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Whispers on the Wind: Stone Gallery

Clues point to a curious canyon in the foothills near Pride Hall as a place of importance to the Butcher of Graybriar. Adventurers gather to investigate and see if they can recover one of the artifacts that bind the wraith to this world.

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Continuation of the Whispers on the Wind plot.

Date

Jan. 2, 2020, 1 p.m.

Hosted By

Reigna

GM'd By

Reigna

Participants

Dianna Domonico Raymesin Sina Thea Vayne Colette Silvio

Organizations

Location

Outside Arx - Crownlands near Arx - The Field

Largesse Level

Small

Comments and Log


The last mission, to Justicar Flats went about as one might expect. Chaos, blood, bees. Then again there were some additional dangers added as well. But in the end, the group successfully located and extracted the artifact they were hunting for, bringing the tally of items to five: The Heart, found among the specimen jars under Drummond Field, the Phylactery, found at the lighthouse on the banks of the Gray river, the Stone, found in the Tenny House, the Dagger found at the Temple of Gloria. By all estimations there are seven total items to be collected before the exorcism of the Butcher can be completed. The copies of the map given to the group by Sorrel reveals a single destination for this mission: An area to the northwest of Arx, in the foothills of the mountains near Pridehall.

The journey takes a few days, allowing for a relatively calm ride, either by horse, wagon or carriage. As the group approaches the foothills, the map details are a little fuzzy, three words offering the only clue: Gallery of Stone.

i

Up ahead is a small hamlet on the outskirts of Bisland land, the village is barely a town. A collection of houses, farms gathered around a town hall and one small tavern: The Blue Badger.

As the group approaches the tiny hamlet, Domonico Malvici silently sweeps his gaze over the horizon to either side and behind them, instinctively checking their flanks.

Raymesin has come along for the ride; he's still not much of a horseman, and he's got the same not much of a horse, a placid beast just perfect for the novice rider but big enough to carry the Harlequin. And from his vantage-point, Raymesin is keeping a watchful eye out, just in case.

The priestess to Tehom is a happy woman on this ride, keeping her steed close to her fellow Godsworn, Blessed Vayne and Archlector Sina, though she is equally happy with the rest of the group. "Marquis Fairen Leary was with us on the last trip, Sina, and he wound up possessed by The Butcher. It was a fairly frightening, but I donned my Mirrormask, Vayne, and was able to talk the Marquis into finding his way back to us while Miranda extricated the oozing stygian from behind his ear. Holy water took care of the rest, and Thea -" Dianna smiles aside at the Malvici physician, "took care of stitching him up." Dianna carries with her the usual accoutrement, sans Ostrian brandy, of course, as she used it as a token in her previous beseeching.

They make their way to the hamlet and Dianna's gaze moves there, her lips pressed into a line. She tenses slightly and takes a deep breath, calming herself deliberately.

As Dianna catches her and Vayne up on the last adventure, Sina listens quietly, and nods her head when the Godsworn Mirrormask has finished. "Poor Fairen, I will need to make sure to visit him soon." Up until recently, Sina has been carrying a number of those items in her pack, but as she hasn't been available for the most recent adventures, she's given them over to Dianna to carry when she couldn't be here. So today, her pack is considerably lighter, though it does contain the various odds and ends accumulated in preparation for these sorts of journeys. She's not the best rider in the world, but she does ride a docile gray mare along with the group. She seems a little bit grim as they enter Pridehall lands, her eyes glancing off in a particular direction, distant with some memory. But then she focuses once more on the journey at hand. She is wearing her armor, and has the blade Brixeur'Ame sheathed at her hip once more. Her arm, by now, is mostly healed, protected by a replacement gauntlet. "The Stone Gallery," she muses thoughtfully. "Perhaps it's a gallery of stone statues?" she guesses, glancing toward the hamlet as it comes into view. "It doesn't seem like a place where one might find an art gallery," she notes, studying the little hamlet as they approach it.

Riding quite comfortably is Thea. Her physician satchel is restocked, blades at her side, she looks around her surroundings. Habit, unsure of what she'll find. She smiles briefly at Dianna as she she says,"It was nothing, I assure you."

Vayne nods as he listens to the summary, riding a horse with the practiced muscle memory of a Valardin. The Archlector simply carries on, his armour creaking a little with the motion of the appaloosa as he rides. "Or, if not statues, perhaps just interesting or significant stones," he offers casually.

Colette checked dexterity + stealth at difficulty 30, rolling 1 lower.

Colette had ridden off ahead as an advanced scout, having come across the hamlet and attempted to go unseen as she does so. It is not until she is coming back around that she's spotted by one of the guards who calls out, "Oi! You! I see you! You better not be a troublemaker!" He lifts his halberd and shakes it in her direction, but does not leave his post outside the village gate. The wall is not particularly tall, nor dauntingly sturdy, made mostly of wood and daubed mud, bits of hay sticking out of the bricks here and there. Still, there is a posted guard.

Dianna checked charm + manipulation at difficulty 30, rolling 0 higher.

Domonico looks over the village wall with an assessing eye, probably making plans how he would both attack and defend such a fortification. "Hopefully this will not prove a problem," he mutters to his sister.

Dianna checked charm + seduction at difficulty 30, rolling 24 higher.

Colette grumbles as she gets spotted and Just stands up. She waves trying to appear as if she is obviously not trouble making! "Oh no. No trouble making I promise."

Kicking her heels into her steed, having seen Colette's failed attempt at a stealthy approach, Dianna rides up to the gate and smiles charmingly at the guard, her amber gaze smoldering. "Hello. I wonder if you might help us. We're looking for a place, heard it might be near here? Something called, The Stone Gallery?" Gods only know how Dianna manages to look like she's pure sex on that horse in all of her leathers, but then... they do cling to her.

Thea smirks at Domonico, her gold-flecked green eyes looking untroubled for the moment,"Faith brother,"already hearing Dianna. We already know who the better mannered Malvici is yes? However, she sits straight and tall on horse, looking just as proud.

"If you ain't a troublemaker, then whys you sneaking about in the brush instead of coming down the road like a prop--er--" The guard turns towards the road to gesture towards it in emphasis of his point when he sees Dianna, and hears her voice. His own trails off as he looks up to the Godsworn priestess, clearly a bit gobsmacked. "Uh..." Please wait while the guard reboots.

Raymesin keeps his spot in the party. It's difficult for him to look anything other than dodgy as all hell, so he doesn't bother trying. At least he's looking dodgy where people can see him, and has his skull token out where people can see that too.

"I'm sorry? Oh, that's just my little sister; she likes to play. You were saying? About the Gallery?" Dianna's voice coos sweetly, gaze fixed with promises silently spoken to the guard, if ONLY he will HELP THEM.

Colette approaches Dianna rolling her eyes as she notes the guards frozen status.

Sina rides alongside Vayne, two Archlectors on a mission. The Archscholar sits calmly in her saddle as they ride up to the gate where the single guard is on duty. She seems perfectly content to sit her mare and watch with interest as the guard scolds Colette, then as Dianna puts on her charm. The Archscholar adds, "I am Archscholar Sina Godsworn. I would very much adore seeing the Gallery, if it is here. I am interested in its historical significance to the region, if you have any tales to share about it?" Her own leathers don't... cling. They are functional. But she does give him a charming smile of her own, though she is all polite etiquette.

Domonico quietly speaks to Thea at the back, "Indeed. I daresay if Dianna ends up taking some sermons then attendance will increase tenfold."

Vayne is, by contrast, not nearly as charming as any of the other godsworn. He simply offers a polite smile, and his dark-eyed gaze rests on the guard with a measuring look, intent and curious. Perhaps it would be unsettling to have the man stare so directly, but it's much more of curious interest than malicious intent.

There's a slow return to functioning status, though the guard shifts his weight slightly. "That's your sister?" He glances to Colette as she joins the group, "Are you sure?" He seems uncertain, himself. "Uh, the what now? Stone Gallery?" He seems to think, but then there also seems to be a fight between the directionality of the bloodflow in his body, so that's gumming up the works a bit. He seems to be spinning his wheels when Sina introduces herself and he gets even more flustered, looking between the two gorgeous godsworn. "Shouldna joined the Faith like momma wanted..." This is spoken louder than he likely intended, but after a cough he lifts a hand to the back of his neck. "I think I know the place you're talkin' of. It's about fourteen miles uphill, that way." He gestures in a vaguely northeastern direction, towards the towering hills. "I could take you there, if you like?"

Colette doesn't think twice she just nods at the guard, "We grew up in different cities no? It is not being that uncommon." And quite deftly she hops up on Dianna's horse.

"Yes, she's my adopted sister," Dianna purrs sweetly and waits, a tender - if seductive - smile upon her lips. "Oh, thank you. Yes, would you be a dear? We'd be ever-so-grateful. And, if you like, I'd be happy to discuss with you the matter of being Godsworn. Why, we've even an Archlector here... as well as the Archscholar," Dianna shamelessly recruits, gesturing to Vayne and Sina, respectively.

Sina shares a brief glance and a quiet whisper with Vayne, then turns her gaze back to the guard. Her smile widens at his words. "It is never too late, should you change your mind," she says light-heartedly. "I hear the Templars are always recruiting." She glances at Dianna, then back to the guardsman. "As Sister Dianna says, we'd be grateful if you could show us the way," she adds in her measured way of speaking, inclining her head to him respectfully. "If it wouldn't leave the village here unprotected, that is?" she asks, with a concerned look around.

Thea just hangs back and listens. Nope. She isn't saying anything. She let's the Faith handle this one or rather--do the talking.

Raymesin quietly does his level best to blend in with the scenery, given that there are titles like 'Archlector' and 'Archscholar' being bandied about, while he looks a lot like the third mercenary from the left in a particularly seedy mercenary company who've just had a profitable contract. He lets the smiling people do the talking while he keeps an eye out, just in case trouble should happen to jump them at the village gates. It's a much better idea, keeping lookout, than trying to join in.

"Oh, yes - certainly be sure the village is tended to; we should be quite remiss to leave it unprotected," Dianna purrs to the guard, agreeing with Sina after nuzzling her 'little sister' and kissing the young lady's cheek. "Hold tight, Colette, mmn? You don't want to fall off."

Raymesin checked perception + survival at difficulty 25, rolling 22 higher.

Colette latches on tight and tries to look cute. A hard task when one usually looks so so grumpy. Gotta convince the guard!

"NATHY! Get yer butt over here and take over my shift!" The guard yells over his shoulder, stamping the butt of his halberd on the ground impatiently.

"You don't look like you belong with the others." Comes a voice from behind Raymesin, clearly intending to startle the man, but it has absolutely no effect on the mercenary. There is obvious disappointment from the young man, who approaches the gate and looks to the guard, "Beeeeeen. I've still got four hours left, and I was going to walk to the market to look at some new metal they are selling."

A Look is given to the whining Nathy who grumbles and assumes the post. "Fine, fine."

The guard, Ben, goes to collect a swaybacked mare, his own mount and grins at Dianna, "Well, if it'd be you teachin' me my prayers, or you too, your Blessedness, I'm sure I'd be a fine student." There is a pause and then he says, "Don't run off Nathy!"

"I'm sure we could teach you a good many things, Goodman Ben," Dianna purrs to the guard, once he's joined them. She glances over to Nathy and coos, "Oh, won't you please help us, Nathy? We'd be so very grateful."

Dianna checked charm + seduction at difficulty 35, rolling 20 higher.

Vayne cants his head, his left eyebrow quirking up slightly as he observes the exchange. There's a faint lift of his chin as he looks at the guards, his expression revealing that he fully expects the men to help, even if Dianna is trying the honeyed approach.

Apparently it's Nathy's turn to flush and clear his throat. He deliberately looks away from the smouldering Dianna, shifting the position of his clasped hands slightly. "Yeah, yeah. Wait, what? You want me to go with you?" Suddenly there is a shift of Nathy's demeanor, a hopeful look in his eyes. Ben coughs, "Well, that's a very nice offer, Sister, but someone has to stay and guard the village."

Sina glances between Dianna, Ben and Nathy, then glances to the others with a little smile. "Why don't you all go on ahead? I'll spend a little time in the hamlet, and see if there is anything I can do to help the villagers while we are here. I will catch up," she promises.

"No, sweet Nathy; would you be a dear and stay to guard the village? We'd be so very grateful," Dianna explains to Nathy, batting her eyelashes softly. "If you will, I promise you a kiss... from either me or from my little sister," she purrs again to Nathy, already speaking for Colette.

Raymesin, rather than startle, just looks over his shoulder at the new arrival. "Appearances can be deceivin'," he says, his Lowers accent thick, and taps the skull pin on his collar, before looking to Sina. He eyes the hamlet, then nods to the Godsworn woman.

"Uh." Nathy looks torn, disappointment isn't quite the emotion he feels, so he's just kind of thrown. Sina offers him an out and he nods, "Yes, of course, Blessed Sina. I can show you to the alderwoman, Tensha. She knows all our lore." Ben looks satisfied and puts heels to his mare who plods forward at a stubbornly slow pace. This mare goes at one speed. Hers.

"Splendid, we'll see you later, Archscholar," Dianna waves to Sina and Nathy, blowing him a kiss before turning her attention back to Ben and riding deliberately beside him. "Goodman Ben, what can you tell us of this place where we are going? Any strange events - within the village or there?" Seduction is a delicate thing, and seduction for the sake of information can be even more delicate, so Dianna spends her entire attention on the man, trusting in her companions - and her 'little sister' to attend the terrain.

And Raymesin does indeed tend to the terrain - or at least look at it, which is a lot less energetic. His horse seems to be quite satisfied to mosey on at Ben's horse's speed, and he doesn't seem inclined to push it.

Colette is indeed ready to watch the terrain. Her eyes sharp, her body always ready to dismount and run off to scout ahead.

Domonico hmms as he thinks, "Fourteen miles? We had better make some haste if we want to get there before darkness falls."

Vayne nods to the departing Sina and turns his attention to where they have yet to go. He speaks, his voice rich and smooth, offering, "I'm in agreement with Lord Domonico here. We should not tarry more than we need, if we're to be where we are going before it grows too dark."

"Colette, why don't you run ahead and see what's up there and Goodman Ben can ride with me - would that be alright, Ben?" Dianna asks the guard sweetly. "We might make better time. And, if you need, Colette, I'm sure Lord Domonico would let you ride with him?" Dianna glances to Domonico to confirm, smiling warmly.

The trip up the foothills is relatively easy, if a bit tedious given the pace of their guide. Hearing Dom's words, the guard says, "Oh, we'll get there around nightfall. We can set up a camp at the edge of the gallery and head into it in the morning." There is a pause and as Vayne chimes in, the guard says, "Well, if you are in a hurry, I suppose I -- Oh! Excellent idea, Sister!" Imagine that, Ben is onboard to ride with Dianna.

Thea meanwhile is looking around, listening of course but mostly looking. She gives Ben a sidelong glance and controls her smirk. Of amusement if course.

Raymesin hmms at the conversation. "Can I recommend campin' a little bit away? Couple of miles, maybe? Best to 'ave good light when we're settin' up camp, an' get there in good light, too."

Colette nods once to Dianna and hops off her horse and runs off to get hers and scout ahead as the sister asked.

Halting her steed, Dianna waits for Colette to dismount and dismounts as well, then smiles at Ben warmly as she awaits him to take her place, then mounts again, behind him. "I leave that to your discretion, gentlemen, as I suspect you know better than I the ways of camping," Dianna purrs to Raymesin, Vayne and Domonico, cuddling into Ben's back.

Silvio wields Small steel hidden blade.

Sneak. Sneaky sneak. Fashionably sneak. Between there and here, a mighty Silvio appeared, though he's a little hard to recognize at first glance, since is hair is all braided and he seems to have put on some extra-fierce eyeliner. And he's in armor. He's just in time to watch Diana befuddle the guard with a sly little grin on his face and he wiggles in the saddle of the horse he borrowed oweing to a similar skill. He's terribly quiet, just in case someone tries to send him home again. "The Lady is welcome to ride with me as well." He offers.

Darting her gaze over her shoulder to the very-sneaky-and-heretofore-unnoticed Silvio, Dianna beams at him. "Oh, thank you, my lord. There you are, Colette: You've /two/ handsome lords who will allow you to share their saddle," the priestess winks at her favorite 'little sister.'

With a glance over his shoulder at Silvio with a smile and a nod, Domonico gives Dianna a 'look' at her offering a place on his horse to Colette. He isn't the most confident rider at the best of times so another rider makes him a little agitated... not that it would show. "Let's just hope there are no bees this time," is his muttered comment.

Colette rides past before heading off to scout ahead. "One always needs bees." And then she is off.

Thea glances aside at Silvio and gives him a brief smile,"Look at you. I knew you were usually the rider and not the ridee.."joking a bit with the Lord.

After hobbling his mare, the trip resumes at a much faster clip, getting them in the vacinity of the gallery in a little over three hours. The sun is still high in the sky, no need for camping before they reach the start of a large gulch. The rock walls rise up over fifty feet on either side, the level floor twists and turns between the narrow between the walls of the gallery. "They call it the gallery cuz there are pictures drawn up on the walls. Ancient murals of sorts. Some people suppose it was one of the first places people worshiped Jayus." This, from Ben, as he dismounts at the mouth of the gulch.

Apparently, being a commoner means not having to offer to share his horse. There are advantages to it after all! Raymesin continues to watch and listen to those around him as they continue through the countryside, but when they make it to the gulch he too dismounts, pulling a piece of plain linen from his saddlebags to tie about his mouth and nose bandana-style before he puts on his black-enamelled helm. It looks slightly strange, but apparently it works.

"Oh, fascinating," Dianna replies with genuine interest, sliding off of her horse just after Ben has dismounted. "I can barely wait to see it." Her gaze lifts and she surveys the walls, looking for anything unusual - particularly, any corrupt or twisted sigils, or the Butcher's mark with which she's become so unfortunately familiar.

Vayne nods as he rides, looking up at the drawings as well, an eye for artwork being something of a hobby of his, not to mention a knowledge of theology and occult, just in case the artwork uses those themes, istead of just animals and whatnot.

Domonico dismounts and stretches before he retrieves his helm and tucks it under one arm as he also gets his rubicund tipped dory spear from where it was secured. Now with both spear and xiphos the Malvici turns to consider the surroundings, identifying ambush spots and defensible positions.

Silvio eyes the gulch from his mount, particularly the tops of it, where it might conceal ambushers. All along the ride on the road, he has been a little...jumpy at any sounds from the surrounding fields or forests. "I look forward to seeing them as well. Though, graffiti usually has more...personality." He grins crookedly and slides out of the saddle. He comes over towards Thea. "In case we all die, you need to know, I love you."

As they head into the gulch, there is the sound of the wind whistling through the gulch, an odd high-pitched scree of sound that hums as the air vibrates through several narrow passages. The sounds of their footsteps echo, rocks kicked by their boots sound like small explosions when they strike the canyon walls. Ben looks nervous, looking around in aggitation, "This place always gave me the creeps. Up ahead, you'll see one of the first paintings." Sure enough, the dull colors of old clay depicts a subtle portrait on the wall.

Colette checked perception + survival at difficulty 20, rolling 16 higher.

The torn turquoise silk scarf from their last venture is still in Dianna's backpack, and she takes it out, tying it around her face so that it drapes down, covering her neck, then rests a hand on Ben's shoulder. "Ben, thank you for being our guide. Take my horse and return to the village, mmn?" She pulls the scarf from her face and kisses his cheek sweetly, genuinely. "We'll be along in a day or so, I expect; and you have just enough time to ride back on my steed. You can check on Archscholar Sina for us, please?" She smiles warmly into Ben's eyes - and the warmth is genuine.

Once the guard is safely on his way, Dianna adjusts her silk scarf around her face again, then takes her jagged Mirrormask from her pack and dons it - as it's the closest to a helm that she has, and far better than a bycocket at protecting her face and head. She makes her way to Vayne and murmurs, "This sound, this wind - it's familiar, Vayne. It's him - The Butcher. He knows we're here."

Vayne checked perception + theology at difficulty 25, rolling 44 higher.

Colette returns to the group after a bit, bringing her horse to a stop she looks between all that she had traveled with, "Is getting a bit odder up a'ead." She says flatly.

Dianna takes a jarring mirrormask formed of broken shards of stygian from an orange backpack with two pockets.

Thea slides off her horse, a bit stiff. She stretches and winks at Silvio,"I wouldn't let you die." She begins to watch and listen, walking about

Raymesin isn't focusing on clay walls - he's another one focusing on potential ambushes and other hazards. One of his hands is hidden by his cloak, and almost certainly contains a dagger. "Odder? Light's kinda funny odder, trees're growin' sideways odder, or animals're wearin' gowns an' dancin' odder?"

Someone wearing a jarring mirrormask formed of broken shards of stygian checked perception + theology at difficulty 30, rolling 25 higher.

Ben looks surprised and then a little grateful, though he is worried about Dianna in the next breath. "Are you sure? I mean... I suppose. If you are sure?" He takes the horse and heads slowly back towards the entrance. He's taking his time, however, clearly creeped out by this place. And to be fair, there is an increasing sense of dread in this area, the haunting song of the wind grows louder, unsettling, making one's teeth hurt.

shakes her head, "The paintings are getting... darker... Is an odd sigil also." She slips off her horse for now.

Colette shakes her head, "The paintings are getting... darker... Is an odd sigil also." She slips off her horse for now.

Vayne nods a little as he observes, peering more closely here or there. "Under the paintings," he says to the people nearby, "the symbol of Jayus. But... inverted and crossed." There's a frown as he considers the implications thereof. The sound of the wind gets a curious cant of his head more than anything else, as though a new puzzle has appeared.

Vayne checked dexterity at difficulty 10, rolling 18 higher. Vayne rolled a critical!

Someone wearing a jarring mirrormask formed of broken shards of stygian checked dexterity at difficulty 10, rolling 4 higher.

Colette checked dexterity at difficulty 10, rolling 14 higher.

Reigna GM Roll checked dexterity(4) at difficulty 10, rolling 17 higher.

Raymesin checked dexterity at difficulty 10, rolling 9 higher.

Raymesin wields the bat's sting.

Thea checked dexterity at difficulty 10, rolling 11 higher.

"Yes, I'm sure. If you don't hear from us in two days, have Archscholar Sina bring some strong men after us. Thank you, Ben," Dianna gently reassures the man, then heads in to peer at the paintings. "...Shit. Vayne, I see them too - he's been doing this at each of the sites: corrupting the sigils of the gods."

Someone wearing a jarring mirrormask formed of broken shards of stygian wields a diamondplate glaive set with mirrorsilver and sapphires.

Domonico checked dexterity at difficulty 10, rolling 22 higher.

Silvio checked dexterity at difficulty 10, rolling 18 higher.

It is the scream that gives it away. There is a terrified whinny, followed by a heart-rending cry of terror from poor Ben. The sounds come from behind the group, near the mouth of the gulch. The howls turn to cries, whimpers, gurgles and finally, just a wet squelching chomping sound.

There, gathered at the mouth of the canyon behind them, a pack of withered, dessicated looking corpses, mouths red, standing above the fallen bodies of Ben and Dianna's poor, poor horse. Once they are dead, the creatures appear to lose interest, shuffling forward in search of something new.

Ben's screams cause Dianna to spin around and cry out suddenly, "NO!! BEN!!!" She /almost/ runs towards the sound - but ohmigods. What ARE THOSE THINGS???! She hesitates, terrified and stunned.

Domonico checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 15 higher.

Domonico whirls on his feet, quickly analysing his opponents before he calls to the others, "Watch my flanks. Don't allow us to be surrounded." He dons his helm, before he prepares Raptor's Reach as he moves to place himself between the corpses and the others, using the reach of the spear to try and keep them at bay.

Silvio wields Small steel hidden blade.

Silvio checked dexterity + small wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 13 higher.

Domonico whirls on his feet, quickly analysing his opponents before he calls to the others, "Watch my flanks. Don't allow us to be surrounded." He dons his helm, before he prepares Raptor's Reach as he moves to place himself between the corpses and the others, using the reach of the spear to try and keep them at bay. The first creature approaching gets the rubicund tip straight into it's dedicated chest with a sickening crunch. The creature does not fall however and as it falls back Dom releases Raptor's Reach rather than try and hold onto it.

Silvio arrrrches his brows at the sight of body-devouring creatures that have just killed poor Ben and especially...the horse! It was far too young to be eaten and it wasn't even properly braised. He draws out his dagger from his side, a solid-looking weapon and he seems to hold it capably enough. Then he curls his lips and scrunches his nose. "UGH! Servants of this butcher, or victims of his influence? Either way, they aren't invited to this party." He darts along nimbly, his lighter armor letting him scamper on a bit of higher ground along the sides of the gulch, backing up Domonico by covering a side they might come through. He slices out with the dagger when another creature comes in on Dom while he is fighting the first, strikes it in the arm, then leans back out of the way of a return swiping.

Vayne regards the shambling monstrosities with something very much like scholarly curiousity. He flips down his facemask, which is actually a mirrored mask, and continues to regard them intently. Liftin his vambrace, the Archlector has a look in the reflection at the creatures to see whether the mirror would reveal anything new. But he stays out of the way of those who might have a more martial response.

Colette crack her knukkles as th dead star shabaling towards the, he looks to Dianna, "I can punch thse yes?

Reigna GM Roll checked mana(6) + brawl(3) at difficulty 15, rolling 34 higher.

Reigna GM Roll checked mana(6) + brawl(3) at difficulty 15, rolling 29 higher.

Reigna GM Roll checked mana(6) + brawl(3) at difficulty 15, rolling 38 higher.

Domonico checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 45, rolling 11 lower.

Domonico checked strength + brawl at difficulty 30, rolling 11 lower.

A messenger arrives, delivering a message to Someone wearing a jarring mirrormask formed of broken shards of stygian before departing.

Reigna GM Roll checked mana(6) + brawl(3) at difficulty 15, rolling 14 higher.

Silvio checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 20, rolling 10 lower.

Silvio checked strength + brawl at difficulty 20, rolling 4 lower.

51 inflicted and Domonico is unharmed.

44 inflicted and Domonico is unharmed.

57 inflicted and Domonico is unharmed.

21 inflicted and Silvio is unharmed.

Vayne checked perception + occult at difficulty 45, rolling 13 higher.

Three of the ghouls tackle Domonico and bear him to the ground under the force of the impact. "Damn it!" he shouts as he slams into the ground, struggling as claws rake across his rubicund helm and one latches teeth onto his hand, causing the Malvici to wince but the fireweave handwrap holds.

"Ohhh no no, ahh..." Silvio manages to dance one of them off Domonico, and it reaches out tackles the Rubino Lord to the dirty ground. He makes good use of his armor, fending off a bite, that way, and ready to try and stab it in the face. "Don't let them eat Domonico!" He plead-yells. Normally, he likes being tackled, but...there is blood and goo dripping from this thing...he's not into it.

Vayne squints against the tumult and chaos of the fight, and then he points at one of the zombie things - black teeth, carrying a carpenter's hammer. "That one," he says, his voice rising over the noise, "focus on /that/ one. He's the only real one." What the Archlector might mean by that is perhaps anyone's guess, as he's not seemingly inclined to explain.

Raymesin checked dexterity + small wpn at difficulty 30, rolling 57 higher.

Thea wields Skystrike, the finely crafted diamondplate kopis.

Someone wearing a jarring mirrormask formed of broken shards of stygian checked dexterity + huge wpn at difficulty 30, rolling 60 higher. Someone wearing a jarring mirrormask formed of broken shards of stygian rolled a critical!

Thea checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 63 higher.

The Archscholar isn't actually that far behind. After checking on the village, she has followed after the others, their tracks pretty easy to follow, along with any information she got in the village. Soon, she is riding up to see the carnage at the entrance to the gallery, including poor Ben and the horse. Silvery gaze focusing, she kicks her mare into a faster trot to hurry it over to the scene. She pulls rein a good twenty paces away, taking a moment to glance around, assess the situation.

Raymesin turns to see the new arrivals, and pulls his cloak from his neck to drape over his arm. What follows is a display of sheer skill, the overtall Harlequin using his long reach to best effect as he slips past the shambling creatures with cloak and dagger, ducking and dodging and weaving through the grasping horde to close in on the one with the hammer. He shouts "For the Queen of Endings!" as he strikes, and a moment later the thing's arm lies severed on the floor. It does leave him with a lot of interest from that zombie, though. The sort of interest that comes with gnashing teeth. "Ohbollocks."

Thea sees her brother and rushes over, kopis in hand. Swinging her blade with ease, Thea manages to slice through--three of the whatever those are. Easily. What the! Three! Not only did Thea manage three with one slice of her blade, they dissolved to the ground..into the sand. Strange. Thea's brow sweats, her chest heaves as she looks about.

This priestess knows Vayne's meaning, even if no one else does. She grabs a dark vial of holy water from her pack and douses the mirrored blade and tip of her diamondplate glaive with it, saying a murmured prayer to Gloria, Death and Tehom, then focuses on the undead creature Vayne has directed them to. A glaivedancer to her core, she leaps at the creature, spinning with immense grace and beauty, the mirrored light reflecting around the room - and strikes the creature diagonally, even before she lands. There is a pull of her blade through it, almost like sticky goo - but Dianna's strength pulls through as she howls like an angry Hydra - if any have heard the mystical beast. The creature crumples, split in half, utterly obliterated, and Dianna lands, standing with slowed, panting breaths. As the priestess stands above it, the creature crumbles into fine grains of black sand that sparkle far too much to be true sand, almost metallic in nature. The hammer it held, however, does not crumble, falling with a sharp THUNK to the ground. Dianna leans over and picks it up, wrapping her gloved fingers around the bloodied handle. Dianna's voice comes forth, a growl, "Stygian. Of course."

Looking down onto the ground again, Dianna commands sharply: "GET IT!" She points to a jaw amidst the sand-like dust: More stygian. A jaw, black-boned, teeth capped in the dark metal, moving to bite Raymeson.

With Dianna's staggering blow, the creature dissolves, the wind howls, blowing a chill wind through the gulch, lifting up that metallic sand, scouring the faces of those present. The cry of the wind is wordless, yet there is no mistaking the rage suffusing it. The teeth and jawbone move as if to strike, but the last of the momentum leaves them falling back to the ground. Thea's attacks on the trio dogpiling Domonico are too fast, almost blurry as she strikes all three -- each fading to nothing by the time she comes to a stop, leaving Domonico free. Colette set about punching the creature on Silvio, though after a few blows, that monster vanishes as well. The remaining 5 fade into nothingness, as if they were never truly there at all. The wind scours the sand over the paintings on the gallery walls, removing the top layers to hint at the murals underneath. Bright colors, joyous shapes, a strong contrast to the bleak pictures that were painted over the originals.

Unfortunately for Ben and Dianna's horse, the creaures were certainly real enough to leave little more than a red ruin where they used to be. Poor Ben's blue eyes, stare sightlessly up at the sky, all life lost there.

Vayne does not hesitate a moment. He moves over to the remains of Ben and begins to prepare the body to bring back with them. The mirrored Archlector is quick and skilled, as though he's done this many times before.

Raymesin, the bandana under his helm doing its job as the sand flies, ducks back away from the still-moving jaw. And then it's over, and he unwinds from his fighting crouch, looking around warily in case there's anything else.

This time around, Sina stays back from the fighting, seeing that things are already well on their way to being resolved, as she watches Dianna's staggering attack. The Archscholar's expression shows a hint of awe at the skill displayed, but other than that, she remains seated atop her horse, not getting in the way of those who are fighting. Once it's all done, she trots forward, and then goes to join Vayne with helping to prepare Ben to take his body back to the village. "Looks like I missed the excitement. Did we get the item?" She glances around.

Scooping up the jaw, as well, Dianna puts both jaw and hammer in her pack, then walks to the husk of Ben and her steed, falling upon her knees with sobs crushing her chest. "I'm sorry, Ben... I'm sorry..." She turns her mirrored mask to Vayne and murmurs, "I wanted to save him, Vayne. I just wanted to save him...."

Domonico gets to his feet, dusting himself off before nodding to Thea, "Good strikes. Very good. Thank you." He retrieves his spear and casts his gaze around the gulch. "That was... unsettling indeed."

Sina puts dessicated heart with a large bite taken from it in a standard adventurer's pack made of oiled canvas.

Silvio exhales and lays on the ground for a few more moments, then finally rolls to his feat. He flips up his leather mask, "Did we find what we were looking for?" He super does not look at the gore. He also smiles at Colette, "Thank you, my dear, for your brave rescue."

Silvio is overheard praising Colette.

Colette waves it off, "Worry not. Is my job my lord." She says rather non-chalantly.

Overhearing Silvio, Dianna pulls her jarring mirrormask from her head and nods, tears still streaming down her cheeks. "We did, Lord Silvio. We did.... I have them."

"We do not save everyone," Vayne replies to Dianna, not allowing the sobbing woman to distract him from his work, "and you are right to feel as you do. Do not ignore those feelings, and do not let anyone turn you from their depths until /you/ are done with them. And then? - they are gone." Vayne looks around at the others gathered, and he says in a louder voice, "That is true for all of you. You've seen and done something remarkable. Whatever you're feeling - grief or frustration or triumph - feel them /deeply/. Make them /useful/ for you, as instruction and reminder. Then put them all away." Vayne's mirrored face looks up at the paintings on the rocks, and he nods sharply. "Take in the sight of those paintings. Whether they cheer or sober you, don't forget what we've done, and neither carry it around like a boulder."

Dianna puts a jarring mirrormask formed of broken shards of stygian in an orange backpack with two pockets.

Thea wipes her blade clean on her pants, looking sweaty as she nods to Domonico,"Course." She looks around, a frown on her face but mission for now complete.

Sina gives Dianna a sympathetic look as she cries over the loss of Ben, her own expression filling with compassion. "He served, by leading us here bravely, in spite of his fear. "His deeds should be honored and recorded. I will see to it that they are, that his memory might live on," she adds quietly to Vayne's words.

Raymesin scrubs his dagger clean with sand, then tucks it away and heads over towards the body formerly known as Ben, dropping to one knee next to it and removing his helm. "Queen of Endings bless you an' keep you," he murmurs, "An' send you back on the wheel when She's ready." And then with that done, he gets back to his feet again.

Though she still weeps, choking back quiet sobs, Dianna nods and bends over, prostrated before Ben's body as Vayne and Sina prepare him. Quietly murmuring, Dianna prays a blessing upon Ben's spirit, thanks to him for his bravery and help, praising him to the Queen of Endings. Eventually, she stops sobbing, stops murmuring, stands and looks around the gulch, in awe of the space. "It's so beautiful," she quietly murmurs. "I shall never forget it."

Silvio listens to Vayne and looks at the reliefs. He remains there for a bit, trying to soak it in, the images, as artists are sure to ask him about them. "I do believe...Thea...that I need a weapon of your metal. It seemed to turn them to dust."

Domonico hmms as he considers Silvio's statement, "Diamondplate is a good metal. I'm not sure if it was the metal... or the fact that these may not have been... entirely real... if that makes sense?"

Once the body of Ben has been gathered up onto a makeshift litter, Sina directs two of her Templars to carry it, sort of an honor guard for the would-be Godsworn, had he maybe survived. She does pause, for a time, to look over the murals, recording those for historical purposes too. Then she mounts up on her mare, to lead the way back to the little hamlet to see that his people can lay him properly to rest.

Thea glances at Domonico,"I've cut chains from slaves with this blade,"a sage nod after.



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