Friday, June 28, 2013

A Surprising Development

Moon, date & weather unchanged.

The party climbs up toward the twisted pines, where the cart track ascends into.  All along the way, they find themselves carefully inspected at a distance by the onlookers; some of them make encouraging signs, some only speak to each other, but no others approach the party.  It's clear that much of the attitude is similar to the old man and women the party already met.

Being that its February, the grass is green; it is long and uncropped, and Maximillian can see that no beasts come here to feed.  The pines are thin and do not offer much concealment ... though its understood the party makes their way carefully along, perhaps with Sofia occasionally making a brief reconnaissance ahead to ensure the way is safe.

Not far into this forest, which spreads over the top of a wide, rolling spur of the greater hill that has its top another mile or so away, the party comes to a place where the cart track deviates.  There is an old, battered sign, difficult to read, that points to the right track.  It may say "TOROGL" or possibily "KOROGI," or some combination of both.

It's not hard to see that about fifty yards along the left track - through the screen of trees, concealing the party - the cart and mule.  Beside both, the two soldiers and the two boys - openly, not restrained - sit on stones, apparently chatting, eating sausages and loaves.

52 comments:

Maximillian said...

Shall we visit them?

Andrej said...

Let's. If not mounted but safe to do so, Andrej and Sofia approach the soldiers and boys on horse. Otherwise, we lead them forward.

(This is both for practical purposes of quick mobility and for show. Let us make as impressive an entrance as we can.)

Alexis Smolensk said...

The hill in this portion takes the shape of a open, flat area, so there's no trouble being mountain. The ground is too rough and wild to allow galloping - but your horses can pick their way along at a walk (even a trot would be dangerous to them).

As the soldiers and boys see Andrej and Sofia approaching (and the others behind), they will leap to their feet - but not leap to pull weapons.

Rather, they will raise their hands, to show they aren't interested in fighting.

"Look, Frederico," shouts one. "They're not Greeks! Its a Catholic friar!"

Andrej can see clearly from the livery - now - that these guards are Venetian. Maximillian will certainly recognize them as northern Italians. They're not the least bit swarthy.

Maximillian said...

I do not hang back, but leave the speaking to the catholic friar.

Andrej said...

Andrej likewise raises a hand to show his peaceful intentions. Smiling benevolently, he dismounts while Sofia does the same; the latter taking both horses by the reigns to walk off some distance and allow them to graze what they may.

"My sons, I am ArcDeacon Andrej, on a mission to take our most sacred faith to foreign lands. While stopping upon this fair isle my companions and I were made aware of a most curious practice being conducted upon this very hill..." Andrej makes some show of wiping his brow and pulling casually from his waterskin, attempting to strike an authoritative but relaxed and nonchalant pose, "... and we have come ourselves to see with our own eyes the truth of it and what may be done for its remedy. Tell me, sons of Venice, to what purpose are you gathered here and is there any guidance or help we may offer you?"

Alexis Smolensk said...

"Roberto," says Frederico. "He's a half-orc."

"Well good," says Roberto. "He's obviously not in the Prince's employ."

To Andrej, Roberto will say suspiciously, "What practice exactly is it you refer to, Father?"

Andrej said...

Andrej lets his hands drop casually to his sides, one still holding the skin and the other near to Aksion Spacimo. Sofia pretends not to hear, patting her horse's flank and clucking to it while she discretely puts her other hand close to one of her daggers.

Andrej still smiles, allowing no edge to enter into his voice. Casual, still friendly, "Why, what other practice could I mean, Roberto? We've come to see what is to be done with these two boys, of course."

Maximillian said...

I say to Lukas while I dismount, "would you like me to take your horse?"

I will take mine and his leads (if he dismounts) in my left hand, and then make the same offer to Ahmet.

Andrej said...

So far we know: this lot was initially friendly, the title to the thread is A Surprising Development, these four did not take the right track "TOROGL" or possibily "KOROGI, but rather are chatting it up and snacking here off of the left track, it's good that we're not in the employ of the Prince...

Alexis Smolensk said...

The two guards look relieved at Andrej's answer. "Well, we're not feeding them to the monster, if that's what you mean. We're not that indecent!" says Roberto. He looks sideways at the party.

"I'm guessing you're not here to make us."

Maximillian said...

(Yes, there is clearly more to the story. It also apparently is good that we're not Greek.)

Andrej said...

Andrej offers the skin over to Roberto, "Hardly. This is good news, my sons. Lukas and Maximilian over there might have been cross should I have tried to crack your heads open to prevent you. It's not that we're heroes or anything, mind you, it's just been so long since Ahmet over there has seen a good fight, and I hate to see my friends so gloomy. So what's the story here, then? Is there a beast upon the hill or is this just an elaborate ruse?"

Alexis Smolensk said...

"Oh, no, there's a beast all right. Another hundred yards down the other track there's a cave, and in that cave Boroge sits. We're supposed to take these two boys there, but ..." he pauses. "Well, Frederico and I decided when we first joined up here that we just weren't going to do it. So when we get the detail, we steal the boys up here just like everyone else does, then we sneak 'em down the other side after dark, to a boat and compatriots waiting on the shore. Then we get word to their parents, who mostly leave the island to be with their children. That way, our consciences are clear, the Prince knows none the wiser ... and if that beast doesn't like that it doesn't get dinner, it can come out and the Prince can deal with it direct, like it ought to be. This tribute stuff is for the devil."

Andrej said...

"Aye. You are good men, Roberto... Frederico." Andrej administers each a short blessing.

"So, the prince would not be upset then if this creature never emerged from his cave, I take it? And should this be so, should the creature perish what would you do, Roberto? Continue with your ruse or report back to the prince that the beast was gone?"

Alexis Smolensk said...

"We don't bring every prisoner up her ourselves. I would guess the others actually feed the children to the beast." Roberto pauses. "But there are those now and then who come to kill the beast. Nothing comes of it. If it were to die - if you could kill it - I don't know what the Prince's opinion would be."

He chuckles. "See, Frederico and I are very rarely asked to dine at his table."

Maximillian said...

"This Prince, does he live in Zante or home in Venice?"
"Also, the local peasants are clearly distraught by this sacrifice. Are the tensions high in the surrounding areas?"

Alexis Smolensk said...

Roberto explains that the Prince is the Prince Despot Carlo IX of Arta, who dwells in Messalongi, on the mainland across the Gulf of Patras, between Zakynthos, Cephalonia and the Pelopponese.

"Naturally tensions are high," says Roberto. "They're Greeks."

Frederico pipes up. "What he means is that Greeks don't like someone else being in authority ... and Venice holds dominion over the island."

Maximillian said...

Well, sure, nothing unusual.

Maximillian said...

Has anyone ever seen the beast? Can you tell us anything about it?

James C. said...

I'll be out of pocket for a bit, guys. Feel free to find out more info or move things along as you see fit. I'll check in once daily next week.

Maximillian said...

If you have a chance before you go, do you have a feel for whether you want to take on the beast?

Maximillian said...

I think this is a pretty good time to break off until we have a quorum again. Maybe we can sit with them while they sup, and listen to any stories they have. When everyone's had a chance to catch up, we can decide whether we want to venture into the cave, and whether we want to ask the soldiers to remain as witnesses if we do (if they are even willing.)

Ahmet said...

(OOC: I'm back, but maybe Alexis isn't... apparently today is Canadian July 4th? Not sure how that happened... I guess Canadian calendars are set three days behind?)

Andrej said...

(OOC: lol)

Yes, I'm all for attacking this thing, but it seems as though many have tried and failed... so, we need to find out what it is and what else they know about it. Then, we should probably take our time and reconnoiter and plan... possibly head back to Zante for our reinforcements. If it seems too tough, we can always bail also.

I'll check back in this evening.

Ahmet said...

(OOC: Sounds good. Who knows what we're up against.)

Maximillian said...

Also here.

Lukas said...

If these chaps are good enough folk, perhaps we can even persuade them to help us.

Just use the edge of 'you can save all the other kids too, and you don't have to trust the other soldiers aren't doing it.'

That said, maybe they've been to the cave and have information on the creature, or at least what the cave looks like. Which might have hints.

They might also know why they don't feed it sheep.

That said, part of me thinks it's partially a ploy to keep the greeks on the island down by feeding them to a critter.

Lukas said...

That said let's try and kill it. But be prepared for a tactical withdraw.

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: It's only that Canada needs to be #1 while you're all #4.

Yes, its a holiday for me. I'll check in occasionally, see what's going on, but primarily I want to get some gardening done and a few other things. Be well

Maximillian said...

You too Alexis. Don't water too heavily. Who knows what will happen downhill...

I huess I never stated outright, but I'm in favor of attacking it this very evening, assuming we're not terribly frightened by the soldiers' tales.

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: It is now tuesday morning. Life has returned to normal. I am back at my desk)

I await an action, O Players.

Maximillian said...

Our immediate action is to get as much info as we can on the nature of _this_ beast. During that conversation, I ask them why they don't feed the beast sheep, and finally, with as much bravado as possible, ask them if they will come with us when we slay it.

Unless people chime in to say otherwise, I think we should take a break after that until we can get more people playing at once. This is not the Maximillian show.

Ahmet said...

(OOC: I'm here!)

Ahmet is eager to ride forth and slay this Boroge immediately, but grudgingly comes around to the idea that more information -- and perhaps the rest of the party left in town -- is required.

Maximillian said...

Maximilljan's bravado is no match for Ahmet's

Alexis Smolensk said...

The beast has a taste for little children.

The beast has never been seen by any of the soldiers, there are no stories for how they look ... this is because the actual cave is a hole, and the children are tossed down into it. No one goes into the hole themselves, and nothing can be seen from the top of the hole.

Not even a stink emerges from the hole, suggesting the carcasses are eaten, the beast does not defecate like something mammalian, and that is it quite clean.

Absolutely no way are they going; besides, they have to get the boys to the boat that waits for them.

Maximillian said...

That's good enough for me, I want to go and peer down this hole immediately.
I bid the good men safe journey, and wish them a good life.

Lukas said...

Shame they've never thrown children in. We could find out what sound the children make when they land. How deep it is, what condition they are after landing. How long they make noise before being silenced... A cooperative psychopath NPC might actually be helpful at this point...

That said, before we leap, let's consider depth gauging as silently as possible. (weight on a rope, long stick or whatever.)

Lukas said...

I don't recommend chucking a rock. That is noisy.

Maximillian said...

Maybe we could borrow a child from a nearby village.

Ahmet said...

(OOC: Just remember, while my NPC and his chums are only teenagers, in the 1600s they would have been considered adults!)

Ahmet also is eager to ride to the hole, but has learned to await the wise counsel of Andrej.

Lukas said...

Let's get an eye on the hole (We can use the pocket telescope to hopefully get a better idea)

Maybe the surrounding area will have some information.

I think it's either an intelligent beast, a trick to keep the greek locals down by getting rid of their population (possibly just sending them away like the soldiers), or a gelatinous cube just waiting for things to land in it.

Or it could be an underground river, I mean that would just wash the kids away, or it could be a demon as part of a pact...

I wouldn't be surprised if the 'taste for children' is just what they 'know'. I mean, if they haven't seen the creature, I doubt it was spitting sheep back up the hole.

I think more information is necessary before we draw any significant conclusions, I also think the only place we will get this information is from personal examination. I think the locals all only know rumors, and if there is a trick and someone knows about it, they wont tell US.

Lukas said...

Oh and with the amount of time we have left we might need to return to town. If we do so we should gather supplies to investigate the hole.

Maximillian said...

Allright, I get back on my horse and return to the fork in the road, and proceed along the other fork until I can see this hole. I'll pause there and dismount so Lukas can use his telescope, then leave my horse and proceed to within 30 ft of the hole.

I expect I'll be following Ahmet the entire way.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Because of the trees and scrub, the telescope reveals no hole anywhere on the very close area. The alternate track, that leads to Boroge, does turn into the forest, and does seem to descend a very little bit.

Maximillian said...

Very well, I continue into the forest until I can see the hole.

I assume this forest still looks as you previously described it?

Maximillian said...

continue into the forest _on_ the track.

Lukas said...

We continue until we detect the hole or until it is too dark to safely locate a hole without falling into said hole.

Alexis Smolensk said...

The hole is a great long trek of fifty feet once you've turned the corner of the dense copse of trees ahead.

We will pick up on this tomorrow, and hopefully the long lost Andrej will reveal where he's been trapped.

Lukas said...

I look forwards to the conversation between Ahmet and Lukas as they consider their respective knowledge on holes in the ground.

Ahmet said...

(OOC: I'm hoping Andrej didn't fall down the hole...)

Lukas said...

(OOC: If he did we should ask him about what's down there.)

Alexis Smolensk said...

The next post is up.