FreeHolds Adventure, Cycle 3 Part 4d

FreeHolds Adventure, Cycle 3 Part 4d

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Despite their best efforts, staying dry had been nearly impossible. Layers of clothing, cloaks, tarps and blankets, none of them kept the dampness at bay. At best, if they were only mildly damp they were doing well.

The day before they departed had seen heavy rain throughout. This had collapsed the earth works that were underway to the north and south of the village, as well, filling the completed ditches. There was mud everywhere and everyone was muddy. Some folks had been concerned that the water might flood the green or parts of the village, thankfully Andisal had done her best to make sure that did not happen, having taking such circumstances into consideration before the first shovel broke earth for the project.

Unfortunately the road was soft, meaning they left a clearly visible muddy track. Of course, such conditions had precluded bringing a wagon of any sort. There had been jokes about them maybe needing to bring a boat, despite the fact the village had no such craft. Sefla had brought Strawberry, so named because the Pwhanna horse Adwin had bought did have a splash of white across its nose, combined with darker markings, what Calathy called freckles, though Mokha was not sure horses had freckles. This gave the little horse the vague appearance of having a strawberry for a snout. Del had brought two asses, initially she had intended to ride one and lead the other to carry some food and medicines. She ended up using the ass she had intended to ride to carry their wet gear, which had not weighed overly much initially, but by the second morning of the journey to Aramy it had become very burdensome.

Each day had seen a long period of heavy rain, the sun had mostly remained in hiding. By the end of the third day their band’s morale was low, folks were generally miserable and becoming short tempered. Only Adwin seemed indifferent to the weather but he had his own worries, not the least of which was making sure those that had chosen to join them did not die of exposure before they even reached Aramy. So, whether or not the weather bothered Adwin, he still had to take its effects into consideration. Thankfully the temperature did not drop much during the evenings, in fact, the locals said it was milder than usual this spring. Despite that small blessing they were tired and shivering by the time they had made camp that night.

Mokha employed a bit of magic to maintain a flame long enough for them to warm themselves and for a hot meal to be cooked. If he had been more skilled with fire magic he likely cold have kept them warm and dry throughout the night, but fire magic really was not something he had dedicated much study time towards. In fact, after leaving his master, Mokha had only learned one additional fire spell. Whereas for warding and meta-magic, he had learned a spell or two just about every year. The weather had also forced him to leave his new grimoire behind, though he wondered about its unusual nature and if it had not been enchanted with protections against the elements.

The following day had been more of the same. Adwin and Gweth were discussing their present location and if they were likely to reach the Omdin’s lookout camp before nightfall. Due to present conditions they had not been travelling very fast.

“Well I’d guess it’s about ten yat in that direction.” Gweth said, gesturing to the east-northeast.

“You guess? I thought you knew.”

“Hey, I’ve only been in the area for a year. The land looks very different when it’s drenched and the grasses are all matted.”

Gweth’s crew was watching the discussion, she had brought five people with her, all of them escapees from Aramy. Only one of them, Tankard Dwill, was a former resident of the crossroads.

“Fair enough. I’ve only passed through here once. But, I think the raise in the land you are talking about is more to the east-southeast, from where the brook runs down to the village.”

“I think I know the one you mean, but that’s not where they are. Tankard, do you know?”

“Nay, miss. ‘Til last year I mostly just been in the village and the family farm. I know there’s a bit of rough country to the northeast of Aramy, the back part of the Dresmend property, there’s an old mine up that way. Hasn’t been used for years.”

“I know where the mine is, that’s not what I’m talking about.”

Del spoke up, “Gweth has been out to the camp before, I say we go the way she thinks we should. Either way, it’ll put us closer to Aramy.”

Adwin threw up his hands, “Alright. Let’s keep moving.”

Travelling across country was mostly better than using the road at this point, the old grass and the new growth from this year had matted and helped to keep them out of the muck, for the most part. Around mid-morning, Chance Delight slipped into a hole that had been hidden by the grass, they had been up to their waist in water and muck and had needed the help of two others to be pulled clear. After that Adwin had put a couple people out front with staves to probe the land ahead of them and had the group fall into a rough single file formation.

It was well into the afternoon before Alfi found them, startling everyone by her sudden, near naked, appearance. “Where are you lot headed?”

Gweth laughed with relief, gave the other woman a hug and said, “Looking for you.”

“Okay, but why?”

“Adwin is leading a mission to kill the sorceress.”

Alfi looked Adwin over, then the rest of the group, “Nearly didn’t recognize you Adwin. Hi Mokha. Del.”

Mokha smiled. Adwin offered a hand, which Alfi considered a moment before giving a quick, firm shake.

Adwin said, “We’re very glad to have found you.”

“Well, I found you.”


“What’s this all about? Does Andisal know you are out here?”

“We’re here with her blessing.” Adwin confirmed with a brusque nod.

“What makes you think you can get the witch?”

“Mokha. He thinks he can either protect a small group of us or maybe stop the witch from being able to cast her magic.”

Alfi looked to Mokha, “I’d not realized you were a mage.”

“Not much of one, truth be told.” Mokha responded with a self deprecating smile.

She frowned at him, “I was hoping for something a bit more reassuring. You sure Andisal knows about this?”

Adwin sounded exasperated, “Yes. We’ve a decent plan. She gave us a few pointers and strongly recommended we talk to you and your brother before proceeding. We’re hoping the two of you will join us.”

Alfi looked to Del who gave a weary nod, “It is true. Andisal knows. I wouldn’t be here otherwise.”

“Well, I can’t say I wouldn’t mind getting the woman. Crazy bitch. She certainly needs to die. It’s three of us though, we’re baby sitting a Roburns courier.”

“We’d heard, I take it Whyse didn’t deliver the message?”

“No, not yet at any rate. What do you know of her situation?”

“A fair bit. We hired her for the job. There’s also some other news she needs to hear. Do you guys have a place to get dry?”

She looked the group of them over, “A small one, you’ll have to take shifts.”

“Great. Lead on.”

Their camp was only a few hundred paces away, near the base of the land’s general down slope, above a deeper bowl shaped indentation formed by water run off. The bowl presently held a small pond worth of water, accumulated over the past few days. Whyse’s horses were nearby, hobbled behind a low screen of woven grass, they looked wet and despondent. The twins camp was partially dug into the upward slope of the land, beside a large stone. A pair of tarps and woven grass let the water run over the shelter and a small wooden frame made from gnarly dulmak branches, covered with grass mats, provided enough space for three people to lay down. Their gear had been wrapped in a tarp and stuffed along a ledge of earth and rock. Mokha also saw they kept their small fuel supply in the same area.

Adwin seemed fairly impressed with the shelter, though Mokha was less enthused. His friend put a hand on his shoulder, “It’s not the Greensly Manor, but it’s better than we’ve been able to manage for ourselves over the past few days. Do you think you can get people dry and fed? I need to talk to Whyse and the twins.”

“Yeah. I can do that.” He said without much enthusiasm.

Alfi and Adwin headed off eastward, generally up the incline, to wherever the other two were. Mokha turned to his companions, muddy and wet the lot of them certainly did not appear the sort to engage in heroics, “Okay, this might be our only chance to get dry, so, while there’s not much rain, let’s get any tinder or fuel over here so it can dry as I work. Calathy, if you could see to getting some food ready? Who knows how to weave grass? Gweth, great, see if you can get another shelter up, maybe on the other side of the rock here. If a couple people could help Cal and Gweth, that would be fantastic. You three, strip down, you’re going to have to hold your clothes above the fire for now. I’d suggest starting with some undergarments, they should dry faster.”

Surprisingly things went pretty smoothly. While drying clothes and tinder, cooking a bit food and getting a second shelter built took considerable time, Mokha was able to get the first three dried out and sent them to rest. The others ranged to the west, looking for fuel, food and anything else that might prove useful. They were able to improvise a drying line between the rock and a stick that Chance Delight found. Del and Sefla saw to the animals and they, along with Chance, were the next three to get dried off and sent to the new shelter to get some rest. Thankfully the rain was minimal, and it appeared as though the cloud cover was dispersing.

By the time Adwin and the other three returned to camp there was some food for them and everyone else had eaten. The late arrivals were dried off and the first six to take some rest were roused, then they all gathered for a quick discussion. Mokha was feeling pretty drained by this point, he sat down tiredly beside Sefla as Adwin started relating the plan they had come up with.


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