Star Dreamer

Chapter XIII: Rest and Hungry Babes

[Keir]

Their encounter with the-dog-that-wasn’t-a-dog had unnerved Keir somewhat. It was when a flea from Fiend, or perhaps Jacques; he couldn’t be sure, had lept for the shifting black shape and found no purchase that Keir realized it was no sheep herder.

Laurelyn’s announcement of potential shelter, and with it the promise of a decent meal, renewed his strength and it was all he could do not to race ahead. Only the possibility of the black dog’s owner lying within held him back. “Careful mistress, it might be occupied.” he called, startled at how squeaky his voice came out.

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Chapter XII: Black Hound

[Laurelyn]

Though Laurelyn was still tired from the events in Brendan’s forest she gathered her traveling companions together early the next morning. Her sleep the night before had been restless, filled with dreams of darkling ships and battles; they had left her with the urge to cover many miles that day.

So it was in the chill hour, after a murky sunrise, that she again thanked their hosts in the village and prepared Beast for the ride.

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Chapter XI: Mad Hope for the Hopeless

[Rudolpho]

Having deposited Pierre on his horse, Rudolpho gained some altitude. It wouldn’t have been difficult in ordinary circumstances with these gigantic wings, but the pain was getting worse. He had to stop soon. He managed to gain sight of the scene below, enough to see Grumhog’s demise. When it was done, the pain became unbearable. Rudolpho chose a spot slightly in front of the group and spiraled downward. His approach was somewhat rough and he landed with a jarring thump. It was all he could do to change back and give a little characteristic smile. His right arm hung limp at his side, looking very odd at his shoulder. He had managed to dislocate it when he had slammed into the stone pillars. Exhaustion and pain overtaking him, Rudolpho collapsed.

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Chapter X: A Many-Legged Problem
Dear lord, what is that thing?

[Narration]

The wind kicked up as the group grew impatient, lighting the bonfires up to massive pillars of flame. In this light, the man’s face became visible.

Grumhog. Or at least some bloodied version of him. His shoulders heaved repeatedly with a gentle laughter that rose from his belly and carried ominously across the distance. The murmur of movement signalled the arrival of the rest of his men, surrounding the group in disconcerting solemnity.

He held up one hand to forestall any attacks, and smiled.

“Your time has come,” he said, and with that, the bandits charged forth, slowly covering the twenty or so yards which separated them from their captives.

Grumhog stood back, and was quickly obscured from view by the spitting, fuming mass of blood-washed men who charged forth with murder on their minds.

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Chapter IX: Undoing the Voodoo

[Keir]

Keir looked the newcomers over suspiciously but was glad to see Thomis back. As he watched their every move he almost failed to notice that Daron’s eyes were closed and her breathing was growing weaker. “I could use some help over here.” he replied to Pondra as he knelt by Daron’s side and checked her pulse. “You know anything about healing?”

[Pondra]

The big man looked thoughtful for a moment, then shook his head.

“I am a blacksmith,” he shrugged.

After another moment of thought, he looked at Vels.

“Vels,” he called, “come help.”

Looking apologetic, he stepped back outside the circle. He realised that the rhythmic chanting whispers had ceased to bother him.

[Vels]

Vels looked up.

“Sorry, I had no idea..” he apologized and quickly walked to Keir’s side. He began running his hands a small distance of Daron’s body, and a blue light glowed pale against her skin.

“This will take some time”, he said, looking at Keir.

[Jayden]

Jayden had dismounted and sat on the ground next to his horse. He looked positively petrified. Sweat lined his face, and he had turned slightly pale. He was alert, however, and his eyes constantly scanned the horizon for any sign of bandits. Or wolves.

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Chapter VIII: Circle of Stones

[Grumhog]

Grumhog smiled a wolfish smile. Voel would be most pleased with the outcome of today’s hunt, and the men were high in spirits.

He looked at the captives from a distance, their limp bodies lying peacefully on the ground, surrounded by the spirit stones that the Voel had found for him. Those whom he had annointed with pigs blood would find themselves unable to leave the circle of their own free will. It would not hurt them, but they would find it unconscionable.

He heard cheers to one side of the circle as the bonfire finally caught alight, spreading a fierce yellow glow into the dusk light.

His feet moved forward towards the circle of spirits, carrying him as if possessed. He was no longer the wolfman, but he could smell the excitement in the air.

He stopped when he had reached the limp bodies of his enemies. A woman lay prostrated at his feet, her hair covering her face and her body straining against the ropes which bound her. He admired the sight, deciding that he would let the men have some fun before the ceremony.

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Chapter VII: The Walking Wounded
What _is_ that foul stench?

[Brendan]

Brendan awoke to the sound of a horse in the distance, and the most disgusting taste and smell he had ever encountered.

!# PFUAH !#

He spat, wheezed and choked, leaning over to one side to dry wretch some strange slices of foulness to the ground. He stared at it a moment, gasping for breath and thinking that perhaps someone had fed him his brother’s undergarments (which were never washed).

“What in God’s name..??!!!” he roared, still spitting and blowing his nose in a vain attempt to purge his senses of the bileousness of the weed.

“Water!” he pleaded, waving for some unseen helper to provide him some relief. “Water…” he croaked.

[Keir]

Keir approached Brendan with a mug of tea, relieved that he had come to his senses. “Here, this will kill the taste and help with any head aches you may be having.” He was only partialy sorry the man had to suffer the foulness of dracontium, after all if he was a bandit then he was at least partially responsible for all the party’s injuries.

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Chapter VI: Patching Pincushions
Medic!! (or That Voodoo That You Do...)

[Rudolpho]

Rudolpho watched grimly as his two “soldiers” were sent to meet their maker. He felt some remorse having to sacrifice them, but they would have not hesitated to considerably shorten anyone of their life spans. He sat down and began to knead the clay dolls back into lumps and removed the bits of skin that had bound the two men to his spell. When he was finished, he noted that the party members were taking care of their wounds, and decided to do a quick circut around them to make sure there were no more “unwelcome guests” in the area. Completing the shift he had started with only the voice, he again took on the full panther form. He padded silently around the group sniffing and looking for intruders. He was relieved to find none.

[Thomis]

Now time to get my horse. Fortunately, he had not left the animal too far behind, though it did take him a bit to make his way to where the creature still stood stoically, chomping at the grass and seemingly oblivious to the fighting that had occurred further up the road. “So much for just a dozen or so bandits, eh?” Thomis commented as he pulled himself into the saddle, swinging the injured leg – still with its bolt – over with a sharp hiss of his breath. Better to ride the damned thing back to the others than lead it on foot.

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Chapter V: Panthers and Crows
In which something finally happens

[Keir]

Keir sat on the bank and watched. “Don’t think you’ll be able to tickle any trout after all this commotion.” He thought about going upstream to try his luck but had vowed to protect her back so he decided to rummage in his pack for a morsel or two, or three. As he nibbled on cheese and bread, he kept glancing around for signs of danger but all seemed quiet. Now that they were all spread out he felt exposed and vulnerable.

“How far we going today?” he asked nervously.

[Laurelyn]

Laurelyn didn’t answer for a few moments – the length of time it took the puppy to investigate what moved beneath the water. While the storyteller waited she stayed as silent as she would if she was calling fish, and was rewarded by an inquisitive pup coming to poke his nose down at her fingers, which she had been moving beneath the surface.

As soon as Fiend was close enough Laurelyn swiftly grabbed the pup by the scruff of the neck. The pup let out a series of startled “yelps” as she pulled him from the water, and briskly wrapped him in the towel, that she had tucked into her belt.

Once she had waded to dry land she walked over to Keir, and said, “I think we should wait till we’re free of forest. Luckily, its not a huge tract and hopefully we could be out before sundown.”

While she dried the wiggling Pup she looked around at party, noting that some were eating – like Master Keir, and also noting that Rudolpho hadn’t come back yet. She decided that as much as she would have enjoyed the brief rest she would eat while they were traveling. She said, just loud enough for her nearby companions to hear her, “I think we should get moving again – I’d prefer to be free of the woods before sundown.”

Hopefully they’d collect Rudolpho a little further up the road. Otherwise …. Laurelyn stopped that train of thought, knowing it was no use in buying trouble. If there was any they would simply have to deal with it.

[Thomis]

Thomis had spent the short time walking around the site, his lunch a thick slice of cheese between bread, and cold water from the stream. The boy, Rudolpho, had scampered off, but the jester had followed not too far behind—and all in all, Thomis thought that if the boy needed anyone to intervene on his behalf, Jacques would be more than competent to the to the problem.

The Oath-bound nodded to Laurelyn, smiling a bit at the sight of the towel-wrapped puppy. The creature did not seem too disturbed at his predicament, though he did stretch his nose out to sniff hopefully at the others’ meals.

[Brendan]

Brendan stopped a few hundred yards down the path from where he had encountered the strange travellers, and dropped his bag to the ground in disgust. “Ay me. They told there was odd groups in these parts…” He noticed that the crows that had been crying up in the trees had moved further down the road, perhaps finding some prey or dead carcass to raid in the thickly forested areas. With the sound of crows now distant, the trees above him seemed eerily silent but for the creaking of trees bending with an invisible wind. He chided himself for being intimidated by mere silence and sat himself down on his bag to think for a moment. When he looked up, the bandits were upon him. He only had time for a strangled scream before darkness overcame him.

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Chapter IV: A Stranger On the Road

[Laurelyn]

Laurelyn decided they couldn’t have asked for a better day – the sun was bright overhead, and the breeze was light against her skin. Her only concern was some of the clouds that were on the horizon – they had the potential to bring rain; depending on which way they went.

From behind her she could hear the Pup snuffling at the mesh covering to her backpack. Ahead lay a road that would take them to the coast. And Laurelyn felt a healthy eagerness to see the sea again – and Morrow’s Hold. Softly she said to Thomis, “It’s good to be heading home again.”

[Daron]

Daron’s mood was lightened considerably by the good traveling weather. Were she alone, she would have put Falcon through her paces for the sheer joy of it. Reluctantly, she made the mare keep in line with her traveling companions.

There was… something ...about their destination which seemed to draw her attention as surely as a moth flew towards the candle flame.

“How are you doing, Rudolpho?” she asked her passenger, surprised her voice was so calm. As the mare was not altogether fond of strange riders, she had expected a struggle between woman and horse to settle the matter. When Rudolpho climbed aboard, however, Falcon had accepted him as easily as her mistress. Which puzzled Daron to no end…

You like him too, don’t you? Daron thought. Falcon whinneyed as if in response to the unspoken question.

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