Burning Sky Session 6

When we woke we agreed to try and open the case. I took it outside and tried with all my might, but it wouldn’t budge, and Cyrus was reluctant to try more extreme measures, so I relented.

We agreed that we should take turns carrying the case, and I gave it to Cyrus, who stowed it deep in his pack.

Suddenly the terrain changed from mountainous to a 20 feet wide ravine with 5 feet of rough foliage on either side and relatively steep cliffs that ascend at a 60 degree angle to a height of 20 feet.

I was cautious about proceeding and we had Ulfgar scout ahead on foot, with the rest of us in pairs, thirty feet apart.

Ulfgar noted a narrow, rubble-strewn trail to the right. As Eyvindir approached the trail, two figures tossed something from a 20 foot high ledge on the right, and Eyvindir was deafened by a loud boom from whatever they had thrown. He managed to control his horse and we held our position.

Ulfgar made a leaping jump onto the 20 food high ledge and engaged our attackers, and I assisted with spiritual weapon.

Two black horse head riders emerged from the side trail, and were soon engaged by Eyvindir, Cyrus, Torrent, and me, while Xireas hung back.

Once the two attackers on the ledge had been dealt, and tossed down to their deaths, Ulgar leapt across the side trail to where another attacker was preparing to shoot down at us. The two riders had taken a beating and were preparing to flee, when Xireas put them both to sleep.

Eyvindir and I had charged farther up the ravine to engage a rider that had come around the bend, but it fled. We could see more black horse head riders ahead, including their familiar leader from the ambush at the Poison Apple Pub.

Meanwhile, Cyrus and Torrent tied and gagged the two sleeping riders.

Eyvindir was inclined to run them down, but I urged everyone to fall back to the ravine entrance. There, we took strategic positions, and waited for any additional reinforcement to emerge.

While we waited, Cyrus interrogated the leader of the two riders we had captured, finding out that they were planning on selling us to the Ragesian Inquisitors for a bounty and that there were between twelve and forty more thugs waiting further down the bend, but that they had probably already fled. He told us that their horn signal was one blast to attack and two to retreat. Cyrus had slit the other rider’s throat and confiscated their horn during the interrogation.

After thirty minutes we all agreed we had to forge ahead. We were split regarding what to do with the last rider, with Cyrus wanting to put him out of his misery, Eyvindir wanting to set him free, and my suggestion of keeping him with us as a captive. While we were debating, a spectral hand appeared around his throat and put an end to the debate.

Furious, Eyvindir decried Xireas unilateral action. Even though I disagreed with Eyvindir’s original choice, I supported him in this and we convinced Xireas that such unilateral decisions were inappropriate while an ongoing debate was in progress.

With the drama settled, we continued on and after five hundred feet of twists through the ravine, we reached the end of the ravine. The border of the fire forest was in sight.

About a mile from the edge of the fire forest, the sky ahead began to glow faint red and orange, and the air began to smell of ash. The frigid winter temperature warmed noticeably, and red flowers dotted the roadside amid yellowed grass. Cinders drifted in the sky. Soon the cliffs alongside the road turned into craggy hills, and the forest fire itself came into view, tall pine trees stretching down into a valley that burned to the horizon. A steaming river marked the border of the fire forest, and a vast field of ash coated the ground for the last quarter mile leading to the forest.

Just before the ash field, about a half mile from the forest fire, we spotted a small farm consisting of a two-story stone house and adjacent barn, and what looked like a pair of simple stone cairns. The farm was on a slight rise to the left of the road, and a young woman stood in clear view, dark haired, eyes wide and blue, holding a slender black staff.

As we approached, it was clear that she was looking off vacantly, but she spoke, saying, “The Scourge comes, and the skulls of the dragon pursue you. I saw it in a dream.” Then she shook her head as if coming to her senses and apologized meekly.

She introduced herself as Crystin, and said that she needed our help. She explained that she and her father, Haddin, are magic-users, and know the Ragesians are coming. She said that she has visions, and believes that wherever we are going, we can protect her and her father. She said she wanted to go with us. At the very least, she said, she can offer us a place to rest before we head into the forest fire.

Ulfgar recognized Haddin’s name from stories he had heard and told us privately that, “supposedly twenty years ago, Haddin was a skilled artist and respected citizen of Gate Pass, but his half-orc half-brother Mandragore was a notorious criminal. One day, suddenly, Mandragore turned over a new leaf and began working to redeem his name. Rumors eventually arose that Haddin was mentally dominating his brother, and an investigation revealed it was true. Within weeks, amid protests of countless people who believed—right or wrong—that Haddin had likewise dominated them, Haddin’s reputation was ruined. His brother tried to defend him, but he was killed by rioters, and Haddin fled the city in disgust, taking with him only his wife and newborn daughter.

“After some years, a young woman who closely resembled Haddin’s wife began coming to town to get supplies, her expression distant. The stories—true for once—say that this is Haddin’s daughter, dominated by the bitter old mage.”

Nevertheless, a warm meal and a short rest sounded good, though I was anxious about being ambushed again, so Torrent and I stood guard on two of the many small hills surrounding the house.

We eventually decided to sleep for the night, and we took turns with two of us guarding the house at all times, one inside and the other outside.

In the morning, Xireas called out to us, and said, “Guys, we have company!”

From outside a feral and commanding voice cried, “Haddin, we know you’re in there. Come out and we won’t kill you.”

Then I heard the familiar voice of a half-orc, “Yeah, come on out here, dwarf. I’m gonna poke your—I’m gonna scoop your eye out and I’m gonna eat it! Come on out here you coward! Come on out here and settle this score once and for all.”

Two skeletons accompanied Warroc and the Inquisitor.

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