Chapter 8: Reckonings


Narnae frowns down at the brambles unhappily, knowing that they cannot expect Naomi to leave iwthout her pet and yet the dangers of going into the brambles to search for the cat are high. If all have witnessed the illusion of hands then some creature down there is able to toy with their minds there is a great risk that one or many of them will fall prey. Her experiences with the antlion are still fresh in her mind, for she was one that had been affected by the creature's aura of fear.

"Is there no way to know where your companion is?" Narnae asks. She knows that some wizards and druids are able to communicate with their familiars and some even to see through the creature's eyes. "You would know if it has perished, yes?"

Kyle's satisfaction with having the whole group on this side of the bramble-filled gully quickly dissipates when confronted with Naomi's insistent and increasingly frantic assertion that Pace had reached this bank on his own. Looking up to meet Collin's gaze in silent query, the Halfling then turns to the white-haired caster. “We have not seen Pace on this side of the gully, I am sorry.”

The petite cleric's green eyes sweep the bramble-filled ravine, pondering Narnae's questions. “Does Pace register to spells that detect the presence of magical auras?” The question is addressed to Naomi as Kyle turns to face her.

“If not, do you have something with his scent? Arco might be able to track it... though it means making our way into the gully.” The last comment is made quietly, yet there is no mistaking the earnestness in his tone.

Collin drew his sword and hefted it placing it lightly on his shoulder. He had no idea if it would do any good against the spectral hands that had sought him on his crossing but he wasn't going down without a fight. "I hope it didn't eat anything it found in there.", he says with a grim expression.

As if the mention of the cat was enough to call it, Pace comes sauntering up the bank of the gully looking none the worse for wear. It shrugs off Naomi's affections and resumes its normal place on her shoulders, licking its paws and nuzzling a soft hollow in which to sleep.

Pace's arrival brings Narnae relief. Though she would have ventured into the gully after the pet had it been necessary, she is glad that it is not and they can move on.

"Let us move on before we are delayed any further," Narnae's quietly calm voice interrupts the happy reunion. "We have lingered here too long already and I grow uneasy that the forest will thwart our passage yet again if we dally too long in one place." The grey hands too, make her uneasy; they speak of death and otherworldly spirits of which this wood has far too many already.

Collin nods in full agreement. "Yes, let us continue. If we wish to reach the spider's lair and hopefully some shelter before night fall we need to keep moving."

Upon seeing the cat emerge, and the group settle back in for the journey ahead, Thistle ensures everyone is ready, before glancing at what remains of the daylight sky.

"Let us hope the forest has exhausted its' malign spirits for one day."

The Elf then resumes their march, leading them dutifully through the forest toward familiar trees.

Sensing the unease rising within the group yet unable to locate the cause for it, Arco merely looks from one person to another, his tail waggling in nervous anticipation. Until the grey cat emerges from the tangle of brambles. Letting out a surprised yelp at seeing Pace nonchalantly making his way to Naomi, the big Labrador feels a staying arm around him before he can even think of bolting towards the feline.

“Now Arco,” Having materialised by his companion's side, Kyle gives the dog a gentle scratch at the base of the neck whilst making sure that he will not go anywhere until Pace is safe back on his usual perch atop the grey caster's shouders. “I know you are happy that your favourite cat has made it through without a scratch, but now is not the best time to go and... congratulate him. That's it. That's a good boy.”

Feeling quite relieved himself that they don't have to tackle the patch of brambles and the grey hands that dwell there, the Halfling nods his agreement with the rest of the group. “Aye. Best have a camp up before darkness descends upon the forest.” Reassembling his kit and distributing it in Arco's saddle bags, the petite cleric takes his position in the middle of the group as the march towards the spider's lair is resumed.

The group sets off, following Thistle's lead, trekking through the gradually darkening forest as the afternoon passes. There are no sightings of spiders, hounds, or other strange beasts to disturb the travels of the outsiders. However, after an hour or so they find yet another tree-lined, bramble-choked gully blocking their path.
These dice sets were omitted or moved: 1d20+6

Thistle pauses, peering along the edge of the gully, and then his head stops, and he seems fixated on one spot. He slowly drops to one knee, his normally strong, quiet voice almost stammers, an entirely uncharacteristic sound.

"It is not possible... "

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