The next day is 12 hours of trudging. It gets drier. Hayden drinks the horrid alcohol, which dehydrates him further. We camp in the valley of two round hills. As the sun begins to set, we see two winged shadows over the city. They fly south, away from us. In that direction is a shimmering silhouette, about a mile and a half away, which they circle around. Suddenly we feel and hear a series of shock waves. They pass, and we watch the two figures attack a much larger being, the beating of their wings stirring up clouds of dust. They eventually settle. The party notes that this is the second time we’ve seen these creatures near the city we are heading towards. Strelok offers to take care of them now; he and Hayden believe they may be lazy after eating, and potentially injured from their attack. Aeric offers to accompany Strelok. Zephyr says she will also come, but Strelok ultimately decides not to go. Consulting the maps, Zephyr determines that our journey in the desert thus far has taken longer than expected, and that we are about two days from the city. We should see its walls by tomorrow afternoon. Hayden passes out, leaving the rest of the party to assign watches.
The first watch passes quietly. The nebula is gorgeous in this area. Towards the end of first watch, the winged creatures are seen returning to the city. Strelok mentions to Polena that we’ll need to take care of them at some point; Polena says they don’t seem like mean creatures; “they need to eat, don’t they?” The second watch is spent in research (Zephyr), and weapon polishing (Aeric). Mid-shift, Zephyr begins feeling a bit light headed, dry of throat, perhaps a bit queasy. She drinks water and feels better. Pallas seems to be feeling the same. Perhaps just the heat of the day. Third watch, Sheila enters Hayden’s tent to wake him. Shaking has no effect. Hitting gets some grunts, and a comment about “liking it rough”. Sheila finally gets him up. He complains about the brightness of the stars and the loudness of her voice. Hayden is disgruntled that he must be awake when the only thing seen m
moving is a scorpion in the distance. He falls asleep and is shoved over. Etc.
Half an hour later, a shrill whistling trill rouses Hayden from his near-sleep state. He looks around, but sees nothing. 20-30 minutes later, just as he is about to sleep again, the sound repeats. This happens two or three times. Sheila, who has actually been attentive, has been enjoying watch small birds come to eat a breakfast of insects. [And then Cody terrifies Scout with his screeching bird cry].
A new day begins. The axe-beaks are in a good mood, and seem interested in eating the small birds (like popcorn! …think a mastiff trying to eat a bee….). Strelok lets the axe-beaks off-leash. Meanwhile, Zephyr’s belly is rumbling… she is desperately thirsty and quite hungry. She looks for her Ring of Sustenence… and finds it missing. WTF. She knows that there is no way a magical ring could have come off without her knowledge. She thinks she saw it last approximately four days ago, in the evening. She shares the problem with the rest of the party. Hayden asks whether the axe-beaks like shiny things. Aeric: “Ladies like shiny things!” Zephyr threatens his life, and Hayden offers to help. The rest of the party determines that only Zephyr and Strelok are missing things… in Strelok’s case, it is booze.
Hayden says there is enough food, but Zephyr insists that is not the problem. Hayden convinces her to eat anyway. He’s smart sometimes. Strelok offers ideas of other people stealing, but it seems unlikely. Polena asks if it might not be the desert.
Hayden (whispering to Zephyr): Have we seen Polena eat?
Zephyr: What? I don’t pay attention to Polena…
Then Zephyr realizes Pallas felt the same as her last night. Looking at him in his pouch, he has found some nuts, seeds, and a bug. She reaches in to take him out, displeasing him. It may have been a sympathetic response last night. Now he is feeling ornery. He snorts and puffs up. Zephyr sees something shiny below him. “How did you get my ring?”
“I didn’t take your ring! People keep putting hands in my pouch! Trying to get my seeds!!”
Zephyr assumes he irritabily batted at her hand at one some point when she reached in to retrieve him, and unintentionally pulled it off. But she is not certain…
[Misc Zephyr Notes:
VILLAGE: detect magic, detect disease, detect magic, flora samples
REMINDER: these villages abandoned 5-15 years ago. ]