Gavin woke in a queen sided bed with a real mattress. The room was made of stone walls and exposed timbered roof. Two candles cast dim light from a night stand to his right. The bedroom, which it had clearly once been, was now stacked high with crates and chests in haphazard way. The old decorations still hug on the walls. Two aging tapestries displayed scenes of hunting in two seasons. The foxes and boar ran ahead of countless dogs and horse mounted men in hunting attire with bows and spears. This While rustic in a hunting theme, the furniture in the room was well constructed before age and neglect had taken its toll. This was the room where Arjana made her final stand before escaping.
What happened? How did he get here? The last thing he remembered was being constricted by the barrel beast. Had it been a true mimic? He had only heard of things that could camouflage themselves so completely. It had looked just like any other barrel. But when it came alive and lashed out at him he knew something had gone terribly wrong. How fascinating that this beast had taken up residence beneath the keep. How long had it lived there? The magic that reanimated them had been there for many year.
Gavin winced as a pain shot through his head. Felinor was there in a second. Had he cried out in pain?
“My friend, you live!” the knight cleric remarked carrying an enchanted torch floating above his head. The light was bright compared to the candle light. Gavin and Felinor had been together the longest of the party. The dark-skinned man of Shoanti blood had been raised in a monastery to Iomedae. He had grown up in a militaristic community with law and goodness held in high esteem. Felinor and Gavin had shipped out of Absolam on the same ship and followed the path together. It had been a welcome friendship considering Gavin’s own upbringing in the militaristic society of the Crusader War College in Lastwall. “Your body is mostly healed but taking that much damage in one day can leave a mark that only time and devotion to Iomedae can heal. You are a tough one, my friend. Manny a lesser man would have died from those wounds. You are lucky the others got you back here quickly.”
“Well, I am feeling much better already. I did not die, thanks to your god given abilities.” Gavin worked to sit up and succeeded. Could it be that only three full days had passed since the battle with Arjana? So much had happned. The frantic race back to town in hopes of catching Amlodd and recovering the goods. The equipment and cart had been burned. They did reach town before Amlodd and found four new adventurers to reinforce the efforts. War had claimed the life of Delph. The return trip, fighting the pugwampis; it had all been so much, so quickly. They still needed to go back and find the goblins in the caves. Drat that rope bridge and their inability to push the attack. Next time they would be much more prepared. This morning’s encounter with the skeletons had taught Gavin the importance of having reliable light sources. And Felinor had one perfect source slowly circling around his head. Gavin struck out to make a grab for the circling ioun stone shedding light in the room but Felinor withdrew with fighter reflexes borne of practice.
“You are too slow, my wizened one. Stick to your tomes and writing and leave the fighting to us knights.” Felinor gave his traveling companion a big smile. “Besides, there is one for you too. We found a small chest of them neatly packaged for transport. This whole keep is full of supplies that Arjana’s brigands have been stealing from the traders for months. These are the missing goods from Fairhill. Weapons, armor, minor magic items, herbs, and more. While you were out dyeing in a cave the rest of us were looking for useful things.”
“Let me up. I am well enough to move about,” he said to Felinor’s protests. It was mostly for show. The good cleric had been trained in the healing arts in the monastery and knew how to treat a patient. However, he also knew how men of action (as Gavin liked to consider himself) reacted to a healers advice.
“There is a basin of water there for you to wash up. Your clothes are remarkably clean for having nearly died. I’ll be downstairs.” Felinor said. He reached up and caught the ioun stone slowly circling four inches above his head and handed it to Gavin.
Taking time to wash with the cloth and water was more of a luxury than he’d had in a few days. The sweat of the hastened journey back to Fairhill still stuck in his hair. Sometimes these luxuries were not worth the time wasted tracking down a lead. But it seemed he had a minute. After dressing and tucking his two small blades neatly away he went downstairs to see what everyone had learned.
The discussion was clear. The party was ready to go after the goblins. Lillith knew how to get around the bridge by crossing the ravine up stream. It would probably add an hour to the travel but saved the danger of crossing on ropes. They would leave at first light the next day. That meant a few hours to rummage through the items in the keep to see what would be useful for ferreting out goblins in caves. Hopefully they would find Amlodd the betrayer or track down Arjana’s conspirators. All signs pointed to Arjana working with her human brigands. But she ran somewhere. And the trail of Amlodd disappeared with the pugwampis. The pugwampis could be working/controlled by Gnolls who often worked with Leucrotta that had plagued their party for days in the surrounding hills.
This was a dangerous land and how great it would be when they could return to Fairhill and announce the security of the hills from bandits and Leucrotta. It would be even better if they could find Arjana alive and determine the truth of the relationship and motivations. Gavin liked the truth. The Pathfinder Society demanded the truth. This could be the start to entering his name into the chronicles. These backwood kingdoms were rife with lawlessness and magical artifacts. This area on the north-eastern edge of the inner sea was a crossroads of travel for thousands of years. Here he was closer to the eastern trade routes than anywhere else. One day Gavin would make it to the eastern lands and discover the origins of the traditions which he studied. But that was for later. Now he needed to find appropriate weapons and “herbs” to aid him in the upcoming battle to find Amlodd and Arjana.
After searching through crates of packed weapons, armor, minor magic items, potions, and herbs, Gavin equipped himself with new adventuring gear to replace what was on the cart when Amlodd ran off. He also took a burned out dull grey ioun stone of continual flame. This ioun torch that Felinor had found proved to be a perfect light source. Hands free he could still engage in battle. The last item he found was mixed in with random swords wrapped in blankets for transport. It was a wakizashi. The short sword used by samurai and assassins throughout the east. It was the perfect mate (even if it didn’t match) to his katana.
Gavin had practiced with many weapons in his schooling at the Crusader War College. Most of them were heavy long swords, bulky short swords, lances, and other cavalier weapons made for knights. While he had grasped the fundamentals of these techniques he had always appreciated the uniqueness and exotic beauty with which the foreigners and practitioners of the eastern schools fought during the yearly contests. While in Absolam he had purchased the katana in hopes of mastering the style on the road. Initially wielding it two handed like a bastard sword he enjoyed meeting Tsen who gave him free lessons for several days. In just the short time Gavin had learned some of the basic eastern styles for using distraction to open up the opponent’s vulnerabilities. After that Gavin had been much more confident and most recently has had more opportunity to use the blade in practice. The wakizashi now completed the set called an o daisho. He strapped them on together and worked to find the proper placement.
Gavin sat at the dining table with the floating light and chronicled the events of the previous two days. 0This would be the official report to Venture-Captain Istivil Bosk In Daggermark. The aging man had asked for updates on this ever-changing region where generations built on the backs of previous generations with no regard to the history there.
Later, casting his keep watch spell he positioned himself on the wall of the keep outside with his o daisho laid across his lap. He would study his spells in the morning and be ready to ride out at first light.