<@AndyGM> The group left the Holy City of Merthia in a hurry. Dugall took an arm full of books from the library with him. In the chaos of the Elder Priest's assassination the group was able to slip into the night. They made east, heading once again into the Runewood their trip this time was much more uneventful. They traveled peacefully for weeks, eventually emerging in the Eastern Reaches and the seemingly endless green plains and occasion small thicket that marked that land. Still they traveled east, knowing that they had further still to go before they even glimpsed the Golden Sands.
<Matuzack> "How much bleeding farther is it?" Matuzack asked.
<LadyVai> She has been carving simple wooden charms made of wood and with loops bands of leather so they can be worn around the neck. She makes one for everyone. A big hulking guy for Matuzack, a little girl for Petra, a cloaked figure for Dugall, an animal shape for Makphia and a little shape with horns for Jade.
<Dugall> "Might as well enjoy the greenery while it's still around."
<LadyVai> "Here you go," she said with a smile as she passes them out. "So I can scry on you better."
<Makhpia> "Still some ways off." says Mak. "The Eastern Reaches is a large place."
<Matuzack> "I prefer white."
<Dugall> "Uhhh... thank you?"
<Petra2> "Do you really want to get into the scorching heat that soon, Mat?" Petra said as she kept her senses open to detect any threats. "Thanks, Anistyrnia." Petra said with a smile as she put her charm.
<Matuzack> Matuzack takes the charm and eyes it curiously. "What's this for?"
<LadyVai> She smiles a knowing smile. "You are welcome," she says. "So I can scry on you better should I need too. Nothing more."
<Makhpia> Mak takes the charm and puts it around her neck.
<Matuzack> "Hrm." With that, he stuffs the charm into a pouch.
<DemonessJade> "Aww thank you." No one ever made her a present before. Well, no one ever made her a present that didn't have evil attached to it.
<DemonessJade> "I for one, cannot wait for the heat."
<LadyVai> She bows to Dugall, something she has never done before. "It will come when it comes. I wonder what is like. Do you know Makphia?"
<Makhpia> "I've never been to the Golden Sands, but the heat must be sweltering if it's hotter than here." Mak comments a bit distracted.
<Matuzack> "I care not for the heat. I'm a cold bloo.." He cuts himself off, grimacing at his unintentional play on words.
<Dugall> Dugall takes a look at Lady Vai's figure, before storing it away in his cloak. He blinked and bowed his head slightly in return but didn't say anything in response.
<LadyVai> She snickers at Matuzack.
<Petra2> "So what are going to do when we get there? Travel by night and rest during the day. Or endure the heat and travel as far as possible before resting."
<Dugall> "The night time is the right time."
<LadyVai> She shrugs. "I do not know. You know this is the farthest I have ever traveled before."
<@AndyGM> As the group speaks the sound of combat rings out over a nearby hill. Steel on steel and guttural cries of fury.
<LadyVai> Shields up!
<Matuzack> Matuzack glances over to Jade, winks, and begins running toward the noise.
<Petra2> Petra began following behind Mat and forming her stone armor on the move. "At least a few days peace was nice."
<Dugall> Dugall says, "I’ll go on ahead and check, if no one minds?"
<@AndyGM> As Matuzack crests the hill he sees a dozen humans, on horses, armed with slim swords and pistols circling a group of six Orcs. Around the Orcs are three dead humans, six dead Orcs, and the bodies of at least four huge wolves. The Orcs are bloodied, and battered, clenching makeshift weapons and growling.
<Makhpia> Mak snarls. She doesn't like this.
<DemonessJade> Honestly, she didn't even want get into this.
<LadyVai> She flies up over Matuzack. "What by Taija goes on here!" she yells enough to be heard
<Matuzack> Matuzack slows, and begins to shout something. Instead, he rolls his eyes as Vai begins to talk for them.
<@AndyGM> The humans turn and one of them points a sword at the Orcs. "These monsters, they're threatening our city. Bunch of thieves and bandits!"
<Petra2> "Where is your proof they are the monsters you say and that you didn't just judge them on appearance and attack them first?" Petra said as calmly as she could.
<LadyVai> "Do they look like they could take your city?" she growls. "Leave now or he will take you all on," she points to Matuzack
<DemonessJade> So she finally schlepped her rump up the hill and joined the others. "What's the deal?" She asked Mat. "Ut oh.... "
<Makhpia> Mak approaches with Jade, although she put up the cowl of her cloak on instinct from their time in Merthia.
<@AndyGM> The dozen men on horseback look back and forth. They see The Orcs, Matuzack, then the rest of the group. Seeing themselves out numbered they turn and ride away one yelling back. "Dirty Orc Lovers! You'll get yours!!"
<LadyVai> "Makphia, they are all yours," she says
<Matuzack> "Yeah, dirty orc lover." He said, looking up to Vai.
<DemonessJade> "I’m guessing I don't want to know."
<Petra2> "Thought so, only cowards would have run away." Petra said disgusted how anyone could act in this manner.
<Makhpia> "This is not a good sign." mutters Mak as she lowers her hood and turns to the orcs.
<LadyVai> "I have never had an orc..." she mutters
<@AndyGM> Seeing another Orc the Orcs slowly lower their weapons and relax somewhat. One, an aging man bent from years of hard labor, or from having to carry around his enormous thickly braided beard, spoke. "Who are you girl?!? What's your clan?" He spoke in Orcish.
<Dugall> "Should we have killed the bastards before they got away?"
<Dugall> Dugall asks disinterestedly
<Makhpia> "I am Makhpia from the Sha-Mathe clan." Mak replies as respectfully as she could in Orcish.
<LadyVai> "I do not wish to kill anyone," she says and sighs
<Dugall> "Fair enough, we've got enough enemies already."
<LadyVai> She goes and checks on the humans and orcs. Are they dead or wounded?
<@AndyGM> "Makhpia? The Little Shaman who went missing? I am Herk Steadyhand of the Cracked Tusk!" The old man lowered his weapon, a rusted mining pick.
<@AndyGM> There were six dead Orcs, mostly workers by the look of them, four dead dire wolves, and three dead humans. The remaining Orcs were scratched up and bruised. The humans had been playing with them.
<LadyVai> She gives them all the blessing of the last rites of Taija, laying them all out, humans and orcs.
<@AndyGM> The Orcs watch the others suspiciously.
<DemonessJade> "I'm bored."
<Petra2> "Mak, could you ask them if I could tend to their wounded?" Petra asked, unsure if they would accept her help.
<LadyVai> She says Hello in orcish and goes about seeing them all
<Matuzack> Matuzack eyed the orcs. "They don’t look like raiders and thieves. They can barely hold weapons. Ask them for their story, Mak."
<DemonessJade> Her boredom had nothing to do with ... and suddenly that stagnant feeling faded and Jade shivered as a chill ran up her spine. "Ooo not good."
<Makhpia> "I, yes have been gone for some time. I am honored to meet have met you." Makhpia says in orcish before continuing "What exactly has happened recently if it's not too much trouble to tell?"
<DemonessJade> "Not good, not good at all." She commented and shifted back to high alert. "I have a terrible feeling about this."
<Dugall> Dugall looked around in response to Jade, "What's wrong?" he asked her quietly.
[21:48] <DemonessJade> "I'm not sure."
<LadyVai> She sits up. "I am sorry. What are the burial rituals of your kind?" she mentions in orcish to an orc who is watching her.
<@AndyGM> "The humans in the city of the steel beast, they went mad! They declared all the game on the plains theirs, and began hunting down Orcs they said were poaching. They nearly wiped out the Cracked Tusk and Night Wolf Clans, The Sha-Mathe, Soul Renders; they let us travel with them. We were heading for their camp when these humans found us." Herk Continued in Orcish.
<@AndyGM> One of the surviving Orcs, no older than six stared in shock at Vai. He looked to an older woman who wrapped an arm around the little boy. "Let us take their bodies back to camp." She responded in Orcish.
<LadyVai> "Err, three for the humans."
<Makhpia> Mak looks to the ground, her stomach sinking. "I was afraid something like that would be your answer, but two whole tribes?" Mak turns to Matuzack "They claim that they were the remnants of an orc tribe recently destroyed, going to join up with... my clan" she says in common.
<Matuzack> "Hrm. What are we waiting for them?"
<Dugall> "Let's decide on something. Whatever we need to do to help.
<DemonessJade> "And we should do it quickly." She tried to hurry them along. She still wasn't feeling alright.
<Petra2> Petra formed 3 human-sized graves 10 ft. deep each. "There, even an enemy deserves a proper burial."
<LadyVai> "That’s my girl."
<Petra2> "Uhm, they ran off a few minutes ago at least. Shouldn't we get out of here, in case they come back with reinforcements?" Petra said, feeling Jade's anxiousness as well.
<Makhpia> "Probably. We should get moving." Mak says.
<Matuzack> Matuzack nodded, taking two of the bodies as gently and respectfully as possible. "Let's go."
<@AndyGM> The Orcs stared as Matuzack lifted their dead. They got the hint and took out a leather harness, putting two more bodies in it and fixing it to their remaining wolf.
<Dugall> Dugall carried a couple of the others with his tendrils, trying to show the same reverence but displaying his lack of understanding of the ritual with a scratch of his head.
<Petra2> "Uhm, Anistrynia. Can I fill the graves back in yet so we can get out of here?"
<LadyVai> "Of course."
<@AndyGM> Herk looked to Makhpia. "The Soul Renders are camped South of here. We should make it there before nightfall. Toji will want to speak with you and your humans."
<Petra2> With a wave of her hand, the graves fill back in. "Okay, let's move out." Petra said as she walked over beside Jade.
<DemonessJade> "Yeah let’s get out of here."
<Makhpia> "I suspect Teacher will. We will follow you since you know the way." Mak says in orcish to Herk.
<@AndyGM> Herk patted his Wolf and it began trudging South. The six Orcs followed the Wolf. It didn't take long to see where they were going; the plains allowed one to see for a long distance and in that distance dozens of heavy green and brown canvas tents were pitched around a large fire.
<Makhpia> Mak follows the orcs. Seeing her old home was bittersweet in a way, and terrifying in another way.
<@AndyGM> Within an hour Herk had lead the group into the camp. What had been a lively place quieted to a deathly stillness at the sight of humans. No one made any movements, but eyes followed them even as they strolled to the fire in the center of the camp. Herk pointed to the bodies that Mat and Dugall held, and pointed at the ground. He then made a motion, pointing at the whole group and pointing to the large tent in front of the fire.
<Matuzack> Matuzack gently laid the bodies on the ground, nodded once, and walked into the tent.
<Dugall> Dugall followed suit.
<LadyVai> She enters smiling.
<Makhpia> Makhpia walks up to the tent, takes a deep breath, and then enters the tent.
<Petra2> The motion lost mostly on Petra, she simply followed the others into the tent.
<DemonessJade> Jade would quietly meander in as well.
<LadyVai> "Are we to follow," she says in orcish
<@AndyGM> "Yes" Herk said to Vai
<@AndyGM> Inside the tent an old Orc sat on a small pile of animal skins. He had long stringy white hair; He had white stubble and glassy blue eyes. He looked ancient. When Mak entered the tent he turned his head to see who it was. In a moment the old Orc went from silent and craggy, before leaping to his feet, rushing to Mak, lifting her into the air... and tossing her a good foot into the air before catching her in a bear hug. "LITTLE ONE!!" He roared happily.
<Makhpia> Makhpia hugs him back "Teacher!! I've missed you so much!" she says happily in orcish.
<@AndyGM> Seeing Vai enter he gets quiet. He shifts, carrying Mak over one shoulder and examining Vai. He then looks back to Makhpia. "How many times do I have to tell you, no bringing pets back to camp?" He said in Orcish.
<LadyVai> She looks surprised at hearing this. "If I am not wanted here I will wait outside," she replied back in orcish
<@AndyGM> He blinked as she spoke Orcish. "Oh she speaks Orcish... and wasn't blessed by her ancestors with a sense of humor." He laughed loudly and walked over extending a hand to Vai. "Tojiro Wolfsong, but most folk call me Toji! Nice to meet you miss." He said in perfect common.
<DemonessJade> Jade laughed. She couldn't help herself. Never in her wildest dreams would she imagine Vai as a pet. Then again, Jade had a whole different idea of what a 'pet' was.
<LadyVai> "A pleasure to meet you," she says taking his hand. She repeats in common and introduces the rest of them
<@AndyGM> "Sorry for the joke, ever since I met the little one every time she left camp something would follow her back, the odd wolf pup, or falcon. She was gone for a while, so five humans seem about right." He laughed, finally putting Makhpia down on the ground.
<LadyVai> "She has had the habit of picking up strays."
<Petra2> "I think of Makhpia more as family than being a stray that followed her. We have all been through a lot together."
<@AndyGM> "Sit! Relax; you've brought my favorite pupil back to me. I must show my thanks! We'll eat and drink while the little one explains where she ran to and what brought her back." He smiled brightly. He poked his head out of the tent and yelled in Orcish. Minutes later large pots of stew were brought into the tent.
<Matuzack> Matuzack instantly muscled his way to one of the pots and began ladling out a bowl for himself. Through mouthfuls of stew he managed a "thanks"
<Petra2> "Thank you for your hospitality." Petra said as she took a bowl of stew and began to dig in.
<DemonessJade> Jade eyed Mat as he ate and then offered him a cloth napkin or someone's sleeve she wasn't sure.
<Matuzack> Matuzack waved her off and continued to eat.
<@AndyGM> Toji sat down, helped himself to some stew and waited.
<Makhpia> Mak laughs a bit at Matuzack's food filled thanks and takes a bite of the food before explaining. "The night that I... disappeared, I had this vision in my dream, with these prophecies, and omens of death and devastation. But I was afraid that no one would believe me." She looks down at the ground "So I snuck away to try and stop it.”
<DemonessJade> "Suit yourself." She commented and took some stew for herself.
<@AndyGM> Toji sighed hearing this. "With your gifts? You left before you took your rite of adulthood?" He shook his head. "You’re lucky some foul spirit isn't wearing you like a suit of old armor."
<Makhpia> "I know it was stupid. That almost happened a little while back." Mak starts to cry a little bit remembering The Passenger.
<Matuzack> Matuzack pointed the wooden spoon at Toji. "What does she need to do for that? The adulthood thing."
<@AndyGM> "All Orcs must take the rite, find their totem, and become a full member of the clan. In the case of shaman it's even more important; their totem gives them focus, strength. For a youngster like Makhpia to go without it... her wounded spirit... it makes her easy prey for dark spirits."
<Matuzack> Matuzack pointed the spoon at Mak. "You need to do that." Then he went back to his bowl of stew.
<@AndyGM> "She's too old to do it alone now... and I can't leave the clan with the humans on the warpath."
<Makhpia> Makhpia wipes away the tears "They could come with me" nodding towards the group.
<Matuzack> "Hrm." Mat said through a mouthful of stew. "If only she had people to go with her. Like a group of random folk. A bad ass group, at that."
<LadyVai> "Why are they? Pardon me Makphia but they seem to be rather dangerous."
<@AndyGM> "A month ago some traveling priest showed up, working miracles. The locals were healed of all their diseases, their wounds. Then the Priest started talking, saying that their goddess had given the plains to humans, the grass, the game, the water all of it. Then the stupid humans go and force their elders to make it law. There'll be war before winter, I'm sure of it. And the Steel Beast city has the most powerful army in the reaches."
<Dugall> "So I guess this priest needs some... talking to?"
<LadyVai> "You wouldn't know the name of this priest, would you?"
<@AndyGM> "The Priest, the human Elders. Whatever, they won't let me near the city though." He paused. "They said the Priest's name was Garret."
<Matuzack> "Sounds simple. Go in; slit this Garret's throat while he sleeps. Peace for everyone." He says, never looking up from his stew.
<LadyVai> She sits there and thinks. "foolish," she mutters
<Petra2> "So some priest performs miracles and they take what he says as the truth. Great, another bunch of brainwashed idiots following someone who is probably power mad."
<@AndyGM> "If it was that simple I would have done it myself ages ago." Toji smirks.
<DemonessJade> "I have to agree." she nodded toward Mat as she finished her stew.
<Dugall> "Were the humans blighted before the priest performed these miracles?"
<@AndyGM> "I may be old, but I can still swing a hammer."
<Matuzack> Matuzack smiles. "I like you, old man."
<Petra2> "That won't work though; it would make the guy a martyr. Need to discredit the priest to get anything done, probably."
<LadyVai> "Well Makphia... what do you have to do to complete your Rite?"
<@AndyGM> "Aye, they were mining the stuff they call...” He paused thinking of the word. "Golem Scrap. Many miners grew ill, no plague I ever saw."
<DemonessJade> 'eat his soul' she thought quietly to herself
<@AndyGM> "To complete the Rite she must go to the great burial mound, with nothing but the clothes on her back. If she survives the night she's passed."
<Makhpia> Mak sits quietly listening. Around Toji she feels like a little kid.
<Petra2> "Golem, isn't that an animated statue brought to life by magic? Scrap from that could have tainted magic clinging to it."
<Matuzack> Matuzack mumbled something about her doing it without clothes.
<@AndyGM> "The city is built around the biggest golem anyone ever saw... they say if there's war it'll come to life and defend the city."
<Dugall> "How long have they been mining this stuff? Is it only recently some miners got sick?"
<Makhpia> "The burial mound is a haven for spirits at night." explains Mak to the Vai.
<@AndyGM> "They been mining the stuff for as long as the city has stood. They only got sick six or so weeks ago."
<Petra2> "Great, as if there isn't enough trouble in the world. An old and probably faulty giant golem which could come back to life without warning. And an illness suddenly springing up, something isn't right. Jade was right earlier."
<LadyVai> "Well, the first thing is first. We get Makphia to complete her Rite."
<@AndyGM> Toji ate his stew. "If it comes to it we could just move on, but this has been Soul Render land for as long as anyone can remember. We've traveled these plains. I'd rather not change our path if I could help it."
<Matuzack> He nodded. "Mak, when do you want to do this?"
<@AndyGM> "Well if the little one wants to represent the clan with the humans she must pass the rite first anyhow."
<Petra3> "Hhm, before we go, could I set up some stone walls around your camp? Just in case there is a raid while we are off with Mak on her rite."
<@AndyGM> "We're nomads little girl, we'll move on in a day. No need for walls. By the time the humans know where we are, we'll be elsewhere."
<Petra3> "Oh, okay. Just hope they don't have anyone like us on their side." Petra said with a feeling of unease.
<Makhpia> "The sooner we do it the better." Mak says solemnly between mouthfuls of stew.
<@AndyGM> Toji nods. "I cannot join you, but I hope your friends can defend you from creatures they cannot see."
<Matuzack> "Wait... Can't see?" Mat said, surprise in his voice