I think he went a little overboard replicating a D+D character he'd wanted to play once, instead of trying to adapt her to the world at all. But it might still work out, if he doesn't hate the game, make some lame excuse to avoid saying that he hates the game, and stop coming.
Alma (where Zedd and Grey had been living lately) was not the only village to be visited by the evil Carnival of Kidnapping. The tiny town of Levin, where Belladonna had been raised by foster parents (after hatching from a pea pod in their garden), had been nearly destroyed without even the pretense of a 'carnival' -- since the town was so small, they'd simply unleashed their elder weasel to kill the town's animals, then gassed the humans with hallucinogens and rounded them up.
Belladonna and Alex were two of the survivors of this tactic, as they were the town's rangers and had been out scouting at the time. When, after several false starts, they finally found the carnival's trail (metaphorically -- the literal trail petered out when it reached pavement) Nicholai decided to come with them, as his original idea of taking revenge on all random wild animals for the death of the village protector (Levi, an elder goat) had brought him nothing but sorrow. Sorrow and wolf bites.
When they got to the next town hit -- a larger town that had once been about on par with Alma, named Beantown because of the beans that had once, decades ago, been grown there -- they found out that like them, the 'heroes' of Beantown had set out to find the carnival. And, in fact, just recently scouts from Alma had come to tell that that town had managed to repulse these horrid kidnappers, so everyone was meeting up there to decide what to do.
So, even as Grey and Zedd were dragging Seek back into town to the healer to look at his ongoing illness, the three survivors of Levin arrived, and everyone immediately went to sleep.
Well, not before seeing the healer, of course. The healer (or at least, the low ranking healer who was given unpleasant tasks, like going out to the mine for a couple weeks) told them that this was the curse of the gods -- they'd withdrawn their protection, and allowed the plagues that plagues all humanity to take effect.
"But it wasn't a god that cursed him -- it was the oracle."
"Only a very holy man could call down the curse of the gods on someone... although I suppose an oracle would probably be holy enough."
At any rate, there were things he could do for the rat, but nothing as dramatic and magical as most of the healing he had his snakes do -- the snakes wouldn't cure him until the curse was lifted, or ran its course.
Grey also noticed that someone had broken into his store while he was out at the mine and taken all his stuff... but he didn't care to try to track down the thief, at least not immediately. There hadn't been much left anyway, given the trader's absence.
In the morning, Zedd and Grey were invited (and nearly kidnapped) to a meeting in the town hall where people would discuss a strategy for dealing with the carnival. Belladonna and the rest of the Levin contingent were not invited, so they had to sneak in. Or at least, sneak up onto the roof, where they watched and listened through a skylight without making their presence known.
The meeting accomplished little -- even the 'heroes' of Beantown couldn't agree on what they wanted to do. Jenna the wolf wanted to form a militia and overpower the carnival, Orson the... indeterminate cute fuzzy thing wanted to recruit other 'heroes' and with a small band of *skilled* warriors defeat the carnival and rescue the townsfolk, and Kerry the squirrel, once he heard Grey talk about his experiences with the portal and the rescue of the children, wanted to sneak in and rescue the children, much as Grey and supposedly Zedd (who somehow got equal credit despite being unconscious for most of the rescue) had done.
Zedd and Grey thought their plans were really stupid, and told them as much. Before they could come up with a plan of their own, however, the meeting was dispered by the arrival of Skip Anderson, Sherrif of the Western Desert. Or so he introduced himself after riding into the building on the back of his heavily armored horse. Heavily armored to protect it from his quills, since he was a very spiky porcupine-person.
Skip had a very low view of vigilante justice. And the backwards, backwater villages in general. And the 'slanderous accusations of kidnapping' in particular, and ordered them to cease and desist. "The carnival was a licensed recruiting drive from our valued allies, and just because you're surprised at how many of the villagers were only living out here because they thought they had no choice is no reason to go throwing around words like 'kidnapping'."
The Alma village 'council' -- really, the people who hoped to replace the elder as village leader, since the elder was still broken from his failure during the carnival incident -- seemed happy to accomodate the sherrif's demands, and (as Belladonna and the rest of the Levin contingent saw after everyone else was dispersed) agreed to aid him in disarming any notion of forming a militia or anything silly like that.
Of course, the 'heroes' of Beantown weren't quite ready to give up just yet. While Kerry simply told stories for the village children, Jenna started trying to 'secretly' recruit her militia, while Orson tried to recruit Grey and Zedd and even Belladonna. With no success. The three of them (and Alex, and Nicholai) did meet with each other, though, and mused that a plan that might work better that chasing the carnival through the forbidden forest would be to somehow get ahead of them, and recruit an army *there* to fight them.
The obvious first step to accomplishing that was to find some way to get ahead of the carnival, and Belladonna and Zedd at least thought that they could use their teleportation abilities (Belladonna's was a bit different -- she could 'walk through the trees' with her 'plant control magic', subsuming herself into the forest's etheric energy pool at one tree and reforming at another nearby) to get there quickly -- but Grey (and Alex and Nicholai) didn't want to be left behind.
So Grey decided to steal the sherriff's horse. He waited until the Sheriff was patrolling around and about to harass Jenna, then used his animal control to order the horse to ditch its current rider and instead guide him to the oracle. He succeeded very well, and the Sherriff was instantly bucked off his trusted mount. And, while he stood there stunned by the unexpected turn of events, Jenna and the few potential recruits she'd been talking to jumped him. Grey ran off with the horse rather than watch the result of that fight.
Since none of them were porcupines, they took off the horse's heavy metal armor and gave it to one of the village kids (Den, as it turned out) to take to the blacksmith to help with the metal shortage.
Then there was nothing left but to make the long, painful journey riding bareback, three to the horse, with Zedd and Belladonna having a much better time of it teleporting, even though it tired them out 'magically' to keep it up all day. They didn't make the oracle's village in a single day like they'd hoped, and by the time they got there Nicholai was a total wreck, too stiff to move.
He insisted on coming with them to the oracle, though, and after climbing the mountain at night and entering the oracle's mountaintop retreat, they sat around the fire to discuss what questions they meant to ask, and divide them up between themselves so that no one had to ask more than two. As it turned out, they only had five to ask anyway, which was one each. Perfect!
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As it turned out, Lazar could have played this week, although probably not at his place. Their phone was turned off for some reason, though, so we couldn't get ahold of him. Argh.
We should be back at his place next week, though.