Casdegere poles the boat away from Kith’takharos and then angles northeast, following the shore. It is late afternoon, and the heat of the day wanes. You soon realize that you cannot reach your destination by nightfall, and must either camp or continue in the dark. Since none of you see well in the darkness, the latter course seems dangerous.
The village sounds have faded, leaving only the constant background buzzing of insects, faint splashes of water, and the rustle of things moving through the brush on shore.
Rikard Castleberry: Hey guys, it’s getting dark, and since I don’t see well with no light, how about we pull over and camp?
Bart: Yes that seems wise.
In a couple of hours, Casdegere needs a break.
Casdegere Constantine hands the pole to Bart. Then goes and sits down near the Mistress.
Mistress Bianca: I see no problem with making camp on shore.
Casdegere Constantine wipes the sweat off of his brow and points out along the shore.
Casdegere Constantine: There, that’s a good place to land.
Bart takes over and poles the boat into darkness. There are many likely camping spots. You just need to pick one.
Bart: It should provide some defense.
Casdegere Constantine (smirks): Well that’s why we have the mighty Rikard.
Mistress Bianca harrumphs.
Bart jumps out to pull the boat to shore.
Mistress Bianca: Sorry, caught me off guard.
Rikard Castleberry gives Casdegere a grin and hops out to help drag the boat to shore.
The ground is damp and gives a little under your boots.
Casdegere Constantine leans back and grabs up his backpack, shield and spear.
The boat is fairly light, and you can pull it up. You have found a small clear area. All around you the foliage presses close.
Casdegere Constantine jumps out when the boat hits ground.
Mistress Bianca grabs the hem of her cloak and lifts it up so it won’t get wet as she exits the boat, driving her staff into the soggy ground for balance.
Rikard Castleberry drags the boat onto shore with Bart.
Rikard Castleberry: I’ll take the first watch.
Casdegere Constantine: And I’ll take the last.
Mistress Bianca: I would prefer to watch when the light is better, perhaps early dawn?
Bart: I can take the witching hour.
As darkness falls, there’s really not much to do. Most of you probably bed down soon after eating, unless you need to discuss something.
Casdegere Constantine looks over at Bart.
Casdegere Constantine: Bart…are you a tracker?
Rikard Castleberry finds a nice spot to settle in for first shift.
Bart: Yes. Why?
Casdegere Constantine: Well I am curious as to what has been happening at this Stonefall.
Mistress Bianca turns her cloak inside out so that the green fabric is facing outward instead of the white.
Casdegere Constantine: Could you tell if someone or something had been near or around it lately?
Bart: I should have some idea.
Bart: Do we set a fire for the night?
Casdegere Constantine takes out a bedroll and blanket and hands it to Bianca.
It is difficult to find dry wood.
Casdegere Constantine: Not unless you want to sleep with bugs.
Casdegere Constantine: I mean…many more bugs.
Mistress Bianca: Thank you Mister Constantine.
Rikard Castleberry: Ok, for now I’m going to find a tree to lean up against that gives a view of the camp area and a good view of the surrounding area.
Mistress Bianca takes the bedding.
Rikard Castleberry looks around for such a tree.
Casdegere Constantine: Well I’m going to stay in the boat.
Rikard finds a convenient tree that gives him a view of the camp, boat, and nearby water.
Casdegere Constantine: Give me a tap when I’m up.
Mistress Bianca: Be careful Mister Castleberry, they say there are mosquitoes that can carry off a grown man.
Rikard Castleberry: Ah, reminds me of home.
Casdegere Constantine shakes his head as he puts his gear in the boat and tries to get comfortable.
The stars are coming out now. You expect the moon to be but a sliver. It will be a dark night.
Rikard Castleberry commences the exciting task of hanging around, and watching.
Mistress Bianca settles down and sleeps.
Casdegere Constantine munches on some rations as he looks up at the dark sky.
Bart walks about 25’ inland to find a dry patch to rest on.
After a while, everyone but Rikard breathes easy in sleep. Many unfamiliar noises cause Rikard to jump, but no one sees this, and nothing attacks. It is time to wake Bart.
Rikard Castleberry walks over to Bart, and speaks quietly to him that it is turn to take watch.
Bart wakes without a sound but nods his head to Rikard as he takes his place.
Rikard Castleberry: There have been a few noises I’m unfamiliar with, but nothing aggressive.
Rikard Castleberry takes Bart’s already warmed sleeping spot.
Bart whispers “mama, go find some food” to the tree above him.
After about an hour, Bart suddenly hears a voice from offshore, somewhere on the water.
A Steady Voice: So, what keeps you up this night? What things do you fret in the dark of this night? You are far from the safety of grog, women, or comfort here.
Bart, you can’t see whatever is speaking. It is far enough away to be in darkness.
Bart heads into the water quietly towards the sound.
A Steady Voice: I am guessing about now you are looking for me while tapping a hard toe into one of your companions? Tell me you are not so trusting as to go it alone?
Bart looks for the voice with just his eyes above the waterline.
A Steady Voice: Have you checked for the skiff yet? Is it still there?
Bart ignores the question but lets the sound lead his eyes towards the voice.
The voice is loud and smooth, like it is in control. Bart drifts from shore, but hears the voice no more, and sees no one.
Bart picks up a pebble from the swamp floor and tosses it into the skiff.
The pebble lands in the skiff and rattles around.
Bart watches for the voice and Cas’s head.
Casdegere Constantine sits up slightly and looks around. He rubs sleep from his eyes.
Bart throws another pebble at Cas this time.
Casdegere Constantine: Ouch.
Casdegere Constantine turns to see where the pebble came from.
Bart spits water up – then puts a finger in front of his mouth when noticed.
Casdegere Constantine: Looks out over the water…Bart?
Casdegere sees Bart in the water a short way from shore—at least you think it is Bart.
Bart points towards the voice.
Casdegere Constantine: Bart…what are you doing?
Casdegere Constantine looks out over water.
Bart swims underwater 15’ towards the voice before quietly surfacing.
Casdegere Constantine looks around the camp, making sure everyone is ok.
Rikard Castleberry lightly snores.
Casdegere Constantine: Quietly as possible he grabs up his shield and spear and slides out of the boat.
Bart surfaces and looks around the area where he heard the voice. He sees nothing of interest, and it has not spoken again. Casdegere finds his other companions safe.
Casdegere Constantine sees that there does not appear to be danger and moves back toward the boat and shore.
There is no answer.
Bart dives back into the water, swimming 10’ to the side.
Bart sees Casdegere silhouetted on the shore. But nothing else except the mosquitoes buzzing around his head when he surfaces.
Casdegere Constantine: Bart…a bit late for a bath eh?
Bart: Cleanliness is next to godliness…and we have company.
Casdegere Constantine looks out over the water.
Bart dives again.
Casdegere Constantine: Besides the bugs…where?
Bart touches the bottom less than 10’ below.
Bart swims towards some cover up the shore before coming up for air.
Casdegere Constantine wonders what’s going on but decides to wait next to the boat.
Bart surfaces west of camp. Casdegere has no idea where he is. Bart reaches the shore and slips out of the water, quiet as a swamp snake.
Casdegere Constantine (whispers): Knew he was a swamp rat.
Bart makes his way to Casdegere without speaking.
Casdegere Constantine: Well? What are you doing sir?
Casdegere Constantine looks annoyed at Bart.
Bart keeps a low profile.
Bart: We have company, sir. At least one. Not threatening but hard to find so far.
Casdegere Constantine: You left your post sir. I know nothing of any threat save that.
Bart: Only after wakening you.
Casdegere Constantine: Before you woke me, something could have done in one of our companions.
Casdegere Constantine: While you were out in the water for god knows what.
Casdegere Constantine looks him over.
Bart: IF they were real quick, and invisible, and a ghost, and a very good ventriloquist.
Casdegere Constantine: You look wet and weary; I’ll take the watch for a bit.
Bart: If you wish.
Bart settles down to sleep.
Bart says to the swamp. “Good Night Sir, though you may join our camp if you wish.”
Casdegere Constantine shakes his head as Bart moves away.
Casdegere Constantine: Moving so that he can still see his companions, he sets his shield down beside the boat and takes a seat on the ground at the bow.
Casdegere hears a voice from the foliage to his east.
A Steady Voice: Another takes post. Will this one listen to the wind as it speaks, or is it already moving without thinking?
Casdegere Constantine stands up, takes up his shield and covers himself with it.
Casdegere Constantine: Who are you? Why are you here?
Mistress Bianca dreams of running through the swamp under a warm sun without her mask. THE HORROR!
Rikard Castleberry dreams about Grog and Women.
A drunkard with a raging erection chases Bianca in her dreams.
A Steady Voice: I am here because you are here. More important to you perhaps is the why you are here. What do you hope to accomplish should the sun ever rise for you again?
Casdegere Constantine: Whomever you are, we are just passing through, leave us be or not, but if not, show yourself.
Casdegere Constantine readies himself and looks around to make sure no one is trying to sneak up on him.
A Steady Voice: You want control. I understand that, really I do.
Casdegere Constantine: Speak your name or be gone, I tire of your company such as it is.
A Steady Voice: Do you feel in control now? Are the others still breathing?
Bart hears Casdegere talking to someone.
Casdegere Constantine: Go bother the bugs, perhaps they will listen to your ranting.
Casdegere Constantine glances over to make sure his companions are still near.
They are. Bart is waking up.
Bart listens to the conversation.
The voice does not speak again.
Casdegere Constantine, after a time, moves back over toward the bow and takes a seat, silently cursing the annoying bugger.
Casdegere Constantine continues on his watch, getting up every so often to stretch and look around, making sure no one is about.
Bart holds a thumb up sign to Cas, grins widely and goes back to sleep.
Casdegere Constantine waves him off.
After a while Casdegere wakes Bianca. The rest of the night passes uneventfully. At dawn, fog blankets the land and water.
Mistress Bianca stokes up a small fire at dawn and prepares some food waiting for the first signs of waking from the group.
Rikard Castleberry stands up and stretches groggily.
Bart wakes with the dawn stretching.
Bart: Good Morning.
Rikard Castleberry: Ugh, is it morning already?
Mistress Bianca tucks white strands of hair back under her hood as she looks up from the small fire.
Casdegere Constantine wakes slowly, his head aching due to the fact that he has not drank in quite a while.
Mistress Bianca: Mister Constantine…you snore.
Bart: The sun says it is, Dear Rikard.
Casdegere Constantine lifts himself up and sniffs under his arms.
Casdegere Constantine: Well I smell to, a double threat.
Casdegere Constantine gives her a weary grin.
Casdegere Constantine: The fog will work against us upon the water.
Rikard Castleberry: Ah so, do we have anything cookin?
Bart: Sir Voice, Are you to accompany us today? oh and the fog will leave us.
Mistress Bianca nods to Rikard.
Casdegere Constantine, hearing that, throws a small, box toward Bianca. It lands near her feet, covered in a thin cloth.
Casdegere Constantine: Just rations.
Casdegere Constantine lifts a ration out of his backpack and opens it up.
Casdegere Constantine: it appears that someone has taken interest to us being out here.
Bart: Little Mother, Have you found some breakfast?
Rikard Castleberry: Is she good looking?
Casdegere Constantine: He would not give is name nor show himself.
Mistress Bianca looks to Bart and then to Casdegere, ” Oh? Long night eh?”
Rikard Castleberry: Ah well, I’m not going to worry about someone that isn’t bothering me and I can’t see.
Bart: A slight wounding of my pride that he stayed unseen but besides that I slept well.
Casdegere Constantine takes a long swig of water from a skin.
Casdegere Constantine nods back to her, “And he wouldn’t show himself.”
Mistress Bianca: Well I suppose if that is all that there is to worry about. Being followed and watched as well as spoke to in the night…
Mistress Bianca shrugs.
Casdegere Constantine: He had an arrogant, and somewhat threatening tone.
Casdegere Constantine: Nevertheless, we should be on guard from here on out.
Mistress Bianca: Hmmm.
Bart looks around the tree for freshly killed fish or animals.
Bart: He was more polite with me.
Bart finds none.
Casdegere Constantine sets the rest of his ration back into the backpack and the skin as well.
Casdegere Constantine stands up and wipes his hands upon his pants.
Mistress Bianca leans over to Rikard and whispers into his ear very quietly, “Arrogant and threatening?”
Casdegere Constantine: Well, daylight is wastin’. Bart frowns up at the greedy and well-fed cat.
Rikard Castleberry whispers back to Bianca, “Yeah it sounds familiar too, but I didn’t encounter this ‘mysterious person’.”
Mistress Bianca uses her staff to push dirt over the fire.
Rikard Castleberry: Well then, shall we be off?
Mistress Bianca: Yes.
Casdegere Constantine inspects the boat.
Bart blurs the tracks in the camp and leaves a small bit of rations for the voice.
You head southeast along the shore. Soon the fog burns off, giving way to broiling heat. Just after midday you reach the place Bart knows as Stonefall Point, a small collection of half-tumbled pinkish columns.
Bart: These ruins are very old.
Casdegere Constantine poles the boat toward the columns.
Bart: No people I know of claim them.
Casdegere Constantine: What are they?
Rikard Castleberry: Can we claim them?
Mistress Bianca: This place looks very…well plain. I guess I was expecting something grander.
Bart: Not unless you are much older then you look. Shall we go ashore?
Rikard Castleberry: Yeah, let’s explore.
Casdegere Constantine: Well, we are here, a small look wont hurt.
Mistress Bianca: Absolutely, lets stretch our legs for a bit.
Casdegere Constantine poles the boat to shore.
There is a fairly clear area on shore just beyond the pillars and a good place to pull up the boat.
Bart jumps out of the boat and pulls it to the clearing.
Bianca and Casdegere see some large object near your boat, covered by foliage.
Mistress Bianca points to the something with her staff. “What is that?”
Casdegere Constantine points over to some brush, “Something is over there”
Bart recognizes it as a boat someone tried to hide. A boat about the size of yours.
Bart: It looks to be a boat.
Bart goes to examine the boat.
Casdegere Constantine makes sure our boat is safely out of the water.
The boat was well hidden. There are poles neatly stowed away. Mold is starting to grow on it. It’s been here at least a couple of weeks.
Rikard Castleberry: Hey what are you guys looking at?
Casdegere Constantine: A boat.
Mistress Bianca looks around.
Rikard Castleberry: Where?
Casdegere Constantine examines the boat himself.
Mistress Bianca: Mister Bart, how long has it been here?
Bart: It looks like it has been here a while.
Bart looks closer, examining the mold.
Bart: About two weeks.
Rikard Castleberry: Oh, my gosh, where did that boat come from? I swear I didn’t see it just a minute ago.
Casdegere Constantine: Mistress, what do you make of this?
Mistress Bianca: Can it still be used?
Casdegere Constantine moves aside to let her take a look.
Casdegere Constantine points to an outline on the prow of a small wagon or cart.
Mistress Bianca: That is my mark…well our mark. The Transit Guild.
Casdegere Constantine: About two weeks eh?
Mistress Bianca: Really my uncle’s, I am not truly a member per se.
Casdegere Constantine: Then this must be their boat.
Bart: Maybe a little bit more.
Mistress Bianca: It would be about the correct time frame.
Rikard yelps as a large lizard suddenly lunges at him from behind a bush.
Casdegere Constantine moves up to engage the beastie and stabs with his spear.
The spear strikes true and rocks the beast, but it does not go down.
Rikard Castleberry attacks with his spear.
Rikard must still be startled, because he misses badly.
Bart climbs upon the ruins to get a better look at the lizard.
The lizard snaps at Casdegere, angered. Casdegere dances back, avoiding the teeth.
Mistress Bianca balls her fists near her waist. With an abrupt upward motion, she raises her arms and the ground before her bucks up and down.
The lizard rides out the roiling earth.
Rikard Castleberry attacks again.
The spear bites into the lizards shoulder. But the lizard is tough and the spear does not pierce the skin.
The Lizard bites at Casdegere again, gobbets of saliva dripping from its jaws. Again the lizard fails to connect.
Casdegere Constantine grunts and with another pull of his spear, he jabs at the lizard again.
The spear connects again! Once more Casdegere breaches the skin and draws blood, but the lizard shakes it off.
Bart: “These things hunt in groups!”
Bart runs in front of Bianca screaming like a mad man.
A second lizard emerges from the brush near Bianca. It snaps its jaws and moves forward… But its attention is now on Bart.
Rikard Castleberry again attacks the lizard in front of him.
Rikard gets frustrated as he misses again.
Casdegere Constantine wonders if Rikard forgot to sharpen that thing.
Mistress Bianca removes her mask and shouts “It is time that you know true fear in your heart! I am the one that haunts your dreams! I am Bianca! Remember my name and tell the devil who sent you!”
The second lizard starts but holds its ground. Now it leaps at Bianca. The teeth barely miss her leg.
The other lizard attacks Casdegere, who laughs and dodges.
Casdegere Constantine seizes his moment and thrusts forward.
Casdegere feels a kinship with Rikard as he misses.
Rikard Castleberry frowns.
Bart: Little Fang, Leave us.
Rikard Castleberry continues his laughable assault on the lizard, colorfully yet stylishly missing.
The second lizard looks at Bart and attacks. Bart dodges. The beast is obviously getting frustrated.
Mistress Bianca: The brass fist shaped head of her staff glows with a chartreuse hue. An ethereal fist hurls toward its victim with an ephemeral trail of glitter.
The spell blasts the lizard. But it does not look hurt.
Casdegere Constantine respects this beast for its bountiful resilience. He goes in for another stab
Casdegere’s spear strikes true but scrapes off the tough hide. The lizard snaps back at Casdegere. Off balance from Casdegere’s blow, it misses.
Bart: Little Fang—leave this battle.
Rikard’s spear finds a soft spot behind the lizard’s head, sinking into the back, running through the body, and transfixing it to the ground. The spear is stuck into the ground. The lizard is dead.
Rikard Castleberry: Take that!
Bart: Little Fang, You cannot win this. Leave.
Bart thinks he may have gotten through. The second lizard turns and flees into the brush.
Casdegere Constantine relaxes his grip on his spear as he sees the last one take off.
Bart: At least we shall have dinner.
Rikard Castleberry goes to the water to wash off the insides off his spear.
Casdegere Constantine speaks in an accusing tone to Bart, “What the heck was that!?”
Bart: What was what?
Mistress Bianca: I think it was a lizard.
Rikard Castleberry: I also think it was a lizard.
Mistress Bianca: Was…
Casdegere Constantine: Why don’t you break out some dice and play a game with it next time?
Looks like there are some thick flank steaks.
Mistress Bianca: Well if you think that will work.
Casdegere Constantine: You have weapons, use them by god.
Mistress Bianca: But as it seems, his way worked just as well.
Mistress Bianca: Amazing.
Rikard Castleberry takes out the filet knife and gets to work.
Bart: Why? The animal was hungry and it would not fight to the death. It just needed to be reminded that it could not win.
Bart: The blood from your battle will attract real monsters.
Rikard Castleberry: Oh man there was a lot of blood too. Did you see that?
Casdegere Constantine: Well I seriously hope you will do more then try to reason with a real monster.
Bart: I am fleet of foot.
Rikard Castleberry: That right there is an old family technique, designed to lull the opponent off guard, to leave them open for a killing strike.
Rikard Castleberry: By making it think I was not a threat, I got a clean hit.
Casdegere Constantine: What was, that one hit you scored amongst the hail of misses?
Mistress Bianca: Mister Constantine, not all of us share your desire to kill everything we see.
Rikard Castleberry: The spear wasn’t quite accustomed to the grip on these fancy new gloves. Takes time to break ‘em in, you understand.
Casdegere Constantine: It is my desire to complete this mission, not hurt some reptile’s feelings.
Mistress Bianca: Naturally Mister Castleberry.
Mistress Bianca snickers.
Rikard Castleberry: They are, after all, quite nice gloves.
Casdegere Constantine: But, since it was trying to eat me…
Mistress Bianca: Correction, it was trying to eat Bart and I…not you.
Rikard Castleberry looks for something to carry all this fine lizard meat.
Bart: It was your negative energy that brought that upon you. Like draws to like.
Casdegere Constantine gives up and heads back toward the boat.
Rikard Castleberry starts to look around.
Casdegere Constantine: I think the sight seeing is over, shall we continue south?
Rikard Castleberry: Oh hey there’s some material here I think I can use as a temporary container.
Bart: If the boat is here, should we not look on foot?
Rikard Castleberry takes some canvas from the hidden boat and brings it back to the lizard corpse.
Mistress Bianca: Yes, on foot may be the best path, Bart can you find any signs of travel here besides from the lizards?
Casdegere Constantine: Well, let me think about that…No, we stay on the boat until we get close to the temple.
Bart says to Rik, “We can smoke the meat..”
Rikard Castleberry: I’m not sure how to do that, wanna show me?
Bart: Sure, see those plants with the red flowers; can you get me some of those?
Casdegere Constantine: Gentlemen.
Bart starts to make a fire pit.
Mistress Bianca: Bart?
Rikard Castleberry grabs some of the plants and brings them back to Bart.
Mistress Bianca: Do you see any signs of travel at all?
Casdegere Constantine: The tracks would be 3 weeks old.
Rikard Castleberry: Do tracks keep at that length of time?
Casdegere Constantine: not in a swamp I’d wager.
Mistress Bianca: Thank you Bart, but my has your voice changed.
Rikard Castleberry: Amazing, isn’t it! Just that fast!
Bart: It depends on the tracks themselves, scraping on a tree will be here for example.
Mistress Bianca: If we were to go traipsing through a jungle, wouldn’t we cut our way through the foliage?
Casdegere Constantine: There is no need, we have a boat.
Casdegere Constantine: We can go along the shore.
Rikard Castleberry brings the plants to Bart.
Bart sets up a crude smoker showing Rikard how to do it and points to a tree.
Bart: That tree over there has a marking on it that is about the same age as the boat.
Bart: Don’t recognize the sign though.
Mistress Bianca: Show me please.
Rikard Castleberry smokes the lizard meat while everyone else is looking at supposed “tracks”. He doesn’t see anything!
Bart shows Mistress Bianca.
Bart: Looks like some kind of animal head.
Bianca, the marking looks like it was burned into the trunk. Some sort of stylized animal head.
Casdegere Constantine shakes his head and waits by the boat.
Mistress Bianca: Bart what do you know of the lizard men?
Bart: I’d guess it comes from your Uncle’s Ring. But we can get on the boat instead.
Casdegere Constantine: What did you say?
Mistress Bianca: You mean Casdegere’s uncle.
Casdegere Constantine moves up to them.
Rikard Castleberry goes to clean off his Fillet Knife of Exceptional Quality.
Casdegere, you see a stylized wolf’s head branded onto a tree trunk. It matches your Uncle’s ring.
Casdegere Constantine looks at the animal head.
Mistress Bianca: You’re right we should take the boat. Rikard will you help me push it into the water?