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A Keep on the Borderlands: Consolidation

Dr Simon

Community Supporter
[MENTION=4936]Shayuri[/MENTION], [MENTION=93196]Axel[/MENTION], [MENTION=1231]Kaodi[/MENTION], [MENTION=2710]jkason[/MENTION]

New thread continuing on from A Keep on the Borderlands: Arrival.

When last we saw Arcata, Bastian, Comoray and Sh'aah they were fleeing Fanjyr Waystation in the company of Cassie of the Punishment Legion, Fyfe of House Arcata and Rexun Edelstimme, captive dwarf and herlad of the dwarf king.

Fanjyr Waystation is in the hands of the so-called Cobalt Dwarf, Haxmar Schattenstein, a suspicious, too-suave character with a mysterious blue pendant, possibly connected to strange blue lights seen in the hills above the Waystation. There was no sign of the missing Warden of the MIdnight Sun that the wandering trader Tzintzan Ryal had mentioned. Whether Haxmar was responsible or not remains to be seen.

The moon is low in the sky and the group travels downhill by starlight, keeping as best they can just off the road, on the uphill side amongst pine trees.

Suddenly Rexun calls a halt and points to some seemingly innocuous stones.

"Marks of my people," he says. "If this way we are going, perhap help we will be getting." He points up the steep, tree-covered slope to the left of the path. At that moment there is a flare of blue light from up the pass, and the distant sound of horns. It would seem that Haxmar has discovered your disappearance.
 

jkason

Villager
Bastian looks back in the direction of the light and horns, then nods grimly to where Hexmar believes his people might be.

" Leaving effectively made our choice of sides for us. If they catch us, I expect our stay will be far less comfortable than last time. If we're looking for help, we'd better look fast." He looks to the dwarf to lead despite the nervous taste in his mouth. Gods preserve them if they chose wrong...
 

Axel

Villager
Sh'aah stopped, then stooped to examine the stone. Never seen Dwarfses marks before...

He reached out a hand to touch one, enjoying the texture of the partially worked roughness. Glancing around as the humans stood in indecision he made a quick study of the ground and what had recently passed this way.
 

Dr Simon

Community Supporter
Sh'aah can find no tracks, but once he knows where to look there is a cunningly hidden trail, a natural set of steps leading upwards from the main path.
 

Shayuri

Villager
Arcata looked for a moment at where Sh'aah was poking around, then back towards the dwarf citadel.

"Can we make it back to the keep?" she asked, looking at both Bastion and Sh'aah. "I didn't see any horses in there. We can stay ahead of them, don't you think?"

With an apologetic look at Rexun she added, "It's no offense to you or your people, Rexun...but if I have a choice between maybe help, and definitely be safe...then right now I'd as soon go with the definite."
 

jkason

Villager
"Now might not be the best time to remind milady that we left our horses there, so they have at least half a dozen trained horses. I don't expect Bulwark is likely to cooperate, but the others are merely normal domestics; they'll ride as well for dwarves as they did for us."

The Last Lion's embarrassment at possibly having handed their pursuers the means to catch and delay them is clear, but he looks to Sha'ah for a better assessment of their chances to make it back.

[sblock=ooc]I'm not 100% on how far we are from the keep, I'm afraid, so I'll leave that one unanswered for now.[/sblock]
 

Dr Simon

Community Supporter
"Dwarves are not good riders being," says Rexun. "It is more likely your horses the Cobalt Dwarf will be selling than riding. Probably," he adds with a note of uncertainty.

OOC: It took six days through plains and foothills to get here. It could be done, and Sh'aah reckons he could probably find enough forage to supplement the meagre rations you have with you. A lot would depend on how far the dwarves are willing to pursue.
 

Axel

Villager
Sh'aah shrugged non-comitally. "Is far. Easy way is hide, then walk. Take many weeks. Hills is good for food. No bow, no meat."
 

Kaodi

Adventurer
Brother Comoray chimes in, "I can keep us supplied well supplied with water, and Velshionne may see to impart others prayers upon me that may be more useful to survival in the wilds. This has been a setback, but I have faith that the Lady Magnificent has not smiled upon our quest to take back the fort only to see us dashed upon the rocks by rebellious dwarves."
 

Axel

Villager
Sh'aah frowned. The thought that gods could directly intervene and create water - and presumably food - was troubling.

"Best is stay in Dwarf lands. Not enough mans to fight. Even if all come. Find king. Then all is good."
 

Shayuri

Villager
Arcata frowned. Neither option was particularly good, but that was the choice before them. She didn't like the idea of appearing before the dwarves as refugees after a forced march, with hounds snapping at their heels...but there was diplomatic capital to be earned perhaps in trusting their agent, and in making straightaway to inform them of the events at the waystation.

With a heavy sigh, she nodded.

"We'll go to the dwarves. Rexun, take point with Sha'ah and help keep us on the path."
 

Axel

Villager
Sh'aah nodded and turned left up the slope without hesitation. He moved quickly and surely in the dark, pausing after a few minutes to let the less capable humans and the stunted dwarf catch up.
 

jkason

Villager
Bastian Sangue, human beast rider

Bastian merely nodded to his lady's order, and took up rear guard. Between the clank of his armor and his speed without Bulwark, he figured he was best kept to the back.
 

Dr Simon

Community Supporter
The dwarf trail leads steeply up rocky slopes covered with pine and rowan, via cunningly contrived steps that are carved from the rock and appear at first glance like a natural gully. After some minutes of exertion the trail levels out to a shelf below steep cliffs.

Sh'aah spots movement ahead, and an armoured dwarf appears from behind a rock, a load crossbow pointed at the group. He says something in the dwarven language, and Rexun steps forwards and replies. There follows a brief conversation in the harsh-sounding tongue.

"I think we're going to be alright sir, ma'am," says Fyfe quietly to Bastian and Arcata. "This Rexun, he's vouching for us as friends."

And so it would seem. The dwarf lowers his crossbow and nods the group past. Rexun leads them around a shoulder of rock and there is revealed an entrance into the cliff face, hidden unless seen from the right angle. There are more dwarves inside, ready for battle (although dwarves are rarely seen out of armour anyway; rumour in the Empire is that they wear chainmail nightshirts). Rexun is greeted with hearty slaps on the back as the group is led down a tunnel into a chamber lit by a small, but warming, fire.

A fat dwarf with striking red hair and beard has a brief conversation with Rexun then turns to the group.

"Menexes Kupferbart at your service," he says. "Cousin Rexun tells me how you aided him, and for that you are welcome to our humble camp. Tell me what you know of the Cobalt Dwarf, Haxmar. And quickly, if you will, we may not have much time."
 

Axel

Villager
Sh'aah was amazed by the rock cavern cum stronghold, and it showed as he gazed around at the place. He know mountains and caves, but had seen nothing like this.

The Dwarves he could care less from though. Even in his comparatively short life Sh'aah had been on the receiving end of scorn and hatred from Dwarves more than the small number he had met should imply. Still, there were many of the stunted folk, and warriors to boot. The ranger was relieved that his intuition in staying in Dwarf lands had been right. It had always been right, but it only took one poor choice out in the wilds...

Knowing his place in the hierarchy of things Sh'aah kept to the back and stayed as unobtrusive as his massive body would allow.
 

Shayuri

Villager
As they entered the cavern, Arcata quietly expended a little magic to freshen herself...clean up the little smudges from climbing, give her clothes a little more color and make up for the several days now since she'd changed them. When she stepped up to greet Mexaxes very little of the past exertions or difficulties showed in her appearance.

"Less than I'd like, I'm afraid," she replied. Her voice had warmth in it, but her antipathy towards the Cobalt was plain as well. "He wears an amulet with a blue stone in it. His skin, and the skin of his followers, was tinged blue as well. He was very quick to greet us, and seemed very...interested in me in particular. Not as a woman, you understand, but I think I was important to some plan of his. He was reluctant to fight us...I don't know if it's because he doubted his men against us, or because he was concerned about me dying in the process."

"As for what he wanted me for, I believe it had to do with some kind of strange, pervasive blue light from the cliffs above the waystation. Significant magical power was gathering there for something. A ritual perhaps. I didn't see what was causing it, so I can't be more specific."
 

Dr Simon

Community Supporter
"As I feared," says Menexes. "He's allied himself to some strange magic." He strides across to the fire. "We'll find no help from that quarter," he says, almost to himself. He turns back to Arcata. "Possibly he will be following you now. Another dwarf would be capable of finding the hidden trail. If you can fight, help us. If not, stay out of our way."
 

jkason

Villager
Bastian Sangue, human cavalier

"Sir," Bastian says. He hefts his broadsword out of its sheathe to rest on one of his armored shoulders, "Fighting is the one thing I've been certain I know how to do since we got to this little wilderness. If I finally get to hit things, count me in."
 

Axel

Villager
Sh'aah fidgeted in the background. What are we fighting now? Dragons?

Still, following Bastian's lead he uncovered his axe heads and checked them for nicks. And sharpness.
 

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