Clovius and beyond

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Clovius and beyond

Postby Graybeard » September 16th, 2013, 9:27 am

[OOC: OK, new thread, picking up where we left off after watching Amalric blow himself up. Note that there's a thread in the OOC Discussion sub-forum on creating the culture of Clovius, reachable here. Some of what's in this startup posting duplicates, or sets up, what's in that thread, but still, go over there and let the world building begin! Note also that there is no need to develop Clovius as fully as was done for Goriel, unless people specifically want to have adventures there; it's more a stop on the road home rather than a place where a mission awaits -- although a mission could be waiting there, if there's interest.]

After getting over a jittery period at the beginning, when all eyes were focused on the distant horizon, looking for trolls, rather than on the route, the group was able to make good time through the high country. Passage across the tundra was straightforward, but there was also a good trail through the coniferous forest below it, the kind that might be made by the passage of nine-foot-tall bipeds wise in the ways of the wilds. Clear and wide the trail might be, but it didn't seem to have been used recently; the fire rings were all cold, and the huge tracks from troll feet were overgrown and indistinct. That was good, Sister Rose thought; they really didn't want to run into the territory's primary inhabitants. It was also mildly mystifying. This was the perfect time of year for trolls, or anyone else, to be doing their business in the high country. The snow had all melted off, wildlife (what was there? she didn't know) would have moved up to graze in the forests and meadows and to escape the lowland heat, and a hunter/gatherer culture, as the trolls were thought to be, would have followed them. So why hadn't they? Well, the ways of the trolls were strange ... although they'd have to be on the alert for things about this countryside that might be imposing enough to scare away a troll.

"So what do you know about this 'Clovius' place?" Rose asked Therese as they walked. "I know nothing about it, other than that we used to have a mission there, but we don't any more. I suspect Amalric may have been stationed there once, long ago, but that's just a guess." One that's supported by his letter, but we'll get back to that when we make camp.

"Not much," Therese replied. "Walled city with little villages out in the countryside, full of people working forests and mines since agriculture doesn't work well up here. They trade some with the trolls, but it's very limited. There are occasional dark rumblings about half-human, half-troll 'hybrids' in the villages -- that's the polite word. I tend to discount those, myself." She permitted herself a rare naughty grin. "Hard to imagine how that would work anatomically, with a nine-foot-tall troll getting it on with a human woman, or vice versa."

Rose got a momentary naughty smile to match Therese's, but it didn't last. After encountering the "Athach," as Desiree called it, that doesn't seem as implausible as I wish it did... She merely nodded as the group continued through the forest.
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Re: Clovius and beyond

Postby Drusia » September 16th, 2013, 2:51 pm

"I never knew," she finally got out. "I never knew. Many of us in the Sisterhood did not grow up in Refuge-Nouveau, but came there as children, just as I did. Then we were -- trained -- to forget our origins, also just as I did. To this day I couldn't tell you anything about the small town where I was born. I always thought Mel was one of those. She never talked about her roots either. I ... this has all been quite the surprise."

I blink at that and fall silent. Her group is trained to forget where they grew up? That's... creepy. Why in the world would a group that does as much good as hers do something so awful to their trainees?

Suddenly, I'm glad that I never sent Anfisa to one of their "safe" towns. Tsuiraku - at least to my knowledge - doesn't erase anyone's memories.

I consider asking her why they do that, but it occurs to me that she might not know, or might not be willing to share.

And anyway, she and Rose are busy figuring out the route and talking about yet another city we'll be visiting soon. I should probably pay attention, but I'm distracted by this creepy image Therese has planted in my brain of young girls having their memories erased and being trained as warriors by some sinister group bent on who-knows-what.

-- Desiree
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Re: Clovius and beyond

Postby Jack Rothwell » September 16th, 2013, 4:36 pm

Tamina had, eventually, gotten over the worst of the fear that had pricked her like thorns since their dramatic arrival. She'd even managed to bring herself to resume her place at the front of the group where her senses would be at their most useful and, for the most part, those senses were giving her a lot of unfamiliar information.

"Don't like this place. Trees are all the wrong shape. Doesn't smell right."

That had been her longest contribution to the conversation so far. Then again, it was hard to draw much talk from the humanoid when she was giving her full attention to not being ambushed by other, bigger humanoids with bigger claws, bigger teeth and bigger appetites.
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Re: Clovius and beyond

Postby Graybeard » September 16th, 2013, 10:05 pm

"Don't like this place. Trees are all the wrong shape. Doesn't smell right."

She's never seen a krummholz before,
thought Therese. That was reasonable enough; a place with a tropical climate, as Tamina had grown up in(*), wouldn't have one. "We'll be getting down to more normal forest soon enough, don't worry," she said, hoping she was right. Indeed, this was the case; fifteen minutes more on the trail got the group down into a more conventional coniferous forest, if one that had a troll-sized gap in the lower tree branches. Obviously the troll traffic sufficed to keep the trail clear ... and that was something to think about.

To Therese's surprise, Sister Rose breathed a small sigh of relief at those words. "Thanks for saying that. I was beginning to wonder about those trees myself. I'd heard of them when I was a kid, but before the trip to Goriel, I'd never seen them either. In our language they're called 'elven timber.'" She smiled at Desiree. "Not to worry, just a figure of speech, this is very definitely not elven territory..."

(*) OOC: Incidentally, a small oddity. While researching something for the "Clovius culture" thread, I discovered some stuff in an Errant Story forum that made a convincing case that if the Errant World is really planet-like, the maps we have only agree with the story if all of the known countries are in the Southern Hemisphere, not the Northern. In this case the climate of the Southern Continent would be colder than that of Veracia, Farrel and Tsuiraku, and the Northern Confederacy would be warmer -- exactly as in the glimpses we got of Santuariel. Having this kind of terrain in the Northern Confederacy really isn't a problem, as elevation can make land a great deal cooler even at the Equator; in the real world, there are glaciers essentially on the Equator, on high summits like Chimborazo. However, our view of the Southern Continent may be a bit ... at odds with Errant Story. Well, we'll sort that all out if and when it becomes necessary, or the hoped-for "official" Errant World RPG guide materializes.
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Re: Clovius and beyond

Postby Alberich » September 17th, 2013, 5:52 pm

Tim thought it a little ungrateful to complain about the way the Good Lord had made the trees...it seemed to him that the Lord's work was good, and there was beauty even in Goriel. Of course, the most beautiful lands were in Veracia -- but what would you expect him to do, except to lead the Faithful there?

Tim didn't think a sermon on the subject would have much effect on the present company. So he held his peace and enjoyed the scenery.
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Re: Clovius and beyond

Postby Graybeard » September 17th, 2013, 10:12 pm

The going got easier, the deeper into the forest the group got ... and yet, the easier it got, the more concerned Therese became.

"Look at this trail," she said. "Yes, I know trolls are a lot bigger than we are, so it'll be cleared to a height higher than our own heads. But the trail is also wide. And look at where paths lead off from it, broken branches, trampled ground. I don't think trolls have bodies that wide. Something even bigger than a troll has been passing through here."

Sister Rose paused to check out the ground. "I see what you mean," she said. "I think there are faint tracks here. Wait a minute. I'm not very good at this..."

Magic flowed from her fingertips, and for a moment, the ground in front of them glowed. The glow briefly showed signs of structure, as though the magic was trying to outline prints in the soil, but it didn't last long enough for observation.

"Sorry," Rose said, dismissing the spell. "I was trying to detect remnant life force, hoping it would bring out the tracks, but I just don't have the skill for that. Are any of you better at picking up footprints than I am? I have the feeling we better find out what made these."
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Re: Clovius and beyond

Postby Alberich » September 18th, 2013, 1:28 am

"Our huntress, maybe?" asked Tim, looking at Tamina.
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Re: Clovius and beyond

Postby Jack Rothwell » September 18th, 2013, 4:41 am

"Wha-? Oh, o-kay."

Tamina padded over to the faint indentations where the nun had been casting and dropped to all fours to get a better look at what was left of the track marks. She squinted her eyes and took deep lungful's of the tundra air to see what information there was to find.

OOC What's she likely to find Grey? If anything?/OOC
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Re: Clovius and beyond

Postby Graybeard » September 18th, 2013, 8:23 am

"I don't like this," Therese frowned. She drew herself up to her full near-six-foot height and sniffed the air in a pose that would have reminded Sister Rose amusingly of a cave bear, if she too hadn't had a case of the jim-jams sufficient to divert her attention. "I can smell something on the wind. Not trolls, I don't think, but something not human either."

That last statement did manage to appeal to the whimsical part of Rose's personality, even as the more serious part was on its guard. "And dare I ask," she chuckled, "how you know what a troll smells li--"

*GRONK!*

The loud, guttural call was followed by the sound of splintering timber, somewhere off to their left.

"What was that?" at least six voices chorused in unison.
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Re: Clovius and beyond

Postby Jack Rothwell » September 18th, 2013, 11:22 am

The kobold's investigation had yielded no hard answers for her, but it had raised a horrible suspicion, born by a vague recollection of one of her earlier lessons with her Elder. It had been on the topic of the wildlife which lay within the dark heart of the southern continent... the larger predators that dwelt there...

'But... the geography's all wrong! There can't be stuff like that up here!'

'Says who?'


*GRONK!*

The chorus of confusion by her companions was accompanied by an inarticulate but terrified squeak from Tamina, who immediately piped up with a suggestion.

"Hide! Quick! Big thing... really big thing coming!"

Whether or not her friends heeded her advice was an issue the kobold was now putting behind her with considerable speed on her beeline to the nearest leafy cover.
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