Medievia Mudslinger

May 20, 2000

Endless Horizon - Part II: Growing Pains -- By Taloc

Yawning slightly, Lomak groggilly got to his feet and looked out the window. "Hrm..what have I gotten myself into. Now, instead of a simple cleric to worry over I've got to drag that blasted dwarf and his mage along. Ah well, when life gives you lemons . . " Lomak's train of thought was suddenly interrupted by the sounds of a scuffle downstairs.

"Listen pal, I already told you. We don't serve your kind here!" The barkeep warily eyed Thurdnor.

"Whaddya mean ya don't serve my kind here?? All I want is a mug of that so much to ask?" Thurdnor reached for his belt, where his warhammer was tied by a leather thong. "Listen you, I'm gonna give ya til the count of three to give me some ale or I'm gonna-"

"Do absolutely nothing." Lomak interrupted. Edging close to Thurdnor, he said firmly "We're not here to cause trouble. It's gonna be hard to go to Riverton if you're in jail, right? I'll get you some ale; just go wait outside with the others."

Muttering under his breath, Thurdnor angrilly stomped outside, slamming the door behind him. Lomak flashed an embarrased smile towards the barkeep as he approached a stool and sat down. "Sorry about that . .he's a bit hot-tempered sometimes. Lemme get a mug of ale." Lomak slid his coins across the bartop.

The barkeep smiled wryly. "You think I'm a dope or somethin'? I give you the ale, and you pass it along to your friend. Sorry, no dice."

Lomak chuckled politely. "Hey, you can sit here and watch me drink it if you want. I'm with that guy for profit only, not friendship." Frowning slightly, the barkeep filled a mug from the keg behind the bar and snatched the coins up greedilly. As he turned around to put the coins in a box next to the keg, Lomak deftly poured the contents of the mug into his waterskin. The barkeep turned around, just as Lomak was putting the empty mug back on the bar. The barkeep blinked disbelievingly.

"Hey, wait a second way you drank it that..buddy?" the barkeep growled, but Lomak was already in the doorway and on his way outside. "So much for not causing trouble", Lomak thought to himself as he tossed the waterskin to Thurdnor. "Here, knock yourself out."

"So now what do we do?" Shaya shivered slightly as she appeared from around the corner of the building, with Mi'yale just behind her. "I bought some supplies just in case."

Lomak smiled slightly. "She really isn't as dumb as I first thought, I guess" he thought to himself. "Good, let's head to the trade post and get ready to leave."

A few moments later the four travells were outside the trading post, securing their goods onto the covered wagons they had purchased. Lomak motioned to Thurdnor and they strode off to the stables to get horses for the journey. Upon returning, they hitched their wagons to the beasts and mounted up.

Lomak instructed "Okay, since I have a map," he waved a tattered piece of paper in the air, "I'll be in front. Thurdnor and Shaya, one of you on either of my flanks. Mi'yale, you bring up the rear and keep a wary eye out for trouble from the back. We'll try and make it to Ashton today, but I doubt we'll make it that far. The road gets pretty rugged near the mountains. Okay, let's move out."

The group set off over the ridge outside of the city walls just as the morning fog was clearing. Thurdnor spit as they passed the rotting remains of the abomination from the day before, which prompted a smirk from Lomak. After an hour or so, Lomak warned, "Don't get too comfortable, anybody. That little fight yesterday was nothing compared to what we're bound to face before we get to Riverton."

"Nice of you to tell us that now," Shaya sneered. "Yesterday it was all about the large profit and such, and today you decide to tell us the real facts about the journey." Lomak's horse suddenly reared up as he yanked on the reins ad motioned for the group to stop.

Shaya laugh amusedly. "Did I scare you, thief? Or are you going to try something now..maybe-"

"Shuttup!" Lomak growled in a low voice. "I don't really care what you said..but look." He pointed cautiously towards a clump of bushes ten yards ahead, to the side of the road. As the group peered towards the foliage, the bushes rustled violently. Jumping off his horse, Lomak studied the road carefully. "Damned..there's a kobold ambush up ahead. We're in too far to turn back now, so better prepare for battle before they decide to attack."

The group quickly backed their freights up a few yards and drew their weapons. Shaya reached into the back of her wagon and withdrew a wooden cane, seemingly made of bamboo. Mi'yale chanted magical incantations and casted spells of protection on the party, as Lomak carefully applied poisons to his serrated dagger. Thurdnor quietly meditated to the side of the road as Shaya created wards of sanctuary upon he and Lomak. Quietly, she suggested "Why don't you two engage them, and Mi'yale and I will support you with spells from behind." Lomak nodded quietly and motioned to Thurdnor to advance. As they neared the bushes, Lomak's face became tense, realizing what was happening.

"Mi'yale, Shaya, look out!" He shouted as a single kobold sprang from the bushes. Thurdnor quickly knocked its head off with his warhammer. Guffawing loudly, he failed to see the horde of kobolds that were speeding towards the freight from the opposite side of the road. "It's a setup you dolt, we need to get back to the freight!" Lomak snarled. As the two sprinted in the direction of the wagons, Shaya and Mi'yale were already engaged in combat. Ten kobolds had the two women surrounded, and were closing in. Shaya closed her eyes and raised her cane towards the sky, an arcane prayer escaping her lips. The ground began to tremble, and then rocked violently as the cleric called a tremor upon the kobolds, knocking them all off their feet. Having been provided ample opprotunity, Mi'yale quickly began unleashing magical bolts of energy towards the stunned creatures. However, as soon as one kobold was killed another appeared and took its place.

"We can't hold them off for long" Shaya sighed, "wait right here." Quickly, she chanted a prayer and opened a portal beside her. Stepping through it, she appeared next to Lomak as he approached the battle. Without hesitation, she continued to pray, and pulled Mi'yale through a similar portal, causing her to appear beside her. The confused kobolds looked about for their former prey, only to be attacked from both sides as Lomak and Thurdnor charged into battle. Thurdnor bashed straight through a line of kobolds into the middle of the fray, and was quickly dropped to his knees as one of the kobolds jumped on his back. With an almost concerned expression on his face, Lomak jumped over a corpse and knocked the kobolds away from his dwarven companion. The warrior's wounds closed as Shaya chanted a prayer of healing from atop a wagon. From her vantage point, Shaya saw the source of the kobolds: a nearby cave sunk in the ground.

"Can you hold them off for a few minutes? We'll be fighting forever if we don't plug that hole up" Shaya shouted to Lomak and Mi'yale. Upon receiving a quick nod from the mage, she yelled "Thurdnor, come with me. Here, drink this and grab that boulder!"as she quickly tossed him a small vial. Thurdnor pondered for a brief moment, and then quickly downed the liquid within. The dwarf sheathed his warhammer and grunted slightly as he attempted to lift a monstrous boulder next to the cave. The cords stood out on his arms as he strained to life the rock, but he was barely moving it. Then, the boulder seemingly became lighter, as he slowly picked it up. Then, he lifted it above his head and heaved it atop the hole, plugging it soundly and crushing a number of kobolds in the process. Meanwhile, Lomak and Mi'yale had finished dispatching the remaining kobolds and were tending to their wounds.

An amazed Thurdnor quipped "I didn't know I was _that_ strong . .that was some potion you gave me!"

Smiling slightly, Shaya informed him "Yeah, they're pretty useful. Bought it off of a shopkeeper in Gdangus."

Thurdnor grinned thankfully at Shaya as he dusted himself off. Lomak, relieved, informed the other three that the freight was okay and they could continue on with no problems. Spying a nearby brook, Shaya walked off through the trees to fill the waterskins and get a drink. Lomak followed her and sat down on a nearby rock. "That was a pretty decent trick there, the portal thing. Never seen that one before."

"Thanks...I think." Shaya frowned slightly. "But maybe if you had been paying more attention, we wouldn't have been in that mess in the first place."

Lomak frowned slightly. "I don't remember you paying any attention either, and it's nearly impossible to completely avoid an ambush like that. If you'd like to lead this expedition, be my guest." Lomak held the map out to her.

Though it was tempting, Shaya knew she had no idea about how to lead a traderun. However, she couldn't let Lomak catch on to that. "No thanks. I've got enough to do trying to keep an eye on you. I don't need to worry about kobolds and following a map too." Having finished filling the waterskins (and having run out of things to say), Shaya walked back to the wagons, where Thurdnor was exploring the benefits of Mi'yale's strengthening potion by uprooting trees.

Lomak remained back at the brook, laughing slightly at Thurdnor's antics. "I guess those two aren't so bad, if I have to be stuck with them for the next week and a half. But that Shaya . .oh brother."

Lomak idly picked up a stone and skipped it across the water. It proceeded to skip into the nearby foliage, which prompted a groan. "What the? Last time I checked, bushes don't groan . ." Lomak drew his blade as he crossed the clearing and approached the bushes. Before he took another step, a crazed man jumped from the bushes and charged at him, shouting a warcry as he wielded a sword. Lomak, frozen in fear, didn't even have time to shout for help before he was tackled to the ground, and as all turned to darkness he felt a blade being pressed against his neck.