By Brian Flood
Chapter 23 - Leaving the Inn
The Bear’s Den Inn
Along the Uldoon Trail, The Sunset Vale
Morning, 28th Day of Eleint; Year of the Tankard (1370 DR)
The party awakens the next day and
meets in the taproom of the Bear’s Den Inn. Over a complimentary meal of
cheese and bread provided by Autur, they begin to discuss their activities of
the previous evening and the days of travel remaining before them.
stretches her aching muscles when she enters the taproom.
“Greeting all!” she cheerily sings out with a big smile. She
sits down and starts to eat with the others.
“Morning all!” declares Alani cheerily to those that have gathered in the taproom. “Alaric, Darius and I spent the night in the courtyard. It didn't turn out to be as uncomfortable as I thought it would. And it's best not to get used to a bed....makes the hard ground of the trail much harder to take.”
as Alani finishes speaking, Alric stumbles in. He walks slowly over to a empty
chair. “Morning.... *snore*
all.... *snore*.” Alric falls
Kjira watches the spectacle formerly known as Alric stumble in the room and promptly pass out in a nearby chair. She glances around at her conscious companions. “And here I thought Kryian was the one having all the fun last night!”
“Ah, to be under the stars, the cool air, the rain and the dew. True beauty," Darius says with a grin as he walks in with Fang by his side.
“Its nice to be able to get a decent night of sleep,” Slyvia blurts out between bites of food. After swallowing several more mouthfuls, she asks, “Well, what do you guys think, will we be able to make good time today?
“I'd almost rather not leave,” Kjira sighs. “It’s sooo much more comfortable here than on the road.” Then the lady mage puts her hand to her coinpurse and frowns. “But this won't let me hang around!”
grabs some of the bread and cheese on offer and begins munching on it quickly.
“Speaking of the trail, did anyone find out anything that may be of
value to us? The only thing of note that we uncovered was that the
Harvestfest is a big deal in Asbravn and there'll be plenty of farmers bringing
in their goods from far and wide to sell in the markets. There'll also be plenty of drinking and dancing.”
The elf's slanted eyes light up at the latter.
Darius sits at the table and orders eggs and some fried potatoes. Once the order arrives, he tosses a potato or two to Soft Fang. The wolf lays his head on Darius' lap. “You know this is no good for you !” the druid says to the Soft Fang with a chuckle as he strokes the wolf’s head.
Responding to Slyvia’s question, Darius says, “I think we can. The rest was needed and well deserved.”
Dolak decends the stairs with his axe in his hand and his ruck on his back. Hearing the conversation taking place, he adds “Yes, 'tis time we get back on the road. We have many more miles to cover before we see the next town. The traveller I spoke with last night did not have any significant warnings to pass along to me. Hopefully that means this part of our trip will be relatively quiet.”
to form, Cyzicus passes those who are already awake with a quick and simple nod
as he moves to the stables to check on Charger, his warhorse (read pony).
The party has realised over the past few days of travel that Cyzicus
halfling is quite easy to get along with as long as one does not speak to him in
the morning. He never seems grumpy
- just unwilling to talk. It's as if he recognizes that he would be unpleasant
if he opened his mouth too much before highsun, so he keeps it shut of his own
The red robed mage says very little as he joins the others for breakfast. After finishing his meal, Lucas remarks, “Well, I hate to leave the comforts of real beds and food, but we must get going if we are to make an early start today.”
am eager to be on the road. This
inn was a pleasant enough interlude,” says Alani as she throws a glance at
Kryian. “At least of some of us
anyway,” she says softly. “So
let's pack up the caravan and get going! What say you Master Tomar?”
The bookdealer, with Ori at his side smiles pleasantly. “I believe you are right, Miss Alani. Once all of you have finished your meal, we will proceed. Ori, can you check on the wagon?”
Ori nods wordlessly and excuses himself from the table. He exits the taproom by the front door, headed to the barn.
After breaking his fast, Dolak follows Cyzicus and Ori’s lead and walks out to the stable to take care of his pony and mule.
us settle the bill and move out,” Darius says as he finishes his breakfast.
He feeds the last scrambled
egg to Fang. Wiping his mouth, the druid takes out a few coppers for a tip  and pays the bill for breakfast.
The rest of the party finishes their morningfeast and heads to the door. Autur opens the portal for them, saying, “It has been our pleasure to host you. Please stop again on your next journey.”
Ori waits in the courtyard, the wagon hitched and ready. Cyzicus and Dolak also stand nearby, their mounts are packed and ready for the journey. One of the stableboys appears leading Kjira’s mule, thus completing the assembly.
Moving into their familiar marching order, the band of adventurers exits through the gate doors, which are held open by one of the inn’s guards. The guard nods curtly to the group as they pass through and then closes the doors behind them.
The small caravan reaches the road and turns east to continue their journey. Once again, a slight drizzle mars an otherwise comfortable travel day. Traveling through the day, the party takes in the view of the vast grasslands that stretch to the horizon on either side of the road.
* * * * *
Late Afternoon, 28th Day of Eleint
Stopping for the evening, the party members perform its habitual duties for establishing camp. Darius and Soft-Fang manage to bring down a deer to supplement the trail rations. Alani and Slyvia return from their expedition devoid of both game or edible plants.
The party consumes a welcome meal of fresh meat and then settles down for another night spent along the Uldoon Trail. The guard roster proceeds according to the set rotation. Alric, Alani, and Lucas take the first three-hour watch; Dolak, Darius, and Slyvia the second; and Cyzicus, Kjira and Kryian the third.
* * * * *
29th Day of Eleint
The night passes uneventfully and the companions awake the next morning slightly damp from the continuous light drizzle. The spellcasters perform their morning rituals while the others pack up the camp. After consuming a breakfast of leftover venison and trail rations, the small band heads out once again.
As the morning travel proceeds, the grasslands of the open plain gradually give way to a new landscape. Vast, verdant stretches of farmland replace the endless sea of tall grass. The occasional stone farmhouse, accompanied by fenced grazing field and wooden barn, dots the scenery as far as the horizon. The well-tended fields, stone fences, and drainage ponds all create an air of tranquility that blankets the fertile countryside.
As the party continues eastward along the Uldoon Trail, it soon becomes evident why there has been so little traffic headed westward. Out in the fields, entire families tend to their crops. The occasional farm hand notices the party and waves; most simply return to their work. And work it is. Fresh produce fills wagons and carts. And all of these goods are headed east, toward Asbravn.
* * * * *
Afternoon, 29th Day of Eleint
In the early afternoon, the party spots a group of mounted horsemen traveling west along the Trail. The group moves slowly but confidently and its members scan the surrounding countryside for threats. From their dress and behavior, it is evident that they are some sort of organized militia. Each member is dressed near identically in a red cloak and shining mail armor. The horsemen ride in a military file, two abreast and six horses long, with a single member riding to the fore.
As the party spies them, the small band is stopped in the center of the road. The lead horseman is leaning over his saddle, apparently holding a conversation with a slightly soiled middle-aged man who stands near the road. The man is dressed in earth tones and rests his chin on his upright pitchfork as he talks to the patrol. After a few more moments, the patrol and the farm hand exchange nods and waves and the patrol continues toward the party.
The mounted band travels at a walk toward the small caravan. As they get nearer, each can be seen to carry a spear in his or her hand. A sword rides on each horseman’s belt, and a quiver of arrows is lashed to each horse’s saddle. They stop about a bow’s shot from the caravan’s main body. The leader raises a hand in a gesture of parley and then that figure and two other horsemen ride forward to stop about one hundred paces from the lead scouts – Alani, Darius, and Soft Fang.
“Well,” Tomar says, “I guess I should go out to meet them. Since he has only two others, I will go forward with our scouts.” The merchant steps down from his seat on the wagon and walks forward to where the two scouts and Soft Fang wait. Then, the threesome moves to meet with the contingent from the riders.
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