APoF 10: The Pain of Healing
Stubborn as he is, almost to the point of self-destruction, despite the condition that he is currently in, Zephyros insists on returning to IldLuwan under his own power. The rest of the party, reluctant but left with no choice, forge on ahead, leaving Zeph with a small escort of Veshka. Zeph forces himself to walk through the pain, but eventually passes out from exhaustion, his entourage taking it upon themselves to move him along while he is unconscious.
Zeph recognizes this when he awakens, but makes no move to acknowledge it, nor to antagonize his minders. The party arrives in IldLuwan, but ends up having to wait for Zeph who returns a few days later. In the meantime, they approach whatever leaders there are in the town and begin to spread the word about their little group, the Wardens of the Wayward. They explain the truth of the situation, that the raiders had been forced into attacking the town by a tyrannical green dragon that the party slayed deep within the forests. Though they realize that it will take time for the rift between the town and the Veshka to be healed, they leave the audience on a hopeful note.
The day after Zeph's return to IldLuwan, Steve approaches him and offers him help in dealing with whatever it is that he needs help with. Steve understands that Zeph doesn't need to talk, so he doesn't offer to talk. Instead, he offers a cleansing through combat, of sorts. The two of them walk down to the river under the pretense of a fishing trip, whereupon once Zeph wades into the river and sits in the water by the riverbank, Steve sits on him. Able to breathe underwater through the blessing of his god Renata, however, Zeph is unperturbed.
But Steve continually antagonizes Zeph, challenging him to a fight that Zeph eventually agrees to. Joining battle with his friend, Steve summons a fire elemental and says that Zeph will have to fight the creature in order to prove that he is not broken, that he is every bit the warrior that he presents himself to be. Zeph rises to the challenge, but when a voice speaks in his mind, a voice that he somehow knows is the sword that they retrieved from Nalaa of the Bright Trees's body, for the first time he abandons the enchanted maul that has represented his goddess to him so far and takes up arms against the elemental.
Zeph and the elemental come to blows, but Zeph takes the brunt of the damage. His injuries compound and he even gets dangerously close to passing out, at which point Steve heals him and uses one of the lines that Nalaa used while torturing Zeph. Hearing the phrase sparks the barbarian's rage, and he turns his attention fully on Steve, ignoring the fire elemental and dashing for his friend. He mercilessly attacks Steve, swinging the blade and inadvertently activating its powers.
The assault is enough to break Steve's concentration on the spell binding the fire elemental to his will, and the beast goes berserk. But as a result, Steve has to fight both the fire elemental and Zeph at the same time, at least until Zeph realizes what he's doing, comes to his senses, and tries to fend off the creature of primal flame. The only problem is that both Steve and Zeph are already quite hurt by the fight. Steve almost laughs at the irony of it all, at least until Viper shows herself and shoots the fire elemental, distracting it just enough for the two friends to finish it off.
She berates Steve for summoning it so close to the settlement, even if it was by the river, and she also berates him for not telling her that they had gone off to fight a green dragon, of all things. After that, she leaves the two to do whatever it is that they have to do and makes her way back to the town. Zeph and Steve return to their inn, where they have a meal, after which, Zeph goes up to his room and passes out.
The Barge to IldDamenar
The next day, the party is up bright and early to catch the next barge heading downstream. Conversation is relatively subdued among the companions on the way down the river, with Dr. Roth
leaving the cabin and wandering the deck looking for interesting people as a result. He finds a man, who appears to be dressed in rather fine clothing, and strikes up a conversation. He discovers that the man is a cloth merchant who has been touring the northern region to try and see if he could break into the market there.
The man, Ristin, who claims to be from the southron realm of Alissia, states that the trip has been a big disappointment, mentioning that with the guild, the Needle and Thread
that runs the cloth trade in the north, he can't even begin to hope to establish his business there. He expresses his regret, but says that he's hopeful to return to his native Alissia soon enough, wanting to get back to managing his business down in the south, and looking forward to seeking possibilities for expansion elsewhere.
Seeing as he has an expert on the matter of textiles on hand, Dr. Roth asks Ristin about the fabric that he managed to retrieve from the dwarvenhold. He shows the man the bolt of fabric, which shimmers prettily in the daylight, and Ristin responds with awe, stating that there is no mistaking the cloth, that it is goldweave, a legendary fabric whose making has long since been lost to the mists of time. He says that it's incredibly valuable, and although Dr. Roth offers a partnership with the merchant, Ristin has to respectfully refuse, stating that with the supply of gold in the south being the way it is, the fabric has always been more of a northern product.
However, he says that should Dr. Roth ever come down to Alissia, that he should seek out Ristin, and that maybe then they could talk other sorts of business. Dr. Roth graciously accepts the offer and, as a token of good will, gives the merchant a square inch sample of the goldweave that he has on hand.
The next day, on their approach to IldDamenar
, as the barge is coming upon the most turbulent part of the Ruosh Ambiel
, the party is attacked by what appear to be strange half-lizard half-fish creatures. They jump on deck and make strange noises and threatening gestures at the passengers, but between the adventurers on board and the crew of the barge, the attackers are easily disposed of. A few minutes after the corpses of the last few of the things are tossed overboard, another pair jump up on deck, but the captain prevents the party from attacking those two, stating that they're friendly.
On to Thirë Kelmar
Upon arriving at IldDamenar, the group discovers that the city has a small nearby settlement of the fishpeople, which they learn are called Wyrlecc
. The barge captain says that they simply showed up one day, but the city's first experience with the fishpeople's kind was quite negative as they attacked the fish, and the fishermen, making life next to the river quite difficult. The community that they're tolerating, however, showed up at some point, the leader willing to enter an accord with the humans, exchanging protection for keeping the waters of the river clear of their more feral fellows.
The party finds this strange, and although they ponder staying around for a short while, they realize that it is probably for the best if they get on with their mission and head to Thirë Kelmar
, so they make the crossing with the first available ferry and get on their way to the Dominion city. Upon arriving, in the middle of the night, the group has a brief conversation with the guards, who make sure that the party isn't up to something nefarious before letting them into the city.
Tired from the days of journeying, the group makes its way through the narrow but winding streets of Thirë Kelmar, eventually arriving at an inn where they buy rooms without any fanfare and retire for the evening.