Positioning himself on the margin of the arrow loop facing the front gate, Aonghasan waits until the gate opens and a handful of guards issue forth. Poised and alert, their eyes are clearly peeled for any sign of activity in the gathering dusk, slowly plodding forward with weapons raised and ready. The silence is broken by a sudden peal of birdsong from a nearby tree, causing some of the guards to jerk with hard-wired combat reflexes ready for action. One ork gives a nervous laugh, but the others coldly ignore him, as the quiet continues.
Stepping forward, one guard pokes at a shrub with his sword while another watches, as if waiting for a trap to spring. Nothing happens. Another bird answers the song of the first, from a nearby hilltop.
Suddenly, there is a spray of black ichor and the foremost ork crumples in his footsteps.
In the shadow of the arrow loop above, the Wizard casts forth an insidious and invisible psychic force that turns the ork's guts into a decaying stew. Lashing out again and again, Aonghasan strikes the retinue down as if by unseen assailants.
[Dice log 298: I rolled up five TTYFs at level one (5 Wz cost total). Aonghasan will cast one each round, favoring the injured, for one full turn or until there are no targets in range.]
Post by monstermike on Mar 22, 2011 12:20:50 GMT -5
The six uruk guards stand outside the gate, beginning to feel foolish. The late afternoon air is warm and muggy, and thunderheads have begun to roll over the mountains from the west.
They peer out into the distance, trying to find signs of the attack. Soon, a guard in the north tower spies a wagon turning from Brokenback Hollow road on to the road that switchbacks its way up to the fortress. "There they are! Be ready!" Arrows are nocked, and swords are loosened in their scabbards.
At that instant, one of the guards in front of the gate doubles over in pain, his guts suddenly oozing blackly out from under his armor. He croaks, "I'm hit! I'm hit!" and begins to stagger forward. The other orcs glance around uncertainly and draw their swords, but can see no foe.
Moments later, the wounded guard arches and squeals again, his midsection exploding in black putrescence. "We're under attack!" one guard cries. "From what?" yells another. The five remaining guards out front form a defensive circle, looking frantically in all directions.
Lightning flashes, and the wind kicks up, blowing fall litter around in sworls in front of the fortress. Rain begins to patter down, sounding like hoofbeats. "Genies! Spirits! I don't know, they're invisible!" One orc lashes at the tiny whirlwind of dust and leaves and is struck by another of 'Nasan's spells. His guts ooze and black ichor bleeds from his ears and mouth.
"It's got me!" The other orcs rush over to him, thrashing their swords wildly at the air. Arrows begin to fly from the towers at bushes waving in the wind. Then the injured guard lets out a shriek and collapses to the ground, his entire middle dissolving into a reeking puddle.
"Retreat! Back to the portico!" one cries. The four orcs rush to the gates - the guards inside the portico are trying to hold it shut, but the panicked guards wrench it open. As they stream in, the last orc is struck by the same strange force and doubles over in front of the gate.
The gate shuts with a clang and the bar is dropped into place. The last orc squeals in rage and terror. "Don't leave me out here to die, please!" He claws at the iron bars of the gate, but the other orcs pry his fingers loose and drive him back with their swords.
Oblivious to this, the wagon bearing the Donald, four ogres, and six dwarf prisoners winds its way slowly up the switchbacks to the fortress.
[Bookkeeping: 'Nasan takes 95 general AP, 39 AP WIZ, burns 5 WIZ, and regains 2 WIZ, since we skipped his 15:00 - 15:10 turn for reasons of cause and effect - the guards came outside around 15:10. Also used 5 staff shots]
Game time 4/4 17:20
Please post your next move by noon Thursday, Mar 24
Post by monstermike on Mar 22, 2011 12:55:41 GMT -5
The two orc guards continue their search of the third level, trying the doors to Salazar's bedroom and study. "Locked. Salazar's got the only keys, so I don't think he's in there."
"Let's try from the dining room side." The two guards go into the dining room, keeping their distance from the long table. They try the doors. Locked again.
"All right, just the towers left to do." They go into the north tower finding the guards on third and fourth levels excitedly watching a commotion out in front of the gate. "We're under attack!" one yells, as he fires an arrow into a bush.
The two searching guards look through unoccupied arrow loups, but can see no enemies. Two orcs lay dead on the ground, and the remainder are rushing back to the gate.
Wanting to finish their search and report to Seagal, the two guards head back around to the south tower. Their post on the third level is much as they had left it when the stranger surprised them. They head up the stairs to the fourth level of the tower and see the tall stranger leaning out one of the arrow loups.
Whirling around flamboyantly, 'Nasan recognizes the advancing orks and sizes them up immediately-- What will it be, snake or bull? But the tide of frenetic energy buoys him into action before there is time to consider the question:
"You nimrods! There is no time for this. The Donald has returned with a squad of mercenaries, and they must not breech the gate! They have a secret weapon from the wizard Smythe that must not fall into Effington's hands!"
[Savoir-Faire SR just to get the guards to hear him out before attacking: 5 + 1 + 3 + 20 = 29; log 299]
Speaking more slowly and calmly, he continues:
"My name is 'Nasan. I am one of Salazar's spies. I got here as soon as I could when I uncovered Effington's plot, and there wasn't time for formal introductions. I need to talk with Seagal right away-- you must tell me where he is.
"We need to place Effington under arrest immediately: we have no idea how many of the faculty he may have recruited, either with sly promises," --Aonghasan gestures toward the dead ork: "Or with mind worms."
"Seagal is your chief of security, is he not? Stop filibustering and let's go!"
[Savoir-Faire SR to persuade the orks that they were right the first time: 'Nasan was sent here to give orders. 1 + 6 + 4 + 20 = 31; log 300]
[Edit: Fix BBCode]
Last Edit: Mar 23, 2011 23:40:52 GMT -5 by gaptooth
Post by monstermike on Mar 24, 2011 8:31:51 GMT -5
The guards hold their charge at 'Nasan's words. They seem relieved that their hunch about 'Nasan was correct all along - not so dumb after all, are we?. Realizing that 'Nasan is asking them to do what Seagal had ordered, they decide that a forceful tackle may not be the right approach, especially if he is a friend of Salazar's.
"Uh, we witnessed part of the attack," one of them says, watching the wagon bearing the Donald still climbing the road to the fortress.
The other one looks at the dead orc with his head bashed in on the floor of the tower. "What happened to that one?" he asks 'Nasan, "And why is one of our arrows sticking out of your shoulder?" He glances nervously through the arrow loup at the two dead orcs and the wounded one still crying out in pain and fear.
"Well, we best get him to Seagal," he says. He turns to 'Nasan. "Seagal's gone down to the mines to see the situation for himself. He should be back shortly. Um, can we escort you to his quarters to wait for him? The two of you can discuss the situation there, and Seagal can make the decision about arresting Effington. It's gonna take a lot more force than the two of us to accomplish that."
With that, the guards motion politely for 'Nasan to walk with them down the stairs of the tower.
The other one looks at the dead orc with his head bashed in on the floor of the tower. "What happened to that one?" he asks 'Nasan, "And why is one of our arrows sticking out of your shoulder?"
"He must have eaten one of Effington's mind worms," Aonghasan answers grimly. "When I came here to warn the archers about the attack, he cursed Salazar's name and fired on me (as you can see). His fellow subdued him, rather roughly. Then Salazar's fail-safe took hold of him-- an enchantment devised to protect our master from betrayal --and he began thrashing about in a violent seizure. His fellow panicked and this is the result.
"If you've eaten anything even touched by Effington, I might be able to cure you before the mind worm overwhelms you.
"Well, we best get him to Seagal," he says. He turns to 'Nasan. "Seagal's gone down to the mines to see the situation for himself. He should be back shortly. Um, can we escort you to his quarters to wait for him?
"Noy jitat!" Aoghasan curses as they rush down the tower stairs. "That's no good. We need immediate security measures here at the fortress; against the dwarves and the demon, Seagal will be mincemeat. I hope he can think on his feet and persuade them that he is more valuable as a prisoner.
"But that leaves us without a security chief up here, in the middle of an attack. We need someone who can give orders with aplomb under stress, someone we know Salazar trusts, and someone with the mental magnitude to deal with threats both military and arcane.
"Of course I'll take the reigns if you insist. Know you this: my magic may appear both fell and fearsome, but do not be afrighted! If you follow the light of my staff and take courage in the wondrous power that I command, we will be victorious!"
[SR to inspire courage, determination, loyalty, and morale: 3 + 5 + 3 + 20 = 31; log 301]
"Let's gather Seagal's top security officers and mount a full-frontal defense. In the meanwhile, maybe we can get some ogres and trolls together to tear Effington's arms off and pull out his tongue so that he can't use his magic against us."
Post by monstermike on Mar 24, 2011 15:13:41 GMT -5
The goblin guards, trolls, and Hrruuukkk Ptui, Effington, and his two ogres all arrive at the top of the decline shaft. Herman Jr. is still pounding away at the gong for all he's worth. Hrruuukkk Ptui grabs the striker out of his hand as he makes another backswing. "Stop that infernal racket. We're here. What's the problem?"
Herman Jr. turns to face the goblin overlord and says, "We are betrayed! The Donald has brought dwarves and they're storming the front gate, under magical camouflage! Protect the gate! Protect the gate!"
"The Donald! I never would have expected him to have the huevos to make a play against Salazar. Goblins - to the gate! Trolls - follow me!"
As the goblins and trolls thunder across the elevated platform followed by the Goblin Overlord, Effington strolls up to Herman Jr. "Who ordered you to sound the alarm?" he asks softly.
Herman Jr. freezes. Then he says, "We are betrayed! The Donald has brought dwarves and they're storming the front gate, under magical camouflage! Protect the gate! Protect the gate!"
"Yes, yes. I heard that. But who ordered you to sound the alarm?" Herman Jr. has the look of a deer in headlights, but is unable to speak. Effington looks deeply into the eyes of the orc guard. "You are under my command, are you not?" Herman Jr. nods, weakly. "Then why do you not answer my question?" Effington purrs. Herman Jr. stands at attention and repeats, "We are betrayed! The Donald has brought dwarves and they're storming the front gate, under magical camouflage! Protect the gate! Protect the gate!"
"Most interesting. Please to stand still." Effington begins to trace the shapes of arcane sigils with his hands in front of Herman Jr. He mutters words of power in a lost tongue, and soon the power binding the orc guard to 'Nasan's will is broken. [Effington casts Dis-Spell on Herman Jr.]
Effington's face slowly breaks into a smile. "Now, let's have a chat, shall we?"
While Effington interrogates Herman Jr., the goblins stream down two flights of stairs into the work area and crowd into the antechamber behind the portico. They open the door to find the majority of orc guards in the portico behind the locked gate, looking somewhat fearstruck.
Hrruuukkk Ptui signals to the four trolls that have halted near the upstairs capstan. "Bring your capstan bars. You're going to be the front line!" Eighteen trolls lumber down the stairs after the overlord. Two more trolls working the giant bellows by the smelting furnace join the group.
"Make way! Make way! Why are you guards cowering behind the gate? Defend the gate means STAND IN FRONT OF IT! you morons!"
Amid all the shouting and jostling, one of the orc guards turns to the goblin leader and says, "But sir, they's invisible. We was out there and they kilt three of us. We was fightin' back but we couldn't see them! We never hit a one!"
Hrruuukkk Ptui considers this. "The Donald must have a magical ally. Quiet! Everyone Quiet! Here's what we're gonna do. You eight trolls with the capstan bars. I want you to go out there in a line. Swing them big timbers back and forth like it was a batting warmup and keep advancing. Orcs! I want you to form a wide line about twenty yards behind the trolls. Swing side-to-side with yer swords and ye'll mow down anything the trolls miss. Goblins, go out behind the orcs with arms linked. Stomp the ground, and if ye steps on anything ya can't see, stab it! You six! Stay here in the portico and mind the gate. The rest of you trolls, stay back in the antechamber as reinforcements. Are we all clear on the plan?" Getting at least some nods from the motley group, Hrruuukkk Ptui shouts, "Now GO!"
Post by monstermike on Mar 24, 2011 15:52:24 GMT -5
Aonghasan and the two guards in the watchtower hear the rising hubbub down by the gate as 'Nasan speaks. Rushing down multiple flights of spiral stairs, they finally emerge in the south guardroom. The guards lead 'Nasan quickly through the guardroom to a door in the north wall. Shouts and confusion can be heard through the door.
Opening the door, they enter the portico. Six orc guards and Hrruuukkk Ptui stand behind the closed gate. Beyond it they see a wide battle line of eight trolls swinging long timbers back and forth as they advance, looking for all the world like giant reapers harvesting invisible crops. Nine orc guards and two orc captains are lined up behind them, echoing the motions of the trolls with their swords. They are followed by about thirty goblins linked arm-in-arm stomping the ground. Hrruuukkk Ptui is shouting commands through the iron gate. "Orcs, you're too close to each other. Spread out! Goblins - advance! Don't march in place for the love of grits! Move!!"
One of the orc guards turns to 'Nasan. "Um, that one is Hrruuukkk Ptui. He's actually pretty good with, like, strategy and stuff, and he's about the only leader in the mines we can bring you to right now. Do you want to talk to him?"
The two guards seem relieved to turn 'Nasan over to a decision-maker. One of them approaches the Overlord. "Sir, uh, you may want to speak to this gentleman. He is affiliated with Salazar, and has information about this attack that you may find useful."
"Not now, worm! Can't you see I'm..." Hrruuukkk Ptui begins to rebuke the guard for bothering him at such a critical time, then cuts himself off as the meaning of the interruption sinks in.
He spins on his heel to face 'Nasan. "Tell me who you are and what you know. Make it quick."
'Nasan gives a small bow, and glances around at the commotion, replying in a low voice with an air of secrecy, showing Hrruuukkk Ptui the utmost courtesy:
"My name is Aonghasan of Adûn. I am one of Salazar's spies. I got here as soon as I could when I uncovered Effington's plot, and there wasn't time for formal introductions.
"We need to place Effington under arrest immediately. He is in league with that warlock Smythe from Dead End, and he has recruited members of the garrison into his effort to overthrow Salazar-- some willingly, and others he subdued with mind worms. The Donald is bringing a secret weapon from Smythe that must not fall into Effington's hands."
Speaking up slightly, so that the remnant of Seagal's search party can hear him, Aonghasan wonders aloud: "If only we had some kind of paper trail attesting Effington's plot for Salazar's throne…"
He lowers his voice again, once more addressing only Hrruuukkk Ptui: "The Donald is also protected by Chaos Gremlins, invisible spirits from the Outer Dark. They cannot be conquered by carnal weapons, but they can be contained and banished by wizards of, ahem, sufficient skill.
"These guards have informed me that Seagal is on an errand in the mines, leaving the fortress without a chief of security in the middle of an attack. We need an interim security chief who can give orders with aplomb under stress, someone we know Salazar trusts, and someone with the mental magnitude to deal with threats both military and arcane. Obviously, you are the best candidate, and I hope you'll accept. I will, of course, commend your loyalty and service above and beyond the call of duty to Salazar, when we are victorious!"
[Savoir-Faire SR to make a favorable impression on HP: 1 + 1 (DARO) + 6 + 4 + 4 (talent) + 20 (CHA) = 36; logs 302, 303]
[Edit: Gah-- Fix BBCode.]
Last Edit: Mar 25, 2011 12:13:43 GMT -5 by gaptooth
Post by monstermike on Mar 25, 2011 22:40:22 GMT -5
Hrruuukkk Ptui looks long and hard at Aonghasan, weighing the veracity of his tale. Salazar has a lot of things going on he doesn't tell us about.
Trolls! Hold there! The Overlord tries to recall what the guard who sounded the alarm was shouting. We are betrayed! Something about the Donald and an army of dwarves using magical camoflage storming the gate.
Hrruuukkk Ptui watches as the wagon bearing the Donald makes its way up the hill in the rain. He can see nothing unusual about it. Could be a sneak attack though. That would be Effington's style. And he would only dare attempt it when Salazar was out.
At the words "paper trail" and "throne" one of the orc guards gets a puzzled expression on his ugly face. As 'Nasan continues to talk, an idea - a memory of something important begins to take shape in the guard's slow brain. The act of thinking pains the orc, and he thrusts his hands sullenly into his pockets hoping the discomfort will soon go away. One of his hands encounters the folded letter he put in there. Oh, yeah! The letter! His face brightens and he turns to Hrruuukkk Ptui.
"Uh, yer Lordship. We found this in the throne room. We couldn't make heads or tails of it, but it may be important." Hrruuukkk Ptui snatches the letter from the guard and reads it. "Astonishing, though a child could decode it."
Finally, the Overlord reaches a decision. He turns to 'Nasan. "Though I don't know you, and have no reason to trust you, what you say has the ring of truth. I'd appreciate your advice on how to deal with these, uh, Chaos Gremlins outside. Once the immediate threat is dealt with, I'll move to detain Effington and hold him for Salazar to judge."
[Bookkeeping: 'Nasan takes 12 AP LUK and 6 AP CHR. I can't believe it, it actually worked. Edit: 'Nasan also gains 1 WIZ.]
Still speaking with deference and courtesy to the goblin overlord, Aonghasan offers his advice:
"I can contain the 'Gremlins' with a ritual spoken in Eldritch Trill, but the words I must utter stir the Old Ones and are dangerous to hear-- I must urge everyone to plug their ears with mud and have the trolls roar in a blasting drone. Not only will their cacophony protect everyone from the madness with which I must meddle to bind these ifrits, but it will also lend strength to the ritual itself. It could even throw the Donald's plans into confusion, giving us the upper hand.
"A wall of deafness between us and the Donald may protect us from other crude incantations or words of power for any magic items the warlock may have armed him with-- at least until he is bound and gagged-- or killed for treason.
"I can also survey the area for other dweomercraft, but first we must repel the immediate attack. That will be up to the defenders you have gathered, according to your own design, but they should get their ears plugged and raise a mighty din even while they barricade, clash, or brawl.
"Once everyone is ready, I will go forth and make the necessary incantations, but we have to hurry-- the Donald draws closer, and I want to contain those 'Gremlins' before he closes in to attack.
"Will you give the orders?"
Last Edit: Mar 25, 2011 23:46:24 GMT -5 by gaptooth
Post by monstermike on Mar 28, 2011 8:44:36 GMT -5
Effington paces in circles around Herman Jr. The two Effing Ogres loom nearby, keeping a close watch for any danger to their master.
Effington: "So, you were acting under some sort of compulsion to sound the alarm, yes?" Herman Jr.: <<Frightened nod>> Effington: "And the words you were repeating were the words this stranger asked you to memorize?" Herman Jr.: <<Frighteded nod>> Effington: "Please to describe him." Herman Jr.: "Uh, well. He was an elf, and he was kinda pretty like. Great hair. And real tall and skinny. He talked a lot an' used a lot of big fancy words." Effington: "Hmm. I see. And what did you see him do? Describe carefully." Herman Jr.: "Well, we was at our posts in the south tower, and he came up th' stairs. We shot at him and..."
Herman goes on to describe the events that he witnessed and relay the essence of what 'Nasan told him.
Effington: "Shocking! So he is trying to convice everyone that I am somehow behind this chaos? That I would be disloyal to Salazar? You don't believe that, do you?" Herman Jr.: <<Frightened headshake>> Effington: "Well, he must be stopped. Since you've been so candid and agreeable, I won't kill you. Besides, I may need you as a witness. We are going to put a stop to these machinations at once!"
Effington signals to the ogres and Herman Jr. to follow him and sets off briskly for the front gate.
Post by monstermike on Mar 28, 2011 8:59:51 GMT -5
Hrruuukkk Ptui listens to Aonghasan's request. "Aye."
"Avast there! Halt! Now listen up! The foes we are fighting can't be beat with weapons - they must be fought with magic! This fellow here is going to try to dispel the gremlins. But so the spell doesn't hurt you, I need you to stopper your ears with mud. No! Not just yet, I have further orders first. When I say "GO!" I want you to stop your ears up with mud - there's plenty on the ground all around you. Trolls! I need bellering and hollering - raise a great din. When the Donald finally makes it up here, I want you to detain him for questioning. When I wave my arms like this..." Here he waves his arms in a crossing motion above his head, "Avast the bellering and it will be safe to unplug your ears. ARE WE ALL CLEAR ON THIS?"
He receives nods of assent and some statements of "Aye." The Overlord says "Okay. GO!"
The goblins and orcs reach down on the muddy ground and grab fistfuls of mud. They spend a few moments jamming the slop into their ears along with leaves, grubs, and small rocks. At the same time, the cave trolls begin hallooing, shouting, and bellowing. The din is incredible.
Hrruuukkk Ptui opens the gate for 'Nasan and jams his fingers in his ears. "Do your thing!" he shouts over the din.
Game time 4/4 17:50
Edit: Forgot the bookkeeping. +1 WIZ
Please post your next move by noon Wednesday, Mar. 30.
Post by monstermike on Mar 28, 2011 9:12:32 GMT -5
The Donald and his retinue round the final switchback on the road. Up ahead, they see some sort of training or drill going on. Eight of the cave trolls stand in a line with great timbers, swinging them back and forth. Behind them are lines of orcs and goblins swinging their weapons. Must be a security drill of some kind...
The Donald reflects back on the last few days. It was not a good recruiting trip. One of the draft horses threw a shoe on the way out and they lost precious hours finding a blacksmith to replace it. It rained off and on the whole way. Worst of all, they only found five dwarves. And the one was such a fighter! It took two of the ogres to finally subdue him. The Donald glances back into the open wagon and sees the dwarves trussed up like turkeys laying on the flat bed. The feisty one glares at him with black hatred. The coal pits for that one, I think reflects the Donald.
With only a few hundred yards to go, the Donald looks back to the fortress again. He can hear the Goblin Overlord shouting orders of some sort, then the trolls begin a thunderous hallooing. The sound echoes down Brokenback Hollow. Thinking it is a display of welcoming for his return, the Donald waves at the fortress and clucks the horses to a slightly faster pace.
While the trolls and goblins regroup and stuff their ears with mud, Aonghasan absentmindedly pulls out his mirror, tossing his hair and pouting his lips forward. He catches the goblin overlord giving him an inscrutable glance in the mirror, before taking out a lavender-scented alchemical mixture to mist his hair while tossing his head to the side, to get his hair to do that thing again.
"For a ritual such as this," he says absently to Hrruuukkk Ptui, with his gaze fixed upon his own reflection, "There's nothing quite as important as presence and bearing. These things focus the mind and bring the spirit into harmony with the cosmos. Cosmos, as I keep saying, means beauty, and without beauty, the binding forces that hold everything together would come unstrung, devolving into a dull, grey, formless waste…"
Glancing up at the overlord's reflection Aonghasan makes eye contact briefly before applying a waxy mixture to his lips. "But I hardly need to tell you these things. You're clearly a man of refinement and genteel elegance. Once this is over, I'd like to hear about how a cultivated individual such as yourself came to traffic among such brash and loutish company.
"But I'm afraid that conversation will have to wait. We have an attack to repel and a dark elf to…"-- Aonghasan is cut off by the deafening roar of the trolls --"apprehend."
Hrruuukkk Ptui opens the gate for 'Nasan and jams his fingers in his ears. "Do your thing!" he shouts over the din.
Aonghasan steps out of the gate with his staff aloft.
[End part one. Need to know a few logistics before posting my move.]
[Edit: Add a word ("own") to clarify who 'Nasan is looking at.]
Last Edit: Mar 30, 2011 23:14:27 GMT -5 by gaptooth