Alex absent, his character was played by Jaroen.
…the monsters vanquished, the celebration goes on in the night, the next morning, after some breakfast, the halflings are quite willing to organize trades and talk money, considering that of the whole trading group only Therai remains, he is going to take charge of the whole affair, organizing the details.
During the celebration, a group of Halflings Warriors, headed by the shaman-in-training, walks up and propose a little training fight to show the other warriors how the ‘nature’ warriors manages (this would be Cor, Hardok and Irann), also the Shaman is curious to see what Irann made of her ‘tiger’ awareness. The group decide to accept even if they advise Therai to not do any Arcane things (it would work badly anyway due to the ‘arcan suppression field’ in the forest).
So the next day the Arena has been prepared for the training fight, with a bunch of tree logs propped up as platform where the Halfling can climb to or hide behind, and some wooden spikes planted in the ground to simulate bushes (and things that can hurt you if you fall face-first into them).
The rules of the engagement are quickly agreed upon: anyone that is knocked unconscious during the fight is out, anyone that is pushed out of the arena perimeter is also out of the fight.
The Halfling group is headed by the Shaman-in-training, 2 bowman and 3 foot soldiers armed with double-edged bone-axes.
The group simply decide to do what they do as usual: improvise.
They decide to take the first move and not let the Halfling to use too much they knowledge of the terrain, Cor quickly move forward, jumps on top of one of the log with nay an effort and sling a bullet to one of the halfling warrior, Hardok move next gaining the center of the Arena with his towering presence and attempt to hit the same Warrior with his hand-crossbow, but the halfling is covered by a bunch of sticks and the shot misses. Irann moves forward and uses her short-bow, but the arrow is stopped by the hinix armor.
At this point the Halflings takes the initiative, the 3 foot soldier advance quickly with their ‘dance-like’ movement and one of them attacks Irann with a swift move, the attack wounds her, the second one target Hardok and the large target allow for a larger hit, the last one approach and tosses a dagger at Irann, hitting her again. The Shaman in the mean time has his tiger spirit appearing, so it looks like a tiger.
Varnag approaches and decide to use his Command Strike to allow Hardok to strike again, but the attack goes amiss. He decides then to use his Healing-power to heal Irann. Therai decides to use his area-effects bashing the whole group of Halflings with his psionic power, this leave a couple of Halfling on the ground but not knocked out yet.
The Shaman at this point send his Tiger Spirit to the help of the prone warrior, then the shaman move forwards and launch some sort of tiger shadow at Hardok, but he manage to dodge and the spirit disappear, the bowmen moves forward, one of them jumps on top of one platform to gain a better view of the terrain and shoot an arrow at Hardok, and is an hit that make him stumble backwards and down on the ground, the last bowman moves forward too and shoot an arrow at Irann, and that’s also an hit. It seems that the Halfling warriors have decided that Irann is the most dangerous of the whole group. The hit makes Irann withdraw a few steps.
Cor sprint down the pillar, circle around a bunch of spikes popping behind the foot soldier and plunges his blade into the unsuspecting halfling, knocking him out of the fight. Hardok decides that he has enough of the Halfling knocking him around, so he decides to activate his Mountain Thunder forms, rise from the ground and smashes his sword into the nearby soldier, then he sweeps him out of his feet knocking him on the ground. Irann decides that she has enough reach to provide some comeuppance after being wounded twice, so she proceed to unleash a round of kicks and hits with her spear damaging both the shaman and the nearby fighter, then, in addition she add the Five Storms attack against the foot soldier that is knocked out of the fight. Only 4 Halflings are left in the fight.
The last of the foot soldier climb back on his feet and attempt an attack, but is still off balance and misses, instead he skillfully dances around Hardok.
Varnag attacks the shaman with his Trickal, leading the next attack against the target. Of course the Tiger Spirit absorbs parts of the hit. Varnag the uses his Inspiring Words on Hardok, healing him. Therai decides to use his Psionic Power to dishearten the shaman, but doesn’t work very well.
The Shaman, after dodging two attacks retaliate with a Tiger Spirit attack on his own against Irann, that is heavily hit and gets immobilized by the Tiger. He then moves away but Irann manages to hit him in passing. The bowman on the top of the pillar release an arrow at Irann, that at this point is out of the fight. The another bowman shots Cor in the back.
The shot is enough to slow Cor down, so he moves slowly but he manages to attack the remaining footman. Hardok run forwards, but while he moves, the footman crawls away, so he decides to jump on top of the pillar where the other bowman is, from that advantage point he attacks the shaman using his Thunder Ram Assault that smashes into the Tiger Spirit hard, it also gets damages by the Thunder effects, and on top of that also the second Thunder effect goes on the Shaman that at this point shows signs of the hit. Then he decides to use the Mountain Thunder attacks to call lightning and thunder on both. The remaining soldier get back up on his feet and charges Hardok, jumping on top of the pillar and swinging his axe, he hits but doesn’t do much damage against the hard skin.
Varnag, attacks the Shaman with his trickal, and then Therai jumps out from behind the pillar and uses Hardok as a beacon to aim his attack, unfortunately the hit also involve Hardok himself. To mend for that Therai uses his healing power (even if this damage himself).
The Shaman, after being hit quite hard, but he decides to pounce Hardok with his Tiger Spirit, that then grab Hardok blocking him in place. The other bowman, on top of the pillar, get up on his feet and notices Hardok’s head just at his reach, so he attempt to stick an arrow in it but Hardok turns around just in time to notice him and ducks out of the way, the other bowman try to stick an arrow in Cor but he also misses.
Cor decide that the best target is now the Shaman, so he runs around and attack him from behind, smacking his broad-sword down. Hardok shakes the tiger out of his shoulder and hits the Shaman again with his sword, adding Thunder damages to both the Shaman and the bowman. The Shaman still doesn’t go down: the Tiger Spirit makes him resilient. Varnag attacks the Shaman, and this is the final hit that takes down the Shaman, the other warriors at this point concede the fight.
The halfling are impressed by the fight and cheers.
Impressed by the display, the Shaman presents Cor, Hardok and Irann with a jadite charm, in the form of a small tiger, the charm, besides to be a nice object, contains a small part of the Tiger Spirit that can be used when the bearer uses a Primal attack, increasing the power of the attack and holding the target in place for a while. Unfortunately, it takes time to “charge” so it can’t be used all the time.
Also, the Shaman has decided that, despite the multiple failure before, Hardok is worthy of wielding the Thunder Ram Blade, so he is presented with the sword.
After yet another celebration and time to discuss the arrangement for the trading, the group manage to reorganize the caravan, loading the Erdlus with jade, both raw and shaped into different art objects, especially (of course) Tiger statues. Therai knows from experience that the best place where to sell such art is in Urik (the city of Lions). And such cargo could make a huge profit there.
The next day they wave good-bye to the village and head back to the outpost, following the direct route, that is quite doable after the Halflings spent some times clearing out part of it, and they are escorted by 4 Halfling guards. the only interesting part of the trip is that they have to go through an area that is Apes territory.
Not a lot is known about ‘apes’. Except that they live in ‘far away lands’… they are humanoids ranging in shape and size from human to half-giant, hairy, good climbers, very strong and very mysterious. One thing that is kind of known is that they hates Gyths (and the other way around). The Halflings have experiences about Apes and basically they know that “you just need to respect them”, that basically means do not invade their territory, simply pay omage to some sort of a shrine, and they will basically let you through. A little discussion erupts about the benefit (or lack thereof) in killing the Apes, but everybody in the end agreed in going through with the offering plan and moving through the territory. The Crodlu and Erdlu are a bit nervous, and this require the group to keep the animals under control. The apes are up in the tree, not attempting to hide, and they are large… but apparently don’t seems to be dangerous so the group simply moves through.
After a while, the forest begins to withdraw and the terrain becomes more rocky, and it is clear that the group is getting out of the forest finally. Also, the arcane suppression begins to wane.
In the late afternoon they begin the approach to the outpost. Irann is sent ahead to scout the area, she manage to get in view of the Outpost and notices that it seems more peoples is in there, and they also spot her, but waves in a friendly manner, so it doesn’t seems that the Outpost was attacked or taken by force.
When the groups arrives they discover that another group from House Ianto has arrived, with a new commander, a guy named Ross that the group doesn’t know very well but they know his face. He has taken charge of the outpost and directed his men in rebuilding the broken palisade and fixing the interior of the building so they can be used.
He is very pleased in knowing that the trade has been a full success, a bit less in knowing that I’tok got killed, but that’s not something he can fix. In any event, he informs Therai and the rest of the group that the news that the trade was a success has to remain a secret for the moment. It seems that there is trouble between Ianto and some other trade house, so the order are that no news have to go out and Ianto is going to pretend that the Trade expedition was a failure.
To keep the information hidden, the group has to travel north past Tyr, remaining on the western side of the Ringing Mountain, in the direction of some kind of old monastery, Ross has been informed that the group knows the way or has a way to find it and that Urax will wait them there (or he will arrive soon) and then… well he doesn’t have any other information.
Hardok try a bit of chit-chat to get a sense of what Ross thinks about the whole story, but it doesn’t seems that he has a clear picture. He knows that there is a ruse between Ianto and some other house.
Therai discuss a bit things with Ross and manage to organize things, leave most of the guards at the outpost, only take 2 extra guards and take 2 of the halflings for security and leave in the morning.
During the evening the group brainstorms a bit about why Ianto wants to keep hidden the notice that the caravan has succeeded and instead spread the words that it has failed. And maybe if it is possible to secretly spread the words that the caravan was actually a success to undermine Ianto’s plan (whatever could it be).
In the early morning, everyone wakes up rested and relaxed, and observe a green fox head poking out of a bag and looking around with a puzzled look… Yep! The fox has awaken and it seems very curious of the surrounding.
Therai is dubious about it.
Therai – It’s a creepy fay creature! Do you really wants to bring it along? Hardok – What’s the alternative? Leave it here in the outpost? Therai – Leave it where it wants to go. Hardok – So where does he wants to go? Fox – Yip! Yip! Yip!!
The fox however seems to be able to communicate telepathically. It sounds like an hyperactive child, not incredibly smart but certainly intelligent. Irann manages to communicate with him.
Fox – Food! Food! Food! Irann – What kind of food? Fox – Living stuff! Irann – he… what kind of living stuff? Fox – Animals! Plants! Food! (looking at Therai) Can I eat that? Irann – hemm… no… Hardok – I found a good name for this thing: Trouble
So Irann try to find some mice, but there isn’t any, so she decide to give him some of the dried food she has. The fox eat the food but doesn’t seems very convinced about it.
The fox comments that he wanted “to go home with gateway, but it was busted”. This makes Therai interested, because knowing where a gateway to the fay world could be extremely interesting.
The fox also says that he is able to found the gateway, if it’s close, but right now is not close enough to know.
The fox “says” that his name is Sha-awl and apparently he is some kind of a weapons “a cool weapons”… he also asks Therai if Thieflings are still burning and killing and destroying and when Therai respond “sometimes” the fox comments that that’s awesome (!).
He claim that he can “blow stuff up” or “make you better a blow stuff up”.
Therai advise him that “maybe some other Fay creatures are around, and not all of them are nice like Irann here, they could be nasty”
Sha-awl – If they are nasty I can blast them. Or hide. I’m good at hiding" – and he becomes invisible.
Hardok – That’s a neat trick…
In any event it seems that the creature is looking for his “master” named “Oberon”
(Oberon is the fey deity of nature, wild places, and animals. His symbol is a white stag. Oberon appears as a male fairy of perhaps unusual size with no wings, and strongly muscled by fey standards. His cloak is made of green leaves stitched into brown leather. Oberon is the consort of Titania and a member of her Seelie Court, some people claim he is still around.)
When left outside for a while he hops on an area with some plants and he simply sucks all the life out of the area (!) OH SHIT! It’s a defiler! Therai is extremely pissed and the rest of the group is quite confused (defiler? from the old age?).
Irann – What are you doing and why?
Sha-awl – Why? To power up!
Therai – Don’t! If you want to stay with us, don’t do that!
Sha-awl – nnnn….
Therai – You’re a destroyer!
Sha-awl – Awsome!
Therai – If you want to stay with us, you don’t do that.
Sha-awl – awwwww…. I can’t boost you up if I don’t have energy.
Therai – Suck it, go find Oberon on your own. See the desert? Well, that’s what happens when things like you are around sucking out everything!
Sha-awl – Well… I can use your own energy… but that’s not too strong. Ok, I won’t do the energy thingy…
After a bit of discussion, the creature agree to stay put and keep out of sight (he is extremely good at it because he can become invisible and teleport around) and they will try to figure out what this creature is and what to do with him.
The group leaves the outpost towards North.
The road is rough, but not so much, the zone is just outside the weather bubble but it was inside it for so long, so the terrain is not completely devoid of life, the forest is nearby and the travel goes smoothly, in the afternoon the group spots a Gyth patrol of 5 Gyths approaching from the North, luckily they spot the Gyth before they are spotted. Quickly they decide to attempt another ambush by moving out of the road and hiding behind some rocks. Then everyone lay in waits….