Maruc traced his hands over the map. This green area at the bottom looks like Dymrak. These blue lines seem to be rivers. To the upper left is a golden city in the mountains reached by this pass to the south. So by my guess that gateway would be..”
“At Threshold,” finished Miklos. “May we take the tapestry with us Pyotr? It may reveal further clues the closer we get.” Miklos rubbed his eyes and yawned. “I can foresee another river trip coming. Lets hope we get further than last time… Darya where can we catch a northbound boat from?”
Despite the urgency of their mission Miklos felt he could sleep for a week he made his excuses and retired to bed.
“So! It’s off to Threshold, and thence to the Black Peaks,” Stephan proclaimed once the more cerebral of the party had drawn their conclusions.
“And you’ll be able to deliver Nicolai’s ashes.”
“I suppose we are concluding that the reason for the gobo attacks was this tapestry,” he nodded toward the tapestry-turned-map spread out on the table. How can we assure that Golthar will no longer seek it here? Perhaps we should make it well known that the prize has left the Dymrak?”
The dwarf at first had not made any sense of the golden needle work, until Maruc noted that the blue outlined lines were rivers. Then it all came together. Yes. The dwarf pointed to the red pyramid like shape east of the centre. “So that would be the ruins and tower where we lost the Yellow-robed man? Good then, Threshold and then to the Black Peak Mountains.”
He gave a shrug at Stephan’s question. “We could do that. By announcing on our travel away that we have the tapestry or that we destroyed it but know where to go but never openly say what that location is, we become the target and not innocent clansmen here. The yellow-robed man and his minions will be forced to follow us to learn of the location.”
Despite the groups overall weariness, the dwarf urged for leaving no later than mid-day on the morrow. To stay longer would put the people of Sukiskyn at unnecessary risk.
“I think an open assault on us would be likely.” said Maruc, “Especially as we are dealing with a cunning magi. He is likely to divine if we have the information he seeks. I would if I was in his position. What do you think Miklos?”
“It is possible for a powerful mage to divine our whereabouts.” Miklos replied, “I think if we try to shout that we are taking the tapestry it will look like artifice. Better to treat Golthar like he knows what he is doing… it will appeal to his ahhh…vanity. A vain person makes mistakes.”
Stephan eyed Feldard, Maruc and Miklos in turn as they responded to his comment.
“Aye. I suppose he’ll know anyway. Just as long as the attacks in Dymrak end. Then I’m okay. It would be fun, though, to send ‘ol Golthar on a goose chase.”
The fighter smiled and drank; wiped the froth from his lip.
“You know. Send some dummy map southwards or some such.” His brow knitted a bit. “If we draw out on some parchment what’s on this tapestry, do we even need it any longer? Maybe we should destroy it.”
The woodsman was clearly over his depth. He looked like he confused himself with all the pondering.
Ludo shrugged his shoulders, looking at Stephen he said “I don’t think we can in good conscience allow anyone to take the risk of carrying a false map – Golthar I suspect would attack the people carrying that map and would place their lives in danger, the best course of action is the most dangerous, we need to take the map and proceed onto Threshold without delay. Golthar cares nothing for these villages, what he wants is this map. The sooner we leave the better, if only for the safety of these good people” looking at Kuzma”
The good news is now we lead this merry dance, Golthar has no idea where our destination is and what we know so now he has to dance to our tune. He will be more careful in the future, he knows he will need considerable numbers of minions to steal this map from us by force and after the drumming we have given him lately I suspect he will hard pressed to gather the forces to do that – it least for now, so the other way to get this map is by stealth and guile – that is where the greatest danger lies”.
Glancing at Feldard, “I agree with Feldard, we should depart on the morrow, but I think just after dawn and I think Feldard should be the guardian of the map and the needle, Golthar knows that Miklos is the scholarly person of us all and I think that makes him the most likely person that Golthar will focus on to gain the secrets of the map. We cannot risk Golthar getting this map. I am not sure if we still need it, but I suspect we do, it may yet hold secrets”.
A grin spread across Maruc’s face, “Whereas, Ludo. Feldard is a less than scholarly figure? You are too cruel!” Maruc laughed good naturedly. “Either way, I agree the map should travel with us. It may have purposes other than simply showing the way as you suggest. We should package it carefully. It is ancient so a deal of respect is called for. Kuzma do you have a watertight scroll case of a suitable size?”
Hasan finally spoke. “This Golthar will not know where we go, but even without magecraft he will know that Kelvin and High Forge are likely waystations. We should avoid those places, where we will surely be observed. If any of the Sukiskyn know other ways north, they would be valuable guides.”
Stephan responded to Hasan’s request for a guide, “I can lead us. I know a little used trail heading west from here through the Dymrak.” His finger traced the route on the crude tapestry map.
“It leads to well north of Krakatos; south of the Kelvin Barony. We can cross the river and then Duke’s Road and keep going west into the Radlebb Woods for a few leagues before turning north toward Rifllian. We can avoid a river trip. I fear how watched the river will be. It would be a rough, wooded journey. Not many settlements, but not as untamed as the lands from which we just returned.”
“There’s also the matter of the horses. They will fetch a fair price in Riflian, and also may serve the purpose of disguising our true mission. Darya can come with us and return with the proceeds and then we can continue north from Rifllian — on road or not. Then, not many days farther to Threshold. I think the west side of the river may be a route less suspected by our foes.”
Stephan paused. The others seemed a bit taken aback by his verbosity. It must be the ale, Pyotr thought.
“But the river north would be faster and easier in many ways. My point is, I can at least get us to the river. There are places north of Krakatos that will hire out a riverboat.”
“Thank you Stephan.” nodded Miklos, “This we shall do, I agree a boat north of Rifllian seems the most obvious choice. We shall be more exposed, but it will be easiler to see if we are being followed and if we are aware of being followed we can more easily turn the tables and ambush them. We may learn much if we are cunning.”
The joyous feast continued as the adventurers continued to discuss their plans. The evening took on a more exciting tone as everyone now felt that they were part of something larger.