Ghost Cache

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'Init' 4.4


Late Morning

Star Town, Western Coast, Asheroon, Riches of Renfros

"What's the point of sieging Star Town?" Vil asked, her frown at full force.  "No one can actually attack it.  It's a safe zone."

"Holding siege.  Not 'sieging'," Bindiby corrected.

"Whatever!  This is dumb."

"It's not about Star Town," Coda said, sounding like he'd realised something important.  "It's about the whole Western Coast region of Asheroon.  This is a reverse seige.  By keeping the fresh crop of trained newbies from leaving..."

"It means no new apprentices and customers to the bigger cities!" Bindiby finished.

"And no one can get away by boat either!" Stoni realised.

Everyone turned to face her.  "What do you know?" Coda asked.

"Um, there's some kind of boat-shattering... weapon?  I didn't actually see it, but I heard it.  Really loud clicks, maybe from underwater, and then the boat just broke."

"Some kind of sonic war engine," Coda said, as if that explained anything.  "Possibly mounted on a marine or submarine vessel.  Or a sea monster. Or it could be a lem."

Vil rolled her eyes, not appreciating Coda's level of detail.  "It doesn't matter what it is right now, just that no one can get past it."

"That's an assumption," Bindiby said.  "But it's a reasonable assumption given what we know.  So, what can we do about it?"

"What about the guards?" Lira suggested.

"Good idea, but no," Coda said as the queue moved forward a little.  "The guards are mostly for show.  The town is a safe zone and this is a newbie area, so they don't need to be especially tough.  Some of them are players, but those mostly move on to places with better pay and more opportunities for training once they're levelled enough.  So the guards won't be significantly better than anyone else here.  One or two might, but that's not enough to make a difference."

"What about a mass attack?"

Lira was briefly confused as to who had spoken and she saw that she wasn't the only one.

"Surely they can't take us all," Garthol's gravelly voice continued.  "The whole town, I mean."

"I wouldn't count on it, Garthol," Coda said, wringing his hands.  "So many would be easily be taken down at range, or cut down by heavy weapons before they can do any real damage."

"That might be enough to keep them busy for someone stronger to take the out," Garthol said, making illustrative stabbing motions.  "If they're occupied and you get them where their armour isn't, a sharp blade is a sharp blade.  It always works."

"Two problems with that," said Vil, the other muscle-focused character.  "One: their armour actually covers all their weak spots properly.  You won't actually take anyone down unless you literally stab them in the eye.  Good luck with that.  And two: terror hounds.  Three: in —"

"You said there were two problems," Garthol interrupted.

Vil continued as if he hadn't spoken.  "—case anyone didn't get the point the first time, terror hounds."

"What about sky abilities?" Lira suggested, glancing at Bindiby.

"I was trying that when I died," Bindiby said, almost as bitterly as Vil usually was.  "Only because the rest of the group was already gone.  I couldn't do much without risking turning the countryside into an irradiated wasteland, and what I could do wasn't enough."

Robin put in a rare comment.  "Trying to take them down by attrition would be too slow, wouldn't it?"

"Yeah," Coda agreed.  "We might run out of weapons first, but even if not we'd probably be taking them out slower than they can replace themselves.  Not that we know how many are out there and how many more are on the way, but we can assume they're making a serious attempt.  Even if we did make slow progress against them, one or more of the local barons is sure to notice something's up and will send an army within a few weeks.  Hopefully that will be the end of it."

"So we just stay here doing boring, easy noob stuff for weeks?" Vil said, glaring almost poisonously at everyone in her field of view.

"Or throw ourselves into the meat grinder of bandits and such," Garthol added.  "Without any decent weapons or armour, because you can bet the prices will go up like fireworks at a carnival.  Neither sounds like a great use of our time."

"Then we have to get the word out sooner," Lira said.  It didn't really make any difference to her, but helping other characters would help her indirectly.  Besides that, she saw no reason not to be helpful.

"Ah, we're trying to run the blockade," Bindiby said, sounding more enthusiastic.  "If we get as many people as possible keeping the attention of the sieging forces, maybe one or two people can get through."

"We need to know how more about who's out there first," Coda said quite sensibly.

Stoni had a few ideas.  "I know there's a very mobile tree who's great at archery.  And is part of a group of at least three bandits," she remembered.  "Oh and a robber named Hambold, but I don't know whether he's part of the siege."

Bindiby gave her a sideways look.  "For a noob you really get around."

"Come to think of it," Vil said, frowning thoughtfully, "why should we trust any of your intel?  For all we know it could be just the one group we fought and everything else is just misdirection."

Lira wanted to protest but held herself back.  Immediately arguing her innocence felt like it would be a mistake.

"I believe her, at least about the blockade existing," Coda said, shuffling forward as the bank line moved on again.  "There's definitely significantly more people here than a week ago, and too many are recently dead to be a normal variation."

"You're guessing," Robin said, fixing their uncle with an intense stare.

Coda shrugged.  "It's not as though I have the population statistics or whatever, but my gut tells me something's wrong.  Something other than Lira's information."

"Thanks," Lira said.  "I don't really have a goal here.  I'm just telling you what I know since we're discussing the topic.  Maybe there's someone in charge of the town that we ought to tell?"

"Actually," Bindiby said while standing up straighter and stretching her arms wide, "we can't be the only ones to have noticed.  The mayor or the sheriff must have noticed by now."

"The temple staff too," Robin said.  "They haven't told everyone because that would cause a panic."

The six players each exchanged glances and looked around furtively.  A few other nearby people in the queue had obviously been listening in.  "So what if people panic?" Coda asked.  "This is a safe zone.  No one can get hurt in here."

"No, but they can stop working," Bindiby said, looking increasingly worried.  "We rely on various crafters to make weapons and armour that we'll need to fight the bandits and such."

"And food," Garthol growled.

"Yeah, we can still starve in a safe zone," Vil said, increased stress visible as wrinkles on her face.

Stoni found that very concerning.  "Will we all get caught in a death loop?"

"Nah," Coda said with a casual headshake.  "If we die in a newbie town we can respawn at a different newbie town."  Realisation dawned on his face.  "Oh!  So that's the endgame."

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