By Brian Flood
Chapter 40 - Suggestions and Decisions
Along the Dusk Road
North of Asbravn, The Sunset Vale
Mid-Afternoon, 2nd Day of Marpenoth; Year of the Tankard (1370 DR)
The small band of adventurers proceeds slowly and cautiously down the dirt trail leading to the farmhouse. Weapons stand ready and eyes scan the ground warily, looking for any signs of further subterranean surprises.
A few minutes later, Darius and Soft Fang once again arrive at the edge of the hole that lies just a few paces from the door to the farmhouse. Soft Fang sniffs the edge of the hole and growls softly. Sensing no new danger from his wolf companion, Darius leans over and looks into the hole.
The druid can see that the five-foot wide hole drops straight into the earth about ten feet or so. At that point, it appears to angle off as a southward-heading tunnel.
"What do you see Darius?" Alani asks as she walks over to the druid.
"The hole drops straight down for about ten feet," the druid replies. "Then angles off in that direction," he continues, pointing to the south. "Soft Fang is still wary about the blood smell. There may be another down there; we need to be careful. What next Lucas?"
"I'll scout the hole and see where the tunnel leads," offers Alani.
Lucas ponders the discovery of the tunnel a moment. "I still think we should clear all above ground first," he proposes, "especially as it is getting dark soon. Once we have cleared everything as we planned then we can discuss going underground. What do the rest of you think?"
"I agree Lucas," replies Darius, "but we will probably have to go underground later to insure that there are no more of them."
"The approaching darkness is a concern," Kjira begins when the druid has finished. "I don't think any of us would like to get caught by one of these beasts while camping tonight."
"I'm not sure we could travel far enough to guarantee safety if another one of those beasts is lurking below...perhaps it would be best if Alani were to scout out the hole while another group finished clearing the buildings above ground. I think the possibility rather slim that we'll find another one of these creatures above ground."
"In any case," she continues, "we need to maximize our manpower resources to utilize what daylight remains effectively so we can secure a camp for the night. I think Master Tomar would be rather annoyed if his cargo were swallowed whole by one of the beasts!"
"Cleared all?" asks Alani, her face creasing in puzzlement. She gestures at the deserted farm. "Those ankheg things seem to live underground. The clearing's going to have to be done underground rather than up here, if you're worried, as I was, about an attack while we camp and rest."
Then with an impatient sigh and a shake of her pretty head she says, "Someone pass me a damn rope."
Lucas frowns in Alani's direction. "We are trying to discern if all is truly abandoned above ground while everyone can see in the daylight remaining. So please, get back in line and help us finish clearing the farmstead; then we can let you go scout out the hole." With that said, Lucas motions for the scouts to move out and start clearing the remaining farm area.
Darius motions to Soft Fang to start moving slowly down the right side of the road towards the farmhouse. The druid moves to the left side of the road and continues on.
"Belay that Darius," Alani says to the druid. "You've got to be joking" she replies in amazement, turning to Lucas. "Scouting isn't done in a damn LINE. If anything, it's in SKIRMISH formation."
Continuing on she says, less heatedly, "If you want things 'cleared', you first have to establish whether there's anything to clear, surely? So shouldn't you scout first, then clear? And you still haven't answered my earlier question: these things live underground, so why are we 'clearing' aboveground again? If there's any survivors, I hardly think that you need the entire party moving in a nice line to find and help them, do you?"
Cyzicus speaks up saying, "Alani, I do not think you or anyone should go in the tunnel alone. If there are more ... what did Darius call them…ankhegs?… down there, anyone alone would surely be shredded."
Lucas halts to turn back to Alani's objection once again. "Look, we are wasting daylight. I thought we had learned our lesson on splitting up a while back ago." Turning to the rest of the party, he continues, "Lets take a quick vote on what we want to do while we still have some remaining lightfall. I vote to scout the remaining farmstead as we planned earlier before the critter so rudely interrupted us. I also would like to propose that we discuss the leadership of the party's decision-making process after this is all done. While I have sorta stepped into the leadership position, we need to clarify this position.
"I am willing to listen to everyone for input and suggestions, but once a decision is made, we need to execute the decision. First, lets finish this exploration of the farm, then tonight we can discuss how we may better function as a united party effort. How do the rest of you vote?"
The lady mage stifles a yawn at all this talking instead of action and turns to head back out. "Let's check the buildings quickly and then get back to Tomar and Ori...we need to speak with them about preparing a camp, as well.
"Perhaps a few scouts can check each building quickly ahead of the rest of us, who can do a more thorough search behind them. We should be able to cover ground quickly that way. Or," she continues, "we can go as one big group, I don't care. But we need to do it quickly - night will be falling soon and we're forgetting our obligation to our employer. I'm sure he's not eager to be paying for farm extermination whilst he and his wares sit exposed in the middle of the road!"
Lucas nods to Kjira. "We shall stay together in case we do encounter another beastie. Let's get started so we can finish all the quicker." The red-robed mage nods to the leading group to start towards the next part of the farm to inspect.
"Aye, let's see what's what around this farm," Dolak says before falling in with the group heading to the buildings. "The darkness will n' have an effect on us when we go down in the tunnel later. It'll be dark down there regardless."
"Well what are we waiting for?" Cyzicus adds. "The day's not getting any younger."
Alani blinks at her companions' comments and shrugs when she sees that they are committed to Lucas' strategy. She rejoins the group, unslings her bow, nocks an arrow, and follows Darius' lead.
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