It is cool autumn day, with white puffy clouds hanging lazily above the still trees. Only the chatter of the final circus patrons leaving the tent and the crew chief barking orders breaks the stillness of the scene. The circus is done for the day but also it is time to move on to the next crop of towns. The boss, Karbet Crowley, is happy and has paid out his performers and crew early. This has put a spring into the step of everyone as they prepare to tear down the tent and pack the supplies into wagons and head off in whatever direction Mr. Crowley chooses. They are far, far from the big cities of Alcion, which seems to be the way Mr. Crowley likes it, and most of the crew don't seem to mind either.
"Oi!" Says the crew chief, an ill-tempered half-orc named Bazza. "Let's have everyone on a job right quick."
The options are many, since tearing down and packing up the circus is a huge job. Everyone gathers around to take an assignment (choose a job, and introduce your character on this day as they help take care of packing up the circus).
Pack the crates of props
Harness and hitch the draft horses
Assist the animal handler in feeding, caging, and transporting the animals to the wagons
Help the cook prepare the evening meal
Help sweep and repair the tent before it comes down
Help transport and dump the trash and manure
Keep the gawkers and freeloaders at a distance
Help tear down bleachers and chairs and transport them to the wagons
As the curious onlookers begin to overcome their hesitance about disturbing the descending circus tent, and press forward, a 7+ foot goliath, Doggear Brakespine, grins at the fireworks show that's about to start to deter them.
He turns back to the large stack of chairs he'd already piled on top of another stack of bleachers. He uses the giant hodgepodge structure to scoop up a few crates of props and lifts the whole thing onto his shoulder and quietly walks to the wagons to load them up. "It's a lovely day, but Bazza and FeyTok don't seem to notice,"Doggear sighs to himself. "We also got paid early!"
As he passes the partially-dismantled office, he casts an eye about for other townsfolk who might be a little too interested in where the circus keeps the coin it earned during the show. Perception check: 5
Q'wai methodically makes his way around the main arena, carrying a shovel in one hand and pulling a small wooden cart in the other. He stops now and then as he picks up the forgotten, unwanted, and discarded items of the circus-goers and scoops the piles of manure deposited by the animals. The simplicity of the work allows the monk's mind to drift to other things...distant people and distant places that he hopes to one day see again. As he begins to pull the wooden refuse cart toward the zoo tent, Q'wai audibly mumbles something he was once told, "Longing is not all sorrow; its greater part is fondness."
The monk then hears the barbarian's familiar voice from a distance, which causes him to snap out of his reverie. He quickens his step, knowing that everyone appreciates a speedy clean-up and tear-down.
Tock is assisting the animal handler in feeding, caging, and transporting the animals to the wagons. He has his favorites, but gets along equally well with most all of them.
It's a job that can't be rushed. Having seen a long days of work the animals are already tired and stressed, so putting the additional strain of even more cramped space on them needs to be handled with great care.
As he walks from cage to cage and feeds them, he wave over to Q'wai as there appears to be a fresh "present" for him at a cage he already went by.
Tyrol carefully coils the rope of the second trapeze around his thick arm and sets the whole thing carefully inside the half-full crate. The third, he decides after taking his glasses down from their perch atop his horns and squinting through them, looks like it's got cracks running through it. That one he sets aside, next to the backdrop with a hole through its base after one of the animals accidentally kicked it while leaving the ring. Simple enough to repair while they're on the road, at least. The minotaur glances up occasionally as the others go about their jobs during the teardown, and gives a cordial nod to any who look like they've noticed him before going back to his dutiful packing. Fly rig looks all right, pyrotechnics all right (of course they are, given who put them together!), the trap door on that portable stage flooring needs oiling later... definitely a lot to do on the road.
Q'wai nods silently at Tock to indicate he understands the Kenku's request. The monk swiftly moves from enclosure to enclosure, scooping up anything left behind by the animals. He then hurries off to join Doggear in loading chairs into the wagons.
Bazza calls out to anyone not engrossed in a job. "I need two volunteers to scout over the hill to the north. Word is there are brigands about. Step up. Two stout men or women for a quick walk north, please!"
"Make sure you double-check for those bandits real close, now," Tyrol calls after the pair he watches them leave from behind his stack of packing crates. "I for one don't much want to get held up right after payday, eh?" He gives them a light-hearted chuckle before returning to his work.
If invited along, Dog muses about his mercenary days and digs into an open crate. He grabs a stout prop spear [assuming it functions as a shoddy staff] and shield, loops a coil of rope around his left shoulder, and dons a rumpled, well-used rust-colored costume cloak.
"A rider from Marctenus brought the warning," Bazza says. "Now get up on that hill and see if we have trouble brewing."
The goliath and fire genasi walk for about a quarter of a mile to the tallest hill in the immediate area giving them a clear view of the towering Cloudspire Mountains to the west and the rolling plains of central Alcion to the east and south. Marctenus to the south is out of view, as is Minaru to the north. It is a pleasant scene, perhaps suitable for a talented painter. There is no sign of brigands, however. But to the north, ominous clouds are rolling towards the circus, promising a heavy rain soon. To the east, between Dog and the mountain range, a herd of some dark creatures appears to be stampeding. Calling attention to them for Feytok, the two are puzzling over what they could be when a small group of them break off, heading their way.
Feytok nature roll: 7
Dog nature roll: 21
They do no need to get any closer. Dog recognizes the sinister way the creatures shamble. "They are fiends," Dog says.
Dog's eyes become slits and he emits a low growl, preparing to defend himself or run. [OOC do I see anything about their nature? Are we talking small imps, or large pit fiends here in terms of size/agility? Dog wouldn't know the taxonomy super well but maybe he'd be able to tell the scale. Also is the larger herd moving in a vector that would bring them close to the tents? And how far away is the small group/how long until they get to us?]
"Feytok! We're strong but there are too many and we have to warn the others these aren't brigands," he says, spitting out more words you've heard from him in weeks, eyes darting between the herd, the smaller group, and the path back to the circus. "They have no idea what's coming. Could you light a fire strong enough for them to see back at the tents? Wait, that's a terrible idea. We need to warn them. I'm carrying a toy spear, and I didn't see you grab a weapon..."
The fiends are about a mile and a half away still, so it it is hard to make out the kinds. They are mostly small with a few slightly larger. It is hard to say if they are moving directly at Feytok and Doggear or a little more south towards the circus. They are not moving fast like people or animals and are six times the distance to the circus as Feytok and Dog.
Dog takes note of his surroundings to be able to explain to others from what direction he saw the fiends stampeding (Perception 13), and tries to quickly ascertain whether the small group that broke off seems to be aware of their presence (Investigation or Insight 6).
He begins heading back to the circus tents (Stealth 14) to warn them, choosing a slightly more indirect path to try not to give the fiends an obvious guess of the circus' location if they are being actively followed.
OOC: Are fiends something that are a regular part of this world or is this incredibly anomalous? Has Dog heard of anything like this before? (History 20)
Keyrie peeked out from the backstage and seeing that Feytok had successfully shooed away their "guests" she let out a sigh of relief. No matter how often they did the shows she could never get used to the large crowd. Keyrie does a quick check over the animals to make sure that none of them got injured during the performance.
She goes to the cages one by one telling everyone they did a good job and handing out treats. Seeing that Tock is helping with the loading of the animals and has is under control she goes to help the cook with the evening meal. Keyrie often uses the excuse of helping to cook to pocket various snacks to feed to the animals later, she is pretty sure the cook notices but doesn't say anything, so Keyriedoesn't either.
Hearing Bazza call out Keyriefrowns she makes a note to make sure an organize lookouts tonight at the very least. She also keeps an eye for when Dog and Feytok come back so she can hear about if they found anything.