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 Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones

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The House of Ainsley
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Male Number of posts : 2006
Age : 45
Location : The Dark Heart of Bardosylvania

PostSubject: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Mon Jul 20, 2009 8:20 am




[Enter, Karnoz "Raven Murder" Tellen.]

[Karnoz is presently a Level 5 Rogue with all skills, Feats, equipment and other attributes as listed.]



In the Gilded Prince's Alehouse, village of Kurvoss, South-Central region of Former Karkova 220 miles north of the Lebeqi border
November 11, 1377 SE






The Gilded Prince. A misplaced name if ever there was.

Like a wretched, reeking skunkweed blooming in a poorly tended garden, the village of Kurvoss had blossomed and thrived with society's undesirables, many of them the war's cast-off paupers and commonfolk stooping to less honorable modes of survival. As it was, Kurvoss was just large enough to sustain two taverns for the sustenance and entertainment of locals and travellers alike: The Diseased Harlot Inn and the Gilded Prince's Alehouse.

Neither tavern was a very desirable place to be...but then, neither was the entirety of Kurvoss. Since the war, three local figures had all laid illegitimate claims to the office of the burgomaster, and all three of them were opportunist thugs and criminals. Such was the nature of the village, catching all of the lawless run-off from her larger and more orderly sibling to the northeast, Trock Reik.

There was something refreshing to the honesty of the Diseased Harlot's name; it was a lowly watering hole catering to cutthroats and vagrant beggars and other such scum, and the proprietor made no pretenses that his tavern was anything more noble than that. Not so with the Gilded Prince.

Borsa Halizt, owner and innkeeper of the Gilded Prince, tried to attract a nobler and wealthier crowd through pretenses that his alehouse was regal enough for the tastes of upper class visitors from Trock Reik, but a child could see that many of his regulars were the same skulkers, swindlers and harlots who filled the benches at the rival tavern. Age had revealed many of Halizt's devices; cheap gold paint on many a sconce or fixture had chipped and pealed to reveal the crude brass beneath, and the "imported Borsa Rock" wine could be readily identified by any learned palate as Rini's Pride--a cheap local blackberry wine, and one often diluted with common well water at that.

Still, the Gilded Prince did commonly succeed in attracting people who, like the tavern itself, aspired to aristocracy and had no qualms against donning the airs of such class. One such pretender was the peddler, Yorgo Pavamoski...or simply "Yorgo" to those he favored. Yorgo was a humble merchant with two mules, a wagon and a mob's worth of minor contacts, suppliers and regular buyers throughout the central region of former Karkova. Yet in his mind it was enough influence to annoint himself with the title of merchant-prince, a station which he claimed and portrayed with everyone he met. Including the shady character seated across the table from him.

Behind him towered Ballarg, the burly bodyguard whom Yorgo kept near at hand. Yorgo seemed to believe his own pretenses, that every shadow concealed a bandit waiting to stalk and rob such a powerful "merchant-prince" as himself. No self-respecting robber would stoop to stealing the cheap junk and common wares that Yorgo hawked as precious imports...but then, Kurvoss' filthy and desperate bandits were rarely the self-respecting sort. Perhaps Yorgo did well to keep Ballarg--and Ballarg's greataxe--at his shoulder wherever he went. With a perpetually narrow stare and bared arms thick with powerful musculature, Ballarg cut an intimidating profile, an image from which his axe detracted nothing. Were the brown flecks on the crudely honed bits rust, or were they old blood? Ballarg wasn't saying. He stood stoically, his hands at his hips, watching the entire tavern interior as Yorgo discussed business with his "guest".

"The rabbit stew...I fear that it could use but a hint more of oregano, yes?" the merchant puffed over his simmering terra cotta bowl, the meat of which may or may not have been entirely rabbit. "I hope that your stew is more to your liking; I spare little expense with my potential partners, you see. So...Raven Murder, was it?"

A curt nod greeted his querry from across the table, followed by a quick glance over his shoulder. One could never be too careful in Kurvoss, with any number of enemies who might be listening with hungry ears.

Yorgo sniffed with a slight smile, idly rolling the wine around in a simple brass goblet. "Such a name, such a name...it leaves no doubt about what you are and what you do, yes? Now, I for one have heard little of you or your reputation, but...the more renowned thieves and assassins were unavailable, I fear...."

...Or, more likely, demanded prices well beyond what this ditchwater fop could pay, Karnoz silently considered.

"...so I have elected to give you a...an opportunity to prove your talents to me and, by extension, to the community of merchants and merchant-princes at large. And in this opportunity, I have been betrayed by a former procurer who, I am told, took both the rare crystal bowl which I had sent him to buy for me and the gold which I had given him for the bowl's purchase. Now, this large bowl was masterfully cut from the purest white beryl by the dwarves of the Dunkelfestung Mountains in Brustagg, and Hennbauer, my trusted parter of so many years, abscounded with my gold and my bowl as a common cutpurse would, yes. I simply cannot let this insult...this violation against my station and my trust to go unanswered or unpunished."

A loud, sibilant sip finished the last draught of Yorgo's cheap red wine. Setting his goblet to rest atop the yellowing white linen of the aged tablecloth, he regarded Karnoz with a wry, thin-lipped smirk and a twitch of his long, beaky nose.

"Do I have your ear thus far, my good Raven Murder?"


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GoldenDrakon
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:44 am

Karnoz listened as he spooned up the stew, chewing at a fatty piece of 'rabbit' meat. He more suspected that one of the local mutts had gone missing from its hovel, but he really didn't care. Meat was meat to an empty belly after all.

"Raven's fine." he said, plopping his spoon back into the nearly empty bowl. "Just Raven. I don't run around calling you 'Yorgo Peddler' now do I?"

The foppish trinket merchant had already irritated him, although in truth, most people irritated him just by breathing, but this particular twit irritated him with his airy manors and downward-looking nose.

But when opportunity knocks, you open the door.

"But you are right," Karnos said, slipping in before Yorgo could comment on the slight. "I do not make any pretense about my business and you have my interest. Surely such a violation of your trust would call for... compensation."

His eyes held Yorgo's for a brief moment. "Or did you want 'justice'?"

_________________
"I can fire your blood with passion or leave you sick with bile and revulsion. I raise heroes from the masses and send them to lay low kings and warlords. I will take you to exotic, far-away places, only to leave you in darkness and dispair. I can show you wonderous treasures beyond your wildest dreams, and terrors to freeze your soul."

"Who am I? I'm your StoryTeller."
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The House of Ainsley
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:15 am

"What I want," Yorgo scowled, leaning forward over the table, "is retribution. The kind of retribution that the people of the law cannot provide. I must continue to buy and sell and gather my coins, yes, and I cannot do that if my...trusted associates are fleecing me with every chance, yes?"

He settled into his broadbacked redwood chair again, reaching noisily into a pouch of coins concealed under his vest. Ballarg, conditioned through his service to Yorgo, promptly craned his thick, balding head, his eyes scouring the room and watching the other tavern dwellers intensely.

"What I want is the stolen bowl, safely returned to my grasp. I also want Hennbauer's life drawn to a very sudden close. I wish to be...respected for my firm handling of betrayers, and Hennbauer's demise will convey such a message to others who would consider stealing from me and punishing my generosity. It is a reasonable measure to take, yes?"

Karnoz could clearly see, at that moment, where Yorgo stood on the great divide between vice and virtue.

"He is no man of great import, merely a common runner and provider of goods. However, unless he has already moved on, he is in the bosom of the law...more precisely, the Bard and Fox inn in Trock Reik, if one of his former cohorts was not deceitful in her forced testimony. Hennbauer probably chose an inn so near the river docks in anticipation of hiring a shoal boat bound for the coast, yes. Now, the inn should not be so near the mayoral palace that the mayor's Stali Muěčinami will pose any threat to any questionable sorts slinking about in search of a certain inn guest, but with so many guards from the inn and the City Watch marching about, I dare not entrust such a task to any lesser man and am willing to pay accordingly...let us say, thirty DesyŠtka of good platinum--or 300 golden Ruble, if you would prefer--to help commence your journey now, and 170 DesyŠtka more upon your return. Bring the bowl and, as proof of the deed, a portion sundered from Hennbauer's form...a tongue, an ear, a hand, a head...I care not. I only wish to ensure that Hennbauer can never betray me or any other good merchant-prince again."

A small pile of platinum coins fell from Yorgo's meaty hand and clapped atop the alestained table, followed by clinking and clattering as several more DesyŠtkas were drawn from his vest and added to the pile.

"Perhaps you would consider such a fee for such a task to be...agreeable, yes?"


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GoldenDrakon
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Sun Aug 02, 2009 12:43 pm

Karnoz listened and watched the merchant's reactions. There was genuine heat in his words and he wondered if there might be more to this story causing Yorgo's displeasure. Not that it really mattered to Karnoz, a contract was a contract, but...such intuition might be useful if played correctly......

"Retrieve the bowl and ensure that Hennbauer's last hours are spent asking for your mercy and forgiveness. Then end him with your name the final thing he ever hears in this world."
He leaned in a bit, the soft lilt of his voice stroking Yorgo's pride as he continued. " Yes indeed, a suitable retribution to be sure, and one in which should cement your reputation as ...one to be dealt with honestly. Surely the reputation a Merchant Prince would rightfully desire."

"All this I can do for you...for thirty-five DesyŠtka."

_________________
"I can fire your blood with passion or leave you sick with bile and revulsion. I raise heroes from the masses and send them to lay low kings and warlords. I will take you to exotic, far-away places, only to leave you in darkness and dispair. I can show you wonderous treasures beyond your wildest dreams, and terrors to freeze your soul."

"Who am I? I'm your StoryTeller."
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The House of Ainsley
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Thu Aug 06, 2009 8:33 am

(Secret dice roll)



Steepling his fingers over the table's edge, Yorgo's frowning eyes drifted across the ceiling in consideration. Two silent moments later, his hands left the table and snake the whispering vest again. For the grimace which creased his lips as five more platinum coins slid to the center of the table, he may as well have been tearing away clumps of his own hair rather than parting with five more DesyŠtkas.

"So," Yorgo continued none too abruptly, "the man you seek, by name, is Hennbauer. As it was said, he is at the Bard and Fox near the river docks of Trock Reik. You will know the Konegheimer by the deep scarlet tailcoat which, I would swear, never leaves the man's shoulders; the tailcoat is wyvernhide--or so he claims--and he prizes it greatly. Whether that is because he sought and bargained far and wide for it or because he had a hand in slaying the beast whose skin provided his coat, I cannot say.

"Should that insight be not enough aid, Hennbauer has hair of golden blond and he keeps it long enough to fall about his shoulders; he does such to hide the absence of his left ear, which, I am told, was the price of another fouled deal he had made with...unscrupulous sorts in his history, yes. The women fawn about him for his charming face and his ample gold; kindly ensure that they fawn for him no longer. Such plays of attention sicken me to my gullet, yes."

Two ragged young paupers shuffled in through the northward door at that moment, their humbled faces meeting the displeasure of the burly doorman who moved forth to intercept them. Ballarg snorted softly as he surveyed the happening, while Yorgo's eyes never left his new business associate or the platinum piled between them.

"So," Yorgo resumed, setting his goblet to the corner of the table near his hand, "thirty-five DesyŠtka now, and one-hundred seventy more should Hennbauer part with the bowl and breathe his last, yes. What more would you need of me, my good Raven?"


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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Sat Aug 08, 2009 8:12 am

Karnoz reached out and with thin, nimble fingers began to collect the coins on the table, making them vanish into pockets about his person.

"We have an agreement." he said with the same tone he would have used if asking for another spoon for his soup.

In his mind's eye, he was already gathering an idea of who this Hennbauer was and what might be happening here and he wondered what else might be gleaned from Yorgo.

"So this former cohort, this woman who has tipped you off, she wouldn't happen to be a jilted lover would she? A woman scorned by Hennbauer's womanizing ways perhaps?"

"Tell me about her. Why would she be so willing to betray a former partner to you?"

_________________
"I can fire your blood with passion or leave you sick with bile and revulsion. I raise heroes from the masses and send them to lay low kings and warlords. I will take you to exotic, far-away places, only to leave you in darkness and dispair. I can show you wonderous treasures beyond your wildest dreams, and terrors to freeze your soul."

"Who am I? I'm your StoryTeller."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Sun Aug 09, 2009 5:26 pm

(Karnoz gains 35 Platinum.)



"Hmmm, yes," Yorgo sniffed with a slight leer. "She was no lover of his, merely a friend. And Hennbauer, skulking coward that he is, would not show his face after he had abscounded with my bowl, so he sent his henchwoman to...put a most final end to my pursuit of him. But Ballarg and I can be incredibly persuasive individuals, yes, given ideal circumstances. Not only did she stop trying to kill me, but she also gave up his location...well, not after a prolonged spell of negotiating, you might say."

A sinister smile crept from one end of Yorgo's lips to the other as he raked together another spoonful of stew. Ballarg, quietly recalling that invoked time, smiled idly to himself in following, though his smile was sudden, unsubtle and decidedly ogreish.

"We were in a hurry, you might say, so we hadn't even time to loose the poor woman from her bonds! I simply had Ballarg row her across the river and leave her among the hills, minus a few bits and pieces, yes. She may still be there, or she may not. Vorog can have the little dagger-flinging wench, for what I care."

Vorog the Embattled. Karnoz readily recalled the local tale of the old warrior-mage who gathered an army to usurp the Karkovan throne only a century before. But, as the legend goes, Vorog realized that he would expire from his life long before he could gather an army as large as he had wanted. And so, through his formidable command over sorcery, he made a pact with forces from beyond. In a dark ritual he sacrificed himself, the raven who had served as his own familiar and four bawling babes and toddlers abducted from the neighboring hovels and farmlands to pay his tribute to the gift of eternal exemption from death. His dark pact completed in full, he then returned from death in the dessicated husk that had once been his body, with a rune-scribed ring of seared brass containing the essence of the soul he once had.

But the dark powers saw fit to give Vorog more than he had bargained for. The black phantasmal snares from his necromantic ritual raced outward in unearthly fury, ensnaring his army of brigands and slaying them to the last one. And then, in a macabre display, the dead began to rise. Realizing what they had become...what had befallen them for the sake of one man's lust for power, two-thirds of Vorog's army drew arms and turned against him, seeking to avenge their own deaths at his hands.

Through sword, magic and what undead remnants of his army chose to stand with him in that fateful hour, Vorog defended himself against the onslaught. Desperately seeking a chokepoint through which to funnel the overwhelming numbers of turncoats, he and his cohorts withdrew into an abandoned watchtower, against which the battle raged mightily.

By sunrise Vorog stood alone at the tower's pinnacle. The tower's throat and the adjoined cellar and barracks teemed with the torn and scattered remains of the undead, yet Vorog alone had triumphed. Claiming the tower as his new home, Vorog set about the task of gathering a new army of undead, ensuring that steps would be taken to bind them to his will and instill their loyalty. More and more Karkovan folk disappeared from the surrounding countryside, and then Vorog's covetous hands reached across the river into squalid Kurvoss.

Across the following century, many heroes threw themselves at the lair of Vorog the Embattled. But none returned alive, save one. Of the last band of heroes and fortune hunters striking one final raid into the dread lair twelve years prior, one dying man-at-arms returned, black poison racing through his veins. Swimming across the river and staggering from the water into the main street of Kurvoss, the warrior Luvis Paskievo fell to his knees and thrust his bloodied hand skyward, bearing a single skeletal finger in his grasp. And bedecking the sundered finger was a ring of dark brass, its etched circle of runes scintillating with an unholy red radiance.

"He is finished!" Luvis bellowed in agony as he clapped the ring to the pavestones, then split it in twain with a stone-cracking chop from his battle axe. The ring exploded with a bright scarlet flash and a screech from beyond, a screech loud enough to quake and crack the nearest windows within their panes. And then Luvis fell dead, his lips bowing with a smile of perfect contentment as he passed from this world.

But on many a moonlit night since, a lone figure has been seen pacing the pinnacle of the desolate watchtower, regarding the green fields of Karkova with two pinpricks of pale light set in a hungry, skeletal gaze. But if Vorog yet survived, he had grown far less ambitious than he had been twelve years ago, for he never set foot outside his tower since the destruction of his ring....

All the same, the notion of seeking Hennbauer's bound and tortured accomplice among the hills west of the river seemed unappealing. Intruding into an undead sorcerer's domain was not without grave risks, however crippled the sorcerer may have been since Luvis' attack.

"So, then," Yorgo blurted in finishing another slurp of his stew, leading Karnoz from his contemplation. "It pleases me that we have found an agreement, good Raven. How else may I be of help before you depart for Trock Reik, hmmm?"


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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Mon Aug 10, 2009 10:02 am

"What was her name? Describe her." Karnoz asked, keeping his voice and features impassive. In his mind, Karnoz simply snorted at the fop-merchant. His dealing with this woman accomplice was sloppy and stupid. Then again, if not for the shallow courage, outrageous pride and bruised egos of idiots like Yorgo, honest knifemen like Karnoz would have a much more difficult time getting paid for their services.

"Do you have anything of hers that I might have? A knife, a comb, a ribbon, anything at all?" Karnoz inquired. Yorgo's account did not square up in his mind, but the love trysts of his current mark was only a passing curiosity....for now. He wanted to understand this Hennbauer and his styles. All the better when hunting him.

"What opposition will I be facing? Does Hennbauer have skill with a sword? magic? poisons? What did he procure for you? Was this woman his only lackey he might press into fighting for him?"

_________________
"I can fire your blood with passion or leave you sick with bile and revulsion. I raise heroes from the masses and send them to lay low kings and warlords. I will take you to exotic, far-away places, only to leave you in darkness and dispair. I can show you wonderous treasures beyond your wildest dreams, and terrors to freeze your soul."

"Who am I? I'm your StoryTeller."
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The House of Ainsley
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:43 am

The pressing questions increasingly troubled Yorgo, but he kept his composure as well as he could. "If you must know, her name was Anyaska; I never overheard her surname in Hennbauer's presence, and I cannot be certain if that is the name of her birth, no. But it is as Hennbauer addressed her, and I suppose that is enough.

"As for her possessions...we might have claimed a few trinkets from her person during the interrogation, yes. It's not as if she would be needing them, true? Besides, that brass ring on her finger was so infernally tight; the duress she suffered at the ring's removal was but the penalty she paid in her reluctance to help us...."

"But Boss," Ballarg uttered, choosing that moment to break his silence, "you said that I could have the ring! For my dearie, remember?"

Yorgo shrugged away his guardian's concerns. "Oh, those inscriptions make the ring most unworthy of your lady, Ballarg. If Raven wishes to claim the ring as part of his advance pay, then I can simply add a few more rubles to your pouches tomorrow."

With a resigned roll of his eyes, Ballarg settled against the wall again, watching the wriggling mass of tavern dwellers as intently as he had before.

Yorgo attended Karnoz' last questions patiently. "As for Hennbauer's aides, three of his other cohorts have recently departed for a coastal town in Brustagg, handling some trade or another; they were to rejoin Hennbauer at a millhouse along the Zelezo Canvica delta in three weeks' time, so it is safe to assume that they will not be hereabouts for quite some time, yes. Hennbauer himself is more a trader than a warrior; he knows where all the artifacts and rare goods can be dug up, purchased or sold, which has made him a valuable partner in our history. He is more a scoundrel than a warrior; what skirmishes he has faced in the past...let us say that he is more the type to leap out of the shadows, stab whatever has distressed him in the kidneys and slip away into the shadows before the thug or beastie claims his head. I did see him read a mystic scroll to summon up a grand feast for our party once, but I have witnessed no other such command over magic from him, no. Those blasted poisoned darts of his are a far greater concern than any magical jiggery-pokery he may hurl at you, yes. He used to keep a giant centipede in a jar for just that purpose...that is, until his cart rolled into a ditch and broke the jar, and the blasted creature escaped.

"So my guess was that he may try to hire some lackeys from the rabble of Trock Reik before he departs on his riverboat, or he may save time and simply keep himself from being too blatant a presence. And I hope that he has not sold away my bowl before you can find him, oh no...."


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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Thu Aug 27, 2009 8:25 am

Karnoz rolled the ring between his thumb and forefinger, inspecting it for a moment before making it vanish into his clothing. He reached out and finished the last of his drink before standing.

"I will meet you back here in three or four days time." he said. "Five at the most, when the deed is done."

**(Appraise the ring)**

Seeing if there was nothing else, Karnoz offered a curt nod of his head and departed the alehouse, looking to determine the best options for getting to Trock Reik quickly.

_________________
"I can fire your blood with passion or leave you sick with bile and revulsion. I raise heroes from the masses and send them to lay low kings and warlords. I will take you to exotic, far-away places, only to leave you in darkness and dispair. I can show you wonderous treasures beyond your wildest dreams, and terrors to freeze your soul."

"Who am I? I'm your StoryTeller."
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The House of Ainsley
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Sun Aug 30, 2009 9:39 am

(Karnoz - Appraise check (DC 5): Success (22))


The ring's outer surface bore the relief of a braided trio of vines, the tiny ivy leaves carefully set against the ring and not protruding in any way. The inner surface sported a mostly alien inscription in the flowing script of what seemed to be the tongue of the elves; though Karnoz thought that he recognized the Elven word for "pact" among the flowing words of the engraved script, the ring's text was otherwise indecipherable. Though brass was hardly a remarkable metal for jewelry, the craftsmanship and sculpting of the ring would likely fetch a sum of around five silver GrŪvenniks...half a Ruble, if the right jeweler could be found, but likely not more than that.

"Happily, our sister city is not so far away," Yorgo smiled, lifting his goblet in a mock toast. "I will expect your return nearer to three days, I should think, and will grow greatly distressed if you tarry for longer than that. Your reputation will surely blossom with your expediency, yes. May your strikes be always true, good Raven."

With no more words, Yorgo returned to stuffing himself with weak wine and weaker stew, beckoning to the barmaid with a frantic wave of his empty goblet. And even as he made his way to the door, Karnoz could feel Ballarg's suspicious eyes all but burning holes in his back. A backwards glance confirmed Karnoz's expectation, and Ballarg greeted Karnoz's returning gaze with a mirthless nod of understanding.

Perhaps he would one day have the pleasure of burying his blades in that oaf's kidneys, the murderous scoundrel considered....

With but a few miles between Kurvoss and Trock Reik, Karnoz could easily make the trek on foot in under an hour. But other means of travel remained. Luvis' Way, the river road of Kurvoss was named in honor of the hero Luvis Paskievo, and it bristled with a dozen docks to which were moored twice as many small boats. River travel would be easier on the soles but, with the fork between the rivers spreading so far to the north, the journey would take considerably more time.

Not far east along the main street leading from the city, a lean pottery merchant removed the feedbags from his two roan draft horses, then walked around and set the feedbags in the wagon to which the beasts were yoked. With his wagon laden with so many pots, jugs and jars, he was likely departing for his trade route soon. A young dwarf, bald of pate and ruddy of skin, stood on the ricketty wagon's tail and worked at drawing a thick sheet of burlap across the wagon bed, the better to cover and protect the wares. Between the merchant's sheathed short blade and the simple woodsman's axe lashed across the dwarf's back, the two were poorly armed. But then, it would seem that pottery holds so little attraction for thieves and bandits.

And at the mouth of Kurvoss, a weathered old mule idly gnawed at the fence post to which it was tethered. The beast of burden was poorly kept and ungroomed, its mane matted and crudely cut, its black and coarsely wrinkled hide littered with brambles and numerous patches of hairless skin. The mule looked unfit to last another winter, but the threadbare cloth saddle suggested that its absent and neglectful owner was not quite ready to cast the mule aside just yet.

"Pardon me, sir," a fur-swathed fisherman uttered in brushing past Karnoz. A tip of his rabbit fur cap punctuated his salutation, as the waving birch rod which bent and swayed with the weight of eleven smelly river carp punctuated his departure. The streets of Kurvoss were not quite thick with travellers and wanderers at this hour, but they were hardly forlorn either.


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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Wed Sep 02, 2009 4:17 am

Almost with an unconsious thought, Karnoz 'accidently' stepped out while looking quizzically at the pottery wagon, and bumped against the fisherman.

**Pick Pockets** (and make sure he didn't just clip mine!)

"Pardon me, sir," the fur-swathed fisherman uttered in brushing past Karnoz. Karnoz grunted an acknowledgement of the man's apology, turning back towards the pottery wagon.

**Appraise what I got, if anything**

_________________
"I can fire your blood with passion or leave you sick with bile and revulsion. I raise heroes from the masses and send them to lay low kings and warlords. I will take you to exotic, far-away places, only to leave you in darkness and dispair. I can show you wonderous treasures beyond your wildest dreams, and terrors to freeze your soul."

"Who am I? I'm your StoryTeller."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Wed Sep 09, 2009 8:45 am

(Karnoz - Pick Pockets check (DC 7): Success (22))


Preccupied with his burden as he was, the fisherman offered no greater acknowledgement than a cross glare as Karnoz bumped into him. A simple flick of the scoundrel's fingers easily undid the granny knot binding the purse to the fisher's woolen belt, and the purse quietly found its way into the folds of Karnoz's garb. Slipping around the corner of the Gilded Prince, he noted that none of his own keepings had suddenly gone missing; an accomplished thief the fisherman was not.


(Karnoz gains 12 Copper, 4 Silver, a dull knife in poor condition (-1 Damage) and a simple tin key.)


The pouch's contents were quickly dumped into Karnoz's waiting hand: 12 coins of copper and four of silver, a small scaling knife and a crudely cast tin key to...something. Times were not easy on the common folk, it seemed, and the fisherman would surely suffer from his monetary loss if the fish were not biting the next day....


Karnoz >
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Wed Sep 09, 2009 12:06 pm

Karnoz snorted at the petty haul, not that he truly expected much. Stealing the purse had simply been... standard. A secret confirmation that Karnoz was better than that poor fool. After all, he was some river muck-dweller and Karnoz was a professional preditor. It was only right that the sheep feed the wolf.

Adding the coins to his own purse, Karnoz placed the knife and key back into the pouch and casually tossed the pouch away back into the side street he had taken refuge in.

The deed done, Karnoz rentered the main road and moved up toward the pottery wagon and its occupants.

"Pardon gents." he began, " I was wondering if you might be willing to do a bit of business. I am looking to purchase three flasks or vials if you have them. They must be small, sealable and most of all, be sturdy enough to withstand prolonged travel."

**Appraise as able to ensure I am being charged a fair price if they are willing to deal**

_________________
"I can fire your blood with passion or leave you sick with bile and revulsion. I raise heroes from the masses and send them to lay low kings and warlords. I will take you to exotic, far-away places, only to leave you in darkness and dispair. I can show you wonderous treasures beyond your wildest dreams, and terrors to freeze your soul."

"Who am I? I'm your StoryTeller."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Tue Sep 15, 2009 8:43 am

The bony pottery merchant chewed on something unseen within his cheek as he considered the rogue's request. "Welluh, I've no' much demand for small vessels, an' they're a hassle for me to spin together. But I've made a few...half a Ruble for all three, if ye want."


(Karnoz - Appraise check (DC 10): Success (16))



Karnoz' scrutinizing eye pored over the three small earthenware bottles, their corkwood stoppers removed for inspection. Of the three spindly clay flasks, only one looked sturdy enough to endure for long; the other two bore slight surface cracks, signs of wares being spun too thin by an ailing potter's enfeebled hands. All together, the clay flasks might be worth one Silver, maybe two...but never five.


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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Fri Sep 18, 2009 1:17 pm

There was a brief vision of a thin flask shattering against the side of the old man's head but it was easilly ignored. Bartering, haggling and lying to each other was just what people did...until Karnoz killed them for it of course. Still, that was not his objective at this time. The trick was getting something useful while letting the other person think they were getting something better while doing it.

"Hmmm..." he muttered, making a very obvious business of running one finger along the length of the surface crack of a flask.
"I'll give you two silver for the lot, but I'll make it three of you can tell me about the road ahead and the land abroad, plus any news that might be useful. I've a long way to travel before me and the wild is still the wild."

_________________
"I can fire your blood with passion or leave you sick with bile and revulsion. I raise heroes from the masses and send them to lay low kings and warlords. I will take you to exotic, far-away places, only to leave you in darkness and dispair. I can show you wonderous treasures beyond your wildest dreams, and terrors to freeze your soul."

"Who am I? I'm your StoryTeller."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Tue Oct 06, 2009 8:36 am

(The Potter - Knowledge (Geography) check (DC 5): Success (9))


Never one to refuse the promise of more coin, the old potter pursed his lips, recalling what few times he had strayed from the road between Kurvoss and Trock Reik.

"I can accept such'n offer, yah. There's a rather pretty boulder near th' road a quarter-mile east. Looks like a man's 'ead. Uhhh...Farmer Mikhov's land 'as an auld grain silo he ne'er uses. Used t'be a nice place to sleep afore some goblins took it. Farmer Mikhov's son go t' ferret the goblins out but got sent home without 'is ears, so Mikhov leaves the greenies be now. Huhhh...let's see. There be a rather large tree with a great hollow unner her roots. Find th' burned-up privy near the crossroads an' head west a good 500 yards. Fair place to stay out've the weather or hide or somesuch. A meat peddler showed it to me once, say he stays there quite offen so he can hawk dried pork to the travellers at the crossroads."

Stroking his beard in thought, the potter had something else to add.

"Oh...there sometimes be a pack of bandits keepin' camp half a mile downriver from Trock Reik. The lot of 'em sit about waitin' for travellers...peddlers seekin' a shortcut, smugglers comin' off the river to offload their naughty wares afore rowin' into town...an' the bandits catch 'em, they do. They also keep a number of green rowboats in the scrub nearby, neatly hidden bu' ready for a quick escape downriver should vigilantes or watchmen from Trock Reik come about. Leader's named Oily Tetrov...built like a 'orse an' mean as demons. Wicked scar around his neck...says 'e got it from an ill-fittin' noose in Balakorva north o' 'ere, but no way Balakorva's justicars'd let him slip their clutches like that. Blasted load've bunk, methinks. So he said while his cohorts fleeced me an' me wagon for twenty-eight Rubles an' three crates four years ago, he did. I'd stay far from tha' region if I was ye."

With an eager nod, the potter cupped both his hands expectantly.

"So...tha' an' the bottles should be worth three good coins for Korgy, ya?"


Karnoz >
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Thu Oct 08, 2009 9:37 am

Karnoz quietly filed the information away for the time being, although just with what little this old doddard had told him brought ideas for half a dozen schemes to mind.

With a slight smile, he fished out and handed over the three promised silver coins, silently mocking the fisherman who was secretly financing the potter's tongue.

"And a good journey to you, master potter." Karnoz said, carefully packing away his new flasks into his pack.

His business in Kurvoss done, Karnoz slung his bow and strode out of town and onto the road towards Trock Reik. He did not quite stay on the road, often crossing this way and that, although he kept up a good pace. His keen eyes scanned both the horizons around him as well as the terrain. One never knew if opportunity, be it an overseen treasure or a potential victim, might present itself.

While several thinks the old potter had mentioned to him peaked his interest. Karnos had decided that only the tree would be along the way and worth investigating for now.

And so the tree became his destination along the road towards his mark.

**As I go along, scan the terrain for anything that I might be able to gather to possibly use for my poison creations, be it a centipede or a mushroom. While I will not devote alot of time to this, you never know, I might get lucky.**

_________________
"I can fire your blood with passion or leave you sick with bile and revulsion. I raise heroes from the masses and send them to lay low kings and warlords. I will take you to exotic, far-away places, only to leave you in darkness and dispair. I can show you wonderous treasures beyond your wildest dreams, and terrors to freeze your soul."

"Who am I? I'm your StoryTeller."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Mon Oct 12, 2009 6:29 am

(Karnoz pays 3 Silver and gains 1 clay bottle (Average quality) and 2 clay bottles (Poor quality))


Greatly pleased with his fortune and secretly content to be rid of some shoddy clay bottles which he long had not been able to sell, the old potter waved and smiled at the departing rogue, never suspecting that the coins now settling in his coin purse were "donated" by an unwilling fisher. Turning to the dwarf, the potter helped him load their wagon for the journey ahead as Karnoz stole silently away down the main street of Kurvoss.


(Karnoz' callous theft of the struggling fisherman's belongings for sake of his own personal gain has upheld his Evil alignment. 100 Experience is awarded.)


(Karnoz - Knowledge (Nature) check (DC 15): Success (16))

(Karnoz - Alchemy check (DC 11): Success (24))


The first two miles passed easily. The sun crept slowly across the skies into the afternoon.

As he made his way towards the crossroads, Karnoz's eyes roamed this way and that, scouring his environs for reagents to aid his nefarious craft as a poisoner. There was not much to be found along the sparsely forested meadow road, but Karnoz did finally have a spot of luck as he neared the crossroads: a purple-striped toadstool, squatting crookedly among the roots of a twisting ash tree. If properly ground and toasted, the toadstool's oils would congeal into a tasteless but terrible paste which, if dried and crushed into powder, could be sprinkled into an unwitting victim's otherwise wholesome meal to induce a mind-addling stupor and perhaps even crippling madness...a nasty treat for any mage or leader or priest.

Plucking the toadstool up by the root, Karnoz tucked it away. Eating the toadstool would only produce a mild sickness, but with a makeshift alchemy apparatus he could hope to later bring out its greatest toxicity.


(Karnoz has found a poisonous striped toadstool.)


(Random Encounter check (d%): 08)
(Dice dice dice...)


(Karnoz - untrained Listen check (DC 9): Success (16))


Even before he crested the next hillock, Karnoz could see the limbs of a great tree fanning against the azure sky...the great hollow-trunked tree he sought, perhaps.

And then he heard them: panicked screams, and the furious flapping of large, leathery wings. Slinking across the plainland north of the road, Karnoz trotted over a thin and shallow stream, coming in low to survey the commotion.

Its throat torn madly away by horribly large teeth, the dark-coated mule slumped silently forward in death, still hitched to the wagon which it had lugged for so many miles. A halfling nearby lay bleeding and groaning, grasping at his torn belly; the scattering of bags and coins on the grassy earth before the halfling peddler told of his hasty retreat cut short by the threat which then swooped and hovered around the great tree: a dire bat, its wingspan easily eight feet in breadth, screeching and snapping at the terrified woodsman who cowered in the very hollow which Karnoz sought.

"Pelor preserve us! Get back, demon, get back!"

Desperately reaching for his splintered club, the cornered peddler waved his weapon this way and that, swinging it from his confines as the creature drew near. Frustrated with the hazards of flying so near to those many low branches, the giant bat settled to the ground and rose onto its legs and hindquarters, loping forward to root the commoner from his hole.


(Karnoz - untrained Wilderness Lore check waived.)


The great bat was clearly no demon, but for it to be out hunting at this hour...that struck Karnoz as unusual. Perhaps the peddlers had somehow disturbed the bat, or perhaps it was suffering the ravages of starvation. Confident that the dire bat had not yet learned of his presence, Karnoz surmised the situation and decided on what to do.





Karnoz >


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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Mon Oct 12, 2009 8:50 am

Karnoz cursed that bat, the peddlers, the dead mule and expecially the fact that the whole damned lot of them had to brawl in the very place he had considered for a hiding spot!

Were it not for wanting to scout out the hollow of the tree, Karnoz would have simply settled back and waited, but it seemed likely that the bat was laired somewhere nearby to have come out in broad daylight. Perhaps these pissants had done him a favor by rousting the beast and causing a nice little distraction for him.

Unslinging his bow, Karnoz crouched down and carefully made his way forward, keeping the wagon and mule between himself and the bat. Even with the peddler and bat making a hellatious commotion, Karnoz did not trust to luck that his target would remain distracted and crept forward. Stealth being his goal and not speed. Karnoz was not particuarilly concerned if either of the two travelers died, in fact, the remaining fool might actually land a blow while frantically waving his stick back and forth.

Finally reaching the wagon, Karnoz knelt down using the wagon as cover. With a practiced eye, he drew back the bowstring, aiming for what he hoped would be a crippling spot on the monster's back. He waited, bow taunt, until the giant bat reared up offering Karnoz his best target, and then loosed the arrow....


**Move silently, hide in shadows**
**Position myself for a sneak attack, I have point blank shot if applicable. Be ready to dive under or jump onto the wagon, depending on what the bat does.**

_________________
"I can fire your blood with passion or leave you sick with bile and revulsion. I raise heroes from the masses and send them to lay low kings and warlords. I will take you to exotic, far-away places, only to leave you in darkness and dispair. I can show you wonderous treasures beyond your wildest dreams, and terrors to freeze your soul."

"Who am I? I'm your StoryTeller."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Tue Oct 13, 2009 8:57 am

(Karnoz - contested Move Silently check: 17)
(Dire Bat - contested Listen check (-5): 15)


(Karnoz wins.)



Dire Bat (Init 18)> Biting the Peddler
Peddler (Init 12)> Clubbing the Dire Bat

(Dire Bat -Bite on Peddler (AC 12): Hit (16))
(Peddler takes 8 Damage from the bite.)

(Peddler - Club attack on Dire Bat (AC 20): Miss (13))


Screeching madly at the tree hollow and at the trembling commoner within it, the dire bat lunged under the flailing club and bit down, dragging the man free of the hollow by a mouthful of his belly. Though toughened by years of travelling the roads of Karkova, the peddler screamed like a frightened child as the great bat tore into him. The fang wounds were deep and telling; surely the traveller was not more than a hair from Death's hand.

Enfeebled as he was with injury and exertion, the peddler swung desperately at the bat's head, but the creature was far too deft for him; releasing his belly, the bat swiftly ducked and retreated a step, allowing the club to pass without doing harm.

In Karnoz's eyes, that man's life was worth nothing more than a distraction for the winged beast, and the distraction was not passed. Light feet, pacing silently through the tall grass, came to rest beside the wagon. A bow was readied and aimed over the wagon's bed, and the arrow leveled at the broad of the creature's back was drawn back and released.


(Karnoz - Shortbow Sneak Attack/Point Blank Shot on Dire Bat (Flatfooted AC 14): Hit (16))
(Dire Bat takes 9 Damage.)


With a loud and terrible "Thunk!" the arrow punched through the leathery skin of the creature's back and bit deeply, sending a painful shudder through the bat's body. Startled with the fresh wound, the bat screeched powerfully at the heavens, then turned to seek out its injurer.


(Dire Bat - opposed Spot check: 19)
(Karnoz - opposed Hide check (-10): 4)

(Dire Bat wins.)

(Karnoz - Tumble check waived.)


"SKRRRAAAGGGGG!!!"

Swinging its wings as it wheeled about furiously, the great bat leaped into a short glide over the wagon. Tucking his bow under his arm, Karnoz gripped the side of the wagon and swung underneath it, scowling as he heard the bat's feet thunder down onto the wagon bed. Scooting and shuffling this way and that, the bat craned its head over the edge of the wagon, screeching in primal anger as it looked under and located its quarry.

Relieved of the threat, the peddler slumped back against the towering tree, clutching at his terrible wound as he beheld the beast raging against the mysterious newcomer....


(With his Quick Draw feat, Karnoz may switch to his club or one of his daggers as a free action, leaving time in this round to take initiative and attack if he wishes; with Point Blank Shot, he may also shoot the bat with another arrow without any penalties for being in melee range. Alternately, he may dart and swing up onto the wagon--behind the bat, if he wishes--and immediately Sneak Attack (in melee) if he passes a Tumble check.)



Karnoz (Init 19) > Diving and flipping up onto the wagon behind the bat, then attacking from behind
Dire Bat (Init 8 ) > Lunging under the wagon to bite Karnoz


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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Wed Oct 14, 2009 7:03 am

Karnoz quickly drew another arrow from its quiver, but never had the chance to knock it before sliding under the wagon as the bat-thing landed on top of his makeshift barrier. He considered trying to shoot from his confined place, but the bat might just as easilly try to stomp the wagon down on top of him, denying him a shot.

Releasing the bow, Karnoz rolled away from the screeching head and out the other side of the wagon. Crouching, he took off at a run, but grabbed the wheel rim and using his momentum, sprang onto the back of the wagon behind the beastie while drawing out one of his long daggers.

Karnoz knew practically nothing about bat-ology, so with a snarl, he drove his blade into the creature's back where he hoped a lung or other such vital organ might be located.

**Tumble, sneak attack** (crosses fingers)

_________________
"I can fire your blood with passion or leave you sick with bile and revulsion. I raise heroes from the masses and send them to lay low kings and warlords. I will take you to exotic, far-away places, only to leave you in darkness and dispair. I can show you wonderous treasures beyond your wildest dreams, and terrors to freeze your soul."

"Who am I? I'm your StoryTeller."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Sat Oct 24, 2009 10:55 pm

(Karnoz - Tumble check (DC 15): Success (27))

(Karnoz - Dagger Sneak Attack on Dire Bat (Flatfooted AC 14): Hit (26/Natural 20); Critical Threat (AC 14): Passed (19). Critical Hit!)
(Dire Bat takes 17 Damage.)


(Bloody hell...this bat was supposed to be fairly challenging, too! Of all the lousy luck.... Mad )


The dagger's blade punched easily through the great bat's resilient hide and slipped effortlessly between its ribs. Though Karnoz was scarcely learned with the dire bat's anatomy, a strong and copious spray of blood splattered across his mask and tunic as he yanked his long dagger free; his stab had promptly proven to be an unexpectedly telling one.


(Dire Bat - Bite attack on Karnoz (AC 14): Missed (9))


No sooner had the blow been struck than the dire bat's enraged snarls became frightened screeches. Less from ire or hunger and more from panic, the bat wheeled on its enemy and lashed out with teeth and fangs. But Karnoz's swift forearm caught the bat's lunging head at the hinge of its jaw, and its snapping maw was forcefully shoved aside and diverted from its mark.

The leathery flap of a wing swept over the rogue's torso, pushing him back as the bat turned away and hopped onto the wagon's bulwark. Though pained with its wounds and leaving twin dribbles of blood as it moved, the bat leaned forth from the wagon and spread its wings to flee to the heavens. With a solid heel Karnoz pushed off from the tailgate, his bloodied dagger still readied in hand.

By arrow and by blade the bat had been grievously wounded. An animal's primal instinct is never a thing of hatred or vengeful compulsion; in the eyes of the wild kingdom, continued survival is the only goal worth attaining. Surely the bat would flee once well and truly aloft, and it would not think to court death again with a circling return and a swoop at its injurer. Karnoz could permit the bat to escape and be content with his victory.

But then, if ordinary cattle leather were in such steady demand among the tanners, what coin could the strong yet supple hide of a dire bat command in Trock Reik...?





(The dire bat is turning and fleeing from melee! Karnoz may take an Attack of Opportunity if he wishes.)


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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Sun Oct 25, 2009 3:30 am

The spray of blood was a tell-tale sigh that Karnoz' blade had struck true. More telling in that the beastie turned and began a near panicked retreat from him in an attempt to flee the battle.

The thought of just letting the thing go tickled the back of his mind, but Karnoz ignored it. It was not that the bat hide might fetch a price in Trock Reik, or that the thing might take refuge in the tree he still intended to use as a hide away.

No, the bat was wounded and Karnoz, whatever else he might be, was still the predator here. It was time for the bat-thing to die.

Giving chase, the rogue charge after the bat, seeking to again strike the withdrawing bulk if the creature and put to it down once and for all.


**(Sneak attack if possible and if the bat takes to the air, I have any number of daggers which can be flung at it)

_________________
"I can fire your blood with passion or leave you sick with bile and revulsion. I raise heroes from the masses and send them to lay low kings and warlords. I will take you to exotic, far-away places, only to leave you in darkness and dispair. I can show you wonderous treasures beyond your wildest dreams, and terrors to freeze your soul."

"Who am I? I'm your StoryTeller."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Zero: New Gold for Old Bones   Sun Oct 25, 2009 4:06 am

(Attacking from the dire bat's rear arc pretty much makes it a Sneak Attack automatically. The victim in this instance isn't necessarily considered to be flatfooted, however, and retains the Dexterity bonus to its Armor Class.)


(Karnoz - Dagger Sneak Attack on Dire Bat (AC 20): Miss (17))


Karnoz lunged, slicing at the bat's spine with his blade as the creature leaped forth. And it leaped forth powerfully and quickly indeed, for Karnoz's blade came away clad in a sheared tuft of the long, dense fur from the bat's upper back, but not one more drop of blood.

But the useful thing about daggers, as Karnoz knew well, is that they can be wielded at close quarters or hurled at range with equal ease, and a dagger could be switched from one mode to the other in the blink of an eye, even in the hand of a daggerman far slower and less dextrous than Karnoz. Perhaps there would be time to fling his blade and deliver a telling pierce to the aft of the giant bat's skull before it soared out of hurling distance...

...or if he leaped without the scantest of delays, he might even be able to deliver a fateful stab without the dagger ever leaving his hand. Or perhaps leap onto the bat's back, grab a fistful of that long, dense fur with his firm left hand and plunge his blade into the creature's breast as many times as needed, preferably before the bat could rise too far from the earth....


Karnoz (Init 16) >
Dire Bat (Init 9) > Soaring away high and fast....
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