The TAB: Hanlon is down three. everyone else is even
Who doesn’t like hugs? I mean they are a very important part of childhood development. They have been shown to strengthen the immune system. They increase feelings of well-being. They are supposed to make you happy. But I swear by all that is holy, if I never have another hug, it’ll still be too soon.
After our shenanigans with the giants, we make camp. We set a watch, but night continues uneventfully until day. Everyone gets lots of sleep and feels pretty good by morning. That is, until we look outside the tent and realise that a dense fog has rolled in, reducing our visibility and giving us a bit of a chill.
We make fantastic time for the first 400m, but are stopped short by a 100ft ravine that blocks our way. We search for paths, but quickly give up and decide to walk upriver (there is a small river/creek on the bottom of the ravine) and explore the headwaters. I valiantly volunteer to descend to the floor of the ravine while the rest of the companions continue along the ridge. I thought I was paying close attention, but soon was involuntarily receiving my first hug of the day. Quicksand – I haven’t seen quicksand since I was a young child. And this is the good stuff too. I slowly start to sink past my knees and make a quick call for help from the group above. After setting a grapple, the entire group, except Garion, scrambles down the hill by way of the rope to the bottom of the ravine. I make sure to warn them of the areas of quicksand that I can see from my position – which is getting lower.
While they decide on a course of action, I receive my second hug of the day, a fairly large reticulated python. To their credit, the appearance of the snake really gets the team into motion. I am hit in the chest by Gam’s spider web and although he tries with all his might, I am well and truly stuck and well and truly being held by the snake. Tierra attempts to whack the snake with a spiritual hammer, but is unsuccessful. Garion attempts to aim his crossbow from the ridge, but realises that all the targets are too close to make a safe shot, so he slides down to join the fray.
Roark watches, thinking it’s a bit big for him, but then his instincts take over and he attacks. I’m taking a bit of a beating since I can’t reach my weapon and I can’t free my legs, and I have this great snake wrapped around me, cracking ribs and squeezing away my life. Tiran gets close enough to cast a spell the gives me (and the others around him) more strength/endurance?, and Tierra throws a much needed blessing of healing energy my way. Garion puts on the mighty glove and cleaves mightily into the snake. Tierra throws out a walk on water spell and although I feel much lighter in the sand, I’m still held back by the extra weight around me. I manage to work a hand free and attack with a flurry of blows. We brutally hack, slash, punch, scratch, talon, and yell at the snake and eventually prevail with Gam dealing the final killing blow.
In my much weakened state, I am still not delirious enough to forget to loot the body, and surprisingly find 12 gold pieces. Wasn’t worth it. Gam and Gar pull me out of the quicksand, but in the process, the brothers manage to get themselves a bit stuck. Before long, we are all extricated. We collect our dropped gear and Roark retrieves the grapple from the lip. I receive more blessings through Tierra and can eventually feel my extremities and breathe without pain.
We make our way to the headwater whilst evading the lurking quicksand areas and after an extensive search, realise that we have wasted a bunch of time. We cross the creek and, following our noses, locate some sulphur, which Tiran collects. Our travel westward for the rest of the day is uneventful and we make camp at 1730. Spells are expended and everyone is made healthy and comfortable. Gam and I spend about 5 hours training with the knife while on watch together. He is really coming along. We wake Tierra to return the knife before she goes on duty.
Night, as it sometimes does, continues until day.
We wake to thicker fog and colder temps. We continue westward and then the weird shit starts happening… the fog parts and we can see that something is not right. The fog seems to be magically dispersed in our immediate area and we have a clear view of a tunnel with sloping walls to a point well above us.
A masked raven on the left side, 20ft in the air, hails us with “Seven souls entering – Garion, Gamalian, …, Nova Khaaa” It uses all our full names (I get “Hanlon the Serene” – more a title than a name) and includes both birds. Nova responds with a “Khaaa.” We try to engage the raven, but it acts as if we are not there.
The trees are different, the shadows are longer and it’s darker. To the left is a white oak with dark leaves. We make plans to go right. I don’t really care, just as long as no one hugs me.