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Zosia's Next Big Adventure

Part I: From Hyarfalas to Agna

Part I: From Hyarfalas to Agna

After an abortive attempt to loot and pillage the undead-infested necropolis of Ëabar, Zosia managed to make a retreat back across the straits to the great city of Hyarfalas. There she booked into a respectable hotel to recuperate, and to plan her next step.

The feeling had been growing in her for a while that she really should see her daughter again, now a druid and as far as she knew, somewhere in the peninsula of the Druid's Tongue far to the north. They had not seen each other for some time; Zosia was unsure of exactly how long, since she'd spent quite a long time at one stage being steadily eaten (first by a dragon, then by bugs) in a cave somewhere,[1] until circumstances killed off enough of the bugs to allow her to regenerate sufficiently to drag herself away.

Zosia's nebulous feeling turned gradually into a positive foreboding, and she decided that she should act on it. One doesn't get pushed around by gods and things for long without learning to trust one's feelings, so she liquidated her assets as far as possible[2], bought some supplies for the journey, and joined the next caravan north.

Stingy as ever when it comes to parting with a copper penny, she elected to travel with the hoi-polloi rather than springing for a comfortable place in one of the first-class howdahs, and set off one morning through the rain showers and the piles of elephant dung left by the other rich folks at the head of the caravan.

The first part of the day was spent travelling through the outskirts of the city, through gardens, orchards and paddy fields. About mid-afternoon the caravan was disrupted briefly by a rogue elephant which rampaged across the trail, being chased by a bevy of excited peasants trying to keep it from destroying anything too valuable until it calmed down. Zosia, not wanting to kill the beast, and not having any entrapping spells, blinded it. Unfortunately, since it was already pretty much blind with hormone-induced rage, it had little effect except to make it blunder a bit more than it already was. The beast trampled through the caravan, fortunately without actually trampling on the caravan, and disappeared into the fields on the other side of the track, still followed by the hooting peasantry.

The end of the day's journey brought the caravan to the edge of the jungle proper, to a waystation consisting of a few bamboo stilt-houses and stables where the weary travellers could buy food and, for those able to afford it, sleep out of the rain. Confident that they were still in safe, civilized lands, the weary travellers settled down to sleep without a second thought. The caravan guards were perhaps a little less watchful than they might have been, and were completely surprised by the attack of an orc raiding party who rampaged into the waystation, killing as they came.

Zosia was woken by the commotion and sprang into action, chopping and hewing with a will and casting spells left and right. She engaged in a fireball duel with a tiny wizened orc shaman which left him dead and all of the waystation buildings (except the dormitory outhouse) burned to the ground. Alas, Zosia was forced to destroy the settlement in order to save it. Hey-ho. Fortunately, her part in the burning went unwitnessed by anyone who survived the night, so instead she was showered in kudos by those who had seen her chopping and slicing her way through the raiders in a more traditional fashion.

Regrettably, while the orcish suicide squad[3] was distracting everyone, the main body got away with their main target — the caravan's elephants. The theft was discovered quite soon, but nobody was terribly keen on charging off into the jungle after them and risking being ambushed with poisoned arrows. That meant an unavoidable delay while the caravan master sent back to the city for new elephants; the first-class passengers began complaining vociferously and the waystation proprietors began resignedly to rebuild their burnt-out station.

The elephants arrived late in the day, two days after the evening of the fight, and the following morning the caravan was underway again. The trail through the jungle was hard work for those not on top of elephants, but the caravan made excellent time nevertheless. Zosia was coming to understand why people wore so little — and especially why they didn't tend to walk long distances wearing heavy armour. Even her light elvish chain began to gall her, and sweating became the natural order of things. Fungus started to grow in inconvenient places.

After nearly a week of solid toil, without any particular danger except from a tiger which paced the caravan for most of one day before bounding off into the bush, the caravan at last broke out of the jungle and came down to Agna on the coast. Zosia looked forward with anticipation to a bath.

  1. The experience has left her with an abiding distaste for bugs of all sorts, and a positive fear of giant bugs. The bugs themselves were extremely pleased, as far as their tiny intellects allowed, to have obtained a perpetually renewed food source. (Back)
  2. An experience which taught her that although sex appeal goes a long way, it's just no match for plain old avarice and a good Trading skill when it comes to getting the best deal from your local money-changer. (Back)
  3. They didn't intend to be a suicide squad; it just turned out that way. Bad luck, really. (Back)