War and Pieces part 2

Rumil, the senior scout squad leaders, and the elven envoy met to sup after a long day of training. They had been encouraging Rumil to take his leave and return to the homeland for a few days now – and their call for this path was not waning with time.

The elves, while faithful to the mission, wanted to refresh their ranks, supplies, and provide news to the familes that lost kin. They felt it would be inappropriate to travel without the banisher of the fire beast, however, and felt that the safety of the keep would not be an issue.

Their argument was beginning to make sense. Rumil had been away too long – he needed to see his brothers, and aid in the troop replacement. It was decided…

Rumil approached Nitram and informed him that he and the elves would be departing for a fortnight – maybe less. He did not wish to abandon these humans during such a troubling time, but his People came first. “We depart, but only to strengthen our numbers, replenish our weapons and supplies, and update the Queen and any that will listen to the current situation. We wish you and the remaining forces all blessings and may Corellon keep you safe.”

With that, he turned and headed to the west with the elven forces as dusk approached. The party packed light, to remain agile, and kept the healer in the center of the standard scouting formation built for speed.

Nitram agreed that it was a good idea for them to spend some time in Aelvinwode. “Please don’t depart until I find you again,” the ranger asked. I’ll meet you at the gate shortly." Nitram departed to the heart of the fort. After a short while Rumil saw the ranger approaching the gate with a small packhorse loaded with saddlebags. He handed the horse’s lead to Rumil, “Use what’s in the bags to see if you can entice some more scouts to our cause. I’m not sure how much the Queen will be able to help us stay at full strength, so you can be a little generous…but, not too generous. Good luck and safe travels.”

Rumil looked at the ranger quizzically. “Thank you Nitram for this offer. I am not certain what the Queen will decide, but I will present your gift to her Majesty, as is appropriate. The horse, however, is not needed.” Rumil simply looked at the head of his scout detachment, signaled to the horse, and without a word, they moved forward, removed the bags, divided and secured the gold on their persons, and formed back up. Rumil did not have a single doubt that the entire amount would be there at the end – but he did not for a second doubt that the pack animal would slow them down and draw unwanted attention.

With that, Rumil clasped Nitram’s arm in elven tradition, “Until we meet again,” turned and walked off, scouts in tow.

Aeron, who had not noticed the scouts leaving, waited until everyone was in one room and proceeded (with much lecturing on the intricacy and elaborate techniques required) to demonstrate his latest creation, handing out six single earrings.
Once he was finished with his speech, he turned to Blend and said with a smile and a somewhat arrogant complacence, “Does this meet your needs noble merchant?”

The journey back to the elven court took less than a day. The “trail” blazed for the trade route was easy to follow, and curved gently through the pleasant areas of the forest. Although Rumil did notice several turns and climbs where units could be positioned to overlook the road, and interdict as needed. It was an easy trail, suitable for small wagons and carts, ideal for a local trade route, but a large invading force would be hard pressed to maintain its cohesion during any fighting advance.

A little over half the way to the capital, a small rest stop and trading center had been set up, in the same location that the road from Travail crossed the river. This was apparently where goods coming and going from Fort Farhills would be exchanged.

That afternoon, Rumil reached the capital of Alevinwode, Septcygne. Over the course of the next 10 days, the squad leaders followed his direction, while Rumil conducted his business with the families of the slain and the other local leaders and teachers he knew. (you determine the cost and the tithe, Renown is now raised to 2.)

The Queen was slightly amused to hear of Rumil’s exploits, and he was allowed to meet with her and tell his tales himself. She directed the defenders to assign another squad to assist Rumil in the local defense. She then however, raised an eye and mentioned something about every leader needs to learn how to “play the game” and work to gain the resources they need, balancing their obligations as they did. Hearing of the burial of the fallen brethren in the woods near Farhills, and of “Lord” Nitram and Rumil’s request for a memorial, she also directed the Treespeaker to dispatch a novice to care for the “grove”.

After further discussion with Rumil, she asked a mischievous smile “Your turn”

Nitram had absolutely no problem at all picking up Frederick’s tracks as they headed into the forested hills west of the fort. The area was secluded, and not an area many people other than random scouts had ever passed through. To Nitram it looked like the bard was meandering across the terrain without a care in the world.

Oddly though, it appeared to Nitram that the bard’s tracks were beginning to fade. Not as in disappear, but more like Frederick was accidental stepping in the right place at the right time to leave almost no trace. A flat rock here, dry earth there, through a small stream, etc. If it had been deliberate, Nitram would have been able to tell, but no…this was just more peculiar. Nitram looked at the sky and his surroundings. He knew exactly where he was, but for the life of him, he couldn’t tell where the bard was going…yet.

Frederick made his way along, listening to the pull almost like it was a song that he’d been listening to for most of his life. As he walked, he attempted to sing in harmony with it, and he hoped that it wasn’t a trap. It didn’t feel like a trap, but the best traps usually didn’t.

Frederick was not entirely sure where he was. Oh, he could likely retrace his way back to the fort, that was easy enough. But exactly where he was in this “maze” of forested hills and small ravines. Not entirely sure.

After traveling up though another vine covered ravine with a pretty litttle stream sparkling back past him down the grassy hill and through the looming trees, Frederick entered into a small sinkhole surrounded by 20 foot high rocky and earth walls. The sinkhole was about sixty feet across, with a forty foot wide pool directly in the center. for a moment Frederick though he saw a pale blue feminine figure that reminded him of Nitram’s sprite in the center of the pool. But when he blinked she was gone, if she had ever been there.

Frederick, with his newly awakened senses, could tell that this spot was a source of natural power, of the type that flowed across the land and similar to the ley lines Aeron speak of “charging” up the ship. and similar to the streams of magic that the dragon reputedly used, tweaking and pulling the power from its lair.

“Hello? If there is someone there, and wishes to communicate, I’m unfortunately human and lacking in the extra senses necessary for communication.”

Frederick made his way to the pool, not entirely certain what to do from here. As he waited for any contact, he opened the Book and skimmed through it, seeing if there was anything referencing power sources and how to utilize them. Or, at the very least, how to keep them from exploding his brain or summoning a legion of dark elves with long hair and swords.

Setting the Book back into his pack, Frederick opened himself fully to the source of power. He raised his voice in song, calling upon the soul of the land and the history of those who had lived and would live on it. He was a speck in a sliver of the cosmos, but his song would be heard.

A surge of power flared up and answered Frederick’s call. After the surge faded, he felt a bond to the land and specifically the pool and its waters. Eventually Frederick turned and headed back towards the fort. No matter how he tried to head directly to the fort, his steps seemed to meander. Eventually he shook it off and began moving quickly and steadily towards the area of Fort Farhills, when he was surprised to suddenly meet Nitram.

War and Pieces part 2

Unconquered Kingdoms SkidAce