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#828965
Fri 09/10/15 21:27 UTC
Fri 09/10/15 21:27 UTC
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nemarsde Offline OP

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GM

The land rose in fits and spurts, as Seyja and Zoltan led you up into the foothills of the Titan's Elbow.

Although there was more shade under the trees, any breeze along the valley was stifled and there was no light mist from the river.

After the exertion of battle, you might have thought you'd no more sweat in you, but walking amongst those pines, with no wind or sun's rays drying you, you felt rivulets on your skin. As afternoon stretched, so did the shadows, to almost impossible lengths. The patchy light was golden, turned amber and the fragrance of the forest seemed to double in intensity, as did the insects. Noisy chicadas chirruped from every bush, and clouds of gnats danced in every patch of sunlight.

The slope was steep enough in places that you had to scramble up on hands and knees, or climb between tree trunks like a natural flight of stairs. But visibility into the forest remained good, 40 feet, often more. Even then, the pines were thin and straight, the undergrowth fine, and would provide little hiding place for more orcs. Most of you had seen far older, darker and more forboding forest than this, but that didn't mean the forest of the Sword Point was harmless. The spaciousness suggested seasonal wildfires for one thing, and for another it was still untamed, as the cave lions proved.

And despite appearances, several times, as you walked, you got the sensation you were being watched. From where you could not tell, nor whether it was benevolent or malevolent eyes watching.

***

Hours later. Seyja caught the whiff of an acrid smell, her nostrils flared. If she turned to Zoltan, he nodded, picking it up too. They didn't recognise it, and nor did the rest of the party except perhaps Jex. If he did, it would have brought back very troubling memories.

You were clambering up a slope of loose dirt, interspersed with lumpy rock outcrops. It burned the thighs and was steep enough to lean forward onto your fingertips if need be, but was a fast route upwards.

Broken trees with splintered stumps were the first signs of disturbance.

Weapons were loosened in scabbards, but it soon became evident that the danger had (in some respects) passed.

It came into view.... Lying in and amongst the trees was a large skeleton of glistening stone, tangled amongst some kind of rigging or tack.

You saw the skull, curling ram-like horns, sharp, interlocking teeth the length of a man's hand. You saw claws. You saw what might have been wings once, when they would've had a leathery membrane stretched across them.

Dragon bones. Dead dragon. Like all of its kind, soon after dying the magic confined in the dragon's mortal form had consumed it, leaving only the infamous petrified bones. Where they had broken, you could see wonderful, crystalline colours. The acrid smell rose from these remains and the area around them.

As you spread out, you realised this was not just a dragon. It had been muzzled and saddled. These were the remains of a dragon rider.

#828969
Fri 09/10/15 22:10 UTC
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Seyja


The acrid odor still assaulting her memory if not her nostrils, Seyja stood still, staring in awe at the huge skeleton of a dragonrid. She took a mouthful of water from her waterskin, swished it around her mouth and spat it on the ground before taking two measured swallows from the skin.

"I have never seen anything like this," she murmured, as much to herself as to the others.

#828977
Sat 10/10/15 00:47 UTC
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<Weston>

It was good to be away from Heilbutt's Hallow ... at least at first. The trees seemed welcoming, but that was short lived. The lack of breeze and the hot sun made it uncomfortable to say the least. He was sure to remind his companions to drink water. Dehydration was something that could be as deadly as any attack. And then there was the feeling of being watched. It felt like a predator, but there wasn't any proof of it. Perhaps the thinness of the forest was keeping the watchers at bay.

He wondered, seeing the devastated trees, if =that= was what was watching them. But another part of him doubted that. Something that could splinter trees like that would not have been deterred by some folks clamoring up the slide of the mountain ... at least it felt like a mountain ... a very =tall= mountain.

"Me either", he said absently in response to Seyja's statement. "How long do you think it has been dead", he asked as he stared at the remains. He had never seen a dragon before, live or dead. And someone had apparently ridden this one. "Any chance the rider is still around", he asked.


MikeD
#828985
Sat 10/10/15 02:17 UTC
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D

He liked to think that he had been prepared for this excursion. Yet the longer they went on the more he wondered if he had been fooling himself.

At the site of the bones and what they represented made him stop and observe. He couldn't remember ever seeing such a sight before, but he might have. For all of that though he was hard pressed not to gawk like some pesant.

He wondered the same question. When had whatever gone wrong had happened? To that end he said "when did the trees die? That might help."

#828995
Sat 10/10/15 09:27 UTC
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nemarsde Offline OP

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Nestaron

Leaning on his staff, he daubed his face with his sleeve. Where his armour clung to his body, the clothing underneath was sopping wet.

He noted, and not for the first time, what fine boots Weston had. The benefits of living in one of the Seven Cities. Nestaron had spent too long away from the hubs of civilisation, it was perhaps time to pay them a visit, he thought, feeling the thinness of the sandalwood under his feet.

The dragon's remains were a complete surprise to him, doubly so when he heard there was a dragon rider in there amongst the wreckage.

"Sergeant Almador, could you climb uphill a ways and stand guard? We'll search hereabouts."

Seeing his companions spreading out around the site, he said, "Can anyone see the rider? If he was unseated, he might not be nearby at all."

#828996
Sat 10/10/15 09:36 UTC
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Sergeant Almador

Climbing hills he could do. His thews were like tree trunks, from patrolling up and down Rosencliff his whole life. He felt like it was his upper body that had let him down in the battle.

But they weren't fighting now. Using his polearm for support, he was able to keep abreast with the party, not slowing them down, even though he was the older man and not a traveller.

"Blimey...!" He whispered when he realised he was looking at a dragon. Real, if not a real live dragon, but that was fine by him.

Sergeant Almador nodded to the cleric. Although he was the Sergeant of the Guard, he was well used to taking orders from Captain Achelus and this half-elf seemed like an agreeable fellow anyway.

That, and standing guard was literally his job.

"I'll shout if I see anything, sirs. I might have a better view over the whole area from further up."

#828997
Sat 10/10/15 10:03 UTC
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nemarsde Offline OP

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GM

Despite the acrid stench from the magical emolation, Jex knew that the dragon's remains were safe to approach; just be sure to wash your hands if you touched anything. It was up to Jex how much dragon lore he wanted to share with his companions, but these weren't the first dragon remains he'd seen.

Everyone knew dragon bones were precious. They could be carved into sumptuous ornaments, they could be ground into dust and used by alchemists. But it was claws, teeth, scales that were the most prized, and these could only be obtained from a live dragon and were far more potent than petrified bones.

Tindarien knew that with these things you could craft items that were infused with a permanent magic, much like the haunted helm that was the focus of this quest. Seeing the skeleton splayed out, he might've considered warning the others about dracoliches.

Although D had seen his share of the humanoid dragonspawn, servitors of the Three, but this was the closest he'd come to a dragon. He probably wondered what type of dragon it was... or had been.

For Weston and Zoltan, dragon riders weren't nearly so amazing. They'd lived or been based out of Axis, the City of Swords, where opposite the Imperial Palace of Thronehold were the barracks of the Empire's legendary Dragon Knights. They were a common sight in the skies above the city, patrolling to its outskirts and the surrounding lands.

However, from the streets they usually appeared the size of a thumbnail. This was different.

Working together, the party picked their way across the site as carefully as possible, given that they were short of time and they'd the light would soon be failing.

Nestaron examined the broken trees and judged they'd been damaged some weeks ago, from the colouration, congealed sap and early signs of infestation. Could this coincide with the night that Red Ed's steed was found in Rosencliff? The locals heard a terrible roar emminate from the peak that night.

Nearby, Seyja paced out the extent of the damaged trees and showed that the dragon had struck the hillside at a steep angle, rather than crashing through the forest oblique to the ground. Did this suggest it had died on the wing, or at least been mortally wounded?

You were able to quickly rule out this being one of the Emperor's Dragon Knights. They wore the Imperial regalia, an unmistakable and ancient livery of yellow and black with white and red trim, meant to signify the metallic dragons. There was no such vibrant colour here, at least at first glance. Also, why was the dragon muzzled? That didn't reconcile with the tales anyone had heard of the Dragon Knights.

But the crash had thrown up a lot of dirt, half-burying things, and scattered the rider's baggage over a third of an acre of wooded hillside.

There was likely a lot you could learn from this wreckage, but searching for answers would mean no time for scouting later and you would be making camp at dusk. But you could find more than answers here, surely. Who could tell what posessions a dragon rider might have had?

[If you decide to stay and search for a while, pose any specific questions and/or relate your searching to one of your Backgrounds. What's most important is that we learn something interesting about your character.]

#829001
Sat 10/10/15 13:40 UTC
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<Weston>

"Do we stay and look for answers now or do we press on", he asked. "We could always stop on the way back", he added sounding more like he favored not spending a lot of time in this place ... or maybe just in a hurry to finish their mission.





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#829008
Sat 10/10/15 14:33 UTC
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Seyja


She turned to Weston, frowning in thought.

"I would vote to press on and try to stop by on the way back," she said after a long moment.

"Unless someone else has a... compelling reason to stay and search."

Seyja looked up at the sun and gauged the time left before sunset.

"That would mean we would probably have to camp here. Or at least nearby unless we were to travel during the night."

She obviously was not sanguine about that last comment.

#829016
Sat 10/10/15 16:15 UTC
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D

"While I would like to have more time to search the wreckage, I do not believe the best time is now. While I like the night it is not the best time to travel for all of us. It also doesn't seem related to our mission at first blush. I would vote to press on and give this a full examination on our way back."

#829021
Sat 10/10/15 18:00 UTC
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Zoltan

He looks around the site professionally, taking in the marks of the dragon's crashing into the ground and it's result.

It is getting close to dusk, and they will be setting up camp soon, so he offers, "Why don't you all keep moving on? Leave an obvious trail and setup camp in a good place when it gets dark. I'll look around here and catch up with you. With that large party of Orcs and Goblins we just fought in the area most predators will have left."

He knows he can search the area faster than most of the others, being skilled in such things. And on his own the area will remain pristine and even more easily sorted. It is not much different than his taking apart the campsites of those he has trailed, looking for clues at to how many of them there were, what they carried, what they ate, and where they were headed.

#829026
Sat 10/10/15 18:38 UTC
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<Weston>

"Are you sure it is wise to be on your own here", he asked Zoltan.


MikeD
#829027
Sat 10/10/15 18:48 UTC
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Zoltan

"I am more used to being on my own than being with others." He replies. "Besides, I don't want to reduce the strength of the main group by having too many split off. I should be alright."

#829028
Sat 10/10/15 19:05 UTC
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Seyja


The barbarian woman cocked her head to one side and gave Zoltan a long, appraising look, a frown of concentration on her face. Finally she shrugged.

"If you think it advisable, then do so."

#829053
Sun 11/10/15 00:38 UTC
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D

"I am reluctant to leave you here alone. I know how to search efficiently and can travel well. How about I join you, search the areas you designate and then we catch up quickly. It will go much quicker and be less risk, at least in my opinion."

#829068
Sun 11/10/15 01:44 UTC
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<Weston>

He nodded, "I would feel better if you had some help Zoltan. Nothing against you, but we all need help occasionally and having someone that can get the rest of us if needed is a good safety precaution."


MikeD
#829081
Sun 11/10/15 10:44 UTC
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nemarsde Offline OP

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Nestaron

"So I think we can agree on one thing. It seems likely that this dragon died on the same night, several weeks ago, that Sir Edward the Red's horse was found in town.

"The townsfolk reported a monstrous roar from the Titan's Elbow, and well, this would do it."

Nestaron clambered up towards Sergeant Almador. He wasn't keen to split the party, but Zoltan and D should be able to throw off any trouble they come across.

"If this isn't one of the Empire's Dragon Knights, I'd like to know who else is flying around on dragons these days, and how they got themselves killed."

He turned to overlook the site, stroking his beard.

"It would have taken Red Ed's horse at least two days to make the return journey to Rosencliff. So our guesswork places this dragon rider's demise two days after Red Ed's.

"What do you think? This could be a competitor, after the same treasure haul as Red Ed?"

The half-elf looked around now, not at the wreckage but at the depth of forest. It felt like you could see through the trees for a quarter-mile. Open, unthreatening, safe.

"Just be careful, you two. This 'remote' wilderness is starting to feel a little crowded."

#829092
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<Weston>

"Well it's possible the rider was on his way here, but it also seems possible, since the dragon was taken from the air, that it could have just been a coincidence that the dragon was in the area."


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Zoltan

He nods towards D and the others. "Alright. It'll make the searching go faster. We'll catch up."

#829131
Sun 11/10/15 22:34 UTC
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Jex
"I understand the need to press on but we would be foolish not to learn from the things we come upon on the way. There might be hints as to what may come next. It would be good to see what brought it down. Perhaps a magical arrow or was it a spell of great might? There is too much learning to be done and I cannot let an opportunity slip by. I will stay and search and I can take care of myself too, to some extent."

His use of the blade and magic were already on display but so was his knowledge of things.

"Zoltan, do you have gloves and a rag? If you touch things in that area you must be wary of the caustic secretions of that dragon. "

#829136
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<Weston>

And so do now we are three groups, he thought as he sighed. He took a breath and let it out, composing his thoughts.

"What do you hope to find", he asked Jex.


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#829139
Sun 11/10/15 23:26 UTC
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Jex

"That is like asking someone where they lost something. If I lost it, I don't know where it is. Since I have not found anything, I do not know what I will find. I only hope to find it and hope it is worthwhile. It could be a magic item, a clue or a warning. Some gold or a gem caught between the scales of the dragon would not be bad either."

[ooc: I don't understand 3 groups. Jex was joining D and Zoltan]

#829144
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<Weston>

He could only shrug. It wasn't up to him to tell others what to do. "What ever", he said. "So basically most want to stay here but didn't want to say anything until we decided to move on because no one had anything to say", he said with a loud sigh. "So lets try this again ... how many want to stay here and how many want to move on. I will abstain."

[[ I misunderstood what you were suggesting Nep ... but that isn't uncommon for me <wink> ]]


MikeD
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[[ That's OK. The conversation moved faster than I did. ]]


-Nep
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Tindarien

He had been quiet until now.

"I cannot think that a dragon was just passing and fell around the same time that the knight was here. This does not seem to be a coincidence, much more likely it is connected. Perhaps both were killed by whatever inhabits the Elbow. I think we should not split up and I think we should try to learn what we can from this incident. Camping here would allow us to do that. Information and items found here may well increase the chances of success in our mission."

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