Chapter 16: Many Blood-Sucking Parasites (IC)

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Talanall
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Chapter 16: Many Blood-Sucking Parasites (IC)

Early Evening, 12 Verdil, 973 IR
Eastrit House
Northgate, Port Hope, Mereflow Valley

After your return to the Copper Crozier and a good night's sleep, most of you (other than Oskav, who is still face-down in spellbook copying) are set to enjoy your first actual day off in . . . quite a while, really. It's remarkably pleasant to be clean, fed, warm, and not obliged to do anything important for a change. By the afternoon, it's time to start getting ready to attend the Earl of Eastrit's masquerade ball, which is due to begin shortly after sunset. You opt to arrive slightly late, as is fashionable.

Eastrit House, the earl's town residence, turns out to be just outside of Port Hope's eastern gates, where an expansive estate may be had without bankrupting oneself—or demolishing several city blocks in order to clear the land necessary for lawns, gardens, stables, and all the other accoutrements of a powerful nobleman's lifestyle. The earl clearly has spared no expense: his "townhouse" is the centerpiece of a large estate on perhaps ten acres of land. A sweeping semi-circular drive, lined with freshly-leafed birch trees and blazing lantern posts, leads up to the front door of the building, which is constructed of stark white granite with a dark slate roof. The windows all over the front of the building are ablaze with light, and the household must be burning through hundreds of candles and gallons upon gallons of lamp oil to produce such illumination. On the eastern end of the building, vast floor-to-ceiling windows have been thrown open to admit the cool spring air into the ballroom.

The front door is clearly a locus of considerable activity, with grooms, footmen, and other servants hurrying about, assisting guests with their horses and carriages as they arrive for the party.

OOC

Edited by: Talanall on 12/05/2018 - 16:23
Board Rider
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Avar adjusts his helm, checks his mask, and smooths his outfit. He isn't nervous, but he does appear to be.

He looks at Garren, probably for the one hundredth time since leaving the Crozier, and shakes his ahead just as he has done a hundred times before.

The paladin rumbles through a slight chuckle, "By the scales of Agon, Moonguard! What in the Celestial Court are you going to do with all of those feathers?! Fly out of here if things go south? You look like a giant bird!"

The aasimar releases a slight laugh when finishing the question.

Fixxxer
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Chuul also has a short chuckle at the thought.

deadDMwalking
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"Despite the costume, I'm feeling naked. Without armor or weapons, I might need to fly. Perhaps I should have aimed closer to chicken and further from peacock. Since joining this little cadre I've been adding enemies faster than I can remove them - it's starting to make me paranoid." Garren must be telling the truth because he is scanning the other guests from behind his mask, looking for concealed weapons and threats.

Talanall
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Of those who're currently disembarking from carriages at the front door and presenting their invitations for inspection, it looks as if nobody is armed with more than a dagger. But then again, they're mostly women and older men, and in a number of cases they're so elaborately costumed that it's hard to see how they'd be able to fight even if they were armed. Garren is just about to dismiss the possibility that anyone will be armed at this party, when the next carriage rolls up to the front door.

The first person to emerge from its interior is a big, muscular dwarf. He's not wearing armor—in fact, he's wearing a simple outfit of gray velvet and a matching domino mask—but he's EXTREMELY armed, carrying a well-used battleaxe in a loop on his belt. Fortunately, Garren recognizes him despite the half-hearted attempt at costuming; the warrior's bearing, and even more, his brassy blond hair and the fact that he has shaved away his beard but kept a fantastically bushy handlebar mustache are familiar to the cleric. He's seen them from time to time around the Temple of Derena. It's Trogar, the son of Wrogar. Garren knows him as a paladin, although he's sworn to the service of a local lord rather than directly under the authority of the church.

Trogar is soon joined by a slim, graceful young human male who emerges from the same carriage. He's obviously the more important of the two: dressed in a velvet doublet and silk hose of a dark lavender color, with frothy white lace as trim at his throat and cuffs, and practically dripping with jewelry. His entire head is obscured by a ghastly helmet sculpted into the visage of some grim fiend with prominent horns and a goatee. The areas of the helmet that represent the devil's flesh have been enameled a pearlescent white, and the horns and beard are in a contrasting glossy black. Trogar's companion is likewise armed, in this case with an ornate rapier and dagger, clearly a matching set. The rapier-and-dagger pairing is fashionable among young bravos, rakes, and duelists.

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

Board Rider
Board Rider's picture

"Well, we do have Chuul, Garren."

When Avar turns to the cleric he sees Garrens gaze and follows it.

"Friends of yours Garren?"

Darker

Alannah turns to examine the subject of the paladin's and priest's conversation. She nods to the fop while lowering her voice to speak to the pair, "That's Lord Wægmunding. Their line goes back pretty far, but the current Lord Wægmunding is supposedly pretty young." She pauses to puzzle over that for a moment the shrugs, "I don't remember what happened to the previous lord."

MinusInnocence
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"Probably died," croaks Baldr. Oskav chortles behind his mask but offers nothing in retort.

"Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag and begin slitting throats." - H.L. Mencken

Darker

"Shut it bird, I'm sure Oskav eats enough crow, but we can always see if they'd like to serve an additional dish at the ball."

Talanall
Talanall's picture

While Alannah is busy gibing at Oskav's feathery friend, Wægmunding and the dwarf disappear into the house, and the next carriage pulls up. Your party will be next after this, but it looks as if you're going to have at least a couple more minutes' wait on your hands: this carriage is a custom job, with a curious double-door built into its right side. The doors swing open, revealing the bulk of a half-orc who must weigh at least three hundred pounds, and probably considerably more. A glittering mask worked into the shape of a boar's snout covers the upper half of his face in possibly self-deprecating acknowledgement of his tusky heritage or his vast weight, and he clutches a polished wooden staff, inlaid with ivory and precious stones, that must be as thick as Alannah's ankle.

The footmen stationed at the door go visibly pale as he roars, "WELL? Are you lot going to stand there gawking, or are you going to help me down? I'm anxious to get to the banquet hall!"

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

Board Rider
Board Rider's picture

Avar visibily sizes up the half orc. Turning to Chuul and Alannah, "If things Do take a downward spiral, I'll let you handle that one Chuul! Any idea who that is?"

Darker

Alannah looks a bit surprised, which shows in the inflection of her answer, "The Baron of Greenshore? I mean, that's the coat of arms for the Barony of Greenshore."

Talanall
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Alannah's identification of the carriage's coat of arms is punctuated by a yelp from one of the footmen as the obese half-orc's heel comes down solidly on the hapless man's toes. If the behemoth notices the servant's pain, he doesn't seem upset by it. Certainly no apology is forthcoming, and he grasps his ornate staff and saunters into Eastrit House.

As Greenshore's carriage is drawn away to await his readiness to leave the ball, the injured footman is examined by the ranking servant at the doors, who waves him off toward the rear of the building, possibly to seek medical attention.

And with that, it's your turn at the receiving line, and the coterie of grooms and footmen converges on you and your mounts. All of the footmen, being indoor servants, wear a distinctive livery of checkered scarlet and yellow with silver trim, and they're all very tall and muscular—mostly humans and half-orcs, and not a one of them standing less than six feet.

The same one who dismissed the injured footman accepts and inspects your invitations, formally welcomes you to Eastrit House, and ends by providing, "Lord Eastrit is receiving his guests in the great hall, just at the foot of the grand stairs."

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

Darker

Alannah nods and follows the directions in.

Board Rider
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Avar nods too and follows Alannah.

Talanall
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Alannah, followed by the rest of the Bastards, enters inside Eastrit House's grand hall, a vast room perhaps fifteen yards wide and maybe twenty-five yards long. It's swarming with people, including a sizable mass of well-dressed city swells not far from the hearth. Beyond them, at the foot of the stairs as promised by the footman, is a slim man of late middle age, sumptuously clad in a doublet of black velvet and black silk hose. Slashes of glossy red and yellow satin peep through the facing of his doublet, and he fairly drips jewelry, all platinum or silver.

Alone of those who're visible and don't seem to be servants, he is not wearing a mask. The fop in the devil mask and his dwarf retainer are exchanging pleasantries with him, which evidently is the expected thing to do at these affairs; the half-orc in the boar costume is lumbering in that direction.

OOC: Click the link for a map. Green #1 is the host. Greened-out squares are crowds. It takes 2 squares of movement to enter a square with crowds.

Spoiler: Highlight to view
The crowds provide cover for anyone who enters them, enabling a Hide check and providing a bonus to Armor Class and on Reflex saves. If crowds see something obviously dangerous, they’ll move away at 30 feet per round at initiative count 0.

It takes a DC 15 Diplomacy check or DC 20 Intimidate check to convince a crowd to move in a particular direction, and the crowd must be able to hear or see the character making the attempt. It takes a full-round action to make the Diplomacy check, but only a free action to make the Intimidate check.

If two or more characters are trying to direct a crowd in different directions, they make opposed Diplomacy or Intimidate checks to determine whom the crowd listens to. The crowd ignores everyone if none of the characters’ check results beat the DCs given above.

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

Board Rider
Board Rider's picture

"Well, this looks fun," Avar offers cautiously. "No way to get in any trouble here!"

Avar brushes aside some of the feathers from Garrens get up and eyes Alannah as he finishes his sentence.

Darker

"For once it shouldn't matter. You've been invited so everyone can see the bumbling imperial, so try not to disappoint." She looks in the direction of the lone unmasked noble, "Let's go meet our host."

Board Rider
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Through a smile Avar offers, "I'll do my best."

Talanall
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The half-orc has finished greeting your host by the time you reach him; it looks like a perfunctory sort of exchange, in which the half-orc bows, slowly but with the peculiar grace that sometimes attends the movements of the very obese, and in turn receives a shallower bow from the earl. A brief chuckle between the two men suggests a shared witticism, but Baron Greenshore doesn't linger; instead he turns and makes his way through a doorway to the east, through which strains of music are faintly audible. His gait is slow but purposeful, as if he knows where he's going.

Damien Zusaighan, Lord Eastrit, meanwhile looks over your group, and smiles in what looks like genuine pleasure. "I had been uncertain whether you would come," he notes, "But it is a delight to have such an interesting group to add to my collection of guests. Milady. Gentlemen. You are welcome in my home this evening."

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

deadDMwalking
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"Thank you for having us. An invitation to your party is an honor that we could not decline. You are most gracious."

Darker

Alannah curtsies, "Yes, agreed. And the Bastards would never miss a good party."

Talanall
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The older man inclines his head in return to Alannah's curtsey, and responds, "I believe your younger brother may be here, somewhere. Of course, it would be contrary to the rules of the evening if I were to divulge his choice of costume. But perhaps you'll find it diverting to try to suss him out, now that you know to look for him." He offers a slight smile as he continues, "I really must say that it reflects well upon House Alastar that someone has opted to take up arms against the goblins. It lends gravitas to your recent warnings before the Duke, and I'll be following news of his nascent military career with great interest."

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

Board Rider
Board Rider's picture

Avar opens his mouth as to reply bit closes it quickly. Content to witness instead.

Darker

Alannah's confusion at the older man's comments stays hidden underneath her mask and she only replies, "Indeed. Thank you for the tip, this should be an... interesting evening." She performs another half curtsy and turns to join the other guests through the door.

Fixxxer
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Chuul clicks his tongue as he watches Alannah head inside. "I would guess you have given her an opening gambit for her family discussion," he says before following her.

Talanall
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As the rest of the Bastards follow Alannah and Chuul's lead, the earl gives another of those little smiles that marks an inveterate shit-stirrer who's looking forward to entertainment.

The Bastards find themselves moving, in the immediate term, into an anteroom that looks like it probably is meant to be some kind of art gallery. The walls are lined with paintings, shelves laden with assorted sculptures and ceramics, and so forth. Everything looks old and expensive, and there's no source of natural light in here; chandeliers blaze overhead, and without their light this room would be pitch-black the moment you closed its doors.

Predictably, gaggles of costumed partygoers have accreted in various parts of this gallery, displaying the reveler's uncanny knack for choosing the most hindersome conceivable places to stand. You'll have to go around or through a clump of them to get into the ballroom immediately to the east of the gallery.

To the north, you have a somewhat clearer view into what looks like modest (for a palatial estate) dining room that has been pressed into duty as . . . actually, you're not sure, except that whatever's happening on the table inside must be interesting enough to have drawn a crowd.

Southward, there's a sitting room of some kind. It's not exactly a quiet place, but it's probably the quietest area of the house you've seen thus far, and it may be a good spot to withdraw to if the din of music and shouting aristocrats should grow to be too much for your nerves or tempers to bear.

OOC

Spoiler: Highlight to view

Blue 1 = Alannah
Blue 2 = Chuul
Blue 3 = Avar
Blue 4 = Garren
Blue 5 = Oskav

Green 1 = Earl of Eastrit
Green 2-5 = ???

Gray 1-4 = Musicians

Greened-out squares are crowds. It takes 2 squares of movement to enter a square with crowds. The crowds provide cover for anyone who enters them, enabling a Hide check and providing a bonus to Armor Class and on Reflex saves. If crowds see something obviously dangerous, they’ll move away at 30 feet per round at initiative count 0.
It takes a DC 15 Diplomacy check or DC 20 Intimidate check to convince a crowd to move in a particular direction, and the crowd must be able to hear or see the character making the attempt. It takes a full-round action to make the Diplomacy check, but only a free action to make the Intimidate check.

If two or more characters are trying to direct a crowd in different directions, they make opposed Diplomacy or Intimidate checks to determine whom the crowd listens to. The crowd ignores everyone if none of the characters’ check results beat the DCs given above.

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

Board Rider
Board Rider's picture

Avar moves to find a drink, a bite, and, if it is on the menu, some strange to ferry back to his room later.

Time to put that charisma score on the clock.

Darker

Alannah goes in search for her brother but tries not to look like she has a particular mission in mind. She's fairly certain she can recognize him by his mannerisms or voice.

deadDMwalking
deadDMwalking's picture

Garren had been planning on moving away from the group as well, but Alannah and Avar beat him to it. He made his way toward the table to see what spectacle had drawn the crowd and possibly find someone with that natural talent for connecting people that would have an affinity for each other.

Fixxxer
Fixxxer's picture

Seeing the others drifting to their own interests, Chuul tries to find a place where he'll be left in relative peace to park himself.

Talanall
Talanall's picture

Alannah tries the ballroom first, but nobody visible to her at a casual glance really stands out as a good candidate for her brother. A burly dwarf, as muscular and heavyset as the fellow who was trailing Lord Wæmunding, is one of the more obvious partygoers. He obviously is not the same dwarf, though; Wæmunding's retainer was golden-blonde and lacked a beard, and this fellow has hair like a raven's wing, as well as a beard that has been elaborately braided into a sort of tapestry that falls all the way to his belt. He's the first (and only) party guest she can see who has opted to flout the masquerade's rules. From his incredibly good posture, Alannah surmises that he's some kind of soldier.

He's deeply involved in a discussion with a willowy young woman who stands at least a foot taller than him. She's made up in a costume meant to show her as some kind of scaly creature with the lower body of a snake; her dress is a hobble skirt that has had a sort of train attached to it to help this illusion along.

On the other side of a goodly crowd of random partygoers, Alannah also can just see Lord Wæmunding—minus his retainer. The platinum-blond nobleman looks like he's working the room, or at least the female parts of it, and has latched onto a waifish-looking young woman whose costume is little more than an ordinary ball gown and a domino mask. She doesn't look thrilled with the lord's attention, but she's not making a scene about it.

Over to Alannah's left, she can see a quartet of musicians, all four of them humans, and all four of them dressed in stark, unrelieved black garments. In the room past them, to the north, it looks like there's a buffet of food laid out.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Avar doesn't have to go far to find his drink, at least; there are liveried servants easing their way through the crowded rooms of the party space, and most are laden with trays of filled goblets. In short order, the paladin is set up with a vessel full of what turns out to be some kind of punch made from a sweet red wine and some sort of fruit juice. The goblet itself is so cold that there's frost forming on its surface.

He wanders northward toward the long table with the crowd around it, and discovers that someone has set up a sort of . . . walled enclosure . . . atop it. The crowd appears to be betting on something that's taking place inside, and Avar leans in slightly to see what it may be.

Aaaaaaannnnnd it's scorpions. Superb. One of the most powerful noblemen in this absurd city of rebels and scofflaws is evidently the sort of man who, when throwing a party, thinks that it'd be a grand idea to allow his guests to witness and bet on scorpion fights.

These scorpions in particular are nearly a foot long from head to base of tail (and probably twice that long, if you stretch them out flat with tails extended). At the moment, there are only two, and they're clinched up, stabbing each other wildly with the venomous barbs on the ends of their tails.

Two noblewomen, one at each end of the table, are screaming especially loudly at the action. And not in disgust—or at least, not both of them. The half-elf woman nearer to Avar is urging one of the poisonous vermin on by name, apparently happy with its performance. She's dolled up in a costume that, after a moment, the aasimar manages to parse as a kind of stylized scorpion outfit, all shades of brown and red that match the coloration of one of the two creatures in the makeshift pit. It's hard to be sure, because her mask covers her face, but she's probably a looker. Certainly, Avar can see that she's got a nice figure, at least if you're into the slim, somewhat flat-chested looks of a half-elf. She's a brunette, with a very pale, clear complexion.

The other woman is a tall, blonde human, and Avar could come up with a variety of words to describe her looks. We'll start with "statuesque," and go on to "severe," and maybe make a brief stop to flirt with, "amazonian." Avar thinks she's supposed to be done up in a milkmaid costume, although he's virtually certain that no real milkmaid ever wore a dress in brown silk over a blouse of silver sequins.

Still, she's visibly furious at "her" scorpion, and this has lent her tanned complexion a certain ruddiness about the cheeks and neck that lends some verisimilitude to an actual farmgirl. And she's certainly strapping enough to make her way doing chores around a farmyard: Avar has seldom seen shoulders like that on any woman who hasn't pretty well decided to marry a blade.

Garren, who went the same way as Avar but broke to the left instead of the right, is close enough to get a better look at a small medallion nestled in the "farmgirl's" decolletage.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Chuul heads south, because that sitting room is the least obviously terrible choice for someone who'd really just like to be left alone. There's still a cluster of people chattering at one another, very close together but still inordinately loud by the standards of a man who's just spent most of the last month and a half in the wilderness trying to hunt down a werewolf.

On the bright side, there are actual CHAIRS in this room. The table next to a window overlooking the circular drive in front of the building is partly occupied by a halfling woman and a middle-aged elf—the first of his race that Chuul has ever seen with a frosting of white in his blue-black locks. They're talking animatedly about something, and after a moment Chuul cannot help but overhear, "It'd be a sign of friendship between the forests and the plains if your people continued to stand aside from this thing with the goblins, if you don't think you can commit to helping us, ambassador. Speaking informally, of course. I'm just an ordinary plains girl, me." The halfling woman is dressed in heavily embroidered and beaded garments of buckskin, and has pressed a brilliantly dyed swatch of green silk into service as her mask. The get-up isn't really a costume, but it gives her a barbaric splendor that's only slightly spoiled by the fact that she's the size of a six-year-old child.

The elf, likewise, is garbed in buckskins. But his are completely devoid of ornament. And unlike any of the other guests that Chuul has seen, this elf has painted his face with intricate whorls of crimson and yellow paint. It looks . . . complicated. And incendiary.

OOC

Spoiler: Highlight to view

Blue 1 = Alannah
Blue 2 = Chuul
Blue 3 = Avar
Blue 4 = Garren
Blue 5 = Oskav

Green 1 = Earl of Eastrit
Green 2 = "Milkmaid"
Green 3 = "Scorpion Lady"
Green 4 = Painted Elf
Green 5 = Halfling Lady
Green 6 = Barefaced Dwarf
Green 7 = Snake Girl
Green 8 & 10 = ??
Green 9 = Lord Wæmunding and his lady "friend"

Gray 1-4 = Musicians

Greened-out squares are crowds. It takes 2 squares of movement to enter a square with crowds. The crowds provide cover for anyone who enters them, enabling a Hide check and providing a bonus to Armor Class and on Reflex saves. If crowds see something obviously dangerous, they’ll move away at 30 feet per round at initiative count 0.
It takes a DC 15 Diplomacy check or DC 20 Intimidate check to convince a crowd to move in a particular direction, and the crowd must be able to hear or see the character making the attempt. It takes a full-round action to make the Diplomacy check, but only a free action to make the Intimidate check.

If two or more characters are trying to direct a crowd in different directions, they make opposed Diplomacy or Intimidate checks to determine whom the crowd listens to. The crowd ignores everyone if none of the characters’ check results beat the DCs given above.

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

Fixxxer
Fixxxer's picture

Relieved to find chairs, Chuul takes a seat, hoping that it will be an indication to partygoers that he'd rather be left alone. He spends some time admiring the surroundings, but avoids visually studying the elf and halfling. He does keep an ear open, though. The conversation sounds... interesting.

Talanall
Talanall's picture

The conversation between elf and halfling continues as the elf replies, quietly, "Things are very unsettled at home, Carolina. I think you know that. Lord Ceretheliaul wants to avoid involvement if it's at all practical, but we have legitimate grievances that must be addressed if we're to make a formal pledge of noninterference. Things would be easier if young Hope were to officially acknowledge that Woods End is independent. It would be a basis for continuing diplomacy."

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

Board Rider
Board Rider's picture

Avar leans back a bit to get a better view of the scorpion garbed half elf. His eyes start at the basement and quickly rise to the penthouse; taking in every slight curve.

Satisfied, he turns his attention back to the scorpion fight. To nobody in particular he offers, "I wouldn't think that something like this would occur in a place like this. Best I remember is that only the roving tribes in the dessert played this game."

"Is there wagering?"

Talanall
Talanall's picture

"There was, but you're a bit late for this match," replies one of the partygoers, a middle-aged man wearing a mask worked to look like an owl, without looking away from the action. As far as Avar can tell, owl-face is right: it looks like both scorpions are running out of gumption—probably mutally succumbing to each other's venom—but the brown and red specimen is still noticeably more vigorous than the straw-colored one.

As the aasimar looks on, the apparent victor gives forth a last surge of effort, and bites into the head of the straw-colored scorpion. A few seconds of reflexive thrashing later, and the loser goes still, leaving the winning vermin to munch fitfully at its corpse. From the looks of things, the "winner" of this contest probably is still going to die sooner rather than later.

Nobody seems especially upset by this, even the half-elf who looks like a good candidate for its owner; she's cheerfully accepting congratulations from various spectators. Owl-face must have bet on the winner, chortling as he accepts money from a companion.

At the other end of the table, the statuesque milkmaid looks mildly sulky.

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

Board Rider
Board Rider's picture

"Tough loss," Avar offers smoothly while walking towards the "amazonian" woman. Smoothly, the paladin takes a chilled glass from a server and proffers it towards the woman, "Care for a drink? I would be obliged if you would explain what I just witnessed."

Talanall
Talanall's picture

The milkmaid helps herself to her own goblet from the tray, leaving Avar holding a goblet in each of his hands, and replies, "My opponent's scorpion stung mine until it was enfeebled, and then bit off its head. It really isn't a nuanced sport." Sipping her drink, the woman regards the aasimar with a jaundiced eye, adding, "We starve them for some time before the match to make them eager to come to grips."

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

Board Rider
Board Rider's picture

The paladin nods and smiles easily, "A sport you say? Interesting."

Unwilling to leave just yet, "Seems odd that both fighters ultimately die in this sport. Is there money or prestige in it? Just asking. I have never seen such a thing in a venue such as this."

Darker

Alannah, figuring that she might as well get her good deed done for the night, walks up to Wæmunding and the young woman. As she approaches, she exclaims to the girl, "Oh! There you are! I've been looking all over for you. I'm famished and you promised me we'd be able chat over refreshments." She pulls on the girls arm while walking toward the room with the buffet and gives Lord Wæmunding an apologetic smile. "Girl talk," she offers in explanation. "You understand."

Talanall
Talanall's picture

Deciding to seek out the estate's library (presuming it has one), Oskav considers the probable layout of the house, and decides that it's probably on the north side of the building, where it can take advantage of natural light but the books won't be exposed to direct sunlight. He backtracks into the foyer, and then then crosses it to a hallway. Three doors lead north off of it.

Oskav checks the first one, and surely, Bjorn Strong-in-the-Arm is his uncle. It's the library.

Nobody seems inclined to pester him about going inside, so he does so, shutting the door behind him as he comes in. There's a lit chandelier overhead, so it'd be easy to see in here even if he weren't a dwarf; there are four rows of bookshelves in this library, which suggests to him that he's in for at least a moderate amount of pleasurable browsing in search of something worthwhile to read.

OOC

Spoiler: Highlight to view

Blue 1 = Alannah
Blue 2 = Chuul
Blue 3 = Avar
Blue 4 = Garren
Blue 5 = Oskav

Green 1 = Earl of Eastrit
Green 2 = "Milkmaid"
Green 3 = "Scorpion Lady"
Green 4 = Painted Elf
Green 5 = Halfling Lady
Green 6 = Barefaced Dwarf
Green 7 = Snake Girl
Green 8 & 10 = ??
Green 9 = Lord Wæmunding and his lady "friend"

Purple 1&2 = ???

Gray 1-4 = Musicians

Greened-out squares are crowds. It takes 2 squares of movement to enter a square with crowds. The crowds provide cover for anyone who enters them, enabling a Hide check and providing a bonus to Armor Class and on Reflex saves. If crowds see something obviously dangerous, they’ll move away at 30 feet per round at initiative count 0.
It takes a DC 15 Diplomacy check or DC 20 Intimidate check to convince a crowd to move in a particular direction, and the crowd must be able to hear or see the character making the attempt. It takes a full-round action to make the Diplomacy check, but only a free action to make the Intimidate check.

If two or more characters are trying to direct a crowd in different directions, they make opposed Diplomacy or Intimidate checks to determine whom the crowd listens to. The crowd ignores everyone if none of the characters’ check results beat the DCs given above.

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

Talanall
Talanall's picture

Wæmunding apparently does understand, judging from the way his nostrils constrict from the effort of holding in a retort. Instead of hurling insults at Alannah for thwarting his designs on the mousy young woman, however, he forces a smile and even manages a little bow.

It isn't until they have quite a chunk of crowd between him and them that the young lady speaks up, "Thank you for that. I'm Marta." Her neck suddenly flushes, and she hastily adds, "Sorry, that's against the rules for the evening, isn't it? Sorry. I'm not very good at this sort of thing."

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

Talanall
Talanall's picture

The milkmaid takes a deep breath, perhaps suppressing exasperation that Avar is still trying; unfortunately, this has the effect of pressing her bosom more tightly within the confines of her blouse, which probably isn't going to shift the paladin's attention where she'd like it to be.

With the cool tones of strained patience, she answers, "Ferendi culture is in fashion just now. Surely you've heard of this before."

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

Talanall
Talanall's picture

Sotto voce, Baldr says to his master, "We're not alone in here. Someone's in the stacks."

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

Darker

Alannah places of comforting hand on the girls arm, "Oh don't worry about that. The stuffy, old nobility around here have far too many rules anyway." As if to prove her blatant disregard for rules, she adds, "I'm Alannah."

"Now come on, I was serious. Let's see what kind of victuals Eastrit has set out to impress this crowd. I'd like to spend at least some of this evening with someone not trying to get into my skirts."

Talanall
Talanall's picture

Marta blushes again, and blurts, "Oh. Right, sorry. I mean, yes, food sounds nice." She smooths her yellow dress nerviously, and follows Alannah like a duckling as the adventuress sweeps northward into the banqueting hall.

Immediately, Alannah notices that Wæmunding's retainer, the dwarf from the front door, is here, seated at one of the long dining trestles where he's picking at a plateful of food and nursing a drink. He's near the serving table, where joints of roasted meat, fancifully-shaped pastries, fresh fruits, and all manner of other delicacies await partygoers.

At the other end of the room, the fantastically corpulent half-orc who apparently holds title as Baron Greenshore is ensconced at another table, demolishing a heaped plate of food.

OOC

Spoiler: Highlight to view

Blue 1 = Alannah
Blue 2 = Chuul
Blue 3 = Avar
Blue 4 = Garren
Blue 5 = Oskav
Green 1 = Earl of Eastrit
Green 2 = "Milkmaid"
Green 3 = "Scorpion Lady"
Green 4 = Painted Elf
Green 5 = Halfling Lady
Green 6 = Barefaced Dwarf
Green 7 = Snake Girl
Green 8 = Baron Greenshore
Green 9 = Lord Wæmunding
Green 10 = Trogar

Purple 1&2 = ???
Purple 3 = Marta

Gray 1-4 = Musicians

Greened-out squares are crowds. It takes 2 squares of movement to enter a square with crowds. The crowds provide cover for anyone who enters them, enabling a Hide check and providing a bonus to Armor Class and on Reflex saves. If crowds see something obviously dangerous, they’ll move away at 30 feet per round at initiative count 0.
It takes a DC 15 Diplomacy check or DC 20 Intimidate check to convince a crowd to move in a particular direction, and the crowd must be able to hear or see the character making the attempt. It takes a full-round action to make the Diplomacy check, but only a free action to make the Intimidate check.

If two or more characters are trying to direct a crowd in different directions, they make opposed Diplomacy or Intimidate checks to determine whom the crowd listens to. The crowd ignores everyone if none of the characters’ check results beat the DCs given above.

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

Darker

Alannah picks at some of the food while walking down the feast table, really only eating a few small pieces of fruit. While walking, she idly asks the girl, "So, who did you arrive with? Do you know Lord Eastrit?" Then before she has a chance to give much of an answer, Alannah turns to her and exclaims, "Oh, you should come meet my friends! Come on, let's see if we can find them."

Board Rider
Board Rider's picture

Avar, having danced this particular dance before, shakes his head and swallows the wine from hist first glass.

"No...that is...I...well. I'm not into fashion." The paladin finishes the retort waving the empty glass from side to side in the manner of "you understand".

"Pleasant evening my lady," Avar offers somewhat dismissively while turning his head to look for Garren. Anybody really.

MinusInnocence
MinusInnocence's picture

Oskav calls out to whoever is also present in the library, "Forgive the disturbance. I thought to take refuge in here as well." He hobbles over to the nearest shelf and begins scanning the volumes, looking to get a feel for the reading habits of the lord and his forebears before making any evaluations about whether it is surprising to find a particular tome here.

"Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag and begin slitting throats." - H.L. Mencken

Talanall
Talanall's picture

A human man emerges from the stacks, absentmindedly straightening the orange and blue hobgoblin mask on his face where it has somehow been knocked askew. His hair, jet-black and elaborately curled, has been pulled back into a somewhat disheveled-looking ponytail, perhaps to minimize its prominence for the costume--Oskav recalls that such goblinoids as he has seen have all tended to keep their hair clipped close. So well done to this young man for doing his research! He clutches a short spear in one hand, holding it more like a prop than a weapon, and nonchalantly uses his free hand to grab that of a young wo—oh. No, that's an elf woman. Probably not so young, after all. And uncharacteristically rosy-cheeked beneath her wolf mask, for an elf.

Hurriedly, the young man agrees, "Ah, yes. Refuge. From uh, the noise of the party. Yes. Which the lady and I were beginning to find tiresome." The elf, for her part, does not seem overjoyed to have a fellow refugee present.

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

deadDMwalking
deadDMwalking's picture

Garren had watched the conclusion of the scorpion fight and is in place to recognize Avar's discomfort. "Avar, while it was a thrilling match, you should of course congratulate the winner. I for one am curious to know how she selected such a formidable creature." He offers a bow to the milkmaid as he prepares to lead his companion away.

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