By Brian Flood
Chapter 16 - A Plea Unheeded
Along the Uldoon Trail
Within the Reaching Woods, The Sunset Vale
Late Morning, 25th Day of Eleint, Year of the Tankard (1370 DR)
Kryian says to Cecil, “You'll be needing to give us a moment to consider your adventurous 'offer'.” Kryian then motions for the group, without Tomar or Ori, to move away from prying ears before they talk.
Once the party has moves a safe distance away, he continues, “I believe it really isn't our decision as to whether or not we help that 'little one.' We were hired to do a job, and as much as a diversion from these dreary deadfalls would be a thrill... it's not our decision -- besides, what in the seven seas IS that thing anyway? I'm willing to bet a barrel of the best that the 'two-footer's' troubles are more than he's selling to us.” As he speaks, Kryian continues to fidget with “Stardust's” pommel, scanning this new woodland suprise for any hint of suspicious activity.
”And, while we are alone,” he continues. “I wanted to make a suggestion that we try, subtly mind ya, to find out what exaxtly we are guarding. As much as I need the coin, there is a limit as to the chances we should take. And as for Zell... I don't think we're finished with that suspicious sea-hag just yet.”
”Dolak is right,” Cyzicus says. “We have to make provisions for guarding this wagon. I must lend a hand to this traveler if I'm to be true to my path. I would like a couple of folks to come along, while the others protect the wagons. What say you?”
Turning to the others Lucas suggests, “I think it would be up to Tomar if we are to help the wee one. We are in his service til he releases us. Darius, do you want to ask Tomar if he wishes to delay his shipment to aid this wee person?”
“This does put us in something of a bind,” Kjira says hesitantly, looking around at the others. “While we are indeed in the employ of the good Tomar, we are also duty-bound to assist those in need.”
”Would you have fellow travelers ignore our plea for help if we found ourselves in the same predicament as friend Treemoss here?” the lady mage asks. “What if the other night we had sought assistance from other travelers and they kept on their way because they were employed otherwise? While I remain dedicated to my task of delivering this wagon safely to its destination, I cannot do so with a clear conscience by leaving this little fellow in his current plight...”
moves over to stand near Cyzicus. “With Tomar's leave, I would like to
help you. Perhaps the party
could take a lunch break and rest while we investigate this matter?”
mighta' been a bit rash in suggesting we forget about the tadpole and his
problems,” Kryian adds. “I'm
just thinkin' that if we do 'elp Treemoss we mightent be wantin' some worldly
details as to the trouble he has -- and what he is if one of the crew
knows…..But I do believe that I've signed on board with me
captains (nodding) Mr. Tomar and Mr. Darius... and truly I'll say 'aye' to whatever they order.”
“I'll stay here,” says Alric. “I am too weak to fight, and do not want to injure myself further. Anyway, during an attack, I fear I may not be able lift my weapons let alone swing them.”
Lucas adds to his earlier remarks, saying, “I will aid if our employer is willing to stop long enough to check the situation out as well.”
moves off to the side with the group, leaving Tomar, Ori and Cecil near the
wagons. After letting everyone
voice their opinion, he ponders for a moment, reaching down to scratch Soft-Fang
behind the ears, then speaks to the group.
“Cecil is a leprechaun. They do not normally mix with us large folk.
In fact they are rather fanatical about not doing so.
While not blatantly evil, they are a greedy and self serving folk, and I
do not trust them. I do not believe
that we should leave Tomar, with just Ori, Dolak and our two wounded companions,
and I do not think we should split up. There is something wrong with this
request, and we need to get on with our business of escorting Tomar to his
destination. Be wary as I tell our
decision to Cecil.”
Turning from the group, Darius quietly walks over to Cecil, with Soft Fang padding behind him. “We understand your plight, but we cannot help you at this time.”
Cecil’s face twists in a momentary flash of utter disappointment. His shoulders slump slightly and then, without a word, he disappears.
“What the....”,says Alric. “Did everyone see that, or am I still sick??” He looks stricken, as if he's seen a ghost.
Slyvia looks curiously at Darius, her eyes thoughtful. She nods hers head as her posture indicates that she will abide by his decision. She resumes her place in the formation, waiting for the others to head out. She keeps her bow readied as she scans the surrounding treeline.
After a few more moments of silence, Tomar says. “Well then, I suppose we should be going.” The merchant nods at Ori who, in turn, snaps the reigns leading to the draft horses. The wagon begins moving again and the others fall in tow behind it. Tomar appears thoughtful as the wagon pulls away; he glances from the spot where Cecil stood just minutes ago and then back to the party members. Then, he raises his eyebrows and sits back still lost deep in thought.
The moderate drizzle continues through the day as the party continues westward along the Uldoon Trail through the Reaching Woods. Because of the damp weather, the party foregoes the usual lunch break and continues marching. As evening looms near, the party settles in for another night along the trail.
* * * * *
Afternoon, 25th Day of Eleint, Year of the Tankard (1370 DR)
Darius repeats his nightly ritual and magically scans upwind for game animals. Locating none by magic, he and the hunting party (less Alani who is still wounded) set out to forage for plants and water. They return just under an hour later with a small sack full of edible berries. Unfortunately, they report finding no fresh water source nearby.
The drizzle ceases as the light that filters through the trees becomes dim with the coming of nightfall. After he returns, Darius changes the dressings on Alric and Alani. The druid diagnoses that the wounds of both are healing slowly and will most likely mend eventually. But, he reasons, without magical aid, there will be severe scarring. This fact is obviously particularly stressing to Alani who has a large amount of scar tissue forming on her face where the troll struck her.
Meanwhile, Dolak manages to start a small fire. Soon, the party members are gathered around the little blaze to eat yet another meager meal of bland trail rations and discuss the day’s events.
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