Elembivios 04

The Night Caravan

The Village at the End of The Road

Adventure Log >> The Night Caravan >> The Fourth Day of Elembivios

Interior The Knight’s Stables – The Ground Floor Night
Edward Rolland , Squire
Rafferty

The last of the requirements burns about his ear-tips. He needs a familiar to be accepted as an apprentice. He can do everything else. But, until he has that familiar in hand, he cannot even put his name on the roles. He needs that Angel-fire-consuming familiar. He is better than the “real” apprentices. They bring tiny creatures with a fraction of their lifespans – some will not live out their apprenticeships. There has to be a better familiar. There just has to be. If he can find it and bring it back, he would get the coveted spot, which he deserves, as Master Starbreak’s apprentice. Then he can use Starbreak as his professional linage, and then earn the title, “ama’ji”, to be added to the middle of his name. He rolls his name with the embedded title around his tongue and enjoys the sound of it.

There is a problem. To get a worthwhile familiar, he needs to travel outside the Knight’s lands. While usually safe, there exists an unsettling propensity for travelers to suffer from random fauna attacks. He needs muscle to fend off the dangerous and unwanted while bonding with his familiar.

“Edward,” Rafferty speaks the words which have cost him so much “I. Need. … Help.” Explanations and requests for assistance are for lesser practitioners. But here he is without the final necessary ingredient, and the last hour sands are trickling away. He swallows. He has come this far, he has committed too much to be stopped by this last minute requirement. He presses on, "In order to become an apprentice, I need a familiar."

Squire Edward Rolland, the bastard son of a landless knight, nods once as he leans on the mucking broom. In the morning, his gang of misfits will set off on his latest of their grand adventure: to find a familiar for Rafferty. Surely this far from the Capital, there should be something of interest. "Wait here." And, he slips out of the stables.

Exterior The Back of the Residences Over The Outrageous Angel Inn. Night
Edward Rolland , Squire
Kaelo ap Heather

Squire Edward tosses pebbles at the shutters.

One of the sets opens and Kaelo, the daughter of the wealthy tavern owner, appears. Annoyance is plain upon her face which quickly changes to a warm smile. "Good evening, Squire Edward. What brings you to my window on a fair spring night?"

Edward swallows. Even at this distance her presence threatens to overwhelm his tongue. “I’m….” He mentally kicks himself for using the vocal tones from the capital. He drags back his hard won village drawl, "I am going out with a hunting party tomorrow. Will you be our scout?"

She studies him for a moment. Perhaps a hint of disappointment plays about the corners of her mouth. "Very well. An hour before dawn?" and closes the shutters.

Exterior A Hollow in the Endless Sea of Grass Day

Beyond the edge of the Knight’s lands, The Road abruptly turns to dirt and mud and ugly sliding ruts. The grasses grow beyond the vertical reach of men. Insects buzz and humm in the wind ruffled mass of grass. The winter dry stalks rustle and rattle. Anything can hide a few feet beyond the twisted, warped, and washed-out road.

Smoke clings to a roadside hollow even as the stilted breeze waves the ten-foot-tall grasses. Eight smoking husks of caravan wagons, once in a semi-circle, are either on their sides or with twist iron wheel rings spinning in the air. Smoldering, broken crates of rotting meat untouched by flies lay scattered upon the ground. Molten chains cling to scorched skeletons - some human but most monstrous. And metal cages – bent, broken, smashed, and wrenched open – protrude half-buried out of the ground.

Between the wagons and the fire pit, smoking hunks of meat wear smoldering skins of armor.

In the grasses, insects buzz, but within the smokey hollow, silence reins, except for the mewling of a sole survivor – a child.

Edward Rolland , Squire
Kaelo ap Heather
Rafferty
Theodrax
Apolonis , neophyte priest of Solas
Caspin
Magnes
Sparis

Kaelo approaches the hollow and freezes. She surveys the scene. Gestures to the Squire and the slips into the grasses surrounding the hollow.

Squire Edward and his body servant, Magnes, walk upon the scene. A certain sense of excitement builds within Edward — he is far enough away from the capital for something to happen!

Rafferty follows the cries, and Apolonis rushes to check on the fallen.

A few years younger than Edward, Magnes, takes in the sight and upon seeing something becomes shaken.

Edward is about to call them back — those who attacked the caravan might be hiding in the thick, tall grasses waiting to attack the unwary. At least the two guards from the Wizard’s College went with Rafferty.

“Master,” Magnes says in a revere-the-dead whisper. "You can’t drag those unaccustomed to war into potential dangers such as these. Especially a lady. If her mother were to declare her death your fault, she might accomplish that which not even your father can — force a noble-born out of the nobility."

Squire Edward Rolland looks about the hollow, and it is a bit too easy to see Kaelo, with her blond hair charred black, laying upon the ground, and smoldering, but he holds his tongue.

Nothing disturbs the grasses about the hollow’s edges.

Edward studies Magnes for a moment; his man has never spoken thus before.

As a man not allowed to carry weapons, Magnes has always been cautious even as he enjoys these outings, and he even praises the adventure Kaelo would bring into Edward’s life. Through it all, Magnes never shows any political awareness, and now this.

Edward Rolland , Squire
Rafferty
Theodrax
Caspin
Sparis

Following the cries, Rafferty finds the crying child – not a child in the elven sense but mostly in a troll sense.

Beneath a partially overturn wagon, the reddish brown child cries in pain as it is bruised and battered, chained and caged, with swollen lumps upon its back, and sear markings from heated cage iron on its flesh. It shivers and whines as it curls into a fetal ball inside the ruins of its cage. The troll child looks up at him, fear widens its eyes. It whimpers as it struggles to hide deeper within the cage and under the partially-overturn wagon. It cries out in pain and surrenders to the inevitable.

Rafferty bends down to look more closely at the trollish child. And for some reason the thought, "No one else will have a troll for a familiar," springs to mind. "They live like 400 years in the wild. I would only need one."

And it sure looks like it is begging for help.

“Do ya thin’ we woul’ fin’ mandra’e roo’ ou’ here?” Caspin asks Sparis.

“No, ya bloody idiot,” Sparis snaps back. "There ain’t any blood spilt here. No blood, no mandrake. ’Tis that simple."

“Pity. Ain’ any carro’s either. Say, is tha’ a troll?”

“Course it’s a troll.”

“I though’ they were green, on a coun’ the elf’s bloo’ being green."

“Elven blood ain’t green!”

“Oh. My mis’a’. Sorry, Raffer’y.” Caspin hangs his head and shuffles a bit to the side.

Sparis stares up at the sky and utters an oath ("By the castrated balls of the Angels!"). Then he walks over to Caspin, “I’m sorry.”

Caspin shakes his head, “I don’ know these things.”

“Rafferty,” Squire Edward says. "What are you thinking? Do you want the troll? If you want him, I will pull him out for you."

Rafferty glances at Edward, and waves him back a bit. "I am going to try something," and reaches to open the cage.

While opening the cage, Rafferty begins to form the spell needed to bind the troll-child to him in his mind. How hard can it be? Other, less talented nacent wizards have done it, and certainly something with hands that can walk upright is more useful than a bird or cat. They will see and understand that he deserves the apprenticeship with Master Starbreak.

Apolonis , neophyte priest of Solas

Apolonis kneels beside one of the smoking chunks of meat wrapped within smoldering armor. He stares at the missing features of what should have been its face. Beneath the warped-metal helm, he finds traces of black hair. He sits back on his heels, pulls around his satchel, and pulls the incense, the brazier, and the blessed oil. He chants the prayer of the dead as he dampens his fingers in the blessed oil. He touches the charcoal forehead.

The oil ripples, shimmers, and spreads across the forehead.

Apolonis stares at the oil. “That has never happened before.”

Edward Rolland , Squire
Rafferty
Theodrax
Caspin
Sparis

Taking his time, Rafferty begins to cast the spell that will bind his chosen familiar to him.

The ancient symbols of power drift over his tongue and etch the air between him and the troll. To his eyes, they glitter like jewels strung on a cord from his heart to the beastís heart. And then pain washes back through the strung runes. Anger. Hatred. Puzzlement.

Spells upon spells to diminish, cripple, and prevent press down upon his familiar. The troll child cannot heal the damage done to it and is made less than what it is.

Even through the pain and spells, there is a keen intelligence. “Are you going to hurt me?” asked not as a question but as a gauge of planned intent. In its memories, all it knows is the cage, the spells, the cutting, the pain, and being kept from healing. All creatures on the outside of the cage want to hurt it.

Kaelo ap Heather

Kaelo slips through the wild grasses until she comes upon a wide trail.

At first glance the trail looks old, as the deep human foot prints look as if they were formed in the mud from the autumn rains, and they are deep enough to hold a hint of late winter frost in their shadows.

She carefully steps into the path.

Now Kaelo sees that the path only runs about twenty feet. It connects to the hollow and the smoldering wagons and to a sword-edge straight line of ice clinging to the untrammeled grasses and across the trail of trampled stalks. Glittering icicles form a porticullis shutting out the rest of the Endless Sea of Grass from the trail.

With her feet upon the trail, she sees that the barefoot prints are thrice as long as her foot and thrice as wide. All of the gigantic footprints running away from the hollow vanish at the line of frost etched into the ground. It almost seems that the line of frost chopped away the remaining footprints.

From here, she sees that all of the wagons are scattered away from this path. And then a jet of black flame within the hollow reaches for the sky.

Apolonis

Apolonis screams as black flames erupt from the corpse before him. He tumbles backwards to get away from the unnatural fire. Wide-eyed he stares around the clearing. To him it seems that the other bodies are smoking more. He spins around looking for something, and finally settles for up. "Solas is about to reach his zenith!" he shouts. "He will burn all that is evil! Get away from this place! Get away!" He scrambles to run for The Road.

Kaelo ap Heather

Kaelo crouches along the edge of the very tall grass along the trail (basically ducking for cover….)

Edward Rolland , Squire
Rafferty
Theodrax

“Rafferty,” Edward says watching the jet of black flame. "I think you better hurry up strange things are happening. You might want to get him out the cage and get clear of the area…."

Across the glittering jewels connecting him to this strange elf, Theodrax senses scolls, books, magic, and knowledge scattered as if upon a great floor. Large raging tornadoes of knowledge and thought whirl through, gathering up things needed, and flinging off what isnít. And through that whipping of knowledge, Theodrax feels the rising tide of a massive external spell. One last thing the orb of light had cast over the whole of the caravan ñ a complex binding of fire and sun and things not yet identified by the swirling collections of knowledge.

Theodrax tries to drag himself out of the cage. He looks at Rafferty, clearly puzzled — not hostile; puzzled. “Why would you want my pain?” The black flames coming from the other side of the wagon make him start, and he redoubles his efforts to escape the shattered cage.

Rafferty finally notices the flames encroaching, reaches to assist Theodrax.

As Theodrax reaches the door to the cage, he is pulled up short by the chain attached to his collar. Following the chain, the three of you can see it is attached to a thick ring embedded into one of the timbers of the wagon’s bed. Runes engraved into the collar begin to glow as thick, black smoke begins billowing off the wagon. Another body on the other side of the wagon vanishes in a jet of black flame. Twelve bodies left with two of them visibly smoking.

Edward grabs an ax and runs to the wagon and begins to chop the ring from the wagon. "Pull the chain as I cut it loose from the wagon!" He yells. "Use a piece of leather to grab the chain and pull!"

Rafferty looks about for something to grasp the chain with … gives up and wraps his hands in his cloak, pulling hard on the chain.

With a thunderous roar, a cask laying twenty feet from them erupts with black flame, creates a shallow pit in the ground, and showers them with small rocks and clods of dirt. Loose dirt follows, and dust drifts down over them.

A death glyph on the axe that Edward grabbed begins to glow.

Kaelo ap Heather Apolonis , neophyte priest of Solas

Kaelo circles around the flames. Seeing Rafferty and Edward engaged in insanity, Kaelo makes sure Apolonis is free of the fire.

Kaelo finds Apolonis upon the road staring back at the wagons. He is huddled in a fetal mass and mutters, "Get away. Get away from the Night Caravan. Get away…" over and over again.

When something on the far side of the wagons explodes, he screams and cowers further under his cloak.

From around them, Kaelo hears panicked scratching in the dirt. Probably some creatures’ nest was disturbed by the latest racket, and the inhabitants are digging their way up and away from the loud, ground-shaking noise.

Kaelo grabs Apolonis and shakes him violently. "Company’s coming, and I can’t drag you out of here. You’re right; we need to get out of here. Away from the caravan and away from whatever doesn’t like the noise. GET UP!!!"

Turning towards the rest of the party, she shouts "We’ve got something coming out to play! I don’t think it’s going to be friendly!"

Edward Rolland , Squire
Rafferty
Theodrax
Caspin
Magnes
Sparis

As Rafferty pulls the chain. Ewards starts in with the ax.

The ax bites into the thick beams of the wagon as the ax handle heats up. Edward keeps hitting with the ax until either chain comes loose or the ax explodes. On the fourth swing, the ring comes free of the smoking wagon.

Rafferty tumbles backwards, and the troll scampers free of the cage. And, the troll keeps scampering dragging the chain until he is in the grass. Once the troll reaches cover, the chain stops moving.

“Raffer’y,” Caspin says as he readies his staff. "We ha’e ’rouble. All the ’eath runes are going off."

Scratching sounds come from the ground around the clearing. Lots of scratching sounds.

Another cask vanishes into black flame and showers everyone in the clearing with dirt and pebbles.

Sparis yanks Rafferty to his feet. "Leave the troll. We need to get out of here!"

Somewhere on the other side of the wagon, Magnes, Squire Edward’s body servant, yells, "They are everywhere! Master! Help!"

“We are not leaving without the troll! We cannot…. I have my familiar now," Rafferty says. "Besides, I think it is too late … something is coming. Get ready." Rafferty pulls free and dusts himself off. "Come out of the grass. None of these people will hurt you."

“Maybe not… but I do not want to get any nearer to the fire, or whatever that ‘something’ which you say is coming."

Magnes screams.

Rafferty winces. "I don’t think the grass will be safe much longer…."

Theodrax stands up briefly, to get a look around. "Safer than that clearing with the exploding casks… where do YOU think is safe?"

“In this world?” Rafferty asks. "Saftey is found with friends to guard your back."

Theodrax edges a little further forward, so he can see better. “And if you do not HAVE friends to guard your back?”

Something bites into the back of Theodrax’s leg. He feels some ooze being injected into his calf muscle causing it to cramp painfully (-1 BOD / -1 STUN; -1 DEX). He doesnít see what got his leg among the tall standing grasses and the matted grassy ground cover left from the winter.

Rafferty flinches as feels the pain spark back through the bond (-1 STUN).

Theodrax lashes out at whatever bit him, then scrambles out of the grass.

“Make some… or accept the ones offered.”

“You might have mentioned what was in the grass. What kind of friend plays a trick like that?"

“If I had known, I would have told you, but you have to admit, the grass makes it harder to see what is coming…"

Theodrax curls his lip and grudgingly admits, "It does. But that does not preclude saying ’I think there is something hiding in the grass,’ rather than ‘the grass may be dangerous.’"

“Well, I suppose in the years to come we will have plenty of time for semantic games, you and I, but for now keep an eye out for further danger, as will we all."

Theodrax snorts, and hisses through his teeth, "’Years to come’? Years??? I will be leaving just as soon as all this is over." And he keeps a wary eye out on the grass.

The winter dry grass stalks rattle against each other as shadows flirt among the fallen grasses.

Raffertyís eyes flash, “Stay or go… the bond is in place.”

“I go where I please. THAT for your bond.” He claps his hands together contemptuously.

“Go where you please… but The Bond will always call you.”

Theodrax gives a high, throaty chuckle. "The ‘bond’ will call me? One might as well say the wind will call me ó and give it as much credence."

Rafferty smirks, “You feel it even now… as I can.”

“If you think you can talk me into believing whatever it is you did will hold me, you…." Theodrax sniffs the wind coming from the burning caravan. “Say, that smells good. You hungry too?”

Satisfied Rafferty has the troll, Squire Edward rushes to help Magnes.

Elembivios 04

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