May 22 - June 14, 2016
Searching for the Singing Pool
Nytdain 1st Klarmont
Camping Under (and over) the Arch
Remar takes this golden opportunity to gather some kindling, filling his pack to the brim. “Quasi Aquila,” he says, steadily rising into the air with his supplies and alighting onto the top of the archway. Once there, he arranges the kindling, snaps his fingers shouting “Igni,” and brings fire into being.
He starts to crack open one of his grimoires, and then slaps his hand to his forehead. The Mage calls down, “Oh, if anyone else would rather camp up here with me, just let me know. I’ll help ferry you up.”
Griffin shudders, still obviously affected by the encounter with Filix.Well that was … horrible. Should I have resisted? Tried to make a better deal? What can we do if we have to deal with her again? Seems like we should figure that out before we acquire anything else of value.
He calls up at the enarched mage. “Hey, Remar, that Witch was really unpleasant. Think you could put something together so we are not quite so ill-prepared in case she returns. I’d hate to find some awesome treasure only to have her show up again and ‘ask’ to take it off our hands. No point in doing her dirty work, if you know what I mean.”
He turns to his loremaster. “Iris, do you know anything about Filix? Legends, alleged weaknesses, that sort of thing? Could she be in league with Golthar or the Iron Ring? Seems like the sort who might be holding Golthar’s leash.”
Without taking his eyes off the current page, Remar calls down, “I dunno Griffin. You had to look at her and that was bad, right? I could -feel- her as well. Filix is well beyond my capabilities. So was that Undead Mage at the temple crypt and I learned my lesson then and there.
Filix and her ilk are on a whole different level. You remember those frolicky elves at the lake way back with the pixies? What was that, like nearly a year ago? They said those Hags are enemies with Argos. Enemies with Argos! How do we prepare for that given where we are at the moment? It may be that the only way to guard against any of them is to stay out of their way and give them whatever they want when they want it. Just like old times.
He sets the book down, runs his hands over his face, and sighs.
Bring it back down Remar. You can do this.
“Sorry Griffin. I’ll work on it. Unfortunately, I don’t know any shortcuts to increasing my potential so I can do more with less, learn greater magics, or not get as drained from magic use.” He thumps the book and it produces a hollow resonation. “Just a lot of this: Careful study, slow translation, ingestion of theory and concept, understanding prerequisites, using them to develop new patterns, accurate gestures, and proper intonations, and practice. All these before use. Knowing any weaknesses is a start though, if Iris knows that.”
The Mage then leans back a bit on the stone and closes his eyes in an attempt to relax a bit all things considering.
Maybe I just have to dig deeper...I mean, there could be a way to do it faster. Filix offered to basically apprentice me when I mentioned something similar. Oddly, that seemed sort of genuine. As horrifying as that probably seemed to everyone else, I bet it'd speed up expanding on my capabilities. Maybe it’s something I should ex…
Is it gone, yet?
What? By “It” do you mean Filix? Yeah. Coast is clear. You can come back out and get back to bothering me now. Remar rolls his now open eyes.
Good. Tha’ was ‘cary. We should do somethin’ ‘bout tha’ thing.
Wait...you’re serious. She scared you, even? You weren't bothered by the undead carny-show but she scared you? Hell, maybe I -should- have moved in with her.
NO! Don even joke 'bout doin tha’ ya crazy Mage. You’ll get us both killed!
At least I wouldn't have to listen to you anymore. What good are you to me anyway?
Remar laughs out loud and sits up. He picks up the tome once again shaking his head and gets back to digging in.
Iris furrows her brow and says to Griffin, “The nine sisters of Dymrak are incredibly powerful, as Remar has so eloquently stated. If seeing is believing, then feeling is doubly so.” she takes a deep breath, continuing, “my research has led me to believe that with beings such as these witches, the essence of their power is deeply connected to their homes.” Iris looks around a bit, seemingly waiting for something, then sighs almost imperceptibly and continues, “So, clearly, for one of them to travel so far from their entrenched power source, one must assume it was for something worth the risk of operating with diminished power...even if that diluted power was, in reality, adequate to handle us.”
No one else joins Remar on the top of the arch, preferring to camp out beneath the archway and behind the defensive fortifications that Marcel and Stephan so lovingly built. Griffin points out that the stone arch above should also help protect against falling horses or other missiles dropped from angry Manticores or evil yellow-robed wizards. Remar feels confident in his magic to protect him, and his companions below. Before too long, the young mage prepares two Mystic Mist spells, a large one from the group down below and a smaller one for himself on top of the arch. He smiles when after he casts the second, smaller Mist on the top of the arch when he feels his spell expand and merge with the mist below. The entire archway, the grounds around it and even the top where Remar sits are all magically protected now.
Loshdain 2nd of Klarmont
Heading South… in the Rain
The night passes with no interruptions but about an hour before sunrise, it starts to rain. Remar is woken up by the rain and quickly activates his Ioun stone, setting the magical gem spinning around his head to keep him dry. He then gathers up his grimoires and other gear before they are ruined by the rain. Speaking the magical words, he transports himself back down to the ground. Stephan is on the last watch and stoking the fire and beginning to prepare a pot of coffee. “You're up early,” he calls to the mage. Remar shrugs sleepily and pulls off his wet robe to dry by the fire. Remar tries to go back to sleep but can't and sits quietly nearby while his companions finish sleeping.
After a while, the rest of the Grey Company wakes up and begins breaking camp and preparing for the journey to the Singing Pool somewhere to the south. The rain continues intermittently and is a light, warm rain, so unless it increases it shouldn't hamper travel too much. The entrance to the smaller valley spur can be seen easily. It appears to rise a bit and hook off to the east. It appears mostly rocky with some forestation in places.
Draven wakes to the smell of Stephan’s coffee and the quiet murmur of conversation. He sits up and nods a hello to his companions. Looking at his gear, he quietly packs up in preparation for their soggy walk ahead. Looking out from the arch’s shelter, he grins ruefully at the rain, thinking “Who knew that spreading the Word would entail so much walking about in the mud and rain? Still, I’m privileged to do it…”
Packing completed, he takes a few steps away from the party and kneels, quietly praying to welcome the new day while the rest of the Company rises.
Griffin is grateful for an uneventful night. He stretches and shuffles over to where Stephan’s coffee is brewing. He loads his riding lizard up while he sips the scalding cup of hot morning wonderfulness. Ahhh.
After that he helps the rest of the team prepare, while leaving Brother Draven to his morning devotions. Want every bit of edge we can get. He updates his map with what he can see in the morning light, in case he missed something as dusk fell. Then he gauges the weather, sensing the likelihood of a long wet day, or a damp morning.
Already prepared from having nothing else to do while not getting any sleep, Remar watches and waits as everyone starts their morning rituals. He sits unmoving and stares unblinking right through oblivion, daydreaming about the past.
Rituals. In the beginning, it was the daily, rigorous mental drills. Over and over, we were told: “It’s the only way to prime yourselves to be proper power vessels. An efficient energy conduit is a happy conduit. Besides, couldn’t have you’s manipulating forces outright? Why, you’d likely explode all unprepared and such. Now, you wouldn’t want us to have to pick up all your messy pieces, now would you there son?”
It was something akin to how a warrior runs through physical drills to hone his muscles so they remember the proper movements without thinking. The killing movements. For us, it was on command. That was me. Half attack-dog, half living artillery in service to some blah-ditty- blah noble or another in their “army.” Yeah right. I was a slave.
He reflects on his choice. The opportunity that presented itself the day his squad was leveled and only he, somehow remained.
An easy choice. Though I left that all behind, I seem to have also left some of the basics behind that maybe I shouldn’t have. Those basics that would have been useful to my friends up until this point. Those times when we could have better prevailed had I a clearer head. If I didn’t stop and hesitate. Those basics that ultimately will help me become stronger…
I need to get back to that. To keeping my mind flexed...taut.
Good idea! We cud work at it togetha an’ figua out ‘ow ta get stronga than tha’ Witch.
Sure. Sparring partners.
In my fracking head.
Griffin sees the mage, oblivious, staring into space as the rest of the team mounts up. “Remar?” There is no response. He barks, “REMAR!” The young Alphatian starts, then looks around. The camp is cleaned, Brother Draven has finished his morning prayers, and all are sitting on their horses or lizards. His eyes slowly focus on the warrior. “Huh?”
Griffin tips his head in the direction of the unexplored valley. “You coming?”
“Y...yeah, I’m just waiting on….” Remar stops and looks around at the empty camp and everyone mounted up. “Oh. Sorry Griff. I didn’t sleep well last night and...” He pauses to approach his lizard correctly so as not to irritate it and mounts up. Someone else was kind enough to apply its tack, harness, and saddle. “Nevermind. I’m ready. Let’s go.”
What Was That?
The rain and rocky terrain of the southern valley spur slows the Company down a little bit, but still they press on. It is estimated that they are covering a little more than one mile per hour. By lunch time, the ancient road they had been following disappears.
After the Company has stopped for a quick bite to eat, a loud crashing sound comes from the valley wall up above to the west. A large outcropping a good ways up above the valley floor has crumbled and come tumbling down the valley wall. It is not near enough to cause any harm to the Company or its mounts, but the sound does spook all the animals, causing a further delay in the travels.
As everyone begins to move on, Stephan sits still on his mount, staring up at where the rocks came crashing down. Griffin pulls up next to him and looks up at the valley wall as well. “Did you see it too?” Griffin asks the older Traladaran.
“Yea,” Stephan replies. “Don’t know what I saw, but I saw something move out from behind that rocky outcropping just after it fell.” Griffin nods to him, having noticed the same thing. He urges his mount forward and quietly tells each of his companions that both he and Stephan saw something moving up on the valley wall about a half mile away. The distance, timing and rain made it impossible to see what it was, but there was no doubt that both men saw “something” moving up there among the rocks and vegetation.
Draven nudges his steed to the two men, unconsciously trying to shade his eyes under his pot helm with his now-missing right hand while fingering his mace with his left. He grimaces, and shades with the left hand instead. “Shall we detour back and around, or trust in the Twelve to see us safely forward?”
Griffin shakes his head. “No, we press on. Just stay alert. We don’t know what was up there, but better safe than sorry.” He thinks for a moment. “Maybe spread out a bit more - less chance an avalanche will catch several of us.”
|The Company explores the far reaches of the valley|
The day’s travel is hard and no other dangerous signs have been seen. The end of the valley is finally spotted but it will take another day of hiking to reach it. One positive benefit, though, as the Company was passing the bend in the valley, they were able to do a little foraging and hunting in the small forest nestled in there. The rain keeps falling steadily during the day but a while before sundown the group comes across a rocky hollow near the stream in the center of the valley. It looks big enough to camp in, though the horses and lizards might have to be hobbled in nearby sheltered areas.
Draven takes stock of his companions as they all work together to set up camp. Seeing their relatively beleaguered state, and listening to the groans as they force sore muscles to work, he offers to handle the evening’s hunting efforts. “Rest, my friends” the young cleric says; “I will try to gather fresh food this evening.”
The scruffy looking and yawning Alphatian steps forward, “I can hit stuff tired, with my eyes closed, and without much effort. Call it...ritualistic practice. I’ll go with and bring down a bird or two.”
Griffin checks out the campsite. “With the horses and lizards, I’m thinking we won’t be that hard to find, if someone is looking. So get comfy, and I think we can cover most approaches if we do our watches from, oh, I dunno, there, or over there.” He indicates some higher ground on either side of the site.
Griffin gathers the team around for a quick chat. “I’d like to rearrange the watches a bit tonight. Stefan and I definitely saw someone or something that triggered that rockfall. I’ve been getting the feeling for a while that we might be being followed. I was thinking that come nightfall, Ree and I might take a short hike up to the ridge over there, see if we can catch a glimpse of our elusive neighbor. Could be nothing. Sound okay?”
Draven nods, agreeing. “Take care when you do. Perhaps during my watch, so I am awake if you find yourselves confronted or hurt.”
Draven keeps himself busy, trying to do as much work to set up camp as he can to let the others relax a bit. He is happy that he was able to take down a good sized bird and hopes Marcel can make it nice and tasty.
Late Night Stroll
Later that evening, after a nice meal around a warm fire, Griffin finds Ree and talks to her about heading out to do some scouting. Ree gives him some story about wanting to finish going over something in her spellbook with Remar and Iris, trying to figure out a new spell and apologize for not being available for scouting. Griffin ponders his options.
Remar can’t help but beam as he goes about his evening preparations, even given the roots of this most tiresome day. After all, his evening plans are to help the two most attractive, magically inclined ladies he’s ever laid eyes on, study-up on some of the finer points of magic cryptography. I mean, what could be hotter?
Well, maybe a fully invigorated breathe fire spell. But who does that?
Be sure to check your breath
Oh, good point. Thanks.
Almost is if in response to Remar’s thoughts, Ree hops up and calls to Griffin, “I changed my mind, I’ll come with you. My pages keep getting dripped on anyway!” She hurries off without a glance back at Remar and Iris.
Griffin is surprised, but grins. “Well, okay then. We’ll head out after sundown.” He’s glad he enjoyed a hearty dinner. Gonna need some energy tonight!
Well, darn. The Mage thinks to himself. Was it something I said? Oh well. At least Iris is still here. Remar looks back over to Iris and tries not to blush. “Hey Iris. W-w-we can always still go over some of the finer points of the mystic arts if you’d still like to. I know I’d still like to. I mean, I’d still like to compare notes with you of course. Maybe we could go somewhere nearby, but out of the way, out of the drips? Don’t blush, don’t blush, don’t blush… Remar looks around for a suitable location.
Iris looks surprised, and glances behind herself as though checking to see if Remar is speaking to someone else. Fumbling for words, she says, “Oh! Ah, sure...sure! That sounds like a fine idea,” Idiot, he already said fine. Way to use your words, Iris. “Some place dry would be nice!” She awkwardly grabs her things and waits for Remar to lead the way.
Draven rests near the fire, taking the time to unroll and change the bandages covering his right hand. While uncovered, he does his best to hide the unsightly feature from his companions for fear of upsetting them while blessed Chardastes’ will is done. He flexes the fingers as best he can, then replaces the old bandages with fresh. He adds a small stone to grasp this time, to begin gently rebuilding his grip strength during their travel.
|Draven's creepy baby hand|
Draven settles down for the night, waiting for his turn at watch, and keeping a wary ear out for any disturbances from the direction Ree and Griffin. He fishes his worn copy of the Book of Twelve Stars from its tight bundle in his baggage, reading quietly to himself from the Path of the Light. He glances across the camp to Remar and Iris, smiling at their studious endeavor. Their efforts would be pleasing to holy Ixion, he thinks. Such dedication bodes well for their eternal reward.
Barring calls for help from Griffin and Ree, Draven will study his scriptures for an hour or so, then pack it back up into his bags and turn in to rest until his watch actually starts.
After Remar casts the Mystic Mist spell to protect the campsite, Griffin and Ree head off to do a little scouting. The night is very dark, no moon shines in the sky but Griffin’s enchanted necklace sheds just enough light for the two to see by. After a while, they make it up to what appears to be a goat trail about a quarter mile away from camp. They are a good distance up the side of the rocky slope and from this distance cannot tell exactly where the camp is down below. “The Mystic Mist is doing a good job of obscuring the view,” Ree says. “If it were just a little brighter out, and we were at a lower elevation, I might be able to see the smoke rising from the camp, but from up here, without some magic, there is no way to see the camp. That’s good.” She smiles and begins to look around for signs of whatever it might have been that was following them.
Back down in the camp, everyone is winding down, most preparing to try to get some sleep. The rain has stopped, at least for the time being and everyone is thankful for that. As Draven puts his prayer books away, he hears the sound of rocks scraping together nearby. As he angles his head try to hear it better, some of the horses become agitated. He hears the sound of rocks scrapping again and the snap of a twig, as if someone were moving carelessly through the brush nearby. He turns to alert his companions, but Stephan is already crouched and moving toward him, his finger in front of his lips. Draven can see Remar and Iris also crouched nearby and looking out to the darkness surrounding the camp.
Cast of Characters:Garrett "Griffin" Constantine, a Thyatian rogue of a gambler from Penhaligon rolled by +Arne Jamtgaard
Draven Rickart, a Thyatian Acolyte of the Church of Karameikos ministered by +Jason Packer
Remar Umerus, an Alphatian battle mage that escaped forced service in the Thyatian army currently marshalled by +Patrick Kelly
Iris Varda, a Thyatian explorer and historian searching for answers and adventure, now guided by +Stephanie Kelly
and +Jason Woollard as The DM