The Base Camp at the Foot of the Mountain

 
The Base Camp at the Foot of the Mountain

After signing up for the operation, you were told to report in directly to Captain Stormblade. During your trip to Ridgar keep, the Star's Rise, a massive tower that rises up from the Keep all the way up to the clouds themselves could be seen from miles away, acting as a easy to follow landmark. The closer you get to the keep, the easier it is to make out it's features. The keep is built into the side of a mountain so without the Star's Rise, it would be almost impossible to find the entrance to the keep without good directions as the keep itself is far from any frequented road or town. In fact, more people have come out to this part of the kingdom in the last few days as they have in what is likely hundreds of years.

Once you arrive at the foot of the mountain you can see a large camp at the base of the keep, just outside of its entrance. Countless tents, wagons, animals (mostly horses and oxen, though many guard dogs are present as well), as well as soldiers and mercenaries of all races could be seen mingling in the camp. Some are unpacking wagons and crates filled with supplies, others are tending to their arms and armor, others can be seen practicing with their weapons (or spells for the few magic users present) or sparring with one another. You can even see a few blacksmiths and cooks here and there. The closer you get to the camp the stronger the assault on your senses. From the smells from the animals and the sweat scented soldiers who have been working hard on various tasks as well as their training to the burning sensation in your nose and eyes from the smoke from the numerous blacksmiths' forges and the fires cooks are using to prepare meals for the hundreds who are present.

It's hard moving through the camp as the spaces between the tents are filled with soldiers moving back and forth for countless reasons. Some are carrying supplies or weapons, others are relaying orders, some are just finding the nearest latrine. You eventually find your destination, A rather large, blue tent that. Going inside you see that the tent has an inner room beyond the small small room just past the entrance. The small room you are in is empty save for a few wooden chairs and a single soldier, an elf wearing a blue, military uniform (the kind mostly worn whenever on duty but armor isn't necessary) who is standing outside of a sort of curtain that acts as an entrance to the other room within the tent. Though the elf has no armor on, a sheathed rapier can be seen at his side as well as loaded crossbow that he holds in his arms.

As if to reassure you, the elf speaks up as you enter, "Mercenary right? Captain Stormblade will meet you in a few minutes. She is currently in a meeting and can't be bothered. Feel free to wait here, it shouldn't be long now."




It had been a long trip. Normally time was not something Selena would have taken note of. The search she had been on had started several years late, so what did it matter how long she took now? That is how she thought before.

Now, however, she has a more pressing reason to travel quickly. Each time she paused to rest, her mind went back to the last words of that woman, choked out desperately before she lost her final breath.

My son... please... he's so young... please don't let him... ...Taken... by... please save him from... those people... please save my son...

Selena had been left to bury the woman without any information. No name for her, no name for her son, no name for the people who kidnapped him. Yet she had set out at once to see what she could do. Her heart had told her to in as loud a voice as her instincts had said to go to this camp. Kidnappings... This could not be a coincidence. Her search for her father could wait when another person's life was at stake.

Absorbed in her thoughts, Selena barely notices the people she walks by. She walks into the tent and pauses at seeing the elf. She listens to her words and only responds with a nod and a single word. "Okay." She then stands to the side of the tent with her arms at her sides, her left hand still clutching her javelin.

"Ah, t'wind in me face, t'road under me feet and t'smell of adventuring!" said the dwarf with a smile, as he rode his boar along the dirt road leading to the camp "Like t'old days, hey Q?"


A man in heavy armor enters the tent. The armor is temple cut, the scales a burnished copper and the trim a rich burgundy. The symbols festooned on the armor mark the man as a priest of the faith of the god Manks. As always with such men the care and depth of work on his personal appearance is extreme, every thread laid just so by discipline. But where many of these, the faithful of Manks, would be expected to have great presence, this man seems almost humble. The dichotomy is oddly reassuring. Most clergy of the God of risk and service are consummate politicians and those meeting them brace for arrogance and the hard sell. At least they are always capable. Hopefully this man refrains from the former stereotype and indulges the latter. Signs are promising but only time will tell.

Shortly after the man enters a tiny fairy flits in hurriedly. It makes a graceful lazy spiral over the newcomer's head and trailing a slight shower of silver, almost metal-fire sparks, settles in a practiced way on the armored shoulder, its legs fitting neatly into grooves on the brooch holding the man's cape up. The brooch is large, almost 5 inches in diameter. Before the fairy sat on it, you saw a riot of human figures engaged in some fairly racy activity. You are amazed at the transformation. With the tiny fey in place the brooch and fairy together combine in form to resemble a rather beautiful lily blossom, common to the feywild, the Cinnamon Lily, a flower with two blooms that vary by gender. This one is male. None of this was an accident, you now realize. A faint whiff of cinnamon is indeed in the air ...

The man within the armor is no less well put together than his trappings. He is a little over 6 feet in height, with lanky black hair. He would certainly not be called a looker but his togetherness goes a long way towards making him presentable. In the dim light of the tents it is hard to make out the color of his eyes. In here they appear orange but perhaps that is reflected lantern light. You decide it must be so.

Man and fairy look around carefully taking in the tent and those present. First there is a curt acknowledgement of the elf soldier holding the door, as well as the greeting he offered. A moment passes. An admiring nod and polite half-bow to the beautiful furry eared girl is followed quickly by a offer for her hand. The proper formal greeting. If the young woman offers her hand there is a very correct near-kiss and a casual return to standing form as eyes meet eyes. The man says, "Kip Pickens, pleased to make your acquaintance! And this wondrous little fey that follows me is named Whit!" The cinnamon lily momentarily bows in greeting, resembling the almost wilting of the flower. How artistic! The man moves around the tent. Next to the anyone else around. For a man, only a healthy handshake and the repeat of the names, "Kip Pickens. And this is Whit." It is the same for those remaining with the actions based on gender. Always a steady eye to eye contact.

Eventually, greetings done, the priest takes a seat. One might expect a member of the faith to stand, waiting to make superior first impressions to the notables within the tent. This one apparently has not chosen to do so. His actions seem familiar, almost like he has been here before. Not bored. His face never registers that. But, accustomed is the word. Yes!

When the man takes his seat, the way he holds his staff changes. The weapon revealed is interesting. The woods within the staff are blended. There is red teak and rhododendron combined with touches of cinnabar and garnet. The whole effect melded to yield a staff taller than Kip is and fashioned to resemble a garnet boa. Beautiful!

Although his eyes never stop moving around the small tent, Kip remains poised and immobile himself. The effect is disconcerting. With the staff there and his seeming un-moving gaze, eerie. Like everyone else, Kip waits to see what will come ...



Leonard stared out into the darkness. There he saw nothing. He found nothing.

From the answers to life's questions, to simple sleep, he could find neither in that darkness.

"What am I doing here? I should just have her turn us around. I'm sure everyone would understand. Even if they don't, I could make up an excuse. I could be really convincing. They'd feel sorry for me. They'd think I missed out on what I was hoping for. I could get away with it. It could work. Why don't I just tell her to turn us around,"
he stayed there on the seat, alone in the dark, thinking to himself.

He had thought along these lines for a few hours straight, but he did not act on these thoughts. He just let the carriage keep rolling down the rocky, rarely traveled, dirt road. It was well in his power to stop the carriage. He could do it with just a few words. He just had to poke his head out the window, and call out to the driver. She might not even have questioned him. Even if she did, he could have just ignored her. She'd still have to listen to the order. If not that, he could make up a simple lie.

He could have told the truth, too. He could have told her that he was afraid and uncertain. He could have said that he feared for his life and mortal soul, that it was a sin to murder your fellow man, and that he didn't have the heart to be any part in it.
He could have confessed his weakness and begged for mercy, but instead, nothing. Nothing.

He just laid there alone in the dark as the carriage rocked down the trail. He let it carry him along the path others had set out for him. Just like he always did.

Suddenly, he heard a knocking from the driver's seat outside the carriage.

"Hey, come take a look... We're almost there!" the cheery, familiar voice called out to him. She was so young, so full of hope and wonder. Still very much a girl, and not a woman, and yet she too wanted to be a part in all of this. She too wanted to take up arms.

He did not respond. Earlier, he had told her he would try to get some sleep. Though, even if he wasn't lost in thought, he probably wouldn't be able to sleep with the carriage rocking so much from the crude road. If you could even call it a road. Still, he could pretend to be asleep. He didn't want to answer. She might hear his voice crack and tremble, if he did.

"Aw, come on... You sleeping? Ya just got to see this! It's huge! Bigger than the estate... Bigger than the castle, even... Bigger than the biggest- ...oh hey look! A big pig!" she called out to him again. Of course the Ridgar keep was bigger than the castle of the small fiefdom that they were from. After all, it had its famed tower, the Star's Rise, but what was she saying about a pig? He sat up and dried his tears, as he pulled back the curtain. The light caused him to wince, as he shielded his eyes, but they soon adjusted. There he first saw the keep in the distance. Magnificent. Breath taking.

"Big pig! Big pig!" she cheered, whipping up the reins as she did. The celestial warhorse drawing the carriage complained with a snort, but the majestic beast had long gotten used to the antics of the childish woman. The man in the carriage peaked his head out the window to take a look, and sure enough, there was the big pig... Er... a large boar... On it, a dwarf rider.

He could say it to her now. Turn us around. It'd be as easy as that. She'd complain and question for sure, but she'd do it.

He said nothing.

"Aww man, that's a big pig~" she looked back to him with a smile. She might notice that he had been crying. He became self conscious, but if he went to wipe his eyes now it would just draw more attention to it... So he just forced a smile onto his face... Though weakly.

"Y-you're bored... Aren't you?"
he asked trying to sound friendly. Trying and failing. He hoped she didn't notice his voice tremble. She probably noticed.

"...Ya could tell?" she responded with much forced enthusiasm. It had been a long uneventful drive, and she was close to losing her mind from boredom. He retreated back inside the carriage, instead of having a conversation with her.

The celestial warhorse began to overtake the boar. Its shape was that of a mighty steed, but if you were to look upon its body, it would feel like you were star gazing. The mystical creature's form was made up a semi-transparent dark blue mass and all through out its body were many countless stars. Or at least what looked like stars. Its body was like a window to the cosmos, and yet it otherwise seemed to function like a normal horse, pulling a carriage. The carriage itself, was painted black with gold accents. The sharp contrasting details, screamed decadence. On its four corners of its roof, it had four small lanterns hanging on it. So it could be properly seen, and admired, even at night while moving through the busy city streets. It was destined for high society and night life, not roughing it in no man's land, besides a boar. It certainly should not have been driven by a child at the very least.

The driver was a young woman who was tall and thin, with not much curves to speak of. If you brought it up, she would argue that she's still growing, even though she was already seventeen. Her skin was fair, which was a nice way of saying pale. Her hair was dark black, like a raven or a duck. A black duck. More so like a duck. She kept it short and manageable, in a bob cut. She made up for what she lacked in terms of maturity, with an overabundance of cheer and spirit. She wore a royal blue uniform with a plated skirt and a big blue, silk bow around her collar. She waved with her entire arm to the big pig, and the dwarf riding on top as they passed. The passenger inside the carriage had already drawn the curtains shut.



"Heh. If by the good old days you mean the time where I wanted to go with an expedition to an old library, and you got bored, drank half their mead, and started singing 'I've got two legs', than I really hope you aren't right." he said, gaining a small smile on his face as he sat on his bunny. Seeing something interesting at the side of the road, he said "You go on ahead, I see something interesting." (I need some way to take them apart so that the other people's posts are correct)

As he went back to the road, the thing that he had found was just a weird type of bug, nothing all too special, he let Fel Bunny start running. "Come on. I don't want the little guy to put everyone against us already." And Fel Bunny hopped, yes, hop he did. He made jumps of at least 30 feet, if not more. He passed some type of carriage, but as he wasn't into nobles, he didn't really look at them.

When he arrived at the camp, in one fluid motion he
as this isn't the game yet, I don't need an acrobatics check!
jumped off his mount, let go of the magic that made his rabbit that Large, and summoned the small iron dwarf construct, which looked like a parody on Jared.

"Come on, Fella, let's get inside." he said, dropping his smile as he nodded to the greeter and went inside the tent.

"Good day, you all." he said, bowing slightly to the group of people that had already gathered inside, before sitting down next to his friend. Fel Bunny jumped onto his lap, and he put his feet up and placed them on the shoulders of the Iron Cohort.

Some moments later, Jared bursts into the tent. He sees Q to the side and speaks to him "Ye could'a tol me ye we're comin ahead! Bah!" he said as he knocked Qs feet from the Iron Cohort "First I get crossed by t'elf, then outsped by t'carriage. Not good t'Rage's morale y'know?" he sits down next to the elf, as a boar enters the tent and sits down by the dwarf's feet. He continues to grumble, looking sideways at the elf, but his grumbles are indecipherable.




 

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