back from where he was leading. “Well, let’s see what the goblins left us.”

Orensland smiled, and picked up the pace from the back of the pack. Jenika gave him a hard look as he pushed past them to Rynn. “I hope they weren’t too thorough,” he said.

“Is this what you rogues like to do? Steal from dead people?”

“Living ones, too,” he smiled back. But then he grew slightly more serious. “Honestly though, I only steal from those that can afford it. To give to those that are less fortunate. Besides, what a waste to just let the loot sit here in the …” they had crested the hill.

The bandit camp lay before them. Bodies lay strewn about, mostly bandits, but a few goblins, probably from Rang’s tribe. They had been in the sun for several days, and a slight stench hit the noses of the party. Amara covered her nose with her sleeve, grimacing.

“… sun,” Orensland finished lamely.

It was obvious the attack had been haphazard and sudden. The tents were still standing, though dropping from not being upkept for a few days, and many of the bodies were dressed in what looked like sleeping clothes. Very few of the bandits had armor on. But by one of the tents that had fallen over a large chest could be seen. A sturdy lock kept the lid shut.

“Let’s check out that chest,” Amara said, as she began to walk down the hill.

Orensland grabbed her arm. “Wait!” He pointed towards the far end of camp. A small pack of dogs was feasting on several bodies. She had missed them.

“Danger, mistress!” her familiar cawed. It looked over to their right, into the setting sun, where a vulture was sitting atop one of the tents, gnawing on something.

Rynn looked at the pack of dogs. They had begun slinking towards the group. There were a number of them, but not all were approaching. It was clear they had just eaten, and were not feeling inclined to leave. The lead one bared his teeth, and a low growl came from its throat.

Khaska looked over at the vulture, whispering. “The vulture probably will not leave without a fight either,” he said. “They’re very protective of their finds, and can be quite aggressive.”

Eryx (DM)
To be clear, your group had 300 gold just for you. The caravan guards got their fair share. I used Rynn and Khaska’s survival rolls (Rynn from Chapter 1) and you were more than able to provide for the entire group as you traveled, so you have not used up any rations. Rynn’s survival check was also enough to follow the tracks for Rang’s group.

DeltaWolf, your thought to aid is admirable, but the d10 rolls are for the individuals each that fired them, and were meant to represent the number of bolts/arrows that survived and were scavengeable. Crosis’ roll stands for himself. He only has 2 bolts. But everybody who uses a bow can pretty much have as many as they want, since the goblins were carrying bows too.

You are at the bandit camp, and appear to have run afoul of a few scavenger animals. There are a number of dogs (think dingoes) and a vulture. The dogs have spotted you, the vulture has not. Please roll initiative and give me three rounds of actions. You’re fully rested and healed, and also have the full range of your spells prepared and available.

Spring Break is over for me, so I won’t be able to post as quickly from now on. My personal goal is still to do so within 3 days of you all posting.

Blackwolf
Well, I briefly thought about trying my wild empathy skill, but then realized that it wouldn't really help much even if I rolled a 20.

Rynn is only mildly curious about the camp, so he wouldn't be opposed to just going around and avoiding the confrontation altogether. A ranger knows that surviving in the wild means you don't take on every fight you come upon. After all, the human influencing the goblins probably wouldn't have been from this camp. But he realizes the others may want to investigate and loot, and from a metagame perspective I wouldn't mind the XP. :D

If the group wants to fight, Rynn will warn them to be careful. Their numbers could be dangerous, but I think we can take them. If we fight, Rynn will use his longbow:

  • To hit: 13 (rolled 10 + 3 bonus). Damage: 4 (roll, no bonus).
  • To hit: 15 (rolled 12 + 3 bonus). Damage: 6 (roll, no bonus).
  • To hit: 8 (rolled 5 + 3 bonus). Damage: 5 (roll, no bonus).

Crosis

Yeah, Orensland would be all for killing the animals and looting the camp. That chest has his name all over it and more XP is always welcome. Besides, something tells me that bandits would have crossbows, and those of us with crossbows could do with a complete reload in case we battle the goblins later.

How far away is the vulture? It seems that it is occupied and does not know about the travelers' presence. It would be my first target, because if it's within 30 feet (they didn't see it at first because of the glaring sun, but it could still be close enough) I can do a sneak attack shot on it. If not, take off the bonus I added. If Orensland is successful, or if others want to give it a shot as well, we don't have to worry about the scavenger. If I miss, I'd like to shoot at the vulture again. If I hit it, the dogs. As my third attack, I would probably use my dagger- the question is, can I get that back afterwards? It has personal value for Orensland and he would not want to risk losing it. But it would probably be much easier to find than bolts shot in the dark. Anyways, if I can lose it, I'd draw my longsword and attack the first beast to come at me.

  • Initiative: 18 (rolled 13 + 5)
  • To hit: 6 (rolled 1 + 5 bonus). Damage: 11 (roll 7 + 4 sneak attack).
  • To hit: 25 (rolled 20 + 5 bonus). Damage: 16 (rolled 8 x 2 critical hit)
  • To hit: 7 (rolled 4 + 3 bonus). Damage: 6 (3 + 3 STR)

Thevarou
Khaska feels no particular inclination or will to take on a fight (besides, this is nothing exciting - stray dogs in the desert are mangy pests, that's all), but if the others decide upon that as their course of action, he’ll join them. There might, after all, be something useful in the camp, whether it be materials or hints as to the identity and intentions of the goblins that attacked them or the human under whose influence they were. However, he’ll wait for the animals to be aggressive before he himself attacks, which means he’ll wield his scimitar instead of using his bow.

  • Initiative: 17 = 17 + 0
  • To hit: 16 = 15 + 1 Damage: 4 = 3 + 1
  • To hit: 14 = 13 + 1 Damage: 7 = 6 + 1
  • To hit: 21 = 20 + 1 Damage: 4 = (1 + 1) x 2 (crit)

DeltaWolf

Initiative: 9 (8+1)

(I would like the XP) Jenika wouldn’t care either way whether they go to the camp or not. Attack wise she would do one of two things; one, wait for the long distance attackers to thin them out, then attack. OR two, wait for them to get close enough to her then attack.

Move+attack

  • To hit: 4 (2 rolled + 2STR) Damage: 4 (2 rolled + 2STR)

OR
Wait for them to come to Jenika

THEN
Flurry of Blows

  • To hit: 8 (8 rolled +2STR -2 Penalty) Damage: 4 (2 rolled + 2STR)
  • To hit: 2 (2 rolled +-2) Damage: 5 (3+2)

Flurry of blows

  • To hit: 1 (1 +-2) Damage: 3 (1+2)
  • To hit: 16 (16 +-2) Damage: 8 (6+2)

Also if the waiting to come to me would take more then one round then to ahead and disregard any attacks that she wouldn’t be able to make.

Sayyadina
Amara probably wouldn't normally care about the camp enough to go to the trouble of fighting off creatures, but between the magic stick and the fact that others want to fight she's willing enough to help out. As per usual, crossbow attacks on the dogs unless things start going horribly wrong. (Also, Amara had 40 bolts to begin with and only lost two post-battle, so if Orensland is close she could hand him a few.)

Initiative: 20 (18 + 2 Dex)

Given that initiative, Amara would probably hold her first attack until someone else attacks, since she's not particularly inclined to be the target of the dogs or the vulture.

  • To hit: 16 (14 + 0 BaB + 2 Dex). Damage: 2
  • To hit: 18 (16 + 2). Damage: 7
  • To hit: 11 (9 + 2). Damage: 6

Rynn nocked an arrow. “We’d better be …”

Orensland cocked his crossbow, aimed at the vulture, and fired.

The shot went wide, and the bird raised its wings in an intimidating manner, shrieked, and began to glide towards them. But Orensland dropped it with another crossbow bolt.

“Careful?” the elf said, grinning as he drew his shortsword and turned on the dogs.

The pack was still slowly advancing, clearly looking for a fight. Rynn drew back his bow and fired. The arrow made a small puff as it hit the dirt just in front of the lead dog. The others in the group also drew their weapons. Jenika stepped in front, hands at the ready, crouched down. Khaska also prepared for melee combat, drawing his scimitar.

The others rained arrows and crossbow bolts down on the closest dogs. Amara dropped a few bolts on the ground and Orensland reloaded them into his weapon. The lead dog yelped, an arrow from Rynn and a bolt from Amara in its side. It dropped to the ground, blood pooling beneath it. But the rest of the pack charged.

The group managed to get another round of shots off as the wild animals came at them. Amara dropped another one, and Orensland buried a bolt in the neck of one, but it kept coming. Khaska stepped forward, making contact as the snarling beasts closed the gap between them. His scimitar bit deeply into its flank, causing the beast to yelp in pain. Several of the animals were attempting to bite the monk and the cleric, but their snapping jaws were ineffectual. Jenika managed to fend one off, but did not land any blows before a fellow dog joined in attacking her.

Amara, Rynn, and Orensland all fired at the dogs still coming up from behind. One of them whimpered and stumbled before lying still. But now the rest of the snarling pack was upon them.

Khaska buried his scimitar in the head of one of the beasts as three of them savaged the Maha’i, drawing blood. He dropped down to the ground. Jenika fought off three of the beasts, as Orensland and Rynn drew their swords and advanced to help. The rogue completely missed, but the ranger managed to connect with his target, killing yet another dog.

Only the three remained that were attacking the monk, but Jenika grabbed one by the neck and twisted with a resounding crack. The lifeless creature tumbled to the ground. The two remaining dogs snarled and barked, but retreated before the group, loping off into the desert, one of them trailing blood.

Rynn nocked an arrow and fired at the injured one. He missed. He fired again, this time connecting. The creature yelped once, and then died. The last dog vanished behind some of the tents of the bandit camp, clearly in retreat.

Khaska was badly wounded, barely able to stay on his feet. The cleric chanted a quick prayer and placed his hand on his chest. Divine magic flowed through him, and his wounds rapidly closed. He was able to breath easier, blood no longer in his throat.

Rynn was there to support him as he straightened up, still slightly shaky. “You all right, my friend? Those dogs gave you a thrashing.”

“Thank you, yes. I believe that I will be alright.”

Orensland was also there to lend a hand.

Kirza was fluttering around the camp, then came and landed on Amara’s shoulder. “Nothing else here,” it squawked in elven.

“The camp is clear,” the sorceress said. “That was the last of them.”

As soon as it was evident that the Maha’i was alright, Orensland immediately went for the chest. Amara was also very interested in that, but the other three seemed to hang back.

The chest was locked. Scraping by the padlock indicated that others had tried to open it by breaking the lock, probably the goblins.

“Well, that’s no good,” the rogue said. Frustrated, he trudged off to see what else he could find. After Orensland went through the clothing of each individual bandit, Jenika began rounding up the bodies and lining them up. This included the headless body of Jonathan of the Wastes. After a moment, the cleric joined her. Orensland was busy going through their pockets and the various tents. Rynn kept an eye out for other animals or intruders, though he doubted there would be others. Amara also looked around the camp, though not nearly as thoroughly. However, it was she that found the toolkit in one of the bandit tents.

“Orensland!” she called. The elf’s head poked out of another tent. “I think these are rogue tools. Could you use it to … ”

“Pick the lock!” The elf snatched them out of her hands and in a moment was grappling again with the lock.

Everybody crowded around, their curiosity getting the better of them, but the lock snapped right open. The elf looked in amazement at the toolkit. “I think I’ve found a new friend!” he said.

“Well,” said the sorceress. “Open it.”

He stood up and kicked open the chest. Inside was a pile of money and a few other knickknacks. The rogue rubbed his hands together greedily. “Excellent!”

“That’s all you can think about!” Jenika said, hands on her hips.

“What?” the rogue shrugged. “It’s not like they’re going to use it.” He indicated the bandit bodies. “You would rather it just sit here?”

Jenika turned and left to finish collecting the bodies. The group spent the night in the camp, using the available firewood, before pressing on in the morning. While they broke camp, Khaska prayed over the collected bodies, all lined up. Orensland stood by him, strangely solemn, but Rynn pushed them to leave before it got too hot. The goblins trail was still leading them onward, out of the wastes.

I took a few liberties with the combat since it appeared Orensland would just start by attacking the vulture. Orensland used up both his bolts, and one of Amara’s. Everybody else that used ranged weapons used three pieces of ammunition. You smoked those dogs rather quickly, killing 8 of the 9, and also the vulture.

I also took the liberty of having Rynn put the injured dog out of its misery, and of having Khaska cast Cure Light Wounds on himself. Seemed like something they would both do. If I overstepped my bounds, we can retcon those actions. Khaska went from full health to 0 hitpoints in one round, but luckily that round also saw all three of the beasts attacking him die. However, after that heal and casting Cure Minor Wounds on himself before going to sleep, and with a good night’s rest, the Maha’i is back to full health.

You earned 310 XP from the fight. That should put you all at 960 XP, if I’m doing my calculations right.

Orensland, you rolled a 20 on the open lock check once you found the tools. Inside the box was a good amount of loot. You found:

400 gold in platinum coins. (40 coins, .8 lbs).

540 gold in gold coins. (540 coins, 10.8 lbs).

60 gold in silver coins. (600 coins, 12 lbs).

30 gold in copper coins. (3000 coins, 60 lbs).

A jeweled headband. (3 lbs).

2 vials of some kind of dark green liquid. (1 lb total).

A candle in an ornate candlestick. (1/2 lb.)

Basic supplies were scattered throughout the camp. You can say that your characters restocked on crossbow bolts, arrows, rations, etc. Let me know what you took from the camp, but I moved the story ahead anyway. Don’t want to get bogged down in loot details we can just work out in these gray boxes.

Blackwolf
Rynn just grabs a few arrows to replace the ones he fired. He isn't terribly interested in the contents of the chest and won't be actively seeking a portion of it. If Orensland wants to share, he'll gratefully take some coins. But otherwise he really doesn't care. Rynn is just glad everyone is OK and that we can make use of the camp before pressing on.

Crosis
Orensland is glad to be restocked with crossbow bolts and some loot. Orensland would agree with splitting it evenly if the others want it, which I should think they do. He's more interested in the platinum and gold, as they are more money for less weight. Orensland would also like about 10 silvers and coppers. As for the other tidbits, he'd wonder if we should just sell them in the city once we get there, or one of the girls could keep the headband, whatever they want. Is there any way to identify the dark green liquid?

Thevarou
Khaska concurs that the money should be equally divided between the members of the party. Like Orensland, he won't want too many coppers or silvers, just enough to have change on hand. He will also restock on rations, but other than that, there's not much he'd like.

Sayyadina
Amara agrees about the money, and also isn't terribly keen on carrying overly much. She's curious about the liquid and the headband, and will cast detect magic to study the objects. In addition, here are Spellcraft and Knowledge (arcana) for any more information about the headband (if it proves to be magical) and the vials, and an Appraise check to estimate the value of the headband, vials, and ornate candlestick.

Spellcraft: 24 (17 + 7)
Knowledge (arcana): 11 (4 + 7)
Appraise: 20 (14 + 6)

Eryx (DM)
Amara, you detect a faint enchantment on the candle. The rest of the items appear to be non-magical. Rynn and Khaska are both pretty sure that the green vials are antitoxin.

BlackWolf
Sounds like Orensland is offering everyone a share, so Rynn will happily accept the generosity. Although always friendly, he's really warming up to this group. He'll take 8 pp, 100 gp, 100 sp, and 100 cp. No need to weigh himself down with copper that he doesn't need.

Eryx (DM)
Also, Amara appraises the headband at around 6k gold.

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