Rescue Under Sorrow’s Reach
(Zoluren: circa 349)
It was a beautiful day, the weather was terrific, and I was weary of hunting the Forest of the Night. The dryads and nyads had watched me come so often that they knew me by name. In truth, they had become little challenge. Only the evening before, I had gone hunting for the very first time among the S’lai Scouts, with a friend. It had gone well, so I decided to strike out in that direction.
But this time I went alone. My friends were elsewhere, working on errands, larger hunts, their studies, or even their rests. But it did not worry me, I often hunted alone.
As I walked along the abandoned road, I marveled at the sight of Sorrow’s Reach towering above the area. I visited the Dreaming Tree up on the hill. The time came as a Scout snarled at me, and I cautiously engaged it. The engagement was a bit harder than the night before, but I expected that, being all alone. With only a scratch to show from the melee, I dispatched the Scout, and continued along the trail.
More single encouters followed as I crossed the river and climbed up the embankment back to the road. Each one gave me a bit more confidence at my own skills, and so I continued. The old bridge let me gain access to the high side of the area, and so I explored further, all the way through the mountain up past the waterfall.
I had already noticed that my jadeite gwethdesuan was quiet. And the entire S’lai area was empty of other hunting parties.
But above the waterfall my confidence met its limits as two Scouts came at me at once, both wielding sharp scimitars. I took a deep breath and faced the one first, just as I had been taught. I was taking some hurtful blows, though, the two of them had me outmanuevered and outnumbered. Their skill with those scimitars in those days was somewhat legendary. The one finally was struck down, and I was hurting with one still left. I decided it was probably time for a strategic retreat.
I could not get away. Not in time. The next blow that found me stunned me, and then the scout finished me off. Dead. Right there in the middle of nowhere. None of my friends knew where I was, and there was nobody who had seen me in there. To complicate matters even more, the War Mages had been having terrible trouble with their familiars, and I knew if I was out of jadeite gwethdesuan range, I was likely also out of familiar range.
My favorite gleaming longsword lay on the ground, along with my shield, which had done me no good at all. My first thought as a corpse was to curse the tissue paper I used for armor. (Since then, tissue paper armor has become more useful, and certainly better leathers are available now, too.)
A young war mage whos name I cannot remember happened to wander by and tripped on my corpse as he fought the scout who had killed me. He scolded me for not helping him. I was dead, what could I do? He finally gave up the battle, told me to depart, and then he left.
Now, first of all, I do not depart willingly and simply leave my gear in the hands of someone I never heard of. And secondly, I was still hoping help would arrive. I asked him to please get word to Jhembryn or Joy as he left, but he never answered me.
Well, I rotted some more. It is simply no fun at all being dead and alone.
Redtail, a paladin of much courage and many virtues, had heard the cries of my very soul, and taken word back to the rescue party. Evidently they were searching high and low for me already. Not high enough, though. When they found me, I was so relieved, but even then, my greatest surprise was that they had brought Meret, the cleric, with them to rejuvenate me! I warned them all I had been dead a very very long time. Neither Meret nor my friends were dissuaded, and so the long process of rejuvenation began.
And so I gratefully watched as Joy, Theophrastus, Mokikikako, Jhembryn, Revela, and Phangor helped Meret restore what was left of my memories. My gleaming longsword was long gone, but at the time, I did not care, I had my friends. (Even if they wanted to lecture me about going out into remote places alone…and without telling someone.)
They told me to wait in town and they would bring my gear with them, and to depart. I kept gushing thanks, as best I could for a corpse, and departed. Luckily, I had made the proper sacrifices to Damaris, and such favor with the Lord of Dreams interceded with the Starry Host and a sure trip into the Void.
As the rescue party made its way back down the treacherous climb, they mysteriously ran into a trail of gold coins, which led them to a vast horde of S’lai. Evidently this gathering had a leader of some cunning, and my friends surprised them. One can only surmise the reasons S’lai might gather an army and then be unhappy at its discovery. But the Crossing and Arthe Dale are both close enough to S’lai territory for loyal citizens of the realms to be worried. And so my friends bravely fought each and every one of the S’lai, with Revela there keeping them healthy. Exausted from the battle, they kept on until all were vanquished and only the leader remained.
The taunts of the leader fueled their battle-weary muscles. He did not really stand a chance, and I am sure he knew that once his troops had fallen. Gurgling and dead with his army, they found his silver edged hunting sword, and between them all, they agreed to slip the sword into my haversack to help replace the gleamer that I had lost.
As tales of battle ground arguments over loot, and even outright thieving and lieing have grown more prevalent over the years, I always remember my friends who thought not of themselves first. I still have the sword. There has never been seen another like it.
They returned to town to tell me of the trail of coins, and their grand adventure in besting the S’lai leader and his army. They handed my things back to me (I had been sitting in town in a borrowed cloak for quite a while) and not a one of them said a thing about the sword in my haversack. Since they were all my friends, it did not even occur to me to check the contents of my belongings to make sure everything was there.
It was not until the next day, while I was rummaging around in the haversack for ANY kind of weapon to defend myself that I found the sword. I immediately went to look up Theophrastus, because I figured someone had put their good sword in my haversack by mistake. You know how that happens. Theophrastus just smiled at me and shook his head, “No mistake at all, Dreamheart, we decided it looked as if it were meant for you.”
I do not usually look back on death and near-death experiences with much fondness. But this incredible rescue under terrible circumstances, coupled with their own adventure and finally this sweet, sweet deed of caring friendship is not something I will ever forget.
I could not find a merchant who sold medals, let alone engraved them. I feel each of the people who helped deserved one. I did strike a bargain with the jeweler for 8 matching pins of white opal. White for their purity, the orangish-red fire in each opal for their bravery, and the silky blues of the reflections in the stone for their unwavering friendship.
Heroes, one and all.
Redtail, Joy, Theophrastus, Phangor, Mokikikako, Meret, Jhembryn, and Revela.