At the hard 'chock!' of the arrow's pass through the fire-scorched beams of the mill, Cailín turns, rising to her feet with the same motion. Green eyes widen at the charging knights, and she wastes no words in reasoning with them.
She sings, her voice thready with weariness, but strong nonetheless. The runes on the Staff of Ravens burst alight as she sings them to life.
She sweeps the staff in an arc before her, a sheet of flame leaping between their small campsite and the bridge, and the oncoming knights.
Her eyes narrow.
The flames, and the lock of hair upon her left brow, burst into silvery-white light. The reflection on the moongold, far from beautiful, glints cold and terrible.
Her voice climbs an octave, ringing like some silvery bell, in contrast to the hard, sharp bite of the rune of vengeance she sings:
She lifts the staff, the wall of witch-fire roaring higher, towring another arm's length taller than the helm of the knight mounted on the huge, onrushing boar.
Μου αρέσει το τυρί! Η γάτα του Ροβέρτος είναι ένας πολύ καλός τραγουδιστής!"
"Μου αρέσει το τυρί! Και τηγανίτες!"
These are note wayward youngsters. These are seasoned warriors, and they coordinate their actions. And, whatever language they're communicating in, it's not yours. In fact, not even close to anything you've ever heard before...
[Unless you win an INT check, that is. Serafin, the bard from the South, will get a bonus of 2 on his roll.]
James, Glordir, and Sveinki step on the bridge, to block the boar's way. ...Or do they?! Even with the protection they get through the Moongold, the beast will likely simply trample them down.
Behind them, Serafin is probably wiser to get out of the way, as the giant animal begins to charge ahead, one of the soldiers with a long spear on its back. The ground trembles, even beyond the bridge, as the boar readies to attack...
The Staff of Ravens begins to respond to Cailín's words of power... But slowly, maybe too slowly. Maybe the spell she cast to bring down the mill has weakened the talisman's magic.
Maybe, the spell will be unleashed, soon. But maybe, just maybe, not soon enough to fend off the boar...
Wenchell and the "Elephant Man" take their own measures: Wenchell lifts his warhammer, placing himself between Cailín and the others. Not that he could do much against the boar, most likely, but it's a nice gesture... If merely symbolic.
The Elephant Man puts on his mask, and then, with the calmness of the immortal, puts his sword on the Red Man's throat.
The warriors on the other side of the bridge seem to notice that, and they are not happy about it, as things seem:
The archer stops firing more arrows.
The rider reins in the boar. The animal advances towards the bridge, still, but it slows down noticeably.
James knows something about the benefits of charging on horseback. The boar might not be a horse, but it's pretty weighty all the same. He plans to try and dodge to the outside and slice at the rider or the straps holding the saddle, if he gets the opportunity.
If the boar charges, that is ...
"Can you understand what we are saying?" He deliberately speaks in a questioning tone of voice.
[Ha! Awesome results if you put the words into a Greek-English translator! ]
The situation promptly slows down into a somewhat comical stalemate: The boar and its rider stop at one side of the bridge, Sveinki, James, and Glordir, on the other.
For a long moment, nothing happens, as the two white warriors seem unsure what to do, eyeing the "Elephant Man" suspiciously, and in desperation, as he keeps his sword to the throat of the Red Man.
Then, Glordir weaves his spell, and, with a sound somewhat similar to a loud burping, of all things, the rider of the boar falls into a deep slumber - and promptly rolls off his bristed steed's back.
He falls off the boar, and off the bridge, and into the river below.
The sound he produces is dull and metallic, and, after a second of silence, you can hear him snoring, even over the mumbling of the water.
His companion, confused and surprised, curses, shoots another arrow in your general direction - that misses - and then, unceremoniously, gives flight.
The boar remains on the bridge, eyeing you in obvious suspicion, for a moment longer, but as the scene goes over in relative silence, the animal doesn't seem to be all too irritated by your presence, any longer.
In sort of an anticlimactic motion, the animal allows its sturdy legs to go off, and sits down - right on its belly.
Then, before anyone of you can react or protect yourselves from whatever viciousness this might have turned out to be, the boar rolls over onto its backside, sneezes loudly, and then begins to chew on something it must have had stored in its mouth all along.
Whatever battle this might have become under other circumstances, it is now over.
Later, as your pulse slows down again, and you adapt to this new turn of events, you will remember that most, if not all of you could well place the language that the two warriors spoke - or, rather, yelled:
It reminds you of the obscure, and cultic language that higher-ordained priests of the Asterion Remnant, but also of Tizona, use when the speak mass. Now, what you just heard was surely quicker, dirtier, and less clear - but the way the words blended together... This couldn't be a coincidence.
You just heard two living, breathing people speak in Old Anacean. The language of the kingdom of Anac, one of the legendary White Kingdoms of Mankind.
Except for priests and bishops, nobody you have ever heard about - and you all have already traveled far - has spoken Old Anacean outside of a temple in probably a thousand years.
Glordir will walk toward the boar non-threateningly. If it seems to be safe, he will scratch its head and give him a little bit of rations. Having a mount or pack animal may come in handy.
Glordir silently thinks to himself "I wish I would have paid more attention in Ancient Languages class". He says out loud "It seems we are at least 1000 years in the past unless the two men we faced are modern day priests. I highly doubt that though. Perhaps the man in red is as he was 1000 years ago, before he became the evil creature our ancestors faced."
Once everything settles down again and we are not under attack, Glordir will take a look at the journal with the strange Astrolabe. "Even though we are unsure what might happen next, it might be wise to find Enver's camp. It seems he knows more about this place than we do. Any clues we might gain will be helpful to us in figuring out where to go and what to do."
Sorry for the slight delay, again. Turns out preparing the break took me more time than I had thought it would.
The boar emits a threatening roar as Glordir approaches him, but then, seeing the food, seems to lighten up. As far as a boar's face can produce that sentiment, that is. When the half-elf leaves the bridge to join his companions, the swine seems to take a moment to reassess the situation. Then, giving out a sound that might vaguely remind any listeners of a broken trumpet, he begins to trot after Glordir, the bridge shaking, as he does.
If anyone else in the party shows more friendliness to the boar, he will simply lay down next to the fire, and, munching on something he must have kept in cheeks, slowly dowze away. And then begin to snore soundly. In this case, the Elephant Man will send you a couple of rather unfriendly thoughts that involve the accusation of all sort of bestiality, and retreat towards a nearby tree, where he watches your group in obvious disgust.
Meanwhile, Sveinki and James manage to get the boar's rider out of the water - only to realize that they, again, might be too late: Albeit protected through the Moongold armor, the fall was enough to apparently crack the skull of your opponent. (Either that means that the Moongold, contrary to legend, does indeed have its limits.) Like you witnessed it to happen to Balboa and to the centaur before, the white warrior seems to still be breathing. If you take the time, and nurture him back to health, he might survive. If not, he won't.
Wenchell, ever helpful, will suggest to tie the prisoners together - the 'Red Man' is still dizzy, and, he, too, might need some medical attention. But then, with the boar, that's an awful lot of enemies that you bring to your camp...
While Cailín will either have to shoot away another magic missile, or let the energies of the Staff of Ravens diffuse into the ground, Glordir will be able to sit down next to the campfire Serafin has build, and be able to take a way more thorough look at Enver's journal. - This, however, will take some time, maybe half an hour. But since you can move without leaving the wounded, anyway, and since either befriending it, or, well, turning the boar into bacon, might also take a while, this might well be the best moment you might get, for a while.
So, as the dancing skies turn towards evening and night, again, your group decides to take a a quiet moment, as you make camp in front of the scorching ruins of the mill...
You will be able to use the resting time to your advantage, if you state an action that might require research, or maybe a higher degree of concentration. Please state whatever your character's last action is before we enter the next chapter of our journey...
Sveinki will carry the injured man up to the camp fire area and treat his wounds. He will be careful to disarm him, however. He will also determine if the boar can be used to carry the injured man when we start traveling.
Greg Svenson, aka "The Great Svenny" Original Blackmoor Participant
James will help Sveinki carry the injured man to the camp fire, and then leave him to tend to his wounds.
He will use the downtime to ensure that all of his gear is clean and ready for use, and then settle down to munch on some rations. Knowing what this place is like, they might all have to stand to again, real quick, and he wants to use every moment of rest productively.
Once he has eaten he will sit and relax for a while, chatting with whoever is feeling talkative, or perhaps musing on his own inner thoughts if everyone is busy.
The flames hold, for a fraction of a second, and then waver, tatter, flying away like sailcloth in a hailstorm. Cailín blinks, her vision gone hazy, white-around-the-edges, and she sags to her knees, fighting for breath as unseen flames whoosh and crackle in her hearing. She squeezes her eyes shut, trying to quiet the pounding in her ears, only realizing that it's the thundering of her own heart that she hears.
The pressure behind her eyes pulses and burns; her hair, every root, sings with fire, none hotter than those above her left brow. Her fingers, curled around the Staff of Ravens, and entangled in the earth, itch, blazing as if a feast for the flame-jawed red ants she hadn't seen since she left Tizonia some dozen years past.
In the past, the Magic usually left, in a rush, leaving her cold, empty and -- admittedly -- relieved.
No rush, as the brooks or streams that criss-crossed the forests around the Raven's Road. No, this time, the magic clung, as reluctant to go as unheated honey or syrup of the maple in winter-time.
It seeped into her joints, crawling between each knuckle, oozing up into her elbows, shoulders, flowing into her knees. Surely, her eyes must be boiling by now. They would escape as nothing more than steam, if she dared open them.
She could almost hear the abbess, crowing, asking how she liked the asking price of power beyond that of the Lonely God. If she would just beg His forgiveness...
No, she had asked the Lonely God for his peace, and all that had brought was lashes, across the fingers, or shoulders, or another night kneeling in the Penitent's Cell, with only hunger and thirst for company. She would not simper, or snivel. No begging.
Why, if He loves us all, should we have to beg for anything? Why does He not simply give us what it is we need? Hunger, thirst, and a bloody lip were her company in the Penitent's Cell for the seven nights after she dared ask that question...
She would beg forgiveness of nobody for who she was -- whoever that might be. Her daughter, they said. But never said who she was....
Tears sizzled, as they traced down her cheeks, and the liquid fire in her veins banked, the hollow roar in her ears clearing, leaving her staring at the campfire, leaping and twirling perhaps a bit higher than its meager fuel supply would warrant.
Was it her imagination, or did some of the sparks and cinders dance from around her...?
Surely not, she thought. It is probably merely some trick of the wind.
She shivered. Though the fire that had raced through her was gone, the aches were not so quick to fade, and in the flames' absence, they seemed to've left deposits of silt. She did not really know if she made it to her feet or dragged herself on hands and knees towards James' side. She was asleep before she could even think to ask if he cared that she borrowed his arm for a pillow....
So, you gather around the fireplace, all, and you bring your new prisoners - and the monstrous boar with you. Let's assume that you tend to their, and to your wounds, and let's assume that you leave them somehow tied up, so they cannot sneak away when you rest.
Above you, the storm of colors in the sky slows down, and a quiet night sinks on the ruins of the destroyed millhouse.
You repose, and you rest, and for a time you sleep. But to sleep in the lands of faerie can be a twisted thing...