• Solo • A barchan dune never bites, so it should be seif

The shallow bay Egilrun is situated upon is used, these trials, for crafts and crafting. From boatmakers to weaponsmiths, glassblowers to metalworkers, the sound of hammers and saws can be heard almost every break of the trial, with crews working in shifts to produce the beautiful craftsmanship which they might, one trial, become famous for.

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Oram Mednix
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A barchan dune never bites, so it should be seif

It is evident to me
24-25 Ashan 721

Continued from here


Oram peered pensively at the drumstick in his hand. Usually, the traveler would have considered a fresh-cooked dinner a treat, especially when he had expected to spend the next few trials eating dried rations in the field; however, the circumstances under which this meal had come to him, tasty though it was, did not sit well. He and Ranger Hopkins had just made an intriguing discovery while placing observation teams to keep an eye on Slag’s Deep and its approaches from the West when a messenger had found them, bearing a peremptory order to return to Egilrun to brief Chief Ranger Elliott on anything unusual. They were not to run any further missions, the message had emphasized, which obviously included Oram’s planned visit to the north coast of the island. There he had planned to investigate the inland dunes of mostly red sand that Baron von Smooglenuff’s maps had indicated, and about which little else was known.

Oram and Hop had both wanted to go back out to resume their patrol after reporting to the Chief Ranger, but Elliott had overridden them. Both of them had tried to argue their point, that the region was still largely unknown, and that the oddities they had already uncovered made it more pressing, not less so, for them to learn what lay in those northern stretches.

----------------------

”That’s enough!” Elliott had cut in repressively. ”There is more that is missing from our knowledge than your silly red sand, Mr. Mednix! As it happens, some similar clusters of vegetation have been reported just west of here, just south of the road to Scalvoris and leading off towards the Sweetwine. That’s more important, in my view. Ranger Hopkins, I want you to investigate this right away. Specifically, I want to know if this strip of odd vegetation in fact runs all the way into the Sweetwine. Don’t follow it into the forest, though. Just to the edge, assuming it extends that far, then return and report once more.”

The pair looked uneasily at each other, and Oram cautiously cleared his throat. ”Perhaps I-”

”-will stay right here in headquarters,” interrupted Elliott. ”I would remind you that your main mission here is not intelligence gathering, but supervising the ongoing setup of this base. There’s still a lot of work to do, and I gather you’ve been too busy playing Patrol Prince to attend to that work properly. I expect you to remedy this going forward.”

Oram opened his mouth to…well, he wasn’t sure what he had planned to say, but at any rate he never got the chance, for the Chief Ranger plowed on: It is evident to me that you will henceforth not participate in the planning, conduct, nor debriefing of any additional patrols. Moreover, it is evident to me that this sands survey nonsense is a red herring, and is of no intelligence value whatsoever. Go attend to your *assigned* duties, and do not trouble me with your sands again, clear?” The Chief Ranger looked expectantly at both him and Hop.

The pair looked at each other glumly and then mumbled: ”Clear.”

----------------------

”You gonna eat that or just stare at it?”

Oram glared at Herman, who now sat across from him, then pointedly took a bite from the drumstick and chewed ostentatiously without taking his eyes off of the stable master. Herman looked away after a couple trills and left the hunter alone after that.

In truth, Oram might very well have let his dinner get cold had the ranger not broken his reverie. Now that he was once more focused on the food, he made himself eat it. Bite, chew, swallow, resolving not to dwell on Elliott’s refusal.

He had just finished the drumstick and started on the stuffing when he remembered, and froze. He was playing the fool, he realized.

”You gonna eat *that* or-” Herman started.

”I need you to get Mule ready,” Oram declared abruptly. ”I’m going back out.”

The stable master frowned. ”You sure? You just got back.”

”He’ll be fine. Just get him ready.”

Herman gestured with his spoon at his bowl. Oram nodded impatiently. ”Of course. I’m going to finish eating first, too. I just want to head out while there’s still a couple breaks of sunlight left."

The stable master answered with an indifferent shrug and resumed eating.

About a break later, Oram was once more riding his hardy, long-suffering mule across the bridge where he and Hop had encountered Ruffin McGuffin that morning. At the point where he needed to leave the road, he dismounted and walked his mount the rest of the way to the camp, where he was greeted with the challenge for the password he and Hop had given the rangers earlier that trial.
 ! Message from: Peg
Please assume that another Ranger comes with you (Ranger can be an existing one or a new Ranger NPC) - and just tries to "feel out" Oram on how badly Elliot is treating him, etc. Nothing direct unless Oram goes with it. IF Oram goes with it, nudge me after your next post / when he does
word count: 878
Villains are powerless against story beats.
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Oram Mednix
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Re: A barchan dune never bites, so it should be seif

It is evident to me
”Nice backpack, Mr. Mednix! Is that silk?”

”That was a gutsy move,” the ranger muttered to Oram as they set up their lean-tos. ”And for what it’s worth, I think it was the right one. Elliott can be stupid sometimes. I’m not the only one who thinks so.” Alarm appeared on the man’s face. ”Don’t let anybody else know I said that.”

The traveler looked up from the taut-line hitch he was tightening to appraise the man who had, unexpectedly, caught up with him as he had ridden forth from Egilrun that afternoon. Pattis, his self-invited companion called himself. Oram remembered that he had been part of the initial quartering party he and Refed had brought to the burned-out pirate compound the Rangers had since made into a home away from home.

Pattis was older, for a junior ranger; Oram gathered it had taken him longer than usual to receive that promotion. The hunter did not know why that was, nor much else about the man. Then again, nobody knew much about Oram, either; he had been with the Rangers less than thirty trials. One thing he did know about Pattis was that Mule didn’t like him, and that could be a problem going forward.

After a couple trills Oram went back to tightening the ropes on his lean-to. ”I won’t tell anyone else,” Oram assured Pattis: ”I would rather you hadn’t told *me* you said that.”

Pattis fell silent, shadowing Oram’s efforts in getting his own shelter ready for the night. Then, after a couple bits, he said: ”Refed and Herman tell me the Old Man’s been riding you pretty hard since you got here. That you can’t do anything right by him. That true? Seeing you at work, all the good you do, I’d hate to think Elliott doesn’t appreciate you.”

Oram sighed. This had been Elliott’s plan from Trial One, as he had warned the hunter in advance. And the Chief Ranger had delivered on his promise in spades -at one point literally, since upon his arrival at Egilrun he had publicly berated Oram for not having dug a protective ditch around the compound already. The Chief Ranger’s flack could be wearing, but what truly bothered Oram was the constant need to keep up the ruse. He did not enjoy living a lie, and was eager to get out from beneath it.

Rather than comment on what Pattis had said, Oram laid out a tarp beneath the lean-to, then unfurled his bedroll. ”It’s getting dark,” he pointed out: ”…and chilly. I told the other rangers I want to set out as soon as its light enough to look for fording sites safely.”

Pattis nodded and followed suit. At length the two men lay down, Oram letting his mind clear so that he could get to sleep quickly, before Pattis started to-

”You should really consider what I said about Elliott’s not appreciating you,” Pattis commented, somewhere off to Oram’s side in the deepening twilight. ”What will you do, do you think, if Elliott finally decides he doesn’t like having you around?”

”I’ll go home and do what I was doing before,” Oram pointed out. ”-as soon as this war thing is over, of course.”

Pattis made a grunt that sounded…surprised? Unbelieving? As fond as he was of making them himself, Oram was not that good at deciphering grunts.

Pattis, he recalled, was trying to make a career as a ranger, with seemingly limited success. Maybe the man assumed Oram had the same preoccupations and frustrations, that the prospect that Elliott would not promote or encourage him as he felt he deserved rankled him. Yawning, Oram decided he didn’t really care what Pattis thought, and, after muttering a barely-articulate “Good night”, slipped off into sleep.

Oram awoke to find the sky already graying, and the camp already starting to stir. Using feel as much as sight, he broke down his lean-to, packed, and began to load up Mule. He was nearly done by the time a bleary-eyed Pattis sat up.

”Get moving, Sleepyhead,” Oram said to him. ”I’m heading out in less than a break. I’ll leave you behind if you’re not ready.”

He meant it, too. He hadn’t invited Pattis, and found himself starting to resent the man’s company.

”There has to be an easier way to make a living,” Pattis grumbled. ”It’s probably too late for me, but a man of your talents? Seems to me you could do better than this crappy outfit.”

Oram wandered off without answering in search of the other patrolling rangers who would be helping him find a crossing site. As he did, he suddenly realized that he had not briefed Pattis on what his actual objectives were. Why, then had the man come along at all? Just to reassure Oram that he and his buddies were “with him on this”? It was odd. He liked the situation about as much as Mule liked Pattis.

He, Pattis, and two of the patrolling rangers were headed north before the break was over. The first rays of sunlight were just seeping through the mountains when they reached the water, the east-west run that separated them from the northernmost stretch of Scalvoris island. The water here was down, and it did not take at all long to find a suitable ford. Oram pulled out his map and his True North gem to orient himself. He wanted to mark the crossing. The other rangers were unsurprised by this, though they looked appreciatively at the gem.

Pattis, by contrast, seemed awestruck. ”You have one of those!” he exclaimed breathlessly. ”You must be quite fortunate! Or accomplished. Or both.” The effusive praise made Oram uneasy. The other two rangers tittered.

Just then, he made a decision. He needed to act. Clearing his throat awkwardly, he said, in as authoritative a voice as he could muster: ”I’ll be crossing here alone. Make sure you see Mr. Pattis escorted safely back to camp. He will take any correspondence you have back to Egilrun for you.”

Without awaiting a response, he started Mule towards the crossing. The animal seemed as eager to get away from Pattis as Oram was.

to be continued
 ! Message from: Peg
Noted. Pattis will be found in later episodes.....
word count: 1086
Villains are powerless against story beats.
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Doran
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Re: A barchan dune never bites, so it should be seif

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Oram:

Knowledge:
[Intelligence] People can forget infrequently used codes.
[Mount:Land] Gauge whether a mount is sufficiently rested before riding it more.
[Psychology] The desires one projects onto others may reveal one’s own motivations.
[Socialization] People use flattery to ingratiate themselves.
[Tactics] A spur-of-the-moment change can achieve surprise.
[Tactics] Use challenge-and-password to safeguard against infiltration.

Loot: -
Lost: -
Wealth: -
Injuries: -
Renown: -
Magic XP: -
Skill Review: Appropriate to level.
Points: 10
- - -
Comments: I have to admit, Chief Ranger Elliot telling Oram and Ranger Hopkins to return to Egilrun really made me wonder about his reason. There’s so much going on here! It’s fascinating though. I didn’t know that this was the sequel to the map thread when I claimed the request, by the way!

You described Oram’s reluctance to stay in headquarters while Ranger Hopkins got to explore some more very well in my opinion. If I were in his place, I’d like to take a look at those strange phenomena as well. I’m kind of glad that he decided to disobey Elliot’s orders this time.

The NPCs in this thread were quite well-realized in my opinion. You made me especially curious about Pattis and whether there is anything unusual going on with him or not (Nobody knows much about Oram either, after all). I’m not always that curious about NPCs.

Furthermore, I can’t help but wonder about Oram’s constant need to keep up the ruse. I haven’t read all the threads in this series, but I want to do so now.

That being said, I look forward to seeing this story continue. Peg’s modnote in which she mentioned later episodes makes me think that it’s far from over yet!

Enjoy your rewards!

P.S.: I've also decided to nominate you for the following medal because this story is quite interesting, and a pleasure to read (and review)!

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Reviewer's Choice

Awarded by nomination of Peer Reviewers to players who write stories that are a pleasure to read and review.

Please link this review in "Medal Nomination Thread" when you submit the nomination.
word count: 362

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