>Perhaps it's good to get a good lay of the land. If anyone of them has a map of the caverns, then it would definitely help in ambushes. Euphrasia of course, would probably have the best advice in regards to how to navigate the mines, but Stearns sounds like he's good for creating ambush scenarios, while Linnea probably has the most experience out of the group, which... means that you want to defer to her the least as much as possible. You do not want your leadership taken from under your feet.
Most definitely not! As a recovering addict you know far too well what kind of problems gambling causes. No more dice, cards, or Monopoly tokens in your life!
>Quick! Use martial arts technique #34872: Diplomacy Judo! >Select Euphrasia: abandoned mines work differently than Shadowy Cities and Open Plains >Anyway, clearly the dwarf should be the one theoretically assessing the tactical situation & drawing up the mission plan, but Stearns should be scouting and revising the plan based on actual on-the-ground (or in this case, in-the-tunnel) observations. >Perhaps it's good to get a good lay of the land. If anyone of them has a map of the caverns, then it would definitely help in ambushes. Euphrasia of course, would probably have the best advice in regards to how to navigate the mines, but Stearns sounds like he's good for creating ambush scenarios, while Linnea probably has the most experience out of the group, which... means that you want to defer to her the least as much as possible. You do not want your leadership taken from under your feet.
You ease the tensions by letting Euphrasia draw up the plans and having Stearns scout ahead to verify them. Your solution makes Linnea shrug noncommittally, which reminds you to ask as little help from her as possible. She is a veteran, a decorated knight of many battles, and while you have trained your entire adult life your mettle has not been tested in fire - you have completed tasks, she has fought wars. You are sure that she sees you as amusing at best, and there is no reason to make her question your capabilities any more than she already does.
Why exactly was Euphrasia exiled from the dwarf regions? Was it because she dared reveal her people's secrets in her treatise on mining? What did she stand to gain by such an action?
She is not forthcoming with an explanation and you decide not to press the issue. You hope she will open up later as display of trust between comrades in arms.
[Your SOCIAL LINK with Euphrasia is too low to pick this dialogue option]
Notice that Linnea said she held the rank of captain. Past tense. What rank is she now? Nothing, First Class. She should hush up and support the nominal Commanding Officer; she knows this full well, and is just taunting you .. quite possibly because she thinks you're cute. >FEMALES! They always have one thing on their mind. Look forward with some dread at having to fend off her "friendly paws" during the course of this mission.
You cannot tell whether Linnea wants attention from you or is just plain being a jerk, but she is very good at teasing you - her mere presence is enough to set you off balance. You are shorter than average and while it is true that your slender build and boyish looks make you fairly successful with the ladies, being treated as a sex object is not good for invoking undying loyalty in your troops. Linnea might be a holy warrior, but you still reflexively clench your buttocks whenever she passes behind you and you hate that.
[Your SOCIAL LINK with Linnea is too low to leave your butt unguarded]
>this can only end well >consider the possibility that you're being set up for failure.
But the marshal told you he likes you, he would not set you up to take the fall would he? Sure he is a stern, almost clinically cold calculating man who is known not to have any friends, but...
Your small group slips out of the camp without anyone noticing and into the nearby mine entrance.
Euphrasia explains to you that while most mines are dug out level by level in a regular grid of horizontal tunnels, St. Tellor’s was made by innovative use of giant gold-sniffing weasels giving it its characteristic hivelike layout. It has several branches that stretch out for miles and cross each other constantly, making the task of combing out the entire complex take weeks. However, the mountain has seams of water running through it and seeping out through cracks, flooding the lower levels now that it is not pumped out anymore. This reservoir would act as a source of fresh water making it the most suitable location to camp out, and only one of the tunnels leads to it. Stearns confirms that a little bit in that direction he tasted a fresh handprint in a spot where the floor is slippery - someone must have braced themselves against the wall recently.
You descend into the subterranean depths cautiously.
Stearns has little need for light so he takes the point, his body disappearing completely in the unending blackness of the mountain’s cold, stony womb. The rest of you follow in gravelike silence broken only by the pitter patter of water dripping along the roughly hewn walls and the pale, distant cries of small blind creatures. The air is damp and heavy with the weight of stone above you, the grinding pressure of millions of tons of rock laying directly on your chest. Drawing breath suddenly feels much harder to do. More than once you pass some long gone signs of human life, broken tools and animal bones discarded and left to rot into unrecognizable mounds. Even the passage of time itself seems to have grown sluggish here, having been trapped in this sunless, ceaseless, unchanging darkness.
Walking through the veins of history sets your mind to wander.
The Vanda region had always been poor, having no gems or precious metals to mine nor lush meadows to farm. The only resources available to the human settlers arriving centuries ago were salt from the sea and iron from the mountain, graceless but practical things little use for anything else but empire building. Soon the thick pine forests on the surrounding hills were cut down for coal for the furnaces and lumber for the ships, the natural harbor was widened and fortified, lessons of warfare against nearby tribes well studied and taken into heart. With a sign from their one true god and a touch of elven influence the Great Campaign was launched by the legendary general and later emperor Joseph Goodmatch three hundred years ago, leading ultimately to the subjugation of most of the known world - and from these abandoned tunnels the reign of man was forged.
You are snapped out of your reveries by an unexpected sight. The path opens up to a natural cavern where water has pooled into a small lake, and stuck in the chilly gravel surrounding it two long-burning gas lanterns cast their eery light. Stearns spots several fresh footprints around the lake, both animal and humanlike, but at the moment there is no one in the vicinity. There are several paths that lead away from the lake, but only the one you arrived from leads to the surface. You decide to leave one person to guard the exit while the rest of you search the perimeter. But first you need to answer to nature’s call!
Stats for everyone, in case you need to make informed decisions. A - good, B - competent, C - average. S denotes extraordinary skill:
JOE MOURAD Fighting - A Stealth - B Knowledge - B Contacts - B
[Special Skill] Suggest a special skill for Joe!
EUPHRASIA NERTZ Fighting - C Stealth - B Knowledge - A Contacts - C
[Skilled Tactician] When having had a moment to prepare Euphrasia can raise her or her companion’s Fighting and Stealth by a rank. This bonus applies only to one terrain at a time.
STEARNS Fighting - C Stealth - S Knowledge - C Contacts - A
[Toxic] Anyone grappling, biting or otherwise coming into contact with his skin suffers from incapacitating hallucinations for an hour. The onset time varies from individual to individual.
LINNEA GUSTAVUS VON KAROLINER Fighting - S Stealth - C Knowledge - B Contacts - B
[Hard To Kill] Linnea can shrug off the effects of any wound, even an outright lethal one. She can do this with only one wound at a time, and must choose which one to keep ignoring whenever she gets hurt again.
>Joe Mourad: Squeal like a baby! >Joe's ability, silly: Forks and Knifes, Lets Joe apply table manners to combat, allowing him to know EXACTLY how to set the tables and JUST what polite conversation to make. >Joe's ability, serious: Keen Ears, has VERY good hearing, too good, he hated this as a child because the walls were thin and he was in the room next to his parents.
> Mourad: Remain calm and ask if you can at least finish what you're doing here before whatever he's planning. > Joe Mourad's ability: [Chip Magnet ] > Joe Mourad's ability: [Summon Legsodia] > Joe Mourad's ability: [Telyputer] > Joe Mourad's ability: [jskaugflewhcljkghwlkg gdwg] > Joe Mourad's ability: - you know what, good ears sound good, second that for now. > Joe Mourad's ability: [Remembers B.S.A.]
>Joe: Special ability: Snap judgement - although it seems like it is, it's more like your ability to keep calm multiplied by tenfold. In tense situations, you can take the time to plan and execute the right order of actions to incapacitate your enemy. (Think something akin to the movie Sherlock Holmes' ability to methodically fight a thug with the help of his skills in analysis and deduction.)
>Alternate ability: Wild Card - Your facade is finely manufactured from years of learning how to please the right people and tug the right strings to get where you are. Though not exactly an expert, you are a skilled manipulator who can at least glean and say just the right words for them to "hand you the mic"... so to speak.
Mourad: Whirl around in alarm, spraying urine everywhere. HAVE HIM TURN AROUND AND STILL BE PEEING
>Joe's ability, serious: Keen Ears, has VERY good hearing, too good, he hated this as a child because the walls were thin and he was in the room next to his parents. > Joe Mourad's ability: - you know what, good ears sound good, second that for now.
[Keen Hearing] Joe’s Stealth is considered to be one rank higher when trying to notice someone sneaking up on him.
>Joe: while not immune to panic internally, you have Uttermost Discipline >Joe: Special ability: Snap judgement - although it seems like it is, it's more like your ability to keep calm multiplied by tenfold. In tense situations, you can take the time to plan and execute the right order of actions to incapacitate your enemy.
That is basically what you the readers are doing. Keep up the good work!
>Joe's ability, silly: Forks and Knifes, Lets Joe apply table manners to combat, allowing him to know EXACTLY how to set the tables and JUST what polite conversation to make. >Alternate ability: Wild Card - Your facade is finely manufactured from years of learning how to please the right people and tug the right strings to get where you are. Though not exactly an expert, you are a skilled manipulator who can at least glean and say just the right words for them to "hand you the mic"... so to speak.
You would not call your good upbringing a special ability, but you take certain pride in knowing how to attend to a formal event de rigueur.
>he hasn't attacked you, so that's something. >Finish your business nonchalantly >Joe: Remain nonchalant >That's also his special ability, the ability to remain calm in nearly any scenario. > Mourad: Remain calm and ask if you can at least finish what you're doing here before whatever he's planning.
“Looks like I have quite a pickle in my hands. Mind you if I finish first before starting with you?”
“Dispense with the levity, sergeant. We both have urgent business to attend to.”
“Go ahead then, there’s plenty of space here. Unless you get shy?”
“You think you’re funny? I could snap your neck-”
> Joe Mourad's ability: [Remembers B.S.A.]
You try to punch him in the dick.
...But he has the drop on you and you fail.
“What that weird noise is?” “Dunno, probably something he ate.”
>100 gold says blake wants to talk about a conspiracy of some sort.
“Listen you imperialistic lapdog! If I wanted you dead I would have already killed you.”
“What you want then, rebel scum?”
“Linnea is working for the chancellor, the elf. She is under commands to retrieve the Radiant Key and kill everyone who knows about it. Luckily for you and your men she will not find it here.”
“Why would I believe a word of what you say?”
“Because I’m the informant that led you here in the first place.”
"Believe what you will, I'm telling the truth."
“You are a pawn in a dangerous game now, sergeant.”
“At the crucial moment you will distract her and allow us to escape, if you know what’s good for you.”
“If you survive come look for me in the capital. There is much you need to know.”
“Sheesh, what a jerk!”
“You know I’m still right here. I haven’t had the time to walk away yet.”
You dust yourself off and return. Your squad seems oblivious to what just happened, and you do not feel the need to inform them before you have had time to think. To your dismay the first thing Linnea does when she sees you is to tell you that she will absolutely not stay behind to guard the exit but goes with the search party. Before you can start arguing with her Stearns interrupts you both: “Sarge, there’s something you should see. I found bloodstains!”
Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday that pee joke is going to happen. And when it does I want to be there.
Joe: Hm. You may have to use Wiles on Linnea. Having just rolled around on a dirty, stinky floor may prove to be advantageous! Check your pheremones and go! GO! GO!! No, wait, what? Bloodstains?? This might be important. Belay the Wiles; let your manly stench mellow for a bit while you investigate. It can only make your Mojo more irresistible when you try that tactic later. Now then. First question - "Are you sure these are bloodstains?"
Stearns: (with contempt) "If you don't believe me, taste them yourself."
Post by Forkinator the Fork Genie on Oct 7, 2016 11:02:56 GMT
> It's not blood stains it is cranberry juice! > Espouse to your party of nimrods about random and disgusting trivia involving hyena biology. DID YOU KNOW WE EAT BONES AND POOP OUT A WHITE POWDER!? I ONCE MISTOOK IT FOR COCAINE AND SNORTED IT HAHAHA i am so lonely.....
>First off: Inspect yourself, you might've just landed onto a puddle of your own urine. That is just terribly embarrassing.
>Second: Be on the alert. If this blood is fresh, then it means you're gonna be in a spot of trouble. From a bandit or Linnea. You can't trust either, but either way, take these warnings with a mine of salt.
> Try to think up a plan to get yourself out of this situation.
That, dear reader, is up to you.
>First off: Inspect yourself, you might've just landed onto a puddle of your own urine. That is just terribly embarrassing. >Are you covered in piss now? >Eww, you just got thrown down and beaten up in the same spot where you were peeing!
Looks like you dodged that bullet. You thank your stars for small blessings like that!
>Joe: Hm. You may have to use Wiles on Linnea. >Having just rolled around on a dirty, stinky floor may prove to be advantageous! Check your pheremones and go! GO!GO!! > Espouse to your party of nimrodsher about random and disgusting trivia involving hyena biology. >Belay the Wiles; let your manly stench mellow for a bit while you investigate. It can only make your Mojo more irresistible when you try that tactic later.
You smell like you always do, of cloves and cardamom mingled with dry road dust, with a hint of wet dog underneath. It tells that you like spicy food and outdoors activities so on that front you are good to go!
In general you prefer your women a little less murderous than Linnea - your last date wanted to raise kittens because they are so fluffy, while she has led a cavalry charge against a pike wall more than once - but you are not above sleeping into her good graces. If bedding a grizzled war beast is what it takes to get ahead on this mission so be it!
You catch up with Linnea by the lakeside.
“Hey, Lin-Lin! I was wondering what a girl like you does in a place like this?”
“Wha- Lin-Lin? Seriously? What are you talking about, you absurd little man?”
“Come on, don’t be like that. We got off on the wrong foot and I want a do over.”
“Clearly you are mistaken and think that I have a bone to pick with you, sergeant. Rest assured that you simply are not significant enough to take personally!”
“You know, my kind is great at that. See these teeth? They go through bone like butter! Growing up we kids would gobble up an entire antelope, horns and hooves all whenever mom and dad returned from a shopping and/or hunting trip.”
“It comes out as white powder, we called those dusties. I was once pranked to snort some by my sis! Makes me miss my family…”
“Are you for real?”
“And to answer your question, I’m doing this as a favor to an old friend. Now run along, you cheeky rump sniffer you!”
[LINNEA has started seeing you as an adorable doof.]
>well you arn't gonna get anywhere on the blake front, he's probably long gone by now, so see what's up with the blood. >No, wait, what? Bloodstains?? This might be important. >Also, investigate the blood. >Investigate with extreme scrutiny >Second: Be on the alert. If this blood is fresh, then it means you're gonna be in a spot of trouble. From a bandit or Linnea. You can't trust either, but either way, take these warnings with a mine of salt. > It's not blood stains it is cranberry juice! >Stearns: contempt
You arrive to where Stearns is standing, by the mouth of a small side tunnel. There is a sharp, metallic taste lingering in the air that could be blood, but the dark and wet cavern floor makes the stains impossible to distinguish.
"Are you sure it is fresh? I once had a cranberry daiquiri that smelled kinda like this."
“Rabbitfolk male, in his late twenties. Allergic to seafood. About seven feet tall, light blue eyes. Has herbalist skills but works as a waiter. Avid reader. Single. Yup, pretty sure that it’s blood all right.”
“You can tell all that just from tasting his blood?”
“Nah I found his wallet too, among these cavern mantis footprints.”
“Those can rip a man in half you know.”
“There’s no carcass in sight. He walked away on his own feet, but must have had help. The mantis didn’t follow but skittered to that way.”
“What if the mantis carried him away?”
“No, it would’ve devoured him on the spot. There’s signs of fighting here and a blood trail leading away, but it disappears suddenly. Somebody helped him to fight off the mantis and bandaged his wounds.”
[You have failed to impress STEARNS]
Linnea insists on following this mysterious rabbit person and you tend to agree. According to Euphrasia this tunnel should not fork so tracking him will not be an issue. Stearns is left behind to guard the exit to the upper levels - he is good at hiding and can stick to walls so he should be safe if the mantis decides to return. You ready your weapons and go deeper.
EUPHRASIA carries a blunderbuss and a bronze gladius.
LINNEA is armed with a cavalry saber and a brace of flintlock pistols, giving her two shots before needing to reload.
MOURAD has his officer’s sword, but takes pride in not having to draw it - anything is a weapon in his hands. On a whim he took with him a small sack filled with ball bearings, to be used as a sap, to hinder pursuers, or to be used as projectiles.
STEARNS has a hand loaded crossbow and various poison-tipped bolts. He also hides a shiv on his person at all times.
>ok this key sounds important, we taling city shaking, country shaking, or world shaking in scale?
You have not heard of the thing Blake mentioned, but you can use this as an opportunity to learn more about your companions. You turn to Euphrasia while keeping your attention on Linnea.
“Hey, a thought came to me. Do you know something about the Radiant Key?”
She reacted when you mentioned the name!
“That question, how you say, out of the ocean is.”
“You mean out of the blue? Just humor me, please.”
“Eh, same thing. Anyway, a tale for children it is. Elven term Radiant Key is, they among my people as Earth Spirit Eggs are known. Every century an egg the great dragon the earth spirit lays, her birthing pains what an earthquake is. A great power within each is said to be hidden, the future for example a sage of great learning from one could glimpse.”
“You think there is truth to that story?”
“Absolute nonsense of course, primitive mind's explanation to phenomena not understood it is. Still, rarely one can be found, they good for glowing things manufacturing are.”
“I think it is a fascinating story, thank you for sharing it with me.”
“Aah, many legends I know, much better than this one. Perhaps interested you might be-”