Posted - 03 Oct 2016 : 19:08:41
- The pair joined the departing militia and Tavelle followed a short distance behind Naema. As they passed the first wagon he noted what looked like a dozen long black sacks, stacked on the bed, and realised they were the bodies of the fallen militia sewn into their dark cloaks.
- The wizard briefly closed his eyes to recall Helton at the Unicorn's Charge and the Rider saving his life. He remembered meeting Eventar on his first morning at the barracks and how welcome he'd been made to feel. Tavelle wondered what the Blue-Teats would receive, in the way of their fathers remains, and he grimaced at the memory of the smell of Allam's body on the watchpyre.
- At the thought of cremations the mage turned in the saddle and looked back towards the Lannane farm. He saw a thick pillar of black smoke rising into the air through the mists and berated himself for not finding the time to search the wights thoroughly.
- Tavelle rode past the second wagon and saw a number of bulging sacks, along with an iron-bound strongbox, partially covered by a waxed-canvas tarp. Tavelle nodded to Trentos who held the reins to a pair of horses, "Well met, Sword-in-Mage", said the temple guard with a big grin. Tavelle silently reminded himself it was better than Big Radish and smiled back, "Very clever", he replied.
- Tavelle trailed just behind Naema as they drew near to the Chauntean carriage. It was elegant in design and fashioned of wood the colour of rich honey. The windows had beautiful fretwork shutters, which were fully open, and the body possessed a remarkably well-sprung suspension beneath it. The large spoked wheels ran smoothly, as the horses pulled it along the hedged lane, and the Chauntean pennants fluttered in the breeze.
- The mage saw the impressive brass-bound chest from the tent loaded onto a rear shelf and numerous heavy bags were stacked atop it. He could see a large round shield secured to the side and the broken down parts of the marquee stowed upon the roof.
- Tavelle slowed Fury to match the pace of the carriage and Naema continued onwards to the head of the column. The wizard looked closely from his mount at the dirty and blackened shield which was strapped to the bags. The metal didn't seem to be corroded and Tavelle considered casting a spell to determine whether it held an enchantment.
- The mage took a quick glance about him to see if he was being observed and noticed Tolben riding several feet away. The militiaman gave Tavelle a nod, "Alright?", he asked. Tavelle grinned back, "Yeah, don't mind me, I'm just being nosey", he explained. The militiaman chuckled and gave his mount a gentle dig to draw alongside the wizard, "Strange that it's not all rusted to crap?", he half asked.
- Tavelle nodded in agreement, "That was my first reaction too", and he passed his hand over the item while uttering some arcane words. The large round shield was immediately surrounded by an azure radiance, "Does that mean it's magic?", asked Tolben without taking his eyes from it. Tavelle glanced sideways and smiled at the transfixed militiaman, "Yes, it does", he replied.
- The mage was certain the strength of the enchantment was more potent than the sword Multhimmer had asked him to check.
+2 Large Steel Shield. This circular shield bears numerous blade scars, several minor dents, and the original leather arm straps have long since rotted away. Once cleaned of dirt the faded profile of a rampant red Manticore on a black field can be revealed.
- "I heard they found a shiny spearhead and longsword as well", explained the militiaman, "Loads of silver jewellery, the gold crown, and trade bars too", he continued. Tavelle recalled the beautiful high-spired crown, "What will happen to it all?", asked the wizard. Tolben shrugged, "That's a good question as we don't normally find treasure when we're on patrol. So, I'm wondering if we get a bonus to our pay?". Tavelle looked to the militiaman with wide eyes, "I'm being paid?", he asked in astonishment, and Tolben nodded, "I'd think so?".
I really didn't have much of a clue in regards to how much Tavelle might get paid for his tenday patrol. So, I asked for some ideas back in this scroll and received lots of great advice. It details a discussion on wages, treasure, broadswords, and has Deepchill too.
- The pair heard a horse approach, "What the <censored> are you two doing?", asked Brondar sternly. Tolben visibly paled and looked guiltily into his lap. The mage, however, was genuinely pleased to see the burly fighter, "Am I being paid?", he asked inquisitively. Brondar frowned, "What? I dunno, are you?", replied the Rider, and he stared at the rear shelf of the Chauntean carriage, "Why's that shield glowing blue?". Tolben looked sheepishly to Brondar and gestured to the wizard, "Tavelle did it".
- The mage managed to frown at the militiaman for grassing him up and then looked back to Bron, "Am I being paid?", asked the wizard again. The bearded Rider shook his head and laughed, "<censored> my old boots! Yer may not be from Nereskul's loins but yer definitely his son alright". Tavelle was just about ready to burst, "Come on, am I getting paid?", he asked excitedly.
- Brondar shook his head in exasperation, "You're gonna get a battering", explained the Rider with a smile.
- The wizard shook his head, "Not tonight, Naema says I'm not allowed", grinned Tavelle smugly. Brondar snorted dismissively, "Stuff Naema... I'm gonna teach yer how to fight... Yer all mine now".
- Tavelle was momentarily stunned as he imagined a squashed snuggle wizard having his head bashed in by Beryl. He shook the image away, "Am I being bloody paid for this?", laughed the mage.
- The trio heard the sound of another horse approaching, "What's going on back here? Why's that shield glowing blue?", asked Nelyssa firmly. Brondar looked to the Paladin of Chauntea and pointed at the wizard, "Tavelle did it".
- The Shield cast her eyes over them and Tavelle thought she looked disappointed, "We're the Riders of Mistledale and an escort for the Reverend Harvestmaster... Let's act like one shall we?". Tavelle nodded, he realised the importance of Derim, "Yes, Shield", he replied. "Yes, Shield", said Brondar. "Yes, Shield", said Tolben.
- Nelyssa frowned, shook the reins, and they looked on as she rode off back to the head of the column.
- The wizard watched the paladin ride away and then broke the uncomfortable silence, "So, getting back to the subject at hand... Am I getting paid?", persisted Tavelle.
- "I don't give a rats arse", said Brondar with a smirk, "Keep yer bloody eyes peeled and make yerself useful", and he rode away. The mage looked to Tolben but the militiaman just raised his brow, shrugged, and steered his horse back to his earlier position.
- "Bollocks...", thought the wizard and he wondered who else he might ask. Tavelle rode Fury to the right hand side of the carriage and saw Watchful Brother Xarran had control of the horses. He sat alongside Brother Waylam who was enjoying an early lunch. Tavelle could see, sitting quite comfortably within the enclosed carriage, the Reverend Harvestmaster, Sister Alena, and Erael.
- Tavelle drew alongside and nodded to Erael, "Good morning", he said cheerily. "Morning", she smiled back, "So, are you getting paid?", grinned the sorceress. Tavelle shook his head, "Oh gods! You heard all that?", he asked in horror. The Reverend Harvestmaster looked at the mounted wizard, "Yes we did", laughed Derim, "Did you find out?". Tavelle flushed bright red and shook his head, "Er, no". The Watchful Sister leaned forward and smiled, "I hear there's a magical shield?", she chuckled. Tavelle shrugged guiltily, "I couldn't help myself, I'm inquisitive".
- Erael raised an eyebrow, "I thought I heard you say nosey?".
- "Yeah, that too", admitted the mage with a resigned sigh.
- Tavelle shook his head and decided to excuse himself, "My apologies. I'm supposed to be acting as an escort for you, Reverend Harvestmaster, I'd best not get distracted". The wizard nodded to the passengers within the carriage and Fury trotted forwards to position himself in front of the team horses.
- As the sun approached its peak Tavelle had a rummage around in his saddlebags and found his trail rations. It consisted of a canvas bag of fat sultanas, a heavy flatbread loaf, a dozen baked biscuits, and some dried beef strips.
- The wizard noted some dark grey clouds were approaching and the wind was beginning to pick up. He broke off a small corner of the bread, popped it into his mouth, and took in the view of the rolling green fields. Tavelle tilted his head and looked up to the sky, searching for aerial threats. There were only the clouds to be seen and he tracked their approach by the shadows sweeping over the land. Tavelle noticed a pair of robber-wings watching some rabbits from the top of a sad-looking willow tree. He watched the shady looking pair for as long as he was able to keep them in sight as he rode by.
- The mage turned his mind to Erael's new Broadsword and considered the length of time Deepchill had rested within the Barrow. He wondered what the sentient sword had seen prior to its internment. The wizard smiled as he recalled all the times he'd come across some antique brooch, or ring, and wanted to know more about its history, "Well, this time it can answer...", thought Tavelle.
- Numerous questions raced through his mind, "How long had it been in the tomb? Who wielded the sword before it came to Vinjarek? Who'd enchanted the mighty blade? Does it have any experience fighting Night Dragons? Would the weapon even be aware it was part of a prophecy?". Tavelle shook his head and decided to let Erael bond with Deepchill in peace... His curiosity would have to wait.
- The wizard heard a distant horn call, from the direction of the Lannane farm, and immediately recognised the higher pitch as the sound from the Horn of Quickening.
- As the mage rode ahead of the Chauntean wagon he thought of all the things he had planned upon his return to the tower. "A Cloak of Warmth", pondered Tavelle, "It would save me having to memorise an Endure Elements every day". The wizard shook his head and silently scolded himself for not taking the time to craft some silver trinkets for Multhimmer. He had numerous half-finished pieces but had either lost interest in them, or started work on something else. Tavelle tried to work out what he might get paid, for his tenday patrol, and came to the conclusion it might not be a lot.
- The mage then attempted to estimate how much the impressive Wyvern's fang could sell for. He really didn't want to part with it as he desperately wanted to keep it for his shelf of random junk. Tavelle shook his head as he chewed a sultana and thought about whether Vinjarek's arm would fit.
- The wizard concluded to repair the twisted pin on the Mistran clasp. He would then ask Kerryn if she would make him a cloak, worthy of enchanting, in exchange for it, "Seeing how I'm broke and she's already ruined their names", he reasoned. He then tried a biscuit... it was like a small, baked, ingot... hard and unyielding... so the mage lobbed it over a hedge in disgust.
- Tavelle felt a spot of rain hit his forehead and a few moments later a heavy downpour started. "A water repellant Cloak of Warmth", corrected the wizard as he futilely attempted to raise the hood of a cloak he wasn't wearing. The torrential shower was brief but it continued to rain steadily until the clouds had passed overhead. A drenched Tavelle decided to annoy himself further by thinking of more items as he dried himself off with numerous Cantrips... A Silver Dragon Brooch of Shielding for himself... One use Message and Mount trinkets for the Riders...
"Oh, <censored>!", said Tavelle's owner, "I'm an idiot".
- The mage blinked hard a few times before it hit him like a slap in the face... He didn't have the carved rams horn trinket, or the strip of cured blessed leather... He had discarded both of the burned items during his cold bath. The wizard shook his head at his stupidity as both spells were already memorised. He couldn't summon the Battering Ram and there was no chance of a Mage Armour. Tavelle shook his head again and even his ponytail began to wind him up, "I need to give myself a stern talking to, I'm supposed to be a bloody genius, and why in the Nine Hells was my hand on fire anyway?", he thought angrily.
- The wizard had thrown away his pair of gloves, which were provided as part of the militia uniform, as one of them had been irreparably damaged by flames. Tavelle hoped he wouldn't be expected to purchase another pair and they would be replaced for free. After all, they were damaged in the line of duty and he was nearly broke.
- The fuming mage watched a small group of militia, with an Eagle Owl flying overhead, depart to ensure the Selmer farmstead was safe for their return. Lanneth and the half dozen men rode southeast at a gallop and he lost sight of them as they went behind a stand of silver birch trees.
- The caravan entered the border of Dumic's ranch around mid afternoon and Tavelle saw herds of shaggy cattle grazing in the fenced fields. His eyes returned to the skies, searching for wyverns, as he remembered the story of the prize bull being stolen away. Tavelle consoled himself that he could at least convert the two spells into Magical Missiles but was still upset over his uncharacteristic error.
- A horn call, signalling a patrol returning, was sounded from the front of the column and the wizard saw two riders gallop off to announce their arrival. The mage could see a drifting trail of grey chimney smoke rising lazily in the distance. After a time he could make out people returning from working in the fields and numerous farm buildings on the horizon. Many carried large baskets of turnips as they walked down the grass path and others wheeled barrows of cabbages. Tavelle's nose twitched at the smell of cooking food from the homestead and he wondered what was for dinner.
- The farmers assembled along the grass road between the stretch of fields to greet the Riders and they happily received the Reverend Harvestmaster. The harvest was being loaded onto an oversized wagon, with steep sides, and a team of Mistran Punch horses waited placidly for their next command. As the mage rode past the four massively built chestnut stallions he realised Fury was larger than all of them, "Have they given me a Shire Horse?", wondered the wizard.
The DM did his utmost not to faceplant the table.
- Tavelle watched the farmers reaction to the Chauntean carriage and noted the respect and love they had for the old priest. They formed what seemed to be a brown and beige coloured honour guard lining the way. The wizard felt quite proud as he rode in front of the carriage and he recalled the times when he was a lot younger and the patrols would visit the tower. He'd always been in awe of the black clad Riders of Mistledale. To be among them now and escorting the Reverend Harvestmaster was a dream fulfilled.
- The mounted mage heard Brother Xarran call, "Woah there, boys!", to the four white horses. Tavelle turned in the saddle to watch the carriage as it came to a halt behind him. As the entire caravan ceased moving Tavelle saw Nelyssa and Naema riding back to see why the patrol had stopped. Brother Waylam clambered unsteadily from the driver's seat and was out of breath by the time he set foot on the grass. The cab door opened and a carved set of steps, suspended by a bronze coloured chain, dropped down.
- Tavelle watched the Reverend Harvestmaster closely as he stepped down from the carriage and as he placed his bare feet on the grass a serene look came over him. The mage looked on from atop Fury as Derim went amongst the farmers greeting and blessing them individually by name. The farm folk seemed inspired and lifted by his presence and they praised the Bountiful Goddess as he mingled with them all.
- The wizard saw Nelyssa pull up beside him and she too watched the Harvestmaster as he mingled with the farmers, "Sorry about earlier with the shield", apologised Tavelle. Nelyssa shook her head, "Well, it wasn't the most appropriate time to be looking, but at least we know it bears an enchantment", replied the paladin, "I want you to go through the rest of it, with the stewards, when we get back to the barracks". Tavelle nodded, "I'd be happy to. By the way, the shield is the most powerfully enchanted I've encountered. Although, I do believe I should qualify the statement by admitting I've not seen very many", explained Tavelle.
- The mage noted Nelyssa seemed preoccupied watching Derim among the assembled farm folk and came to the conclusion she was trying to stay alert to any threats. After a time the Reverend Harvestmaster bid farewell to the farmers and returned to the carriage to continue their journey to the ranch.
- The wizard followed the patrol towards the main farmstead and they were met by many young farmhands to assist with their mounts. Tavelle counted at least a dozen red-headed youngsters already busily leading horses away.
- The mage was approached by a brown haired chunky lad, "Can I take him for you?", said the boy, "I remember him from last time". Tavelle nodded and thanked the youth as he dismounted. The wizard removed the heavy saddlebags and hoisted them awkwardly over his shoulder. His buttocks were dead to the world and his inner thighs felt rather tight from the riding. The mage patted Fury on his muscular neck and wandered over to where Tynan was standing with Serrick.
- The open courtyard was busy with horses, wagons, and militia being assisted by the ranchers. The mage watched numerous chickens running around and generally getting underfoot and is advised by Tynan that, "We'll be staying in the main hall and we can leave our equipment there". Serrick pointed to a huge boar being turned over a large fire, "It's a lovely roast tonight as well", he said happily.
- An excited cry of, "Tavelle!", made him turn in the direction of the voice and he saw a very happy Maisie running towards him. He could see Arknat and Jobet smiling a distance away while talking to Nelyssa and they nodded a greeting. The young girl collided with his upper thigh and she wrapped his waist in a big hug, "Have you seen Nibblenook?", she asked. Tavelle grinned and nodded, "Yes, I saw him last night, he was riding a big bumblebee". Maisie started giggling, "Aww! I love cuddles with him, he's hairy and wriggles". The wizard imagined the giant bee desperately trying to struggle free of a cuddle and couldn't help grin.
- The young girl released his leg and looked up at him, "Can I go home now?", asked Maisie, "Staying here, it's nice an all, but there's no faeries". Tavelle nodded, "Yes, I think you can go home. Lanneth, one of the Riders, has taken some men, along with his owl, to make sure your farm is safe". Maisie smiled, "Good, because Nibble said he wants a big dragonfly... He's never seen a silver one though... He said the red ones go the fastest". The mage knelt down so he was addressing the girl at eye level and placed his saddlebags on the ground, "You might want to mention that Erael doesn't like red dragons, so a red dragonfly might not be the wisest choice?". The youngster nodded and looked around at the many people as if searching for someone, "Is she still here?", asked Maisie quietly.
- The wizard looked about to ensure no eavesdroppers were present, "Have you kept the secret?", he whispered. Maisie smiled and nodded proudly, "Yep". Tavelle saw the sorceress approaching, "Erael is in disguise. Remember, you're only supposed to have met her once before when we came to the farm on the way to Ashabenford". Maisie nodded vigorously and she turned to follow his gaze over her shoulder.
- Tavelle watched Maisie's jaw drop open slightly as she saw Erael approaching, "I know that feeling", thought the mage.
- "Hello again", smiled the sorceress.
- "It's really you?", asked the emerald eyed young girl in awe.
- Erael nodded as she knelt down.
- Maisie smiled, "You're so pretty!", she exclaimed and the sorceress wrapped her in a hug.
- Tavelle watched the young girl close her eyes and whisper, "Thank you", as they shared an embrace.
- The wizard decided to leave the pair to themselves... Maisie couldn't be any safer...
- The mage saw there were a few wooden benches and a number of tables outside the main building with some elder folk enjoying a rest. Tavelle watched one white haired old lady brushing the boar with a large handful of herbs tied together in the shape of a bristly broom. She would dip the brush into a bowl of water, splash it on the cooking boar, and he could hear the sizzle and spit as the liquid dripped into the flames.
- Tavelle's attention was then drawn to a large pot, which resembled a witch's cauldron with a heavy lid, and was suspended over a smaller fire. The iron lid kept trembling and puffing out clouds of steam when the pressure forced it to rise. There were trails of white foam running down the sides of the pot where the contents had boiled over, "I wonder what's in there?", thought the wizard.
- Tavelle casually wandered closer to the cauldron and looked about the area for something to act as an oven glove. He noticed a folded piece of heavy cloth nearby and picked it up to guard his fingers from the heat of the metal ring. The mage removed the heavy iron lid and a cloud of hot steam rose into the air around him. All he could see were churning bubbles on the surface of the foamy, greasy, liquid, and he waited for them to calm now the pressure was absent, "What are they boiling?", wondered the wizard.
- As Tavelle leant in the bubbles dispersed and a whole sheep's head rolled over in the liquid to stare up at him with bulging eyes. Tavelle watched as green mucous streamed from the nostrils and added itself to the frothy stew.
- The mage put his free hand over his mouth and felt his stomach do a backflip. "Mmnnp!", gulped Tavelle as he dry-heaved and hastily replaced the lid. He turned his back to the pot and tried desperately to forget everything he'd just seen.
- "Bleurgh!", shivered the wizard in disgust, and he remembered his first meal with Asantar, Drennia, and Andurar when he visited Glen with Naema. After a hard day of sparring they had settled down to a meal which was introduced as Roast Chicken and Troll's Tongue. The Dwarven delicacy was served on a two-foot long wooden platter and this pimply, purple, monstrosity had run the length of it, blue veins and all. Tavelle had been far too polite to ask at the time but he could've sworn they mentioned chicken...
- When Drennia noticed the mage had turned a dicey shade of green she confessed it was just an exotic mushroom, from the Underdark, which resembled the tongue of a troll. Once Tavelle had summoned the courage to try a small piece he found that it tasted of roast chicken and was quite delicious.
- "Nope, I can't eat a boiled sheep's head served with snot gravy", thought the wizard, "I have limits".
- The old lady with white hair sidled up to the wizard and pointed to the cauldron, "I can save yer a bit?", she offered with a toothless grin.
- Tavelle brought his hand to his mouth as he recalled the runny nose, "No, not for me, thank you". The old lady seemed to sense his discomfort, "The cheeks are nice, all tender and fleshy, or, how about a nice bit o' tongue?", she chuckled. The wizard felt himself start to sweat and his mouth became watery, "Thank you for the offer but, no, I really wish I hadn't looked".
- "Heh! That'll learn yer. Yer nosey bugger!", she cackled, "Yer should try a nice crunchy eyeball".
- "Erp!", heaved the mage, "I'm sorry, I have to go!", he apologised and started to walk away. The old woman called after him, "It'll put hair on yer chest and iron in yer dingle-dangle!".
- A queasy Tavelle made a bee-line for the main building, where he'd slept previously, with the little old lady's laughter ringing in his ears. Before entering the porched doorway he took a few deep breaths to steady himself and regain his composure, "I'm never eating lamb again...", he noted silently.
- Tavelle walked in through the large door and saw the hall was busily being prepared for the extra guests. The great wheels of rustic candelabra, which were normally suspended from the roof, had been lowered and the stumpy candles replaced. Small clay pots of Marigolds were being carefully hung from all of the thick wooden pillars and fresh rushes laid out upon the floor.
- The wizard observed Nerla at a table skilfully arranging more than a dozen pottery vases of wild flowers and places were being prepared at the many long wooden tables. Tavelle smiled, he liked Nerla. Dumic's wife was a stout middle-aged woman who stood five feet tall with dark brown hair. She had a round kind face and her full cheeks would dimple when she smiled.
- The mage noticed Lenthrey carrying his own gear and followed the militiaman into a small cupboard-like room towards the rear of the hall. Lenthrey stowed his kit with the accumulated militia equipment, gave him a nod, and whispered a hushed, "Swordmage", as he walked past. Tavelle grinned at the militiaman and then put his own equipment tidily with the rest.
- Tavelle closed the latched door, walked over to Nerla, who was still busy with her flowers, and she seemed to sense his approach. The short woman looked up and grinned broadly, "Hello me lovely!", she chirped. Nerla placed the flowers down and stepped in to embrace the wizard, "Hasn't your hair grown?", she laughed. The mage rested his head against Nerla's, "Yes, it certainly has", chuckled Tavelle, "It's good to see you again". The stout woman sighed, "Oh, I'm glad you're alright", and she released him from the hug.
- The wizard saw her sort through some stems for her vase, "Tis a shame about the farms", sighed Nerla. Tavelle picked up a scarlet poppy from the table. The large glossy petals were red, blood-red, "Many Mistrans fell to the Wights", he said quietly.
- Nerla nodded and sighed deeply, "Berwin Berwick was a good man and so were his family". The wizard looked into the brightly coloured, goblet-shaped, flower and saw a deep darkness within, "The militia who were sent to help them were ambushed there, and we were too late for the Lardagren family", he explained.
- Nerla shook her head, "Well, Marl Lardagren and me husband weren't exactly friendly but I'd not wish that fate on anyone". Tavelle nodded his agreement, "It's not nice seeing a person change into a wight", and he slid the poppy stem into the vase of flowers. The stout lady turned to look at Tavelle, "You saw it happen?".
- Tavelle gave a slight nod, "What makes it worse is there's nothing left of the person they were before. They just become this hungry, reckless, thrall of the wight which created them". Nerla gave a sniff and tried to blink away the brimming tears, "I'll miss Coner and Mellamy", and the short woman shook her head, "Poor little Jaffrick and sweet gentle Jemily".
- Nerla's eyes became glassy, "Her and that floppy rabbit... She wouldn't go anywhere without her Bunny...". Tavelle felt a lump in his throat and managed to swallow it down enough to speak, "Jemily has her rabbit for the afterlife...".
- The mage watched the tears build in Nerla's eyes and they trickled down her cheeks when their volume became too great to hold. Tavelle put his arm around her broad shoulders, gave her a cuddle, and felt a tear streak down his own.
- The pair shared a silent moment together until it was broken by a loud wet sniff, "Pull yourself together woman", stated Nerla firmly, "There's a hundred things still to be done before this place is ready for his Holiness". Tavelle wiped the wetness from his eyes on the sleeve of his tunic, "I'm sure the Reverend Harvestmaster will love your home. I know you've made me feel welcome".
- "Oh, you're a good lad", she sniffed, "Now, let me get on with me flowers".
- Tavelle caught sight of Lossora sitting down at a table with a tankard and made his way over. The mage saw Dumic's right hand man notice his approach and he stood up rather unsteadily to meet him. The pair exchanged greetings and Tavelle realised Lossora was more than a little drunk, "What are you drinking?", he asked the rancher. Lossora held up the tankard of cloudy yellow liquid, "It's a local cider called Rippin Pippin and it's bloody potent", he warned. Tavelle chuckled, "How many have you had?", and Lossora seemed to shrug in confusion, "This is only my second... I think?".
- The mage decided to see if he could correct his mistake from yesterday, "I was hoping you'd know if there are any carvers around who might have some rams horn?", he asked. Lossora nodded, "Aye, I do as it happens, I'll ask Old Ayfer, he'll have something". The revelation made the wizard grin, "You have my thanks", explained Tavelle. The inebriated rancher gave a nod as he departed and weaved his way awkwardly through the hall doing his best not to stumble.
- Tavelle looked around and saw a sturdy wooden table with two large barrels atop it. They had been turned on their sides and were supported in stands. There were also numerous bottles of wine, spirits, and drinking vessels. The wizard made his way over and inspected the barrels, one was marked as homemade Red-Antler ale, and the other as Rodrathe's Rippin Pippin. Tavelle helped himself to a spare tankard, filled it with Dumic's Ale, and smiled as he imagined Romfrey saying, "Wodwathe's Wippin Pippin...".
- There were also several bottles of homemade brandy and a few bottles of elderberry wine. Tavelle wondered if it was still possible to find bottles of Lannane's Parsnip wine as Liria's rather vivid description had piqued his interest. The mage brought the tankard to his lips and took a long drink of Dumic's Red-Antler, it was a crisp and hoppy light ale.
- Tavelle walked away from the drinks table and had only taken a few paces before he was intercepted by a middle aged couple with a friendly smile. The pair introduced themselves as Harbert and Marmary Lound, "We knew and miss your mother dearly", they explained, "What she didn't know about vegetables, wasn't worth knowing".
- Naema walked past, winked at him, and Tavelle noticed she was carrying a coiled length of rope, "I'm looking forward to tonight", thought the mage with a grin.
- The couple talk of Nereskul and they ask Tavelle to pass on their best wishes to him before they depart. The wizard watched the pair walk away, "I wonder if Kerryn and father have missed me?", he thought to himself, "They better have...".
Tavelle will be in for a bit of a shock thought the DM... If he hadn't have gone on the patrol it would've all been so very different.
- Tavelle saw Jopson and Netley approaching, he gave the pair a nod, and raised his tankard, "What are you drinking?", asked Netley. The wizard watched Drool sniffing around the tables snuffling for scraps, "It's Dumic's Red Antler", smirked the mage, "It's not Blackboot standard but it's nice and hoppy".
- "It didn't take yer long, did it?", whispered Jopson with a grin. Tavelle shrugged his shoulders and smiled, "Be careful of the Rippin Pippin, apparently it's very strong". Jop gave Tavelle a broad smile, "I like me cider and Rippin Pippin's almost as nice as Kneecracker". Netley seemed deep in thought, "I'm having an Antler, I don't want to be drunk at dinner", he explained.
- The pair wandered off towards the table of drinks and they began by collecting tankards. It was then the mage noted an old man eyeing him up and he made his way over. "Tavelle?", asked the leathery skinned man and the wizard nodded. "I'm Ayfer, Lossora asked me to come and find yer. I hear yer looking to buy some rams horn?", asked the grizzled old carver.
- Tavelle was momentarily stunned into silence... "Buy?", thought the wizard in shock.
- The old man seemed a little impatient as he waited for Tavelle to respond, "I brought a few pieces fer yer to look at", and he brought forth a canvas roll. Ayfer laid out and unwrapped the cloth on a table. There were numerous small, pierced, carvings in various shapes and hues. Tavelle found himself torn between two particularly appropriate pieces. A thumb sized grey rams head with curling horns, and a smaller blowing horses symbol of Mistledale in cream. Tavelle noticed Jop and Netley bring their drinks over to have a look at the carvings.
"You're a git", grumbled the player, "They're both perfect and Tavelle should really carry a spare".
- "I wonder if I should open with one of father's gambits?", thought the mage, "How would he handle this? I can just imagine if he was here and after a hefty discount... They're all quite ghastly... These two offend me the least...". The wizard did his best to seem as cold and disinterested as possible, "How much for these two?", he asked nonchalantly. Ayfer grimaced and breathed in sharply, "Yer picked me best work".
- The mage did his best not to show his surprise, "Beshaba's Balls!", thought Tavelle, "He sounds like father".
- "They're fifteen silvers each", advised Ayfer.
- "<censored> each?", thought Tavelle in shock.
- "But you'll do him a deal won't you?", interrupted Netley, "Tavelle's the one that saved your little sister from the wights at the orchards".
- The mage looked blankly at Netley, "I did?", he asked.
- "Aye, Nimberlena", whispered Jopson.
- "Nimble, who?", asked the wizard in bewilderment.
- "Romfrey's wife", said Netley.
- "Ah, okay", nodded Tavelle, and he remembered seeing a hulking silhouette at the door to the Rodrathe farmhouse, "Nimble my arse, she was built like a stone privy", he concluded silently.
- "Alright then", said Ayfer with a grin, "Fifteen silvers fer the pair and me thanks fer me little sis", and he clapped Tavelle on the bicep where Naema had jabbed him earlier. Ayfer noticed the wizard wince, "Yer must have plenty o' magic?", chuckled the carver, "Cos yer don't look like yer could fight yer way outta bed?".
- Tavelle raised an eyebrow as he counted out a gold and five silvers but declined to respond. He was far too busy mourning the loss of each coin. The mage carefully placed both of the small carvings in a belt pouch and heard a cowbell ringing to signal dinner was ready. The wizard thanked Ayfer and he followed the pair into the busy hall where he saw the militia and farmers beginning to take their seats.
- Tavelle noticed movement, he looked over towards the entrance, and saw Lanneth alongside the men he took to the Selmer farm. They were all carrying their packs so the mage made his way over and the Ranger gave him a friendly nod as he approached, "How was the farm?", asked Tavelle. The Half-Elf smiled, "It's still standing and the Selmers' are safe to return". Tavelle gave a nod, "That's good to hear, follow me, I'll show you where you can stow your gear", explained the wizard, "You're just in time for dinner".
- Tavelle led the group past the long rows of tables and many already in their seats called out to greet the Ranger and his men.
- The mage walked to the entrance of the small room and opened the wooden door to find the Moog, staring up at him with its tongue lolling out, sitting amongst the equipment, "Nine Hells!", exclaimed Tavelle in shock, "Not again?". The Moog's curly tail started wagging and it made a grumbling sound. Tavelle shook his head in disbelief, "What's wrong with you?".
- Lanneth looked over Tavelle's shoulder at the flat-faced dog, "That ugly thing's yours, isn't it?". The mage nodded his head and swore under his breath as he moved aside to let the Ranger and his men store their gear. The small pug waddled out of the room, stood next to the wizard, and started whining. Tavelle looked down at the polymorphed Halfling in disgust, "You just can't help yourself, can you?".
- Tavelle saw Drool's attention had been drawn away from the tables and the Mastiff trotted towards the pair. The mage felt two paws get placed just below his knee and he heard an insistent yapping bark from the Moog. Tavelle bent down and quickly picked up the small dog, he wagged his finger sternly at Drool, and tucked her safely under his arm, "Well, you've ruined your dinner again", scolded the wizard.
- Tavelle walked away from the doorway whilst carrying the four-legged Liria and being followed closely by Drool. The mage made his way over to the table where Erael was sitting and the sorceress raised an eyebrow when she noticed the pug under his arm. The wizard gave a shake of his head, he rolled his eyes in frustration, and was slightly relieved when he saw Erael smirk. The sorceress was sat next to Brondar along with Maisie and her family so the wizard walked over to the young girl. Tavelle noted Maisie turn to watch him approach and her eyes lit up when she saw what he was holding, "What's that?", she asked with a grin.
- The wizard jiggled the Halfling under his arm, "This?", and he looked at Liria with disdain, "This is The Moog".
- "What's a Moog?", asked Maisie as Liria wriggled.
- "It's a magical familiar which seems to be following me... It should disappear by morning... I was hoping you could look after it for me, please?", explained the mage. The emerald-eyed girl nodded eagerly, "Does it do anything?", she asked as she reached out to take the pug. Tavelle sighed and shook his head, "No, not that I can think of... Although, It does understand the common tongue". Maisie stroked Liria behind her ears, "One bark for yes and two for no. Are you hungry, Moog?".
- "Rarf!", barked the pug and Tavelle thought he saw the dog smile.
- "Good, you can have my cabbage then", he heard the girl explain as he walked away.
- Tavelle was asked his name and shown to a table by a pretty red-headed lass who was busily assigning people their seats. The table was nearly fully occupied and only his place on the bench was empty. The wizard saw Trentos, Falmer, Eridge, Lenthrey, and Aulkren on the opposite side of the table. The free seat was in between Netley and Tolben with Goryth and Jop at the ends.
- Tavelle took his seat, placed his half full tankard on the table, and exchanged greetings with the militiamen. He could see the Reverend Harvestmaster at the host's table, at the head of the hall, alongside Sister Alena and the Shield. Dumic and Nerla were present and they sat next to Brother Xarran and Brother Waylam.
- On the table, in front of Tavelle, was a large round pewter plate, a knife, a two tined fork, and a spoon. Each table had a vase of wildflowers, a large wooden bowl with a dozen heavily seeded round cobs, and a great block of fresh yellow butter which sat atop a wooden block.
- The mage helped himself to one of the cobs, he tore it in half, and spread it with butter, "That ale's given me an appetite", thought Tavelle as he swallowed a mouthful of bread.
- Tavelle heard a shrill ringing and turned to see the Reverend Harvestmaster standing at the lead table tapping a glass with a spoon. The chatter and noise from the diners diminished to complete silence in a matter of moments.
- The wizard listened intently as Derim gave thanks to their generous hosts for their hospitality and asked the gathered to remember the fallen Mistrans.
- A number of serving youths brought out platters of carved roast boar, bowls of boiled cabbage, carrots, mashed turnip with wild garlic, honey roasted parsnips, and large jugs of dark gravy. The food was placed on the table and Tavelle quickly helped himself to a prize piece of crackling. He had a nibble at the fatty portion first and then snapped into smaller, more manageable, pieces.
- Tavelle heard a grumble from his right, "My crackling's hairy", complained Goryth, "And, I bloody hate cabbage".
- "Ungrateful git", thought the mage.
- "I can help with that", offered Tavelle with a grin as he rubbed his thumb at the base of his forefinger. A small flame sprung from the tip of his extended digit, "I can burn them off, if you want?".
- The wizard heard a few gasps from the militia and Eridge started laughing, "You want to get Brondar to fart on that", he chuckled.
- The militiaman looked at Tavelle a little warily, "I thought you were going to pinch my crackling, again?", but passed his platter along after a pause. The mage singed away the hairs sprouting from the golden hued crackling in no time, he then dismissed the flame, and stealthily cast a Flavour Cantrip on the whole plate.
- "Cabbaged", thought the mischievous wizard while containing his mirth, "He should consider himself lucky I can't reach his drink".
- Goryth retrieved the pewter plate, he poked at his crackling, and reluctantly thanked Tavelle. The wizard helped himself to the various bowls of different vegetables, he heaped several slices of meat onto his plate, and then drowned it all in gravy.
- "Ugh! My crackling tastes of cabbage!", spat Goryth in disgust.
- "What?", said Netley.
- "Everything tastes of cabbage, even my gravy", whinged Goryth.
- "Don't be daft, mine's alright", said Aulkren.
- "My parsnips taste of cabbage", he continued to moan, "My carrots and roast boar as well".
- "What about your cabbage?", sniggered the wizard.
- "Ugh!", harrumphed Goryth, "It tastes of cabbage, too!".
- Tavelle did his best to keep a straight face, "Did you want your crackling?". The dejected militiaman shook his head in a huff and passed it along to the waiting wizard.
- "Muhahaha!", thought the mage as he removed the cabbage flavour with another Cantrip, "A Goryth and his crackling are soon parted".
"You devious bastard", said the DM.
- Tavelle managed to eat everything on his plate, the food was delicious, and he felt rather bloated as he sat with the militia. Jopson and Falmer busily mopped up the last of their gravy, with a crusty cob each, and Goryth seemed to struggle through every single excruciating mouthful.
- The bowls and platters were eventually cleared from the long tables and to Tavelle's shock a desert was brought out. The wizard looked to his tight weaponbelt, raised an eyebrow, and loosened the belt by a notch. Tavelle breathed a sigh of relief as he relaxed and felt far more comfortable.
- A bowl was placed in front of the mage with a large baked apple, stuffed with juicy blackberries, and drizzled with warm honey. Tavelle's eyes became even larger when a wooden platter with a score of pastry tarts, filled with gooseberry jam, were added to their table along with clay jugs of fresh cream.
- "If this apple tastes of cabbage I'm going to cry...", said Goryth as he poured the cream over it.
- Tavelle helped himself to a pastry as he waited for his steaming apple to cool down, he watched the militiaman place the desert in his mouth and savour the taste, "Oh yes, that's lovely... Hot and lovely", said Goryth appreciatively as he blew in and out. The gooseberry jam was sweet and the pastry light, "I bet Brother Waylam's enjoying it all?", thought the wizard as he helped himself to another fruity tartlet.
- Tavelle glanced over towards the Watchful Brother who was tackling his hot apple with care. He had a look of complete concentration upon his face and Tavelle noticed he'd spilt gravy down the front of his robes.
- After a few gooseberry tarts the wizard added the cream to his desert and polished it off along with his remaining ale. The assembled militia commented on the amazing food, "and it gives good old Jop a rest", said Falmer with a grin.
- Tavelle breathed out and patted his stomach, "I'm too full to move", he laughed, "I can't even refill my tankard". Trentos nodded his head in agreement, "It happens wherever the Reverend Harvestmaster goes. The farm folk always lay out a magnificent spread", and he glanced over to the lead table, "How do you think good Brother Waylam got so portly?". The wizard shrugged his shoulders, "I don't know, dedication?", he chuckled and the diners at the table all shared a laugh.
- Tavelle noticed the Selmer family approaching and he attempted to rise to greet them. Arknat grinned as the mage tried to stand, "No, don't get up", he chortled, "We've all eaten too much as well". Jobet smiled at her husband and looked to Tavelle, "We're turning in and wanted to say goodnight". The farmer nodded, "We've an early start in the morning, we're heading home".
- Maisie stood next to her brothers with a big grin and carried the Moog with both arms, "Will I see you again?", she asked the wizard. Tavelle nodded and smiled, "Yes, I'll definitely come and visit".
- Ednere, one of the two brothers gave the mage a respectful nod, "Is it true you fought a Wight King?". Tavelle wasn't sure how to respond. He didn't know if it was supposed to be common knowledge so he looked to the assembled militia at the table and he heard the Moog bark once.
- Aulkren stood up, "Who's been saying that?", he asked firmly and the young man paled. Narviss gave his sibling a frown of exasperation and he looked around the room, "It was the Halfling", he advised, "Why, was she lying?". The Moog barked twice and whined.
- "She's got a big mouth", said Lenthrey sternly as he stared at Narviss, "This is Rider business... It's not some gossip". The pug growled in Lenthrey's direction and wriggled.
- Arknat clipped Narviss around the ear, "Keep it shut you... It's Rider business", and Ednere flinched away from his father, "I'm sorry, I promise I won't say anything", he squeaked. Arknat shook his head, "Go on, off with the pair of you". The farmer made his apologies and he turned to escort the two young men away.
- Jobet took her hands from the front pocket of her apron and Tavelle could see she held a soft leather drawstring pouch, "Your mother gave this to me over a decade ago and I want you to give it to Kerryn for me".
- Tavelle nodded as he watched Jobet loosen the strings and open the pouch. She reached inside and brought out a beautiful silver horse-headed pendant.. It was perfectly fashioned to capture the majestic power of a bearded male unicorn and it was strung on a simple leather thong, "I know you've seen a unicorn", said Jobet.
- Tavelle held his breath as he studied the craftsmanship, he'd never seen it before now, his mother had never worn it, and he was sure he would remember such a masterful sculpture. The apple-green eyes were two vibrant chrysoprase pips but it was the spiralling ivory metal horn which truly held his attention, "It looks like a holy symbol", thought the wizard.
- "Fascinating...", thought the dark strip of material around his wrist.
- The wizard held the piece carefully in his palm, "Thank you, I'm sure Kerryn will love it". Jobet smiled and looked down to Maisie, "I think it's your bedtime? Come on, give Tavelle back his...", and she glanced to the mage in confusion.
- "The Moog", grinned Maisie.
- "Give Tavelle back his Moog", said Jobet.
- "Aww!", said the young girl despondently, "Can't I take her to bed? Tavelle says she'll vanish later". Maisie's mother looked to Tavelle and raised her eyebrows, "Honestly, it's fine with me", said the mage eagerly, "They obviously like each other". Jobet conceded and looked down to her daughter who was grappling with the barrel shaped pug, "If you're sure?", she said.
- As Tavelle nodded his assurance Maisie asked her mother to take hold of the dog for a moment. She passed the barrel-shaped handful up and then held her arms wide for a hug goodnight from Tavelle.
- The wizard knelt down and gave Maisie a big hug, "If you ever need my help just send Nibble to get me", advised Tavelle quietly. He felt the youngster nod and she squeezed him tightly, "Good night", she whispered.
- "Moog! Stop panting on me your breath smells of cabbage", he heard Jobet say in disgust. Tavelle released Maisie, she was given the polymorphed Halfling back, and the pair departed the hall.
- Tavelle sat back down at the table, he removed the pendant from the leather thong, and carefully placed each item securely in a separate belt pouch. The mage looked up and he saw an unconscious Lossora being carried out of the hall by a couple of farmers. It reminded him his tankard was empty and he excused himself whilst some of the militia were lighting pipes.
- Tavelle walked through the crowded hall and made his way up to the large barrel of Rodrathe's cider. He twisted the wooden spigot and watched the cloudy yellow liquid steadily fill his tankard. A frothy head formed on the surface and when he raised it to take a drink he felt the bubbles burst on the tip of his nose. It was sharp, incredibly refreshing, and very strong. The mage decided to just have the one... He didn't fancy another hangover and definitely didn't want brewer's droop... Naema would kill him.
- The wizard stood quietly, looked about the busy hall, and wished he had an iron dingle-dangle... As he scanned the crowd his eyes were met by those of Sister Alena.
Tavelle's player shook his head in disgust, "I share Tavelle's thoughts and you do things like this...".
- The priestess approached, "What were you thinking about just then?", she asked with a smile, "I'm sorry?", replied Tavelle as he tried to think of something.
- The Watchful Sister narrowed her eyes, "You were standing there with a silly grin", she explained. Tavelle shrugged, "I can't help it, that's just the way I look", laughed the mage.
- Alena pursed her lips but it turned into a smile, "Stop messing around", she giggled. Tavelle nodded, "I was thinking about an encounter earlier this evening with a mischievous old biddy, a boiling cauldron, and a sheep's head". Alena raised an eyebrow, "I'm going to regret asking, aren't I?", she chuckled. Tavelle nodded his head and smiled ruefully, "Well, let's just say I regret being nosey and looking in the cauldron".
- "Another case of your uncontrollable curiosity?", smirked Alena, "Like earlier with the shield?".
- "Yes, it seems to be a recurring theme", chuckled Tavelle uneasily.
- Sister Alena looked at him and her smile faded, "You should be more careful. Nelyssa told me of the Wyvern's stinger and how you nearly poisoned yourself".
- Tavelle raised a concerned eyebrow, "Am I getting a bollocking?", wondered the mage.
- "It would appear so", thought the dark strip of cloth in dry amusement.
- Tavelle nodded, "I know, I know... my curiosity will likely be the death of me...", he conceded, "I'll try and control myself".
- "I've spent half my time on patrol berating Liria... I'm a bloody hypocrite...", thought the wizard.
- Sister Alena moved close and touched his hand, "I urge you to show more caution in future". Tavelle nodded, "The Shield has asked me to assess the items recovered from the wight lair and I aim to exercise extreme caution". The priestess frowned, "I know and I would like to be present. We don't want to incur the wrath of any vengeful spirits, do we?".
- Tavelle nodded his head, "No, we don't, and I think that's a very good idea", agreed the mage.
- "Too little, too late", thought the remnant of Kendra's black cloak.
- Tavelle looked to Alena, "Thank you again for saving my life... I know you said Mother Chauntea saved me, but it was you who came to my aid and it was you that I bled all over". The Watchful Sister took hold of Tavelle's free hand with both her own, "I must offer my thanks, too. Without your willingness to sacrifice yourself for the good of Mistledale, I would never have felt such a bond with Mother Chauntea. Whatever you think of yourself, whether it be a wizard or a swordsman, we know you are a hero".
- The mage nodded uncomfortably and felt himself blush, "We? Has she been at the Rippin Pippin?", wondered the wizard. Tavelle retrieved the thong from a pouch on his belt and decided to try and change the subject, "I was hoping I could ask you to bless this leather cord for me, please? It will enable me to armour myself".
- "Yes, I'd be happy to", said the priestess, "I will return it in the morning". Tavelle thanked Alena and she placed the leather cord in a fold of her robes, "The Reverend Harvestmaster was hoping you had time to talk?". Tavelle glanced about the hall, "Yes, of course", he replied, "Where is he, I haven't seen him since dinner?". "All the pipe smoke makes him uncomfortable", explained Alena, "He's outside in the fresh air".
- "Well... That was weird", thought Tavelle as he walked away with his tankard of cider, "What in the Nine Hells am I in for now?".
- Tavelle walked out of the large arched exit. He took a deep breath of the fresh night air and saw small groups of people gathered around talking, drinking, and eating. The orange flames of the torches danced in their sconces and painted everything in flickering shades of yellow.
- The mage scanned the benches, he saw the Reverend Harvestmaster seated and conversing with Dumic. Tavelle noted two of the temple guards in close attendance as he walked over. The wizard recognised Harbeck from his visit to the Abbey with Erael, the guard smiled back at Tavelle, and then turned to the seated pair to say something.
- A moment later Dumic stood up. He was a large imposing figure and his glossy red hair was tied into a thick braid which reached the small of his back. The wizard heard him thank the venerable Chauntean and he looked to Tavelle, "You might want to come and see me in the morning", he said grimly.
- The mage tilted his head to one side in confusion, "I'm not in any trouble am I?", he asked with a worried look. Dumic grinned broadly and winked, "No, I was going to offer to show you how to do your hair". Tavelle let out a relieved chuckle, "Thanks, but if it gets any longer I'll be cutting it off", he explained. Dumic clapped Tavelle on his shoulder as he made his way past, "I hope to see you out with the Riders again", he said sincerely.
- The mage smiled as Dumic departed and he turned to face the Chauntean, "Reverend Harvestmaster, Sister Alena said that you wished to speak with me?". The old priest nodded and motioned for the wizard to take a seat.
- Tavelle placed his tankard on the table and sat down opposite Derim. Between the pair was a bowl of fruit containing plums, apples, and wild strawberries, "Did you enjoy the meal?", asked the Harvestmaster. Tavelle groaned and patted his belly, "So much that I've had to loosen my weaponbelt by a hole". Derim grinned at the mage and nodded in agreement, "It was a fine meal. How are you feeling after yesterday?", asked the priest.
- "A lot better than when I woke this morning with a throbbing head", smiled the wizard, "Although, I must admit to being a bit sore after a day in the saddle", and he shifted his tender buttocks on the hard wooden bench in an attempt to get comfortable.
- Derim waited until Tavelle ceased fidgeting, "Nelyssa told me of your fight with the wights and how you were barely harmed by their talons", said the priest.
- "Barely harmed?", asked the mage incredulously, "Believe me, I felt their claws. If Naema hadn't given me her potion of healing I'd most likely have bled to death".
- "No, that's not what I meant", said Derim with a smile, "Consider Erael and the damage the wights inflicted by draining her life energy".
- The sentient strip of cloth, which was bound to the mage, fortified the wards of non-detection, "Meddling old fool", it seethed.
- Tavelle nodded, "I felt the pull on my soul... It was like my life was being torn from me...", and it caused him to shiver involuntarily.
- "Yes, that's the feeling", confirmed the Harvestmaster, "How many times did this happen?".
- "I'm not sure... a few?", shrugged the wizard.
- "And did you feel weaker, or less than you were? Diminished perhaps?", asked Derim with obvious interest.
- Tavelle shook his head, "No, the pain was excruciating, but, it was though the wights were pulling on something which had no intention of leaving. It's difficult to describe, it's like there was an anchor?".
- Tavelle glanced up at Derim who was staring at him intently, "I thought it strange at the time... I didn't really have the option to stand around and think about it", he explained.
- "Very true", agreed the Reverend Harvestmaster, "Any thoughts now?".
- Tavelle scratched his fingernail on the tabletop, "I don't know, I did wonder if the scroll you expended had anything to do with it? Although, considering this conversation and the amount of wight militia, it seems unlikely". The Reverend Harvestmaster looked deep in thought, "No, it wasn't the scroll, it only served to fortify your resolve". The wizard took a sip of the cider, "Just as well", laughed Tavelle, "I had all sorts of doubts during the fight".
- "That's understandable", nodded Derim, "I have to ask, what were you thinking?". The mage shrugged, he really didn't know if he should share some of the things which entered his mind during his time within the barrow. Tavelle looked down at the worn surface of the wooden table, "I thought of fleeing", admitted the wizard. Derim laughed, "I admire your honesty but that's not what I meant... I meant what you did down there... I would've expected such heroics from Nelyssa, or Florin".
- The mage shook his head, "I couldn't have stood against the Wight King without the tempering...". Derim picked out a plum from the bowl on the table, "Tavelle, the only time the tempering had any significance was during your clash with Vinjarek. Before you faced the Mound King you saved Erael from seven wights and the blessing from Tempus never came into it".
- "Well, I couldn't just stand there and let her perish... I had to try something...", explained Tavelle.
- "And Jentar?", asked Derim, "Serrick said you never even lifted Anvil's Edge. He said you threw just about every spell you had at the creature?".
- Tavelle silently recalled the clarity and force of the thought, "Let the Paladin die!", and he still felt guilty about it.
- "I couldn't let him die... Brondar told me to trust in my swordbrothers", and he cast his eyes down to the Dwarven blade sheathed at his hip. The Reverend Harvestmaster followed Tavelle's gaze to the sword, "Captain Baergil once told me the most important part of any weapon is the wielder, if not for your actions Anvil's Edge might never have faced Vinjarek".
- Tavelle knew perfectly well what the venerable priest was getting at and he knew he was in denial. As far as he was concerned he'd just gotten very lucky and he kept telling himself exactly that. There had been some choice spell selections, a few incidents he couldn't explain, and he'd genuinely surprised himself with a sword. All combined it had helped him stumble his way through the melee. But, he couldn't deny what the Harvestmaster was saying. He'd shocked himself by what he achieved and that he even attempted it. He just didn't like thinking about it all.
- The wizard traced the outline of his sigil with his fingertip on the tabletop, "I was the only one in any position to help... I just did whatever I could", and it glowed with a sparkling silver light.
- "What's this?", asked Derim.
- "It's my wizard mark, my arcane sigil", explained the mage. "Anything to change the subject", he thought to himself.
- "A star above a broken mountain?", asked the Harvestmaster.
- Tavelle squinted at the glowing rune, "It's supposed to represent the Herald of the Moonmaiden above Mistledale's blowing horses". Derim nodded and smiled, "Yes, I see it now... It's simple, yet beautiful".
- "Thank you", replied Tavelle, and his ears twitched at the sound of horses drawing near. He saw Jentar with the remainder of his militia arrive. The wizard realised that with the power of the Horn of Quickening they were able to increase their speed and cut the journey time, "That's strange, I didn't hear a horn call for Riders returning?", thought Tavelle.
- "How is he?", asked the old priest, "I saw you talking after the service".
- Tavelle was a little confused, "Haven't you spoken to him?".
- "No", said Derim, "I get the impression I'm being avoided", and he took a bite from the plum.
- "He knows he got things badly wrong in the barrow", explained the wizard, "I think he was torn between his duty to the militia and a desire to destroy the Mound King in Lathander's name".
- Derim frowned and many lines creased his forehead, "If he had shown some self control he may have sated both duty and dogma", interjected the venerable priest.
- Tavelle nodded, "He made a mistake. He was almost distraught this morning when we talked. I think being worthy of the sword weighs heavily on his mind. He said he dreamt of the blade judging him and going dormant".
- Derim raised a grey eyebrow and looked unconvinced, "It sounds as though he's more concerned about the sword?".
- The wizard nodded, but remained silent, "Nine Hells! He's right, he was more worried about his new blade and hardly gave a thought for the fallen", thought Tavelle.
- The Reverend Harvestmaster pursed his lips and looked to Tavelle, "I've been warned twice before about his recklessness".
- "I've seen it firsthand at the Unicorn's Charge", replied the mage.
- "And now here", said Derim.
- Tavelle fidgeted in his chair, "It might be that the Lionswrath blade is of the same opinion?". The old priest nodded in apparent agreement, "You are aware he's a potential candidate for Captain Baergil's successor?".
"Are they out of their <censored> minds?", asked the player in shock.
- Tavelle shook his head, "No, I wasn't".
- "As are Kuthe, Nelyssa, Lanneth, and Dairantha Shieldstone", continued Derim.
- "I've not met Dairantha, but Jentar definitely shouldn't be in the running", thought the wizard.
- The priest sighed, "Captain Baergil will make his recommendation to the Council soon. He means to fully take up the mantle of a Battle Chaplain and pursue his calling", explained the Harvestmaster.
- "The Shield would get my backing", concluded Tavelle.
- Derim nodded, "I agree, I think she shows great promise. Which reminds me, Sister Alena mentioned you were mumbling about rubies while regaining consciousness?".
- The wizard smiled and his eyes seemed to glaze over as if lost in thought, "Heh, rubies...", he muttered.
- Derim looked puzzled, "Tavelle?", he asked.
- The mage shook his head and glanced at the priest, "When Vinjarek cleaved me, I thought I saw a cloud of sparkling rubies. As I fell into darkness all I could see were spinning jewels dancing in the starlight". The wizard cracked a half smile, "It took me longer than it should to figure out It was just a cloud of frozen blood".
- Derim nodded slowly and smiled, "You didn't find your rubies then?". Tavelle smirked at the Harvestmaster, "No, but when I was sitting there, just after having regained consciousness, I did have a look".
- "I'd like to find out more about the champion of Lurue", admitted Tavelle.
- The Reverend Harvestmaster smiled, "I think we'll have to leave that for when you come and visit the Abbey?".
- "You're not going anywhere near that place", quietly promised the strip of dark cloth. It had delved into Tavelle's memories during the bonding process and with malevolent glee found his sister was a spellcaster. The sinister sentience required the corpse of a female magic user to act as the vessel for Kendra's return. It would gradually bleed the annoying wizard of life until it possessed enough power to commence the summoning process.
- "You will kill everyone that you love... Death stalks the night! Ahahahahaha!", it cackled maniacally.
- It quickly realised it was still in the old man's presence and went as silent as a blessed grave...
- Tavelle nodded, "You're right, it's getting late".
- "Oh no, it's not that", laughed the Harvestmaster, "It's just I think Naema's waiting for you?". Tavelle turned around on the bench and saw the Rider trying to look inconspicuous whilst carrying a coiled length of rope.
Edited by - Farrel on 03 Oct 2016 19:48:49
Posted - 03 Oct 2016 : 19:48:09
- "Do I dare ask what the rope is for?", chuckled the Harvestmaster with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes.
- "It's the material component for a Rope Trick enchantment", explained Tavelle, "It creates a small extra dimensional space...". Derim started laughing, "I've heard of it... You'd better go", he grinned.
- Tavelle nodded, he thanked the priest, bid him goodnight, and stood up. Naema smiled at the wizard as they walked away and he could see the glowing silver flecks from the Low Light Vision enchantment in her eyes, "You were talking for ages", she said quietly. Tavelle nodded, "I've an invitation to visit the Abbey", he explained, "Would you like to come with me when I go?".
- Naema nodded, "That would be good", and she reached out with her free hand, to grasp his, and their fingers locked together. The pair wandered out past one of the smaller stables within the farmstead and they checked that they hadn't been observed or followed.
- The sky was dark and some low cloud blocked Selune and her trail of tears, "This place seems quiet and out of the way?", offered Naema. Tavelle looked about, nodded in agreement, and she handed him the coiled rope. The wizard took possession of the rope and let the coiled length drop to the ground.
- "How high will it go?", asked Naema.
- Tavelle looked into the air in front of them, "Between five and thirty feet", he explained, "I was thinking ten feet? I don't want to get to the top and be too knackered to do anything", offered the mage with a grin.
- Naema smiled and nodded, "Go on then", she urged.
- The wizard estimated an approximate ten feet of the length, he cut it free with his Dwarven dagger, and then sheathed the blade.
- Tavelle reached into a belt pouch and retrieved a small loop of parchment. He then produced a small metal tube, removed the cap and sprinkled some yellowish powder on the twisted paper. The mage intoned the arcane words, the parchment vanished in a bright blue glow, which remained on the tip of the wizard's index finger, and he knelt down to touch it to the rope. Tavelle took a step backwards as one end of the rope twitched, then sprang erect, and it drew itself upright to its full height of ten feet.
- The mage grinned at Naema, "There! I present to you the Rope Trick enchantment!", he announced proudly.
- Naema eyed the stiff rope and nodded, "I was a bit wary of the idea but I've got to admit this is brilliant". The fighter pulled hard at the rope and seemed suitably impressed it was anchored firmly in mid air, "And you say there's a room at the top?". The wizard tested the rope for himself, "Yes, the entrance is invisible", explained Tavelle, "Shall I go first or would you like to?". Naema smiled broadly, "I'll go first, please".
- Tavelle stood aside and he watched as Naema easily pulled herself up, hand over hand, without even using her legs. He saw her partially disappear through the invisible portal and then completely vanish in mid air. He clambered up the rope, only using his arms, and was determined to do it the way the fighter had demonstrated. It took a little longer for the mage but he succeeded in the attempt and joined Naema in the extra dimensional room.
- The Rider looked around with a big smile, "So, where are we?", she asked in amazement. Tavelle got to his feet, took a deep breath, and started pulling up the rope, "Well, technically, we're not in Mistledale anymore... We're in another dimension".
- "Okay...", said Naema and she removed her cloak.
- "For example, if Buross was out hunting he could fly directly through the area, where you would expect us to be, and not collide with the room. The entrance might be at Dumic's ranch but the room is elsewhere in the extra dimensional multiverse".
- "Uh huh...", sighed the Rider.
- Tavelle didn't notice her apparent indifference, "If we'd been silly enough to bring Erael's backpack with us we'd have ruptured this extra dimensional space and everything would've spilled into the Astral plane", he advised dramatically by waving his arms wide.
- Naema nodded as if relieved, "Thats all great... Now get your top off... I want to see if there's a scar...".
- "There isn't", said the mage as he unbuckled his heavy weaponbelt, removed the fine bandolier, and started unbuttoning his tunic. As he slipped off the chemise he revealed a large purple and yellow bruise where she jabbed him on the arm, "Nine Hells! Look at the colour of that!", exclaimed Tavelle in horror.
- Naema raised a concerned eyebrow and grimaced, "You bruise worse than my granny...". Tavelle frowned, "That was you!", squeaked the wizard. The fighter looked unconvinced, "What? That little dig, are you kidding?". Tavelle looked decidedly unimpressed, "No one else has given me a dead arm recently".
- Naema's eyes shifted to his chest and abdomen, "You're right, there's no mark at all...". Tavelle frowned, "Ahem, I believe we're still talking about my bruise?". The Rider gave a slight shake of her head and smirked, "Well, you might be... Listen, if you bruise so easily you might not want Bron to tutor you?" The wizard pursed his lips, "He said he'd have to toughen me up...", he muttered.
- "Yeah, it's so you don't moan about the odd bump or scrape", explained the fighter. The mage nodded, he did seem to be whinging a lot recently...
- "Come on then, let your hair loose, I want to see what it looks like when it's not tied back", said the Rider eagerly.
- Tavelle sighed in frustration as he fiddled with the leather cord securing his ponytail. Liria had tied it with a devilishly difficult knot. The wizard gave up and decided to cast an Untie Cantrip. He intoned the spell, touched the leather cord, and the fastening promptly untied itself. The ponytail had been pulled taut and the relief on his brow felt wonderful when his hair was freed. The mage ran his fingers through his thick, silky, hair causing it to tumble and bounce.
- "You're hair's just...", and Naema stopped mid sentence with her mouth agape.
- Tavelle gave her a dubious look and as he shook his head, he felt his long, lustrous, hair dance on his shoulders and chest... The wizard thought Naema had a funny look in her eyes.
"I can remember having hair...", said Tavelle's owner.
- "Your hair... It's just so...", she growled huskily as she fiddled with her belt buckle.
- The mage raised a concerned eyebrow, "She looks rather flushed...", he thought to himself.
- "Phwoar! Come here you...", said the Rider lustily as her weaponbelt clunked onto the floor.
- The mage opened his mouth to ask what was going on... Naema interrupted to cut him short, "Sshh, no, don't say anything...", she whispered insistently as she closed to kiss him passionately.
"I don't ever remember having hair like that though...", admitted Tavelle's player.
Some time passes...
- "Gods! I'm knackered!", thought the mage as he pulled on his boot to finish dressing, "So, do you think I should memorise the Rope Trick spell again?", he asked.
- "Definitely, and If you cut off that ponytail you're dead...", giggled the fighter, "I know it's a strange request but can you work on summoning a bed too?". Tavelle grinned and nodded, "I think it's a really good idea, I like the dual purpose enchantments".
- The Rider looked somewhat perplexed, "Dual purpose?". Tavelle smiled broadly, "Imagine dropping a huge four-poster on a Hobgoblin?". Naema laughed, shook her head, and buckled her weaponbelt, "Do you have any fantasies?", she asked. Tavelle raised an eyebrow, "Like what?". Naema looked a little embarrassed, "You know, playing pretend? I could be a damsel in distress, taken by an evil dragon, and we could make believe you're my shining knight?".
- "Cheeky cow, I might not wear any physical armour, but I do shine on the odd occasion", thought the mage.
- The fighter stood up, turned to face him, and batted her eyelashes, "To show my gratitude I could play with your lance?", giggled Naema.
- "It'd be far better than being entertained by an Unseen Servant", thought the wizard with a grin, "They're bloody hopeless".
- "Or, I could be an innocent maid on a farm harvesting radishes? Maybe I find a big one?", and she started laughing. The wizard chuckled, "You could tie me naked to a backpack and have your way with me?".
The DM's jaw dropped...
- Naema scrunched up her nose, "Tavelle! I said fantasies! Not fetishes!", and she just about stopped herself from punching him on the arm. Tavelle raised a hand in apology, "Alright, forget the bit about the backpack", laughed the wizard, "How about you're a naughty priestess who wants to sacrifice me to some nefarious deity? You've got me bound, at your mercy, and you just can't help yourself?".
- Naema raised a dark eyebrow, "So you'd be tied up and I could do whatever I wanted to you?". Tavelle nodded, "Yeah, that sounds alright?", he replied, "And, I'd get a rest", thought the mage. The Rider nodded her head in agreement, "I'd like to play dress up too", said Naema, "You do realise you look amazing in the militia uniform?", and she licked her lips.
- "Maybe we could get you a proper set of armour for you to really act the part? I could be an attendant helping you remove it after a battle?", and she bit her bottom lip suggestively.
"Blimey... That's quite a powerful image", said Tavelle's owner.
- The mage looked to his loins, "This enchantment will last at least another hour", he grinned.
- "Good, I've got some rope", smirked Naema as she reached for the coiled length on the floor.
- "Did we bring a backpack?", laughed the wizard.
- "Shut up about bloody backpacks!", snapped the Rider, "And, let me tie you up...".
Some time passes...
- "Okay, now, I'm knackered", thought the wizard with an audible groan, as he dragged on his boot to finish dressing for the second time that night. Naema was fastening her weaponbelt and she glanced over, "Are you alright?", she asked.
- The mage sighed, "Honestly? I'm shattered", he admitted. Naema shook her head, "Yeah, you've still got to climb down the rope". Tavelle pulled a face, "I wish I had a Feather Fall spell", and shook his head, "I haven't even got any gloves".
- The wizard started scraping his hair back into a ponytail and marvelled at its condition. It was thick, silky, and gleamed with health. The Rider walked over and bent down to retrieve the leather cord, "Your hair looks beautiful, do you want a hand with it?", she asked. Tavelle nodded and Naema tied it back into a far more comfortable ponytail.
- The mage thanked the fighter and started chuckling, "When I saw Dumic earlier he offered to do my hair before we leave". Naema snorted, "Don't think I'm going to braid it for you... At the rate it's growing it'll probably tickle your arse by morning".
- Naema kicked the coil out of the hole in the floor, "Come on", she said and crouched down to begin ascending the rope. The pair exited the Rope Trick and when they were both safely standing on the ground Tavelle dismissed the enchantment. The rope flopped to the ground at his feet. The wizard bent down, he picked up both pieces and joined them together with a Mending Cantrip.
- The couple walked back holding hands and could hear murmuring animal noises from the stables and cattle sheds. As they got nearer to the main dwelling Naema grinned, pulled him into a shadowy nook, and pushed him up against a wall.
- The pair shared and embrace and a tender kiss, "Don't you dare cut your hair", pleaded the fighter, "Trim it by all means... Just don't chop it off". The wizard nodded, he kissed the Rider again and heard rain start to fall heavily. They broke from the cover of the dark overhang and raced back to the main hall to seek shelter from the downpour.
- They both stood beneath the porch as the rain pelted the ground and the wind picked up strength. Naema shook the droplets from her hair, "I'll go in first, you wait for a bit then come in afterwards". Tavelle nodded, "Yeah, we don't want to make it too obvious. I'll see you in the morning", and he kissed her goodnight. The Rider opened the door, the warm light flooded the alcove, and the glow vanished to darkness when she disappeared inside.
- The rain was hitting the roof tiles with a consistent ferocity and it was all Tavelle's ears could hear. The mage was sheltered from the gusting wind, away from the driving downpour, and he felt quite content.
- He waited for a while and then opened the door to enter the hall. It was far more subdued in comparison to earlier in the evening and Tavelle could see most of the militia already asleep in their bedrolls. The light inside the great hall was very dim as many of the candles and lamps had either been extinguished or turned down. There were a few figures, obscured by shadows, seated at one of the dinner tables.
- The wizard sneaked slowly towards the table of drinks, to prepare himself a nightcap, and he did his utmost to keep his footfalls light.
- Tavelle looked at the selection and decided he'd have a brandy, "What did Bron call this stuff the last time we were here? Arsehole Varnish?".
- As Tavelle poured himself a large one to help him sleep Tynan sidled up and eyed him suspiciously, "You look like you've been dragged through a hedge backwards...", said the fighter.
- "Bush, actually", silently corrected the mage and he desperately tried to keep a straight face.
- Brondar appeared at his flank, "You're all wet, where've yer been?", he whispered. Tavelle turned to face the Rider, "Exploring another dimension...", he offered cryptically.
- Brondar glanced over towards where Naema was preparing her bedroll, his mouth opened but it seemed he couldn't think of anything to say... Tavelle looked to Tynan and he just shrugged, as if speechless...
"Ha!", laughed the player, "You're stumped!".
- The mage grinned at the burly fighter and nodded to the Tymoran. Tavelle necked his beaker of brandy, spluttered a wheezy cough, and bid the pair goodnight.
- The wizard collected his bedroll from the small room and found a nice corner to rest for the night. Tavelle unbuckled his weaponbelt, removed the pouch bandolier, and pulled off his boots. He unfurled the thick blanket and recognised the sound of Drool's paws on the flagstones getting closer. Tavelle heard heavy breathing behind him as he smoothed out the blanket, "Although, it could be Naema?", he thought with a grin. The mage slowly tuned around and raised an eyebrow at the Highdale Mastiff, "Hello, what do you want?", he asked.
- Drool whined and a long stringy tendril of foamy spit drooped from his muzzle.
- "What?", said Tavelle, "Are you missing Liria?", he whispered.
- "Hurf!", exhaled the large Mastiff and he gently pawed the bedroll. Tavelle rubbed behind Drool's ears and patted him on his muscled side, "Come on then", encouraged the wizard, "Just don't slobber on me".
- Tavelle laid down on the heavy blanket, with the large dog resting next to him, and his heavy eyelids closed themselves.
Edited by - Farrel on 03 Oct 2016 19:49:10
Posted - 12 Apr 2017 : 07:23:42
| This has been a great series. I've stolen quite a lot for use in the Mistledale section of my own campaign.
Thanks for posting!
NB: Please remember: A cannon is a big gun. Canon is what we discuss here.
Posted - 06 Aug 2017 : 16:51:24
| Derulbaskul, glad it's been of use.
Update ( 23rd October 2011)
- Tavelle heard people moving around him, he opened his eyes, and realised it was morning already. The militia were slowly rising from their slumber and preparing themselves for the ride to Ashabenford.
- The wizard blinked a few times, stretched on his thick bedroll, and was thankful not to have a hangover. He didn't ache or feel as awful as he had the previous morning and felt quite relieved.
- As Tavelle lay on his back he gazed up at the wooden beams and dark arches in the ceiling. There were lots of carvings on the thick wooden frames and most were of flowers, leaves, and horses.
- The mage smelt the aroma of baking bread and wondered what would be for breakfast. The last time he spent the night he'd thoroughly enjoyed a sausage in a flour covered roll.
- Tavelle sat up, he looked about, and noted Drool was nowhere to be seen. It was as he turned his head to search for the dog he remembered to check the length of his hair. The leather cord was loose and Tavelle felt his hair sitting weirdly.
- To his disgust he turned to see the long ponytail trailing onto his blanket. The wizard gently grasped the cord and attempted to sort it out, "Nine Hells", he sighed in frustration.
- "Heh!", chuckled Falmer, who was sat on his bedroll a few feet away, "I've never seen hair grow so bloody quick".
- Tavelle looked over to the bleary eyed militiaman, "Does it look alright?", he asked.
- The fighter shook his head and pulled a face, "No, not really, I'll do it for you".
- Falmer crawled over and deftly untied the cord, he gently pulled back his hair, and tied it securely, "If it keeps growing like this I reckon you should leave it for a ride or two?".
- "A ride or two? Are you having a laugh?", balked Tavelle, "I'd need to buy a wheelbarrow to cart it around".
- "Well, It'd make some lovely rugs", said Falmer.
- Tavelle laughed aloud, "What, wigs?".
- "Yeah, why not?", replied Falmer in surprise, "It's all about length", explained the militiaman.
- The wizard chuckled and looked suspiciously to Falmer's dark brown curls.
- The fighter raised an eyebrow as the mage studied his hair, "Oi! Mine's real, you cheeky bastard".
- Tavelle shrugged, "It's just you seem to know a fair bit about them?".
- Falmer shook his head, "Not really, although I did used to have an aunt who wore a wig".
- The militiaman stood up, yawned, and buckled his weaponbelt, "How much is it growing a night, six inches?", he asked.
- Tavelle worriedly glanced around to make sure their conversation wasn't being misinterpreted, "More like eight", he overestimated loudly.
- The fighter nodded as if impressed, "Suffer it for as long as you're able and then give it a clean trim", and he sat back down on his bedroll to put on his boots, "Have a word with Multhimmer, he'll buy it, you'll see".
- Tavelle sat up straight, "Multhimmer buys hair?", asked the mage.
- "Yep", said the militiaman.
- "How much do you think I might get for it?", asked Tavelle with obvious interest.
- Falmer shrugged, "I'm not sure, but, like I said, the longer the better".
- "A rough estimate?", persisted the wizard.
- "I don't know", said Falmer.
- "How do you know he buys it?", asked Tavelle.
- The fighter breathed a weary sigh, "I've four daughters... Me missus cuts their hair every couple of seasons and they're given some coin... I'll admit I'm rubbish with money so Emlah looks after all that stuff".
- As much as he'd enjoyed Naema's reaction to his hair Tavelle recalled her prediction about it tickling his arse, "I've got to get rid of it... I feel like an idiot...".
- The mage unsheathed the Dwarven dagger, "Can you trim it for me, Falmer? I've had enough of it...".
- "Are you sure?", asked the militiaman as the wizard handed over his blade.
- The mage nodded, "About here", he explained as he held up the excess of the ponytail and pointed, "If I have too much off Naema will kill me".
- Falmer carefully sliced through Tavelle's hair, he handed back the blade, and then held up the ponytail, "You want this?".
- "Not really", smiled the wizard.
- "Can't you use it for any spells?", asked the militiaman.
- Tavelle shrugged and smiled, "Not that I'm aware of".
- "Although, I could ask Kerryn to knit Erael a merkin?", thought the mage as he recalled a particularly treasured mental image from the Rodrathe's stable.
- Tavelle nodded his head at the notion, "Actually, I will have it", and Falmer handed it over. He tied the foot and a half of hair in a double knot and tucked it into a large pouch situated on the rear of his belt.
- "What are you going to do with it?", asked the militiaman.
- "I'd like Kerryn to see it... just to show her how long it was", laughed Tavelle, "If I don't have proof then she'll think I'm pulling her leg".
- Tavelle grabbed his boots and pulled them on. He stood up, wrapped his weaponbelt around his waist, and fastened the buckle. The wizard looked around the hall and could see Tynan and Serrick making their way towards him.
- Tavelle bid them both a good morning.
- "Alright, haircut?", chuckled Tynan.
- "Liria owes us some coin", laughed Serrick.
- "You lot seem to be willing to bet on anything?", smirked the mage.
- The pair nodded, "Yeah, pretty much", admitted Tynan with a grin.
- "Watch out", said Falmer quietly, "Bron's coming...".
- Tavelle turned around and saw Brondar walking over.
- The burly fighter gave him a nod, "Heh, about time yer had it cut... Yer were startin to look like a bleedin Druid...".
- Brondar glanced at the quartet and frowned, "Get yerselves some mornfry and make lively".
- Tavelle carefully rolled up the blanket and buckled the straps to keep it securely stowed. The wizard started to make his way across the hall with Falmer and saw Naema enter through the large arched doorway.
- The Rider was wearing her half plate and he gave her a smile as he walked over to meet her, "Sleep well?", he asked.
- Naema nodded, "Yes, what about you?".
- "I was asleep as soon as I closed my eyes", chuckled Tavelle, "You knackered me out".
- Naema shook her head and started laughing, "I can't wait for the benefits of Bron's training... he's going to have you wearing armour".
- "Well, what do you reckon?", asked Tavelle in an attempt to change the subject.
- "About what?", asked the Rider.
- "I had a trim", explained the mage and he turned his head for the Rider to see, "What do you think?".
- The fighter smiled approvingly, "I'm glad you didn't have too much off...", and she paused as if remembering something pertinent, "Brondar said there's a magical shield?".
- Tavelle nodded and silently wondered if he was going to get told off, "What about it?", he asked suspiciously.
- "Is it powerfully enchanted?", she asked.
- The wizard nearly breathed a sigh of relief, "I think so, but I haven't seen many to compare it against".
- Naema nodded, "Have you seen the longsword? Lanneth said it had a black blade with an exposed edge?".
- Tavelle shook his head, "No, I haven't, not yet... I've only seen the shield briefly... They found the treasure after I'd left for the surface".
- The Rider furrowed her brow, "I saw the trade weights and jewellery being collected... I was too late to see the items...", she explained ruefully.
- "Was there much?", asked the mage.
- The fighter nodded, "There was a lot from what I saw".
- "You rode straight past the magical shield yesterday", chuckled the wizard, "It was on the back of the Chauntean carriage".
- Naema looked deep in thought, "I've always dreamed of an enchanted blade... and this one is as old as Mistledale".
- "I'd say it probably predates Mistledale", offered Tavelle and he silently wondered if Deepchill might know.
- "I've been asked to help the stewards go through it", explained the mage, "Sister Alena wants to be present... just in case".
- The Rider frowned at the wizard, "In case of what?".
- Tavelle gave her a serious look, "Vengeful spirits", he explained.
- Naema paused for a moment, "Do you think the ghosts of the Barrowfields will come for them?".
- The mage shook his head, "No, I don't think so... Not now".
- "Why's that?", asked Naema.
- Tavelle shrugged, "If it was going to happen then I believe we would've seen something last night".
- Naema digested the information, "When do you think you'll get the chance to study them?".
- "I don't know, maybe tonight or tomorrow?", replied the wizard.
- "It's quite exciting", grinned the Rider.
- "I can't wait to see the crown again", admitted Tavelle with a big smile, "It's made of interwoven gold and silver... it's quite stunning... It has five spires which rise from the main headpiece. Each spire was tipped with a gem and the band had some stones in too".
- "Not that you paid much attention?", laughed Naema sarcastically.
- The wizard smiled back at the Rider, "Now it isn't on the head of a murderous Wight King it should prove easier to appraise".
- The fighter smirked and glanced over Tavelle's shoulder, "You'd probably best get some breakfast and sort out your spells", she stated loudly.
- "Eh?", asked the mage.
- "Bron is giving me an evil look...", whispered Naema, "I'll catch up with you during the ride back to town".
- The Rider made her way off, she passed by Briarly, and walked out of the large doorway into the yard.
- The wizard noted many of the militia were already seated and enjoying large baps filled with slices of blood sausage and a fried egg. Tavelle grinned at the thought of it being the only time he could look forward to eating a Black Pudding.
- The mage retrieved the travelling spell tome, from his backpack in the small room, and made his way over to collect a sausage and egg bap from the serving table. Tavelle thanked the young girl and he proceeded to an empty corner table.
- The wizard opened up the book, took a bite of his breakfast, and started to prepare the enchantments he had expended.
- Tavelle felt a presence, someone standing alongside, and he glanced up from the tome to see Sister Alena beside him.
- The priestess smiled at the mage, "Morning, how did you sleep?", she asked, and produced the leather cord from her robes.
- Tavelle returned the smile, "I slept well thank you", and glanced at the thong.
- "I have blessed it as you requested", said Alena as she handed it to the wizard.
- Tavelle took possession of the leather cord and thanked the priestess.
- Sister Alena tilted her head to the side and smiled, "You cut your hair...".
- Tavelle nodded, "The trim feels a lot better".
- The priestess smiled, "I think it suits you... I will be returning to the abbey with the Reverend Harvestmaster and I'll meet you at the barracks this evening".
- Tavelle nodded, "I'll wait for you in the main hall".
- The mage noticed her eyes look to the tome, "I forgot you have to consult your book", she explained, "I'd best leave you to your studies".
- The wizard thanked Sister Alena again for the blessing and Tavelle watched as she made her way off.
- The mage reached into a belt pouch and retrieved the small piece of horn, which was shaped into the Mistran sigil.
- Tavelle carefully threaded the cord through the small hole in the piece. He wrapped it around his right wrist, so everything wasn't on the same arm, and the wizard attempted to tie the cord with a simple knot.
- "I hope this is Ram's Horn...", thought the mage, "It better not be from a goat or bullock".
- The wizard frowned, he realised he should've asked for a firm assurance of their authenticity, "I'll need to test each piece independently".
Tavelle is asked to roll a d20 (DC22 Listen Check).
Tavelle rolls a 6 (+3) = 9
- "What you doing?", asked a voice from out of nowhere and Tavelle nearly jumped from his skin.
- The mage looked sideways to Liria, "Nine Hells! Don't creep up on me, you nearly gave me heartstop!", he scolded and then tried to continue securing the thong.
- Liria leaned in close to get a peek at what he was doing, "What are you tying around your wrist?", she asked.
Tavelle is asked to roll a d20 (DC17 Spot Check).
Tavelle rolls a 7 (+3) = 10
- Tavelle held up his right arm so she could see for herself, "A couple of items so I can cast spells quickly", and he explained their functions.
- The silver-haired Halfling grinned at the wizard, "Cheers, for keeping quiet again".
- Tavelle shook his head, "It's not me you should be thanking, you need to think about how patient Erael is being?".
- "Okay", agreed the Halfling with a pout.
- Tavelle sighed, "You do realise the spelltrap automatically resets itself after it's triggered? Without disabling the magical trap you'll be turned into The Moog every time".
- Liria gave a shrug, "My uncle Mergil says it's an occupational hazard... anyway, I was feeling lucky".
- "You're lucky it's not lethal", scolded the wizard, "If it had been a stroke of lightning or a ball of flame you'd be dead... Twice".
- "Here I go again...", thought Tavelle in annoyance.
- "Meh, I'm pretty nifty on my feet... I'd have dodged it", advised Liria nonchalantly.
- The mage stared into his lap and shook his head, "I give up...", he muttered in defeat.
- Tavelle decided not to waste any more of his breath and thought of something important, "Can you get any Lannane's Parsnip Wine?", he asked.
- The Halfling grinned broadly and nodded her head, "Yeah, I've got two bottles stashed in my pack, you can have one".
- Tavelle's eyes lit up at the news and he thanked Liria, "Ever since you mentioned Nymphs...", he chuckled.
- Liria giggled, "I'd crawl all over your tongue if you wanted? You just need to work on a spell to get us to the same size...".
- Tavelle was left speechless as the silver-haired Halfling winked, placed his dagger on the table and sauntered away.
- The mage turned back to his spell tome, he tried to continue reading, and wondered if he should tell Naema...
- Tavelle completed preparing the Cantrip spell. He was still without a cloak so the wizard began work on an Endure Elements enchantment and he noticed Erael approach.
- The sorceress smiled and gave a him a nod, "Good morning, I see you've trimmed your ponytail".
- "It was getting a bit Liria", chuckled Tavelle.
- "Pardon?", asked Erael with a slight shake of her head.
- "Annoying", laughed the mage.
- "She's certainly persistent", chuckled the sorceress.
- "I'm sorry, I don't want to interrupt your study", apologised Erael, "But, I was hoping you would be able to summon Spot, for me to ride on the way back to Ashabenford, please?".
- Tavelle nodded, "Yes, of course".
- The sorceress fidgeted, "I feel a bit useless just sitting in the carriage".
- The wizard opened a belt pouch to retrieve the clasp and handed it to Erael, "It's in need of a minor repair but it still functions".
- The sorceress thanked him and left him alone to continue reading.
- Tavelle didn't take long to finish preparing his enchantments, he closed the tome, and cast the Endure Elements upon himself.
Wizard Spells Prepared (4/4/3 base DC = 14 + spell level; caster level 4th)
0 level - Detect Magic, Mending, Prestigidation, Read Magic
1st level - Endure Elements, Light of Selune, Mage Armour, Shield
2nd level - Battering Ram, Mirror Image, Rope Trick
- Tavelle looked at the wooden bowl of fruit on the table and picked out a shiny red apple, "Half for Fury and half for me", he thought to himself.
- As the mage turned around to get up he was slightly startled by a large gathering of a dozen, red-haired, children waiting quietly nearby.
- Tavelle rose slowly from the chair, "Er... hello?", blinked the wizard.
- A chubby lad of about ten smiled politely at Tavelle, "Me mama said that if we waited and asked nicely you might show us some magic again, please?".
- All of the children echoed the, "Please", a number of times...
- The wizard grinned broadly and nodded, "It would be my pleasure".
- Tavelle looked to a freckle-faced young girl of around Maisie's age, "What's your name?", he asked, "What would you like to see?".
- "Flying hedgepigs!", squealed the youngster, "I'm Girda! I'm five andanarf!".
- "Okay, Girda... who's five andanarf", chuckled the mage, "A flock of flying hedgepigs coming up".
- Tavelle concentrated whilst casting the Prestigidation and brought to mind some caricatures of hedgehogs he'd fed at the tower over the years... Just to add depth to the minor illusion.
- Over a dozen cute and cuddly hedgepigs with brightly coloured, rapidly flapping, feathered wings sprang into existence in the air above the group. The various colours looked like a rainbow of rotund spiky hummingbirds and they weaved and danced in a rather haphazard fashion.
- Girda squeaked loudly with joy at the sight of one particular hedgehog which was best described as an 'angry pink' hue.
- Her kin laughed at the gaudy humminghogs and most of the adults had also stopped to gawp.
- The wizard saw Nerla, watching a short distance away with a big grin, and her dimples were showing, "Ooh, an audience", he thought happily.
- Tavelle cast a minor Cantrip to conjure an illusory length of twine and he asked Girda to, "Pick a colour".
- "Pink one, please!", beamed Girda.
- The wizard reached out to interact with the illusory flying hedgehog and touched the string to a hind leg. As he did so he manipulated the physics of the minor Prestigidation so that it was buoyant and gravity neutral.
- Tavelle reeled in the fluttering figment and held it gently by its fuzzy snout. He proceeded by bringing the illusion to his lips and pretending to blow hard.
- The fat little hedgehog doubled in size as it began to inflate and its eyes bulged uncomfortably.
- The thrice sized creature resembled a spiny pink blimp with a snout.
- The mage nimbly tied a pretend knot in the illusion and handed the end of the twine to Girda, "There you go".
- "Erm, fankyew?", muttered the small girl as she gazed with her mouth slightly agape at the flapping, balloon-like, hedgehog.
- Tavelle saw Lanneth making his way over and he raised his brow at the floating hedgehog on a length of string, "I hope you don't do that to real ones?", chuckled the Ranger.
- "Not recently", smiled the mage.
- Lanneth shook his head, "You really need to get a move on".
- Tavelle felt an insistent tug at his sleeve and he looked down almost expecting to see Liria.
- "Can you blow up my pet rat?", asked a ginger boy with crossed eyes and Lanneth started laughing.
- Tavelle looked deep in thought for a few moments and then shook his head seriously, "No, I'm sorry, I'd best not...", he explained.
- The wizard collected his pack and stowed his spellbook inside. He followed Lanneth through the small crowd who had gathered to watch the flying hedgehogs and he was intercepted by Nerla.
- "I got you something for the road", she smiled, "It's a few rolls and a couple of treats".
- Nerla handed the mage a small canvas sack and he peeked inside, "Treats?", he asked inquisitively.
- The wizard saw four, seeded, crusty cobs filled with cold roast boar and apple sauce, three large pieces of fatty crackling, and half a dozen gooseberry tarts.
- Tavelle gave Nerla a big hug, "Thank you", he said gratefully, "I do love crackling and I must say I'm partial to a tart".
- Lanneth snorted and the mage gave him a sour look.
- Tavelle turned back to Nerla, "I have to go, thanks again... for everything", he smiled.
- The wizard walked outside with the Ranger and saw the courtyard was crowded and buzzing with activity.
- The chunky young lad was holding Fury by the reins. He could see his mane had been beautifully braided with some white ribbon intertwined. His coal black coat was gleaming and his hooves washed.
- He secured the saddlebags and patted the large horse on the neck, "Thank you, he looks amazing!", admitted the wizard.
- "Aye", said the lad and he smiled, "He loves the attention".
- Tavelle nodded, "I've found he's a very good listener... Not so great with advice... I'm sorry, I don't know your name?", apologised the mage.
- "I'm Yort, Dumic is my uncle", explained the youth.
- Tavelle retrieved the apple, he sliced it in two with his dagger, and offered a piece to the massive stallion. Fury's bristly lips closed around the fruit and Tavelle heard some heavy chomping as the apple disappeared.
- The wizard retrieved a silver coin from his purse and handed it to Yort, "Thank you for doing such a splendid job on Fury".
The DM nearly fainted...
- The young lad looked at the coin with wide eyes, "Thanks!", he blurted excitedly, "Uncle Dumic said he's a proper heavy warhorse...".
- "He's a heavy warhorse?", asked the mage.
- "Yep, a real destroyer", nodded Yort, "Uncle Dumic knows his horses".
Tavelle's owner silently digested the information...
The DM noted a blank look...
- "I'd better go hide this somewhere safe... thanks again!", said Yort as he departed.
- Tavelle watched the young lad walk to the stables and looked Fury up and down, "Well, don't you look smart?", he told the huge horse.
- The wizard took a bite of the apple and turned to watch a trio of militia approaching. He recognised them as Feluan, Corster, and Jerren. The shaggy haired woodsman smiled broadly as he led the others over. Feluan was spinning a wicked looking knife nimbly through his fingers and Jerren was having trouble making eye contact.
Tavelle is asked to roll a d20 (DC15 Spot Check).
Tavelle rolls a 2 (+3) = 5
- "We got you a present", said Corster with a grin, Feluan nodded, and Jerren continued to look shifty.
- "I'm not about to get shanked am I?", thought the mage.
- Jerren brought his right arm from behind his back and held out his hand to reveal a navy blue, almost black, glass vial. There was a sinister skull stopper, with a rather insane grin, and far too many teeth.
- "It's a bottle of Wyvern's venom", explained the Bear.
Tavelle is asked to roll a d20 (DC15 Spot Check).
Tavelle rolls a 10 (+3) = 13
- "Yer left the stinger on the floor after yer tried poisoning yerself...", and the three of them startled laughing, "When everyone else went back to the farm we tapped it into the bottle for yer", explained Feluan.
- "It's wonderful, thank you", said Tavelle and he started laughing, "I did want some...".
- "Harran whittled us a lovely stopper for it", said Corster.
- "I think I saw him carving it?", nodded the mage, "It's everything a bottle of poison should be... Nobody could mistake it for a vial of scent"
- "We approve", thought the dark strip of cloth.
Tavelle is asked to roll a d20 (DC15 Spot Check).
Tavelle rolls a 17 (+3) = 20
- "Good whittler...", mumbled Jerren in agreement, and the wizard saw something move in his trouser leg.
- Tavelle raised a concerned eyebrow, "Jerren, is there something in your britches?".
- The militiaman nodded, "It's my ferret", he explained quietly.
- The mage chuckled as he watched the lump move towards Jerren's groin, "Is it safe to have it roaming around in there?".
- The militiaman smiled, "Yeah, he's fine... He's hiding from that bloody great owl", and the bump in the material moved again.
- Corster explained they weren't generally allowed to bring pets along but Slinky the ferret provided rabbits to supplement their rations.
- "There's a big old oak stump near yer tower... Loadsa rabbits underneath it", said Feluan. Jerren nodded, "Next time we go yer can come along if yer want?".
- Feluan twirled a slender knife deftly between his fingers, "I'll teach yer how to skin the buggers".
- The wizard nodded his agreement as he'd never been ferreting for rabbits and was eager to see Slinky, "Yes, please", he replied.
- Tavelle held up the bottle, "Thank you again for this", he said sincerely, and marvelled at the indigo glass and grinning white skull...
- There were occasional incidents with mice at the tower and Nereskul wasn't particularly fond of cats. He recalled the first mouse he encountered in his room and the surprisingly awful mess it made when struck by a Magic Missile.
- The toxin might not be pleasant for the small rodents but at least they wouldn't explode.
- Tavelle remembered finding random pieces of mouse for weeks afterwards and cleaning gore from the ceiling had taken forever, "Yep, poison the buggers...", he thought to himself.
- Jerren nodded, mumbled, "Careful wittit", and wandered off to prepare his mount.
- Corster placed a large hand on his shoulder and the mage saw his hairy knuckles, "Seriously, be careful with it", asserted the hirsute militiaman.
- Tavelle placed the small bottle in a side pocket of his backpack, he wedged it securely upright, and thought how great it would look on his shelf.
The stoppered glass vial contains eight doses of virulent Wyvern's venom.
- Tavelle placed a hand on the saddle, a foot in a stirrup, and swung himself easily onto Fury. The mage adjusted his position a few times until he found exactly the right spot where his buttocks had been previously.
- As Tavelle sat upon Fury he watched the militia preparing to depart the ranch.
- Brother Waylam and Brother Xarran were in their seats on the carriage. Trentos of the Abbey held the reins to his wagon and was talking to Harbeck who was mounted next to him.
- "Remember", called the Paladin of Chauntea, "Remember your vows... What happened on patrol and in the Barrowfields will not be discussed", and she stared at Liria.
- Tavelle raised an eyebrow and wondered what he would tell his family about the expedition into the Barrowfields, "Father is on a retainer from the council... I should probably tell him everything... well, obviously, not everything...", thought the wizard.
- Tavelle heard Brondar bellow the order for the column to move out and he saw a steady procession of mounted militia follow The Shield of Chauntea. The riders began crossing under the wooden arch decorated with red stained antlers and it took some time for the Chauntean carriage to start moving.
- As he rode next to the carriage the wizard wondered how to go about broaching the subject of tutelage with his father.
- Tavelle realised that he and Erael would need to get their stories straight before any meeting with his family, "We need to be reading from the same scroll", he told himself.
- All of the Riders and militia were seen off by the ranchers who lined up along each side of the large arch. They sang a simple hymn to Chauntea with great enthusiasm as the carriage rolled smoothly past.
- Tavelle waved farewell to Dumic, Nerla, and Lossora as he rode underneath the arch. The mage looked up at a massive rack of antlers and hoped to be able to return.
- He turned in the saddle for a final wave goodbye and could see, hovering above the crowd of farmers, a pink, blimp-like, hedgehog fluttering on string and he left Dumic's ranch with a grin.
- The mounted militia snaked its way away from the farm buildings and a little while later, when the mage turned back to see the ranch, it was a lot smaller in the distance. They were expected to make Ashabenford by early evening as there would be no detour to Stumphill or any visits to the outlying farms.
- After the rebuke from the previous day the mage dutifully kept his eyes peeled for any threats to the caravan. The summer was well and truly over and he noted the sky was filled with marbled grey clouds.
- Tavelle watched Lanneth and some of his militia take up positions a couple of hundred yards either side of the column and ride parallel with it.
- The wizard rode alone for at least the first hour of the journey before Brondar galloped up from the rear of the column and joined him.
- The fighter gave him a nod, "I reckon we'll be needing to get yer up earlier in the morning next time yer patrol?".
- "What do you mean, next time?", smirked the mage, "I'm never leaving the tower again!".
- The burly Rider gave the wizard a strange look.
- "It's far too dangerous outside", laughed Tavelle.
- Brondar quickly realised he was being teased and started laughing, "There's me thinking Haylen took a long time to get ready in the morning?".
- "It's only because I'm popular", chortled the mage.
- "Popular? Pfft! Yer a right bloody gasbag!", laughed the bearded fighter.
- "To be fair, I don't get let out of the tower much", chuckled Tavelle, "Nereskul doesn't like to unleash me on the dale too often".
- Brondar started laughing loudly and had to physically stifle himself so as not to attract the Shield's attention.
- The wizard waited politely for the Rider to cease his tittering.
- Bron took a deep breath, "I've seen yer unleash yerself against a skeletal chicken and that wasn't a pretty sight", giggled the red faced fighter.
- Tavelle winced... Being reminded of the undead cockerel, and his laughably poor attempts at killing it, wasn't his favourite subject.
- "I've moved on from that", explained Tavelle, "and, by the way, go cluck yerself", he smiled.
- Brondar laughed, wiped the tears from his eyes, and shook his head, "So, when do yer reckon yer'll be ready for some training?".
- "I was thinking a ride?", offered the mage, "I've amassed quite a list of things I wish to do".
- "Like what?", asked the fighter.
- "I'm going to ask Kerryn for some help... I want to make a magical cloak to keep me warm and dry", explained Tavelle, "If I'm not required to memorise an Endure Elements enchantment each day I can keep my mind free for something else".
- Brondar nodded.
- "I might also see if I can make a Brooch of Shielding", explained the wizard.
- The burly Rider shrugged, "What about the brooch from the barrow? Isn't that what yer told Tynan it was? They might let yer have it?".
- Tavelle shook his head, "You're right but I'd like to make my own... something that's not a Red bloody Dragon".
- Brondar nodded, "What else?", asked the fighter.
- The mage continued, "I'd also like to finish some pieces of jewellery I've got back at the tower... Multhimmer has been on at me forever about letting him sell some of my stuff...".
- The bearded Rider harrumphed, "Make sure yer overprice it... Multhimmer will".
- Tavelle started laughing, "I really need the money... I just don't like the thought of him selling my work".
- "What're yer on about?", asked Brondar.
- The wizard shrugged, "It's a general store...".
- "Yer might be best having a word with Ellick?", offered the fighter.
- "The Gnome jeweller in Glen?", asked the mage.
- "Aye", confirmed Brondar.
- Tavelle thought back to his stay with Asantar and he recalled his visit to Ellick's tiny shop.
- To say it was small was a slight understatement and the mage wondered if you could squeeze more than four Gnomes in there at the same time?
- The wizard remembered feeling like a giant when he was forced to duck to gain entry and moving around within its confines had been nerve wracking.
- Tavelle started laughing, "Have you ever been inside?".
- Brondar shook his head, "Nope, I have to look through the bleedin window".
- Ellick, the Gnomish Jeweller, had been friendly and was extremely knowledgeable. The mage had been keenly aware that Ellick was worried about him accidentally knocking things over due to his size and the tight constraints of the shop.
- Tavelle recalled being dumbstruck at the trays of various stones which lined the walls of Glimmerstone's Gemporium. He had seen many varieties of rocks and crystals which he had only ever read about... it had taken Naema and Andurar quite some time to get him to leave.
- Tavelle nodded, "As suggestions go, that's a very good one, thanks".
- "So, did her have fun with yer missus last night?", asked the fighter.
- "Yes, I did", smiled the wizard, "It was certainly different".
- "Halinthe won't let me explore her 'other dimension' I'm not allowed", grumbled Brondar.
- "Pardon me?", asked the mage, "What exactly are we talking about?".
- "Erm, what're yer talking about?", muttered the Rider.
- Tavelle frowned at Brondar, "I'm talking about a new spell I tried last night, to summon a small extra-dimensional space, and you?".
- "Aah, well... Never mind...", said the fighter.
- There was a brief, uncomfortable, silence.
- Brondar cleared his throat with a cough, "So, come on, what happened when yer faced the Mound King?".
- Tavelle gave a shrug, "Well, I realised I'd met my doom and I remembered our conversation on the way to the Barrows...".
- A smile crept onto his face, "So, I readied my boot and looked for his knackers... I have to say I was disappointed... No balls... No nose to tweak...".
- The Rider shook his head, "Come on, stop <censored> about and tell me the damned truth".
- "The truth?", asked Tavelle as if seeking confirmation, "Well, the truth isn't brave or heroic... I thought of letting Jentar die...".
- Brondar let slip a guffaw, "We've all done that".
- Tavelle shook his head, "Not like this though", and he looked bemused, "It was the way it just popped into my mind... Let the paladin die".
- "Yeah, but yer didn't", said the fighter, "Serrick said yer pissed it off so bad it wanted yer dead more than anyone else?".
- Tavelle smiled at Bron, "I can get a bit annoying".
- The dark strip of cloth silently seethed in agreement...
- The fighter shook his head, "Yer baited the <censored> into attacking yer".
- The mage shrugged, "That's all your fault... You said trust in your Swordbrothers... I had to try and help...".
- Tavelle noticed Brondar was staring at him intently, "Yer were willing to take it all the way and do yer duty... To give all yer have is brave and heroic in my mind".
- "Pfft!", snorted the wizard, "I'd no intention of nearly getting myself killed... It just sort of happened...".
- Brondar shook his head, "I've seen men who thought they were hard <censored>, <censored>, <censored> themselves when it came down to a proper battle".
- Tavelle raised an eyebrow, "Does Halinthe actually let you kiss her with that mouth?", laughed the mage.
- "Bah! I'm just sayin yer never really know how yer'll react until it happens...", said the fighter in frustration.
- "Well, at least I can tell Captain Baergil I didn't <censored> myself...", grinned the wizard.
- Brondar smiled through his beard, "Aye, and from what they said about Erael's new sword it sounds as though the tempering did a good job? No doubt he'll be pleased to hear about that".
- Tavelle nodded and he thought back to the conversation with Derim, "The Lionswrath blade was tempered too", he reminded the Rider.
- "Yeah, and it's in the hands of the Morn Horn", grumbled Bron.
- "I still think Erael was meant to face the Mound King", muttered the mage.
- "Maybe she was?", nodded Brondar, "But, when Jentar <censored> things up and she couldn't, you did...".
- "Beshaba's Balls!", thought Tavelle, "Even Brondar's starting to sound wise... what in the Nine Hells is happening?".
- The wizard saw Naema riding towards them from the front of the column. The fighter slowed down as she approached, wheeled her mare around to pull up alongside the mage, and gave him a nod.
- The young Rider glanced at the bearded Rider, she grinned, and shook her head, "The Shield has asked if you can secure our rear, please?".
- Brondar sighed, he frowned at Tavelle, and nodded to Naema, "Aye, will do".
- The pair watched as the fighter trotted off towards the rear, "What was Bron laughing about?", she asked.
- "I mentioned my father not letting me out of the tower much", chuckled the mage, "He seemed to find my comment about Nereskul occasionally unleashing me on the dale hilarious".
- The Rider spluttered a giggle and put a gloved hand to her mouth, "I'm sorry", she apologised, "You do say some funny things".
- Tavelle bowed courteously, "I do my best".
- The fighter smiled, "So, what's the thing you're looking forward to the most about returning?".
- The wizard raised his brow, "To the barracks or home?".
- "Both?", asked Naema.
- "Well, either way, I want a bath... a hot one... with bubbles... and some nice soap without any curly hairs...", explained Tavelle.
- "Talking of baths", laughed Naema, "You could try and create a spell to summon a hot one for the Rope Trick? You can summon a horse, why not a bath?".
- Tavelle imagined a miniature gold bath with a crested high back and four elegant leonine feet... it was strung on a length of long gold chain and hung alongside a tiny, four-poster, canopied bed fashioned of exotic wood...
- "You have some very good ideas", grinned the mage, "For a fighter".
- "You don't swing a bad blade... for a wizard", chuckled Naema.
- Tavelle nodded and smiled, "It was your lessons which kept me alive... well, that and Sister Alena's healing prayer".
- "I'm so proud of you", smiled the Rider.
- "Really?", asked Tavelle with a mock frown.
- "Yes, really", stated the fighter firmly.
- Tavelle thought Naema looked like she was thinking of punching him, so he decided to keep quiet for once...
- "A lot of the militia think you'd make a good Rider... I think so too", she continued.
- The mage nodded, "I'd need to learn to ride properly...".
- "Dairantha is a good teacher and she leads the Mistran Lancers", offered Naema, "I'll make sure you can do all the basics and she'll show you how to control a mount in battle".
- Tavelle frowned, "I'd been thinking of giving the cloak clasp to Kerryn?".
- "What about Fury?", asked the Rider, "I mean, you can practice on Fury at the barracks", she explained hastily.
- Tavelle nodded, "It's probably the best place to learn and, according to Dumic, Fury is a war horse...".
- Naema grinned, "We'll be able to call you the Spell Lancer as well as Swordmage?".
- Tavelle smiled broadly, "The Spell Lancer? I must say I like that name...", and he imagined himself with a magical silver lance atop Fury.
- The mage remembered the gift from Nerla, "Do you want a roll?", he asked.
- Naema shook her head, "No thanks, I've the same as you, I saw Nerla before we departed".
- "I've memorised a Rope Trick for tonight", smiled Tavelle.
- Naema grinned, "Good, I'll be happy to tire you out again...", and she looked to the Shield of Chauntea, "I'd better get back to the front, I'll see you at the barracks", explained the Rider.
- Tavelle nodded and watched Naema as she rode off to the head of the patrol with Nelyssa. The mage had a look about to see who was near and he saw Eridge and Netley riding together behind him.
- Tavelle could see the sorceress riding Spot a short distance ahead of him, so he gave Fury a gentle nudge to catch up with her.
- Erael turned around in the saddle as he drew near and smiled.
- "How are you getting on?", asked the wizard, "Is Spot behaving?".
- The sorceress nodded, "Yes and I'm really enjoying riding".
- Tavelle smiled as he had to agree both of the summoned mounts were very placid and lovely to ride.
- "What do we tell my family?", asked the mage, "What with the patrols being called together there's a chance they may be waiting at the barracks".
- The sorceress looked into her lap, "I know they're your family but I'd rather no others learn of my true nature".
- Tavelle nodded, "I understand".
- "It's worked out quite well but I still think the Reverend Harvestmaster was one too many", she continued.
- Tavelle nodded again.
- Erael gave the wizard a weak smile, "Besides, I'd really like to be just plain old Erael Iglasheer for a while", she explained.
- Tavelle grinned, "Plain isn't a word I could associate with you... or old for that matter".
- The sorceress returned the smile, "Sometimes I don't want to be a dragon... I like being Erael".
- "I understand, but, I was thinking more about getting our stories straight", explained Tavelle, "If you're staying at the tower then things will come up in conversation".
- Erael nodded.
- "Like how you took down a gigantic, horny, Wyvern... or how we travelled so fast, things like that", and the wizard grinned.
- The sorceress smiled.
- Tavelle couldn't track the sun due to all of the cloud cover but estimated it was past lunchtime when his stomach started gurgling.
- "Fancy a roll?", asked the mage as he rummaged through the small sack of provisions, "It's roast boar with apple sauce".
- "Yes please, I do love cooked food", grinned Erael.
- "I have some gooseberry tarts, too", continued the wizard.
- The pair quietly discussed the finer points of their stories while enjoying the roast boar and pastries.
- Erael reached into a pouch on her belt and produced a small wooden pot with a round cork bung, "Maisie asked me to give you this".
- Tavelle thanked the sorceress as she handed it to him.
- He carefully removed the stopper and looked to the contents.
- Inside the pot was a fine white powdery substance, "Did she say what it is?".
- Erael smirked at the mage, "She said it was Faerie dust".
- "Dodgy looking mushrooms... strange white powder... If I was stopped by the watch in Ashabenford and asked to turn out my pockets I reckon I'd be in trouble?", thought the wizard.
- Tavelle raised an eyebrow, "Any idea what it does?".
- The sorceress gave a slight shrug, "She said it makes things that aren't real, so I'm guessing Maisie means illusions?".
- "I wonder if it's Dust of Illusion?", pondered the wizard aloud.
- Tavelle looked back to the contents and grinned, "I have this weird mental image of Maisie shaking Nibblenook over this pot for hours", laughed the mage.
The small wooden container holds six pinches of Dust of Illusion.
- Tavelle tucked the wooden pot into a large pouch at the rear of his weaponbelt and retrieved the Unicorn charm pendant, "Jobet Selmer gave me this to give to Kerryn".
- The wizard passed it over to Erael, "She said it belonged to my mother but I don't ever remember seeing her wearing it...she had a small silver Unicorn... It was a simple, stamped, piece of metal... nothing like this...".
- "It's beautiful", agreed the sorceress.
- Tavelle pointed to the spiralled horn, "I cant be certain but I think the Alicorn is the same metal as the Harvestmaster's shield".
- "It's called Dlarun", explained Erael, "The Dwarves of Stoneshield Hall call it by another name... Icesteel".
- Tavelle nodded, he'd never heard of the metal.
- "The stones are the same colour as Maisie's eyes", said the sorceress and she handed it back.
- "The same colour as my mothers", thought the mage and he placed it carefully back into the pouch.
- Tavelle looked to Spot, "I'd suggest you summon Patches for the remainder of the journey".
- Erael nodded and she stopped to dismount.
- The sorceress dismissed Spot and called upon Patches, "Naema says I'm going to love Kerryn?".
- Tavelle nodded enthusiastically, "I'm certain of it and Kerryn will welcome some female company at the tower... after all, she has to put up with me and my father".
- The wizard grinned, "I expect her to want to make you an entirely new wardrobe".
- Erael raised a dark eyebrow as she climbed up onto Patches, "She is a carpenter?".
- The mage chuckled an apology, "I'm sorry, I mean clothing... she's an amazing seamstress".
- "I remember you saying", laughed Erael, "Will she knit me some woolen underpants?".
- Tavelle nodded, "Yes, and you must promise me you'll never, ever, wear them", laughed the wizard.
- The patrol trotted down a lane lined with late blooming wild flowers and thick bramble hedges. Small sparrows flitted in and out of the branches and the chirruping birds seemed to greet them as they rode on to Ashabenford.
- The patrol passed alongside the fenced outskirts of a field of cattle and the mage recognised the Trelfort Farm.
- "The Wyvern you slew had stolen away this farmers prize bullock", explained the wizard and he pointed to the farm building, "Even though farmer Trelfort said it was massive... it still didn't prepare me for quite how huge the beast would be...", and the mage paused.
- "What made you say it was horny?", asked Tavelle with a grin.
- "I was wondering when you'd ask", laughed the sorceress, "I believe it's breeding season... he must have been deposed by another bull and driven from his range... he'd been sent completely mad with lust..."
- "Stewing in his own juices, so to speak?", laughed the mage.
- Erael nodded and started giggling, "He came swooping in with some rather unwelcome ideas".
- "When he crashed landed on his back...", chuckled Tavelle, "I didn't see his unwelcome idea on show?".
- Erael started laughing, "I think my blast of cold breath may well have made it shrink?".
- Tavelle grimaced and shifted uncomfortably, "Beshaba's frozen Balls...", thought the wizard.
- Erael stood up on her stirrups for a better view, "Is that the Moonsea Ride?", she asked.
- Tavelle raised himself in the saddle and could see the banked road ahead of them, "Yes, not far now", he explained. Nearly half the patrol had already made it up the slope and had turned right.
- Fury funnelled out of the hedged lane alongside Patches, walked up the banked earth, and onto the wider road. To the south Tavelle could see the Saltdean farm and a number of people in the fields waved a greeting.
- On the left hand side of the Moonsea Ride, quite a way away, Tavelle could see the long line of huge beech trees which flanked the Holy Road. The wizard could just make out the tallest spire of the Abbey of the Golden Sheaf.
- "It certainly looks different from the air", said the mage as he recalled the magnificent wheel-like outer farmlands within the Abbey grounds.
- Tavelle saw Lanneth up ahead waiting alongside his militia for the Chauntean carriage and wagon to reach the beautiful arch of intertwined beeches.
- "It looks like Lanneth will be escorting the Reverend Harvestmaster?", advised the wizard and he saw Erael staring intently at the trees.
- "I'm glad I've seen this...", said the sorceress quietly.
- The impressive entrance to the Holy Road was one of Mistledale's most famous features and the mage was reminded of the vaulted ceilings within the Abbey itself.
- "We'll have to come back and ride up to the Abbey?", offered Tavelle.
- Erael nodded and smiled.
- The wizard watched as The Shield of Chauntea conversed with the occupants of the elegantly framed carriage and wondered if Naema might like to visit Oakengrove Abbey...
- Tavelle saw some goods were being unloaded and transferred to the wagon returning to the barracks and Trentos gave him a wave.
- Nelyssa bowed to the Harvestmaster, she turned around in the saddle, looked towards the sorceress, and beckoned her over.
- Erael glanced to the mage, "I think I'm wanted?".
- Tavelle nodded, "I think you are", he replied.
- The wizard watched as the sorceress trotted off, towards the carriage, to speak with the Reverend Harvestmaster.
- Tavelle saw a speckled Mistlethrush gazing up at him from the leaf litter of a nearby beech tree and he blew a soft warbling whistle to it.
- The mage recalled his room at the tower, being seated at his desk, and looking out of the window.
- There were some large oak trees, about a quarter of a mile away, that could be seen after the mists cleared.
- In the evening, during the chorus at dusk, a lone Mistlethrush would often sit atop the tallest of the oaks and try to whistle its beak off...
- The song was clear and beautiful, but, really rather random...
- The leggy, fawn-coloured, bird made a squeaky, "Meep", noise and scampered away into the bushes under the trees.
- Tavelle cast his eyes back to the carriage and he saw Erael nod, smile at the occupants, and she turned Patches away to ride with Nelyssa.
- The column started moving again and it took a little while for it to pass by the arched beeches.
- The wizard trotted past, he looked down the tree-framed road and saw the ranger, and his militia, accompanying the Chaunteans towards the Abbey of the Golden Sheaf.
- Tavelle rode by himself as the mounted patrol and wagon made good speed along the Moonsea Ride.
- The mage saw they were coming up on a small caravan and the guards at the rear called for the wagons to give way for the Riders of Mistledale.
- The road was wide enough for the large wagons to pass side by side and they too were heading to town.
- Tavelle rode past the first of the mounted caravan guards and the heavily muscled fighter gave him a nod.
- The wizard returned the greeting and gave thanks for clearing the road.
- The swarthy man wore a fine ringmail overcoat which didn't have any sleeves and it showed off his impressively corded upper arms. A pair of black steel bracers covered his entire forearms and the mage could see the handle of a battleaxe on his back.
- The second guard smiled at Tavelle, "Nice horse", he commented as the wizard rode by. The mage recognised a Sembite accent and he nodded his thanks.
- Tavelle noted the guard was wearing some lighter studded-leather armour in comparison to his larger compatriot. There was a longsword sheathed at his side and a shortbow in a holster attached to his saddle.
- As he rode up to the first of the two heavily laden wagons the mage noted the carved script, on the sides of each, designated them as part of the Corvair Trading Coster.
- The teams driving the large wagons seemed to be family members and they were friendly as the militia filtered past them. Tavelle counted six mounted guards and each covered wagon had four people riding on them.
- The merchants were moving at a slower pace than the Riders and the wizard could hear the clinking of glassware as he passed by.
- Tavelle watched Jentar approach on his mount and the mage noted the Paladin seemed different to the one who had arrived at the Barrowfields... it was far more than just some missing pieces of armour.
- Tavelle smiled at Jentar, "How are you doing?", he asked with genuine concern.
- The Paladin gave the wizard a nod, "I'm alright, thank you".
- "It's just we haven't seen much of you over the last couple of nights", explained the mage.
- "I've been trying to sort through things", he advised, "Has the Reverend Harvestmaster mentioned me in conversation?", he asked.
- Tavelle nodded, "Yes, of course he has, he's worried about you".
- Jentar nodded.
- "Did you know about the tempering of the sword when Erael visited the barrracks?", asked the wizard.
- The Paladin glanced to the Phoenix pommel cap, "Yes, Erael explained what happened with the relic... and I believe wielding this sword comes with a responsibility...".
- "I didn't understand at first but you were right... again...", sighed Jentar.
- Tavelle looked a little bemused, "About what?".
- The Paladin of the Morninglord gazed directly at the mage, "It was about being willing to give my own life before thinking of spending others...".
- "I don't remember saying anything like that?", said Tavelle quizzically, "Well, not to his face anyway", he thought to himself.
- "It was more by deed...", explained Jentar.
- "Oh...", muttered the wizard.
- The Paladin looked into his lap, "Anyway, I intend to inform the High Councillor of my decision", and he paused.
- "What decision?", asked Tavelle.
- "To step down as a candidate for the role of Captain of the Riders...", explained Jentar, "My support will go to The Shield, if it counts for anything?".
- Tavelle rode alongside the Paladin and found he was changing his mind... again, "Lathander's Light?", he silently wondered, "Or, another false dawn?".
- Jentar fidgeted uncomfortably atop his mount, "It's been pointed out to me before that my leadership and decision making skills need to improve...".
- "Farrel called you a <censored> moron", said Liria, seemingly from out of the aether, "Trentos told me".
- The mage and paladin both turned to look down at the mounted Halfling.
- "So nice of you to sneak up on us", said Jentar sarcastically.
- Liria glanced at Drool and shook her head, "Does it look like I can control this dumbass?", she asked pithily.
- "I hear that's what Drool says?", laughed Tavelle.
- "Meh!", snorted Liria.
- Tavelle turned back to the Paladin of Lathander and tried to ignore the interruption, "You know Farrel?", he asked.
- Jentar nodded, "The Tymoran Sellsword? Yes, he left for Shadowdale with Nystiir, Florin, and Lady Dove a couple of months ago".
- "Don't mention Florin around Nelyssa", sniggered the Halfling, "She'll get all dreamy and squirm in the saddle".
- Tavelle and Jentar frowned in unison and stared sternly at Liria.
- The silver haired Halfling looked up innocently, "Well, you'd have to wonder how long it's been since that furrow's been ploughed?".
- "Liria, for fuh!", exclaimed the wizard but cut himself short... he didn't want to swear in front of a Paladin.
- Liria started laughing, "Exactly...".
- Tavelle shook his head, "Do I have to mention squirrels?".
- "What? That was a real Chauntean joke, right there!", protested the Halfling.
- Drool looked up at the mage and his tail started to wag with interest.
- With but a few words of encouragement the large Mastiff bounded off at high speed barking loudly.
- "Baaasssstaaarrrddd!", shouted the Halfling shakily as Drool raced through a thick hedge in search of squirrels.
- Jentar smiled at the wizard, "I'll have to remember that".
- Tavelle nodded his agreement, "Liria can get a bit carried away and she really shouldn't make fun of a patrol leader".
"Pot, kettle, black...", muttered the DM.
"Yeah, maybe I didn't think that through?", said the player ruefully.
- The Paladin of Lathander pursed his lips and looked to the wizard, "To be fair, at least he said it to my face...".
- "Pardon?", asked Tavelle and he silently wondered if Jentar knew of his nicknames.
- "Farrel was frustrated at my choice of tactics and called me an effing moron", explained the Paladin, "Looking back I think he was correct...".
- "Like I said before", advised the mage with a mental sigh of relief, "Acknowledging your mistakes is half the battle... the rest is learning from the experience".
- "Beshaba's Balls!", thought Tavelle, "I can't really go around calling him the Morn Horn or the Pink Lancer anymore...".
- Jentar nodded and there were a few moments of silence between the pair.
- During the lack of conversation the wizard recalled a name which felt familiar to him, "I'm sure Kerryn has talked of a girl named Nystiir... I even think I've met her".
- "It was when we were a lot younger and mother was alive", he thought to himself, "Kerryn used to visit Jhair for singing lessons".
- The mage had only seen her a few times and he'd only been about ten years old, "I'm certain Nystiir was the pretty, red-headed, girl who stayed with Jhair for a while".
- The Paladin of Lathander looked to the wizard, "I've heard you're going to seek tutelage from Brondar?".
- Tavelle nodded, "Yes, that's right".
- "If he invites you to his farm be prepared", said Jentar ominously.
- "Prepared for what?", asked the mage.
- "Loud and very aggressive Watch Geese", explained the Paladin in a serious tone.
- "Really?", balked the wizard, "They can't be that bad can they?".
- "Don't say you haven't been warned... huge great things", said Jentar.
- Tavelle sat in the saddle and imagined a giant, loud, aggressive bird...
- He hurriedly tried to shake the silhouette of Nimberlena Rodrathe from his mind and to actually start thinking of Watch Geese...
- "Maybe Naema might want to come?", thought the mage, "She could protect me? I could say I need help to measure up the Rope Trick for the bath?".
- Tavelle remembered their conversation from the night before, "From the sounds of it I'm going to be wearing armour and getting bashed up? The least she could do is make good on her suggestion about helping me remove it?".
- "Tharan's your uncle and Jhair's your aunt!", silently concluded Tavelle, "I'll have to ask her".
- A short while later Liria came back into view and was riding Drool a short distance ahead of him. As usual the Mastiff was largely uncontrollable and wandered as he pleased by the mounted column of militia. Liria would occasionally attempt to steer the large dog in a desired direction and then there would be the inevitable swearing.
- The wizard brought to mind a Cantrip he thought might prove useful in gaining a measure of revenge on the annoying Halfling...
- The mage concentrated and summoned a bumblebee, which appeared hovering in the air next to him. The bee was nowhere near as impressive as Nibblenook's mount but that wasn't really the point.
- Tavelle pointed his finger towards Liria and he made a buzzing sound. It flew steadily towards the mounted Halfling and began a wobbly, random, orbit around her.
- The wizard grinned as Liria ducked, waved, cursed, and weaved in a frustrated attempt to avoid the armed doodlebug.
- Drool's tail wagged excitedly as the rider fidgeted and swayed in the saddle. The Mastiff thought it all a marvellous game...
- "You've quite a mischievous streak", laughed the Paladin, "What if it stings her and she's allergic?".
- "Then I'll finally be able to delve into my repertoire of fat Halfling jokes", smirked the wizard.
"<censored> me! I'd forgotten Jentar was still there!", laughed Tavelle's owner.
- Tavelle amused himself for a few minutes before Drool happily chased down the bee and gobbled it up, "Ah, well", thought the mage.
- "Oh, well", sighed the Paladin.
- Tavelle glanced to Jentar and grinned at his unexpected comment.
- A moment later he heard a loud, and familiar, horn call from the head of the column to alert the barracks of their return.
- "At least I've learnt the call for Rider's Returning", thought the wizard.
- "I'm going to the front, I'll see you later", said Jentar and he galloped off.
- Tavelle gave the Paladin a nod and watched a small group of militia, led by Naema, head towards Ashabenford at speed. The town was clearly visible, as was the river Ashaba, it wasn't far now he told himself.
- The mage heard horses pull up next to him and he turned to see Netley and Eridge riding alongside him.
- The militiamen nodded, "Swordmage", and Tavelle glanced towards Naema and her riders.
- Tavelle raised an eyebrow, "To announce our imminent return?", he asked.
- "Yeah", affirmed Eridge, "And to let the barracks know the names of the fallen...", he concluded grimly.
- The wizard nodded, he hadn't thought about that.
- "It's not often the patrols are called together", explained Netley, "There'll be worried kin waiting... especially as it was the Barrowfields... any families of the fallen militia will be taken inside the barracks to be told in private and await their arrival".
- Tavelle nodded and he silently wondered if his family were waiting for news and worrying after him...
To be continued...