Going Away for Awhile [Merlana, Gauss, mzipser, MzNurse, ShadowRidley]

"Some maps would be helpful. Particularly ones of Astan, Sudren, and Merui and whatever information you have on River Forge," Layna says. "I think any of us could get us to Merui after all our trips to the mine, but none of us knows where River Forge is or anything about the city or Merui. We sort of made a point to avoid people on our trips to the mine."

"Plus," she adds, "it would be helpful to know what towns are along the way so we can avoid them or seek provisions as necessary. Knowing the whereabouts of Astan's army and their movements would be helpful as well, since I highly doubt the Crocus would want us 'volunteering' for Astan's army."

"And we were debating just how long this endeavor is expected to take, and whether or not it is sensible and practical to use horses," the woman continues, obviosuly workign through some of the possibilities and pitfalls of the plan they had been bantering about. "With the seasons beginning to turn, I suspect we should be able to make it just about anywhere in Merui before the snow falls," a distasteful inflection can be heard in her voice at the mention of snow, "but I don't see how we could make it back before spring and not draw attention to ourselves."

The halfling nods with a wry smile. "You will always get your maps, Layna. As for duration, I expect you will likely winter over in River Forge--it will take the better part of a month to get there even on horseback, and by then the snow is sure to be falling. On the good side, that means the imperial army will be hunkering down and not attacking the city.

"To the specifics of the city and nation, I agree that a guide would be most useful. And it is fortunate that we have an experienced operative who can join you on this mission. I will see to it that she joins you as soon as possible."

Astaban listens to Layna and the halfling speak, nodding as the halfling completes his speech.

Astaban thinks for a second, and then begins, "Well, if the expectation is that we are going to be spending the winter in Merui, then I think this helps to simplify matters. In that case, I would suggest that we travel there by foot. This would allow us," he says as he looks at Tobie, "to use as a cover story that we are fleeing from the front lines between Merui and Astan. Certainly, given the time of year, people coming into River Forge from the front lines will be expected, to seek shelter during the winter months."

"I know that traveling by foot will be more difficult, and will require us to be more resourceful on our trip, but I tend to think that, if we are to execute our cover story effectively, the horses would raise too many questions that we would have difficulty answering. In addition, given the length of time that we are expected to be away, we would have to find resources for ourselves in Merui anyway; providing for us and the horses would only increase our burden."

Astaban pauses for a moment, takes in a breath, and then continues, "I agree that we probably need multiple cover stories, or at least a different story for once we are in River Forge. Perhaps we could ask our... guide as to whether it would be feasible for us to be agents for the Merui Army in gathering supplies for the army? We should also ask our guide if there are jobs in River Forge which could permit us to travel to the other cities of the realm, as necessary."

"Walking all the way", Karn says with a sigh, "That sounds like fun. If my uncle knew about that , it would give him a good laugh."

He takes another drink and then continues, "I don't think we want to come up with a bunch of different stories. The simpler the lie and the closer to the truth, the better. Less likely to accidentally trip your self up or for us to get caught contradicting ourselves."

He smiles, "Not that I know anything about that, of course. Just what I've heard."

The halfling smiles ever-so-slightly. "If there are no further questions, I'll go pry your guide free from her... indulgences." The handler's nose wrinkles a bit as he heads for the door.

Con...conck...comcraditch....? Dun you guys know no easy words? Tobie asked. She looked at Layna and Asataban. An' do ya allays gotta give long speeches? Ya'd think yas was judges or summin. She looked back at Karn. Dunno what tha' long word is, but iffen yer talkin' bout mixin' up yer stories by havin' too many, yer right. Tha's why ya gotta keep it easy. Stick ta jus' one iffen ya can.

"Agreed, if we are to be gone that long, horses will be a large burden," Layna agrees. "The horses the Crocus uses seem to be rather well trained, so perhaps we could borrow some to ride for a while, then when we get too close to the Astan army, we can release them to return home.... if the boss doesn't object. I really don't want to be caught in a snowstorm, so the sooner we get to River Forge the better." Layna seems notably distressed by the possibility of snow, quite odd for a ranger.

Turning to address Karn, Layna comments "Simple is always better, but we need to make sure that if we only have one story that it works in all cases... or someone is really good at telling the stories. That's certainly not me."

"For myself, I could easily pass for a woodland forager," she says. "I can find just about anything in the woods, and those skills wouldn't be all that interesting to an army; or at least not as interesting as my ability to shoot a bow or wield a sword." After a brief pause she adds with a bit of concern, "But then does that mean I must go weaponless? I'd hate to leave my weapon's behind. Something tells me we're going to need them."

Astaban listens as Karn, Tobie, and Layna speak. "True, I had forgotten about the... training of the Crocus horses. Taking them, at least part of the way, would certainly lessen the burden on us in getting to River Forge. Perhaps if we knew where the front lines were, we could steer our way around it, and maybe send the horses back."

He thinks for a second, then adds, "I would agree that one story would make it easier to move around the realm, the story would need to be flexible enough. Perhaps we could be merchants looking to provide for the Merui armies?"

"Would only work once we get into Merui, and much our journey will be in Astan and possibly Astan occupied Sudern," Layna responds to Astaban. "And if we are merchants, don't we need goods to sell?"

"Will the maps have the current location of Astan's forces marked," Layna calls after the halfling as he goes to leave the room.

Well...Iffen ya'll is rich folks, then ya need a guide, right? Guess that'd be me, seein' as ain't no way I'd be mistook fer no rich folk. But yer fergittin' summin, dontcha think? Coupla summins, mebbe?


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