"I'm worried the cart may get stuck in some of the irregular passages. Why not carry the treasure out to the cart? That way we can defend ourselves more effectively against the undead. I'm also concerned about leaving the horse unguarded out here, the undead or those rats might be a danger to it."
Ramon did not feel sick but he supposed that would be the normal situation when one had just been attacked. He chose in this matter to face it when it came up and not before then. So, notwithstanding everyone else's concern, Ramon simply put the fear of the monster inside to the side and got on with the task at hand.
"Carrying the treasure out is a good idea. Some of us... if not all of us... can camp out here tonight to guard the treasure," said Clybe. "Perhaps we can partially fill it today and finish up in the morning?"
Axen walked over to Ramon. "I will take the first guard shift tonight. I will keep just as much of an eye on you as on the treasure." Axen placed his hand gently on his friend. "I know that you do not wish to hurt others, so if you are a lycanthrope and become a wolf tonight, I will stop you from hurting anyone else in the group. I think it is smart for you to be restrained tonight until we are sure that you will not turn."
"If everyone would be more comfortable with me bound and not taking my share of the watch, alright. But I'm not certain the curse acts so quickly..."
Ramon was touched by Axen's concern and placed his hand briefly over the halfling's much smaller hand. Then he continued, "But first we need to decide what to do about the treasure. What do you think?"
Post by scottenkainen on May 1, 2015 20:39:19 GMT -6
Day 9/turns 5-7 for Ramon, Axen, Clybe, (Gratien, Kepa, Koldo, Fortunato, Daphne, Jean-Marie, Cayetano, +4 more):
The entry tunnel was safe enough -- though scraping and shuffling sounds could be heard down the side passages, nothing came out to attack them.
Their treasure awaited them, unmolested, in the secret room behind the unholy chapel. All of the small items were carried out without any trouble. The furniture-sized treasures were harder, but there was plenty of hands to help. Everything was in or on its way to the cart at the entrance in just 2 hours' time.
On the last trip, however, the ghouls and wights finally emerged. They streamed out of the side passages -- but not to attack the adventurers. Instead, the horrible nightmare creatures streamed north, into the sanctuary area just cleared of the last of its treasure.
"What can be going on back there...?" Daphne asked.
"I don't know...but I don't know if we want to know," Fortunato said. "Do we?"
"They match us in numbers and I am not certain we match them in strength," Ramon answered. "I am worried what they are up to but see no safe way to investigate...unless Fortunato..."
Ramon looked at the man he suspected possessed the same "special skills" the departed Sergi had so brazenly revealed on a few occasions. "I can cast a protective spell on you that will make you somewhat safer if you wish to investigate. But I will not ask you to go."
If Fortunato was not willing Ramon was happy to join the party in beginning the tough journey back to Avella.
Post by scottenkainen on May 4, 2015 13:05:54 GMT -6
Day 9/turns 8 for Ramon, Axen, Clybe, (Gratien, Kepa, Koldo, Fortunato, Daphne, Jean-Marie, Cayetano, +4 more):
Others tried to urge Fortunato into doing it, particularly from his own party.
"All right. All right," Fortunato said at last, holding his hands out in a gesture of "stop already". "I'll do it with Ramon's spell -- but if it looks dangerous, I'm high-tailing it back to the entrance."
Ramon cast Protection from Evil ((I presume?)) on Fortunato, and Fortunato left.
They only moved the cart slowly after that, eager to hear what Fortunato learned.
About 5 minutes later, Clybe heard a sound to the north...sounded like a large portcullis being raised. Gratien, Koldo, and two of the men-at-arms seemed to hear it too.
A minute later, Fortunato came running back, fast. "The undead lifted some portcullises!" Fortunato said. "And I think something attacked them!"
Axen ran out to start preparing the wagon for quick travel. He had hoped to plead his case for a better use of the money to the two clerics, but with a bunch of undead on their tail, that would have to wait.
Post by scottenkainen on May 7, 2015 23:01:10 GMT -6
Day 9/turns 9 for Ramon, Axen, Clybe, (Gratien, Kepa, Koldo, Fortunato, Daphne, Jean-Marie, Cayetano, +4 more):
The adventurers made it out, loaded the last of the treasure, and started out of there! Not at speed, of course, because now they had to get a heavier cart back along the muddy trail that led west through the swamp.
They were about 500' away from the cave -- no longer able to see it directly, because of the trees in between them -- when they heard something at the entrance. No one could place the sound at first -- it sounded like some horrible giant animal growl -- and then were shocked to see something black, bat-winged, and dragon-like take wing over the trees!
"No. That can't be!" Kepa exclaimed.
But it did appear to be a dragon -- 30' long, from tip to tail. And while it leisurely circled about in the air for a minute while the adventurers watched in stunned silence, it then turned in their direction! And there was no cover about, other than the wagon, some tall reeds, and water so shallow you would have to lie down to go unnoticed in it.
((Random direction roll: 7. Uh oh -- Intentions?))
"Scatter," Ramon called to his friends and companions and watched as they made their own choices about where to hide. For himself he calmly strode a few paces in front of the loaded wagon.
"As the sainted Cuthbert told," he thought to himself. "The fatted sow can be saved by the clever spinning of a spider's web."
Ramon let his mace dangle by its strap from his wrist and dropped to one knee. He glanced to see that his companions had taken cover or not, he would deal with the situation as it came. Then he called to the dragon, "Mighty lord of these marshes! Before you act rashly, I bid you hear my words!"
Post by scottenkainen on May 11, 2015 10:26:10 GMT -6
Day 9/turn 10, rds. 1-2 for Ramon, Axen, Clybe, (Gratien, Kepa, Koldo, Fortunato, Daphne, Jean-Marie, Cayetano, +4 more):
As the dragon approached, Koldo, Cayetano, and the four men-at-arms screamed and ran west. The horses freaked out too and wanted to bolt, but the carts were not making it easy. They whinnied and reared up and pulled the carts -- one got 20' before its cart got hopelessly stuck in the mire and the other was 30' along and going.
Of those who remained, Daphne and Jean-Marie shook, but everyone else seemed okay. Axen laid down in the muck to hide and hid very well. Gratien and Kepa stayed where they were, flanking Ramon, and drew bows. Fortunato, Daphne, and Jean-Marie moved 30' west -- keeping up with the cart, but then stood their ground there; Daphne with her bow out.
All three archers delayed long enough to hear Ramon call out to the dragon -- and they seemed to trust him enough to delay and see what happened next.
Clybe, who must have thought they were nuts to cluster together as they did, had plenty of directions to run in, though most of them would leave him ankle-deep in mud.
The dragon -- even more horrible and scary-looking up close -- landed 60' in front of Ramon and the fighters. It growled in a voice that sounded surprisingly human-like. "I see two cartloads of treasure, and just a few humans in my way from taking it. Why should I stop and listen to what one of you has to say?"
Axen overheard the dragon speaking and sat up in shock. He had no idea that dragons could *speak* to humans and not simply roast them. He climbed slowly out of the muck and began to slowly approach the dragon.
The split second between the dragon's question and his reply, Ramon felt his thoughts going a mile-a-minute. He took a deep breath. He was heartened by the support of his friends. He saw that the danger was too great for a fight and hoped it would not come to it. He hoped he could do something to save his friends.
"What may I call you, lord dragon?" Ramon asked.
"Lord Dragon," it answered.
"Very good, Lord Dragon. I am Ramon. Your observations are no doubt accurate, two wagons of treasure and a band of humans. On the surface little threat to you. But perhaps it would be wiser if you knew a little more. Those who stand before reckon themselves some of those dangerous and unpredictable sub-species of humans - adventurers. The truth is that we are more than meets the eye. Taking the treasure from us would not be as easy as you think."
The dragon gave a hiss of what Ramon could only guess was impatience; hoped was only impatience.
"After all," Ramon continued, "It is because of us that you are free. You must be hungry and eager to begin rebuilding your treasure. I offer you a trade for an easier way out of this confrontation. We will leave one of the wagons full of treasure and the horse attached to it for you. And we will leave these fens for you to rule if you wish."
Post by scottenkainen on May 12, 2015 22:29:24 GMT -6
Day 9/turn 10, rd. 3 for Ramon, Axen, Clybe, (Gratien, Kepa, Koldo, Fortunato, Daphne, Jean-Marie, Cayetano, +4 more):
The dragon's eyes stared out of a face as black as pitch at Ramon. He could see saliva drip from its fangs and sizzle when the drops hit the grass below. "Lord Dragon" seemed to be thinking about Ramon's offer seriously.
"I need information as much as treasure," Lord Dragon said at last. "What year is it now? Whom do you serve? Does the Temple of Elemental Evil rule this land? Do not attempt to deceive me in any way."
Ramon was relieved to see the dragon at least willing to continue the parley but was also glad to see his companions had not let down their guard.
"I would never dream of deceiving so cunning a being as you, Lord Dragon. The year is 594 by the Common Reckoning," Ramon began. "I do not know how far the Temple's authority once stretched but I know the Temple was defeated in a great battle some decades ago. As far as I can tell no one rules here."
Ramon let the dragon think on that for a moment.
Then he continued, "Your question about whom we serve: my companions and I only serve our collective interest. We do not have a master or mistress."
Suddenly, Axen had a funny feeling that this parley was not going as well as he'd hoped. He sensed that the dragon, in part, wanted to strike at Ramon, and Axen would not let his friend go down without a fight. Axen circled further toward the rear of the dragon, but still at an angle close enough to watch if the dragon struck at Ramon and the others. At the very least, Axen could rush forward and strike a strong blow at the dragon's side should the dragon choose to strike.
Clybe heard little of the conversation as his focus was on halting the runaway wagon. As soon as he was able to get the wagon under control, he stopped the wagon, then turned around to watch the parley from a distance.
Post by scottenkainen on May 13, 2015 17:29:13 GMT -6
Day 9/turn 10, rd. 4 for Ramon, Axen, Clybe, (Gratien, Kepa, Koldo, Fortunato, Daphne, Jean-Marie, Cayetano, +4 more):
"Five ninety-four!" Lord Dragon said with surprise. The dragon's head turned on its serpentine neck to the south and east. "They have much to answer for..." it growled.
A moment later, it snapped its face back to Ramon -- though Axen had the distinction impression that the dragon's eye was looking straight at him instead as he sneaked around the dragon's flank. "You all serve me now!" the dragon boomed. "Return my one wagon and horse to the cave. I will be too busy seeking answers to supervise -- but do not fail me in this, or I shall track you down and slay you all!"
Before anyone could respond, the dragon launched itself into the air again.
Clybe was now 120' away, finally having caught up to the runaway horse and wagon -- though only because the wagon had become stuck in the muck first.
Clybe, seeing that this wagon was stuck as well and that the dragon rapidly flew away, hopped down and returned to the group. He had heard enough of the exchange and planned to suggest to the others that they move a bit of the treasure from one wagon to another and leave the lighter wagon for the dragon.
Ramon began shaking involuntarily and then fell to his knees, "Thank you, Gods of the Heavenly Virtues. St. Cuthbert, the firm; Delleb, the wise; Hierroneous, the Brave; Rao, the Placid; Zilchus, the Economical," he repeated over and over as he had been taught to pray.*
It was only after he had said the prayer twenty times that he felt strong enough to rise and thank Axen for his compliment. When Clybe suggested they shift the treasures he was more than willing to agree, "But let's be certain the wagons remain equal in bulk if not value and not make it too obvious. Perhaps if we gave the dragon four-tenths of the total?"
Post by scottenkainen on May 15, 2015 19:40:12 GMT -6
Day 9/the rest of turn 10 for Ramon, Axen, Clybe, (Gratien, Kepa, Koldo, Fortunato, Daphne, Jean-Marie, Cayetano, +4 more):
The dragon was gone. Those who had fled were found and told the score. And then the arguments began.
"We should not do the dragon's bidding," Gratien said. "I will not be its servant."
"I doubt that was in any way legally binding on us," Kepa countered. "Why not leave something for the dragon to avoid future trouble with it?"
"Pardon me, sirs, but how can you trust the word of a dragon?" Koldo asked. "Even if we go back and drop off half the treasure, what's to keep that dragon from following us and eating us in our sleep?"
"Why should it?" Fortunato asked. "Some of you were not here for the dragon's words, but it seemed to be deeply concerned about what year it was. Is no one else curious about that?"
"Who knows what concerns dragons have?" Daphne asked. "I would not be opposed to leaving some of the treasure behind, if it keeps the dragon from coming after us and bothering Avella -- or worse -- Verbobonc. But I don't like the idea of leaving the horse behind for him. Let it find its own food!"
"I feel we should give Ramon's plan more weight than our opinions," Jean-Marie said, "since it was his quick thinking which saved us all from what looked like a terrible battle."
"Guys..." Cayetano said, between looks back in the direction the dragon headed. "You said it mentioned the Temple of Elemental Evil? That's in the direction I'm from. The dragon is heading in the direction of Hommlet."
"Our orders were clear -- to bring the treasure back to Dame Avella," one of the men-at-arms said.
"My friends, this is clearly a hard choice. I think we have bought ourselves time. The dragon is no master of us, but I want to suggest why we should hold to the deal. First, if that dragon does return and finds no treasure it will punish the nearest human settlement. This treasure will do Dame Avella little good if the dragon strikes out in vengeance. And, second, if we are worried leaving some treasure makes us bound to the dragon as servants, I, for my part, do not consider its declaration of us as servants is not accurate. It took the deal I offered. Legally speaking, I'd say our agreement was one between equals."
Ramon paused, "But I suggest we put it to a vote. Leave the reduced treasure or not. And I am alright with taking the horse with us."