Before todays entry I HAVE to share this amazing bit of 3d Art done by Space Wolf - a fellow FnH'er who has been giving me awesome feedback every day. She has immortalised my main five in 3d absolutely beautifully.
-Gift- For Phyrehawk by ~space-wolf on deviantART
I love it to bits! Especially Gregory and Grundown (but I have a massive soft spot for Dwarves anyway.) SpaceWolf also does a lot of other AWESOME similar 3d art which you should check out while you're over there - or she has a blog at Wolfish Written where she catalogues her own forays into the world of the creative.
On with todays part!
Gregory spoke first. "How can we help Brother Minchin?" Aylix leaned forward across the table, obviously interested as well as Robin, while the three other men drew back slightly.
"Please, Bill." the Traldan said with a smile.
"You might have guessed by now that the Kryganites could never have gotten in just by besieging the city, even outnumbering the local forces as they did, it should have taken them a lot longer to get in."
"You suspect they had help?" Aylix offered, suspecting he knew the answer already.
Bill nodded. "For months now we've been trying to root out followers of the Ladies dark brother. We know they're in the city, time and time again they've been seen, or evidence of their work has shown us they're around. Each time the Seraklanites having made it away - sometimes by mere minutes.... but earlier today we managed to capture one. We managed to get a bit of information out of him, but not a great deal..."
Gregory frowned. "... You're not asking what I think you're asking are you?"
Bill looked down at his hands, avoiding their eyes. "All I'm asking is that you question him. See if you can get more answers out of him than we're managing to."
"Don't jump to the worst possible way of doing it, Gregory." Aylix said calmly, standing expectantly."If you don't want to come in, you don't have to, but I'd at least like to see if I know the scum sucker who has let the enemy into our home."
Gregory chewed the inside of his cheek for a second before standing himself. "Okay. Lead on Brother."
Lahsaa looked steadily more and more uneasy as Leanna outlined the plan to get back to the ritual site and do the ritual that she had on the scroll.
"What is the ritual?" he asked as she started to explain that he would have to keep a look out while she did the ritual.
An apologetic look flashed over her face. "I'm sorry - I... I can't tell you. It's a mages guild secret... I'd probably get in trouble just having the thing, I don't want to get you in trouble with the guild as well..."
Lahsaa opened his mouth to argue, but Leanna interrupted him. "Look... I know I'm asking a lot of you and I am so grateful of you even listening to me, never mind offering to actually try and and help me with it but... More than any other part - I need you to trust me on this." she reach out and took one of his hands in hers. "Please."
It took him half a minute to answer, but his other hand met hers across the table, and he nodded to her. "Okay..." he said hesitantly.
"Thanks Nicola, I'll bare that in mind." Tobias returned suddenly, and Lahsaa jerked his hands away from Leanna's as if they had been burned. "Good news Miss Leanna, I've managed to get you a room and board sorted for the next few nights while everything picks up. Hopefully we won't need more than that, but you know how slow adventurers can be at times." he clapped his son hard on the shoulder. "Go and help your mother with the bags, she knows where our lodgings are."
Lahsaa hesitated for a second, meeting Leanna's eyes apologetically.
"Get to it lad!"
Lahsaa hurried away without a backward glance and Tobias shook his head as he watched him go. "One day he'll do something useful with himself. He wasn't doing anything to upset you or embarrass himself was he?" he glanced at Leanna before looking back at Lahsaa's retreating back.
"Oh, no sir. He's been most helpful." a grin played on her lips. "Wonderfully useful in face."
Grundown reluctantly sheathed his weapons as the Longstorian closed the gap between the tree line and the pair. "Not my fault the bloody forest seems designed to impede any kind of travel through it." he muttered sullenly.
Eliana shook her head, exasperated, and bent with difficulty to retrieve her crutch.
"You are injured." Aston stated, prompting Grundown to roll his eyes, muttering something about observant dogs.
Eliana glared at the dwarf, before nodding. "Yes... I think I may need it looking at by a Vleyborian. The Kryganites they were using these blades with serrated edges - it felt like my leg was being torn off rather than just cut."
"We can do nothing for it I'm afraid, but we can show you a way out of the woods. Any enemy of the Kryganites is a friend of ours."
"You are most kind, and have OUR..." Eliana emphasised the word, glaring at Grundown again, "... deepest gratitude. We need to get back to the town and warn our friends as soon as possible."
Aston nodded, picking a direction seemingly at random started to lead the pair out. "The Kryganites were quiet for months before today, it seems they have been martialing their strength in preparation. Not even we dared get in their way as they spread their filth and corruption through our wood. They will be stopped... and their corpses shall feed new life in the forest."
"Do you know of anything of the rituals they're doing in the woods, lad?" Grundown called to their guide.
Aston shook his head. "We know not, but we will not stand idly by and do nothing while it happens. We shall scout the woods and find their purpose."
"If there is anything we can do to help." Eliana insisted. "We have no desire to see the forest fall to corruption either."
Aston stopped suddenly and turned to the pair. "I shall send word to you when we know. For now..." he stepped to the side as they caught up with him to reveal still more refugees pouring into the camps surrounding Netherthong. "The human town of Netherthong." his voice seemingly came from the trees themselves, and when the pair looked he was gone.
"Now... to find the gold flecks in the sand..." Grundown sighed as they joined the line of refugees, hearts sinking at the prospect of finding their two friends in the hundreds present.
"So in addition to everything else we have to deal with... we might have a Vampire on the loose as well?" Addy said some time later when she and Crow had found a slightly more deserted place to sit. Addy had broken out a bottle of mead and the two of them passed it back and forth slowly.
Crow shook his head. "I thought the Vampires that had taken him had been destroyed but..." he frowned. "If one of them escaped, I only have at most a couple of days to find his crypt before he rises and wreaks havoc here."
"So... how do we go about tracking a Vampire?"
Something finally clicked in Crow's mind. "Wait... we?"
"Tralda you're slow. I'm not going to let you do this alone, am I?" Addy sighed. "You're going to need all the luck you can get, and who else would you want with you for that, eh?" she winked at him, taking a long slug of the bottle.
"But... it'll be dangerous! Have you ever fought a Vampire before?" he took a drink, smaller than hers before passing the bottle back.
She shrugged. "I'd never dismissed a wraith before today. I'm a fast learner." more of the mead disappeared. "Besides, I'll have you looking out for me." she winked, "And what if it has backup?"
Crow looked like he was going to argue and Addy sighed, moving quickly to place one of her slender fingers against his lips. "Listen, mister, I'm old enough to make decisions for myself. These are my family, friends and neighbours too and if I can help protect them, I want to do it Gods damn it. Now just shut up and kiss me."
Crow's eyes widened, unable to look anywhere but hers. "Wha-what?"
"I said kiss me, so I can stop talking and so my mind doesn't come to its senses about going to hunt a Vampire." she urged, her hand going to the back of his head and pulling it forward to kiss him, hard.
Everything was silent for several minutes, apart from tiny gasps of breath and lips smacking before a shout went up for Addy from across the field. "Of all the timings..." Addy groaned, pulling away from Crow, sitting up from where they had ended up lying in the grass. "I've got to go before the doctor comes looking for me." she kissed him again quickly. "Come and find me tomorrow handsome."
She stood and fled in the direction of the camp that had been set up for the wounded, leaving Crow lying in the grass staring up at the stars, confused but - despite everything - a wide smile on his face.