Griznuq Gaming

D&D Campaigns => Threshold => In Character Discussions => Topic started by: Johan on September 05, 2006, 01:55:21 PM

Title: Ambush Site
Post by: Johan on September 05, 2006, 01:55:21 PM
Duthash Dracum Syncath [15 May]

Kossuth was still far beyond the east wall when Jarmok stepped lightly onto his porch. A light misty rain hung in the false dawn air, which was crisp and cool. The fogveil rumbled invisible in the distance. On this day he had resigned himself to missing his customary greeting of the morning. He had a lot of territory to cover, and wanted it behind him before Kossuth was too low in the west.

He cinched the straps of his tall leather boots one last time and adjusted his axes, his bow and quiver, and the bag that hung across his back and carried enough venison to see him through.

He shook the last motes of sleep from his mind and jumped down the few stairs to the ground and struck out northeasterly through the forest towards the road that led through Little Threshold and beyond.

He had to restrain himself a bit. Today would be a test of endurance, not of speed. Pace would be his ally, and he needed to mind it closely. As much as he wanted to push his speed, he knew that speed came at the cost of longevity. It also came at the cost of secrecy, and with all the Shadow Rider activity hereabouts of late, secrecy was another ally that he could not afford to offend.

Leaving the protection of Threshold to the rest of the Protectorate, he ran on, near soundless, through the morning and was past Little Threshold before anyone was about. He wasn't invisible, however, and one of the farmer's dogs barked in the night at his intrusion. He wondered whether the animal knew at what it was barking. Then he wondered whether the animal was truly barking at his presence, or was there something else up so early as well.

He sped up a little.
Title: Ambush Site
Post by: Wildfire on September 13, 2006, 08:01:13 PM
Jarmok treaded along his path. The clouds had grown thicker through the morning and began to send down a light, steady rain on him. He had seen few travelers and the ground under his feet had begun to get squishy.

Ahead of him he could the open hilly expanse of the north. The distance was shrouded in low heavy clouds and as he continued the rain got heavier. Jarmok knew this drink was good for the crop season even though it made travel a bit more uncomfortable. The usually warmer air of Sythus at this time gave way to a cool, raw wind that would chill the stoutest of warriors.

Despite the rain and wind, Jarmok's cloak kept him warm and dry. The cloak had been in Mercer's clothing chest and waited for just such an occasion to exercise it's utility.

Away to the north, the clouds were darker and menacing and the rain began to strengthen with each step Jarmok took towards them.
Title: Ambush Site
Post by: Johan on September 13, 2006, 02:14:04 PM
Jarmok froze and crouched suddenly. Not wanting the strange figure to detect him as he had detected it, he shrunk down behind the berm at the road?s edge. He eyed the stranger for a long while.

The figure was tall and lean, it wore a dark cape and seemed to lean upon the long-shafted scythe that it held. It didn?t move. He counted several fingers of heartbeats, but still the figure stood motionless. The mist continued to lightly soak Jarmok and the fields while he tried to decide what to do.

Torn between investigating this lone person and his day?s objective, Jarmok concluded that he could not in comfort leave this being behind him. Slinging his wooden shield upon his shoulder, he fitted an arrow to his bow and crept forward, listening to the unnatural quiet of the morning.

As he crept slowly and silently across the field, an errant crow cawed from the skies behind the treeline. The figure in the field did not move. Jarmok peered beyond the figure, trying to see what it found so interesting, but there was nothing there but low brambles and tall grass. He crept closer.

He was well within a bow-shot of the mysterious field stander when Kossuth burned a hole through the clouds for a moment. In the enhanced lighting, Jarmok saw that the figure?s cape was well tattered and his scythe didn?t gleam at all that way one would expect a scythe or other metal weapon to reflect. But too quickly the clouds redoubled their efforts and shrouded Kossuth once again.

Jarmok watched for a short while, but his prey did not move. His head didn?t turn, the grip on his scythe didn?t alter; he was stone still.

Jarmok picked up a rock and threw it over the figure and off to one side, then ducked back down to peer at the figure through the grass. Nothing. The person didn?t acknowledge the stone. Nor did he acknowledge a second stone thrown to the other side, but closer. Nor the next, thrown closer still. Jarmok crept in an arc around to get a better look at the front of the stoic figure.

Another momentary parting of the clouds afforded Jarmok the opportunity to see in far greater detail this man, and Jarmok was surprised to see that he seemed to be covered with vine growth!

Jarmok stood tall. From this point, it would be impossible for the figure to not see him. He kept his arrow knocked and took a handful of paces towards the figure. Still it didn?t move.

He closed in further, and finally, when he was within a score paces, he recognized that this was no person. It was some kind of effigy. Propped up on a thick pole, a wooden scythe tied to its shoulder, this was a figure of a man standing in the middle of what at one time was clearly an open field.

Jarmok hung his head, shaking it in disbelief. This mannequin stood mocking him for over half a hand! He wondered why someone might stand such a thing in the middle of nothing, but he didn?t give it any real thought; he had wasted enough time here already. He needed to be back on his way northward.

Irritated, he thrust his arrow back into its quiver and slung his bow across his back once again. Then he loped back to his original path. He hoped that sometime in the future, he would be able to look back upon this morning and laugh. Right now, he was more stupefied than anything.
Title: Ambush Site
Post by: Wildfire on September 05, 2006, 07:53:25 PM
The tilled ground of the fields offered up their earthy smell to the rain. The newborn and vulnerable sprigs of of the crops had only just begun to break the ground but would soon be tall and strong. Their leaves, raised as leafy arms, stretched to the bounty of air and heavy mist.

Jarmok's vigilent stride led him beyond the forest ring of the farm fields and to the open rolling expanse of the north country. It became clear to him that these fields were once used for agriculture but had now been lost to the wilds for the most part. Old foundations of long past structures were as memorials to a bygone age.

Kossuth had started to rise behind the low heavy clouds and slowly gave up the mysteries of what had been beyond his sight. In the distance he could see a farm house and barn dimly lit from the inside. The day's work here was about to begin.

To his surprise, Jarmok could also see a figure up ahead in the fields. It stood perfectly still and had a menacing sycthe curving out away from it.
Title: Ambush Site
Post by: Johan on September 15, 2006, 01:55:58 PM
Title: Ambush Site
Post by: Griznuq on September 15, 2006, 04:11:10 PM
Title: Ambush Site
Post by: Johan on September 18, 2006, 09:59:25 AM
 I did. And I didn't realize that it was different! Sorry.
Title: Ambush Site
Post by: Wildfire on September 19, 2006, 07:11:59 PM
Bounding along, Jarmok hoped that signs of passage would be apparent. In situations like this Mercer had taught him to "swftly analyze the skin of the land with the deepest study. Like an artist, one had to study the ordinary to define that which was not." This could prove a daunting task as the ordinary would make haste in its' return. The rain was evident of that.

Treading off the east side of the road Jarmok instinctually studied the terrain before him. It was second nature to him at this point and until he actually thought of it didn't realize that mindset was upon him.

The land around him was open and fertile. The field grasses were starting to gain some height as Sythus was fully upon them. They blew in the raw breezes giving the impression of waves on water. The open rolling hills has the appearance of the undulating waters of an angry ocean frozen in place. It was uncanny how the elements could subtley mimic each other. Although sparse, trees could still be seen dotting the gentle hills. Some were in copses, others alone, but it was evident that this was either the remnants of what was once a forest or what would be come one.

The clouds were thick and grey and it was difficult to see where Kossuth would actually be. To Jarmok's best guess he had only a hand or two before dusk and then night would set in.

Then the unordinary snuck into view. The grasses, which would ordinarily be straight, were slightly bent and some were even pulled slightly from the ground. To the untrained eye it would perhaps mean nothing but to Jarmok it meant everything.
Title: Ambush Site
Post by: Johan on September 26, 2006, 10:19:57 AM
Jarmok pulled up at his first note of the trampled grasses; his leather boots slipped on the wet grass and he nearly fell backward as he slid to a halt. It was clear that this was not a site of combat, but it was equally clear that in the near past a large group of people had tromped through this narrow swath. So close to the road, and given the obvious age of the disturbance, this had to be where the party of councilors, priests, and their escort had left the road to make camp for the night.

He followed the wide path easterly as it hopefully led him to where the pilgrims camped. he moved somewhat quickly, not wanting to waste the remaining light of the day.
Title: Ambush Site
Post by: Wildfire on October 02, 2006, 07:34:45 PM
Title: Ambush Site
Post by: Johan on October 03, 2006, 01:13:06 PM
Title: Ambush Site
Post by: Wildfire on October 03, 2006, 07:35:32 PM
Title: Ambush Site
Post by: Johan on October 05, 2006, 10:31:21 AM
Jarmok was a little disappointed that the ambushers had clearly not been here, awaiting the arrival of the pilgrims. On some level he wanted so badly to be able to uncover a mole in the councilors of Threshold. But more pragmatically, this whole mess still wasn't adding up properly.

He still couldn't fathom why, if the prisoners were taken here (and they clearly were), would they have been taken so far to the Rivercliff Keep for incarceration? It had taken Jarmok a full day to get here. If he had been trailing half a dozen prisoners, and trying to avoid Threshold as well, it would take him two or three days at least to get from here to the Keep. There had to be a purpose to bringing them to that specific location.

Why keep the councilors alive at all? They killed the priests, but not until they had gotten to the Keep. Why send that token force to attack Threshold in the night? They had much greater forces at the Keep; they could have done considerably more damage by sending more assailants. Indeed, there were more men brought to bear here than there were on the attack on Threshold.

They might perhaps have also sent against Threshold one of those giants that were at the keep the day after Vervishkuk got away. Tactically, the attack on Threshold was unsound, and these were anything but stupid men.

It was still inescapable to Jarmok that the purpose of the attack on Threshold could only be to induce a counterstrike that would liberate the councilors. Vervishkuk also had all but won the fight with the Protectorate, but then fled. That too didn't make any sense.

There was a counter argument, however, that if one wanted a mole in the Threshold councillorship, they could simply have walked in. Perhaps when they had set out to Threshold there were all the correct councilors? They were ambushed here, and one of them was supplanted by a shape-shifting mole.

All that need be understood then, is how the ambushers came to be here on the same night that the pilgrims were, and that could be ascribed to luck, or it could be ascribed to foreknowledge.

It is possible that the ambushers had been stalking the pilgrims for days. Perhaps they didn't know about them when the councilors started their journey, but perhaps Shadowrider scouts spotted them en route. Then, on the night of the ambush, the scouts perhaps saw the pilgrims enter this crevice, they recognized an opportunity. They communicated back to their superiors who then ordered and organized the ambush.

That fit with these tracks; the ambushers weren't here ahead of time. And they didn't all arrive by the same route, nor likely at exactly the same time. There were clearly a bit under a score soldiers on this side, assuming that there were as many on the south side as well, this told Jarmok that the ambushers brought a few under two score men...against 20 soldiers and a few priests...only as many as it would take to get the ensure that the job got done without taking losses, though taking losses in this kind of ambush was highly unlikely.

Another twist in the story occurred to Jarmok then: the councilors had said that the site was completely darkened when the ambush came. If that was true in the way that Jarmok understood it, then that meant that the ambushers were firing arrows into complete darkness, and they were doing so with the successful intent of killing soldiers, but not priests or councilors. This suggested that these Shadowriders did not need light to see. At all. That thought chilled Jarmok more than a little.

As Jarmok stood in thought, surveying the area, Kossuth continued his relentless march. There was only a bit more evidence to be gathered here, and most of that evidence was on the south side of the crevice. The last bit would be by what direction the priests and councilors were taken from here. There would no doubt be a large trail of Sadowriders and prisoners headed east, away from the road.

He cast about, looking for a copse of trees to take shelter in for the night. If he was any judge of weather, the rain wouldn't last too much longer; it would very well abate by the mid of night, but he still needed some place where he could secret away, and the bottom of this crevice would certainly not do.

In the distance to the south he thought that he espied a darkened region, which he thought must be a small stand of trees. He wondered if Shadowrider scouts were there. Or were they hidden in the hills, watching him, waiting for night to fall and present the opportunity to attack and kill him. His senses went on high alert as he leapt down the hill into the crevice and scampered up the south side to inspect in the waning light that area.
Title: Ambush Site
Post by: Wildfire on October 10, 2006, 10:51:20 PM
Title: Ambush Site
Post by: Johan on October 11, 2006, 02:04:22 PM
Most of what could be gleaned from the south side of the crevice Jarmok had already guessed. This fellow on the horse was still a bit of an enigma though.

Jarmok glanced quickly at the sky, then the hills that surrounded him, scanning quickly for signs of life. Seeing none, he bounded back down the south slope and into the crevice. Time was truly short now, as night descended upon him. He loped towards the easterly end of the crevice, hoping to find an egress there and hoping even moreso to see that the guards had been carried out from the crevice after the massacre. Still, he knew full well that those sorts of tracks were likely long since erased by this untimely rain.
Title: Ambush Site
Post by: Wildfire on October 12, 2006, 01:23:44 PM
Title: Ambush Site
Post by: Johan on October 12, 2006, 03:23:34 PM
His time had run out. Jarmok knew that the howl belonged to neither wolf nor coyote, though it sounded very lupine. He surmised that it must belong to the same sort of animal that the inky black claws, a handful of which were now tucked away in his bag, belonged. Some shadowrider beast. It was distant, and northerly of his current location.

The lean outlander held his breath and waited to see if there was a reply to this initial missive.

Thump...thump...thump...

And there it was. Further away than the first had been, but from the south. The wind was blowing from the south too, and Jarmok realized that by the sound of the southerly beast, that one must truly be a lot further off that the northerly one. Still, they were both too close for his comfort.

Jarmok's mind, attuned to nature as it had become, assessed his position. If these beasts communicated the way that conventional wolves did, then they were talking to each other now. And if their nose was as sensitive as a wolf's, then it was likely that the southerly one would have his trail already, particularly if they had been charged to monitor the roads. The northerly one might be able to pick his scent out of the very winds. He was not in a very comfortable position. He wondered whether the councilors had noted wolf howls on the night when they were attacked.

His next thoughts were for shelter. He had taken note of an area to the south that looked to hold a copse of trees earlier, but with these beasts on the hills, Jarmok wondered whether that would be a good location to hide for the night.

In fact, it occurred to him now that these obviously nocturnal creatures would have taken shelter in those same trees, to await the end of the day. He might well be walking right into them were he to make for those trees. That southerly beast was no doubt sniffing in that area right now.

It also occurred to him that none of them had been back to this little crevice since the ambush; this spot, then,  might be a better place for him to hide. If they caught his scent and tracked him here, then he could turn into a night bird and fly away, perhaps catching a glimpse of this animal that stalked the hills. Perhaps earning the opportunity to observe them, to see how they tracked, how they moved, and what they looked like.

The plan had merit, Jarmok realized. If he were forced to flight, he could ride high and be out of the reach of the jaws that ran below him. He could, as a night bird, see supremely well in the absence of Kossuth and learn a little about this beast. He could also likely outdistance them as well, not having to deal with the undulations of the land.

He looked back into the ravine. In the last hand or so he had been up both sides of the crevice, and had wandered about the ambush site pretty thoroughly. If these beasts tracked him by his scent, they would no doubt need the better part of a hand to locate him, were he to hide up in one of those trees.

Despite the inherent danger in this plan, Jarmok liked it. Better to have them spend their strength to come to him while he conserved his strength, than to run blind in the hills while they pursued. He did not want to fight them here, though...not in the open and not alone. But the chance to observe them could prove invaluable later. Perhaps this was a breed of animal that had never before visited Threshold.

His mind clear and resolute, despite the danger, Jarmok ran back into the crevice and distributed his tracks and scent thickly around the ambush site. He didn't want to spend too much time in the doing; if these animals were as fast as wolves, then they might be here within the hand.

The area sufficiently seeded, Jarmok stowed his small shield upon his back. So as to leave a discontinuous trail,  he took a running leap (skill roll 24), grasping a high, thick branch, and climbed high up into the largest tree that the crevice offered. He fitted an arrow to the sinew of his bow, and set in, straining eyes and ears for further sounds of the predators.

Or their company. He thought chillingly.
Title: Ambush Site
Post by: Wildfire on October 12, 2006, 09:50:13 PM
Title: Ambush Site
Post by: Johan on October 13, 2006, 03:41:02 PM
Jarmok waited in the tree for at least a hand of time. No further howling was heard on the hills while he waited. The north-blowing wind died down and the rain abated.

There was ought to do but to return home. Jarmok took the opportunity to put as much distance behind him as he could.

A large tawny night bird flew off from the tree and headed south. The hills passed swiftly and effortlessly far below the owl. In this form, Jarmok could hear the occasional howl from afar. It lent him comfort to know that they were so far off that when he reverted to his natural form, he should not have to worry overly about those lupine beasts.

He would not sleep this night, but he should be able to get back to Threshold and greet Kossuth as he surmounted the eastwall in the morning. Then there would be sleep.