Ann Arbor Adventure

Traveling West: Part III

in which there is a suspicious mist

The party has been traveling for some hours when Anfri spies an unsuspecting rabbit and nabs it for lunch.  As it is nearing midday, everyone stops for a rest, and to eat.  Once they are packing up again, Branwyn pauses, a frown on her face, as she peers out into the woods.  She is certain she saw something out there.

The others look around, and are concerned to see a dense mist creeping up the slope towards them (hitherto it has been a fairly clear day).  Kai is nervous and strides towards the mist with his sword in hand.  Owain calls him back, because the mist is quite dense, and he is worried Kai will get lost if he goes too far.  Kai is about to return to the small clearing where the others are, but suddenly sees the figure of Ceridwen through the trees.  She smiles at him, and flits away.  Kai shouts at her to wait, and runs off after her.  Owain, alarmed, follows.  Murphy grabs his bags and also follows, but pauses because Chava's horse is refusing to budge.  He helps her to get the stubborn animal moving, but by the time they are on their way, they have lost sight of Kai and Owain.  Hoping they are going in the right direction, Murphy moves out, followed by Chava and Branwyn, who is still nervously looking around.  She keeps seeing strange shadows in the mist.

Owain is initially very upset with Kai for leaving the others, but is too concerned about being left behind (and therefore all by himself) to do more than protest indignantly.  Kai pays little to no attention to Owain, and keeps babbling about seeing her, and having to catch up.  He's practically running after some shadow he sees between the trees.

The other three are moving cautiously through the misty forest when they are startled by eerie screeching.  The horses, already spooked, take off, dragging Chava with them.  Murphy rushes to keep up, and miraculously doesn't lose site of them long enough to be left behind.  Chava unsuccessfully tries to stop the horses with a spell, but later manages to calm them through more traditional means.  Once they have stopped, and Murphy (panting for breath) catches up to them, she braids some herbs into their manes to prevent further panics.  

Branwyn's immediate reaction was to mount her own horse and charge off after her companions, but with the mist, and the trees, and trying to keep her seat by ducking under branches, she quickly manages to lose them in the shifting fog.  Frustrated, she dismounts and begins searching for their trail.

Once they realize that they have lost Branwyn as well, Murphy and Chava proceed to be very nervous.  As Murphy points out, they have been separated from all of the people with pointy sticks.  Murphy decides his best alternative is to attempt to call Anfri, who will hopefully be able to reunite them with their companions.  He does this by conjuring the wolf out of the mist.  Anfri is grouchy, but remarkably understanding.  He resumes leading Murphy and Chava down the mountain, although he does it with some grumbling under his breath.

Branwyn eventually finds the tracks of her companions, and begins following them, but soon finds herself approaching a band of those menacing imp creatures.  One hears her approach, and sounds the alarm, so Branwyn strings an arrow and shoots it.  Her next shot goes wide, as the creatures charge her, and she switches to her sword and shield.  One against five, Branwyn is hard pressed.  Her chest armor is shredded, nearly to pieces, and finds herself quickly knocked to the ground.  Luckily for Branwyn, it's actually two against five, because her horse lets forth an indignant whinny, and grabs the creature off of Branwyn's chest and slams it into a tree (2 to 4 now).  Branwyn is able to stand up, and beats away another creature with her shield (2 to 3).  She makes it to her horse, and mounts, with the thought of making a quick exit, but the horse has no intention of leaving. From the horses's back, Branwyn is able to strike one of the creatures with her sword, while the horse tramples another underfoot, taking a long scratch in the shoulder.  On her next attempt, Branwyn loses her grip on her sword, but thankfully, the two remaining creatures, both injured, elect to run away rather than stand and fight.  Branwyn breathes a sigh of relief, grumbles about the awful shape of her armor, which being made of soft leather, was easily sliced by the creatures' claws, recovers her sword, and treats the horse's wound.  As they set off, again attempting to follow the trail, Branwyn realizes that she probably ought to give the horse a name.

Owain amazingly manages to keep up with the breakneck pace Kai sets, and by the end of their chase, he can almost see something himself, though he would never own up to it.  Suddenly, they leave the woods and the mist behind, and find themselves standing at the edge of a long valley plain.  Kai stops, frustrated.  He has lost sight of the goddess.  He glumly turns around, ready to head back to the group, but Owain stops him.

"Are you insane?  You want to go back into the mist?  We don't even know where they are?"

Kai grumbles that he can follow their tracks back, but it seems there is no trail to follow.  He starts hollering for the others, but is quickly shushed by Owain, because shouting for people when you're all alone at the edge of a scary patch of woods is probably a very bad idea.  Eventually, as the sun is near to setting, Kai and Owain make a camp, both grumpy with each other.

Nearly a dozen miles away, around a bend in the valley, Murphy, Chava, and Anfri make camp.  Murphy says his prayers, and is very glum, predicting that it will be a long night without others to share watches.  Chava just rolls her eyes at him and sets up a protective circle.

A few miles upslope, where the mist is starting to clear, Branwyn sets up her own camp.

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