Standing up, Tasius patted his stomach. “Well, since we won’t get any more answers tonight, lets just eat and get some rest, people.” Brynhild walked over to the wagon, sitting down with her back against one of the wheels. Tasius grinned as he saw her take a long swig from a large wineskin.
Promptly sitting down between Sursiria and Brynhild, Tasius settled in. “What more can a man ask for, but the company of two enticing women and strong drink!” Reaching out his hand, he smiled gallantly at the North Brixian woman. “May I partake of that fine beverage, madam?”
Brynhild blinked, thinking for a moment, then slowly handed the half-empty skin to the priest. “You are sure you can handle this brew, Tasius? It has quite a ‘kick’ to it.”
Savoir, handed out wooden bowls and spoons to the group and fed more wood to the campfire. He smacked his lips appreciatively. “Sursiria, you may have outdone yourself, this time! I have no idea what you put in it, but this soup smells amazing!”
The elf looked up at Savoir, the barest hint of a smile upon her face. She whispered, “It should suit our needs for the night, I believe.”
With the campfire keeping the night at bay, the companions dug into their bowls, feeling the hot soup warm their insides. Soon the only noises heard were the buzzing of swamp flies and the sounds of eating.
After a while, Tasius wiped his mouth with the sleeve of his robe. “I have had worse- not much worse, mind you- but yes, worse.” He took another long swig from Brynhild’s skin, swirling the liquid around his mouth for a moment, before swallowing. Sursiria, saying nothing, quickly got to her feet and strode into the shadowy foliage. Savoir snickered softly. Looking at the boy, Tasius stood and also quickly walked into the shadows beyond the campfire. Brynhild burped, crossed her feet, and leaned back, closing her eyes, while mumbling something about soft Imperials and strange elves.
Still snickering, Savoir began pouring what remained of the soup into the fire. With a start, he dropped the pot and stood up, looking into the darkness. The fire hissed and sputtered as the soup drained from the tipped pot. Savoir knelt down, creeping away from the fire. As he eased into the darkness, he hissed: “Something’s coming!” Brynhild jumped up, grabbing her iron battle axe; gripping it tightly, with both hands. She cautiously moved towards the road, trying to peer through the darkness.
Sursiria, now standing by the fire, followed Brynhild with her eyes. Tasius, looking a bit flushed, walked towards the campfire, straightening his robes. “What’s going on- ?” Sursiria hissed, between her teeth: “There’s something coming up the road! Be silent!”
Tasius moved a few steps towards the road, hand grasping his the symbol of Vexus. The sound of footsteps began to get louder and louder. Soon a figure burst into view: a man with wild eyes. He ran towards the fire, stopping as he saw Brynhild. “Th-they’re after me! You must help me!” The man was dressed in loose clothing. Savoir noted the man’s corsair boots and the cutlass at his side. Could he be a member of the Crimson Brotherhood?
Tasius stepped forward. “Who are you? And who is after you?” The man licked his lips, nervously, and looked back up the road.
“M-my name? You want to know my name? Very well. I am Renault, and you may call me Ren- if it makes any difference. I was at the city and saw you leave. I joined a caravan headed north, until it was waylaid by bandits. I fled, trying to catch up with you, until those…monsters, back there, attacked me! Now, can you help me?”
Ren reached into his heavy coat, fumbling with something. Savoir tensed, ready to hurl a dagger into the man’s throat. At that moment, flickering into view, three orbs of pulsing light moved towards the group, hovering at chest level above the ground. Ren backed up, pulling his cutlass from its scabbard. “Here they come!”
Sursiria abruptly began to chant words of arcane power, while moving her hands in fluid gestures. A shroud of magical energy draped over her form, from head to toe; shimmering, then fading to an occasional remindful twinkle- like some sort of ominous starlight.
The orbs were the size of a man’s head, with fine, pale-green tendrils, covering their surface. These eldritch hairs seemed to sway gently. As the glowing orbs got closer, barely audible noises could be heard emanating from them. Tasius yelled for all to hear, “Stay still! Perhaps they are not aggressive!”
The wisps swiftly moved closer; two coming within hands-reach of Sursiria, seeming to sniff about her like two curious hounds. The elf stood statue-still as the orbs flitted about her. She could hear the soft, soothing voices of the orbs calling to her. Another orb, the third, moved closer to Ren. The corsair stepped back, almost as if to run, his eyes wide in the light of the fire.
Tasuis looked about, not seeing Savoir anywhere. Swallowing the lump in his throat, he grasped his holy symbol that much tighter. “Everyone remain calm. Perhaps they just are seeing who we are.” He looked at Ren, who was slowly raising his sword-arm back, preparing to strike the wisp. “No! Don’t do it, Ren!”
Renault, with a mighty cry, swung at the wisp, cleanly cleaving it in two. He turned to the companions. “There, you see? It was going to harm me, but I struck first!” He raised his cutlass high into the air. The remaining two wisps began to buzz about, in an agitated state, their hue going from white, to yellow, to orange. “We have them! We ca-” Ren suddenly grabbed at his shoulder, wincing in pain. “Arghh!” An arrow protruded from his upper arm. The natural sounds of the bog suddenly fell silent.
A low, rumbling croaking began. The croaking came closer and closer. Brynhild looked up the road, knowing full well what was about to happen. She shifted her stance, instinctively balancing on the balls of her feet and ready to act. But what appeared from the mists of the bog sent her mind into a spin. Tasius exclaimed, “Gods of Light!”