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That's not terribly far from what could happen>>166517
The Hayseed must surely be warmer than this, as a cool Fall breeze is stilled by the undergrowth of willows. Amber hears a rustling in the bushes, which is drowned out by the whining sound of the glowing white griffin.
"The wheel got stuck in the mud on the side of the road and... my husband went off ahead with the ox. I've been alone here for I think a few hours and you're the first to come along... surely you can help move our cart here?!"
The other members of Amber's party are no less surprised to see somegriff else on these roads. Then again, they've obviously had some recent use. Erich and Helder are curious though unwilling to be any part of this, and move slightly closer, while Federklied seems unsettled, and moves further away.
Erich replies to Amber's exclamation, if only to divert attention away from the female griffin:
"Never told you what?"
Amber's imagination is evidently running wild again. Ghostly griffins will do that. "I thought for a moment you had a cart waiting. Nevermind."
A wagon would provide some helpful rest while continuing on their way, if only for a short while, but only if it is headed in the same direction. Amber asks the griffin, "Which way are you headed?"
She looks up towards Amber and makes eye contact. Her eyes are a yellow-green, or so they seem in the moonlight. Something in her expression makes it look almost as if she wasn't expecting Amber to speak to her.
"Oh, over towards the village. By the river."
Helder takes a solid three seconds to seem to notice that Amber is speaking to him. But then he turns to Amber.
"Uh, yes. More or less."
She blinks at his use of an affirmation for a negative question. "Yes, it's on our way or no, it's not?"
He blinks. Between the whining griffin and sleep deprivation he needs a second and a half to ponder Amber's question. "I'm not entirely sure what she's talking about, but it must be near the crossing."
>>166525We really do need a rest. And at the very least, helping her might convince her not to divulge if the Inquisition asks questions.
Amber turns back to the griffin in the mundane predicament. "Sure, we'll help,"
she answers, then looks at the wagon to see how to free it. "Why didn't you use the oxen to pull it out of the mud?"
When Amber asks her question, the griffin is looking forward and away from Amber. But her eyes immediately move to Amber in acknowledgement of the fact that she is speaking to her. She does not reply immediately. In fact, there is a longer delay. Her eyes look around.
"My husband... the ox... it could not quite pull it out. Not how it was stuck."
There is clearly something this griffon is not being honest about. At least, except for the most paranoid musings she can be ruled out as an agent of the Inquisition. They would not likely come up with an elaborate trick in so short a time, they would not need to make a trap to catch them nor would they do so if they knew Amber's path. She looks to see how precisely it is stuck.
The left front wheel is on the road, and the left rear wheel is on solid dirt. The front right wheel is in grass, and the right rear wheel is... in a rut? It's hard to see with limited light and the undergrowth
Amber is sleep deprived, and quite frankly, isn't the best at seeing through deception. But damn it, there was something off about the delivery of that last line.
She looks at Amber blankly and starts laughing,
"Heh heh heh, No."
Helder, Federklied, Erich, and now Amber are all next to the cart. Amber hears more rustling in the undergrowth
Amber has no choice but to admit that perhaps those paranoid musings were right now that the signs are unmistakeable. "It's a trap, run for it!"
she shouts, pointing to the direction opposite
the rustling and sprinting.
Next to the cart, two figures come out of the bushes. By their silhouettes, they must be carrying long guns.
Amber may roll to try to evade
Amber can see, out of the corner of her eyes, another figure on the road in front of them, and one behind them, near where the road goes back over water.[1d20 = 5]
Amber is able to dive into willows before she can be shot
They have both directions covered! As much as Amber wants to make sure her compatriots are okay, she continues sprinting as far as possible.
Amber finds pretty quickly that she can't go very far at all. This location seems to be an island, though it's hard to tell. And the undergrowth is thick. All the same, she can at least, get a little bit aways from the attackers. It's not that hard to hide, with the thick willows and the limited light.
Certainly an excellent place for an ambush, though it still boggles her how in this vast territory they managed to come across a spot prepared in advance. There is no time to dwell on such matters though. How far away are the trees on the other side of the water?
A significant distance. Amber could honestly believe the water is an inundated field, as the proportions are rather similar.
Trotting in a soggy field isn't pleasant in the best of times, and not being able to see anything as well as taking several minutes to get across….
This is one scenario where it truly is better to hide instead of run. Hide: [1d20+2 = (6+2) = 8]
Amber isn't the most subtle, but her task isn't difficult here. The willow bushes cover her, and the rustling of leaves in the breeze make it hard to hear her. One griffin at least looks into the bushes, evidently after Amber. Amber can hear the female griffin asking "where did he go?' But Amber can see that the other party members are being held up with their claws in the air... except for Federklied, who was evidently tackled to the ground by two griffins.
And yet, for this, for all of this, Amber knows exactly
what would remedy this situation.
Where'd she leave her viol?
Does she not have it with her? It's the one thing she would never leave behind.
Naturally. Just have to ease it away from the road...
She dropped it, didn't she? Amber circles around the hostile band at a distance, trying not to make a sound. Move silently: [1d20+3 = (13+3) = 16]
Amber placed it down when she went to talk to the griffin. Fortunately, it was by the bushes.
Amber is able to creep through the bushes, and slowly, slowly, take the viol.
Amber can hear that Federklied had evidently reached for her gun (but the griffins disarmed her), Erich is being... impolite... and Helder is trying to negotiate. It seems they are simple bandits, as they are most interested in possessions of value, and whether or not they can obtain some sort of ransom.
That…makes more sense, and explains why they were unwilling to shoot so as to not attract attention. Now that she has the viol, she retreats a short distance until hidden by the undergrowth.
Amber has the viol now. The large instrument is a bit difficult to drag through the undergrowth, but it is possible if one is careful. They have noticed that Amber is missing, and one or two griffins has their attention focused on Amber, though finding out whether or not they are proactively looking for her, or simply keeping guard if she returns, would require reentering line of sight with them.
Although a plan has already brewed in her head, for now she will stay silent and listen to what's going on.
One male griffin has taken over interrogation. The griffin is trying to figure out where the group is going, and why. He doesn't quite believe Helder when the latter claims that they are simply travelling to Bronzehill late at night after their train was cancelled, to make it in time for the execution of a will; even if his story is strangely detailed about required witnesses and whatnot. They don't seem to know that Amber's party is fugitives, though they are certainly interested. The government probably would
pay a bounty to highwaymen.
Amber personally would have tried claiming that they are also criminals, even to the point of claiming to be thieves, but evidently that would not work either. Apparently the adage "no honor among thieves" holds true in Griffonia as well.
There is really only one thing Amber can do. After rubbing the mud off her talons, she takes her viol out of its case and starts playing a haunting tune.
Perhaps it would have; they would likely have taken their watches and let them go, if they believed Amber. But hope is a powerful thing, and it appears the bandits are hoping someone will pay handsomely for Amber's party, be they nobles ransoming relatives, or the government paying a bounty, Right now, the bandit leader's hypothesis is that the group are rebels fleeing after a successful strike, nevermind the fact that rebels fleeing an un
successful strike wouldn't be worth as much.
To play a haunting tune, place the bow against the string, and play it slowly. High pitched. Let the sound linger. The bandits will hear it, to be sure. No matter. It isn't for them.
But Amber knows there is True power held in the vibrations
To play music in a dark forest, on the run from the authorities, with the only unrestrained creatures around being greedy bandits, goes completely against common sense. But what would common sense get her? It would be to either flee as a coward or attempt a nigh-suicidal fight. To play, to put her heart and soul into her music, is what she must do.
Amber has spent the last... has it been an hour? Six hours? Longer? Hard to tell... the time has passed in an almost trance-like state, being tired, dazed, stressed and sleep deprived, feeling pain any time she stopped even for a moment. But not she grasps the wood of her viol and bow. Hearing the sound... She feels alive
Music, Amber knows well, is the ultimate freedom from constraint. Free from the constraint of the limitations of the body. Pure emotion, will, and soul. Free from matter and space and time. Why not play a song for old friends?
She does so, channeling her emotions and love for music into this perfect art form. All other worries and anguish can wait; in fact, they're not even relevant in comparison. Forget material woes and embrace the transcendent nature of music.
She saws, back and forth. She closes her eyes to focus on the music. She can hear yelling. The bandits can hear her playing. No matter. They have no power to disrupt true music.
In her mind, the music takes form. Or rather, the music depicts the act of formation. Shapes come into being from nothing; a formless void that is slowly occupied by ever changing and moving colors. Amber can't compare it to a kaleidoscope; the colors of the kaleidoscope give no pretense of tangibility. But these colors seem more like fluids, like moisture accumulating and becoming visible as it hangs in the air.
And so on the music plays. A swamp is nopony's idea of a good theater, nor does it have great acoustics, but qualities in those areas only accentuate music being played. With these melodies being seemingly unearthly, and Amber entirely engrossed in her performance, trivialities do not matter.
Amber can feel the wind around her, circling and then sucking upwards. The leaves of every bush and tree rustle, but they cannot overpower the sound of the viol. Amber plays intensely, sawing the bow back and forth with an energy she would not have thought remained within her. The complicated movements of the bow come without mediation of thought as Amber translates her will into music.
The shapes take form. The forms does not correlate with any known, but they do resemble things that fly in the air, one like a bat, and another like an insect. Over here, one mimics the shape of a griffin. They dance around in the air, with their fangs and multiple sets of wings.
There is no time or attention to spare for marveling at such a wondrous thing. Amber attempts to create more frightful tones in her music, to scare away those pesky bandits.
Indeed, there is no time for wonder. Only for the music.
Another note joins the sound, followed by another chord, until a symphony plays with Amber. If it weren't so painful, she'd be in ecstasy. The recognizable forms lose their shape once again and they twist and morph into oblong clouds of fluid that dance around and transform again.
The music is pierced by the sound of gunshots. Several of them, all from rifles. These cretins don't appreciate music. But her friends do, and this music was made by and for Amber's friends, after all.
Such a cacophony rudely interrupts her music, but she does not stop playing. Her friends will
be set free, and her music is tinged with menacing notes to make this clear.