Lamashan 28 Fireday waxing moon
The journey to Brinewall takes Ameiko and her companions longer than they had planned, as Keng and Zeyala’s horse was overburdened and they needed to take time to rest or to allow Keng to walk while Zeyala rode or vice versa. During their previous seven days of travel they see no other people on their journey after their meeting with the Horse Lords. The Velashu Uplands are beyond the boundaries of any city-state such as Riddleport. The farther north they go the more disused the road becomes until it is little more than a track alongside the western bank of the Velashu River as it winds through the hills. The day before the track parted ways with the river that turned away east into the Red Mountains, so called because of the dark red of the soil due the presence of rich iron deposits. The track continued on through a pass in the mountains on the other side of which lay the stony plains of the Nolands. Here they had to be wary, for the Nolands had become a dumping ground over the centuries for exiles and outcastes from both the Lands of the Linnorn Kings and the Shoanti tribes. Bands of the descendants of these exiles were known to mount raids against both the Linnorn Kings to the north, and the miners and herdsmen living in the Red Mountains to the south. Despite the threat of the Nolanders, several Varisian caravans still make the journey to the Lands of the Linnorn Kings and back every year and with sufficient guards they have been able to ward off the raiders.
By mid-morning on the eighth day they are within sight of the Steam River. The track continues north down to a weathered wood and stone bridge that crosses the river. An old signpost about a hundred yards south of this bridge reads “To Brinewall,” and points down an overgrown trail that winds through a forest.
Shaking his head vigorously and waking as if from an unremembered dream Jharad looks about him, enjoying the change of scenery while riding his horse alongside the others. Odd that he nodded off in such a way and for what seems like such a long time. Maybe only a mere moment to him, but feeling easily like a couple of years to a human. He dismisses the thought as they approach the Steam River and pause to read the sign to Brinewall.
Keng and Zeyala, who are riding closest to Ameiko notice that she is pale and shaky. In fact, Ameiko has been growing more and more listless and sickly all during the morning ride.
Keng elbows Zeyala gently and nods towards Ameiko. Then considering her poor eyesight adds, “Does she look ok to you?”
“No, she doesn’t. Not from here at any rate.” Zeyala asks Keng to guide their horse closer to Ameiko. “Ameiko, are you not feeling well?” asks Zeyala.
Ameiko shakes her head in the negative. “No, I’m really not. I think I’m coming down with a flu or something. Don’t worry about it. I’ll be fine. After we rescue Jethrik I’ll be able to rest while we wait for Sandru and the others.”
Jharad rides over to Ameiko as well. Nodding down the road leading to Brinewell he says to her, “Once you are feeling well enough to continue is that the road we take?”
“Your guess is as good as mine. I have never been here before, but that is where the sign points. We should go now. Jethrik can’t wait for me to get better. It may be couple of days before a flu runs its course.”
They continue on into the forest but there the track quickly fades away entirely into the undergrowth. So dense is the undergrowth that it becomes clear that that further progress toward the ruined village will have to be made on foot. As Ameiko dismounts, however, she collapses with a heavy thump. She is breathing, but unconscious.
“Ameiko!” calls out Zeyala as she rushes over to her side. Kneeling next to Amieko, Zeyala attempts to identify the illness.
Keng looks at Ameiko slumped on the ground with a frown and says, to no one in particular, “This is bad, she will be a burden.”
“This is no simple fever,” says Zeyala. “Some sort of foul sorcery is at work, but I know not the source. My healing magic will not break this magic.”
Scouting the fading trail ahead, Toshio didn’t see Ameiko’s collapse. At Zeyala’s call Toshio rushes back at full speed. Seeing her on the ground Toshio exclaims in alarm “Ameiko!” Then to the others he asks, “What happened?”
“There is foul magic at work here. It took her suddenly and she fell from her horse. It will take more than simple herbs to wake her,” says Zeyala.
Toshio is visibly upset. With an effort he decides to get out of the way and steps back. “Zeyala, please let me know as soon as you learn anything. Also if there is anything I can do…” He tapers off a bit awkwardly, then finishes “Well, I’ll be on guard. Please let me know.”
Thinking about the situation Jharad then suggests, “At least one of us should stay here with Ameiko and wait for Sandru and the others. The rest of us should continue on to Brinewall and see if we can find Jethrik.”
Keng nods his agreement.
Toshio says, “Too bad Shalelu isn’t here. She could scout Brinewall. I’d like to see if Ameiko gets better by tomorrow morning, but if it’s magic then we can’t wait. But what can we do about it?”
Jharad responds, “I can scout Brinewall while you all wait here. At least to find out if Jethrik has indeed been brought there.”
Toshio wants to scout Brinewall, too, but decides his place is guarding the group. “Good idea. Ameiko wouldn’t want us to neglect Jethrik because of her illness. Meanwhile, we can get off the road and set up camp where we can watch for Sandru without being watched ourselves.” As an afterthought he adds “But Jharad, if he’s there, please don’t try a rescue on your own unless it’s the only chance for getting him back.”
“Of course,” Jharad responds with a smile then heads off down the overgrown trail leading to Brinewall. He takes caution to be silent and stop frequently enough to both look around him for dangers and to make sure he can find his own way back.