Campaign Logs

The Sunset Vale Saga

By Brian Flood

Chapter 10 - Settling In

Along the Uldoon Trail

Within the Reaching Woods, The Sunset Vale

Late Afternoon, 23rd Day of Eleint, Year of the Tankard (1370 DR)

“Finding the clear spot is most wise,” Zell says.  “With the violent storm coming in, we may encounter some dangers with lightning hitting some trees and blocking our passage.  This could also stir up some unwanted visitors.  I do not like this at all, but it seems as though there isn't much we can do for now.”


“Game? A deer?” asks Alani.  “Hmmm....Darius, in the last few hours before nightfall, let's go hunting and see if we can get some cooked meat into everyone's belly.  I'll help build the lean-to's when we get back.  The woodland is my native terrain, so it shouldn't be much of a problem and each shelter should only take half-an-hour or so to build.”


“Hmmmmmmm.  Some cooked food would be really nice tonight......,” mentions Alric, patting his stomach.


“Yes, let us go,” Darius replies, nodding his head.  “Alani and Slyvia follow Soft Fang and I.  If there is more than one animal, we should try to bring at least two down, so we can have rations for the morning.  I think we will need some food after the storm tonight,” the druid replies. 


Looking at the rest of the group, Darius says, “Head back and setup camp.  Gather as much shelter material as you can, so we can have protection from the storm.  Store as much firewood under the wagons, so we can light a fire in the morning to shake out the storm and get warm again.  It will be a cold, wet night.”


Slyvia smiles as she readies herself for the hunt, and speaks to the others. “Thank you Sir Darius, to be able to go hunting, its the best news I've heard all day.  After a long day of dry trail rations, its nice to get something hot to eat.  When you feel ready we should set out, and try to bag some game before the storm hits.  Before we set, out we should decide on a few hand signals to help communicate in the forest.  Something as basic as pointing to indicate the direction of the prey, or holding a clenched fist to indicate danger.”


“Aye Darius,” nods Lucas, “I will gather what I can find and help with the shelter at  the camp.”


Kryian looks around at the trees and trembles slightly.  His eyes widen as he notices the dark shadows that may or may not contain unforeseen perils. 


“Aye.  I will, of course, agree to whatever campsite you have found.  I have not the experience on land to judge such things, as yet.  I will help gather materials for the shelters, but I someone will need to show me what exactly we are looking for.”  Kryian finishes speaking and returns to his wide-eyed study of the forest.  His hand drifts toward the pommel of his saber.


Turning to the smith, Alani says, “I trust you'll build the fire, friend Dolak?  My advice is to build it as soon as possible, so that when the storm hits, the fire is mostly hot embers...and lots of it.  That way we can shelter it with a cairn of stones or rig a roof above it.  High enough so that it doesn't catch alight but can still divert rain from falling directly onto the embers.”


With that, Darius, Soft Fang depart the road with Slyvia and Alani bringing up the rear.  Darius pauses for a moment at the edge of the road to shape-change into his wolf-form.  The four hunters move into the treeline along the northside of the road and begin their search for fresh meat for the evening’s meal.


Kjira listens as the druid and his companions speak.  “Well good smith, looks like we have our work cut out for us,” she says as she turns to speak to Dolak.


Taking Bartholomule by the reins once more, Kjira prepares to head toward the campsite.  “Sir Tomar, let us get off this road and prepared before dark,” she says to the merchant, motioning in the direction of the clearing.


With that, she leads her mule through the woods southward to the clearing.  Deciding to keep in form with the previous night, she helps direct the wagons and carts so they position themselves between the party and the road, in case cover is needed. 


Dolak leads his pony, mule, and cart into the clearing and finds a spot along the northern boundary to stake them out.  He leaves sufficient space nearby for Ori and the wagon.


Ori guides the wagon into the clearing and then expertly turns it in a tight circle so that it sits on the north side of the clearing.  He stops it so that it faces back along the route into the campsite, allowing for a quick egress.  He then climbs down from the wagon and sets about undoing the harnesses on the draft horses.  He uses trees to stake the big beasts out at the front of the wagon.


As Ori works with the horses, Tomar disappears into the covered portion of the wagon.  Soon thereafter, the sounds of heavy objects being moved across a wooden floor emanate from within.


Once the wheeled transports are situated and the animals tied up for the night, Kjira unloads whatever wood she managed to accumulate during the day and takes it to the center of the clearing.  “This may help with the fire,” she says to Dolak as she sets down the wood.


Walking back over to her mule, Kjira unpacks her tent once again and glances about for a place to set it up.  She settles for the spot between Dolak’s cart and the center of the clearing.  She finds a spot nearby to picket her mule and then sets about setting up her tent with its back to Dolak’s cart.


Lucas starts to help build up the camp shelters from the impending storm to come and then to gather what he may manage to forage from the nearby area.


Alric smiles, watching the mage struggle with the camp shelters, then decides to offer assistance to the mage.  “Need help, Lucas?” he asks.  The paladin, aided by both Kryian and Cyzicus, then proceeds to help Lucas gather boughs and vines for the shelters.


Dolak uses the firewood from his cart and from Kjira to build a campfire.  After the blaze is going, he construts a low (1’) cairn around the fire so that a “roof” may be set over the fire to preserve the embers from the rain.  After that is finished, he aids the others in finding materials for the shelters.


* * * * *


{The Hunting Party}


Slyvia keeps a careful eye out, as she heads deeper into the forest.  She listens closely to the noises of the forest creatures, for signs of other life.  


The four hunters quickly find a pair of deer, aided by the senses of Darius and Soft-Fang.


The two archers draw their bows and fire at the closest deer.  Alani’s first arrow plunges into the buck’s flank, wounding it – but her second arrow goes wide.  Slyvia’s first arrow follows almost immediately and strikes the animal in the neck, sending a bright stream of blood through the air as the deer goes down.


Darius and Soft Fang give chase to the second deer.  Several minutes pass, during which Slyvia uses a dagger to finish off the first deer and begins to field dress it.  As she is finishing, the two wolves return, dragging the half-consumed remains of the second deer.


The four hunters gather their prizes and head back to the camp.


* * * * *


Early Evening, 23rd Day of Eleint


Just under an hour after the party first arrived at the camp, the hunting party returns.  The four hunters – two human and two wolves – appear carrying on dressed deer carcass and one other deer carcass that appears to be partially consumed already.  Matted blood on the wolves’ snouts hints at the reason for the missing parcels of meat.


As the hunters return to the campsite, Slyvia splits off and searches for a spot where she can monitor the entire clearing.  She settles on a spot near a tree along the southern perimeter of the camp.  She examines the tree, and makes sure that she can climb it, or use it as cover in a melee, or in case of a storm. She then prepares her bed for the night.


Alani approaches Kjira, Zell, Lucas and Zell.  Darius shape-changes back into his man-form and then the five adventurers have a quiet, brief conference before spliting and moving off to attend to their work. 


When the private conversation is finished, Zell, Darius and Alani disappear into the surrounding forest.  After several minutes, Alani, Zell, Darius and Soft Fang return to the campsite. 


Alani moves to and inspects the pile of boughs and vines that the others have collected under Lucas’ supervision.  Darius aids Slyvia in preparing the deer for cooking. 


Leaving the meat for Kjira to cook, Darius, Lucas and Alani set about constructing camp shelters.  Cyzicus, Kryian, Dolak, and Alric continue to gather materials until the sun sets.


An hour after the sun has set, the three ‘builders’ have finished constructing one shelter for each member of the party.  The only ones to not receive a shelter are Kjira (who has already set-up her small tent) and Tomar and Ori (who have apparently made room in the back of the wagon to sleep). 


All of the shelters are constructed waist-high and adjacent to a large tree or a cluster of smaller trees.  Darius allows enough room in his shelter for himself and Soft Fang.  Zell, in keeping with her need for privacy, selects a spot for her shelter that is somewhat separated from the other party members.


* * * * *


{Meeting of the Minds}


Alani waits for a opportunity for Darius, Kjira, Zell and Lucas to separate from the rest of the group as they go about their duties.  In an inconspicuous but fierce whisper she says to them, “Remember our concerns at the Blackpost's Bench that we were being overpaid for what seemed to be simple caravan duty?  Well, I still have those concerns.  Has anyone actually SEEN the books that our employer claims to be in that cart? As far as I know that back flap has been pulled down for the entire damn trip.  And what or who was this mysterious stranger that you saw, Zell?”


Zell shakes her head in confusion, “I'm not sure, but I do want to say he was a mage of some sort.  Cyzicus and I were to far behind to actually see this figure.”


“What leads you to this assumption, that the man was a mage?” asks Alani.  “His clothes?  Did he have pouches full of spell components and such?  What was he doing when you saw him?”  The elf seems poised to ask even more questions, when she stops and says instead, “Sorry, Zell.  But I can't help but think it's REALLY important. You remember whatever you can and tell us.”


“Only that of his clothing, and him being able to walk away from a beast that Cyzicus and I saw him walk away from,” responds Zell.


Alani pauses for a moment, real concern etched on her pretty face, “I don't think that our employer is being straight with us and we should start doing some investigations of our own.  Is there any spell you can use to ascertain the contents of the wagon, Lucas?”


Kjira listens carefully to Alani's concerns.  “I, too, had the same suspicions,” she says to the group.  “So I took the liberty of doing some investigating while in town.  It never hurts to be too careful.  It seems our friend Tomar is indeed a well-respected book trader, based out of Iriaebor.”


“This is all I was able to find out on him....He is known as ‘Tomar of Iriaebor’ and he does a fairly substantial business in the trading, purchasing, and selling of ancient tomes, lorebooks, and spellbooks.  He is a scholar and is regarded somewhat as an expert in the history of the region and in ancient civilizations that once stood here.  His arrogance is also well reported.”  Kjira grins and winks as she finishes her last sentence.  “I think we can all vouch for that...”


“He visits Berdusk often, according to the bookdealers, and always trades rumors and new information with the shopkeepers.  He has no reported history of crimes or less-than reputable behavior.  He is, however, rumored to be having a steamy love affair with a local – female -- sellsword,” she continues.  “It is, however, still possible that he does other business on the side that no one I spoke with was unaware.  Perhaps it would be best if we could investigate the contents of the wagon.”


“I'm impressed that you sought information on our employer, Kjira” replies Alani softly.  However, it still seems that he could be something else and the 'book merchant' is just a front in town.... we still need to get into that wagon. I'm thinking about a creating a distraction, and then one of us taking a look.  How about it?”


“As for that female warrior....ugh” Alani exclaims.  “She must have been beaten up around the head too many times for her to see straight, if she's with Fatboy.”


“I'd have to agree with that,” she says.  “Ugly AND no personality.  Unless arrogant counts.”


“My brothers taught me never to go anywhere with a strange man,” Kjira continues with a grin on her face.  “Besides, I believe more information is still too little.  The more we know about what we might be getting into, the better off we'll be.  As far as creating a distraction, I think that may be a bit extreme.  Let's see if

Lucas or another spell caster here has some form of magic that can scry into the wagon first.  Or perhaps someone has a tiny familiar that could crawl up in there for us as well.”


Lucas nods to Alani and Kjira.  “I can attempt to detect for magic from the merchants belongings when he goes to relieve himself later this eve.  I don't want to go poking around too much as I think he may have it trapped.  I will attempt to see if I detect anything if you are that curious of his belongings, but I don't expect much deception from the daft big bellied merchant.”


The party members agree to this plan and they split up to return to their duties.


* * * * *


{Zell speaks to Darius and Alani}


Zell turns to Alani, and Darius, “Before the two of you go, I must have a word with you two.”


Zell pulls Darius and Alani out of sight, “Since the two, err, three of you wish to hunt. I want someone to accompany you. I have grown not to trust anyone, but you, friend Alani have given your hand in friendship for the first time that I can remember.  And you Darius I feel that you are truthful."


Zell produces a small wooden object, that of a cheetah like animal.  “Come out and play, Deermanias.”  A gray swirling mass of smoke engulfs the small statuette.  Seconds later, a large black hunting cat appears.  Its tail sways back and forth as it walks behind Zell looking at the other two.  Zell kneels down, “They are friends.  Hunt with them, and don't be greedy.  Return to me if you are severely hurt.” 


Zell stands back up, “I'm sending her with you, just in case something else happens to come along. However, if you see her go down, go to her and pick her up.  She'll revert back to her form, the small statue.  But if she is badly wounded she is to return here, so be cautious if you see her run the other way.”


Alani smiles a quick warm smile at Zell “I too feel a real kinship with you, my friend.”  She glances at the druid, “And you too Darius.  I have been alone for so long, I thank the fates for bring me such companions.”  Looking marvelously at Zell's sleek cat, Alani asks Zell, “Will it understand us if we try to tell it do something or warn it?”


Zell nods, “Yes she will.  But she will warn you if anything should happen.  There are very, very, rare occasions that she is surprised by anything that is near her.”  A half smile can be seen on Zell's face – a first for Alani, and only the second time that Darius has seen her smile.


Darius blushes deeply and mumbles something that the other two cannot understand, but then manages to croak out a “thank you” and “me too”.


The three companions, with Soft Fang in tow, return to the campsite.


* * * * *


The party members consume the meal of fresh meat that Kjira has prepared and then ready themselves to weather-out the storm.  As before, Kjira, Zell, Dolak, and Cyzicus take the first watch of three hours.  The other party members move to their shelters and lay down to get some rest. 

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.

Previous Chapter

Next Chapter

Return to The Sunset Vale Saga main page

Return to Campaign Logs