2 Firstfall 27th Year of the Dragon Age
With Sigge gone off on her own adventure, the two lads and dog head off to the Arl. His castle is decrepit and there they meet Alenka, the Arl’s steward, and Brannek, a fellow mercenary (who’s a sneaky dwarf completely unlike Sigge). Alenka leads the group into the (not-so) great hall, where Brannek demonstrates his nature to Mah’jeek and Boreas by swiping a gold piece dropped by Alenka. The Arl tells the group of his children, Joseph and Hana, who are on their way back to Stenhold from Denerim. The Arl requires the party to rendezvous with his children and escort them back to the keep. Alenka is instructed to accompany them and, as the group exit the keep, the Arl’s wife meets them and offers an extra coin payment in advance to ensure they bring her children home safely. Boreas and (predictably) Brannek graciously accept while Mah’jeek uses the situation to show his moral principles to the newcomer by making the woman keep her job as he says “pay me when the job is done”.
Our adventurers set off, guided by Alenka until they reach a wooden bridge over a chasm which has been destroyed. Suddenly a group of three Genlocks and a Genlock Alpha ambush the party. Brannek is the first to notice and whip out his longbow, shooting the Alpha in the shoulder and knocking it prone. The battle isn’t problematic due to Alenka being a magic user so her, Mah’jeek and Brannek get the weaker hostiles at bay with their ranged attacks while Boreas went toe to toe with the Alpha. One of the Genlocks tried to flee but was caught by Boreas after contributing to Alenka’s obliteration of the Alpha who seemed weaker than the others. The fleeing Genlock was forced to hold his ground and hold his ground he did with the damage he dealt to Boreas – which wasn’t much but felt substantial in stark contrast to the virtually zero damage survived by the other party members. Boreas finished off the last Genlock by crushing it under a (‘bout to be) felled tree.
With the area secure, the group begin their battle with the most formidable foe to date – an open chasm. With the bridge laying at the bottom, they try to cut down a tree such that it straddles the chasm and provides passage. They fail. They try another tree. They fail. Now that they’ve used all Mah’jeek’s rope (and made Alenka hesitant to offer her own) on trees which had both tumbled to the bottom of the chasm, they tried another tree in a much riskier manoeuvre. Thankfully it works (with no magic trickery needed) and Brannek bravely volunteers to go first due to him being the most dexterous of the group. Jump to him filled with self-loathing, trying to keep his little body attached to the side of the chasm midway down. Boreas climbs down and helps him up and his own failed attempt at climbing, before the dwarf starts an existential crisis from staring into the void too much. They get back to the surface and Mah’jeek cuddles the tree, edging his way across. Then Boreas tries to do the same thing. He fails. He grabs onto the side of the chasm (sounding familiar yet?) and climbs back up after taking bad damage from the fall and getting sweet heals from Mah’jeek. He tries again. He fails. But hooray, this time he landed on Mah’jeek’s side so he climbs up and ends up where he wanted to, so all was well (except his heart from stress and pain receptors from unimaginable and completely unrelated sensations). Brannek insists Alenka goes ahead of him and she gets across easily. Then Brannek remembers the rumours about local noobs who never loot their adversaries so he excitedly looks to the corpses from the previous encounter (which by this point happened well over an hour ago) before realising darkspawn corpses aren’t the best things to be up close and personal with (forget about darkspawn bodies that are still alive!). So he then attempts to cross the chasm and miraculously makes it across with no problems.
Alenka leads the group to a safe location up ahead and they stop to have some lunch. Alenka suggest that Mah’jeek go hunting (spoilers he gets nothing) and Boreas O Frosthold stand watch near the path while she and Brannek build a fire a little ways off the trail. Alenka and Brannek get some sneaky (non-)flirty convos in while gathering firewood and she happens to suggest a way to get more money out of the Arl. Brannek says he’s in as soon as “more money” is said. Maybe it was foolish, maybe the combination of a woman and coin murders his self-control. Alenka’s plan was to ransom the children rather that taking them back right away and Brannek went with her back to the others and convinced them to be in on it too (kind of in on it in the case of Mah’jeek with his strong moral code, foolish!).
They rest a little and continue their journey into a dense forest until Boreas notices a big fuck-off owl with red eyes swooping in towards the group. Another owl joins the funfair which consists of Alenka and Mah’jeek being badasses while Boreas and Dog hide in bushes and Brannek acts as a “distraction” as he tries to help with little arrows but really just wastes space and soaks up Mah’jeek’s mana due to heals. The whole fight Brannek imagines himself running away and leaving the others to die while the owls inexplicably let him go. It worked as a happy place to go to while his eyes were almost getting clawed out by massive owls that stayed at least twenty yards above the ground. Then our adventurers continue on their not so merry and rather pain-filled way…