Westerbros

Embers: Chapter 3

"Pilgrims"

Night falls on the Fangwood Forest while the researching party of Azan, priest of Oghma, and the former Citadel students settle into the old tower ruins looking to finally rest. With Sansa and Dan returning from the Fade, introductions are made between Enedir and Caelus as well before watches are set and the groups find themselves quickly asleep. In the morning, Azan's party departs after a short breakfast leaving the escaped students with Caelus, Doronael, and their captive soldier Jack. In the morning, a low mist rolls into the camp and the air around the party grows cold.

From the distance, a humanoid figure draws into the ruins appearing as an older human male garbed in green, wearing leathers and furs. The man introduces himself as Sarynthrax, and bids the group to depart the woods along with the blade they had retrieved. After the group questions the man and his intentions, they are left with the choice to take the weapon and leave, or be slain where they stand. They decide on the former, and depart the ruins with the odd man in tow who claims to be the guardian of the forest itself. The group is guided to an old animal trail in the west where they part ways, and the party eventually emerges at a tree line.

In the distance, Caelus is able to hear the distant cries of someone called for help as though they are being assaulted. He scouts forward from the rest of the group, discovering a group of armed soldiers assailing a young commoner in a clearing near the main roads. Unfortunately, he is discovered and a fight breaks out between the former Citadel students and the armed soldiers, whom appear to be under the banner of a lord loyal to the Crown. Garn and Dan take the front during the melee and hold off the numerous soldiers, the fight quickly turning into a slaughter as the magically reinforced party slay several of the soldiers. Garn decapitates one of the soldiers, and Sansa's manipulation of emotions on another causes a soldier to find the sight hilarious, reeling in laughter. Caelus' spiritual weapon skewers another soldier, and the two others are knocked unconscious. After the battle, interrogation ensues, leading to the revelation that an officer by the name of Luther has occupied the village of Neatler and all villagers have been questioned on suspicion of treason. With the conflict in Londe growing larger, the small locale seems to be another location where rebellion is being weeded out. Sansa insists that the group kill one of their captives, as he has little worth, and Dan complies as he slices the throat of one of the remaining soldiers.

Garn, Sansa, David, Dan, and Caelus with Doronael, Jack, the rescued villager and their captive in tow attempt to reach Neatler without being seen. Leaving the tag-a-longs on the edge of town, the others are noticed approaching and questioned on their background, destination, and identities. Attempting to pass themselves off as traveling pilgrims moving towards the coast, Caelus is able to add some authenticity to their guise, granting them passage in the village without much suspicion. Making their way to a nearby Inn, they strike a deal with the owner who happens to be the father of the young villager they had found in the wilderness. As compensation for their assistance in finding the son, the owner offers free lodging to the party, who make their way to their rooms to discuss their plans. Realizing they have left the boy with a scribe and two Crown soldiers who may or may not sit still, the group leaves Dan in the town while the others attempt to return to the forest edge.

Sansa's persuasive nature allows the "pilgrims" to convince Luther to leave the town momentarily and find one of their companions. Garn, David, Sansa, and Caelus locate the others and begin to threaten Jack with his various forms of torture and maiming to follow their plan to make it into the town without blowing their own cover. However, they realize that the rescued villager had attempted to make his way into the village alone, though he had not been seen by Doronael for quite some time. As the group considers cutting off Jack's tongue and burying him up to his neck in the ground, they eventually come to a decision to make their way back to the Inn by bringing Jack, Doronael, and their captive by using Jack as a scapegoat. Finding Luther again and attempting to converse quickly goes downhill as their story breaks down, with Sansa eventually deciding to charm him directly. While the soldiers are admittedly confused, they part the way allowing the group to make their way into the inn, leaving both the unconscious soldier and Jack in the hands of the occupying force. Doronael loses the group in the hustle, while the Innkeeper runs off to find the guard as his son is still missing after all this time and commotion. The former Citadel students make it to the edge of the village, and dart off as quickly as possible down the main road to make as much ground as possible before Sansa's charm dissipates…

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