By Brian Flood
Chapter 15 - The Little People
Along the Uldoon Trail
Within the Reaching Woods, The Sunset Vale
Noon, 24th Day of Eleint, Year of the Tankard (1370 DR)
Kjira plods one weary foot in front of another as the party finally comes to a halt near the running brook. While the others check on the wounded or begin to eat, Kjira walks her mule over the brook and begins the difficult chore of refilling her water kegs. Lifting one down at a time, she deftly removes the bung and sets the keg down in the shallow of the brook to fill. Once done, she replaces the stopper and carefully heaves the keg back on to the mule's back and proceeds to the next one until all the kegs are full.
With that done, she ties the mule to a nearby tree. Taking a wooden cup from her pack, she fills it with some of the fresh water and then makes her way over to the fire. She plops down, her mind dull and her body weary from the events of the previous night. Reaching into her back again, she pulls out some bland trail rations and a hunk of cheese. Cutting off small bits here and there, she munches on the cheese and rations while her feet rest.
“Well, I'm sure we've all had better days,” she grumbles over lunch. “We've got several wounded and one that seems to have vanished. And no one seemed to know what the hell was going on last night. I shudder
to think what would have happened if we'd been facing organized, intelligent foes...”
Lucas nods to Kjira. “Yes after thinking about the last battle it proves we must try and coordinate our efforts a little better. Several of our wounded members almost bled to death while we were trying to burn the trolls. Let us hope we see no more of such ilk on our journey.”
Slyvia smiles wanly. The long hard night seems to have taken a toll on the half-elven maid. She raises her hand and speaks. “Well, last night was rough. It’s good that we did not lose anyone but Zell, but we need to be more coordinated if we are attacked. Maybe we can come up with some type of plan? It would help us not to get confused if we all were on the same page.” Then, Slyvia pauses, and looks around to see what the others think..
Lucas nods in agreement to Slyvia's suggestion. “Aye, a plan of attack would give us some order and advantage over our foe. What do you tactically minded folks think of this?” Lucas starts to eat his meager lunch while he waits for the other party members to respond.
Darius adds, “Yes, I agree with the three of you. If those beasts had more than their unnatural cunning, several of us would be dead -- and many more hurt. There are two things that I would like to talk about and settle before we move on.”
”First is watches,” the druid continues. “Perhaps we need three on a watch and I would like to suggest that Alric, Dolak and Kyrian take separate watches as they seem to be our warriors. Alani, Cyzicus and myself need to be on separate watches as we three have healing spells, and then Lucas, Sylvia and Kjira as wizardly spellcasters to split watches. So I recommend:
- Alric, Alani, and Lucas,
2nd - Dolak, myself, and Sylvia,
3rd - Kyrian, Cyzicus and Kjira.”
“This way each watch has all disciplines and at least one person with infravision. The second thing that we need to do is have someone be battle leader. As I said before I know the way of claw and fang, not fighting with spells and weapons. Alric or Dolak should take this over, or someone else, but we need to have someone coordinate our actions if it is possible.” With that said, the druid sits down and scratches behind Soft-Fangs ears, and waits for others to comment or suggest different alternatives.
Turning to Darius, Lucas responds, “I like this plan. What do you others think?”
“That watch plan sound feasible, but to clarify, my magic lies in the Weave and is not divinely granted,” Alani responds. “I would think that we should start it tomorrow night – I still feel quite weak.” The elf hesitates to regain her strength before continuing. “I promise that I will fulfill my duties once I am fit again. As for last night, I would like to thank all of you for your efforts in saving me.”
Alani pauses again and exhales softly before she continues. “I was not able to view the end of the battle with the……whatever those beasts were. But, if it is leadership we seek, I would vote for continuing with Darius as our leader – even in battle.”
Dolak, Alric, Kryian and Cyzicus all shrug in indifference to the suggestion.
Then, the elven scout frowns. “As for Zell, I am concerned that she left us as she did. I am curious as to what drove her to do so.”
Tomar interjects, saying, “If I may. While the rest of you were defending the campsite – for which I am most grateful, by the way – I noticed that Zell seemed preoccupied with the fire. Then, when that cat disappeared, she appeared to be quite distraught. It would seem that she has some connection with that cat and that it was apparently stronger than her duties to both me – as her employer – and to you as her companions. No matter, it sounds as like you have found some solutions for the incidents last night.”
The party cannot help but notice that Tomar’s demeanor has changed somewhat. His arrogance is greatly deflated and he seems to speak with a guarded respect to the companions.
Lacking any further suggestions or conversation, the party finishes their lunch. After everyone has refilled their waterskins, the companions pack their meager belongings. Lucas steps the side and once again uses his magic to conjure a riding horse for himself. After everyone is ready, small caravan resumes its move eastward through the forest.
* * * * *
Afternoon, 24th Day of Eleint, Year of the Tankard (1370 DR)
The afternoon passes uneventfully and the party eventually locates a small clearing not far off the road – similar to their campsites of previous evenings. As the others prepare the campsite, Darius uses his divine magic to search upwind for animals and locates a group of small animals.
Darius, Soft-Fang, and Slyvia leave in search of game. Alani, still feeling weak, remains at the campsite.
The hunting party returns about one hour later with a string of half a dozen rabbits.
Kjira takes the rabbits and some local herbs that Lucas has gathered and prepares a stew for dinner. The party enjoys a pleasant meal of rabbit stew – supplemented with a small amount of trail rations. After dinner, Darius and Cyzicus change the dressings on the wounded companions. The others move their chosen locations to gain some well-deserved rest.
Lucas stays awake for the first watch. Since Alric and Alani are both injured, Dolak volunteers to stand the watch with the mage. Darius agrees; Darius, Slyvia and Soft-Fang will take the middle watch.
* * * * *
Morning, 25th Day of Eleint, Year of the Tankard (1370 DR)
The night passes without incident and the next morning arrives. As the sun rises, a slow drizzle begins to dampen clothes and gear. Fortunately, however, the temperature once again seems to have risen overnight.
The party quickly breaks their fast and then prepares to continue their movement. Alric and Alani are still seriously wounded, and Darius suggests it is best if they remain in the back of the wagon until their wounds are further healed.
The party resumes its movement along the Uldoon Trail. The party makes good time along the path, despite the slight precipitation. After about an hour, Darius and Soft-Fang appear on the trail ahead of the main body. They are walking down the trail towards the remainder of the group, accompanied by the most peculiar visitor. Darius raises his hand and gestures to those with the wagon, indicating that there is no danger.
Slyvia looks around curiously. Notching an arrow, she keeps her bow close.
Standing only 2’ tall, the newcomer is clad all in green with pointed shoes and a stocking cap. The little man walks briskly for one so small, his red beard wagging left and right as he ambles along. When he gets to within a few feet, the newcomer halts his advance and raises his right hand in a gesture of parley.
Eyeing the party up and down, the little man steps a few inches closer. A few moments pass uncomfortably before the wee fellow speaks. His voice rolls out incredibly deep from his small chest, speaking in heavily accented Common.
“Well met, bold ones,” the man says. “Me name be Cecil Treemoss o’ clan Treemoss, and I be havin’ a need o’ yer services. One o’ me kin be caught by a couple o’ nasty fellows further in the wood. I be alone, as yea can see, and stand little chance o’ freein’ him afore the pair decides to torture him to death. Help me, and yer’ll ever have me gratitude and that o’ clan Treemoss.”
Slyvia bows to the newcomer, “Greeting and well met Cecil o’clan Treemoss.”
Dolak clears his throat, interrupting the silence that follows the man’s request. “Aye, an enticin’ offer we ‘ae ‘ere. But I am none to trustin’ o’ strangers when I’m guardin’ a caravan.” Turning to Darius, the dwarven smith says, “If its none the same to you, Darius, I’ll be stayin’ ‘ere with me cart and Tomar. If’n you decide to ‘elp this littl’ ‘un, I could use some ‘elp with securin’ those of us that stay ‘ere.”
Silence once again falls over the party as they ponder the newcomer’s request and await Darius’ guidance.
waits until Darius is finished, and, before the others begin to discuss, she
looks at Cecil
and quietly speaks... “If our employers allow me, it would be my pleasure to join in and help free
your kin.” Slyvia steps back and waits for the others to decide.
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