Well Met

Maruc cast his flail to one side and shrugged off his shield. He knelt down and checked over the bodies to see if any were still clinging onto life. What a sorry mess, he thought. There was something familiar about the tenacity of their attack. Like they were driven. Insane? Or close to it. Not like the elves of the Elyan under the sway of the Witches. This was darker, more insideous. None had survived on the boat, Maruc turned to Miklos.

“Did you manage to enchant any of the archers on the shoreline?”

“Yes, it was touch and go on the distance but I managed to capture the majority. I believe Prince Hasan went to shore after them. I lost him in our fight.” Miklos replied squinting into the low brush of the wood.

“Good. We have none to talk to here.” said the priest sadly. “They fought like they were possessed. Unusual for simple bandits I would guess. Most would run at your first incantation.”

Miklos nodded.

Maruc checked them over for cultist symbols as he lined them up ready to unload them to the shore. On the left forearm of every dead attacker was the same brand—two manacles linked by a chain.

He turned to the surviving stranger. His face had the haunted mix of sorrow and grim determination. “Well met. Thank you for your help there. Please accept my sorrow for your loss. They were brave men.” Miklos offered his hand to the warrior.

“My name is Miklos of the House of Dostevar. A Seer and Conjurer … of sorts.”

Stephan found the need to spit immediately after the battle but quelled the urge when one of magician greeted him.

“Thank you,” he said taking the man’s proffered hand. “I am Stephan Sukiska. Traladaran.” He looked down at the fallen Boris and Rokov, “Not to seem cold, but they were not close to me. Beloc! They were good hands! Though not much in a battle, it seems. I should have thought of that when I took ‘em on what with all the rumors comin’ out of Dymrak. And I have to go deeper in still!”

Upon meeting the Dwarf, Stephan noted his skill in battle. “You’ve seen some grit, I can tell.” And he looked at the others. “All of you, no doubt, have some tales to tell, I’m sure. Well, I can say, thank Halav we wound up on the same boat! Crazed lot, these villians! And not the sort I know to be about in Dymrak! If these be here, there’s more trouble to come I wager!”

Stephan couldn’t hide his emotions, and when asked about his fallen comrades, he had to let it spill. “No, no. They were not close, as I said. But I’m in a bit of a trouble. These lads were to accompany me to my brother’s homestead in Dymrak. We were to drive some of the family’s prize Dorian’s to Rifllian. We’re to head there from Misha’s Ferry. Can’t be far from here. And then it’s but a few stretch to the homestead.

“Look, I’d try to make it worth your while if you accompany me to the homestead and then on to Rifllian.” Stephan wasn’t much of a pitchman. “What I mean to say is, and I mean no insult, can I hire you to help me in this? The Calaari Elves are likely to pay handsomely for the Dorians. They’re pure white steads–the symbol of the Calaari. I’d give you a fair wage.”

He looked at the dwarf, guessing he might like this: “There might be some goblin heads to dislodge, too.”

Feldard aided the cleric in the task of checking over the bodies for any clue as to their identity or reason for their attack. There seemed little to no gain in it.

The dwarf snorted at Stephan’s offer. The man fought well enough, yet the humans attempt to convince and sway the party from their current mission by both promise of ‘fair pay’ and ‘heads to dislodge’ was a bit of an insult. As if their task to return Nicolai’s ashes could be dismissed so lightly. Plus there was also his bride to find. The dwarf had no interest in herding horses and his expression made that fact plain.

“No.”

Hasan rejoined his companions aboard the riverboat, and Miklos quickly appraised him of Stephan’s offer. “Well met, Stephan. Calaari, you say?” questioned the elf. “Listen. Know now that we four are blood-bound to our cargo, which must be delivered to Threshold. A former companion of our must be laid to rest there. Why not travel with us there, and we can join you when our mission is complete? For I would see the Calaari.”

When time permitted, Stephan saw to rousing the crew from below. “Hasan, you didn’t happen to notice what’s caught up the boat?”

It was a chain that had been stretched across the river. It would not take long to undo the chain, but Kalanos’ crew had been decimated. Of those that weren’t dead, some were wounded. They would be able to get as far as Misha’s Jetty, but travel beyond that on the damaged boat would be impossible. It would seem that the delivery Nicolai’s ashes and Feldard’s quest for his missing bride was to be delayed.

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11 Comments

Filed under D&D, Dungeons & Dragons, rpg

11 responses to “Well Met

  1. Note: All of the attackers are dead (how inconvenient! haha) Also, I put down that Nicolai’s body is ashes (‘cuz that sucker would be stinky by now!)

  2. Maruc

    At the dwarf’s rebuttal Maruc laughed with delight desite the macarbre scene. “Take no offence. It is his way. We ourselves are turning aside from our journey to satisfy a yearning of his. These are dangerous lands…” he returned to the bodies.

    ***

    “I wonder…” Maruc studied the tatoo. Absently he asked. “Nicolai, is this the emblem of the Iron Ring?…ohh.” No Saeth to ask either. He stood up and turned the new warrior and offerd his hand. “Maruc. Curate to the blessed Lord Halav. He who graces the throne of the Duchy and guides us in corporeal form. Blessed are these days!” he grinned.
    “Aha! My lord Abbot did not foresee this! Or perhaps Blessed Halav seeks to test my resolve? Nevermind, you have aided us Stephan. Halav has placed you here for a purpose.” he paused gazing up the river. “I fear our road may wind much to Threshold. But we are not a fortunate group Stephan, troubles dog our steps and we seek to unseat a great evil. If you would ally yourself to our cause then do so with open eyes and a mind clear of the deceits of others.”
    Maruc pulled out his roughly drawn map on the river and roadways. “Naturally I am keen to return Nicolai to his mother, and all the more so with the light she might shed on the tatooed men and their purposes. Unless you can help us? Have you seen this mark before?” the priest indicated the mark of the closest corpse.

    ***

    Some time later the Priest with a little help had arranged a pyre and placed the bodies on it he ensured there were on further clues to be gleaned from them before reciting the funereal edict and lighting the pyre.
    “May the light of Halav Incarnate cleans your souls and recieve you.” he entoned the final words. Then turned his back on the gathering gloom of evening to see if the boatmen and finished their temporary repairs.

  3. Miklos

    The mage helped Maruc unload the corpses. “Prince Hasan, did you perchance see from whence the …ahh for want of a better term and in light of Maruc discovery… slavers came from? Any tracks that might lead to their lair? They must have come from somewhere.” Miklos’s mind characteristically raced voicing his thoughts as they popped into his head. “There maybe further information. One might suggest that these folk where hired to stop us. Which raises some unpleasant questions like who, and more importantly how. How did they know we would be here at this time? I’d not like to have more slavers on our heals all the way to Highforge and beyond. Perhaps Feldard might join you in case of trouble? Sadly I must remain here as I need to rest after all that magical exersion!”

    ***

    He sat at the bow of the boat pulling his travelling cloak about him against the early evening chill. “When you return I can appraise you of what I learnt in Specularum, now I think Stefan is trustworthy I can voice my concerns.” he pulled his new spellbook from its oilskin bag and opened it. He was about to light a lantern when the blaze from the pyre shone across the shoreline. He absently hoped that it wouldn’t draw more foes to them as he started to read, listening to the lapping of the water.

  4. Feldard

    “A yearning!? Bah, speak not of what you know little of priest! A duty to family is not a yearning. And that duty has been delayed far too long while I travel with this accursed group” Feldards words came out harsher than he intended.
    The dwarf scowled, and turning away he stomped to the bow of the boat and kept watch.

    * * *

    A little later, after the boat had been free and tied ashore, and after Feldard had time to cool down some, the dwarf assisted the priest in hauling the corpses off the boat.

    At Miklos’ suggestion of checking for tracks, the dwarf nodded readily and looked to Hasan. “Come Hasan, ” the dwarf would never dignify the elf by calling him Prince, “before daylight is gone altogether.”

    Feldard began his search where the bodies had dropped, and began tracking back into the wood. How difficult could tracking be? If elves could do, so could he!

    Ah see there a definite footprint. Oh wait that print was much too small for a man’s. Oh curse it all it was his own! With little chance of actually tracking them himself, Feldard followed Hasan; the elf might need help if he ran across anything.

  5. Maruc: +10xp +10xp
    Miklos: +10xp
    Feldard: +10xp
    Hasan: +5xp
    Stephan: +10xp

    TOTAL:
    Maruc: 17,255/24000
    Miklos: 17,320/20000
    Feldard: 17,365/34000
    Hasan: 16,675/32000
    Stephan: 16,165/32000

  6. Hasan

    Hasan followed the dwarf’s lead, away from the boat and into the forest. He watched, bemused, as the dwarf scrambled — hip deep and wayward — through the lush, ferned underbrush, and then led him back to the clearly marked trail to the ambush point he had discovered earlier that day. Both rearmoured and rearmed, Feldard had insisted he would go no further without his armor, the two demihumans trudged forward along the trail, with every dwarven step punctuated with the odd jingle or curse. We certainly won’t sneak up on anybody, Hasan laughed to himself.

    As he walked forward with Feldard, Hasan pondered Miklos’s obscure reference to things learned in Specularm, wondered what they would find at trail’s end, and hoped that he wouldn’t regret not bothering to rememorize any of his spells. Then he saw the flash of a young deer. The sight, so common in a wooded walk at dusk, relaxed the young elf immeasurably, and he walked forward untroubled with his companion.

  7. Feldard

    (hey thanks for the reminder of the armour – you are lifesaver – literally)

  8. Stephan

    Stephan’s brow furrowed at the blistering retort of the dwarf. His eyes narrowed in anger but he fought to banish the clouds of anger.

    “Understandable, my good fellow…Felgard, I mean.”

    He turned from the dwarf, clearly concluding that any efforts to sway one of the dwarvenkin in this matter was futile.

    To the others, however, Stephan implored, “Perhaps I was not clear. We will be delivering a sizable number of prize Dorian steads. Of course, I’d like to offer a reasonable number of these to you as compensation for their safe transport.”

    Stephan found himself now mimicking a sure-tongued general he once had the privilege to overhear negotiating a surrender with enemy Valdukin warriors. It was not his natural bent but at times he found himself employing the cloying verbiage to meet some end…usually some carnal goal on a late night in some tavern…

    “These steads”, he continued, “may greatly enhance your travel time. We are but a short distance from them now and given the demise of this river boat, the Dorians may well afford you swifter transport to Threshold. Surely, the remains of your fallen companion can easily be ported via horseback as well. And if all is in order at the Suskiskyn homestead, I will accompany you to lend what ever support I can to the safe travels of your fallen brethren.”

    Stephan’s eyes widened at the words of Maruc. He genuflected the sign of Havlav.

    “You speak with the wisdom of Havlav. And I tremble at the prognostication! My path is as Havlav wills it! He truly leads me ever to my well being! If it is with you fine adventurers I am cast, then it is the good will of Havlav and is truly where I belong!”

    After the bodies of the fallen robbers were arrayed and examined, Stephan could not contain a gasp at the markings on the flesh. He again genuflected.

    “Blessed Havlav! This be the mark of the Iron Ring! I did not know they be active in these lands! We must take extreme caution. These are folk twisted to deviltry! They are hideous thieves and worse–slavers! They’ve no regard for morals and will abscond with women and children, even!, to sell them into utter despair! Nay! Their actions have also swayed kings with fell extortion, ransom and assassinations! These are a lot to watch carefully!”

    With that, he peered into the surrounding foliage and setting sun.

    “We must away from here! Surely we are watched!”

  9. Hasan

    (Well…after just getting real lucky w/o my own mail, I figured I’d try to help us out. Wonder what’s at the trailhead.)

  10. Maruc

    Maruc struggled to keep the smile from his face at the obsequeous nature of Stephans’ genuflection. “Stephan, you are a true son of Halav Incarnate.” he lent closer and lowered his voice, “But He will not be upset if you fail to fall to your knee’s everytime you mention Him. All things in good measure…even piety!” he grinned reassuringly.

    He was still sore and feeling a little faint. The arrow had been removed but he had many shallow cuts and the heavy lifting had drained him. He checked aroung for Feldard and hasan but they had taken themselves off somewhere. The oarsmen were busy with the boat and Miklos was buried in his book again. No one was in clerical need so he endulged in a prayer to cure his scratches.

    Maruc will cast cure light wounds on himself.

    “Thank you for your offer of transport Stephan, I am sure this will be acceptable to Hasan, Miklos and myself. You may have trouble influencing Feldard!” he grinned.

  11. Maruc

    Maruc will assume that if Miklos is memorising spells there is time to do so himself. He will take the opportunity.

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