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Li takes a few breaths as he hold his bow in one hand and an arrow in the other. He never stopped to put them away as he retreated. His eyes look to the kid and the others. They are cold to say the least.
For now. Though, I wonder if that was by our luck or their intention. Ur-Agal, that archer missed his first shot intentionally. I saw him re-adjust his shot right before shooting. Until that moment he had it trained on your heart, and was more than ready to take the shot.
I don't like this situation one bit. They let us get away once the brat came running. As cruel as it sounds, I think we should give him some rations and send him on his way. He will slow us down, and there is no guarantee that he isn't one of them.
They know us, and know we wouldn't abandon someone we thought was a helpless innocent. It gives them a perfect chance to keep track of us and learn our weaknesses. That way they can take us with minimal effort, or sabotage our efforts here, or even worse infiltrate the abbey.
Almost right after they stop, Vir-Sashi, who doesn't look to be as tired as everybody else, runs towards Necahual and gives her a big bear hug.
"We were afraid we won't see you again!" He yells and starts crying, still hugging his friend. He is so happy about finding their teammate, that he doesn't care how silly it must look like.
"You're going to just... leave me here? To die?" His lip begins to quiver a bit as he looks toward Nechahual for aid. "Tell em! Tell em how you busted us out!"
He holds out a pleading hand toward Li, "Look, you don't have to take me to the monastery. Just take me home, back to Cliffside Vale. My dad's a farmer there. I got lost in the woods when I was out playing and the bandits caught me. I just want to go home! I didn't do anything wrong! I just want to go home!"
Coanoch says to the others, "Now, now. Who said anything about leaving him to fend for himself in the woods? Everyone knows where the abbey is, so that's no secret. I offer to have him camp just outside while we ask the master to give him food and water and to send him to the next nearest town."
He looks to the boy, "As for Cliffside Vale .... "
Li looks to the kid. His eyes far from sympathetic.
Cliffside is no more. Everyone there is dead...down to the last. Hell some of the buildings are just rubble after a wizard's trap went off. You are the last of your village. Seems the bandits did you a kindness kid. They unknowing saved your life. If you are going to cry, do it at night when you are alone and safe. There is no time for it here and now.
The only kindness I offer, is to take those feelings, and use them. That pain and anger you feel. Take it and use it. Use it to fuel your studies and training. Every time you want to fall and quit, remember them...remember them being taken from you. Let the power of those emotions pick you up and keep you pressing on. Don't give in to the recklessness it brings with it, but use its strength to keep you alive. Never forget how you feel right now. Never forget them either. To do so is to lose it all.
The boy sits there as stunned as if someone had slapped him. He clenches his fists and looks down.
"That's what the bandits said happened." He growls through gritted teeth. "I've kept going this whole time because I refused to believe them."
Ur-Agal, silent until now, steps forward, offering a look of sympathy towards the boy. "It is the goal of the monastery to avenge the fallen at Cliffside and to see that a tragedy like this never happens again. I am sorry for your loss."
He turns to Necahual. "How did you escape from that place?"
Ur-Agal looks from the boy, to Li, to Coanancoch, and then to the tangled bear hug of Vir-Sashi and Necahual with an expression of mounting confusion.
"Perhaps we can sort all this out once we've found a suitable hiding place. I hate to say it, but I think we need to camp for the night. We are all exhausted and there are wounds that need to be treated if we wish to avoid disease from infection."
After twenty or so minutes of scouting, he returns. "I found a cave... more of an abandoned den or hollow, really, but as a shelter and hiding place, it seems decent, and dark enough to get some sleep. We can camp there until we've at least gotten some rest, eaten some food and stitched some wounds."
He guides you to the cave, and has to crouch quite a bit to step inside. "It is not huge, but it is bigger on the inside that it looks. What do you think?"
"I'll take the first watch." Says Vir-Sashi, who seems too happy they reunited with a lost friend at least, too concerned they might get attacked at the night and too little concerned with how exhausted he himself is.
Li looks to the cave wearily. Then shakes out the need for rest that began to clutter his mind. Preparations needed to be done before any of them could rest.
Looks fine enough. I don't care who takes watch aside Necahual or the brat. Not be mean but I don't like this situation, or trust the details of our escape. Until we are done and back at the abbey, I don't want either of them left alone.
I will go make a perimeter so no one sneaks up on us too easily. If someone will start up a meal, that would be great. No sense in making everyone eat over salted jerky again. Maybe we will get lucky and sleep through the night with mercs, fey, alaghi, treents, or some other forsaken thing trying to kill or eat us...just maybe.
Ur-Agal lights a torch and steps further inside. The cave opens up to a fairly nice sized den, roughly the size of a four man tent. Once the vermin scatter, he clears a spot for bedding and takes a deeper survey of the chamber.
"We may have to defend this spot from other animals. I believe this was a den for something. It only has the one opening, and the cave doesn't go very deep. I'm nervous about starting a fire. If bandits and alaghi are looking for us, a campfire would send a smoke trail they could easily follow.
I know what plants and fruits are safe to eat here. I can forage for us. That way we wouldn't have to cook. I'm sure you all would like an opportunity to reunite with your comrade, and I wouldn't mind some time to scout the area further anyway."
If no one has any other requests of Ur-Agal, he wonders off into the woods.
Look Vir, I don't like what I said any more than you do, but you didn't see what I did. They has archers hidden in the woods with trained shots on the lot of you. The one closest to me had one lined up withh Ur-Agal's heart for your entire chat.
There was some communication between them and bandits waiting further down. Right before Necahual and the brat came running the archer deliberately changed his shot to fall short of Ur-Agal.
Then I shot the bastard. At no point did they scramble, their aim didn't improve, we didn't run into the back end of an ambush ring. That means they wanted us to escape. After Necahual and the brat joined us, they wanted us to get away, but look like we escaped.
I don't know why, but it stands to reason that they have their reasons and those reasons lie with our newly rejoined ally and an unknown kid. Until we are out of here, and somewhere with sufficient reinforcements i don't want to take unnecessary risks.
"Maybe they wanted us to think that? Or send a spy after us?" Vir-Sashi asks. "My point is that what you is is not enough to distrust them, until you'll find soild evidence I would like you to stop acting like that."
Li begins to walk off to set up a perimeter turning his back to Vir.
Sorry Vir, I've been in similar before. This entire situations reeks that we are being set up. I am not dropping my guard for any reason. This isn't a situations where good will is gonna see us to the end. These aren't a few disorganized goblins that we ambushed.
We are on unfamiliar terrain witht threats on all sides. This isn't the time to trust easily, or act naively. Those things will only serve us get us maimed at best, and killed at worst. I don't know about you, but I am not willing to go through that...again.
The boy sits quietly, staring off into space as if still in shock. After a while, he just curls up and goes to sleep.
Ur-Agal returns after an hour with an ample supply of nuts, seeds and berries to eat. He also found some delicious herbs and roots; it's enough to feed the group.
"I have the supplies we need for dinner. And I found some curative herbs. They do not do much, but they can dull the pain of injury a bit."
He looks to Vir-Sashi, "You called first watch correct? Then I shall claim the last watch, so I can prepare us some breakfast before we head out. That leaves you taking watch after Necahual, Li. Is that okay with everyone?"
After setting up a 50ft perimeter around the cave mouth using the candle whicks and bells Li returns. He looks exhausted, and isn't in much the mood to argue anymore. Most of them don't understand the situation as he does. They haven't been in it before, so their naivete can't be helped. Hopefully, things work out.
He looks to Ur-Agal and just nods his head. With that he activates the last stone on his belt to heal himself (2d8) of his wounds. Then grabbing some jerky from his pack stuffs a piece in his mouth.
He heads out of the cave towards the shrubs a short distance from the entrance. As he passes Vir he tosses him the rest of the bag of jerky. Eating small amounts over time will help to stave off sleep. Best we try to not fall asleep during watches. If you hear the bells don't investigate alone...we don't need anymore comrades disappearing, and I'd rather none of us die.
With that he would go find a suitable patch of plant matter about 10ft from the entrance to sleep under...if sleep wound claim him.
The day passes rather quietly for a change. Aside from the twitter of birds, the scurrying of small animals and the buzzing of insects, the only sign of activity you see is a bored Dire Boar that trudges through the woods, kicking up dirt and rocks with its large tusks and meaty snout. It never crosses your perimeter, and never pays you any head, but at 12 feet long and over 2000 lbs, its passing is truly a sight that is difficult to ignore.
Necahual and Coanacoch?:
The woods here really can be quite beautiful when it's not trying to kill you: rolling hills, massive trees, majestic or curious fauna, and a thin blanket of frost and snow which diminishes more each day into tiny streams that feed some distant pond or river.
Yet, in spite of its serenity, you can't escape the feeling that you're being watched, a kind of paranoia that is easy to become accustomed in this place by now. Your paranoia, however, is eventually rewarded when the air about you gets densely moist with a strange mist.
Out of that mist comes a man, tall and handsome with shining mail armor and flowing white hair that moves with a supernatural grace, as if it were weightless. His eyes are strikingly blue, but the truly notable detail is what he seems to be carrying... it's a girl child clad in a gown of flower petals. She has a stubby nose and and dark blonde hair, slightly more brownish than the color of hay. Her right eye is bruised, but she seems otherwise fine.
He sets her down gently, and turns to leave.
If you attempt to stop him, don't read on:
The mist thickens about him and he vanishes into the woods.
I'll post for the rest of the watch tomorrow when I know what you do during your shifts for what I've posted. If you post nothing, I'll assume your characters do nothing.
The person stops as the mist surrounds him, and turns to face you. His features are weird and beautiful, but appear generally human. In fact, a casual observer might think he was human, but the subtle difference give away his magical or supernatural nature. With sparkling blue eyes that shimmer like a river, full soft lips, he would seem effeminate, if not for his rugged face and square jaw covered in a thick white beard. He seems a bit apprehensive when first addressed, but then he takes a breath and responds softly. "The Petals found the girl child lost in the woods. She has been muttering something about monks and one called 'Nicahol.' Since you are the only monks to come near my waters for many years, I assumed that she belongs to you."
The mist continues to gather around him as he recesses quietly into the woods.
You recognize the girl from the bandit camp. She's the one that was hanging around you when you were caged.
Her sleep seems unnatural and although she doesn't seem harmed, she doesn't stir even when addressed.
Vir-Sashi is amazed by the sight of such large and certainly very powerful boar. After seeing him he prepares some nuts and other things that he thinks a boar would like to eat, in case he would appear again.
Tilmek lays down and closes his eyes. His hours of silence and observation have given him time to try to understand what has happened. "I can keep watch before Ur-Agal." he says, his voice cracking with disuse.
Necahual now has a girl child cuddling up to her. The boy is still sleeping in a corner, and there appear to be a pile of nuts, berries, and mushrooms sitting just outside the perimeter of your string-and-bell alarm trap.
Tilmek has finally collapsed from his meditation and is snoring softly.