[Q2] fruit from the poisoned tree
Rarely, unless he was handsomely rewarded, did The Reaper of Wycome meddle in politics. But when it involved the oppression of the Free Marches, he drew a line in the sand. If not for the sake of his homeland than to clear his and every other rogues, mercenary, and entrepreneurs' name from an unfair accusation. An accusation mind you, that didn't seem to hold much weight when scrutinized. He supposed he could understand the instinctive reaction to point the finger at those who made their livings 'alternatively' so to speak. But the question remained: why would said rogues, mercenaries, and entrepreneurs starve themselves? It wasn't the instance of a robbery that made waves but the fact that deliveries were constantly thwarted with seemingly no one at the helm of the chaos. 

So Ronan volunteered when the call went out for support. He jumped at the chance to help his own starving land before it started to affect his own family. He wanted answers just like everyone else before it was too late to do anything. Their scouting party was diverse, and even included an Antivan princess. Not to mention Hawke who he knew from Starkhaven court (though it was doubtful she knew who he was), and two Grey Wardens identifiable only by their armor. The other one, a brooding looking lad, was indeterminable to Ronan. 

They'd traveled for a day now, having met at an agreed upon location to commence their journey. Ronan was travel weary and in need of an extended rest when they chanced upon the caravan. It look untouched, its goods in place and unpillaged.  Odd considering there being no one else in site and their current predicament. He pulled the reins of his horse to a stop and held up a fist for the others to stop behind him. By virtue of his arrogance, Ronan as The Reaper had taken point on their venture. Tread lightly, lads. Things are never what they seem these days. It'd been a long time since even he could trust his own eyes. 

  • Ronan is tagging along with the group as The Reaper. Unless it is known, they would not know him as Ronan Sterling family man but as his notorious alter ego. Surely he's got something up his sleeve doesn't he?
  • They have been traveling for close to a day when they come upon the abandoned, unpilfered caravan of goods. 
  • The Reaper has advised the rest to proceed with caution. 
If it wasn't one thing it was another, it seemed.  The Marches were no longer positively melting under a wave of unprecedented heat, but now they were being starved out.  For the life of her she couldn't figure out why someone would be interrupting shipments of food all across the Marches; usually one city-state or another was targeted, not all of them at once.  Then again, the alliances between the city-states were stronger than ever these days thanks to Sebastian's efforts and close ties to places like Kirkwall and Tantervale so you couldn't just starve out one city without the others coming to their aid.

Thus, a coordinated effort, but why?  By who?  Bethany had a hard time believing the excuse of rogues and outlaws - starving out a whole country was far past that.  Privately, she suspected that was the public excuse because they needed to tell people something and they didn't have any other leads.  Yet.

That was why this party had been put together, of course, and it seemed wise to have someone trusted by the court along.  She'd volunteered to go before her sister could; Leaf didn't need to take this on and she could serve as a healer in case they did run into trouble.

Which, judging by the untouched caravan before them, they likely would.  If she'd learned nothing else it was that when something appeared too easy it often was.  She followed the Reaper's signal to halt and cast a quick gaze about.  Nothing jumped out, but that didn't mean there wasn't something there.  She closed her eyes for a moment, tapping gently into her mana to extend her consciousness outward to see if she could pick up on stray thoughts that didn't belong to their group.  It was a skill she was still learning, but a handy one in instances like this.

After a few moments her eyes opened and she was on high alert.  "We're not alone," she said quietly, doing her best to keep it so that only the members of their party could hear.  She was still trying to pinpoint where and how many, but she had definitely picked up on something that didn't belong to them.

  • Bethany privately thinks the caravan attacks are coordinated and not by random outlaws
  • She uses telepathy (mind mage foci) to see if she can pick up on the presence of others, which she does and tells the party they aren't alone
His sense of duty would not let him stand idly by but it would also not let him leave his husbands side. He would have shoved every single one of the reports he had gotten in a drawer to never see the light of day had his husband asked. Buried the guilt and curiosity just as he had buried the reports from himself. Thankfully Faeyln was safe in Arlathan and he had urged him to go. There was a problem to be solved.

He was not the only one to go and of his company he kept his mouth shut. He had no observations out of the ordinary from what he was seeing. Even if this Bethany was sensing something abnormal. Not that he was dismissing that. To dismiss it was to be dead. He did not need his husbands, diving into deep magics to pull him back. Instead he unsheathed his weapons and made ready. A soft sounding thing as to not give away their position. Only then did he speak. "I don't know what to think, was there is a lead of why about?." And then to the reapers his voice soft. "Ladys men first to inspect a phantom feast?"

And to not lose a hand.

Tldr: Cian asks Bethany to explain and Ronan to go first .
Coco, the esteemed High Princess of Rivain, stood out among the group, as her decision to join them seemed unconventional. While she could have comfortably remained in the palace, the threat of an Antivan royal's demise made her realize that she, too, could be a target. Coco refused to meet such a fate and understood that if she were to become the Queen of Rivain, she needed to exhibit strength and resolve. Overcoming her anxiety regarding the forced marriage with the First Talon, she focused on the plight of the people, unwilling to stand idly by as they suffered. Despite her royal status, Coco chose to act as an equal among her companions, determined to help without expecting special treatment based on her rank.

As they caught sight of a caravan, Coco's eyebrows lifted in intrigue, responding to the Reaper's Words with a hushed remark, This can't be mere coincidence. Her gaze then shifted to Cian, a slight glare betraying her friendly nature subdued by the seriousness of the situation.

Have you forgotten that we are a team, Cian? she asked in a partially stressed and annoyed tone. Reaper, don't listen to him, we need to exercise caution. Bethany is right and walking straight into this obvious trap is unwise. We should consider using a lure or a clever ruse... If we can trigger a direct movement or touch, it might reveal what's hidden. Coco tilted her head, contemplating their options. I possess the ability to transform into animals, in this case I could become a bird. Perhaps I can drop something onto the caravan from above, or even propel stones to create enough noise to alert whoever's with us without causing damage to the caravan. However, I suggest positioning myself on the other side for that, so as not to lead anyone directly to you all.

She suggested before looking at the others, wanting to make sure everyone had a chance to speak. Does anyone else have an idea on how we should inspect carefully?

  • Coco joined to help the people and prove herself, she does not wish to be treated differently because she's royalty.
  • Scolds Cian and tells Reaper to wait instead of going first.
  • Suggests using her shapeshifting or earth magic to potentially lure any enemies out rather than just approaching the caravan.
  • She asks if anyone else has an idea on how to safely investigate the caravan.
Jareth's gentle gaze fixated on the seemingly untouched caravan before them, his conscious mind racing with distinct possibilities. The Reaper's cautionary words resonated with him, positively reinforcing the evident need for thorough consideration. Bethany's insight only deepened his suspicions.

He listened intently as the princess confidently proposed her plan, her suggestion of employing her shapeshifting or earth magic to create a diversion. Jareth genuinely admired her resourcefulness, instantly recognizing the potential of such a strategy.

Creating a diversion could adequately provide us with ample opportunity to accurately assess this specific situation, without exposing ourselves to undue risk.

But there was precisely something else Jareth wanted to share, perhaps a unique approach that involved the use of spirit magic. A risky proposition, and he knew it would likely be collected with understandable skepticism. As he gently opened his mouth to voice his specific idea, doubt gripped him, and his words faltered. The genuine fear of rejection and the potential damage it could certainly cause to their necessary trust naturally made him second-guess himself. He instantly suppressed his words, instantly pushing down the disappointment.

Subtly shifting his gaze towards Ronan, he continued, I believe it would be logical to follow her lead. We can position ourselves strategically, ready to respond adequately to any unbridled developments. I am certain we are capable enough to competently support her.

Jareth's conscious mind buzzed with anticipation, his internal conflict swirling within him. There realistically was an unpleasant air of uncertainty, but he knew that with their combined skills and quick thinking, they had a chance to unravel whatever awaited them ahead. In spite of his appearance, he hoped his decision to withhold his suggestion would not hinder their progress, even as a part of him longed for the opportunity to heartily embrace his spirit magic and contribute in his own unique way.

  • Jareth proposed to go with Coco's plan
The world needed to stop going to shit. Signed and dated by Elyon himself. He knew what it was like to go hungry and it motivated him enough to go see what he could do to help. He'd never been in the Free Marches before. Any other time, it might actually have been a nice change of pace. 

As they approached the caravan, he couldn't help but stare at it. It didn't look right. "I don't like how this looks." He says. It looked untouched with as far as he could tell, no one around. It didn't seem likely that they would willingly abandon the caravan given the need for food and supplies. There had to be something else, especially given Bethany's warning.

He swivels his head to the side, trying to see if there's any movement in the shrubs that would give away something's presence. "I wouldn't go far, we can only move so fast if you get cornered." Quite a few of their party had some significance somewhere, and he wasn't about to be the one to explain why they got killed in the middle of nowhere. "But I agree, the more prepared we are for the worst to happen, the less likely things are to go wrong." 

  • Elyon is suspicious about the whole thing and tries to see if anything is lurking around the side of the road
  • He suggests the party sticks close and to be prepared
The dice favored you. For now.
just a chaos lesbian leading  chaos events
Ronan looked between each as they spoke, each with their own opinion about how to proceed. It seemed the general consensus however was in favor of the one put forth by the Antivan princess. Whether that was due to her status as the only royal in their party or the solidity of the plan itself, it was hard to say. Ronan however, was finding it hard to get past the blatant over reach and his expression tightened accordingly. He appeared annoyed, tugging at the reins to prompt the courser to step back several paces. I don't pay fealty to you, so I will listen to whomever I please. But he also wasn't keen on minding Cian either. That particular annoyance aside, the issue remained the same and they would need to act as a group if they all expected to leave this road alive. 

Much as it pained him, he did find merit in her idea and he was not too proud to admit it given their predicament. It's not a terrible idea. In fact I'm in favor of as much of a diversion as possible. I suspect that we have already been made given what I know of their tactics. At this point, it's a game of who strikes first because that opponent will have the advantage. Create the diversion and strike hard from here as I have no doubt the moment we act, they will as well. Whomever is attacking these caravans is not going to risk being overwhelmed or robbed of their conquest. So yes, scamper along Your Majesty, or flap your wings, anything is better than standing here with our thumbs up our asses.

Reaper is a grumpy gills and doesn't like being told what to do but also agrees with Coco. He suggests striking now before they can be set upon and would prefer not to continue standing around.
Bethany's eyes first turned to Cian, but before she had an opportunity to explain more thoroughly what she felt the princess stepped in with her own plan.  Bethany frowned slightly when Coco did, not because her idea was a bad one, but moreso the manner of how she put it forth.  She was more apt to trust the Reaper's experience than the princess' bluster, but they needed to determine a course of action quickly or they'd lose the chance to act.

Since Ronan approved the rough sketch of a plan in his own way, she didn't brook any argument.  Instead, she moved alongside Jareth, taking up position next to him near the rear.  Given their past adventure together she had a sense of his skillset, and she had a thought as to how they might be able to aid the group.  "If that's how we're playing it, so long as no one objects Jareth and I can set up a telepathic link among us.  That will allow us to communicate without risking anyone else hearing us.  Only intentional thoughts would be able to be heard."  She wasn't skilled enough yet for it to be more than that anyway, and this could give them a leg up on whatever they were heading into.  For the time being at least.

  • Bethany is side-eyeing Coco a little, but doesn't object to the plan once Ronan approves it.
  • She moves more toward the back of the group by Jareth and will work with him to build the telepathic link between the party, allowing for easy nonverbal communication if the party consents. Only intentional thoughts would be heard by others.
The scolding and dismissal did little to cow Cian.  He simply moved on. He was use to more numbers and a far better structured chain of commander. Whether that chain of commander find him under orders or issuing them. So maybe he had lead with his arrogance had the fore there. His mistake, not be repeated. A breath. The skills at my disposal would allow me to teleport right in after said distraction and pick off at lease a few of their numbers. if that is something that you would like me to do. In general I would be able to keep the element of confusion on our side. 

Proving his small point by disappearing into Bethany's shadow and reappearing behind Reaper. Nor am I bound by shadow it just makes things easier. If Coco could draw their attention I could phase in and blind them.  Perhaps a sort of pincher movement with three coming from behind? the straggler of the  group coming around from the tree line?

A small smile directed at Coco. A team effort, my lady? He couldn't help to be just a little bit of a shit. Something would have been terribly wrong if he wasn't. I would like to think this works well with bethany's proposal of melding minds hm?

Tldr: Cian proposes to add to the distraction by blinding the enemies they face as a tandem effort with coco and that maybe they attack from the back and the side of the caravan.
Coco gave Elyon a reassuring smile, nodding at him. Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to stay close, staying in the same area would be the best thing for all of us at this moment. She sighed, this was pretty stressful but she was trying her best to ignore it. Her gaze would go back to its frustrated look when Ronan chipped in. Listen, Reaper, we all are here to help the people, my name is Coco, not ‘Your Highness’ and not ‘Your Majesty’. I do not need or want you all to treat you differently, that goes for all of you. I can’t help what I was born as-

Stop it. They weren’t here to fight or rant, plus she was not in the mood to argue when they had a plan to carry out. “…Anyways, that being said, a team effort sounds great, Cian. I agree with the plan.” She would then nod at Jareth and Bethany after, silently thanking them for their input earlier.

Before anyone else could say anything, she transformed into a raven, her black wings spreading as she took to the sky. She would circle the area for a moment before landing behind an array of bushes not too far from the caravan. Transforming back into a human, Coco would stay ducked and press her delicate palms against the ground. The rocks directly in front of her would start to shake and break into smaller pieces, Coco carefully making them float in front of her.

Opening her eyes, Coco proceeded to propel the rocks at the caravan, she would do it in intervals to make the noise sound more natural.


- Reassured Elyon
- Told everyone to not treat her differently even though she’s a princess
- Agreed with the plan
- Transformed into a bird, flew to the opposite side, hid behind some bushes and propelled rocks at the caravan loud enough for anyone in the distance to hear.
Jareth observed Coco's transformation into a raven with fascination, impressed by her mastery of shapeshifting. As the rocks flew towards the caravan, creating the diversion they needed, he nodded approvingly. It seemed the plan was already in motion, and he would do his part to support her efforts.

Turning to Bethany, he gave her a warm smile and a nod, silently acknowledging his uncertainty about establishing the telepathic link. Despite his unease, he reminded himself that they were in this together. He was part of a team, and they were relying on each other's skills and support. The telepathic link served as a symbol of unity for him, a reminder that he was not alone in this dangerous endeavor.

I'll do my best, he murmured to Bethany, acknowledging his willingness to try. Jareth knew he was certainly no master of telepathy, but if he had learned anything from their travels together, it was that he could trust her judgment. So, if she said he had what it took to help establish this link, then he was willing to trust that he could do it too.

As the diversion played out, Jareth felt a surge of admiration for Coco's courage. Each member of the group had a role to play, and he was determined not to let his nerves hinder their success. With a deep breath, he closed his eyes and reached out with his mind. He searched for the connections between each member of the party, trying to create a mental link that would allow them to communicate silently.

The strain of the spell weighed on him, and he felt a bead of sweat forming on his forehead. However, his dedication to supporting the team and the importance of their mission fueled his determination. Once the link has been established, Jareth would brace himself for the challenges ahead, ready to play his part in this united effort.

  • Jareth was impressed with Coco's shapeshifting ability.
  • Although uncertain of his own ability he took the first step and began to establish the magic mental link with Bethany.
He nods, accepting Coco's assurances. If they all kept their wits about them, none of them would get overwhelmed. "It doesn't matter who we are or arent." 

"I'll follow and come in hot after you." He couldn't move as fast as Cian and his teleportation, but he could reach with his magic faster than he could move. Nothing a little fire couldn't do to keep themselves separated from whatever lie beyond their sight. He moves to take his own position according to plan. 

  • Elyon offers to follow up with Cians pew pew and blind with a little firepower
  • Agrees that they're a team and doesn't matter what rank they are
The dice favored you. For now.
just a chaos lesbian leading  chaos events

Ronan rolled his eyes, letting out a resigned sigh as he finally dismounted. Glad we're all on the same page. To be honest, he wasn't even sure what that page was but as long as they were doing something he didn't really care. Unfortunately he didn't possess the arcane abilities his companions possessed and was therefore beholden to where they decided to position themselves. Changing into birds, playing with fire and shadow, whatever got them the advantage. 

The Reaper unsheathed the daggers at his waist and admired the reflection of the blades before disappearing in a power of his own, one that allowed him to become shadow, invisible until the last second. He looked at the scene before them, still seeing nothing to tip him off as to what they were dealing with. That was until something caught the light and he knew. He smiled wickedly as he unraveled from a deep crouch and came up behind one of the brigands that had somehow managed to evade notice until now. Ah ah ah He chided with a whisper in the man's ear before slicing deeply with one of the daggers and spilling his life force onto the ground before them. 

Ronan wiped his face with the back of his hand, kneeling down to examine the corpse. Now, who do you work for my sweet? 

Ronan gets off his horse and readies for battle, slipping into the shadows with his twin blades. Soon after he's killed one of the Eth and is examining the body for clues.