As the Travelers continue through the Hills of the Free Folk, the rough landscape begins to smooth into flattened plains and the sun begins to sink under the horizon. Faint howls echo from the east- a strange tension hangs over their heads.
The Travelers move southwest through the hills following their encounter with the Aenn Tunnelers. They continue for roughly an hour and a half before the sky grows dark and they decide to make camp. Xenlin and Kho Na’an gather dry grass for a fire, and Blaze becomes quite taken with a particular dandelion for roughly ten minutes (fumbles yay). Kho Na’an and Blaze offer to take first watch, which lasts them about three hours, before they grow too tired and decide to pass the duty along to Xenlin; before they rest, they tell him about the howls of wolves they heard off to the east and southeast. Xenlin continues to watch for another three hours without incident (HONOR. DIGNITY. PALADIN), and then enlists Caratticus and Voltage to guard them for the two remaining hours of the night; he neglects to mention the potential wolf problem. Voltage, immediately bored beyond comprehension, decides to go on a walkabout- he and Caratticus engage in a high-energy argument before the cleric finally gives up and lets Voltage run off to the east.
The wizard continues on for half an hour before hearing howls to the north, quickly approaching, as well as faint Orcish voices. He hides behind a low hill and listens intensely to the orcs; one, Gul’dak, swears on his life that he heard something behind that hill, and insists that his partner, Grub’nak, is neglecting this information due to his deep-seated trust issues. They continue in this manner for a fair fifteen minutes before Grub’nak finally agrees to look behind the hill.
By this time, however, Caratticus has woken the rest of the group; he and Kho Na’an have decided to go after the solo-playing adventure wizard. Kho Na’an has joined Voltage behind the hill, and the two play a very clever and stealthy game of “ring around the rosey”: as the orcs approach very loudly from the right of the hill, Kho Na’an and Voltage stealth their way around to the left. The orcs are sufficiently fooled, and after about 20 minutes more of their domestic spat, they continue south with their two dire wolves (who somehow don’t sense the young Travelers until it’s too late). Following this series of hide and listen checks, Voltage and Caratticus return to the camp as Kho Na’an decides to follow the orcs back to wherever they seemed to be going. This turns out to be a small stone building just over a rise; realizing that the orcs were unlikely to leave during the day, he decides to return to his own camp and tell his companions what he found.
At the camp, the druid still lays unconscious against a large rock; however, she seems to stir, and the Travelers feel she may wake at any moment. So, for the next hour and a half, just as the sun begins to rise, they allocate time to doing whatever piques their interest:
- Blaze tends to his weapons, spending a great deal of time examining their make and assuring that they’re well cared for.
- Caratticus decides to make “ration stew,” and it is surprisingly delicious.
- Kho Na’an teaches Xenlin a few basic rules of the Draconic language.
- Voltage studies his spells and prepares for the coming day.
After this, the group sits down to some 18/20 hella good stew, and exchanges stories and anecdotes for another hour. The druid has yet to wake; all seems peaceful for the time being. Little do they know, a presence still follows them from the northeast…