12 hours earlier…
The crops are growing steadily, and the village has begun to send out hunting parties again. Benaethor divides his time between his family, hunting, and spending time with us. The villagers have all but lost their shyness around Athelstan, who cannot resist a plea for help, no matter how small. He spends most of his time in the village, while the rest of us remain with the ship in shifts. Star-Blind continues to learn more about the Peregrinus, but we try to encourage him to get out and visit with the inhabitants of this planet also.
“They took my sister!” She wails, explaining to us how they had gotten separated from the hunting party, and then the Scalies came out of nowhere and snatched her. They have demanded to speak with representatives from the village, so she has come to us for help because we are the heroes. Star-Blind is secure in his operations with the ship and agrees to contact some of the others in town while we go to help Marguerite (the woman).
We follow her through the jungle until we come upon a Scaly, a lizard-person who could almost be likened to a more muscular kobold…who happens to be six and a half feet tall. The one we see is leaning against a tree, casually toss a dagger, almost as if he is waiting for us.
Mardigan steps forward, holding his hands up peacefully. “We are here to negotiate the release of the hostage.” He says. The Scaly perks up with interest and demands food from the village’s harvest for the next three years in exchange for the hostage’s life. We cannot promise such a demand, so we counteroffer with letting them live in exchange for the woman.
That’s when we see the second Scaly with a rope tied around his waist that goes up and over the lowest tree branch (about 20 feet up), and from which hangs an unconscious, scantily clad girl. She is headfirst, pointed down, directly over a snarling, menacing wolf.
They demand the village’s food, assuring us they will only take the ‘excess’ and will leave the village with enough to feed themselves, but we know that putting the villagers at a disadvantage with the other species on their planet just as they are beginning to reestablish themselves would be a disservice.
Samsara whispers a blessing in the name of Gorum, and Mardigan lets fly an arrow directly into the shoulder of the negotiator, pinning him to the tree. As he goes to pull the arrow out, the Scaly with the rope throws his spear at the ranger. Too late, Mardigan moves, and the spear lodges itself deep into the bone marrow of his thigh. The girl drops about 4 feet, swaying dangerously from the rope.
Snarling and smelling blood, the wolf charges, but Mardigan successfully dodges. Ragini, with one valiant swing of her sword, separates the wolf’s head from his shoulders. Bypassing both of them, Samsara knows they have to get to the girl before she falls much farther. He runs up to the Scaly who just unpinned himself from the tree and swings the end of his quarterstaff, but the large lizard is faster than he anticipated. Hands shaking, Mardigan dislodges the spear from his leg and retrieves bindings from his pack.
The Scaly removes Mardigan’s arrow from his shoulder and plunges it into Samsara’s, forcing him to stagger back a couple of steps. The other Scaly moves back, still holding the rope, and fumbles in his pack for a small cylindrical object. Ragini picks up the head of the wolf and runs threateningly towards the Scalies. “This is you!” She screams, throwing the severed head at them, and places herself directly beneath the unconscious hostage.
Mardigan quickly bandages his leg, pulling it tightly to stop the bleeding. Samsara looks down at the arrow sticking out of his shoulder, feeling feverish and queasy as he watches the Scaly’s blue blood mix with his own. Lightheaded, he stumbles out of range and pulls the arrow out, but before he can cast or close the wound, a stray arrow from Mardigan embeds itself through his shoulder in the other direction, knocking him prone and unconscious.
Mardigan curses heartily but sees that his line of sight is clear and takes another shot at the Scaly. The Scaly hisses as it is penetrated with an arrow and goes down, and then the second Scaly releases his hold on the rope. Ragini braces herself, controlling the unconscious girl’s plummet to the ground, turning just in the nick of time to avoid a blow from the Scaly. She comes back up swinging and takes down the second one.
Ragini makes sure the girl is still breathing before she runs to Samsara. There is already a sizeable pool of blood leaking out from underneath the half Orc’s body, and she rifles frantically through his pack to find his healer’s kit. As Mardigan tries to make sense of it, she makes a beeline for the second Scaly, snatching up a vial of green liquid that he had previously dropped.
Watching the feverish beads of sweat collect on Samsara’s forhead, Ragini knows there isn’t much time before he will bleed out or die from infection. Mardigan tosses the remnants of the healer’s kit aside and helps prop the unconscious cleric up as Ragini pours the contents down Samsara’s throat in a desperate bid.
Long moments tick by, and then Mardigan notices the bleeding is slowing, and Ragini cheers as Samsara’s eyelids flutter. He regains consciousness, touching a hand to his shoulder, wincing as it comes away sticky, still covered in blue blood.
“Channel…Energy…burst…” he mumbles, and Mardigan leans closer to hear him. “Drag…me…away from them…heal you…me…her…not them…” Ragini goes to get the girl, who barely weighs anything, while Mardigan, injured leg and all, gathers up the edges of Samsara’s cloak and helps half-drag him as he crawls away from the wounded Scalies.
He flops down onto his back, wheezing, and with a trembling hand, holds up his holy symbol, invoking the healing name of Gorum, which knits their wounds back together, staunches the blood flow, and kills any infections. Marguerite’s sister wakes up, and Marguerite runs to her, helping Ragini untie her, and they embrace tearfully, thanking us profusely.
We escort them back to the village, where one of the merchants motions for us to wait. The merchant comes back and reverently hands Mardigan a large, cloth-wrapped package. When he opens it, he finds the first magical item crafted in 500 years. The villagers have given him 10 sleep arrows, and he humbly nods, choked with gratitude.