Returning from their scouting trip Saffron and Aamar share their findings. The group left behind tells a quick tale about how Cortez trained other scholars, including a man named Chorl. Cortez expected the Cult of Nak to have Chorl at its head, but as of now, Chorl’s whereabouts are unknown.
In side voices the rest of The Five tell the scouts that in the past Cortez wipes the minds clean of those that find the Tower, the Lorebook and himself. Only those judged worthy of carrying on knowledge of ancient ways can know what they’ve found. None know if they are worthy, but their quest is to get the Book. Maybe they don’t need to bring it back to Cortez.
They are going to sneak to that small village. Violence is fortunately certain, and so only Bernie the bear cub and Samul’s bearded dragon Boo come along. Bernie can provide help in the realm of violence. Samul and Boo are a pair. It isn’t an issue of trust, for Shonie and Saffron will stay back with the other companions. Behn and Mo round out the group.
Travel during daylight is easier. The volcano looms, there is less smoke than usual, but still small signs of something happening soon. They come to the first ridge, where Aamar and Saffron killed the escapee and interrogated his rear guard. There is more caution this time.
Mo heads to the top of the ridge and pokes his eyes over the edge. There is a group, they found one of the arrows. Mo indicates to his companions that they should stop and ready their weapons. This opposing group is masked, includes a goliath and five humans. There are two eagles and four wolves. Mo is a bit tense.
Good fortune! They follow another path, and head to the Mo’s right. It’s slow, but The Five can wait. That group heads off and is now distant. Another group of five or six, with their bonds, walks along the next ridgeline. They head towards the mountain.
The Five think they can slip into town now while those two are away. That would roughly be about a third of the populace, and now Mo notices a smaller group of three across the lahar valley and climbing the distant volcano. Maybe they can get into the largest building and snag the Lorebook.
Working their way through brush, trees and gullies they make their way to the west edge of the two. Two small cottages sit along the entry path that walks towards a stream. There are bits of forest along the hillside. Mo rushes through the underbrush and gets to the edge, leaving the less stealthy group behind him with about 60 feet of path and grassland in between him and the others.
Another patrol from the Nakists is in Maurice’s sight. Things could get hairy. This group has an eagle as well and a giant eagle too. Three humans, a goliath and two wolves round out the patrol. Mo takes cover, but not quickly enough. The giant eagle spots him. As it swoops down in an attempt to attack, little Maurice ducks underneath a branch. That bird will have to circle back or find a new target.
Spotted Mo knows that he will need support. He has it, as the rest of the group surges forward. Between blades, bolts (magical and natural), birds, bears and wolves there is blooding flowing quickly. Only one human from the patrol gets away and flees to the largest of the houses, a two story building that can host a few goliath. A single eagle flies off. The Five are slightly wounded, but move forward.
They are a few dozen feet behind that patrolman. He slams the door shut behind them and the loud noise of door bar is heard. Samul smashes through the door. His pit chain ripping through the soft woods. Just behind him are Aamar, Behn and Bernie. The brawl will continue. They force their way into the building.
It is a large gathering place. About 45 feet away towards the back of the long house is a stairway. A man in chain mail holds a large book, the Lorebook, in front of him. There are obstacles. A couple more patrolman and a goliath with an eagle mask, but no eagle block the way. It is a pitched battle. The weakened patrolman doesn’t go down first, but the all fall.
Anderson commands his group forward. They attack and The Five (but there’s only three and the bear cub. We’ll get to Mo in a bit) respond. It is another swirl of violence and chaos. Bolts of magic slice through the air with two hitting both Behn and Samul. It is a new kind of magic. Off to the side of their vision they notice a poof of smoke from the book.
The people are handling the guards so Aamar releases his bear cub on the leader. Bernie charges Anderson, the man with the book and wrestles him. It is a man in chain, a huge book and a bear cub throwing each other about. A fortunate claw rips into Anderson, he falls unconscious at roughly the same time as his remaining guards.
As those three charge into the house, Mo decides to try the second floor. He’s had enough of the violence. His first handhold gives out and a spear flies down past his shoulder. The second time he gets every hold, rushing to the window. Stabbing into the window with his rapier he skewers and throws aside that guard.
Leaping into the window he sees a goliath with bird on shoulder. It’s an unfair fight, but Mo tries. He’s weakened the other, but falls with a blow to the head. An unconscious Mo is becoming a regular occurrence, as is the slightly halfling’s success at using his rapier.
After taking Mo to the floor the goliath heads down the stairs in time to see Anderson fall victim to Bernie. Casting First Aid on Anderson the two are prepared to fight. Behn rushes the wounded leader. With a quick swing he falls again. Sacred Flame flows from that goliaths hands. The Lorebook and Behn take the holy fires.
The rest of the group offs the petulant goliath. Action is swift, but he gets another Flame towards the Book. Behn shields it from most of the fires, taking the heat himself.
There are no noises in the house. The large greeting and eating area has fur, feather, blood and fire about it. No one knows where Mo is. A quick Aamar shouts “UPSTAIRS?!” and heads there. Samul pops his head out the entry. Behn protects the Book.
Aamar finds Maurice just at death’s door. The priest of Quar casts First Aid and Mo is back among the living.
They’ve won! They have the Lorebook, as long as no one else is in the town, or discovers them as they head back to the Glass Tower and/or Telse.