As it happened a freak rains storm across much of the Chakas, out of season, led to significant flooding along the Turín River. Which led to an alarming delay in the arrival of dignitaries from the Temple of Hriháyal in Úrmish . So a Tirrikámu of the Temple Guard hastily gathered together five guardsmen and set out to search the swollen banks down to the Berjádu River. Our hero volunteered.
Other than a good deal of what I call Mud foot ( A condition familiar to many who have traveled in muddy environments, wherein the mud slowly cakes to your boots until they way a few tonne each) the first few days were uneventful. Then a guard tried to use the rushing water of the Turin to clean his boots, and was swept in. The Tirrikámu, had the good sense to have all the guards tied off to one another, and this kept him from being swept away, but his trashing attracted the attention of a Ghár before his mates could pull him out. He had lost the use of both legs below the knee when he was finally on land.
Our hero and one other Guard set out down stream to try to locate a fishing village that was supposed to be in the area. By night fall they had struck a deal to assist the village with moving their boats further out of the rising tide, in exchange for help getting their wounded comrade down to the village and some basic medical care. In the morning they set out north with two village bearers and returned that afternoon. By night fall, they had a chance to sleep indoors and out of the rain, improving everyones spirits – even our legless guard, though probably not by much.
The next morning, with a village boy tagging along, the party headed south again, leaving the wounded with the villagers. They encountered tracks from two Chnéhl that appeared to come down to the riverbanks, travel upstream a bit, then return to the woods. Chnéhl are not completely unknown here, but rare, and this put the troop on alert. They began to sing Temple songs as the marched, so as not to startle any Chnéhl they might run across, based upon the same idea that people use to keep bears away. And, either it worked, or they didn't run into any more of the beasts. It did, however, attract something.
By evening they were all convinced they were being followed, but no one had any idea what it might be. What ever it was had kept a good distance, and avoided being seen. It didn't “feel” hostile. But they put on extra guards to be safe. (Which meant no one got a solid nights sleep.) Mid way through the night, they heard something singing their songs off in the woods. Our hero sang back, and all went silent. This, was both amusing and a bit creepy. They added another guard to the last shift.
By morning they were all cranky. The boy, however, offered a plausible explanation. Perhaps it was a Rényu. They are known to follow, and they are fairly bright, and they can speak, after a fashion. It didn't seem impossible, though it would indicate one very smart Rényu. It would have learned the song in one day. Whatever it was continued to follow them the next day, though it kept greater distance. Our hero began to leave bits of dried foodstuffs as they traveled. He was aware that Rényu can be domesticated, and are worth something. But the critter never got close again.
By the end of the day the weather had finally let up and they found the confluence of the Turín and Berjádu River s. They could see across it, to the south, was the small barge that would have been carrying the Priestess from Úrmish. It was on one side. No sign of anyone near by, and no way to cross at this point. The young village boy told them of a normally fordable point upstream, but it was still to flooded to be done safely. Further upstream they would encounter the Sákbe roads. If anyone had survived the wreck, they might well have tried to make the Sákbe road tower. So our party headed there next.
And that is when the staff at Dragon Port gave us the last call warning. Our hero managed to confirm that the follower was, in fact, a Rényu, just prior to our closing the books, but I left the subject of what they will learn at the Sákbe roads for next time. It also allows me a convenient hook for introducing a new character, if I can find another brave soul. And I have come up with some interesting ideas..