Star Dreamer

Prelude: Traveling Companions
At the end of one adventure, another begins

[Laurelyn Hillrover]

Laurelyn braided up her thick auburn hair before turning to pack up the few belongings in her rented room.

When she had finished packing she gave back her key, shouldered her saddlebags, pulled her hood up, and stepped out onto the street. Laurelyn had spent some long months in this river town just outside the borders of Seldez and League alike, and the constant struggle between the townspeople’s conflicting loyalties (Seldez, League, wholly independent) had proven dangerous – she still bore a wound to her right shoulder from the last blow-up in the town square. The fight had been decided, clearly, for the League. But it gained only half the town, for the rest had burned and the stable with it – along with the horse she had rode into town.

Bad enough to lose the mount, the last gift her father gave her before she set out. On top of that she still faced her “good byes” with Thomis, and no sword could have wounded her more. But the calls of the sea and of “The Star Dreamer” were too strong. It was almost to make her cry, how alone she felt.

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Chapter 1: Juggling Puppies

[Laurelyn]

Laurelyn made her “good-byes” to the members of the Leastholder household, and wished them all the blessings of the gods of wind and stone.

[Thomis]

In little more time than that, he had said his own farewells to the family and swung into the saddle to look questioningly at the storyteller. “So where do we go to find The Star Dreamer?”

[Laurelyn]

She looked over at Thomis, savoring his presence, and said, “I figured we’d start in Morrow’s Hold. Depends on when we arrive – like many an old legend, his is tied to the full moon.”

Laurelyn smiled and said, “Well, nothing holding us here – ready?”

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Chapter II: Onwards

[Laurelyn]

Two days later, slowed by rainstorms, Laurelyn, Thomis, and Jacques rode along the river – the silence of the woods scattered into hiding by the puppy’s howling from the backpack. An encounter the day before with a farmer – whose the pup had chased around a field – had resulted in directions to Helgastop, on the other side of the river. Laurelyn had been studying the riverbank for a good crossing point for the road to Helgastop, but finally reined the Beast to a halt. The storyteller looked at her companions, sighed, and said, “I wish I could keep my promise in regards to that decent crossing, but it looks like it’s flooded over.”

The packed puppy yapped in dismay.

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Chapter III: Meeting Up in Helgastop - Part 1
Everybody is looking for somebody...

[In Helgastop]

[Daron]

Daron Innes sat at a table in the local inn, the Sea Wench. A plate of bread, cheese and meat, and a mug of mead lay untouched before her. Bright green eyes critically studied her drawing. Charcoal smudges decorated her cheeks and nose. Dark brown with auburn highlights hair was pulled back in a thick braid that hung to just below her shoulder blades. Bangs hid her brows from view. They also concealed a slight widow’s peak hairline.

Perhaps someone will notice the artist, and I’ll be hired.

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Chapter III: Meeting Up in Helgastop - Part 2
And more of the fatherless, motherless, brotherless, sisterless horde...

[Keir]

Keir, looking at Daron with his bushy eyebrows raised and a mouthful of potatoes, reached for the proffered drawing. “Mmph?” he gulped, “Excuse me, for me?” At a casual glance he thought the artist had tried doing his portrait and was amused as it didn’t look anything like him. Then he looked deeper and his brow furrowed, the streaky hair, the wrinkles, and that nose… !

Frazzle! His gaze flickered from the drawing to Daron, the drawing, Pierre, the drawing and finally settled on Daron. “Excuse me, you’ve seen him ?!? When, where?” he asked, his eyes glowing with excitement. He was here, Frazzle was here! His heart pounded with undreamed of hope.

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Chapter III: Meeting Up in Helgastop - Part 3
In which everybody and his mother sees the thief pickpocket the drunk

[Daron’s Table]

[Khanndie]

The waitress nodded in acknowledgment at Pierre, who had performed at the Sea Wench before, and at the strange little man in the other seat, as she set the milk and stew before Daron and Rudolpho. “Y’all need anything else, just wave me down.” She half-expected the boy would be asking for even more food, judging by the way he had wolfed down everything set before him so far.

Khanndie turned to the next table and made change for the customers there, and dodged another grope by Stan as she made her way back to the bar. “Keep yer hands to yerself,” she told him again, readjusting her short skirt. The “uniform” certainly helped increase the tips, but the louts like Stan sure could be a bother.

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Chapter III: Meeting Up in Helgastop - Part 4
The evening finally comes to an end ... but the morning starts

[Laurelyn]

Laurelyn took the escapee into her arms, and was rewarded with a thorough chin washing. She smiled over the wiggling pup and said, “Thank you.” She drank in the young lad’s scruffy appearance and lively, mischievous eyes – a millenia away from children-soldiers and the babes whose souls had been twisted by the horror they saw or felt. “I have no doubt ….,” she stopped and looked over at Jacques, “That ‘Fiend’ likes cookies.”

She tried to reach into her pouch while the Pup squirmed, but she finally asked the jester, “Mind trying to get this one back into his…her? ....pack?

[Jacques]

“I’ve no doubt that the animal likes anything,” muttered Jacques, trying to keep the pup from licking across his face as he took it from Laurelyn.

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Chapter III: Meeting Up in Helgastop - Part 5
and finally leaving Helgastop

[Laurelyn]

Laurelyn sipped her tea while she staved off a chuckle at the boy’s boisterousness. She recognized him the night before – he had retrieved Fiend from under the table.

From his ill-fitting clothes and manner she sized him up to be a child of the streets, but one of quick wits and charming manner. But not a woodland child, she’d guess. “We travel fairly light,” she said, taking another sip of tea. She wasn’t about to announce they were heading to Morrow’s Hold – it could easily be that the highwaymen had spies within the Inn – family maybe. She almost chuckled aloud – in this case her caution stemmed from the fact that her Da’s family once oft used a similiar trick when they were in a harbor inn. Though they had given up pirating a generation or two ago – sticking now only to fishing and smuggling. “And since we don’t have many packs to deal with – tell me what your scouting resume is.”

Laurelyn had her doubts that the boy had been beyond Helgastop.

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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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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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