"My name is Astrid. I am traveling from Provence. I travel with these men for protection. I thank you for your hospitality." (No need to say she's actually providing more protection for the grogs than they're providing for her, right?)
Cristobal drifts over to the ladies, and starts chatting them up. Asking them who they are, what they do... subtly trying to find out if the sister-in-law is single... that sort of thing. He'll get to asking about the salt mines, eventually.
Meanwhile, back [strike]at the ranch[/strike] on the trail, Gardaitis quirks an eyebrow at the news from the drakes. "Are they heading for us or for the town? Vocis, can Celeste tell that?"
Greg is your host, Martha is his wife, and his sister-in-law is named Lilly.
Martha looks nervous and looks at her husband, and trys to say as little as possible. But once Greg seems relieved and no longer thinks you are bandits or dragon hunters, Lilly will relax a bit. She is young and naive. And has a hard time keeping her focus, as well as keeping her mouth shut. Once she gets going...
Well, like most everyone else in town, our fortunes are tied to the salt mines. The whole villiage owns and operates it. Sort of like a cooperative. It dates way back to Roman times. Did you know the ancient Andorrans fought Hannibal and his Oliphats, and because of them Hannibals army was left in ruins by the time he crossed the Pyrenees And everyone knows Charlemagne bestowed soveregnity over the land to the very people of Andorra. Anyway, anyone born in this town has a share of ownership in the mine, and has the right to work in it or for it. I am actually a breadmaker and cook, providing miners with food and refreshment. Mining season is mainly in the spring and summer. I have this new recipe I wanna tryout this spring. Quick and easy to make breakfast bread, served...
And at the start of every winter, they take a dozen goats and cattle down into the mine. They say they slaghter, trim, and sald the meat right there. Why don't they just butcher the meat first, then store it in salt? But I guess it works. Feeding miners is a full time job in and of itself! The villagers that don't work in the mine work at raising and delivering food into the mine. In fact, my father and brother-in-law have made an arrangement to ship from downstream and (drolls on and on and on about the time she went to La Vella last year).
Married? Oh, no. I live next door with my father and take care of the poor old man. Not quite the same since mother died, I am afraid he is loosing his grip. He is not long for this world, and I shall not consider taking a husband until I am no longer needed to care for him. I's ask you to come meet him later when he wakes up. He is often napping these days, and mumbles in his sleep about things that make no sense.
Celeste is merely able to confirm that they are headed for this general area. Further, she surmises that the two groups are likely unaware of each other. They might even collide accidentally.
The ogres are slightly more organized, comprising of a sinular warban of two-dozen or so, several ogre-dogs, a leader-type who is an ogre amongst ogres, and a hag riding atop a wolf.
The goblins seem to be a motly alliance of related clans and interested (and strage) individuals. One of the chieftains soars around on a giant bat just over their heads shouting rally cries and urging them onward. A few are riding wolves, some have seemingly decent armaments, some are well dressed and others in rags, a warlock rides atop a giant spider.
I'm gonna give this to you guys, no roll needed. Celeste can piece together what is going on by observing and listening to their shouts.
Ever see the movie "It's a Mad-Mad world?"
This isn't anything like that. Except that it is a made race for treasure. They all figure that you are going to battle the dragon, and either defeat it but be greatly weakened, or you will all be killed but will weaken the dragon. Either way, they want to swoop in and defeat whomever stands and take all the riches for themselves. And they are each mocking the other group, singing how they will win all the riches without their rivals even knowing it. And they are cluless that they are on a collision course. And they have no idea that there is no dragon fighting going on as of yet.
Colliding here, in town, on the other side of town. It matters not. This could turn out disasterous for the people of Las Salines.
So now what are you gonna do?
You are powerful magi with three fire drake companions. I am sure you can think of something.
"Why, dear lady, I hear what you're saying!" (And he hopes Esteban and the weird wolf chick are hearing what she's saying too.) "Men who work hard all day eat a lot! Why, I remember one time on campaign..." (blather, blather, blather, brag, preen, blather some more).
"Of course, I'd be delighted to meet him! It's really good of you to sacrifice yourself this way for your father. Shows the proper level of filial piety." (Cristobal's been hanging around magi long enough to pick up some big impressive words to go along with his big impressive... ahem.) "And it's a great sacrifice, of course. For a beautiful woman such as you, in the prime of life, to not know the joys of the marriage bed..." He shakes his head sadly, tut-tutting.
Gardaitis says abruptly "I'll be right back", shimmers into bird form and takes flight, to take a bird's eye look at the area.
What he wants to do is defend the town. That means diverting one of the hordes so both hordes are coming down the same road, and then making a stand at a choke point in the road.
Is it possible to divert one of the hordes by, say, dropping a half-dozen trees across the road, or something like that? Casting an illusion to get them to chase it, maybe, if Vocis is willing to help?
If we can get them coming down the same road, whether they fight between themselves or not -- is there a choke point in the road that Gardaitis can throw up some makeshift fortifications on, by building an abatis? ("Tree Falling in the Forest" is a tremendously useful spell.)
Both are feasible.
Gardaitis draws a crude map on the ground with a stick, and outlines the plan, leaving plenty of space for other magi to chime in with suggestions -- he has only the vaguest idea of what they're capable of. "I'll block that road there with dropped trees, unless someone has a better way of doing that. This'll force the goblins to detour around this hill, so both hordes will be coming down this road. We'll meet them here, at the choke point."
"I'll drop some more trees to form an abatis, like so." He draws a shape on the ground, interlocking XXXXX shapes. "Drop them with the tops towards the enemy: the goblins will be stymied by the branch points, and if a giant tries to step over, he runs the risk of getting a sharp branch right where it hurts the most. We'll angle the abatis slightly inward, and leave a gap in the middle -- that will funnel them into a tight formation as they try to go through. The magi who know area-effect spells can have themselves a field day.
I'll be in the gap, of course, with the grogs. Our valiant drake allies are invited to join me, as is Esteban once he gets back from town. Vulcanus..." He glances at the armored Flambeau. "I'm assuming you'll want a front-row seat as well? You seem like the physical sort."
The big man nods. "The grogs should stay behind me, keeping themselves well defended while ensuring that I do not become surrounded."
Carmen furrows her brow while thinking of how to best apply her magic to the situation. Multicast lightning bolts....
[color=red]"The trees are going to make fire magic tricky," Vibria says. [color=red]"Good thing I'm not a one-trick pony." Vibria smiles as she pats the hilt of her sword.
Gardaitis shrugs. "Stone fortifications would be better, but I can't bring those up."
Oh yes, Esteban hears!
Well, that is mighty forward, Esteban thinks, but he'll try to help out. Esteban gets up for a second helping of cheese (to put some distance between him and any mundanes, to reduce chance of being overheard) and casts Perception of the Conflicting Motives on Lilly while she is talking. Soft voice, subtle gestures (-7 Casting total):
17 - 7 = 10, success with loss of 1 Fatigue Level. The spell requires eye contact so Lilly might notice him muttering in Latin.
As to Greg and Martha, for they chuckle nervously as Lilly babbles on indescretly.
Lilly is really just innocent, open, and honest. No conflicting motives.
And it was a very forward satement, and demonstrates that Crisobal is of a carnal and sinful nature.
But as for Lilly, the menton of the word "Sacrifice" causes her to have a sad, pondering expression.
Father often mentions "sacrifice" in his senile mumblings. Something he regrets, something he stopped, can't quite understand him.
Carmen takes to the sky and has a look, and returns with a grin.
Do it as you said, force them into a bottleneck. And when they all get pressed, pull back so that they flood into a "killing zone". Simple and easy.
Plug the bottleneck, then either from the sky or other magical means, appear behind them and attack with ranged spells full force. They will route instantly
And actually, with this much firepower, pretty much anything we do will work. Vulcanus can wade through dozens of goblins at once and crush them like ants. I can slay a handful of ogres with a single spell. Vibria can set wolf riders ablaze with a yawn, Vocis could drive them all off himself.
And we have dragons
Yep. What's your point?
Esteban speaks up. "My dear girl, how difficult it must be to see your father in such a state! How long has he been like that?"
Regardless of Lilly's answer, Esteban continues, "In my many travels, I have spent some time at the courts of nobles and in the company of educated men. I do not claim to be a physician or theologian, but perhaps I can ascertain - I am sorry, that's a pretentious word I learned at court - perhaps I can find out whether some kind of evil spirit is afflicting your father." Esteban really does want to see if the father is under a spell or supernatural effect, but much more, he wants to talk to the man!
Com + Charm stress roll of 7
He has been getting progressively worse over the years. Not full on dementia, but he is certainly in his dotage.
I doubt there is any evil spirit, he is not that bad. And he is pretty old. Martha and I are the youngest of seven children. Heh-heh-heh, my eldest nephew is a year older than I am!
But come. Estaban is it? I will bring you to visit him. Just the one of you, not the whole crowd. Though he can be lucid after his nap, the whole crown of you may be a bit overwhelmong.
And how come people are always "overwhelmed" or sometimes they are smarmy and say "underwhelmed"? Why isn't anybody just "whelmed"?
Come, let us go now. I need to bring this pot of warm porrige over for him.
And presuming you do, next door an old man sits upright and awake in bed waiting for his lunch (the porrige).
He doesn't seem senile. Just cranky
Who is this furshluginer stranger? Whatever he is selling, I ain't buying any!
(strains his eyes to get a good look at you)
Another wandering cavalier, eh? I suppose it is adventure and dragon tales ye be after. Well, there is none of that here!
Lilly! Go fetch me a jug of water!
(leans in towards Estaban)
[size=85]Okay, who are you and why are you here? Shhhh! Quietly. He has spies everywhere...[/size]
Astrid lets the others converse without interrupting. She finds some of the statements odd, but they seem to be accepted so she just tries to observe for the moment.
Guillaume tries to figure out if he can get near to her father without alerting anyone to his presence. If so, he'll probably spont a spell to figure out what ails the man.