Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Hazel
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Two months ago, the conscript of charter was sent to the far reaches of Brevoy in search of adventurers to tame the Stolen Lands to the south. Now, after two days of uneventful travel along an interminably boring plains road, a weary party has spotted a small palisade just a few hundred yards away. At last it seems they have arrived in the Greenbelt, a particularly lush area of the Stolen Lands, and home to the Narlmarches and Kamelands further to the south.

Rumors of what live in these untamed lands have made their way to this party's ears: Bandit groups unionized under the leadership of someone known only as the Stag Lord, infestations of sniveling mites and their insect mounts, and an increasingly aggressive tribe of kobolds, to name a few. The monsters of the greenbelt certainly don't end there, but as to what else lies in wait... the rumors thin to speculation.

The party has also heard rumors of three other groups on similar tasks: to the west, an experienced party challenging the rule of the bandit kingdom of Pitax in the Glenebon Uplands; a band of mercenaries exploring the low mountains of Nomen Heights to the east, near the ruined realm of Iobaria; and to the northwest, the swordlords supposedly sent a group of government agents into the swampy Hooktongue Slough, if such a rumor can be believed.

It is morning, and the dirt on the road seems a little softer underfoot now that the end of this trek is in view.
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Muttonhawk
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The dull metallic rattle of the chain over Rosie's shoulder gave a rhythm to the party's footsteps. She was no stranger to overland travel. While there was little to look out for in the relatively flat land around them, her thoughts kept her occupied. Somehow, the act of venturing into the river kingdoms with a group of gormless meat heads felt like a step backwards. Hell, one of them shared her profession -- Rosie hardly bought Odin's born-again religious attitude for a second.

At least she had a goal this time. The first real test would start shortly. She could feel it.

Rosie leant to one side to speak up at the one leading the way. "About damn time. I thought for a while you were heading us to Galt."
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Gascon


Gascon has been silent almost the whole trip, aside from speaking when necessary; however, pondering the group's next move he asked, "How do we plan to tame these lands?" Waiting for a response Gascon trailed behind the group a slight bit, watching carefully for potential dangers. Brigands or beasts could attack any time, and Gascon must be ready, not for his own sake, but Gorum's. Gascon came here for the lord in iron anyway, and must decorate his blade in the blood of any enemies he encounters.
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by The Large Dumbo
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Kesal Sajorren


Silence shrouded Kesal's person as he leaned to the side to look past the others, cocking his head upwards for a moment as his eyes caught sight of the palisade. A barely restrained sigh escaped from his lips as he continued to follow the group, his spirits a little bit higher with the revelation that they were approaching something even a hint of civilization. The trip thus far had been incredibly boring, but it would be all worth it soon. The thought of taming a grand and vast frontier such as this... nothing could deter him from taking the journey. For a moment, he quietly wondered why the others had been brought here. They had talked some during the two nights they had all spent together, giving Kesal a vague idea of what to expect from the group, but he was still wondering the full purpose of the trip for everyone. For him, it was the idea of creating a name for himself, proving his worth to his family.

Of course, these grand ambitions of his would have to wait until they had gained a foothold in this unknown land. It was important to live in the present, and keep a vigilant eye for any threats that might be present in the untamed wilderness.

"To truly tame and entirely conquer these lands is an impossible notion. Enemies and obstructions shall always be present, undoubtedly to pursue the goals similar to ours. Instead, we need to wrest control from the forces that have already claimed it currently, and as for how we will do that, it is simple: we eradicate each threat to our domain in order - one at a time."
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Muttonhawk
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Rosie readjusted her backpack and straightened up. "Hmph. One at a time ain't gonna cut it, doc," she said with her back to Kesal. "Don't you all get blind-sided by the idea that this place is yours already. That Stag Lord fella might be using his name to compensate for his prick, but no one gets to be in charge for long if any jumped up band of grumps with swords tries to kill everyone."

She blew a single laugh. "Unless one of you got some kind of big play up your sleeves."
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Cu Chulainn
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Odin Ivarsson


Odin grumbled to himself as he overheard the group's musings, either out of annoyance or to repeat his own thoughts to himself. Trailing behind the party, the frontiersman had elected to stay at the rear in order to ensure everyone else's safety. It was a proper place for him to be, as well, given that he wasn't the type of person to talk too much. In the past, Odin would have been one of the loudest of his allies, but times have since changed. Gone were the days of him aimlessly looting whoever stepped on his patch of grass with other ne'er-do-wells, men he once considered brothers. Instead, Odin was cursed to wander alone for a time, with a new path ahead of him, and with a new purpose in mind. Peeking ahead at the crude fencing which marked their entrance into the Greenbelt, Odin had decided to finally speak up for once.

"Almost there... keep your eyes and ears open," the ranger remarked, catching up a bit more to the rest of the group, "just 'cause we see some gating doesn't mean we should expect some hospitality. The Riverfolk aren't known for their generosity. Once we pass that border, we'll be heading into untamed territory. Let's stick more closely together and watch each other's backs."

Whether it was for fame, wealth, or perhaps an escape, everyone in the party had their own reason to venture forth into these lawless lands, and Odin was no exception. With Erastil's guidance, Odin had hoped that he would be able to guide and protect his allies as they establish themselves within the Stolen Lands. To traverse into such wild lands without some sort of guidance would be a fool's errand, and Odin was no stranger to that fact. Instead, the ranger had hoped that his adherents to the Old Ways would prove well to protect his allies in whatever ambitions they wished to seek out.
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Hazel
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Arriving at the palisade, you read a sign above the entrance carved and painted with careful lettering: “Oleg’s Trading Post”. Even before passing through the archway, the smell of freshly baked bread reaches your nostrils and tempts you in. It certainly smells more appetizing than the dull rations you ate this morning. And last night. And last afternoon, and morning, and the night before that…

The entrance to the trading post opens up to a small market, currently devoid of life. The scent of manure emanates from the long building to your left, mixing uncomfortably with the lingering bready fragrance. Judging by the size of the door here, and the smell, this building is presumably a stable. Two smaller buildings stand on the far end of the market and to your right, while in the far right corner is what must be Oleg’s home. A human man is busy at work on the roof of the stable and doesn’t seem to notice you. A human woman, however, is coming out of the doorway to Oleg’s home and swiftly approaching

“Hello and welcome!” she says with a bow, “I can’t say how glad we are you’ve finally arrived.”

The man turns his head at this, finally noticing the arrival of the party. He wipes his brow and begins to climb down the ladder.

“My name is Svetlana,” the woman continues, “and this sweaty goat of a man is my husband, Oleg Leveton.”

Dismounting the ladder, Oleg shoots her a look as he approaches the conversation, then turns and extends a sweaty hand for the party to shake. "As she says, I'm Oleg. I take it you're the reinforcements we requested?"
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Gascon


Clasping the Oleg's hand firmly to shake it, Gascon spouts, "We may not be the reinforcements you asked for, but I'm willing to help; Especially after that long, boring journey. Perhaps, you should tell us why you requested reinforcements in the first place. Afterall, if I'm going to help you I should know what is demanded of me." Gascon now let go of the man's hand and stood slightly hunched before him. Gascon partially surveyed the surrounding land looking for potential advantageous spots in the eventuality of a battle while listening for Oleg's answer.
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Hazel
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Oleg’s face turns into a scowl and he lets out a huff of indignation, it appears he only registered the first couple of words Gascon said. He throws his arms in the air and shouts, “I knew it! I just fuckin’ knew that hunter was full of shit!” He storms off a couple of feet to begin pacing back and forth and mutters curses to himself.

Svetlana, on the other hand, seems to have heard the full response. “I appreciate the offer. You see, these bandits began coming by about three months ago, threatening to burn down the trading post and… kidnap me, if we didn’t pay them all of our earnings for the past month. Of course, we had no choice but to comply, and we immediately sent word to Restov for aid, but it’s never come. They’ve returned twice since then, about an hour after dawn on the first day of each month. As it's the first of the month once again, we expect they’ll be arriving here again to collect their “taxes” in twenty minutes or so. If you don’t mind helping us, we could offer you all free room and board.”

Oleg mutters something about throwing away money, but doesn’t protest. Instead he stops his pacing, crosses his arms, and waits for a response.
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by The Large Dumbo
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Kesal Sajorren


Quietly thinking to himself had given Kesal some time to reflect on the matters at hand, especially with the knowledge that they had just so happened to stumble upon a small trading post in need of some assistance. It looked like even on the very fringes of the unexplored territory, the reach of avarice and barbarism held a strong grip on the innocent here. It was quite troubling, and only served to reinforce the thought that this task would prove to be quite daunting. Although these people could definitely use their assistance, Kesal couldn't help but notice that it seemed as if though they had already hired someone to help defend them who failed to show up. What could have been the cause of that? Were they not so pressed on time, it might have been interesting to find out what had happened to them, assuming they truly had the noble intention of returning to assist the trading post.

"If the rest of us are in agreement, I see no issue with stopping here to assist these two. Taking down some heathens sounds much more enjoyable than another dull and dreary hours long expedition through a realm of rocks and roots," Kesal suggested. Once he had stated his thoughts and intention, however, a frown crossed his face as he tilted his head upwards to look down upon the two denizens of the trading post. "That being said, perhaps in the future it may be a good idea to hire a more permanent solution to this problem, yes?" Kesal pointed out, his tone as critical as his words. "These lands are no place for pedestrian businessmen. What did you have in place prior to prevent your business from being targeted by these vagabonds beforehand, and what happened to it? Surely you did not come into this territory of danger and dour without any sort of aid or protection should this sort of situation occur!"
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Hazel
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"You're telling me," Oleg says, seeming to relax a little, "I've sent multiple requests for reinforcements, and only recently was told that they would be sent 'soon.' I don't know what the hold up is, seeing as it was Restov what chartered me to repair and run this post in the first place! As to before, we had some protection while we were fixing the place up, but nobody caused any trouble at the time and they returned to Restov when we were finished. Besides, who knew there would be bandits in the ass end of nowhere?"
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Muttonhawk
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The word reinforcements slowed Rosie to a stop. Aw, hell, she thought.

Gascon's words willing to help pulled at the corner of Rosie's mouth. "Aw, hell," she said out loud.

They were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Twenty minutes was not much time to high-tail it out of here, let alone convince her companions to do the same. They were treating this far too casually. If they were lucky, it was only a few brutes coming to shake things up. The unfortunate second edge of that sword was if it was a small crew coming their way, they would be part of a bigger organisation.

Rosie reached a hand toward Svetlana to cut through the conversation and spoke slowly and carefully. "How many are there and who do they work for?"
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Hazel
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"Well, the first time they extorted us, there were a dozen of 'em," Oleg says, "they seemed to have two leaders among them. A cloaked man armed with one of them fancy composite bows, and this fearsome woman what wielded two hatchets. She threatened to chop my hand off- and nearly did!"

"The next time they came, there were six," Svetlana adds, "and last month, four. Perhaps they're letting their guard down, I don't think they'll be expecting any resistance this time around."
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Rosie pressed her upper lip behind her tusks. Her eyes went to the ground as she thought. "Hm. A cloak and a bow don't narrow it down so much. Two axes, though? Could be a few ladies." She turned her head left and right to talk to everyone. "I can think of three. None of them bigshots like the Stag Lord, s'far as I know, but all of 'em real rough types. One's crazy, another's clever, and another joined a gang by cutting off hands after they kidnapped her. If you fellas want to deal with this gang, you'd best commit to hunting them all if you don't want our hosts to get caught in a fire." She ran a thumb down her chain. "If you do want to fight, I hope you don't mind if we keep one alive so I chat with 'em."
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Cu Chulainn
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Odin Ivarsson


"The bandits out here are opportunistic scoundrels. A trading post in the middle of nowhere is easy pickings for the likes of 'em, especially since it means they won't have to deal with any sort of resistance. At least it's good we got here in time."

Odin's hunch was correct. The ranger knew they would be dealing with bandits as soon as they had crossed that palisade... though, admittedly, he did not account for having this much time to prepare, or a place to set up some sort of ambush. Indeed, this could be the perfect opportunity to prove to at least some of the denizens of the River Kingdoms that his bow is now dedicated to the protection of the people. And even then, it gives the group the perfect opportunity to build some rapport. In any case, helping Oleg and Svetlana out of their bind was out of the question to Odin. Odin walked up to the bearded merchant with his hand out.

"Name's Odin. We'll help you two out, of course, but first we'll need your help as well. The best way to deal with these bandits is making sure they don't know we're here and catching them off-guard. That means we'll need you to tell us of any hiding places, nooks and crannies we can hide ourselves in so we could get the jump on these thugs." After giving Oleg's hand a shake, Odin turned to the rest of his companions, taking his backpack off and holding it by one of its straps. Looking for a small nook to tuck it into, Odin stashes his pack somewhere safe and hidden before preparing his quivers.

"That means we'll need to coordinate ourselves, as well. I'm thinking based on the time we have and the size of this post, we should make a death trap for these brigands. Whoever's the quietest should be by the doors so we could lock the bandits in. It'd be better for us if they were unable to call for help or escape. I'll find some place to snipe 'em down..." Odin then turned to Rosie, thinking that if she recognized these bandits, then she'd be able to help identify who the biggest threat may be. "You said you recognized some of 'em, right? Which one of them do you think I try and take out first? I've got some blunt arrows in case you want me to knock any of 'em out, in case you wanted to... have a word with 'em."
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Hazel
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"Good to know you, Odin," Svetlana says. "I'm afraid there's not much in the way of hiding places here. We have the guest house and the stables, which they usually ignore. They typically load up right here in this open square, so you could, er, flank them from those buildings."

Oleg raises an eyebrow, "Flank em? You have some military history I don't know about? Ah well, in any case, you might be able to push that wagon in front of the gate once they're inside. Of course, that's a two person job at least."
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Rosie crossed her arms at Odin. "I said I heard of one of 'em. And we didn't exactly go to school together." She peered around the outpost as she spoke. "Just pick one and knock the guy out. I think I'll...get behind the east corner of your homestead there. I can keep their attention while the rest of you do what you like."

She started walking. "And if you boneheads spend too long deciding, don't blame me!"
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Gascon


Whilst Gascon would infitely prefer fighting the bandits in announced combat so it'd be more honorable, Gascon's time as a soldier reminded him of the need for strategy. Since no one else seemed interested in moving the cart after the bandits came in Gascon figured he should volunteer himself at least, "Perhaps myself and one other could hide in the wagon, then push it in front of the door once the bandits are inside."

Gascon then turned towards Herkuel, a beastly man whose figure could impose even fear in even Gascon, that is if he was an enemy. Herkuel may tower over Gascon's hunched personage, but Gascon had no doubt that they were equally strong, and could thus ppush the cart together with ease, "Herkuel," Gascon paused a brief moment to consider his words, "would you be willing to assist me since we are bothable-bodied individuals?"
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Ana

A whistled tune, a leisurely stroll, and the morning sun beaming across the fields.

This was how the journey ought to start: not with a marching pace and a grim look. Of course, everyone and their mother started off with a marching pace and a grim look. What was even the big rush? The goal wasn't to race across the Stolen Lands; it was extermination, subjugation, and ministration. And not necessarily in that order, either.

Regardless, their duties sounded like tiresome work and that meant they probably were. Which meant that they were better off conserving their energy than rushing headlong into the wilderness. What was the saying again? "Haste makes waste"? If they wanted to keep hurrying around, by the end of it they'd just be tired and irritated and easy prey for enterprising highwaymen.

But more importantly, they'd be tired and irritated, which wasn't fun for anyone.

Anatoliy Medvyed arrived at the palisades of one Oleg's Trading Post not long after the group started their preparations for battle. Their arrival was hearkened only by a whistled tune as they ambled along the well-worn path and through the wooden gate.

"Wonderful! The whole party is together again." Ana clapped upon sighting the rest of the crew. In other circumstances, they may have left their arms open for a hug. However, it was clear by the hustle that something was up... and not just the economic deficit of running an outpost with nobody in it but their group.

"I see we've met the hosts already," Ana commented, eyes settling on the form of Oleg and Svetlana. The youth strode towards them and extended a hand. "Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Oleg and... Mr. Oleg's daughter, I presume? Ana of House Medvyed at your service,"

Then Ana looked over their shoulder and asked the party: "What's all this then?"
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Kesal Sajorren


Kesal quietly grunted as he listened to Oleg's explanation. Ineptitude would prove to be the death of these two merchants, through little fault of their own. It was a good thing that Kesal had joined up with this group of explorers: after all, safety in numbers was a valuable asset when approaching unfamiliar situations, especially in his own case. Several of his compatriots seemed to already begin preparations for the oncoming threat - it was about time that he contributed to the effort as well. "I don't imagine they'll send a group as large as last time to harry the post, but it would still do us good to prepare a small surprise for the brigands," Kesal thought aloud, opening the pouch at his waist and procuring a small vial containing a strangely colored liquid . "That being said, I believe it might be a good idea for me to position myself near the entrance in waiting, along with Gascon and Herkuel. This potion I prepared earlier should make it easier for me to approach them, or, should my attempts to sneak close be noticed, I have something to minimize injury to myself. Once our little melee begins, with Gascon's assistance, I should be able to take care of anybody we have no desire to speak to." Although he himself wasn't a master of stealth by any means - that was, after all, why he had learned the formula - the magic within the extract would only work on himself. It might be risky, but it would also put him within a position to put his knowledge of where to strike to the test.

Turning to face Ana, he sighed. "These two merchants have asked us to defend their trading post from a group of bandits approaching soon. We're currently discussing a plan of attack to ambush them: I was considering hiding by the entrance, Odin was searching for a vantage point upon which to fire upon, and I believe Rosie was planning on drawing their attention while Gascon and Herkuel move this cart behind them to block their escape."
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