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August 2, 2006

Night Stalking

Seren's Journal

I’d spent the better part of a month quietly watching the people who live here, and the travelers who stop by. I admit that I was a little more cautious than usual, simply because it all was new to me. I found myself drawn to the Frost Touched Frog tavern the most, however, being crowded with folk around my own size.

The one exception was an orc lurking in the corner. He was watching all the people eating, drinking, talking to each other, but he seemed a little sad. I’d seen him before, selling all kinds of stuff that wasn’t orc-sized, and wondered what his story might be.

Speaking of stories, I was also listening to two bards performing on the stage, but I was distracted by shouts from below me (with the barkeep’s kind permission, I was perched on a rafter well above the crowd). A gnome was shouting at me about my wings... and offering me something to eat. Well, I don’t mind a free meal, so I dropped down for a bite. I also had to explain that he’d need wings to fly like I did...

The red-haired gnome was also curious about the orc in the corner. We decided that we’d break the ice by offering him a meal as well. I don’t think he minded the free dinner, but the gnome peppered him with so many questions (especially about all his weapons, most of which looked like they weighed more than me!) that the poor orc had no chance to eat. Next thing we knew - he’d gotten up and walked off. Ah, well.

The red-haired gnome now decided to make friends with the bards on stage by tossing them some silver coins - right into the food they’d stopped to eat, unfortunately. As the male bard flicked the coins back at the red-haired gnome, I flew up to the safety of my rafter. The orc watched me closely, and I watched him right back, knowing that he was about the only one in the bar who could reach my perch! (He later told me that he’d been thinking of hiding from the red-haired gnome up there, too. Hee!)

The male bard, after watching the red-headed gnome’s progress around the room, looked at the orc and mentioned something about fifty gold pieces... and the female bard said she’d chip in another fifty, herself! I guess gnomes who act like mosquitos are not the norm! The orc refrained from assassinating the poor guy, and asked instead for a dwarven tale.

The tale was very good. I applauded from the rafters, the orc gave gold coins, and the bards moved into a juggling exhibition. I could hear the other gnome chattering away but then - the door opened, and an injured halfling limped inside. He made his way to the bar and ordered a drink. Poor guy was then attacked by the chattering gnome - what happened, when where and why? I flew overhead to listen.

When the halfling said he’d been attacked by a wolf, the orc focused on him as well. He wanted to know where the wolf was to be found, and seemed really determined to go after it. I dropped onto his shoulder (ignoring the chattergnome who was doing a let’s-kill-the-wolf chant below), and asked him why he was so interested in one wolf. Apparently, this wolf heals up when injured, and had attacked a friend of his with bad results. He warned the halfling to go to a cleric for healing - but the halfling explained that he had no money.

In fact, he’d been looking for some treasure in those very woods, despite the stories that the place had become infested with evil, especially goblins. I muttered that drow were worse, which got the attention of the bards, who asked me if the chattergnome was with me. I admitted that I had thought he was with them! Meanwhile, the halfling was trying to sell the secret of the treasure to us for a thousand gold, and the orc was threatening him to tell it for free (I whispered in his ear that the poor guy needed the money for healing). The male bard flattered the orc on his obvious fighting skills, while upping the price on the chattergnome’s head every few minutes. And, somehow, I found myself in the street with the bards, the chattergnome, and the orc, headed west to hunt a wolf.

I finally discovered that the orc’s name is Kor’tac. Roywyn is the female gnome bard, Rowind is the male gnome bard, and Rookinoniak is the chattergnome. I might call him Rook, eventually. Rowind was of the opinion that if we killed the wolf, all of its victims would be spared the curse of lycanthropy - without expensive healing at a temple. As the party walked (and I rode on Kor’tac’s shoulder, very kind of him!), evening began to fall, and it was Roywyn who first noticed that I glow.

As darkness gathered, we walked into the woods. Chattergnome went on and on about fighting wolves until he noticed me glowing brighter to help light our way and then he wanted to do that too and then the bards were telling him to shut up already so they could ask some of the forest creatures about wolves or goblins and then - a wolf howled long and loud, and we all realized that it was an almost full moon that night. Rook got very very quiet.

Roywyn began to sing quietly to boost our spirits, and I asked the others to tell me if they wanted me to turn down my glow - less of a target? Kor’tac was calling, “Here, wolfie wolfie!” and gripping a huge axe in his fists. The wolf howled again, closely followed by a second, and Rowind heard the sound of many creatures surrounding us. I pulled my bow and got ready to fire - and Kor’tac pointed out that perhaps his shoulder wasn’t the most stable spot, so I flew up to a tree branch overhead with a good view of the party.

Out of the underbrush darted eight wolves, two for each of those on the ground. The chattergnome fell beneath his attackers, so I shot twice at them, hitting one. Rook had a wand out and shot one of them with a magic missile, as well. Rowind pulled out a wand with a handle and POW shot a wolf with something! Kor’tac was happily swinging his axe with great effect. I killed one, then Roywyn did, too. Rowind was pulled down, but Rook killed one of his attackers. Roywyn cast something that knocked several wolves over - and before they could run, Kor’tac pulled out a glaive and killed the last three with mighty blows!

Roywyn quickly checked the wolves and reported that all were normal - no werewolves or dire wolves among them. So, our main target is still out there. The bards still wanted to talk to some of the local fauna, but I pointed out that there wouldn’t be anything staying near the battle, so I returned to Kor’tac’s shoulder and we headed west until Roywyn found a porcupine to talk to. It didn’t seem to know much, but we kept going west...

...until someone spotted movement up in the trees. I was just making out small humanoid shapes when the chattergnome shouted out loud and - the trees all around us erupted in screams! There were many many shapes in the darkness, small fuzzy humanoids that looked kind of goblinish, which seemed to really upset the bards. Rowind began to tell a story - to boost our fighting spirit, again - and Roywyn killed one with her crossbow as they advanced.

Most of the creatures carried nets, which they threw at us; one had on armor, and carried an axe. Kor’tac was smashing his way through the crowd, but I got tangled in a net before I could take off this time. Rook was down, too, and fighting to free himself. I pulled out a dagger and set to work, but the axe-wielding goblin hit me. Ow! Then, POW from one side; Rowind was at it with his strange weapon, while Rook was hit next by the axe (and Roywyn cast something at him that healed him from across the fray. Interesting..!). Kor’tac was mowing the little creatures down, but he barely got to my attackers in time. I owe him and the others big time. I do NOT like being stuck on the ground!

Time for healing - and deciding what to do with the rest of the night!

Posted by Kate at 00:21 | Seren’s Journal