Session 7: A New Day
Spring has definitely sprung around the old homestead. Roses are blooming, grass is greening, and rain is falling. Lots of it. I live in a part of the country which recently experienced a serious deluge. Fear not, dear readers, we are comfortably above the flood plain; so, we suffered no damage. But many we know did. Please, keep these poor souls in your thoughts and prayers.
In the meanwhile, let us turn our attention to less weighty, and more entertaining, matters. It is time once again to join our intrepid heroes in their latest escapade. This time they were joined by their cousin, my brother-in-law’s son. We’ll introduce his character in a little while. I must say, a party of three feels much more complete than a party of two. He is an enthusiastic and energetic player. This should be fun.
Last session Tenzen and Falconsight decided to pay a visit to the Sleeping Giant tavern, a known Redbrand hangout. They took one of Linene’s caravan guards with them and the inevitable bar fight ensued. We ended the session with the three of them standing over the dead or unconscious bodies of eight of the ruffians.
The curtain opens on this session with the aftermath of the fight. Falconsight gave the proprietress, a dwarf woman named Grista, some gold to cover the damages and Tenzen tied, revived, and questioned those Redbrands still breathing. They learned nothing more than they already knew; so, left the ruffians tied up in the bar and returned to the Stonehill Inn to recouperate and rest. It had been a rather eventful day, after all. They had begun the day at the goblin cave just North of Phandalin, escorted Sildar Hallwinter to town and been confronted by four Redbrands on the street, then had retaliated by taking on a whole room full of them that evening.
Restful sleep was not to be had, however. Whether it was just remnants of adrenaline from the fight with the Redbrands or something else, for Falconsight it was one of those nights when his mind refused to relax. For some reason he kept recalling a tale once told to him by Gregor, the village huntsman who had taught him the bow.
Gregor used to speak of a huntsman he knew as a boy who had a wolf that followed him around everywhere. It hunted with him and watched over him when he slept. Gregor had told Falconsight that the man claimed to have a spiritual bond with the wolf. When Falconsight expressed doubt about the story Gregor told him to ask Nicodemus about it.
Nicodemus was a weird old man who lived just outside town all to himself. He grew herbs and brewed elixirs that could cure most pains. The shepherds often went to him when their sheep got the pox. People said he could speak to the animals, make crops grow stronger just by walking the fields, and was the best dowser anyone had ever known. When Falconsight asked Nicodemus about Gregor’s story he had nodded and confirmed every detail. He even showed Falconsight the mix of herbs one could use to create such a bond.
Falconsight was pulled from his reverie by a faint yet unmistakable sound. It was the distant howl of a lonely wolf. He quickly dressed and left the inn with nothing besides his bow, some lamb shank he’d saved from dinner, a pouch of herbs, his tinder box, water skin, and a small pot. He walked off into the woods that surrounded the town of Phandalin and simply let the forest show him where to go. He soon came to a small clearing, only about five paces across. It was surrounded by tall old trees forming a natural enclosure. The canopy parted above him showing him that two of the four moons were out, Harp and Eye. There was no sign of Shadow or Trick. This was a good sign.
He heard the wolf’s cry again. It was still far off. He gathered up some dead brush and started a fire. He poured water in the pot and set it on the fire. When it started boiling he dumped the herbs in. Soon the brew began to bubble and a heavy steam rolled out of the pot. It was thick like swamp fog and smelled sweet and earthy. The vapour soon covered the small clearing to a depth of about two feet. Falconsight felt calmed by the late night air and the heady scent of the fog. He set the lamb shank down on the far side of the clearing then sat to wait.
Meanwhile, Tenzen was having a restless night of his own. He had actually fallen asleep rather quickly. Quieting his mind was a basic part of his training. Once asleep, however, he found himself back in his old monastery. He was watching as Master Quo was showing the novices a new kata. The movements seemed easy enough when the Master demonstrated them, but for some reason Tenzen was having difficulty mastering them. “You must release your feelings, young one. The Step of the Wind must flow briskly. You must move with the air around you, not cut your way through it.”
It had not made sense to him then. It didn’t make much more sense to him now as he watched his younger self go through the motions. Only after years of practice had he become good enough to earn a sash. After a few more instructions the class was dismissed. “Tenzen,” Master Quo said, “please, I would have a word.” The old Master had looked right at his present self, not at the younger self he had been watching in this memory dream.
Tenzen did not remember this happening before. Decades of obedience moved him forward almost without him thinking it. He immediately stood before his old Master and bowed. “Yes, Master Quo, how may I serve?”
“You know the Step of the Wind still?”
“Yes, Master Quo.” Old Tenzen said.
“Then show me.”
Tenzen bowed and took the starting pose. After a centering breath he began the steps and motions of the kata. ‘No!” master Quo stopped him. “Like this.” Master Quo began the kata himself, only his execution was far more fluid and held a sense of pent up energy. When his former instructor reached the power move he uttered the kiai and there was a rush of wind that seemed to erupt from his hands and strike the practice dummy 30 feet away. “Now, you.”
Tenzen jolted awake sat up. He quietly got out of bed and donned his trousers and tunic. Equally quietly he made his way out of the inn to the small stable yard behind it. He centered himself then began the kata. He let his mind relax and flow with the movements. He began to feel a building of potential in a way he had not been aware of before. He realized it was similar to how he felt in the middle of a fight when he knew he could make an extra strike. Only this time it was stronger.
These thoughts and realizations caused him to lose the focus and the energy drained away. He settled down and started over. This time he just let it happen, observing but not reacting. When he got to the power move he shouted his kiai and felt the immediate release as the energy flowed out through his hands and erupted in a gust of air that struck the far wall with a loud thunk.
He nearly jumped for joy. He quickly settled himself again and started another kata that came to mind. This time when he felt the energy building he did not release it immediately but rather held it for the space of two breaths, feeling it course through him. He reveled in it and looked about himself. He realized he could feel the wind on his face more subtly than before. He could feel the earth beneath his feet and even the heat from the lantern hanging ten feet away. He slowly let the feeling dissipate then ran through every kata he knew looking for more surprises.
Falconsight continued to wait in his clearing in the woods through the long night. He heard various night beasts in the woods around him. He saw an owl on a tree branch. It regarded him with curiosity until it decided he was neither prey nor threat and flew off. The night wore on. The moons arced overhead in their nightly voyage. After many hours he noticed that the forest had grown unnaturally quiet. It was the sort of quiet that usually presaged either great calamity or great wonder.
It was then that Falconsight spotted two yellow pinpoints glowing at the edge of the clearing. They held steady for several heartbeats then disappeared. Moments later they reappeared from another angle. He dared not move lest he frighten away the beast for which he had waited so long. He had not even known he had been waiting for this beast. And yet, at the same time he knew that he had been waiting all his life, ever since Gregor had told him the stories.
The twin yellow pinpoints moved marginally closer. Then the muzzle and head of a great white wolf emerged from the shadows between the trees. It seemed almost to materialize from the mist he had created that still lay heavy all about him. The wolf stepped into the clearing. It was beautiful, powerful, and wild. He was almost entirely white, with black markings outlining his face. He regarded Falconsight with a steady gaze, neither afraid nor quite comfortable, yet.
After a few moments it stepped over to the lamb shank Falconsight had left on the ground. It sniffed at it, then ate it in three swift bites. It looked at Falconsight, tilted its head and wagged its tail. The ranger got the distinct impression of gratitude and acceptance. The wolf padded over beside him and lay down with its head on his lap. Falconsight put his hand on the wolf’s head and just let it rest there. They stayed like that for the rest of the night, complete in each other.
Falconsight and his new companion emerged from the forest with the coming of the dawn and walked through town to the Stonehill Inn. The inn had not yet opened so he and his wolf sat and waited. Eventually, Toblin Stonehill opened the door and saw them there. He eyed the wolf a bit nervously. “He with you?” Falconsight nodded and patted the animal’s head. “Alright then. But he better not cause no trouble.” The innkeeper opened the doors wide and let them in.
Soon, Tenzen awoke refreshed and ready to consider their next move. He joined his friend in the common room and asked where the ranger had been. Falconsight answered by pointing to the wolf at his feet. “Had to meet someone. His name’s Daijzoro. It means shadow wraith. He will be joining us now. Daijzoro, this is my friend. Our friend.” The wolf raised his head, stood and sniffed at Tenzen’s hand. He licked it, wagged his tail and lay back down. “He says Hi.”
While they were making introductions another guest made his way downstairs. He was tall and thin, with long blonde hair worked into multiple tight braids that emerged from under an oddly shaped hat giving the impression of having a multi-limbed creature of some sort sitting on his head.
He introduced himself as Dio, the Story Killer, a singer of songs and teller of tales. Tenzen and Falconsight recalled seeing him performing the night before when they returned from the Sleeping Giant. Toblin Stonehill interjected at this point, “Remember what I told you last night, singer. While we appreciate a moment’s levity, we can’t accommodate you more than just the one night.”
Dio nodded, “Right, right. I got you. No worries. So, I heard you fellas are some kind of heroes around here.”
The pair relayed their story and told him of their intention to remove the Redbrands altogether. He agreed that sounded like a worthy pursuit, especially as doing so might improve his potential for earning a few coins in town. At this point Sildar had entered the common room and, overhearing the bard’s declaration said, “If you can, in fact, put and end to the oppressive Redbrands, and find out what happened to my friend Iarno, I will pay you in good Korreshian gold.”
This got Dio’s attention and he agreed to help Tenzen and Falconsight. The three discussed strategy over breakfast. They considered waiting until dark, but Toblin offered his opinion that doing so would only give the Redbrands more time to arrange their own retaliation. So, they decided they might as well get started right away. They would enter the hideout by way of the tunnel young Carp had found and take the fight to the enemy.
And thus we narrated our way through leveling up and met our new party member.
With the fight in the bar both Falconsight and Tenzen had reached 3rd Level. For most classes this is the point at which they choose their sub-class specialty. For Falconsight I am using the Revised Ranger from the Unearthed Arcana of 12 Sept., 2016. He, therefore, got to choose one of three Conclaves, Beast, Hunter, or Stalker. He chose the Beast Conclave. This gives him an animal companion that will fight for and with him. He wanted a wolf.
Tenzen’s monk is straight from the Player’s Handbook. At 3rd Level he got a choice between Way of the Open Hand, Way of the Shadow, or Way of the Four Elements. He chose the Four Elements and decided to learn Step of the Wind and Fist of Unbroken Air as his first two disciplines.
Tune in next time to see how the trio fares under Tressendar Manor.