Part 14: Crossroads
The party rests to regain their strength after the battle. The sounds of horns rumble in the distance, somewhere between the party and the boat. Alena waits while the party rests and knows that there is another journey home before she can begin the next part of her quest.
Once the party awaken, they begin to move south. Along their track their discover a dilapidated road. Alena leads the way, hesitant to take such an obvious path however with their inability to see in the dark this is an easier path for the party. The road suddenly breaks into a fork, one road leads to a hill in the distance, the other the south. The party chooses the left fork and continues south.
The horn sounds. Alena raises her head, the sound is closer, much closer. And directly between them and the ship.
"Shit" she mutters "Stay quiet, stay alert".
They decide to wait for dawn to break across the horizon, letting the others in the party without the gift of sight a chance to see much clearer. Finally, the sun breaks over the hills and they begin to travel again. Avoiding the road but staying close enough to see the path in front of them, this choice slows them down. They see the path veer off to the east, to where a beastman horn sounds through the jungle.
"I want more than cheese, let us continue" Mahin says loudly.
After a discussion, they kept pushing south. Suddenly the horn sounds behind them. Alena holds up a hand to draw the party to a halt.
"They are out our camp" Alena states "It is time to move".
"Let us lay a false path" Ezra says. Mahin shakes her head.
They spend ten minutes covering the ball bearings they have laid in wait for the chasing beastmen. They reach the end of the path and the start of the jungle. A dense thick jungle. The party asks of Candur to allow Owlier to view the jungle and see what lies before them. The owl sees much with it's great vision. The owl can see the river, lying three miles ahead of them. The party enters another jungle, heading south.
The horn blows again, closer this time. The party has no idea if their trap will work. They keep travelling south, knowing that the beastmen follow to kill them. The horn sounds again, the party races forward to the end of the jungle. Candur races forward in the hopes to ready the boat for disembarking before the collision with the beastmen.
The wind blows to the south, Ezra takes a bottle of oil from Mahin. Alena turns to see him lighting the oil on fire and the jungle begins to burn. The flames mark where they were. Alena is not impressed with this strange man. He does not think beyond himself. Ahead of the party Candur uses Owlier to lead his way south. Owlier sends a pang of alert to Candur, showing him a road lying ahead. Owlier heads toward the road, and sees a fallen tree laying across the way. Owlier sees shapes lying in wait at the fallen tree. Candur turns around as Owlier shows him the vision of the smoke billowing from the trees.
Horns sound. Horns from the north. Horns from the east. Time is running short for the party. Candur views the world through Owlier and begins to make decisions about what he can do to help the party move beyond this moment and to live to see the next. The party races to Candur's location, not knowing what he was trying to achieve ahead of them. Candur begins to move towards the road, pausing he pulls out a piece of chalk and draws on a tree. An arrow and a skull. Another arrow and an owl. He can only hope the party sees the warning.
The party races forward to the orchestra of horns. South, moving south. Alena drags the party through the jungle, seeing nothing but more foliage waiting them. Candur continues to move stealthy away from the attackers lying in wait. Alena stumbles upon the road, stopping suddenly. In the distance she sees a fallen log across the road. Deducing something amiss, she cautions the party to be quiet as she analyses the path ahead of them.
Alena asks Mahin to view what is ahead of them, Mahin nods and begins to move forward. As she goes move forward, a loud noise emanates from the ground beneath her. A branch cracks under her foot. The party's chance for stealth is gone. Mahin looks up, she spots beastman awaiting them. They appear to be uncaring about their watching duties. Ezra moves stealthy to the side of the road and begins flanking the tree. Mahin sees the beastmen point towards Alena advancing in the distance.
Ezra suddenly spots the awaiting trap. Mahin readies her bow to fire sneakily at the group lying in wait, the shot misses and flies past a beastman's head. The beastmen look around to see where the arrow came from. Alena hears the noise and arms herself for what may be ahead. Mahin withdraws deeper into the jungle and tries to sneak past them, hoping to avoid their gaze. The beastmen begin bellowing to what Mahin can assume is more comrades hidden in the jungle. More beastmen appear. One of them larger then all the others, carrying javelins. The day looks dark for the party.
The horns sounds behind them from the north. Slowed by the fire, but advancing none the less.
Candur hears the noises coming from where he just came from. He pauses and makes a decision about what to do next. Alena moves forward stealthy, yet a twig breaks under her foot and alerts the guards to her presence. They begin advancing on her. She knows that she approaches the end, yet she readies for battle. Ezra see their approach, mutters words under his breath and waves his hand towards the advancing beastmen. Suddenly a beastmen falls asleep, and another, and another. Sleeping soundly like they had laid down in their own beds. Roars of displeasure sound from the remaining beastmen.
Mahin sneaks towards the beastmen, aiming to flank them. Slowly, ever so slowly. Alena moves forward to slice the throats of the sleeping beastmen. Two pay the price for their cruelty, for their trap. The beastmen who are still awake rush to take Alena down, as a javelin is fired from the giant beastman. The javelin flies through the air and scrapes the leather armour of her arm, leaving no mark. Alena watched the ark and fall of the javelin, making peace with her god.
Ezra whispers again under his breath and waves his arm towards the advancing beastmen, one of them collapses in sleep. Mahin moves ever closer to her victim, slowly making not a single sound. Alena slits the throats of two more sleeping beastmen, not regretting their deaths for a moment. It is the jungle life, kill or be killed. A javelin connects with her side, slicing through her armour and knocking the breath from her lungs. The beastman closest lifts his stone axe to take a slice of her skin for the deaths she has done to his people. Taking another wound, she understands that this is the price that must be paid.
Ezra whispers once more, and the final beastman falls to the ground, snoring peacefully. Mahin flanks the giant beastman, sneaking down behind him. She slashes with her rapier, driving it into this achilles tendon. His skin is armour in itself and protects him from harm. He roars in annoyance, more than pain. Alena slices the final throat of the beastmen and cleans her blade. Looking at the giant beastman in front of her, she sees him draw a club and start to attack Mahin who is under his feet.
Mahin stumbles backward, moving away from the giant beastman. He swings his club close to her and connects smashing into her side and leaving her wounded and raw. A scream of pain echoes throughout the jungle. The club comes back around again. From the distance, Candur clambers up a tree and seeks a vantage point to view what is happening. Yet doesn't move too swiftly.
Ezra moves forward stealthy to advance upon the giant beastman attacking the rogue. Alena begins firing arrows at the giant beastman to draw his attention away. Mahin races away from the giant, as he continues to swing his club at her. Injured and in pain, she moves so fast that you couldn't know that she was in such a state. The giant beastman hurls a javelin at Mahin, but misses her.
Ezra fires a word at the giant beastman. The word filled with power. Power of the elves. The horns are closer from the north. They are running out of time. The word hits the giant beastman and singes him, causing him to roar in pain. Again, in annoyance he glances at the wound as his eyes blaze with anger. Mahin fires her bow at the beastman and lands the arrow into this body. The arrow plants itself inside of this skin, causing him to flinch in pain. Alena rushes forward firing arrows at the huge creature.
The beastman hurls another javelin at Alena, yet misses as she dodges to the side. Ezra fires another word of power at the beastman. The beastman's arm bursts into flame and he yells in rage and pain. Mahin fires an arrow and misses. Alena leaps over the log and connects with the beast as she slices his stomach, his insides begin leaking out. He grabs his club and connects smashing her arm to pieces. She can barely hold her sword. Ezra fires a word of power, connecting with his neck bursting into flame. He desperately tries to put out the flames.
Mahin tries to fire another arrow, missing the target. Alena slices into this body, hoping to kill him, yet he remains standing. He smashes his club into her, destroying what is left of her arm. Part of her brain acknowledges this pain, yet knows she cannot fall. Ezra casts his final word of power, entering his body through the wound Alena carved into his stomach, he begins to burn from the inside as he collapses on the ground. Finally dead.
The party races towards the river, towards the sound of the water. They race towards to the trader's landing. The one building in the town burns, two ships are in the harbour, one sunken and one afloat. Alena and Mahin exchange a glance. Ezra takes them towards his boat, they board and look for Candur. They suddenly see Candur dash towards south towards then and then veer west away from them. A horde of beastmen emerge from the jungle, three hundred of them. The party throw the mooring lines from the boat and begin to drift towards the middle of the river.
Candur reaches Dunk's boat and casts off, heading to the bow. The current is strong enough to pull the boat into the river. The whole party is safe from the beastmen. On separate boats, but safe. They see the remains of the town being destroyed. Candur pulls alongside the boat, and what is left of this motley party boards.