After a sudden turn of events left the party no choice but to flee the city of Venth with bitterness and revenge in their hearts, they find themselves deposited unceremoniously on a canalbank in the tundra, still battered and bruised from their harrowing escape. Taking measure of their surroundings, the party quickly split up to search for shelter and provision from the rapidly approaching darkness. Unfortunately, none came prepared for such an eventuality and so the party was forced to spend a cold night in uncomfortable, shivering misery.
At the break of dawn, they arose to see shapes flitting on the horizon, it appeared Tythis had already sent pigeons forth carrying word of the escaped “terrorists”. Everyone decided it was in their best interests to make for the nearest settlement, Bluehall, take stock of the situation, then make for the border and meet up with the Venthian army led by Marshal Anton LaRoche and Durian Volaris, Araevyn’s father, hoping they would lend a friendly, or at least understanding ear to their plight.
And so the allies of convenience sallied forth, gathering their energy and stamina for the hectic journey ahead of them. A few hours after setting out, Callidus, who had been scouting ahead, saw metal glinting on the sun along the road ahead and listening closely, was able to make out the tramp of booted feet and the chatter of voices. Rushing back to the group, he informed them of the approaching guards and they all scattered, scrambling for the nearest available cover. Sahara tripped, and was laying on the tundra in plain view as the guards approached. Hearing sounds, they began to search the area, it would be only a matter of seconds until they spotted Sahara! Quickly Araevyn cast ghost sound in the opposite direction from Sahara to mimic the sounds of an angry bear rooting in the undergrowth. Catching on, Lucan used magehand to rattle some of the grass and brush near the sounds. Their quick thinking and quicker spellwork was enough to save Sahara, as the guards backed cautiously away and continued on towards Venth.
Continuing on, they reached the Silk Canal shortly after midday, breathless, muddied, and sweating. Deciding it would be best to journey along the canal until they found a barge to ferry them across, they turned north. This also would allow them to enter Bluehall from the north, perhaps deflecting suspicion from themselves slightly. Not long after, they came upon a barge crewed by several large rowers and an old, ornery-looking captain. Responding to their hail, he moved his barge to the bank and disembarked. The party attempted to barter with him for passage, but disliking their looks, and sensing their lack of experience in such matters, he charged them a ridiculous fee to cross the canal. Unable to avoid such a fleecing, and unwilling to lose any more time, they grudgingly agreed to his terms. However, Callidus took the opportunity to rifle through the contents of the barge, pilfering a new cloak and set of robes for the conspicuously-clad Lucan.
Finally, they approach Bluehall from the north as dusk is approaching. As they near the city, one of the field hands looks up, spots them on the road, and begins trying to flag them down. When it appears this isn’t working, he hurries from his post to catch up with the party. They make no effort to escape, nor to slow down, so he reaches them after several minutes, breathless from his haste. After a hurried and confusing conversation, he leads them to a currently unoccupied rest hut. Sensing potential danger, the party positions themselves so as to have a good view of what’s happening outside, while they open their ears to the conversation at hand. The worker warns them of the danger of entering Bluehall, even under cover of darkness. He says that the troops are looking for them and that wanted posters are already circulating amongst the townsfolk. He claims to be a faithful devotee of Il Duce, in complete support of his actions against the Venthian government and suspicious of any “propaganda” they might put out about him. He is however, concerned about the source of the wanted notice, and hands one to Il Duce for his inspection. After beginning to unroll the parchment, Zaltiar quickly lets it snap back into his hands, claiming that it was just a plain old wanted poster, nothing special here, and thus aroused the suspicions of the rest of the party. Apparently he was hiding something printed on that poster. Unable to confront him now, they decided to ask “fanboy” if he could procure them horses so as to expedite their journey to the border. He agreed, took their money, and told them he would return in several hours with the horses. Not trusting him in the least, Callidus headed out to follow “fanboy” and make sure he stayed true to his word. Araevyn and Sahara took up a vigil alongside the road, posing as beggars, while Zaltiar and Lucan hid in the fields. The time was almost up when a cadre of workers returning to the hut passed nearby Zaltiar’s hiding place and heard a rustle in the bushes. They began to snoop around before Lucan prestidigitized the distinct musk of skunk and Zaltiar made “skunk sounds”. About the same time, a guard in backwater regalia stopped Araevyn and Sahara on the road and asked if they could come with him, as he hadn’t seen them around before and needed to verify their identities. Upon entering the village, they ran into Callidus, several horses in tow, who claimed they were his feeble-minded and ill manservants and the guard had no right to detain them. Of course, the guard determined that Callidus needed to have his identity confirmed as well and so told him to come back to the barracks in fifteen minutes to retrieve his servants. Callidus hurried to the hut and, unable to find Zaltiar or Lucan, left the horses with the nearest field hand. Meanwhile, upon entering the barracks, Araevyn and Sahara sensed they were in deep trouble as they saw wanted posters festooned around the place with their names, descriptions, and crimes printed for all to see. As the guard brought them to his associate, Araevyn hurriedly rushed to the poster and began shouting, “I see them, I see them”. Now having the guards unwavering attention, he and Sahara led them back to the road where they had “seen” the terrorists, bickering over the specifics of it the while time. On the way they ran into Callidus reentering the village and he was swept up in their ruse. However, once they arrived, he began to arouse the second guard’s suspicions with his insistence that this was all a misunderstanding and they should be let go. Calling his bluff, the guard demanded that they reveal their faces completely that instant. Knowing he had only one chance, Araevyn began thrashing and flailing madly to cover up his casting of ghost sound. Suddenly a voice burst from the fields a short distance away, “Quick, run Il Duce!” coupled with the thud of running footsteps. The guard of course took of into the fields after the sounds, sending his companion back for reinforcements. Seizing the opportunity, they returned to the hut, only to find Zaltiar and Lucan returning from chasing down and incapacitating the field hand who had tried to make off with their horses.
The close call fresh in their minds, they galloped their horses off north into the darkness, towards the edge of the plateau, and, they hoped, their chance at freedom…