Draveth was awoken by Krash who had a hand over his mouth to keep him silent. “I heard a noise. I’m going to check it out. You watch camp while I’m gone.”
Draveth nodded and grabbed his claymore. He motioned to Krash to find out what the noise was and began to pace around the campsite.
Krash walked in the direction he heard the sound coming from, turned back gave a slight wave, then disappeared into the tall grass.
As the grass scratched at Krash’s robe he tried to move silently but failed miserably. He was able to happen upon a section of cleared grass near the river they were traveling parallel with. The footprints on the ground were bare feet and to Krash looked vaguely like halfling feet. Just as he started to think about why halflings would be hanging out by the river without shoes there was a whoosh-thump and Krash fell, unconscious.
– – –
Draveth waited for about an hour and when Krash didn’t show back up he walked to Kreet and woke her up. “Be quiet. Krash went to look into a noise coming from towards the river and has been gone for over an hour. Gather what you need and we’ll go check on him.
Kreet nodded, put her armor on over her clothes, grabbed her weapons, and motioned towards the crushed grass next to the camp. “Let’s go then.”
Kreet and Draveth moved into the grass. Draveth started to cut the tall grass in front of them, but Kreet grabbed his arm. “Don’t do that, you might hit Krash.”
“Oh, right.” Draveth sheathed his claymore and took another step forward slipped on a patch of snow, and almost fell. “That’s why I was cutting the grass.”
Out of the grass in front of them, there came a sound and an answering statement that was barely audible.
“What was that?” Draveth whispered to Kreet. “I’ve never heard that language before.”
“It’s riverish, which is similar to halfling. The second voice said not to harm the elf, it’s affiliated with The Wanderer. They must be talking about Krash, let’s get closer so we can see.”
“You speak halfling?” Draveth started moving forward stealthily, then heard a snap. He turned back to Kreet who had just stepped on a twig. “Oh, crud.” Three riverfolk – four-foot tall halfling-like creatures with no hair, gills on the sides of their necks, and bluish-green skin – cut through the grass surrounding the two of them, brandishing short-swords.
Two of the riverfolk attacked Draveth who was able to block one attack but took a cut to the back of his left hand. Kreet was able to dodge the riverfolk that had flailed at her with its short-sword.
Draveth dealt a hard blow to the riverfolk that had hit him and knocked it backward. At the same time, Kreet put some distance between herself and the riverfolk that had swung at her and shot at it. Unfortunately, the arrow bounced off of the sword that the riverfolk just barely was able to get in front of its face.
The two riverfolk attacking Draveth swung and one of them connected with his arm giving him a large bruise under the chainmail. In retaliation, Draveth swung at the one that had bruised him. The attack went wide and cut down some of the surrounding grass.
The riverfolk that had blocked the arrow from Kreet stabbed at her and misjudged the distance. It ended up behind her and she took a step to the side and shot at him. This time the arrow sunk into its back. Unfortunately, it didn’t hit anything vital and the riverfolk turned back to face her and slashed at her bow, trying to break it. The slash missed as Kreet turned her bow sideways. Quickly she put her bow on her back and pulled out a kunai to slash at the riverfolk. Unfortunately, she dropped the kunai when she went to slice with it.
The two riverfolk on Draveth attacked. One of them stabbing and the other slashing. One of the attacks connected, when he blocked the other. Draveth wasn’t looking so good as he slashed at the weakest looking of the two riverfolk next to him. The attack went wide and in that opening, the two riverfolk attacked again. Draveth was able to twist his body so that neither blade hit him and whipped forward with his sword missing both of them. He was panting heavily as he realized that he probably wouldn’t survive against two of the creatures at once.
At that point in time, Krash stood up next to the river, slowly. “Guys, is that you?”
“We’re over here!” The two of them answered in unison.
Krash moved over towards the grass and realized he didn’t have his weapon. As he looked around the only item he could find was a dirk. He picked it up and rushed into the grass, fighting back the headache from getting knocked in the head.
As he burst through into the grass he saw the two riverfolk ganging up on Draveth and attacked the weakest one of them with his new dirk. To his surprise, he actually connected with the creature and got its attention. It retaliated against the elf that it had thought was out of the fight with a spinning slash but only succeeded in making itself dizzy.
The other riverfolk attacked Draveth as its companion became distracted by the priest. Unfortunately for Draveth, this caused him to fall unconscious. Kreet saw this as the riverfolk next to her stabbed again. Kreet came back to herself at the last moment and blocked with the kunai she had just picked back up. Then she used her other hand to grab a second kunai and attacked with that one, using the first as a shield. She was unused to attacking with her off-hand and missed the attack.
Krash again attacked the weak riverfolk next to him. Unfortunately, he was used to the better reach of a quarterstaff and missed entirely. The riverfolk then swung his short-sword at Krash, aiming for his sword-hand. Krash was able to pull his hand to the side ant the swing of the weapon went where his hand was before.
The riverfolk that had knocked Draveth to the ground turned to attack Kreet with the one that was already next to her. One of them connected with her side knocking a little of the wind out of her. Kreet attacked one of the riverfolk with two kunai and connected with one of them. It cut a gash across its face that started to bleed a greenish blood.
Krash gripped the handle of the dirk tighter and stabbed at the riverfolk next to him. He shoved the dirk through the riverfolk’s eye and up into its brain. He started to walk towards Kreet as it screamed and then fell silent. The riverfolk that had just turned to Kreet turned back to Krash and swung its short-sword. Krash knocked the short-sword out of its grasp and picked it up. “Hard to attack me when you have no weapon.
The riverfolk attacking Kreet saw the short-sword leave its companion’s hand, turned, and ran. Kreet immediately turned to Draveth and pulled bandages from her pack.
Krash swung at the riverfolk in front of him with both weapons. He didn’t connect with the creature because it had started to run. He turned to look at Draveth and ran over to him, dropping his weapons onto the ground. He set his hand on the gash on the back of Draveth’s hand and cast a simple healing spell to wake him up.
“What happened?!” Draveth jumped to his feet then realized how damaged he still felt and fell back towards the ground. Kreet and Krash caught him as he fell and gently set him down.
Kreet grabbed some snow from the ground and wrapped it in the bandages she had out. “Here, hold this on what hurts the most.”
Draveth took the ball and pretended to try to put it on her beak. “Stop talking. My head’s hurting.” He tried not to smile and failed miserably. Kreet tried to suppress a giggle and also failed.
“Not now you two. We need to get back to camp and heal up.” Krash started to help Draveth stand up. “My head actually hurts, so let’s not talk too much if we can help it.”
The three of them slowly made their way back to their campsite and finished off the night with no other surprises. Once the morning came around they were all feeling a lot better and Krash suggested they scout the area that the riverfolk took him.
– – –
The three adventurers walked towards the clearing in the grass while snow slowly dropped from the skies. Krash saw his staff lying on the riverside slowly covering with snow. He bent over to pick it up and a crossbow bolt whistled through the air where his head was moments before.
Kreet shouted something in a strange language reminiscent of halfling then explained to Draveth and Krash what she said. “I asked them why they insist on attacking us. Hopefully, they speak the same dialect as I-”
Kreet got cut off by a voice speaking broken common. “Why you know language?”
She turned to look at a five-foot-tall riverfolk which was impressive as most riverfolk max out at four and a half feet tall. He was slightly more rotund than the other riverfolk they had fought during the night and brandished a pair of long-swords. “I studied halfling and riverfolk both. I like the sound of the languages. But that isn’t why we’re here. Some riverfolk attacked our priest and us last night.”
“Strongest duel me, I tell what know.”
Kreet turned to Draveth and Krash. “What languages do you speak other than common, halfling, and riverfolk? I know you know elvish Krash, but I don’t”
“I speak varish, the varin language. How about you two?” Draveth asked, then explained, “I needed to know it for some patrons at the forge.”
“I know varish too, but why do you ask?”
Kreet answered Krash in varish. “Lucky day. Let’s only talk in varish while in the Minor Plains because even if we agree to this duel and win the riverfolk will still follow us wherever we go in this area.”
“Ah, I get it.” Draveth switched to varish also. “So, how do you want to handle this? I’m the strongest, but it would be nice if we had some way to buff me up before the battle.”
“I’ve got nothing, sorry.” Krash shrugged. “I can try something I only half-know, but my sanity is even more at stake when I do that.”
“What?” Kreet looked at him with her head cocked to the side. “Your sanity?”
“Yes, if I fail a spell I become more insane. You know, priest of The Wanderer. Patron god of travels and sanity.”
“I didn’t know that’s how it worked. Makes a strange kinda sense though.” Kreet looked Krash in the eyes. “Do you think it’s worth the attempt?”
“We’ll see.” Krash closed his eyes and started to mutter something in elvish, his hand on Draveth’s shoulder. Then he lowered his hand. “Well, I don’t feel any less sane. Do you feel stronger?”
“I accept.” Draveth stood as he felt the power coursing through him. Then he realized he was still speaking varish and repeated himself in common.