I awake in the early evening to the sound of my rumbling stomach and Amy grunting and twitching in her sleep. Jon and Quinn are already sitting up and Vinnik is stoically sitting on the pile of silken rope, one eye closed and the other focused on biter coiled on Amy’s chest. I hope Vinnik isn’t as hungry as I am or else Biter may have a slight problem in the near future. To keep him occupied, I ask Vinnik to scout the area for some game. He graciously obliges by diving head first through the portal at our feet. No more than a minute later he flies back in with news of deer in the vicinity. We all exit our magical cave but not before I telepathically bond everyone, including Vinnik and Biter, so everyone gets used to the idea – a connection which I believe may prove useful against Sal.
My nerves are getting the better of me as I anticipate our trip to Choisy-le-Roi on Esonne. I know that this is irrational but I also know that going up against powerful magic will have a much higher degree of variability than we are used to. I’ll have to remain focused and ready to adjust the plan deftly and smartly. It will have to be a team effort and any mistakes could be the difference between life and death.
We practice speaking to one another with our minds as Amy punctures a buck from distance. I conjure a fire and we relax and talk around it while cooking deer meat on long wooden skewers. These are some of my favorite moments with my friends. We are isolated in a beautiful forest on a continent which none of us have seen before and I manage to find some peace prior to the metaphorical storm that I’m sure is raging near our horizon.
Much to our delight, Amy smartly conjures a protective spell to keep Sal from scryong on Jon and I for the rest of the day. We talk about strategy and I hope that teleporting half way around the world won’t result in too dire a mishap. Vinnik watches me with trepidation as I cast the spell and before I finish uttering “Телепортировать” I have a feeling that I nailed it. Perfect accuracy considering I was going only from memory and the name of the town, “Choisy-le-Roi”.
The air is heavy, humid, and hot. I immediately start sweating in my leathers as I look around. The town is just North of us and the vast ocean to the East, the gentle breeze coming from it can barely be described as cooling. The sounds and smells remind me of Quashie, just not as intense. It’s a small town, roughly twice the size of Tickle Bay. Grassland surrounds us, providing little cover and the sparse palm trees fare no better. We see lots of activity on the streets and the docks, typical of a fishing village so early in the morning.
Everyone is dressed in light colored linens, shorts and open footwear. My friends and I really stick out as we try to remove all unnecessary clothing and pack it away. A man spots us from a distance and approaches in a friendly manner blathering something to us in a foreign tongue which sickeningly reminds me of a certain Bastion architect. We manage to mime our way into him leading us to a store where we can outfit ourselves.
We pass what seems to be the pub and inn of the town, “Le Poisson De La Mere”, perched in a great location for overlooking the harbor. A few doors down our new friend takes us to a mercantile where we purchase lighter clothing. Again, we mime our way through the transaction and the shopkeeper tells us that there is an armory further down the street where Quinn can purchase a shield. As we’re stepping out onto the street, Jon’s keen eyes immediately spot a stunningly handsome young man who is obviously Rispin, the friend of Sal’s who we were hoping to find. Fortuitous.
I have Vinnik keep an eye on him from above as Rispin passes within a few feet of us on his way North into town. We also walk North, following him for, a few seconds until we spot the armory and head inside. Once inside, I’m barely paying attention to Quinn purchasing a wooden shield. Instead I’m linked with Vinnik to see where Rispin winds up. Vinnik sees him walk into a house that has clearly been externally decorated by Sal. A fancy nautical “S” adorns the front door and gaudy life preservers hang about the place, Vinnik tells us. The house faces the docks and the ocean and only has a front and a back door visible from the sky. The back door opens up directly into the alley. I ask Vinnik to stay on the wing and let me know if anything interesting happens. Something does. Two heavily armed and armored men enter Sal’s house.
We decide to go to the “Le Poisson” pub to regroup. It’s empty except for a barmaid, a stunning specimen of womanhood named Annalise. She speaks our language and is full of questions. We order coffee and bacon and she is quite certain that we are terrible liars. She tells us that Rispin is an asshole and that Sal frequents Choisy regularly but that he’s not currently in town. She says that there are always 5 heavily armed guards around Rispin at all times and that one of them is her “boyfriend”.
We go to the main pub and meet an amazingly attractive waitress, Annalise who asks a lot of questions. We agree to stay for three nights at the rooms above the pub and chat with Annalise some more. We foolishly decide to trust her and reveal to her our plan to dispose of Sal. She tells us that there are 5 guards around Rispin at all times and that Sal is not currently in Choisy.
She keeps a poker face and runs to Rispin’s house the first chance she gets and we now know that our cover is blown.
We teleport immediately, and inaccurately, and wind up somewhere on the southern tip of Esonne, where winter is in full swing. I’m very disappointed in myself and the predicament that we are currently in. We talk for a while in the warmth of the rope trick and decide to storm Rispin’s house the first chance we get. It seems like our chances for surprising Sal have dissipated but I’m hoping the direct assault approach may be surprise enough since we’ve never tried this approach in the past.