Episode 9 – A Cry for Help

20th Storm (Embarking), 2510, in Kularni

Still puzzling over the mysterious and terrible death of Khasis the scribe, Drogo, Galadiir, Geoff and N’Dula took service as caravan guards for one or Orrando’s forays to Caldeia. Galadiir was hoping to gain access to the library in Caldeia. As Raven was still being hunted by the Kularni guards in connection with the death of Khasis, Spark stayed behind with her.

Orrando had not hired top-quality guards this time; Drogo inspected them and found that they were nothing more than hotbloods, armed with clubs and enthusiasm. They were not too enthusiastic on finding out that Drogo was their commander.

“We can’t wait to beat on some savages,” said one. “Do you think we’ll be attacked?” Another asked Geoff, “Is he any good? I would have thought that you would have been in charge, being like us, from the Empire.” Geoff merely answered “Yes, he is good and he’s in command.”

The caravan consisted of seven horse-drawn wagons. Drogo stationed the guards around it, then rode ahead on Deneris Stormborn, whilst Geoff rode his horse Taylor “the Swift”.

Storm Season was well underway and it rained heavily most days and nights, with only brief lulls at dawn and dusk. They had another attempt at curing N’Dula of his Khav addiction; he stuck at it over several days and managed to succeed!

It was on the evening of the fourth day that the event happened. They had erected the centre shelter in order to light a fire and get some hot food; the rain had slackened and the air was damp and humid. Suddenly, one of the guard’s water flasks exploded in a shower of steam, fragments and hot water. He was startled, but unhurt. Then, Drogo’s flask also exploded, as did the man’s across from him. Drogo jumped up, readying his club and looked for attackers. Then he noticed that the spilled water formed a pattern on the ground; Galadiir looked at it and realised it was a message: –

“Me Help”

Both of the guards had the same message. Realising that the flasks had exploded in a line; they worked out that whatever had done it was somewhere in the jungle to the south. A plan was formed; Drogo and the guards would continue west with the wagons whilst Geoff, Galadiir and N’Dula checked out what was to the south. They would then catch up with the caravan.

25th Storm (Embarking), 2510

The day dawned in a foggy haze as the sun came up, as they broke camp the clouds massed and soon the rain started. Geoff, Galadiir and N’Dula set off south, Geoff was riding Taylor. After a short time they reached the edge of the jungle; it was so thick that Geoff had to dismount and lead Taylor. The air was full of lush smells and colourful orchids grew in abundance on the dripping branches. Under the canopy they were more sheltered from the rain, Galadiir took time to gather some orchids and store them in his belt pouch. They pressed on, here and there they remarked upon low mounds of earth, although they did not stop to investigate. After a few hours they emerged into a clearing, in the centre of the clearing was a circular pool with an island in the centre. On the island was a blurred, indistinct figure; it raised a bow and shot an arrow at Galadiir. The arrow missed and stuck in a tree. There was a message tied to it; written in a straggly script in a blue ink.

“Help please me. Am being drunk am I. Too many drink me kill. Help come soon quick”

Looking back at the island, the figure had gone. Approaching the pool, it was obviously artificial, with the island being the top of a tower going down into the pool. The surface of the water roiled and fish could be glimpsed in the pool. Galadiir used “Rose’s Thorns” to take out a bird singing happily on a tree branch and dropped it in the pool. The subsequent reaction of the swarms of fish confirmed their suspicions – the fish were piranha! The tower was 18’ (3”) from the bank, too far to jump. Galadiir circled the pool, he found no way across, although he did stumble upon a skeleton in the undergrowth. The skull had a large hole in the top; he used his knowledge of medicine to determine that it was caused by something burrowing its way out.

Meanwhile, back on the other side of the pool, Geoff and N’Dula had been busy. Finding a tree with weak-looking roots, they hacked and used brute strength to topple it; forming a bridge. They quickly crossed to the tower roof. They found a bow and two arrows; both the arrows had the same message attached to them. A hatch and ladder led down into the tower. At the bottom was a wide ledge, overlooking a pit. Water streamed down the opposite wall of the pit from narrow slits in the walls. Looking into the pit, they saw a pool about 50’ below. Geoff rigged his rope and grappling hook and began climbing down the wall.

“N’Dula. Stay here and guard the way out”

N’Dula was not happy about this. “I swore to serve and protect you for rescuing me from that hell-bound caravan. I am not a weakling, to be left behind”. But Geoff had already gone down over the ledge.

At about 20’ down he found an opening in the wall and swung into it, then called Galadiir to come down. Galadiir was not so skilled at climbing and nearly fumbled the climb, but Geoff caught his belt and pulled him in. In a chamber, seated on a stone chair, was a man. He had straggly white hair and a greenish cast to his skin. He held an empty cup in his hands. He turned sad eyes towards them.

“You must help her”, he whispered wetly. “If you do not help, she will die”

“Who will die?” asked Galadiir. “Who is she?”

“The Mistress of Water, she is. I cannot say how to help her. Only she can tell you. But she will also fight you. She has no choice, it is her duty.”

He closed his eyes and water began dribbling out of his mouth onto the floor.

Galadiir’s curiosity was sparked by this. There was another doorway leading out of the chamber, he went to the door; Geoff elected to continue to climb down the rope.

Just above the surface of the pool was another ledge; Geoff went to swing towards it when from out of the pool erupted a huge snake form, its armoured scales glistening. Tri-partite jaws opened and it dove towards Geoff, still hanging off the rope…

Galadiir opened the door, to see the top of a spiral staircase. Flanking it were two humanoids, like the one he had spoken to. They opened their hands to reveal long claws and with a slobbering sound, lurched forward towards the Tricarnian…

* * * * * *

Meanwhile, on the road to Caldeia, the caravan had stopped for the mid-day meal break. The leader of the guards approached Drogo.

“We’ve been talking, me and the boys, and we don’t like being led by a savage. So, we’re taking over. Best get going back to savage-land, which is that way. Oh, and there’s five of us, and only one of you, plus your cow.”

To be continued

===============================================================================================

A Cry for Help – Part II

(An apology for the long delay between postings; due to a lot of RL intrusion we haven’t had a lot of RPG time on Mondays. This was the last session run back in September and I can’t find all of my notes. This is a summary of what happened.)

Drogo was attacked by all of the renegade guards; they used gang-up and various other tactics. Drogo still beat all of them bar one, who surrendered at the end of the fight. Drogo took one Wound in the entire fight (and Soaked several using his Loincloth Hero Edge.)

Back in the tower, Galadiir and Geoff fought their way down to the lowest level; a large room giving the appearance of being underwater. Warily avoiding a huge skeleton of a creature resembling a cross between a whale and an octopus; they were commanded to enter a room but not to look to their left else they lose their minds. A bubbling, watery female voice told them her story: – she was Manda, a water “nymph”. One day, when swimming in her pool, part of her was scooped up in a pail by a child from a nearby Savannah tribe. Now she is slowly being drunk; which is killing her. She urged Galadiir and Geoff to take two stones from the pool outside; when placed in a pail of water, the pail will never be empty of fresh water. This is her gift to the Savannah people in exchange for her body. Galadiir took the two stones from the pool and they climbed up out of the tower.

N’Dula and Taylor the Swift were gone.

“I think you upset him”, remarked Galadiir. “He did swear to protect you, and you wouldn’t let him fulfil his oath.”

Within a day they had caught up with the caravan and reached Caldeia two days later. They were paid for their services and went to find a market for some gear.

It was Geoff who first remarked on the WANTED posters at the street corners – there was a 250 Moon reward out for Drogo and Galadiir “for criminal activities, escape from custody and aiding in the release of slaves.”

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