The party travels several days into the Masaan range on their patrol. After an evening of foraging around their first base camp for game, they are joined by Warder Erik – an Etu’sauri swordsmaster – and Warder Xander, who were travelling the mountains on Company business of their own. The following day, while patrolling the area, the party encounters a woman named Annabelle Cirrus, who is a member of the Halfling Underground and an old friend of Mengst’s. She is escorting nearly a dozen Halflings across the mountains into the safety of the North, but is being closely pursued by an overzealous platoon of Southland Army soldiers, intent on reaping the great rewards that the Halflings would earn (they have already captured or slain five of Annabelle’s refugees). The party sets up an ambush on the road and springs it on the unsuspecting Southlanders. The session leaves off in the middle of the pitched battle.
Oh, and Diego stayed at camp to guard the deer they were curing.
A Halfling with a rather large crossbow sits upon a tree limb, swinging her feet and humming a little tune while a battle takes a place below.
(Loosely apply the tune from â€œI Feel Prettyâ€)
I am Poppy, oh yes Poppy!
I am poppy, the Halfling crusade
I am Poppy, pluck and plunky
Wonâ€™t ye come and play my game?
Iâ€™m alarming, but so charming
My sharp stingers are very real!
Ahâ€¦no running from my stunning
One plunk and youâ€™ll hardly feel!
I am Poppy, oh yes Poppy
A bounty more until I get paid!
The Halfling finds a target and lets fly a bolt. She wiggles and shimmies gleefully upon the limb as the bolt sinks into the targets back. Dismayed that her target did not drop she bites her lip, reaims and hums her tune a bit more forcefully.
They had been travelling for three days before they reached the first camp. Poppy and Moriel went out in search for food, but Moriel was distracted, feeling all the while the call of her homeland. At least Poppy was paying attention, and it was her bolt that felled the deer.
Back in the camp, Poppy cooked, as usual, an excellent meal. Moriel had never figured out where the halfling had learned that; it was certainly not from her.
While they were sitting around the fire, they heard the sound of horses. Moriel slid into the shadows of the trees, bow ready. The two black-armoured men who rode into the camp did not seem much of a threat, though. Oh, they looked dangerous enough, but they were Warders, making them allies rather than a threat.
Then she noticed the weapon one of them was carrying. She had never expected to see an etu’sari, and definitely not a human. But she also did not for a moment doubt that he was what he appeared; he was a Warder, and someone who had, somehow, earned that sword.
The rest of the evening, she tried hard not to stare, not to show her interest too openly. The man sharing their campfire was a part of a legend, even to the elves. So few of those swords were made, and though, over the millennia, some of those blades would have ended up on the wrong hands, Moriel was fairly certain this sword was exactly where it belonged.
The etu’sari had noticed her interest, of that, she was certain. He did not say anything, though, for which she was grateful. What she _wanted_ to do, was pester him with questions, about the sword and its history, about himself and the one who gave him the sword. She could not explain why, but she felt drawn to him, a pull that was just as strong, or even stronger, than the calling of her forest.
She spent the evening, and quite a lot of the night, watching him, trying not to be too obvious about it. Why, she could not say. Perhaps just to be able to say she had seen him, to be able to describe him later.
The next morning, the men left, and the group left shortly after, on their first patrol. As they walked along the road, Moriel felt the forest calling for her. She knew where it was; no matter where she was, she was certain she would always know which way the forest lay.
Not for the first time, she wondered what she was doing here. Her own people were dying. There might be elves for a few more millennia, but they were in their twilight days now. They would dwindle, slowly, until they would be nothing more than a memory.
The halfings were almost gone. The quiet, peaceful communities they had built were gone, and those that might still exist knew now that they were not safe. Greed would see to that, if the Kisharan armies did not.
The dwarves were gone, most of them, as well, withdrawing from the world, much like the elves had, but for their own reasons. The world was mostly now left to humans and gnomes. And the Kisharans.
Maybe she should just take Poppy and go home. Back to the forest, untouched by the war, to leave the humans and gnomes and Kisharans to fight their war.
The sound of people on the road snatched her out of her train of thoughts. When she saw the source of the sounds, Moriel could hardly believe her eyes. A human woman was leading a group of halfings along the road, and from what she could see, they were fleeing someone.
The halflings were obviously exhausted, and at least two were wounded. One of the humans started questioning them, and Moriel noticed Poppy getting more and more agitated. Not that Moriel blamed her. She too wanted to see those halflings safely away before whoever pursued them arrived.
But finally, the fugitives continued down the road, two of the wounded halflings riding on Moriel’s horse, and they started preparing the ambush.