Boar's End

The Scouting Party

The basic structure of the wagon was constructed rather quickly. Spring and Broken worked furiously to re-imbue the wagon with animation magic to get the spells and protections back in place. After that was complete, they pieced back together the magical library and lab and also the golem mechanical workshop. Once the workshop is complete, Broken begins to rebuild and repair his golems with singular focus. Ember asks for help building a fire pit outside the wagon, and summons a sentinel of hearthstone, a being of flame, to help watch and protect the wagon. Afterwards Ember starts reconsecrating the chapel, lighting the hearth and spending time in prayer. Tough bark holds up in the magic lab and begins researching a new spell to protect against scrying while away from the wagon.

Meander, Quicksilver, and Blossom watch the jungle and the tall grasses that lead up pass. There is not much to see. The jungle grows very dense and they can only see a short way in. The grasses grow taller than a man and blow slightly in the wind, masking any obvious movement below. Even perched on top of the wagon reveals very little.

During the course of the day, there is much debate over the paths to take. A thick jungle spans the width of the valley up the rocky sides. The fallen city is on the other side of the valley, across the jungle and a rapid stream. Spring proposes try take cover in the jungle and slowly work through to the other side. Blossom, Ember and Meander want to skirt the jungle along the rocky mountainside. They bring up pros and cons to both routes, but don’t feel good about either.

Late in the day, as the sun approaches one of the mountain peaks, Ember’s prayers are interrupted with a voice, “I didn’t want to sound the trumpet. I detected an undead life force in the vicinity, but then it disappeared.”
After a short hesitation, Ember thought back, “Do you know what type?”
“No. I don’t think it was very powerful.”
“Where did it go?”
“It disappeared.”
“Thank you. Keep watch.”

Ember gets up from the chapel. “The sentinel just reported an undead outside the wagon. It is gone now.”
The group just stares at him blankly.
“Don’t everyone talk at once.”
“A what?” Meander asks confusedly.
“An undead life force outside.” After a short pause, Ember adds, “It is not there now though.”
“Where?”
Ember hesitates, “He didn’t specify.” Ember stares off into space and thinks to the sentinel, “Where at specifically? Use the orientation of where you are at and the wagon.”
“Well, it is not on the other side of wagon from me. It is off in the woods.”

Meander blurts out, “Hey Spring! Can you see if there were any traces of magic? Popped in, Popped out. Through magic.” Then he turns back, “Hey Ember. Do you know of any kind of undead that could pop in and pop out?”
“Shadow. Hmmm, but they also walk around.” Ember thinks over this for a minute. “I don’t know of any kinds of undead that can teleport naturally. It isn’t something that necromancy does well. There are spirits that can materialize from other places. This is more like a dimensional shift than a teleport. They could come through the ether from the land of the dead. But they usually have to be called to do that. A haunting spirit is one that is already on this side and cannot go back and forth. There are also magical undead that might be able to cast it as a spell.”

Spring stares outside for a few moments, scanning from side to side. “I don’t see anything with just my glasses.”
Meander asks, “Do you have any kind of magical tracking?”
“No.”
“Can you whip up a spell to do that?”
“No. That wouldn’t be controlling magic.”
“Can I cast a spell and you control it to make it do that?”
Spring sighs, “No. It doesn’t work that way. I can’t make it do something other than what it already is designed to do.”

Meander turns back to Ember, “What do we know about how this guardian spirit sees? Could it pop in and out with magic?”
Ember says, “It is the same life spark sense that I already have. He is a physical manifestation of my god.”

Meander scratches his head, obviously confused by the explanation, “Would it have left tracks?”
“It would if it was a physical undead.”
“Who can track besides Tough Bark?”
Blossom steps forward, “I can.”
Meander adds, “Great! I’ll go with you.”

Blossom starts scanning the area for tracks. Meander is scanning the area for anything else. They have little trouble finding the footprints once they find a dead body slumped in the tall grasses. It looks like a zombified orc in a mixture of leather and plate armor. It was carrying a nasty spear and metal shield. It also has a giant hole going straight down from the top of it’s metal helm.

Meander looks over the corpse, puzzled what could have killed the zombie. There are no weapons nearby except the spear which could have made the wound. Studying the corpse, it has a lot of scratches and bruises that look like they have not healed, but the grievous head wound is the one real wound.

Meander spouts out, “Well, it looks dead. Do you think it was a zombie?”
Blossom huffs, “Well, this thing hasn’t been sitting here very long. You’d see,” and she gesture her arms about, “well the animals would have gotten to it. It looks like it has been dead for a couple of weeks.”
“Well, looks like a zombie. And the best way to kill those things is a head shot. But if something killed it, where is the weapon? I mean, it stood up and something struck it down. Where did it go?”
“It didn’t stand up here, it walked here. There are heavy metal boot marks leading down to this spot. It came down from the pass.”
“So it came to here, and then died again.”
“I’m pretty sure it hasn’t been here very long.”
“Well, then how old are the prints?”
“Fresh looking?” Blossom points out the prints and Meander begins to study them carelessly.
“Well, let’s go back and tell Ember.”

Meander and Blossom enter the wagon and approach Ember in the small chapel.
Meander blunders, “Well, so, there’s a dead body out there. Of a zombie. A double dead body of a zombie. And it looks like it just tromped down from the mountains and keeled over. Which doesn’t make any sense.”
Ember sighs, “Where there any more?”
“Tell him about the hole is its head,” Blossom adds.
“Oh yeah. That also doesn’t make any sense.”
“Just one?” Ember asks.
“Yeah! Straight down through from the top, as if it was a zombie on a skewer.”
“No. Was there just one zombie.”
“Oh yeah. Just the one. Otherwise it looks clear.”
“It was smited.” Blossom says.
“So did your guardian friend see anything else?”
“That was all he reported.”
“Cause I don’t know what killed the zombie.” Meander pauses and then looks at Spring. “Hey, can you come look to see if there are magical traces on the dead zombie?” Spring visibly recoils but Meander continues, “Someone might have animated it for some purpose. Go find these people and then keel over and die.”
Ember huffs, “Ok, let go look at it again.”
Spring reluctantly squeaks, “OK fine. I’ll go look too.”
Broken pipes up, “Hey, I’ll go too.”
Meander still seems confused. “But to what end! What’s the purpose?”
Broken looks at Meander, seemingly insulted, “I can actually do things to dead bodies since they were once animated.”
Meander says, “No – what’s the purpose of animating it to come here and die? We still have that cage with the head that answered questions. Does it work per head? We didn’t try another head. We can put another head in there.”
“Oh my god.”

They dismiss Meander’s questions, calm Springs fears, and troop out through the tall grasses to the dead zombie.

Ember looks at the corpse and it seems obvious to him that someone has killed an orc zombie. The lack of wounds leads him to believe that it was raised instead of being turned by some disease spreading undead. The scratches and bruises are likely because the body doesn’t heal once raised as a zombie. It is also immune to pain so it just walks through briars and falls over rocks and keeps going. The zombie wouldn’t have been able to be raised with a head wound like that. Also, it was stabbed from underneath the jaw and the weapon exited out the top.

Ember stands up and stares out into the tall grasses. He has his back to the camp. Something definitely killed it right here and is likely nearby. Nothing seems out of the ordinary. He pulls up his chin and cocks his head to the side, still taking in the whole scene, looking for any movement in the grass. He tilts his head to the other side, and scans the grassy field.

Ember whispers to the others, who are staring at him oddly. “This was killed here. It was raised, came here and was killed here.” He thinks to the guardian, “You saw no other creatures here.”
“No. I didn’t see it approach either. I saw a flash of Undeath and then it disappeared. I’m also having difficulty seeing the group of you out there.” That flash of Undeath could have been the creatures death.

Ember whispers forcefully, “Step back.” Everyone steps back a few steps, giving the crazy priest plenty of room.
Ember pulls out SkyBreaker and furiously hacks at the dead zombie. Huffing wildly, Ember beheads and quarters the zombie, and scatters the parts. He then spits on the corpse and wipes off the blade. He then turns and walks calmly back to the wagon.

Blossom launches her bird into the air, it scans the area, but also doesn’t see any movement.

Once everyone goes back to the wagon, Ember whispers to the group, “Keep a lookout.” Then relaying a thought to the sentinel, “Keep a close lookout. I am expecting company.” Meander, Quicksilver and Blossom go back up top, while the others go back to work.

Around dusk, after the chapel is complete, Stone Man is put back together, and ToughBark has finished researching his spell and moved to the top with Blossom, the guardian blows his trumpet, creating a loud, clear, and resounding warning. Ember hears, “Warning, something is moving into the camp.” He starts charging up to the top of the wagon.

Emerging from the grasses is an incredibly large lizard, hissing at the trumpeting from the tower guardian. It is carrying a spear and a shield. The shield looks like it was made of reeds and wood.
Quicksilver gasps reverently, “It’s a dragon man!”
Ember thinks to the guardian, “Stop the alarm.”
The guardian responds, “I can’t tell what it is. It is neither alive nor dead.”
Ember says questioning aloud, “Neither alive nor dead?”

Meander asks, “What should we do?”
Broken comes up, sees the lizard man and says, “Shoot them.”
Ember throws his hand up, “No!”
ToughBark asks, “Weren’t we supposed to try to make friends?”
Spring says, “Yes, the lizard men were picked on by the necromancers.”
Blossom gasps, “Oh! So that’s why you were chopping up the body.”

Ember begins praying to Hearthstone. Spring becomes very interested in what Ember is casting and then says, “Ahh nice.”

The lizard man has his tail thrown back behind him to a point and is hunched over in a feral crouch. He clutches his shield and spear, poised at the ready. The guardian ceases the blaring trumpeting warning, and while the lizard man still faces the guardian, he cuts his eyes to watch the group. He shifts his position slightly so that his shield protects him from both the guardian and the group at the wagon.

Ember turns to the lizard man and walks to the wagon’s edge. He cocks his head to the right and raises his chin, “Well met, Hunter of Dead.”

The lizard man flinches and points to the guardian. Then it hisses back to Ember in a harsh hissing guttural language. The words come across to Ember as normal, “Put out the fire.”

“Are we in danger?”
“Yes. Put out the fire.”
Ember mentally says to the guardian, “Your watch s over for the time being. I will summon you later in a time of need.” Images of the guardian saluting form in Embers head and then he disappears. The fire then quiets down to a small camp fire that has consumed most of its fuel. The lizard man looks at the fire, and then hisses back to Ember, “No! Put out the fire.” He points up to the column of smoke rising up over the trees.
“If you permit, we will do so.” Ember turns to the group, “We need to put out the fire.”

Meander says, “I got this.” He begins to climb down the wagon. Broken scoffs at Meander and begins animating. The fire winks out and the smoke dissipates without a trace. “That’s right Meander, I saved your ass. If you had thrown water on it, it would have smoked even more.” Meander mutters, “Pff. I was going to throw dirt on it.”

The lizard man turns back to Ember, “Who taught you the true speak?”
“My god.”
“And what god is this?”
“Hearthstone. An elder.”
The lizard man pauses for a few moments, thinking. Then he points to one of the rocks by the fire, “Hearth Stone?”
“God of protection of the house. Protector of the people. Defender. God of life bringing fire.”
Meander exclaims quietly, “Oh lord, don’t get him started.”

The lizard man hisses knowingly, “Ahhh fire. Will you talk to Elder.”
“I would be honored.”

The lizard man relaxes and makes a little bird call. Two more lizard men step out of the brush. No one had noticed their presence.
“May I step down?” Ember asks the first.
“Yes.”

While Ember begins to climb down to talk to the Elder, Meander turns to Broken, “Hey, could you make a smokeless fire?”
“I guess.”
“Neat! That might be nice.”

Ember climbed down the wagon and approached the lizard men. The three lizard men stepped to the side, taking a defensive stance. A large creature stepped out of the tall grasses. The body was shaped like a giant swarthy lizard which curved upwards into a man-like torso, arms and head.

“Ohh crazy!” cried Meander as he scrambled for the side of the wagon. “Wait for me Ember. I’m coming down with you. I’m not planning on saying anything, but I’m coming down.” Ember rolled his eyes and stops, waiting for the creatures to speak.

The big one speaks more eloquently to Embers ears, however still in hisses and guttural sounds, “Well met, Speaker with Fire.”
“That is almost my name. I go by the name of Ember.”
“Feel free to bring back your watch spirit to keep yourself safe. It was alerting your location of your camp to the city that we were most worried about.”
Ember nods, “Hmmm, yes. The city.”
“The Dark Ones do not come out often, but if they did, they would see it.”
“You, um,” Ember pauses to ponder his words, “are particularly at odds with the Dark Ones, I presume.”
“They are a disease on this valley.”
“They perhaps it might make you feel interested to know that we intend to be the cure.”
“Many of your kind come here. Not very many are still alive.”
“We have already tangled with one of there more powerful minions, and he came out worse for wear at the end. And revealed their location to us.”
“A shadow follows you.”
Ember perks up at this revelation, “Does it now?”
“I do not know if it is friend or foe.”
“Pardon me one second,” Ember turns back to Spring. “We are being followed by a Shadow.” Ember turns back to the Elder, “Undead?”
“It speaks with the dead. This beast man that we killed outside your camp is one of its…”
“One of its what?”
“One of the dead with which it speaks.” The Elder pauses while Ember considers and then continues, “But it also stopped one of the invisible killers from approaching this direction before it became aware of your presence.”
Ember smiles, “You have been following us awhile, haven’t you.”
“We saw you this morning when you summoned the tree dragon.”
Ember grimaces, “Yeah. Yeah. The tree dragon was impressive, yes.” Ember cuts his eyes to Broken as he continued, “It wasn’t really out plan to That Obvious about it.”
Broken yells at Ember, “Ask him if the tree dragon was awesome.” Ember turns back to the Elder, ignoring Broken.
“LifeBane the Cruel is an unfortunate fact of life in the valley and it was good that you taught him humility.”
“I hope we didn’t teach him revenge.”
“That is in his nature.”
Ember sighs, “Well, then we will have to teach him more humility if he shows back up.”

Spring begins to clamor atop the wagon, murmuring about the Shadow.

Ember nods, “I understand what you say about many of our kind coming here. And many not surviving. We have certain information that should help us in defeating them, but we also don’t want to draw their ire down upon you. We are trying to figure the best way to approach the city.”
“The area around the city is cleared for a short walk.”
“Understood, but our choices are to forge a path through the jungle or to go around.”
“We travel through the jungle. We know its dangers.”
“But we have to take this thing with us,” says Ember, pointing back to the wagon.
“Why?”
“It has value to us.”
“Is it a weapon to us against the dark ones?”
“It could be. It could help us forge new weapons against them as well.” Ember gestures around him, “As this is your land, certainly you know the best ways to get around. I don’t know if you deal with something this large, but is there a particular way you would recommend?”

Broken yells at Ember, “Oh! Oh! Ask if they go through the woods.”

Ember waves Broken to be quiet. “I am remise Elder, I have not inquired how I should address you.”
“My name is Desartha.”
This name doesn’t really translate well for Ember. He gets the idea of a fourth light, but is not sure what that would mean. “So, how would you recommend we get our wagon where we need it.”
After some thought, FourthLight reluctantly said, “So, We could take your to our village and you could cross the old bridge.”
“Where is your village in relationship to the open fields?”
“Near the fields. Near the marshes.” FourthLight asks with a hint of surprise, “Are you familiar with the valley?”
“Roughly yes.”
“On the far side of the spring of the river, there is a forest which is very dangerous. The marshes are difficult to move something big like this, but there is an old stone bridge left here by the people who crashed before they all died.”
“You are aware of the Star Gazers then?”
“They killed themselves. They brought a horrible beast to try to make their city fly again, and it killed them.”
Ember perks up, “Really? What kind of beast?”

Broken yells at Ember, “Ask them if they have anything from the Star Gazers.”

Ember continues, “We have heard tales of a horrible beast, but have not heard much about it.”
“Not many get to see it and live. It consumes all in its path.”
“Do you know anything about it?”
“I know that its energy is destructive and without order.”
Ember hisses, “Chaos.” After a moment, “We would appreciate any help you could give us. We intend to… not drive them out, but destroy them utterly. My deity abhors undead.”
“There were no walking dead things here before these creatures came. Just the beast. We have set up a protection that keeps the beast away from us.”

Meander softly asks Ember, “Hey, is there any place that we could hide near the town?”

Ember says, “Well, that’s kind of what, Oh well I can ask.” He turns back to FourthLight, “Is there any good place to Hide near the town?”
“The entire land around the city has been cleared. The beast has consumed all.”
Ember humphs, “What about the wasps?”
FourthLight nods, “The Spider Eaters. They live in the southern forest. Very dangerous to go there.”
“Will you help us?”
“We will do what you can. Do you need us to take you to the stone bridge?”
“Any way we can get closer is better for us. I regret to tell you that we ran across half a dozen of your kinsmen that had been turned undead, in the village beyond the pass.”
“It’s the Shadow that follows you. It did it.”
Ember raises the charred remainder of an eyebrow, “Really? When have you detected this Shadow?”
“It actually came here before you. But it has been lurking near your camp. So, we think that it is not related to the dead things in the city.”
Ember says softly, “What the hell?”
“Especially since it stopped one of their minions.”

Broken pops back up, “Hey, can I get a recap? I had to go check on one of my golems.”

Ember turns back to the FourthLight, “How powerful of undead is this thing raising?” He points towards the area with the hacked body. “Just like that?”
“Yes. Not terribly powerful. We are able to kill them with spears. The Dark Ones in the city? Do not attack them with just spears. You should have Powerful Magic.”
Ember smiles, “Yes. We understand.”
Ember looks around while thinking and then commands, “Unending Eddies, Show yourself!”

Meander looks shocked. Broken yells out, “Hey what? I thought she was dead! I saw her die.”

Ember looks around waiting a bit more. FourthLight looks around, curious and expectant, saying, “You know this Shadow?”
“I suspect what this is. I do not know for certain. If it is what I think it is, I’m surprised it is helping us. It appears that it hates them more than it hates me.” Ember sighs again, “Very well. Any help you could give us would be greatly appreciated. We do not want to draw down any more fire upon you than you have currently, but we intend to cleanse this fallen city of this scourge.”
“You will notice that my form is different from my brethren. I am born with great magic. There are others like me in the village. We are able to keep the village safe. We do not go to the city because of the beast, and the dark one somehow live with the beast, and then they stay away from us. Although, if our hunting parties get too close or caught unawares, they get turned into walking dead things. We’ve been staying away from the city. The last group that went missing was staying near the pass and we discovered that it was this Shadow that has come here recently.”
“If I might ask, is your magic of the gods, or of yourself.”
“We are born to it. It is part of us.”
“All of us.” He looks around, “Well, most of us are also wielders of magic. So we understand. My power primarily comes from my god, although I do have some other innate talents.”
“Most of you wield magic more like my own, but you do not. We don’t have powers over the spirits.”
“As I said, my deity is an Elder. Very well, is there anything we need to know in going to your village? Any customs that we need to observe?”
“Oh, we won’t bring you into the village. That will keep the peace. The bridge is nearby though, so we will go there. It is the easiest way to cross the river.”
“My question remains, any customs we need to observe?”
FourthLight looks puzzled, “I don’t understand.”
“This is your land. This is your home. Are there things we shouldn’t do that are taboo?”
“It hadn’t occurred to me that you might have ways different from us. We expect you to act like a person.”
“I know what that means for me, but I don’t know what that means for you. Will you make allowances if we perhaps overstep?”
“I noticed that you are maintaining a spell. Are you going to be able to speak this way if I leave you a guide?”
“I will have to turn it off and on, but yes.”
FourthLight turns to the closest lizard man and starts talking to him. “I want you to stay with these people. Keep them from disrupting the village. Keep them out of harms way, so they can encounter the Dark Ones and slay them. If you encounter any of the dark magic, do your best to help them defend.”
The lizard man bows with his tail pointed low and far.
FourthLight turns back to Ember pointing to the lizard man, “Cathupta” To Ember’s ears, the best translation is Trackless. “Trackless here is our best undead killer. It was he who killed the beast man who walked dead.”
“I knew it took some skill to do that. I hope my actions did not shock you.”
“It communicated. When the scouts saw you, they watched you for awhile. When they saw you dismember the dead one, they sent word to bring an elder that I might evaluate your magic. Your fire spirit did not seem to be an evil spirit to me.”
“It is a servitor of my deity.”
“And your moving magic is very impressive. There are none among us that are our equal.”
“I might say that perhaps we have taken care of the cleansing that there are those among of that might be willing or wish to meet with you and the other magic users of your areas. Perhaps there are thing they don’t know and we don’t know that we could share.”
Meander’s eyes get big and he whispers, “Hells yeah.”
“I will speak to the others about it. You bring your own protections against the dark ones?”
“Yes.”
“The elders of my village have made these for the scouts.” He points to a little charm that Trackless is wearing around his neck. It doesn’t radiate a magical aura or appear to be magical. “It makes dead things blind to us. We already know how to deal with Spider Eaters.”
“Pointy missiles?”
FourthLight nodes, “Yes. But if you encounter a swarm, it is best to avoid them. They are very difficult to see until they strike. They hide in the trees.”

“There was another mention of other dangers, what of the apes in the city?”
“Those are the corrupted ones.”
“Corrupted ones? I don’t follow.”
“Creatures that have been corrupted by the beast. When the dark ones came, they brought things. Unnatural things.”
Ember interjects, “If I may, the pass that we came through has an area of no magic. What set that up?”
“Well, we don’t leave the valley. There are no stories of there being any guardians to this valley. That’s why your people have come here in our past stories. But, the Dark Ones have powerful magic. They could have set this up. If all of our elders threw our magic against them, we might be able to take one of them. Three? There is no way.”

Meander whispers to Ember, “Can you ask about the flood?”
Ember says to FourthLight, “Yes, we have stories of a major flooding even that happened.”
“The holy flood. We remember it. A great water spirit rose up to smite the dark ones. The river became alive and ran towards the city and flooded it. But the Dark Ones are not alive, so they did not drown.”
“They are all Liches, it will not bother them.”
“Do you know this water spirit and why it sought vengeance upon the city?”
“Yes. Sort of. We know what happened. One of the ones that had been here that wanted to escape, summoned it.”
Meander says, “Hey – they may have even seen her.”
Ember, “A female..”
Broken yelled out, “Did that chick summon that crazy demon thing?”
Ember waves to Broken, “Not right now, Broken.”

FourthLight says, “Oh! You mean the curious one.”
“So you do know her.”
“There was one who travelled outside the city a few times, in strange garb and looked at our fields. We watched and it watched. Then it went back. It was also very interested in our protections.”
“I imagine so.”
“I did not know that the curious one had escaped. It seemed less dark than the others.”
Ember frowns, “Yeah.”
“You can tell the dark ones are near. They cast spells to protect themselves from us, and the spells smell evil. They smell of death.”
“Her magic was more of … secrets.”
“Secrets? Our kind don’t keep things from each other. We put things in the stories so that later generations will know.”

“This is probably going to be a stretch. But do you have any stories that deal with humans?”
“Just some times your kind comes here.”
“You have never heard of my deity, I assume?”
“No.”
“Pity. Alright”

FourthLight thinks for a moment, “You say your spirit is very old?”
“Yes.”
“The City Guardians may know something.”
“The City Guardians?”
“The city had guardians, and they are wise and very old. And they are still around.”
Ember perks up, “Really! That was something that wasn’t mentioned to us. They are spirits?”
“No no. They have flesh and bone. But they are magical, as they are in stories as old as the stories themselves.”

Ember bows very deeply to FourthLight, “You may have just given me a gift that I was not expecting.”
“Well, the guardian, their leader, we call him Silver Back, he is shy and won’t approach unless he feels that you are somehow dangerous and need to be dealt with. He leaves us in peace and never bothers us. As far as I can tell, he doesn’t bother the Dark Ones. If there is a way to talk to him, I don’t know how?”
“Where can he be found?”
“The Guardians live up in the mountains now.” FourthLight points at the ring around the valley. “I think they just wait for a time when the city will fly again.”
“Are these the original inhabitants of the city?”
“Maybe, but the stories say that they were the hairless monkeys like you. The guardians are not hairless. Great majestic flying beasts.”

Ember turns to Trackless, “We need to work out a way of communicating for minor things. Perhaps signals of one or two claps, hisses, touches, whatever.”
“I can do that. I can teach you some scout signals.”
“That would be helpful.”
“An egg can understand. It is easy.”
“I can attempt to teach you some of our language as well. If you want to learn.”
“I will try.”
“I do not know if we can replicate your language.” Ember smiles, “I hear you speaking what I speak, so I don’t know exactly what it sounds like.”
Trackless cocks his head and looks back at the FourthLight. FourthLight nods and says, “It is great magic.”
Trackless turns back without question.
Ember says, “Well, let’s get started.” Ember calls everyone together to watch and learn.

Trackless begins to show them the silent hand signal for danger. Ember explains that when this is shown, everyone must be silent, drop down, and be still. They are met with mixed success for throwing the sign, but it is fairly easy to spot. Trackless also demonstrates a bird call for warning. Blossom gets the bird call, but the others make a ruckus that sounds almost anything like a bird call. Trackless is fairly complementary of Blossom. Ember doesn’t really say if he said anything about anyone else.

Ember turns to Meander, “When I point to you, I want you to say the word ‘Yes’.” Meander nods dumbly. Ember turns back to Trackless, “I’m about to have this person say in our language affirmative, a ‘Yes’. I want you to try to say it back.” Ember points to Meander.
“Yes?”
Trackless says “Yes” perfectly and laughs. “That means ‘stone’.”
“I’m afraid what ’No’ would mean. Meander say ‘No’.”
“Uh, No?”
Trackless has trouble with the ’N’ sound, and the ‘O’ doesn’t come across well either. ‘Shnaa’
“Try ‘Nay’”
“Shnay”
“Ok, good enough. We’ll know that is a ’No’”
Broken mutters, “I won’t remember that that is a no. I don’t speak their peasant language.”
Ember snarks, “And for that we are all happy, Broken.”

Ember looks back at Trackless and FourthLight, “I know he can hear what I’m saying,” slightly nodding to Broken. “He can be a right pain in the ass, just give him some allowances.”

Meander and Spring start laughing.

Broken perks up, “Who? Is Trackless the pain in the ass? You hardly even know him. You are talking about etiquette! I apologize, big great lizard man.”
Ember glances at Broken and the back to Trackless and FourthLight with a knowing shrug.
Broken continues, “Big Scale-less Man with Fire doesn’t mean what he says. He is a Barbarian.”
Ember sighs, “God help us.”

FourthLight says to Ember, “I am not going to spend the night in the forest, I don’t have the skills for it. I will leave Trackless with you. You should not travel at night. The Pack Hunters are out.”
“Pack Hunters? What are the Pack Hunters you refer to?”
“There is a lot of life in the jungle. Some of them can kill and eat your kind.”
“Before I stop being able to speak to you, our wagon can defend itself. You will probably either need to stay away from it, or inside of it, because it will not recognize it as friendly.”
Broken adds, “Why don’t I just make it recognize him.”
Ember asks, “You can do that?”
Broken nods, “You just need to remind me, because I’m just going to go back to making things.”
Ember says, “Nevermind, he can make it recognize you.”
Trackless raises his hand. “I do not want to stay in the Tree Cave. I won’t be able to see and act.”
“I understand. But it is important that we acclimatize you to the magic so that it does not attack you.”
Trackless raises up tall, “I understand Elder magic. You may cast your charms upon me.”

Ember turns to FourthLight, “Thank you again for the help.”
“I will see you when you get to the village. You will leave in the morning?”
Ember turns back to Broken, “How long until this thing is mobile?”
Broken says, “If you let me sleep all day, I can do it all night and get it ready by morning. Otherwise, maybe tomorrow night.”
Ember says, “Get to work.”
Broken smirks, “Alright!”

Ember turns back to FourthLight, “We will leave as soon as we can. The summoning of the Tree Dragon caused some problems. We are having to repair things. Nothing that can’t be fixed. It is just taking a bit of time.”
FourthLight nods knowingly, “Hmmm. Only travel during the day, and even then, watch for Hunters.”
“Understood.”

One of the Lizard Men scouts in the back whistles some trilling pattern. A crashing thumping sound erupts from the trees. A giant lizard, at least four horses long, comes rampaging out of the trees. It has a huge shield of boney plate around its neck and wicked horns on the bone shield and its nose. It lumbers to a stop in front of the Lizard Men. It is truly a formidable beast.

Trackless points casually to the beast, “Not a hunter. Plant eater.” The two scouts vault up onto the beast, revealing some sort of straps and saddles fitted to the beast. The Elder marches behind the beast as they tromp into the jungle, leaving a wide path.

Ember leans over to Trackless, “Does that thing move quietly when it wants to?”
“Slowly. But it helps with big Hunters.”
“Ok, let’s get you recognized by the wagon, and then I’m going to drop this spell because it is draining me quickly.”

Broken tells the wagon to recognize Trackless, and it does so. Trackless looks carefully at the wagon. He touches the side and ponders it. Then he trots back into the forest and disappears for the evening.

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