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  #16  
Old Oct 30th, 2011, 10:40 PM
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Landifarne Landifarne is offline
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Revelation...and Fear

“It doesn't look at all like a dwarf impression,” Jonlin responded to Harl's question. “Dwarves always have their feet shod in heavy boots, similar to mine own. In fact, my boots are dwarf-made...very sturdy and durable. No, these prints were not made by any dwarf of the Immriks.”

After some hesitation Jonlin continued. “It seems that within the last day many Ghoboldi came out of the mountains, crossed the road here and made their way deeper into the woods. If you look very close, you can see that they were trying to leave no prints on the road, but one of them was rather careless and left this track.” While the man spoke a look of great consternation crept upon his face. The youths’ hearts skipped..

“It’s clear that the creatures have come down from the mountains and moved into the forest,” ventured Jonlin. “Now that spring is coming, and the thaw along with it, people will be trading along the roads again. The Ghoboldi, and I think they are Ghoboldi and not the larger Urokh, are probably planning to strike any travellers they catch in the open, along the road. I’m most concerned that the creatures may have doubled back and headed northward. If so, then they will come upon our tracks, as we made no effort to conceal our passage. That would be dire, as they would be able to easily run us down.”

What should we do? Aeric stammered, suddenly afraid. Aeric and Harl looked to each other for reassurance, but could only discern fear in the other’s visage.

“That’s what I’ve been asking myself while waiting for you to catch up,” replied Jonlin. “I need to go farther into the forest and see where the tracks lead. As I see it, our choices depend upon the direction the creatures took.” Moving back to scan the ground east of the road, Jonlin instructed his companions to rest for a while in some undergrowth off the road. In his hunter’s garb, the mountain man’s presence was quickly lost to the forest’s shadows.

Last edited by Landifarne; Oct 31st, 2011 at 12:52 AM.
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Old Oct 31st, 2011, 05:56 PM
MicFad MicFad is offline
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While Jonlin dissappeared into the forest shadows, Harl took the opportunity to grab a bite of yesterday's rabbit, along with a handy tuber from his backpack. You never know when your next meal will be while on the trail, Harl said to himself. After cleaning up after himself and Aeric, carefully trying to leave no trace, Harl hunkered down into the biggest shadow he could find. Scanning their backtrail, Harl suggested Aeric take to looking toward where they were headed before the revelation that they were among creatures wishing them ill. Harl also urged Aeric to be as quiet as possible, forgoing the many witticisms and questions that normally poured out of his mouth. As silent as they could be, Harl hoped it was enough to keep them out of trouble until Jonlin returned.

Last edited by MicFad; Oct 31st, 2011 at 05:57 PM.
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Old Oct 31st, 2011, 11:52 PM
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Avoiding an Ambush

Luckily, Jonlin was quick to return with a plan in hand. He related how a hundred paces west of the forest track the humanoids had turned south to parallel the highway, much as he had been doing along their journey. This strengthened his growing conviction that the three would soon be sighted if they continued along the road. The best way they could avoid any encounter with the raiding party would be to move into the foothills east of the forest and slowly wend their way south, giving the road a wide berth. Continuing along the road as they were would be foolhardy, explained Jonlin, as it was likely they would stumble into an ambush. And, if the companions were caught in the flat terrain of the forest, they would be quickly run down and killed by a larger group.

At Jonlin’s behest, the companions placed trail signs to warn any future travelers of the danger along the road. The three then turned east, towards the mountains. Purposefully mixing their own tracks with the humanoids’ day-old path, the group traced backwards their enemies’ route out of the foothills. Other than near the road, the Ghoboldi tribesmen had made no real effort to hide their movement overland, and this worked in the youths’ favor. With a little instruction from Jonlin, both Harl and Aeric were able to passably blend their footprints with the goblins’ previous markings. Pleased with their efforts, Jonlin felt confident that after a day or two of exposure to the elements only a highly skilled tracker would be able determine where the men had gone. And, if luck were on their side, none of the humanoids would backtrack along the forest road and discover their passage. In all, it was the best that the companions could do considering that most of their trip from Highwold had not been made in stealth. The Highwolders prayed that no goblin eyes had discerned their previous nights’ campfires.

The forest road took advantage of the flat terrain as it moved on to Rifford, but it generally paralleled the foothills of the mountain range, keeping the lower-lying peaks within sight. Working their way towards the mountains, the three young men kept a constant vigil, scanning ahead for any possible signs of movement. The forest grew somewhat thinner as its floor crept upward, but like the valley they had exited, the hill region was by no means open country. The companions’ view was limited to about a hundred strides, but some solace could also be found in this, as any predatory eyes peering down from the hills would have a hard time detecting the group’s presence.

Before an hour had elapsed, the steeper hills became a hindrance to their movement and Jonlin decided that the party should break from the goblins’ trail and forge a more southerly path. The snow was still patchy, clinging mostly to depressions and the shadows of trees, but was visibly thicker farther east, where the ascent became steeper. The companions had no wish to trudge through the deeper snow ahead and a tor visible a mile or so to the southeast looked to be a promising place to camp for the night. Seeing that it would be nearing dusk by the time they reached the hill’s escarpment, and that they would have to set a faster pace, Jonlin pointed towards their destination and told Aeric and Harl to tread carefully amongst the rock, snow and mud that made their course. The ranger followed at a distance for some time, obscuring their path as best he could.

After thirty minutes of lagging behind the other two, Jonlin caught up and joined the lads’ quiet conversation. The two younger men had been debating how much time this detour would add to their journey and whether they could escape notice by the humanoid intruders. Arriving at the chosen hill, Jonlin bit his lip and shrugged, seeming to take everything in stride. After a moment’s reflection the woodsman spoke his thoughts.

“We should be fine as long as we don’t show ourselves against the skyline and can tolerate the night’s cold,” the ranger concluded. “It will be freezing at the top of the hill, exposed to the wind. Of course, we can’t set a fire until we are within sight of Rifford.”

“Damn,” exclaimed Harl, “we’re not going to get any sleep.” Harl in particular had felt the bite of cold during the last few nights, as his travelling clothes and bedding were a hodgepodge collection of threadbare hand-me-downs never intended for travel use.

“Come on,” insisted Jonlin. “I see a way to get to the top.”

Picking their way along the western side of the hillock so as to avoid prying eyes from the east, the three men managed to reach the crest just as day turned to night. The top of the rise was a greatly eroded, rock-strewn plateau crowned by a crumbling cap of hard granite some eight feet in height. Too uneven to sleep upon, and lacking any clefts in which to hide, the rock formation did not provide any real security to the companions, although its leeward side gave some degree of protection from the night wind. Too exhausted to keep each other good company and weary of discussing the raiders any further, the three decided upon a watch schedule and immediately put to sleep. Aeric took first duty and agreed to wake Harl after three hours.

 

Last edited by Landifarne; Nov 1st, 2011 at 12:46 AM.
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  #19  
Old Nov 9th, 2011, 12:35 AM
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Rude Awakening

Whether it was caused by the poorly-cured ham and raw turnips that he had eaten during their poor supper, or simply the result of the shock and anxiety of discovering the presence of killers in the forest they traveled, Harl's stomach was in turmoil. Rising from his meagre blanket and double-layer of over clothes, the young man glimpsed over at Aeric keeping guard and noted that his friend was rocking back and forth while mumbling to himself.

Knowing that his roiling belly would preclude him from getting any sleep for many hours, Harl decided to relieve Aeric as sentry when he returned.

As he had during his previous stints at sentry duty, Aeric contemplated his uncle’s teachings and performed various mental exercises to help keep awake and alert. He also stamped his feet and alternated in tensing various muscles in his body to alleviate the numbness that slowly crept into his body. However, the apprentice mage was eventually lulled to sleep after only a couple hours of steady vigilance, Succumbing to the tender allure, Aeric did not notice Harl rise from his bedroll and amble off to relieve himself amongst the trees...

 

Last edited by Landifarne; Nov 9th, 2011 at 12:37 AM.
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  #20  
Old Nov 9th, 2011, 05:59 PM
MicFad MicFad is offline
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Dice SUPRISE CHECK:
d6 1
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  #21  
Old Nov 9th, 2011, 06:01 PM
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That's just SUPER!!! I suprised myself with my own shadow! Harl is AWESOME!!
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  #22  
Old Nov 10th, 2011, 12:16 AM
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A VERY Rude Awakening Indeed!

No goblin eyes found the Highwolders’ tracks that harried day; but a brainless, nasal-congested ogre would have had no trouble picking up the stink that emanated from the trio’s camp that night. Once the sun had set, the night breeze streamed down the mountain range and sent motes of the youths’ scent drifting into the chill air. Wafting along the Immrik’s foothills, those odors of unwashed human bodies and raw rabbit skin provided as strong a warning of the humans’ presence to the denizens of the forest and mountains as a watch fire would for a man. Yet, the young men were ignorant of this, as Aeric and Harl had never contemplated such matters and Jonlin’s taxed mind was preoccupied by the Ghoboldi threat.

It was the incredibly uncomfortable position that he had chosen, of leaning against the tor’s outcrop of cold rock, which saved Aeric’s life that night. When a patch of snow that tenaciously clung to the forested hillside faintly crunched, there was just enough vestige of consciousness lingering in the apprentice’s psyche to trigger the lad’s natural instincts. Lurching from his squatting position, Aeric’s dazed response to the stark sound caused him to trip over the staff propped diagonally across his body. Falling heavily next to the inert Jonlin, the youth’s sudden movement set into blurring motion the deadly hunters that had been silently closing in on the companions. Accustomed to confused flight responses from their prey, the now-snarling pack of bloodthirsty dire wolves erupted as one from the surrounding trees and sprang towards the companions’ campsite.

As he fell forward, Aeric glimpsed several grey-white shapes rushing into the darkened clearing. His brain made suddenly alert from the fall, Aeric attempted to rise, but the heavy cloak he wore slipped over his narrow shoulders and bundled about his head. Shrieking in terror, the apprentice wakened Jonlin more by stumbling onto his companion than through his muffled wailing. Flailing about on all fours, Aeric managed to pull the thick mantle back down after what seemed to be an eternity. Finally rising, in his last instant of clarity the apprentice saw a swirling pack of death rapidly converge on him and Jonlin. To Aeric’s immediate left, Harl’s cloak and sleeping blanket were inexplicably empty.

At that moment, an incredible brute of a wolf snaked in and lunged at the unfortunate Jonlin, who was only just beginning to rise. His instincts of survival taking over, Aeric leaped toward the plateau’s rocky crown and scrambled up, observing Jonlin pull himself upright and fling his body backwards. The enormous wolf, intent on pinning the hapless man so that its pack mates could finish him off, received a mouth of woollen bedding rather than the woodsman’s extended arm.

“Climb the rocks!” Aeric screamed in wild terror as he topped the rocky plateau. Leaving his two friends and gear behind in the dark, the apprentice’s only thought was to flee the sea of voracious, snapping jaws that now filled the rocky hilltop.

Desperate to get away from the animal that was bearing down on him, Jonlin tripped over his heels and windmilled his arms while backing up. Crashing heavily into the rock face behind him, the hunter’s breath was knocked from his lungs and he smashed the back of his head with a meaty sound. Jarred, but still conscious, Jonlin’s right hand settled upon the bow and quiver he had earlier leaned against the tor’s edge. Grasping the weapons, Jonlin turned to climb.

“Harl!” Jonlin tried to shout as he found his first handhold. His voice cracking, it was garbled and utterly incomprehensible.

 

Harl had just begun to pull down his breeks when he discerned what sounded like a muffled footfall in the snowpack on the western side of the tor. Alarmed by the faint noise, his bowels clamped tight and he knotted his drawstrings faster than he had ever done so before.

Picking his langsax up from the ground (luckily, he had had the presence of mind to bring that with him), Harl began moving back towards camp as silently as possible. Just as the aspiring warrior got close enough to see Aeric's and Jonlin's forms in the faint moonlight several feral shapes lunged out of the darkness, attempting to bear the young man down.

 

Last edited by Landifarne; Nov 11th, 2011 at 01:09 AM.
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  #23  
Old Nov 10th, 2011, 06:13 PM
MicFad MicFad is offline
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Seeing several feral shapes lunging out of the darkness, Harl reaches for his 'sax and attempts to draw it out of the scabbard. Drawing in a mighty lungfull of air so as to get the most out of a yell to alert his companions (and possibly scare off his attackers), Harl screams at the top of his lungs "Awake, awake!! We are under attack!!!" Harl swings mightily with his drawn 'sax at the nearest foe as he continues to move toward his companions.

 

Last edited by MicFad; Nov 10th, 2011 at 06:14 PM.
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  #24  
Old Nov 10th, 2011, 09:17 PM
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Battle Upon the Tor

 

Harl reacted to the three attacking wolves in a sluggish manner, but rushed towards the camp, stumbling and spinning. Swinging his langsax about in an effort to keep the animals at bay, the former stable hand did what he could to get back to his companions as well as protect himself. The wolves shifted about, one keeping Harl's attention facing forward, the second attempting to move behind the young man, while the third lunged at the young man from the side:

 


Bitten by the vicious animal, Harl continued to spin about, flinging the wolf away while licking his short sword out at the beast attempting to get his back:

 



It was folly for Jonlin to put his back to the wolves, but there was no time to think. Stretching to pull himself farther up the rocks, the ranger suddenly felt a tearing pain shoot through his right calf. The massive dire wolf that had forced the woodsman to retreat to the rock face had latched securely onto Jonlin’s lower leg. With his back arching, a curling, visceral scream sprang from Jonlin’s throat as he was pulled back down the climb, into reach of several of the beast’s snarling kin. At the bottom, a sudden and vicious thrashing caused many of the arrows in the woodsman’s quiver to spill out and the pain from the savage bite caused the hearty man to swoon. Jonlin’s end was near.

From the nearby darkness, a roaring, frenzied apparition emerged. Spinning wildly and flailing his langsax lightning-fast, Harl, the humble stable hand, swung his weapon around in stupendous arcs, the vision of a crazed berserker. Through dint of luck and the wolves’ natural tendency to attack from all sides, the untrained youth managed to nick and slash some of the predators, eliciting yelps and high pitched whines when sword tip chopped through tooth and muzzle, cut hide or ripped through a snout. Screaming madly and whirling his short sword, the boy’s furious onslaught kept several of the slavering pack from him. Snatching themselves back from every stab of pain, the wolves darted in at Harl, looking for some opening through which they could rush in and tear out the youth’s throat. Somehow, even through the swirling chaos, Harl registered the situation Jonlin was in...

 


Harl's Current StatsCombat:
Hit Points: 7 5
AC: 9 (Double Layer Clothing) AC Base: 10 (no armor) Rear AC: 10
THAC0: 20
Weapons: Suevi Langsax (Short Sword) Damage: 1-6/1-4 Range: 1’ Speed: 2
Warning: rolls have been deleted from this post.

Last edited by Landifarne; Nov 11th, 2011 at 01:08 AM.
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  #25  
Old Nov 11th, 2011, 07:44 PM
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Harl got a quick glimpse of Jonlin being dragged down by his shaggy foe. Continuing to yell and scream, not knowing if it was doing any good but also not being able to stop it, Harl aimed his flailing and swinging lurch toward Jonlin, hoping to buy the Ranger some much needed time and assistance. While passing by his shield, with the semi-concealed spear head lashed into the grips, Harl reached out with his bleeding left arm and snatched it up. Better a weak and ineffectual shield between him and his foes than nothing but the clothing on his back for protection. If Jonlin has a blade, now would be the time to use it, Harl thought to himself. If not, maybe I can grab the spear head from my shield and surrender the 'sax to Jonlin. Swinging with all his might, Harl attempts to hit the beast worrying Jonlin while taking advantage of the hillside at his back for some meager protection.


 
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Old Nov 11th, 2011, 10:22 PM
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A Friend in Need

 


After Harl split the muzzle of the wolf stealing around his back the youth ran to his bedroll and grabbed up his shield. Pulling it around, he got it up just before one of the pack mates surged in at him:

 


Slamming into Harl's upraised shield, the wolf's teeth cracked loudly against the device's metal boss...with the beast managing to break a few of it's incisors in the process. This knocked the stable hand backwards, and nearly colliding with the great wolf locked onto Jonlin’s leg, Harl dropped the shield and continued one of his swings high and with two hands, in the manner of a forester splitting a log.

 


Striking the enormous beast a murderous blow, square across its lower spine, the tang of the youth’s pitiful weapon snapped and its wooden grip flew into the night air. Harl’s momentum carried him through the stroke, and he lost his balance, pitching forward next to the animal.

Upon the strike, the langsaex bent and lodged into a vertebra, dropping the monstrous wolf like a hundredweight stone. Its hindquarters instantly paralyzed, a pitiful wail erupted from the pack leader and it released Jonlin from its deadly fangs, the piercing sound shocking the wolf pack into momentary confusion.

As if awakened from a nightmare, Harl seemed to suddenly realize he was surrounded by the entire wolf pack. Terrified, he bounded to the rock face and scampered up, like a squirrel leaping to the base of a tree. At the top, the young fighter turned and reached down to his companion, with Jonlin moving more gingerly and slowly. Painfully, the ranger was pulled up the formation.

A short lull ensued, but even as its leader dragged itself from the small clearing using only its front legs, the wolf pack did not retreat. Off in the darkness, a few wolves sounded as if they were tearing into the men’s gear, but several animals began launching themselves at the rock face, nearly able to claw their way to the top. Two of the largest managed to scramble extremely high, their maws snapping furiously over the formation’s rounded lip. Jonlin could not stand upright, but the ranger saw the wolves continue their efforts to reach the trio.

With a determined countenance, the hunter set the end of his shortbow against the jumbled rocks and pulled down. Bending the bow, the ranger restrung the weapon and reached into his loosened arrow bag. Drawing out one of the three arrows that remained, Jonlin nocked the arrow and dragged himself to the edge of the tor. Coldly pulling back on the bowstring, the hunter fired the arrow down the gullet of the closest leaping wolf. Sinking deep into the beast’s innards, the animal spun backwards in midair and tumbled to the ground several feet below. As Jonlin reached for another arrow the wounded wolf made wet, gurgling sounds and unsteadily regained its feet. Slowly the wolf slunk away, every few paces visibly heaving in an attempt to dislodge the missile. At this, the remaining dire wolves melted into the shadows, leaving the litter-strewn plateau behind in eerie silence.

From his position Aeric stared at the scene below, completely dumbfounded by the events that had transpired. However, it was apparent after a few moments that the wolves were not going to return and the apprentice regained some of his wits. Nearby, Jonlin moaned audibly and clamped a hand over his bleeding calf. Dizzy from his wound and exertions, the ranger fell into Harl’s supportive arms and was gently laid down. Seeing the ranger faint snapped Aeric from his delirium and the apprentice finally took some action. Ordering Harl to go below and recover from his pack both a silver flask and the coffer containing his apothecary’s supplies, Aeric then drew his dagger and cut strips of cloth from his cloak to tend the wounded woodsman. It gave the young apprentice some comfort to find himself in a situation for which he was trained.

Current Stats:Harl's Hit Points: 7 5 Jonlin's Hit Points: 13 6


Experience AwardedJonlin and Harl each receive 36 experience points for killing a wolf. Harl receives an additional 100 experience points for saving his companion! Character sheets are updated.

Last edited by Landifarne; Nov 11th, 2011 at 10:59 PM.
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Old Nov 13th, 2011, 02:33 AM
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Wounds of Battle

Once he had located his friend’s pack, Harl had little difficulty bringing Aeric’s chest and flask up to the top of the outcropping. Rather small, the wooden coffer weighed less than half a stone, and the apprentice had easily carried it all the way from Highwold tucked into his rucksack. Setting the chest next to Aeric, Harl noticed that his friend held a small glowing object in the palm of his hand, shedding just enough light to allow the apprentice to examine Jonlin’s wound. Harl’s wonder at seeing such a fantastical object prompted Aeric to promise to explain what it was later on. Accepting this, Harl then rolled one of their blankets into a bundle to cushion Jonlin’s head. Another he gingerly placed under the woodsman’s legs. Aeric pulled his companion’s leggings up, to look at the wound, prompting Jonlin to moan and thrash around.

“How badly is he hurt?” Harl asked quietly, concern evident in his hushed tone.

“It’s quite bad,” responded Aeric. Handing the glowing mineral to Harl, he continued. “I’ll have to clean it, clamp together the skin, and then apply a healing balm and poultice. The only good sign is that there’s no spurting of blood. That means the bleeding can be stopped with sewing and bandages.” Aeric opened his coffer and took out a small vial of dark liquid. Uncorking the tube, he poured half of its contents into Jonlin’s open mouth and held the man’s mouth shut. Jonlin’s distemper immediately soothed and his breathing became that of one in deep sleep. “The wolf didn’t tear the leg entirely open and flay the muscle, but its teeth dug deeply into his calf. It’s going to take long to heal and he’ll have a very hard time walking.” Coming off of his rush of fear-inspired adrenaline Harl was now noticeably trembling, but Aeric’s words and expert ministrations of Jonlin calmed him a bit. “If the teeth had ripped his muscles apart there would be no way for them to mend.”

“He must be in shock to fall faint,” said Harl. Not knowing what else to do, he wetted a cloth and dabbed it over the woodsman’s brow.

“Yes, the shock is severe. That’s why I am gave him the sleeping drought. Here, open the flask,” Aeric instructed. Withdrawing a ceramic pot tightly covered with stretched animal intestine and a stopped glass vial containing what appeared to be dried herbs, Aeric then had Harl rinse Jonlin’s wound and his own fingers with a stream of red brandy. Handling the clay pot, the young apothecary unsealed it skilfully and poked two fingers into its narrow opening. As he did this a rancid odour emanated from the container, causing Harl to retch. Reeking of bear fat and stale urine, the green-white gelatinous mass Aeric smeared into Jonlin’s wounds reminded Harl of the foul mucous old miners tended to hack up. The chief difference was the healing balm’s terrible stench.

With his nimble fingers, Aeric pushed globs of the repugnant unguent deep into the punctures and tears along Jonlin’s calf. This plugging of the wounds cut off most of the blood that was welling forth. Dipping his fingers into the pot a second time, the apprentice removed far less and slowly smeared the stinking cream onto the areas surrounding each indentation.

“This is a balm that my uncle is renowned for making,” said Aeric. “It prevents festering in wounds and speeds healing. Jonlin should be all right if he doesn’t aggravate the bites.”

Cleaning his fingers on a remnant of cloth, Aeric then retrieved a number of near-closed silver ringlets from a box and splashed them with brandy. With Harl looking on quizzically, the apprentice used what appeared to be a pair of small blacksmith’s tongs to clamp the rings across Jonlin’s most serious looking wounds. Finishing his treatment with the vial of plant material that he had set aside, Aeric poured the entire contents of the vial onto a fresh bandage that was then tightly wrapped and secured around Jonlin’s leg. Applying several more bandages to keep the treated area clean, the two friends covered their companion with the remaining blanket and allowed the wounded man to sleep.
It seemed better to allow the ranger to rest where he lay rather than to disturb him, despite the tor’s uneven surface and the cold air that flowed over their perch.

Only then did Aeric notice Harl's wrapped and bloodied arm. Looking over his friend's wound, the apothecary's apprentice reated Harl in a manner similar to Jonlin, but the stable hand's wounds did not require clamping. Completely drained from what had just transpired, after each had taken a few swigs from the brandy flask to remove some of the bite off the night chill, the two friends leaned close together to preserve what little warmth they could and promptly fell asleep.
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Old Nov 13th, 2011, 11:37 AM
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Jonlin Wakes Up

Originally intended to be worked out in role-playNeither Jonlin nor Aeric realize that when Harl had risen from sleep (before the wolf attack), Aeric had been awake. Thus, Aeric feels guilty when there was really nothing that could have prevented the fight...and Jonlin feels that Aeric was negligent in his guard duty.


 



 


Current StatsWillim's healing unguent is infused with druidic magic and heals +1 HP per day. Harl's and Jonlin's current stats are:
Harl's Hit Points: 7 6 Jonlin's Hit Points: 13 7
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Last edited by Landifarne; Nov 13th, 2011 at 11:59 AM.
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  #29  
Old Nov 17th, 2011, 11:43 PM
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Harl walked the short distance to the other wolf. With careful precision, he hacked the tail off at the rump. As Harl walked back to the others, his imagination took hold again. He saw himself weilding a short spear, made with his spearhead and a stout pole, not to long so as to get tangled and be unweildy, short enough to be quick and sure. Topping it all off was a wolf's tail pennant flying from the join of head and tip. Harl wondered if he would have enough coin to buy a pole for his spear in Rifford. Maybe Jonlin could give him some advise about how to go about purchasing one or even what to look for to begin with...
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Old Nov 18th, 2011, 08:38 PM
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Detour to Rifford

Later that day, the companions agreed that approaching Rifford directly from the northeast would be foolhardy, as the forests just north of the burg’s crossroads were the Ghoboldi raiders’ most likely destination. As winter turned to spring over the next few weeks, traffic between Mittelfeld, Rifford and the outlying mountain settlements would pick up considerably, and provide irresistible targets for the humanoids. Believing this to be the reason for the raiders’ descent from their mountain fasts, the companions judged that their party should give wide berth to those stretches of the Norwold. Instead, it was decided that they would skirt along the hilly, eastern edge of the forest and approach the town from the east.

The men proceeded cautiously for there was the chance that additional raiding bands emerging from the mountains could flank them or come across the companions’ spoor. The new route was more circuitous than they would have liked, and both Jonlin’s severe wound and the group’s necessarily furtive movement considerably slowed the youths’ progress, thus the originally conceived trip from Highwold to Rifford stretched to six interminable days.

Seeking out highly defensible campsites, the young men holed up in rocky crevices and box canyons before the sun set each evening, all the while making certain to remain below the timber line. The bivouacs located on stony ledges and nestled under scraggly dwarf pines were incredibly uncomfortable, and to insulate themselves from the cold even a little, the companions slept inside piled boughs of evergreens. Despite their efforts, the young men never quite succeeded in padding the sharpest rocks nor in keeping out the late-winter winds. But because the goblin raiders’ position was unknown, making a fire to drive away the damp chill was completely out of the question. Under such conditions, the travelers slept very little and shivered through the remaining three nights, barely managing to ward off hypothermia. To make matters worse, sporadic rain pelted them from the sky and the youths suffered terribly, huddled together in ever-growing misery. Running out of food on the fifth day added little to their cheer.

During the fifth night Aeric collected enough nerve to admit to Jonlin that he had fallen asleep before the wolves’ attack. Apologizing profusely for his lack of diligence, the apprentice begged for the ranger’s forgiveness. And, initially reluctant and resentful, Jonlin eventually offered both forgiveness and then his own set of apologies after Harl detailed how, before the attack, he had woken from sleep and went to relieve himself. Aeric had not fallen asleep, Harl maintained, before the wolf pack had set upon them and everything had unfolded. Aeric’s lapse was momentary and had made absolutely no difference, and it was simply fortunate for everyone that Harl’s bowels had not been responding well to the stresses of that day. As for remembering to take his shortsword with him, Harl admitted that was done out of sheer fright at the thought that goblins could have been lurking about.

After this frank discussion, and some personal reflection on both their parts, Aeric and Jonlin clasped hands and spoke words of friendship. Each had gained new respect for the others admissions, and understood that the other could be genuinely trusted.

During those days Aeric worried about Jonlin’s wound and checked the man’s leg often. The apprentice had seen numerous cases where infections in lesser wounds had killed men, and he had to assure himself that Jonlin’s punctures and tears were not festering. Keeping the wounded area dry proved a difficult task, but the woodsman’s oil and resin-coated outer clothing allowed little rain to seep in. The unguent of rendered bear fat and bat guano that Master Willim had learned to make from a druidic priest apparently did its job, and the wounds were closing and healing at three or four times the normal rate. Equally fortunate was that the woodsman’s constitution was as strong as his stoic demeanor. Jonlin limped in a pronounced fashion and leaned heavily upon Aeric’s walking staff, but the big man’s condition noticeably improved.

Jonlin’s new wolf pelt began to reek of a cloying combination of musky, wet-canine and rotting meat. Having expended much of his curing salts on the wasted hare skin, it was proving rather difficult for the hunter to keep dry and to preserve the underside of the large fur. Demonstrating on his own fur how to remove the bones from and clean the tail, Jonlin helped Harl slit open the tailpiece of the pack leader and preserve the younger man’s trophy. The foul weather precluded Jonlin from using the region’s acidic soil as a preservative rub for the wolf pelt, and even the ransacking of Aeric’s remaining spice bags did little to alleviate the stench given off by the beautiful winter coat. Jonlin’s half-hearted and unconvincing arguments that such feral smells were typical of fresh pelts did not reassure his fellows, who were rapidly becoming disgruntled. Bearing the brunt of their frequently sarcastic remarks, the older man consoled himself by scraping at the underside of the fur day and night. Jonlin, unlike his companions, found something to distract himself at night. None of the men liked to dwell on the thought of running into the humanoid raiders before reaching Rifford.

On the overcast evening of their sixth day of travel, the dwindling sunlight afforded the three men a view of smoke rising above the western trees. Coming upon Rifford’s eastern outskirts, the companions walked out of the hill country and down towards the village’s low-laying boundary hedges. To the accompaniment of numerous guard dogs' barking, the friends shed their anxieties and welcomed the embrace of civilization.

 


Current Stats:Due to Willim's Healing Unguent, Jonlin's wound heals at +1 HP per day.
Jonlin's Hit Points: 13 10
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Last edited by Landifarne; Nov 18th, 2011 at 10:13 PM.
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