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The Elves and Lizard Men plan their course of action. And who is this Roget guy and what's he doing here?

<=Scene=> Begin chapter Eighteen.

Ragnus - MrThorne; Chade - RoninofDreams

<=Scene=> When last we left our band of elven and lizard man heroes, they were settling down to have breakfast, before trying to decide on a plan of action that would give them the best chance to defeat the army of goblins that had inexplicably destroyed their settlements.

<=Scene=> While they were having breakfast, the rider that the elves sent down to Tilverton the previous evening returned, along with some reinforcements...

<=Scene=> There appear to be about 30 Elves and a lone human riding up the trail with the messenger.

<Celeron> (SE) Well, that's encouraging. I was not expecting him to be back this soon, especially not with reinforcements.

<Eltiana> (SE) I wonder who it is he's bringing with him...

<Celeron> (SE) Guess we'll see soon enough.

<Chade> "(SE) Indeed we shall, though I had hopes for more than what seems to be."

<Eltiana> (SE) True enough, but it’s surprising that he’s brought anyone this quickly. Maybe there will be more coming?

<Celeron> (SE) They're almost here, we'll know soon enough.

<=Scene=> In a few moments, the party arrives. These elves are obviously not Sylvan Elves, but High Elves. They appear to be archers. The lone human wears a brown cloak and leather armor, and appears to be a priest of some sort.

* Chade regards the party with respectful silence.

<Celeron> (CE) Report, Januvent. Who have you brought with you?

<Januvent> (CE) Sir, this is a cadre of professional archers, fresh from a battle only last week. Also, this man, known as Roget, is a priest and a councilman from the town. He claims to have an item of great power that can help us.

<Celeron> (CE) Really? Hmmm...

* Ragnus takes notice of the priest, interest peaks arises to get closer to the source of the conversation, in hopes of learning more.

<Roget> (SE) Yes, really. If it pleases you, we can converse in this tongue of yours, unless you prefer the common elf for some reason.

<Chade> "(SE) It would be much preferred, sir."

<Eltiana> (SE) This works fine for us. I suppose the Archers have someone who speaks this tongue? I fear our new allies have no one who speaks the common elf dialect.

<=Scene=> An elf dismounts and steps forward.

<Niethan> Yes, I can translate for us.

<Niethan> You may call me Niethan.

* Niethan bows.

* Chade nods his head respectfully. "I am Ish'kar'na, known as Chade to those who speak this tongue and the tongues of man."

<Eltiana> An I am Eltiana, Priestess of Ullr. With me are Celeron, the captain of this band of ours, Elena, my aide, and Ragnus, my nephew.

<Eltiana> (SE) You spoke of an item of power?

<Roget> (SE) Indeed I did, though, it will only work if at least part of the forest that was considered part of your city still stands. It doesn't have to be much…

<Celeron> (SE) It does. Three tiny remnants stand near what used to be the boarder of Greenguard. You're standing in one part right now.

* Chade tilts his head in mild curiosity over this 'item of power'. "(SE) What does"

* Roget turns to Chade. (SE) It blocks all incoming missile and energy attacks in a circle around a city. Those INSIDE the barrier can fire arrows and spells through the field normally, however.

<Chade> "(SE) Impressive."

<Roget> (SE) It's unique. That's why I acquired it.

* Chade nods in understanding of the premise.

<Roget> (SE) I had heard of this... thing... whatever it is that this army is using from some of my sources within the Kingdom of Rutan. The danger it presented was obvious, so I went and got my item with the idea of using it to protect Tilverton from their machine if necessary. I never thought they'd bother with destroying the elven forest.

<Chade> "(SE) Nor, I suspect, that the thought of the homes of Lizardmen would come under assault, either." His voice is slightly bitter at the thought, but his rational mind can cope with the idea.

<Roget> (SE) The settlement you speak of is sufficiently far from here than I'd never have given thought to it under any circumstances, to be honest. While I'm being honest, when Januvent first arrived and I heard his story, my first inclination was to just leave you all to fend for yourselves, and leave the force field in place protecting Tilverton.

<Roget> (SE) However, after giving it thought, I determined that it might be safer to battle here and now. The mages will have less power, and will hopefully waste what mana they have before they realize spells outside the barrier will fail. It also occurred, that, as the rogue that is known as the King of Mithrim is likely to attack Tilverton soon, we'd be better off having this fight out up here where we had allies. Less casualties for us this way. By the way, before you ask, I’m paying the archers fee for this.

* Chade speaks despite a reluctance from the initial rebuking comment.
"(SE) There is much wisdom in keeping a foe at arm's length when doing battle. Less strain on your mates and on your young."

* Ragnus listens as Elena tries to explain what the item does, and this bands reasoning for coming here, in hopes of avoiding a confrontation, thinking what sort of device could do such a thing, and.. what are the possibilities.

<Eltiana> (SE) An attack from the King of Mithrim? What madness is this? Why would he attack one of his own cities?

* Roget laughs.

<Roget> (SE) I see you're a little behind the times. It's not one of his cities anymore. The angle has declared independence from Mithrim.

<Eltiana> (SE) Independence... I will never understand your kind. What would cause you to do a thing like that?

<Roget> (SE) Well, the folks down here got a little upset that the King refused to help them when the lizard men started raiding.

* Chade hisses low and warningly. "(SE) Do not accuse my kind of that which we did NOT do."

<Roget> (SE) Of course *I* know you're not doing it. It's being done by goblins, and maybe some orcs, or hobgoblins, or maybe all of the above, but, to most of the people, they LOOK like lizard men.

<Roget> (SE) And so the people of Tilveron, and Smithson, and Southtown all believe its your kind who are doing it.

* Chade harumphs, or at least the racial equivalent of a harumph, and signals to Raikenin to come closer.

* Raikenin approaches Chade

<Raikenin> (LM) Yes Chade?

<Roget> (SE) I could TRY to undeceive them, of course, but I seriously doubt they would listen to me, so I haven't bothered to try. If I really thought it was you all doing it, I wouldn't be here now.

* Chade whispers low to Raikenin. "(LM) More news of further prejudice, spawned by the actions of these shape shifters. Other cities, among the humans, are agitated over the actions we are being blamed for. After the battle here, send one of the scouts back to our marshlands with word of these doings, to be on guard in case of foolish reprisals from militant bands of the humans. Understand? I want this known in case I fall."

<Raikenin> (LM) Yes, Chade. Perhaps, when this matter is settled, we need to consider working together against these shape shifters? That is, if the humans would listen.

* Chade looks past Raikenin into the distance, as if spacing out but just considering as he speaks. "(LM) With the elves, certainly. With the humans who will listen...perhaps. I merely fear that more blood of ours will be spilled needlessly in the time it takes to establish a rapport. You have seen the anger stoked in the hearts of our cohort at a sole death, have you not? I fear the humans are no more immune to that allure."

<Celeron> (SE) Well, all this aside, the question remains: What are we going to do about this army of goblins now?

<Roget> (SE) Well, you elves are familiar with the land. You said there are 3 remnants of forest left that would have been considered part of your city? I have Naug's cube, and that can protect those inside the force area from any arrows or spells from outside it. We have a lot of archers here, we can shoot many of them down with arrows before they approach if we have the high ground, and also, their spells will be ineffective unless they make it inside.

<Raikenin> (LM) No, I expect them to be even less immune than we are, especilly if they think we're been raiding them over a period of time.

<Eltiana> (SE) Well, Celeron has a map of the lands, though much of it is now nothing but a wasteland obviously.

<=Scene=> Map (with wastelands marked)

* Celeron unfurls a map and sets it so Chade, Roget, Niethan, Eltiana, and he himself all have a good view of it. He then points out where there is still forest and where there is not.

* Celeron You can see where there are still remnants of the forest. Here where we are, in the northeast, and down by the lizard men's camp. Anyone have any suggestions?

* Ragnus catching a glimpse of the map, finally realizing the scale of the devastation caused by this army. He is taken aback and a little shocked. He turns to Elena.. (CE) "All this in one night?"

* Elena speaks in a choked up voice.(CE) “Yes... everything, almost everyone I knew... in one night…”

<Chade> "(SE) Our camp provides a defended rear but offers fewer avenues for escape for your kinds if it turns sour..."

* Elena translates the last question to Ragnus.

<Eltiana> Well, as I see it, each place has positives and negatives.

<Chade> "(SE) This is true. Our meeting place here...the river makes it harder for their forces to reach us on foot, but we are still distant from their center."

<Eltiana> (SE) Here also has the advantage of we're already here, and the wide river would provide a nice surprise popping up point for the lizard men, but it's very far from where there camp is.

<Eltiana> (SE) I'm not sure they'd bother chasing us all the way over here. And we'd have little high ground for long as well.

<Chade> "(SE) Luring them would be the issue, yes. What of the smaller river at the northeastern forest?"

* Ragnus speaking to himself, if they don't know how many of us there are.. nor expect any sort of counter attack.. I wonder if it would be possible to psych them out.. by attacking from several fronts... perhaps cause some sense of panic, assuming their mages are the leaders, and they are likely in a state where they can’t make split second decisions.. perhaps chaos would be our best ally... Though...

<Eltiana> (SE) The north has a river, though a lesser one. There is still high ground with a remnant of our forest on it there, though, and we could rain down many arrows on them before they advanced through the barrier.

<Chade> "(SE) We could draw them through the forest to the river, and strike from both sides if we can coax them to cross."

<Ragnus> (CE)Then work to funnel them or at least a portion to an area we could have a better advantage..

<Celeron> (SE) Yes, I'd thought that too. The problem becomes, again, getting them to chase us that far. It's scarce less far than here.

* Ragnus upon hearing Elena continued to translation figures it best to let them decide… and keep some opinions up to the experts

<Chade> "(SE) Would they expect an alliance of our forces so soon? Perhaps my cohort could be the bait, and run them up the crater in stages to the forest itself?"

<Eltiana> (SE) The location near your camp would be the easiest to lure them to, but, there is no river, and less forest as well. I don't think we could win that fight if we got them there, do you?

<Celeron> (SE) I doubt it.

<Chade> "(SE) Unlikely. It would be fine were it just my brethren and I, as we could flee through the lake itself."

<Eltiana> (SE) Yeah, I considered that as well. Considered having you pop out of the lake as a surprise, but I think the lack of cover for the rest of us...

<Chade> "(SE) It would not be pretty."

<Celeron> (SE) So, we agree the north is our best bet then?

<Chade> "(SE) That would seem to be the best resource we have, yes."

<Eltiana> (SE) Now the hard part, how do we lure them up there?

<Eltiana> (SE) Anyone have an idea?

<Chade> "(SE) As I mentioned before, my cohort and I could act as bait. We are...hardier types, and we lack the bows that grant you such greater range compared to our weaponry."

<Eltiana> (SE) I appreciate that offer, but, you would have no protection from their spells until you reached the forest. I’m not willing to allow your people to commit suicide for us. That's a long way to run.

* Chade shrugs lightly. "(SE) It is not as if we have a multitude of options."

<Roget> (SE) Does anyone here speak goblin?

<Elena> (SE) I speak Goblin, so does Ragnus.

<Ragnus> (Goblin) I do.

<Niethan> (Goblin) Many of our number do as well.

<Roget> (SE) Well, then I have a plan to get them to come to our little ambush.

* Roget reaches into his pack and pulls out a flask of something.

* Chade tilts his head in puzzlement at the chatter actually IN Goblin.
"(SE) I fear that is an art we have never learned."

<Roget> (SE) I happen to have a potion of polymorph… several actually. I... err... Acquired them from the priestess of Zanxia at the same time I acquired the little cube of force.

<Roget> I was hoping to save them for later. These things are incredibly fun to play around with, but I suppose now's a good time to use it.

* Chade eyes Roget with mild amusement. "'Acquired', you say? How...interesting."

<Roget> (SE) I've always found what I do interesting, yeah.

* Roget smiles broadly at Chade.

* Chade laughs deeply from the gut and throat, which admittedly gives it a slight rasping sound given his anatomy.

<Roget> (SE) I've got multiple doses of these things, enough to go around for several of us. My plan is this. I myself have the natural ability to polymorph myself. It's an ability granted by my deity.

<Chade> "(SE) Quite the useful ability, from time to time, I'd wager."

<Roget> (SE) It is. I will polymorph myself into a bird, and fly into their camp. I will figure out who their leader is, and study his voice. Impersonating others voices is another talent of mine, you see.

<Roget> (SE) After dark, some goblin speaking members of our group will use the polymorph potions to appear as goblins, run into the camp, frantically screaming that they were attacked by elves and that most of their patrol is dead. Meanwhile, I, in the voice of their leader, will order the army to peruse the elves. Of course, I'll have already silenced their leader... one way or another... so he won't be able to tell anyone that it's not him giving the orders.

<Roget> (SE) Anyone see any problems with this?

* Elena translates all of that to Ragnus.

<Chade> "(SE) There is a great deal that could go wrong.

<Chade> "(SE) Yet it may well be our best bet."

<Ragnus> (CE) How long does this polymorph last?

<Roget> (CE) Long enough that you'd have plenty of time to slip away in the darkness I'd expect.

<Ragnus> (CE) As long as no one shoots me, I am fine with this.

* Ragnus chuckles to himself

<Roget> (SE) Yes, there is plenty that could go wrong, but do you think this plan less likely to succeed than just trying to lure them on your own? Remember, a couple of fireballs and you guys are probably all goners.

<Chade> "(SE) This is also true."

<Eltiana> (SE) I don't like it... I like it even less that we are trusting a person who we have just met, not to mention a person of your ilk. However, I see no better alternative.

<Chade> "(SE) I never claimed that our hides could quite shrug off the likely barrage of magic that will be thrown our way."

<Roget> (SE) I'll take that as a complement miss Eltiana.

<Eltiana> (SE) You may take it any way you like, so long as you hold up your end of the bargain. I must say, I'm rather surprised you're so willing to put yourself in harms way, however.

<Roget> (SE) Oh, don't worry about me. If things go south, I can always polymorph myself into a bat and fly away. I really don't expect to run into any trouble, though. It's not as if I haven't done this sort of thing before.

* Roget smiles at Eltiana.

<=Scene=> It begins to rain.

<Raikenen> (LM) Well, at least we won't have to worry about drying out today, Chade.

* Chade raises his head and opens his mouth to taste the rainfall. "(LM) Mmm, too true, Raikenin. Ahh, it does feel good on these scales."

<Roget> (SE) Well, if we're all in agreement, then we'd best be off to set things up for the ambush. It'll take us a few hours to walk around this desolation, and the more time we have to set up, the better.

<Eltiana> (SE)Agreed.

<Niethan> (SE) My captain agrees with this plan. We don't usually do missions this dangerous for this kind of pay, but given the magnitude of what's happened here, we agree.

<Chade> "(SE) I am fine with this idea."

<=Scene=> As the group prepares to leave, a small group is seen riding in across the plains to the West.

<Eltiana> (SE) Ariana! My sister and her group have made it in time!

<Eltiana> (SE) They should be here in a few minutes, we'll wait for them.

* Ragnus rejoices at the sight of his mother and her companions. He stands and rushes to greet her.

<Ariana> Ragnus, you're safe!

<Ariana> I've been so worried about you.

<Ariana> And Tia of course.

<Ragnus> And you!

* Ragnus approaches his mothers horse and offers his hand to assist her in dismounting.

<Eltiana> I worried about you making it on time.

<Ragnus> Tho I fear you could not have come at a better... or worse time. I am sure Eltiana can fill you in on the details.

<Ariana> I don't think there's much to be said is there? The place where I grew up, live most of my life is really gone, just like Tia saw.

<Ariana> I thought, after all these years, I was finally coming home, only to find out that now, I can never, ever go home again.

* Ariana begins to cry.

<Ragnus> Sadly it is so mother, and I fear there are terrible magics afoot.

<Ragnus> However the army is nearby, and I believe the others and aunt Tia have devised a plan to strike back.

<Eltiana> You can tell her and the others about it as we walk, Ragnus. Time is short, and we must be off.

<Ragnus> This deed they have committed will not go unpunished mother. The odds are against us, but this... Roget? has some magics of his own, that sound like they could turn the tide in our favor. So we must
prepare, and be ready.

* Ragnus embraces his mother in an attempt to comfort her, then withdraws "We should go."

<Eltiana> Indeed, we must go now, every minute is precious if our plan is to succeed.

<Eltiana> Elena, tell everyone else to head out now. Now that our horses are returned, take a minute to put our gear on them. Those few of us on horseback will only take a couple of minutes to catch up.

<Elena> Yes lady Tia.

* Ariana gapes "You… let her call you Tia now?"

<Eltiana> Yes, I do. I know it will seem strange to you, but the girl has saved my life more than once now, and has proven to be a friend such as I've not had in a long time. I know it sounds odd, she's so young, but I trust her and... I care for her.

<Ariana> Two weeks ago, you would not have spoken so... you said there was something about her you didn't trust...

<Eltiana> Two weeks ago she hadn't saved my life twice and hadn‘t proven to be wise in the heat of battle.

<Eltiana> There's still something... unusual about her, I'll admit, but... When someone saves your life and shows they really care about you... I guess I've gone soft.

* Elena returns, horses loaded up with their gear.

<Elena> We’re ready to go now, Lady Tia.

* Chade stretches out and then busies himself amidst the Lizardman Cohort, generally informing them of the entire relevant conversation and of the plan, and letting the more military minded of the cohort begin to draw ranks and discuss the minutiae for each element of lizardmen for the coming battle.

<Eltiana> Good. Lets be off then.

<=Scene=> It begins to rain harder.

<=Scene=> End Chapter Eighteen.
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