The gypsy camp
Somewhere between Sandpoint and Windsong Abbey, a few hundred yards from the road is a long established gypsy camp. Few travellers stop here, most don't even notice it. The terrain is mostly scrubland, wild grasses and fairly open. A small wood West of the camp offers a little protection from the wind that comes off the sea. And it wa sin this wood that young Santiago and his cousin Carlos were hunting, practicing their father's fencing style and generally having fun.
As the light starts to fade the two boys head home. Santiago sees the smoke from the burned carriges first. He sprints into camp, sword drawn. The attackers are long gone however. Their family murdered. His father and uncle the groups only defence faced whoever it was side by side. Their burned bodies indicating sudden and dramatic fire. The same fire has burned one of the carriges fully, and singed two others.
Carlos knees crying at his father's body. Santiago desperate to search for surivors stays, but keeps a watchful eye on every grass covered bump and ditch he can see.
A young but battle weary archer, and an unarmed Shoanti tribesman split from a larger group and come over. The larger group hurries off, fearful that danger is abound. When they arrive they see the devastation, and the bodies. Santiago analyses the pair of unlikely allies who are not much older than he is.
"Hey there, I'm Lazdon the Wanderer.", opens the unarmed man
"the wanderer?" Santiago raises an eyebrow suspiciously
"I am very far from home, I wander.", Lazdon tries to explain
"Have you been a long way and are coming back or something, because Shoanti lands are .. well fair enough mostly a bit North but basically they are here?"
Lazdon half rolls his eyes, "Varisian I'm guessing by your colours?" he asks, then adds "This is Lenny."
"Hi" says Lenny absently, still in shock at the scene. Then realising that there was a racial slur thrown by each side, says tenderly "We'll help you bury them."
The camp is searched for survivors, and the bodies are brought to the centre of the camp.
"These burns" Lazdon whispers so only Lenny can hear, "they're not magical"
"How can that be, what else could do this?"
"Magical burns have a consistent spread, and from the look of the marks on those carts are not wildly inaccurate. This was something else."
"You a mage or something?", asks Lenny
"An or something", says Lazdon
The conversation is disturbed by a woman's shout. Santiago and Carlos run over and wrap their arms around her. Behind her she has half a dozen children. They talk loudly.
Lenny and Lazdon watch for a few moments, then Lenny turns suddenly back to scan the terrain inland. "Ever get the feeling you're being watched?"
"Ha not unless she's your mum" says Lazdon
"What does that even .. oh never mind. Hello Maam." Lenny greets the old woman, "This is my travelling companion Lazdon. Grim business, we are sorry for your loss. We are here to help as best we can."
The old woman nods graciously, "Did you see a sword?"
"No gran", Santiago jumps in, "These two arrived after we did and it was already gone."
"What sword?", Asks Lazdon
"It's my dads, and my dads before him. Its old, from the old lands. A magical Rapier ..", Explains Carlos, Santiago cuts him off and whispers in some strange, presumably gypsy, language something neither the other two boys can understand.
A group of priests shout greetings from a distance as they approach, the youngest struggling to drive the oxcart down the track from the road behind them. The leader explains that he is Father Zantus, on his way to open the new Cathedral at Sandpoint, and that the group a young Cleric of Pharasma and two priests (by which me meant Clerics without magic) are his aides and brothers.
After this the funeral arrangements are swiftly progressed, and soon a group of very tearful children are asleep and the group are talking quietly around the campfire. Arrangements are promised by Father Zantus to look after the family and their carriges.
"We need horses" says Santiago dispondantly
"Actually", opens Lazdon "we were talking before about that earlier, there are horse tracks that look like most of the horses ran off.
"The one dead horse.", explains Lenny, "Seems to have been attacked with a bladed weapon of some kind. I'm guessing the corral was opened and maybe the attackers had a sort of gladiator match against the herd of horses. I think they all charged out and the attacker, who must have been crazed, chopped the first of the poor beasts while ..", he stopped when he caught the eyes of Carlos, "ahh, sorry." he finished
Santiago stood up and tightened his rapier, "well I'm looking for the horses."
"Its night you can't", Granny says
"I'm not about to leave them to the elements, and we need them."
Santiago, started to leave then noticed Carlos getting ready too.
"And where are you going?", Santiago asked
"You can't go alone." Said Carlos
Seeing that the younger boy was too young for the task both Lazdon and Lenny stood.
"We're going with your brother, so you stay here and look out for your Gran", Said Lazdon
"He's my cousin, but ok", Carlos answered
The trio were soon out on the fells hunting horses. They were soon in the dark and making slow progress by lamplight. Santiago suddenly broke into a run.
"Wait Sang'tee .. San .. Sa? Wait." Shouted Lazdon struggling to pronounce the Varisian name with his Shoanti tongue.
"You'll trip or get .." Added Lenny
"Guurrghh", yelped a small creature
The boys ran over and found a tiny green humanoid thing, wrestling with Santiago in the brush.
Lenny drew his bow and aimed quickly, "Its a goblin, get clear Santriano and let me shoot it."
"San-tee-ah-go", grunted Santiago finally getting the creature into an armlock. "And its not a goblin".
Lazdon peered in, "by the sun and sky, what is it?"
"It", squeeked the creature, "is a Gripplis, and it speaks human so you might ask it if it wants to be skewered with a giant's arrow. Besides which, if you shoot me Lotharr will get a juicy leg for his tea."
Lazdon looked over his should then jumped to put the two wrestlers between him and the new arrival. Lenny cocked his head and heard a low growl.
"Gulp" said Lenny, "Ok, ok" and lowered his bow. turning he said "Good kitty, its ok, your strange frog friend is going to be ok."
"Are you dangerous to us?" whispered Santiago in Sylvan to the gripplis
"Depends" answered the Gripplis loudly in Taldane (common), "Are you dangerous to us?"
Santiago let the little frog creature go, the Gripplis looked him up and down quizically.
"Lotharr, down", said the Gripplis, and the black cat crouched in the long grass.
"Are you the one who's been watching us all day?" asked Lenny
"You've good eyes, there are few humans that can see Gripplis", said the Gripplis
Santiago sudden spun back towards the conversation, "Did you see who attacked my family?" he demanded suddenly
"Sadly not" I was following the group those two were part of, and arrived after they did. "What are you doing out here in the dark anyway?" he asked.
"Hunting horses, we think some of them escaped." explained Lazdon
"Ahh, well. If you'll spare a spot by your fire we'll get them for you.", The gripplis said, I am Stablozaba Rilln".
"Stalobany-yani-ral?, Iam Lazdon" struggled Lazdon, Lenny rolled his eyes
"Stabby?" asked Lazdon
Rilln looked at the spear he was carrying, "Erm I guess, sometimes, but usually if their in my net." he answered politely
The group were soon back at the camp, they'd found 3 horses and 2 more dead ones. Rilln had healed the ones they had found and gently calmed them which made the task relatively easy.