Talos: As the centaur and the elf approach, you notice that both look a little worse for wear. It is likely that these two were deeper in the village than you or the others were, meaning they may have suffered more damage.
Even early on, there are still opportunities available to use some of your skills and abilities. Talos, since you are Life Domain, it couldn't hurt to maybe give a quick Medicine check on Axis andVaiya. No rush, though. Maybe let Vaiya answer Axis' question first. Also, it'll give you a chance to try out formatting ability/skill checks. Consult the PbP rules thread at the top of the PbP forum page if you want to see how that works.
"Valcimonians don't seem to like any sort," Zakonsaid gruffly. "Name's Zakon. Going back is a suicide mission. We need to leave, as quickly and quietly as possible, and get word of this to the elves." As he spoke, he watched warily as the other two approached. His eyes widened a bit - he'd heard of centaurs, of course, but he'd never actually seen one. He quickly looked around the group, looking for any weapons they might be carrying (investigation: 11).
"Let's get moving. Once we're far enough away, we can stop, take a short rest, and figure out where to go next. For now, if we want to keep breathing, we need to keep moving," Zakon said. Moving as he spoke, he turned and gestured for the rest to follow him. "I'll scout ahead a bit and make sure the way is clear. Just try to be as quiet and possible."
As soon as the Centaur stepped into the clearing and came to a stop, Viaya slid off of his back. Not wanting to overstay her welcome and feeling a need for some solid earth beneath her feet besides. Her knees threatened to buckle momentarily as she landed but as she was still grasping the straps of the Centaur's pack she managed to hold steady. Straightening and looking around at the odd little group of survivors she had found herself among. A gnome, a dragonborn, a halfling and a centaur. A whole village full of her people and these were likely the only people who had walked away alive. Arms folding across her chest, the elf couldn't keep her eyes from drifting back towards Kolovoro, back towards the plume of smoke rising into the lightening night sky. Only half listening as the halfling suggested that they keep moving. Her hearing finally and singularly catching onto one word. Head snapping back, eyes locking onto theother woman before switching to the gnome.
"Valcimonians?"she questioned, voice low and raspy."You're certain?" They had never come this far east before. Why? Why here? Why initiate conflict with Goyag now?
Pulling her eyes away as the Centaur spoke to her, his own voice scraped raw by the smoke, Viaya let her arms fall to her sides. Looking around once again before replying. "I grew up in Goyag if that's what you mean. I hadn't been to this area before a week or so ago but I've studied maps. The closest town is Cherkobe, I think. Unless we cross the border into Sobilamos. But I don't know what help we'll find either way."
Zakon studied the elf as she spoke, wondering if he could trust her. (Insight: 13) "They were Valcimonian," he said. No sense in volunteering too much information until he knew more about this motley crew, he thought to himself. At her mention of Sobamilos, he started. "Sobilamos is too far,"he said. "We just need to get away from here and then figure out how to notify the elves. After that, it's their problem. Right now, we need TO MOVE," he said forcefully.
Notice how when I hover over it, I can see a little blurb on what it is that particular skill does or means. I'm not going to be too strict about skills and abilities, but spellcasters, you'll definitely need this when you use spells so that I can check what spells you're using and what I need to know about them.
On with the show (and it's looking great). I will PM about the history and insight checks.
Zakon: You can see that the centaur carries a greataxe and a javelin across his back, but as to what's in his bag slung over his back, you have no idea. As for the halfling, you can clearly see the spear that she had armed at the ready in case trouble followed her, but not much else seems to be on her small person. Talos is a pretty open book, but he seems to be carrying very little, other than his own pack. Once down from the centaur, the elf has a rapier strapped to her belt. It seems these survivors aren't stupid. They came with at least enough to defend themselves.
Bree's head cranes up to get a look at the centaur as he speaks. Any other time she might be a little awed-- he's so huge! But right now her mind is mostly on the village-- and with more of them here, she's sure their hiding spot has become less discreet.
"We do need to move," she agrees with Zarkon, glancing at the whole of the group. She looks to the elf next. "Which way to Cherkobe?" She asks. "The sooner we're on the road there, the better off we are," she adds. Bree looks back toward the village worriedly, on the lookout for any of the soldiers. (Perception: 2)
Bree: Unfortunately, it's still very dark and the smoke has been drifting out further, making the area hazy. It's difficult to spot anything in this.
I think it's fair that I put out one of our first decisions since there seem to be some choices. Most of you have agreed there's no going back to the village. Would you prefer to leave now or wait until morning, giving you a chance to rest and have better travel conditions?
Also, consider what is of the top priority to you. On the one hand, you'll need food and shelter at some point along the way. On the other, there is the matter of telling someone about what you saw here in the village, but who? You could always seek out the Council of the Nine, who do hold a significant amount of power in the region, though they're more of a religious group than a political one. It may be difficult for them to declare war. Or, you could go towards the central area of Goyag to seek out some of the noble families, who might be able to muster some armies in response, provided they can be bothered to do so. Either way, those options lead you towards Golorere, the capital city.
Decisions now will not have a major impact on this mini-adventure, but if things work out and we decide to do a more long-term situation, they could change what happens in the grander scheme.
Though the confirmation that the black robed attackers were soldiers from Valcimonia left her a fair bit more than she would've liked, Viaya still found herself a bit irked by the gnome's tone, eyes narrowing. Could just be the stress of the night but there was something in hisvoice and his haste in shooting down one half of her suggestion that the elf didn't like. Insight Check:5 Still, hewasn't wrong. And with the halfling supporting his case and the massacre only barely beginning to come to a close behind them, Viaya saw little reason in resisting. The further they got from Kolovoro the better at this point. Even if in her case it meant running backwards instead of forwards. Even if her chest was still aching from the smoke and her legs felt shaky.
"Cherkobe isn't much closer."She said, eyeing the gnome still. Gaze flicking to the halfling briefly as she spoke."But I should be able to guide us at least part of the way. We might want to wait until dawn to make a real trek of it though. Keep our movement to a minimum for now. Find a place to hole up and stay hidden until first light." In her opinion, a bunch of folk tramping about in the dark was bound to attract more attention than not, not to mention get said bunch of folk rightly lost faster than it would get them where they were trying to go. Not to mention that either way, it was possible the soldiers had scouts watching the roads surrounding the village.
Axis didn’t much care for the thought of lingering so close to the slaughter, but he knew after a moment of thought that the elf might have had the right of it. Trying to go about in the dark was bound to bring considerable risks; just the thought of pulling up lame in this nightmare had him drawing up his foreleg uneasily.
He pawed at the earth gently with an ash-dusted, dirty hoof. Then, unable to fend it off any longer, he heaved a deep cough.
When he settled, he tried speaking again. “At least the lot of you can duck into the bushes until the sky grays.” He reached up to wipe at his red, teary eyes. “I can’t hide, but maybe I can stand a ways off and try to keep an ear out until then? If anyone comes looking out here, all they’ll see is me and I can maybe draw them off…?”
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| Gela |Human|Cleric/War Domain| | Axis |Centaur|Barbarian| | Fen |Half-Drow|Monk/Way of the Open Hand|
Zakon nodded in agreement with the elf. "Aye, walking in the dark is a sure way to find ourselves in trouble. Know ye of a clearing somewhat close by? I'd feel better getting further away before we bed down for the night." He eyed the soot-covered centaur. "We're all a little worse for wear - we can rotate watches through the night. Better to be safe than sorry." Zakon stood and brushed off the seat of his breeches quickly. "Let's move while the soldiers are occupied." He turned and gestured for the elf to lead the way.
Vaiya: Annoying and disagreeable at times, sure, but the gnome isn't hiding anything, as far as you can tell. Likely, he's a veteran traveler and just has a sense for getting out of tough situations. It wouldn't kill him to be polite, though, you think.
That's at least three out of the five votes to wait until morning. If you don't mind, I'll proceed us onto the next phase. Since few of you do know each other's names or have had personal conversations, I'll stand back for a while to let your characters get officially acquainted and make some key decisions.
The Next Morning: You were able to find a small clearing just a little farther on, and were able to get some rest, repair minor wounds, and mull over all that you have seen and heard. The scent of smoke and burnt flesh still purveys the air slightly, and in the distance, you can only see a few remnants of the village. If there were any other survivors, they must have gone elsewhere.
After alternating watches through the night, you were able to notice that the Valcimonian force continued their march southward. Based on what Zakon heard before the fires, it is likely they are going to other smaller villages to destroy them so that they may send a message to the elves in the central part of the region. It looks like Goyag may have no choice but to either fight or bend a knee to Valcimonia.
As for your group, rest was hard to come by, but you managed. Having a quick meal of some of your rations, you realize you cannot just sit and wait. The nights are getting cooler, and you'll need a much more suitable place to rest soon. You'll also have to decide what you are going to do about what you saw. The nearest village is Cherkobe to the west, and if you continue to follow that western path, you'd wind up in Golorere, the capital city. Although, there is the possibility that you could follow the Valcimonian army south in an attempt to try and warn these small villages, but they're already a good pace ahead of you and there are only five of you, compared to their small army.
Talos finished up his portion of rations and closed his eyes. "I feel that we should travel to the nearest village," he said. "And... Oh! Where are my manners! My name is Talos. I'm sorry I could not introduce myself last night. I was a bit worse for wear I'm afraid. Though I think we all are." He chuckles and begins to pack up his bag.
"Shall we get a move on? I personally am not enjoying this smell." He smiled widely, trying to stay positive. "Oh, and is anyone hurt?"
This time the gnome agreed with her, and after a bit more discussion Viaya led the way to a clearing she had noticed on her way into the town several days ago. Hurrying everyone along as quietly as she could before settling in for a long and restless night. Not much talking took place at this point. They were all exhausted, all wary of attracting the attention of any soldiers lurking in dark, all heavy with their own thoughts as they just began to process what had happened. The clearing they wound up in was protected enough that they could all rest comfortably, even the centaur, without too much fear of accidental discovery but they took turns on the watch regardless. When hers came,Viaya was almost grateful for it. Her sleep had been fitful at best. Her mind full of the scent of the flames and the sight of bodies falling. Screaming, bleeding. Dying. She sat through the whole of her shift on watch without moving. Staring into the darkness toward Kolovoro as if waiting for some answer to all her questions to prevent itself. It didn't, but by the time she needed to wake someone for the next watch she was too tired to even try and stay awake. Dropping off like a rock as soon as she curled up on her bedroll only to jerk awake what could only have been a few hours later. Heart racing again, eyes stinging with tears that had little to do with smoke. She'd calmed by the time everyone else began to stir, the nightmares and the tears had faded and she was in control of herself again. Eating her rations without comment before beginning the task of braiding her wild, somewhat ash matted tendrils of black hair out of her face. Eyes flicking between the other members of the group as she did. Head tipping to one side as thedragon born spoke up. Suggesting they get a move on, mentioning the smell still permeating the air and giving those assembled his name.Talos. They had not gotten around to proper introductions last night had they? She didn't even remember giving the centaur her name, or getting his and he'd saved her life.
"We were all a little...worn out last night." she pointed out, deciding to ignore the matter of the smell for now. Voice still scratchy from all the smoke but better than it had been given water and time. "I'm Viaya. And no, I'm not hurt."
Zakon watched the elf as she led them to a small clearing. She seemed to know what she was doing so he relaxed, though he flinched every time the dragonborn or the centaur snapped a twig or tripped over something. His sleep was fitful, filled with memories of the smoke, the fire, and the screams. He volunteered to take the last watch, preferring to have the early morning quiet to himself. He slept fitfully, awakening at every little noise with his heart pounding, thinking the soldiers had caught up with them. During his turn at watch, he ate his rations, knowing he needed sustenance, but the food tasted like ash. He observed silently as the others woke, smiling a bit at the optimistic nature of the dragonborn. As the elf spoke, Zakon grimaced. "I'm Zakon. We were all lucky to have escaped. I hope we were not the only ones. However, we should assume we were and start moving. If Viaya can show us the way to Cherkobe, we should head that direction. The five of us are no match for mounted Valcimonian soldiers."
Bree stays silent as she follows the rest of the group to a more hidden clearing. Her mind is a peculiar state-- some part of her is occupied with all the possible outcomes of being discovered in the night, of what she might do, sizing up the group's odds against the soldiers in her head. The rest of it accepts the idea flatly-- either they will be found or they won't. It takes longer than she would like for sleep to take her, and it seems too soon that a hand is on her shoulder, shaking her awake for her watch. The second attempt at sleep goes better, though when she first hears the rustling of otherswaking, Bree starts awake silently.
In the quiet time before any of them are truly awake and ready for conversation, she decides breakfast is in order at least. Rummaging through her pack reveals a little treasure-- the supply far too low since she hadn't been able to restock it in a market. Wrapped in a little bundle of cheesecloth is a finger width of smoked sausage, perhaps a little squished, but no worse for the wear otherwise. It's companion, the remains of a small wedge of cheese has crumbled a bit, threatening to spill little orange crumbs onto her pack, but Bree's hands are quick. She tucks into her little morning meal while she watches the others, letting them speak for now.
"Cherkobe might be overrun too," she pipes up, looking between Talos, Zarkon and Viaya. "If it's close. I don't think Valcimonia soldiers would come all this way to raze just one village. The roads could be unsafe. I'm all for moving, don't mistake my meaning-- but we don't want to be a bunch of fish in a barrel," she quips, between little bites of smoked sausage and cheese.
Viaya feels the slightest prickle of envy upon spotting the halfing's breakfast fare but she's already devoured her own dry, near tasteless rations and makes no complaint. She's eaten well this past week compared to weeks past and while no fare provided by simple villagers will ever be as rich as what she was used to eating at home she's grown accustomed to it. Accepted it. Such fare is not a part of her life anymore. It and everything it represents is better off left behind. Though given they're talking about heading back the same vague direction from which she'd come, it seems as if it all won't be quite as far behind her as she'd like for much longer. Still, it's only Cherkobe. It's not as if anyone is talking about going all the way to Golorere. They only have a responsibility to get the word out about what happened here, that's it. After that's accomplished she sees no reason why any of them should have to stick around. If she's careful, she'll be fine.
Turning her gaze from the halfling woman's food to her face as she spoke, the elf frowned before shaking her head. Finishing off her messy braid with a knot. "It's possible but I don't think so." she said. "Cherkobe is bigger than Kolovoro is...was. The cowards would have to contend with more than simple village folk and farmers there. And by the speed they cleared out of here after they finished their dirty work I doubt they wasted time leaving scouts behind to watch the roads. They're trying to leave a message, they'll do what they can to cause the maximum amount of damage with as little effort and resistance as possible. Sweep over some of the other, smaller villages and farms before fleeing back over the border once they come across any real challenge." Her expression was cold as she spoke, tone factual but underlaced with ire and anger. "And regardless, moving is our only option. We're going to need food and shelter soon enough. Worst case scenario, we get there too late and find another ruin but if we go now there's a chance...we could warn them. Get the word out at least." They at least had to try. These were her people they were slaughtering, innocent people. They had to do something.
Morning found him with dark circles under his eyes and fidgety legs. Sleep hadn’t been kind to him, as he’d close his eyes and feel his hooves striking something they shouldn’t have, ash filling his mouth, and fire reaching for his tail. Alert as he’d been for his turn at the watch, now he was some shade of paranoid. His gaze was a little hard, and his haunches would tuck at any strange sound-- kick or flee, it'd be a flip of the coin.
When people began to eat, he tried to busy himself with a massive slice of a heavy grain and oat loaf. The nutty notes were the one delight he found as he slowly chewed through, his ears keen on the group’s exchanges.
At the dragonborn’s-- Talos's-- prompting, Axis shook his head. When the subject of moving on to Cherkobe came up, he kept on with his bread. He didn’t know Cherkobe from the sun, to be honest, and hoped these seeminglybrainier sorts knew what they were on about.
He did, however, like the sound of food and shelter. His rations wouldn’t last forever, and eating was something he was very good at and wanted to keep doing.
But then, he considered the gnome and the halfling each, his dark-eyed gaze moving between each. His tail swished anxiously behind him.
Through a loafy mouthful, he asked, “How quick’re you little ones on foot?”
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| Gela |Human|Cleric/War Domain| | Axis |Centaur|Barbarian| | Fen |Half-Drow|Monk/Way of the Open Hand|
Zakon nodded in agreement with the elf's words. In for a copper, in for a gold, he thought to himself. "Viaya is right - I heard the Valcimonian captain giving orders - no prisoners, and no mercy. To goad the elves into war. Which is why we need to notify them of what happened, before false rumors make it to their ears." He stopped for a moment, thinking about the fastest and safest way to get them all to Cherkobe. He looked over at the centaur as he spoke, narrowing his eyes. "Why do you ask?" he said. He thought he knew, but he didn't want to insult the centaur if it wasn't what he thought. He'd never met a centaur before, but he'd heard tales of their aversion to riders. Though he had arrived with the elf on his back, so maybe the tales were wrong?
Bree listens to the elf, but her expression is one of slight skepticism-- that's quite a lot of assessment considering how quickly the attack took place on the village. Still, she's not familiar with these lands or politics, so Bree doesn't argue.
At the centaur's question she looks up at him, looking a little amused even as Zarkon replies. "For a halfling, or up against all you long-legged types? My gnome friend here excluded, of course," she adds, with a glance over at Zarkon. "I'll keep up with you all at a decent clip, but if you start hurrying you'll lose me quick enough. No point in denying it,"she tells the centaur with a shrug.
“How fast we are won’t matter if we dinnae get moving and soon,” Zakon says. “The Valcimonians may have moved on to the next village, so we need to get to Cherkobe and notify the elves before there are any more massacres.” He stands up and begins to gather his gear. He nods at Viaya. “If you can point us towards Cherkobe, I can scout ahead a bit and make sure we don’t run into any more soldiers,” he says.