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Thread: Intermission - Sweetwater

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    Intermission - Sweetwater

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    Thirst assails everyone, but fatigue is what dominates the morning. Varis shares the contents of his skin with everyone, which amounts to a meager few gulps per person. By greed, stubbornness, or perhaps tired forgetfulness, Rogur and Yrisz manage to refrain from using their glamored rain water cloaks. Nevertheless, by afternoon, when the group has at last recovered from the exhaustion of the past two days, the need for water becomes a pressing issue, and as promised, Pradize returns.

    Not a drop of sweat beads on her brow despite the voluminous black robes she wears about herself; and even without torchlight or a ruddy sunset, her irises really are red. With a brief curtsy, she waits for everyone to get back on their feet, and then resumes her casual but tireless pace. Her appearance hasn't changed, but by now it's obvious that her manner is different from the day before. Gone is the constant chatter. Since Cresta left, she's barely spoken a handful of times and today is no different.

    Of course, it would be difficult to respond to her, given how parched everyone else's throats are. She briefly answers the questions croaked at her about how far away the promised spring is in her light, clear voice. Otherwise, in the absence of speech, the sounds of the forest envelope you as you trudge on: birdsong, buzzing insects, the crackle of branches and rustling of vines, and once, a wolf's howl.

    On you march. There is a moment that passes when it has been a full day since the flight from the monastery and hedge maze, two days since anyone besides Varis had a drop of water in their skins. The sweat has dried on your bodies. There is little anyone can think about save water.

    You hear it before you see it. A telltale burble that you've been imagining on and off is now too constant to be mistaken for anything other than reality or hallucination. Finally, it's there in front of you, an artesian current shooting up in a jet about a foot above the surrounding pond, itself surrounded by tall grasses. Before Pradize can state the obvious, the rest of the group is knelt down by the pond, some lying stretched out with their heads plunged into the water to drink in long, gasping gulps.

    Objectively the water is tepid, but to many of you it seems far cooler than it has any business being in the summer heat. It's pure and untainted, as far as you can tell, and you hope your taste is not deceiving you, but it's been too long in coming for you to hold back at this point. When you've at last drunk your fill, you plunge your skins in, letting them fill to bulging. You've only been traveling five or six hours, but it seems a tempting place to stop for the rest of the day.

    Sensing the intent in some members of the party, Pradize speaks up at last. She's seated herself on an old log, balancing her scythe on her knees. "Drink all you want, and fill your skins, of course, but before you bathe, consider that there is an old, grumpy troll downstream. I cheated a bit by leading you around his toll bridge, so if he catches your scent in his stream, he'll have another grump to add to his grumpiness and he's sure to stomp up here to give you a scolding."

    "Also," she adds, in a voice that echoes her loquacity from the day before, "I understand there's a master of this pond, a rather big fish that's never been caught. It's been the one doing the catching, for the past few years."

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    "Well I don't see any need in making trouble to either of the masters of this domain, however to see a troll and and giant fish battle it out would make for excellent fun. However, I would rather find a nice place to rest and set up for a while."
    Ariellana, Noxias, and Yrisz that one time...
    Quote:
    "It seems to Noxias that the mere act of perceiving her in her decrepitude is enough to draw forth the mortality in his body."
    Translation: "Damn girl, you fugly."

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    "Here is as good a place as any to rest," Pradize replies, "if you are not so foolish as to ignore my advice. The fish won't catch you if you stay on land, and the old troll will have no reason to come as long as you don't build a fire when the wind's blowing in the same direction as the stream. Your rests, and I'm afraid you in general, though, are boring. I promised you a reward for rescuing Cresta and you upheld your end of the bargain, so let me reiterate my offer from before: I can give you the bit of treasure I've brought with me, take you to a small, unguarded hoard, or bring you to one with much greater wealth that still stands protected. Now choose, or I am quits with you right now!"

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    "State what exists at these hoards of which you speak, for I have little use for the riches of this realm other than to sustain me while I search for a way back to my home. If materials exist in these stashes which will give me the power to return then I would like to know now."
    Ariellana, Noxias, and Yrisz that one time...
    Quote:
    "It seems to Noxias that the mere act of perceiving her in her decrepitude is enough to draw forth the mortality in his body."
    Translation: "Damn girl, you fugly."

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    "Dusts and inks, was it not? Those materials are sought after by monks and wizards, and I'm sure they would help you, too, in that goal of yours. There is a knoll some hours distant from here that contains what may have been a cache for one of the monks of that monastery. It has the arcane ingredients I speak of, including a few potions and a pair of silver bracelets, all in addition to a goodly number of silver and bronze coins. I would say it's a suitable reward for your troubles.

    "Now the other hoard?" Pradize leans forward in excitement, her eyes flashing red, "Have you ever heard of Izzmarg? It's an ancient, ruined fortress in the highlands north of here. The fortress itself was emptied ages ago, of course. What very few know in these modern times is that there was a wizard who worked with the lord of that fortress, but lived in his own domicile, some short distance away. Long after he died and passed into lichdom, he continued to amass magic. Maybe he's still at it." She chuckles.

    "The point is, that place is filled with all manner of untouched wealth, but I've not had a chance to inventory anything, or even get close enough to look at it. I don't get along with guardian spooks; they're so parochial! However, it's not going to be there forever. Last autumn, some busybody scholar and his private army set up camp on the island and started poking around the fortress. I'm not exactly on speaking terms with them, but some sharp-eyed friends of mine tell me that they finally stumbled across the wizard's lair, late this spring.

    "They've taken enough tomes and valuables out of it to prove that I'm not just spinning tales about the treasure there, but they've not yet found a way to breach the innermost sanctum." Now a satisfied grin spreads across her face, "I'll let you in on the secret of getting inside there, if you think you can overcome what you will face. I'll leave it to your imagination as to whether it will help with your teleportation ritual, Noxias. However," she kicks up her heels, "that's worth a good bit more than what we originally agreed upon. I've admitted to the danger, of course, but just to balance things out: I've always wanted to know what that old lich stowed away, ever since I first heard about the matter. Take or leave what you want, but if you want me to show you the way there, agree to give me a complete and honest inventory of what you find. You can do that much, right?

    "So, what will it be? Do you want a pair of silver bracelets or the Lost Hoard of Izzmarg?"

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    Nox listens. His eyes growing wider as Pradize speaks! "Such a powerful wizard exists, or used to, so close by in this realm? I would bet that he has a teleportation circle as well!"

    "This sounds exactly like what we should do. Who else for Izzmarg?"
    Ariellana, Noxias, and Yrisz that one time...
    Quote:
    "It seems to Noxias that the mere act of perceiving her in her decrepitude is enough to draw forth the mortality in his body."
    Translation: "Damn girl, you fugly."

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    "Not I," says Varis quietly, "it's past time I set off on my own course. This stream joins the Great River, the low-landers call it the Yu, am I right?"

    Pradize nods, "If you stay on this bank, it does. The other side is tricky, and can take you somewhere else."

    "Stay on this bank; watch out for the troll. I'll take that advice as compensation for the wight. It was your doing, it's become clear," he raises a hand as Pradize opens her mouth, "That's good enough for now. I have more important matters to attend to. As for the rest of you, may you fare well and find virtue." The elf adjusts his pack and then with a final wave, sets off along the side of the stream. Pradize waves back, though he doesn't turn and look. After a few moments, she leans back on her seat and lets loose a peal of laughter.

    "People coming and going, as though this forest was safe! Your friends owe me more than they think. I had better go about my business for the night, then. I shall be back tomorrow morning, to take you to Izzmarg Isle, about three days' travel from here. In that time, you can decide whether you want to sneak past the guards or announce yourselves to them, but if you choose the last, I doubt they will be particularly kind."

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    "People do seem to come and go these days, don't they?" Rogur mutters as Pradize flows into the forest.

    "I've seen my share of big fish, so I don't think I'll be sleeping near the water tonight," Rogur says, rummaging through his pack. "But, that doesn't mean this pond won't come in handy." He triumphantly holds up a small wrinkled raisin. "Just the ticket for a hot night, I'd say." He fills his water skin, drops in the raisin, and takes a sip. After a moment, he nods slowly. "That'll do." He raises the skin, this time for a gulp, and then passes it to Noxias. "Mind you don't drink it all yourself, there's a good lad."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Palpatim View Post
    "Mind you don't drink it all yourself, there's a good lad."
    "Not as good as I've been accustomed to," Nox complains, soporifically.

    After the party finds a camp, Nox sets about warding a small area, against prying ears. "There, hopefully that will make it harder for any lurking trolls to hear Rogur's unnatural snoring. Just mind that you clean yourself up a bit Rogur, that air of pitch and lanolin seems to be embedded in your sinews."
    Last edited by Malk0lm; 06-20-2014 at 01:09 PM. Reason: Oops, wrong word!
    Ariellana, Noxias, and Yrisz that one time...
    Quote:
    "It seems to Noxias that the mere act of perceiving her in her decrepitude is enough to draw forth the mortality in his body."
    Translation: "Damn girl, you fugly."

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    Nox lays out his ingredients and begins the incantation to imbue their camp with a quieting aura. 10 minutes into the ritual Nox finishes and turns around with a triumphant look hoping that Konstanz, Yrisz and the rest will be quite thankful of his work. Unfortunately he is met with only the soft snoring of his companions. "I guess that means I get first watch..."
    Ariellana, Noxias, and Yrisz that one time...
    Quote:
    "It seems to Noxias that the mere act of perceiving her in her decrepitude is enough to draw forth the mortality in his body."
    Translation: "Damn girl, you fugly."

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