Only Peregrine, Emby, and Damir left Bastion together; Sparkles' homeland was near the town, and he had plans to explore it and try to contact some other gnomes to re-colonize their old dwellings. On the first night, the sensor in Damir's backpack activated; Malicor appeared and asked Damir to give the sensor to Emby. He did so, and she told him that she would keep it for a while after speaking to Malicor through it for nearly an hour. Damir also gave Emby his cloak, telling her it might help protect her. The next few days of the trip toward the forest were fairly uneventful. The party decided to head through the south pass, walk through the forest a short way, and follow the path until its last turning before the edge of the forest; from there, they would make their way through the forest to the plains, where they could make up lost time by trotting. They hoped to be able to ford the river, though it would not be as easy as it usually is; the icy cold water would pose a threat to the horses, but at least it would be shallow and might be frozen over. As they were approaching the foothills on the fourth day of their travels, the party noticed some blink dogs shadowing them. The dogs looked harried and tired, but did not look aggressive. Another day passed, and the party came upon a scene of massive carnage; at least two men had been killed and nearly completely devoured by some large beast, something large enough to throw a man at least 30 or 40 feet. The party scoured for clues quickly; they found a bag marked "emergency supplies" with a mushroom in it, an arrow covered in runes, and an empty scabbard, but nothing else of any value. The party decided to look out carefully, and continued down the trail. Nearly an hour later, they heard barking and howling, then heard something large crashing through the forest. Peregrine, riding ahead, told Damir and Emby to spur their horses forward, but neither of their horses responded to their proddings. Thinking quickly, Damir slapped Emby's horse, which bolted forward into a gallop; unfortunately, the crashing was getting closer. Damir could see a grey shape tossing trees aside as it waded toward the path… and could he be mistaken, or is that a blink dog in a marsupial-like pouch in it's belly? Damir stopped his horse quickly and tied it up; Emby cast invisibility upon herself, and Peregrine camoflage and hid. They opened fire on the creature, which seeing only Damir came plodding toward him, the very picture of the irresistable force. Damir let the creature approach, but not quite close enough to attack him; when he judged the timing just right, he grabbed the blink dog pup quick as a flash out of the pouch, then turned to run. He then prepared to dodge past the creature and draw it back toward Peregrine and Emby, who were attacking with arrows and spells. Damir's dodge was barely successful; the grey creature nailed him in anger with its huge maw, but Damir pulled free. He ran past and turned to fight again. When the creature neared him, it looked nearly dead, and Damir tried to fight it off rather than running and bringing it closer to Emby. This was a mistake; it managed to grab him and tear his chest open, nearly killing him, and he was only saved by Peregrine's arrow and the now-attacking blink dogs. As soon as he rolled free, Damir handed the pup over to the blink dogs, then set to healing himself as best he could; it took all his spells and his potion to accomplish this. When he looked up while healing himself, the first thing he saw was Emby approaching to stand over him, a shield of blazing fire on her arm and a soft blue glow suffusing her clothing. Damir was understandably impressed with the flashy display of spellcasting. Peregrine found a sword, a rapier, sticking out of the creature's leg; he gave this to Damir, who tested it and found that it seemed to leap into his hand almost effortlessly. The group decided to make camp a short way away since Damir's spells were nearly spent for the day. Damir and Emby decided to speak in private in her tent as Peregrine went out to hunt. Emby sadly admitted to Damir that she'd tried to send her horse toward the creature right after she had turned herself invisible. She felt guilty about this. Damir thought for a moment, then told her the story about how he'd nearly let Peregrine slaughter the helpless assassin in cold revenge because of his anger. He told her that he knew what she was feeling and that she wasn't proud of what she'd done, but no one is perfect and he didn't think less of her for her decision. Damir held onto Emby for a while, and they talked about the turn of events. They flirted and joked for a while, but after a short while Emby jokingly shoved Damir to the ground. Momentarily surprised and shocked, Damir could not completely conceal the extreme arousal that crossed his face for a moment, and the embarrassment that followed when he realized that Emby had seen his reaction (and had made a point of looking directly AT his… reaction). Emby was flustered by this, too, and withdrew a bit. Damir told her that it was an accident and that she had no way of knowing, but still she felt guilty and wasn't sure their relationship was going to work if it were only based on her tormenting him. Damir told her that their relationship was based on their friendship and their mutual attraction, and that there was no better foundation. Emby, surprised at his insight, agreed that was a good foundation for a relationship. Damir then admitted that he didn't know how to read her, really, or how to tell her how he really felt. She told him to play it to her, and he took a minute to quickly compose a theme for his feelings. He played this theme, Young Love, for her. Afterward, she "played" her feelings for him with ghost sounds; her feelings were much less clear and defined, partially because of her lesser skill at communicating with music. Damir asked her to explain her tune to him, and she did, telling him how he pissed her off sometimes, but sometimes she was just so happy to be with him and was scared when she realized that she was physically attracted to him. She told him that she resisted for so long because it just didn't make sense for her to be attracted to someone as shallow and all-fluff as him, but then she realized that wasn't him at all. She now was simply scared and uncertain, but she wanted to try. Damir pulled her into his arms quickly to hold her for just one more moment, and at that moment Malicor's sensor activated, whirling and hooting for attention. Emby decided to "get it," but instead threw it outside of the tent. Damir, surprised, chuckled, then held her for a minute more, both thinking about things in each other's arms. Damir then bid her good afternoon so that he could prepare supper. When he went outside, he picked up the still-hooting sensor and saw Malicor's face appear. Malicor told him to take the sensor to the highest area nearby and hold it there until he was told otherwise. Damir decided Malicor was full of it, so he tossed the sensor as high into the air as he could, then waited for it to fall and caught it. When he did, he remarked, "Was that high enough, or should I throw it higher?" Malicor, incensed, cast a sleep spell at him through the ball, but Damir saved successfully and told Malicor off. He told Malicor that he didn't appreciate that, that he knew the task wasn't real because of the timing, and told him that he would have to trust Damir because Damir REMEMBERED. When he said this, Malicor looked shocked and nodded, then disappeared. The party had supper, but later on during the evening Damir realized how much he'd lost his temper and how guilty he felt about that. He relayed the whole story, including the curse and how it was broken, to Emby. Emby was extremely angry when she heard about the curse, but Damir calmed her and asked her for help getting ahold of Malicor. She cast her burning shield out of her spellbook while Damir used bardic music abilities to try to get Malicor's attention. When Malicor finally answered, Damir apologized to her, as she was not playing Malicor (though she looked like him, she didn't act the part). Damir told her that he'd acted rashly and wanted to apologize, but when she said she would consider whether or not she owed him an apology, he told her that he neither expected nor requested one. He then let the ball go. Malicor said simply that Emby's spell was new and impressive before she signed off. Damir then scooted into Emby's arms to think some more. After a while of this, he left to write some songs in his tent and sleep until his watch.
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