The barrels of ale were delivered, but that didn’t make the brash young fools particularly interested in going to the nobles’ party. The dwarves weren’t the fondest of the human nobles, as they were quite stuck up. Living around dwarven stubbornness all the time, Cael’yn could imagine where they would butt heads. Besides, drunk human might criticize something that Skaldor makes, and then he might go all rune-happy in the place. All in all, it just wasn’t a good mix. Besides, the dwarves no doubt would have just complained that the ale was watered down and of poor quality—an obvious argument since they had watered down the ale in the first place.
With little argument, they went to the main part of town where the peasants and other commoners were celebrating the holiday. There was a large bonfire, one Cael’yn had a difficult time pretending was made using already dead tree limbs, but still wasn’t too fond of going near. Some humans were dancing around a fire, and others were drinking, eating, and generally enjoying the merriment. There were a few carts with…junk, trinkets perhaps, for the following day. The wood elf wasn’t quite sure what they were celebrating exactly. Everyone seemed jovial, and yet the pieces of conversations that she could pick up and understand about the following day implied that it was dangerous and everyone would be staying inside. Why not prepare for whatever affront was coming by boarding windows, or getting weapons for self-defense?
Passing up on the trinkets for the following day, Cael’yn instead pondered between two food carts. The first offered stew in bowls, though she could tell immediately that not everything in the bowl was what she would consider edible, it likely wasn’t the worst in flavor. The next stand looked more popular, and she could understand that the name ‘Chance a Lance” meant something to do with luck, and something to do with battle, or fighting. She walked over to the stand, and tried to enquire about the kabobs, as she had actually thought they looked tasty, which was either a testament to the human chef, or the drugs that may or may not have been thrown in the bonfire.
The human was pretty nice, patient enough to try to explain that it was a competition to eat the kabob before the sand had drifted back to the bottom of the hour glass. The ‘lance,’ he gestured, was actually the kabob itself, and Cael’yn got to see someone else try the challenge, which made it perfectly clear. Though she wasn’t sure if she wanted two kabobs, it was a friendly challenge, and it wasn’t a competition against another, which was refreshing. Cael’yn paid, and out of nowhere—or perhaps just because Helga was beside her the entire time and Cael’yn hadn’t been looking down—the dwarf paid the brass for a kabob as well. They were handed the kabobs at roughly the same time, and the human quickly turned the sand bottle over.
There was only 30 seconds in the challenge, and while Helga practically shoved the entire ‘lance’ into her mouth to consume as much as possible, Cael’yn saw little urgency. Helga had finished her kabob in a matter of seconds, and she cast a triumphant glare towards Cael’yn. Normally, Cael’yn didn’t think of herself as a competitive person, but Helga’s performance threw her off. The next few seconds passed with little progress being made by the elf, but in the last few moments, Cael’yn threw the whole thing down as if she had just been waiting the whole time to really begin. They both earned new kabobs, and while Cael’yn ate hers slowly, Helga gave hers to Skaldor.
They walked for a little while longer, and the dwarves stood on the side, watching the human dance. Cael’yn got bored of watching after a little while, and decided to join in. She may not have been dancing the best, but the children seemed to enjoy her, and she soon had a ring of small human children laughing and giggling around her. Cael’yn felt a small jab on her back, and turned to see a small human child running away. She had seen games like this when she was working in the blacksmith’s shop. The children poked each other, ran away, and then chased after each other. Rather delighted to be included in their game, Cael’yn chased the small boy, barely noticing that she had followed him out of the group of humans and straight into the forest.
They soon came upon a clearing, and Cael’yn attention went to a giant black stone in front of her. She hadn’t seen many before, but she knew it was not a good place to be. Even if she hadn’t gotten the vibe of ‘creepy ritual sacrifice,’ from the stone, the decaying parts of animals on sticks around it, and the feeling of death among the trees would have been more than enough to tell her to run away. The human went towards the stone though, and Cael’yn rushed forward to grab the child before he touched it. “No!” She was sure she had the word right, ‘no’ being one of the first that she had learned from the humans. Were they really so stupid that they had to touch everything? Or did the child not feel the same sense of impending doom as she did? Before she could make a gross over-generalization of humans, the boy turned into a small ball of white light and flitted off to the forest.
‘Damn sprite,’ Cael’yn thought to herself, sure that it was some sort of Fae trick now. She backed away before she ended up too close to the stone, and only then heard the sound of… hooves? It didn’t sound quite like horses, though, a realization that was confirmed when she heard a distinct roar of… some sort of beast. Turning towards the sound, she saw Helga and Skaldor. They had really followed her out here? She would have complained that they were being too clingy, but right now she was actually grateful for their… Curiosity? Clinginess? Concern? Whatever it was, Cael’yn decided that she and the dwarves needed to go, when the source of the hooves reached the clearing, and Cael’yn saw the beast-men.
The elf didn’t know that the stone was a place of ritual sacrifice for the beast-men, that they were uncommon sights, but apparent in folklore. She was not aware that the only way to destroy a stone was not to break it at all, but to find someone pure of heart and spill some amount of blood on the stone. Helga, being a bit of a bookworm when it came to folklore, was quite aware of these things, and the beast-men that worshiped them. The information was only really helpful to the group in the manner that trying to talk their way out, as they had with the giant, was probably not the best course of action. Cael’yn didn’t need it anyway, as the creatures rushed towards her and she managed to parry their attack with her short-sword, and even swipe one of them across the gut.
Her friends jumped into the fray, and she felt a bit more… at ease. Granted, Cael’yn hadn’t often been in fights where her opponents had died, but something about there being more than one focus, more than one target, made her a bit more comfortable. Despite the chaos of the situation, they managed to stay calm, maintaining their ground as they fought against the 4 creatures, three that were obviously minion, and one that seemed in control. The one in control said something about killing, and since he didn’t retreat, Cael’yn took it as a threat and continued the assault. Helga managed to finish off the boss after they landed quite a few blows. Unfortunately, the others were committed to the fight, and didn’t run off as Cael’yn had secretly hoped. She attacked one of the minions with full force, and killed him outright. Immediately following her, Skaldor managed to kill two with a single blow from his great hammer.
The beast-men lay dead on the ground, and the brash young fools were barely injured. Cael’yn began to back away from the stone and dead bodies. Turning to Helga, Cael’yn tried to figure out the best words to convey her thoughts. “We should…go tell about…” She gestured to the stone, referring to the entire encounter. There had been a strange stone that was obviously hurting the forest, some beast-men attacking them, and the group had killed them. Since she had been imprisoned for throwing a punch, Cael’yn was hesitant to go to the human nobles about the event, but still believed that being honest and straight-forward was the best option. Helga agreed, but first ensured that the grudge regarding the beast-creatures was properly recorded in the book.
When the dwarf was satisfied with her grudge keeping, the group made their way to the castle where they had delivered the ale earlier that day. Instead of the sounds of jovial partying, though, the group rounded the corner to see the gate under attack. There was one very large beast, and six other creatures that looked more like what the group had just fought. Well, at least they didn’t need to tell the nobles about the fact that there were beast men about, since clearly they were here too. Along with the two guards, one human and one noble, fighting the beasts, many of the guards up on the wall were throwing rocks, because apparently guards on the wall of a castle wouldn’t think to have arrows in case of an attack. There was also a food vendor, halfling who barely stood above his cart, and a woman who looked better dressed than the peasants had been.
The halfling’s cart was called Taste Purrfections, and he had been in competition with the human kabob vendor after Cael’yn and the dwarves had left the eating area. The halfling, Clove, had won out quite a bit of sales, and was offered a position helping to serve food at the noble’s celebration for 4 silver pieces. They just happened to be making their way up to the home at the same time as the dwarves, unaware of either fray. The noblewoman ran and cowered, which was perhaps better than getting in the way as she was obviously unarmed. “Are you any good in a fight?” Helga posed the question to the halfling before the group was thrown into the fight as well.
“I’ve been known to tussle.” Clove responded, brandishing a clever from the cart.
Cael’yn understood the conversation to be something along the lines of “You fight?” from Helga, and an affirmation from the halfling, which was sufficient enough for her to know that she could pull out her own weapon, and not worry about fighting anyone else. The fight was much more difficult than the last. While the guards helped mostly by dying slowly and taking the attention of some of the beasts, the leader was quite interested in the newcomers who managed to destroy a few of the beasts quickly and efficiently. Perhaps he could smell the blood already on their weapons from the beast creatures they had killed just prior to appearing. He roared in a way that reminded Cael’yn of some of her opponents in the arena, always trying to make themselves appear bigger and better than they were, knowing the power of fear. It did scare some, including Helga—though Cael’yn was sure the stubborn dwarf would never admit it.
Preferring the power of the blade, and confident attacks, Cael’yn stayed close to her allies as they all fought the largest beast. He caused quite a bit more damage than the other creatures had previously, and Cael’yn felt the sting of quite a few wounds, one of which was clearly very deep. It would scar something nasty, though Cael’yn was sure that it wouldn’t be the first scar she had gained because of her experiences with the humans. Clove did manage to sneak around behind the creature and hacked at it, and Helga hit it in the face with her hammer, causing it to be critically wounded. They all played a part, and eventually, the creature fell. The last of the minions were executed by the ogre, but the human guard had already died. The guards on the wall stopped throwing rocks, and though Cael’yn had ignored them for the most part, she did wonder how many of the rocks had hit her and her companions during the fight. Clove was passed out when the fighting ended, though a quick check of his pulse showed that was all that seemed to be wrong. She couldn’t help but muse that he had been hit in the head with a rock, not that any of the guards would admit such.
Before they went inside, she tried to patch herself up a bit, and her friends tried as well, but none of them really seemed to do much to help. Still, since the wound didn’t particularly hurt her, she figured that she would be alright for a while longer. She had put a patch on the wound, though she didn’t think it was doing very much to help, and let out a bit of a sigh. “No hurt.” She said to the others, getting up and sheathing her weapon so that they could enter the building.