Having experienced the rush of combat and the thrill of adventure, Seolana decided it was finally time to go exploring the fabled ruins of her childhood.
On the way
Seolana spent her night at the inn thinking of all the exilaration she felt since she left the village, letting her mind drift of from memories to memories until it finally found a cave entrance she had seen as a child. Since that moment she had hoped to go in there and find out what laid in that rocky blackness. The following morning, she bought rations at the inn and left Zoa for her home village. Under a cool spring sun, the road north was uneventful for the morning, while she was eating, a merchant passed her on his way south and the afternoon looked as dull as the morning.
A dashing rogue.
Suddenly, a sharp pain in her abdomen, a quick glance revealed a bolt was lodged in her abdomen. She quickly jumped to the side of the road to get some cover from whoever was ambushing her. The fighter’s vision was blurry, her head spinning, she had been poisoned by whoever was coming out of the woods right now. An exceptionally graceful elf, dressed in a brown-black leather armor, with long white hair was coming out of the woods with a sword in a hand and a hand crossbow in the other.
Slowly, she opened her eyes, her head was pounding, she was laying in the foliage. Looking at the shadows, she could estimate her unconsciousness at three or four hours. Touching gently where the bolt was, she could only feel her damaged flesh inside the armor, an ugly scar this would become.
The village attacked by bandits
As the sun was setting, Seolana noticed smoke in the sky to the north. She hurried her walk. A bit further down the road, a lifeless body was on the road. Probably killed by an arrow to the back while running toward the village. Turning him with a foot, the Reanaarian woman saw his face, he was a boy from her village. At that precise moment, fear for her village struck, she began jogging and then running toward the village. She could see it clearly now; the village was burning. Approaching the village at full speed, she began hearing shouts and cries for help. She could now see people pursuing other in the quickly dimming daylight. Someone was stabbed and fell to the ground.
When Seolana entered the village, she saw a small girl wearing a muddied dress running from a particularly vicious looking bandit, the man was dressed in a cheap leather armor, wore a brown leather hood and a scarf to conceal his identity. Coming to the corned of a house, the young girl slipped on the ground and the thug caught her by the collar with a large sick smile. The reanaarian woman jumped in front of the bandit and shouted “Let go of the girl”, to which the man responded: “Let go of your weapons and I’ll let her go”. Seolana pondered for a few seconds before throwing her rapier and dagger to the ground. The miscreant threw the girl to the side and stepped toward the woman, hoping for an easy target to abuse. As he finished closing the distance, he pinned the warrior woman through the shoulder on the wall behind her. She responded with a swift upward thrust to the nose, with a small cracking noise, the man fell motionless to the ground.
The girl nowhere to be seen, the warrior woman thought “She is probably hiding somewhere safer.” From this new point of view, Seolana could easily see the logic behind the fire catching, they were simply lit one after the other. Seolana picked up her blades and quickly moved toward the next probable fire passing by another dead bandit. Swoosh! At the last second she deftly dodged a lunging short sword thrust that would have skewered her lungs. As she finished her dodging movement, she pierced the bandit trough the eye. The unknown assailant fell silently to the ground and Seolana resumed her dash.
Throwing a quick glance to see if more trouble was coming her way, she noticed some bandits ganging up on a group of villagers. She rushed to help, finding a young man standing beside the dead village elder and a dead bandit. The villager was facing Seolana, two bandits had their back turned to her and apparently did not hear her coming. She punctured one through the nape and the villager kicked the other in the face, the unnatural angle done by his neck told her instantly they would not be interrogating him. The young man quickly looked at her and then invoked a god to heal Seolana’s wound. As he prayed, Seolana recognized the man. He was Leok, she knew him since they were infant but he very rarely talked to her and she never had a reason to talk with him. He came from the monastery where she was sent to learn about being balanced. As he finished healing Seolana, the monk briskly left to hunt for other bandits, in response Seolana shouted: “I owe you my life” and then resumed her run toward the next fire.
As she arrived at the next house to be lit she saw a large fur stack, a spear was firmly planted in the ground and a torch stuck on the building. Then it moved, the fur stack moved and began to growl. As it turned to face her, Seolana saw its snarling snout and evil eyes, it looked like a very big two legged dog with hands, a very ugly and very big dog. It stood 7 feet tall, held the torch in a hand and the spear in the other. As the young reanaarese woman drew her rapier, the furball threw the torch trough the window and swiftly tried to stab Seolana with its spear. In one fluid motion she finished drawing her sword and slashed the beast snout. This large movement allowed the beast to hit Seolana squarely in the shoulder. This was a new kind of pain, a whole new level, the bolt from earlier seamed like a kitten scratch now. She could die, she could be dead in a few seconds. She had to be in the now, as she parried the beasts next stab, she thrust her sword through the arm of the dog-man. A long howl of came out of the beats, and then a snarl accompanied by a flurry of stabs and jabs with the spear. Seolana could now see the monsters speed get slower. A calculated rapier trust. Brown blood spayed from the neck. The furball fell down. A few spasm from the body and the fight was finished. As Seolana grasped what kind of savage furball she had just slain, someone unseen shouted:
“Gnarrmok is dead! Gnarrmok is dead! Everyone flee for your lives!”.
In the chaos, shadows were running everywhere, some to the left, some to the right, some shadows became peasants as they ran past her.
Looking around, Seolana began calling for her parents while on her way to their home, no one had seen them recently. At the house, she could only realize that it was lost and her parents might have been in there, there was nothing to do… it probably had been the first lit on fire… A slight tug on her armor… someone small was behind her… The girl she saved announced to her that her parents left in the morning to gather mushrooms and berries in the forest to the west.
Seolana sought Leok to make sure he was alright, she finally found him organizing the villagers to save some of the houses that were burning. He took the time to heal her once more with the will of his god. To this, she responded:“Once again, I owe you my life”.
Seolana left for the forest trying to track her parents, running through the fields in the moonlight, she noticed a fresh set of tracks moving to the forest, bandit tracks. As she entered the forest the last rays of light left he sky. Stumbling around the forest, she navigated around as well as she could remember it. After 20 minutes of fumbling, an anguished scream filled the air, it was clearly Seolana’s mother. Running toward the source of the sound and then a barely visible light source, she was attacked repeatedly by branches to the face. As she got there she saw her mother standing next to her father crying, he was laying on the ground, shaking and coughing. Seol had been badly stabbed, blood was pouring from his stomach. Did her mother stab her father ? The situation became clear as she noticed the bandit standing behind her mother. In a deep voice he ordered:
“You. Remove all your weapons and throw them away or the old bitch gets it.”
Seolana executed, having fate in her fists if it came to it. The young woman could feel the eyes of the man on her, he then ordered what she expected. “Remove your armor”. She obediently started loosening her studded armor. Piece by piece, the studded leather fell to the ground. The bandit was growing restless, the time to act was coming soon. As Seolana removed her last equipment piece, the bandit threw Ise to the side and lunged toward the young woman. He was greeted by a swift kick to the face followed by a flurry of blows and finished stabbed by his own dagger before he could understand what was happening. The dead man was not yet falling to the ground and Seolana was already inspecting her fathers’ wound. From her basic knowledge, she knew she could not move him and he was loosing blood fast, she asked her mother to come help her. Ise did not respond, she was still on the ground weeping. Seolana would have to order her mother around. The warrior shouted to her mother: “COME HERE AND PUT PRESSURE ON THIS CLOTH”. Slowly the weeping widow moved toward her husband and put her weight on the once-white cloth. Only one person could save her father now… Leok.
She ran, ran faster than ever. Coming out of the woods, she could already some houses had been saved. When she entered the village, she dashed toward the center of the village to find the monk.
The young monk was tending to the injured and the dead near the village well. Seolana shouted “Come with me at once, you need to save my father!”. As Seolana stopped, she realized she was panting heavily.
Leok and Seolana built an emergency stretcher to bring back the ailing man to the village, with all his knowledge he could only do so much in the forest. So they slowly brought Seol at the “Ebb of Time” inn so Seolanas’ savior could attend to her fathers’ injury. The owner of the inn, a fat halfling named Barte Atea asked for a small compensation to let them use his common room as an operation room. At that moment Seolana discovered what was missing, her money pouch. Barte then simply offered to trade this for a future favor. They all came in and softly put the stretcher on the largest table of the room. Leok crafted healing pastes and applied them with bandages to the body of Seol. After 3 hours of work he, as a last ditch effort, he invoked his god to help the wounded man make it trough the night. Exhausted, Leok left for his room. Ise would not leave her husband, her daughter, too tired for anything, left her alone in the common room and went to sleep in her room.
Finding the cave
Dad… the first thing Seolana though when she woke up and as she ran toward the common room where her father was laying between life and death a few hours ago. Bursting in the common room, she saw her father sitting at the table with her mother softly crying and smiling at his side. Leok came in the room from the outside at the same time returning with news that 3 houses had been saved and 2 more had been partially saved from the 10 that were burned last night. Seol seemed more preoccupied by the homeless villagers than his own near-death experience. Seolana told Leok she owed him again and he simply answered: “This is the third time.” Seolana turned her attention to her parents; her mother seemed loss in her thoughts, her father was slowly eating prepared by the Barte.
As they walked toward Seolana’s initial objective, she learned that Leok was not only a monk, but also a cleric of the Old Man, the deity of War and Strategy. Seolana discussed with him of how a mild mannered man could come to worship a war deity.
The cave came into view, silence fell and they looked at the black entrance expectantly.
It was finally time to explore.
There is a follow up post named [Merc] Ruins Exploration – Part 2