Marcus awoke by some one pulling on his arm rather insistently. Couldn’t have been his turn to take watch but they seemed keen he be awake. “Stripes, it can’t be my time slot yet”
“You’d be wrong. Move your ass” she spoke just above a whisper. “Never enough hours am I right?”
“Yeah, and the grounds awful hard.” he grumbled, gently cradling Singer as he maneuvered himself out from beneath her. “We really need to find a town or something. Dosh should last us a while right?”
“It’s only barely enough for my debt, and if we spend any of it.” she drew out the pause giving him a meaningful frown.
“We’ll figure something out. Can’t run into Taldor bitches every day yeah?”
“Speaking of the city.” she looked pensive, not a common look for her. She turned away and put a little distance between them, standing at the edge of the rune encirclement Tamwyn had found the strength to draw.
Marcus stood up and came up behind her. She stood a full head taller than him, so it made embracing her a little strange, but he’d tried his best, wrapping his arms up under her own, curling up to squeeze her shoulders. “You seem like you have something unpleasant to say”
“Yeah, well. I was going to say I should go in by myself, but I don’t want you to worry, I’m not going to like dip on you guys or anything.” her shoulders squeezed his forearms, her hands laying on his own.
“You say that like I don’t know for a fact that I own this ass” he remarked, chuckling a bit.
“Hey, I’m being serious. Mark I-”
“And you’re not seriously thinking we’ll let you walk into that alone either. That’s before we account that Singer hates it, and Tamwyn sticks out like a sore thumb.”
“You don’t know these guys.”
“I can be quite convincing. You of all people should know that.” and he rubbed the back of his head. “I’m not worried. Least, not any more about this fucking doomed kingdom bullshit, that dragon, or those coiling bitches.” he released her a bit, gently pushing on her trying to get her to turn around but she wasn’t budging. “You really need to get shorter legs I think.”
“I don’t know, I think I like being taller.” still not budging.
“I’ll have to walk out of the circle to get in front of you. I’m at least twice as stubborn as you.” Finally budging she still wouldn’t look him in the face. “I get that you’re worried, but don’t forget, I worry about you too.” reaching up to cradle the back of her head, standing as tall as he could manage extending his legs, getting as close to her ear as he could “Besides, you’re my sweet little tomboy and you’re my favorite to tease you know.”
She pushed him back, holding him at arms length. “I get it okay, but you don’t have to keep doing all this. I get how that thing” pointing at his gloved hand “Works, but I.” she locked up, her voice betraying restrained emotions. “You don’t have to try so hard you know.”
He had used its affects a little more forcefully on her, something he hadn’t had to do with Tamwyn or Singer. While he didn’t feel guilty as such, his feelings weren’t pleasant either. They were still a fresh wound. Her hearts weave was chaotic. He wasn’t entirely sure what to make of it. The journal had a bunch of mixed entries, hare brained theories on how to deepen the connections, and what that would even do. He guessed that’s what eventually broke the guy.
“I’m not.” he frowned but stopped struggling against her. Some part of him, a sense that had developed the longer he had the damned glove, allowed him to feel her heartstrings constricting. Now wasn’t the moment. “But I know you won’t believe me. So, lets just.” scrunching his lips ruefully “We’ll talk about this more later okay?”
“Fine by me.”
“Get some sleep okay. Want me to kiss you goodnight? He offered.
She blushed, and looked away. “I’d like that. Yeah.” With Stripes tucked in, giving her a firm kiss that he had to stop her from letting it go further, he left her to sleep. Picking up Tamwyn’s spear he walked slowly on the edge of the circle. Gazing out at the night he had to admit, the place was held a much more beautiful sky. It had been most of a year since something dropped him into Hrot. While it had been a wild time, he was rather glad it happened now. Making it back safe to earth with the girls, might not be his aim anymore.
His shift passed uneventfully, the sun rising over the mountains to the east bathing the world in light giving him a clearer view. They were mountains far to the east, but he couldn’t see any other major landmarks of the like. They followed along the river as it wound, through wood and across plains till they finally found it emptying into a larger body of water, a small port town built on there.
Having taken most of the day, it was twilight as they drew close. Approaching there was a din just quiet enough to be unrecognizable noise, but they were somewhat worried. It looked as though some of the houses on this side were covered in webbing, others looking recently on fire with ash and scorch marks. The noise however became more recognizable, drinks pounding on tables and people cheering, turning the corner around one of the webbed buildings they saw some townsfolk mingling with others in armor, or robes typical of magic users they’d seen elsewhere.
A large armored fellow, with a hammer resting on the ground beside him called out to them. “Ho! You just missed it. But come drink all the same.” Still plainly being cautious they approached the tables set up for some kind of impromptu celebration.
“What is it that we have missed sir knight?” a coy smile from Singer came first.
“The festival of the swarm! It’s one of the four major festivals in Hrot, you surely know it.” his visage said something of surprise “And I’m not knight lady.”
“Not the part of Hrot we know. Least I’ve never heard it mentioned.” Stripes shrugged
“Wait! Did she say she’s from another region of Hrot!?” came a shout from a distant table. A drunken sorceress stumbled over from two tables down. She was petite, thick legs sporting thigh high boots light tan in color, tightly laced. A pleated skirt hung just above that, made of red and black plaid. Her top was a red shirt, ruffled at the neck accentuating her chests slight curves, with sleeves just past her elbows that blossomed into loose sleeves. Twin braids of chestnut hair sat beneath a hat that was crumpled, likely once pointy. “No one has found a safe path to another section in…” she froze at first, to do some calculations, but upon seeing Marcus clearly had something else displace that part of her mind. “I thought I knew every handshome ‘venturer in Wyrmrest.”
“You lot hail from Wyrmrest? The legendary city of adventurers? It was lost some nearly a century ago…” murmured Singer.
“Yes. Some of its greatest” the man who first greeted them piped in
Some one from a few tables back yelled over whatever he was going to say. “Don’t you lie to them Cedric! This was your first festival and only your first month as a paladin of Ayenor!”
This caused Cedric to throw his drink at the offending voice, turning back to argue with his harasser, leaving just the new sorceress speaking to the group. She stared at Marcus for a while saying nothing so he prompted. “Maybe you’d like to sit with us and chat, about some history apparently.” she nodded as the five of them took seats at the table nearest them with enough seats.
“So” he continued. “You’re adventurers from Hrot. We made our way here by a few hops from Roppour. You’re saying Wyrmrest is near by?” She nodded, growing redder by the second.
“Me thinks this one is lost in a land of lewd thoughts darling.” Singer said. Tamwyn gave a firm nod of agreement.
Singer wrapped her arms around the sorceress and whispered something in her ear, that seemed at once to make it worse, as her target seemed like she was about to faint, but then shook her head and started talking. “Roppour, that’s on the other side of the ocean. No one’s sailed across it since they summoned Jarlmagar the leviathan.”
“Well we didn’t sail like I said.” Though she at least confirmed one thing “We’ve been using some paths though the Doomed Kingdom.” Marcus finished.
“Lel Namdu Doran” she replied almost mechanically. “Yes, that would make sense.” her gaze rested on, well parts of Marcus at least.
Tamwyn mumbled. “It is a dreadful place”
“Eh, its I got to beat giant pustule covered lizard to death with his friend. That was pretty fun.” Stripes threw in laughing as she did “And wrestling that that giant gator on the lake you had us scoping out.”
The sorceress’s head was clearly swimming, but she was struggling to focus, and was considering the information. “But we’re really trying to get to Forsythe. I’m sure Singer mentioned that.” he said as he shot her a dirty look.
“There’s an archer. Well he calls himself a rifleman but.” she stopped, as if she debated explaining it or not. “But he said, he came from a place with that name, but he said its hard. The gate’s a bit funny he said.” her mouth pressed into a thin line, and her brow scrunched with the effort of calling memory. “Or something. He’s still in the city, he could tell you.” then her face brightened and she turned to Singer pleadingly “You can stay at my place, until you find him.” She nodded staring at the fox.
“We would be thankful for such hospitality. I am sure my darling Marcus would love to show you just how.” She winked as she finished “Deep his gratitude can go.” That seemed to shirt circuit the girls brain as a dazed expression of joy consumed her face before she dropped backwards out of her chair. “Now darling, was that not quite-”
“What did you tell her?”
“Nothing that is not true. I made no promises. I simply offered my opinion on the dish she was looking over.” Singer smiled, brushing her foot up his leg beneath the table. “My aim is to be of the utmost assistance darling. You make such delightful leverage.”
“Well, I suppose there’s worse things. At least she has a lead.” he ran his hands through his hair “And going back the other way, risks a run in with the lamia so we’re kind of stuck. Besides lets us fill out the map.”
“And she seems well learned. Few know the old name of that accursed kingdom.” Tamwyn observed. Stripes just shrugged.
“Well, she’s probably out for the night, but this seems as safe a place as any to bed down for the night.” He approached the Paladin Cedric to ask if he knew the sorceress. Upon getting enough info that he could use to find her later he and the girls went about finding a place to bed down.
Stripes grimacing at the heightened room prices considering patrons for this, swarm festival being in town, but Marcus calmed her with reminding that the potential worth of a path a map back to Hrot might fetch with the right merchant. He however found himself unsure of what to feel, when he caught the maids stealing looks, and Tamwyn informed him with much chagrin that she had caught some gossip about who exactly he’d have to be, to have such a retinue in tow. That was a problem for tomorrow though.