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  #1  
Unread 25th of March, 2010, 05:40
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Chapter 3: The Fleshweaver's Domain

Once a course of action directing the Knights towards Mordain had been decided, Sellyria and the rest of the Tiri Kitor Gatekeepers became anxious to see them on their way. Several arrangements were made to expedite their leave takings, not the least of which was the lent aid of the few arcanists in the grove who were actually able to cast identify, cutting down the time that Jean needed to take full stock of their latest field acquisitions from three days to one afternoon.

The other major boon that the Tiri Kitor were willing to grant came as something of a surprise - five giant owls, complete with their riders, were waiting for the Knights on the eve of their departure.

"The Fleshweaver's Domain is at least a quarter-cycle away on foot," Sellyria explained when she spotted Aros' raised eyebrow. The lieutenant had not forgotten the trouble they had had hitching a ride from the orcs on these when they first met not three days past.

"I was under the impression that your unit was pressed for time. These will be able to put you down just outside the blighted radius in under four sunrises. Kylegos doesn't need one - he can keep up easily in his favored form."

[Anything that you want to do before the travel montage? Next update is on Friday.]
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Unread 25th of March, 2010, 13:41
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Dahai is ready.
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Unread 26th of March, 2010, 06:35
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"I thank you for your assistance, as time is indeed pressing. Hopefully the journey will go smoothly." Aros smiles politely at the Singer and bows his head slightly in appreciation.

...more smoothly than last time.

"Knights! Mount up!"
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Unread 26th of March, 2010, 10:08
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"Yeeeheeheheheee!"
Jean giggled, walking swiftly from her hut. "Woo! New spells! I jus' figured out what I was doin' wrong. Had t' work in... um... Xor... planar... um..."
She slowed down, glancing around, apparently just realizing where she was. "Right, nevermind. Still, new spells! Yesss!"

She hurried to her owl, still grinning. Very excited.
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Unread 27th of March, 2010, 12:08
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Aros' crisp command set the Knights moving towards their borrowed mounts. A particularly burly owl had been recalled from scouting duty for the purpose of carrying I.E.D., but the others were much like the ones that had carried them to the grove in the first place.

Once they were settled in the passenger saddles, each behind an orcish rider, the owls kicked off the ground without delay. They were all quite used to flying by now thanks to Jean's frequent transmutations, but the spiraling ascent was still somewhat vertigo-inducing. The riders, stern-faced and stoic on the ground, seemed different people once they were in flight, whooping and hollering like school boys and occasionally egging their mounts to play dangerous (and dizzying) maneuvers against one another.

As they reached what I.E.D. calculated to be the thousand feet altitude mark, the owl riders leveled off abruptly, steered east and slightly north, and then settled into a V pattern that put Aros' bird in the lead.

Dahai spotted Kylegos, whom she hadn't seen during their preparations to leave earlier today, flying parallel with them about a hundred yards to the northwest. If anyone could discern a hawk's mood from the way it flapped its wings, it was a druid, and Dahai thought her fellow Gatekeeper looked positively morose. There was little she could do about it for the moment, though.

The sun was still setting when they left the grove, but by the time they were on course it was full-on twilight and quickly settling into night. Sellyria had explained to them the dangers of approaching the Fleshweaver's Domain from the air - Mordain knew of this particular grove's preference for owl-riding as a form of travel, and he had many horrid scouts in the skies above his twisted realm. For this reason, the owl riders would only travel in darkness as they carried the Knights eastward. They had several hidden roosts along the way that they could use for rest in between flights, and they reassured Aros at least twice that they could reach the edge of the 'blighted radius' in four such night journeys, as Sellyria promised.

Aros needed this reassurance - in the predawn light just before they began to descend and make camp every morning, he could clearly see the progress of the Red Hand horde far to the south. They were many miles away from the horde's implacable march eastward, but the destruction was visible even at this distance. He wondered if they were setting fire to everything in their path rather than just the little towns and villages that happened to be on the way to Graywall.

The Knights shared several hopes every time they saw this line of utter devastation. They hoped that the evacuations had taken place in time, well ahead of the Red Hand's advance. They hoped that Commander Longmarsh had gotten their report and taken it seriously - Graywall was not prepared for a siege of this magnitude, and even if a division or two from mainland Breland could be spared to bolster the city's defenses, it might not be enough.

Most of all though, they hoped that they were not wasting their time out here to the north of what appeared to be the main battleground.

By the beginning of the fourth nocturnal flight, they had drifted far enough northward that they could no longer see the Red Hand's scarring touch on Droaam. They could, however, see the edge of the blighted radius, and it was a sight to make their blood (especially Dahai's) go cold.

A murky cloud twisted and writhed slowly over a three mile radius of land that lay in the shadow of a mountain called the Crag. Even in the near dark, they could all clearly see that the cloud was a sickening shade of green.

As they approached the Fleshweaver's Domain, they noticed that despite the stiff breeze they were flying through, it seemed to have no effect on the unnatural cloud ahead. Kylegos let out a soft, mournful keen somewhere to the west, but the owl-riders remained silent as they drew closer.

They began to make their descent an hour later, once the cloud loomed nearly overhead. Their part in this was done, though their leader said that Kylegos would know how to signal for a pickup once their mission was complete.

The Knights unpacked hastily once they had touched down, not so much eager as determined now. The twisted landscape underneath the cloud was, if anything, more disturbing. Gnarled trees covered in thorns and bizarre, fleshy 'fruit' dotted the landscape, which was equal parts cracked mud, jagged hill and crater.

It was an entirely hostile place. The old Gatekeeper stronghold, now known as Mordain's Hall, supposedly lay in the dead center.

Once the owl riders were away, the Knights all stood around the edge of the blight, a few of them glancing at Dahai expectantly. Her uncanny tracking skills and sense of direction were probably their only hope of reaching the Hall without having to wade through the Fleshweaver's abominations, if there was any such hope at all.

[Navigating the Fleshweaver's Domain is going to be handled as a 'skill challenge' similar to the 4E rules (but not quite). What it boils down to is that Dahai (and/or whoever else has ranks in Survival) will need to make a predetermined number of successful Survival checks to find Mordain's Lair while avoiding patrolling abominations. If you fail one of the checks, everyone in the party makes a Spot and Listen check against set DCs to avoid an encounter. Fail too many Survival checks and you'll be forced into an encounter. Next update is scheduled for Sunday.]
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Unread 29th of March, 2010, 13:02
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Aros shrugs a few times, easing some of the tension out of his shoulders, as well as testing the fit of his new mail. For being battlefield salvage, it he wore it remarkably well, and it promised to hold up better than his old curiass. Even wound with protective spells as it had been, the battered breastplate was on the edge of serviceability after the pounding it -- and he -- had taken in the swamps.

"Knights," he calls softly, "I want this to go smooth and by the numbers. Dahai, you take point. IED, Rath, you two will advance by leap-frogging with Jean and I, sticking to cover whenever possible. Tactics to change as Dahai's appraisal of the terrain and situation warrant. Dahai, I'll let you work out details for Kylegos." The Lieutenant looks around at his soldiers, all of them appearing as anxious as he, and all of them appearing just as tired -- with the exception of the implacable warforged looming over all. "Are we clear? If there are any questions, I want them out of the way now."
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Unread 30th of March, 2010, 04:17
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Jean shakes her head no, and follows, constantly and nervously scanning the landscape for anything odd.
Her eyesight had always been exceptional, and she was now getting even better at distinguishing and catching on to important things.
She glances at Aros. Strange. Why am I comfortable around an anti-mage?
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Unread 1st of April, 2010, 15:26
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Dahai takes a moment to gather her thoughts*, sending Adelaar to travel near Kylegos, suggesting that transmuted orc travel tree to tree as Adelaar glides along the thermals above. She heads out, taking in the area carefully, but at a relatively quick pace. She moves with the grace of the huntress, cautious but eager for the hunt.

[Essence of the Raptor, allowing a +8 to Hide, Jump, Listen, Spot, and Survival, and also the Scent ability]
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Unread 2nd of April, 2010, 10:21
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Kylegos and Adelar reluctantly took to the twisted skies as Dahai poised herself. She was an excellent tracker and navigator, but this would be like nothing she had ever attempted. Her very skin seemed to recoil from the tortured earth below as she stepped across the boundary into the Fleshweaver's Domain.

The Knights fanned out behind or slightly ahead of her at Aros' command, settling into an aggressive threat-detection pattern but letting her guide their course.

Progress was maddeningly slow by necessity, at least at first. The uneven terrain hid many threats just over the next rise, some of which Kylegos or Adelar reported, but most of which Dahai was able to detect and avoid to begin with. As much as the tainted land repulsed her, her Gatekeeper instincts itched to force a confrontation with the aberrant beasts lurking the countryside in every direction.

She kept to the mission, though, and barely an hour later, they had reached the center of the miasma. Looming out of the fog was an ancient, gnarled rock the size of a small hill. It could almost be mistaken for a natural formation, and Dahai reminded herself as they circled it that it had once been Gatekeeper grounds.

One side of the massive formation had a fifty foot recess that had obviously been carved out a long time ago, perhaps in another Age. A long stairway halfway into the recess crept all the way up to a ledge near the top of the far rocky wall, and the ledge itself seemed to be an entrance to a cavern, but it was hard to tell much from where they were standing.

Two fifteen foot tall statues flanked the stairway. At some point, they had probably looked like famous druids from the first Xoriat invasion, but time and the elements had worn away their features to the point where the Knights could barely tell they were humanoids.

The place was utterly silent.
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Unread 2nd of April, 2010, 22:03
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Aros peers ahead at Dahai, letting her make the decision on how best to approach. These are, after all, Gatekeeper lands -- or at least they once were.
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Unread 3rd of April, 2010, 04:03
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The bard pursed his lips, as he studied the site ahead. Certainly not the place he longed to be. Gazing up shortly at his deadpan warforged companion he'd been assigned to pair with, Rath's gaze then focused on Dahai, awaiting her signal. The bard could only guess her feelings at the sight of this place, the feel of this place. If they could, they'd purge this place. But that wasn't his decision to make...

All seemed silent. Silence was something he really enjoyed... at times. Rare times. And this definitely wasn't one of them. Still, there was no way he could do anything without giving them away. Readying his bow, Rath awaited the signal.
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Unread 3rd of April, 2010, 04:32
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Jean frowned, letting her gaze wander. Something was wrong.
Dahai was clearly distressed, and everyone else was, if not "distressed," still obviously uncomfortable. From an objective standpoint, she could see why... this was all very strange indeed.
So then, why was she not feeling at all uncomfortable, or disconcerted with the surroundings? Not that it was "comfortable" or "home," but still.
Obviously, for something to change the landscape so deeply, it must be powerful... but that wasn't the sort of feelings she was picking up on. As if something was wrong with the trees themselves.

At least the warforged didn't seem that nervous, but that wasn't any sort of reassurance. Can never tell what's going on with them anyway.
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Unread 3rd of April, 2010, 08:06
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With a crisp look to his bounding partner, Rath, IED takes in the change of terrain and switches his mindset to infiltration. The quiet approach, as pleasing at it is to outsmart an enemy was uneventful and now he longed to make footfalls at the core of their assignment here.

Escape and evade become search and destroy.
...then escape and evade on the way out?...
Probably not.
...-that would be the wisest course of act-...
-That is also the least likely outcome if we are successfull.
...but that is the plan...
I think the plan is to kill a fleshweaver.


Double checking with his commander IED looses his axe for the final approach on the stairs and awaits his directions to enter.

...and then live to fight another day?...
Sure. The flesh seems to need that, do you as well.
...oh yes, hope for tommorow is an asset...
Seems like it creates complicated expectation.
...oh but expectation becomes ambition...
Complications.
...no, what you could do with ambition-...
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Unread 4th of April, 2010, 03:05
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Letting out a slow, heavy sigh, Dahai takes a moment to call forth a blessing upon her comrades to help veil their approach, then moves forward, up the stairs, calling IED to her right flank.

"Keep an eye out, please."

She smiles, but is clearly past the point of effervescent optimism. She glances back over the morass behind her and then up the mounting stairs. Just under her breath she gives a short prayer to Balinor before taking the first step.

"Movin' out, quiet like."

[Mass Camouflage on the group]
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Unread 4th of April, 2010, 12:14
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Dahai signaled the way forward, throwing a mask over them all as they approached the stairway. Kylegos took off once more, circling overhead in an agitated sort of way.

He suddenly shrieked, breaking the silence so completely that the other Gatekeeper looked up at him reproachfully. By the time she realized that the shriek had been a warning, it was too late. In the blink of an eye, the Knights were in a forest of hideous black tentacles ten feet high. The tendrils wrapped out legs, arms, waists and throats - I.E.D. wrestled free almost immediately, but the rest were rapidly and horrifically overwhelmed.

[Surprise Round

Black tentacles trap activated (Jean identifies it successfully), centered on L-M/8-9. Grapple checks - IED succeeds and can move through the spell's radius (dark-colored squares) at half speed; Aros, Dahai, Jean and Rath fail and are grappled. Kylegos is out of range (20' elevation).

Round I

Aros' action. I only need posts at this point for Aros, Jean and I.E.D.

Initiative Count

Aros - 27
Jean - 21
IED - 16
Other creatures
Rath - 7
Dahai - 6
Kylegos - 2
Tentacles Trap - 0

Tashalar - I picked a random token for Rath. He's in square F8 - feel free to pick out your own portrait and I'll change his token for future rounds.]


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Unread 4th of April, 2010, 12:43
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"Shit! Tentacles!"
Jean twisted, futilely trying to get free.
"Don't bother attacking them! They'll heal over instantly, you have to get out of the area or dispell them. Which I can't do, because they've got my hands caught up."

She grumbled. "IED, how about a switch? Kind of need to get out of this, now."

[Assuming IED goes along with it, ready action to use benign transposition when he gets out of the tentacles. I suppose my preference is for F4. Probably be best to be within sight of the enemies? Once that's done... I'm assuming her wand is drawn already. As move action, draw the scroll with fly on it.]

Last edited by zachol; 5th of April, 2010 at 14:11.
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Unread 5th of April, 2010, 11:54
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Cursing, Aros struggles against the crushing grip of the tentacles.

[Grapple to escape treehouse's tentacular trap. Will spend an action point on the first roll, hopefully won't need the second.]
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Unread 5th of April, 2010, 14:00
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"Right." IED grunts in understanding.

The dragon trick.
...the she witch will be the death of us...


Struggling hard IED pushes to the edge of the field of tentacles. Just as he is certain he is out of the grasp of the clinging maws he turns to acknowledge Jeans plan but with a crushing surprise his mind reels in confusion as the spell grips him unaware.

Suddenly in the fray of the tentacles again he spots the wizard regaining her composure and the searing anger of hatred pushes in on his vision.

Again he pushes hard to the edge of the field. Axe hand clenching in reflex as he swats the tentacles away to get the side of his officer.

[double move manuever]

Last edited by SPQR Anarchy; 6th of April, 2010 at 11:04.
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Unread 6th of April, 2010, 13:04
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Aros quickly wrestled free of the insidious spell and plowed forward, Anglachel before him. A moment later, I.E.D. breached the edge of the field nearby, nodding at his commander. Aros peered behind him through the writhing forest - Jean had made it out somehow, and was brushing off her robes on the far side...

The mage hunter was suddenly wracked with pain - a hidden foe had just lashed out at him! He swept his fell blade in a wide arc in the general direction of the attack, but Anglachel met only air. I.E.D. recoiled from similar attack, but the warforged's hard-wired instincts allowed him to roll with the unexpected strike in a way that Aros could not duplicate.

"Idiots!" a hideous voice growled from the ledge, echoing off the walls of the enclosure. Aros looked up just in time to see a massive, blue-scaled, many-legged creature slithering to the edge of the cave. It unfolded great, bat-like wings lazily as it watched the Knights struggle below, but it did not seem like it was about to take flight. Instead, it chuckled derisively.

"The resistance in this region has been...rather pitiful, honestly. I didn't expect anything here to live up to Shavarath standards, but the bar continues to be lowered every hour I remain. Are you lot considered soldiers on this world?"

She punctuated the question with a blast of crackling electricity that briefly engulfed Aros. When the Knights' commander was visible again, he was shaking visibly, sparks still playing on his armor.

"I'm sincerely unsure I'm being paid enough - and mind you, I'm being paid extravagantly - to die of boredom. Perhaps you'll be good sports and put up a fight before I ship you off to Dolurrh? That would be lovely."

[Aros attempts a grapple check to escape - 30 + action point (6) = 36, success! Going to assume you also wanted to move out of the radius of the spell.

Jean readies an action to cast benign transposition on I.E.D. when he moves out of the radius of the spell.

I.E.D. moves to F4. Jean casts benign transposition, swapping places with I.E.D. I.E.D. continues moving out of the radius of the spell (I picked south, because that's where all the action is; you're welcome).

Invisible creatures attack Aros and I.E.D. - Aros takes 13 points of damage and I.E.D. takes 4 (uncanny dodge is a bitch).

Varanthian appears in view, uses breath weapon (line of electricity) on Aros: Reflex save for half - 16 fails and Aros takes 15 damage. Jean identifies Varanthian as a half-fiend behir (K [arcana] 27, K [planes] 16) - she knows that the breath weapon of a behir takes about a minute to recharge, so the creature is likely to close into melee sooner or later.

Rath's action.

Conceit of play-by-posts - I'm going to have the Tentacles Trap 'delay' until initiative count 15 of round 2 so that the PCs are in uninterrupted order.

Initiative Count

Aros - 27
Jean - 21
IED - 16
Invisible Creatures - 13
Varanthian - 11
Rath - 7
Dahai - 6
Kylegos - 2
Tentacles Trap - 0 (delaying)]



Last edited by treehouse; 6th of April, 2010 at 13:10.
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Unread 6th of April, 2010, 13:31
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"Ah! A behir! He can't do the lightning thing quickly again."
Jean grumbled, focusing on the tentacles. "All right... let's... just..."

She reached out, still remaining out of range of the tentacles themselves, and suddenly poured energy into her dismissal of the spell.

[dispell magic on the thing; caster level is 5+1d6 (max +10), spend an action point as well; if it succeeds, move to K5]
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Unread 6th of April, 2010, 22:40
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"Oh, a greeting committee! How nice," Rath pipes up from amidst the black mass before his voice is muffled by the sudden squeeze of some rather strong tentacles. I'm not of any use in here and I won't get out by myself... "Could someone please remove these black appendages so that I can see and greet our host?" Judging by Aros's groan, we are dealing with more than meets the eye here.

Waiting for a moment for the field to clear, Rath then starts to recite one of the great tales of battle his companions have come to know so well and which lifts their spirits in the dark place they've entered...

[Delay until after Jean (if that is possible - realistically, how should he know when it's her 'turn'?), then ...
... if Jean successfully dispels the black tentacles, cast inspirational boost as swift action, inspire courage as standard action and move to I6 as move action - somewhere near Jean unless something like obvious invisible enemies in his path would make that a stupid idea (+3 morale bonus to attack/damage and on saves vs. charm/fear).
... if Jean isn't, then inspire courage as standard action and wriggle, wriggle, wriggle futily as move action
(+2 morale bonus to attack/damage and on saves vs. charm/fear). ]
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Unread 6th of April, 2010, 23:18
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"Gimme a sec an' stop distractin' me!"
You know, if these things weren't lethal, and we weren't in the middle of a battle...
She mumbled, still trying to unravel the annoyingly powerful spell.
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Unread 7th of April, 2010, 02:57
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Still seething IED shifts his mindset into the deadly realm that causes the docent in his chest a momentary pang of fear.

...this thing is too much...
-

With a crushing will of demand on the docent IED activates the device to allow him to race up the stairs into combat.

Hearing Jeans excuses to Raths request for aid does little to penetrate his consciousness. It does however drill into his subconcious reinforcing the his deep seated hatred of the position of power she holds.

With a driving push he charges up the stairs knowing that taking the fight to the beast is the best course of action and that if the witch was wrong about its ability to attack again he would surely live to make her regret the error.

[Haste, Rage, Run, I don't think I can attack after the move depending on the cost of the stairs. If the haste does give me an attack then it is just a standard attack with the charge mods, probably provoke an AOO]
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  #24  
Unread 7th of April, 2010, 12:57
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Chris Chandler
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Dahai swats absently at the embroiling tentacles and sees IED heading up to the bewildering creature.

"Getoff bleedin 'tackles. Grah!"

Dahai takes a moment to whistle to Adelaar to assist IED*, then she shifts into a form more suited for the situation**, then begins her advance on their opponent.

[*Whistle instruction to Assist Attack with IED, then **wild shape into aDire Lion. If possible, get the heck out of the trap, if not take the next round to break free, then go toward the behir.]
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Unread 9th of April, 2010, 05:11
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Still reeling from the sudden rush of activity in the otherwise calm desolation, Aros quickly scans his surroundings to take stock of the situation. Jean had worked her way free, and Dahai appeared to be taking hold of the situation. IED, as ever, seemed unconcerned with anything but the complete anhilation of the enemy. The Knights were slowly coming to bear on the threat.

Anglachel clenched tightly in his grip, Aros explodes forward towards his unseen attacker, focusing on the residual magic obscuring it. "IED, hostile at ten feet, one o'clock your position," he calls a warning out to the warforged, knowing in all likelihood it will be disregarded in favor of engaging the primary threat.

[Move forward, attack invisible guy twice. +15/+10, 2d6+8; unless he has spells or SLAs, in which case you'll have to check the appropriate modifiers.]
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Last edited by Doombot; 9th of April, 2010 at 05:14.
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