Desperate Excursions (Hafnium and Astarte)


Tassadar

Panda King
Moderator
Nov 10, 2008
16,038
83
#1
Sanuye: HP = 42, PP = 62, EP = 74, Status = Fine
Kasa: HP =74, PP = 72, EP = 82, Status = Fine
Achak: HP = 8, PP = 27, EP = 35, Status = CAW

Standing Claw Tribe: Not doing great

Across the generations since their tribe had assumed the form that it now took, the Standing Claw tribe had gone through many tribulations. Such trials were recorded in their legends; an earthquake six generations ago had left many dead and wounded and flattened every building in the village, the migration of a herd of gargantuans had done much the same two generations prior to that, demons had tried to slip into their ranks many times in the early days of their tribe, and wars with other neighboring tribes had sometimes taken a grievous toll. Nothing that had happened prior, however, had threatened the tribe as badly as the present epidemic did. The disease had swept through their population with frightening quickness despite the protection against disease normally offered by the magic that the wilderheart ritual infused their people with. It had started without any warning, coming into the village with a hunting party that had managed to fell a creature that they had never seen before, undetected until nearly a week after their arrival.

The hunters that had brought it were the first victims of the strange wasting disease, and the fastest to suffer its full effects; they had died within a fortnight, and only lasted that long because the shamans had been able to concentrate their healing magics on keeping them alive. Their most potent healing magics and herbs had only been effective at delaying their deaths, but by the time they had died the disease had spread. The advancement of the disease was slower in those secondary infections, but the number of afflicted was far greater, too many for the tribe's limited resources to handle. Already more were dying; the youngest and the oldest went first, but healthy adults were being stricken. The bodies had begun to pile up with frightening speed, and it became all too clear that if they didn't do something to stem the tide, the entire tribe was at risk.

Their initial efforts to cure or control the disease had failed, and the spirits that guided their tribes offered no answers, and thus they forced to this, their last desperate hope. The apprentice shamans had been sent off, in pairs, to search for a panacea that could cure their affliction. There were old legends among their tribe, among their oldest scrolls, that hinted at places where they might find something that could save them. One lead would take them to a temple in the mountains far to the North, where a fruit capable of curing any disease and healing even would-be fatal wounds was tended to by a group of monks. It wasn't clear exactly where this temple was, but they had a name; Oframana, and that at the base of the mountain was a great waterfall that fed into a gigantic lake. Another was of more definite location but less certain in effectiveness, at least in terms of how far old legends could be trusted; to the Southeast was a city located just beyond the edge of the jungle called Dabakai where a great sage lived. This sage was said to be immortal, untouched by time or sickness, and was a healer of unfathomable skill. Whether or not they could help with the sickness, if they would, or even if they still lived was unclear, but it would be an easier place to find compared to the mountain temple.

Kasa and Sanuye had decided between themselves the night before which of the two they wished to pursue, leaving the other pair of young shamans to head for the one they didn't choose. Now their journey had begun, and they had only their skills and each other to protect them from the jungle's countless dangers.

In the early morning hours of their third day of travel, Kasa and Sanuye came upon a wide river that cut through the jungle, marking the border between the area in which their village was located and the denser portions of the deadly Pfitherian jungle. The water roiled and burbled as it rolled over rocks in the midst of the fast-moving river, but lapped gently at the shore. Nearby was an eddy surrounded by a semicircle of solid rock, a small pool that was shielded from view by a series of reeds and cat-tails, a nice place to take a bath or maybe catch a few fish perhaps. The pair could see a bridge some ways downstream, a wooden band decorated with colorful lanterns hanging from the guard rails that spanned the entire river, supported by thick wooden beams thrust into the riverbed. It was the work of another nearby village, a place built of stone atop a high hill named Japasar. Traders came to their village across this bridge sometimes, some from so far away that the language they spoke was barely coherent, and there they might get a better idea of what lay ahead of them... If they wanted to stop. Japasar was slightly out of their way, and no one had come from it for more than two months now, so there was no telling what the condition of the place might be. They could skip crossing the bridge entirely, either by finding their own way across the river or by bypassing it to cross somewhere else; there was another bridge known to them further along, near some cliffs, that would be the fastest way to go, but it was seldom used and possibly dangerous. Alternatively, if they followed the river it would take them closer to their goal, though eventually it would begin to cost more time than it would save, and in the meantime it would leave them with limited escape routes and limited cover from anything dangerous that might come out of the jungle to drink from the river.
 

Hafnium

Tentacle God
Moderator
Jan 5, 2011
2,070
83
#2
One probably wouldn't think that Kasa's village was on the verge of extinction, to see her walking down the road alongside her deer counterpart on the third morning of their trip. She proceeded with a skip in her step -- despite carrying two large packs and a shield almost as tall as she was on her back, along with a heavy mace topped with an iron-coated bear's skull in her belt, the combined weight of which seemed like it might topple her over at any second -- and a song on her lips as she hummed the tune to a children's rhyme about the difference between edible plants and poisonous plants. She appeared positively rosy for someone who knew that any one of her friends or family members might be losing their fight against the plague ravaging her home right that very second.

But while it was true that was all very grim, it was hardly something she could solve by thinking too much about it or giving into despair. All the plans had already been set in stone. Sanuye and Kasa had been assigned to go north to Oframana by the rabbit shaman, following the two apprentices' agreement that they'd prefer to seek out the legendary fruit. Afterward Sanuye and Kasa had spent the night plotting out their journey to the best of their abilities, with Kasa primarily contributing in her capacity as cook, healer, and potion brewer and determining what supplies they should take for the trip, and then the next morning they had left. With the important groundwork set, all that was left was to do whatever they could do. Spending time mourning those who had died and might die while she was gone wouldn't help, and it was pointless anyway. All the spirits of the lost would go to join their tribal ancestors in the end anyway. Even though she'd be really sad if, for example, the old owl, her teacher and frequent disciplinarian, died, she knew that this was less about saving any individual more about ensuring that this wasn't the last generation of eventual ancestral spirits the tribe would ever produce.

Of course, Kasa's determinedly cheerful nature didn't mean she intended on being a complete fool about the journey either though. The Pfthirian Jungle was a dangerous place. There was a certain minimum cutoff of strength, seriousness, and awareness just to survive. Monsters, demons, bugs, bandits, and even the trees themselves would make short work of a traveler who was entirely carefree, as attempted ambushes using the jungle's poor visibility were common from all five. So, when the duo of seemingly vulnerable girls came to Japasar's bridge, one of the few safe river crossing points for quite some distance and an easy place for crossbow-wielding thugs to get the jump on travelers, the ursine apprentice intended on taking some precautions before they traversed it. Because while it was true that they could've sought some other way across, all would bring them much further away from Japasar itself. And stopping in the newly quiet town was part of their planned journey too, as they had both deemed its sudden silence worth a brief investigation given its timing in relation to their own tribe's epidemic.

"Sanuye, Sanuye," she called for the attention of the other apprentice. "I'm going to use a spirit to check things out. Can you keep watch for a minute?"

Assuming her partner answered in the affirmative, Kasa would waste little time in summoning a spirit. She pulled the bear skull topped rod from her belt with her right hand and raised it into the air, waving it into a small circle as she called out to one of the myriad of animal spirits for favor. Her left hand, meanwhile, raised up into the air palm facing upward as if asking for a gift.

"O' great Quimichin! I beseech your aid! Please send me one of your servants to scout the path ahead!"

If she was successful, her requested spirit would form a physical manifestation right in the palm of her free hand: a small dark chocolate colored mouse with a long fleshy tail and disproportionately large beady, black eyes fixed on her as it awaited her order. Despite its tiny size, complete inability to aid in a fight, and the fact that it was even more vulnerable to jungle predators than she was, it was invaluable for its stealthiness and speed. And as an added bonus, such a request from Quimichin, one of the major rodent spirits venerated by her tribe, would barely cost her anything in the moment, even though she'd be sure to repay the spirit with its favored offering of berry jam once the adventure was all said and done. Being a shaman really was all about knowing when, why, and how to earn and call for the blessing of each individual spirit.

"Go now, little one. I will see what lies ahead through your eyes," she would whisper to it as she knelt and lowered her hand to the ground, allowing it to scamper off. Kasa herself would take a crossed leg sitting position and close her eyes as she assumed direct control of the mouse. Using it, she would scout across the bridge, the wooded areas on the side opposite Sanuye and herself, and as much as she could see under the bridge without risking the spirit being washed away by the river, all in an effort to determine if anything was lying in wait for the two.

Kasa is summoning a Spirit of the Rodent (Summon) [This creatures gets the Small and Quadruped Special Mutations, a +10 bonus to Speed, a 3d10 bonus to Dodge, the Sneak Skill, and the Stealthy Talent.]. Once summoned, she's going to have it scout the bridge and the area on the other side of the bridge for any side of aggressors. Using Druidic Secrets she'll be ASSUMING DIRECT CONTROL of it to do all this.

If she finds nothing she's going to have it scamper back to her and up onto her shoulder, as she'll be using it again later for scouting Japasar.

This is a level 1 spell, so 0 EP cost. 1 casting check required to succeed. Kasa has 15 casting dice when casting Nature spells.

Probably prominent rodent stats (accounting for Focus in Nature, Druidis Secrets, Small, Dodge bonus, Sneak, and Stealthy):
Body = 16
HP = 16
Speed = 35
Dodge = 6d10 + 3
Stealth = 7d10, rerolls on 2
Perception = 5d10
 
Last edited:

Astarte

Tentacle Monster
Dec 28, 2014
353
18
#3
In contrast to her companion, Sanuye remained mostly silent as the two of them walked. Though she wasn't weighed down quite as heavily as Kasa was, she too carried a pack of supplies, her stag-skull staff in hand—it was too long to comfortably carry in any other way—and her familiar currently perched atop her antlers. While she looked the part for the grim situation their village faced, her expression flat and giving a somber impression, she agreed with her partner's feelings on the matter. The only thing they could do to help was carry out their mission, and worrying excessively would only cause them more stress and distract them. Such distractions could be deadly, considering the environment they lived in.

Though the two of them might not have looked the part, they were capable. One did not survive long in the jungle if they were careless, or if they lacked an appreciation for the dangers. That had been a part of their training as well, and they had been taken as apprentices as young children. Sanuye's eyes and ears remained sharp, and she was certain her companion's did as well, despite her jovial demeanor. In truth, that was something Sanuye truly appreciated. Kasa was much better at lightening the mood than she was, and made it much easier to remain positive despite the threat lurking over their heads.

"Yes. I'll keep an eye out." Sanuye nodded, coming to a stop next to her partner. It was a good idea, both to scout out any possible dangers and to assess the state of the town of Japasar. Going long times without contact from other settlements wasn't entirely unusual, and didn't always mean a village had been lost, but the timing was worrying, considering the plague affecting their own village. It was very possible it had struck elsewhere as well, and it would be dangerous to walk into a village in such a state. Of course, the village's troubles could be unrelated, or they could have simply had nothing to trade in recent times and so not made the trip, but it would be good to confirm before they approached regardless, not to mention the risk of dangers along the way. While life in the jungle was dangerous to everyone, that did not stop people from turning to banditry and preying on others.

As Kasa summoned the spirit, Sanuye too raised her staff, before lowering it to the ground once again, the tip—carved into a point for exactly this purpose—drew a circle in the dirt at her feet. "Wikvaya, Please grant us your blessing, and ward away misfortune." She invoked the name of a great serpent spirit, one said to have dominion over secrets and misfortune. It might seem odd to call upon a spirit of misfortune for aid, but his blessing could ward off misfortune just as well as it could bring it upon others. The blessing she called upon was only a minor one, but a little luck could always make a difference.

"Achak," She spoke again once Kasa had seated herself to take over the spirit's senses, this time speaking to the crow perched upon her antlers. "Please keep an eye out from above." She requested, while turning her own eyes and ears towards their surroundings, alert for any sign of danger.

Just casting Least Luck Manipulation, a level 1 spell, which she can cast on both herself and Kasa at once due to having Focus in Entropy. Due to Wielder of Chaos, the spell provides a 2d10-4 bonus to all rolls (Half to resistance rolls), and allows rerolling one 1 result on Trade rolls.
Costs 0 EP and requires 1 Casting success, and Sanuye has 18d10 Casting for Entropy spells, rerolls one 1 result on casting checks, and rerolls all 2s.

Also asking Achak to help keep an eye out.
Sanuye has 6d10 Perception and takes no penalties for darkness (And rerolls a 1 from luck manipulation, unless that somehow fails), Achak has 3d10.
 

Tassadar

Panda King
Moderator
Nov 10, 2008
16,038
83
#4
Sanuye: HP = 42, PP = 62, EP = 74, Status = Fine, Least Luck Manipulation
Kasa: HP =74, PP = 72, EP = 82, Status = Fine, Least Luck Manipulation from Sanuye
Achak: HP = 8, PP = 27, EP = 35, Status = Cawwww...

Standing Claw Tribe: Not doing great

Spirits
Quimichin - mouse spirit, likes berry jam
Wikvaya - serpent spirit of misfortune, likes fresh bird eggs and rodents

Rolls
Casting Checks!
Sanuye: More than one success.
Kasa: Also more than one success.

Mouse Stealth: 7 successes.
Mouse Perception: 3 successes.

Kasa Perception: NONE
Sanuye Perception: 6 successes.
Achak Perception: No successes.

The crow perched atop Sanuye's antlers gave a mournful caw in response to Sanuye's command, but as it always had the sound became words - or in this case a word - in Sanuye's mind; "Understood." It took off, circling around above them and seeing what could be seen from above the trees while Kasa, emboldened by Sanuye's call to Wikvaya, summoned an aspect of the Quimichin. The tiny mouse spirit stood on hind legs in her hand, rounded ears flicking about as it peered up at the woman who had called it, and given her command Kasa knew instinctively that it had understood her desires of it.

Placed on the ground, the tiny mouse scampered off, and Kasa settled down to guide the tiny spirit and observe what it saw through the creature's own eyes. That less Sanuye essentially alone, as the only barrier between her ursine traveling companion and whatever dangers the jungle might concoct. Even so close to Japasar, which they knew often sent out hunting parties to clear out or ward off the more aggressive creatures that made the jungle their home, letting down one's guard was an easy way to end up in something's belly. Or worse.

Fortunately they had their backs to a section of water that would, at least, likely not harbor anything that would come forth to try to claim them. Every predator that they knew of that came from the water preferred to keep to calmer waters, and while venomous snakes or poisonous frogs might also be about, neither were likely to actively approach them. Once Sanuye had made sure that there were no signs of any of the dangerous plants or parasites about, she could set her eyes to the deeper jungle in case some creature coming to the watering hole happened to come upon them. Being torn apart by a bear or a jaguar would, naturally, not do much to aid in their village's plight.

With the deer shaman on the lookout, Kasa could concentrate entirely on the journey of her tiny mouse spirit. The aspect of Quimichin was an ur-example of it's kind, one of the most defenseless creatures in the jungle that survived by quickness and by not being seen by anything that might want to make a meal of it, and true to its nature the spirit darted gracefully through the undergrowth. The world was much larger to the tiny mouse, making the bushes seem as big as trees and the trees seem like titanic monoliths of impossible size.

On the way to the bridge itself, the summoned mouse encountered nothing that might be dangerous to the two on their way to it, and the only danger to the spirit itself came in the form of a moderately sized lizard sunning itself by the shore that either hadn't seen it or was too lazy to go for the mouse as it silently scampered by. Though it wasn't directly dangerous to them given that it wasn't even that much larger than the mouse, Kasa knew that this particular variety of lizard possessed powerful toxins in their mouth that caused wounds to fester with frightening speed, and should best be avoided.

There was significantly less cover to be had once the mouse reached the bridge, but crossing it proved just as uneventful, but there Kasa's summon encountered the first man of Japasar. He wore a light tunic and baggy trousers made of cheap cloth, slightly worn leather boots, and a wide brimmed conical hat with a chin strap, and as her mouse scurried past him he was leaning against the railing with a fishing rod dangling over the side that dropped a line into one of the eddies created by the bridge's supports. He seemed to be unarmed save for a dagger and his fishing rod, though a small pack sitting next to him might have more. The man took no notice of the mouse as it scampered by, and from there it could first check under the bridge - finding little more than that the stone still held against the water's erosion - and continue on towards Japasar itself.

The fastest way would be directly through the jungle, as the path that the people who had constructed the bridge had built was somewhat indirect and winding, going as it did first to a crossroads that passed a ways away from the town's main gate. The jungle itself offered no great dangers as the mouse went on it's merry way, though at one point a stag beetle paused and turned threateningly towards the mouse as they crossed paths. As the little mouse made it about halfway to Japasar's walls, the distant sounds of music and the busy clatter of daily life echoed towards it; at the very least Japasar was still populated.

Odd, then, that the rodent came upon the corpse of a man on its way to the town. The body hadn't been there long, judging by how much of it had been reclaimed by the jungle. A day, perhaps two at most; the ants and the birds had not yet found it. The body wore finer clothing than the man that the spirit had passed on the bridge, but the fine silks were stained with blood that had likewise stained the ground around it. Stab wounds abounded, though whether they were from a natural weapon or one crafted by men was now impossible to tell. It had been partially covered by scattered jungle debris, obviously some sort of deliberate effort, but among the assorted leaves and branches covering the body Kasa's summon found the long, crinkled leaves of the meccegaone plant, a common frond that possessed a strong minty scent that disguised the odor. That at least explained the lack of early scavengers, though they would not hide the scent of decaying meat for much longer. There were no signs of gear or valuables beyond the man's clothing; he had no jewelry, no coinpurse, no pack, and no weapons that the mouse could find. What was more, while the corpse's ruined clothing had clearly once been fine, at least according to the styles favored by the more "civilized" folk of Japasar, it was not of any style that Kasa had seen them wore and instead resembled the sort she might expect from one of the traveling merchants who occasionally came from Japasar to their village.

There was little beyond the observations she'd already made that Kasa's mouse could make of the body, however, so from there it continued to Japasar. It was clear even before she'd reached the town's walls that not only was the town still very much alive, but that it was doing fairly well. The hilltop town's initial construction had been surrounded by a stone wall, built by sorcerers in the town's early days to keep the larger jungle creatures at bay. That wall had been decorated, rebuilt, and expanded in the time since the town's initial founding, but further population growth had taken it well beyond what the original walls could contain. The town's storehouses, courthouse, temples, it's main square, and the homes of most of the wealthiest citizens were located within the main walls. A second layer of smaller stone walls that were not much taller than Kasa or Sanuye demarcated Japasar's second major expansion, where many of the common townsfolk now lived and most of the tradesmen worked their crafts, while further sprawl beyond them housed shanties where the poorest workmen lived. The jungle had been cleared a good ways out from the town itself, the land given over to gardens and irrigated rice paddies and pens containing small herds of domesticated food animals.

As Kasa's mouse approached, the sound of music playing grew all the more prevalent, and it seemed to be coming all the way from the village square. It could be heard even over the din of daily life, the clatter and bustle and voices, and the sharp contrast in the demeanor of these people compared to the present state of their home was palpable. Japasar, if it was plaguestricken, most definitely did not show it. Laughter and other sounds of joy echoed commonly among the common din, and as her summon slipped towards the first people it saw - commoners working the crops to keep the town fed - she saw some smiles even there.

As the summoned Quimichin slipped closer towards the town, Kasa found that the town itself had been thoroughly decorated in flowers, though for what reason she could not recall from her admittedly limited knowledge of the town's history. Some sort of festival seemed to be going on, however, as the decorations only grew more lavish the deeper into the town the mouse slipped. Every dwelling sported arrangements of flowers that had either been grown in the gardens or picked from the jungle, and colorful depictions of flowers had been painted on canvas, wood and stone alike by some of the larger houses. Colorful banners and streamers were everywhere, flapping in the wind, and even in the poorer quarter they seemed to be everywhere.

Despite the relative revelry, the town guards were still evidently on watch. The watchtowers that her mouse passed were all manned by men and women armed with long spears and bows, all of them wearing light armor that sported the symbol of the town's name over a three-headed blue flower. They took no notice of the mouse scampering by, of course, and as the spirit flitted from place to place it saw some of its own kind clearly making their homes among the humans and night elves, scrounging from their scraps rather than risking the jungle's dangers. That did not mean that the worst danger to worry about was being accidentally trampled if she strayed into a crowd, of course; as her mouse darted towards a stone walled house a short ways into the town's slums, a bright orange striped cat appeared on the windowsill above her intended hiding place. The feline turned wide golden eyes upon the scampering spirit and froze immediately, watching with blatant interest every move that her mouse made... Leaving Kasa to decide how exactly she wanted to proceed.

Sanuye, in the meantime, saw none of this. Kasa could keep up a running report of what she was seeing if she so chose, but to do so might distract in case something dangerous elected to creep up on them. Fortunately for them, nothing of the sort came to bother them while Kasa was, leaving her bout of guard duty blessedly boring, if still stressful. To grow complacent in the jungle when no danger was obvious was to beckon for the raven, the hunters often said, and since she had accepted Shikoba as her patron spirit few had heard that saying more often than Sanuye, albeit perhaps too often muttered in low tones when someone thought that she wouldn't hear.
 

Hafnium

Tentacle God
Moderator
Jan 5, 2011
2,070
83
#5
If Kasa were the type to take notes -- she wasn't, but if she was -- there were a few things worthy of it during her little scouting mission. The corpse was number one, of course. Being a denizen of the illustrious Pfthirian jungle, home to all manner of exciting-slash-excruciating ways to die, the bear apprentice was no stranger to dead bodies, so the sight of a decaying stranger didn't shock her in the least. The state of deceased was worth some concern though. One could say many things about the beasts of the jungle, but they primarily killed either to eat or in order to defend themselves, their packs, or their territory. This wasn't that. He had almost definitely been killed by something more intelligent. A beast would've never looted his goods and weapons -- and she was sure he'd had a weapon, only a fool would travel the jungle without one -- before intentionally camouflaging his remains with meccegaone and debris. The whole thing stunk of banditry... and mint.

Japasar, on the other hand, was a more positive thing worth noting. Full of healthy, happy people in the middle of some sort of festival, based on the revelry and decorations. Completely untouched by whatever epidemic had struck their tribe, it seemed. It was a bit of a shame that the two apprentices were only nearby on grim business, or Kasa would've liked to have visited the festival alongside Sanuye. She was sure they'd have all sorts of tasty food and fun things to do. Maybe after their tribe's dilemma had been solved they could visit the next festival? The apprentice would have to try to remember to ask one of Japasar's residents more about the celebration and when it would happen next, if she got the chance. The fisherman near the bridge might be a good option for that, she supposed.

But first, it was time to end her scouting mission since she'd seen all she had needed. The bear apprentice removed herself from the mouse's senses and dismissed it back to the spirit realm before the cat could try to make a meal of it, lest she owe Quimichin more of her precious berry jam stock. With that done, the bear apprentice would practically hop back up to her feet and turn to face Sanuye.

"All done!" Kasa announced before going into the report of what she'd seen. "I never realized Japasar was so big! It's also full of people. No signs of disease or anything. Actually it's the opposite, there's some sort of festival going on with flowers and music and singing and dancing! It looks really fun. But I don't think we're going to get any extra information on the plague there, and we've still got a lot of supplies, so I don't really know if it's worth stopping other than to make sure our maps are right."

"Oh! But there is one other thing. There's a body in the jungle between the road and the town. Somebody killed him and looted him then tried to hide him. No signs of bites or anything like that, so I think there are probably bandits on the road to Japasar, so we should probably take extra precautions for the next few days, Japasar side trip or not."

Dismiss the mouse.
 

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