By Brian Flood
Chapter 53 - The Journey Resumes
Campsite along the Dusk Road
Between Asbravn and Hluthvar, The Sunset Vale
Late Afternoon, 5th Day of Marpenoth; Year of the Tankard (1370 DR)
Without a sound, the amber field that has surrounded Lucas for the past day is dispelled into nothingness. The mage rocks backward and utters a small yelp, continuing the movement he began when the spell struck him. Then, catching his breath and gathering his composure, he blinks his eyes and looks around the group that surrounds him. He discerns concerned looks on some faces and touches of anger or scorn on other visages.
Seeing the amber prison disappear, Alani smiles broadly. "Lucas, are you alright?" the young scout asks, genuinely concerned for the mage's well being. "I thought for sure we would never get you out of the field."
As Lucas regains his composure, Alani moves to the pile of stuff that was taken off the Zhentarim witch. Bending down, the young scout begins to sift through the items, separating the different items into small piles.
She looks to the group and asks, "Well how are we going to divvy these things up?"
Lucas blinks as he sits back up still moving slowly due to his wounds. Looking at everyone around him, Lucas addresses Alani, "What happened? Last thing I remember was a snake like thing attacking me. How long have I been asleep?"
"That snake like thing that attacked you was some sort of trap on the witch's spellbook," Alani says in response to Lucas' question. "After it hit you, you became trapped in some sort of amber prison. A prison that resisted any attempt we made to free you. You have been trapped for about a day now."
Pointing to the hole behind Lucas the elven scout continues. "We were attempting to try you load you into a wagon, but Kjira found a dispel spell on a scroll we found on the witch - who was sent by the Black Network."
Turning her attention back to the pile of equipment Alani continues separating the items. "This is the rest of the stuff we found on her," Alani tells to the red-robed mage.
"Consider yourself lucky," Kjira adds as she rerolls the scroll. "You gained an extra day of youth the rest of lost trying to pry you out of that amber prison."
"But to give you the condensed version," she continues, "after you were...encapsulated...we discovered some interesting revelations amongst the witch's belongings. Apparently she was a paid Zhentarim assassin hired to eliminate the ever-obliging Master Tomar here," the lady mage points to the recently healed book merchant.
"Corax, why don't you show Lucas the scroll...the one of the Zhents hiring the sorceress. I'm sure Lucas would like to read it."
She continues on while waiting for Corax to produce the document. "Master Tomar professes to have no idea as to why the Zhents would want him dead, other than perhaps asking about some caravan. Other than that, he's been pretty insistent about being a harmless book merchant."
"Aside from spending the last day or so trying to free you from this simple but effective trap," Kjira concludes, "that's about the sum of it. Might I suggest you be a little less hasty next time when examining the...loot."
Turning to address the party, Lucas speaks. "Sorry if the trap I triggered caused any strife. I must say thanks to everyone for helping free me. It seems as if I was trapped for only a few seconds. I didn't think the witch would have been so devious, but that was a neat spell. I wonder if it is in her book. I shall have to research what is within it once I am rested."
Looking around and seeing the witch's things scattered in a loose pile, the conjurer continues. "Let's gather up the witch's belongings and place them in Dolak's wagon. I for one am in need of some sleep still. As for the witch's contract, it seems the Zhentarim think that our employer is involved with 'Those that Harp'. Hmmm We shall have to discuss this further in the morning and on the trail I think."
After all the others have had their say, Darius approaches Lucas. "You are still greviously wounded. Please sit still a moment whilst I call upon Silvanus to heal you wounds." When Lucas lets Darius know that he is ready to sit still for a minute, the druid calls upon the blessing of Silvanus and closes up some of the wounds on the young mage. Darius also takes out his herb bag and binds that those wounds that are still.
"Now that you are out from the amber light, we should be moving along," the druid says. "Sir Elmont, will your men be ready to move out in the morning? And the rest of us, we will need a good night's sleep so we can continue our journey with Master Tomar."
The big giff nods at Darius' question. "Indeed. We will be ready - we are always ready," he says simply. The Helmite crusader then turns his attention to his men, issuing orders for the night's guard watch and other duties.
Seeing that Elmont is setting up his men to pull a guard shift, Darius speaks to the rest of the group. "We need to get back into a routine again. Although for tonite, I suggest we let Lucas and Cyzicus rest the night as they are still sorely wounded, even with two days rest. I will take last watch as my norm."
"You are right Darius, we do need to get back into our routine and with the extra man power," Alani responds, motioning towards Elmont and his men. "I see no reason why Lucas and Cy can't get the extra rest they need," she adds as she picks up the dead raven by its feet.
"And if no one has a use for this thing I also see no reason for it to be in the camp." Tossing the dead bird away from the campsite, the elven scout continues. "But why should we put the rest of the witch's stuff away? Some of it is magical and surly we can find some use for it." She picks up the robe. "Like this for instance - couldn't one of you mages use this or the dagger? And surely these potions will have some use. I don't know, but it sure seems a shame to put away something that may prove useful. But then again, I could be wrong," Alani says, shrugging her shoulders.
The elf returns to her bedroll. Taking out her spellbook, she adds, "I too will stand my usual watch." Opening her book, the young elf begins to study her spells.
After waiting through several long minutes of silence, and with no further objections evident, Corax proceeds with Lucas' earlier suggestion. The rogue gathers the pile of the witch's belongings and loads the items onto the dwarf's cart. Then, he moves to his bedroll and emulates the rest of the party as they prepare for a night's sleep.
* * * * *
Early Morning, 6th Day of Marpenoth; Year of the Tankard (1370 DR)
The party awakens to a new day after a night of uninterrupted sleep. The spellcasters move away from the campfire, as is their habit, to study and pray for their respective spells. After a handful of candlemarks they return.
As the travelers begin to break camp, Alani goes about the site, making sure nothing is left behind. Going to the hole that was dug in the attempt to move Lucas when he was trapped in his amber prison, the scout picks up Ori's spade and pick and returns them to the merchant henchman.
"Thank you Ori. And I will find a way to repay you for the use of the wand," Alani says with a bow.
When the group has gathered, Elmont speaks. "My soldiers are ready for the march," the giff announces. "Two will ride to the fore and two to the rear. The brigands of these lands know the Hluthvar militia - a show of force should be sufficient to deter them."
Turning to look at Cyzicus, who sits near the fire with Simon at his side, Elmont continues. "I thought about your earlier question, my friend. I believe that High Ward Maurandyr, my commander in Hluthvar, will take the boy in as a member of Helm's church. As I will not be accompanying you past Hluthvar, I will sponsor the young lad my self. I have watched him these past two days - he is responding well to your training and has promise as a warrior of Helm's Watchful Eye in his future."
Returning his gaze to the group, Elmont asks, "Before we move out, are there any unsettled issues that need to be addressed?"
Drawing her attention to the party, the elven scout addresses the group. "I think we keep to the routine of travel we have used do far." She motions towards the armed militia and says, "Elmont and his men are a great boon indeed - but they won't be we us after Hluthvar."
Alani continues speaking as she makes the last adjustment of her pack and weapons. "Also I could do some hunting in the evening before we stop for a night's rest while Darius and I are scouting ahead," she says as she tightens the laces on her boots.
Cy moves over to Simon and asks, "What do you think of Sir Elmont's suggestion Simon? I am sure they can teach you much more than I, as I have just graduated basic training myself. I also know that Helm's tenets closely follow Arvoreen's in that they both believe in keeping a watchful eye and defending the weak."
The boy's gaze switches from Cyzicus to the huge crusader and then back to the halfling. "I, I, I guess it would be alright," he says, somewhat in awe of the whole situation.
"Good, it's settled then," Cy responds.
"Well, it looks like our employer is still wounded badly. I will call upon Silvanus to help heal his wounds, and bind the rest," declares Darius. The young druid walks over to Tomar, and prays to Silvanus that his wounds be closed. Inspecting the results of the blessing, Darius then pulls out some herbs and bandages and binds the more serious of the remaining wounds.
Seeing that Master Tomar is still weak, Cyzicus also donates a healing blessing to the cause. The halfling approaches Master Tomar and says, "Let me help you. Oh mighty Arvoreen, pass your blessed healing on this one that was injured by our poor defense."
Turning to Alani, Darius the druid then asks, "Shall we go hunting tonight when camp is struck, as is our usual routine?"
"I wouldn't miss it for the world Darius," Alani says with a wink to the young druid. Motioning over to Soft Fang, she asks, "How fare his wounds?" A glint of hope in her eyes as the young elf has learned the advantage of hunting with the two. "Soft Fang will be able to join us as we scout and hunt?" Looking to the wolf, Alani awaits Darius' response.
Darius nods in affirmative. With the completion of a few additional tasks, the caravan is ready to depart. Nodding his assent at this assessment, Elmont gestures for his soldiers to take their positions. With a nod from the large giff, the small band resumes its journey northward, putting distance between themselves and the grave of the mysterious mage assassin.
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.
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