At the crack of dawn morning dew fills the cool and silent woods as our adventurers rapidly pack their belongings and prepare to leave camp. But before they are able to depart, Zelda and Trex become tense. They begin pacing back and forth while Radar sniffs upward in an easterly direction.
Galdor: “Everyone quiet!”
He raises his left hand up in the air motioning the group to be quiet while he cups his right hand over his ear. He kneels down and drops his right ear to the ground.
Galdor: “(quietly) Riders approaching! Tharq! Quick take the ogre and get behind this rock. Harold you take Zelda, if she bares her teeth run and hide back here with us, otherwise walk out there to greet our new visitors.”
Yogi and Tharq hide behind the huge boulder that parallels the road while Galdor leaps up and perches himself on a ledge above them. Galdor drops to one knee, and strings his bow. Trex and Radar follow. Meanwhile Harold and Zelda stand on a long 4’ high ledge that blocks north-side access from the trail to the area where the others are hiding.
Harold looks longingly down at Zelda with hopes that she will bare her teeth so that he has reason to run and hide with the others, but lady fortune has other plans and leaves him to his own devices.
Tlot, tlot, tlot, tlot! The horse-hooves, ring clear; Tlot, tlot, tlot, tlot, in the distance! Down the ribbons of the morning light’s rays and over the brow of the hill, two riders approach. The sound of cantering hooves go silent, a horse neighs and its breath rises as steam from its flared nostrils in the brisk morning sun. Harold twitches in anticipation.
Stranger #1: “(statedly) May I see your adventure pass?”
Harold notices that the crest of the Sea King is branded into the upper-left corner of the stranger’s boiled leather armor, this is a clear indication that he is a ranger, a gnome warrior sworn to protect Ced’s great natural treasures; even unto death.
Harold: “Yes sir, here you go.”
The ranger looks at the pass then looks again back at Harold.
Ranger #1: “What is a harlequin doing out in this neck of the woods?”
Harold politely shrugs, and the ranger continues to address him.
Ranger #1: “Everything seems to be in order. Are you traveling alone?”
Harold: “Yes sir.”
Ranger #1: “Last night a yellow-spotted ogre escaped from the zoo, it’s extremely dangerous to be out here alone. We will safely escort you back to Prattler’s Cove.”
Harold: “No disrespect sir, but I prefer to take my my chances here. I’ve been planning this trip to Tarot Grove for quite some time and I am not going to let some stupid escaped ogre ruin it for me.”
The 1st ranger reaches into his leather saddle bag and pulls out a small yellow rolled up parchment. He raises a monocle up to his right eye as he reads:
Ranger #1: “My fair citizens an emergency edict pursuant to Article XI, section 14.1b has been issued for Prattler’s Cove and all surrounding areas as of 3:30am this morning. I regret to inform you that last night a flesh-eating ogre escaped from the Prattler’s Cove county zoo and is believed to be armed and dangerous. The threat level for Prattler’s Cove and all surrounding areas has been elevated to Orange. Additional guardsman have been brought in to reinforce the local militia at Prattler’s cove and in the interest of public safety all non-essential personnel are to be evacuated from Tarot grove; effective immediately. Furthermore…”
Yogi #1: “Hic-up!”
The 1st ranger looks quizzically at his partner.
Ranger #2: “What was that?”
Harold puts his hand on his stomach, jerks his head back violently and uses his ventriloquism talent to simulate a hic-up.
Harold: Harold: “Hic-Up!”
The rangers appear to be buying it.
Ranger #1: “Ahem…where were we then? Ah, yes…furthermore all citizens…”
Yogi #1: “_(louder and more pronounced)_ HIC-UP!”
The 1st ranger looks towards the rocks while his partner unslings his crossbow.
Ranger #1: “Hey! What’s going on here?”
The 1st ranger looks towards his partner and draws his short blade from its scabbard.
Ranger #1: “Cover me while I go check this out.”
- The 1st ranger hands his reigns to his partner who ties them around his saddle horn.
- The 1st ranger then attempts to slide out of the saddle while the 2nd stretches his crossbow to set the bolt.
- The 1st ranger attempts to clumsily roll his short, pudgy, leather armored gnome torso onto the 4’ ledge while his partner finally starts the tedious process of cocking his crossbow.
- The 1st ranger finally is successful rolling himself on top of the ledge. As he stands up and Harold steps in front and tries to use his body to block access to the back-side of the ledge, but the gnome ranger strong-arms Harold aside and marches forward with sword drawn. Harold tries to discretely trip the ranger, but fails (so far in this brief campaign his highly esteemed dexterity and acrobatic talent have had disappointing results).
- The ranger then hops down off the back side of the ledge, as he lands Yogi charges at him. The ranger is startled, his short blade falls to the rocky ground with a clang while he instinctively raises both hands to protect himself from the on-rushing ogre. Yogi pounces on him, the ranger falls flat on his back and is pinned him to the ground. The ranger his crushed by the blow and nearly suffocated under the weight. His partner can not get a clear shot with his crossbow because Harold is still standing on the ledge with Yogi and the 1st ranger lying prone on the ground in wrestler fashion back behind the ledge.
Ranger #1: “What the ???!!!!”
- The 2nd ranger in frustration tries to gracefully slide out of his saddle, but he fails and crashes to the ground with a thud; his fat gnome body, crossbow, heavy leather armor and all. He dusts himself off, picks up his crossbow and starts walking towards the ledge. As he tries to pull himself up onto the ledge Zelda growls and stares him in the face. However the ranger is determined and manages to roll himself all the way up onto the ledge. But this time Harold is ready, leaving discretion to the wind he openly trips the ranger. The pudgy gnome falls face first onto the rocky ledge, Zelda takes advantage of the situation and pounces on him with her front two legs and pins him to the ground. He struggles to push himself back up, but Zelda snarls, aggressively baring her teeth while Trex and Radar leap up on the back-side of the ledge to encircle the ranger. He realizes the futility of his actions and collapses back down face first on the rocky ledge.
- Meanwhile Galdor returns his arrow to his quiver, slings his bow over his shoulder and hops down from his perch while Harold removes the weapons from the 2nd ranger while Tharq does likewise with the 1st. Galdor securely ties up the two rangers. Tree-elves are taught a variety of knots at a very young age; Galdor is extremely proficient at this task.
Harold: “(smiling) That’s a wrap.”
To be continued …