Voting is close, and I’ve posted the results. Thanks again!
We’re taking it a bit easy this week. If you need to catch up, go check out the Vote Your Adventure link. All the previous entries are linked there. I’ll be closing the vote on the evening of Friday, October 26, 2012.
Eleven days of travel passed uneventfully. Bardulf’s traveling companions knew what to watch for and what to avoid in the mountains. This let them sidestep unwanted encounters with the local wildlife. They picked their way through the mountains using animal trails. The men spent the days crafting arrows, and the evenings working on new bows and spears. They were able to kill a few deer along the way, so there was no lack of food.
The sun disappeared below the horizon, and Bardulf sat beside the fire rubbing the last of the healing ointment on his left arm. Malic told him it was for burns, but neglected to say that it worked for other injuries as well. Bardulf was glad he used it to help with his burns and discovered this. His ribs were now better, and his arm was much further along than it should have been. In another week, or so, he would be able to use a bow again.
“We leave the women tomorrow. Head north to village.” Burnum sat down across the fire from Bardulf. He and the chief, for that was what Burnum really was to these people, had not talked much the last few days. Bardulf felt uncomfortable doing so.
It started with a simple question. “Burnum, what is fratinal?”
Burnum couldn’t explain with his limited language, so they began working on language while they traveled. Burnum could now speak two tongues with some comfort, and Bardulf could now understand some of the language of the Yul’aric.
That was their name for themselves, and it meant Trusted Guardians. As Burnum told the story, thousands of years ago they had been entrusted with guarding the secrets of a lost empire. By the way Burnum spoke, Bardulf wondered if they were descendats of the empire.
After five days of teaching and talking, Burnum was able to answer the question. Bardulf wished he hadn’t been able to.
“Fratinal be debt.” Burnum said on the evening of that fifth day. He gestured to the others as he spoke. “We owe you life. You saved us. I dedicated myself to you to pay debt.”
“Dedicated yourself? Like a servant?” Bardulf knew the moment he asked what Burnum really meant.
“No, more like slave. But it something I choose. Not forced” Bardulf felt his stomach drop. He hadn’t wanted this. Burnum looked him in the eyes. “You not understand, I see. Understand, it is honor for me.”
Bardulf had tried to argue, but it was worthless. Burnum would not back down. Since that conversation, they had not spoken much.
“You never did tell me where the women were going, Burnum. Is it another village?” The Yul’aric were a group of tribes. There were villages hidden through the mountains, all guarding different things. According to Burnum, only his village had been found. Bardulf hadn’t been able to get an answer to why the other villages hadn’t tried to protect Burnum’s.
“Yes. They will also send message to others. We attack on full moon. We hope other villages send warriors to fight.”
Bardulf looked up at the moon. It was a small sliver of light right now. It had been pitch black a few days ago. He guessed that it would be another ten days before the full moon. “We don’t have much time to get there, do we?”
Burnum shook his head. “We will make it.”
The group traveled together the next morning until they reached a small valley. Tearful goodbyes were said and everyone got hugs from the women, even Bardulf.
After the women and their guards left, Burnum turned to Bardulf. “You choose where we go.” He pointed to the valley. “This take us along bottom of mountains. Flatter, but akhtol hunt in valleys here.” That was one creature Burnum hadn’t been able to explain yet.
He pointed up to the mountains. “Or we travel along ridges. We see more around us, but we seen also.”
While he grumbled about Burnum making him choose a way when he knows the land better, Bardulf weighed the possibilities.
Inventory: hatchet, flint & steel, traveling cloak, heart necklace, 80 coins in a pouch
Health: broken left arm
Bardulf makes the choice to lead everyone through:
A) The valleys of the mountains
B) Along the ridges of the mountains
Yay for healing! Much less scared now. A bow is a *lot* of force, so an arm that’ll be fine with bow use in a week is doing nicely. Not that we have a bow in any case, but…
On to the question of the day. My first thought about the ridges was, “but would that point the enemy at other hidden villages and put various Yul’aric at risk?” But I have to think that Burnum isn’t stupid, and wouldn’t have given that as a possibility if it were a risk. So if the risk is that the Bad Guys have an idea where there’s a batch of warriors in the mountains… it doesn’t sound too bad to me. Facing them in the mountains would go well for the natives, and we’re likely to gain more information. So I like (B), the ridges.
As a side note to my fellow readers, take a moment to review installment 2 and compare to this one. “They discovered people living out in the wilds, and found some amazing artifacts”, and “Trusted Guardians … thousands of years ago they had been entrusted with guarding the secrets of a lost empire”, hmm? I think we might be on to something here. Bardulf should look into how far he is from where the party might have ended up, and start asking after the party when talking to his new friends. Might just find something of note…
I’d feel more comfortable knowing what an akhtol is before choosing to travel through the valleys. But I don’t think Burnum would have suggested that route if it was too dangerous. Even if they can be seen on the ridges, they also have an advantage of seeing more around them. A difficult decision for me, but I’m choosing B) Along the ridges of the mountains.
I vote A). The band of warriors needs stealth to be on their side so that they are in a good position to mount a sneak attack. With a large group of well-seasoned fighters, they could easily take down whatever a “akhtol” is.