Aside : Before I say anything else, I must mention that an artistic giant has left the building. RIP Leonard Cohen, your shoes will remain forever unfilled.
I need a moment.
And I’m not even kidding, this has affected me something fierce. Songs like the above, Everybody Knows, Famous Blue Raincoat, Tower of Song….
Alright, on with the show.
A little unnerved by the recent encounter, I return to the road, pondering with some confusion the words contained in the mysterious scroll.
Then I remember I’m on a road trip, and remind myself to smile and wave at all passing buses containing university students on spring break.
And then, the next best thing happens : we run into a caravan of travelling players, known as the “The Famous Asajir Players—Troubadours to the Imperial Courts of Magnamund”. Good luck fitting that on a billboard – that’s almost as bad a name as “The Shawshank Redemption”.
Aside : The name was bad – the movie, as we all know, is awesome.
I stop the players to seek information (since as we all know, actors are a great source of gossip) and some idiot charges out of a caravan, mistakes us for robbers and (while drawing his sword) pratfalls to the ground.
Cooler heads reassure Yesu (that, of course, being this nuff-nuff’s name) that we are in fact Sommlending rangers, and we learn that the troupe has journeyed from Clouesia in the east, and have recently played in Eshnar. They are are bound for Holmgard, obviously seeking a classier, more refined audience.
The players ask us to camp with them (in an unsubtle attempt to gain our protection for the night) and promise to entertain us with songs, acting, laughter and a life-or-death Tetris tournament.
I may have made up one of those.
Interestingly, one of the players in the performance that evening is not only using a real (!) sword, but it is unmistakably a sword of the Sommlending cavalry. Ignoring the fact that none of my fifty Sommlending rangers seem to also notice this fact, I use my skill of Tracking to track (heh) down the actor after the performance, following him to his caravan.
In an interesting development, the sword (which he gladly hands over to me, understandably scared of a Kai Journeyman) is clearly marked as the property of Captain D’Val, leader of the missing posse I have been sent to locate.
The actor claims that he bought the sword in Eshnar, from the Innkeeper of the ‘Pick and Shovel” tavern.
Let’s have another look at that map.
Eshnar is to the east, while the southern road leads directly to Ruanon. Interesting.
I keep the sword, while discarding the mace which I had previously been keeping as my ‘reserve’ weapon.
I accept a meal from the common stew, confident that I am not being poisoned (since you would have thought that my Sixth Sense would have kicked in), have a restful night and we take our collective leave of the actors in the morning.
And then I remember that I didn’t request a performance of Hamlet.
The next day passes on a fairly uneventful basis as the book confirms that we have entered the ‘Wildlands’ and that once again my Hunting skill will be useless with regard to seeking food that can replace Meals.
In the early evening my scouts locate a ruined temple, about a mile or so off the road. Clearly this is a preferable place to camp for the night.
Because anyone who’s read a fantasy novel knows that ruined temples of forgotten gods are perfectly safe, and that there’s no such thing as ghosts, spectres, wights, zombies, ghasts, ghouls or death knights.
In a development that startles absolutely no-one, the temple is not, in actual fact, deserted, and there are actually two men in black robes sheltering under the (largely intact) canopy of the temple.
However, after I approach them in the spirit of friendship, they identify themselves as peaceful members of a cult known as the ‘Redeemers’, dedicated to healing and the priestly arts.
In a piece of information that you know is too specific not to come up later, it is mentioned that their symbol is a wooden fish.
I also get some loot, as they hand me a potion of Holy Water (or, as it is better known on earth, Water) which I stow away in my backpack.
Hey, in an alternate world where gods, helghast and Sixth Sense demonstrably exist, you can’t be too careful.
I eat one of my Meals and turn in for the night.
Base Stats : CS : 17, E : 20, GC 24
Modified Stats : CS : 29, E : 26
Weapons : Sommerswerd (+8 CS), Captain D’Val’s Sword
Backpack : 2 Meals, 2 Laumspur potions (+4E), Holy Water
Special Items : Map, Crystal Star, Shield (+2 CS), Sommerswerd, Padded Waistcoat (+2 E), Chainmail Waistcoat (+4 E) Blue Stone Triangle Pendant, Diamond, Ornate Silver Key, Scroll with Verse (para 84 of tCoD)
Kai Rank : Journeyman
Kai Disciplines : Camouflage, Animal Kinship, Tracking, Hunting, Sixth Sense, Healing, Mind Over Matter, Mindblast (+2CS)
Final Paragraph : 78