The Great Hunt

The Wizard, the Wolf, and the... Centipede?
Nope. No lions. No witches. And what IS a wardrobe?

     Huh. I must've blacked out after the fight and gone into a fugue state. Apparently we travelled to a cave for the night. The previous residents? Supposedly they were bears. I'll have to take my compatriots' word on that. A quick search does tell me that this cave isn't all that deep and that there are no secrets lurking deeper in. That's sufficient for me – all that needs to be done now is to set an alarm… Thankfully I brought my cooking pot and some rope!

     Thankfully, the night was uneventful. I took first watch and was able to get plenty of restful sleep afterwards. In the morning, Fizzbang and I… well… pressured the wizard into leading us to the base camp of those dastardly ambushers. After a long slog through the forest, during which we encountered a rather large snake – but hey, Fizzbang convinced it to leave us be – we reached the camp. The wee lass and I managed to find all the traps laid out for intruders, then we all searched the camp. It seems to have been raided already.

     There is a handy little building. Two sturdy walls, a crumbling third, and an exposed fourth wall. This will do. Two statues are in the building. Poor souls. They used to be people, but now, without the proper spells, these people will remain stone. Then again… they were ambushing adventurers… Perhaps they got what they deserved?

     First watch. It's no real burden to volunteer for first watch. It's also lucky that I did. A wolf of such magnitude as I've never seen before lept over the partially crumbled wall to attack our group. With a battlecry I charge at the wolf. A few blows traded and help from the others, and the wolf is felled. Quite the fortune, too! Wolves are good eating. Plus, Fizzbang skinned the hide off, so now I have quite an astounding wolf pelt! First watch is through though. Time for some sleep…

     What? Hunh? Oh! Something else? But I just fell asleep! No time for the armor – just time to rush at the… Centipede? This thing is HUGE! Very weak, however. Looks like Tah-Kay-Oh has been… eating it? Well, I guess he IS a chicken. Chickens eat bugs. Well, this'll make an excellent treat! With my axe, starting at its head, I cleave the insect in two! The funny bird just starts to gorge himself, which is fine by me. I wanted more sack time anyway…

The Journey to Save or Join You 1

Sunlight beat down on me, merciless as anything else, burning my face as shivers wracked my body. How long had I been clinging to the remnants of my only hope? The rest of the ship lost to the waves, myself the only survivor after at least two days, maybe three. My sense of time was lost to staring at my hands and wondering why I still held on to the driftwood at all. I couldn’t bring Elyan back, but I could join him. He would want me to live, I knew, but I was sure he hadn’t wanted to die either. He would want me to move on as I had from my old lover. Make music, better myself, my focus, but any such thoughts seemed so hollow without him. Who would I play for? What good were my skills in archery and sorcery without his presence to soothe my soul? Moving on meant finding someone else who could love me and I knew that person didn’t exist. I would sooner find a drop of fresh water among the ocean waves and be no less grateful for it. He would want me to hold on, but…could he blame me if after days my strength failed me? My eyes were so heavy and my legs seemed as lead, impossible to move, but rather an anchor to carry me to peace. I rested my forehead on the driftwood barely keeping me afloat. It would be for but a moment, I told myself, just a precious moment to rest as I hadn’t since Elyan chided me for staying out so late again, handing me a piece of sweet bread anyway and commenting I was yet too thin. No matter how many times I told him elves were just slimmer than humans, he still fussed at me, making sure I’d eaten before he went about his day. I felt his hand close over mine and he pulled me against his warm chest, telling me everything would be okay.


Something solid met my back, startling after floating for so long, though still I felt I was swaying. Elyan’s warmth grew distant and I felt lips press against mine, my eyes flying open at the sensation. He would never…our relationship was never…so who? Before I could dwell too long on the matter, I began coughing, water as it seemed my lungs shouldn’t have been able to contain pouring out of me. A hand patted my exposed back, the gesture no longer comforting. When I could finally breathe, I felt someone drape a blanket over me, a human man. He helped me lean back against the wall and I pulled the blanket tighter around myself, though it did nothing to warm me. He regarded me a moment before holding out a pipe, my breath catching at the sight of it, ever fiber of my being begging for the relief I knew it would bring. Every day since he’d left me behind, I’d yearned for that sweet scent now so close, the only other thing to have brought me happiness. I could find no concern for what might happen if I should indulge myself now through the raw need coursing through me. What did it matter if I was vulnerable? What more could they take from me? With less grace than some part of me thought I ought possess, I took the pipe and inhaled deeply. Sighing contently, I slumped back, peace returning to me.


My eyes slide shut for but a moment when I felt a hand on my shoulder, gently shaking me. I looked up to see Elyan standing over me. Yawning, I realized I’d fallen asleep reading the only book on Draconic Elyan had managed to scrounge up after he discovered I was born with magic in my blood. I’d never really been able to study living with my parents, my mother never missing the opportunity to tell me I sounded like a barbarian hissing and growling. Perhaps it wasn’t as much use to me as those who needed to devote their life to studying magic to cast it, but still useful. Elyan often sat with me as I studied, occasionally asking how to say basic phrases while other times would simply meditate. Yawning again, I sleepily stood up and wrapped my arms around him, letting him guide me back to my room. I shivered, suddenly so terribly cold. I held tighter to Elyan, wondering why the halls were so cold. And…swaying?


I groaned, blinking against the morning light. Cold…so cold…no matter how tightly I held the blanket around me, the damp fabric did nothing to ward off the chill that had seeped into my bones. How long had I been asleep for? The gnawing hunger in my stomach told me it’d been at least a day, but it was hard to say. I’d hardly eaten in the past week. What was another day? So tired and so cold…I could lie here forever if not for my need to join Elyan.


Possibly realizing I had no intention of moving, my stomach churned painfully, demanding that I seek out what food I had refused for so long. I crawled out from what corner my body had been stashed in, my vision swimming at the movement. The ship swayed on the waves, uncaring of my unstable steps, my stiff muscles straining to keep me upright. Clinging to any surface that would support me, I slowly edged towards where there was bound to be food. The smell was none too appetizing, but that hardly mattered. Taking a full plate, I sat in the corner and wasted no time devouring it all, unsure if it was making my nausea better or worse. Elyan sat beside me, sipping at a steaming cup of tea, saying nothing.


I woke once more in a dirty corner on the deck, no recollection of how I ended up there, but I couldn’t seem to care about that. “How” hardly mattered. Reaching beside me, I found that, to my surprise, I still had my few belongings. That would be enough. Over the endless chatter of my fellow passengers, I vaguely heard an announcement that it may not be for a couple days that we docked and were allowed entrance into the city. Peering over the edge, I saw there were indeed countless ships from every nation, all vying for space at the piers. In the meantime, they suggested finding others to join the hunt with, as groups of no fewer than four were allowed out. Familiar despair crept over me at the announcement. Looking around, I noticed most seemed to already have their intended companions. Who would want me? A slight elf with a bow and not even much to look at. They could undoubtedly guess how useless I was with a glance. Perhaps I could convince a larger group to let me join them, just long enough to join the hunt beyond the city and then I could go off on my own. I couldn’t possibly be a burden to them in so short a time.


The sound of a lyre pulled me from my thoughts, a small voice singing of two lost travelers. The lyre…sweet notes gently plucked on its many strings. What hours I’d spent idly strumming until my fingers found their own rhythm, almost as a sort of meditation. I’d thought Elyan mad when he’d handed me a lyre after my lover had cheated on me, my grief at losing the first person I’d finally felt safe with, accepted for the wretch I was, somehow. How foolish I was to think someone could love like that…in time, though, I did find peace in music and many tears shed on Elyan’s shoulder. In those months, I became convinced he was the only one who could truly care about me, though I still couldn’t understand why he did, why such kindness would glow in his eyes when he looked at me, a strange, but happy look I didn’t recognize until later he told me he was proud of me.


Before I’d realized I’d moved, my own lyre was in my hand, magic flowing from my fingers to mend the waterlogged instrument. I cursed inwardly at using my magic so openly, the proof that I was a freak, my blood tainted somehow, though my parents never told me what had happened that gave me my magic. The bard didn’t say anything about it, perhaps not noticing, and instead slowed down the song he was playing so I could follow along. I picked up the tune and be began singing strangely as his enormous chicken danced, but I paid them little mind over the ache in my heart. Why had I brought my lyre? Why was I playing with him? Music was something of peace and tranquility and that I would not know again until I brought Elyan back, could not know until then. This hunt…a fool’s errand, but I was a fool and the king promised the victor whatever they desired. Anything….


My strings stilled and a crowd around us applauded, the sudden noise startling me. I shrank back, unsure of what to do. I’d never been…applauded for anything…but it must be for the bard and his animal companion, not me. I could barely put a tune together, what I knew of how to play the lyre mostly coming from hours creating random melodies. Yes, of course it was for him. That made sense, but a halfling approached me, looking up at me with awe, telling me in such earnestness that she’d enjoyed my playing. The bard nodded, complimenting me as well, though this was his profession, his trade. I couldn’t possibly have done anything to earn their praise. I held the lyre close to me, mumbling my thanks to them, what I thought the appropriate response was. Tears I couldn’t explain slid down my face. People smiling at me shouldn’t make me sad, but they must not realize how worthless I was yet. When they did, they wouldn’t look at me like that anymore. Only Elyan really knew me, everything about me, and still didn’t push me away. The bard looked strangely at me and commented that “people may fail you, but music never does” and he departed, a dwarf offering to buy him a drink.


A couple days passed before we were finally able to dock and as as the boat was anchored fully, a merchant walked up to me. I vaguely recognized him as the man who’d put the blanket around me and passed me his pipe, the heavy scent of opiates clinging to him. The moment I saw him, all I could think of were the drugs I knew he had, the relief I knew they could bring. He handed me a mug of water, what seemed to be genuine concern on his face as he spoke to me of how dangerous it would be to go out without my own supply. My hand shook as he spoke, though I couldn’t help but wonder if it wouldn’t be better to face the addiction, and impending withdrawal, in the city than out in the wilderness if I shouldn’t buy enough. I still remembered the withdrawal when I’d first arrived at the monastery I met Elyan at after months of traveling with the human who’d introduced me to opiates. I’d finally fled from my parents and at the time, it was the only thing that had brought me happiness. Withdrawal was miserable in the best of conditions, lethal in the wrong ones. Though no one seemed to expect us to survive very long and perhaps that was true of him as well. I knew that, but thoughts of logic and what might have been best were lost. I just wanted to be happy or at least numb. Just make the pain go away! Was it so wrong to want that?


I moved to follow the merchant to his shop when the same bard walked up to me, perched atop his chicken. He asked if I wanted to go with him, as we couldn’t go alone. Somehow, it had never occurred to me that this gnome would be joining the hunt. He was so…happy….so why would he risk his life like this? He told me he chose to be happy, but how could one simply choose that as if it were a spell that could be cast? If I could choose to be happy, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t crave the relief the merchant offered. The gnome mentioned a terrible beast he was chasing, a basilisk he thought attacked his family. That foul creature I’d caught sneaking over the wall of our monastery one night…I’d injured it, but the beast lived, its very gaze turning me to stone. Elyan found me in the morning and he became more protective of me after that, fussing at me when I stayed out late and he never retired for the evening until after I had returned. He’d…done so much for me and I never listened to him. I…didn’t deserve him or what happiness he brought me…


Squeezing my eyes shut, I held my bag close to my chest, my eyes stinging with tears I didn’t want to shed, but I couldn’t seem to contain them. I was alone and this gnome would leave too, in time. I just wanted him back…I just didn’t want to feel so empty anymore. The bard began singing again, the song somehow reminding me of Elyan, my determination to bring him back. I wasn’t here for myself alone. Clenching my fists, I forced myself to turn away from the merchant, the escape he offered. Elyan wouldn’t want me to turn back to that path. Feeling the outline of my lyre in my bag, I asked if the gnome, who introduced himself with more names than I had ever heard attributed to but one person, if he would be willing to teach me how to better play the lyre. Opiates brought me sweet oblivion, but if anything could return even a glimmer of light to my world before I brought Elyan back, it was music. Archimonde happily agreed, marching up to the city. I noticed the same halfling as before was following as well as the dwarf that had bought Archimonde an ale, another elf leading a horse and a human trailing behind them.


More people than I had ever seen crowded the streets from the docks all the way up to the gate leading out into the wildlands and I began to wonder if we would even make it through today. Part of me prayed we didn’t and I could go find that merchant yet, my longing none so easily parted with even upon walking away from him. If I was to avoid him, we needed to get through today. The dwarf slipped through the throngs of people and began yelling various threats at the top of his lungs, his hand on his axe as he leered at those around us. The chicken squawked and spread it’s huge wings, raising a foot with steel claws on it. The human behind me muttered something and lights glowed over the crowd, distracting them. Slowly, they created a path through the crowd. I glanced at the human, a wizard I think she was. No one seemed to think poorly of her for her public display of magic…perhaps it was safe. I had little magic I could offer and we were told leaving the boat that no violence would be tolerated within the city, making my bow useless. Holding my hands out to either side of me, I focused on a faint telekinetic force to try to keep what path the dwarf was creating. It wasn’t strong, but most instinctively pulled away from feeling something touch them, especially when they couldn’t see what it was.


We made our way up to the gate just as the hour struck noon and the gates began to open, everyone trying to push their way in again. We squeezed through, barely hanging onto each other. Fighting immediately broke out on the other side, bodies lining either side of the gate without any sign of monsters in wounds inflicted or bodies remaining. Of course…what better way to ensure victory than to kill all your competition? I drew my bow and an arrow, edging away from the combat with those who would seem to be my companions. I didn’t much care to stand over corpses, some fresher than others, but it was the better option.


At least I thought we’d be safer, until some of the “corpses” jumped up, one with an axe charging at me. I narrowly dodged his assault, wishing I’d thought to shield myself when another ran up and carved into me. Screaming, I fell to my knees, clutching at the gouge across my chest. Their laughing rang in my ears as my vision swam. The elf rode up on his horse and reached out to me, my wound disappearing. I stared up at him in confusion, wondering why he would bother to help me. I had never even spoken to him and what had I done but proven myself a liability?


The two before me hardly seemed to care, raising their weapons again. I scrambled back, holding my hands out as flames erupted from my palms. They jumped away, trying to pat the fires igniting their clothing, the first signs of displeasure appearing on their faces. I looked at my uninjured hands, the tattoo covering what terrible burns had seared into my skin when I’d first tried to cast it. This time, I’d done it, hurt them and not me, spreading the flames no further than I’d intended. The others attacked the group surrounding us, but when the first fighter fell, another stepped up to me, a blackguard, I think he was. Towering over me, he plunged his great sword through my shoulder, my collarbone crumbling under the force of the blow.


My vision fell to darkness and I felt chilled to the bone again, as I had when I’d nearly drowned trying to come here. I distantly knew I was bleeding, the blood spilling from my shoulder nearly burning my chilling skin, but I couldn’t seem to move. I wouldn’t be the first they’d killed, possibly not the last either. Maybe now I could join Elyan as I’d failed to after the ship sank, a bitterness lingering in me that I couldn’t ignore, lost in the silence echoing in the slowing beating of my heart. A hand rested on the gaping hole in my shoulder, easing the bleeding, warmth slowly returning to me. Glancing up, I saw Elyan smiling at me, biding me to stand.


My eyes snapped open and I saw the human standing over me, casting a spell at the blackguard, the dwarf raising his axe behind him. Climbing to my feet, I raised my bow, firing arrow after arrow as my companions converged on those remaining until they too fell. Among their bodies, we found the wizard yet drew breath. The human pulled a silken rope from her bag and bound him for what information he may be able to provide later. The other elf hoisted him up onto the chicken, Takeio I think I’d heard Archimonde call him. Glancing at the gate, the slaughter still surrounding it, we slunk away into the cover of the forest.


A great hunt...
For justice, family, and a safe return home

Leaning on the railing of the boat, staring at the imposing obsidian walls as they sail into view,  I reflect upon the past ten years and how they have led me to this moment.  I have lost family, been betrayed by lovers, left all my possessions, homes, had my  freedom taken from me… all of these are things I have loved,  but to love, I have learned, is to let go.  Let go, indeed, but not give up. I will find my lost family,  I will return to my true lover, make whatever possessions I need, Nature itself is my home, and as long as I have life I have freedom. 

And as long as I have Takeo, I have a chance.  Looking over at my best friend, resting on deck, I smile, and think of all the long years we have shared.  He has more winters than most humans can expect to see, and yet he is not slowed in the least, particularly when food is involved.  I laugh, and walk over to hug him.  Such morose thoughts are not his, no, only loyalty and love and food matter in his mind.  Such a noble way to live his life, and no better friend could a gnome ask for.

  I look around at the rough company, and see the sleazy merchant who offered me "something to pass the long voyage more pleasantly."  Hah, and miss a chance to sing love songs to the sea?  And keep coming back to him for more, no doubt.  No, there's only money in his heart, not love.

Sighing, I look around to the rest of the faces, and see that most of the people are  in cliques, no doubt planning on hunting together.  With this much compeition on only one boat, I suppose Takeo and I need to find any other loners and bring them together lest we perish.  Summoning a lyre, I begin playing and singing a well-known song about silly adventurers.  Getting a few laughs, people come around to hear me play as a somber-looking elf steps up and shyly asks me if she can play along with me.  Gesturing next to me, I slow my playing so she can follow, and we play a stirring duet, and the beauty of shared music causes me to beam.  The elf plays as well as I do, it would seem, and I can barely contain the happiness that it causes me.  I knew music would bring people to me.

As I finish, I shake the hand of the elf woman and congratulate her on our impromptu duet.  She retorts quietly that she doesn't really people but loves music.  She's a bit odd, but she and her music seem lovely, so I let it pass.  A dwarf offers me a bit of mead, and I quickly take him up on his offer.  Honey-mead is my favorite type of alcohol, it's very natural, much more than wine, at least that's what I tell Illy. 

We get chatting, and a few others make their way over, an elf whom I noticed taking care of his horse when I visited with Takeo, a human who fairly drips arcane power, and a little halfling who seemed to like Takeo. 

As we wait our turn to dock, it becomes clear that most everyone who was going to dock today would be beating us to it, and I see lazy moroseness beginning to take people's excitement away in the heat of the day.  So I decide our spirits could use some lightening, and I begin to sing a rousing rendition of a famous Tubatron chanty, "Eat them First."  Pretty soon the whole ship is laughing and humming along, their spriits restored, and I smile to see their hearts lifted. 

When our turn comes, we disembark and are immediately met by the local bureacrats.  At least, I think that's what the smell on the dock is.  It tastes of blood and sorrow and city filth, so… yeah, probably the bureacrats.  We fill out our paperwork, and I list Illy as next of kin as my smile fades.  Looking out over the ocean, I think about our nascent love, sealed with a kiss as I left.  I sigh, and run my fingers over my braid until I feel her scarf, and  I miss her, briefly.  I look over, and I see that the guard was talking to me, and I direct her to Takeo for any answers she needs.  I see the elf talking to the merchant, and I force a smile back upon my face.  I walk over to her, and I hold out my hand and ask her if she'd like to come with us, Takeo seems to like her, and I like her music a lot, so she's more than welcome with us.  She nods, and the merchant walks away, shrugging nonchalantly, mentioning that they'll come back, they always come back, and I see the cleric look longingly at him.  I shake my head, and realize I vastly prefer the natural order of hunter and prey, rather than this city-dwelling kind.

I sigh, and mount up, pulling the halfling up behind me.  It's hard to be small in a crowd, and we little people have to stick together.  Takeo gives me a look, but shrugs, and continues on.  He doesn't remember what it was like to be small.  He grew a lot taller than me, even though I'm older.

I look at all the crowds and sigh.  I… really hope we get outside the walls today, but it's not looking good.  My dwarf friend looks like he hasn't had enough mead to handle adjusting to land after such a long voyage, and glares and shouts at anyone who gets close to him, and so I start shouting warnings to anyone who gets close to him that he's pretty mad right now and that they'd best stay clear of him if they value their un-punched faces, and people start letting us past.  Just doing my part!

We get outside the gate, and I breathe a sigh of relief, and start to relax, but I am not greeted by the smell of nature as I had hoped. I cough, and I look at Takeo, who gives me a "you didn't notice those friendly half-orcs last time" look and I smile.  He's always looking out for me.  So I ready a spell to summon a wolf to greet anyone who might come.  Dogs are friendly, you know?  Some people spring up out of the ground, and I see one of them hanging back, clearly too shy too approach, and I summon the wolf by him.  Hopefully that puts him at ease.  Maybe he'll know something about my uncle, so  I tell Takeo we should be sure to talk to him.  I begin a friendly yodel greeting for our new friends, and I briefly wonder where my dwarf friend got to as Takeo rushes off to pick up the man who tripped over my wolf. 

Ah, I see my dwarf friend is a prankster, he pushes over the nice man in pointy black armor with his axe who himself seems to have knocked over my elf-friend.  That won't do, elves are pretty slight, and don't take well to roughhousing.   I walk over to her and help her up, lending her a bit of nature's power to help her feel better.  I hear the horse scream, and  I wander over confused as to who would hurt a poor horse.  Oh my, another dwarf has dropped his axe on the horse, and the cleric fellow seems awfully busy cursing him out as another cleric is trying to help, but only seems able to bang his mace on my friend's shield.  They all seem busy, so I call Takeo over and he sorts out the cleric, who gets slightly worried that he wasn't helping and runs away in shame, but Takeo catches him and lets him know it's all ok. 

Takeo comes running back, and has another gnome with him!  Oh my!  I tell him that we'll overlook all this rudeness if he gives us some help getting started on our hunt, and he readily agrees.   Most gnomes are very polite if you just let them know you are offended by their actions, although now that I think about it, usually people are nicer when Takeo is around.  He must be quite the people-pleaser.

Smiling, I wave as the gnome runs away, he must have a pressing appointment.  I turn around, and I see that the poor cleric has fallen off his horse, and my dwarf-friend has pushed over the other dwarf.  He must have ignored his polite attempts to get past him to help our friend and the horse, as my dwarf-friend is a pleasant, mead-loving fellow who enjoys music.  I heal him with what little power I had left, and go check on the first fellow who tripped over my summoned wolf.  Hmmm…. he must have fallen pretty hard, he's out cold.   Takeo and I hoist him up, I suppose we'll have to carry him until we make camp.  What an exciting first day, but really, we need to get away from this wall and the bad smell of this awful city.  I think that should be our priority, so I motion to Takeo and we start walking off toward the wild beyond.

Let the Hunt begin?
In which personal space is NOT observed.

     The Great Hunt. Anyone is invited. Anyone who is anyone will be there. I will go – I have to go. We can no longer live like this. The kingdom is no longer what it once was. If I can win this hunt, I can restore Khordenar to its former glory or better! I hate to abandon my fellow Brutes, but this is something that must be done.

      Boats. Why did it have to be a boat? I hate boats. Water is fine. But boats rock with each wave. Thank Moradin that I thought to bring ale. If I didn't have my ale, I think I'd be looking for something to take the edge off… Maybe some chicken? Mmmm. Chicken. There was a rather large chicken somewhere near the prow…

      Singing? No, better! Yodeling! (Some of the best Dwarven yodelers in the deeps can use their echos as backup. It's quite the sight to see!) Wait. It's coming from… no, the chicken isn't yodeling. His owner is though. A Gnomish lad. Must be a bard to have pipes like that. His chicken seems to dance along to the tune. Gotta admire that. I've a small talent with training animals, but that's impressive. A feat like that deserves a tribute of some kind, but all I've got is my ale… Yeah, I'll offer the lad a refreshment. Normally I wouldn't share my ale, but I do also feel bad for thinking on eating his companion.

     My conscience assuaged, I feel like this Gnomish lad would make for a good compatriot. He seems to like the Elven lass that was playing the lute alongside him, too. That'd make three of the four for the minimum adventuring party. Perhaps we'll find a few others to assist.

     The port! Finally we can see the port! But… what? Right. We have to wait our turn to dock. Ugh! I want to get off of this wretched boat! It's overcrowded! I REALLY need to get off of this boat! Has no one here heard of personal space?

     Dock! Yes! Finally! I make sure to stay next to the Gnomish lad – he has one of those long, multiple-name names – and I've only caught the first and last of them, Archimond and Fizzbang. His chicken is apparently named Tah-Kay-Oh. Don't know how to spell that proper. Might have to ask one day, when we've returned to civilization. We've an archer, a cleric, a wee lass, and a spellslinger ontop of the bard and myself. We are forced to register our party as we disembark.
People! Too many people! I'd much rather get to the gate and get out of here! There's only one thing for it – I must convince those in my way that I'd be best if they weren't. A Dwarven bellow can move mountains, or so my elders have said, and so I will bellow from the bottom of my lungs.

     I am good! It took some convincing, but I got enough people out of our way to get us to the gate in time. Not a second too soon, either. I can't stand crowds. I'd much rather be out in the woods. I need to be out in the woods. The press of bodies only increased until the gate opened and then we all rushed out.

     Sweet, sweet open air! There's plenty of room for us all out here. No one breathing down my neck – or over me for that matter. But… wait… no! An ambush! I'm not the only one to see it, either. I must protect the others! There's no alternative – I rush into the fray.

     It didn't take us long. There was a blackguard and a barbarian, at the least. A wizard of some kind was part of their group, as was a rogue. Fizzbang managed to capture the wizard and slung him across Tah-kay-oh's back. They must have been operating from a base and ambushing new adventurers as they pass through the gate. Maybe we can co-op their base for our own… 

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