Sunday, August 17, 2014

Wolfbang and the Beekeeper's Prophecy

Wolfgang resented Jaroo’s strictly-worded advice, but after some prodding set off for the Southlands. Although Danderion and Fernac slipped away to find their own fortunes elsewhere, Gerilynn agreed and Chickie begged to accompany Wolfbang in his journey. What’s more, Gerilynn had heard that a warrior she knew, one Vulpio, was staying in a village not far from Hommlet. Vulpio, for reasons he wouldn’t explain, joined the young druid in his journey south. Vulpio had a dog named Spot. Spot showed proper deference to Wolfie and the two canines became friends.

For several days, the new companions had no known destination but “south.” The steadily deteriorating road passed through farms and orchards into pastures and rangelands. There were no inns, only barns for their nights’ rest. Theirs hosts and the few people they encountered on the road had never heard of a village called Whitkey.

The party made their way ever southward over brokenlands and foothills. They slept rough, and badly. Wolfbang did not fully trust Chickie to stand guard.

After several days of overland travel, they reached a rough road. It cut east and west, but the party decided that even if it didn’t take them where they wanted to go, it least it might take them to a place where they’d meet other people.

The first people they met were a large group of armed men who identified themselves as constables. The constables did know of Whitkey and even the beekeeper, but advised the travellers that they should check in with the head constable “before you just go wandering around.”
The party agreed to accompany the constables to “Gold Hill,” a played-out gold mine whose tunnels now contained a tavern, an inn, a blacksmith, and a trading post—as well as the Head Constable’s office.

The party enjoyed a hot meal, some wine, and a good bed. The innkeeper, a priestess of the order of St. Cahsey of the Divine Workshop, gave them a warm welcome, asked polite questions about their reasons for being in Gold Hill, and told them a little about both Whitkey and the beekeeper.

According to Mother Brau, Whitkey’s last inhabitants left nearly a decade ago, “long before my time.” It predated the discovery of gold, and did not survive the sudden influx of fortune and fortune-seekers. Now the gold was gone, and families were returning to area. They kept goat and sheep in the high pastureland. And the Matofaa family had apples.

“And then there’s Nahnyuk—and his bees. If he’s the one you’re supposed to meet, I’ll let you meet him with an open mind. Everyone around here knows about him, but none of us really know him.”

The next day they followed Brau’s directions. She had advised them to avoid meeting the magician who had recently camped at the crossroads. The party heeded her advice, taking to the woods when they saw the circle of tents.

Their path brought them onto sunny, rocky hillside. They did not encounter the wooly old man they’d expected, but an odd boy of about 12 who was initially very excited, but then disappointed when he leaned that they hadn’t come to talk to him “about the prophecy.”

But then he did take them to Nahnyuk who was everything they’d expected and more. He was, old, hairy, and pungent, and spoke in a belligerent roar that only Wolfgang could ken any meaning besides undiscriminating disdain.

Nahnyuk kept not only bees, but also sheep, and grapes. He instructed them to build huts for themselves, pointing at his own and the boy’s as models. These were constructed of timber, dry stone, and mud, with thatched roofs. He spoke to Wolfgang only, using a combination of druidic language and some other tongue with its own grammar and vocabulary, and punctuated with growls, grunts, and punches.

The boy, whose name was Valu, was more sociable, though his main interests were “the prophecy,” himself, and the connection between the two. He was excited to learn that Wolfbang knew Jaroo, and told them that “druids visit here all the time to talk about the prophecy.” He was part of a druid’s family himself, being the child of a couple who had tended the sacred grove in Whitkey. They had been killed when he was a baby, “and that’s when everyone in Whitkey ran away.” According to Value, he too, was learning to be a druid and, as proof, he made Wolfgang glow purple.

He knew little about the prophecy. There was a “relic,” he said, hidden in the grove. And he was supposed to find it when the time came.

In between tending Nahnyuk’s bees, sheep, and grapes, Wolfbang and the others made jaunts around the surrounding area. Nanyuhk’s closest neighbors were the Head Constables extended family. Wolfgang showed great restraint in ignoring the taunting of the HC’s teenaged sons.

One day, Valu convinced Wolfgang & co. to accompany him to Whitkey. It soon became clear that he had little idea how to get there and had rarely gone more than a mile from Nahnyuk’s hillside. Near the magician’s encampment at the crossroads, they met a man chopping wood. He begged them to meet his boss, the magician. The magician, a man dressed in blue and black robes shd great happiness to see them, especially Valu. He asked his new visitors to sit and drink with him, and gave orders to his assistants—various other scruffy-looking men, in addition to the woodcutter.

The tea was bad and the meeting was short as the magician moved with clumsy directness to his point—he claimed to know something about the prophecy and wanted to talk to Valu in private. Gerilynn allowed this, but didn’t allow them to go far. She watched the two talking on the edge of the woods, but gesticulating with wild excitement. After a brief conversation, Valu returned to thank Gerilynn, Wolfgang, and Vulpio for helping him find the magician, and then to dismiss them, explaining he didn’t want to go to Whitkey after all. He wanted to stay in the camp and talkto the magician.

Was he sure? Yes, very sure.

So instead the party went to Gold Hill. They ate lunch and talked to Brau about their plans to go to Whitkey. She gave them directions—return to the crossroads and follow the main road west.

When they reach Whitkey, they had little time to explore as they heard a boy screaming. They followed the sound of the screaming to the other side of the village and met Valu as he was running up a path from the woods, chased by a heavily armored man wielding a sword

Gerilynn stepped in to stop the man with the sword, Wolfbang, Chickie, and Wolfie ran with Valu, and Vulpio and Spot ran down the path.

Vulpio encounter the woodchopper they’d met at the crossroads and the two engaged in a brief melee, ending in the woodcutter’s death. Another of the magician’s assistants, dodged Vulpio and ran up the path to attack Gerilynn, who was fighting the man in armor. The surprise attack to Gerilynn’s blind side gave the armored man the chance he needed to continue his pursuit of Valu. Valu, for his part just ran and ran, not answering Wolfbang’s questions except to so sob, “They killed them, they killed them!”

Vulpio heard the magician in a clearing at the end of the path, shouting, and knocking over statuary. Vulpio crept in for a closer look and, waiting until the magician’s back was turned, rushed into the assault him with his war hammer. The magician fell to the ground, and rolled away, fumbling into his robes to retrieve a potion. @After drinking the potion, he soared into the air.

Gerilynn soon got the better of the thug who attacked her but, instead of killing him, gave him a chance to save his life. Expressing his gratitutde to be free of the magician (“I never knew what a wicked man he was,”) the ruffian threw down his spear and ran away.

Wolfgang tried to guide Valu threw the abandoned village, but a wrong turn brought them to a dead end, pinned between a ruined inn, a massive thornbush, and the armored man with the sword. Wolfbang, wielding his staff, prevented the man from getting to Valu.

Back in the grove, as the magician rose into the air, Vulpio lifted his crossbow but before he could take aim, he was engulfed in a cloud of noxious green gas and he fell to the ground coughing.

Gerilynn arrived in the village to assist Wolfbang in his combat against the armored man. He fought fiercely, but was now greatly outnumbered. Again, Gerilynn gave him a chance to save himself, demanding only that he throw down his weapon and run away. This man wavered. The magician passed over them. Thinking fast, Chickies pulled out his dagger and threw it at the magician. The blade found its mark and the magician crashed into the millpond, dead.

The armored man ran away.

The party regrouped. Valu understood that he had been tricked. The old coupe who tended the grove told the magician that they knew of no relic. His temper was short and he ordered his men to kill them. The party also searched the grove and found no sign of what the magician had been seeking. They retrieved the magician’s body and found nothing out of the ordinary on his person.

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