Freeday, 28th of Suns'ebb
NEW YEAR'S EVE
The battered Knights carried Toddek's broken body outside with them, after Dartan cut it from the creature's belly to give it a proper burial. They stood outside in the snow. They opened a hole in the ground and placed Toddek within it. They stood around the burial mound, not sure how to feel- Toddek was a magical construct... yet he was real. He was as genuine a person as any of them.
Kyla walked from person to person, healing as necessary. She heard a noise behind them, in the woods at the edge of the clearing. She turned to see a woman dressed in a robe, wearing a broad hood. The hood was trimmed with a leafy vine. Kyla asked "Who goes there?" The others turned around, hands on their weapons.
The woman in the forest motioned to something behind her and said "Go. Tell the others that I've found them." Behind her, a deer no one had spotted bolted from its position among the trees and leapt through the woods, gone from sight in a moment. The woman stepped forward and pulled her hood back, revealing long ash-brown hair knotted with flowers and leaves. "My name is Kella. I believe Dartan may remember me."
Dartan only vaguely remembered the woman, but nodded. "Of course. You patrolled the boundaries of the Temple of Elemental Evil, didn't you? Why are you here?"
"We came looking for you." Behind her, a group walked from the forest. Among the group were Elmo, Burne, Rufus, Spugnoir, and Canoness Y'dey. Again, only Dartan recognized any of them- Elmo was captain of the guard in Hommlet, and had arrested Dartan for the murder of an evil elderly woman.
Burne and Rufus were heroes who had helped topple the Temple a dozen years ago, Burne being the carmudgeonly old skeptic who'd rudely dismissed the warning signs of the Temple's recent reemergence. He was clear-headed and tough, but extremely just.
Spugnoir had been rescued from the moathouse by the group- and promised 30% of all potions and items at his magic shop for life. Of course, with recent events being what they were, the chances of there being a magic shop standing above the ground in Hommlet were now very unlikely.
Canoness Y'dey was the high priestess of St. Cuthbert in Hommlet. She'd been outcast, her temple burned as a testament to heresy. She and Dartan had almost come to blows over religious differences. It was especially odd seeing her here, Dartan noted, as she and Elmo never got along together. She had told the Knights once that Elmo still blamed her for the death of his brother Otis. Something dire must have placed the two together- of course, there was little that wasn't dire and horrible these days. The apocalypse loomed over the Flanaess, and over each and every living creature.
Elmo walked forward and introduced himself and the others. He met the new Knights with interest. "We've come to find you so we can have a talk," he said. "We shouldn't do it here. Where were you headed?"
"We need to go to Verbobonc," Katya said.
"Fine, we can hold a meeting there, but... Hmm. That's three days away. Burne?"
Burne took a stylized bird-shaped stone token from his robe pocket and threw it to the ground. It became a splendid eagle- an eagle so large that it could easily accomodate every one of them. "We could never take our horses on that," Vek said.
Kella spoke up. "Leave the horses with me. I'll be in the area, and can store them in a safe place." They handed the reins to her and she led the horses into the forest, to the south.
They climbed aboard the eagle and were about to fly to Verbobonc when Elmo saw Jettok standing still on the ground, staring at the bird with grave misgivings. "I'm not gettin' on that thing," he grunted. Before Elmo could think up a suitable angle to begin convincing him that air travel was safe, the dwarf climbed aboard with trembling knees. Jettok was a stubborn old dwarf, but he knew as well as anyone else what was at risk if the group didn't pull together at every opportunity. "Damn... damn... damn..." The eagle spread its vast wings and pushed down at the ground. Oerth fell away beneath them, and they flew. Jettok clenched his eyes shut and grabbed two large handfuls of feather. "DAMN! DAMN! DAMN!..."
more to come...