Dusk was falling swiftly when a lone rider wound their way down a twisting backwoods road towards a long, squat Inn with worn log walls and a thatched roof. A low palisade surrounded the structure, the gate of which was open and welcoming, as was the small trail of smoke rising from the building’s chimney. A faded sign at the palisade’s gate identified the place as the Weeping Willow Inn, aptly named as the namesake trees lined the roadside leading to its entrance, as well as about the palisade’s exterior. The soft gurgling of a nearby brook, as well as the multitude of chirping insects, lent the locale a sleepy facade and was a pleasing image to the weary traveller.
Kormak and Jaryn stood in silence, side by side, amidst the carnage in Myrna’s Grove. Whatever tears were to be shed had already fallen and now reigned a stoic quiet, broken only by the chirping of crickets who seemed content to resume their song now that the chaos of the battle had subsided.
With the breaking of the dawn, a rider came thundering up the Coastway upon a white steed whose coat was marred by a hefty splattering of mud. The rider himself wore blue finery as well as a silver breastplate upon which had been etched a rearing griffon. A silver helm he wore as well, the visor of which he lifted upon reaching those guardsmen who stood watch at the gatehouse. Not long after, Commander Adrian Durham was roused from his cot within the southern tower and within minutes he was striding forth, his helm held in the crook of his arm, to meet with the rider just within the cities’ courtyard.
Seated astride Shadowflight, just within the eaves of the Wood of Sharp Teeth, Lystra surveyed the open grasslands that stretched to the east of the woodlands. Unlike the lands that comprised the majority of the coastline to the west that were rocky and oft-broken by small ravines and dells, here the land was, for the most part, flat and covered in a healthy growth of plains grasses and small shrubbery. This was the stomping ground of the Elturel Hellriders, she knew, and where she hoped to spot the hunting party with whom Duke Belt rode.
Rendrick awoke slowly from his slumber. Having had little rest since he and his companions had first entered Cloakwood, a fact they had likewise noticed, it had been insisted upon that Keira and Tiberius would split the watch that night, allowing the Ranger a much-needed full nights sleep. Though he had been against their proposition at first, he had relented when even Katarina joined in on their behalf. Waking now, grogginess fogging his mind and a stiffness clinging to his limbs, he knew that one full night's sleep had not been nearly enough.
Within the tunnelled sanctum of the Talosite priests, far beneath their House of Rolling Thunder, the Sellsword Kharne stood patiently within a circular chamber, a large contingent of Storm’s Rising Mercenaries, bereft of their normal company colors, as well as the hulking Barbarian, Dorn, arrayed behind him.
With a merry jaunt, the elven ranger, known to most only as Dew, entered the townstead of Tallow just as the sun-kissed the western horizon, sending fountains of citrus and strawberry across the sky. Clothed from head to toe in tight fitted, emerald attire one would customarily associate with her ilk, she made a drastic contrast to the townsfolk who yet trundled down the town’s main, and only, avenue, clothed as they were in drab shades of grey, brown, or burgundy. Despite this distinction, she was met with naught but hearty greetings at her passing, marking the familiarity with which the town held her, and she them, for she returned each hail with an equally exuberant one of her own.
Lystra awoke in the predawn hours to the ominous rumbling of thunder and the tapping of rain upon the window of her modest accommodations at the Friendly Arm Inn. Sitting up, she allowed the blanket to fall from her naked breasts, stretching her stiff muscles and cursing her body so unused to sleeping with a mattress beneath her.
Guiding their mounts at a plodding pace, Lystra and her companions traveled in silence northward along the Coastway. All three were sullen and miserable, the constant rain sapping them of any cheer or drive.
Night had fully engulfed the land when the Percin caravan hauled itself into the small roadside dell Rendrick had ear-marked for their first night’s camp. The ranger, Keira, and Tiberius led the way into the sheltered space, guarded on all sides by high outcroppings of stone and roofed by the canopies of great oaks that had taken root there. All three were exhausted, their fronts covered in mud, evidence of their recent labors of dislodging the latest wagon wheel.