24th day of the 9th moon in the year 4512 of the Noruz reckoning, late morning.
After breaking camp and marching for a few hours, Corvis’s sharp hearing picks up the telltale chitter of Claacos nearby. It’s coming from the woods beyond the front left of the wagon. He snaps into action. From his position on the left side of the caravan, he draws and readies an arrow, hurries to stand by the draft animals, and scans the horizon. “Ready yourselves; I hear something,” he says in a calm but urgent voice. Corvis scans for numbers and distance in the front left direction. He tries to figure out if they could pass by undetected if possible. If not, he tries to see if they could get a couple good volleys in before they are forced into close quarter combat. Relana and Dorvian ready their bows as well. Sorkin readies his daggers.
The brothers and Jongo line up to the front left of the wagon and level their longspears. Gamus produces his xbow and places his extra quarrels within easy reach. Dorvian stands behind the brothers with his bow ready. Roughly 2 dozen Claacos foragers appear at the edge of the woods 100 yards from the side of the road (the Aval military routinely clears the trees 100 yds on both sides of this road to improve visibility in case of Claacos attack).
Corvis, Dorvian, Relana, and Gamus let fly their missiles as the Claacos, sensing the reindeer and freshly cut hay, turn their attention to the caravan and start to charge. Gamus’s xbow clangs, and his shot goes wide. He starts to reload. Dorvian fires off four arrows. Three connect, and one of the Claacos stumbles and falls still. Relana makes 3/4 shots as the Claacos close and downs two of the beasts. Corvis’s bowstring smacks into his wrist as he releases it. The arrow lands about 50 yards in the scrub. Corvis yelps in surprised pain and and only gets off one more shot (which misses) before the Claacos close.
The seven surviving Claacos charge into the thicket of longspears. Kavo and Milo skewer two of the beasts which collapse in heaps. The brothers drop their longspears and draw their short swords. Jongo drops his spear in favor of his club. As the remaining five Claacos close on the party, Jongo, Jarl, Kavo, and Milo are each bitten by the vicious jaws of the remaining beasts. Nobody is killed, but Kavo looks pretty severely wounded. Corvis’s eyes dance with a fey light as he brings his blades out and sidesteps a wicked lunge from a Claacos; keeping an eye on his comrades in the line, he quickly lashes out at the Claacos that tried to bite him.
The harnessed team of reindeer spook and attempt to run off, but Gamus has engaged the wagon’s brake. Sorkin has untethered Gaffey from the back of the wagon and is sitting on him. When the Claacos get close, Gaffey flees in the opposite direction. Sorkin barely stays mounted. The party can now clearly count 5 Claacos down, 5 Claacos engaged at the wagon, and another 10 Claacos emerging casually from the edge of the woods.
The melee churns. Milo hits his Claacos, but is then felled. Jongo clubs one of the brutes to death. Jarl takes a vicious swipe of Claacos claw, but remains standing and kills one Claacos before falling in turn. Corvis misses with his longsword, but connects and kills one Claacos with his short sword. Kavo manages to connect, and dodge two claw attacks. 2 Claacos are left standing. Corvis remains unscathed, Jongo and Kavo remain standing. Kavo is seriously wounded and breathing heavily. He can’t take much more of this, Corvis and Jongo edge together to allow Kavo to retreat. He picks up a longspear as he does so.
Relana grabs a handful of hay and ties it quickly to an arrow. Glancing around, she realizes there’s no ready source of flame. Since she has no skill lighting fire from scratch and has no flint and steel or tinderbox, she decides to just shoot into the distant crowd of Claacos which has begun to charge. She hits, but the beast continues to run. Gamus has finished reloading his crossbow. Cursing in fear and grief as he watches two of his sons go down, his shot goes wide. Dorvian fires two shots into the charging Claacos. One hits, but the insect keeps going.
Meanwhile, Sorkin dismounts from the fleeing Gaffey and lands unscathed. The halter is wrenched out of his grasp and Gaffey continues his flight. After briefly considering flinging a sleep spell at the cowardly reindeer, Sorkin shrugs and hurries back to the wagon. Sorkin focuses his attention on the oncoming Claacos coming from the forest. He realizes that he has to scare them away or at least slow them down if everyone is to survive. Thinking quickly, he reasons that though the Claacos don’t like cold, they might not like fire either. He prepares to cast an image of a wall of fire between the wagon and the oncoming Claacos.
Corvis, Kavo and Jongo finish off the two remaining Claacos in melee range. They grimly get ready to face the next charge. Suddenly, the vegetation between the wagon and the charging Claacos bursts into flames surrounding the Claacos on three sides except for where they came from. The Claacos stop short at this unexpected obstacle. Relana and Dorvian let loose their arrows through the strange flame which does not smell like burning plants, make any crackling noises, or apparently give off any heat. Two of the now stopped Claacos go down. After a tense moment during which the party holds its breath with Gamus’s sobs audible in the background, the remaining 8 Claacos turn and flee. Gamus, Relana, and Dorvian let fly one final volley at the retreating Claacos to ensure they trouble no one else. Gamus finally scores a hit and kills one Claacos. Relana and Dorvian both hit once, but their targets continue their flight.
Gamus and Kavo fall on their knees and pray thanks to Sacred Aval for their deliverance via the holy fire. After the mysterious fire dies down, Corvis inspects the downed Claacos and gives each one an extra poke with his longsword. He retrieves 5 unbroken arrows, gives 2 each to Dorvian and Relana, and keeps one for himself.
Relana looks around, and ponders… the fire… she has her suspicions, but no point in making a stink here. She glances around, makes sure the gnome is nowhere near her, and starts tending to Jarl. She asks Gamus, “I’m only any good at singing, whistling, and playing lute… Maybe I can do some bandaging… Is there… anything he would like to hear… just in case?” Relana also notes that she needs to get some flint and tinder…
Dorvian shoos Relana away as she clumsily tries to assist. He tells her to make a bed of hay in the front seat of the wagon so they can make Jarl more comfortable and be ready in case they have to risk moving. Milo is now semi-conscious and is seated in the wagon groaning in pain. Dorvian wants to stay put for about an hour. Milo will be ok, but Jarl is in bad shape and needs to remain still or risk losing more blood. Dorvian thinks the poorly sprung wagon will jostle him too much. Jongo exclaims, “Where’s Gaffey!?”
Sorkin looks indignant. “Oh, hmmm, that cowardly reindeer just upped and ran away, whereas I chose to stay and fight! We should track down that ass’s ass and give it a solid reprimanding!” While everyone is being tended to, Sorkin unleashes a reindeer and asks Corvis if he can track down Gaffey. Meanwhile, to Gamus, “Wow, you guys took care of all those nasty Gi-Ants pretty good! I didn’t even have time to help out… Do you think there are any valuable parts on these Gi-Ants that we can salvage? Maybe we can sell some in Kahnul to recoup the losses we took in this battle?”
In response, Gamus picks up a short sword and starts hacking mandibles and legs off the Claacos that made it as far as the wagon. Gesturing to the Claacos bodies and generally addressing the party, he says, “Take what you can carry. Mandibles and legs are the best parts for eating. Thorax is good for the chitin, but too heavy unless you have the time to empty the guts.”
Since it looks like it will take some time to stabilize Jarl, Sorkin picks through the Claacos remains to see if there’s anything useful to salvage. He cuts off an antenna which is about 2 ft long and has a nice spring to it. “Coo, gov’na! Wonder what I can make out of this? Maybe a bow?” He holds the antenna by one end, points the other at a Claacos body and yells out, “Expelliarmus!” Nothing happens. He mock-fences with the antenna for a bit, then stows it in his backpack and cuts off 2 more. Sorkin spends some time seeing if he can pull off an intact eye from one of the bodies. He manages to pry 3 intact Claacos eyes from the 5 corpses near the wagon. He pauses in thought to figure out a way to preserve them before they rot.
Corvis looks to Gamus and Jongo as the gnome tries to hand him the reins of one of the reindeer. He’s busy cleaning the mess from his blades. “I could look for Gaffey. But if we’re not going anywhere, it would be better for us to stick together. The group that ran away? Could bring more. Hunger will override their fear eventually, and those bastards are always hungry.” He looks at Jarl as he’s being taken care of, then back to Gamus and Jongo, “Your decision, but if we aren’t willing to move, I could take the reindeer out for a short foray. Otherwise…” He pauses, making a face, “I really wouldn’t want to stay here. The smell will attract others, and they are indiscriminate bastards.”
Gamus says, “Nobody is taking MY reindeer anywhere!” Gamus glares at Sorkin and snatches the reins out of Sorkin’s hand and re-hitches the reindeer to the team.
Jongo, obviously distraught, says, “I’ll go find Gaffey. If you need to move on, go ahead. I can catch up since I can go faster than the wagon. We’re pretty close to Kahnul. It’s only been a few minutes, Gaffey can’t have gone far.” Jongo heads off in roughly the correct direction. He takes a fistful of hay and starts walking while softly tapping on his drums.
Relana, put off by Dorvian shooing her away, and not being relegated to uselessness sees Jongo looking for his reindeer. She can’t carry much Claacos guts anyway. She decides to tail him (hopefully without his noticing)... She wouldn’t want anything to happen to him, and there were still 8 foragers around. While Relana trails Jongo, he doesn’t seem to notice or maybe just doesn’t care. Jongo does find Gaffey, but Gaffey is still skittish and won’t come to Jongo. Jongo’s frustration mounts. He glances around as if to make sure he’s alone, Relana ducks completely behind a tree as she sees him start to look around. When she peeks around the tree again, she hears Jongo saying strange words and making weird gestures. When he points at Gaffey and concludes his occult performance, Gaffey kneels down and goes to sleep! Jongo approaches Gaffey, gets a good hold of his tether, wakes him, and starts to lead the now calm Gaffey back to the wagon.
Relana frowns in concentration, and attempts to mumble the words, and make the same gestures to no effect. She decides to follow Jongo back to camp. Jongo spots her, so she sheepishly mumbles something about, worried about Claacos, and inquire what Jongo did to get Gaffey to behave… Jongo does not seem concerned that Relana followed him. He actually seems a little bit relieved that someone cared enough to watch his back. He explains that magical energy can be channeled by certain kinds of minds. For some reason, minds skilled in music have a natural affinity for it. He agrees to teach Relana. In exchange, he tells her that 1/2 elves are all orphans because they have no community of their own. Neither elves nor humans will truly accept them, so they must look out for each other. Relana has only to promise to look out for 1/2 elves in need of aid during her travels and help them as he has helped her.
After Jarl stabilizes shortly after Jongo and Relana return with Gaffey, the caravan continues on to Kahnul. Gamus drives the team hard and everybody pushes the wagon to make up lost time and get off the road as quickly as possible. The small caravan arrives at Kahnul just before nightfall. The party notices a desolate refugee camp outside the city walls on the north side of the road leading into the city’s eastern gate. Gamus mutters, “Yazd scum. Can’t manage themselves, so they come here to leech off us.”
After entering the gate, Gamus and Kavo say their farewells and find an inn to lodge in and conduct their business. Dorvian takes his leave from the party as well since there is a small temple to Anahita in Kahnul. Jongo says he will stay at his friend’s house. His friend, Enril, is a carpenter at the shipyards who also makes instruments. Unfortunately, the house is too small to lodge everybody, so Corvis, Sorkin, and Relana must check into an inn. Enril warns them not to try to camp within the city walls. The Yazd refugee problem has gotten so bad that the city guard throws out anyone who tries to pitch a tent within the city walls. Jongo tells Sorkin and Relana to meet him at Enril’s in the morning to start working on arcane studies.