Monday, September 15, 2014

The Wilds - Blistered and Sore

With half the party exhausted, there's no choice but to stop and camp. Those most able secure and offload the mules and rub them down, while the others rest. Mordikarr pulls out the dwarf kettle and prepares a batch, trickling a bit into Ava's mouth to try and revive his feathered companion. She seems to respond, and the remaining doses are divided among the rest of the party, first to those most affected by the wisp-whine, then to the most exhausted. Rawon, from his prone position, suggests adding dose to the mules' water barrel to see if it has any effect.

The brew partially revives those that imbibe, though the exhausted are still very very tired. Raúguey and Tesso gather a bit of firewood and the party starts a small fire, well-screened by stones and undergrowth. Everyone shares the last of the fresh food from Tragor's Hold, and then settles down to rest and watch. It's an uneasy night, with an unsteady wind shaking the trees, and clouds rolling across the stars and sliver of moon, but there's no sign of the wisps. The watches pass and light leaks into the eastern sky.

As the day brightens the party gets organized, and checks over their supplies and the mules, who are pretty worn out. Jonquil, the closest thing you have to a teamster, and Mordikarr check over each beast, and confer, then suggest to the others that giving the animals a few hours more rest, at least, would be wise. They're not really recovered from the grueling day and night. Meanwhile, Rawon has been scouting around the camp. "Bad news," he says, when he returns. "I can't see any indication of the lake. I guess we turned further north than we thought. The trail back is pretty clear, but I don't really want to backtrack. I'm not exactly sure where we are."

"We could just cut north, then northeast. We'd eventually hit the road, and then we could follow that southeast and back toward our base," says Durego.

"I'd rather go west around the lake, then south to the road there. At least we'd find grass for the mules," answers Rawon. "We need to start conserving grain or we're going to run out before we get back. The northern route is all wooded."

Mordikarr and Jonquil agree with Rawon, and everyone is tired of fighting their way through trees, so the party decides to wait until noon, rest and recover, and then do a half day of hiking. "If we're resting the mules, then we have time to see what happened to Jedit," says Raúguey. "Who is with me?"

"Me," says Maro. "Finding out what happened to the poor thing is the least I can do."

No one else speaks up, until finally Tesso stands. "I'll go too. I'm not that tired."

Raúguey nods and slaps him on the shoulder. "Good man. We'll travel light and quick. Leave our packs, and just take some food and water. Save us a dose of kettle broth," he says, and then nods to Maro and Tesso. The three vanish among the trees, following the party's back trail.

Time passes, and those in camp spend it resting, watching and waiting. The sun creeps higher, and clouds continue to stream across the blue gaps in the leaves overhead, driven by a constant, gusty breeze. It's near noon before the trio of scouts returns, grim-faced and sweating. Durego passes each a cup of broth, and after a few minutes rest, Maro speaks. "We found Jedit. Like the corpses on the hill, dried out and drained. Some of his fur was burned away. He... he put up a fight." The elf turns away, moves off, and sits beside a tree, staring into the forest.

"Anything happen here?" asks Raúguey quietly.

Rawon shakes his head. "How far back was... Jedit?"

"Three or so miles. Our trail wasn't exactly straight."

"Did you see the lake?"

"No. I guess we were pretty far north when the attack happened." Raúguey looks over at the mules, then at Jonquil. "How are the mules?"

"They're better, but we should go easy today," says Jonquil, pleased to be asked.

"Well, I'd rather hike in daylight. We should get moving, put some more distance between us and those wisps. I don't want to meet them again." Durego nods in agreement, and begins to pack up the last few bits of camp gear still out. Jonquil and Mordikarr saddle up the mules.

Slow going
The group sets an easy pace, heading just a bit south of west. Rawon looks south constantly, hoping to catch a glimpse of the lake before the party hits the bogs there. No such luck: it's trees all the way down, hardwoods, with the occasional pine or cedar thrown in. Mordikarr is about to suggest turning further south, when Maro hisses a warning, and raises a fist, bringing the party to a halt. He points ahead and up, through the branches and leaves. "Something big, flying," he whispers when Rawon slithers close. "Distant, but close enough to see movement maybe."

The party waits, most unaware what's going on. The two elves watch the scant patches of blue. A flicker of movement, distant and west-northwest. Durego shifts uneasily, but Mordikarr waves him down again. Time passes. Ten minutes, fifteen. Nothing. "I don't like it," whispers Maro. "Could something be hunting us?"


You've been moving for a few hours, and you're still in fairly heavy woods. No sign of the lake, though you have crossed a small, slow stream running south. You're not exactly sure where you are. Whatever Maro saw it was pretty far off, and moving too fast through too narrow gaps to really make it out. There was a general impression of size and swift movement though.

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