With Variel now safely within the grounds of the Cathedral of the Fallen Knight in Johvanne, the party can begin planning their next steps. Tovarius draws a great deal of concern from all involved for his radical devotion to his long-dead cause. Deldund, despite or because of his bond with the former slave, is the first to recognize the dangers of this man’s thinking, and suggests they politely leave him in the capable hands of the elven scholars and Heironite clergy, where he’ll be treated with nothing but respect for his situation.
Deldund and the rest of the party begin making preparations. With additional knowledge offered by Loraina McEwn regarding the second Kenoran Box, there seems no better option than to travel to Sandwatch and search the Lost Library for more information. The dwarf is able to get in contact with a Halfling Quartermaster preparing a caravan for departure in two days time, and arranges for the party to join them in their travel from Port of Isles along the North Loop to Lake Besmus.
This is the most heavily traveled road in Osil, and quite possibly the entire world. The traffic is not just regular, it’s constant, and heavily patrolled by the elite High Road Waykeepers. If the clerics of Cuthbert or the Sapphire Guard get word to them about an escaped devil summoner, the party could have a difficult journey ahead of them.
Before dawn on the day of their departure, Deldund meets the quatermaster at their rallying point near the City Gate in Johvanne, followed soon after by Ishrana Swaythe. Variel, the elven council having granted him limited acccess to their aracana to prepare him for the tasks ahead, only budges at the insistance of Hobbes. Together, the pair of them head for the rally point in Hobbes’s wagon.
Soon after they leave the grounds of the Cathedral, however, they’re surprised to see Sahm’El waiting near an empty stall. The beninite merchant waves them down. Years travelling and surviving with a man can give a gnome unique insight into the subtleties of his expressions. Hobbes read a great deal of distress in his friend, and when Sahm’El mentioned they may be in a bit of trouble, the alchemist knew it was huge “bit”. He carefully withdrew a vial from his pocket, and threw the extract at his partner.
Then it was time to run. He spurred his newly-acquired team of giant geckos, and they leapt forward. Variel infused them with a arcane speed, and the wagon was flying down the cobblestone side-street before the team of cuthbertian clerics had fully emerged from their hiding places.
The extract turned Sahm’El invisible, and to Hobbes’s relief the merchant’s voice rang out from the side of the wagon as they careened awway from the crossbow bolts of the infuriated cleric-soldiers. Their elation was short-lived, as a quartet of Sapphire Guard cavalry appeared behind them.
Rounding a corner, a street market blocked their path and threatened to pen thim in, but thanks to Variel’s spells and Hobbes’s alchemical tricks, they slowed the muscles of the Guard horses, and lifted the wagon from the ground with a swirl of silver light. Sahm’El split-off with the horses Neema and Luke, promising to rejoin them later. The nimble team-geckos scaled the stalls and frames of the market, bringing the wagon nimbly across the top of them.
Hobbes’s recently-purchased wardogs were braying from their rooftop kennel, and the early-rising shoppers screamed in shock and fear as a fully-loaded wagon careened overhead. They made it across the market, only to find themselves pursued by another group of mounted constables when they turned onto the Grand Causeway moments later.
With arcane and alchemical materials being deployed, the Sapphire Guard were forced to end the chase as forcefully as necessary, and they began throwing alchemist’s fire onto the hovering wagon. Now aflame, their travel became far less controlled a whole lot more volatile. The materials from which the gnome crafted his explosive concoctions, and even his more mundane recipes, were not friendly to fire.
Not only that, but with the wheels no long on the road, steering and braking the wagon became virtually impossible. Despite his best efforts to avoid any collisions, the team geckos proved to unruly for the relatively inexperienced Hobbes, and his wagon smashed into a passing coach, throwing Variel and one of the dogs from the roof into the wreckage.
Hobbes was able to keep the wagon moving forward, and even make the corner, coming in sight of the caravan. A elemental being of water, summoned by Variel just before he was thrown from the wagon, appeared at the gnome’s side and began frantically squelching the flames, but the being’s task was impossible. Seconds later, Hobbes found himself airborne, spinning through the air as his beloved wagon was blown-apart from under him.
Somehow, the alchemist survived nearly unscathed, but with the Sapphire Guard close behind, he didn’t have many options. With a little direction from the mightily impressed ghost of Bajan, the gnome issued a nonsensical steam of words meant to be a greeting to the party as he mounted on of his giant-geckos and tore-off into the alleyways, the surviving pair of wardogs in tow; doing what he does best and getting away with it in the least expected fashion.
Deldund turned to follow the gnome’s path, uttering a good-bye he hoped with all his heart Hobbes could hear: