The final member of our party is Paul, who is playing an elf ranger named Heian. His back story is still something of a mystery, but here's Paul's response to Mac's skill challenge:
As Travok returns to the fireside, Heian excuses himself and slips into the surrounding forest. This may be the last chance to enjoy his natural environment for some time, and Heian wants to make the most of it.
Heian starts his wandering spiraling out from the camp, keeping the ever-shrinking glow of the fire on his right. When the voices and dancing shadows are barely noticable, he stops and listens to the sounds of nature. He can hear the sound of a deer looking for a place to sleep and a badger that is just waking up for the night. When the wind rustles the leaves, Heian catches a glimpse of bright blue in the moonlight from one of the trees above, and smiles to himself.
Minutes later Heian walks back into the firelight with a dozen pheasants dressed, seasoned (using natural herbs), and ready to be roasted. "I didn't realize that my desire to spend time among the trees while we can would lead me to spending time beneath a pheasant roost."
With everyone's contributions, we beat the "hard" difficulty for the skill challenge - hooray! We were rewarded thusly:
The following morning, everyone having woken up safe and rested, the farmer's husband gives you warning of the path north.
"We've just come from that area. A terrible tragedy has befallen the area. Escaping, we are, while the going is good. They say the land is plagued with snakes. I've heard from them who've run while the snakes attacked. King's Guard tried to defend them, to no avail. Every time a snake was slain, more would arise to take its place. If only there were a way to keep them from coming back... that'd be the time to strike, says I. When a snake falls, to keep more from showing up."
He then rambles on for a while yet, but doesn't manage to say anything else remotely useful.
The farmer, however, has spent the time chopping up the leftover pheasant, mixing it with some diced vegetables to make a nourishing salad, and later that day you cross the borders of Brilidien, feeling powerful and ready to face whatever comes your way!
Ooooooh. This set us up perfectly for our upcoming adventure. I loved how this all worked out, and I really hope we can keep this up in the future. Next time: Kismet and Stumbleduck's reunion, and more about the trouble in Brilidien!