By Brian Flood
Chapter 15 - Reunited
Along the East Way
Near Kendall Keep, Kingdom of Cormyr
Early Evening, 16th Day of Mirtul; Year of the Tankard (1370 DR)
It has been nearly two candlemarks since their companions departed when Declan and Velgardrin spy the light of a torch moving toward them. The two adventurers warily ready themselves for whatever may come with the light.
A few moments later, the missing members of the party stumble into the clearing that defines the campsite. The first thing that they notice is that the clearing is now ringed with several burning brands that have been stuck into the ground. That would explain the almost beacon-like glow that guided them back to this safe haven.
Studying their friends, Velgardrin and Declan can instantly tell that they have been in some sort of fight. Two of the companions – Cob and Tiron – are aided as they walk by Malk and Salik, respectively. Both of the woodsmen seem slightly groggy and rub the back of their heads with their free hand. When Salik sets Tiron on the ground, the rogue winces and reaches for his back.
Amiel has obviously met the foe, as well. Her bared bastard sword is smeared with a thin layer of dried blood and gore. The front of her leather jerkin is torn, as if several sharp objects or weapons have ripped it.
The two remaining warriors – Alain and Baulin – appear unharmed. So too, their weapons are bare of any sign of bloodshed.
“Well, my friends,” Amiel says as the party is rejoined. “It is good to see that we’ve not lost anybody this night.” Her voice carries an edge and seems a little forced. Her gloved hands still clasp the two-handed grip of her sword in a firm grip, as if she derives comfort from its three-foot length.
Declan retrieves waterskin and then pulls out clothes to bind people’s wounds. As he works he says, “Wot the ‘ell ‘appened to youse folk? Why did ye go off ‘n run like fools through the blasted woods?”
“I do not think there are any more of the creatures that sang that strange tune, that almost lured Tiron and Cob to their dooms,” Amiel says in reponse. “There was only one of them. An ugly bird-like beast, complete with feathered wings with the head and face of a hideous woman. A woman with large, spiky teeth. It clawed Salik and hit Cob there over the head a club that it clutched in its talons.”
Salik coughs uncomfortably and looks sheepish. “Actually, it was I that hit Cob, not the beast. I tried to slap him out of his reverie, but it was having no effect. Seeing as the creature was coming towards me, I decided knocking him out was the best course of action.” He pats Cob on the shoulder, “Sorry mate, but it had to be done. I didn’t hurt you too much I hope?”
“I reckon ya did what ya had ta do,” the hunter replies. “I guess ya just did a real good job is all!” Cob smiles weakly before a minor convulsion causes him to double over. Now left with only dry heaves, the spell of illness passes and the hunter breathes softly as he regains control of his functions.
Amiel continues with her narration. “Tiron had to be restrained by Alain, and was hurt in the process.” With that, she takes a deep breath and lowers her sword. Amiel’s elegant features relax, and she smiles at Velgardrin, “It gladdens my heart to see you standing, good sir.”
Looking from Salik to Cob to Tiron she says, “It looks like we’ve very little in the way of healing spells left, Tiron. Even though I know you must be feeling wretched, please see what you can do for Salik. He needs your arts the most.
“Yes,” interjects Salik, “unfortunately I didn’t quite have enough time to roll out of the way as I was grappling with Cob.”
“Other than that,” Amiel continues, “we are going to have to do things the old fashioned way. Does anyone have any particular skills in mending, binding wounds?”
“I have some knowledge of the benefits of herbs to help revive and heal,” Malk says to Amiel. “I will get the hot water to clean the wounds and make some more of the stimulating infusion I gave before to Velgardrin.”
“Alright then,” Amiel continues, “Alain and Baulin, you are not hurt, yes?” Amiel asks. After they nod, she says, “Then please take guard duty for the next few hours. Tyr only knows what all the noise we made will attract, and we must be ready.”
To Malk, Amiel directs, we’re going to need some hot water to clean everyone’s wounds. Good thinking Declan, we’re gonna need those bandages. Vel, Tiron, try and get a good night’s sleep – we’re gonna need your prayers in the morning.”
Malk moves to help with the cleaning and binding of his companions’ wounds. As he does so, he announces, “In the morning, when we are in better state, I can’t wait to hear exactly what happened.”
Seeing that the others are following her instructions, Amiel turns to Salik, looks at him apraisingly, and says, “Off with your shirt.” The rogue sees the hint of a playful glint in her eyes.
“How can I resist a request such as that?” Salik says, smiling slyly. “I’m going to need a hand getting this off though, it's quite painful and it’s sticking to the wound,” He winks at Amiel and starts removing his shirt.
Tiron puts his hands to his ears as if an unbearable sound assaults them. “The voice…” he mutters and opens his eyes again. He shakes his head briskly and his eyes open surveying the scene before him. Amiel’s words, although spoken several seconds ago, only now emerge from the fog of the half-elf’s hazy perception.
“Amiel!” he calls pathetically, “in my ruck, a healer’s bag, use it.” And with that he stands, somewhat groggily. A pull on his water-skin seems to wash away the cobwebs, and he looks around for Salik.
Seeing the bizaare exchange occuring between Amiel and Salik, he elects not to be too intrusive. He draws in a breath that sets his shoulders square and his chest high. Then, his hands reach out to rest on Salik’s shoulder.
Tiron mutters a brief prayer to Solonor, beseeching the great hunter to grant him healing powers. In response, a greenish-silver aura moves from the half-elf’s hands to envelop Salik’s wounds. When the aura fades, the ugly gashes in Salik’s back of completely disappeared!
While Salik dons his shirt, Tiron turns his attention to the remaining wounded members of the party – Amiel and Cob. As he does, he sees that Malk and Declan are already wrapping fresh bandages around Cob’s head. Although they are not skilled healers, their work should suffice to keep the wound from getting infected.
Velgardrin also looks at the bandaging being done and responds, “I be havin’ some healing skill ter, buts I be kind of out of sorts and don’t wants ter be hurtin’ more than I be helpin’. Declan did a fine job ‘ov guardin’ me whilst ye battled the creature. Now I need more rest so that I can better aid you all.”
The dwarven priest heads back to the bed built for him. He offers a short prayer to Clanggedin thanking him for protection and asking him to continue watching over the party. He removes his chainmail so that he can sleep better and proceeds to lie down for the night.
Walking up to Baulin, Alain sheaths his weapons. “Well my friend, should we head out?”
Baulin answers the warrior with a wordless nod.
Moving over to his ruck, Alain grabs his weapons kit. Returning to Baulin, Alain continues, “I’m ready, how bout you?”
“Aye,” replies Baulin, nodding his head. “Let us stand watch while the others tend to the wounded.”
With that, the two warriors move to an area just outside the light from the ring of Declan’s torches. There, they prepare to stand guard and provide early warning to their wounded companions.
Drawing his rapier and an oil rag from his weapons kit, Alain begins working over his favored weapon. “So Baulin, it looks as if we may be here for a while. Why don’t you tell me something of yourself? Any good war stories, why you have left your homeland, or anything else of interest?”
Clearing a spot on the ground, Alain squats down and offers Baulin the weapons kit. Continuing to work on his rapier, Alain waits for Baulin’s response.
Meanwhile, back at the campsite, the bandaging of Cob and Tiron proceeds unabated. Malk sees to his tasks of cleaning and bandaging those in need.
When all is seen to, he gets on with his personal tasks. He sits down by the fire and cleans his sword of dirt and sod. When that is finished, he cleans the mud and debris out of his ears and washes his face and exposed skin, thoroughly.
After he has completed his personal hygeine activities, the bard produces his harmonica. He plays a quiet soothing tune to help untangle any knots in his and the others’ minds.
The other companions also turn to personal concerns. They clean their weapons, then themselves, and prepare to resume an anxious night of rest.
After two candlemarks or so have passed, Malk ceases playing his harmonica and glances over to Amiel. “While Tiron’s not feeling himself – sorry about that by the way – you’re the boss. What order do you want us to take watches?” he asks.
Amiel gives Malk a nasty look. “Salik should be so lucky!” she exclaims.
“Alright, the new watch schedule for the remaining eight or so hours of night will be this: Alain and Baulin first, followed by Malk and me. Everyone else try to get a full night’s sleep – especially Tiron and Vel. You’re gonna have to cast some healing magic in the morning. Salik, you and Cob have the night off.”
Smiling to himself at Amiel's harsh looks, Malk replies, “Fine, I’ll go and tell Alain and Baulin the shifts and try and get some sleep.”
With that, the bard matches his actions to his speech, asking Alain or Baulin to wake him when it’s his time to stand watch. Then, hoping for a quiet rest of the night, he wraps himself in his cloak and he settles down to sleep the sleep of the young and the innocent – clutching his sword as he does so.
As he catches Malk bedding down for the night, Tirondalin feels the press of Atlas’ hand on his tired shoulders, and his feet are surely being dragged by myriad of Cerberi as he looks around for an appropriate bedding site. Gathering his few possessions about him, he takes another sip from his waterskin and observes Amiel busily making sure that all is in order.
With painful protest from his feet, he strolls over to her and offers her a drink, “Thank you for taking care of things,” he says. “And I...I can hardly apologise for I was in no control of my own, but I am sorry for this added mess nonetheless,” he offers with a weary smile.
Amiel returns Tiron’s smile and nods wordlessly. Then, she begins readying herself for a brief period of sleep before she and Malk assume the guard watch.
Tirondalin returns to the bushy edge of the forest and curls up beneath the bramble. Taking comfort in the whispering breeze of the night and the rustle of leaves overhead, he falls asleep, a small oaken ring clutched tightly in his hand.
The content of Company of the Silver Claws is the property and copyright of Brian Flood, and are not to be published or redistributed without permission.
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