Hollow's Last Hope

Dhohar volunteered to venture back to the surface with Zandu on a hunting expedition. He confessed that Rumble and Mischief were both in need of fresh air and trees. Rumble had not found a place to relieve himself since entering the subterranean monastery yesterday. Additionally, despite all Dhohar could do to ease the wounds of his companions they simply needed sun and fresh air. The two of them along with Rumble and Mischief prepared to travel back to the surface. The children were resting after the excitement of their reunion having warn off. Kieyanna stayed behind with Edgrin to ensure they did not run away like last time.

The journey out was uneventful. It took a solid half hour to walk 500 feet back to the courtyard of the monastery. Zandu crept up the stairs. He could see faint light flowing in from the hall two rooms away. This had been the den of a vile Warg, Greypelt, when they came through the first time. It was good to see that nothing had taken up residence in his vacancy. They made it through the small anteroom and into the hallway where light shown in from the crumbling stone walls. The ceiling was collapsed in the Eastern corner letting in more light. They went South to the doubledoors and into the courtyard. It was quiet. The area looked undisturbed. Once outside they could hear the chatter of birds and critters of the forest. Mischief took flight and found a high branch on which to squawk. Rumble rolled around in the dirt and grass re-scenting to the smells of the natural world. There had about two hours before dark. Dhohar and Zandu began scouting for food. Dhohar was spectacular at hunting. He had survived living almost totally off the land as he left his homeland in search of his place in the world. He used the new crossbow he had taken from the monastery with which he quickly bagged three pheasants, two rabbits, and a fox. Zandu gathered nearly two pounds of blueberries that were just before their season. They were too hard but would serve well to flavor the gamey meat. Gathering a selection of deadwood Zandu roped it together. In this way he could drag it down to the kitchen and cook to food there.

Dinner was a hit. Everyone ate and ate all the food. It would be sad in the morning when berries were the only thing to tide their hungry bellies but after 3 days of meager portions the meat was a welcome treat. After dinner they slept, the adults taking turns on guard shift in the hall. The night passed quietly but the next morning brought new problems. Zandu talked to Edgrin, Kieyanna, and Dhohar about what to do with Tyran’s body. They couldn’t leave him here for some vile creature to devour him. Kieyanna raised the issue that his bloody corpse might alarm the children. They all agreed that Tyran needed to go back to town for a proper burial. As Dhohar studied his glyphs and prepared spells, Zandu having trained with the monks and knowing some rituals prepared Tyran’s body for transport. He did the best he could do with the tools and short supply of water. He cleaned the body free of blood and combed out the hair. Then he washed the clothes and redressed him. It was a rush job and more would be needed when they reached town but it would suffice for transport. He, at least, looked peaceful now. Kieyanna had repurposed some wood from the benches in the mess hall to use as a sled for Tyran. They lashed him to the boards and loaded up their equipment before gathering the children for the walk home.

The going was slow but they changed out pulling the sled often so everyone was ready if attacked. They made it out of the lower level without incident, retracing the steps Zandu and Dhohar had taken the previous night. The morning light crept in and warmed everyone’s hearts. It was a sign of safety after the cold calamity of the previous four days. Dhohar rigged the sled for Rumble to pull. He was a strong bear and quite capable of pulling the sled. But he did not like it hindering his movements. He repeatedly sat down on the trail and nibbled at berries and other plants. But he was a good trooper and lessened the burden of the party. The trip back through the woods was surprisingly quiet. Perhaps it was because there were so many of them that the forest creatures left them alone or perhaps something was looking down on them with pity.

The townspeople spotted the party crossing the wide open plains that had grown around Falcon’s Hollow. The once wooded town had been the center of the lumber operations and now stood barren with low grass and small rolling hills. It was eight miles to the treeline from the town. Runners came to get the news from the approaching party and word reached the city before the beleaguered party arrived at the gates. The families were there to receive their children in their arms. Every eye was wet, even Thuldrin Kreed, the harsh mayor of the town and provincial leader of the Lumber Consortium. Edgrin, the ever-graceful bard took up a song about the party’s triumphs and conquests over the evils of the monastery. He called them Kingslayer and Illuminators of the Lost; Nature’s Vengeance he said because so many different animals fought as part of the team. A cleric from the Temple of Iomedae came out to take Tyran’s body to prepare it for rituals.

After the initial excitement of the returned children the crowd started to disperse. Words of thanks were uttered to the triumphant party for nearly half an hour before they could escape. Edgrin led them back to the house his party had leased from the Lumber Consortium following their rise to fame. He handed over the key to Zandu, Dhohar, and Kieyanna saying that he would no longer need it. He was heading out of town and would tell great stories of their victories and their selfless acts. Word of their deeds would spread far and wide before them. This he vowed. The moderate house (labeled “A” on the map of Falcon’s Hollow) would serve them nicely until they chose to leave. However long that may be. Edgrin said his goodbyes and went to oversee the last rites of his friend.

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Zandu Zandu

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