Trillian recovered from the nausea that had quickly come over him. He worked his way back to his feet and pulled another arrow from his quiver. Only when the elf had brought the fletching to his cheek did he notice the Hangman's tree was moving away from the party.
No one else appeared interested in ending the faux tree's wretched life, so Trillian would follow suit. He then heard Anvil ask Rat to inspect the satchel and watched as the dwarf went to retrieve the spear that had been at the base of the tree.
Trillian took to guarding the party as they inspected the satchel and spear. He kept out a wary eye and looked for movement in the area. He would also catch himself staring at the slow moving Hangman's tree. He took note of it swearing to himself to never be fooled by another.
Trillian will keep watch over the area as the party inspects the items. He will take the time to look over the Hangman's tree and note the differences between it and a regular oak. He will also assist in anyway the party deems necessary with the satchel.
diligently checks out the captured, interesting satchel for traps or alerts. They have agreed Anvil, as leader, will open it, if deemed safe. Whatever is in the item will be appropriately used and/or shared.
Then he understands the adventurer team will head back from the diversion to the carts.
But first, Rat runs over to T'Sal and pats her on the back (He is yet too shy and awkward with the opposite sex to cop a feel) and says "I'm glad you are OK. We were worried."
As he does so, he sees Anvil go to retrieve his spear and the tree high-tailing it away.
As the group recovers from there adventure Rat noses around the satchel. he examines the latch and the openings for any sign of possible traps and finds none. the case is as it appears. After Anvil gets the rather servicable spear he makes his way to the satchel. upon opening several items are discovered. Several well drawn maps show Oak's Heart in great detail as well as the surrounding lands. a red x is marked on a spot of the western wall with cicles drawn around 2 of the inner buildings. some what crude portraits of Finneous and the Ol' crook are also discovered. A large red scroll case with a wax seal of a black hand(intact) is found along with a small black wooden box that is closed tight with a key hole on one side.
After glancing through the material in the satchel, Anvil looks at the rest of the group and says, "Well, it seems that there is more afoot than just random encroachment on the woods. The town needs to know about this. Lets get this information back to the woodsmen as quickly as we can."
With that Anvil starts to return the objects to the bag noting, "We can take a closer look at these once we have made it back to the wagons. We shouldn't lose time - and perhaps someone in those wagons will recognize that symbol. For now - lets make haste."
The group will resume their marching order and head back to the road. The rat will carry the satchel. (Group - this wasn't discussed, but since he did the deed...) They will attempt to move quickly - but not so fast that they can't keep their eyes open. Caution before speed, but speed is a good thing.
As they start to take off Anvil takes a quick look at the spear - servicable it was called. Does it look orc made in any way? Does it appear to have been poisoned?
"Sprinkles! Lets move out - and dog, don't go runnin' off again!" And with that, the group heads back the way they came.
Hingatuli Hammer called Muffin to his side and knelt down to scratch the dog's ears playfully, while firmly reassuring the animal that all was well and that Hingatuli was pleased with how the animal had reacted to the threat of the Hangman Tree.
He also gave Muffin a stern command to remain close by his side for the journey back to the wagon. As he knelt he wrapped his arms around the hound's neck and rubbed the right side of his face against the left side of the dog's face, allowing Muffin to lick the Cleric in a bond of affection that would ensure Hingatuli that Muffin could be counted upon to obey his future commands and come to the aid of himself and the party when danger arose again.
Then Hingatuli Hammer arose, scratching Muffin on the top of the head, while thoughtfully reflecting upon the vision he had received while in the wagon, before the morning's excitement had followed after the wagon wheel had broken.
He drank in the fresh air as the effects of the Hangman Tree mists became an almost forgotten memory, focusing his attention upon the vision he had received earlier in the day:
Suddenly his vision blurred and the sound of a war horn filled Hingatuli's skull as he saw a mass of decaying vegetation covering a steam filled dark hole in the bowels of a broken tree.
Words suddenly invaded Hingatuli's ears and skull, but there was no voice to the words:
"HINGATULI! Know that my eyes are upon you. I see your need and your cause is just. Seek ye this dark forbidden place. It will bring you understanding of what you are now up against. These dark times are just begining for you and your companions, DO NOT FALTER! I will give you the means to overcome if you have the wisdom to apply it. Prove yourself to me."
As Hingatuli Hammer's vision cleared his mind told him that 3 new spells had been received from his time spent in prayer and devotion to Clangeddin Silverbeard the Dwarven god of War much earlier that morning:
1.) magical stone
As Hingatuli Hammer pondered upon the vision and his unused spells, the Cleric wrestled with the fact that he had NOT done much this day to "Prove Himself to Clangeddin" as a worthy Cleric during the episode with the Hangman Tree.
However, Hingatuli took solace in the fact that a good warrior always takes notes of the strengths and weaknesses of those with whom he goes to battle with as companions in warfare!
This he had done well enough and plans for strategic action began formulating within himself as he reflected upon how his companions had fared against the Hangman Tree.
He also took further solace in the fact that a good warrior always acquaints himself with the tactics of the unknown enemies he may encounter, so he was now better prepared to take action against any new dangers whenever and wherever he and his companions were confronted in the not too distant future!
"Clangeddin I consecrate myself before you afresh and anew! Grant me the Boldness to Take Action and the Courage to Vanquish My Foes! Thank You for what you have allowed me to see this day!"
Hingatuli Hammer continues his prayers as he marches with his companions, keeping vigil to the right and to the left for any signs of danger or traces of the group being followed by any unseen friends or foes!
Anvil takes a quick look at the spear and notices that it is not great craftsmanship, most likely orcish, but hey a free spear is a free spear. The hurried trip back is uneventfull and as you start the climb up the hill to the top of the ravine you can hear the crack of a whip and the shouts of the wagoneer. As you make it out of the woods and back onto the road you just catch a glimpse of the last wagon as it dissapears into the woods in the distance down the road.
"Looks like we missed our ride!"
Hingatuli Hammer grunted in amusement at his own feeble attempt to make a light hearted joke about missing the wagons and having to walk much further than expected.
"You Stay Close Now Muffin!"
Then with another feeble attempt at using humor to make light of the situation, but mostly to remind his companions to stay alert in case of unknown danger, he adds:
"This may turn out to be a blessing in disguise! What with all the unknown danger lurking in these woods ... not to mention that Hangman Tree traipsing off without so much as a backwards glance towards us ... we better catch up to the wagons in case they get ambushed by some other monstrosity!"
Hingatuli Hammer kneels down and wraps his arms around Muffin and whispers a command in the dog's ears ... then he arises after replacing his Battle Axe with a loaded Bolt in his Heavy Cross Bow ... just in case something unexpected happens out of range of his Battle Axe!
Muffin stays close to the Cleric ... but as commanded ... is sniffing the ground a few yards to the right of the wagon trail as Hingatuli Hammer continues to march with his eyes focused and alert for anything that seems amiss!
"Well," grumbled Anvil as he watched the last wagon roll out of sight, "I guess we will have to follow on foot rather than ride. At least witht he pace of wagons we might even catch up to them. Keep your eyes and ears open folks - I'm a bit worried about an ambush on the wagons. Lets move out."
With that the group heads out down the path after the wagons. If they do catch up to the wagons they will want to speak to the leadman about what they found.
Rat hears Anvil directing them to follow the wagon tail after the wagons. He secures the satchel with his knapsack, so it easy to cary, leaving his hands free. With his sling in hand, and the silver dagger readily at his belt, he heads off with the group. Rat keeps his eyes and ears cautiously on the task at hand, but can't help occasionally glancing at the alluring T'Sal. He wonders if either of the two dogs are big enough for him to ride .......
And so our brave adventurers start a quick step after the wagons, the road is easy traveling and they make good time. after they finish the long straight trek the come to the turn and the smell of wood smoke comes on thick as the woods start to cloud with a fog of smoke. it's not long till they come to a fork in the road and can just make out the wagons sitting in the road. the horses are neighing nervously and sight is limited as the smoke thickens and starts to cut down visability. A shaky voice yells out "who goes there!!"
When the group hears the speaker call out - Anvil turns to the group and says, "Keep your eyes and ears open! We need to respond, those are townspeople up there and they may need our help. I will respond for now, the rest stay quiet. Hammer and I will move forward with the dogs. The rest move to the edge of the road - do not go into the woods. We don't want to get seperated. Keep your eyes open - watch the sides and the rear. Listen! Cover your noses and mouths as much as possible."
With that Anvil moved forward signalling Hammer to join him. He called out - hopefully loud enough for the people at the wagons to hear him, but not so loud as to announce their presence to everyone/thing in the woods.
"Woodsmen of Oaks Heart! It is Anvil Ironfist and group returning! Friends! What is the problem? Friendly woodsmen of Oaks Heart!"
Anvil will continue calling out such a phrase emphasizing firends, woodsmen and his name (I am assuming our names will be known to them. If other names in the group are more likely to be known Anvil will toss those out as well. But in general he will only say "Anvil and group" so as to not announce numbers to whatever is moving in the woods. Unless there is reason to believe some other names in well known, such as Rat!)until he gets some response. He will slowly move ahead with Hammer and the dogs, assuming the rest of the group will keep pace off to the sides of the road/path.
Anvil will have his sword and shield out and weapon drawn. He is ready for action should something happen.
He moves to the side of the road, stays low, keeps his mouth covered as best as possible, continually checks warily in all directions, and keeps pace with Anvil and his calling out to the beings ahead. Rat, can barely see anyone other than Anvil, Hammer, and the dogs, and he is probably very hard to see himself.
He will rush to support Anvil, if attacked, or will move quickly towards any Adventurer on the team that calls out. He will not approach the presumed wagon group unless Anvil directs. His mode will be to sneak behind any enemy and get in a serious backstab.
Hingatuli Hammer gripped his Heavy CrossBow with grim determination as he followed the directions given to the party by Anvil.
He shields his nose, mouth and eyes as best as he can while concentrating for any movement that would warrant the quick release of a CrossBow Bolt and he listens intently for any sounds in the distance or from Muffin that would trigger a response with his weapon!