Shadows of the Mercenary Part 2

It was only a 15 to 20 minute walk to the outskirts of the mercenary camp through fairly open terrain. About halfway there the group heard the sound of horses and saw a scout type character walking in front of a team of four people on horses. The leader of the team looked to be Lt. Expedient, and it appeared the mercenaries had not noticed the group led by Nitram, although it would only be a matter of time if both groups kept on their same courses.

Nitram signaled the group to stop and looked around for someplace to hide. “I think we should find out what they are scouting.”

The mercenary group was about 500 feet away, and the individual assumed to be Lt Expedient had dismounted and was talking with the scout. They appeared to be tracking some kind of trail, and there was enough scrub brush and rocky outcroppings in group’s nearby area to provide plenty of places to hide, at least from this distance.

After watching the exchange between Expedient and the scout, Nitram decided they weren’t threatening the fort. “It looks like they are tracking something. Probably the Cerberus or their dead soldier. Let’s approach.” I hope I don’t regret this he thought to himself. Nitram began walking towards the mercenary group, waiting until it looked like they were looking in his direction. Then, he waved his arms over his head and shouted to the group, “Lt. Expedient!”

Aeron stayed hidden in the brush and rocks, awaiting the results of discussion between Nitram and Lt Expedient. He looked down at his bow in case things did not go well.

At the sound of Nitram’s yell, all of the mercenaries looked up towards the group. The mercenary in the rear of the formation also looked behind his fellows and all around, as if expecting or searching for more individuals. Lt Expedient remounted his horse and with the other horseman, rode cautiously towards Nitram’s position. The scout began moving off towards Nitram’s right, looking to reach slightly higher ground from which to observe the area.

The four horsemen stopped about fifty feet from Nitram and an angry Lt. Expedient asked “What are you doing HERE?” suspiciously. Several of the mercenary soldiers could be noticed loosening their spears, as if readying them, just in case.

Serre choose that moment to bound dramatically from behind the rocks and glide five feet into the air, landing next to Nitram, almost as if posing.

Nitram paused for a moment as if considering exactly how to answer the query, “Do you mean what am I doing here in my lord’s lands surrounding the fort that I am responsible for? Or do you mean what am I doing this close to your camp?” He waited just a moment and patted Serre’s flank before continuing without letting the hobgoblin get a word in. “The answer to the first question is tracking and dispatching a dire Cerberus that we came across on a separate encounter. The answer to your second question is to let you know that it killed one of your men. His body is about a five minutes ride back in that direction, at the mouth of a small ravine. The beast gutted him – apparently just for the sport of it.” Pointing back toward the ravine, Nitram let him absorb what he said and looked around to see if he could determine what they were tracking – the Cerberus or their missing man or something else. survival to check for tracks Nitram nonchalantly looked at the rider, “I might pose the same question to you, but with slightly less presumed authority. What are you and your scout tracking? Do you need any assistance?”

From his hiding spot in the rocky scrub Aeron aimed a small piece of copper wire at Lord Nitram and Merchant Blend. Taking advantage of a pause in the conversation Aeron whispered, “Bow if you want me to engulf the mercenaries in a ball of fire.”

Blend stood calmly feigning indifference. His enchanted sheath made him look completely unarmed and, hopefully, not a threat. However, he took the entire situation and carefully watched for the slightest sign of hostile actions. He also made sure to keep the outlying scout under observation as well.

“Your sarcasm is noted,” Expedient snarled. “But to answer your question, we are tracking a large clawed beast that ambushed one of our watch posts and dragged off our man. I see you have a large clawed beast at your command. Perhaps you did not expect us to track you so soon? And a Cerberus is not large enough to drag off anyone, do you think me a fool?”

From his glance at the tracks Nitram could tell that apparently the mercenary group had been tracking what he knew to be the Cerberus.

“Boy, I wish he was at my command. Fortunately, he is just a friend. If your “tracker” thinks these extremely large wolf-like tracks are actually from a griffon, you might want to find a new scout. Where are the claw tracks? Griffons don’t walk long distances on their hind legs. But, don’t take my word for it. Feel free to observe the bite wound on my leg. Better yet, your man and the dead Cerberus are back at the ravine. I don’t take trophies from animals, but you’re free to keep the carcass. It’s quite extraordinary."
Nitram turned to head back toward the fort, and then turned back to the group, “If you need some help following its tracks, you know where to find me…most of the time. I need to get back and take care of a few things at Farhills.”
“Let’s go Serre. Fly.” Nitram tried to get the griffon in the air and paused for the merc group to ride on.

“I say we have a conversation with deVilliers on the way back,” Blend mentioned to Nitram while looking at Expedient. “Certainly he expects better behavior from his men considering they are guests in this land. Perhaps a reprimand would even be warranted for jeopardizing the hospitality of their host and delaying whatever quest they are tasked to carry out?” Blend raised an eyebrow toward the hobgoblin.

“Speak with deVilliers as you see fit. He would not judge me based on what I have seen so far. Having said that, if what you say is true, perhaps we should follow you to see your evidence. And at least collect the body of our man.”

Lt Expedient mounted his horse and prepared to follow Blend and Nitram. He passed some sort of signal to the scout, who turned and headed back towards the camp. He and the other riders were silent until they reached the ravine and saw the corpse of their fellow mercenary and the corpse of the Cerberus Expedient motioned to two of the mercenaries and they began to collect the remains of their comrade.

Expedient gazed at the Cerberus thoughtfully and commented nonchalantly “The two of you slayed the beast?”

Nitram smiled to himself uncomfortably as he recalled their encounter. “Well, it was mostly Blend. I just held it in place so he could get some good shots in.”

Blend remained as expressionless as ever, as if Nitram commented on the weather. The way he casually regarded the corpse, he might just as well be staring at a rock.

Lt Expedient cast an appraising eye at Nitram and Blend then stepped forward and gave a militaristic hobgoblin half bow. “My apologies, events were misleading, and I was rude.

Once the two mercenaries had bundled up the body of their dead friend, Lt Expedient mounted up and departed the area, heading back to the mercenary camp.

03 Jannissary (Winter) 509 PE (Year of the Ravens)
10am, Waterday

Nitram looked at the Cerberus, then at his leg, then back at the large creature. “I’ve had a slight change of mind. While I don’t agree with taking trophies of wild animals, I’d like to bring this one back to Farhills as a reminder of just how dangerous this area can be – before we add the foulness of ogres, goblinoids, and giant spiders – and the immeasurable value of friends.” “Maybe it’ll help keep me humble, too,” he thought as he began to field dress the beast. “I wonder how Cerberus tastes…”
When he was finished, he grinned and asked Serre, “Any chance you can take this back to the fort?”, fully anticipating he would have to carry the now lighter carcass himself.

Once back at the fort, Nitram inquired about the squad sent to the tower valley. Had they returned? He then spent some time skinning the beast and removing its three heads to create a rug. After the rug was completed, Nitram had it hung near the door exiting the dining hall so everyone could appreciate the area.

Aeron admired Lord Nitram’s handiwork. “I like what you’ve done with the Cerberus. It adds an element of danger to the dining hall beyond the periodic chance of food poisoning. If you let me perform a ritual incantation on the hide, I can use it to create a map to the creature’s lair. I think that creature being raised by goblins had something to do with its homicidal tendencies. If we find its cave there may be a small pack of pups that you can raise to protect the fort.”

Aeron then turned his attention to High Wizard Solde the Grey. “Now that the storm has broken, and the Ansharian mercenaries have left the area, we need to return the High Wizard and Princess Belcadiz to Aelvinwode. We can create a trade route from Farhills into the Vibora Altillo forest along the river. This will intersect the Travail and Septcygne trail and allow trade between the two cities and the fort. We can use the Bagpipes of Building to create the 20 mile road along the western side of the river for added protection from Spider Bramble attacks.”

Blend stoically watched the mercenaries gather their dead man and march off. Then he turned his attention to Nitram as he began to dress the beast. “I wouldn’t eat that,” he said in such a way, it was impossible to tell if he was serious or joking. He found the driest spot nearby, sat down cross-legged and remained that way staring off into the distance until the ranger finished his bloody work and it was time to hike back to Farhills.

Nitram looked at Blend, “Is Cerberus not edible or not tasty?”

Later, Nitram let Aeron perform his ritual, doubtful that the Cerberus had a cave on this side of the portal doors.

05 Jannissary (Winter) 509 PE (Year of the Ravens)
11am, Fireday

As Nitram hung the tanned and cured hide upon the wall of the dinging hall, he was struck by the enormous difference in size between this creature and the other Cerberus they had fought. He recalled his earlier concerns that the creature had been tainted by blood magic, and then gazed down on the hands that had dressed and skinned the slain and bloody creature.

Aeron’s ritual had led to nothing conclusive, as the map he had created showed nothing but the location of the pens at the ogre magi’s tower, presumably showing the creature’s original food source or previous mate.

The returning squad from the tower had reported no further incidents, or encounters during the time they had spent collecting the supplies as directed by Nitram. As with the party, the squad’s search of the pens had shown no further Cerberus in residence. They had collected the urns of strawberry wine the group had found, and it was Aeron’s expert alchemical opinion that the potency of the brew was diminishing, but if they bottled it up now and sealed it, they should be able to preserve much of its healing properties.

Today was Fireday, and from the battlements the group could tell that the mercenary company was prepared and ready to depart in a few hours. A messenger had brought a thank you note from Captain deVilliers, along with several fine portions of game that they had hunted, and a bag of gold.

The rain that had been threatening all morning began to come down in cold sheets, driven by cold wind from the south. Low mist hugged the ground as the mercenaries made their final preparations.

Nitram made his way to the Princess’ chamber to discuss her plans on returning to Aelvinwode – once the merc army had been gone for a bit. “Hopefully, she can wait until tomorrow morning to leave. That should give the Ansharians plenty of time to move away. Maybe the rain will have stopped as well.”

Aeron directed the apprentices to distill and bottle the healing draughts. Once they had made some progress, Aeron tossed a bottle of the most potent healing potion to Merchant Blend. “The healing power of this brew is exceptional. We could keep the 8 most powerful and sell the rest. To the right buyer they could yield 8400 and 4800 gold pieces for the two lesser batches. If we only had a gifted merchant to close the deal.”

“I think it might be in our best interest and that of the fort to have some healing potions on hand here. It may not seem like enough – especially if we are attacked like Rashemon’s Tower was recently – but every little bit helps, I think. We may not always have gifted healers to help us.”

Aeron left Merchant Blend to calculate the margins of the possible potion sale then joined Lord Nitram to hear the plans of their departure for Aelvinwode. Lord Nitram laid out in tedious detail the travel route into the Aelvinwode forest to join the Travail trade route. While he instructed Princess Belcadiz swordsmen in the perimeter security plan, overlapping fields of fire for the elvish archers, and emergency evacuation routes….Aeron took a moment to converse with High Wizard Solde the Grey on the arcane lore of road construction. “High Wizard Solde, have you ever tried your hand at the bagpipes? It is the most sonorous instrument you can find east of the Mist Grove.” Which was tech true, since the only thing east of the Mist Grove was Harpies Peak.

When Nitram approached the Princess’ chamber, the swordsman directed him to the next room over, which had been converted into a sitting room/study for the princess and the high wizard. The princess was in attendance with three of her swordsmen, and greeted Nitram warmly.

The princess agreed that leaving the next day (6th, Starday) would be appropriate.

Aeron got a disdainful look from Solde as the wizard replied sharply “I do not play the bagpipes, why would I? I find your choice of medium for such a profound magical item to be misplaced, somewhat dampening the brilliance of the creation.”

Solde paused. “We should have left today, why didn’t we leave today? What did the Queen say previously about building your road?” Solde began to mumble uncharacteristically and looked slightly pale.

That afternoon a wagon train of shopkeepers and merchants arrived at Fort Farhills, apparently dispatched by Lord duBlade. They were sent to assist the Fort in establishing trade throughout the region, and to support the troops and Nitram with supplies. A few sages and bookkeepers had also tagged along to assist in admin duties. Several of them seemed more interested in Belcadiz tower than the mundane operations of the fort, and they approached Aeron eagerly in conversation.

Aeron actually agreed with Solde the Grey, but was concerned about the High Wizard’s uncharacteristic outbursts. Perhaps he is not completely free of the blood magic ritual that powered the enhanced winter vortex that had surrounded Farhills. I must find out if one of the top three magi of Aelvinwode has been corrupted by blood magic. Aeron took on a very serious tone. “You are quite right. The Bagpipes of Building were a ridiculous bit of Arcanum designed to match a dwarf’s unique qualities. The intent was to leverage the building knowledge of a dwarf engineer with the magical power of material transmutation. It did have some success.” Aeron knocked on the solid walls of Belcadiz Tower that showed perfectly magically hewn stone blocks fitted together with inhuman precision. “But in the end, for all the dwarf’s well seasoned ability…he was unreliable.” Aeron looked directly at High Wizard Solde, “It is funny how a tiny crack hidden in a massive stone can cause it to fail when pressure is applied. Who knows what weakness lurks in the heart of men. We must continuously test ourselves…lest we fail at a critical moment.” Aeron was treading on thin ice. It was widely known that High Wizard Solde could disintegrate a man with a gaze and had more arcane power in his walking stick than many nations had in their wizard’s council. But in the end, Aeron had to know High Wizard Solde was free of the demonic possession. Moving his hands in little practiced divination motions Aeron stared into the High Wizards soul.

It shortly became apparent to Aeron that Solde knew exactly what Aeron was doing. After pausing long enough for Aeron to begin to grow nervous, Solde merely looked him directly in the eye and said “Well?”

Aeron raised his hands and spoke quickly, “Unfortunately, the results are inconclusive. But I never have been very good at reading tea leaves or gazing into a crystal ball. As one of the three High Wizard of Aelvinwode, it would be catastrophic to the people if you were lost. The recent attack on you by the ogre magi reinforces the risk posed to you by being away from Aelvinwode. The fact that our order has suffered a mysterious shortage of apprentices only compounds the matter. We must return you to the Tree of Life post haste. Your role as artificer to the Queen allows Aelvinwode to resist the forces of SpiderBramble. We can never lose our arcane edge or the kingdom will fall.” Aeron bowed and departed High Wizard Solde’s chambers reviewing the newest scribe, alchemist, and apprentice recruits that came to join Belcadiz Tower.

After getting the merchants added and craftsmen settled in Farhills, Nitram spent the rest of the afternoon working forms with Kael Swordhand. They broke for a late dinner, after which the ranger made preparations to escort the Princess back to Aelvinwode. His first stop was to Aeron to discuss the road. “I know you are planning on using the pipes to help construct the road from Farhills to Septcygne. I’m assuming they will just clear the trees and plants from the dirt path’s location.” Nitram unrolled a small map of the area and outlined where he thought the road should go.

“I think we should return the Princess and then on the way back I can take my time and properly survey the area for the best place to put the road. We can connect the trail as we make our way back. Generally speaking, I think it should follow the river for a bit before turn northwest to Farhills.” Nitram indicted by tracing the yellow line on the map. “I’d like to keep it out of the forest as much as possible on the north end to minimize our disturbance of the Aelvinwode. Do you have anything to add?”

Aeron liked the alternate path that Lord Nitram had selected for the trade route. “This is an excellent route that will reduce construction time, improve security, and minimize the impact on the forest.”
Aeron spent the rest of the day seeing into the newly arrived alchemist, scribes, and apprentices, attempting to detect any signs of corruption. Aeron broke the new arrivals into three groups and assigned each group under one of his senior apprentices.

Blend said his farewells to Klakus and set down guidelines for the guild members left behind. He spent the rest of the day meditating, practicing forms, both armed and unarmed and getting ready for the journey the next day.

06 Jannissary (Winter) 509 PE (Year of the Ravens)
06am, Starday

As the sun rose, Lt Gentry was briefing the troops departing with the princess as part of her escort and entourage.

“It is expected to be a clear and cold day, with just a light wind from the south. As you know your course takes you southeast across the scrubland and along the edge of the forest for about two hours. Once you enter the forest you will continue on a southeasterly course until you reach the stream. Follow the banks of the stream southward until you come to the bridge where the elven patrol met you before.”

Lt Gentry paused and then continued “Remember, there is a mercenary company out there and we are not entirely sure what they are up to so be on your toes, particularly before you enter the forest. As usual I expect four soldiers to the front and four to the rear, coordinating with the scouts that will be ranging ahead. The scouts not currently on point will move along the front and flanks of the group on foot.” He paused again. “Sgt Slickster will be in command, under the rule of Lord Nitram of course, Corporal Rufus Tunica will be his second in command and Jagged Leafrunner of the scouts is third. Prepare yourselves for Lord Nitram’s review, we depart at 7am.”

Shylent had appeared near the main gate from wherever she had been relaxing for the last couple of days. She sat on a stump somebody had setup as a chair and used black charcoal to apply new battle tattoos until the party was ready to move out. She looked fairly bored.

Not the battle tattoos again… Nitram thought as he and Serre approached the gate. He began looking around for the rest of the party, specifically the Princess and Solde. Once everyone was assembled and ready, they began the journey. Serre immediately took the air and began to slowly fly large circles around the party. Nitram could tell that he was enjoying himself.

On the way to Aelvinwode, Nitram questioned Aeron on the portals in the tower, “Aeron, do you know how those portals work? Can you try to explain it to me in terms that a commoner would understand? I think we need to explore what’s on the other side of the tower that we fell in, but I’m not sure how to do that without falling again. Would it be possible to tie a rope to something on our side of the portal, and use that rope to prevent us from falling on the other side of the portal?” Nitram thought for a moment. “Maybe we could use the bagpipes to rebuild the floor on the other side….”

Wizard Aeron quickly responded to Lord Nitram, “The tower portal appears to be a continuously active portal. That means, that we could run a rope through it to support someone on the other side…similar to the Rope Trick spell. Alternatively, a brave bagpiper could enter the portal and rapidly play the Bagpipes of Building to construct the stairs under them as they fall…to soften the landing.”

06 Jannissary (Winter) 509 PE (Year of the Ravens)
08am, Starday

The entourage continued uneventfully across the scrub and plains towards the elven forest of Aelvinwode, and skirted along its border in a southerly direction before reaching their standard entry point. The cold frost of the night before was slowly melting off of the grass and trees, and the last remnants made little frost icicles on the tree branches, and caused the delicate spiderwebs on the sides of the trail to sparkle in the sun.

After about an hour of progressing through the woods, one of the elven scouts, Jagged Leafrunner in fact, reported to Nitram and the others that the lead scouts had not returned on time.

Upon investigating the party found the two scouts sleeping quietly under a tree. All attempts to wake them normally proved unsuccessful. Jagged began to curse fluently, causing Shylent to raise an eyebrow in respect.

“Lord Nitram, the scouts have some type of insect bite on their necks, and we have fond a trace of webbing on one of their shoulders.” exclaimed Jagged.

It was at this point that the most perceptive among the party began to hear a faint whispering, seemingly coming from all directions and none at once. Blend spotted a small spider, merely inches across on a branch level with his head, and apparently the voice was coming from it. Blend looked up and around and noticed small delicate spiders to all sides, slipping in and out of the branches, in and among the party.

“Stay and speak with me and my word that none shall be harmed. Attempt to flee without discourse, and perhaps a small tyranthraxus spider that may already be perched on or near the princess shall strike before you can act” whispered a cultured, polite, voice from several directions.

Wizard Aeron cringed at the thought of being threatened by an insect, “It seems the minions of Spider Bramble have encroached far into Aelvinwode. If you know of the Princess then you also know that we travel with High Wizard Solde the Grey. Speak quick before the High Wizard disintegrates you and your cousins.”

Really? I thought Solde was as asset against the Bramble. Why would he give them that information as well? Nitram wondered to himself. “It’s been a while since I’ve spoken to a spider. I am Nitram Tam. How may we address you? Our companions seem to be sleeping – will they wake up?”

The whispering voice seemed to direct its attention to Aeron initially, with the whispering slowly drifting from branch to branch towards Aeron’s side of the entourage in an eerie shifting manner.

“Encroachment is an odd choice of words, but not the current concern. And Solde appears slightly pale, are you well frère Solde? the susurration of little spider voices paused for a second and then came from multiple directions at once, answering both Aeron and Nitram with its reply.

“Address me as you wish, but with the respect I am due. Your companions will awake in minutes, no one has come to any…permanent…harm. I am here to beseech your good nature, and possibly propose a mutually beneficent arrangement.”

“A coterie of elves that I have some fondness for appear to be the subject of some human political maneuverings, and are threatened by the advance of a mercenary company. It is likely the mercenary company could indeed rout the coterie from their home in the forest ruins, at a greater cost than they suspect. I would of course have to respond to those pleas of help from the unjustly maligned druas, and I think no one wants that. It benefits you to settle the dispute, and keep me or revenge seeking druas out of the area of your quaint, if quickly built, fort. That was a surprise I have yet to digest.”

Perfect “So, can the druas relocate? Or do you need them to stay where they are? My guess is that the mercenaries just want the ruins.” Nitram replied, not looking forward to fighting tiny spiders, a mercenary company, or druas.

Aeron was intrigued at coming to the aid of a be leagued elven party, but suspicious of these strange arachnids. “I would address you…if I knew your name. Who do we have the privilege of conversing…and who are these elves that need our assistance. Is it the Alevinwode town of Travail?” Aeron seemed judicious in his words, “I think we can solve this situation. Where do we find these elves?”

The whispers seemed to coalesce to a point under Aeron’s mount momentarily as the voice replied to the questions.

“The druas choose not to relocate, at least so far. After all its their home. As to my name, names have power yes? Besides you haven’t given me yours, and you and I both know who I am.” The voice scattered across the glade as it replied further.

“You would probably not be normally inclined to help the druas, but as they live on your doorstep so to speak, you would eventually have to come to terms with them. And certainly a massacre like the mercenaries are planning is not your modus operandi? You could gain friends and keep me from having to intervene. Win win yes? If you choose to assist me in this manner, find the map on my loyal servants body”

With those last words, there was a crackling sound as hundreds of little spiders burned up in tiny sparks of flame, and faint little puffs of smoke could bee seen around the entourage. There was a larger plume of smoke suddenly rising from a dense clump of brush beyond some rocks about 75 feet away.

Nitram signaled to Sgt Slickster and the elves to stay with the Princess and gestured for Aeron, Shylent and Blend to follow him. “We might as well see what this map says.” Nitram began moving in the direction of the smoke, expecting the others to move to flanking positions.

Just past the rocks, the group could smell the stench of burning hair. Rounding cautiously past the clump of bushes beyond which the remnants of the plume of smoke were rising, the group saw a horrific sight.

A large pony sized spider lay sprawled across the moss covered forest floor. Where the head of the spider would be grew a grayish humanoid torso, complete with head and arms. The creatures body seemed to be burning internally and would be consumed by the flames in mere moments. Clutched in one hand was a leather case that was oddly untouched by flame or fire.

The smell of the burning hair/fur of the creature was nauseating, and even Serre involuntarily flinched and pulled back in disgust, leaving the investigation to Nitram and the others. Shylent merely pulled a warm scarf out of her pocket and wrapped it around her face and nose. She began tapping her foot and looked at the three “heroes” expectantly.

Blend shrugged and if he was affected by the stench, his face did not betray and disgust or discomfort. He walked up to the corpse and grabbed for the leather case.

As Blend grabbed the case, the rest of the corpse disintegrated into ash with a final puff of smoke. The leather case appeared to be a somewhat standard map case, and didn’t appear to be rigged or trapped in any fashion.

Inside was a map of what was presumably the area that the polite spidery voice was talking about.

“Does anyone find it a coincidence that we just hosted a mercenary company at Farhills and now we are being asked to interfere in a mercenary operation?” Blend looked at the map for landmarks or anything looked familiar.

“I think that creature was a drider. I’ve heard of them – half man, half spider – but I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting one, thankfully. Aeron, isn’t that what the Spider is rumored to be?”

Nitram looked at the map and then his surroundings. “According to my calculations, if the mercenary company is the one from our fort, we will not beat them to the ruins. We may be able to get there before they are done, however. It seems strange, or at least a little unlikely, that the ‘all-knowing’ Spider thinks we can do anything to stop the mercenaries if they were the ones that left our fort. I think we should finish escorting the Princess – at least to the bridge. That way the elves can take her the rest of the way. She can relay to the Queen what has happened and the threat given by the Spider. What do you think? We may be able to travel at night to catch up as well. The mercenaries most likely won’t have much light left to do anything in the forest – especially against druas.”

Aeron agreed with Nitram, there is no purpose in try to catch the mercenaries from invading the druas camp and it would be folly to bring the princes along. I suspect the real purpose of this diversion to draw our strength away from the princesses escort back to the Aelvinwode capital. I say we continue to escort the Princess to the capital then we can investigate the result of the attack on the ruins.

“Maybe we should see if the Princess or Solde have any opinions. Even if we do not personally go, we can send the rest of the escort. How protected is the Princess within the Aelvinwode compared to within Septcyne? Is there still a significant threat between the bridge and the city?”

The princess thought the whole thing was very exciting. Solde was greatly insistent that the Princess be returned to Septcygne safely, not unceremoniously dumped off at a bridge in the middle of the forest. And the sword masters refused to even let the princess get near the corpse, and remained on full alert, fingering their swords and checking the princess and the area around her for spiders. Carefully of course.

The two scouts seemed to be waking up.

“Aeron, If we brought the Princess back to Septcyne, is there any chance they would give us a ride on their eagles?”

Aeron thought that it was unlikely Aelvinwode would spare the use of its giant eagles from the defense of the Tower of Life. “There is no harm in asking. If they can’t spare three eagles, perhaps we can entreat the Councilor of Magic to teleport us to the ruins. I must visit the library to research the secrets of constructing an Oathbow. I can ask him when I am there. In the end we should be prepared to walk.”

Nitram looked at Aeron oddly. “I understand your desire to research this Oathbow, but I don’t know that we will have that much time to spare. I do agree that the Spider may be trying to separate us from the Princess, so maybe we should escort them all the way to Septcyne. I would be surprised if the creature respected us that much. My suspicion is that he needs us to stop the bloodshed at the ruins. Blend, what do you think?”

06 Jannissary (Winter) 509 PE (Year of the Ravens)
4pm, Starday

Shadows of the Mercenary Part 2

Unconquered Kingdoms xLucix