- “Slow and steady wins the race!”
As a new day dawns over the settlement, Westin, Tumdrum, and the rest of their companions prepare to travel north to the Kou Kingdom in an attempt to establish diplomatic ties at the behest of New Dawnsburg’s newest ruler, Baron Drusus. Clearly not an easy journey to travel via foot, they decide to travel via hoof. With mounts, outfitted with the most basic leather tack and gear, are collected from willing Ech’lun within the colony, the group – now with four equines, a bear, and a griffin – set off in high spirits towards Nakamaru Port.
For the majority of the day, they travel north, but as the day begins to wane, their direction slightly shifts in a northeastern direction. With the sea able to be glimpsed in the distance, nightfall eventually approaches, and Tanna, ever-vigilant, chooses to scout out and about the local area to see whether or not there may be possible dangers which need to be dealt with or altogether avoided. With trees and hills well-obscuring her actions, she comes to find there are little obvious threats. ‘Tis rare, after all, for there to be a peaceful night on the Storm Isles, and the party takes advantage of it; however, such peace is disturbed when a blood-sucking critters fly through. Thanks to the fire that was lit though, these infernal insects avoid the group completely.
As another day dawns, everyone is swift to eat a morning meal, collect their things, and journey onward. With little conversation passing between them all, they continue traveling northeast until Kaleth suggests to Tanna to scout the area prior to their approach to Nakamaru Port. Given what her retainer, Thal, said of the citizens of the Kou Kingdom, she believed it best for the group to find out what they were dealing with before they fully approached the wall which served as the kingdom’s, or rather Shogunate’s,primary defense. Tanna’s search of the area, however, does not go unnoticed. With Ech’lun slowly following her, Tanna’s stealthy and wiley ways allows her to readily mislead them before she returns to the party to recount what she encountered. Tumdrum suggests that, perhaps, it is best for the party to remain fully together to avoid Tanna coming under harm.
It’s only shortly afterward the group approaches the gate which blocks passage into Nakamaru Port. Giving a loud hail in greeting, Kaleth attempts to communicate to a guard that they need passage inside, but she, and thus the rest of the group, are told they need to travel further north before they can gain access. Perturbed a little by this encounter, Kaleth chooses not to aggressively pursue the matter with the guard and instead follow his advice – travel north. It’s clear though the road was likely closed, possibly due to the troubles occurring at Gungrin.
Realizing that they are being followed, the group continues traveling on until nightfall, preparing themselves for a possible upcoming battle with the Ech’lun that seemed to have been trailing Tanna earlier in the day. As night falls, it’s readily revealed the Ech’lun are not Ech’lun; rather, desperate werewolves seeking to feed their starving pack. But the group is prepared and at the ready, wasting no time to deal with the threat they now faced. With spells cast, swords drawn, and arrows sneakily shot, the werewolves slowly dropped one by one. As Kaleth herself deals a final blow to the Werewolf Alpha, instead of pulling her halberd from its abdomen as she so often did with the enemies they previously faced, she keeps it there and instead asks the werewolf three questions – questions which he is forced to truthfully answer before he is finally allowed to depart the world of the living.
Adam Westin and the others, surprised by the event, demand to know what happened to the werewolf and its clear Kaleth is elusive in her answers. Almost completely unwilling to speak further on the matter, Tumdrum and Adam converse between themselves and it is suggested they wait until morning before dismembering and burning the bodies of the werewolves.
Another morning comes and the werewolves corpses are properly disposed of before the traveling cohort venture onward. With a road finally coming into sight, they also realize they are not alone. A wagon, filled with collected junk and other from scavenging ventures, is being drawn by an older-aged man named Chouko. His, though poorly armored, guards, Goro and Etsuko, are with him and as they all converse with one another, with Kale actively translating, they decide to travel together to yet another gate leading into the Kou Kingdom.
It’s clear though, though Kaleth volunteered to serve as the colony’s primary diplomat, she is still inexperienced in handling foreigners. Poorly communicating, and even stuttering or talking too actively, Chouko comes to the rescue of the group and helps the entourage get into the Kingdom. Every foreign member of the party is given a passport – meant to record their comings and goings within the Kou Kingdom itself.
Venturing onward through the small Fort built at the gate, the group continue to speak to Chouko and they eventually decide it best to stop at the Fort’s local Inn, owned by Jiro. Kaleth’s attempts at booking room and board at the Inn come at a high cost and utterly livid at herself for her stupidity, the group spend the rest of the evening eating, drinking, gambling, and in Tumdrum’s case, actively entertaining! The lighthearted conversations though eventually turn to more serious matters and though it incites tension between everyone, the information acquired from Chouko himself, and the opinions of the others, prove highly insightful to Kaleth as to how to better handle their diplomatic affairs.
The question remains though… is it truly possible for the group to avoid what is going on in the Kou Kingdom? With Tumdrum’s shadows pointing him ever onward towards an unknown fate, no one can be certain.