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The voice calls out again, a more rustic tone becoming recognizable, something you'd hear more frequently on a farm than in the Underdark. A veil of mild annoyance fails to conceal the tinge of uncertainty underlying it.
"Yer friend, eh? Rough place ta lose a friend."
There is the sound of something being dragged back from the far end of the bridge, accompanied by audible metallic footfalls, as if the owner of the voice is trying to move further away from the light.
""Feel free ta answer my first question when ya get the chance. I ain't in any rush."
Lissa has been straining to see the source of the voice- on tiptoes, leaning out over the side of the bridge- without much success. She sighs, irritated. "Man, the Gray Cousins got all the good gifts. Why didn't we at least get darkvision instead of low-light?"
As the gnome hears Achkby chanting the familiar words of dancing lights (one of the three cantrips Lissa can cast), she grins, shoves the everburning torch into her belt, and raises her loaded crossbow to point toward the voice. Just in case...
(OOC: Ready action to fire if the other party proves hostile. Lissa will NOT initiate combat, unless one of the senior party members- Darius, Aeroz, Sedryn- orders her to fire first.)
The dancing lights blink into existence 100 ft away from Achkby, illuminating the far end of the rope bridge.
A short but broad-shouldered half-orc, clad in plate mail, stands on the opposite ledge 120 ft away. His body seems somewhat misshapen and asymmetric, but he moves surprisingly gracefully, drawing back an arrow that he already had nocked on the string of his longbow.
Hajih lies at his feet, bound and gagged, but otherwise appearing to be unhurt.
A few seconds pass as both sides wait for the other to make the first move.
The orc seems thouroughly stunned by the sudden appearance of the lights. His head cants forward slightly, squinting forward awkwardly, though his bow remains at ready.
He growls the low sound audible over a distance, before barking a choppy response, "Yeah, light, swell. I'm still waiting."
His concern seems legitimate, as he seems unable to clearly see you over the distance. His gritted expression betrays a tired wariness and suspicion. Either way, he doesn't seem inclined to back down, waiting out the standoff tensely.
The half-orc tracks Darius as he moves closer, more out of caution than overt hostility. *Oddly enough, as the man closes, he seems to become less tense as opposed to more.
Eventually, he drops his aim, relaxing his bow, though he makes no move to unstring the arrow.
Up closer, Lumpy is visibly bedraggled, wet dirty, and beaten up. *He looks tired and irritable, a half-hearted scowl still directed across the bridge towards the others. *Finally, he calls out again, though his tone has lightened somewhat.
"Well, if the rest'a ya ain't dark elves, or what have ya, ya'd do better ta come where I can see ya. *Unless ya'd rather leave yer friend tied up all day. *Or something nasty comes this way, whichever happens first"
The wary rogue follows her companions across, sure-footed even on the swaying rope bridge. *She keeps her crossbow at the ready, not bothering to put a hand down on the guide-ropes. *Not the most stable bridge I've ever crossed, but by Baravar it beats balancing on a windowsill!
Lissa stops a few feet away, peering distrustfully at the half-orc over her crossbow. *"So if you're friendly and all, why have you got Hajih trussed up there like a roast? *He's certainly no drow. *And neither are we."
Lumpy shrugs, almost casually in response to Darius' question, "A week, mebbe two? Hard ta tell when everything's in black and white. I'm running out'a food, anyway."
He slings his bow, replacing the arrow in it's quiver in a practiced maneuver, seemingly content with the makeup of the party, before kneeling to unbind Hajih. He leaves his eyes on the others, obviously not quite beyond his doubts,That's a house rule down here. Act first, figger things out later. Best way ta stay alive. And don't go anywhere alone." He flicks a meaningful glance back down at Hajih as if for emphasis, before continuing, "So what brings a colorful bunch like yerselves down here? That Svirf got ya on a fool's errand too?"
He finishes with Hajih, stepping back to give him room.
Standing up, Hajih shakes off the rope and stretches a bit before shaking his head. He turns to the half-orc and looses a string of obscenities that would make a long shore man blush.
"...And thatís what I'll do to you if you ever tie me up again." Looking embarrassed for a moment, Hajih turns towards the bridge "did anyone grab my pack or my hawk?" Hajih pauses for a moment before taking a long swig from his flask and glaring menacingly at the half-orc.
Lumpy snorts belligerantly in response to Hajih, before glancing back to Achkby,
"There's a grey gnome in Velprintalar. I WAS on business fer him, but seeing as the rest of the morons he hired have gone and gotten themselves killed by Drow or worse, I call that a moot point."
Lumpy looks for a moment like he doesn't want to say, but then then grunts a grudging affirmative, "Not like it matters anymore anyway. We were s'posed ta take these cloaked women, all secretive-like, through here, across some glimmerwater or something. Apparently, ya can get all the way through ta Telflamm if yer crazy enough."
He shrugs, buying a little time to collect his thoughts, "There was nine'a us that left the Griffon, the women, three'a them, and six others. We made it ta that stupid underground lake, but they were in such a rush, we ran right inta a pack a Dhazzir there. I was the only one with enough sense ta cut and run when things went south. 'Far as I know, they're all dead now, or slaves."
The half-orc indicates that almost any downhill passage from this point on will eventually lead to the shores of the Glimmersea. The trick is not finding the Glimmersea; the trick is getting from here to there without running into any drow slavers (or worse) ...
You rest on the ledge, eating some rations and sipping at your water. You are all almost completely out of drinking water at this point, especially the half-orc who is also completely out of food.
Sedryn volunteers to go back across the bridge, back to the room with the water (and the "beach") to replenish your waterskins (despite the risk). He slings your waterskins over his shoulder and heads back across the swaying rope bridge ...
Lumpy remains standing, alternating between watching the others eat, and staring into the darkness, his sharp gaze making out the surroudings even beyond the range of lights. He appears unwilling to ask the others for any help, despite his own lack of food and almost seems to miss Aeroz' question, out of focus as he is,
Sheyra generously offers to share her food with Lumpy. The incongruity of the petite human girl sharing her meager rations with the large, battle-scarred half-orc seems not at all out of place here, deep in the Underdark.
Sedryn keeps one of the everyburning torches held high in one hand as he cautiously makes his way back across the rope bridge. Achkby follows close behind.
You party has been extremely lucky not to have encountered any significant danger so far in the Underdark (except for Lumpy). Unfortunately, your party's luck has just run out ...
Sedryn freezes about halfway across the bridge. "There's someone there!" The rope bridge sways gently as he and Achkby peer intently at the far end of the bridge. It is hard to make out who or what is waiting at the far end, but there's no question that Sedryn and Achkby are sitting ducks as they stand in the middle of the rope bridge with the everburning torch ...
The orc accepts Sheyra's offered food with an almost surprised look, and a few awkwardly rumbled thanks. He doesn't waste much time eating, downing what little food there is in a few gulps. For a moment, he seems almost content, but his content expression reverts to its dour norm as Aeroz jumps to action,
"What're ya all worked up over now, elf?"
He follows Aeroz' gaze with his own, but is unable to see through the darkness at such a great distance. Warily, he begins to approach their end of the bridge, hoping to bring whatever the problem is within range of his darkvision. He leaves his weapons slung, but seems ready to jump for them if needed.