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(OOC Thread: https://www.rprepository.com/community/forumthread.php?t=62750 If you're interested in joining, please post there!)

The party accompanies a small goods trader with his solitary wagon toward Hirot, a lonely village set at the foot of the Dragonbone Peaks. Some have heard rumor of a treasure-laden tomb, others perhaps are assisting the trader in exchange for a small bit of coin, or perhaps are here for reasons known only to themselves.

For days they have traveled through the dark, brooding forests and across the desolate, windswept moors. All about is the endless gray, either the cold mists hanging on the valley floors or the dark clouds piling atop the bare, craggy peaks. Ahead is Hirot, with its promise of a warm hearth and good company. Until then, their only companions are the ravens that circle overhead and the howl of distant wolves in the night.

As they draw close to the village they hear muffled screams and then see shuffling forms ahead in the mists!

Grim peasants, their dirt-lined faces drawn with fear, emerge from the gloom. All bear crude weapons—wood axes, staffs, pitchforks and long knives. The mob drives a raven-haired woman before them; gagged and bound with thick rope, she squirms and fights them with every step. Trailing the mob are solemn figures astride warhorses, the telltale glint of armor flashing beneath their wolf-skin cloaks.

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The gypsy woman placed one bare foot in front of the other, her skirts swishing about her ankles. It was journeys like this that made her wish for a wagon like those her people used. She was saving up for one, a wagon with a comfortable bed, pots, pans and all the things that made travelling comfortable. Adventurers simply had no idea how to enjoy their journey. Hard tack and jerky wasn't real food. Worse still was when adventurers tried boiling jerky simply for a change of pace. That never worked out well.

According to an old farmer there was a town up ahead. She was looking forward to a comfortable bed and a decent meal. What she didn't expect was a milling, shouting mob, driving a woman before them like some form of criminal. At first, Myrah, didn't see anything wrong with the scenario. A thief on her way to a hanging or something of that ilk wasn't of any concern. It was the gag in the woman's mouth that irked her. That wasn't normal. Criminals usually begged and pleaded for mercy the entire time.

Looking towards her travelling companions, she considered. She couldn't offer challenge. For one, she was a woman, and there was every bit of possibility that those lordly men would ignore the "mewlings of a demon tainted whore". Secondly, if she began weaving her sleep spell from behind her companions she might be able to fell half their number before an altercation escalated.

"Challenge their purpose," Myrah whispered, to her companions before those approaching got into earshot, "but do not challenge them."

Nightfrost, a young half elf druid was travelling along the paths with a small group and a trader. She had been travelling for quite some time now, and in so needed the money so that she could continue her journeys. The people she travelled with were intriguing, but considering she hasn't been around people in a long time she stayed silent.

Her head perked up slightly from her train of thoughts as she heard the muffled screams. The gag in the woman's mouth certainly made her curious of the woman's wrongdoings, and why it seemed an entire town was parading her to a seeming punishment or death. She saw the glisten of armor, realizing the woman must be in some way dangerous if they were going to this extent.

Upon hearing the words of the gypsy, Nightfrost nodded slightly in compliance. She agreed because she was curious, and knew that with so many people It would prove difficult to put up a challenge.

Thorin Rockseeker followed behind the two, not paying much to the situation. That was until he heard the gypsy talk. Confused at her words, he moved forward to see an unruly mob taking along a woman bounded and gagged. His first thought was that this was an execution from a mob, no reason to worry. But, there was something still that irked him. Seeing that the mob had armor, it seemed strange. The woman didn't seem too dangerous, or anything about her. So why was she being taken like this? He fell behind his companions, taking up the rear in case of anyone trying to take them from the behind. Being careful to not provoke them in any way.

((Okay, so I see I'm going to be the instigator here, huh? ;)))

Rae finds the little journey to be mostly enjoyable - after all, seeing the world was what she wanted when she set out from home. The village of Hirot, their destination, lies just ahead from what she's been told.

Suddenly, cries pierce through the mists ahead. Rae bristles, and her grip tightens slightly on the hammer resting over her right shoulder. As the mob comes into view, she wonders about the woman bound in front. Strange... The gypsy woman's whispered counsel is heard and considered for a moment.

The large hammer swings from her shoulder and lands with a thud on the earth. She plants her feet and crosses her arms casually over the handle of the hammer. "Hulloa there!" she calls out, "Come ta meet us with a welcoming party, I see! Can't say as I ever seen one the likes o' this, but we thank'ee!"

The adept readjusted her backpack as they walked through the gloom, reconsidering for the 100th time the wisdom of this journey. She'd barely left the confines of the temple these past two years; her muscles had grown a bit soft and the armor she wore felt heavy. Not to mention her feet, both of which now sported a blister on her heel.

Galiena had been hesitant to go in the first place, but her superiors pointed out that if she wished to become a Priestess someday, which she did, she could not hide herself away forever. "Go! Lend your aid where you are able!" Master Helmick had told her. The remote village of Hirot seemed as good a choice as any. So she had gone.

She looked up from her reverie as the mob came out of the gloom. Rae, one of the two dwarves, moved to the front and Galiena moved to join her as Thorin took the rear, putting Nightfrost and Myrah, along with the goods trader, in the middle.



((Will get in a GM post soon-ish. Just on my lunch hour now! ;) ))

Upon sighting the party, the 5 men on horseback spur their horses forward, stopping within a few feet of Rae and Galiena.

The one in the center, the Jarl of Hirot, is a well-armored bear of a man with a graying beard and looks down at the company with cold caution. Next to him is a much slighter man who sits slightly hunched on his steed and wears a warm cloak. The other three, the Jarl's thegns, move to either side to form a line.

Behind, the crowd continues pushing the bound woman toward a dirt path on the north side of the road. Many of them glance nervously into the gloom, as if worried what might be lurking there. Statements of "... its almost dusk...", "...need to hurry...", and "...the hound..." are just barely audible.

"It is late, travelers," the Jarl says. "If you seek the shelter of Hirot tonight, I suggest you get there quickly. The gates will close at dusk."


((Party is at the 'X'))

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"Ah, yes, indeed," Rae responds with a grin, "We'll all be wantin' warm baths, fresh meals, and soft beds tonight. Ain't that right?" She yells back to the rest of the party without ever taking her eyes off the horseman directly in front of her. "I s'pose we'd best be on our way." Her head beckons toward the uneasy mob beyond him, "They seem awfully anxious, don't they? Take care o' yourselves." Her hammer is promptly returned to her shoulder, and with a glance back at the others she starts off in the direction of the village.

Nightfrost stayed silent but gave a slight nod as his statement was true. She however paid more attention to what the villagers were saying and made a mental note to see if there was any local legends about a hound and what happens in the night. She wondered to herself if perhaps there were werewolves in the area, or if she could find any signs of a hound or wolf within the area.

So much for questioning the travelers investigating the mob's intentions. Myrah wasn't sure what to make of the lack of development. She had been relying upon the others to figure out what was happening and provide backup with a spell in case things went askew.

She honestly didn't feel comfortable with leaving that woman to her fate without knowing what was going on. For all she knew the woman had simply complained that her husband was unfaithful. She'd seen such things before. Some of the women in her caravan were those that had escaped such clutches.

Finally, she simply couldn't hold herself back.

"What happens at dusk?" she asked, keeping her hands and limber fingers ready to cast behind Thorin's body as she peered over him at the village folk, "It can't possibly be dangerous for all of you lot together!"

He felt bad for seeing the others so quick to leave. Just leaving that woman to the fate of the mob didn't seem right, even if she might be something worse then they think. As he was about to head along, he heard Myrah speak up, questioning them. He steps up to help with her argument, "She's right! This woman doesn't look strong in any way! No offense," He said looking at her, "Why are you all getting so worked up over some lady anyhow? Is she something more then your letting on?" He asked, his hand ready to grab his shield in case anything happens, considering how they are poking the bear.

"The Hound comes," stated one of the thegns to Myrah. "A devil beast, fair lady. One that does not consume its victims, but shreds them to pieces." He was not a small man, and yet still glanced nervously behind him, as if just mentioning the Hound would bring it down upon him.

"Indeed.. the woman is but an offering to the beast," the Jarl stated, giving his thegn a sideways look before glancing at Thorin. "Her sacrifice will satisfy the monster and it will leave Hirot in peace this night."

Nightfrost spoke up as she heard the information, "Has anyone seen or tracked this hound before sir?"

Rae halts and turns at Myrah's question. She had hoped to gather at least two of the others and follow the townspeople, but this works just as well. Her hammer is at the ready though, just in case.

Before they can answer Nightfrost's question, she sarcastically interrupts, "And a perfectly willing sacrifice, as we can see! What happens after you've run out o' folks to sacrifice? Ain't you never heard o' not leaving out treats for nasty creatures you want to be rid of? No wonder he keeps coming back."

Myrah had heard all she needed to. The girl was innocent. The girl was being taken to a sacrifice and not being strung up by the neck. This meant they'd tie her up somewhere, then rush back towards their town, possibly hiding within their keep if they had one. This afforded them time to simply cut the woman loose and harry themselves towards safety from whatever this threat was.

At first, she considered standing fast and protecting the sacrifice, using her to lure the monster in close but something nagged. These fighting men behind the peasant rabble, the Jarl's bondsmen. She discerned they likely tried that first before resorting to this horrid system.

If the creature took only one each night it wasn't for survival. If it was, it wouldn't be so regular. If it was for sport it wouldn't stop at just one. It would keep gleefully killing. No, this was a form of exaction. This was some form of penance,. a curse thrust upon the town for something... What could it be? Who or what did they offend?

In any event, the pride of men likely wouldn't allow the Jarl to speak on such matters. The gagged girl-

"And a perfectly willing sacrifice," Rae said confrontationally, tone dripping sarcasm, " as we can see! What happens after you've run out o' folks to sacrifice? Ain't you never heard o' not leaving out treats for nasty creatures you want to be rid of? No wonder he keeps coming back."

Myrah's red painted lips gaped for a moment. What did she say about not confronting them? What where they going to do, carve through a crowd of peasants to take on the Jarl's entourage? How would that be any better than this hound they spoke of? She wanted to poke him, grab his shoulder or otherwise get his attention but she'd elected to hide in the back with a readied spell and couldn't reach. Instead she poked Thorin, the dwarf before her.

"Honestly comrades," she added, hoping they'd understand, "I don't think this is any of our concern. I think we should hurry on towards Hirot before the hound gets us too. The Jarl is the law here and it is the will of the people."

Okay, maybe that was laying it on a little thick... but it was too late to take back those words now.

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