A half hour’s ride south of the frog farmers, we set watches. I was more worried about them discovering they were missing a few coins than I was about the flaming arrows. Humans always look first to littlelings if they suspect theft, and three of us had been in their camp.
So I muddied the trail a bit more when I got up for second watch. I put 10 gold pieces in Beth’s pouch, for after all, I’d never have gotten to the coins had she not raised such a ruckus! I divided my gold between several pouches, burying the remaining Southron Duchy coins deep below some smoked fish.
Perhaps an hour into my watch, the sky turned a sullen purple and a hard rain began. This was the storm I’d been sensing, and it felt unnatural, and unnaturally long. It was a miserable night and following day – if you stood by a horse’s head, you could not see the tail! The ground we’d though fine for pitching tents turned soft, and the stakes pulled free. And when the storm had whipped past at dusk, insects swarmed in to plague us. We wrung ourselves out and rode south through the gathering dark.
After a few hours ride, we were beat – none more so than Wikton or Boraen, of course. Pyrea called to us that she was nearly falling from her steed in exhaustion. We’d passed the path of the storm and the ground was solid, so we made a hasty camp and rested.
Late in the third watch, Wikton noticed Tasso staring at him, but when Wikton moved to talk with him, Tasso scurried away. Wikton walked the perimeter, thought he saw movement to the northwest – and a flaming arrow flew up and hit him in the chest. Nann moved over by him, rousing me as she went. We saw the arrow, but Wikton insisted the it was but an illusion. Then came the familiar howl to wake the rest of the camp. If anyone slept through that, Boraen howled back. And there was another howl in reply! Boarean started walking to the northwest, Pyrea followed him.
I cast detect magic on the arrow to find it had clearly been ensorcelled – but it was a real arrow, so I told Wikton we were not fighting an illusionist, and I cured his very real wounds. Then came the full attack!
A small black winged cat dropped from the sky to attack Boraen. Pyrea saw this but also heard something big approaching. She called out a warning, and then another as a Death Dealer and a woman stepped out of the gloaming.
Boraen snapped the neck of the winged cat, dedicating its death to Meesha and his clan and tribe. But he gained a mortal enemy in the Death Dealer, whose brother the cat had been! The Death Dealer charged at Boraen, who leapt to meet him.
A huge stony-sided lizard came rushing out of the grass. Fergus, Wikton, Wilhelm, and Josef intercepted it, I think Fergus nicked it with his sword, but Wikton was thrown down. The beast was eventually overcome, but I didn’t see the fight, being otherwise occupied.
Tasso, Luna, and I charged at the woman, who snapped off a spell and Tasso and Luna dropped – just sleeping, but I didn’t know that at the time. I slung a rock at her; it hit as did an arrow from Nann’s bow. The spellcaster – perhaps the one who’d been such a thorn in the side of the Irecian forces? – chanted and waved, and 6 beakless birds with long spiky tails appeared and flew at me. Surrounded by the birds, I could not get another shot off at the woman. Soon, the birds covered me in sticky slime and I was completely out of the battle. Pyrea sent magic missiles at the woman, and was counterspelled, then turned to web all the birds together to end their attacks on me.
I could see Boraen exchanging blows with the Death Dealer. The Death Dealer’s skin rippled with every hit Boraen landed. Boraen struck the axe from the Death Dealer, knocked away his helmet, too, and I could see Boraen’s opponent shifting to wolf shape. Beth slipped in and slammed her dagger into the wolf’s neck, but not before Boraen had taken some bite wounds.
I saw Talvi running at the woman; from the screams, I think she bit the spellslinger. But Talvi yelped, too, slashed by a dagger. Talvi shook her head, unsteady, and vomited. The woman ran away, and Nann ran up to tend to Talvi.