The Chronicles of 'Team B' - Chapter 7 - One Path Ends, The Other Continues
Before the rest of the group departs from Vladykino, Bjorg kills and roasts the second pig brought by Lokan, while Kesha takes the day to thoroughly search the village. He recalls that there was a wise woman with a somewhat unwholesome reputation that lived on the outskirts, and locates a few edibles, as well as a couple of crocks containing potions: one with a silver coin on the bottom - probably a holy water or healing potion, and another that's about a quarter full, containing a foul-smelling liquid with transmutative properties. Kesha creates a harness for the two crocks, to make sure they don't break along the way. The following day, once it becomes clear that the weather will not improve, and once what remains of the pig is salvaged (Bjorg is no better a cook than Alden), Kesha and his big friend set out in pursuit of the four companions who left earlier in the day. Since they are on foot, they press on after dark, but find it tough going in the dense woods, and tire quickly. The following day, they run into the same scruffy characters their companions met earlier, but, not wishing to fall behind, they have the briefest of chats, and learn only that their companions proceeded south. The next day, the pair locate a giant turnip in the woods. Not seeing anyone around, Bjorg pulls it out of the ground, and brings it along, but Kesha worries that the turnip's owner will come after them. At night, he uses magic to raise the earth in an attempt to protect them from any trouble, as well as from the rain. At the end of the third day, the two have still not caught up with their companions, but they do find the Kochmak campsite, left roughly 10 days ago. They proceed deeper into the woods, but have grown tired of maintaining their pace - even Bjorg finds the weight he is carrying oppressive. The rain has made the forest floor into a mud pit, and it is very slow going. The region seems devoid of people, though Kesha does see some lights off in the distance this night and the next. The second time around, he decides to investigate, and discovers a homestead in the midst of the woods. He knocks on the gate until someone answers. The man speaks an unfamiliar tongue, and Kesha attempts to communicate with him by creating an image of his companions on a piece of cowhide. The man is frightened, and runs off, but soon, an armed Kochmak rider appears from inside a building in the compound. Kesha attempts to charm the man, unsuccessfully, and then is fortunate to be able to flee and hide, until the Kochmak ceases his pursuit. After dawn breaks, the rider, along with another, appears with two others near Bjorg and Kesha's campsite. After Bjorg rouses himself, they seem to be a bit taken aback, but one rider fires warning shots at a tree, and orders the travelers to leave (in the Noriki tongue). Left with no aid and no information, and beset by more bad weather, the two travelers make the best guess they can about which direction to head. There have been no signs of the Kochmak raiding party or of their companions for several days. Another Kochmak rider passes them, apparently wanting to know about the settlement they passed, so they send him on his way. The pig has been eaten, but there is still the turnip which should last for a while. Bjorg also succeeds in killing a deer in the old-fashioned way (rock to the head). The pair roast it on the fire, while trying to warm up from the rain (Kesha uses his magic toward this endeavor as well). The deer, however, proves the pair's downfall. On the third day after leaving the Kochmak campsite, they attract a pack of wolves. The wolves follow them for a while, trying to snatch the roasted deer carcass from the volot. Four of the wolves come at the volot, and though he swats at a couple with his oslop, he does not manage to bring any down. One of the wolves bites him hard on the foot, and the big man falls, dropping his prey. A wolf snatches it, and takes off. Kesha, after healing the big man, uses magic to give chase, but his sling, and his attempts to shock the wolves prove ineffective - the road has taken its toll. Bjorg is having a hard time finding his feet after being healed, and Kesha has moved a ways away while chasing the pack. Two wolves confront the chud, and the lead wolf delivers a vicious bite to his abdomen, as the world fades to black...
A free supper with kumis
Most of the companions reach Udyn