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A return to the intrigue of the elves and the lizards up on the mesa in the Weather Mountains. Good thing its summer so the lizards don't freeze to death at night up here. <_<

This was all one session on Friday, May 1st through Saturday May 2nd.

Ragnus - Thorne; Chade - RoninofDreams; Everyone Else - me.

<=Scene=> Begin Chapter Fifteen

<=Scene=> We return to the affairs of the elves and lizard men up in the Weather Mountains.

<=Scene=> When last we left, the elves and lizard men were returning to their respective camps to gather their scouting groups. They were going to meet back up where they had met the day before at dawn.

<=Scene=> Along the way back to their camp, Eltiana and Celeron made a decision to send a messenger (on Eltiana's horse) down to Tilverton, the human settlement down a western path from here, in an attempt to warn them that an attack might be imminent.

<=Scene=> Furthermore, they decided to send someone on horseback (on Elena's horse) back down the path to the north to contact the group of elves Ariana was leading here, so they could hurry along, and then further over to Sylvanus to see if they could convince the elves there to send a force to the aid of the area. Of course, it was known this would take close to a week at best... time they probably didn't have.

<=Scene=> Chade's group was first to reach their camp, however, and when he arrived, he found something he didn't like... wounded lizard men.

<Raikenen> Chade. You have returned unharmed, this is good.

<Chade> "What has occurred here?"

<Raikenen> Elves.

* Chade eyes Raikenin seriously. "Explain. Leave absolutely nothing out."

<Raikenen> We ran into a group of them several hours ago. We tried to make peaceful contact, but they did not listen to us.

<Chade> "Details. For one, how can you be sure that they were truly elves and not the shapeshifters?"

<Raikenen> They spoke the tongue of the elves of this wood.

<Chade> "That, in and of itself, is not as remarkable as I might think. After all, I speak that tongue as well. Not precisely fluently as an elf might, but well enough...hrmm."

<Raikenen> They screamed something about us destroying the forest and attacked us. We were forced to either fight, or to run away. As they outnumbered us two to one and had the higher ground, we chose to run.

* Chade rubs the scales of his left knuckles in consideration. "The elves I had met with were not like that. Not so militant, though just as numerous."

<Raikenen> We... lost one of our comrades... perhaps I should have fought them, but you said they would be confused, and were not our enemy.

* Chade crouches down. "Curiouser and curiouser."

<Raikenen> I do not think they were shapeshifters. They certainly shot well enough to be elves.

<Chade> "I am forced to wonder if there exists more than one faction among those remaining here."

<Raikenen> Had it not been for the river, we would not have been able to elude them.

<Raikenen> Enemies or not, I do not think my group will be willing to run the next time unless the situation is hopeless otherwise.

* Chade looks at Raikenin with some respect. "You took to the waters and sped away, I gather? A wise decision, Raikenin, though I would urge you to caution your bloodlust."

<Raikenen> It is not I... The men are not happy about losing one of our number.

<Chade> "Nor should they be. Yet our group was treated fairly and honorably by the elves we met. Trapped, outnumbered, and yet treated with respect and dignity."

* Chade sighs heavily and moves about the camp, after gesturing for Raikenin to follow him, in order to treat the wounded where he can. What few there are, given how Raikenin's group retreated in the face of superior numbers. "Tomorrow we shall move only as a cohesive cohort, Raikenin. I am moved to trust those I have dealt with, priest to priestess."

<Raikenen> Well, you see how our meeting with them went... I have nothing to add. How did yours go then? You met elves you trust?

<Chade> "They had us entrapped by the vines of the earth and outnumbered us with an arrowhead aimed at each of our breasts, yet they spoke with us and released us of those bonds. Unless you think that a game, Raikenin?"

<Raikenen> I would not think so, unless they mean to get us all in one place so they can kill us... you do not believe this is a possibility I trust.

* Chade nods for a moment. "A possibility? Perhaps, but I believe it an excruciatingly small one when they could have instead reduced out numbers at no peril to themselves."

<Raikenen> Perhaps. What are we going to do now?

<Chade> "Tonight, we wait. Watches should be posted. There are far too many reasons to keep our guard up rather than be lax."

<Raikenen> And tomorrow?

<Chade> "Tomorrow we meet with the envoy of the elves that I have already talked with. We shall go, the lot of us, and if she cannot answer for the blood of our cohort already spilled...then perhaps we shall be retaking our honor then. Yet I have hope for peace rather than warfare, with the army nearby of shapeshifters deserving far greater hatred from our number."

<Raikenen> Fair enough. I will see that the watches are posted and the food for this evening prepared.

<=Scene=> Meanwhile, Eltiana, Celeron, Ragnus, Elena and company reach camp and find the other half of the elven survivors there.

<Celeron> (SE) Ah, Centrino. How did the search for survivors go?

<Centrino> (SE) Not well. We found no one else. It appears as if you found a few though?

* Centrino looks at Eltiana, Elena, and Ragnus.

<Eltiana> (SE) We're not survivors, actually, we're returning from a mission abroad.

<Eltiana> (SE) I am Eltiana Ovetchkin, Priestess of Ullr. This is Elena, my Acolyte, and Ragnus, my nephew. Apparently you do not remember me?

* Centrino bows and says "I did not remember you, no. I know the name, however. Welcome home... or whats left of it."

<Celeron> (SE) Well, lets hear your report.

<Centrino> (SE) We scouted the entire northern area, as you ordered. We found no other elves. We did, however, find some of those forest destroying lizard men bastards.

<Centrino> (SE) One of them spoke our language, and tried to trick us into coming down to talk with them, but we were too clever for that, of course.

<Centrino> (SE) I was out of spells, having used them all to heal, so I could not entangle them, or I'd have tried to capture and question them. We tried to ambush them, but they ran to the White River and were able to get away. We did kill at least one of them, however.

<Eltiana> (SE) You opened fire on them when they made first contact and tried to parlay?

<Eltiana> (SE) You did this even though you apparently outnumbered them?

<Eltiana> (SE) YOU IDIOT! You might have destroyed the progress we made with their leaders today?

* Elena is translating all this to Ragnus as best she can keep up.

<Centrino> (SE) I don't understand. The lizard men destroyed our forest, murdered my family, and you want us to talk with them? What kind of idiot are YOU?

<Eltiana> (SE) Silence! You will not talk to a superior member of your order in this fashion!

<Eltiana> (SE) The lizard men did NOT do this, goblins illusioned to look like lizard men did it!

* Centrino looks at Eltiana as if she's gone mad, but before he can say anything...

<Celeron> (SE) She speaks the truth.

<Celeron> (SE) I would not have believed it either if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.

* Eltiana sighs.

<Eltiana> (SE) I suppose given the circumstances, your actions are somewhat understandable, though if someone wants to parlay with you...

<Eltiana> (SE) Unfortunately your actions have probably made dealing with the lizard men more... complicated than I had hoped.

* Eltiana sighs again.

* Ragnus reacts worriedly upon the news as Elena translates to fill in the missing pieces of the conversation.

<Centrino> (SE) So, I'm confused. If these lizard men are not our enemies, what are they doing here?

<Eltiana> (SE) According to Chade, their leader, the goblins... disguised as elves, destroyed one of their villages the same way they destroyed Greenguard. They followed them here in hopes of gathering information, negotiating, or whatever.

<Centrino> (SE) Are... this sounds rather like some made up story of fiction. Are you SURE this is true.

<Celeron> (SE) As hard as it is to believe, lad, it's not a fairy-story, lad. She's convinced me it's true.

<Eltiana> (SE) Well, what's done is done and can't be undone.

<Eltiana> (SE) Nevertheless, the fact remains that this has made negotiating with them harder. We had hoped to combine out forces, perhaps with the aid of some of the fold from Tilverton, and then take on these goblins and the human magicians leading them... now, it's hard to say.

<Eltiana> (SE) You're going to have to take responsibility for your actions, Centrino, though I will not allow you to be killed or turned over to them permanently... I doubt they ask for such, but the ways of other races sometimes are baffling. For now, you may go.

<Eltiana> (SE) Celeron, please catch everyone up on what is going on.

<Eltiana> Elena, go with him as my representative, child. The way you've been a pillar for us the last few days, I trust you to speak on my behalf.

*Elena looks stunned and blushes.

* Ragnus nods to Elena in thanks.

<Elena> I... yes, thank you for your faith in me Lady Tia.

<Eltiana> Ragnus, help me unpack our things.

* Ragnus nods and proceeds to follow Eltiana.

* Ragnus proceeds to ask his aunt of the things Elena has told him, full of worry, and doubt, but trusting in his aunts decisions. "Do you trust the lizard men so quickly? I do hope you are right, but should we not maintain caution?"

<Eltiana> I know it is not generally our way, but... what choice do we have at the moment? Yes, I trust them because of Chade.

<Ragnus> You knew his father, correct?

<Eltiana> Yes, and if he is anything like his father, he's trustworthy.

<Eltiana> Not only that, he's a priest of the quad, and priests of the quad to not lie to one another.

<Ragnus> I only hope these new occurrences do not cause too high a sense of alarm, I do not think if it was an elven slain, the others would be so reserved.

<Ragnus> But I suppose now we need each other. I think that is apparent in any language, or culture.

<Eltiana> Our enemy is sewing the seeds of distrust well. Distrust of others is our way far more than it is among the high elves, Ragnus. It has served us well for centuries. We prefer to be left alone as much as possible. Yet, still, never has it been our way to shoot first when someone comes to us in an attempt to parlay. Only the wild elves of the west, or the dark elves behave so. Centrino stepped over the line.

<Ragnus> And we still are not totally sure just WHO our true enemy is, any ideas, besides the obvious?

<Eltiana> There is only the obvious. Goblins from Rutan, led by human or possibly dark elven magicians. Or both.

<Eltiana> There must be a strong overlord leading them, as goblins wouldn't be very willing to come all this way on their own, ordinarily.

* Ragnus winces at the though of dark elves leading this goblin army, remembering the stories of old, truly this is not the holiday he had expected, yet something drove him, could it be this feeling was, exhilaration? anticipation?

<Eltiana> I've always found goblins to be the worst of the humanoid races, weak and stupid. I have more respect for even the kobolds. Some of them can actually be quite nice, you'd be surprised.

<Ragnus> To think even disguised goblins would stand such a chance against those who lived here, is almost unfathomable. Their numbers must be great.

<Ragnus> And these.. siege machines of theirs... its all so horrible to even think about.

<Ragnus> Are you.. are you ok? With all of this.. Surely you must be feeling the drain of all this, perhaps it best if we finish our task and get some rest.

<Eltiana> Well, when they can kill off most of our kind before we even know they are here, they don't need a whole lot of troops. Just enough to try to kill off the few surviving stragglers.

<Ragnus> Elena especially, I believe is feeling the weight of all this, it is almost too much to bear, I could not imagine. I hope I never have to.

<Eltiana> I'll worry about how I'm feeling when this is over. As a priestess, it's my job to take care of my people in times of need... I've failed most of them, all I can do now is try to succeed for the others.

<Eltiana> As for Elena... a week ago, she seemed little more than a young girl. A nice girl, perhaps, but one I wondered if I'd done the right thing by taking on. I wondered if she had it in her to really be a priestess, and I distrusted her fascination with magic... I suppose I still do that, but only a little. But in just this short time, the things she has done... I've come to respect and trust her very much.

* Eltiana sighs.

<Eltiana> I'm very tired, Ragnus. I think I'm going to say my evening prayers and lay down now.

<Ragnus> I as well, let us hope the morning brings some semblance of good news. I shall retire as well i believe.

<Eltiana> Good night then, I'll see you in the morning Ragnus.

<=Scene=> Night Falls over both camps.

<=Scene=> Nothing exciting happens during the night. A couple of hours before dawn, both camps wake, pack up, and proceed to the meeting point.

<=Scene=> The elves arrive to find the lizard men already there. Eltiana, Celeron, Elena, Ragnus, and Centrino approach the lizard men.

* Raikenen points at Centrino.

<Raikenen> That one, there. He's the one that attacked us, Chade. I'm nearly certain of it.

* Chade roars out loudly in the Sylvan's own tongue. "(SE) Last I spoke with you, there was honor. Since I have heard of duplicity, as those of my own were assaulted and one of the cohort lies dead by elven arrows. Explain yourselves for this trespass."

* Eltiana holds her hand out to silence Centrino and says "No, you will be silent and I will do the talking here."

<Eltiana> (SE) I realize that apologies are not enough, yet I have naught else to offer but an apology and an explanation for this one's unacceptable actions.

<Eltiana> (SE) When his group ran into one of yours yesterday, he was as yet unaware that the real enemy was the goblins. He still thought that it was lizard men that attacked and destroyed our home.

<Chade> "(SE) And is it the Elven way to shoot first and ask questions later? To slay the man who runs without fighting once words are denied to him?"

<Eltiana> (SE) No, as the leader of your group made first contact and offered to parlay, his actions are unacceptable.

* Chade eyes Raikenin and whispers softly. "(LM) What justice and recompense do you feel necessary, young one, or will you allow that the elves may take care of the hand of justice themselves?"

<Raikenen> (LM) Personally, I will defer to you in this matter, however, I think the men will want his execution, Chade.

<Eltiana> (SE) Before you pass judgment, I ask you to try to understand what caused his actions. The shock of losing your entire family to another race in the blink of an eye, and him thinking that your kind were the murderers. Nevertheless, his actions are not acceptable. All I can ask of you is to weigh this information, and then decide what you think is fair.

* Chade strokes the scales on his left knuckles again, habitually, as he considers. "(SE) What justice will your man face for this decision?"

<Eltiana> (SE) He's been stripped of command of the troops, normally his right as a priest, until this is cleared up. Also, as a priest, he will have to answer Ullr for this. It is within your rights as a fellow priest of the quad to demand some service from him for his wrongdoing. We will consider any other punishment you deem appropriate. We will not, however, allow his execution or permanent enslavement.

<Chade> "(SE) He will yet fight, in battle, if we do still unite our forces against a common foe?"

<Eltiana> (SE) He will, as long as you have no reservations about it.

* Chade plants the butt of his spear into the earth and leans against it lightly, considering from several angles. "(SE) He shall. More so, assuming his life is not taken in battle, he shall serve a sentence of our choosing for the transgression. I shall hold no man, elf, nor lizardkin in thrall of justice when their life so threatened as all of ours are. Afterward, justice, but too much blood may be shed beforehand."

<Eltiana> (SE) Very well, as long as the punishment fits the crime and is tempered by whatever good he shall do in the coming battles, I agree. You have no objections I hope Centrino?

* Centrino nods his assent.

* Chade eyes Raikenin and relates the agreement as stands to him. "(LM) Our cohort may demand blood, but that satisfaction is denied us. Think of a better punishment, in case he lives through the battles ahead. Otherwise, if he falls in war, our justice has been accomplished. Yet let none of our number touch or harm that elf."

* Raikenen hisses. (LM) "Very well, Chade. I do not like this arrangement, but I accept that it is necessary if you deem it so."

<Eltiana> (SE) Well then. We have fifty seven warriors in total, mostly archers, with 3 priests including myself. Two of our number are currently away on missions to contact both Tilverton and my sisters small group headed this way. How many do you have?

<Chade> (SE) "The claws of all our number would have reached a sixth ten. Still, we have fifty nine by your reckoning, though I am the sole priest amidst the cohort."

<Eltiana> (SE) So we have less than 120 between us... 4 priests, 2 of mine just above acolyte...

<Eltiana> (SE) None of our number has seen the enemy army yet. How many do you estimate their number to be?

* Chade gnashes his teeth in mild anxiety over the final number. (SE) "There were several hundred of the goblin kind, with perhaps two dozen of the larger leaders. Human, or perhaps orc-kin. Over half of a thousand, either way."

<Eltiana> (SE) Well, we have to consider this hard then.

<Eltiana> (SE) We know they have at least a few magicians among their number. They would need them to cast these illusions, and probably to work this thing that throws fireballs as well.

<Chade> (SE) "A single goblin is naught much more than a pest to a lizard man. Yet you speak truth, as they have the press of numbers."

<Celeron> (SE) A single goblin is naught but a pest to us too. Especially with our archery skills. Many would be killed long ere they could reach us if we had the advantage of surprise or high ground.

<Eltiana> They might have as many as 20 sorcerers, Ullr help us if that is the case, though, it's much more likely that there are only half a dozen or so.

* Chade remarks as if the solution is simple. (SE) "Then create surprise."

<Eltiana> (SE) That is what we need, yes, but is easier said than done.

<Eltiana> (SE) There is one more thing to be considered.

<Chade> (SE) "You know the lay of these lands, it should not be too difficult. But what else do you think needs to be considered?"

<Eltiana> (SE) As I said, we sent a rider down the path to the human town of Tilveron when we got back to camp. He should return before this evening. We might be able to enlist aid from the town.

<Eltiana> (SE) Also, by tomorrow some time, we should have around 20 more elves arriving with my sister to swell our numbers.

<Chade> (SE) "Then we shall stalk our foe and take advantage only when it would seem to be the work of a set of talons or two in number, not our large band as it is."

<Eltiana> (SE) However, there is a trade off to waiting, which I had not fully realized until after we parted ways yesterday.

<Eltiana> (SE) Elena, explain.

* Elena bows to Chade.

<Elena> (SE) Are you familiar with how sorcery works, Master Chade?

<Chade> (SE) "I am no magician, meddling in that matter of chicanery, but an honest priest of my people. I know only as much as need be, to find it out and see my people walk on a truer path."

<Elena> (SE) Sorcerers do not gain spells the same way priests do. Your priestly miracles are renewed by your god every evening as you sleep, assuming you continue to curry his or her favor.

<Elena> (SE) Sorcerers, however, do not get a set allotment of miracles every day, rather, they have... how shall i say it... imagine their power as a lake full of water.

<Elena> (SE) They can use up the entire lakes worth of that water in a day if they want.

<Elena> (SE) The downside, however, is that only a certain amount of water comes into the lake everyday from the river.

<Elena> (EM) So if they completely drain the lake, it doesn't completely refill overnight, but only refills slowly because the river only dumps c certain amount of water into it every day no matter what. Do you understand?

* Chade seems to grasp the gist of the explanation and applies it differently. (SE) "So they must deal with exhaustion and fatigue in their castings, were they to drink too deeply and deplete their reserves. Water that is not brought in within a day, as it were?"

<Elena> (SE) I think you understand. There are things that affect how much water the river provides the lake, however. Think of it like more water flowing from the river on a rainy day, perhaps. If they rest completely, do no strenuous activity, and cast no spells, they get more "water back into their lake" for that day.

<Elena> (SE) I suspect they let the disguise drop for that very reason. They are allowing their lakes of power to refill as quickly as possible.

<Elena> (SE) They are likely going to have to rest here still for a few days to get their magic power back up.

<Elena> (SE) What this means is, they are unlikely to go anywhere for a few days, which is to our advantage, but it also means that every day that goes by, they will have more magical power to use against us in a fight.

<Chade> (SE) "Which adds an urgency to our considerations. To strike sooner is to catch these sorcerers, as you call them, with little waters left?"

<Eltiana> (SE) We have to weigh the option of waiting, at least until tomorrow to see if we can get more reinforcements from town and from the elves my sister will be bringing along, versus trying to attack today or tonight.

<Chade> (SE) "You know the lay of the land, and our numbers would be best served by terrain no matter how long a wait we choose."

<Eltiana> (SE) It's a hard choice, honestly. Would perhaps 100 men from Tilverton and 20 more elves be worth more than "one more day's worth of water" for their spell casters? I know this is our land and we know it best, but still, you are our ally, and I seek what counsel you have to give.

<Chade> (SE) "If we can lure them into a place of our choosing, or make them bleed at arms length without reprisal save from these magicians and even then limited...I would say waiting is ill-advised. Harass them, we should. A pitched battle...if we cannot have supremacy of terrain...likely should wait a day."

<Eltiana> (SE) Give me a moment to converse with my aides and my lieutenant.

<Eltiana> Well, Celeron, Ragnus, Elena... what do you think, it's a hard choice.

<Ragnus> I believe some recon is in order before committing to anything.

<Ragnus> Waiting may be the best recourse, as we still have no idea of their numbers, nor their strengths, now, while they most likely have their magicks down, is our best opportunity to see exactly what it is we are up against. What of a mixed group, to infiltrate? I am sure there are enough elven men, capable of moving without detection this night, and I would hope some of this lizard man group as well.

<Ragnus> We can gather what we can, discuss and come up with a more educated plan.

<Celeron> Unless you see a way to draw them into what remains of the forest here, I'd suggest we wait unless Elena can convince me that waiting one more day is that much of a hazard to us.

<Elena> Well, if we were going to strike while they were completely powerless, or nearly so, we missed our chance. We should have done that last night. It's been more than a day since they last cast spells now.

<Elena> At this point, any of them that know the fireball spell can probably cast it.

<Elena> A few fireballs and we're probably all dead.

<Celeron> How is it that you know so much about magic, Elena?

<Elena> My grandma is... was a gray elf... she was a practitioner of the arts.

<Celeron> I see...

<Eltiana> You say they get their magic back as they sleep, like we do Elena?

<Elena> Yes.

<Eltiana> Well, its nearly dawn now, so they have probably recharged for the day?

<Elena> I expect so, yes.

<Eltiana> But, if we, say, attacked them in the middle of the night?

<Eltiana> Would that disrupt their recharge?

<Elena> It should, yes.

<Eltiana> Well, what if we attacked them a couple hours after they went to sleep then? Anyone see a problem with that plan? It would allow us time to plan an ambush, plus it would allow us time to at least see if we're going to get any help from Tilverton.

* Ragnus nods in agreement. "I shall make preparations as you see fit my aunt."

<Eltiana> Very well then, let me talk to Chade.

<Eltiana> (SE) Chade, we feel that the best course of action is to spend today looking to see whats left of the terrain.

<Eltiana> (SE) Elena explains that the sorcerers power recharges during sleep, and they've already benefited for today. So we have until the middle of the night tomorrow before they will get any stronger.

<Chade> "(SE) I see no fault in that reasoning, for if we can work the terrain to our advantage, the force of our numbers shall be felt as twice or more. As for harassment, it would be nice to give goblins a taste of their own, more typical, medicine."

<Eltiana> (SE) This will also give us a chance to see if there is any help forthcoming from Tilverton, and an outside chance of getting reinforcements from my sisters group in time as well.

<Eltiana> (SE) For now I suggest we post a guard and have breakfast. The twilight of sunrise is not a good time to be doing surveys and making plans.

* Chade glances among his cohort for a moment before responding. "(SE) Yes, roasted meat would be nice, though fresh greens would be fine as well. Our rations are not the tastiest of things. Then, afterward I think, we shall look towards this river of yours and rest while pondering its currents. It would be easier for me and mine, at least, to do so."

<Eltiana> (SE) I'll see what meat we have. Celeron's group survived because they were out hunting, so they probably have some. The river indeed sounds like an excellent plan. We should start there after breakfast. Come help me get set up for breakfast Elena.

<Elena> (SE) Yes Lady Tia.

<=Scene=> End Chapter Fifteen.
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