Woodland Hall has changed but little since last the Fellowship set foot inside the settlement. Wuduseld itself stands proudly clear of the nearby trees like a sentinel tower for all the Woodmen. About it, storehouses, workshops and the dwellings of prosperous inhabitants cluster together by the cut-away sides of the central hill, or on the gentler slopes closer to the trees.
The watchers in the lookout-towers call out in challenge as the small party arrives, their feet weary and their horses' coats full of burrs, but upon hearing the names of the new arrivals they make them welcome and send a young runner to gather the elders in the great hall. There, before the great and carven doors they are met by a friendly face, and one that for Grimbeorn especially brings back happier memories. Standing upon the front steps, her wedding finery swapped for a homespun gown and a child of perhaps three winters hefted on her hip, but with a smile as inviting as it was years ago, Verwyne daughter of Vingal (https://rpg.avioc.org/boards/index.php?msg=23805), once of the folk of the Sunstead, greets them.
"Well met, friends of my people," she says, performing a lop-sided curtsey with considerable aplomb. Turning then to Grimbeorn, she adds "We have heard even here of the tragedy that followed your wedding day, and were greatly saddened by the tale."
:ooc: I'm just throwing this open for any RP you guys want to do before we press on to the grimmer business of the day.
Try as he might, he could not deny her a look of pain at that memory, of his last memory of the woman before him, and of all the trials that have come from them. A muffled "thank you" was all he gave but quickly brushed it aside. "We thank you for your hospitality, but will not be long, as we must meet with your husband with earliest convenience. My friend, Arbogast, if you recall, of the Black Tarn and his people are in dire need of assistance. Will you see us in?"
Quote from: EclecticonStanding upon the front steps, her wedding finery swapped for a homespun gown and a child of perhaps three winters hefted on her hip, but with a smile as inviting as it was years ago, Verwyne daughter of Vingal, once of the folk of the Sunstead, greets them.
:ooc: What a great call back! I am bummed that the old data has been purged and we no longer have her picture. I guess Brandon purged some of the old attachments from our games. I will have some content added tonight.
Hathcyn felt keenly each passing hour. He knew the council of men was slow to move, but realized too just he and his companions could not turn the tide. So remained patient but deliberate.
:ooc: Got anything for us, Doug? Otherwise I'll move the story on in a few hours.
"My husband?" asks Verwyne, momentarily confused. "Oh, but you are mistaken! Aodhan, my husband, is surely a respected man, and many of his carvings adorn our hall, but he is not among the elders of the House. But if you speak truly, now is hardly the time for such trifles! Come. I bid you enter Wuduseld
as its free and honoured guests." After curtseying once again, she passes through the great portal that stands ajar to let in the cool and fresh air of the evening, the companions following at her heels.
All anticipate the half-light within after the still-bright sky without, but as he passes over the threshold Hathcyn finds himself unable to suppress a grin of amazement at the grandeur of the famed hall. For everywhere he looks, clever carvings abound so that it seems that barely a single surface can be found that does not bear some cunningly-wrought device, or depict some tale forgotten by all Men save those that dwell within these high-gabled walls. He finds himself wondering whether, perhaps, the building and passing of the dwellings and forts beyond the edge of the forest might be recorded here, and some lore-speaker found to put names to the kings and heroes of old whose likenesses now stand in mute record on walls, beams, pillars and transoms, so finely wrought by Aodhan and those who preceded him that the flickering of firelight and shadow gives them the semblance of life and motion.
Esgalwen, too, finds herself drawn to the carvings, her heart whispering to her that here is a reason, should she give in to it, to set aside her cares, leave the battle to come to more war-like hearts and learn what must be a history to fascinate and enthral one who has ventured far and learned those of many peoples.
Little time can either spare for the beholding, however, for Grimbeorn, having paused to lay Bear Claw by the threshold in the care of the doorwarden, strides forth to where the elders are taking their seats around the hearth. There, meat, salt and ale are given and greetings exchanged. Ingomer Axebreaker is last to take his seat, and it is clear to the the Ranger and the Bear's Son that he is a man diminished from when they first beheld him at the folk-moot, just as their own stars have risen. His three-score years he carries heavily, and not until he has shifted uncomfortably in his carven chair for some moments does he raise his eyes to look to the three travellers. With a clear sigh, he speaks. "Hail to you, who have crossed miles to come here. Would that you bore better news, or that I did not suspect already what you should ask of us."
:ooc: We're starting an Encounter, with all that that entails. Let's do some opening Insight rolls: Esgalwen
:00: 1d12 : 9, total 9Grimbeorn
Rolled 2d6 : 4, 4, total 8
:00: 1d12 : 12, total 12Hathcyn
Rolled 3d6 : 1, 3, 6, total 10
:00: 1d12 : 1, total 1
Rolled 3d6 : 2, 2, 4, total 8
:ooc: That's two bonus dice for Grimbeorn, one for Esgalwen and none for Hathcyn unless he should choose to drop a Hope point on the roll. AP: :csu:
I'll leave it up to you guys to choose whether and how you want to make your introductions. Esgalwen and Grimbeorn can both see that Courtesy is the easiest way to go here. Grimbeorn, with his excellent roll, has grokked that, though the other elders will speak and offer their opinions, Ingomer is absolutely the one in charge here. The others will go along with his decision.
:ooc: Hathcyn is too busy contemplating how to decorate his own mead hall with wood carvings.
"We thank you for your hospitality and invitation to your hall," says Grimbeorn with a slight bow. "You or most of you know me as one of action and little word and you have other cares to dealt with so I will keep this short."
"If you haven't already heard rumor, if not direct word, of the matter, but the Black Tarn is under siege by a host of goblins and we ride to their aid. My friend, nay brother, and companion, is a leader of this folk and one of those who helped in securing the arrival of Verwyne to this town and her betrothed. Our presence here and my personal request is for your assistance in as it may come: relief for a war-torn village but, most desperately at the moment, men willing to ride lightly and with haste on a mission of mercy. Can we count on your support?"
:00: (https://rpg.avioc.org/boards/Themes/default/images/dice_warn.gif) This dice roll has been tampered with!
Courtesy - 1d12 : 5, total 5
Rolled 2d6 : 1, 4, total 5
No it wasn't tampered with, posted message right after someone else.
Well, that was uninspiring, so I will go for broke with the bonus dice.
Bonus 2d6 : 1, 5, total 6
:ooc: Nice - that gives Grimbeorn a :%: success (if our TNs are 14).
I will also make a Courtesy roll and call on her Folk-lore trait that helps in customs of people. Narrative will follow based on my roll result.
Sorry for not getting anything on the boards until now - I threw out my back over the weekend and have been in a muddled state of mind due to muscle relaxers and anti-inflammation medicines.TN -- courtesy 2d
:00: 1d12 : 5, total 5
Rolled 2d6 : 5, 3, total 8
:ooc: I too will throw in an advantage die.
Rolled 1d6 : 1, total 1
:ooc: LOL! What a way to crawl across the finish line...
Esgalwen stood near at hand to Grimbeorn, deferring to him the lead of communicating with Ingomer but letting the elders know, too, that she was part of this entreaty. When he finished, Esgalwen presenter herself to the master of the house, "Master Ingomer, it is a pleasure to once more be within your storied hall! Far have I traveled and many things I have seen, but naught else moves my heart like the warmth of your home."
Time was short, she knew, and her grim companion was quick and to the point in his request. Esgalwen worried as to how it would be received, but it was quickly evident that Ingomer appreciated straight words that came direct. She followed in kind, "The Black Tarn is in peril and the clans must unite as was the compact agreed upon in Rhosgobel not long ago. If Ingomer Axebreaker answers this call alongside Men of the Carrock, then surely will the folk of the southern clans - Woodmen Town and Rhosgobel - lest they be named oathbreakers all.
"If only to win passage for Amaleoda's folk to escape would our efforts be heralded, but should we win the day and save the Tarn... that would be remembered, and sang of by the bards, for generations of Men!"
:ooc: I think her last words are an attempt at inspiring, so I will add a roll for that to our mix. [< TN -- Inspire 2d
:00: 1d12 : 11, total 11
Rolled 2d6 : 2, 2, total 4
So much for Esgalwen's string of luck. Even with a :vv: AND an advantage die, I do not think I can pull that crap roll out of the shitter.
I will roll another test after I see what Matt might offer, or what dialogue might come from the Master of the House.
Ingomer shifted in his seat and it was plain that the Ranger's words did not win support in her request. Maybe her accusation of "oathbreakers" was too harsh? Maybe her demand came too soon after the Beorning's? Esgalwen waited a moment before speaking again to see if the old Master's demeanor would change, or if Grimbeorn might save her plea.
Before either can fill the sudden and discomforting silence, a white-haired woman seated to Ingomer's left speaks. "Handsomely spoken young sir. And you dear," she adds as an afterthought to Esgalwen. "But can we be satisfied that you speak the truth?"
Ingomer, seeing perhaps a reason to decline the Fellowship's plea without giving offence, and visibly relieved at the sight, turns to the crone with an eyebrow raised. "Ought we doubt the honesty of such folk, Fridja?"
"No, no... of course not," comes the swift answer. "But even honest folk may themselves be deceived, or simply mistaken! No word has come from the Brown Wizard, who has ever been our protector and watched over our kin, especially those who dwell in the south. Were there such a to-do as our guests say, would he not have come to us to bring us the tidings himself?"
:ooc: And we're away with the bad rolls! I'll count Grimbeorn's great success with the introduction roll as a success for the purposes of resolving the encounter, since he launched right into his elevator pitch. Esgalwen's :~~: gets that clock starting to tick up as well.
So far, you're at one success and one failure.
:ooc: do we have a success? matt rolled 2d6 and got a 6 not a straight 6.
Hathcyn noticed he was wool gathering and drew his attention back to the matter at hand. He had remained silent knowing that his companions had a history with these folk, but he saw that they were loosing ground. He bent his keen intellect at the gathering and watched for what was not being said.
:ooc: I want to make an insight roll here to see of i can figure out motives and unsaid impressions.
Rolled 1d12 : 10, total 10
Rolled 3d6 : 5, 1, 3, total 9
Coming to stand behind and to the side of Grimbeorn, Hathcyn watches and listens. They are so like children, he thinks as Fridja speaks her mind and the greybeards around the hearth nod, or grunt their agreement. They have known this wizard all their lives, and expect that he will be there forever to take care of them!
Scratching his chin, he then wonders Is this better or worse than the Beorning thegns, who would take Beorn's place in a heartbeat, were he and his son to die?
:ooc: Tom, you're quite right - Grimbeorn's roll wasn't that great a success at all. So now you're at no successes and one failure.
Hathcyn pondered the situation, read the faces of the council and then stepped forward.
"I am Hathcyn Longspear, bannerman of Grimbeorn Wolfslayer. I will say that this hall is a marvel and it is a privilege to just be able to see it. Today I have learned the value of wood as art and the skill of the Woodmen. I thank you. The Brown Wizard has been and remains, I am sure, a great friend of the Woodmen. I doubt though that any here can recon the priorities of a Wizard. Who is to say what he knows or does not know. Even the mighty can not be everywhere at once. I also see that the request of Grimbeorn alone is not enough to sway you and these are uncertain times for everyone ad the impact of decision may not be easy to forsee. I will tell you this, to add to the weight of the request. The Brown Wizard is not the only one to have friends among the beasts. I shall tell you that I received word from a great bear of these events, and then they were confirmed by the fox. The lake of the Tarn choked with weeds, campfires of goblins besetting the steading. The scattered bodies of the dead testing the strength of the defenders. Even now they may be hard pressed and in need of succor. Again you will say, but these are beasts, what do they know? Perhaps they do not comprehend what they see. Perhaps the beasts that whisper to the Wizard speak only to him and these tidings are a game that the idle beasts play to entertain themselves after a winter of loneliness. All this may be true as well.
I ask the council two questions for their consideration. The first, have the beasts of the forest who share the same enemies as ours ever misguided us?"
Hathcyn held up his hand with the ring of the golden fox, the light capturing the beast so that it shone like red gold.
"I do not doubt the fox when it sees with it's own eyes, but you may measure your own experiences against this claim."
"The second question, what is the greater harm? Should our sources prove false then we have lost only a few days and at the end of which we may share a ale and grilled fish with kin and friends. IF we are wrong then the lives and strength of the people is lessened, the Woodmen grown that much smaller and weaker, and the depradations of the Goblins greater.
:ooc: Hathcyn is intentionally being vague about his ability to nightwalk and Arbogasts bird speak. In my opinion these are not generally known things and part of the mystic if people. Outsiders can make their own assumptions.
Also, lets see if that new die in persuade pays off.
Rolled 1d12 : 10, total 10
Rolled 2d6 : 2, 1, total 3
:ooc: :vv: i'll hope it to put the test over the top if needed.
:ooc: Okay, wait up - there's a bit going on here. First off, Hathcyn needs an introduction roll. Now, I am a merciful god, so I'll use Awe, on the assumption that "I am Hathcyn Longspear, bannerman of Grimbeorn Wolfslayer" came out in more a Beowulf sort of way than a Bilbo sort of way.
Let's roll some dice:
:00: 1d12 : 4, total 4
Rolled 3d6 : 6, 6, 5, total 17
:ooc: Yep, that worked! The other thing is his going on about bears, foxes and other beasts. I think the Woodmen would've heard stories about Beorning night-goers, though they certainly don't know the ins and outs of it, but whether they pick the meaning out of his intentional vagueness will depend on a Riddle roll, 'cause that's what the skill's for.
:00: 1d12 : 12, total 12
:ooc: Holy crap! I guess the dice love you today, Tom. With the Hope spend for his Persuade roll (:csu:) that brings you up to two successes, one failure.
:ooc: the dice are good to the players when they dont roll them. This is known.
"I'll hazard that I ken whereof this fox speaks," answers a greybeardwwith an intrigued grin,aand son the rest of the Council are nodding in agreement,though several, it would seem,are doing so only so as to appear wiser than they are.
"Very well," intones Ingomer, his voice carefully level, "it shall be as you ask. In three days, we shall muster the host of Wuduseld and march south. I am minded," he muses almost to himself, "to place Munderic at their head."
:ooc: To be clear, in case it isn't already, this is just what two successes gets you. You're welcome to keep trying for more.
"Three days? In three days we must be at the Tarn in aid of Amaleoda and her folk. Is there naught more we can do so as to be more swift in our actions, Master Ingomer?"
Esgalwen tries her best to not sound as if she begs, but she knows for certain that her earlier words had stumbled their efforts.
:ooc: Okay - here is some hopeful redemption from the lady in the group!TN -- persuade 3d
:00: 1d12 : 6, total 6
Rolled 3d6 : 1, 2, 5, total 8
:ooc: Crapcakes! Not one :%: among those dice but still a success (?)
If not, here is my last advantage die. If so, ignore this roll.
Rolled 1d6 : 6, total 6
:ooc: Actually, keep that roll! I will take the :%: success.
:ooc: there we go. If they can cut the time down we can move to the next settlement. We can set an assembly point at Rhosgobel.
Paul, how long of a march is it from the hall to Rhosgobel?
In effort to maybe temper the response of one of his dearest friends whose been in his company maybe a little too much, Grimbeorn interjects, "We appreciate your plan to muster and come in force, as defending one of us defends us all. We would hope that aside for your grand march that a few men be spared to ride with as scout and initial bulwark as the our troop moves with all haste."
:ooc: The Beornings are (at least attempting to be) the level-headed and even-keeled today?
Courtesy - 1d12 : 6, total 6
Rolled 2d6 : 5, 6, total 11
:ooc: A :%: here, a :%: there, and sooner or later it adds up! Six successes now and one failure.
Tom, Rhosgobel is eight days from here, plus another if you go via Woodmen-Town. Assuming nothing goes wrong.
A chorus of indignant 'aye's follows Esgalwen's plea as Ingomer scowls and tries to listen to Grimbeorn. He cannot reply, though, before Fridja slaps him lightly on his wrist and adds "For shame! Surely a force might be gathered sooner. Why, we know of nigh six score warriors who would arrive within a day, were the Axebreaker of old to sound his horn!"
Her statement drops like a stone into a silence, as the elders of Woodland Hall wait to see whether she has overstepped the mark. Ingomer lets the silence linger as all eyes settle on him, and for a moment the companions see how it must have been in days past, when the hall waited on his word and that word was never questioned. But the moment passes and the weight of years and cares settles on his shoulders once again. "A day, then. Send the word to the outlying steadings that I call the folk to arms. Send word also to the crofters and shepherds at the wood's edge. We shall march before they arrive, but some will come to defend this place in our absence."
"And you, my lord," he adds to Grimbeorn, "shall have your scouts. Fridumar is kin to Arbogast. Take him and those who he names as his companions."
:ooc: Anyone want to try for anything else, while you basically have the ear of Woodland Hall?
"Now that's settled, where's the smoked beer and beachwood fired boar everyone is always talking about?"
Hathcyn looked about him as if it would spring to life or enter carried by a shrub. Such was the reckoning of one who was long in Beorn's Hall.
Grimbeorn winces inwardly at his standardbearer's comment as he replies to the offer of men with a bow. "I and the Black Tarn are grateful for your offer. I will collect Fridumar and his men presently. Our repast will be short, only so long as it takes for the men to gird themselves and horses for the journey and battle. My thanks again for your hospitality."
Quickly, the discussion concludes and the Fellowship are left to their repast. As they take what rest they can, word is spread among the folk of Woodland Hall and its surroundings. As the company watch, axes and shields are fetched from hidden recesses of Wuduseld
, and forest hunters trickle in through the gates with bows and spears in hand. Many of the assembling warriors, it seems, have brought their hounds, long-haired as they are long-legged, to join the fyrd with them.
Some two hours after the meeting with the council of elders, Verwyne reappears. Though she takes pains to conceal it, to those who have known her, be it ever so briefly, her distaste for the man she leads to the companions is clear. Though he is alike to Arbogast and his brothers in face and body, there is a wariness in his eye like a cur accustomed to the boot of its master. As Verwyne makes her excuses and leaves, he gives a lopsided bow and introduces himself, the smell of ale heavy on his breath. "Fridumar, at your service. I'm told you need men to scout the southern woods, and I know just the fellows!"
His words are full of cheer as he leads the companions out through the southerly gateway, chattering almost without pause about the lambing over the winter just gone, the lives of shepherds and charcoal burners in the north and a host of other matters, few of which seem of any interest to the companions. Before long, though, it becomes plain that he is speaking around a matter that he will not say outright.
:ooc: I'm going to do some Riddle rolls here to see if any of you pick it up ahead of time: Esgalwen
:00: 1d12 : 6, total 6Grimbeorn
Rolled 1d6 : 5, total 5
:00: 1d12 : 11, total 11Hathcyn
Rolled 1d6 : 1, total 1
:00: 1d12 : 1, total 1
Rolled 1d6 : 4, total 4
Esgalwen begins to have an inkling that Fridumar's living does not come by entirely honest means when there comes a whistle from beside the narrow woodland path that the four now tread. Fridumar halts, stroking the head of his mangy hound with a nervous energy, and holds up a warning hand toward the companions as a small company of men even more ragged-seeming than he move out of the undergrowth to block their passage forward and back.
"What have you brought us, friend?" asks one who steps forward.
Fridumar, his throat bobbing nervously, looks back to the Fellowship. "They're not the most well-regarded of men, but for sneaking through the woods I should think of none better. But I, uh, think you should explain to them what you want them to do."
:ooc: Given that all three PCs have a Martial living standard (and I'm presuming you haven't brought much Treasure along with you) you don't have enough to just buy these guys off, so someone will need to make a roll or two to get them on side. There's no need to do this as a full encounter, but you'll need an Awe roll from someone to avoid a fight, and an Inspire or Persuade roll to get them properly on side.
:ooc: As we learned from the last chapter if someone is mean or feels off they should be killed out of hand. Redemption of character isnt a thing Paul is into, he's a die is cast kinda guy.
I'll try to drop an Awe roll.
Hathcyn looks at the band of men.
"Good fortune friends, you stand now upon the skane of fate. Your lives about to take a change as your paths have entered the weave to be forever changed. Behold! Grimbeorn Wolfslayer is here, son of Beorn, victor of Stonyford. We have need of your blades and bows, and as if in answer to my lords need here you appear."
Rolled 1d12 : 11, total 11
Rolled 3d6 : 1, 4, 6, total 11
:ooc: (-D my heart wasnt in it anyway. :zz:
Esgalwen side glances at Hathcyn as he prattles on, even as she looks to the faces to see if there are any that she may know. Not a few weeks did she stay within the house of Mogdred and certainly were there many transient men among his ken. Perhaps one of these ruffians might know her from her time amongst them, but still she adds to the greeting.
"Well met, all! As my companion speaks, so it is that you all are needed to aid in a task that could bring you renown and even penance for any wrongdoings you might be charged of. We are in need of able bowmen and sword-hands to scout out the area of the Black Tarn."
She does rattle the small pouch on her hip that holds the coins that she carries. "It could promise coin and it might even promise death, but your valour will be remembered by all the folk of the wood."
:ooc: The side glance is because of Tom's :~~: roll, I am interpreting it as if Hathcyn is overdoing it just a little and coming on a little strong.
The coin is what I mark on my sheet that she always carries.
I will call on my folk lore trait to aid in this - thinking Esgalwen lived among men of this type for a short while.
The rolls are...TN -- awe 3d
:00: 1d12 : 11, total 11TN -- persuade 3d
Rolled 3d6 : 6, 6, 4, total 16
:00: 1d12 : 3, total 3
Rolled 3d6 : 2, 3, 2, total 7
:ooc: Well the awe worked despite the :~~: getting a possible :%: :%: success.
The persuade I may spend a :vv: on if necessary. It depends on what Grimbeorn might acheive.
:ooc: Well, since Matt's away and talking things out really isn't Grimbeorn's style anyway, let's assume he lets Esgalwen do the wordy stuff. I'll take it that she spends the Hope unless I hear otherwise from you, Doug. Provisionally: :csu:
"You speak well," comes the reply, "as does the pouch in your hand! Absolution and fame are well and good, but a coin in my hand and food in my belly I can enjoy even if I don't perish!"
With that, the tension dissipates and the outlaws, for such they are, relax. Their speaker casts his gaze about in a way that seems merely habitual as he introduces himself. "I am Oren, though in these days Men name me for the Dowel. You two," he says to Esgalwen and Grimbeorn, "I know already, for once I held the door in the hall of Caewin of the Sunstead when you bore hence the Helm of Peace. Your hearts are bright and my friends and I shall bring you to the shores of the Tarn, or go there and bring back tidings to you, whichever is to your pleasure."
:ooc: We're about done here, unless there's any more RP you wanted to do (in which case, go for it - it's always a fun read). Can I confirm, before I start the next thread, that your plan is to go down-river to Woodmen-Town, then cross country to Rhosgobel, without necessarily waiting for the army to muster?
:ooc: yes, that is my understanding.
:ooc: As Hope points are very valuable to Esgalwen, I would rather beseech the players to see if my Folk-lore trait can win me the auto-success on the Persuade check. If not, then yes the point is spent.
Esgalwen gave a fair smile to the speaker, Dowel, and nods to the fact that it was indeed them that came with the helm. "Then the coin shall be yours for you and your men, and mayhaps I can gain you more, but it shall be delivered upon completion of our task."
A grumbling murmur could be heard among the group of bandits, but the face of their chosen speaker did not change. "And what assurance do I have that said pouch will be ours, should we not see you again, even after my men pay in blood?"
"Fair question, Dowel," answered the Ranger. "I would not be so bold to ask you and your men to take this charge upon faith when what you offer is of such value and so I shall share of this purse to secure our pact. Know this, though... within the Tarn are folk most dear to my heart and it will take death to keep me from saving them. Your word and the word of your folk is all I need to place my trust in you, bought at the cost of a few coins and a promise. But know that should any betray us, they will be marked from which there will only be one absolution."
The tension in the grove grew once more and only the clicks and rustle of the forest was heard, but then Dowel's face cracked into an unpleasant smile and he nodded. These men lived by the simple law of life and death within an uncaring forest - one's word at times was all one had to sell.
"Gentlemen - this is the kind of woman to be sought for marriage! Strength of will and fair of face!" Dowel cried out to his henchmen, but then said softly to Esgalwen as he moved close to her, "A man would be so lucky."
She felt his hand strongly grip her own even as he slid the offered coin to his pocket, smelling the raw, pungent odor of his breath. Esgalwen did not take her eyes from Dowel, but she stepped back with the payment made.
To the group, "We go now, south to Woodmen Town and then on to Rhosgobel to continue the muster. We will look for you and your report when we arrive at the Tarn in the days following."
:ooc: are they coming with us or scouting things?
:ooc: My understanding is that these men were to be forward scouts while we gathered more warriors.
:ooc: Doug, I'm happy to give it to you with Folk-Lore... and Fair. It's a well-established fact that men will do dangerous things to impress a pretty woman.