The Eilythry World
Week 7, Rescue of Lady Ilaura
It's the morning after our midnight fight with the Eilythry, and we have just discovered that they killed 30 campers during the night. The party split up -- some members snuck into the outhouse and thence to the pantope for a little more healing. Others went shopping and info-gathering. There were lots of rumors but nothing organized. Lorelei got some meat for the Naza. Tom got some armor for Cantrel. David got a local bow, Arab-style in design, and learned the feel of it well enough to make a creditable showing in an archery contest later that day. Agrast "found" his book on Eilythry that Tecker had borrowed.
At the tourneys, Baron Fenmarch announced that there was a madman loose in the woods. His men were looking for him, and they would be happy to accept volunteers. Meanwhile, folk should stay in groups of three or more. So far so good, but then the baron's daughter, Lady Ilaura, mysteriously did not show up to present the awards at the end of the jousts. People clucked about a social faux pas, until the baron announced that his daughter had been abducted and there was a bag of gold in it for the rescuer. Armed parties started combing the woods, sometimes vanishing, sometimes coming back ragged and bloody.
Meanwhile, the pantope crew have been laying their own plans. We are planning an aerial reconnaissance by night, using our grav-sled and infra-red binoculars. When the Serving System overhears us worrying about the number of people the sled can hold, it recalls a vehicle the Captain once cobbled together for costume-party picnics. It's a genuine, certified flying carpet, a very thick one with the works from six of the pantope's floating trays woven in. It's completely unarmored, but it holds more people than the sled can, and steers by voice command. We accepted it gleefully.
Cantrel also accepted the store-bought armor Tom had found, and disguised himself in the Wardrobe department (in case he should run into the baron, who would undoubtedly remember Cantrel as the center of much mischief back at his castle). He also donned a wizardly-looking set of robes, as did Lorelei, Aphron, and Wu. They were the ones going out on the carpet.
David and the Naza were staying at the tent. Tom was to come back to the pantope for more healing, and to run the electric birds we discovered while springing Cantrel. On his way there, he saw a party headed into the woods -- the baron himself, and the two finest knights at the tournament, one of whom is Dame Janith. All were accompanied by squires. Tom intercepted them at the edge of the woods, greeted them deferentially, and warned them that he had seen haunts, or some such figures, lurking in the forest last night. The baron looked skeptical, then more believing, but said he still had to go find his daughter. Oh well.
It was now nearly dusk and time to launch the carpet. We waited until the coast seemed clear, then brought it out through the outhouse and up.... (Alas, the coast was not entirely clear. Though none of the characters noticed it, the players were told that Agrast the Charlatan happened to see the launch. "Now THAT'S charlatanry!" he murmured admiringly.) Tom deployed two guided birds, and David and Pfusand stood at the ready back in the tent.
First on the list was that ring of thorn bushes we found yesterday afternoon. In encircled a chunk of forest a few miles distant. Inside was a circular earthen wall, and at the center of that was a mound with a large tree growing from it. All the trees within the thorn hedge were a darker, shinier green than the forest norm. Around the central tree, some lights were glowing. One was fire-colored, but one was whitish. From somewhere in the tree itself cam a blue glow.
Lorelei had brought Tom's diadem detector. It continued to flicker and blur, as it has usually done in this locale, but for one shining second it pointed straight down at the tree. No one was surprised.
Then one of Tom's birds spotted Lady Ilaura. She was tied to a tree, with a sack over her head, guarded by three nervous-looking humans. Yes, humans. As the bird watched, a fourth man stumbled into the clearing, looking bloody and scared. It was a councilor we had seen back in the baron's castle. We have stumbled on a nest of intrigue, and the nest of intrigue has stumbled on a nest of angry aliens.
Tom relayed this information to the carpet-riders and the horse and her boy. (I wonder what it's like to work with a normal group.) There followed a lengthy debate on what the party should do about all this.
While this went on, the other bird came upon the baron's party. Tom tracked them, and noticed that two Eilythry were doing the same. The bird twittered for all it was worth and spoiled an ambush. When the fighting was over, the Eilythry were dead and one page was knocked out. The party had meanwhile agreed that we could at least guide the baron to his daughter, so Tom set the bird to singing again, and fluttering repeatedly in Ilaura's direction. The baron's party knew their fairy tales and recognized a bird of portent when they saw one. ("Look, Janith! A Greater White Crested Portent.") They followed.
Tom sent out a third bird (rather startling the gent using the outhouse at the moment), and used it to guide the Naza and David. The carpet-riders decided to drop off Lorelei and Aphron, who could fight mundanely. Wu and Cantrel were still hurting from the last fight, and only equipped to fight with ray guns. They didn't want to remind the baron of his recent magical encounters, so they stayed up in the night sky, for backup.
Our land forces and baron's party met not far from Ilaura's clearing. Their two birds greeted each other noisily, so it was obvious how our party got there. One bird flew off (to the clearing) and the other stayed to lead. The combined forces broke into the clearing and had about one round of combat with the men there, when two Eilythry joined the fight, attacking both sides impartially. A third showed up later.
The battle was short but glorious. The Naza slugged/"trampled" one Eilythry to death, and helped take out the third. Cantrel put in one well-placed laser bolt. David used his new bow to good effect. Lorelei was the one who actually untied Lady Ilaura. The local forces did fairly well against the humans, but needed to be rescued by our team. Even Tom helped by flying birds into the faces of Eilythry at crucial moments. (One bird got damaged, but another was able to haul it up to the flying carpet.)
At the end, the baron asked us who we had seen holding Ilaura when we first arrived. David pointed at the councilor. The councilor, in the best Prisoner of Zenda tradition, threw a dagger at David, snarled, "We shall meet again," and dashed for the forest. However, contrary to the best Prisoner of Zenda tradition, he didn't get away. Aphron shot him down with an arrow.
So once again the party ended a session staggering out of a forest after battle. But we're getting better at it. We got Ilaura, we may hope to have the gratitude of the baron, AND we have a live Eilythry, taken prisoner at the end of the battle. But Dame Janith saw the laser bolt and is curious. I suggest we all be equally puzzled.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.