The old man is satisfied.
It's been a hard few days, but the amount of progress from these few strangers gives him hope that they may be able to attract others and serve his true purpose-- which lies in the ruins not far away. The deep woods that line the clearing this little band has formed hide long-forgotten secrets that he just needs a little bit of time and cooperation to uncover. Then the area he senses he'll remember can be restored-- and with it, his connection to the time before the Collapse.
"It's a fine barracks, @Kjelfalconer
The old man looks the lodge up and down as @Boomvang
emerges from within. Both men beam.
"In time, we should establish separate residences, but it's good for us to be safe for now. @Darggie
should be back from his scouting in no time, and we should assemble in the courtyard this evening. It's time to outline a plan and welcome newcomers to our little bluff stronghold."
He chuckles at this. The wooden barricades they've erected around the outskirts of their few buildings hardly qualify as a stronghold, but they sleep a little better than they did those first few nights. Certainly better than the night @Evilteddy
took on that ravenous bear as they huddled around the fire. Thank goodness for Embers
, he thinks to himself.
A few buildings are still going up, among them a blacksmith and a tavern as well as a tower. He keeps his few special belongings in the barracks, with the others, but the chest he keeps out in plain sight, in the middle of the courtyard.
The group of strangers have become friends, despite varied backgrounds as distinct as his and @Docgeo
's, and this is what the old man wants-- they will need a bond to overcome the days ahead.
As soon as the group shares their various progress in and around the outpost, it's time to share the quest.
"What colour fur does the bear have?" he asked suddenly, to a moment of confusion. "What? It's not like I can tell. Blind, remember?" There was an awkward pause. "I... did mention that, didn't I? No? Ah." He lifted the brim of his hat, usually obscuring his eyes. "I have no idea what they look like, but the last person to see them screamed. So I keep them covered." It was easy to see why. A brand covered his eyeline, as though tatooed in a fiery orange ink, without stopping for the eyeballs. He slid the hat back into place. "So where were we?"
We've found some odd metals on the outskirts of the outpost, near in the forest, and @Darggie has a special eye out as he scouts for veins of metal or useable detritus. Let's hope he returns with more materials for you to use as we build. Reinforcement of the walls and tools will be needed for us to prepare our living space here."
The forge is coming along, and seems days from use. If the blind blacksmith has skills, he will be invaluable for the survival of the Outpost.
"And I appreciate your patience as I've determined your intentions and a time to share our purpose. Your wait is at an end, and we will begin in earnest upon @darggie's return."
I'll SMITE you
While exploring he uncovered a few underground passages, torches and sconces dried out due to the years of isolation, and an unusual stench creeping up around him.
Deciding against exploration at this time, Darggie heads back to report his findings and check out how the progress is going back at the camp.
"Yes, yes. That sounds like the place. We are indeed nearby the focus of our purpose."
"Our purpose?" @Kjelfalconer steps forward, rubbing his blackened hands on his smith's apron. "You've had me churning out these strange posts, and I don't know what they're for. The time for mystery is over-- let's hear this purpose of yours."
"You're right, Kjel, and I apologize for my cryptic words early on." The wizard gestures broadly. "You are all either exiles or adventurers, new to this land and wondering what dangers and profits it might have for you. To you it is a wild, untamed place, with only the every here-and-there outpost like ours dotting the coast. I knew it as something very different. Something regal. Something special."
@docgeo perks up at this and nods at @Soxrobin. His story could use a good next chapter.
"This ruin that our scout has found holds within it a key-- not the key-- but a key to bringing this land back to its former glory. The stories you've heard of beasts in the inner reaches of this place-- chaotic things, magic things, dragons-- they're true. And it's not just beasts. There are intellects. Many intellects who've crossed over and overrun this continent for their own purposes.
Thankfully, the ruins nearby haven't been found by the ones with organized intent. But it sounds like the chaotic ones have, if the stench @Darggie mentioned is as thick as he described. I'm guessing it's a Fledgling, but we'll have to see. Let's hope it is, because I imagine we'll be more than a match. If it's a Primordial, though, we will be in grave danger.
It's time to act. Will a few of you join me for a closer look?"
I'll SMITE you
He gets out his dagger and a whetstone and starts sharpening the blade. "If I know what to expect, I can be scouting out a few minutes ahead and make sure everything is safe."
"I'll need to get changed though. This is hardly adventuring gear."
"Now then, these ruins you found, they were once the Seat of House Regal, an organized city-state that held influence over this entire area. They were also one of the architects of the Collapse, but not by intention. If my memory holds, deep within its bowels lies the knowledge of the first Summons, but I don't know what form that knowledge takes... or if it's still there untouched.
What I do know is that we will have to be prepared if in fact a Chaotic has taken this place for his own. If it is a Fledgling, we're dealing with something like a sleeping bear. It won't actively pursue us unless threatened. If threatened, it will rip a man in half. As ridiculous as this sounds, that's not what I'm worried about. I'm worried about the presence of a Primordial. A Fledgling eventually takes on aspects of its surroundings as it ages into a Primordial. It adopts features from flora and fauna, using its environment to grow in size and power. Unfortunately, it also becomes more hostile, aggressive and unthinking.
As you said @Darggie, we'll need a plan, but I will share that as we venture out. Grab your gear and let's go. When you're ready, we'll depart..."
I'll SMITE you
"You will need two things on this expedition-- resolve and trust. The resolve I already see in you, but the trust needs to be in my memory and knowledge of what we'll encounter. If a Chaotic is indeed within these ruins, it will need to be overcome. Cast your mind for a moment."
And with that the wizard raises his hand, palm out over the group and an image enters their minds.
"Depending on the age of the beast, they will be bear sized... or house sized. In addition, if the Chaotic has moved from Fledgling to Primordial, their penchant for violence is increased. A lot. That said, are you still in this?"
I'll SMITE you
He looks around eyeing the people gathering together.
"Because getting it's attention isn't something I want to be doing for an extended period of time unless we are sure we can tackle the beast. Otherwise skirting around it may be a better option."
"I would't worry. The bigger something is, the more room it has for weak points. Though without encountering one for myself I'd only be hazarding guesses as to where. Shall we be off then? It won't kill itself." He paused. "I'll glean your name off you yet, you know."
"Well now-- let us be off!"
And off they go, a small band of explorers, intent on the quest for knowledge about the First Summons (whatever that means, @boomvang thinks to himself). True to his scouting, @darggie leads the group about a half-league into the wilderness before they come upon the ruins, but that's not where the wizard takes them in. Instead, he beckons to them to move around the outside of the toppled castle to the South, where a steep dropoff is traversed to find an opening in the side of the hill. Sconces line the entrance to whatever lies beyond, but they have the look of artifacts-- they haven't been used for ages.
The old man gestures subtly and a gust blows into the entrance. The sconces all light immediately as if they've been tended recently with good fuel. @Evilteddy looks suspicious and hesitates.
"Come on then-- I can sense the Chaotic, and he is not in our way. For now..." The wizard beckons to his friends and steps in.
I'll SMITE you
As they walk into the depths Evilteddy ponders to himself, "This group is way too optimistic about what a daemon hunt entails, then again I was too during my first hunt. Took thirty of us just to kill one lesser imp, and only 4 survived it, this party is far to small for such a task as we are about to face." Pausing to take another swig of ale, "How many years has it been since I last fought a daemon? Fifty, no judging by how long these ribs are taking to heal it has to be over one hundred years now. Well at the very least I should be able to collect a enough blood to make a gallon of Daemon's Blood Ale and restore myself once again. If we are really lucky and kill the beast I can use its heart to make much more Ale" Evilteddy grins darkly at the thought of making enough Daemon's Blood Ale to extend his life another hundred years or so. "But this @TheWizard worries me how does he know so much about the daemons? All of the other hunters I know of are long since dead, and none other who have drank the Ale have lived till morning. I need to keep a close eye on him, he is a dangerous man."
Drinking good beer!
Though trained in the art of stealth, beads of sweats still form on Joeky's forehead and is slowing streaming down stinging his eye occasionally. Twitching his eye in effort to brush off the sting did little help. Tasting sweat, Joeky's murmured :"I would have one hell of a time slicing you off" as he feel for his Kanata on his sides."1...2....3...4",Joeky counted, "YOU should be honoured that I brought my Trusty 4..."
Cloak in darkness, Joeky focus his every single step, feeling with his toes before forming a foothold. One wrong move and the element of surprise would be gone. Before he could take another step, Joeky felt movement from behind. Hair standing on its end, Joeky froze in his movement and slowly put his palm on the ground. Steadying his breathing and focusing on his inner Eye, Joeky count : "1,2,3,4,5,6...7, 7 Men..."
Are they after me or the Hunt? This is getting interesting...Joeky smile...