Thread: Steel Dragon's "Tales of Orea"
Monday, 1st November, 2010, 04:54 AM #11
Spellbinder (Lvl 16)
Tomorrow, back to our regularly scheduled program.
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Spellbinder (Lvl 16)
The group assembled at the temple the following morning. Kama, with the twins flanking behind him in their usual positions, led them down a long stair carved in the rock face on the side not facing the village. This led to a dock that gave way to the pier that extended out to the pavilion. Roped at the dock was a sailboat. It was long and broad like the villagers’ fishing boats, but larger than normal with a single mast in its center and a simple rudder.
Standing before the tiller at the slightly raised rear of the boat was a woman who appeared about Alaria’s age, perhaps a few years older. A few wisps of the Shoal villager’s sun-bleached blond hair trailed off from beneath her dark blue hooded cloak in the morning breezes. She wore a blue robe that faded from very pale at the shoulder to very deep blue at the hem.
Kama introduced the woman as Waverider Trihna, his second-in-command. She had been a child when Kama and his fellows rescued the village and pledged herself to the service of the temple and the goddess of the sea shortly thereafter. She would, Kama assured, be most helpful in finding the sacred pearl, as well as being familiar with any other items they might find that could be holy to Tyris.
She would also be able to pilot their ship herself, a skill none of Alaria’s crew possessed.
The boat was loaded with their gear and supplies for three days, slightly more than half a day’s sale to reach the isle, slightly less to return, leaving two solid days for exploration. Among the supplies, Kama supplied each of the party members with a skin full of Pure Water and a small vial with a cloudy greenish liquid.
“These potions,” Kama explained, “will allow you to breathe normally underwater for up to one hour. Use them wisely in the service of the goddess, blessed be her depths.” With a final blessing for swift and safe travels from Tidemaster Kama, they set sail for the Dragonbone Isle.
The journey began pleasant enough. The weather was bright and warm despite the steady breeze that bore the boat northward at a good speed.
Trihna guided the ship with obvious skill, taking in and letting out lines to the mast, controlling the sail and adjusting the till as necessary. She matter-of-factly showed and explained her movements to Braddok and Erevan, both of whom thought it wise to learn how to steer the ship, should anything “unexpected” occur.
Alaria half-listened to the priestess’ instruction, being more concerned with the utterly green dwarf next to her. It was obvious to Alaria that the old adage she'd heard about dwarves and water held true...something about "...a sinking stone"? She couldn't quite remember.
Duor had made no objections to their new mode of transportation, but occasionally moaned and kept himself leaning towards the boat’s edge, staring vaguely at the boards of the hull.
The outcropping and temple had drifted beyond the horizon behind them, but Trihna kept the shoreline well in sight on their left. A couple of hours after their departure, Alaria decided it was time to make plans.
“So, what can you tell us about Dragonbone Isle, Trihna?” Alaria asked. “I must confess, I have not heard tales of it in my homeland.”
The sea priestess adjusted one of the ropes at her side, leaning casually over the tiller, and her face looked serious. “Well, I have been here only once before, with Tidemaster Kama. We were giving chase to the same relic we seek for today. However, with only the two of us, we could not cover much ground and the perils of the island are formidable.”
“Are there actual dragons there?” asked Haelan with his genuine naivte?
Trihna smiled, “Not that I saw. Thank Tyris, blessed be her depths. But there are a number of dragon bones that rise up from the ground, especially along the southern causeway.”
“What kind of terrain are we facing, good priestess?” Coerraine injected. The young paladin of Celradorn was pleased to be on a quest with a holy cause and had made inner vows, determined to see their task achieved.
“It varies, my good Goldshield.” Trihna smirked in reply. Her attempted jest was lost on the focused Redstar knight. “There are multiple coves and small beaches around the island's perimeter. A high rocky cliff face juts out from the bulk of the island facing the mainland. Most of the main island seems to be shrouded in forest with a sloping, high-walled valley in the center. There are also two smaller islands adjacent to the main.”
“Alaria,” Haelan piped in, “if we find any dragon bones can we keep them? They’d make quite the stir back home.”
The R’Hathi wizardess, about to laugh away the halfling’s request, thought to herself a moment of the number of spells and items authentic dragon bone could be used for…not to mention the price they might fetch from the Fellowship of Alkari, or even more back in Ablidon.
Trihna laughed at the priest of Faerantha’s question. “Master Halfling, there is not a boat in Shoal that would float with the smallest of these bones.”
Haelan’s eyes widened with even more than their usual wonder, if possible. “Really?”
The priestess of Tyris nodded. “The ones I saw with the Tidemaster were huge. Taller than this mast.”
Alaria noted that Erevan’s face and mood had darkened since the conversation about the island had begun. “Erevan? Do you know anything about this place?”
The elf’s vibrant violet eyes turned to meet Alaria’s gaze. “It is called, by my people, Eres’tum Biirtalii. ‘The Dragon’s Tomb.’ It is a place of great pride and sorrow among the Miralostae.
“According to our history, in the dawning days of our nation, my people moved up these very waters seeking a new realm to call our homeland. As we found the river we named D'Evand the Miralostae were set upon from the mountains at the edge of the Whitegull Bay.
"The creature was an agent of the Scourge, a dragon from the ancient times when the world was still young. It had spawned countless broods of dragonkind. Watched the rise and facilitated the fall of many tribes of elves and men over the ages. It called itself Sharzaak.
"Our leader and queen was a formidable sorceress. She defended her people with all of the mystic power she could command with her magic orb. But, in the end, her people safely away, she fell before the foul wyrm's evil.
This island is where the Sons of Nirastrelyn avenged their mother and defeated the dread wyrm, Sharzaak. In our songs, the beaches are strewn with its bones, the sea around it darkened by its blood and the island, itself, coated in the festering timeless evil of the creature’s immortal heart.”
Haelan blinked at Erevan and turned in hopeful disbelief to Trihna. The sea priestess merely looked to the sail.
“I don’t suppose the creature’s hoard was left there by these sons of Niras-ellen, by any chance?” Duor said.
Most of the company laughed at the dwarf’s first words since their departure.
Erevan frowned. “Nirastrelyn.” the elf corrected indignantly. “And I couldn’t say. I’ve only heard the songs and read the histories. It was before I was born.”
“We shall see soon enough, Master Dwarf.” said Trihna pointing ahead and to the right of them.
The group turned to view where Trihna indicated. Greenish humps rose from the water off their starboard (right) side. Above and beyond the island, stretching across most of the western skyline a mass of dark grey clouds formed a definitive line in the sky. As they looked, a flash of lightning bolted from the clouds to the water, far out to sea.
Trihna turned the ship to a more direct approach to the island. Her gaze studying the sky. “We should make it there before the storm hits. But it might be close.”
As they neared the island, the early afternoon sun was blocked by the grey skies. The water, which had been vibrant shades of aquamarine under the sunny blue sky turned to a murky grey-green.
The ship continued to near the island and the helpful breeze was shifting even as it increased, making Trihna’s job more difficult. But, the experienced priestess kept the boat on course and moving at a good speed.
With the increasing wind of the encroaching storm, the waves followed suit and soon the fishing craft was being battered by whitecaps.
This was really all Duor was able to take and the dwarf threw his head and shoulders over the side of the boat and lost his breakfast, getting a face full of sea spray in the process.
As the dwarf gasped for air and wished himself dead, staring into the choppy water, he saw what seemed to be a shadow beneath them. He blinked and cleared the seafoam from his bushy eyebrows. Yes. Yes, definitely. There was something beneath them…and they weren’t passing over it, it was moving with them and getting….larger?
“Head’s up! Something’s…” was all the dwarf had time to yell, as he threw himself away from the side of the boat. The rest of his warning was lost in the splintering shatter of part of the boat’s hull, near Haelan, as a massive blue claw, long as Duor was tall, reached over and through the side of the boat.
Spellbinder (Lvl 16)
The whole company lurched with the bulk of the boat to one side. Then bodies and arms scrambled every which way, reaching for weapons and shields, attempting to rise and move to engage the mostly unseen enemy beneath the waves.
It wasn’t unseen for long as a second claw and two more appendages reached over the side of the boat and hoisted its self partly out of the choppy waves. The party stood in shock, for a moment, staring at the beady black eyes atop short stalks and flat bluish green shell rimmed in spines which has nearly three-quarters as wide as the boat was long.
Braddok was the first to action, swung ineffectually at the massive first claw, which was now obviously larger than the second. The swordsman’s blade skidded harmlessly along the rock-like carapace.
Coerraine let out a holy roar and jabbed at it with his spear as he attempted too make his way between it and Alaria. The Redstar Knight’s attack also met with failure.
Haelan, broken from his awe by Coerraine’s battle-cry took a swing with his pinecone-headed mace. The halfling connected with the second smaller claw maintaining a hold on the side of the boat. The mace broke threw the creature’s shell with a solid crack. The claw released the wooden planks and jerked back away. “HA!” exclaimed the halfling priest. “I’m going to need some butter over here.”
Erevan had moved near the tiller and was attempting to find a clear shot at the creature’s maw or underbelly, keeping himself between the crab and Trihna.
“That’s enough!” Trihna called. She moved back to cling to the left side of the boat. “Alaria, Duor, get to port! Balance the boat before we capsize!”
Alaria rose from her place and steadied herself with the mast, keeping it between her and the giant crab attempting to board their modest vessel. She moved unsteadily as the sailor-priestess instructed.
Duor moved as Trihna indicated and loaded a bolt into his hand crossbow, more than happy to be out of reach (at least for the moment) of the massive pincers.
The cracked smaller claw darted forth and snagged Haelan. “Ah! Get it off! Get it off!” the Hilltender of Faerantha cried out in pain and surprise as it squeezed tightly around his midsection.
The large first claw, much thicker and deeper blue in color than the one which held Haelan, lunged forward and snapped loudly inches from Braddok’s neck.
Braddok swung overhead and nearly took off half of his face when the sword’s edge rebounded, from the unharmed spiny shell of the large blue claw.
Coerraine stabbed again, this time placing his speartip firmly in the crab’s white underbelly which proved to be significantly less hard than the top shell.
Erevan saw an opening in the fleshy joint of the claw that held Haelan and let loose his arrow. A sudden jerking of the boat shifted his aim just enough to cause the shaft to shatter against the claw’s solid armor. He recovered quickly, due to his elven reflexes, drew and nocked a second arrow in a seamless motion and let loose again.
The second arrow pierced the joint and the claw, now wounded a second time, and the crab released Haelan.
The halfling took this opportunity to land a third blow against it which took the claw clear off at its “elbow” where Erevan’s shaft still stuck.
With this, the crab fell back into the water, nearly sending Trihna, Alaria and Duor flying overboard in the opposite direction.
Trihna quickly got the boat moving again and the waves increased in size as the sky continued to darken. A roll of thunder passed in the distance. All of the part stayed standing and alert, weapons ready.
This was the first opportunity the companions had to notice the long narrow stretch of land before them that snaked up to the bulk of the island. From along the edge of either side of this “causeway”, for lack of a better term, huge white arcs of sun-bleached bone curved some thirty or forty feet into the air.
“Wheeeew.” whistled Duor. “Yeah, we’re not takin’ those home, hairfoot.”
The sea priestess brought the boat into a small cove, where the boned causeway met the main island. The waves and wind were still rising and a drizzling rain had begun to fall. Thankfully, the cove was somewhat protected and Trihna was able to guide the shallow boat fairly close into shore. Braddok, Coerraine and Erevan helped drag the ship up onto the beach and further secured it with rope to a tree at the beach’s edge.
Everyone disembarked and began to unload. Erevan found what seemed like a good place to camp up a small embankment within the woods where they would have some protection from the elements and could still keep an eye on the boat.
As the elf made his way back to the where the others were gathering up their supplies, he saw the large round shadow beneath the waves and the first set of black beady eyes break the water’s surface. Then another. Then another. A rumble of thunder sounded just overhead.
“CRABS!” Erevan shouted to his companions as he bolted for the boat, drawing an arrow as he ran.
The others gathered up their packs and looked alarmedly toward the water’s edge. One. Then two. Then four of the giant blue-clawed creatures came scuttling from the ocean heading straight for the boat.
Spellbinder (Lvl 16)
An arrow and then two bounced off of blue-green shells, one splintering in the process.
“Move!” commanded Braddok. Alaria did not take exception and began running, as best she could on loose sand, towards the embankment.
She passed Erevan as he nocked another arrow and moved up the sloping ground to the tree’s edge.
Alaria turned to see Trihna moving next to her. “Can’t you do something? These are ocean dwellers, aren’t they?” The priestess nodded. She stopped running and turned to face the oncoming crustaceans.
The blue-robed priestess of the sea goddess raised her arms and chanted in the ancient Selurian tongue of divine magics. <casts: Animal Friendship, allowed for priests of Tyris on sea creatures only> A calm wave of bluish energy rose and ebbed from her hands. “Back to the sea with you, soldiers of Tyris. The Lady awaits you in her depths.”
The crab nearing her and Erevan paused for a second then continued to trudge towards them, its serrated pincers clanked menacingly.
Trihna stood agape for a moment and turned to Erevan. The elf looked at her in surprise. “It didn’t work? Something is not right.” said the priestess, fear evident in her voice.
“Get back.” Erevan commanded as he fired an arrow at the advancing crab and swiftly drew his elegant long sword. Trihna and the elf made for the embankment.
Duor and Haelan were moving with much difficulty through the sand quickly caking in the increasing drizzle. They were being overtaken by one of the crabs moving sideways on their flank. Haelan stopped and turned to face the creature while the dwarf continued to make for the hoped-for protection of the trees.
Braddok and Coerraine, covering everyone’s retreat, backed away slowly as two of the creatures were practically upon them.
Coerraine readied his weapon and focused his mind to look at these creatures of nature with his god-gifted vision.
Braddok was surprised to see a faint golden glow shine from the young Goldshield’s eyes.
“There’s a dark presence surrounding these beasts. Like a yoke of evil upon them.” said the paladin.
“Great.” retorted Braddok, “Now I can feel morally justified while I kick this thing’s shell.” Braddok took a swing at the nearest crab. His swing was more intended to keep the giant clawed monster at bay than any hopes of actual damage. It did little to deter the crab.
The beast’s larger claw struck forward, snapping inches from Braddok. The fighter deflected the smaller claw with his blade. The clang of the blow rang across the beach.
Coerraine caught the second crab’s giant claw on his shield and the smaller claw gripped the Redstar Knight’s spear like a vice. Coerraine pulled with all of his might but was unable to dislodge his weapon. He released the spear and backed away, unsheathing his sword.
Haelan took a deep gouge from the sharp small claw. Moving through the pain, he managed to dodge as the large armored claw slammed into the wet sand with crushing force.
Duor climbed the embankment at the edge of the trees and turned to stand next to Alaria who was viewing the battleground with furrowed brow.
A rumble of thunder sounded through the heavens.
“Higher ground at least.” said the dwarf hoping to lighten the situation. “Any ideas, boss-lady?”
“Just one.” said the young wizardess. She yelled across the beach. “Braddok. Coerraine. Fall back! I need you here!”
Her “order” was muffled by the rising wind, the crashing surf and rain pattering into the sand. But Braddok heard part of it and turned to see Alaria and Duor waving them back to the treeline. Trihna was almost there. Erevan had diverted his retreat to grab Haelan.
The elf was able to move with his usual fleet-footedness across the packed sand, able to stay well ahead of the crab pursuing him. For his selfless action, Erevan received a stabbing jab from the crab attacking the halfling. Haelan was clocked with the back side of the large claw and sent flailing but Erevan half-helped half-pulled him up and the two, bleeding, shot towards the trees.
“We need to fall back.” Braddok called over the rain and wind to Coerraine.
The paladin seemed not to hear him. In fact, he seemed not to be fighting either. The Redstar Knight’s sword was being clasped in his hands, point down. His eyes closed as water streaked down his serene face, his golden locks matted and dripping.
What was he doing?! thought Braddok. The warrior turned in panic to see both of the giant crabs preparing to attack. “Come on!” shouted the warrior.
A golden glow surrounded the holy warrior and then Braddok noticed he too was briefly surrounded by a slim aura of yellow light. <cast: Protection from Evil 10’ radius, a special ability of the Redstar Knights>
Braddok tackled the paladin, knocking them both back several feet as the crab’s claws snapped and crashed into the sand where the paladin and swordsman had stood moments before. Coerraine, eyes now open, gave Braddok and thankful smile and the two scrambled to make their way to the embankment.
“Oh, bollux.” muttered Braddok when he noticed the other two crabs scuttled between them and the treeline. Thankfully their attention was on the company members by the trees.
Alaria stood at the forefront of the embankment, watching Coerraine and Braddok, the two crabs behind them, the two before her moving closer and closer to the embankment. She needed to make sure the fighters were within range of her spell.
One of the crabs reached up the embankment, its pincer snapping very near her leg.
Too close, she thought. It had to be good enough.
She centered her mind and felt the power rising around her. Even in the wind and rain, Alaria noted the distinct tingle of arcane energy charging the air as the archaic words of power escaped her lips. She raised her arm, fingers outstretched, towards the dark-haired warrior.
Braddok halted abruptly in his tracks. He looked down at himself as he felt himself tingle all over as if every hair on his body were sticking straight out and then…pulling? He felt as if he were taking an extended morning stretch, but all over…his legs, his shoulders, his back. He saw the ground moving…away from him? Coerraine also had stopped running and was looking…up at the swordsman. The giant crabs now appeared half their size.
As the tingling subsided, Braddok was staring dumbstruck at Alaria directly across the beach up on the embankment, eye-to-eye. The R’Hathi wizardess smirked at him as he realized she had turned him into a giant!
Her smirk disappeared into an annoyed scowl looking at the crab reaching for her as she backed away from the embankment’s edge. “Well?! Get rid of them. Hurry, the spell won’t last long.” Alaria called.
Braddok smirked back and reached for the crab nearest the mage. It was weighty but not heavy. With a great heave he chucked the spiny-shell creature back into the sea. It landed in a loud smacking splash. The other crab, which had had its back to the warrior, received a quick stab with a giant blade skewering it with a loud crack followed by an inhuman squeal, audible above the increasing storm. A simple flip of his sword flung the mortally wounded creature even further than he’d thrown the first one.
Braddok laughed loudly and his voice boomed through the pelting rain. He took a step towards the two crabs that had been behind them. The giant creatures still snapped and pinched but were backing toward the water’s edge, away from the now very large man with a wicked smile on his face.
Braddok kicked one of the them which flipped like a tossed coin back into the cove waters as the last of the creatures scuttled itself back into the waves and disappeared not a moment before Braddok returned to his normal size.
Coerraine and Braddok joined their fellows. Haelan was agog as Trihna tended to his wound. “That was AMAZING, Braddok! You were all 'WING' n' 'JAB' and they were just 'SPLOOSH' n' "SPLAT'!" he made grandiose exploding and crunching noises and motions with his arms as the sea priestess attempted to still the halfling while her spell of healing took effect. "Alaria, can you make me big too?!”
Braddok smiled broadly and said to the wizardess, “That was pretty fun. Nice trick. Little warning next time though.”
Alaria crossed her arms with a ‘humph’. “You’re welcome.” she said with mock disapproval.
Braddok, still smiling, “You’re right. Thank you.” He said with a wink. Then he moved into the trees a bit with the rest of them, seeking someplace to drip dry out of the assaulting rain.
Alaria felt the heat of a blush rise in her cheeks. Must be catching a cold from this dismal weather, she thought to herself.
Spellbinder (Lvl 16)
The party huddled on a mostly dry patch a short way into the trees from the beach. They could easily keep a watch on the boat. Through the stormy evening and into the night they kept a cautious watch, but the crabs did not return. Shortly passed midnight, the storm had ceased and the sky was alight with the stars of the late summer.
Morning came without incident and the group ate a quick breakfast of eggs (hastily retrieved from the supplies still on the ship) and some salt bacon Haelan had picked up in Shoal. Alaria studied her spellbook apart from the others, not listening or interested in their casual conversation. She sipped the spiced R’Hathi blended tea from a simple wooden cup Haelan had brought her. The sounds of sea birds echoed clear through the brightening morning air.
Alaria finished her morning’s study, she closed the book with a thud. “Ok, let’s get going.” She turned to Trihna, “Where do we begin, Trihna? Tidemaster Kama said you could find the pearl.”
The Tyrisian cleric stood silently and from one of the pouches on her belt drew a small orb of glass or crystal. “When we are closer, I have a spell that shall direct us, but for now, this should do.” Trihna held the orb aloft, and pointed it at their boat.
Alaria and Haelan moved closer to get a better look at the obviously magical item. The orb seemed about half filled with a clear liquid. Water, Alaria supposed. Then slowly, Waverider Trihna turned clockwise. As she moved toward the north, the orb began to emit a soft blue light. The light grew stronger as she faced directly north and then quickly began to fade as she continued to turn toward the east. When she moved it back toward the north, the intensity of the light returned.
She put the orb back in its pouch. “That way.” Trihna pointed north.
The group gathered up their supplies, enough for the day and began marching north. The woods were vibrant and green. Sounds of animals and birds squaked or scurried through the underbrush from time to time. They kept the beach on their left as much as they could, but the land soon began to rise and take view of the Whitegull Bay and the mainland beyond became less frequent between the thick foliage.
By midday, the group was very tired from the late summer heat and humidity. Alaria, in particular, was extremely uncomfortable. Braddok and Haelan were both drenched by sweat in their chainmail shirts, but Coerraine also bore partial plating on his armor. The young knight, though in obvious discomfort, did not murmur a word of complaint.
“If I may.” offered Trihna. After a short prayer to the sea goddess, Trihna rested her hand on each armored party member. Her touch was like a breeze from the sea, itself. Immediately, Haelan, Braddok and Coerraine felt much cooler and refreshed.
Alaria took a draught of her waterskin with the Pure Water given to them by Tidemaster Kama. This took the edge off the heat for her. Duor, Erevan, then everyone else did the same.
Shortly after, they came to an open glade where they decided to break for lunch. They kept to what little relief the shade at the edge of the clearing could provide. From the break in the trees, the group could see two high steep mountains each curved inward towards the other. They were lush and green on their outer sides. The inner parts were more sparcely vegetated. Not so tall as to rise above a treeline, they were mountains nonetheless. Duor commented on the curious formations, “Dragon bones, giant crabs and curvy mountains. This place just gets weirder.” The dwarf paused. “Let’s just find this pearl and get outta here.”
After some fruit, cheese, the golden bread made by Dartha, and much more Pure Water, the party felt rejuvenated. Trihna took out her orb again and found they still needed to head north almost directly towards the space between the two mountains.
The party had continued on about an hour when Haelan noticed several large birds winding lazily through the afternoon sky high above and before them. He pointed them out to the others.
“Erevan, can your elvish eyes make out what kinds of birds those are?” the halfling priest asked.
Coerraine and Alaria shielded their eyes from the sun to try to identify the birds, but they were just silhouettes to the humans’ eyes. Erevan glanced up.
“What do you see, point-ear?” Duor asked tentatively.
“They appear to be akin to the great tumicyr <elvish: carrion birds, literally “birds of death”> of the mountains. Like your…’buz-sards’, you call them?” Then Erevan’s head tilted ever so slightly. His right eyebrow rose.
Duor had spent enough time with the elf to realize that the “eyebrow-thing” was not a good sign.
“We should find cover.” Erevan said plainly.
Then there was the screech. Everyone covered their ears against the horrid shriek, but the sound bombarded the mind through gauntlet and glove. It wasn’t until too late they realized it had come from behind them.
Braddok, Trihna and Erevan dropped to their knees from the pain of the sonic attack. Duor reeled to see the creature diving at them. The dwarf rogue half-fell half-dove into some bushes.
Alaria turned to see the talons tear into Haelan’s mailed shoulders. The halfling screamed in pain. The almost human-sized bird was no bird at all, but had the upper body of a beautiful woman with golden hair, dirty gold and brown feathered wings tipped in black and huge black curved talons like an eagle’s. She glared at Alaria with a taunting smile before opening her mouth wide to let cry another of her shrieking calls. This one was different than the first.
Haelan, stunned by the initial attack, put up no resistance as the harpy flapped her massive wings and with very little effort, lifted the halfling from the ground and headed west.
Spellbinder (Lvl 16)
“Erevan!” shouted Alaria, “It has Haelan!” her hand tentatively went to the scroll case which held along with her scrolls, the wand given her by her mentor, the wizard Ventior.
Before she could draw it, the wizardess noted the dark shapes of the two large carrion birds were getting larger, heading straight for their position. “Manat’s star!” Alaria thought. The birds were huge and getting larger. They appeared as huge vultures with collars of frilled white feathers and horned crests. Great condors, Alaria realized. She’d seen one at the Menagerie in Ablidon in childhood. “Take cover! The birds are coming for us.” Alaria warned.
Erevan, ears still rang from the harpy’s initial attack but let fly two bolts from his bow at the retreating creature carrying off the halfling. One struck, winging it. The abductor faltered but didn’t fall from the sky, simply flying lower and soon out of Erevan’s range.
Alaria and Trihna helped Braddok and Coerraine to their feet and the party hurried beneath the thick cover of the surrounding woods as the condor’s shrieks pierced the afternoon.
“Hurry. Before we lose her.” Erevan commanded and took off in the direction he’d last seen the harpy.
Alaria attempted to follow but the elf was much swifter in the thick underbrush. Her eyes shifting skyward every so often to see if the great winged birds of prey were upon them. In the occasional breaks in the treetops, she didn’t notice them.
Braddok and Coerraine, now aware that their hair-footed companion had been taken from them, gave chase after the elf. Trihna, Alaria and Duor kept up as best they could.
A short distance later, the group reassembled at the edge of the wood. The forest ended abruptly at the edge of the great rock promontory they’d seen from their approach in the boat. Before them was a wide, long, and slightly inclined expanse of solid stone. No trees or vegetation beyond a few clumps of intrepid weeds. No cover to speak of. No harpy or condors in sight.
Then, Erevan heard the flapping of wings and saw the edge of the harpy momentarily off the side of the cliff. Then it disappeared. After several moments he heard and saw no more.
“There!” pointed Erevan. “There must be a ledge or cave in the cliff where the creature lairs.”
“We can’t go out there.” Said Trihna, still winded from their chase. “Those vultures will tear us apart. Did you see the size of them?”
“I’m with…the Wavemaster.” Panted Duor, bent over.
“Waverider.” Said Trihna. Duor waved a hand in a mock flourish, still gasping for air.
“We don’t seem to have much choice.” said Coerraine. “Our brother-in-arms needs us.” He looked to Alaria. The young Redstar Knight was ever aware of the chain of command. As far as he was concerned, Alaria was still his superior.
“Any tricks up those sleeves, boss lady?” Duor input.
As Alaria struggled to formulate a plan, the leaves in the branches above them roared as a shadow passed quickly over them and then the huge shape of one of the great condors soared out over the long promontory. Its shriek pierced the sky as it circled low for a moment and then lazily floated high out over the sea before circling back.
Haelan struggled to stay conscious through the pain of the talons tearing into his shoulder. The haze of green passed in a blur beneath him. His slightly oversized helmet had been lost in his abduction and the wind torn through his hair. He looked up once and quickly looked away when he saw the harpy’s voluptuous breasts just above him. He blushed despite himself.
“This would be an exhilarating experience,” the halfling priest supposed, “if I weren’t about to die.”
Haelan gave a moment’s thought to using the pinecone-headed mace that still hung on his belt. He thought better of it considering the drop.
The blur of green became a blur of grey and then the blue green of the sea. Haelan’s stomach nearly leapt into his throat as his winged abductor dropped what must have been tens of feet in midair. He flinched at the renewed pain of the jolt as the harpy came to an abrupt halt and lifted slightly as she turned to face a great cliff face.
At first, Haelan surmised he was to be tossed upon the rocks, like he'd seen seabirds do with crabs or clams. Then, he noticed the opening in the great natural wall of rock. He saw two others as they approached.
Haelan was still several feet from the cliff when he was hurled by his captor straight at one of the openings. He landed within the cave with a clanking thud and tumbled uncontrollably down a passage coming to rest in a large open chamber.
Battered, bruised and bleeding from the rents in his shoulders, the halfling was just able to right himself as the harpy swooped in effortlessly in the passage he’d just rolled through. A hurried attempt to stand led to a dizzied collapse to his hands and knees but the cleric still managed to get a grip on his mace.
Before he could say anything, the harpy let out two sharp notes and heard a series of similar short shrieks from elsewhere. It was then he noticed the two other passages leading off into darkness to either side of the one his abductor now blocked.
The harpy merely held her ground and smirked.
Haelan knew he had limited time. He was in no condition to take on this creature and might well expire before he had the chance. His mind raced with options. Surely his companions would be coming for him…he just needed some time.
“Stay back!” Haelan pronounced, wearily holding his mace out towards the harpy.
The bird-woman let out a sharp cackle which was soon joined by cooing giggles around him. To Haelan’s horror, from the other two passages, two other harpy’s hopped into view.
“Here now, Grizzelda. What have you brought us?” said the one to the left. She looked similar to the harpy who had brought him here but was slightly smaller with darker hair and plumage. Same color as Alaria’s hair, Haelan thought, in spite of himself.
“She’s brought a Hilltender of Faerantha, evil one. The Harvest Mother will not stand for this affront.” Haelan said with all of the bravado he could muster, which he realized was not much.
Another round of cackling giggles filled the chamber.
“Oooo. A feisty one. I do like them feisty.” The voice came from his right where the third harpy leaned forward with a bright expectant smile. This one’s plumage and hair had a rusty red tint to it. “But really, Grizzelda.” the red-headed harpy backed abruptly. A look of disappointment crossed her lovely face. “It’ll hardly make a bite for each of us. And I am so tired of goblin.”
“Goblin?!” Haelan spat with surprise and indignation.
“Oh, this is no goblin, Shireen.” Said Grizzelda. Her gaze did not waver from her prey. “This, dear sisters, is vaaria. A might more hairy than goblin, but sooo juicy and sweet.”
“Vaaria!” announced the dark-haired harpy with glee. “I haven’t had vaaria in ages!” She clapped her clawed hands together in a manner of a child at Yuletide. “Can I have a leg, Grizzelda? Can I, pleeeease?” the dark-haired harpy asked pleadingly.
“You’ll have none!” Haelan said in determined horror. He slammed his mace into the cavern floor and shouted a prayer to Faerantha. A ring of silver light burst into sight around the halfling priest and he nearly collapsed from the effort.
“AAGH!” shrieked Shireen. “What’s it doing?!”
Grizzelda lunged forward, arms outstretched only to be stopped by the invisible barrier in a shower of silver sparks.
The dark-haired harpy shrieked in dismay. “It knows magic, Grizzelda?! You brought a mage into our lair!”
Grizzelda stood very near the barrier’s edge. She cautiously extended a long-taloned finger. A small white light sparked at its touch. “Pah!” spat the senior harpy. “It is no mage. A priest of their ‘nature mother…’” She gave Haelan a sidelong glance and spat with all intended insult “A weak one at that.”
Haelan glowered back at the harpy.
“It is a small spell.” She raked the barrier with her whole hand. Silver sparks zapped again at the touch. “It doesn’t even hurt.” Grizzelda held out her hand for the others to view. Then she leaned her face as close as she dared and smiled a mouth full of horrid pointed teeth. “And…it will wear off soon enough.”
Haelan centered himself and prayed for healing. He knew Grizzelda was right and he was in little shape to take on one of these creatures, let alone three. Just need a little more time for his companions to arrive. With a warm golden glow and the scent of honey filling his nose, Haelan felt the reinvigorating power of his goddess staunch his bleeding and mend his torn muscles.
“ACK! He’s doing it again!” shrieked Shireen. At this point she fluttered and hopped back to the mouth of the passage from which she’d emerged, obviously disquieted.
“Be still!” chirped Grizzelda. “It is nothing. He’ll be ours soon enough. The fear and desperation shall only make him all the sweeter.” With that, the elder harpy hopped back to the passage through which Haelan had been thrown.
“Come, sisters. The vaaria had friends. There was an elf and huuuuman mennnn.” Haelan shuddered to see Grizzelda lick her lips in apparent ecstasy at the very thought of his companions.
“Men?!” Shireen perked, hopping forward again.
“HUMAN men?” the dark-haired harpy was clapping again and hopping in place. This harpy also ruffled her feathers in excitement. “Why didn’t you say that sooner? What are we wasting time on this tidbit for?”
“Calm yourself, Estraytha.” Grizzelda ordered. “We must be cautious. These men are armed and obvious warriors. I saw them land on the southern beach in the storm last night. They fought off the giant crabs. And one of their companions is a real wizard. Their capture shall require some…thought.”
“Oh Grizzelda. You are too cautious. Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve had a human man to play with?” Estraytha mumbled in obvious disappointment.
“No matter!” shrieked Grizzelda, obviously at the end of her patience. She perked as the sound of a great bird’s call echoed down into the lair.
Haelan assumed it must have come from one of the giant birds they’d seen before the harpy’s attack.
“Ah. They’ve arrived.” Grizzelda turned to the out-of-reach halfling. “That was sooner than I expected.” Turning back to the entry passage the senior harpy barked her orders. “Come, Shireen. Estraytha, stay here and guard him.”
“Stay here?!? But Grizzel…” Estraytha protested.
“Guard him!” commanded the senior harpy. The feathers on her neck and wings bristled and if Haelan had not feared the sinister thing before, he certainly did now. “And there’d better be at least a leg left for me when we return with the others. Come, Shireen.” With that Grizzelda hopped up the passage and took flight. The red-headed Shireen hopped after her and shot her sister an apologetic shrug before taking wing.
Estraytha folded her arms in a huff and scowled at the daelvar priest. Haelan offered another sympathetic shrug and bright smile.
“Humph.” Muttered Estraytha and turned to scowl at the passageway.
Scout (Lvl 6)
- Join Date
- Aug 2004
- Boise, ID
ø Ignore Tamlyn
SteelDragons, not sure where this SH went, but I've been enjoying it and am looking forward to more.
Spellbinder (Lvl 16)
Thanks very much Tamlyn.
I was beginning to wonder if anyone actually ever read it.
Not to worry, Alaria, Braddok, Haelan and the gang are all still troppin' along...I just have to catch up.
As for the lack of updates, I'm afraid that is entirely my dropped ball. Just the holidays and "life stuff" distracting me. Very sorry about that.
I will definitely be getting back to it. Sooner now that I know someone wants to read it. haha. Possibly later today, actually...I might have some time.
Thanks for the encouragement.
Spellbinder (Lvl 16)
Apologies to all for the lag time. I will endeavor to be more regular in my postings from here on out. For those unfamiliar, a brief synopsis:
Alaria Staver is a wizardess from “the Mage Lands” of R’Hath. She has just recently come to the Orea mainland on a final errand for her mentor before being freed from her apprenticeship to him. Alaria is the de facto leader of the party as the rest of the group is employed as her escort to aid in completing her quest. She is intelligent and exacting if sometimes impatient and might appear at times a bit shallow. As most R’Hathi, Alaria views the use of magic (and those who use it) to be highly superior to those who do/can not. Alaria is also a woman of obvious beauty.
Braddok Eth Barforth is a swordsman from the far western realm of Denil. He sees himself as the party leader, considering most of the group to be “his band” who has been hired by Alara. A capable warrior with formal training and experience, Braddok still likes to use his head before his sword. He also has something of crush on Alaria.
Haelan Spurthistle is a “Hilltender” (cleric) of the halfling primary goddess, Faerantha. He is kind, courteous, a bit too innocent and almost always in a chipper good mood. Despite the danger, he is thoroughly enjoying his first venture into the wilds beyond his homeland and views the other party members as true friends (despite the fact they’ve known each other for little more than a week).
Erevanis an elf of the Miralosta nation who came to the primarily human Freelands seeking adventure. He has his people’s uncanny skill with sword and bow as well as schooled in the practice of magic. He’s been putting his elvin stealth and woodcraft talents to use as the party scout during their travels. Erevan met Braddok and Haelan shortly after his arrival in the city of Hawkview, where the group met and was hired by Alaria.
Duor Darkesmythe is a dwarf and thief whose place in the party came as something of a accident. A failed attempt to enter Hawkview’s thieves’ guild, the Dusk, led to a confrontation wherein the party came to Duor’s rescue (Duor also saved Alaria’s life during that same combat). An offer from Alaria to accompany them out of the city (not to mention promise of payment) was eagerly accepted.
“Goldshield” Coerraine is a paladin belonging to the order of the Redstar Knights, a branch of the temple of Celradorn god of battle and guardianship. The handsome young blond hails from the southern kingdom of Mostrial but was stationed by his order to Celradorn’s temple in Hawkview. Coerraine was then assigned by the high priest (as a favor to the mage guild’s magister) to accompany and, as his rank of “Goldshield” demands, guard and protect Alaria on her mission. He is every bit the honorable and dutiful paladin and devout to the tenets of courage and justice of his order.
Also with the party is Waverider Trihna (NPC). She is a priestess of the sea goddess, Tyris, from the temple in the seaside village of Shoal. Tirhna was sent with the party by her superior, Tidemaster Kama, to guide and aid them in the retrieval of a sacred Tyrisian artifact from Dragonbone Isle.
The Story thus far: Alaria traveled to the mainland port city of Hawkview upon her “release” from her tutelage/apprenticeship in the arts of magic. Delivering her message to the guild magister, Kurklani, she then found out that her package was to be delivered to an associate in the hamlet of Welford, a solid two weeks north of the city. Crestfallen that her life of freedom was further away than she’d thought, Alaria hired Braddok, Haelan and Erevan to accompany her on her mission. The four encountered (and rescued) the dwarf Duor. With the addition of the Redstar Knight, Coerraine, the band of six began their journey.
After a week of travel in the wild (including avoiding a rather large warband of goblins) they came to the seaside village of Shoal to rest and resupply. There they met Tidemaster Kama, who oddly enough was expecting them and beseeched the party to aid the temple in the retrieve of a lost artifact and investigate/defend the village from alleged evil forces “returning” to the surrounding seas.
Sailing with the Waverider, Trihna, to Dragonbone Isle, the party battled with giant crabs before camping down in the midst of a late summer storm. The following day, beginning their exploration of the island in earnest, the party was ambushed by a powerful harpy who abducted the halfling priest, Haelan. They gave chase and tracked the foul fowl foe to a large broad cliff-sided promontory where the harpy (and unbeknownst to the party, her two sisters) laired.
Now, they must rescue their stalwart hair-footed companion.
Let’s see how this goes...
The party watched as the great condor let out a piercing cry as it circled back over the promontory.
“We need a distraction.”, said Braddok. “We can’t take those giant birds and the harpy and there’s no way we’re getting down the side of that cliff with them circling overhead.”
Alaria furrowed her delicate brow at the obvious statement and found herself moreso annoyed at her inability to come up with one.
Duor, to everyone’s surprise, suggested he climb out across the side of the cliff face from their current position. All bravery and appreciation aside, Alaria thought the idea much too risky.
As they debated their options more, shrieking cackles filled the air as not just the large harpy with black-tipped pinions they had followed flew up over the edge of the cliff, but a second harpy, this one with rusty reddish plumage and hair, appeared as well.
They flapped vigorously holding position in midair as the larger of the two pointed to their position. The red-head smiled broadly and clapped her talonned hands as she alit on the broad rocky expanse before them.
“That’s that then.”, said Braddok and charged out of the woods edge with a throaty battlecry. He heard Coerraine’s clanking charge close behind him.
An arrow, then two whizzed past him as Braddok ran. The harpy shrieked in surprise as one grazed her milky smooth arm to leave a bright crimson streak.
“That wasn’t nice!” cooed the harpy Shireen. Her lovely face seemed to twist into a visage of ugly anger. She drew in a deep breadth.
Alaria and Duor braced for one of the creature’s sonic screeches they had encountered not long before.
What came out of the harpy’s mouth, however, was no screech at all but a voice of pure gold. Lilting notes rose and fell and soared in a melodic beauty.
Braddok and Coerraine both slowed their charge and eventually came to a halt just before the creature.
The larger harpy, still in flight cackled in a gleeful victory.
It was then Alaria recalled from her studies that harpy’s had a unique ability to charm men and delighted in doing so…invariably to the men’s doom. “Duor, quickly, you must stop her singing!” the magess ordered to the dwarf beside her.
Duor made no move nor under-his-breath remark. He just stood there, statuesque, staring at the singing harpy. “Orcass.” muttered Alaria. “Erevan?” she turned to the elf who was in the process of firing off another round of his well-placed bolts at the other harpy. “At least I have one protector left,” she thought.
“Ooooo! Grizelda, you didn’t say they were so hannndsome. I can’t even choose which one is more delicious.” The red-headed harpy chirped.
“Later for that, you featherbrain! The others! Send them to destroy the others!” Grizelda commanded. “AAHHK!” Another of Erevan’s arrows caught Grizelda in her shoulder and the large harpy was forced to land. “Flay the elf!” she shouted to her sister.
“Oh! Right. Sorry Grizelda.” Shireen apologized. “Boys. Those nasty people in the trees are going to hurt me. You don’t want them to hurt me do you?” She brushed up against Braddok and gently rubbed a taloned hand over Corraine’s broad chest. “Would you be a couple of dears and go slay them for me?”
Braddok and Coerraine, without a word, turned and began to march back toward their companions in the treeline. Determination showed clearly on their faces.
“Oh and bring me the elf’s ears for a nibble, would you darlings?” called Shireen as an afterthought and then burst in a cackling chirping laugh.
Grizelda turned her head to the sky and let out another shriek. It was obvious the giant condor was under the harpy’s control and turned immediately at her call to dive towards the treeline.
“Trihna, take cover! We must save the men!” shouted Alaria and grabbed Duor by the hood of his cloak and pulled him back with her behind one of the trees. She glanced over to where the sea priestess stood. Trihna’s eyes stared at the approaching warriors, her lips repeated a chant that Alaria could not quite hear.
Suddenly, a hot pain tore through Alaria’s right arm. Duor had drawn his dagger and slashed her. The magess cried out and backed away from the ensorcelled rogue. She turned to see she was being herded out of the treeline and closer to the warriors. Before her, Duor pressed forward, dagger in hand dripping with the fresh blood of the R’Hathi wizardess. In the back of her mind, she imaged any second she would feel talons fall on her from above. “Forgive me, Duor, but you are not yourself…YEX!”
The magic flowed freely from Alaria’s outstretched arm and a momentary flash of light dazzled the dwarf. Alaria took the moment to hurry over to Trihna’s side and caught the end of whatever the priestess had been chanting. It was definitely something in the Selurian tongue of priestly magics and with the final syllable, Trihna brought her fist down into her other open palm in a forceful motion.
With that Coerraine stopped in his tracks, and blinked a few times. Braddok continued towards the women, raising his sword. Still confused, but going on instinct, the Goldshield quickly positioned himself between Braddok and the women in time to catch Braddok’s sword on his shield.
A scream from above drew Alaria’s attention where she was shocked to see the condor’s dive disrupted by another of its kind. With the arrival of the harpies, Alaria had forgotten there were originally two of the giant birds of prey.
The new arrival let out its own shrieks and buffeted the other bird with is massive wings. Alaria could hardly believe her eyes when she noticed the second bird had…a rider? A figure in a green colored cloak clung to the birds back. He or she stood out against the great bird’s dark feathers.
The harpy, Grizelda, let out more of the screeching commands to the condor she had been controlling. Shireen, no longer laughing since her hold over the paladin had been broken, was shouting commands to Braddok.
Erevan saw his moment and let another barrage of arrows fly at the larger of the bird-women. Both bolts struck, with one piercing the creature’s throat.
Grizelda looked to the elf with utter shock and utter hate. She opened her sharp-toothed mouth what looked impossibly wide. No sound came forth but a whistling wheeze. So, with a wheeze and a thud on the rocky promontory, the eldest harpy sister met her end.
Seeing Grizelda fall, Shireen let out a scream of absolute grief. The piercing tone filled the air and again everyone in the group, included the enchanted Braddok, was forced to cover their ears.
“You killed my sister!” the red-headed harpy screeched at Erevan and made a lunge in the elf’s direction.
In a blur, Duor stood before Erevan, his hand crossbow trained on the attacking creature. “Ah ah ah there, red.”, the dwarf said. “You’ve seen what these arrows can do. Wouldn’t want to end up like your friend, there.”
Shireen halted her attack. Her lips curled into a sneer at the dwarf’s threat. Her tear filled eyes darted to where the rest of the group stood watching her. In the sky, the battling condors had fled when she had keened. Her wail had broken her control over Braddok and the whole party, unscathed, faced her.
“I’d listen to him.”, came a voice from behind the harpy.
Shireen whirled around (as did the party) to see a red-haired youth in brown leathers and a greenish cloak leveling a spear at the creature.
Spellbinder (Lvl 16)
A dark-haired and feathered, equally beautiful, harpy soared up over the cliffside, drawn forth by her sister’s shrieking wail of sorrow. At first a look of shocked horror was evident on her face. Then she took in the party surrounding Shireen. The harpy, Estraytha, smiled in spite of herself. She hovered, fluttering in place above Grizzelda’s body for a moment.
“Oh bollux. Another one?!” said Duor.
Alaria seconded the dwarf’s unorthodox swear.
Erevan was equally disheartened though he would never use such a vile dwarven and human oath. He stepped forward beside Alaria, training an arrow on the latest arrival.
“Wait. What? What’s going on here?” mumbled the befuddled Braddok, still recently shaken from his ensnaring of Shireen’s magical charms.
Trihna moved gently to stand before the warrior to stand at the side of Coerraine.
“Estraytha, they killed Grizzelda!” called Shireen, sorrow evident in her voice. Then she looked to the green-cloaked newcomer with sheer malice. The red-headed harpy’s words dripped with malevolence, “Release me, fire-head, or my sister will rend your pretty little body from limb to limb.”
“I see, sister. Be still.” Said Estraytha. “Release her!” said the harpy nonchalantly as she alit beside her fallen sibling. “We will not fight you.”
“Estraytha!” shrieked Shireen.
“Be STILL!” commanded Estraytha, sounding very much as the recently deceased elder harpy. Shireen flinched and went silent.
Alaria stepped forward, gathering the courage from where, she knew not. She leveled her staff towards the newest harpy and announced with all of the confidence she could muster, “Stand down, harpy. Return our companion to us or feel our wrath. Your sister was unfortunate to deny our request and you see how that turned out.”
Estraytha gathered this was the wizard Grizzelda had mentioned earlier. She sized up the group…Eight strong and, while most were men, the two women and the elf had obviously been more than a match for her powerful elder and younger sisters…a magess and priestess no less…and who knew what the elf could do?
“For three centuries we have been under my sister’s talon. The last of which, chained to this pathetic no account island. Feeding on crabs and fish," she spat"...and recently the occasional goblin. I am SICK of this place and would take wing to a more…enjoyable roost.
“We want no further quarrel with you. Your vaari is alive and, as yet, unharmed. Let him stay that way. Let us pass from here and you may collect him at your leisure. Engage us at your, and his, peril.”
At this, Shireen was thoroughly confused. “But…but Estaytha…” she half chirped.
Alaria was painfully evident that all eyes were on her. She paused to think…for a moment…
“Milady, we cannot possibly allow…” Coerraine softly offered from behind her.
“We seem to have little choice, Goldshield…for Haelan. He’d do no less for any of us.” Alaria replied. Raising her voice, again attempting to be confident and commanding though her insides quivered like so much Yuletime jelly, “We accept your truce. Duor, release the rust-feathered one.”
Duor, in some surprise, but equally thankful, lowered his hand crossbow. The newcomer also lifted his spear.
Shireen immediately lifted with a seemingly effortless wing and landed beside her remaining sibling.
“Hahaaaa! FOOLS! Now we take them, right sister?” Malice dripped from her lovely lips.
“No.” said the harpy Estraytha simply. “Now, we go.” And she took wing.
Shireen followed, looking confused.
As they flew off towards the mainland in deepening evening sun, Estraytha seemed to explain to her bereft younger sister, “Let Tresahd and his claw-hands have his stupid little island. We are off for a real life…and real meat.” As they flew off, Estraytha turned and winked at Braddok. The warrior’s stomach turned.
“Wait!” called Alaria, “Where is Haelan? Who is Tresahd? What do you know of the crabmen?”
Estraytha paused a moment. She turned in mid-air and chirped a giggle. “You kill my sister and expect answers as well?” She let out a full bellied cackle. “You have iron tail feathers, magess. I’ll give you that! Your vaari is in our lair. Go claim him. As for the rest…the happenings of this island are, finally, no longer of any concern to me.”
With that, the two harpies lifted high out of range of any weapon or spell and soared off into the west.
“Well,” offered Duor as the group watched them go, “That coulda gone worse.”
As the dwarf casually watched the harpies continue out of view, the rest of the group turned to the green-cloaked stranger.
There was a slight point to his ears and elegant slant to his deep brown eyes obviously betrayed some elvin blood. His firey red hair was cut short with a few strands falling casually just to his eyes. A similar strip of red scruffy whiskers ran from his bottom lip to engulf his strong chin. Brown leathers and green cloak that enwrapt a lithe toned frame.
It could now be seen that his cloak was clasped with the crescent moon set in a half-sun medallion of the Ancient Order. His spear, similarly, ended in the leaf-shaped blade that marked him, most definitely, as a druid of the Ancient Order of Mistwood.
“Our thanks, master druid, for your much needed assistance.” Said Alaria.
The red-haired half-elf made a deep bow to the magess, a charming smile on his face and twinkle in his eyes.
“Tell us your name that we might properly thank you.” Offered Braddok, still unsure how this druid came to be among them.
“My name, noble warrior, is Faeryl. But you may call me by my order’s given name, 'Fen.'”
“Our thanks, Fen. Without your aid…” Alaria began.
“No thanks are necessary. I saw your comrade taken by Grizzelda and followed to aid. Their evil, as you heard, has long afflicted this place, apparently. Longer than I knew. I hope their leaving will begin to return the isle to the balance I’ve been sent to reinstate.”
Before more questions could be offered, the druid wandered over to the cliff’s edge and looked down to where the entrances to the harpies’ lair sat in the vertical stone, almost imperceptible from his vantage point. “Shall we retrieve your friend?”
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