We made out way to the wagon, which had of course been pilfered. Finally, we camped. I healed Feverborne. Our supplies in the wagon now gone along with one of the mules, we decided to head south to the closest town for supplies. After more rest and prayers and healing along the way, we were all almost as healthy as we were going to get. We had a disturbing day during the trip huddled in my tent under both tarps, waiting out acid rain. I prayed during the whole thing, because it wasn’t natural, but I had a niggling feeling Zuul was testing me, and I shouldn’t have cowered away from it.
As we were approaching the town, we met a band of obvious bandits, looking like they got the worse end of whatever fight they were in. Barbarian boy scampered off into the brush to ambush them if needed. There were 30 of them, and we were seriously outnumbered. We shouldn’t survive a ghoul only to be killed by a bunch of criminals. Nobody wanted to fight them. Well, the spear did. It doesn’t count. Given the haunted look in the kid’s eyes lately, the spear needs to be burned.
The bandit leader struck me as a blowhard who would be susceptible to my charms. He asked if we had anything to patch up his men with. I batted my eyelashes, and said I could heal two men, but what would I get out of it? He offered coin, and in the interest of getting out of this with our skins intact, I made a bargain with him. He called two men forward, one with an eye gouged out, and the other with an arm hanging uselessly. I prayed to Zuul, and was able to partially heal both of them. It satisfied the leader, who paid me. He was much taken with me, and also offered me a job with them, which I politely declined behind gritted teeth. Scum. If Zuul would grant me the power, I’d have fried them all. Since I had used my day’s prayer’s on the bandits, not my companions, I split the bandits’ money with them.
Closer to town, we came across a home in the middle of twisted and corrupted trees. This time I managed to drag both males away. Not going near that. Nope. Nothing we need there. Not even a little bit curious what corrupted those trees, because it’s bound to be much, much worse than a ghoul. Turns out, the bandits actually had the balls to attack the town. And those peasants bit back and did a good deal of damage. I’m impressed with the peasants. They’re still illiterate and patronizing, but they’ve got spine. They did not have much in the way of supplies, though. We stayed overnight in the stables of the tavern, then headed further south to the next town.
Feverborne oddly refused to enter the town, and stayed outside. The kid came in with me, but slept outside the inn in the stable. I’m not dumb, I got a room. I blocked the doorhandle with the back of the chair, because paranoid habits die hard, but I very much enjoyed a private room and a real bed. I dreamed: I was running from a fog that was chasing me. There were more of those corrupted trees. I turned and saw a tower with flames bursting from the top. Then the fog caught me, and I woke up. I swear we heard something about a tower. I can’t remember where now. Maybe it was a mage creating all the giant bugs and other monsters? It if was his tower, I suppose its too much to ask that he got caught in the fire.
While we were in town, we saw wanted posters with a description that sounded awfully like Stria. I seem to recall Feverborne had accompanied Stria on one of her vendettas this way a while back. Guess the assassin wasn’t as sneaky as she thought. Perhaps it’s better that Feverborne stayed away. I bought supplies and brought them out to where Feverborne was waiting. He was muttering about Orphan Annie, but wouldn’t explain. We started towards the Caves of Chaos. In the middle of the trip, I woke up to find something warm tucked up against me. A really big snake. I have nothing against snakes, but they don’t belong cuddled up next to me. I couldn’t figure out how to move without potentially getting bit, and I couldn’t see behind me to tell if it was poisonous. I was embarrassed, but had to call out for one of my companions to help. Barbarian boy scooped up the snake and let it go somewhere that wasn’t my tent. I’m not going to live that one down, I bet.
The goddamned rain ate my tarp. So much for stealing wilderness survival tricks from the kid. Not sure I want to let him stand watch alone with his new spear, either. The one-sided conversations he keeps having with it are disturbing. Sure, he’s arguing not to kill us. But the fact that he has to argue that isn’t reassuring.
We encountered a band of people pretending to be bandits and Ygnas healed them in return for coin, which she shared with the rest of us. Kind of her. I don’t see why people keep complaining about Oscar, priests seem handy to have around.
I stayed out of Kirkleston, and intend to keep doing so. A little bird told me they have wanted posters up with a description of Stria on them, and I don’t want their to be any confusion or mix-ups. Better to avoid trouble. Besides, that shit took our money and ran, he deserved it.
I spent the night in a barn on an outlying farm, overpaying the farmer for the privilege. I was joined in the middle of the night by a small orphan girl, taller than a toddler, with bright red hair under the dirt and mess. She called herself Annie once I convinced her I wasn’t going to hurt her or throw her out of the barn. What the hell, it’s not like it’s my barn anyway. I did toss her a few of my older rations, since they were getting close to the end of their useful life and we were resupplying anyway. She ate them all at once, must have been very hungry. Poor thing. She was gone in the morning, though. I talked to the farmer and told him what – or rather, who – was sneaking into his barn at night. Paid a little extra on her behalf and suggested maybe the farmer could talk to her and give her food and shelter in return for labor. Farms always need labor, even unskilled labor from kids. I’ll probably never know if anything comes of that.
After we left town, Ygnas woke up suddenly with a small something curled up against her leg. I assumed it was Little Orphan Annie following me. Turns out it was a snake. The kid and I saved miss nature priestess from her unexpected experience with nature and moved on.