Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Chnéhl, the final episode

Our Heroes set out in pursuit of the Chnéhl. They opted to push hard during daylight, but not to press on at night, both because of the inherent risk, and because it would hamper tracking efforts. They are fortunate that the escaping Chnéhl decided to slow down once they put some Tsán betwixt themselves and their hunters, because, if they had simply pressed the advantage, they were faster than the party by a significant enough margin that the delays of tracking would have allowed them to escape. But it quickly became apparent that the Chnéhl did not have a plan for exactly where they were going, and they lacked the skills to disappear stealthily into the forest.

Day after day the party closed the gap. I can't say this was extremely exciting, but the drudge of daily tracking tests was probably realistic. It didn't become exciting until they they closed the gap to an hour or two separation. It was at that time that they discovered they were in the territory of a pack of Feral Rényu, and the forest became alive with yipping calls back and forth, as the critters tracked them, while they tracked the Chnéhl. This was the Chnéhl's end game, but our heroes were having none of it. They decided that, if the Rényu attacked, they would deal with it, but if not, they would give them no reason to do so.

They focused, single minded, upon the Chnéhl, and closed to within sight, sending the resting Chnéhl running, Bigfoot-esque through the undergrowth. A couple of well placed, drugged arrows took down the first, and Sánjesh, ordered three spear men to stand guard. Luck was with them, and a moment later, perhaps 50 yards hence, they dropped the second one. (Their animal handlers advised them that this was certainly good fortune, because if they had split up, the chance that the Rényu would attack one group or the other would have gone up substantially.)

Some applied healing skills, and drugs, and they had recaptured Mis's valued ritual subjects. They were kept heavily drugged for the trip home, as the Slaves, really, a bit over burdened by the task, carted the glorious prizes back. They decided to retrace their route, rather than risk a random encounter in uncharted forest, while heavily burdened. The trip back was laborious, but uneventful, until they got back above the tree line on Silver mountain. From their they could see the remaining smoke trails rising from the river village that had rescued Sánjesh and company during the unprecedented summer flooding so long ago. Our heroes quickly surmised that the Semétl of Mrúr were probably afoot again. They made as quickly as possible for the Camp at the Cave entrance.

Upon arriving they found more refugees were streaming in. Fewer, and mostly children, capable of outrunning the Mrúr, who had, this time, killed everything they could catch. The river village had been less defensible in many ways, sitting between the river and steep banks. The Mrúr had entered from two sides. The young man who had accompanied Sánjesh and the Hriháyal guards during the initial search for Mis did survive, though he feared he might well be an orphan as the village was, to the best of his knowledge, his entire clan. He reported that the village had taken strongly to the new practices of the goddess of the river, adding them to their worship of Belkhánu, and believing, perhaps, that their might be more to their lives than simple escape into an honorable death, in time.

After a rest, the great Chnéhl were loaded, along with what was left of harvests from the cave, and the party, onto a Chlén cart for a long, slow, and hopefully relaxing trip into Butrús. Signs of occupation had begun to return to the village by the Sákbe Road gate, and the guards were complaining about extra duties, now that there were reports of rogue Semétl of Mrúr, along with the wet ones.

In Butrús Sánjesh received his promotion to Tirrikámu, though he was not given a command, as yet. This was in part because there was none to be had, and, in part, because his independent operations might prove more profitable. The party collected and divided the bounty, paid off the labor, sold the Gerednyá, and other critters they had acquired along the way, visited their temples and clans, and took a break. Well, they used the time to better themselves.

Suni gave most of her earnings to her clan, and went to study with her temple. This will give her better access to clan resources, when the time comes. Mriga kept his personal wealth, as this venture had not been funded by his clan. He also went to his temple to study. The temple of Grugánu was taken by his tales, and he has been tasked to record what he can of the cave, which has tentatively been title “The Silver Womb of Hriháyal” as his labor of reverence for his advancement to second circle. Sánjesh was assigned training for his new rank with the Temple guard. Mis packed up her entourage and her Chnéhl and headed for Tumíssa, to complete her variation on the ritual of the 32nd Unspeakable act. I can not tell you how that went, however. But before she left, she gave the party a few pointers and instructions on how to access the underworld of Butrús, and, if they were lucky, obtain the book they had been seeking in the temple of Avánthe about a few weeks before.

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