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IC: D&D 5e: A New Age - A New Legend Is Born

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It all began two days ago, at The Crossing. It was a typical day at the Boar's Run Tavern with some patrons catching a midday meal and others simply relaxed and enjoyed the fine beers offered by the dwarven propriators while one of the half-elven girls sang. Good spirits, aided by the good beer and plentiful food made it quite a enjoyable atmopshere, as was common for the establishment.

A young man and woman had entered the tavern and stood out, as they were not regulars. They were dressed simply and both looked to be under twenty years of age and both showed a hint of fatigue. They pair addressed the room and asked for help, explaining their village was in need. People had gone missing and they feared some terrible creature had taken up resident in the nearby shelter. They were upfront that they had little to offer as payment, other than a bed, homecooked meals and the gratitude of their village.

Five rose to answer their call, each for their own reasons. After a small bit of discussion and some gathering of supplies the temple of Bahamut offered, the party set out for the village that day. Along the way the pair explained some more of what happened, that Toral, their Wizard, had not been seen in days. He lived in the shelter still, seeing as a safer place to conduct his experiments and he enjoyed the quiet for his research. 

One of the village women, who was a bit sweet on Toral, went into the shelter to bring him a fresh cooked meal. She was know to do that, lets Toral get to caught up in his work that he would forget to eat. She, and her two children, went into the shelter, but never returned. That was when fear began to spread among the village and they sent Arturs and Meghan to The Crossing for help. They knew it was a dangerous trip for the pair to make, but armed with a shortsword and dagger, and Arturs' magic (since he was an apprentice wizard), the pair successfully made the trip.

Arturs and Meghan, explained that they had done their best to follow a seldom used trail from their village to The Crossing. They had lost, and again found, the trail many times on their journey, but had arrived safely in The Crossing. With their guidance, and the keen eyes and skills of the others, they arrived back at the village by dusk of the second day, and were greeted by the village and its elders.

Alrid, the head elder, led you to the Village Hall, where they had strung a curtain along the back wall and brought in beds and trucks, making temporary quarters, while the rest of the hall was being re-arranged, with the tables in a rough U-shape for the dinner and celebration tonight, thanking those who had come to their aid. Afterward they would speak of more serious matters, but for now, Alrid expressed that the village needed this release and hope.

That night the village gather in the hall for the meal, with many of them bringing various prepared dishes. By the look of it, the food was rustic, but hearty and fairly plentiful, even for this gathering; red meats, fowl, fish, savory meat pies, stew, all manner (mostly root) of vegetables and many breads and baked goods, including fruit cobblers. Water, fresh juice and even ale is offered as well, a dwarven stout ale by the look, smell and taste of it. 

In the enclosed area between the tables small performances take place throughout the night, from simple comedic skits to music and/or dancing, making for a fairly joyous, relaxed atmosphere. As the meal began to wind down the singing, dancing and skits turn into storytelling. They tell the story of their village and how it was once a small town of humans and a few elves and half-elves, though not a sign of the town remains. They prepared their shelter with the help of a group of druids, shaping rock, bringing forth springs and starting the growth of food and such while two wizards prepared the wards.

With the shelter prepared the townsfolk waited as long as they could to enter it, and just as they were about to, three more arrived; a pair of orcs who had lost their tribe to a Horror and promised to cooperate and coexist peacefully within the shelter, and a lone male dwarf, a roguish bard named Ardis Softnote.

According to the story, he made a name for himself battling Horrors in the last days before the shelters were sealed, and found himself in Jarendale as they were entering their shelter. With time growing short, Ardis asked and was accepted into the shelter. As the townsfolk, Orcs and dwarf entered the shelter, it is said that a Horror found it and attacked, with Ardis fighting it off, wounding it and causing it to withdraw as he and the other fled into the shelter, sealing the doors, empowering the wards and setting traps behind them. 

Life was not easy within the shelter, but in time, people settled into patterns and made do. They had fresh spring water to drink and water the various crops, most types of fungi that grew on the walls. They had some animal pens to raise them for the slaughter as well as a small fishery. Food was prepared in a large kitchen and meals were taken communally. And with Ardis’ encouragement, space was made for a small brewery where he taught the inhabitants to craft fine dwarven stout (or at least a close proximity given the limited supplies to work with).

Curious about how the wizard fits in to the story of the village, Rhosh seeks out Arturs to fill in the missing pieces away from the gathering to not dampen the mood. 

"Arturs, the story of your village is pretty impressive, but there doesn't seem to be any mention of the wizard. Who is he, and how does he fit in?" the Dragonborn asked.

"Well, I am told we started with two wizards. They set the wards and provided other magical assistance than an isolated shelter might need, from healing to fixing things and so on. I am sure you know the utility of a wizard. They each tried to take an apprentice if enough children showed aptitude, so that their knowledge could be passed on and the ward maintained. Over time, there was only one wizard, as often only one child might show aptitude, with Toral being the last one trained within the shelter. He did not have an apprentice until just before we exited the shelter. That was when he found me. and began my instruction. He.. I don't know.. he always seemed..  eager, I guess, for me to learn , when he was not obsessed with some experiment or something, locking himself away in his study. I suppose he feared passing before he could teach me much, and then the village would be left without the magical aid he provided." Arturs answered.

The meal went on for a couple of hours, though it was more than a meal, granting the villagers a much needed chance to vent. That is not to say that they were carefree now, but at least they had some solid hope now as they looked at the four brave souls that answered their call for help.

Rhosh certain got his share of looks. Not is a bad way, but more of just curiosity at the races they had never seen before. The villagers were very accepting though, and certain made them all feel welcomed. Krusk’s armor also drew attention, being the only full suit that most had ever seen. There did not seem to be much metal around the village, and where there was tended to be in the shape of tool heads and nails, so seeing a full suit of armor was unusual and a bit fascinating for them.

The meal ended and the villagers returned to their homes, tidying up a bit, but leaving the majority of the cleanup for the morning. When they had departed only Alrid, Arturs and Meghan remained in the hall with you, gathered around your table while Meghan walked around, gathering up whole pieces of fruit.

Alrid took a drink of his cup of ale, sat it down on the table and sighed.

“Again, thank you all for coming to our aid. We are not sure what is happening, but I will tell you what we know.” The older man said, looking at each of you, one by one.

“We opened the shelter over a year ago, and began building this village and preparing the land while still living within the shelter. I think we all needed time to get used to living outside again, so it permitted us that. In time, we moved out of the shelter and into the village, though Toral, the wizard, tended to stay in his quarters in the shelter where he could do his studies and experiment is relative safety.

Toral would often get too focused on his work, and he would forget to eat, and even sleep. Mari would often bring him food and make sure he would eat. After her husband passed just before we left the shelter, she had taken an interest in him, and he seemed to return it.

Several days ago, Toral had been inside the shelter for some time, and so Mari went to bring him some lunch. She would often bring her children with her, and let them play in the shelter while she visited with Toral, and this day was no different. 

The next morning, she was not seen tending to her chores, which was unusual. We checked her home, and neither she nor her children were there. So Leode, a fellow elder, went into the shelter to look for her and ask Toral if he had seen her.

Leode never returned.

Jared and went in with a few more villagers, to look for Leode and see what happened. Only Jared made it back out. He was terrified and babbling incomprehensibly. His mind was… gone.

We were not sure what was happening, but it was clear we could not handle it. So we send Arturs and Meghan, the most capable of the young people of the village, to fetch help, so that the rest of the men could remain to guard us. I or some of the elder would have went along, but we would have only slowed them down.

Toral has not been seen in days, and Mari, Leode and the others who have not returned only a day or two less so. We have not dared to set foot in the shelter since. We have barred and locked our doors at night, afraid of what was happening, and sometimes, in the morning, we find scratches on our doors and shutters.

Please. We do not know what is happening, or what may rest inside the shelter, but please liberate us from this fear… this evil.” Alrid pleads.

 

OOC note:

Spoiler

You can take this opportunity to ask Alrid, or even Arturs or Meghan, any questions you may have before you go to sleep and get to work in the morning (It has been two days of travel and you have just eaten and relaxed and are all a little bit tired from the trip and fully belly).

 

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During the trip Dread didin't really speak to anyone, he had no reason to.  Mostly it was banter and that didn't really appeal to him.  He'd been in companies before and it was usually a whole lot of getting to know each other and story sharing and an assortment of other socializing that made his eyes roll.  He could b social, but he didn't really care where they were from, who they were or what they claimed to have accomplished, and he certainly didn't want to listen to the orc proselytize about his god like people, especially Dread, actually cared.

Dread let the people have their revelry, hey certainly needed it more than he.  Sure, he had a few offers from the ladies, but for the most part he left it at casual flirting and hung in the back of the great hall with his arms folded looking all dark and brooding.  He was here to work and right now all this partying was wasting his time and announcing to their enemies (were they intelligent) that everyone's guard was down and ripe for the picking.  The quickest way to handle the issue, in his mind, was simply to go to the shelter and deal with the problem, but of course, the villagers had to get their rescuers good and drunk first... he never understood that.

Once things had settled down the giant fighter approached Meghan (he always had better luck with ladies).  He towered over her and his voice was deep and uncaring.  Dread didn't make a request.  "It was mentioned that there were claw marks on the doors.  Show me."

Spoiler

Dread will attempt to use his survival skill (humble though it is) to determine what sort of beast may have made it.  The breed should vary based on the marking (feline, canine, ursine, yadda, yadda...).  I don't expect much, but any info is better than none.

He doesn't need the rest of the party for this, but he won't turn away others who follow.  His plan is simply to get the information and return with it.  If it leads to a trail that can be followed he will collect the others before following it.

 

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Meghan looked a little surprised at Dread's approach, and unconsciously took a step backwards.

"Now?" the young woman asked, with just the faintest hint of fear in her voice.

A slight narrowing of his eyes was the only response she received from Dread. She then looked to Alrid who glanced over and gave her a small nod.

"Of course. This way." she said as she collected a torch from the wall and led the fighter outside, moving through the darkness in a small island of light cast by the torch.

"Many, if not most or all, of the homes have them, on the shutters and doors. But I do not think they are claw marks, at least not by any beast I know of." she explained as she led the way over to a home, and pointed out the scratches on the door and shutters.

 

Spoiler

Dread, and anybody else who went with him and Meghan, can make a Survival check if you wish to examine the scratches. If you wish to make any other checks just let me know, or state what you are looking for and roll.

 

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Dread knelt beside the hut, tracing his fingers gently over the scratches.  He looked to the young woman and reached out for the torch, motioning with his fingers for her to either bring it closer or hand it over.  She opted to bring it closer, not wanting to relinquish her light in the time when evil had it's biggest foot hold upon the land.  The brute narrowed his eyes and finally stood up, taking the time to look at the jambs of the door and the sills of the windows and the stiles of the shutters.

He crossed his arms over his chest and as he exhaled he lowered his hands to rest upon the pommels of the two swords that rested on each side of his hips.

"W-what manner of animal was it?"  Meghan asked.  Dread scared her, that much was certain, but despite that fear she help but feel safe in his presence.

"It was no animal," He answered her.  "It was a man, or something akin to one.  It had the presence of mind to try and pry open the door and shutters.  It's failed... so far.  Let us return to the others, you are not safe out here."

"But, I have you to protect me," she finally braved a response in an attempt to endear herself to him, to show him that she wasn't afraid of him and respected him for coming out to her home to help save them.

He gently took her by the arm and swiftly escorted her back the way they had came.  "The gods owe me no favors.  You?"  She swallowed hard as a chill ran up her spine and she quickened her pace.

Spoiler

Dread will relay the information in the previous posts (in fact, it might be the most you've heard him say this trip).  It was late, and I thought I'd get the ball rolling for us.

 

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"A man?" asked Shayuri. She was still enjoying the festivities, talking to the locals and having a grand old time by the look of it. She ate and drank with gusto, and had a loud laugh even in a room full of conversation. Dread's news, however, got her attention.

The sorceress was fair of feature, but strange as well. Her eyes were a peculiar shade of yellow-gold, her skin a shade or three darker than most's were after growing up underground. And then there were the scales that grew in little patches on her forehead and along her cheekbones; fine glittering red scales. And the pair of short horns that poked up from under her long red hair. Her ears had points that bespoke elven heritage...but then again, who really knew at this point?

"Could this just be bandits then? Or maybe someone with a grudge against Toral?" She frowned. "And...everyone who's gone looking for him so far. All right, probably not that. But bandits still seem plausible. If they're looking to use the old shelter as a base of operations."

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"You know, it's been a while since I've heard about anything like this showing up, but we haven't really ruled out vampires or were-creatures. Since everything seems to be happening only at night, I'd bet that there is a nocturnal being that needs to be addressed." Rhosh takes a swig from his mug after the suggestion and shakes his head as he looks into the ale. Broadening the list of possible culprits doesn't give him any comfort, but he'd rather have at least some idea of what could be in store. Being caught off-guard would only make things more difficult.

The dragonborn contemplates the information he's heard so far and takes in the scenery while doing so. The low light from candles and braziers around the room light softly on his sandy colored scales. His golden eyes glint keenly as he looks around the room, partly to see how the villagers interact with his party members and partly to see if there may be any unattended coin about.

Rhosh runs a hand over his head and scratches at the looser scales behind him. The dark clothes he dawns shift with the movement and almost seem to want to devour the dragonborn in their sea of black. He returns his hand to his mug and calls to Alrid, "Can you tell us anything from some of your last conversations with Toral? Did he say if he was working on anything in particular or seem to have a peculiar interest in anything? It seems a little odd that he seemed to have taken an intense focus in his studies, then suddenly he and anyone else that go in the shelter disappear. And now there seem to be scratches on the village dwellings. It may be nothing, but I'd like to know about anything leading up to all this."

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"Or akin to a man," The fighter corrected the half-whatever.  It seemed to him the Sorceress only heard what she wanted to which was dangerous.  He didn't want her mind expecting one thing and getting another, that could be deadly.

Dread shook his head at Shayuri's idea about bandits.  "Bandits would have had weapons to pry with.  These creatures had no leverage.  It appears more like remnant thought, or lingering instinct.  Even a goblin can jimmy a shutter latch."

For a man clad like a barbarian (and acting like one most of the time) Dread was very well spoken.  His voice was deep and everything he said seemed matter of fact or terse.  "The wizard, either accidentally or deliberately, screwed something up."

When in doubt, it was always the wizard's fault.

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Shayuri nodded at Rhosh, then at Dread, acknowledging each of their points.

"That's a distinct possibility from the sound of it. What say we go find out?"

She stood up and finished off her mug.

"I am definitely in the mood for a little action."

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Aldir nodded to Rhosh and took a moment to compose his thoughts

“Toral and I have been friends most of our lives, or at least adult lives, since we were Arturs’ age or so. When we last spoke was, of course, before all of this happened. He was a bit overly focused on some bit of research, but that was nothing new for him. I think he was doing some study of the wards.” Alrid said and then sighed.

“You see, a major reason why we left the shelter now was that the wards were beyond, probably just beyond, Toral’s ability. I think… I think he felt bad about it, like he was responsible for us being forced out. I had spoken to him about it before, and tried to ease his self-imposed guilt. 

It was not his fault though. I think we were ready to leave, actually… to reclaim our ancestral home.” Alrid said as he looked around the hall.

“I know it does not look like much to you, but this is our home, and had been for generations. Though generations were born, lived and died within that shelter, we always knew that one day we would have to risk leaving the safety it offered, and take back our homes. 

I think it always bothered him though, like he thought it was his shortcomings as a wizard that forced us out. I have tried to ease his guilt many times, but he has always been a bit of an obsessive man. At some point we were going to chose to leave or be forced out. And with each generation of wizards, I am sure that knowledge was lost. We were farmers, and we have had to re-learn how to plant and raise crops outside, so I am sure that bits of more complex knowledge, like that of the arcane, must have been lost over time in the shelter.

Toral, when we last spoke, asked me about the dwarf in the shelter, Ardis Softnote. Being the eldest, I keep our stories and history. I am certainly no Bard, and would never make such claim, but I know our history and try to pass it on.” Alrid explained

"Well I'd like to hear more about Ardis myself. It sounds like he played a big part in your community. As it stands, the only things we know so far are that there is a seemingly nocturnal being that is scratching at homes during the night. That could be a were-creature, vampire, or something else entirely, but we still seem to be in need of more information to make sense of things." Rhosh thought aloud.

Alrid took a drink of his ale and set down the mug

“Ardis Softnote was a dwarven Bard and Rogue from the dwarven keep of Silver Hill. It is said that Silver Hill had much more contact with other peoples and kingdoms, so it was not unusual at the time to see dwarves from there on the surface.

Ardis always loved history and stories, especially the strange ones of other races, so despite being born Ardis Mintsilver, he began training as a Bard and left to go see the world. In time he would earn his own family name of Softnote, but it is not clear if it died with him though, for it is said that he likely fathered some children in his adventures.

He met many individuals in his travels, and eventually formed an adventuring band with several of them; the beautiful, and deadly, Jhulae, an elven sword-maiden, the wise Nolim Forarr, a wizard of great skill, and the savage, but noble, Bowlloff, a man of remarkable size.

Together the four of them had many adventures, and when the Horrors began to appear, they opposed them. For years they battled against them, and in time, only Ardis remained. Even alone he fought against them, with the aid of his magic and stealth, his dagger would often find its way into vulnerable spots of a Horror, wounding and slaying many. The most well known of the Horrors he battled was the cunning Neth’Ka. It is said the two had a long-running feud, battling many times, but neither being able to slay the other. It is said that it was Neth’Ka that attacked when the shelter was being sealed, having tracked a wounded Ardis to the town of our ancestors. 

It is said that Ardis himself stated he would have stayed out and fought Neth’Ka to the death himself, had he not been wounded, but he did not want to give the horror the satisfaction of killing him, since he was already wounded. He did manage to wound Neth’Ka though, driving it off as the wards were raised, the traps were set and the shelter sealed. It seemed that by denying Neth’Ka satisfaction of slaying him, Ardis struck one final, taunt against the horror, infuriating Neth’Ka, as Ardis was known to do.

His wounds were tended to once inside the safety of the shelter and he proved to be of great aid to our ancestors. Being a dwarf, he was familiar with living underground, and so he shared his knowledge, making life within the shelter better for all. He taught how to grow food and raise livestock better within the confines of the shelter, how to brew stout ale and many other things, all making life better. He was a valued member of our community, and his stories and songs are still kept by us to this day.

Eventually time caught up with him, as it does us all, and he passed. To thank him for all he had done for us, and to honor such a hero that lived among us, a tomb was fashioned within the shelter, and he was laid to rest there, in veneration, his story carved into the stone so it would never be forgotten.”

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Eon had spent most of the night plying his primary trade. The people, he could see, were mostly simple folk and the situation had been weighing on them heavily. The appearance of their little group had begin to lift their spirits, true, but the more they got to unwind, the better. The less likely someone was to do something stupid. And so, he spent most of the meal travelling from table to table, laughing, singing, playing and talking, the atmosphere lightening as he continued on till the sounds of laughter and happy talking began to build.

When the people finally left, he plopped down in his seat with a sigh, winking at one of the serving girls and sending her scurrying away flushing scarlet. After that, he listened with an politely concerned expression. The man didn't *seem* to be trying to conceal anything and was only concerned with his people. Running his fingers through his hair and tucking an errant strand behind one of his ears he nodded at the Dragonborn

"Could be, but it's unlikely to be a cursed Were, at any rate. They change with the moon and the marks were more akin to fingernails than the claws one would expect from their kind, even with the full moon having just passed. Those born as Were, on the other hand..... well, the claws remain the point, I think. We don't know enough to narrow it down. There are... a lot of things that could do this."

He turns back to Alrid, flashing the tired man a smally, sympathetic smile.

"On the nights the marks were left, did the people in the houses hear something scratching at their doors? Did anyone hear anything, for that matter?"

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"There seems to be more marks every night, but yes, some people have heart the scratching, but were too afraid to open a door or shutter. Other slept through it, I suppose. When we can sleep, that is. This all has us quite frightened and every time we tried to do something, we have lost people. or at least they have not returned, or returned with their mind broken. We are not warriors or gifted in the arcane. That is why we sent Arturs and Meghan to ask for aid." Alrid replied.

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 Eon nodded along "Aye. I'm just trying to get a grasp on how things are happening.Does it happen to several houses a night? Or does whatever it is move on after a single one? Have any of the houses been visited more than once? I'm assuming that it started with the houses closest to the Shelter, but does it spread deeper into the village or has it remained at the edges?"

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"I do not know all of what you ask. Some home may have been... visited.. more than once. I am not sure. I do know that it has happened to more than one home in a night though, and I believe it began with the homes closest to the shelter, and from there it has spread into the village." Alrid answered.

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Remembering his conversation earlier, Rhosh invites a response from Arturs as he may have some more personal knowledge of Toral and any relation to the current situation. "Arturs, you've witnessed the signs around the village. Does any of this match up with anything that Toral may have taught or shared with you?" Including Alrid, he continues, "I get the feeling that there may be some connection between Toral and his interest in Ardis. The timing on all of this seems suspect."

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"Or the wards..." muses Shayuri. "I mean, you said he was obsessive, and he felt bad about not being able to maintain them. Maybe, now that everyone's moved out, he felt like it was safe to tamper with them...experiment...try to understand how they worked."

"Something could have been trapped in them though. I don't know about a Horror, necessarily. I think you'd know if a Horror was stalking the village by now...but something smaller. A servitor of some kind, or maybe a bound spirit or elemental..."

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Arturs' brow furrowed as he thought back, trying to recall what Toral had taught him and if any if it seemed relevant here. He sighed and shook his head.

"I don't know. I am just an apprentice. The wards seems just past the limit of Toral's ability and understanding. He may have finally made a breakthrough in his understanding, but if he did, he had not told me. If he tampered with them, I suppose something could have accidentally been caught in them, but if that was the case, it would be trapped in the shelter, wouldn't it? How could it be clawing at the homes?" the young wizards apprentice said.

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"Magic," Dread grunted in an unpleasant tone, than again all his tones seemed unpleasant.  "Figures.  We can ask questions all night, but right now we are half-drunk," he thumbs to the Sorceress.  "Or more, and we're fatigued from the journey.  Let's put all this to rest and investigate tomorrow.  Perhaps shifts?  In case we want to try and greet these evening lurkers if they decide to visit tonight?  I've had little to drink, I would not mind taking the first watch.  The wyrmling can join me."

Spoiler

He refers to Rhosh as 'the wyrmling' and Shayuri as 'the kobold'.  He's not quite on first name familiarity yet. :)

 

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Looking out the window, at the surrounding darkness, Eon ventures

"Well, if they show up every night, odds are good we'll experience it for ourselves in short order. The question becomes do we wait till morning. Keep watch but otherwise rest tonight and start investigating properly tomorrow. Do we patrol the village tonight and wait for the thing to come to us, or do we cut right to the source and go to the Shelter while it has left it's probable lair?"He sat sits back idly picking up the cittern that had been sitting propped up against his chair. He idly begins strumming, long hours of practice allowing him to play without even thinking.

Spoiler

 

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Standing up, Rhosh nods in affirmation to Dread's suggestion.

"A watch does sound wise. We'll probably have a more fruitful search in the morning with more light anyway. Who knows? Maybe we will have some luck this evening simply keeping watch."

Rhosh reaches to finish his mug of ale, but thinks better of it as he'll be on watch with Dread. 'No sense stirring the pot', he thinks to himself. 'He's only gonna think I'm not doing my part.' To the rest of the party he asks aloud, "Who will be taking the next shift?"

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"I can have a few of the village men stay and stand watch for you, if you like, so that you may get your rest." Alrid offers

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"Thank you for the offer, Alrid, but we didn't come to put more people in danger. Let the village rest and hopefully sleep easier tonight." Rhosh replies.

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Alrid nodded and motioned to the main front doors of the hall and toward the door in back, concealed by the curtain, but that you had seen before.

"All of the doors bar, and we have already shuttered the windows. If you have need for anything, my home is right across the way." he explained, motioning toward the front doors.

 

OOC: If you are going to do a watch, then work it out so we can keep things moving and not spend 3 days figuring it out. Thanks.

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Rhosh's hands quickly confirmed two daggers in his belt, before tossing his quiver over his shoulder. As he picked up his bow and followed Dread to the entrance, he pulled the ebony hood over his head. "I suppose we could spread out if you like, but it seems like we can be pretty sure any danger will be coming from the shelter. As long as I can get a hair of cover out there, I'll be able to get the drop on anything headed our way."

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Eon let out a snort, rolling his eyes at the Warriors exit. Catching Rhosh's eye he flashes a quick grin, making the gesture that Thieves everywhere had come to use for "Nobles" and the general dickishness that seemingly comes with any title, a long suffering expression of "What can you do?" on his features.  He had nothing but respect for the skills, but Bahamuts Platinum Ballsack the man was a boor. No sense of fun whatsoever.

He continues as though Delgath hadn't spoken, "I'll keep vigil with Shayuri and wake Krusk and our Arturs for the final watch." He stops for a second, the amusement draining from his face. "Do keep your knives close and a weather eye out. Sehanine's blessings on you. I'll see you in a couple of hours."

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Alrid excused himself, leaving you to discuss your watch and get your rest. The older man exited the hall, escorted by two men of the village, one armed with a woodcutter's ax and the other with a sickle. Once the door closes behind him the others prepared for sleep, leaving Dread and Rhosh to stand the first watch outside the hall.

The night was cool, but not yet cold, though the air was still and it was strangely quiet. Even the bugs and distant frogs by the stream made an inordinately small amount of noise. The moon was still very bright in the sky, having been full a few days ago, so the village was illuminated quite well. Dread took to standing by the door, making a loop around the hall every so often, while Rhosh slipped into the shadows, his attention more focused in the direction of the shelter as he kept his bow at the ready.

Having had the scratches shown to him, Dread could make them out much more easily now in the moon light as he leaned near the doors of the halls. The scratches at the edges of the shutters and door latches made sense, but it was the scratches in the middle of the doors that bugged him. The more he looked at them from across the road, the more they seemed to eat at him, irritating the young fighter.

For his part, Rhosh watched the shelter, looking for movement, any sign of life, but saw nothing. The shelter itself was a a large hill, several hundred feet from the village and covered in grass and brush. The stream ran on the far side of the hill and then turned to run along the village, causing some reeds and other similar vegetation to grow along the banks, lending shelter to small frogs. The double doors of the entrance that was currently open and Rhosh could see a very, very faint light from deep within the shelter, but it was steady and un-moving, likely a faintly glowing crystal like he had seen within the village hall.

 

Spoiler

OOC - If either of you wish to post, let me know. If not, I will continue on.

 

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Dread did his best to stifle his irritation while Rhosh watched the shelter closely. In time the pair went inside and awoke the half-elves before finding their own beds to sleep for the rest of the night.

Just as before, the night was cool, calm and quiet, almost unnaturally so, and Eon, with some effort, scrambled onto the roof of the village hall for a better view, while Shayuri alternated between standing and meandering around the hall. With the light of the moon, the village was well-lit for the half-elves, especially the structures nearest them, such as Alrid's home, across the way.

Eon watched the shelter, but not exclusively so, taking a look all the around the village from his vantage point from time to time. The villagers assumed that something was coming from the shelter at night, but the bard was not so eager to blindly follow their assumption. Still though, little moved or made noise through the village and around it. The near total silence was unnerving, as if anything else knew to be quiet and lay low.

Noting the scratches on Alrid's door, Shayuri could not help but walk across the dirt street to it for a better look. The scratches did appear to more scratches than claw marks, shallow and somewhat broad. The marks were around the door latch and the edges of shutters, as if something was making some attempt to enter the home, while the rest of the marks were higher on the door,  roughly eye level for most beings.

The scratches were not just parallel likes though, like a hand clawing at the door. They seemed more random to the sorceress. Wait. Not random. There was something.. else. 

Taking a step back, Shayuri took in the entirety of the door and the scratches on it. Then she could see it. The scratches formed some sort of symbol, but were done so crudely, akin to a child trying to write for the first time, as to escape virtually all notice...

 

Spoiler

OOC - Eon has not seen the symbol yet. Once the symbol is pointed out, you can try History, Religion and/or Arcana to try and recognize the symbol. 

 

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The sorceresses eyes widened as she realized what she was seeing. Or rather, that it was a symbol of some kind. Recognizing it, as shallow as the marks were, was a little trickier. She squinted then, moving her fingers along the marks...then shook her head.

"Eon," Shayuri called, waving the bard over.

"Come here a second. Take a look at this. It's not random at all. Someone was drawing something here."

Arcana: 1D20+4 = [8]+4 = 12

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Eon winced at the sudden sound. He'd gotten used to the quiet of the night and the call sounded disproportionately loud in the otherwise deserted streets. The village remained ominously silent even afterwards and he let out a breath he didn't know he'd been holding. Not fear, as such, but anticipation. Wondering if the noise was the spark that would set off the Powder Keg.

When nothing happened he pads towards the edge of the roof, taking one last look around before dropping down to the street level and landing on silent feet. Coming up behind his fellow Half-Elf, he takes a moment to observe the scratches, humming an agreement to her comment. There really was a purpose to these scratches.

Trailing one gloved finger along the edge of the divots in the wood, he frowns in thought, mentally digging through the trove of knowledge he'd acquired down through the years.

Location was interesting. There were some scratches around the edges of both door and shutters, but they seemed almost random, probably just from trying to leverage the door open, as Delgath had said. But the scratches in the middle of the door.... His eyes flick to the shutter, where similar markings adorned the shutters. Marking the middle of each point of entry like that was interesting. Could be a marker for the house. Thieves had been known to leave subtle marks behind in order to remind themselves and warn other thieves about the contents of houses, the locations of safe houses and the like. But that was usually one mark well hidden in a location only Thieves would give a second look at. Marking every door and window seemed like a lot of effort for a mark that said "You've already been here".

It almost looked like some rudimentary ward. A mark on every point of entry felt like it could be warding something from entering the building. But that would be distinctly odd if the thing was trying to get in itself. Curious.

Spoiler

Arcana Roll: 1D20+7 => (20 + 7) = 27

Religion Roll: 1D20+4 => (13 + 4) = 17

History Roll: 1D20+7 => (10 + 7) = 17

 

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The half-elves stood before the door, examining the scratches and the crude symbol they formed. They both thought back to the books, stories and song they had heard, as well as the various languages they could read and write. The scratches formed a single, crudely drawn symbol, but it was no letter or word that either knew, nor a marking of a god or any nation they hard heard of.

The pair could see things in the symbol, certain marks and accents that hinted at an arcane nature, an enchantment, suggesting the symbol was a ward of some sort. No. Not a ward, but a sigil, one that would be used in placing some sort of hex. The exact nature of the hex, Shayuri was uncertain of, but the symbol tugged at a memory for Eon.

The bard thought back to his training on the streets of The Crossing, both as a bard and a thief, learning the concealed messages that thieves would leave for one another, often appearing to be random scratches or meaningless markings to the uninitiated. This mark was not a symbol of the Thieves' Cant, but it was one that he had been shown, and told was a curse, so it best to avoid a structure marked with it. That warning had made the young half-elf curious, and when he asked his mentor about it, the older bard knew why. It was a curse, one that imbued nightmares, wearing on and weakening the mind of those affected, and possibly even bringing insanity in time.

The symbol was crudely drawn though, leaving both of the half-elves uncertain if it even could focus magic enough in order to place and hold an enchantment.

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In a room too small to be comfortable for a normal Half-Orc with a set of full plate armor, Krusk wakes up from his rest and begins to prepare for the morning shift and remainder of the day. Though most would find it to be comically small for the large individual and heavy plate, he was comfortable with small and modest accommodations. Every small bit of modesty and piety would be rewarded by Bahamut, either in this life or the next. After dressing in his holy vestments, he begins to light the candles and incense that he meticulously placed around his room last night before sleeping.

He takes out his prayer book and begins quietly reciting passages, followed by meditation. Krusk always hopes for a vision to help guide him along his holy path, but is always happy to hear the affirmation and guidance his mind tells him while he connects to the divine. It may be delivered in his own mind and heart, but he is confident that it springs from a spiritual font; a gift given to him by the most pure and noble of all dragons.

When his meditation concludes, he carefully closes his book and puts out the flames. He feels the strength of the divinity within himself, and pictures himself as but a small vessel to which Bahamut has placed the opportunity of good within. He clutches the holy symbol hanging from his neck. He smiles and thinks to himself that he has been brought here for a reason and that he will help these people. By doing so, he will spread the goodness of the Dragon King and benefit all current and future inhabitants of this plane so that they too can enjoy it's riches in life and death.

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Eon let out a low whistle, going on to explain the symbol to his companion.

"Whatever it is, it's got a serious Axe to grind with the village, seemingly. And either thinks it can use magic, but can't..... or is just really bad at it. You getting anything from the Sigil? I can't tell just by looking and I'd rather not poke at it too much if I can avoid it."

He pauses in thought for a second, arms crossed and a finger idly tapping at his chin.

"We may also want to check the other houses, see if they're all like this, or if it's just Alrid's house. That can wait till morning, however. Best we not wander too far when we're on watch."

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"Give me a moment, I'll see if it's magically active," Shayuri said. She dug a book out of her pouch and opened it to one of the early pages.

"I'm impressed you recognized that thing," the sorceress murmured as she turned forward a few times. "It's very hard to make out some of the lines there...ah, here we are."

She began to incant mystic words in an ancient tongue. As she did, strange glowing smoke wafted from her mouth and twisted in midair to form sigils and runes that changed from moment to moment. It took several minutes of this before she completed the spell, and her eyes began to shine with a strange yellow-gold light.

 

(Casting Detect Magic as a ritual to see if the rune has any power)

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Ten minutes pass as Shayuri performs her ritual, drawing on her wizardly training in youth to aid her. When she finally finished the incantation, she looks upon the door with her yellow-gold eyes and she could see the faint aura of magic radiating from the markings, not just in the middle of the door, but on the shutters as well, enchanting the entire home.

Still curious, she glanced at the homes on either side of the Alrid's, and she could see a faint aura around those dwellings as well...

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"Oh yes...yes indeed...there's power here. Not a great deal of power, but..."

She looked around.

"Not just this house. His neighbors too. Lets take a little bit of a tour before the spell fades. I know, we won't go far...just a little. Amazing that such a crude design holds magic at all...even so, no kind of magic should be taken lightly."

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The pair of half-elves, splitting the difference between their duty as the watch and their curiosity, decided to circle the village hall, inspecting the homes with Shayuri's magically enhanced perception. Each home was not enchanted, but many were, easily over half by Shayuri's estimation, all bearing the same crude symbol. Why somebody or something would wish to curse the homes of this small village with nightmares, or worse, was still unknown.

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2 hours ago, Shayuri said:

"I'm impressed you recognized that thing," the sorceress murmured as she turned forward a few times. "It's very hard to make out some of the lines there...ah, here we are."

He offers a shrug and a slight self-deprecating smile. 

"Being able to recognise and repeat Coats of Arms and Heraldry is part of a Bards stock and trade. One develops an eye for details like personal sigils and the like if only to avoid offending your patrons." he demurred. Left unsaid was that it also helped when it came to forging documents, but that was besides the point. "My mentor showed it to me more as warning than anything else. She deemed that being able to recognise a cursed location *before* one walked inside to be of some use." he shrugs, tone sardonic. "I can't say I disagree with her."

He pipes down to let her work her magic, keeping a wary eye on the surrounding streets. Particularly those points where his vision began to dwindle and the shadows drew uncanny shapes that couldn't help but catch the eye.

2 hours ago, Shayuri said:

"Not just this house. His neighbors too. Lets take a little bit of a tour before the spell fades. I know, we won't go far...just a little. Amazing that such a crude design holds magic at all...even so, no kind of magic should be taken lightly."

"As you say. But best not to underestimate. Still. At least we know that it's a general malignancy, rather than a pointed vandetta." He pauses a second, a thoughtful look on his face. "I'm not actually sure which I would have preferred, to be honest." And they circled the hall, quiet Elvish floating through the air as they continued the patrol.

"It's strange. To go through so much effort for such a comparatively petty end. And.... to be honest, I would not expect anyone who knew how to use these Runes to be so.... I don't know. Slapdash? In their application. Maybe it's my own perfectionist nature, but it strikes me as odd that these sigils are as crude as they are. " He shakes his head. "Regardless, do you think that we'd be able to disrupt the magic safely by breaking the Sigil? Stories abound of disrupting magic by breaking a symbol of some sort, but I will be the first to acknowledge that in many cases the story comes before a lot of trifling details."

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"Breaking the ward? Maybe. There's risks to it though. Once it's not bound up in the diagram, the energy can fly just about anywhere. That's how you make magic traps, except you design it to happen on purpose."

Shayuri tapped her bottom lip with a finger then nodded. "Best to wait until tomorrow. We can pick a house, make sure no one's in it, and prepare for the consequences. See if it works or not. For now lets head back. Whatever these things are doing, it seems to work slowly over time. One more night hopefully won't matter too much."

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