First light breaks the group reaches the valley.
All agree to rest briefly but the break is cut short when the call of a frontier signal is sounded.
Ein leaps up. “That’s either Trist or Francis and it’s not far. Let’s move!”
After hearing the whistle the orcs bark back and forth for a few moments before moving out towards the direction of the call.
Francis, waiting until he is sure the orcs are gone, makes his way painfully and slowly down out of the tree.
Finally on the ground, he winces as he puts weight on his ankle. It’s not broken but most likely twisted.
Francis will go for his rumskin, take a long pull, and sit against a tree for a moment and access his situation. He thinks, Hopefully the whistle means someone is close. Maybe I should do the same. After he takes another drink he’ll get his wand out, and hold it in is his right hand in case those Orcs come back. He’ll then grab for his signal, and blow it loudly.
Trist chugs one of her healing potions, all four doses. Her pain dissolves, her broken bones knit back into place and all bruises and cuts fade away. A huge difference from the night before, she feels refreshed and strong. Gathering up her gear and prepping to depart, she looks about trying to find any tracks or markings from Wil.
As the ranger searches, she suddenly hears the faint footfall of approaching. It’s obvious whoever it is is attempting to move silently but her keen hearing is able to pick up at least 4 maybe more persons or creatures moving in.
Bel lets the party know she is generally low on spells and thinks to herself: “It was such a foolish move to almost stomp gallantly into the forest woefully unprepared; I can not let my emotions get the better of me. I could have been slain in an instant.”
Trist crouches down and moves into cover while notching a sheaf arrow. She will go in high alert 360 degrees. Freya let’s hope this is my friends or Wil.
Trist hunkers down, finding cover behind a tree and nocking an arrow in her bow. Her alertness is up and she’s scanning to detect the direction of the footfall. It appears to be coming from several directions, then abruptly stops.
She hears some hushed whispers then a gruff voice barks out to the north east of her. “We heard you frontiersgirl. Call for friends but none come. You alone little one. Come out, we talk, no fight, no blood spill. We promise no hurt to come to little pointy ears.”
The voice is definitely orcish.
A frontier signal sounds in the distance. It’s close and coming from the south west.
Bel, Maltron, Klembsy, Max, Ein, Kistol. Moving at a fast pace north in the direction of the signal halt suddenly as another call of the whistle sounds out.
Ein pipes up. “That one’s further out! Either the original signal is moving away from us or there’s another signal bearer. It sounds like it’s on the other side of the valley. We need to move cautiously and keep alert for those winged bastards as we cross. Stay close to cover so we don’t give em’ no opportunities to swoop out the sky and snatch.”
Finna awakes at first light to the sounding of a frontier signal. Either she was dreaming or it’s very close. Bolting upright and weapon in hand, her small campfire has been out for hours now and there doesn’t look to be anyone in the vicinity. Straining, she hears and can see no signs of intruders.
She quickly breaks camp, packs up and preps to move on when a second signal sounds. This time she can determine it’s coming from the west and it’s further from her location. Either there are two signals or the original is moving away.
Francis after blowing his signal sits for a turn-ish, taking a couple of pulls from his skin in the silence of the forest.
A branch snaps in the distance and looking to the source the navigator can see a group of orcs approaching. They are coming from the same direction the original group headed towards when he was still in the tree. From his point he can count at least 8, they’re approaching slowly, weapons in hand and crouched low. About 20 yards-ish away, they look to be scanning for the whistleblower.
Maltron quietly rushes along at Ein’s direction. “Should we answer the whistles with one of our own?”
Mist swirling around, she walks through a small corpse of trees. A sudden noise to the side makes her stop mid-step. As her head turns, she catches a glance of a humanoid figure moving away. A familiarity causes her to start moving towards the retreating figure. Her mouth opens but no sound heeds the request. She stumbles over roots and small shrubs trying to catch the disappearing form. Suddenly, she is sprawled on the ground, victim to some hidden object. A rustle sounds from behind her and she quickly rolls over to face the noise. The form begins to become more substantial in the mists. She tries to speak and a whistling sound issues forth.
Finna bolts upright, her spear quickly grasped in hand. She casts her eyes about, scanning last night’s campsite. The only thing of note are the cold ashes of the fire, long since giving any warmth. Her senses do not inform her with any signs of intruders. Shivering, she wonders if the noise was just part of the dream. And what was that? Was it her? Is this a sign? Finna shakes her head. It has been so long since I’ve heard that voice and I have not found…
Finna moves quickly, gathering her belongings, and packs up. She scatters the ashes and pours a little water on last night’s fire to insure that no smouldering ember remains when a second signal arises. “That’s west of here, but it sounds further away”, she mutters. “Whatever woke me up was closer, but where? If I only had a sign from….” She thinks a moment more, shoulders her backpack, places the shield on her arm and pulls the spear from the ground. “Okay, I need to see if that first signal was close by. If there is only one signal, I may find some trace of who made it as they moved to the west. But which way to go?…”
Finna starts moving to the northwest as 3/4 of normal speed, trying to be as quiet as one can so she can hear any noise that may give her a clue as to where the first signal came from. She will also try to keep an eye on her surroundings for anything that may look out of the norm.
Trist is starting to get angry, now that she realizes they are orcs. She isn’t stupid though and doesn’t know how many there are.
She prays to Freya for strength and guidance.
She heard the whistle so maybe her friends are close enough for her make a run for them.
Trist tries to hall butt southwest toward the whistle she just heard.
She puts her whistle in her mouth and runs. If she sees an orc in her way she fires arrow(s) until she needs to switch to sword and Footman’s mace.
She will blow three whistles then holler out orcs.
Even with the long pulls of rum Francis hurts, hurts real bad. He smiles a bit, and fights back a nervous laugh. He begins to think maniacal thoughts, he feels some small adrenalin start to fill in him, and then it fades as quickly as it began, a nervous fearful grin returns. His mind races in conflict between an ugly demise, and that of over coming tremendous odds, and a heroic near death victory.
Francis thinks to himself, I’ve been in some tough spots, sailing the seas with the likes of brigands and cutthroats for nearly 5 years, that’s not a life for the weak. It hardens you, it toughens your soul. Getting into tough spots is the life I lead, but this one…, this one is the worst I can think of. I can’t roll the dice out of this one, I can’t swing my blades, there is no telling if I can talk my way out of this. Those have been his go to moves in the past.
He grips his wand tightly in his right hand and tries to focus on the wands power. He grips his rum tightly in his left hand, and that gives him some small measure of peace. He gribs his signal in his teeth, and holds it in the corner of his mouth. He thinks of calm and pleasant things, he thinks of Fury’s Eclipse and dreams to see his ship again.
As the Orcs appear from the brush Francis points the wand in their direction and whispers, Simmons…If the Orcs get closer than 30 ish feet away he’ll place a Wall of Fire directly on top of the lead Orc, and attempt to make it trap the all the other Orcs on other side. He’ll attempt to do this so the Wall is outside of 20 feet from him. If the Orcs don’t pass over this threshold but begin to spread out too much, so that Francis feels himself possibly becoming surrounded, or he feels like he won’t be able to create a large enough, or long enough wall to keep them all at bay, then he’ll do the same thing, but earlier. His plan to start is that of containment. Once his position is obvious to the Orcs, once he becomes visible, he’ll blow his whistle again. Then he’ll begin the real fight, curse, and insult the Orcs, yell and scream lunacy, laugh and generally talk as much trash as humanly possible.
“The one whistle may be Trist and the other one Francis or vice versa. Should we split in two teams or stay together and march in cover to the closest whistling?”, Klembsy wonders aloud so that the others can hear and offer suggestions. He will gather 3 pebbles to have them ready when needed.
Kistol considers blowing their own signals, “If we blow ours we’ll attract attention. That might be good, though. It might draw off enemies if they’re under attack. My guess is the signals are from Trist and Francis separately, not one on the move, but who knows. Yeah. Yeah, I think we should. If nothing else, it’ll let them know they’re not alone and we’re coming. Klem, I think we should stick together. Get to the closest signal and then go for the last.”
If no one objects, Kistol pulls out his signal, strange to have a symbol of citizenship after living so long without it. He blows it three times.
“We should get moving. Mal, when we get close we should ease up and do some recon, if there’s trouble, can you make me disappear? I can take at least on enemy by surprise that way.”
Maltron regretfully replies, “I no longer have invisibility memorized. I would need 20 minutes of downtime. Time we do not have. I have other tricks up my sleeve though. Let us make haste!”
Bel checks that both her wands are firmly in place, should she need to grab one.
“Does the adventurer’s life always feel so besieged?” she wonders as she steels herself for whatever may come. Hopefully the two signals were Trist and Francis, but she prepares herself for the worst.
She follows the guidance of the more experienced party members as far as what actions to take involving the signals and the party’s movement.
Kistol grins at Maltron and winks, “No worries, Mal. Can’t rely too much on that anyway. We’ll need to approach cautiously, though. I have that horn of fog we can use if we need it, too.”
Trist leaps up and bolts. Retreating into the trees she can hear the orc speaker bark out.
She makes it about 30ish feet away before 5 orcs rise ahead from the brush, blocking her path.
Three of them draw back bows while the other two raise swords and move in.
Kistol blows his signal.
She fires on them as the three fire on her.
She misses and one misses her, two strike her in the belly halting her run, she howls in pain. (-13HP).
She manages to fire again fully dropping one of the bow armed orcs, arrow to the chest.
The ranger quickly shoulders her bow and pulls her sword and mace, ready for melee.
A signal sounds in the distance, this time farther out than the first returning whistle.
Francis aims his wand, becomes visible and drops a wall of fire on the approaching orc line. A wall of flame lights up centered on the point leader. Even with the distance between them anad the navigator he feels the waves of heat as the wall extends enveloping at least 3 other orcs. The shadows of early morning flicker as the swath of flame roars alive streaking a barrier of fiery doom.
The orcs shriek in pain and panic as they are bathed in death, their howls echo across the forest.
Francis blows his signal.
While the party jogs, they briefly halt again as an explosion of fire births to life in the distance ahead. Guttural screams of burning pain quickly follow. Between pants Ein pipes up. “Klemb give me the mules. I’ll stay with the mages and continue on but we’re only going to slow you down. That’s Franny’s wand and he’s obviously in the shit. Go with Max and Kistol and haul ass. Get to him and pull his out ass out the fire. If he using that wand he’s prolly neck deep and needs help now. We’ll catch up, just save some for us.” He says huffing and with a wink as he takes the mules ropes.
Just then a second signal sounds out.
Finna, hustling through brush hesitates as the shouts of pain resonate through the trees, shortly followed by a signal sounding faint in the distance, suddenly a roar of a fire explodes close by and is accompanied with bellows of pain.
The shouts are coming from the direction she’s heading but the fire and screams seem further off and to the west.
A falcon cries out overhead, looking up, it’s headed in the direction she’s headed, then disappears from view in the trees.
As if echoing the bird another signal calls out, this time from the direction of the fire.
The unexpected shouts of pain cause Finna to stop. She tries to focus on the exact location but becomes distracted by the far off sounding of a signal, followed by the unmistakeable roar of fire and the cries of some creatures caught within it. “Cry, that is close to me! There must be two different signals out here. That blast must have come….” Her words trail off as her attention is diverted again.
Finna looks up as she hears the cry of a falcon. She gasps, observing that it flies in the direction she was moving. She takes a deep, shuddering breath as it disappears from view. Did I just receive a sign? Has she retu…. When another signal sound out, this time from the direction of the fire, Finna moves over towards a tree. “Time to stop talking and spending too much time thinking, old girl. You know what you should do!” she announces to herself.
Finna pauses to remove her backpack and drop it next to a tree that is in the direction the falcon flew off in. She rearms herself, holding the spear in a fashion that will allow her to immediately attack without adjusting her grip, either throwing or thrusting. Holding the shield in front of her, she moves as fast as the terrain allows, using it to deflect whatever branches are in the way, and follows the falcon.
Trist yells Orcs and charges the orcs while trying to position herself so that she is not in a direct line with the orc archers. She will use the forest to her advantage where possible. Using a tree as cover or other items she may see handy.
She thinks to herself, “Freya what did I get myself into. Well I am going down fighting if it comes to that”.
Francis does his best to push back on the pain of his wounds and looks around to make sure he isn’t being flanked or snuck up on, as best he can. If the heat from the flames gets to be too much, he’ll try and move himself around to the other side of the tree, and keep his eyes scanning the entire 360 degrees, keeping his wand in firm grasp. Taking an occasional break in shouting insults to the Orcs to take a pull from his rumskin, as needed.
Kistol pulls his bow, nocks an Armor piercing KO arrow, and runs toward the fire. He’ll stay alert for any enemies coming out from the trees to his sides. If Francis or Trist isn’t under immediate attack, Kistol will try to circle behind the enemy and fire at their backs.
If the enemy starts moving toward him, Kistol will jump into a tree using his jump ring (charges should be reset, yes?), aiming for a solid branch to stand on. If can fire from up in the tree, he will do so.
The two orcs charge Trist. The first swings in clumsily and the ranger ducks under the attack. She comes up, slashing across it’s chest. The orc gives out a high yelp as it falls onto it’s back in the brush. His partner moves and feints, as he does Trist counters with a backswing that the orc sidesteps thrusting. The tip of his blade cuts deep into the bicep of the ranger’s left arm. (-3 HP) With a shriek of pain she leaps back.
Trist hears movement behind her, taking a quick glance she counts 7 additional orcs closing in around her.
Turning back to the first wave of attackers, O11 and 013 have slung their bows and drawn swords. They begin to advance in with sickening grins.
Francis notices through the lapping flames that some of the orcs who survived the wall are moving clear to get around. Two have bows at ready and arrows nocked. Clearing the fire, they spot the wounded navigator and fire. One goes wide to the side of him, the other thunks into the tree he’s sitting against, a few feet above his head. Francis, shouting insults, laughs and lifts his wand again.
The wall of fire erupts with a whoosh engulfing the two now screaming orc archers and possibly one other.
It is difficult to see through the barricade of heat and flame to determine exactly how many are wounded and how many are dead.
Max, Kistol, chase after Klembsy as the druid leads them bolting through the wilderness towards the fire. They’re almost there….
Finna increases pace as the sounds of battle, pain, and fire increase. She can start to see figures in the trees ahead.
Ein leads the mules at a fast pace that Bel and Mal can keep up with. Unfortunately, the two mages just aren’t built for sprinting through the brush….
Trist’s hatred for these orcs overwhelms her senses. She spins around to measure each orc in hopes of finding their leader. She screams at them. Come on you cowards who’s first to die. You stinking orcs disgust me, as she spit out some blood.
She thinks to Freya, “If this is the way I go then I’m sorry I didn’t do more in your name”.
Bel huffs and puffs thinking “I always hated gym class!”
She will maintain a safe distance from any direct physical confrontations and stay close to Ein and follow his cues; she is also prepared to use Otiluke’s Smoky Sphere to create a choking cloud should a large group of creatures become apparent within 60 yards. She’s also ready to quick draw a wand should the need arise…
Maltron grumbles at his current pace. He feels helpless and wants to get to the battle as soon as possible. “Gads! Why can’t we fight in an open prairie or city street? I’m still not nearly as dirty as I was on that accursed island.”
As the sounds of fighting begin to increase, Finna quickens her pace. The cry of “orcs” gives her visage a pained expression. So, now I know the foe. Who will the friend be? she thinks. As she moves forward, she can begin to make out some figures through the foliage ahead. Holding her speak for a quick strike, she continues onward. When she can make a clear strike against the closest orc, she will either throw the spear if there is some distance or thrust she is right upon one. As she strikes, she will let loose a war cry, hopefully scaring some of her foes and giving her enough time to assess the total situation.
Francis has come to Drink rum and burn Orcs, until he’s all out of Orcs.
Max, Kistol, and Klembsy, as the fires come into view, slow their rush scanning the area as they approach. The walls of flame are crackling and roaring, several non moving figures can be seen burning scattered amidst and within the fiery barriers. A figure slumped up against a tree ahead is silhouetted in a haze of heat. After taking a pull off a skin, he turns spotting the trio. Grinning like a drunken madman, they recognize it’s Francis.
There appears to be no other persons or creatures.
Finna, hearing the shouted warning of ‘orcs’ from a female voice along with the sounds of combat, increases her charge towards the figures. Rushing in, she opens up upon a spread circle of orcs, fully surprising two nearby. Without hesitation she spears one through the back, in the upper chest. With a gout of blood she withdraws the weapon and the body lurches, falling face down. Hefting up her spear and deftly switching her grip from underhand to overhand with a light toss, she lunges into the other. The second orc turns facing the warrior, fully surprised. He has only a moment to shriek before Finna’s spear sinks deep in his shocked maw, ending his yelp with a spurting gurgle. As the second orc drops, the fighter quickly switches back her grip on the spear to underhand and surveys the situation. Three orcs turn to face her on her left, two on her right, all are about 10ish feet away from melee range.
The ranger appears to be badly wounded, she strikes down one of her three remaining attackers but it’s obvious she may likely be overwhelmed by the other two.
after spotting the trio, Francis grins. He stows his wand and his rumskin. Taking a deep breath and exhaling Francis asks, “Can you fine gentlemen help me contain the contents of my satchel, everything is strooooooon about. The broken of my fall, and then the tree up there, and the O-racs, Rooocks.” He points to the crispy Orcs, “those guys over there in the BBQ. They were trying to pillage, to plunder my satchel.” Francis giggles a bit as he continues, “I truly loath when people try and pillage my belongings. O-racs especially, especially lately.”
Francis will reach his hand up to Max, “My friend, Sir Maxwell, is there any chance you can remedy by current decumbent posture.”
Finna has about 10’ before O18 and O15 can engage in melee with their swords. Using a spear she’ll have 1 attack with one of the two before they rush her, before initiatives roll. Trist is engaged with two (having dropped one when Finna arrived). Trist is roughly about 30ish+ feet away from Finna.
Trist glances around (not enough to see directly behind her) to see if any are sneaking up on her. She tells the Orcs in front of her, “Didn’t expect me to fight so hard did ya? I fight for Freya and you will soon meet your own god”.
Trist fights defensively and takes attacks of opportunity with the two orcs in front of her.
Max lends a hand to help Francis to his feet, but he doesn’t start helping Francis gather his belongings. Not everyone is accounted for yet, Max has his priorities. He asks Francis, “Where’s Trist? Any sign of her?”
Pulling out the spear allows the orc to slump to the ground, the issuing blood beginning to stain the forest floor. A deft hand adjustment and the spear is secured in an underhand grip, poised to strike again. Surveying the forest shows three more orcs on the left, two on the right and all of their gazes hold surprise and anger at the sudden death in two of thier numbers. The worrysome part of the scene is the wounded ranger, facing off with two more orcs that may be overpowering in the end. As they are more than thirty feet away, the spear wielder makes up her mind.
Casting quick glances to her closest opponents, Finna calls out. “Looks like you’ve gotten yourself into a bit of a mess, youngster. I thought they taught you Frontier rangers better than this. Keep your eyes on the two in front of you and try to stay alive. I’ll deal with this pitiful lot here.” She glances skyward, If this is end for me, I pray that I can save that woman for you.
Finna raises her voice to her loudest possible volume. “I’ve already killed two of you pathetic worms and I will not stop until you all are trampled under my boots. I ask for the fury of the valkyries to strengthen me and slay all my enemies, even if it costs me my last breath!” She keeps her eyes trained upon the first orc to her right (O15) as she yells. She will quickly change her grip, pivot to the left and throw the spear towards the first orc on her left (O18). She will then quickly draw her sword and start manuvering towards the two orcs on the right, shield at the ready against the multiple attackers.
Francis looks at Max, “Trist? Oh ya, I don’t know Max. I fell into this tree here.” Smiling at the tree, he pauses a moment. “Yay, that tree there. Then a saw all theses Orcs. No sign of Trist anywhere. Just Orcs, fire and rum. That’s all I can account for.” His thoughts snap out of his immediate pain and drunkenness for a second and he tries to think hard. “Actually, good point Max, you should leave me and get Trist, that whistle, that’s all I can think of. I can’t move, so get out of here and go get her. If these Orcs are any indication, she could be up to her ass in em too. Where’s that Donkey?”
Francis looks at Max a second, the drunkenness and dizzying pain coming back to him now, I wonder if Max would let me ride on his shoulders. Francis giggles a little as he takes another drink from his rumskin.
Finna calls out to the female ranger with words of encouragement as two orcs charge her. Changing her grip she hurls her spear at the closest one (O18). Striking it in the chest, it drops him. Finna draws her sword and clashes with O15, their swords ringing out as she parries the orcs blow. Countering, she back swings, opening up her attackers throat. The orc flings back to the ground, tossing it’s sword and spraying blood.
O11 dives in on Trist. She dodges and slashes (20) removing the orc’s sword arm at the elbow. It screams gripping it’s blood spraying stump, falling to the ground. She swings twice on her remaining attacker who manages to parry then sidestep both blows. Spinning then swinging in with her mace the ranger manages to connect a solid crack into O13’s ribs. The Orc grunts in pain but manages to keep it’s footing. It feints and upcuts under Trist’s guard, piercing her lower ribs (-8 HP). The half elf drops her weapons and clutches the wound as the orc withdraws the blade. Her legs give out and she falls to her knees. Looking up, the smiling face of the orc is the last thing she sees before she slumps to the ground, her vision fading to black.
Trist is now at -1 HP. She has 9 rounds before she bleeds out completely and dies.
O17 and 014 charge to move on Finna while O19 rushes toward Trist and O13.
Klembsy glances dizzy Francis with a contemptuous look. “Drunk or not, at least he is alive”, he thinks to himself. “But we have to find Trist”.
He shouts with all the power of his lungs. “TRIST!!!!!!!”
Trist begins to fade away hopefully to join Freya in the afterlife. For a moment she thought she heard someone, but it all seems very vague now, just before having that orc strike her down.
Her life flashes before her almost in a dream state watching her friendships with her companions grow. Trist had such high hopes for her future too. Hopefully she can serve Freya in the afterlife better than she did while alive.
Her life seemes to be slowly draining away into the forest. She remembers her father raising her as a young girl in the wilderness not unlike where she is now. A peace seems to come over her, as she gets closer to the end of her life, knowing she acted with courage and honor until the end.
Max thinks for a moment, just a quick moment since it doesn’t take Max very long to “max” out his thinking. Francis set off after Trist, so Trist is obviously farther ahead since she left first and they didn’t see her on the way here. He figures Francis is safe enough, what with his pyrotechnics and the rest of the party not far behind.
He says, “Klembsy, you go on ahead, a little to the right. Kistol, you take left. I’ll go up the middle. We all have our whistles, blow them if you see any sign of Trist.”
Max sets off in the same direction that led them to Francis, he’s just continuing onward past Francis. Max is expecting Klembsy to fan out a little to the right of him and Kistol to fan out a little to the left, but it’s up to them and he’s not waiting. Max would carry Francis, but Francis is a pretty hefty fellow and time is of the essence.
The sword stroke flings the orc to the ground, its sword hurtling away from the lifeless body. Finna quickly looks for the nearest opponent when her blood runs cold. She sees the ranger begin to fall forward, blood covering her hands as they clutch her stomach and dripping off the blade of the only orc standing by her. Terror begins to rise as another orc begins to move towards the prone ranger, visions of orc cruelty begin to form. Finna screams “BY FREYA, NOOOOOO!!! PLEASE GUIDE ME NOW!”
Finna begins running towards the orc on her left and will use her shield to bash and knock the orc down then continue towards the ranger and the two orcs surrounding her.
Kistol sees Francis and is relieved, “You crazy fucking pirate, you’re alive! Where’s Trist?”
Kistol spits and curses in Elven when he learns her location is unknown. He nods at *Max*’s suggestion and jogs forward covering the left side. As he runs, he calls out for Trist, “Trist! We’re coming!”
Finna charges towards the fallen ranger, O17 and O14 rush in from both sides to engage her.
Using her momentum she shield bashes O17 sending him spinning aside to the ground. O14 lunges in but Finna parries, deflecting the blow with her blade.
O13, clutching his ribs and seeing 017 knocked aside barks to the oncoming 019 and motions towards Finna.
O19 changes course and moves to engage the blond fighter.
Finna swings down on O14 but the orc evades her attack.
019 charges in, roaring and sword leveled. Finna, sidestepping, barely avoids the full thrust and catches a slash along the side of her waist (-6 HP).
O13, seeing his compatriots successful hit, moves in to assist in the attack.
019, snarling, arcs back in, it’s attack bounces off of Finna’s raised shield.
017, still laying on the ground, begins to stir and groan.
Finna slashes at O14 cutting a crimson swath across it’s chest. It yelps and stumbles back, falling into a tree, clutching the wound.
O13 springs in, opening a gash on Finna’s upper thigh (-6 HP).
The female warrior pivots and thrusts, piercing O19 in the upper chest. Blood sprays as the orc falls to the ground dead.
013 batters a heavy strike against Finna’s shield. The force of the blow resonates through her but she is able to maintain her footing.
Spinning, she arcs in catching the orc mid swing deep in the ribs. Eyes wild, he drops his own blade and clutches Finna’s sword with both hands. Falling to the ground, the dead orc wrenches the sword from her grip.
017, groggily sits up. Finna and the orc lock eyes. The orc surveys the scene and snarls in rage. It begins to scramble up, pulling a dagger as it does so.
The pinprick feeling in her shield arm and shoulder said that the arm would ache for some time, if she survived this encounter. As the battered orc regains its senses, it groggily sits up. The two opponents lock eyes as the orc surveys the scene. Snarling in rage, it begins to scramble up, pulling a dagger as it does so. Finna moves to make sure she is between the orc and the ranger, gets into a slight crouch, and moves the shield to block the orc’s view of her torso and help protect the ranger from a thrown dagger. She tries to inconspicuously pull her footman’s mace from her belt holster as she talks to her opponent.
“I hope you understand me because I am suggesting that you stop any more attacks. Look around again, six of your group have fallen by my hand and you have one more who is seriously hurt.” She tilts her head in the direction of the other orc with the sliced chest but maintains eye contact with the current threat. “You may want to help your friend before death comes. I would rather tend to the ranger here than kill the two of you. However, if you feel that you would have better luck in taking me down than eight orcs would, please….. be my guest.” Finna then stretches her right arm out holding the footman’s mace and makes a large, circular motion to emphasize not being defenseless.
The orc’s eyes dart about surveying the scene and possibly searching for a fallen sword. Hearing Finna’s words and seeing her pull her mace, it makes a snap decision. Turning, it bolts.
Finna moves in on Trist tending to her wounds.
As the fighter lays hands on the ranger a white flash fills her vision.
The forest is suddenly silent.
Looking around all color from the trees, the terrain, the sky is gone leaving behind a black and white world.
Trist’s eyes snap open. She can feel no pain, no weakness from her wounds. Looking up, she makes eye contact with Finna as a voice begins.
It resonates through both women, reminding them of the silken echo of water crashing.
Looking to the source, a tall female figure stands ahead.
Chin raised, clad in shimmering armor, spear in hang, a winged helm caps golden hair that flutters and flows with a non existent wind.
Both Trist and Finna are awestruck as they recognize what appears to be the goddess Freya standing before them.
Freya speaks. “You have done well warriors, actions truly worthy of the valkyr. These are not feats that go unnoticed. Trist Silverhawk. You have proven yourself worthy to carry my favor. From this day forth you will bear the burden of my blessing as a follower of Freya. I grant to you the ability to impose justice and wield the law that is my will so long as you serve me with honor, humility, respect and glory.
Finna Frilund. Fallen sister, your disgrace radiates. I cannot lie and state that I have not heard your cries of regret and shame, deep do they echo within your breast. Your crime against me was unforgivable…until now. Because you have sacrificed and risked your own life to save that of a sister, my favor within you is hereby reinstated, with conditions. Your quest must never again falter from piety. And you must guide your new sister in arms in my ways. Teach her all you know of myself, our ways, and the true meaning of the Valkyrie. In pure absolution to this task will you find a place at my side in the hallowed halls of your ancestors. My courage be with you always sisters, serve me well.”
Freya raises her spear in salute emitting a blinding light.
The sounds and colors of the forest return. Freya is gone and both of Trist’s and Finna’s wounds are fully healed.
Max, Klembsy, and Kistol make their way around the firewalls, fanning out and moving forward, searching and calling for Trist.
Approaching in, Ein motions for silence to Bel and Maltron. Tying off the mules, he draws his axe and the trio approach in stealthily, eventually coming upon a slightly inebriated and very much wounded Francis propped up against a tree.
As they rush towards him, the walls of flame suddenly snuff out leaving behind several small fires, smoking and smoldering brush, and multiple torched unmoving orc bodies.
Maltron pales a bit at the stench of burning orc flesh. The thought of a drunken Francis wielding such a powerful wand makes him question his earlier trade with the pirate. Hopefully, he won’t burn down an entire town or forest. At least he is alright and all the orcs dead.
“But where is Trist,” he thinks. He blows his Guardian whistle once, then unsheathes Jes.
He asks Jes, “Can you please locate Trist’s Guardian whistle? The matter is urgent. I fear her life is in danger.”
As Trist awakens she says, “I am yours to command, Freya”. Trist pats herself where the arrows were before, hoping they no longer remain.
Trist looks up and sees Finna and says,"I thank you for saving me sister. I am confused and I feel different. Freya said you would teach me. Was it all a dream? I have so many questions.
Trist snaps out of it and gets up and whistles 1 long time, and hopes her friends are nearby. She tells Finna, “My friends are looking for me, I think. What of the orcs that were here?”
Trist quickly grabs her arrows from the orc bodies and loots anything of value and splits it with Finna. If she finds a shortsword in good condition she takes it and checks her gear. Trist listens for a sign that here friends are nearby and while waiting she checks for any tracks that might help her.
As the brilliant light begins to fades, the black and white of the surroundings slowly returns to the natural colors. The eerie silence that wrapped around her dissolves, sounds of wind, birds, animals all come rushing in like the waves of the ocean. The wave of emotion comes crashing next, tears start streaming down Finna’s face. Blessed are you, Freya! Your mercy is beyond my mortal understanding. I am honored to do your bidding and will guide this new sister in your ways. My shame has been lifted by your greatness. May I ever be your humble servant!
Even as the ranger speaks to her, Finna doesn’t respond, the emotions of her restoration being too great. She continues to weep freely as the ranger stands up. The piercing whistle finally penetrates the fog of her mind. It takes her a few seconds to gather her breath and understand the question put before her. “Only one orc fled, the rest were slain by our hands. There was one to the left that may still be alive but mortally wounded.”
Finna stands up, wiping her face with gloved hands. “I must retrieve my belongings that I set down, giving me greater haste so I could follow the sign that led me to you. It is back through the trees in that direction,” she points. “Allow me to gather my weapons and let us go retrieve it, I would hate that something else in these woods may come across it or either one of us alone.”
Finna grabs her mace and places it back on her belt as the walks over to her sword, the orc’s hands still clutching it. She steps on the orc’s chest and pulls the sword away then uses the largest, unbloody spot on the orc to clean her weapon. She sheaths the sword and walks over to her spear and pulls it from the fallen foe. Using the orc and ground, she cleans it as best as she can. As she waits for the ranger to finish gathering her things, her mind begins to clear up from the emotions and the thought leaps to her lips. “Dear sister, I have already done us a disservice! For we know not how to address the other, let me take care of that now. I am Finna Frilund, a humbled servant of the great Freya. Allow me the comfort of your name so I may lift it up in my prayers to the goddess.”
Trist finishes grabbing her gear and hears Finna introductions. “Well met sister in faith, I am Trist Silverhawk”. Freya be praised. Trist will remember this area scanning its unique features and tells Finna, "Lets get the rest of your stuff quickly.
I want to find my friends and then track any surviving orcs back to their camp. My friends and I are on a mission of great importance. Trist relays all the information to Finna regarding the mission.
“I am amazed at how well you fought sister. There were so many orcs so I think your skills may rival my own in combat, she says with a smile”. Trist spot the tracks leading back to Finna’s gear and keeps moving.
As Bel hastily approaches Francis in relief, the acrid smell of his breath stings the back of her throat.
“Indeed we would mistake you for no other, mad pirate…” she smirks.
She then glances at Francis’ wineskin and holds up her Healing Draught suggestively: “Perhaps a temporary trade, though I daresay you are getting the better end of the deal. I have need to fortify my will; the ranger Trist is missing yet still and although I am winded we must press on…”
Bel will swig the swill if offered, gagging internally, but will not show sign of it to the best of her ability. She will try to “ride the buzz” (Morale boost) and stay motivated to find Trist along with Maltron and Klembsy.
Francis grins at Lady Bel’Ybryaa Malvetent with glassy eyes.
he’s never been one to deny anyone who needs a good stiff drink. And even though in his current state the pain where his wounds and numbed, they still exist and are significant. Francis does his best not to show it though.
Francis offers up his skin in exchange for the draught, toasts the Lady’s kindness and happily shares a drink with her.
After Maltron sounds his signal, Jes replies stating she cannot locate the signal. It must be out of her range.
Francis swigs the healing draught and instantly his ankle feels better. His shoulder however is still dislocated.
Finna and Trist, after recovering Finna’s gear, hear a signal sound close-by to the southwest.
Max, Kistol, and Klembsy continue on eventually coming upon the location of the orc battle.
Bodies are scattered but there is no sign of Trist.
Trist hears the signal and her heart skips a beat. She stays alert though after everything that has happened she is concerned what still may be out there.
“Finna that might be my friends but we may want to be cautious. Do you require anything else before we try and find them? If not we can get started when you are ready”.
Francis will stand and staggeringly begin to collect his belongings on the forest floor, pack it away, and take note of anything missing. Although feeling better, he is still in much pain. He will look to the others for guidance at this point. He thinks for a moment about shooting a bow, or wielding a sword, shakes his head, shrugs his shoulders, smiles at Bel and waits to see what the others do.
Finna and Trist, upon hearing the signal, warily head back. Upon reaching the orc battle site, they recognize and are reunited with Maltron, Max, Kistol, and Klembsy. Soon after they are joined by Ein (with the mules), Bel, and Francis.
The party is back together.
All orcs wore padded or hide armor, carried short bows and a quiver of (20) sheaf arrows, a longsword and 1 to 2 daggers each. The orc that Finna first attacked appeared to have been the leader. It wore leather armor and carried a broadsword. A total of 2 PP, 22 GP, 14 SP, and 46 CP are looted. Each orc carried a wine skin or water skin, dried (questionable) meat jerky, and various misc field items (flint, leather straps, wood hand axes, wetstones, cloaks and bedrolls, etc). From the light gear they appear to be a scouting party.
Klembsy obviously thrilled by Trist being alive, safe and sound, disregards the presence of others and Finna’s also and embraces Trist in a warm hug. “Oh girl, I thought I lost you!! Thank Mielikki and Freya for keeping you safe”. Loosening the hug, returns to reality and asks “What the heck happened here? Who slayed all…these? Seems you two girls had a very wild party! (lol). And this is your new friend I guess? Greetings, my name is Klembsy Klingeln, initiate druid of Mielikki. Seems difficult to find friends in these forested hills”.
Francis takes a drink from his skin, (I mean it’s past noon right? or, It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, er…) time slows down in his mind… and looks at this… new… girl… squints his eyes a bit… closes his left eye to make sure there is just one of them, and thinks, oh wait that second girl is Trist! He puts in his best grin, and is happy to see the Ranger alive and seemingly looking very very well for ware. His grin turns to a questioning scowl. Francis thinks, why the fuck don’t I look that well? How did she get off that bird without breaking anything? Why isn’t she laying next to a tree, broken ankle, broken shoulder, with burnt Orcs all around. Francis looks around pondering his questions. Wait, there are a lot of Orcs around dead, but the confusion over the excellent condition of Trist is just confounding. He winces as the pain in his shoulder snaps himself out of his little daydream. The new girl forgotten, Francis just stands there trying not to fall down and staring at Trist in a cock-eyed manner.
Upon seeing her friends again Trist says loudly,“Are you all in one piece? I feared the worst with those bird things. Praise be to Freya. You are all sights for sore eyes. Where are my manners, this is Finna, she helped recue me. A valkry if ever I saw one with skills to match she beams. I have an exciting adventure to tell you”. She hugs Klembsy in return and hugs the rest of them too.
When she gets to Francis she sees he is banged up a bit. She says you look like you lost a fight sailor boy. As she winks at him. Here let me help you a bit. Trist grabs her holy amulet of Freya, puts her other hand on Francis and says out loud,“Through me, allow Freya to heal your wounds”. Cast CLW. “Trist then tells her whole adventure but abbreviated. One of the orcs got away, so I think we can track him to his friends and Fronkenpeek too hopefully”.
Trist grabs two daggers and laces them to her boots one on each. She grabs the quiver and offers to split them, if any others want arrows, then and put the rest in her saddle bag so she doesn’t mix the two sheafs up. “We can bundle the swords in some leathers and put them on the mules if you want to take them back to town later to sell them. She pauses, by Freya I’m glad we found each other”.
Trist casts CLW on Francis and the navigator feels his shoulder pop back into place. Although he feels much better and now has use of his arm, he’s still not 100%.
Now Francis is even more confused as before. After Trist touches him and he feels better, he’s wondering if he needs to use his safeword. Francis pokes Trist in the cheek, and says, “Dox?”
Trist unable to help herself kisses the pirate semi-passionately and says quietly in his ear,“Yes but it’s our secret with a wink”. She steps back and after a dramatic pause slightly slugs him in the other arm and says “it’s me you stupid pirate. Freya has chosen me to carry her word and glory to others in need.”
Upon seeing her, Kistol yells, “Trist! Thank Freya you’re all right!” He ignores Finna for the moment, speaking in elven to Trist, “I’m sorry I let that thing carry you off. It was a stupid mistake. I hope you forgive me.”
Kistol stows his bow and gives a quick nod to Finna upon introduction, “Kistol.” is all he says in introduction. He is much more reserved in speaking to the newcomer.
After hearing Trist’s story, Kistol finds a moment to talk with Finna, speaking with more warmth than before, “It seems I owe you some gratitude. I’m glad you came along when you did. I never would have forgiven myself if anything had happened to Trist. Sounds like you have a fair amount of skill.”
Kistol ponders the escaped orc, “Got away, hm? I agree, we should track it. It would be best to catch it, though. Bastard’ll probably warn the others, which’ll make out job harder.”
After a short trek to the discarded backpack, Finna quickly rummages through it. Her face lights up as her hands grasps and pulls out her symbol of Freya. A quick bow of her head and a murmured “Thank you, my goddess” is said. She places the chain around her neck and allows the symbol to rest against her bosom. The joy in her face radiates out and months of grief and concern melt away. Her moment of revelry is arrested by the sound of a signal. She notes Trist quickly turning her head towards the sound and the look of cautious hope grows. Finna quickly dons the backpack, adjusts the straps and stands up. Hefting the spear up, she nods to Trist and they walk back towards the sound.
Upon returning to the battle area, Finna sees more figures. As she begins to lift her spear, the intake of breath from Trist gives her the knowledge that the ones before her are not foes. As Trist moves forward, Finna follows at a slower pace, allowing her young charge to reunite with her friends. She quickly studies and appraises each person. The young man who rushes over to embrace Trist seems to be nimble and has a certain earthy quality to him. The other slender youth has piercing blue eyes and is wearing some rather colorful clothing but no armor that she sees. The elf is rather tall and seems to be dressing in as non descript of a way as possible. The fourth man has the look of a hardened, deadly fighter who knows how to use the small arsenal of weapons upon his person. Seeing the symbol of Tyr around his neck, Finna smirks and thinks With those weapons, he reminds me more of Baldur or Odur. A fine warrior who would do Freya proud.
Three more people with mules rustle through the undergrowth and more rejoicing is had. The dwarf leading the mules has the markings of a Frontier Ranger like Trist. The young female looks frail but the eyes are sharp and bespeak an intelligence behind them. The staggering figure seems to be the remains of man that lost a fight with something bigger than he. Although not bleeding, he still seems injured. The youngster who first hugged Trist steps over to her and introduces himself as Klembsy. Before she can reply, Trist announces Finna’s name to all as she moves over to the injured friend. Youth Finna thinks as she shakes her head. She watches in awe as Trist then places her hand and successfully asks for the blessing of healing to be bestowed upon the injured friend. After seeing the kiss between the two, Finna smiles. Great goddess Freya, you have chosen well. May I be worthy to teach her your ways.
Clearing her throat, Finna addresses the group. “Yes, as said, I am Finna Frilund, a priestess of the magnanimous Freya. I was nearby when the first calls of the signals went up. It was by Freya’s great guidance that I came upon my new sister Trist, as she was being surrounded and overcome by the nasty creatures around us. From the sounds of things earlier, they may have been more of them. Since one of them did escape, I would like to suggest that we find a place that is suitable for us to retire so I can look after your injured friend. I would also prefer not to be away from the stench of their bodies. As I am not familiar with this area, who can help decide this? Once there, I am certain I can answer the questions you have for me as I would like to know more about the traveling companions Trist has.”
Bel greets Trist with a delicate embrace and gentle smile, squeezing in past Klembsy and any other well-wishers.
@ Trist: “I must admit that I am relieved to find you so hale, Trist Silverhawk, and yet I am also astounded and feel a fool for being so concerned! Did you happen to see any excitement at all after being carried away by those foul antlered fiends? Your healthy countenance seems to belie any story you could tell…”
Bel also observes that Trist has seemingly gained in experience and her connection to Freya has grown (being that she is now channeling Divine healing spells).
She acknowledges Finna’s presence and makes a point to nod politely, but without committal; afterward she nods in agreement to Finna’s suggestion to find a safer place to go to ground and make camp.
After witnessing Trist give Francis a kiss, Bel thinks to herself (in disbelief): “I must be spent from the journeying and lack of rest, or did I twist my perceptions with too much of that pirate moonshine?…although, he did indeed risk his life for hers…” She worries about her friend emotionally committing to a womanizing swashbuckler, but then she realizes she probably doesnt need to worry about Trist; she’s a big girl and can obviously handle herself.
Bel definitely feels more experienced herself after such sequential traumas to all her senses!
Max relaxes when he sees everyone is ok. Since it doesn’t appear anything needs to be killed, he puts away his weapons. Max looks over the newcomer and feels intimidated. In Max’s world, there are two kinds of women; bar wenches and ladies. Max categorizes Finna in the lady category and worries he’ll say something that will get him into trouble, double trouble since it looks like she’s a priestess of Freya. He doesn’t want to make any goddesses mad either.
Maltron is pleased with fate as his commrades are all alive and well. “Trist Silverhawk it is well that you return in good health, unblemished I see. And accompanied by a Priestess of Freya? Your devotion has been rewarded. It is a rare treat indeed to find a devotee to an older Goddess. No doubt Freya has converged our paths. Welcome Priestess, do you care to walk our path a bit further? We could certainly use your help.”
Trist replies to Kistol “It was never your fault my dear. I chose to try and befriend the beast that took me away but your concern for my safety is appreciated”. Time is of the essense then and we should hurry and use his trail while it’s fresh.
She then turns to Bel “Thank your for your concern dear lady. I did indeed she quickly provides Bel with a quick synopsis of her ordeal”.
Trist tells all, “I will take Kistol and/or Klembsy and any others that can move quietly in the woods to track the Orc. I have already identified its trail and we can begin tracking it while the rest of you follow after a short rest. We will mark a trail for Ein to pick up who can help the rest of you locate or tracks easily. If we can subdue the orc prior to it reaching more of its kind we will if not we will keep out of sight and report back to you our findings. Is this acceptable to all or are there other recommendations that we should consider”? We will be cautious as possible and not get too far ahead if possible.
Bel listens to Trist’s synopsis and replies: “Hmmm…have you considered, dear ranger, that perhaps your Goddess’ hand was in every step of this process? Otherwise, how could you have been, seemingly through a random abduction, brought to mere footsteps away from another follower of Freya? She is not even a Goddess commmonly revered in Faerun so the chances stand to reflect this fact. To me, this smells of Divine Intervention…and if I must confess, I did indeed feel that Kistol’s rope rebounded far too easily, and while he is quick to blame himself, I for one feel more forces were at work than we had previously considered.”
Bel thinks to herself: Freya is obviously investing in her future on Abeir-Toril. Better she than many other Greater Powers that Bel can think of off-hand.
After hearing Maltron’s greeting of Finna, Bel stands impressed with his diplomatic ability.
Bel clearly states that she needs to rest, not just to study, but she feels physically exhausted: “I perhaps am not made of the sterner stuff as some of you are who are accustomed to such active and trying endeavors. If we follow Trist’s plans, then those of us that stay behind for now should follow the suggestion of the priestess and move to a safer location. While I did indeed push to carry on without rest previously, the toll is certainly upon me.”
After Lady Bel’Ybryaa Malvetent finishes her conjecture Francis mutters under his breath, “Divine Intervention is a bitch. Divine Intervention…(muttering)… boulders, falling out of the sky…(muttering)… and it smelled like Orc feces. I bet her Divine Intervention was all flowers, candy and unicorns.”
Feeling physically better he stows his rum skin, and takes a big swig from his waterskin. Francis grabs Maltron’s shoulder and gives it a good squeeze, then puts his arm around him. “I’m gonna stay here with my buddy, my Navigation brother… And the fine Lady Bel’Ybryaa Malvetent. You go ahead, Mrs. Divine Intervention,” he says with added emphasis, “and have yourself a fabulous good time.”
Francis squints his eyes and tries to remember who’s brght idea it was to strap him to a flying hand of a God.
“I will not take into account Francis’ comments here since it is obviously his rumskin speaking and not his mind”, says Klembsy. “Trist’s idea is good though a bit endangered. I’m ready to follow and I feel Mielikki has granted me more powers than before. Does anyone find any flaws to Trist’s suggestion apart from the fact that we still haven’t rested for the night?”.
Trist pauses for a moment and sees the fatigue in everyones faces. "We can make camp and rest until all are well rested. You have all sacrificed to much already trying to rescue me, so I will not needlessly go off when you all need your rest.
Trist confers with Ein and Finna, "Did you pass any locations on the way here that would provide a safe resting spot? Finna you may know the area better than us. Back tracking seems safer than forging into new territory might be safer in her opinion. A place with a stream for water that might be easy to defend.
“We can rest up and recover any spells you wish, for the rest of the day and camp for the night there also. We can then renew our search taking the injured orcs trail back to it’s camp if it survived the trip”.
“Or we can make camp near here and move a short distance close by but not far so it is not too much of a burden to those in need of sleep”.
Kistol winces at the thought of losing the fleeing orc, “I’m with you Trist, but you sure you want to wait? If that thing gets back to camp they’ll be on alert, might even send more after us. We’re better off coming at them when they’re not suspecting us. How long has it been since he got away? Think we could catch him if we started now? We might even be able to nab him alive.” Kistol will go along with what Trist decides.
Kistol considers Bel’s words, Divine intervention, huh? Maybe. Hell, she’s already intervened once, why not now? Not like I don’t believe, I was the first to meet her after all. Damned if I can guess the motives of a goddess, though.
Max scoffs, “We killed a hundred orcs and goblins on that island cursed by Freya, and we did that with naught but Harkris’s broadsword and whatever else we could seize barehanded. If they come back, they are expecting two wounded ladies, maybe they noticed Francis as well, but they are not expecting the whole lot of us. Let them come. We will be well-rested and ready for them.”
Francis lets out an inopportune, “Let them Come!” at the conclusion of Kistol and Max’s speeches. Then looks to Maltron and overly grins, “right buddy?”
Maltron responds to Francis, “We will be dining on orc livers if they are foolish enough to attack us.” cackling He wonders what orc livers taste like and if anyone thinks that bizarre.
“I do not think it a bad idea to hunt down the lone orc and capture or kill him though. I do not like the thought of the party splitting up again, but this time it would be under more controlled conditions. If he is wounded, he should be easy to catch for a skilled woodswoman such as Trist.”
Maltron sits down to memorize Invisibility and Alarm (he will remove Shield to make room for Alarm.
Ein pipes up. “So what’s the plan. We’ve been going all night so a rest doesn’t seem like all that bad of an idea. And keep in mind Francis is half in the bag and still banged up. Looking around and at the map, the valley we’re in seems to be tucked away nicely in the mountain range, with only one ‘easy’ in from the south. That being said the orcs may know of a pass through. If we camp we should find a more secluded location. Between the signals, Franny’s fireworks, and the ladie’s orc scuffle, this place is screaming ‘over here, over here’. Although if we did track the orc, it may be our best and only lead to Kargan.”
Maltron asks, “Can anyone patch my sea brother Francis up a bit? He’s had a rough day.”
Trist says to Maltron, “Can you cast invisibility on me? If yes please do so once we decide this plan is acceptable. I will track the orc and if able return with it if it is safe to do so at the time. At a minimum I will possibly get some intel on where it’s camp might be. I will return here 2 hr before sundown so I can track where you have gone to from here so I can see your tracks. The rest of you need to get to a safe spot and camp for the rest of the day and evening. I will crow twice quickly, something not normal, when I get to camp so you know it is me returning. If you hear it three times I have unfriendlies behind me.”
“Wish me luck. I will take every precaution I can so you don’t have to come to my rescue again. If there are objections to this course of action, I will remain and we can all seek safer shelter for the evening.”
Finna smiles at the elf who called himself Kistol as he quickly speaks to her in a semi-private manner. She nods her head “You owe me nothing. Freya guided me towards Trist and I was able to save her from a terrible end. If you owe anyone, owe it to Freya.”
She turns to the youth with piercing blue eyes as he steps over to speak to her. His offer to join their group is met with a moment of hesitation. Seeing that others are listening to Trist at that moment, she holds up a hand, gesturing to him that she will answer him once there is less noise. That moment doesn’t come as Finna’s head snaps around, eyes and ears focused on her new sister. She begins to interject as Trist suggests that a few members go and chase the orc but stops as the frail looking woman speaks. Concern begins to creep into her countenance as she learns, as the others speak their turns, that everyone is tired and/or exhausted for spending the night chasing after Trist and the recently healed man.
She starts to speak but is quickly gathered by Trist along with the dwarf and asked her opinion. Before it can be given, several others speak out. She rolls her eyes skyward as the bravado increases and ends with suggestions of dining on orc livers. After the dwarf makes his comments, Finna quickly follows up before she can be interrupted.
“If you please, allow me the courtesy of speaking to you. As you all have been moving all night in order to find your lost party members, I would say that the more you try to go on, the easier it would be to fall prey to some trap or stumble upon some other creatures who would do you ill. By the blessing of Freya, Trist and I are the only ones who are well enough to follow the orc that I allowed to leave. We know that it is only aware of one seriously wounded young woman and one seriously dangerous older woman. It heard the noise that came from… whatever occurred over there so it may also think that there is someone else out here as well. Given the choice, it ran for dear life and won’t stop for some time.”
“I would venture a guess that it has not been concerned about hiding its tracks but to make it to safety, be it a base or a larger group. That fact there should make it easier for the two rangers here to track for a while. I was also able to injure it during the fight so it won’t be going as fast as normal. It will have to rest at some point as well.”
“As one member of your group as graciously invited me, I thank him. However, I do think that there are a few more persons who may need to weigh in on things first. Do know this; the magnanimous goddess Freya has charged me with training my new sister Trist in the faith. Where she goes, I will be there as well so you may have gained a extra hand for a while.”
“I see that there are two things you can do. First one is we all find a small place away from here to set up camp, tend to any wounds and allow all to rest before tracking that orc. It will have a large head start but that may not be as much of a concern with this large group once you are well rested. Second one is that those who are most able to forge on ahead try to capture this orc to assist you with your quest and the rest encamp somewhere and I will assist in healing those who need it and asking from Freya’s blessing on the campsite before I leave with the orc chasers.”
With that, she nods her head and lets out a quick exhale of breath through her nostrils while waiting for the others to decide their actions.
Francis follows the groups lead, eats a hearty dry ration meal from his back before going to sleep and drinks some more water, it was a warm day. And relieves himself greatly.
Maltron agrees with Francis.
Maltron replies to Trist, “I need twenty minutes to memorize invisibility. I will glady cast it on you if you have the time to spare.”
Trist tells Maltron I’ll wait the twenty min. She tells Ein to please take care of jack. Finna my sister I will return safely and they need you here. Just in case Trist points out the trail Trist will start to follow.
While Bel does her best to conceal it, she can’t help but giggle, and even guffaws once or twice at Francis’ post-conjecture commentary. A snort accidentally breaks out while she is laughing causing her to immediately stifle herself and look around to see who heard.
“Accursed pirate moonshine!” she thinks to herself, then puts a gloved hand up to her mouth and quietly burps into it.
Bel is slightly relieved to hear the boys’ (Max, Mal, Francis) confidence about the upcoming orc ‘situation’, and that they did so well against numerous orcs previously. She will keep her ears open for any advice on orcish battle methods (?) or anything that would help…
She begins dozing off during Finna’s speech, but nods herself awake when talk of a safe camping spot makes itself apparent. If the party does happen to ever make it one, Bel’Ybryaa will make sure that she has two hours total for study, either all at once or divided. “Too much dillydallying!” she announces, then dreads the fact that she sounded just like her mother.
Ein introduces himself to Finna. “You have my thanks for saving Trist’s life. From where do you hail? What finds you in this territory?”
Seeing that she cannot dissuade Trist from following the orc and is going to do so invisibly, Finna allows her shoulders to slump a bit and sighs. “If you go invisibly, then more people would only attract attention. It makes the best sense for you to do this in the manner so decided. However, I will not be satisfied with just that spell for your safety. Once we have made camp and allow the young mage to start preparing his spell, I will ask Freya for her blessing upon you.”
Finna turns to Ein as he introduces himself and asks a couple of questions. “What finds me in this area is the goddess Freya. Good sir, I suggest that we make camp, allow everyone to rest and recover from a long night of travel and then allow me to inform everyone of myself. Being the most rested of this group, allow me to stand watch for you.”
Once the campsite is found and settled, Finna motions for Trist to stand in front of her. “Dear sister, I understand that the situation requires you to leave. I now ask for the blessing of Freya upon you! May she keep you safe and give me knowledge of any danger you are in!” With that, Finna casts Sacred Guardian (from Tome of Magic) on her new charge. “Be safe and I’ll see you back soon.”
After everyone is settled, Finna will patrol the camp area on guard duty with shield and spear until everyone has rested. She will be listening intently for the return of Trist during that time.
Ein replies to the cleric. “Whoa whoa whoa. You may have my gratitude for saving a fellow frontier ranger and friend but what makes you think you have my trust? Do you really think we’d let a stranger stand watch for us after having just met a few bells ago? Especially one who seems to be somewhat cryptic concerning her background and how she just ‘happened’ to be in the right place at the right time. For all we know you may have led the orcs to Trist. If you’re planning on aiding us in our mission, you’ll need to earn our trust. So I’ll ask again, what are you doing out here?”
Kistol shakes his head, “I don’t like you going alone, Trist. I know you can handle yourself in a fight. Better than me, but what if he’s got buddies closer by? You might be running into a larger group than you think.” He sees the look on her face and sees she’s resigned to go. He nods his head, “I want to go with you, but Finna’s right if you’re invisible, I won’t be about to keep up. Just promise you won’t engage them if there’s more than just the one, ok? Here take this.” Kistol hands Trist his Horn of Fog and explains it’s use.
Kistol is encouraged by Max’s bravado, “You’re right, Max. We’re a force to be reckoned with, but let’s not get cocky. We had the help of a goddess after all.”
Kistol chips in with Ein, “Yeah, sorry Finna. You have our gratitude, believe me. But, we’ve gotten this far by keeping our guard up. You’re welcome to stand watch with somebody, but we can’t let you have your own watch until we get to know you better. You understand.”
Kistol takes first watch and if Finna takes it with him, he makes conversation. He’ll give her an edited version of the party’s formation, leaving out special items still in their possession and amounts of treasure and party members’ personal details, he starts with, “You know, I met Freya once.”
Finna bristles at the suggestion she led the orcs to Trist. With a slight, tight twist of her neck, she holds her tongue for a moment to compose herself. She tries to keep her voice even but even then there is a little strain to it at times. “I know that rangers don’t have short attention spans but I’ll say it again; I was in this area by the urging of the goddess Freya. It was my ‘quest’, as one would say, to find a woman whom I would lead into becoming a priestess for my goddess. If it still is not clear to you, maybe you should stop and ponder the fact that Trist just healed one of your injured members in the name of Freya. That is why I am here.”
“If that still does not convince you that I am friendly and can be trusted, ask Trist herself. See if her words do not compliment mine. If you cannot trust your ears, use your eyes. The camp I made last night is that direction. Use your skills to see where I have been. See if my tracks overlap any of those blasted orcs at any other time. Surely, if I had led them to Trist, you, of anyone here, should be able to discern it. If that won’t convince thee, I’m not certain what will.”
Ein levels his stare at Finna, “I’ll be watching you blondie.”
The dwarf then moves to talk with Trist aside from the others. He identifies their current location on the map and shows her the surrounding layout.
“Remember your training and get back alive. Don’t pull any hero maneuvers this time. This is purely recon. Remember, we’re looking for Kargan. We’re not here to wipe out orcs, put that hate aside for now and follow the mission, got it? Good luck.”
Finna smiles and nods her head. Go ahead, that way you won’t miss a thing and will swallow your words later. She turns away and lets a smug look on her face as she continues to think You’ll see, you’ll see. She begins to compose herself so she can place Freya’s protection on Trist.
She walks with the group towards the cave, staying alert for any possible danger that may come towards this exhausted group. After everyone is settled inside, she checks over Francis’ wounds. Seeing that he is still wounded, she prays for Freya to heal him (casts CLW). For the rest of the day, she rests and stays towards the front of the cave. When it gets towards late afternoon, she tries to orient herself towards the west and prays to Freya for an hour until she knows the sun has set.
Moving back in, Finna settles down across from Ein. In the darkness of the cave, she speaks. “Before, you asked why I was out here. I think that everyone has rested enough so they can hear the why. Let me tell you a bit about the past. I began following a seithr of Freya when I was 18. A seithr is a woman who travels the countryside, telling fortunes and spreading blessings to those who were in love and wanted children. They also serve as midwives when needed. She taught me the ways of Freya but I rarely received her blessing to tell fortunes.”
“Once she realized this, the seithr helped me to serve Freya by learning the art of fighting. Even if she was more a woman of peace, she knew and understood how to fight. She was a good teacher and I learned quickly. For years we traveled and the seithr would from time to time, try to have me be the main priestess. I would occasionally do so but seldom did. One day she told me that she had received a vision from Freya that she was to send me out as the seithr in her place. I reluctantly did so.”
“Oh! I wish I had listened to her more! It was soon afterwards that I made my greatest mistake. I was listening to a woman who was asking for Freya’s help. She was maybe 30 and a mother of three children who has lost her husband in a accident some time before. She was trying to get the attention of a fighter who had recently moved into the area. She was smitten with him and thought that her age could prevent him from having any interest. She started to get more and more childish with her tone and it bothered me immensely. Instead of being helpful, I let my emotions go wrong and told her that if she was so worried about her looks and age, maybe she should pray to Idun, goddess of youth, for help.”
“Freya’s punishment to me was to strike down my looks to being more plain and removing her favor from me until the day I found another woman who I could train and lead in the ways of serving her. I have wandered throughout the countryside, cities and wilderness for over two years looking for that woman. Over the last few weeks, I felt the need, say compelled, to look in this wilderness area. I had only been in these mountains for a couple of days until the battle this morning with the orcs and finding Trist. Freya gave me a sign, the first one I had since that ill-fated day, that led me to Trist. When I saw her, I knew that I needed to protect her at all cost. I was able to defeat many of them but their numbers were large enough that they were able to score a near fatal blow on her before I could stop them.”
“After reaching her, there was one left and Trist was bleeding out, soon to die. I gave the orc an opportunity to leave so I could try and use my limited healing skills on her, maybe slowing the bleeding down until whoever else was blowing a whistle nearby came to help. It was at that point that Freya, most gracious goddess she is, blessed Trist and myself with her presence. She conferred her favor upon Trist and reinstated me as her priestess. I have fulfilled part of what Freya wants from me, now I must show Trist the path that Freya would have for her.”
“So, now you know they why. Wake me when it is my turn to stand guard with whomever.” She pulls her blanket up and rolls over on her side facing the cave entrance, closing her eyes. A few tears roll down onto the ground as she tries to sleep prior to her turn at watch.
Finna has been blessed be the goddess Freya just as I have. She is just as trustworthy as any of you if not more so. I understand that leap of faith can be hard for some of you but I was there and we both have *Freya’*s blessing. So please show my sister a little respect. She will earn your total respect in time. I will be careful and only recon unless I can take the wounded Orc without incident.
Trist hugs Ein, Finn, Klembsy and Kistol thanking him for the horn but believes she will not need it and waves to the rest.
Bel thinks: “What a typical arrogance this priestess exerts, but don’t they all. It seems the allowance to channel divine energy into spells usually yields a sense of deep entitlement.”
(She remembers her “college” days at Mystra’s Academy/Temple on Mt. Talath in Halruaa and recalls pretty much all the priests/teachers holding themselves with a sense of “better than thou art”. Better than my arse they were, she thinks to herself, but only after a thorough wiping.)
While she does trust Trist almost whole-heartedly, she wonders what exactly Freya zapped Trist with to make her trust this woman so unconditionally; she does not commit either way and will surely not have any real rest unless one of the party members she has previously rested under stands guard as well.
Trist replies. “Thank you sister, for bestowing that blessing on me. I must be on my way. She will ask Maltron to inform her how the spell might be broken once he casts it on her. Is there a way to see through it? How long will it last”?
With a final nod of ‘ready’, Finna casts sacred guardian on Trist and Maltron casts invisibility on the ranger.
Trist returns to the battle site, locates the orc’s tracks and begins trailing after at a decent pace.
Ein and Klembsy scout north a bit looking for a suitable campsite.
About 100 yards up the mountainside, 300ish yards away from the battle site, Ein spots a cave.
The two investigate. The mouth of the cave is a tight opening, about 5’ tall and 3’ wide. Inside the pair discover it opens up into a small interior about 15’ish wide, 30ish’ deep and 15’ in height, sloping down to 2’ in the rear of the cave.
Returning to the party they lead the entire group as well as the mules into the damp, cold cave.
Ein pipes up. “No fires or lights in here tonight, they’d be visible to anyone in the valley. So use what light you got now to study, pray, or whatever cuz’ when the sun goes down that’s it. This cave should give us decent cover from the rain tonight (pointing towards the horizon, large gray clouds appear to be rolling in.) We also have a good vantage point to keep an eye on the battle site as well as most of the overall valley. As long as we have someone at the mouth of the cave, out of sight and keeping watch we shouldn’t need an outside guard. Course’ wouldn’t hurt none either to have an extra pair of eyes higher up the mountain but that’ll be soggy work.”
Maltron will explain to Trist the ins and outs of invisibility. ooc- The spell remains in effect until it is magically broken or dispelled, until the wizard or recipient cancels it, until the recipient attacks any creature, or until 24 hours have passed. Thus, the invisible being can open doors, talk, eat, climb stairs, etc., but if he attacks, he immediately becomes visible, although the invisibility enables him to attack first. Maltron also explains that some highly intelligent and very powerful beings can see through the spell as well.
Maltron offers to take first watch. He will memorize Invisibility and Alarm (discarding shield). He will cast Alarm immediately in the form of a quarter sphere outside of the cave mouth, allowing for the watch to stand slightly outside the cave without setting it off. He will inform the others (including Trist of the location of the Alarm barrier. He will memorize alarm again and intends to cast it at the end of his first watch (Alarm lasts 6 hours at 4th level).
Maltron requests that Max takes first watch with him. If there is trouble, he wants the big man at his side.
Francis finds an open spot in the cave and goes to sleep. He’s in no condition to stay up for watch.
Max obliges Maltron and shares the first watch. After they’ve settled in, Max asks Maltron softly, “Why’s everyone so suspicious of the new lady? Do you think there’s any risk?” Max does not look at Maltron as he asks. His eyes are focused into the dark wilderness, ears straining to hear anything out of the ordinary.
Bel attempts to rest as soundly as possible (in a cave in the woods..yuck!) and studies and refreshes her spells, as per char sheet. If she is awake studying during anyones watch, she will keep silent company close to them and add her ears to theirs.
During her study time, Bel believes she has figured out how to extend her powers to reanimate more than one set of humanoid bones at a time, though not very tough or large ones, yielding the addition of the spell Animate Skeletons to her book.
Trist follows the trail of the orc for several hours and nearly 10 miles.
The sky continues to darken with heavy gray storm clouds and thunder begins to rumble as the sun sets.
Lightning fills the night sky and drizzle begins, soon after turning to rain, eventually shifting to heavy downpour which continues all night.
Trist is able to identify 3 points during the trail where the tracks split before the weather and lack of visibility turn everything into mush.
Returning to the cave soaked and a few bells after midnight, she relays this information to the group.
Kistol puts a blanket over Trist’s shoulders, “Well, at least it wasn’t a total waste. If you hadn’t gone tonight, we would have lost the trail completely due to the rain. Now at least we have somewhere to start from in the morning or whenever this rain stops.”
“Trist thanks Kistol, grateful for the warmth of the blanket”.
She quickly removes her leathers in private or as much privacy as she can get and just uses the blanket so her clothing can dry as much as possible.
She grabs some dry rations and some water from her waterskin. She makes as little noise as possible so she doesn’t disturb the others. “She offers to stand watch or joins Finna on her watch”.
“Finna is there a special prayer or process you use to connect to Freya? I only seem to know a few spells and how I know them I don’t know. I have seen others channel powers of dieties so I kind of new how to do that, kind of. Maybe Freya does not trust me yet or I do not know how to ask her for them in the right way. Can I watch you and see how you do things and try that? This way I can study religion and learn that from you too”.
After Trist’s arrival and after cleaning up a bit, she shows Ein on the map the spots where the trail splits off then goes to rest.
The dwarf is relieved by Kistol and Finna who take 4th and final watch.
A little over a bell into watch, Kistol’s infravision spots something at the orc battle site.
Barely registering in the cold rain, it appears to be a humanoid figure.
From its movements, it looks to be scavenging from the orc bodies.
Kistol’s eyes narrow at the sight of the figure. He says to Finna, “Something moving at the battle site. I’m gonna check it out. Cover me. Wake Max and Mal, please.” Kistol waits for Maltron and has him take down the alarms spell but doesn’t take his eyes off the figure.
Trist dreams of becoming a Valkyr after her recon mission. She will rememeber to return the Horn to Kistol unless he retrieved it from her pile of weapons while she slept. She would have retrieved her own blanket so Kistol could use his for the night also.
When Finna wakes up with Trist’s return, she feels some of the day’s anxiety fall away. She holds up a blanket (in the dark?) while Trist removes her wet things. She listens to her questions and smiles. “In due time, in due time. Yes, it is good for you to watch me and learn. We will have many hours in which to talk and for me to train you. For now, please, get your rest. You have done more today and need to recover.”
Finna will wake Maltron first and inform him of the situation. She will then wake Max. Going back to Kistol, she tells him that they are awake. “But how do you suggest that I ‘back you up’ when I cannot see very far out there?”
Maltron awakens from Finna’s urging. “Can’t anything go right,” he asks himself silently. With a gesture, he dispells the Alarm spell he had cast as a precaution beyond the watches. He signals to Kistol. He whispers asking if he would like to be invisible. If yes, he will cast invisibility on him.
Otherwise, he readies three magical darts to use in combat, should they be needed
Kistol nods “yes” to invisibilty and says to Finna, “Good point. I guess if you hear yelling or fighting come out with a torch and back me up.”
Invisible, Kistol will take a bit more time observing the figure before acting.
Max doesn’t have time to fully suit up (not wearing his scale mail). He quietly draws Giant Slayer and gets ready to charge after Kistol if need be. He stares into the darkness, forcing his pupils to widen as much as possible.
Kistol heads out into the darkness. He makes his way towards the figure who continues to search the bodies. Kistol will circle around, with hand crossbow ready, behind the figure and try to identify if it is orc or not, and how well armed/cabable it is.
Farouk can’t believe his luck. Although soaked, he’s able to pull two decent cloaks, an elk hide jerkin, 3 water skins, 2 wine skins, and sack containing what looks to be a decent amount of maybe dried squirrel or possum meat (1 week rations). Also, he finds flint, a bedroll, and a light pack to stow it all.
Lightning and thunder crash all around him as the rain continues to pour down. Farouk begins to question his luck. His paranoia accelerates as the lightning continues and the scene around him is illuminated. Flashes of orc faces frozen in screams, gruesome wounds long bled out, and empty lifeless eyes staring back surround him. Fear begins to grip the lost and weary mage. Suddenly, movement from the corner of his vision catches his eye.
Between the flashes of lightning, it appears something is advancing directly towards him from behind. It’s seems to be invisible or transparent but the pouring rain is outlining its form, it looks to be humanoid and of average size.
Damn this rain Farouk thinks to himself, Damn halfings, damn those lying dregs back in River tree and damn those stupid orcs even the cute one! I can’t believe they followed me! Well Farouks got a little something for them if they think they are gonna corner me twice! Sheeesh… Profit… Profit my A**!!
With that last thought, a twinkle and gesture Farouk casts Improved Phantasmal Force.
Having some experience with orcs Farouk knows that they have infravision, which can be blinded by bright sources of light… Like lightning!
Farouk creates a stroke of lighting that streaks down from the black skys, landing at the shadowed figures feet. Static electricity, blinding light, thunder and an electrical buzz fill the air!
Farouks is not attempting to do any actual damage, just blind and scare the hell out of the orc so he can make a getaway!
As Kistol makes his way down the hill from the cave approaching the figure, it darts about, most likely scavenging from body to body.
Moving in, the elf notices it’s stopped and is glancing around. It’s not orc, most likely human, male, and carrying…a club maybe?
Suddenly, the figure turns possibly spotting him. It raises it’s hand in gesture towards him but before anything can happen, a bolt of lightning strikes the ground nearby.
Sparks and earth scatter as the elf recoils, tumbling back. Kistol is unhurt but the flash temporarily clouded his vision, he strains to readjust and locate the figure.
Farouk casts Phantasmal force at the approaching ‘ghost’.
In a flash, a sudden lightning strike explodes ahead of it, bursting in a cloud of light, sparks, rock, and dirt.
It seems the ‘thing’ was tossed, thrown, or leapt aside when the strike ‘went off’.
Farouk has lost sight of the invisible stranger in the dark and the pouring rain.
Max and Finna, watch as the outline of an invisible Kistol disappears into the scrub and trees below. Tense moments pass until suddenly, a lightning strikes close to the battle site. Briefly illuminating the area, the pair can see no sign of the elf or any figure for that matter.
Satisfied that hes scared the orc sufficiently Farouk beats feet away from the scene cursing as he goes!
Kistol, his infravision fading back ‘up’, spots the figure bolting away through the trees and brush.
Kistol studies the figure, Hm, definately not an orc. Looks like I can take him, or at least not get myself killed. He is about to speak up when the lightening hits. What the hell!? I can’t see!
Once his vision clears, he gives chase to the figure. Kistol will follow him as close as he can, trying not to let his rainy outline be seen. He’ll wait until the figure stops to rest and approach from behind, skirting around so that his wet footsteps aren’t seen.
“Don’t move. You were snooping around near our camp. Those are our kills. What were you doing there? Who are you?”
Blinking in an effort to remove the after image of the lightning bolt from her vision, Finna turns to Max. “Did you see anything?”
Francis sleeps like a baby. The pattering of rain throughout the valley calms his subconscious, and he begins to dream of the sea. The water droplets hitting the ground outside in real life become the roar of seas and oceans to his mind. Lightning crashes in the distance, and while he sleeps the crash of a wave coming over the bow rocks the Fury’s Eclipse, he adjusts his grip easily and keeps ahead full speed, and laughs a sailors laugh. Francis at the helm, steering the ship through a mild storm, a form comes up to his right side, and kisses him on the cheek. It’s Trist! An affectionate embrace from the side follows, and with a wink she slowly whispers in his ear, “..it’s our secret… it’s me you stupid pirate.” Trist stands along side of Franics wearing a scantily clad well oiled and revealing leather outfit, her figure and beauty quite better in his mind than in reality. She places her head on his shoulder.
Then from the left side another soft whisper, this one weaker and faint, but exuding more womanly frailty, “I want some of your pirate moonshine, you womanizing swashbuckler.” The small and gaunt form of Lady Bel’Ybryaa Malvetent dressed in a small black silk outfit with lacey edges, closes her delicate arms around his waist and removes his runskin. Her outfit very revealing, and filling it out nicely. After she takes a long pull from the skin, her and Trist make eye contact with each other and smile endearingly. Then look to Francis waiting on his every word as if it’s nourishment for the soul, and their soul is empty. As they both take their position on either side of him, arms clasped around him, and their heads against his sturdy frame, Francis stands tall forging his way through the storm. He begins a long detailed explanation of the waters they traverse, and the manner in which a master Navigator determines how to make the best way across such a mighty gale.
Francis continues to sleep calmly and comfortably, dreaming away…
Bel’Ybryaa stirs in her sleep as the faint echo of some fantastic violation to the purity of her character rings like a distant bell somewhere in the back of her sub-conscious mind. She looks up briefly and sees Frantisek comfortably asleep, a naughty smirk plastered on his face.
“Goddess only knows…”
Turning on her side, she adjusts her boulder pillow and falls back into dreams of undead faeries dancing around a ring of black flame as some antlered God, older than time, watches on while humming a low dirge that all at once inspires melancholia and awe. She smiles faintly and continues sleeping…
Maltron hears snoring and becomes aware that Klembsy and some others are still sleeping. He rouses them as quietly as possible and briefs them on the situation.
“What’s going on! Is it morning already”? Trist starts getting herself put together. She slowly gets into her still damp and cold clothes. Gets her gear on and move toward the opening.
Trist kneels down and ask Max, Finna and Maltron, “Does Kistol need any help”?
Bel scowls upon being awoken.
“Is this some form of mad jest?” she asks, seemingly of no one in particular. While she is not overly attached to her boulder pillow, she assesses the situation to see if she can catch a few more winks. If nothing dire is occurring, she will make an attempt at more shut-eye…
Reaching over and grabbing Trist’s arm, Finna pulls her forward and in front of her. “He went down to check on something that was moving around at our battle site. You may be able to see something down there with your eyes, Max and I can’t see much in this darkness. Kistol did have an invisibility spell placed upon him so you may not see him at all. We could see his outline as he moved but I have not seen a sign of him after a lightning strike hit near where he was going. If we cannot see him, I think we may need to go down there and look ourselves.”
Farouk, hustles away at a slow pace. The rain and the dark make it difficult to get away rapidly without tripping over brush or crashing into branches and trees.
This, and the elf’s infravision make it easy for Kistol to catch up.
Moving behind a tree to cover his ‘outline’, he calls out in common to the human.
“Don’t move. You were snooping around near our camp. Those are our kills. What were you doing there? Who are you?”
Trist peers out into the forest at the urging of her sister. She allows her infra vision to seek out signs of Kistol and his target. “They may be beyond my sight she softly states to the others nearby. In this rain tracking becomes more difficult also. I will go after him she says”.
Trist starts out where the others saw Kistol head off to and looks for tracks. She scans the area 360 degrees in case there are more.
As Trist starts out of the cave, Finna tells her “Just check the battle area. If you cannot see anything or if there is a sign of Kistol being in danger, signal us so we can come to assist.” With that, Finna moves back over to her pack, retrieves her hooded lantern, flint and steel. If Trist signals out, Finna lights her lantern and heads to the battle site.
Trist gives a nod to Finna and a wink.
Farouk faces the direction of the voice and speaks,
“Looks like it’s just you and me boyo. I aint no fan of dead orcs you can keep em. And I ain’t no fan of being snuck up on. But I believe in second chances. so Sonny if you wanna chit chat, it’s probably best ya do it quick cause I hear lightning can strike twice.“
Max advances towards wherever he thinks Kistol went. If he has no idea, he heads towards the orc bodies. In either case, his weapons are drawn and ears are on alert for sounds of fighting.
Kistol moves to a different spot from where he first spoke. Lightning? Did he have something to do with that? Better be careful. Probably some kind of a wizard.
“Take it easy there, mate. We might be friends. Don’t want to have to drop you. You heard my questions. You gonna answer? Who are you and what are you doing here?” Kistol moves again after speaking, keeping his hand crossbow(KO) trained on Farouk.
“You come on out, and ill come out and we can sing songs together how bout that, Like I said you can keep yer Orcs, I suppose if you wanna set camp next to pile of dead bodies, and call it home that’s your business, I’m not one to judge. Me Id rather be somewhere else. A night out with some wenches and wine would suit me better. You wouldn’t know a place like that around here wouldja?”
Farouk, stealthily casts cantrip.
With the clues given about the lightning and Kistol’s growing experience with spell casters, he grows suspicious of Farouk’s movements.
Kistol positions himself a safe distance behind Farouk and speaks, “First, freeze or I shoot. Second, turn around slowly, hands up and let’s meet each other.” Kistol drops invisibility before Farouk turns. “My name’s Kistol. My party and I are on a mission in these parts and your snooping presented a security risk. If you don’t mind, I’d like to know who the hell you are and what you’re doing here. You can perform it in song if you like.”
Any sudden moves from Farouk and Kistol fires.
“Whoa Whoa! Slow your roll there boy!” Farouk turns slowly, Smiling Farouk looks the elf from head to toe"
Judging by his attire and the unconventional weaponry pointed at him, Farouk deduces that this is a city elf. “Hmmm…better than I thought!”
In Elven “I know your type boyo, I’m thinkin you rather be wenchin’ and winein’ too.” Looking around at the trees and ground and nature in disgust, “Lookie here, I was told their was an outpost out here that would make a trip into this place worth my while. I ran into your playmates back there and had a good laugh, but Orcs get boring real quick, sore losers and all. So now im here.”
“How bout you lead us outta here so we can find a real party? I might be able to make it worth your while”
Obviously roughed up, cold and hungry, Farouk flashes his puppy dog eyes and dynamite smile, “So whatcha say kiddo, help an old man find his way home?”
Kistol raises his eyebrows, but relaxes a bit, “You know nothing about me, mate. Before we go anywhere, tell me your name. I’d like to know who I’m talking to.”
After proper introductions, seeing Farouk’s obvious condition, Kistol, “Look, I don’t know of any outposts but, we have some food back at camp and my friends that might be able to fix you up a bit. You lead the way, I’ll guide you from behind.”
Kistol lowers and holsters his hand crossbow.
Kistol asks as they walk, “So where are you from if it’s not here.”
Farouk replies. “Hmmm where am I from… I do alot of traveling. But for the time being I’m calling River Tree home. Its fresh, its new and its exciting! For the right kinda guy, making coin there is easier than taking candy from a baby. I my friend am that guy, and I don’t like candy.”
“Now you know my life history, what brings you way out there?”
“Pretty short history, but we all have our secrets, I guess. Well, Farouk, looks like we have something in common. I’m from River Tree, too. Like, I say, we’re on a mission for some of the higher ups in River Tree. We’re investigating some persons of interest who apparently are hanging out with some orcs up here. Part of a new group of slavers in River Tree. Those bodies you saw, well, they made the poor decision of attacking one of our group. So what’s this outpost you mentioned? Who told you about that?”
“Heard it from some guys who heard it from some guys that there were some High Rollers out this way that love a good game of cards. After hearing bout these so called players, I Figured I give em offer they couldn’t refuse.”
Farouk shrugs, “I suppose I’ll just have to find a game elsewhere, You don’t play by any chance do ya?”
“Has anyone ever told you you’re extremely vague? Ein’s not gonna like that. I’d suggest being a little more specific when we get to camp. Gambling? No thanks. Heh. Something tells me you don’t play fair. No offense.”
When they get back to camp, Kistol signals that it’s ok and makes introductions with what little information he has.
He informs everyone out of earshot that he suspects Farouk to be a magic user and that he speaks Elven.
On the way back to the cave, Kistol and Farouk run into Max and Trist.
The small group moves back up into the ‘camp’ and proceeds to ‘de-soak’ themselves from the pouring rain.
All are awake/woken up as Kistol introduces Farouk.
After adjusting her rumpled-from-sleep attire and saying bye-bye to her boulder pillow, Bel takes one look at Farouk and thinks: “If the ettins had gotten hold of this one it would have been a holiday banquet!”
Thereupon, being discretely informed by Kistol that the corpulent Farouk is a magic-user, Bel responds quietly: “I have indeed seen this type of mage before: he would cast Knock on your knickers before you’ve even had the chance to offer proper salutations! It is one reason why Halruaans created chastity belts with magical feedback”.
She will also subtly check on what the priestess Finna is doing and make sure her presence has remained as frutuitous as it first seemed; she will then make sure her wands are tucked in securely and her belongings are all together.
Looking at Farouk, "This had better be good. I just got soaked and woke up after getting soaked last night. For the love of Freya. I almost had these clothes dry too. I’m Trist by the way. Sorry for the pissy attitude but it’s been a rough couple of days.
“So what brings you out here Farouk”? Trist sinches up her knickers after hearing Bel’s warning. She thinks to herself can he really do that? Trist belly rumbles a bit and she says out loud, “I’m starving”. She reaches into her bag for some rations and a drink of water".
Peering into the darkness, Finna tries to keep her senses sharp to hear any sign of the return of Trist and her fellow travellers. She grips her spear tighter as the sounds of footsteps approaches. She readies her spear as Trist, Max, and Kistol approach with another soggy human. She moves aside to let the group enter after a sign from Trist and Kistol. She resumes her post on watch as Kistol introduces the person as Farouk.
After several minutes go by, Finna turns inward a bit and calls to Kistol a few times until he turns to her. She nods her head to a spot beside her and inquires “Watch?” After he resumes his post, Finna will lean in and speak softly. “Glad to have you back safe, was a bit worried when that lightning strike occured.”
Kistol nods and sits next to Finna, wringing out his clothing, “Thanks. Yeah, strange, huh? I think it was him, actually. He hinted at it later on down the trail, trying to scare me. It’s what tipped me off to him using magic. That one talks in circles. Could be a trust thing, though. We did just meet, after all.”
Farouk flashes a genuine smile and shakes the hands that rescued him, “Thank you, thank you! Its good to see a friendly face way out here!”
Farouk makes his rounds shaking hands but when he reaches Trist, he takes her hand gently before looking into her eyes and smiling. “No no.. No apologies needed. M’lady… getting all wet for no good reason would no doubt test the patients of even a saint.“
At Farouks touch, Trist feels a warm, not unpleasant tickle move up her arm spreading through her body. Before Trist can pull away, she notices that her clothes are completely dry and there is a scent of roses in the air.
Farouk then steps back and smiles gleamingly before giving a flourishing bow, “I owe you guys. I am Farouk and I am at your service!”
Maltron wonders how many individuals can safely roam these woods, two now he counts. I suppose he looks human enough, that is a good start.
Maltron does a quick patdown of his personal belongings and subtly draws his pouch strings tighter. “Pleased to meet you Farouk, what brings you to or humble abode?”
Trist pipes up.
@ Farouk, "As the warmth seems to dry out her clothes she flushes a bit. She turns away from Farouk and checks her knickers. Yep their still tied. Turning back to Farouk she thanks him but tells him, “I am going to keep my eyes on you”. She offers him some rations and water in case he does not have any.
@ Finna, "It is good to be back with friends sister as she walks up to Finna and Kistol. I trust everything is going ok here? Trist tells Finna, “I can only feel three cleric spells accessible to me. I would like to pray with you when you do to learn more”.
@ Bel, “Thanks for checking on Jack for me. I’ll make sure to graze him when we start out today a bit or see if Ein will do it for me as we move out”. Thanks for warning me about Farouk he seem ok though I think.
Trist talks over the map with the others quietely away from Farouk in case he’s a spy and says, "The tracks are probably gone now but we have three possible routes off the main path to search. I’d probably go on the northerly route that leads into the area we think the orcs are in. I think we should use the same tactic with an invisible scout to locate our target. Maybe keep our camp off the main path but closer to the main orc camp.
Francis Still tired, sits up and tries to remember the dream he was just involved in. He thinks it was a good one, but as dreams go, he’s having difficulty recalling. His body aching, he takes a few deep breathes, his head not in the best of shape, he takes a long pull from his water skin, and a small pull from his rum skin, with a grin, and tries to hide it from the group. Making a breakfast of his dry rations, he looks up and it seems like everyone else is up, and concerned with something important, but it doesn’t seem like anything that requires Francis’s immediate attention. He does feel like the cave is pretty crowded, more like a full Inn would be, than a small band of adventures out in the dangerous wilds, and worried about Orcs. Any concern of danger seems foreign at this time, I mean, there isn’t a large band of Orcs anywhere to be seen, no broken ankles, no dislocated shoulders. Francis nods his head up and down, grins a bit more and thinks to himself, “This day is great, compared to the last. Life is good.”
He sits and philosophically contemplates divine intervention, the gravitational pull of an object toward the ground, especially as it concerns falling avian creatures, and trees, and as he touches his face, a slight tinge of a sunburn bounces his mind to the question of such concepts as heat, the roaring sound of walls of fire, and the correct temperature and time one would use, if one were so inclined, to roast a full grown Orc to perfection.
Farouk looks over at Kistol, “Hey kiddo! You mentioned earlier some peeps of interest to you riding with a pack of orcs. They owe me some money. If you and your crew there (Winks at the ladies;) can get me some payback Id be more than willing to show where they have holed up. Sound good to you?”
Kistol replies. “Wait, you think your High Rollers are the same as our Persons of interest? And you just rolled up and played cards with them?” Kistol glances around to get a general consensus before he starts talking about their mission.
“Ok, well, I can’t promise payback, but they know we’re coming or at least that we’re here so we probably won’t get in and out without a fight. We’re looking for a man named Kargan Fonkenpeak. He’s involved with the slave trade I mentioned, one of the snatchmen. He’s supposed to be running with a band of orcs up here. Best case scenario, we bring him back alive. Trist tracked one of the orcs that escaped in a northeasterly direction before the washed out the tracks. Any of this sound familiar? This who you were playing cards with?”
“Honestly, they werent the high rollers I was looking for. I never did find the outpost I set out for. I was a “guest” of those Orcs for a while, and we played a few games to pass the time thats all."
“That name Kargan…Hmmm doesnt sound familiar, Just orcs were I was.” Although I wouldn’t be surprised if your mans involved. I had to make a detour upon my departure when I heard a bunch of mounted orcs coming my way….mounted…Didn’t really think they were into horses, but I wasn’t sticking around to take my chances."
“What I can remember most about their hideout, is that its part of a cave complex up north. Interesting digs they got going cause there is stream that runs south, directly out of the cave entrance. If we can find that stream again it will take you straight into their hideout.” states Farouk.
Bel announces: “One would hope this isn’t meant to lead us to our deaths; too many frutuitous encounters in such a short period of time feels unnaturally warranting of suspicion.”
@ Maltron (out of Farouk’s earshot): “Since it seems to be the usual Frontier Mage way of doing business (or at least how the Guildmaster behaves…), you could Charm Farouk as a way of verifying that his information is not meant to lead us to harm’s door.”
@ Francis, after hearing Farouk’s talk of being a gambler : “I am no Diviner, but I foresee cards and dice in your immediate future..followed by a period of great poverty.” Bel giggles, satisfied.
Farouk looking a little hurt “Really!? Judging by the hurt you put on that last group down there i took you for a braver lot. Besides do look like the kinda guy that wants to hang out in the woods? You want your guy I want my money. If I were a bettin man and I am, Id say thats where you will find him”
Francis’s attention is quickly snapped into the direction of Lady Bel’Ybryaa Malvetent. He gets up and joins the conversation. He scrunches up his face in an odd way as he looks at Finna and Farouk seemingly just noticing that both exist. He stands next to Lady Bel’Ybryaa Malvetent and gives her a, I think I’m a little behind, and need to be caught up on what is going on, look, while asking, “You said dice?.” Then following up with a more whispered tone, “Have I told you how I won a ship from an entire band of Brigands? It was one of my better hauls from a night of gaming. There are many good stories, but that might be the best one.”
Farouk whispers back, “Just one ship?”
“My dear Farouk, only a mad man would confuse bravery with stupidity” Bel looks sideways at Francis unintentionally “…and a man, a mage no less, found wandering in a muddy rainstorm in the middle of the night who then conveniently proffers up relevant details regarding our quarry does seems a bit too auspicious to be believable”
Ein groggily and grumpily pipes up. "Well then Farouk it seems you’re in with us for the time being. I agree with Trist in that we should take the northern trail but from the other trails she describes, and from what Farouk states, these orcs are on the hunt. And if they’re mounted they can move a whole hell of a lot faster than we can. The rain should make it easy for us to cover our tracks but it’s going piss all over our ability to hear them coming. When we get moving we’ll have to move fast and stick close to cover and the hills. I’d rather not get caught in the open and have to go up against a band of orcs on horseback. Dragging mules along isn’t helping much either. We’ll move faster without them and if we ditch them we won’t have to worry about their tracks giving us away as well. We need to head north and find their hideout fast, hopefully while they’re out searching. Anybody have any tricks up their sleeve that’ll help with that, now the time to pull those aces.”
“I guess we are all pretty lucky today then! Tricks ehhh? Hmmm I may have just the thing all I need is a volunteer with great eyesight!" Smirks Farouk.
“Trist, my sister, some things take time. After I’ve finished my turn on watch, we can discuss more of how and what Freya does for us.” Finna gives Trist’s hand a quick squeeze and turns back to her current task. She stands near the cave entrance on watch but finds her attention drifting back towards the conversations occuring behind her, especially after Farouk pulls Kistol’s attention away from their sentry duty. At times she shakes her head in disbelief of what is said, stiffles a laugh at the obvious jab Bel makes.
As Ein makes an agreement to utilize Farouk’s assistance, Finna turns toward the group. “As it seems everyone’s day has started before the great Odur begins his trek across the sky, I feel I need to address the Surströmming in the center of the group. I stand here with you yet I do not see where our paths are one. My fate and Trist’s have been bound together by the great goddess Freya. Not long after we first met, Maltron graciously invited me to join this group. As I have not determined who is leading this group, unless it is Francis who has spent his time recovering from his injuries, I must put it out there for this group to decide. Are thou willing to allow me to join you in your endeavor to locate the man you are currently seeking or has this become implied after staying with you a day and night?”
Bel, still moody from her boulder-pillowed and interrupted sleep-cycle states: “Finna, are you waiting for an acceptance ceremony culminating with wreathes of wildflowers draped around your neck signalling your welcomed place within the group? Know that Trist has spoken for you, and she does hold our trust. If you are all you appear to be, then you are welcome by my standards; but I can certainly speak for no other here but myself.”
Maltron replies to Finna, “Leadership has been hard to define in this group. We rarely disagree. We rarely have time to, as we have been in one life threatening situation after another.”
To Farouk, “So, let me paraphrase your proposition. You want us to go kill a large group of orcs and then you can get your money back? How much of their loot is yours? Why should we assume it is yours and do all of the killing for you? We have a top notch tracker with us and don’t really require your directions.”
“Why were you consorting with orcs anyway?”
Maltron wait for a reply. Afterwards he will sit down to memorize Detect Evil and determine if Farouk and more subtly Finna are evil. He did just meet them after all.
Francis looks around in the center of the room for some fermented canned Herring, as that sounds like something he’d rather eat than dry rations. Not seeing any, his brow furrows. With a slight bow and nod Francis looks at Finna and says, “My Lady, if it’s up to me, you may keep comfort with us as long or as short as you desire. For any partner of Trist, I consider a partner of mine.” Followed by a charming smile.
Francis takes some deep breaths as he starts to feel a little better at the mention of the party being lost and in disarray with out him, that they have been waiting for his recovery so that he may return to his rightful place as emperor, and God King of this unmolded and adolescent group in need of guidance and direction. But his speech doesn’t match his thoughts, so he responds… “As for your question regarding the hierarchy and nomenclature that follows such designations, I offer my personal suggestions. When in battle, knee deep in the remains of fallen foes, I find it best to follow Max, he is a true champion, with very few rivals…” Francis shrugs and adds a bit of inflection at ‘very few rivals’ conveying the meaning that he resides among those few. He continues, “…and also if you’re standing anywhere near his front,” and more quietly and under his breath he’ll continue’ “he’ll also most likely confuse you with something that requires smashing. When it comes to stealth and cunning, I default my own opinions to those of both Trist and Kistol, and while we are in this current location, Trist seems best suited for her general knowledge and experience have shown to be great assets. I’d say that in matters of the mind, where tactical strategy as well as magical efforts requiring coordination my brother Maltron is one of the best around.” Again, with an inflection at ‘one of the best’ with the idea that Francis also is in that company. “You’ll have to excuse the fair Lady Bel’Ybryaa Malvetent for her talents of seduction and comfort approach those of but the most skilled in such pursuits.” Another shrug and apparent physical movement to also include himself as very skilled in those ways of comfort. “Other than that she has an odd fetish for clean skeletons. So maybe her feminine wiles are more specific to the inanimate?” Francis puts his finger to his chin and thinks to himself, yes that’s it, for course, she likes skeletons, that would explain why she hasn’t thrown herself all over me yet. It’s the only reason possible.
Francis doesn’t acknowledge the existence of Farouk.
After Maltron finishes with, “How much of their loot is yours?” He will look at Farouk, and say very matter of fact like, “Careful on that question, he doesn’t like it when people claim that things are theirs, out of nowhere. I’m just saying that he’s a very suspicious person when it comes to people claiming ownership of things without proof. And don’t think that gambling qualifies as a reason that will be met with anything but hostility.”
Bel’Ybryaa, with a nod, acknowledges an extremely mild tendency toward necrophilia, in regards to Francis’ speech. As well she also silently acknowledges to herself that there some body parts belonging to Francis that even SHE couldn’t reanimate…
Kistol thinks, Farouk, Finna, Freya, Francis. A lot of "F"s floating around.
Kistol responds to Finna sincerely, “Sorry if you were offended, but welcome aboard, Priestess of Freya.”
He turns to Farouck, “Eyesight? What do you mean?”
Kistol has no problem losing the donkey’s and offers his bag of holding to carry important supplies.
Maltron chuckles at Francis, “Haven’t forgot that eh captain?”
“Let’s just put it this way. Farouk, you contribute to the finding and killing of the orcs and you get an equal share of the loot. Unless you can describe in detail a long lost family heirloom, which you may claim, any loot we find will be split equally.”
Farouk replies, “Hmmm. Fair split is fine if ya get me back to town i suppose. Yeahh need someone with sharp eyes. Shhesh im not talkin in riddles! How bout one of u elves step right up for a chance to see the world like gods do!”
Finna begins to respond to Bel but waits until Maltron and Francis finishes speaking. At the mention of skeletons, Finna casts a quizical glance towards Bel then back at Francis. Glancing around Francis, she doesn’t see the rum skin out in the open but, from what she has gathered, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t already been at it. Turning her attention back to Bel, she speaks to her in a smooth, quiet way. “There is no need for you to go through all of that trouble for a ceremony. I would not want you to go through all of that trouble in finding the wildflowers out in the woods and in the rain. You would get soaked and may catch a cold which may not be good for your health.” She ends with a smile that doesn’t travel to her eyes.
“My thanks to you, Francis, on your explanation of the dynamics of the group. I would agree with your suggestions, there is some wisdom behind most of them. I understand that most everyone here has been through many ordeals together, making you a close knit group. That is why I felt it was best that most everyone was willing to have my assistance for as long as our paths were aligned. Even more so, I would be honored as well to travel and fight alongside those who have been blessed to see Freya and have spoken with her.”
“And, Francis, to help you in understanding all the dynamics, Trist and I are sisters of the faith in Freya, your vision of partners is skewed. Besides, we’ve only known of each other for a day, too short a time lest people start talking,” Finna says, raising one eyebrow up quickly.
“Now, do we get pack now and make ready to leave at first light or finish resting then leave?”
Trist says,“If we must free the donkeys let me get my gear off of Jack first. At first light I can lead us to the orc camp unless Farouk knows a better route. Either way we need to stay off the main paths and use less well traveled routes to their camp”.
Klembsy, not having slept enough, stands up in a sitting position initially. Happy to see Kistol and Trist back, he stands up to greet the newcomer, Farouk was the name I think. Apart from the necessary greetings, Klembsy remains silent leaving the rest of them do the talking. He tries to pray for guidance about the future and for good judgement in trusting people. He surely trusts Finna but this Farouk guy, well…, he must keep an eye on him.
His silence breaks abruptly when “ditching the donkeys” is heard. Klembsy interferes in the conversation with a sudden “Whoa, whoa guys and gals. I have taken Bobo as a long-term companion not a disposable transporter. I cannot just ditch him in a dampy mountain cave!”. Klembsy pauses a bit to think possibilities and weight his commitment to Bobo and his …em…feelings for Trist. Surely Bobo values nothing compared to Trist but Trist is someone he will never be able to “have” completely as his chosen life pathway doesn’t leave margins for …em…feelings. Exhaling with doubted certainty he continues: “The way I see it, there are few options. I can stay back with both donkeys or, if weather improves, move at a slow pace behind you. I believe my mountain survival abilities will enable me to follow behind, especially if Trist leaves a bit ranger-like clues here and there.”
Kistol nods at Francis’ assessment, “We all have out strong points, but since the Island, I follow Mal’s lead.”
Kistol shakes his head listening to Farouk, Sometimes I miss when things were simple. “Hey Stolly, wanna go steal something?” “Sure, Cat. Where is it?” “Up in that building.” “Ok, great.” Done, no riddles, no new people, no donkeys. Oh, well. At least you have a family now. This could be worse. Kistol hides a grin as he looks around at hes companions.
With a slightly frustrated tone, he responds to Farouk, "Yes, you are talking riddles! “Like the gods?!” I’m assuming it’s magic, but do I really have to pull teeth to get anything out of you! I’m ready to help you, but you have to tell me what you’re thinking. What do you need keen eyes for? What’s the plan, Farouk?"
To Klembsy, “Klem, I get your attachment to Bobo, but I don’t traveling out here alone. There are wandering groups of orcs out here and, no offense, I don’t think you’d fair as well as Trist and Finna should you be caught alone with the donkeys in tow. Best to cut them loose and Mal can find them later with Jes. Pick something they’re carrying and ask where it is.”
Bel feels that dumping Bobo and Jack in a cave (or in the woods) is rather unethical. She is surprised at Trist’s willingness to do so and as well at Ein’s insensitivity to the matter, and she makes voice of these notions to each individual involved. If she didn’t feel it violated her agreement with Marcetheus, she would also offer to stay behind to take care of them/lead them like Klembsy did. (She secretely wishes she could polymorph them into finer steeds therefore resolving the issue).
Ein pipes up. “Insensitive?” The dwarf snorts.
Turning to Klembsy “Attached?” He spits. “This beats all.”
“Look Klemb, I ain’t had much rest so Imma gonna just cut to the chase. Either ditch the ass or you get ditched. There’s too much at stake to risk getting caught over a mule you’ve only just had a couple of days. You ain’t gonna follow us with them and we ain’t gonna leave a trail for you. Both of those options still points the baddies straight to the party. Why the hell did you bring it anyways? What kind of hauling you plan on doing?”
Maltron feels the draw of leadership, his name has been bandied about enough with regards to it and he feels that the others will accept his direction at this time.
“We need to do this. Give me 40 minutes of meditation. Everyone pack up and get ready to leave during that time. Don’t put anything on the mules, except a note to Hoken asking him to take care of these animals until we return. I will cast invisibility on each of the mules to provide them with at least 24 hours of safety. Klembsy can cast speak with animals on the mules, letting them know about the invisibility spell, if they comprehend it, and telling them to return to Rivertree and head to Charcoal’s. Anyone not in favor can leave with the mules. Ein is correct. He knows woods better than most of us and we have a mission for the Guardians and for our own vengeance upon the slavers. The longer we wait here arguing, the more likely they will be gone or have killed or kidnapped more victims.”
He doesn’t wait for any conversation and begins to meditate.
Francis gets his business in order, packs up and stands ready. At exactly 40 minutes (his best estimation, or when Maltron looks like he’s about to stand up) he’ll ask Maltron if he’s had enough time to rest and if he’s ready to go, implying that we’ve been ready for a while now, and have been waiting on him.
Bel observes that Maltron is on a “Leadership High” after two party members specified they’d be comfortable with his direction, and for the time being she accepts a clear direction (especially when none was previously present) in his general guidance. She is happy with Maltron’s suggested “Mule Solution” but also recalls the final moments of Trist’s kidnapping when Maltron was more concerned about loot than the safety of one of the party members; this raises doubts in her mind regarding his predilections.
Max thinks, Finally, it’s about time for Maltron to start letting everyone know what’s what. All this time spent trying to be accommodating and conciliatory, “political.” Max supposes it’s just something leaders have to do, take their time, build their credibility and their power base.
Max gets ready, inspecting his armor as he puts it on, and testing the edges of his weapons as he straps them in place. As it gets closer to 40 minutes, he helps anybody who needs helping. When Francis moves to needle Maltron about “resting,” Max walks up behind and to the side of Maltron and just stands there, arms crossed, staring Francis down as he babbles away.
Max knows a challenge when he sees it and knows which side he’s on. It’s not that Max doesn’t like Francis. To the contrary, he thinks the pair would get along just fine carousing in town. He also has a high opinion of Francis’s bravery and mettle in a fight. It’s just that Maltron’s in charge and Francis will need to argue with Max’s two-handed sword if he wants to change that. Max figured all this out long ago. He’s surprised it’s taking so long for everyone else. Max guesses that everyone’s just smart in different ways. That makes Max feel a little better since he’s usually the one that’s not smart in all the different ways there are to be smart.
Max is relieved at Maltron’s suggestion regarding the animals. Max could give two orc turds about the donkeys. However, Klembsy seems attached to them and Max is glad Maltron’s come up with something so the druid’s conscience can be clear. As far as Max is concerned, the brutes are just walking rations hauling gear for the time being, but he knows some of those priests and he’s pretty sure druids in particular are fussy about wanton killing of animals. Doesn’t do to anger priests and gods in Max’s opinion. That’s way above his pay grade!
Youth, Finna thinks, her eyes casting skyward. Sometimes they just get a fire lit under their backside and don’t finish thinking things through. She makes a half turn towards the group, “Once someone is done packing up, would you mind standing watch? I’d rather not have someone or something else sneak up on us. I need to gather my things, have a small bite to eat, and pray to Freya before I can leave. Also, if I don’t get the chance, will someone point out to the new leader, once he is done meditating, that after the animals have had the spells cast upon them, the casters may want to take the time to relearn another spell? Don’t want to leave this place without everyone being as ready as possible. Trist, once I get the chance, let me show you one of the prayers we use for Freya.”
Finna turns back to watch in the approaching dawn. Once she is released from duty, she will eat some rations, pack her belongings and set them to one side. Once she has done this, she motions for Trist to join her so she can begin the training.
Francis smiles at Max and approaches his folded arms and offers him a drink of rum. He pulls in close and says, “Max my friend, it’s going to up to you and I to keep Maltron and the others safe from the Orcs, they’re squishy. We can do it if we keep our wits about us, take a little drink here, and feel the courage flow through you. It’s been too long since we’ve fought side by side. I look forward to this.” Then Francis will scream/laugh at Max, and warriors scream, intent on getting him fired up and ready for travel."
He’ll also ask ANYONE who ‘prays’ or ‘meditates’ if they need more time ‘resting’ since we’ve been resting all night, and now it’s time to go, and get moving. Francis finishes once everyone is ready, looking at Max, “Like Maltron said, right? Let’s get the move on.”
Francis will tell Finna that he’ll watch the cave’s opening, and swing his twin cutlasses around to make sure his range of motion is back at where it should be.
Trist first communicates with Jack as best as she can that he will be ok and that Klembsy will explain it better. She will take all the stuff out of the saddle bags and put it in her backpack or sack. She’ll take a arrow out and write her name on the saddle bags and leave them on Jack.
She finishes up and hugs Jack then lets Klembsy and Maltron do their things.
She heads over to Finna after she eats and waits for her to indicate she is ready. Trist tell Finna, “Thank you sister for showing me how to allow Freya to work through me”.First she says to Maltron and everyone else, “We need a marching order. She points out on the map they should travel along the paths but off them. She shows everyone hand signals and what they mean so they can react to her signals. We need to keep quiet. If we pass a patrol just stay quiet and let them pass us. It will be less to deal with in the main camp, unless Fronkenpeak is in the patrol. I just want to make sure everyone is clear here. The objective is to take Fronkenpeak alive but if that isn’t possible we take his head back with us to town”.
Max can’t help himself and joins in the maniacal screaming. Francis’ boisterous charms are infectious.
Farouk approaches Maltron the obvious leader “Hey there, figured since we are going into the hornets nest figured you should know when I was there i saw bout 20 or 30 orcs armed mainly with swords spears and shortbows. Should be easy enough if we can take them by suprise”
Maltron thanks Farouk for his information, "This is good to know. It sounds like a force we can handle. And do tell us about this “trick” you have in mind."
“Finna, I would very much like to memorize all the spells I am capable of prior to setting out and I would have had time to had this Mule situation not arose. I will have to defer to Ein and Trist as to whether we have time to allot to this. We could stay here for the next week preparing, but I don’t think the orcs will wait around for us that long. Sometimes what seems the most logical answer is not,” he casts his gaze towards Bel.
“Max, Francis! Your enthusiasm for battle is infectious!” He lets out a meeker, yet heartfelt yowl.
Farouk adds, “Oh yes this trick! Well if you like we may find it useful ti put an eye in the sky. If i levitate one of you above the treeline and hills you will no doubt be able see the lands for miles around. Not to mention spotting the orc camp and anything else of intererest. If one of you invisible guys volunteer we could spy from the sky and not be noticed even!”
Klembsy finds Maltron’s proposal interesting. This way he can serve his primary purpose for the time being (the ending of slavery business) without ditching those two poor animals. Seeing from the attitudes that all others find it agreeable, he prays in order to ask Mielikki for Speak with Animals. He then casts it, first talking to Bobo and then to Jack (he will pray/cast a second time if required) explaining the plan about the invinsible return to Rivertree and Charcoal’s. He then removes all useful stuff from Bobo and gets it ready into his backpack (if encumbrance applies, he asks Max to share some).
Klembsy will not pay attention to any of Francis’ comments about ‘losing time praying’ as he considers them not worthwhile. After finishing, he leaves one spell slot empty, as usual, and is ready to go when all others are.
Ein replies to Maltron. “The rain doesn’t seem to be letting up much so it won’t do us any good heading out now. No need rushing out to slog in the mush in the low light. We have about 2 bells before first light. Everyone should prep their gear, eat, catch what sack time they can until then. I suggest the mages and the holy-types load up with as many spells as possible, most likely not going to find a lot of dry spots out there to sit and have a casual study-prayer break.”
Trist tells Finna, “Thank you for showing me the proper way to pray to Freya, sister. That was a beautiful way of asking Freya for her guidance”.
Talkin to Kistol, “I agree with you on the route. If you can scout ahead of us a bit and see if they have sentries posted along our route that would be great. IF you spot any let us know whats up”.
Trist will head out ahead of he part by about 200 ft or so. She isn’t going to try and keep up with Kistol. Even though she could track him by the tracks he leaves or the rain shimmer.
“Finna, sister will you join me”?
They head out when the party is ready.