Campaign Logs

Company of the Silver Claw

By Brian Flood

Chapter 37 - Developments Along the Trail

Within the Hullack Forest

East of Kendall Keep, Kingdom of Cormyr

Early Morning, 20th Day of Mirtul; Year of the Tankard (1370 DR)

Malk and Nathan survey the area between the campsite and the edge of the woods near the gravesite. As Declan predicted, the two sentries are unable to find a spot that can overwatch the campsite, the faint trail toward the stone door, and the road itself.

“Right, Nathan,” Malk begins, “let’s find a place where we can stay hidden but observe the track, and remain within earshot of the camp.”

“By track, do you mean the trail we took to the door, or the road the caravan is expected to take?” Nathan asks.

“The trail towards the door,” replies Malk. “The hunters are hunting out towards the road, so they will cover that. We need to be alert for anything coming from the door. If anything comes, maybe we can do better out in the open, and you can get your magic off.”

“Keep in mind that my spell of sleep will be useless if the skeletons come out, as it only affects the living,” Nathan grimly states. “If there is a large number of foes, breathing or not, it would be best if we snuck back to camp for reinforcement.”

And so the two adventurers head toward the south, keeping the trail in sight to their right. As soon as bard and magician find a suitable spot to be able to see around yet remain in hail of the camp, Malk settles down with his back to a trunk on a comfortable hillock. Turning on his charm, he says, “Come on then, Nathan. Sit. Tell me your tale. Where is your family? Where did you learn your skills? What brings you to this forest? It is all of interest to me.”

When Nathan does not immediately respond, Malk prompts him again, saying, “What’s the matter Nathan? Cat got your tongue?”

Nathan’s head jerks around at the comment. “Sorry about that!” he says. “No, I was just thinking about what my family is doing right now. I guess I’m a little homesick.”

"So what is home like?" asks Malk. "What do you think your family will be doing at this time of day?"

* * * * *

In the Campsite

With a fit of coughing, Amiel wakes up. Glancing around the small clearing, the feverish ranger sees that only Alain, Velgardrin, Declan, and herself remain in the campsite. A loud grumbling and a stab of pain in her stomach reminds her that she has not eaten in almost a day.

As soon as he hears Amiel, Velgardrin hurries back to her side. “Be you needern” anything?” he asks.

“Something to eat would be good, Vel,” Amiel replies. “I’m feeling a bit better. What’s going on and where is everybody?”

“Some are hunting, some are on guard, and some are tending your needs,” answers Velgardrin. He offers her some of his rations and a skin of water.

“I see,” says Amiel, gratefully munching on the rations. “Has there been any sign of anyone else out here?”

Pulling out his rapier, Alain begins tending to it with a sharpening stone. “No, Amiel, all has been quiet since we left the doorway.”

Velgardrin replies, “Are feelern better now, Amiel? We be checkern Baulin’s caravan to see if it be approached or even worse, attacked.”

Amiel nods, "Yes, thank you, Vel. I do feel a lot more alive."

She continues to eat as she asks, "Who is tailing the caravan?"

* * * * *

The Hunting Party

Tiron and Salik proceed to skirt the woodline as they stalk toward the southwest, searching for game by which to feed the party. The road runs to their left and they maintain a lookout for the expected caravan heading eastward.

The two hunters have traveled for about an hour without seeing any game and are almost due north of where the East Way branches off into its wooded bypass when they spot the caravan. The slow moving group of carts, wagons, and guards is about five hundred paces away and moving along the bypass trail. In a few minutes, the caravan will make the turn onto the East Way and continue its journey eastward.

Tirondalin’s instincts keep him low to the ground, blending close to the foliage, and he speaks in a whisper to his companion. “Oh, I do so wish to follow that caravan,” he says wistfully.

Youthful fantasy is suddenly a controlling force. “Imagine if we could capture one of those brigands! We could find out all we ever needed to know! And I also owe them a blow to the head,” he finishes with a deadly smile. “What say you, Salik?”

The rogue gives Tiron an impish grin. "Sounds like fun! Although we have no idea if the brigands are going to make an appearance, I say we keep an eye on the caravan."

Tirondalin gives Salik a silent wink and moves to follow the caravan, keeping to the line of the trees so that the low foliage obscures him. He turns his head and states in a brief whisper, "We need to be back at camp by sundown!"

The half-elf's eyes narrow as he tries to discern any details that would indicate that they have been involved in a fight with the bandits. From this range, however, Tiron can only determine that the caravan is mostly comprised of humans or human-sized individuals. A handful of shorter figures suggests that there may be a least one dwarf in the group.

Electing to shadow the caravan, the two hunters proceed to backtrack their steps. Sacrificing stealth for speed, they move at a normal pace, estimating that the distance that separates them from the caravan and the natural sounds of the wilds will mask any noise they might make. They remain inside the woodline as they head northeast, watching to their right as the caravan turns onto the main road and starts traveling to the east. The caravan travels slightly faster on the road than the hunters can travel in the woods, but it only gradually opens the distance between the two groups.

At a point about five to six minutes into their journey, Tiron and Salik lose sight of the caravan as they follow the edge of the woodline northward while the caravan continues on to the north and east. When they finally regain sight of the caravan about ten minutes later, the hunters notice that a small group has separated itself from the main body, stepping off the road as the main body continues northward. The smaller party is stopped just off of the western side of the main road, at a point roughly due east of the grassy knoll where the zombie graves were discovered.

* * * * *

At the Lookout Position

"Eveningstar is beautiful, and in the main is a very quiet and beautiful place," Nathan says wistfully. "Well, we do have the occasional problem with Zhentarim, or goblinkin from the Stonelands, but it is mostly peaceful."

"When I was dreaming of adventure, I never thought that I would miss Eveningstar so much. My mother has just finished cleaning up after breakfast and it getting ready to work in her garden. Father, of course, is probably out vatting a new batch of leather. The smell of that task I do not miss!" he finishes with a grin.

"It sounds a wonderful place," Malk remarks. "Maybe I will get to see it one day. I want to see as many places as possible. To that end, we had better keep a good watch, I suppose, if we intend to stay alive."

Matching his deeds to his words, the bard carefully looks all around and listens to the sounds of the woods.

* * * * *

In the Campsite

Continuing to sharpen his sword, Alain glances at Amiel. "It is good to see you coming around. Tiron and Salik are out scouting and trying to catch some meat."

Velgardrin comments, “I still be thinkern that the caves be where all this be comern from. And I still think holy water be needed for skeletons….er worse.”

Amiel holds out her hand to the dwarf. She gingerly picks herself up with his support. Shaking her head of the cobwebs one last time, she looks around as if getting her bearings once again.

"Alright, ladies" she says to her companions, "it's time we got this assignment back on track. My injuries have kept us from our mission for too long," she growls in a self-mocking tone.

With a wicked grin Velgardrin pulls out his axe and lightly touches up the blade with his whetstone.

* * * * *

The Hunting Party

Salik taps his companion on the shoulder and says to him quietly, "Is that not where we found those graves the other day? What could they be doing? Maybe they've spotted us?"

"It is indeed, my friend," Tiron mutters, his usual grin contorted into a frown of fierce concentration. "Whatever it is you do, do not think about moving, and pray that the God of the Hunt has his All-Seeing-Eye upon us this day," he finishes tonelessly. He returns to his watch and trying to better determine the composition of the small group - their number, their appearance, their possessions and lastly but perhaps most importantly, their direction and speed of movement.

Salik nods wordlessly and very slowly drops into cover in the dense foliage, hiding him from view and quietly observes the caravan, trying to get a clear view of the small group. It appears that there are only a small number of individuals -- about three or four -- that have separated themselves from the caravan. The group stands near their wagon -- their exact actions cannot be discerned. From their current position, the hunters cannot positively identify any members of the small group, nor can they determine their armament, if any.

The two hunters crouch motionless in the underbrush as they watch the activities on the road. After a few minutes, the caravan has disappeared up the road to the north, masked from the hunters' view by the intervening forest. A few minutes later, three figures move away from the wagon, heading slightly north of west as they move slowly toward the woodline.

"Oh for the eyesight of the eagle," laments Tiron under his breath, half to himself.

He speaks to his companion-in-hiding, "Intuition tells me our quarry are not the wilderness-loving type. I believe if they are headed anywhere, they are moving into the forest to follow the track, and the track only has one exit point. Shall we cut across country to where the trail exits at the clearing?" he asks, but denies a chance for a response.

"Or," the half-elf immediately counters himself, "mayhap it would be safer to head in a diagonal and intercept them as close to the campsite as possible -- where surely the sounds of trouble would carry to our friends who are back at the site. Although that would mean a definite confrontation."

He sighs, "What say you, Salik?"

"I think it would be best to observe them at the clearing," the rogue replies. "I think a fight would be unwise, seeing as we're on our own. For now, I think it would be advisable to just see what they're up to."

Salik starts moving towards the clearing and pats his friend on the back. "Come on Tir, let's go."

Tirondalin nods his agreement. "May I take the lead? This forest and I are well acquainted," he smiles, and tacks a path northward.

Tiron and Salin cut through the forest, hoping to intercept the trio of strangers before they reach the bramble-covered clearing through which the trail leads to the stone door. The cover a distance of slightly over a bowshot before the clearing comes into sight. Quickly looking around, the pair of adventurers finds a thicket of bushes just within the edge of the forest and about a score of paces from the point at which the trail exits the forest and enters the clearing. Settling down onto their stomachs, the hunters await their quarry.

"This reminds me of games played as a child," comments Tiron in an amused whisper.

The seconds turn into minutes as the two hunters lie motionless in their hiding spot. Their eyes flicker back and forth and their hands nervously grip their weapons as they try to control their anxiety.

"I deplore waiting!" announces Tiron in a harsh whisper. "It is the worst aspect of the hunt. Solonor give them speed!" he prays for their quarry, so as to assuage his own impatience.

Salik presses a finger to his lips and looks at Tiron to indicate that he should be quiet. Then the rogue settles back into the long grass where he anxiously pricks up his ears, trying to hear any sound of the approaching men.

* * * * *

In the Campsite

Amiel has been standing for only a few minutes before she suddenly starts to feel light-headed. The ranger swoons slightly as the world spins around her. Apparently, her body disagrees with her spirit's determination.

"Oh... blast," Amiel groans from her prone position. "Looks like it's going to be awhile before I can even stand up, Lads," she says dazedly watching the sky wheeling above her, "I think I might try and shut my eyes for a few hours. Wake me when the rest of the Claws return."

"I be doern that," agrees Velgardrin. "Sleep well and recover. If yer be feelern like me with ther lump on head befer, rest be neederd," he adds.

Amiel lies back and closes her eyes. The warriors return to their work on their weapons and Declan flips casually through a small leather-bound book.

* * * * *

At the Lookout Position

Malk's sudden attention to vigilance is soon rewarded. Several long minutes after he made his remark, the morning calm is interrupted by the sound of nearby voices. The voices appear to be coming from the direction of the main road and seem to be getting closer.

"Do we seek cover and observe them, and attack from behind if they turn out to be foes, or do we head back to the camp and alert the others now?" asks Nathan in an urgent whisper.

Lowering his voice to the lowest of whispers, Malk speaks into Nathan's ear. "Hide and get your spell ready, but our main job is to be ready to run and alert the camp." With that, Malk pokes his head carefully around a handy tree while trying to make sense of the sounds.

A few seconds after Nathan collapses to his stomach, the voices get closer as the owners come near to passing the lookouts' location.

"… edge of the woods and wait for me. I won't take long," says a male's voice in a seemingly irritated tone that drifts through the vegetation.

A second male voice replies but the speaker's voice is more subdued and the exact words do not carry to the adventurers' ears.

From his spot on his stomach, Nathan is unable to see whomever -- or whatever -- is speaking. The mage remains motionless and prepares to fight or flee.

Malk on the other hand, catches a glimpse of the speakers as they pass by along the trail about fifteen paces away. He immediately recognizes all three of the people. One is Mendel, the merchant that the bard and some of the other Claws met in the tavern during their midday meal, yesterday. The rotund man is accompanied by two of his companions from the tavern. One is a burly man clad in chain mail and carrying bared broadsword in his hand. The other is an attractive young woman clad in skin-fitting leathers. The man's attention is focused on the merchant's back, but the woman scans the forest around the small group, her eyes seemingly searching for threats. A few seconds after they come into view, the trio disappears from sight, masked from view by the forest.

Waiting until he hears no further sounds, Malk slithers quietly back to Nathan and taps him on his shoulder. The bard puts his finger to his lips, then makes a walking motion with his first and second finger towards the camp, indicating that he is suggesting that the pair should move quietly back to the camp.

Indicating that Nathan should follow, Malk makes his way quietly back to camp. He keeps low and moves at a careful walking pace for the first third of the way. He then straightens up and moves more quickly but watching his step, to tell the others what he has seen and heard.

As Malk rises and begins to creep towards the camp, Nathan does his best to mimic the bard's stealthy movements while keeping an eye out for any foes.

* * * * *

In the Campsite

A few minutes after Amiel has lain back down, a faint sound that might be a human voice drifts through the forest air. It seems to be coming from the direction of the trail. Declan looks up from his book and his wide-eyed questioning look meets the eyes of Velgardrin and Alain.

Velgardrin looks at Alain and says, “If I be needern ter see who is comern, me armor is noisy.”

Rising silently, Alain lifts a warning finger to his lips in a shushing motion. Motioning to Velgardrin and Declan to stay where they are, Alain moves as quietly as possible toward the voice with his rapier held at the ready.

* * * * *

Moving slowly, Alain moves toward the trail. Although he is careful, he cannot avoid making occasional disturbances as brittle branches and leaves break and crumble under his feet. The warrior reaches the trail in a few minutes, but cannot see the source of the noises that he heard.

Noticing that he has gone too far, and lost sight of the camp, Alain begins slowly backing up. As he does so, he hears voices floating through the woods from the direction of the camp. In response, the Cormyrean warrior increases his pace, blades held at the ready.

* * * * *

In the Campsite

Velgardrin positions himself between Amiel and the sound and stands ready to meet whatever comes. He mumbles a silent prayer to Clangeddin Silverbeard and hopes that whatever is coming is just the rest of the party.

As the dwarf finishes his supplication, he hears noises coming from the south side of the campsite. From the sound of it, someone or something is moving toward the woods toward the three adventurers remaining in the small encampment.

Gripping his axe so that his knuckles are white, the stocky priest growls out a challenge in a carefully measured voice

"Who be goin' there?"

* * * * *

The Hunting Party

A few minutes later, patience is visibly wearing thin as Tiron begins to finger his bow with eyes agitated and hyper-alert. "Where could they be?" he whispers harshly to his companion-in-waiting. "We shall wait only a short-while longer, agree?"

"Patience Tir, the cunning hunter has to know when to wait and when to act," Salik replies he with a wink

The rogue peers up at hope of seeing the group they are stalking emerge from the trees. "Just a few more minutes then," he declares. He then holds up one hand, five fingers outstretched with a quizzical look on his face, indicating the pair should stay still and quiet for five minutes longer.

Narrowing his eyes at his friend's gesture, Tirondalin nods emphatically.

* * * * *

In the Campsite

The growled challenge, muttered in Velgardrin's unmistakable accent comes from behind the narrowing span of forest that separates Malk and Nathan from the camp.

“Axe high, Vel, its only Malk and Nathan," answers the bard quietly.

"Is everyone at the camp? We’ve seen people in the woods and it doesn’t look like they are going out for a picnic.” Without waiting for either the mage or the dwarven priest to react or respond, Malk throws caution to the wind and picks up his speed to a steady trot, heading back into the campsite with the intention of alerting the company.

With Nathan at his heels, Malk soon steps past Velgardrin and back into the clearing that contains the campsite. Glancing around, he sees Amiel sleeping fitfully with Declan sitting nearby, leaning up against a tree. Alain, Salik, and Tiron are nowhere to be seen.

Stepping up to the resting Amiel, Malk bursts into speech.

“Listen in claws! Nathan and I have just seen the fat merchant from town with what looks like a fighter and a tracker type. They were going down the path away from the road and seemed to be looking for something.”

Hardly pausing to take breath, the bard rushes on. “Nathan can you keep your magic loaded? These are NOT undead. Now, they may just be wary and on the lookout for an ambush on the caravan. On the other hand, they may not. We need to be ready either way. By the tunes of Milil, where are Alain Salik and Tiron? We should be together!”

Velgardrin replies calmly to the exited bard. “Malk, you lead and I’ll stay a bit behind yer so’s they dasen’t be hearin’ me clankern along."

"What of Declan and I?" asks Nathan. "Who will stay with Amiel?"

As the mage finishes his question, Alain comes into the clearing from the direction of the trail. The warrior's eyes move about the gathering in the camp and he quickly sees that Malk and Nathan have returned from their lookout post.

Moving towards the warrior, Malk prepares to repeat his news.

“Alain, have you seen Tiron and Salik?" asks the bard. " I've just told the other Claws here that the fat merchant from Kendall Keep came up the road with what seemed to be a warrior and a tracker. I am not sure if they were looking for an ambush or on other less worthy tasks. I think Nathan has his magic ready, but we need to decide our response. With Amiel still incapacitated, you and Vel are our best military strategists.”

“Malk," retorts Velgardrin, "let’s be leavern Declan here and be on our way.” The dwarven priest adjusts his helm as he speaks and turns to follow Malk and Nathan.

* * * * *

The Hunting Party

Salik's appeal for patience pays off less than a handful of minutes later when a trio of people emerges from the woodline on the trail and stops just on the edge of the clearing.

One of the newcomers is the overweight merchant that some others of the party talked to during their midday meal at the One Eyed Cat the day prior to the present -- just before the party departed the Keep. The rotund man is accompanied by two of his companions from the tavern. The first is a burly man clad in chain mail and carrying a bared broadsword in his hand. The other is an attractive young woman clad in skin-fitting leathers. The man's attention is focused on the merchant's back, but the woman scans the forest around the small group, her eyes seemingly searching for threats.

Tiron's breathing rasps on his dry throat while excitement commands his body in two directions: a valiant arrest of these suspicious people or a high-tailed run through the forest to safety. Instead, he digs his fingers into the dirt and examines each of the three newcomers with a careful eye.

Salik's eye's glint with excitement as the adrenaline pumps through his veins, now that his 'prey' has finally arrived. All things come to the man who waits.

The rogue consciously slows his breathing and stays still to avoid detection. He examines the trio in great detail, using his powers of observation to try to understand their intentions and whether or not they are simply a standard guard for the caravan.

He glances over at his companion Tiron and slowly shakes his head to indicate that they should wait and see what the party does.

The rotund man turns to the two people behind him. As he does so, the silk robes he wears whip around and the purse and small pouch at his belt swing as if on a pendulum.

"You two stay here," directs the man that the other 'Claws earlier identified as a merchant. By the tone of his voice, he is clearly exited, anxious, irritated, or a combination thereof.

"I will go up to the door and complete my business. Devdas, there will be no witnesses." This last bit the merchant says to the armed and armored warrior in a dark but commanding tone.

The burly warrior curtly nods his head in a wordless reply. The sun reflects off of his chainmail, sword, and small wooden shield.

The woman's eyes widen at the man's instructions but she says nothing. Her hands hang loosely at her sides as the turns her head left and right, her long dark hair flying in a mildly seductive fashion. Her hands remain loosely by her sides. A dagger serves as the only decoration on the silk cord she uses as a belt.

Tirondalin nods his understanding and instinctively tries to conceal himself in the shadows of the surrounding greenery as he did in his youth, when he would hide from friend in jest or from foe in fear. The ranger can only hope that such skills will not fail him now, when it is his young life that may be threatened.

* * * * *

In the Campsite

Moving back into the clearing, Alain shakes his head trying to clear the cobwebs from his thoughts, and slips his weapons back into their respective sheaths. "Hold up Velgardrin my friend, let us all stay together."

Moving his gaze over to Malk, the warrior continues, "I have seen no one. Hopefully Tiron and Malk should be back to camp soon. I would like to gather us all into one place. It seems to me that we have become too scattered, and I would like to have us all come back together in a team. It also seems that if we chase every small merchant caravan we will never find out what is going on around here."

Moving his gaze to encompass everyone, Alain rests his hand on his rapier hilt.

Reckless and headstrong with the enthusiasm of youth, Malk blurts out, “But Alain, surely we can’t just wait here? Our charter from the Keep is to find out about these caravan ambushes. This is the best chance we’ve had up to now.”

Momentarily caught up by the persuasive bard's enthusiasm, Alain's eyes light with a fierce joy at the thought of battle. "I surely agree my friend."

Catching his aggressive feelings, Alain settles back and smiles at Malk. "But we can not keep splitting our strength, and dividing our attention. We need to gather back up Tiron and Salik."

The big warrior rubs his chin and thinks of possible actions. "To split up again would be folly. Yet, if we gather up Amiel and carry her after the caravan, we have a good chance of running into Tiron and Salik. But if we miss them and they come back here to find us gone, that would be no good."

Alain's brow furrows as choices pass through his thoughts. Looking up to the group he continues, "Unless you are all against it, I think the best course of action is to wait here for Tiron and Salik. If we hear the caravan come under attack we can change our plans, but for now it is more important to come back together." Looking around Alain tries to see everyone's opinion.

His enthusiasm undiminished, Malk nods in agreement. “Alright, Alain, you're in charge. I’ll just go to the edge of the campsite while we’re waiting for Tiron and Salik and keep an eye and an ear out.”

Matching his deeds to his words, the young bard moves just beyond the edge of the campsite -- on the side that the path lies -- and settles well within earshot of the other 'Claws. Prone beside a convenient elm, with his head just above ground level he keeps watch towards the path.

“I be keepern a watch on Amiel," declares Velgardrin, "but I also be ready ter serve Clangeddin Silverbeard, the Father o’ Battles Hisself.”

The dwarven priest belts his axe and turns to check on his sleeping comrade. After a brief inspection, he turns back to the rest of the assembled Silver Claws. With his left hand he rubs his claw like it’s a worry stone and then speaks.

“If there be an attack on the caravan be we meanern’ ter respond? If so, we must plan our counterattack.”

* * * * *

The Hunting Party

Without another word to his two companions, the rotund man sets out down the trail that leads through the brambles to the stone door. The thick vegetation and the adventurers' prone disposition combine to hide the man from sight within seconds.

Meanwhile, the man and woman left behind at the head of the trail position themselves as instructed. The woman watches back south along the trail into the forest while the man trains his attention northward, most likely on his employer's back.

Salik raises his eyebrows questioningly at his companion, wondering what to do. He picks up a rock and points it at the north woodline, thinking he can throw the rock as a diversionary tactic, then touches the hilt of his weapon, indicating they should attack afterwards.

The rogue points at himself then at the woman, then at Tiron and the man questioningly, wondering if the half-elf thinks he can take the burly warrior in combat. He glances at Tiron's bow to question his friend on if he thinks he should try missile fire instead.

Tirondalin shakes his head with a pensive frown, holding his friend's gaze in a moment of thought.

"We wait," he mouths, almost a whisper, his voice dry from apprehension.

Salik frowns, annoyed that he won't discover what the fat man is doing, but nods in agreement with his wiser friend.

The rogue lies completely prone and stills his breathing, hiding from the pair a mere 20 yards away. He moves his hand onto the hilt of his dagger that he has hidden in a wrist guard and prepares for the worst. His eyes glisten in excitement as he takes in every detail about his foes.

* * * * *

In the Campsite

Kneeling down near Velgardrin and Amiel, Alain draws forth his rapier with loving care and applies a polishing stone to its already sharp edge. "I know we should have some already drawn up battle plans," he says to Velgardrin. "I was thinking that you could form up with me and we together could form the anchor point for any battle line."

Raising an eyebrow to his dwarven friend, Alain asks, "What think you?"

“That be fine fer me," Velgardrin responds. “I’ll take yer left. Nathan be best fer the other side then Declan and Malk be free ter act behind us (he looks at Declan as he says this) er try for a flank attack. Or Nathan and Malk could switch so Nathan be free ter heal.”

"Ahem." Nathan clears his throat to get the others attention. He then proceeds to speak.

"Perhaps I have, by accident, misrepresented by self. I am a practitioner of the Art, not a healer and most definitely not a warrior," he declares.

Shuffling a little into position as he listens to the planning, and seeing Alain preparing his weapon, Malk draws his short sword and holds it ready, blade resting across his left forearm to keep it off the grass. Turning his head to speak over his shoulder, the bard chips in, “I’m more used to being on my own, or with just one other in a fight. I’m not really used to these ‘battle lines’ yet. I’ll just fit in where you consider me most useful. I am coming on a bit with the sword now thanks to Alain.”

Malk then turns back then to his guarding duties watching the woods in front of him.

Continuing to polish even the minutest nick from his blade, Alain looks from person to person as they contribute to the conversation. "My ideal is to have me in the middle, with Velgardrin on my left and Amiel on my right. Then Malk could be to Velgardrin's left and back half a step, guarding our left flank, while Salik would be to Amiel's right and back half a step, guarding our right flank. Then Tiron could be in the rear, raining arrows onto our enemies. With Nathan by his side, using his craft."

Velgardrin calmly replies “That be workern fer the future but Amiel is a bit out erv her sorts fer a bit yet. In fact she be sleepern again. I be speakern for now not even with those yet scoutern. Full plans be good also.”

Rummaging in his backpack, Alain produces an oiled polishing rag, and attacks any blemishes still left on the mirror like surface of his blade. Turning to Velgardrin, he says, "We will treat our fallen leader the way we would if she had fallen in battle. We will move her to the back to the best of our ability, and close in the formation. Moving Salik in to my side instead of Amiel's."

Continuing to polish his sword, Alain contemplates out loud, "Did I forget anyone, or anything?"

"Believe ya did," pipes up Declan from where he sits against a tree, his spellbook still resting on his lap.

Alain turns to Declan, "Sorry my friend, your easy disposition and your quiet demeanor, caused you to slip from my mind. Of course you will join your art with Nathan's, to our best benefit."

Looking to all his gathered companions, the Cormyrean warrior asks, "Does that cover things more fully?"

"That be seemern like the Father O' Battles hisself would approve," replies Velgardin. "But we must be true to Baulin's courage and what we paid for this."

The dwarven priest continues as he holds up his claw. "Clangeddin Silverbeard hisself inspired me to me ter try fer avengern Baulin. And I be thinkern that he passes his inspirations ter all of yer, too. May Clangeddin's alagh be upon us as we seek out and destroy this evil of livern' dead and who be responsible."

Then, after a thoughtful moment, Velgardrin pours a cup of water from his skin, raises it to the rest of the Silver Claws, and says, "To Baulin Redbeard."

Malk reaches his hand to his neck, holds his own silver claw and says a quiet, “Baulin Redbeard." After a small pause, he speaks again over his shoulder.

“Baulin should be in the caravan on the road below now. I pray to Milil he makes it to his people. I feel as if we’re deserting our comrade by not watching over and protecting them. But if you warriors say the plan is to wait, then I’ll follow it.”

* * * * *

The Hunting Party

Only a few breaths pass before the rotund man reappears in the spying adventurer's views.

"Sascia, come with me," the man says in a commanding tone. The way in which he speaks implies that he expects no discussion or questions. The leather-clad woman simply nods in reply.

The man spins around and walks quickly from view, the woman at his heels. In their wake, the armored guard readjusts his stance. He puts the clearing at his back -- and the two hidden adventurers to his right flank -- as he turns to look back southward along the trail into the forest.

A smile spreads across the Salik's face; two against one are good odds, after all. The rogue reaches for the rock again and glances to the east, then at his companion -- looking for confirmation of his plan. With the guard distracted, it should be easy to sneak up behind him. Eyes gleaming with adrenaline, he only waits to see his friend is with him to spring into action.

Tiron's arresting nervousness and explosive excitement wage war as he takes a moment to process the new scenario and make his decision. His youth decides for him. Out of naivete or lack of a better plan, the ranger nods to his friend and looks toward the guard, absentmindedly kissing the symbol of his god around his neck.

Salik grins impishly, only excitement showing in his eyes without a trace of fear. Is he foolish or brave? Probably a bit of both.

He makes tip-toeing movements with his hands indicating that the rogue is going to attempt to sneak up behind the burly guard and make a surprise attack. He rummages in his pouch for something -- his companion cannot quite see what -- until he draws out a small spiky ball - a caltrop! Hopefully, the small items should slow down the other two if the guard shouts for help. The rogue grins and puts it back in his pouch ready for use later.

Taking a deep breath, Salik throws the rock to the east, aiming to hit a tree the other side of the clearing and then take the flight of the rock behind the guard.

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.

Next Chapter

Return to the Company of the Silver Claws main page

Return to Campaign Logs