Five days out of Gracklstugh the first drow scout was seen. The elf was silent and deft, but Donarr and Topsy’s eyes quickly picked out the skulking figure lurking behind the party. Kinkaid suggested an attempt to take the drow alive for interrogation, but at first contact Donarr’s bow took the drow in the throat killing it. With unease gnawing at the back of Kinkaid’s mind, he watched Donarr remove the arrow, a deranged glint of pleasure in his eyes and a smile upon his lips. The normally fastidious ranger returned the arrow to his quiver still dripping with blood, and Kinkaid noticed the bottom of the quiver had grown brown with crusted blood from past arrows.
Donarr had slowly grown accustomed to travelling in the Underdark, and now guided them through the alien caverns with all the skill and assurance he possessed upon the surface. Though his methods had changed. Gone was the patient study and disciplined approach he had previously used in his craft. Now he moved like a predator, instinctual and always searching for prey. On occasion, Kinkaid had seen Donarr cast that predatory look upon his companions, but always the dragonborn flinched, a conflicted and haunted look falling across his features. “What happens when he no longer flinches?” Kinkaid wondered.
Behind him, Athame hovered. The elf never remained more than a pace or two behind him anymore. If he glanced her way she cast her eyes downward and mumbled incoherent apologies, but never retreated. Over the last few days, he had ceased mentioning it, so as not to embarrass her further. Even in that he had to be cautious. One day he said barely a word to the druid. That night she silently cried, her face buried in her knees as she attempted to conceal her muffled sobs. Kinkaid did not understand her obsession, but he felt certain it somehow aligned with Donarr’s uncharacteristic behavior. It had become a delicate tightrope to walk, and Kinkaid had difficulty reconciling that the two companions he should trust the most had become, perhaps, his biggest fear.
Topsy and Seraphine had quickly become thick as thieves. Ranging far ahead, behind, and apart from the party. Almost a week into their journey Kinkaid saw why. The young girls had somehow recaptured the shrunken death dog from Erde and were attempting to keep it secret. Confronted by Kinkaid they confessed that Topsy had used the pgmywort to brew an elixir to maintain the death dog’s small stature and they were attempting to train it. From the multitude of rends and tears on both the girls’ hands and forearms it did not seem to be going well, but they were determined, and Kinkaid did not have the heart to force them to stop.
Most of his time was spent discussing theology with Ront and their newly found companion Hammer. The conversations were unique to say the least. Ront only cared about the stories of Umberlee’s fury and thunder. It did not take long for Kinkaid to realize that with his perceived failure to Gruumash, Ront was attempting to force his worship of Umberlee through the same prism with which he viewed the orcish god—one of rage and violence. Sadly, Umberlee was only too willing to oblige. Hammer, however, was curious how a supposedly good man could worship a being of such capricious evil. It was a struggle Kinkaid keenly felt, and he found it comforting to discuss it with the stolid dwarf with unshakable faith. Eldeth had joined in their conversations as well. The dour scout still spoke little, but it was obvious she had become heartened at finding another of her kin so far from home.
Stool and Rumpadump had remained inseparable, and had stubbornly refused to use their rapport spores to facilitate conversation. Fortunately, Hammer had taken the opportunity to begin the party’s education in undercommon. The language proved to be a close cousin to surface common, and despite some stumbles, everyone was learning. Kinkaid could not really blame the little myconoid for its new aloofness. All it had wanted was to go home, and the party had treated it as little more than a tool. In Rumpadump it had found a little piece of the home it sought so desperately. So it was with some surprise, that nearly a fortnight into their journey, Kinkaid felt the warm tingle of the myconoid’s rapport spores infiltrating his mind, and the touch of the others’ minds upon his own as their telepathic link was established.
“We feel home,” Stool’s childlike voice bubbled with enthusiasm.
“Indeed,” Rumpadump joined, “it is nearby. Perhaps only a few days from here. We feel its pull, and can find our way.”
“Home! Home! I finally get to gooooo home!” Stool sang.
Question to the party: Will you accompany Stool and Rumpadump on their journey home. Or will you wish them well, part ways, and continue to Blingdenstone?