By Brian Flood
Chapter 4 - The Plan
The Meeting Room of Blackpost's Bench Tankard House
Berdusk, The Sunset Vale
Mid-Evening, 19th Day of Elient, Year of the Tankard (1970 DR)
Zell looks around, “I don't know about the rest of you, but I don't like those mountains. Something tells me that we might have a problem there.”
“I'm somewhat inclined to agree...also this stretch of the run that runs through the Reaching Woods could also be a convenient place to be waylaid. We should consider planning our journey so we venture through these areas during daylight...and have proper scouts running ahead to warn us of trouble,” Kjira says seriously.
Kjira stands up from the table as her new employer and his lackey leave the room. She takes a moment to replace the lid on her flagon of drink and then places it within her backpack carefully. Reaching around, she grabs the staff she had set up against the wall with her right hand.
“Well,” she says to her new fellow employees. “Does anyone need to provision themselves before we depart? We might want also want someone to map our journey....are any of you proficient in the art of drawing maps? We may need to purchase some parchment. I'd rather have a reliable map of where we have been in case something...unusual...takes place and we need it.”
“Not exactly the most charismatic display of leadership I've seen" Alani says to none of her new companions in particular. “For a man who's trying to hire people to protect his stuffy books and porky backside, you'd think that he'd be a bit more polite. He's going to be lucky if all of us don't run away at the first sign of trouble given his 'attempts' to win our loyalty!” She looks around at her new friends, her face becoming serious. “I have some skills as a scout. On our journey I will range ahead of the wagon trail, acting as point. I trust that this is satisfactory to you all? I'd like to hear from each of you where your special talents lie, and how we may best make use of them.”
Darius grins at Alani, his boyish charm showing thru, “Good thoughts, Alani. As for me, I also am able to scout. Silvanus has blessed me and once daily I may become a large grey wolf. Soft-Fang, my wolf companion, and I are able to provide small game to the group for food as well as be ahead of the group. Alani, perhaps the three of us together can scout ahead.”
Zell chuckles softly to herself on this comment and thinks to herself.
“Excellent, Darius” Alani nods approvingly. “I will welcome your company and that of your companion wolf.” She glances around again, “I believe my skills in close combat are somewhat lacking in comparison to some of you, and I'd prefer in indoor situations to hand over the front position to someone else.”
Zell shrugs, “Indoor, Outdoor, it's all the same to me.”
“I've 'eard rumors o' Dragons workin' with Zhents in them hills,” Dolak says. “And bandits too. We're a small caravan--either too small t' notice, or a band o' two-copper bandits is gonna think we might be somethin' o' an easy profit fer them. Should be an interestin' trip.”
“As I told most o' ya a'fore,” Dolak continues, “I'm a smith. If you are lookin' fer a specialty from everyone, that's mine. I'll be bringin' a forge within th' cart.”
Slyvia speaks up. “Although my appearance might seem to disprove it, I have some skill with blade, bow, and spell. I am also able to assist in the hunting of game by use of my bow,” she says, patting her intricately crafted longbow. “Unfortunately, my supply of arrows is low. Apparently, I must wait for our payment at our stop in Asbravn to replenish my quiver.”
“I have a bit of skill with a sword - or two to be more precise. I can scout if needed, or provide healing magic with the blessing of Arvoreen,” Cyzicus says with humility.
“Forgive my ignorance,” Kjira says to Sylvia, “but how much do arrows cost? I do not have a great deal of spare coin, but my equipment seems to be sufficient, so I would be willing to loan you some gold.”
Looking around at the others, she continues. “I think it best that we all be properly armed and equipped if we are going to travel together. If I am short, perhaps we could take up a small collection? I am sure our friend here is good for it.”
“That brings me to another question....how many of you have pack animals? We may need to carry a fair amount of provisions, etc. and I think it would only slow us down if we attempted to carry such by ourselves. I have a mule that can carry some additional weight, but we should discuss our baggage and transport before we go much further.”
“I have a mule as well, but I normally use him as a mount,” Cyzicus replies.
Zell points out, “From what I hear and understand from us, we really don't need to carry many things.” She looks around, “With the obvious sounds to me we can pretty much well take care of ourselves if the time comes.”
Her hand moves as if she's holding something, “As for I, it would be suitable if Tomar would put me with the wagon. For such abilities I carry, it would prove to him a valuable asset. But then again, he'd probably try and kill me for what I have.” An evil smile crosses her lips and pats a small pouch on her side.
“I also do not have much, as Soft-Fang and my needs are small. You are welcome to use whatever there is to buy what supplies and goods you will need” the druid says, and pulls a small belt pouch and dumps it on the table. A meager amount indeed, four gold pieces, along with some silver and copper clank into a disordered pile on the table.
“Soft-Fang and I do not carry provisions other than the healing herbs in my bag. We hunt and eat small game together. We sleep in the wild, and survive on the land.”
Slyvia blushes at the display of generosity by both Kjira and Darius. “My thanks to both of you,” she says. “Allow me to think on this matter for a few minutes before I accept.”
Zell thinks this is an act of modesty and reaches into her pouch. She pulls fourth some rare coins, platinum pieces, and tosses 5 of them to Slyvia. She gives a straight stare and calmly says, “I don't need to be paid back, but all I ask of you is to not stab me in my back. I've had allies who have recently done this to me and that is the reason why I am here.”
Slyvia takes the platinum pieces and stares at them in wonder. In her whole entire life she has never seen that much money, and certainly did not possess anything that would even equal to that amount. “Thank you milady Zell” she stammers, “I have never had anyone give me anything for free, the only thing that I can offer you is my pledge to aid you and not harm you as you requested.”
Zell starts to leave the room and pauses. “I will meet everyone at the time and place. Until now, good, eve.”
“Me needs 'n coins are about the same now, I thinkin',” Dolak says. “I do 'a'e a bit o' room in me cart for those without pack animals, though. I dinna travel as light as some, or maybe even the rest of ye, so I 'a'e a cart pulled by a mule, and me ridin' pony.
“If it comes to a fight,” the dwarf continues, “I'll go toe t' toe with any what make it past the scouts and missiliers.”
“Yes we had best be wary of bandits thinking we are an easy target. As for my skills, I am a mage....from Silverymoon. My special abilities lie in my magical wares. I do best when I can cast unhindered by attackers and will aid you to my utmost.”
Alric sits comfortably and listen to each in turn. After a few moments he clears his throat and says, “The skills mainly lie here,” as he pats the sword at his hip, “and thanks to blessed Tyr I have a few other abilities that may help on the way.”
As if remembering something, Alric smiles and turns to Dolak. “Good sir, you mentioned you are a smith. I have some talent at armor craft but I'm sure my skills pale compared to yours, if it pleases you I would love to hear what you have to say on such a topic. Also I have no pack horse and ask if I could keep my belongings on your cart when the weight becomes to much of a bear.”
“Aye, we can trade tales of smithin',” Dolak says to Alric with a wide grin. “A'fore this journey is through, we may 'a'e to fire the forge to repair or replace somethin'. If'n yer of a mind, I would appreciate the 'elp.”
Alric returns Dolak's smile. “I would be glad to help you anytime my friend, all you need do is ask.” With that said he turns to the remaining companions and says “My skills would be best used at the front or rear of the party, and by my honor I will do my best to keep you out of harms reach.”
Turning to the mage Dolak says, “Well met Mage. I'm thinkin' we could pair our skills up for this part o' the journey. Ya can throw yer balls o' fire er turn any bandits inta frogs while I keep 'em from gettin' too close with the axe.”
“Be careful with those balls of fire. The woods will be particularly dry this time of year till winter sets in. I am not saying do not, just be careful of the placement,” the druid says to Lucas and Dolak.
Looking somewhat askance at his spear, Darius continues, “My skills do not lend themselves to combat. My spear is more a walking stick then a very useful weapon. Outdoors, near wooded or grassy areas, an entangle or will help in any combat, and cures from Silvanus will patch man and beast up after. Indoors, or in dark or near dark, faerie fire helps. I can not be much help during the battle, only after and would need be not in front nor in the rear.”
Lucas replies to Darius, saying, “Aye, I too am not the best when it comes to close combat. I would be best to support any trouble we encounter if placed in the center of the party. I will be careful with not flaming the woods. I am not daft when it comes to my woodlore skills. We are well schooled from Silverymoon Druid.”
“I fear I too am somewhat useless in combat,” Kjira says to the group. “I have little magic for fighting and while the will is there,” she adds, pointing to her staff, “the strength is often not.”
“It may be best if I travel in the center of the party...while I have a few tricks up my sleeve, it is best if I have a moment or two to prepare them...”
Kryian stands and looks about the room. “My strength lies with the oceans, and have little knowledge of the ways of travel on shore.” Kryian smiles to his audience and says “However, in combat, I will lend my blade to defend my fellow companions and will lend it well.” Then Kryian takes his seat to resume following the conversation. “Oh, one more thing. I'm travelling rather light, and if we are low on room I can carry my own belongings.”
Having listened intently during the recent introductions, Kjira now turns and looks over her companions once more, comparing her mental notes with each person's visage.
“Well,” she says hesitantly, “as I see it, here is how we might want to organize ourselves...Perhaps Alani and Darius should scout ahead of the caravan, followed by Sylvia and Dolak. Myself and Zell can stay with the wagon and our rotund employer, along with Lucas, and Kryian and Cyzicus can bring up the rear. Alric can trail behind and make sure nothing underhanded takes place behind our backs.”
“This is merely a suggestion, based on what skills you have each professed...please, if you think we should order ourselves differently, speak up now,” she finishes her sentence by looking around the room for approval or disapproval.
Slyvia nods her head, she smiles at Kjira “Well planned Kjira, your suggestion has great merit, I don't mind being near the wagon. If there is an ambush, the others can fall back and be in a defensible position while I cover them.”
Kjira nods and continues speaking, “Now I am somewhat new to escorting a caravan...so forgive me if this is perhaps a ridiculous subject of concern. However, there are 11 of us, including our employer, that will be traveling together. While trail rations will keep us fed, what of our thirst? Judging by this map there are not streams or rivers running closely to the road to replenish our waterskins.”
"I do not know about you, but I drink fully a whole skin a day. Now I have heard that certain priests and holy men are blessed with the ability to create water, but that a container must be provided to receive it. How much can be created? Are any of you so blessed with ability? If so, what size container should we purchase to ensure a supply of water throughout our journey? And do we have pack space to transport it?"
“We must also consider our beasts of burden....By my count we have three mules and a pony accompanying us on this journey, not including the animals pulling our employer's cart. They too will be in need of water, perhaps more so than us after pulling so much weight each day. And what of their feed? How shall we ensure they have the strength and energy to progress from day to day?”
“Hopefully one of us has traveled in this manner before and can enlighten me,” Kjira says, looking around anxiously for a response.
Alani nods her head approvingly at Kjira. “I was just about to offer very similar suggestion for our travel order. I think your suggestion successfully maximizes all our strengths in case we are ambushed. Surprise situations are where these considerations are most important...everything else we can adjust to suit.
“In regards to water, I believe that there may be many sources of water available that are not displayed on the map, as they are too small. Mapmakers often do that. If there are such water sources, I may be able to find them. I have survival skills for that type of terrain. But I, cannot of course, be 100% sure of this, so Kjira's suggestion as to magical sources IS important and has merit.”
Cyzicus gives a disapproving look before replying, “Although I'm sure we could create some water, I would suggest saving the blessings of the Gods we serve for situations of need. I'm not sure about the others, but Arvoreen would expect me to look after myself when possible and call upon him when needed.”
“As I said in the beginning, I am new to this sort of travel, so please forgive me if I have offended you” Kjira says apologetically to Cyzicus.
“If this creation of water is not an acceptable method, we must develop an alternative. How much water should we carry with us to supply both man and animal alike? How do we propose to transport the same?”
“Very true,” the halfling agrees. “I'm not sure off the top of my head how much we need as a group. I consume about half that of a man, and my mount a little less than a horse. I've never traveled along a route without an ample supply of water, so I've never tried to plan something like this, but it is a worthwhile exercise. Does anyone else have an idea of our requirements?”
Kjira listens to the halfling finish and then looks around at the silent remainder of the party.
“Does no one here have any other input?” she asks incredulously. “We are about to depart on a 10-14 day journey and no one seems concerned about our food and water requirements along the way...”
“I for one am going to purchase a large cask and a cart to transport it on. Does anyone wish to help cover these expenses?" she asks the room. “Otherwise, I'll be charging a piece of gold a skin once we're on the road...”
Dolak replies, “I 'a'e already got a large cask fer water and a cart to carry it on. When I normally travel with caravans, we kin usually find water along the route. I use the cask to 'old water fer me trough. The trough is fer dippin’ pieces I'm a workin'. The cask, though, is clean enou' fer drinkin' water. It’ll ‘old some fifty gallon o’ water. We might be needin' some skins as a back up, 'owe'er.”
Kjira says, “Do you think 50 gallons will be enough for the entire party? I have two 5 gallons kegs I carry, that gives us a total of 60 gallons...Maybe we should invest in a few more 5 gallons kegs to provide us with a larger reserve, if needed.”
“Nay, I'll not help you by paying for your cask,” Darius replies. “Consider this, shall Cyzicus, Dolak or I charge you for healing if you are wounded? Shall the warriors among us charge you for keeping you safe in the wilds? If you are in this for profit only, be wary of what you charge for” the druid finishes in disgust and turns to the others.
Kjira responds, “I'm hardly in this venture to profit from my companions, fair druid. You should have already seen to the contrary with our companion Slyvia and her lack of arrows," she replies a bit coldly.
“However,” she continues, “those who refuse to plan for or contribute to the common good should not expect to be taken care of when their lack of foresight rears its ugly head. I would not expect the warriors among us to keep me safe if I refused to heed their warnings...”
“It is the same here. I am not in a position to provide for the needs of the entire company -- had I those kinds of funds I would not be here. But it would appear no one else is concerned nor wishes to contribute. I see no point in spending what little gold I have trying to take care of others so warned...”
“She has a point druid,” Cyzicus adds. “I would be willing to contribute to a larger supply of equipment and a cart to transport it if we are already guarding slow moving vehicles. We must all beware of the possibility of losing this supply, and ensure we have enough to hand without it.”
“Aye, I hear and understand what you are saying and agree with you. I just did not like the thought of charging someone for water,” the druid replies. Turning to Dolak, the druid continues, “I can, if need be, refill your water barrel nightly and that should see to all our needs. Is this fine with you?”
“On to my last question…” Kjira adds, “what will be feeding our pack animals on this journey?”
Lucas looks about the room before speaking. “I and a few others who have some survival skills may be of assistance to the group so that we don't need a cart. I think the cart would only further slow us down. I already have a good bit of rations in my pack and I think I can supplement that with what I can forage. I can help others find food along the way too.”
“Soft-Fang and I can both survive in the forest quite well,” Darius says. “We will provide small game to eat, and knowledge of small streams where skins and casks can be refilled during the day. I must however purchase one water skin before we set out to use as a backup supply.”
Kryian sighs and glances about the room. “I'm sorry about the lack of feedback that I have not provided, but I've lived most of my life by the rules of the sea and have little knowledge of planning trips on land.” Kryian says regretfully. “I know food and water is a necessity, but I've never had to do the math for such a large number of people. Usually its taken care of, or I take care of myself. I do like the teamwork I'm seeing and will assist in any way possible.” Kryian pauses for a moment. “This is a bit off the subject, but I do think it’s important. I know for the most part that my sea-going knowledge will be useless, but I did learn something during my years on the Silverstar that may prove to be some use to us. I can navigate by using the stars as my guide. It has been a very useful skill at sea whenever we have been lost, and it helped me a bit in finding this city.”
Slyvia speaks up, “Well, I not sure of the terrain conditions, but to be on the safe side I will be carry some extra waterskins. There might be streams, but the water may not be drinkable.”
The evening drags on until the party members are feeling weary. At last, the members part company. The next day will be spent purchasing last minute items and otherwise preparing for the journey. They all promise to meet each other at sunrise on the 21st of Eleint.
Before the party leaves the room, Slyvia speaks up. “Well, I guess everything is planned. I have to purchase some items, but if anyone wishes to spend the night outside the city, I will be by the gate. I’ve heard that if you ask the city guards, they will allow you to sleep by the gates.”
The content of The Sunset Vale Saga are the property and copyright of Brian Flood, and are not to be published or redistributed without permission.
Return to The Sunset Vale Saga main page
Return to Campaign Logs