Friday, August 8, 2014

Chapter 3: An Old Lady in Melvaunt: Part 1

In which Frantiska is healed, Donovan learns to control his powers, and the party fends off a large kobold assault...

GM
Despite the fire in the large hearth and the many people in the common room, the old stone tower, nestled between the coast and the swamp, is cold and damp in the morning, and a thick mist hangs in the air outside. Despite the dampness, the fog outside is somewhat pleasant, laced with the scents of wood smoke and frying meat and potatoes from the outdoor kitchen.

There is a collective sense of irritability within the tower as you wake. The servants, priests, and guardsmen, while up early, all move about slowly, rubbing their heads and growling at anyone who talks too loud. Only Hrud and Sir Justin seem to be spared the communal headache, and the former is one of the last to wake up after a surprisingly late night of drinking and gaming with the white-robed priestess.

Lyra
Lyra rose. She was disheveled from tossing and turning, her eyes reddened with dark circles from lack of a proper night’s sleep for going on three days. She approached Brother Rant as he was putting away his bedroll, stifling a yawn. Even just standing she was swaying slightly, as though remaining upright required too much effort. “Could you help me help Hrud? I can’t keep going like this.”

Bo
Bo rises from his bed roll. (Probably a bit too loudly:) “Now that’s how you welcome people to your outpost!” He steps out in search of the source of the wonderful smells.

Winona
Winona is red-eyed and disheveled as she presides over the three Tyrran’s morning services in a corner of the chapel, and the stale-smell of last night’s wine clings to her breath. Somehow, miraculously, she manages to get through the prayers and recitations without stumbling over the words. She does stumble on the stairs on her way down to breakfast, though, nearly causing a catastrophe as she bumps into a page carrying a plate of hashed potatoes up from the kitchens. Luckily, Rye and Rant are there to catch her and steer the hungover priestess to a fairly secluded seat at one end of the big table. The two then make the necessary apologies to the page and the masters of the tower for the state of their Sister Superior, and thank yous to the Helmite priests for the loan of the space. Winona spends most of the rest of the morning with her head on the table, then walks shakily down to the stables and crawls into the back of the wagon to sleep it off.

Donovan
Donovan wakes early, barely aware of the pain in his back from sleeping on the floor of the great hall due to the searing, blinding pain in his head. He fights down a wave of nausea, then rises, stretches, and gathers up his bags. He squints in the dim light of the windowless interior of the great hall, then blinks a few times, thankful that the sounds of yawns and groans of everyone else waking are not accompanied by any strange visions. Once his bags are in order, he pulls the silver rod from his pack and practically runs up the stairs to the room where Frantiska is sleeping. He slows his pace respectfully as he walks by the competing chanting of the Tyrants and Helmsmen at opposite ends of the chapel, then stops when he realizes he is suddenly, unconsciously scratching at the backs of his hands. Then his faces also begins to itch oddly. He turns away from the priests towards Frantiska’s door and finds that the sensation abates. Thoroughly disturbed, he raises a hand to knock on the door and finds that it begins to itch again. He tries several times to knock, then realizes that the itching seems to happen when his hand enters the field of the light from the many candles being used in the chapel. Intrigued, he walks over to one of the candelabras, the itching on his face and hands growing as he gets nearer. He takes off his cloak and holds it up between him and the light-source, no itch. He then experiments, using the concave palm of the silver hand on the end of the rod to focus the light onto a single patch of his skin, sure enough, the itching grows worse. Excellent, he think sarcastically, first I could see sounds, now I can feel light. What next, hearing stench? I wonder what a rose sounds like… He pulls some bandages from his pack and wraps them around his hands to keep the light off, then dons his cloak again and pulls the hood low over his face. I’d better go cure Frantiska before her hallucinations get worse too…

Yamtwit
Early to bed, early to rise, or so said Yamtwit’s gobmother. Yamtwit was up several hours before dawn milking Bobbers and Rast. He wished he had the resources to restock his cheese supply, but trying to make cheese on the road without an aging cave was pointless, so he resigned himself to clarifying more butter. There was a bit of a row with the cook, when he woke up with the cock-crow to find the goblin already at work at his stove with a couple hours of boiling and stirring left. But when Yamtwit showed him the leavings of the froth off the butter (the best part for frying, or so some cooks say), all was forgiven. Yamtwit lent a hand with breakfast any other way he could without taking his eyes off of his ghi, stoking fires, tossing a skillet of butter-hashed potatoes, or setting an extra kettle on for another jar of tea. By the time the cook rang the bell for the pages to begin taking up the platters to the hungry guardsmen in the great hall, he and the goblin were swapping recipes and laughing like old friends. Yamtwit took his pot off the stove, poured the clear liquid off into a skin, and scurried up to breakfast behind the servants.

Hrud
Hrud wakes with a yawn and a stretch. All-in-all, not a bad night’s sleep for once. Time for breakfast.

Frantiska
As Donovan goes to knock on Frantiska’s door again, he hears her scream. Shoving the door open, he sees her sitting bolt-upright in her bed, wide-eyed and terrified. Then she just…vanishes. The bed-clothes gently drift back down to settle on the bed. A moment later she re-appears in the same location, sitting on top of the covers this time, her hair looking tousled and wind-blown, and her skin covered with minor burns. “HELP!” she screams. The shout is abruptly cut off as she fades from sight again.

Donovan
Donovan stands looking at the place where Frantiska was only moments ago, then yells. “Lyra! Get up here! We’ve got a problem!”

Lyra
Lyra takes the stairs two at a time. She puts a hand on the doorway, catching her breath. She looks around the room, her gaze settling on the now empty bed. “What happened? Where is she?”

Frantiska
Frantiska reappears with a pop, this time on the floor next to the bed. She is weeping and several small bitemarks can be seen covering her arms and legs. She does not, for the moment, appear aware of her surroundings.

Lyra
“Donovan, quick! The rod!” Lyra rushes over to Frantiska. She stops abruptly, grabbing a blanket and throwing it over the elven woman, then keeping a firm hand on her shoulder. “Frantiska, you have to listen to me, this is important. I need you to focus on being here. Concentrate on the feel of the floor beneath you, the blanket against your skin, the pressure from my hand. Pressure, texture — touch is the easiest way to orient yourself to the space around you.”

Donovan
Donovan runs up beside Lyra and presses the silver rod against Frantiska’s skin. willing it to work, but realizing he does not know exactly how it is supposed to work. He spends several minutes, muttering every common word of activation or prayer he can think of, waving the rod around at random, and silently praying that Frantiska does not disappear again. After what seems like an eternity, the device flares to life with a jolt that nearly knocks it from his grip.

GM
There is a humming sound from the rod, followed by a gasp of surprise from Frantiska as her headache is simply…gone. The sparkles that dance in her vision as she looks at Lyra and Donovan fade and her sense of displacement ceases. The rod grows hotter in Donovan’s hand, almost scalding him, and the humming grows louder. Frantiska feels a brief pain and there is a series of small crackling noises as the bones in her legs mend the rest of the way, When the pain subsides, she feels strong enough to stand. Most amazing, though, is the lifting of the sense of dread and discouragement that she has felt since the encounter at the weir and with the undead the following night, as if all the horror of those incidents were just a passing dream. Donovan is finally forced to drop the rod, which by this point is glowing red-hot and visibly shaking in his hand. As the rod ceases contact with the two of them, it immediately ceases its frantic vibrations and begins to cool down.

Frantiska
It takes several more minutes for Frantiska to regain her composure. “Thanks,” she says, once again avoiding any eye contact with Donovan. Curious about the feeling in her legs, she tries to stand, leaning a little more than necessary on Lyra. «Do you ever get the sense that maybe you should have stayed home?» she asks in Elvish.

Lyra
Lyra’s breath catches as she remembers the crackle of fire in the fireplace the night she and her mother left Waterdeep, the smell of burning parchment and vellum. This was home now.

«As horribly unpleasant as Phlan is, as much as I hate being here…» Lyra hesitates, searching for the right words. «We saved Brother Rant’s life. We saved Ellen’s life. We probably saved Bo’s life. What we do seems … needed.»

Frantiska
Frantiska gives the young half-elf a look that can roughly be translated as ‘Wait a minute, this slip of a girl, a full century younger than me just one-upped the paladin on virtue and sense of purpose?’ «Thank you Lyrathwen, you are correct. We have done good here and there is more to be done.» She lets go of Lyra’s shoulder and tries to stand on her own, still surprised at the wholeness of her legs. «I guess I will not have to stay behind after all…» She gives Donovan a familiar glare, then walks over and gently shoves the man out of the room. «Thank you both. I’ll meet you downstairs once I have cleaned up a bit…»

Lyra
Lyra relaxes slightly, pleased that her choice of words successfully appealed to Frantiska’s sense of justice and duty. She’d had to convince her. If someone as brave and noble as Frantiska gave up on Phlan, what hope did it have?

Lyra nods. «I’m glad you are feeling better. I think there’s still some food left if you haven’t eaten yet. It was quite good.»

Donovan
Donovan gingerly picks up the still-warm rod and allows himself to be shoved out the door. He makes his way down the stairs, grabs an extra sausage from the table where people are finishing their breakfast, and heads out to the wagon. He stashes his things in the back and looks around for the other, “Rant, Bo, Teldicia? You all ready to go?” He then seeks out Sir Justin and extends the group’s thanks for the tower’s hospitality.

Yamtwit
Yamtwit is waiting by the wagon, his wolf and donkey both saddled and ready to leave. He ties Bobbers off to the back of the wagon, mounts Rast, and yells “All set White-head!”

Lyra
Lyra looks over the hall one last time to ensure they have not forgotten anything before heading to the wagon. She climbs inside, and checks that their cargo was undisturbed as she puts away her sleeping bag and blanket.

Frantiska
Frantiska, still not quite believing the miracle that the rod worked on her legs and her spirit, quickly dons her rather battered armor, and what passes for her clothes, and hurries down the stairs. Hearing the commotion outside, she skips breakfast and continues out the first-floor door. “Sorry to keep you,” she says to the group as a whole as she finds her way to the stables and checks Thistledowns tack and harness. She hugs the big filly around the neck, then mounts up. “Lyra,” she asks as she rides over to the wagon, “did you end up finding a bow for me?”

Lyra
Lyra carefully climbs around the chariot and statuary, and gingerly picks up the elven bow from the silversmith’s shop. “While I was in town, I acquired this, as well as quiver of silver arrows and silver bolts.” She hands the unstrung bow to Frantiska, hoping it meets her approval.

Frantiska
Frantiska takes the bow, then carefully bends it across her knee, strings it, and tests the pull. “This will do nicely, thank you.” She adjusts the torn remnants of her dress to cover as best she can, trying to not look at any of the men around her, then announces, “Alright, I’m ready to leave whenever you are.”

Hrud
Hrud is back in the driver’s seat of the wagon and hefting the warhammer when Frantiska strides out of the tower and mounts her steed, as if the horrible accident had never occurred. “Sing waras?” he half-mumbles, as the elven woman strings the bow Lyra had purchased, looking for all intents and purposes to continue what has been – for her – an extremely dangerous journey. Something more than a mere recovery occurred while they slept.

Hrud began to wonder if there was such a thing as an enchanted bed that could heal. He’d add it to his list of questions …

Back to the matter at hand, now that she was well – a fact for which Hrud was very grateful – it would probably be in Frantiska’s (everyone’s, really) best interest if he kept his distance. He didn’t know how far the aura of bad luck and misfortune he seemed to radiate extended, but the events of the past couple of days had convinced him that he was not safe to be around.

GM
The road through the swamp is much the same this day as the previous. The air is warm and humid, the sun is bright and hot, though the trees provide some dappled shade, and the flies and mosquitioes are a constant nuisance for your livestock. Numerous birds flit overhead, and you see plenty of snakes, lizards, and small mammals scurrying off the road to avoid the hooves of your larger animals, but nothing threatens you. Around mid-afternoon you find a slightly elevated and relatively dry patch of grass, and stop to allow the horses and oxen to forage before continuing. Before the first of you has exited the wagon, however, Hrud’s sharp eyes spot a lone peddler with a very large pack approaching from the east. The figure clearly has seen you as well, as he raises a staff in greeting.

Donovan/Rye
Donovan climbs down from the wagon, rubbing his eyes from where he has been looking at the sounds of Winona’s snoring for the last several hours, though at least he is starting to become accustomed to the strange sensory input and the persistent headache at this point. He stretches his arms and legs, then digs through the crate of dried fruit for a snack. “Let’s keep this stop short, eh? If we keep moving we should be out of the swamp before nightfall.” He walks around to the front of the wagon, “Anyone know what Hrud’s staring at?”

Sister Rye puts a few finishing stitches into the dress she has been sewing, gives her elder a polite shake to wake her up, then hops down to the ground as well. She quickly makes her way over to Thistledown and holds the dress up for Frantiska to see, being careful to keep the long skirts from dragging on the ground. “Lady Frantiska, I made some new clothes for you…”

Frantiska
Frantiska climbs down from Thistledown, leaving the horse saddled in case they need to leave in a hurry, and looks at the dress being presented to her. “It’s lovely,” she says, “thank you. How much do I owe you for this little one?”

Rye
Sister Ryesha shakes her head, “Oh, nothing Lady. Miss Lyra already paid for all the supplies, and if we’re traveling together, it is better that you not be immodest.”

Lyra
Lyra rubbed her temples. The headaches were getting worse, and her own inability to concentrate made trying to teach Donovan how to learn focus and control difficult.

“The dress is lovely, Sister.”

Frantiska
Frantiska takes the dress, then looks completely startled on seeing the highly detailed embroidery of horses and stars around the hem. “It’s beautiful. May I?” She takes the dress and crouches in the back of the wagon behind the statue of Selune to get dressed.

Yamtwit
Yamtwit stands up on Rast’s saddle and strains to look in the direction Hrud is gazing. When he sees nothing he dismounts and climbs up on the wagon bench to stand beside the barbarian. Still seeing nothing he shrugs and asks, “Hrud, Putih rambute kepengin ngerti apa sing ndeleng.”

Hrud
“A wong isa metu saka sisih wétan. Katon kaya kepengin perdagangan.” Hrud replies. Glancing back at the spoils of the journey thus far, he adds, “Mbok menawi kita ngirim surat iki munggah.”

Yamtwit
Yamtwit’s eyes widen on hearing Hrud’s description. “Kepengin perdagangan? Apik. Aku bakal sedhilut.” Yamtwit hops down from the wagon bench. “Hey Whitehead, Hrud says he spotted a customer. I’ll be back in a minute.” He grabs a few things out of Bobber’s saddlebags, hops on Rast, and kicks the wolf into a run to go meet the traveling peddler.

GM
As Yamtwit closes the distance, he can see that the man is older, perhaps in his fifties, frail-bodied, bald, dressed in simple homespun with a wide-brimmed straw hat, carrying an extremely large pack strapped on his back and leaning heavily on a knotty pine walking stick. Numerous pots, pans, and other cooking implements hang from the pack. Seeing a goblin riding full-speed at him on the back of a very large wolf, the man dives off the road with a nimbleness born of sheer terror, and takes refuge in a clump of particularly thorny looking raspberry bushes growing out of the bog.

Donovan
Donovan watches as Yamtwit rides off. “WAIT!” he yells, too late. He smacks his forehead dramatically, having no way to catch up to the wolf-riding goblin, then turns back to the others. “Anyone want to help me go save the goblin?” He looks up at Hrud, rolls his eyes, points back and forth between the two of them, then pantomimes running in the direction Yamtwit went.

Winona
Winona blinks groggily and sits up. She stretches, yawns, then starts crawling out of the wagon. “Oh hey! You’re up?!” she blurts on seeing Frantiska getting dressed in the back, “Nice dress.” She hops down and begins pulling her chainmail on over her head. “So, where are we? Anything interesting going on?”

Lyra
Lyra sighs and rubs her temples before grabbing her bow and quiver, then hopping down from the back of the wagon. “Mr. Yamtwit was speaking with Hrud, then said something about a customer and rode off.”

Winona
Hearing Donovan’s call for help, Winona grabs her heavy flail from the back of the wagon. “Awesome, let’s go!” She starts jogging in the direction the goblin ran off. “Come on Bunny. This should be a good learning experience.”

Hrud
Uncertain as to why everyone wants to rush the old man, Hrud eases the wagon forward following the charging throng composed of his mismatched travelling companions.

Bo
Bo holds on for safety as the cart rumbles along maybe a bit too fast.

Yamtwit
Yamtwit slows Rast and looks at the man, now tangled in the bushes. “Hey?! You sell kitchen utensils? I’ve been looking for a new colander!” He hops off the wolf and approaches the old man, “Let me help you out of there and let’s talk business!”

GM
The old peddler struggles against the thorny grasp of the shrubs, then stops and looks warily at Yamtwit when he starts talking. “You want to buy something?!” he asks incredulously. “Why’d you come charging at me on a wolf if you just wanted to buy a fork or somesuch?” He shoves hard with his stick and finally manages to free himself. He makes his way back to the road, but stays well out of reach of Yamtwit and, most especially, Rast. He looks up from the goblin and wolf to see Winona running up with her weapon drawn. “And who’re them people running up behind you?! Bandits! I knew it!” He turns and begins running back the way he came as fast as he can with the heavily load, which is to say, not very fast at all.

Yamtwit
“Oh no,” Yamtwit interjects, “they’re not bandits, they’re ADVENTURERS!” He puts his hands on his hips and strikes a dramatic pose. “Though right now they are accompanying me on an important mercantile endeavor. You shouldn’t worry, I’m sure the crazy lady with the flail is only coming to say hello. Albeit, very fast, in armor, and with a weapon drawn.” He nods gravely, “Yeah, I can see how you might get the wrong impression…” As the man starts running away he calls out, “Hey! Old Guy! Wait! I still want to see what you have for sale!”

Lyra
Lyra walks just ahead of the wagon, bow still unstrung. She really only catches the ‘adventurers’ part of Yamtwit’s declaration, as the peddler turns and flees before Sister Winona’s … enthusiastic … greeting….

GM
Teldicia jogs up to where the others have assembled near Yamtwit, “Doesn’t look like he’s moving very fast. Should we catch him?”

Winona/Donovan/Rye
Winona runs up, Sister Rye on her heels, and stops next to Yamtwit. The look of disappointment on her face makes it clear that she was hoping the goblin’s assailants were some sort of fiends from the deepest pits of hell and not just a single, harmless old peddler. “Well, at least I’m wide awake now.”

Donovan gets there a little behind everyone, as usual, wishing that he had had the good sense to stay on the wagon with Hrud and Bo. He leans over, hands on his knees, to catch his breath, then responds. “No Teldicia. If our goblin friend scared him away, it would probably be impolitic to run him down.” He pants a few more times then climbs up on the wagon. “So much for a nice relaxing lunch…” Once he is seated on the back of the wagon, he takes a minute to check the collection of crossbows to make sure they are loaded and at the ready—better safe than dead, he thinks.

The two priestesses climb up on the wagon beside him. “Not much of a rescue, eh Donnie-boy?” Winona remarks. “Let’s get this show on the road, shall we?”

Sister Rye hops down again quickly. “Look! Raspberries!” she cries happily. The young halfling insists on picking the bushes clean before the group moves on.

Lyra
Lyra can’t bring herself to disagree with Donovan’s logic. So she helps Sister Rye finish picking raspberries, then finds some cheese to go with a handful of raspberries and her heel of sourdough before returning to her spot in the wagon. After she finishes eating, Lyra rubs her eyes, the lack of sleep evident on her face.

She sighs and begins another attempt at instructing Donovan in how to control psionic energy. She couldn’t let what happened to Frantiska happen to someone else if she could help it. But how can she instruct him in a discipline she’s never known? She thought about the process of disentangling her own vision from another’s, and had an idea.

“Can you still see the colors? Try concentrating on each of your senses, one at a time. The separateness of them. The taste of lunch. The feel the wood and the canvas. The smell of the swamp. The intricate craftsmanship of the chariot. Now close your eyes, and listen to the creak of the wagon, the buzzing of the insects, the oxen’s hooves. Focus on just hearing it, then open your eyes.

Donovan
As they ride along, Donovan listens carefully to Lyra’s instructions, trying to clear his mind and isolate his senses. After a while, when he thinks he’s close to understanding, he carefully unwraps the rags from his hands and holds them out into the dappled late-afternoon sunlight coming through the swamp’s trees. Thank the gods! he thinks, when the light does not cause the same itching and burning sensation as that morning. Still holding his hand in the light, he closes his eyes and thinks about his skin, the light, and what that means. Slowly the itching returns. He thinks about the things around him: the green-gray trees, the green-blue patina on the bronze chariot, the many beautiful girls. The itching subsides into a myriad of distinct sensations, strange softnesses, random pinpricks, a cool, almost wet feeling. He focuses on the softness and finds that it is…green? Yes, he turns his palm around, his fingers groping at nothing, reaching for the softness, trying to suss out the nature of this sensation. He moves his fingers as if rubbing them together, but not touching, pondering a roughness underlying the softness, trying to ignore the other sensations assaulting him. Finally he holds his hand up and begins panning it, turning it this way and that, then finally blurts out, “Lyra!” His hand stops, palm pointed in her direction, as indeed, he finds that he can see her quite clearly despite his eyes being tightly shut…through his hand. There is something disconcerting, almost inappropriate, about the way his hand moves next, making cupping and squeezing gestures as he mentally traces the shadows cast by her curves, literally able to feel the look of her. I could get used to this, he thinks.

Yamtwit/Frantiska
Yamtwit looks slightly upset as the peddler runs off, then shrugs, climbs back on Rast, and nudges the wolf forwards. “To Melvaunt!” he cries enthusiastically.

Riding along behind the wagon, Frantiska, feeling much better now that she is properly dressed again, watches Donovan and Lyra with a definite sense of relief at not being able to sense or see anything going on. When Donovan begins psi-groping Lyra, however, she urges Thistledown forward and yells angrily at him. “Mr. Lietch! That is entirely inappropriate behavior in the presence of a young lady!” Even this level of returned normalcy feels wonderful after the events of the last few days.

Lyra
Lyra’s brow furrowed in concentration, her eyes closed. “Did it work? Sometimes I can sense if there is psionic activity nearby, but it’s not exactly precise.” She exhaled sharply in frustration, pressing the heel of her hands into her eyes.

At the sound of Frantiska’s voice, Lyra’s head jerks up, blinking at her as what she said sunk in. She looked back over at Donovan, sitting with his eyes closed and his hands gesturing strangely in front of him. Her sleep deprived brain doesn’t quite put two and two together, and she looks around at Rant and the Sisters, then back to Frantiska, a confused look on her face.

GM
The old peddler disappears around a bend in the road, and his screaming fades into the distance shortly after that. A little more than an hour later, though, you hear his same screaming again. You do not see him, but the screaming gets louder as you ride along, until it sounds like you are right on top of him. Luckily, Teldicia points and yells from her place on the driver’s before that becomes a reality. A large pit or sinkhole appears to have opened, half covering the road, and the sound of the old man’s screaming appears to be coming from there.

Hrud
“Yamtwit!” Hrud calls out, pulling the wagon over to the side of the road and searching for the rope he kept from the tower several days prior, “Tetep adoh saka bolongan.”

Lyra
Lyra stands up and makes her way up the wagon to behind the driver’s bench, her eyes scanning the road ahead.

Hrud
Hrud ties off one end of the rope to the heavy wagon and tosses the other end into the pit.

Lyra
Lyra scans the treeline nervously. “Something dug that pit, and given the volume, we can reasonably assume is now aware it caught someone.”

GM
Just as Hrud is lowering the rope, Lyra raises her eyes to see a small horde of kobolds stalking slowly forward through the surrounding swamp. Some wait in the trees, others peak out from behind clumps of reeds or small shrubs, still others wait buried in the mud and pools of the swamp with only their noses and eyes showing. Her face whitens at the realization that you are completely surrounded and outnumbered at least four-to-one. Lyra’s makes eye contact with one of the creatures and lets out a small gasp, which is immediately countered by the kobold screaming "BREE-YARK!”, which in this case means something along the lines of “Oh shit, they’ve seen us, attack!”

The sound of the kobold’s battle cry is accompanied by dozens of splashes and crashes as the little creatures come bursting from cover. As well as a hail of arrows and thrown javelins.

Yamtwit
Yamtwit looks up at Hrud, “Kok aku lunga cedhak sing jugangan smelly sedhih?” Hearing the sudden yell from the kobolds, he turns Rast to face the nearest group, snatching a club from his saddle. “Bobbers, kabwèt retela dèyè! Rastm, ’sou chaj bay lòd pare jwenn!” He then begins chanting something and waving the club about, causing the various vines, creepers, mosses, and shrubs of the swamp to begin to twitch and sway in time with the club.

Frantiska
Frantiska, from her high vantage in Thistledown’s saddle, turns in the saddle and let’s loose an already-knocked arrow into the trees by instinct.

Her hand immediately goes to her quiver, and, taking better aim, begins unleashing a steady stream of arrows at the encroaching kobolds.

Lyra
Lyra snatches up the bow that Frantiska had picked out for her, cursing her lack of foresight and inexperience in stringing it, let alone doing it quickly. She slipped the string on the lower tip, then flips the bow and braces it against her boot, twisting awkwardly and getting her skirt tangled until she can bend the bow enough to slip the string on.

Hrud
“Asu pasuryan!” Hrud growls, drawing his green broadsword and taking the war hammer into his off-hand. The barbarian rushes the nearest kobold with the full intent of becoming a whirlwind of death. Maybe this time the annoying little creatures would learn, once and for all, not to mess with Hrud of the Eraka.

Donovan/Winona/Rye
Donovan snatches up one of the already loaded heavy crossbows, braces his back against the side of the wagon, and fires at a kobold perched in a tree. Even if I miss, maybe I can startle it into falling, he thinks. As the shot goes wide, he throws the bow aside and immediately begins casting a sleep spell, aiming for the same tree.

Sister Rye grabs an arrow aimed at her out of the air, stopping it mere inches from her face. She lets out a frightened squeak, then ducks, rolls, and dives under the chariot, vanishing from sight. Those looking in her direction see a faint puff of white fur as a rabbit scampers into a cranny between the bottom of the chariot and the side of the wagon.

Winona, unused to fighting live targets despite her bravado, stands dumbfounded at the ambush for a moment. When she recovers her wits, she snatches a strange weapon, resembling a pair of chain-linked metal bars, from her belt and jumps out of the back of the wagon. She steps to put herself between the kobolds coming from the left side of the road and the livestock in the back, setting her strange weapon spinning rapidly.

Bo
Bo swings his hammer at the head of a kobold poking over the side of the wagon. The hammer brushes the creature’s head, hits the wood, and sends splinters into the creature’s face.

GM
The initial hail of projectiles is devastating, despite the random nature of the kobold’s trajectories. Many arrows, darts, and spears find their mark among you and your animals, though a great many more thud into the ground and the sides of the wagon. A few stray shots from the kobolds even hit their own kind on the other side of the wagon. Your oxen, horses, and mules take the worst of the fire.

Brother Rant and Teldicia snatch up two more of the crossbows which Donovan had the foresight to pre-load and join in the counter fire. Rant manages to shoot one of the little creatures, despite being struck several times himself, but the rest of your shots go astray. Within moments most of the creatures are reloading and a small force rushes the wagon.

Donovan reacts quickly, as usual, completing the words of his spell of sedation. Ten of the creatures to your left nod, then fall—three archers even falling from their perches in nearby trees. Yamtwit’s spell happens a breath later, and the kobolds to your right, save those few who were the first to charge, find themselves thoroughly entangled by the many viney plants growing the in swamp. Two pour souls who had been hiding in the mud find themselves grabbed and held down by water-plants. Too startled to hold their breath, they are not long for this world.

Hrud’s meets the wave of quick-acting kobolds rushing from the right, just ahead of the entangling weeds. He catches one with a quick blow of his hammer, shattering its skull and driving it a good foot strait down into the muddy ground.

Rant drops his crossbow, shoves Amara under the driver’s bench of the wagon, and leaps down to face the oncoming horde, only to take the brunt of the next volley from the remaining archers—three arrows striking home and causing him to stagger and stumble as he lands. Frantiska’s return volley slays three of the archers still mobile to the left.

Hrud spins and impales a second kobold running past him with his sword, but six kobolds still manage to reach the wagon. The first climbing up just barely misses getting its head taken off by Bo’s hammer. It ducks away but two more come up, swinging small axes at Bo, but striking more wood than flesh in the tight confines of the back of the wagon.

Lyra finishes stringing her bow, only to find three kobolds coming in over the front of the wagon. One stabs at her wildly with a spear, though the blows are stopped inches from her skin by some unseen force. The other two, rather than weapons, hold a pair of copperhead snakes which they throw into the wagon, then immediately retreat.

Lyra
Lyra opens a vertical portal and herds the snakes through with the end of her bow, causing them to splash down outside the wagon.

Hrud
With the adrenalin flooding his veins, Hrud barely notices the wound taken in kobold’s initial fusillade. Noting that the projectiles seemed to have stopped for the most part, the barbarian turned to locate the vermin which evaded his onslaught. The sight of Rant nearly felled by the vicious volley renders him disturbingly numb … that is, until he sees his pony, bleeding from an arrow sticking out of its flank.

“Sandi jaran …”
“Nyoba kanggo matèni sandi jaran!”

Hrud’s vision goes red and, howling like a wild animal, he stomps after the nearest of the kobolds harrassing the wagon. Punctuating each swing of his weapons with near-incoherent bellow.

“Hrud zal je vermoorden!”
“Kowé mati!”

So caught up in avenging himself upon his attackers, Hrud fails to notice the occasional flares of blue from the glowing hammer, and the fact that the verbal diatribe accompanying his assault is now sprinkled here and there with formal dwarven.

“Clurut najis!”
“Zuigen aan de speen van je teef hond moeder!”

Bo
“Jeg vidste, at han talte Dwarfish!”

Bo’s next swing crushes into the body of an overanxious kobold. He spends a moment trying to free his weapon…or debating using the kobold on a stick as a weapon.

Winona
Winona turns towards the three kobolds climbing up the back towards Bo. Her whirling flindbars flashing in the afternoon sun filtering through the trees.

Yamtwit/Frantiska
Yamtwit hops off of Rast, “Rastfè fasa manjeyo epiyo ale!” He then rushes over to Bobbers, and lays hands on the donkey. “Bobbersou ekonomize m’ap, enkyetepafèsa.” Meanwhile, Rast springs at one of the kobolds near the front of the wagon, intent on biting its doglike head off.

Frantiska sits calmly in her saddle, returning a constant stream of arrows at the kobolds that continue to bombard the party from afar, and speaking in low tones to try to keep Thistledown calm despite the screaming kobolds running around and the occasional nick or graze by a stray arrow or bolt from the little creatures.

Donovan
Seeing kobolds coming up into the wagon, Donovan draws his small hand-held crossbow and fires a bolt into the face of the nearest one. He then drops it, snatches up the last loaded heavy crossbow and prepares to return fire against the remaining kobolds.

GM
There is sudden laughter from Amara where, lying on her belly under the drivers bench, she peers through the portal that Lyra has opened to watch the look on the faces of the entangled kobold archers as a pair venomous snakes fall onto the heads of two of them. The kobolds to the left of the wagon, struggling to escape the entangling vines and the biting serpents, lose all interest in firing at the party—most throwing down their bows to hack at the vines with knives and axes, while those closest to the snakes begin swatting at the startled and belligerent vipers.

Moments later there is a scream from Teldicia, where she is standing right beside Lyra. The green-haired woman doubles over and grabs her head, covering her face and forehead with both hands splayed, clearly in intense pain. In the same breath, a kind of bubble seems to expand outward from her, pushing its way through Lyra, Donovan, and the others in the wagon and on outward to surround the entire vehicle. The bubble stops just behind Hrud, pressing against his back with an odd, gentle pressure, who seems completely unaware of the thing as he is quite busy disemboweling a snake-thrower at the time.

Faced with Frantiska’s continuing fire and the sight of their allies passing out and falling from trees, the remaining kobolds to the right of the wagon turn and flee. Unfortunately, their backs make easy targets for Frantiska’s barrage, and two more die before they escape into the undergrowth.

The spinning chain of Winona’s flail tangles around the arm of an axe-wielding kobold climbing back up into the wagon to threaten Bo. The creature is pulled backwards to fall out of the wagon, and takes several more glancing blows from the rapidly moving metal bars of the weapon before it hits the ground, unconscious. Its companion, turns away to see where it went just long enough to take the full force of Bo’s hammer to its chest, caving in its tiny ribcage and almost impaling it with the blunt instrument. The last one assaulting the rear of the wagon, already wounded by Bo’s previous swing, scrambles up for one more attempt, only to take Donovan’s dart between the eyes.

Back near the front, Rant stands, pulling an arrow out of his side with one hand and unshipping the shield from his back with the other. An underhanded swing of Hrud’s hammer sends the second snake-thrower hurtling through the air to crash into Rant’s shield with the sound of splintering bones. Rant, shaking off the unexpected jolt, pivots and grabs the heel of the kobold standing at the opening of the wagon and threatening Lyra with a spear, then returns the favor, throwing the startled kobold at Hrud who easily bats the screaming, flailing little thing out of the air with his sword.

Another barrage of arrows and another cry of “Bree Yark!” announces the arrival of a score more kobolds around the bend in the road behind you. The arrows seem to stop, or slow, in midair as they approach the wagon, striking into the strange bubble emanating from Teldicia and then falling harmlessly to the ground. The lead kobold of the new wave, a wretched, dark-furred, little creature clad entirely in wired-together bones, points a finger and sends what looks like a green blob hurtling towards the wagon. As it nears, the blob resolves itself into the form of a serpent, mouth wide, which flies strait into the wagon, biting a startled Lyra in the face, then simply evaporates into green mist.

The bone-clad kobold will not be doing any more of that, however, as Rast, the wolf charges into the oncoming band, and, the snake caster being first in line, tears out the kobold’s throat. The remaining members of the band, faced with an apparent inability to harm you, the death of their leader, and a snarling over-sized wolf in their faces, scatter.

Lyra
The portal flickers and disappears abruptly as the bow clatters to the floor of the wagon and Lyra slumps against the chariot.

Rye
A small, white rabbit crawls out from under the chariot and rubs its soft, furry body against Lyra’s hand. It makes tiny squeaking noises, which, should anyone be able to speak rabbit, are clearly a prayer for Tyr’s blessing.

Hrud
Hrud will continue to press the attack on any and all (living) Kobolds within sight of the wagon, starting with the nearest and working his way from that one to the next nearest, and so on.

Donovan/Winona
Seeing Hrud pressing the assault, Donovan casts another sleep spell at the fleeing kobold band.

Winona contemplates chasing down the kobolds, but does a quick mental comparison of their own injured to the tens of dead kobolds and decides that justice has been more than done. She stashes her weapon and runs over to tend to Brother Rant’s wounds.

Bo
Bo looks around for anyone who may be in need of a field dressing on their wounds.

Yamtwit/Frantiska
Yamtwit walks over to the hole and lowers the rope the rest of the way and waves at the old peddler. “You okay mister?”

Rast paces Hrud. Clearly understanding the barbarian’s intent, the wolf swings wide around the kobolds, howling and snapping to keep them running in a pack rather than scattering in every direction.

Frantiska, remains sedately in the saddle, taking careful aim and picking off the entangled kobolds one by one.

GM
The wolf, barbarian, bard, and archer systematically mop up the remaining panicked kobolds. None escape.

Lyra
Lyra absentmindedly strokes the rabbit as her breathing evens. Her hand stops abruptly when she realizes that it is probably Sister Ryesha. She staggers to her feet, mumbling something about how her mother will be upset with her for ruining her dress, and looks around to regain her bearings, unsure of how long she’d been out.

“Is everyone all right?”

Rye
Sister Rye resumes her humanoid form and sets about helping Bo tend to everyone’s wounds. “Looks like a few nicks here and there, but I think everyone’s okay, Lyra. You and the cows got the worst of it.”

Hrud
The assault broken and their attackers lying dead or dying at their feet, Hrud’s wrath is sated. He slides the hammer back into his belt and starts to make his way back to the others, stopping by the body of the bone-clad leader to bend over and seize one scrawny leg, dragging it the rest of the way to the wagon.

GM
The kobold leader appears to be wearing splint-style armor made entirely of bones—with a breastplate made from a woman’s ribcage and several other bones attached to reinforce it—the whole thing is too small to fit anyone save Ryesha and you doubt the halfling seamstress would be interested. Aside from its unusual armor, the kobold has a crude, iron chopping blade, roughly equivalent to a short machete, a pair of short-handled throwing spears strapped to its back, a crude shortbow and a quiver of a dozen arrows over the other shoulder, and several pieces of jewelry (mostly strings of polished bone beads, with a few ornamental stones thrown in, and piercings made from small animal bones).

The other kobolds each have boiled leather armor, a smattering of similarly crude jewelry, a bow, and a collection of other weapons (small axes, daggers, spears, and spiked clubs mostly). A few of them are carrying coins, but they don’t amount to much.

Hrud
“Kabeh sing badan ngirim isi bolongan padha digawe.” Hrud mumbles as he goes to check on his horse.

Donovan/Rye
Donovan sets about examining the body that Hrud dragged back, and the others lying nearby with detect magic, on the off chance that there may be something of value.

Sensing magic from the kobold leader’s earrings, Donovan examines them carefully. “Well, they must do something,” he says after a while, “but I don’t know what it is.”

Ryesha bounces over and stares at them. “Ooooh, snakey!” she says after a while.

Donovan takes the earrings off the kobold, wipes them clean, and hands them to Lyra. "I think, by virtue of having been in the middle of all the run-ins with snakes, that these should belong to you, Miss Lyra..."
"Also," Donovan continues with a wink, "I'm sure your mother would hate the fashion statement..."