It seems as though I'm back to being a wandering envoy, but this time I was not captured by foes so easily! Scáthfile is proving to be a very capable protector, and El has more tricks up her sleeve than I suspected… Daideó, she's definitely a Cailleach. I already knew that Firia is some sort of Draoi, and that just leaves Sharn. I'd consider her a Luibhlia - but who knows if she can work with more than just herbs?
Oh, and I discovered that these self-titled representatives of the divine lie about as much as the cultists back home - apparently there was “no place to sleep” at the Temple for us, and nowhere at all in town. I suppose the priest meant well (most liars have deceived themselves first, have been deceived by others, or are just speaking “from a certain point of view”) - he mentioned an abandoned lean-to was a safe place to stay outside the walls. There went my plan to sneak into the Demon Spawn Herberto's study to uncover his murderous plots. At least, that's what I thought…
We started a nice roaring fire by the lean-to, and Firia went out to work on building a protective dike around the town so we could leave with a good conscience. Not long after she left, we heard a wagon, some arguing at the gates, and then up walked an older trader, Dolen, who was rather surprised to see a sweet young woman (yes, I can pretend, Daideó) sitting with a rather large orc!
Dolen was kind, and gave us some sweets - can you believe El had never eaten any before? We gathered some excellent information from him - it turns out he was making a delivery to the Cult Leader, directly from King Gerald the Devoted. Sounds like another zealot; we have our work cut out for us - I wonder if we're helping the right side?
After a nice chat, Dolen headed to his wagon to sleep, and around midnight Sharn and I decided to check out what he was delivering to the Chief Zealot. I liked Dolen, so I sang a pleasant lullaby while Sharn gently lifted his head off a moneybox. She scratched the lock, but serendipitously I spotted a makeup kit lying beside the road outside the wagon - probably some travelling circus troupe left it behind. I touched up the lock with some metallic paint, as good as new!
In any case, the chest was full of money, nothing else in the wagon anywhere, and the gold was stamped with the King's image. We suspect that Herbent the Flatulent is just taking money designated for helping the people - I recall stories of corrupt officials skimming, and it wouldn't surprise me one bit. I was tempted to take some money, but that would have been short-sighted - we wouldn't want to tip off the criminals.
Well, guess who stomped up in the morning, panting and blustering like a water buffalo? It was the Chaos Spawn himself, bringing the troops to try to arrest us for… Protecting the town? He thinks dikes are bad. I ignored the fat man completely, and spoke to the guard captain, Crosse. I pointed out that it definitely will help repel the orcs, and without it, the walls don't stand much of a chance. Not to mention Valor's symbol was etched on it. I don't know if it was El or Sharn, but someone slapped the Crooked “Father” in the face after he made another ignorant, ignoble comment, and the guards laughed while he ran back to town, red in the face.
Captain Crosse begged us to stay, saying that if people were giving us a hard time we could come to him, but we knew the writing on the proverbial wall. I decided to write a letter to Lord Joran, who I still think has a chance of being a decent fellow, about Herbot's treachery, and we went back to town to deliver it and gather supplies. Unfortunately, no one would sell us a horse, so we left town on foot. It was a beautiful day, and we made decent time, following the river to keep our bearings.
We were walking along merrily, wondering when Firia would join us as planned, when a flock of startled birds shot up behind us. As they flew by, I could actually hear their voices, Daideó! Very specifically, “Danger! Treachery, Hunters, Men! The gift is growing - I desperately wish Maimeó was here to guide me…
It provided us with enough time to hide and set up an ambush. Sharn helped me up a tree, and Scáthfile crouched low in the grasses at its base. El snuck off into some kind of cave.
It turns out we didn't hide that well - we hoped they would just walk past, but perhaps there was a snapped twig or Sharn was breathing too heavily, but they started searching for us. I decided to take the lead and yelled at them from my treetop perch.
Their leader was a slimy scoundrel, villainy oozing from his very pores. I ordered them to surrender, and when they refused to take my most generous offer, and an archer drew back his bow, I called out to my beautiful panther. Scáthfile was indeed a shadow poet - he sprang up and ripped out the archer's throat, then took a quick swipe at another before any of them could react!
Chaos quickly ensued; the leader trying to jump at me (he failed miserably - not much of a climber), and another archer ripped a hole in my beautiful Mambir cloak! I was very upset when the bullies started attacking Scáthfile, but El popped into the clearing out of nowhere, a raging ball of flame! I admit, I threw up when I saw the bandits' faces melt - it wasn't pleasant even if they were horrible men.
I gathered my wits enough to sing a healing aura over Scáthfile and Sharn, who was running away from a raging mama bear that appeared out of nowhere - it was all a blur! I became dizzy from the exertion, and could only cling to the tree.
When the dust settled, my compatriots and I were relatively unharmed. The mama bear was munching on the bandit leader, and we decided to carefully tiptoe away and leave her to her meal. Scáthfile finished off the last archer - silly bandit, never run screaming from a predator - that triggers their attack instinct.
I was impressed that we did that well without Firia to protect us - I suspect she is the most powerful hunter among the four of us. Right now I feel like we could take down the whole orc host and their Chaos Spawn priest allies all by ourselves! And then I look at my torn cloak, and realize that I'd rather not be too crazy.
Telling you this story makes me feel like you're sitting across the fire from me. If you ever get this letter, please give Mam and Da a big hug from me. I do miss them, especially on this night when things could have gone much worse.
I love you,
Maebh the Reluctant Warrior Princess